Alex awoke to the sensation of fingers stroking over her shoulder. "Stop, Bobby," she mumbled irritably, still more unconscious than not.

The fingers stopped, then tightened painfully around her arm. "Is that his name, Alex? 'Bobby'?"

Her head ached abominably, but at least her mind was beginning to clear. It wasn't Bobby who was touching her; that much she could tell from the voice. "Wha . . .?" She attempted to raise a hand to rub her temple, but found that she was lying on top of her arms, which were both asleep. With a groan, she rolled to the side to free them, but even when feeling began to return to them, neither arm would budge. Belatedly, she realized that not only were they asleep, but they were bound together. "What the hell?"

"Welcome back," said the man, sounding cheerful.

She gave her hands another unsuccessful tug and then rolled onto her other side, needing to see who it was that was speaking to her. She froze at the sight of blue eyes, black hair, and a menacing grin. "You," she finally managed.

"Of course, Alex. Did you expect your boyfriend? Or maybe your partner? I doubt either of them would have the balls for this."

He didn't realize that Bobby and her boyfriend were one and the same. Desperate for something to reassure herself with, she seized on that small advantage, telling herself that as long as he didn't believe her partner to be involved, Bobby would be under no threat even if Alex didn't survive this encounter. "No," she said slowly, realizing that he was waiting for an answer. "You are the only asshole I know who would hit a woman, tie her up, and drop her on the ground."
"The ground?" Squatting down beside her, he made a show of looking around. "Hmm, I suppose that can't be too comfortable, huh?"

Alex snorted derisively and, behind her back, tried again to jerk her hands apart, this time not so much to try to free them as to evaluate what was holding them together. There was no sensation of cold, thin metal; she wasn't handcuffed. She stifled a curse as she realized that he had restrained her with some sort of tape, probably duct tape, which she knew was far harder to escape than any set of handcuffs. At least her feet seemed to be free, she realized after a second.

"And your blouse got all dirty," Hammond mused, stroking a hand over her shoulder, dangerously close to her breast. "Such a pretty red, too."

This Chris Hammond sounded nothing like the slightly nervous, eager-to-please Chris Hammond she had thought she knew. Either the bumbling had been an act, or he felt far more comfortable with a woman who was tied up than one who was free. Not wanting to believe that her people-reading skills were that bad, she decided that it was probably the second one. And if it was, there was still a chance she could regain control of this situation if she could intimidate him enough.

"Get the hell off me," she snapped, shrugging his hand off her.

Hammond, taken by surprise, allowed his hand to be dislodged. Flattening it against his thigh, he looked at her contemplatively. "You're not what I thought you were."

"Yeah, well that goes double for me, buddy." Abruptly, she lashed out with one foot, catching him behind the knee and sending him back into the dirt.

Hammond just lay there for a second, and Alex scrambled to get her feet under her before he got back up. If she could just stand up, she could run, but that was easier said than done when she couldn't use her arms for counterweight.

She was balanced on the balls of her feet and one awkwardly bent hand when the slap came, sending her reeling. She hit the ground on one shoulder and lay, stunned, for a second as the pain flooded into her. "Son of a -"

"Uh, uh, uh," Hammond tsked, back in control now and leaning over her. One hand slid under the neckline of her shell, while the other planted itself against her other shoulder, holding her down. "You know, none of the other girls were this much trouble."

Other girls. As she processed the words, it began to sink in that she wasn't fighting an abusive, disappointed suitor - she was fighting a serial killer, and it was her own damn fault. She'd been so busy resenting Goren's attempts at interference that she hadn't given thought to the fact that not only was he not the jealous type, but his arguments against Hammond had been logical. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Hammond's hand was delving further under her top now, pulling the silk tightly against the back of her neck as he inadvertently dragged the front of the neckline with him.

"I'm not your type!" Alex blurted desperately, using her feet to push herself backwards on the ground to put a few inches of space between her and that hand.

Hammond let her go, then sat back on his heels and appeared to think about her statement. "No, you're not," he finally said after a few seconds. "But you got to me, Alex. At least you're not getting fat like that last girl was. If we had more time, maybe I could dye your hair darker. That'd be nice . . ." His voice trailed off, and Alex was repelled by the wistful look that stole over his face.

