Dorisann Anderson

Ponch had just gotten off work and wasn't paying any attention to the green van parked outside his apartment building.

'It sure has been a long day,' Ponch thought. 'All I want to do is relax and have a nice quiet night at home.'

As he walked into his apartment he removed his gun belt. Just about the time he was getting comfortable on the couch someone knocked on the door.

Assuming it was one of his neighbors, Ponch pulled opened the door, ready to offer a friendly getting.

Instead, two men came rushing in, guns drawn. A third man, gargantuan in size, charged in after them.

"Who are you? And what do you want?" Ponch demanded to know.

"Name's Smith. You and your partner are gonna pay for arresting my man, White. I don't like it when my help starts to talk. Makes for a lot of loose ends I have to clean up." He took a menacing step in Ponch's direction. "You're going to tell me just what White told the cops."

"Look, why don't you leave now before you do something you'll be sorry for," Ponch said, grimly. "Assaulting a police officer is a real bad rap."

Ponch made a leap for his gun but Smith's two henchmen were quickly on top of him. Using a karate kick, Ponch knocked the wind out of one guy, then drove his fist into the face of the second.

A hasty dive, followed by a roll brought Ponch to the side of the coffee table. He had just enough precious seconds to grab a piece of paper and scribble onto it:


'I hope Jon will remember the name.' His thoughts instinctively turned to his trusted partner as he shoved the slip of paper beneath a phone book, hoping to conceal it.

He felt the cold muzzle of a gun pressed against his neck.

"No more games!" Smith snarled.

"Look, Smith, I remember your man White, and my partner will too. If anything happens to me, my partner will know who to look for."

"Shut him up," Smith ordered.

In the next instant, a bolt of pain sliced through Ponch's head. Everything went black for Ponch as he fell to the floor. His last memory was that of toppling onto the coffee table

"Take him to the van," Smith ordered. "I'll make him sorry for ever getting in my way."

'What a long hot day,' Jon thought, as he walked into his apartment. 'It sure is good to be home.'

He started to get ready to just kick back and relax, when he remembered he needed to ask Ponch about the weekend. He had wanted his pal to go with him to a rodeo. Jon knew Ponch didn't particularly like going to those things, but he needed some help and he knew there wasn't much Ponch wouldn't do for a friend.

Jon tried calling Ponch, but only got the answering machine.

As he reflected back on the long work day, he began to worry about Ponch, remembering how his partner hadn't been acting like himself. His usually energetic friend had been way too quiet. He wondered if Ponch was feeling okay, also knowing that his partner was likely to ignore any medical problem unless it put him flat on his back.

'Maybe he went to bed early,' Jon thought. '...But usually the phone wakes him. I'm acting like an old mother hen,' he chided himself.

But even after he had hung up the phone, made himself a sandwich and grabbed a cold drink, settling in to watch some TV, he just couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was wrong.

With one last swallow of the brew, Jon grabbed his keys and headed out the door.

After knocking several times, Jon fished inside his pants pocket for his key ring which held a extra key to Ponch's apartment. As an after-thought, he realized, the ring of keys had been left on his bedroom dresser.

He went across the hall to Jenny's apartment. She answered almost immediately. "Jenny, do you still have the spare key to Ponch's apartment? He's not answering the door...and I know he's home. Or at least, he should be."

"Yeah, Jon. Do you think anything's wrong?"

"I hope not."

"You know, about an hour ago I heard a loud noise that sounded like it came from Ponch's apartment," Jenny fretted.

Once in Ponch's apartment, Jon saw obvious indications of a struggle.

"Looks like this was the racket you heard. Don't touch anything." Jon quickly searched the apartment but found no sign of Ponch. He turned a worried look at Jenny. "Let's go back to your place and call the police."

After Jon called the LAPD, he called Sergeant Getraer.

"Sarge, something has happened to Ponch," Jon explained. "He isn't at his apartment. I know Ponch was tired and not feeling good and it look's as if there was a fight. I don't believe he left willingly."

"I'll be there in a few minutes. Have you called LAPD?" Getraer asked out of habit.

