( Author's Note: I'm taking a few liberties with this story in general, I realize this. I don't know much of anything about police procedure, never having been on either side of the law personally. But, since this is called fan-FICTION... I believe that I can take a few liberties both with the story and the characters. Please bear this in mind when reviewing. )
Breathing was doing nothing, nor was any other supposed self-calming technique that Bobby tried. Finally, he decided to go out again. Almost automatically, he dressed and grabbed a jacket with a pocket on the inside, in which he stowed his gun. He wasn't planning on using it, he just wanted it at his side in case it came to that. Since Alex's visit, he knew he couldn't stay home.
As silently as he could, he tread the halls and stairs, hoping to escape without question. He knew his neighbors well enough, and though they kept to themselves in general, he doubted that the yelling and hurling about of things would have gone without notice. As he stepped back onto the darkening streets, he exhaled, not realizing he'd been holding his breath.
Twilight cast interesting shadows on the city, and there was an odd sense of quiet that took over as the night deepened. Traffic was just as bad as in the daytime, the drivers were just as quick with the horn and voice, but somewhere behind and beneath the cacophony of city life, there was a feeling of peace.
He chose his directions randomly, and soon Bobby found himself walking one of the streets where prostitutes were nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Many of them gave him barely a glance, some deepened their coloring underneath their cosmetics, having recognized him. It never failed to amuse him how many cars would circle several times, then stop and pick up a prostitute. Moreover, it never failed to pique his curiosity as to how a woman could become a "lady of the evening".
One of the women approached him, hesitant, not meeting his eyes. She kept glancing behind her, as though afraid she was being watched and didn't want to do the wrong thing. A beginner, probably. He guessed her age at early to mid-twenties, small build, pretty green eyes shadowed by fear, loss of both sleep and pride. As she got within speaking distance, however, he realized her age was more rightly mid to late teens. Horrified, he took her arm and took her down an alley. She seemed to simultaneously relax and tense up.
"What's your name?" He asked her, gently. He wanted to put his coat on her shoulders, but remembered the gun stashed in the pocket. He couldn't figure out a way to move it without it being seen and didn't want to scare her any more than she already was.
"Jennifer," she said, voice high and tense. "So what -" She started to reach for him, but he grabbed her hands and pushed them away. A look of confusion passed over her just-shy-of-pretty face.
"Jennifer, how old are you?" He kept his voice neutral, level, even though he wanted to find whoever was putting her on the street and bash his face in.
"Why does it matter? Look, if you just want to talk, that's not going to cut it, so I'm just going to go now," she turned to leave, and Bobby grabbed her arm, pulled her back around.
"Listen to me, little girl. I just want to know who you work for, that's all." The low, intense growl had seeped back into his voice and she flinched, automatically. He instantly regretted it, but needed to know.
"Mac. He's on the third floor. Just don't let anyone know I told you, I don't know what he would do to me." There was desperation in the voice, but pleading came from her eyes which locked on to his and wouldn't leave.
"Okay. Here," he handed over one of his cards to Jennifer. "Go call this number, ask for Alex Eames. She'll help you with anything you need. Go on." The words came out almost automatically, before he was able to think. She took the card, looked at him, stood on her toes, kissed him on the cheek and left as quickly as her shoes would let her. He hoped that the young woman wouldn't get sent away if she mentioned the encounter. Figuring that whatever personal feelings his partner might have at the moment towards him would be pushed aside once Jennifer told her story, he turned and walked out after her.
He must have looked like he was on a mission, because the other women wouldn't even meet his eyes as he walked along the sidewalk and up the three flights of stairs to find this "Mac" character. Once on the third floor, he glanced up and down the dilapidated hallway. Leaning against one of the doors, trying his utmost to blend in, was a long-limbed Hispanic male. Figuring he'd found where Mac was, Bobby approached, and the guard's attention was aroused. He looked Bobby over from his feet to the top of his head and, even though he was a good head shorter, tried to take up a typical Alpha-male stance.
"What do you want?" The voice had only a hint of an accent, but the hesitation said that English wasn't his first language. Bobby looked down at him and considered his options. May as well try to be civil.
"I'd like to see Mac," Bobby said, trying to sound nonchalant but still stare the guard down. The other man started squirming slightly under the gaze and couldn't hold the eye contact. He dropped his eyes to the floor for a moment, seeming to gather strength.
"I don't know who you are talking about. There's no one here." The words came out equally civil, but the sneer upon the darkly complexioned face belied that.