"You're not touching me." She pushed back another inch and tried to get her heels under her without him noticing. "This is ridiculous, Chris. You can't kidnap a cop, for god's sake! The whole damn department will be up your ass, and then what are you going to do?"

He gave her a cool smile. "Won't matter to you, now, will it?"

Because she'd be dead. She tried not to shudder. The last thing she wanted to do was let him see her fear.

"Enough bullshit," Hammond announced suddenly, eliminating her hard-earned few inches of breathing space with one large step. "I think you've figured out I didn't bring you here to chat."

"You're pathetic," she spat, struggling to a sitting position. "You're not going to do anything to -" She broke off there and, on the same breath, raised her voice to a yell that, hopefully, Hammond wasn't expecting. "Get the hell away from me! Help!"

His hand slammed over her mouth, the momentum grinding her upper lip painfully into her teeth and forcing her onto her back. "Not smart, Alex," he breathed hotly against her cheek. "Nobody comes to this part of the park after dark, anyway. All yelling is going to do is piss me off."

She could feel something like a holster on his hip, digging into her side. It was too small to be a handgun holster, she thought, and realized that it must be a case for his knife. The thought of the knife galvanized her, and she yelled again into his palm and tried to kick him, but he absorbed the blow with little effort. "I'm bigger than you, Alex," he sing-songed, his lips still almost touching her face. "And I know you like that. So stop fighting me; I don't want to have to knock you out."

She bit his palm, hard enough to get him to yank his hand away. "Yeah, it sucks to rape an unconscious woman, huh?" she rushed, taking advantage of having her mouth uncovered. "You like them awake and aware, you sick fuck!"

Shaking his head as if in disappointment, he covered her mouth again, this time making sure her lips were closed so she couldn't bite him. With his free hand, he reached for the hem of her top and began inching it up her stomach.

She was momentarily paralyzed by a bolt of terror as she realized that, barring a miracle or a big screw-up on his part, she wasn't going to be able to free herself in time. The tape around her wrists hadn't given an inch, and with his nearly two hundred pounds flattened on top of her, she couldn't even move her legs to kick him.

A sudden mental image of Liliana Zamora's bloody body broke her paralysis. That was going to be her if she didn't do something, and the first thought she had about that was that damn, Bobby was going to be pissed at her. Bobby . . .

She began struggling under him again with renewed energy. If she could just get him off her . . .

Hammond, apparently out of patience, drew his hand out from under her shirt and slapped her again, this time sliding his hand down to her neck after it made contact with her cheek.

Alex gasped, trying to catch a breath, but between the shock of the blow and his hand slowly squeezing her throat, it was difficult. "No!" she shrieked into his hand. Even if she couldn't win, she wasn't going down without a fight. She sank her teeth into his hand again, this time as hard as she could.

He howled and pulled back slightly, shaking his hand in pain. Alex wondered if she'd drawn blood. If she had, that would be one more clue for whoever worked her scene . . .

Her scene. Fear reasserted itself and she suddenly found herself painfully short of breath. Hammond's weight was crushing the air out of her lungs, and his hand on her neck was keeping her from drawing in any more.

Apparently confident that he'd subdued her, he returned his free hand to her shirt, this time yanking it up hard enough to rip through the hem and halfway up the front. "Mmm, nice." He traced long finger over the line where her right breast disappeared into her bra and Alex yelled again, trying desperately to buck him off.

Hammond just tightened his hand around her throat and grinned at her. "You're probably not going to like this. But then, you won't have too long to think about it. Works out well, huh?" When she made no response to that, he smiled wider and moved his hand to the front clasp of her bra. "Let's get the rest of these clothes off you."

He was truly cutting off her air now, and black spots were beginning to appear in front of her eyes. She focused her energy on trying to stay conscious, knowing that if she passed out, if she stopped fighting, she was as good as dead.

Hammond licked her cheek, an action that would have been repulsive under any circumstance but in this one made her feel like she needed to throw up, and flicked the two sides of her bra apart over her chest.