"Yeah, Sarge, they're on the way now." Jon ran his hand though his golden blonde hair as he often did when worried. "Sarge, Ponch has a black belt, and he's good...we both know that. There had to be more then one person."

After Jon hung up with Sergeant Getraer, he and Jenny went back to Ponch's apartment.

Two LAPD officers, Jim Reed and Pete Malloy were just beginning to search the place. They were both familiar to Jon.

"Jim, Pete. Have you found anything?" Jon asked, hoping maybe the two men's methodical search had revealed some clue his own hasty one had missed.

Reed looked at Jon, feeling sorry for him. He knew Jon and Ponch were close. "It doesn't look good, Jon." They walked into the living room. "There's a small amount of blood splattered on the book shelf and the wall."

Jon swallowed hard. The sign of blood meant his partner was definitely injured...but how severely was the question remaining. He refused to even consider the possibility of Ponch not being alive.

"Does Ponch smoke?" Malloy asked.

"No. Why?"

"I found this expensive cigar on the floor."

Jon turned to Jenny. "Did you see anything unusual before or after you heard the loud noise?"

"Well, let's see...I was entering my apartment about the time I heard the noise, but, no, I didn't see anything. There was a green van parked out front when I came home. I just assumed it was a moving van."

At that time, Sergeant Getraer walked in. "Any news?"

"Nothing much. There's blood..." Jon answered, pointing out the traces of brownish-red substance discovered by Malloy.

Getraer stepped over for a close look, swearing softly.

"Jenny, did you notice anything about the van other than it was green?" Jon questioned.

The young woman thought about it for a moment. "No, Jon, I didn't notice anything. I'm sorry!" Tears filled her eyes. "I should have noticed something, but I was in too big a hurry! I'm so sorry, Jon!"

Jon walked over to her. "It's Okay, Jenny. You did nothing wrong. We'll find Ponch. I promise."

Sergeant Getraer looked at Jon. "We need to question as many of Ponch's neighbors as we can about what they may have heard or seen."

"Lets get to it!" Jon responded, leading the way.

As Ponch came to, he tried to move, discovering that both his hands and feet were bound. He looked around and realized he was in a moving van.

'I have to get loose,' Ponch thought as he tried to loosen the thick straps that held his hands securely behind his back but succeeded only in cutting his wrists.

'I have to stay calm if I want to get out of this mess alive.'

Ponch lay back, pretending to still be out...buying himself some thinking time, he hoped.

"Smith, what are you going to do to the cop?" Mike Anderson, the driver of the van asked.

"Make sure he never gets in my way again," Smith grunted.

Mike squirmed uncomfortably. He wanted nothing to do with the kidnapping and murder of a cop. He knew all too well that cops are a big family and if you messed with one you messed with them all. His younger brother had killed a cop in New York City and escaped...or so he thought...but the NYPD never stopped hunting until they caught up with him in Michigan a month later. Now his brother was serving a life sentence.

'If Smith had told me the guy we were after was a cop, I wouldn't have taken the job.'

The third man in the trio, James Morrison, hated all cops with a burning passion and didn't care what Smith was going to do. As far as he was concerned, if there ended up being one less cop on the street...all the better.

After questioning the tenants, Jon and Sergeant Getraer went to the CHP station. They had been able to obtain a partial licenses plate on the van...but nothing more.

Jon started pacing the room. "What do we do? We don't even know where to begin to look."

"Calm down, Jon. We will find him. We've got an APB out on the van. Hopefully someone will spot it." Knowing it was better if he had Jon busy doing something, rather than having his worried officer caged up, he advised, "What I want you to do now is to go back to Ponch's apartment and take another look around. You would know better then anyone else if something's out of place or missing..."

"Okay, Sarge," Jon readily agreed.

At Ponch's apartment Jon noticed something sticking out from under the couch. He pulled out Ponch's gun.

'How did that get there?' Jon wondered. 'Why didn't they take it when they took Ponch?'

He stood staring at the wall with the blood on it, wishing it could tell him something.

'What happened to you, Partner?'