"Then you have no reason to be standing here, or to fear me going inside, do you?" Bobby made a move to reach for the doorknob, but the long and slim fingers of the guard grasped his arm with surprising strength. Bobby inwardly sighed. As much as he still felt the urge to beat the living hell out of something, he also knew that a public hallway was not the place to do it. Still, he had to get inside somehow.
A hard backhand to the jaw put the guard out and the knob turned easily. Wasn't even locked. Could Jennifer have given him the wrong information? Always possible, though doubtful. He reached into his pocket and took out his gun, holding it ready.
As he began pushing the door open, he became acutely aware of the lack of protection. Bobby glanced at the prone guard, suddenly wishing he hadn't been so quick to dispatch him. He could have been of use. Little late, now, however.
The inside of the room was dark, even though every lamp was on. The walls were paneled in a dark wood print, probably was trying to mimic a maple of some sort. The furniture was plush and upholstered in deep, natural colors. Bobby became aware of a shifting shadow over by the windows.
"Mac?" He called out, voice filling the room. The human-shaped form turned on its heel and came into the halo of light cast by one of the lamps.
He was a fairly small man, maybe 5'10, most of the moderate extra weight was concentrated around his midsection. He appeared to be in his mid to late 30's and had beady dark eyes deep-set in a pale and nondescript face.
"Yeah, I'm Mac. Who are you?" The voice that came was unexpectedly sharp and high, an accent that Bobby couldn't quite place. His face drained of color even more at the sight of the weapon in Bobby's hand. He tried to back away, but the larger man's approach was relentless.
"Whatever it is, I'm sure we can work this out, be civilized about it, you know," Mac tried to look beseeching, put his hands up, but the pitch of his voice showed how afraid he was. Bobby saw this and used the natural advantage his size gave him to back him to the wall.
"Civilized? You want to be civilized now, but you put CHILDREN out on the street? How is that civilized?" He put his face an inch from the other man, and pressed the gun to Mac's temple. "Please, tell me, I'm simply DYING to know how that is civilized."
Coherent thought was impossible for Mac just then. All of his higher reasoning was busy trying to keep him from losing control of various functions. The pressure of the weapon against his skull, however, brought him back to the present moment.
"I can't imagine where you got such bad information. I haven't anything to do with putting anyone on the street, let alone children!" The darting of the small eyes told Bobby that he was just trying to buy his life, which was all that mattered to him. The rage built in him again, as the afterimage of Jennifer's fear- and shame-filled eyes came to the front of his mind.
He took several steps back from Mac, who visibly relaxed, thinking the confrontation was over. He opened his mouth to speak, but never got the chance.
Bobby leveled the gun at Mac's head and fired. The surprise in his eyes lasted only a moment before they glazed over and took on the blank expression that death always brings. He stood there for a moment, studied the fallen man for a moment, then turned and left. Just as he reached the door, it swung open and the long-limbed guard ambled in, apparently having regained consciousness at some point and had heard the shot.
His eyes widened at the sight of his boss on the floor. He made a move towards Bobby, as if to strike him. He kicked the younger man's legs out from underneath him and after he was struggling to regain his footing, Bobby gave him a hard whack on the side of the head, just behind the ear with the butt of the gun. He went down easily, again.
He rolled the unconscious man onto his stomach and shot him once at the base of the skull. The smell of gunpowder, blood and death hung in the air, and Bobby suddenly felt claustrophobic. He opened the door and left the building, trying to look calm.
He wondered how many of these women would be able to turn from this line of work because of what he'd done... and how many would just find another person to work under. In the grand scheme of things, people would do what they felt would get them the greatest return for the least amount of work.
Darkness had descended fully on the city while he'd been up on the 3rd floor. Somewhere, Jennifer was probably telling Alex about her encounter with him. She'd probably think he was doing better, or at least hope that he was because he'd done what he so often did, and helped someone. That would continue until she went to the room on the 3rd floor and saw the recent carnage he'd left in his wake.
Somehow, he felt a gaping hole appear in his chest when he considered both what he had done today, and what his longtime partner was thinking, would think of him. He'd destroyed whatever trust they'd built between them. But he wasn't sure what he could do about it, so he clung to the illusion that he'd helped someone by his actions. Tried to keep the adrenaline pumping, so that he couldn't think too much or too clearly.
Either way, he had a feeling that dawn would bring something very different to his life.