His hand closed painfully over her breast, but before she could even react to that, a flashlight flicked on somewhere off to the side, blinding her. "Move back, Hammond!" an amplified voice boomed.

Not Bobby's voice. She didn't know who it was, but hell, she'd take whatever help she could get. She seized her opportunity in the split second that Hammond was distracted by the light and the voice, and heaved upward, nearly bending double in her attempt to get him off her.

Hammond rolled off her and hit the ground, but he still had a hand around her throat, and it reflexively tightened now. "Back off!" he called to the newcomer, using that hand to yank her back on top of him, using her as a human cover.

The flashlight blinked off, but there was no sound of anyone moving away. "You've got three guns trained on you," said the voice, "and all of us are good shots. Let her go."

His elbow dug into her stomach ad he clutched her harder against him. "Good luck hitting me without hitting her, asshole!"

Alex could hear the desperate note in his voice. Hammond wasn't stupid; he knew that the odds were against him getting out of here, with or without her. What frightened her was what he was going to do now that he knew that.

A second later, she knew. His free hand flew down to his hip, then back up with a knife in it. He flicked the blade open and pressed it against her throat.

Alex froze, feeling the blade digging into her skin.

"You son of a bitch!" Hammond yelled into the darkness. "How the fuck could you even find us here?" Without waiting for an answer, he stood up and used the knife at her throat to force her to her feet, being careful to keep her between him and where the light had been. "Having fun, darling?" he hissed into her ear as she felt the blade break through her skin and a trickle of blood begin to course down her neck.

She had to do something to help herself. Hammond was right; whoever it was that was out there, they wouldn't dare take a shot with her head so close to him and his knife. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath in anticipation of the pain she knew would come in retaliation, she slammed her bound fists into his groin with what little leverage she could manage.

Hammond stiffened and let out a yowl of pain, and in that second, his grip on her loosened enough that the knife drifted away from her skin. She threw herself at the ground, trying to keep low and still cover as much ground as possible.

Despite the pain he must have been in, Hammond leapt after her.

Two shots rang out and there was a dull thud as a body hit the ground.

"Alex!"

Bobby. She spit out a mouthful of dirt and rolled over warily, unsure if Hammond was down or not but needing to demonstrate to her partner that she was alive.

"Alex," he said again, skidding onto his knees beside her. "Are you o-"

"Jesus!" someone else yelped. Kratzer materialized out of the darkness, took one look at her, and pulled off his t-shirt. He threw it to Goren, and it was only then that anyone else seemed to notice that she was naked to the waist.

She was naked, but she wasn't dead, she thought. Somehow.

A shiver rolled through her, and she leaned against her partner, passively letting him pull the shirt over her head.

"Alex," he tried again, this time speaking almost into her hair as one hand held her up and the other began a methodical survey of her body, searching for injuries. "Are you ok?"

She swallowed, took a deep breath. Felt her self-control begin to return. "I'm ok," she assured him. "Just get this tape off me."

Another set of hands did her bidding, unwinding the duct tape with some difficulty. "How is she?" Kratzer asked Goren quietly, crouching down next to him.

"I'm ok," Alex answered for herself, flexing her hands and trying to get some blood flow back into them. "Really. Is he -"

"Don't know," Kratzer answered without letting her finish. "I think he took one in the neck. I didn't stop to take his pulse."

"Who shot him?"

The two men exchanged glances. "I did," they said at the same time, then looked at each other in surprise.

Kratzer looked at Goren for another second, glanced at Alex to reassure himself again that she was alive, and stood up. "I'll go check him."

Neither Alex nor Bobby said anything in response to that. Alex just swallowed again, trying to slow her breathing. Luckily, Goren's large hand rubbing circles over her back helped.

A few seconds passed, filled only by the sound of Alex's harsh breathing, and then Kratzer reappeared. "Dead," he announced unemotionally. "One of us got him right through the neck; the other got him in the shoulder."

Alex let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding, closed her eyes, and buried her face in her partner's neck.


A/N: Epilogue still to come. Hope this wasn't too terribly cliched.