Jon checked the answering machine. Five messages were on it. Two were from Linda, who wanted a date, one from Ponch's mother, and one from his sister.

Jon turned the machine off and started to leave, when something caught his eye.

'What's this?'

He picked up a small piece of paper that was sticking out from under the telephone book.

It had the words "Help" and "White" written on it.

'That's Ponch's writing,' Jon thought as he studied the little slip of paper he held in his hands. 'White...that's the name of the guy we arrested a few weeks ago.'

Two weeks earlier:

A blue Ford Mustang flew by the two CHP Officers. "Let's get him, Jon!"

Jon and Ponch took off after the Mustang.

'Seven-Mary three and four. We are 11-95 on the Ventura Freeway.'

'Ten-four Seven-Mary three, the dispatcher acknowledged.

After a lengthy chase, the driver of the car lost control and spun into the center divider, effectively ending the pursuit.

Ponch cautiously walked up to the car and ordered the stunned, but otherwise uninjured, driver out. Once out, the driver had been detained, while a 'wants and warrants' was run -- coming up positive.

While Ponch questioned the uncooperative suspect, Jon searched the car.

"Bingo!" Jon whispered.

Under the front seat was a gun and hefty package of crack cocaine.

'But Ponch couldn't mean Adam White,' Jon reasoned.

Just last week Sergeant Getraer had called them into his office to tell them White had been killed during a fight in jail.

'Ponch, what are trying to tell me?'

At that moment, Grossie charged into the apartment looking like he had just run a five-mile marathon.

"Jon!" he cried out. "One of my snitches..." he drew in a deep gulp of air, barely able to continue.

"Grossie!?" Jon questioned anxiously.

"One of my snitches...got a hold of me. Words all over the street...that a hit is going down...on two CHP officers!"

Jon felt his guts knot up into a tight ball. "If one officer is Ponch, then I'm probably the other officer," he commented softly.

Grossie nodded.

"But who!? And WHY!?" Jon demanded to know.

Grossie could only shrug his shoulders. "I don't know the who or the why, Jon. I couldn't get any of that from my guy...he was scared out of his britches to tell me as much as he did."

"We have to get those answers and fast! Or Ponch might be a dead man!" Jon exclaimed. 'And I'm next.'

Turning back to Grossie, he instructed his friend, "I want you to go over to LAPD and talk to Reed and Malloy. Ask them to talk to their informants about a dead drug dealer named White. See what they can come up with. See what our people can come up with too."

"Will do!" Grossie responded, charging back outside again.

Jon decided to pay a visit to one of his own informants. It didn't take long to find Steve. Jon knew the misfit hung out on the back streets of downtown LA, near the garment district.

"Okay, Steve, start talking. What do you know about a dead drug dealer named White, and where's Ponch?"

"I don't know anything about anything, man," Steve grinned. "So good ol' Ponch has been kidnapped? We both know what THAT means, now don't we? You will never see him again...least wise...not alive."

Jon grabbed Steve by the shirt and pinned him up against the wall. "Look, Steve, I am in no mood for your bull shit! Now...what do you know?"

Seeing the fire in the man's eyes, Steve was smart enough to know it was to the advantage of his own personal welfare to cooperate.

"Okay...okay...ease up, man!"

In an old abandoned apartment building on the outside of town Ponch laid on the floor of a bedroom.

'I have to get my hands loose,' Ponch thought, as he struggled once again to loosen the straps. His head was throbbing.

The door opened and Smith walked in.

"What do you want?" Ponch asked.

"Information. Lots of it. You arrested my man White and the word on the street is he talked to get a lighter sentence. Now you're going to tell me what White said."

Ponch glared at Smith. "What makes you think I'll tell you any thing? Let me guess, you put a hit out on White and had him killed while in jail. What was he? Your top drug runner?"

Smith walked over to Ponch and kicked him in the side. "Shut up, cop. I'll ask the questions."

As Smith turned away, Ponch made the near fatal mistake of kicking out at the man. The kick sent Smith stumbling into a mound of boxes. Furious, he was back on his feet in an instant. Using a baseball bat, Smith slammed the wooden battering ram into Ponch's body, over and over again, until his own rage was finally spent. Breathing heavily, he peered down at the beaten police officer for several long seconds.

"Maybe now ya' understand who's in charge around here!"

Tossing aside the bat, he stalked from the room.

Ponch was in great pain, but still his thoughts traveled back to his partner.

'Oh, God, if one of us has to die, please let it be me and not Jon.'

Ponch knew that Jon would stop at nothing to find him and he knew that Smith wanted him dead too.

'God, please don't let Jon find me.'

Ponch began to work at freeing his hand, ignoring the searing pain as the bindings cut even deeper into his flesh.

'I've got to get out of here before they get Jon too.'

Jon slammed the cocky man up against the brick wall again, pinning him there with an arm across his neck.

"Y...you're c...choking me!"

"WHERE'S Ponch!!" Jon growled, his blue eye crackling with sparks of anger.

"O...okay! O...kay!"

Jon released his hold slightly.

Steve coughed, looking at the CHP Officer sourly. "I know somebody who did

business with White. If anybody knows anything ya' can use, it'll be him."

Jon yanked the man away from the wall, thrusting him across the dark alley.

"Let's go...!"

As Jon walked with Steve to meet the guy who might tell him something about White, he kept wondering what a dead man had to do with Ponch getting kidnapped.

'I have to figure this out and fast before they do anything else to Ponch.'

Suddenly Steve stopped in front of some apartments.

"The guy you want lives in 115. You don't need me anymore..." Steve said, making a move to leave.

Jon grabbed Steve. "You're coming with me. I want you to knock on the door."

Steve begrudgingly did as Jon ordered, thinking, '... and all this time I thought Ponch was the tough one!'

As the door opened Jon pushed Steve out of the way and quickly advanced on the second street thug. "I want to talk to you."

"I ain't talkin' to no cop!"

The guy tried to close the door but Jon shoved it open, slamming the suspect back up between the door and the wall. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at the man.

"You'll talk to this one," Jon said, his voice as deadly as the gun he held. "I want some answers and I want them fast. What does White have to do with my partner being kidnapped?"

"The guy you're after is Smith, the boss. White talked too much in jail and he ended up dead. If it is Smith who has your partner, he's a dead man too. And you'll be next. Man, if I were you I would get out of town...real fast."

Jon, with hate in his eyes, looked at the guy. "You're NOT me. Where can I find this Smith?"

"I don't know where he is. I do know that two of the guys that work for him once in a while live a few blocks down the road...the corner house...on Crenshaw and Western."

"Baker, I am ordering you to wait for back-up!" Sergeant Getraer barked over the phone.

Jon bristled visibly. It had been twenty minutes since he had first called the updated information into his command post and still no back-up had arrived to take Steve and his newest informant into custody. "What's taking them so long!?"

"I've got some of our people on the way too. Now you just sit tight! You got that!" The Sarge commanded once again. He waited impatiently until he finally got a reluctant,

"Yeah, Sarge...but hurry, this is Ponch's life we're talking about!"

Jon turned back to keep a watch on the corner house. The second the primary LAPD patrol car had arrived, he had beaten a path directly to his next destination.

Counting the seconds until back-up from either the LAPD or CHP, he was worried beyond reason about what was happening to Ponch. He knew the delay on the part of the LAPD was the result of another, earlier call of "SHOTS FIRED" and that his own people were negotiating a multi-car accident on the 405 Freeway.

He saw the front door open and watched while a mountain-sized man, whom he supposed was somebody who could at last lead him to where his partner was being held hostage, left the house and started to get into a brown sedan.

'I can't wait!'

Jon decided to move in. Like greased lightening, he rushed up behind the suspect, quickly subduing him.

"Hey, man.. What the hell...!!"

"POLICE! Don't move!" Jon ordered.

"What the hell is this!?" The beefy, red-faced man demanded to know.

"Your name!" Jon demanded.

"A...Anderson..." was the stuttered response.

"Well, listen up, Anderson... you're going to take me to SMITH!" Jon demanded.

"I don't know any Smith, man," Mike Anderson lied.

"The hell you don't!" Jon countered. "Now listen up, he has my partner, and I want him...NOW!"

The suspect's eyes widened slightly, he squirmed under Jon's hold but couldn't break free, despite his size advantage.

"Yeah.. Sure. Okay...no problem! Hey.. I didn't want nothin' to do with a hit on a cop...ya' know! It wasn't my idea!"

"Glad to hear that..." Jon started to respond but his words cut off by a sudden searing pain shooting in his back. With a gasp, he fell to his knees. A shadow appeared over him. Looking up, he saw his assailant towering over him.

James Morrison was laughing as he dangled Jon's handcuffs in the air. "Well, the big cop wants to see his partner. You know, Mike, I think we should do the law-abiding thing...and take Officer Jon Baker here on over and show him what's left of his partner."

They put Jon in the car trunk and started toward the old apartment building out side of town.

When they arrived, Smith came out of the building. "What's this?"

"A little gift for ya', Boss," Morrison grinned, after popping up the truck of the sedan.

"This is the partner to the one inside," Mike said, helping to drag the dazed and bleeding police officer out of the trunk.

Smith walked over to Jon. "All right, cop...how did you find me?"

"I'm not telling you anything," Jon gasped out.

Smith slammed his fist into Jon's mouth. "You and your partner are just alike, and you two will die...just alike. Get him inside." Smith looked around, his eyes narrowed. "Someone is talking and that makes me very nervous."

Ponch lay in a corner of the bedroom. Jon knew by looking at him that he was hurt very badly.

"What have you done to him?" Jon asked. "Look man, there are hundred police officer outs there looking for you It's only a matter of time...so why not give up...now?"

Smith laughed. "Yeah, sure. You just keep believing that."

After Smith left, Jon heard the key turn in the lock. He sat down next to Ponch. "Come on, Partner, wake up. I'm here now."

"Jon?" Ponch mumbled. "NO, Jon!"

"Yeah, Partner, it's me. The LAPD and CHP are looking for us, so just hang on,. Ponch, raise your head up."

Ponch let out a moan as he slowly raised his head. Jon scooted over so that his legs were under Ponch's head.

"Come on, Partner, stay awake. Don't give up on me now. I need you, man."

"Jon, they're gonna kill us. I was hoping -- you wouldn't find -- me. I'm sorry,

Jon. They hit me from behind and I couldn't fight them...I...I couldn't get loose from these ropes to warn you." With that said, Ponch was once again quiet.

"Now, you listen to me, Partner. None of this is your fault. We'll find a way out of this. You just stay awake," Jon said, while fighting his own pain.

Grossman came to the spot where Jon was supposed to be waiting. Looking around he noticed the brown car Jon had radioed about was nowhere in sight. After carefully searching the ground where the car had been he noticed what looked like fresh blood.

Just then, LAPD pulled in. "Hey, Grossman, what do ya' have?" Reed asked.

Grossie walked over to the car. "It looks like Jon may have tried to do it on his own."

"Great, now there are two to worry about," Reed mumbled. "Stupid move."

Pete looked over at his young partner. "Don't be so hard on him. Jon and Ponch have been partners for years and they were friends long before that."

"Yeah," Grossie hurried to defend Jon. "Those two have a special kind of friendship, which is why Jon's not thinking straight right now."

Reed looked at Grossie. "Yeah, and that faulty thinking could get both of them killed."

A short time later, a very worried and very annoyed Sergeant Getraer arrived on the scene.

Grossman give him a report. "Sarge, Jon and the brown car are gone. There's some blood where a car had been parked."

"I just can't believe Jon went ahead without back up. That's not like him. His partner, YES, but not Jon." Getraer stood rubbing his face. "Did you put an APB out on the brown car?" he asked.

"Done," Reed said.

"Did anyone ask that hooker over there any questions?" Getraer asked, motioning to a twenty-something woman, clearly dressed to capture the attention of would be 'customers'.

"Not yet," Malloy responded.

"I will," Getraer walked over to her, identifying himself. "Miss...I need to ask you a few questions."

"I haven't done anything wrong," she said, nervously. "I'm just out for a walk..."

"Look, this is a matter of life and death," Getraer interrupted. "There are two of my officers whose lives are in danger. All I want to do is find them," he explained. "Did you see the brown car that was here earlier? Do you know anything about the men living in that house?"

The hooker didn't really want to answer the questions, but at the same time, knowing two police officers were about to be killed was something she didn't want to be a part of in any way, shape or form. In the end, she answered the questions the best she could. "Yes. Two guys got in and drove away."

"Was one of them a tall blond hair guy?" Getraer asked.

"No..." She hesitated, biting down on her lower lip. "They...they did stuff a blonde haired guy into the trunk though."

"Was he alive?" The Sarge questioned anxiously.

"I don't know. They stabbed him in the back...then stuffed him in the car."

"And you didn't think to report something like THAT to the police!?" Reed pressed, outraged.

"I mind my own business..." the hooker defended. "It's the only way to stay alive. Besides...didn't know he was a cop..."

"Do you know anything about the two men?" Getraer asked.

"Just know them as Mike and James. Real bad news, both of them. Run drugs. Do other...kinds of...work...for hire."

As the hours passed, Jon was trying hard to ignore the pain in his back. He pressed his back up against the cold damp brick wall knowing the action would help stop the bleeding that had restarted when he had been dragged out of the trunk of his assailant's car and into the building.

"Awe, man..." Jon sighed. Suddenly he felt cold all over, and it was getting hard to breath. "I'm sorry, Ponch. I screwed it up... all of it. Didn't think it through...didn't follow my training...let them get the jump on me..."

Something in his partner's tone caught Ponch's attention, despite his loose hold on consciousness. "Hey...like you said before...it's going to work out okay..." he started to say.

"I'm sorry, Ponch..." Jon murmured.

Ponch tried to rise up to get a better look at his friend but his injuries and the bonds made it essentially impossible.

"Jon? Hey...Jon!" Ponch called anxiously, now realizing that something was very wrong. "What they'd do to you man? JON?"

"Knife. Used ...a knife..." Jon whispered. Once again he tried to pull a complete breath into his lungs, which resulted in setting off a violent coughing spell... leaving him gasping for air.

Anger surged through Ponch's body, helping him tap into his deeply rooted reserves of energy and strength.

Ponch tugged furiously at the ropes that bond him, the slickness of his own blood finally getting them loose enough. With his hands free, he rose up, fighting the dizziness he was feeling.

Sitting up beside Jon, Ponch took off his shirt and placed it at his friend's back to try to stop the bleeding. Then he searched inside Jon's pocket, finding -- as he hoped, the keys to the handcuffs, grateful that Smith and his goons hadn't thought to confiscate them.

Uncuffing his Partner, he asked, "Jon, how bad are you hurt?"

"I think the knife may have gotten to my lung. It's gettin' hard to breath."

Both men looked up when the door to their cell opened again and Morrison strode in, carrying an iron pipe. He advanced, his cold gaze leveled at Jon.

"Okay, cop. Now let's see if you're ready to talk, like the Boss asked."

As Morrison neared, Ponch's fury erupted.

"You're not gonna hurt him any more than you already have!" Ponch yelled, surging to his feet.

With one kick, he knocked the bar out of Morrison's hands.

Both men made a dive for it, but Ponch came up the winner.

He drove the metal into Morrison's gut, then...when the man doubled over...brought it down across his shoulders...once...twice...three times.

Morrison dropped like a sack of grain.

The fight had left Ponch gasping for air, but still, he rummaged around for the handcuffs and then used them to secure Morrison to a thick length of pipe cemented into the floor.

His own injuries now made worse, Ponch bent over in pain, his energy spent.

Jon slowly made his way over to his Partner. "Ponch?"

Ponch looked over at Mike lying on the floor. With a smile he turned to Jon. "I've been wanting to do that for a quite a while."

"I bet you have, Partner. Are you okay?" Jon asked.

"Yeah...sure...I just have one hell of a headache." Ponch tried for a grin, failing.

"I wonder where the other two are..." Jon questioned, curious as to why the noise of the fight hadn't brought Smith and his other henchman running.

"Don't know and don't care to hang around and find out," Ponch said, looking toward a boarded up window.

Staggering to his feet once again, he made his way to the window and began to yank at the boards. A second pair of hands joined him.

"Jon, no...the bleeding..."

"Let's just get the hell out of here," Jon insisted, delving into the last of his own energy stores.

It took several long minutes before the partially rotted boards were yanked loose.

"We're on the ground floor. It wouldn't be a big jump. Do you think you can make it?" Ponch asked, noting how pale his friend was and how much larger the blood stain on the back of his shirt had grown.

Jon nodded. "You can't keep fighting them and I'm not gonna be much help. We have to run for it."

Ponch went through the window first, then turned to help Jon out. They slowly walked away, both ready to pass out.

"Lets go into the alley. Maybe we can find a place to hide there," Jon barely said, all the while gasping for air.

Ponch was only able to run a few feet before falling to the ground exhausted. "Jon, go get help. I can't make it."

Jon dropped down beside him. "I'm not going anywhere with out you. If it means we die...then we die together."

Ponch soon lost consciousness. Jon sat beside the trash bin watching as Ponch began to slip away...knowing his own struggle to survive was faltering as well.

"We were a great team, huh, Partner?"

Jon's eyes slipped closed as a darkness, not of nightfall, finally descended upon him.

Walking in the alley, looking for stray cats, a girl of about twelve came upon the two officers. After her initial start, she checked to see if they were alive, then ran home.

"Well, Lisa, how many cats did you bring home this time?"

Looking up at her mom with fear in her eyes, Lisa uttered, "Mom -- I -- I just saw two guys in the alley. Policemen, I think. They were hurt bad...real bad, Mom."

"Lisa, I want you to call the police and tell them were the men are. I'm going

to see if I can do anything for them till help arrives."

Lisa rushed to the phone while her mother hurried outside. Nervously, she dialed. "911. What is your emergency?"

"Yes, there are two guys in the alley and they are hurt bad." Lisa gave them the directions to the alley. "One guy is a tall blond and wearing a policeman's uniform. There is a lot of blood on the back of his shirt. The other guy has black hair. It looks like he was beaten up. I think...I think they're both...dying."

"Help is on the way."

Ann Walkens stood looking at the two men. She had brought with her some bandages and some blankets, hoping to be able to help in some small way.

She walked over to Jon and tried to move him so that she could see the wound but not hurt him any more than he already was. She quickly put some of the bandages on his back.

His moan of pain somehow reassured her.

"Sorry...Mister Good Looking Cop, but we have got to stop this bleeding," Ann said, trying for a lightness she didn't feel, hoping her words would carry a message of comfort to the injured man.

When she had done her best to staunch the flow of blood from the knife wound, she turned to the dark haired man.

"Looks like some one tried to beat you to death."

Taking the blankets, she covered both men, then settled down between them.

"Don't worry, I'll stay here with you until help comes. Just make sure you both stick around for all the hoop-la."

"S-4 & Seven-Mary five, meet LAPD in the alley by the apartment building. Twelve hundred block of Plate Street. Two men found fitting the descriptions of Seven-Mary three and four."

"S-4 & Seven-Mary five...Ten-four!" Sergeant Getraer radioed as he and Grossman raced toward the scene on their motorcycles.

When they arrived at the alleyway they found Officers Reed and an ambulance crew already on the scene.

"Is it Jon and Ponch?" Sergeant Getraer asked.

"Yes, Sir," Reed answered. "They're are in bad shape. Jon has been stabbed in the back and Ponch has been beaten up pretty badly. Jon woke for a few minutes and told us which apartment one of the suspects was in, then he passed out again. Malloy is leading the search now."

Joe Getraer knelt down along side his injured men, feeling his guts knot up with worry and anger.

"You two hang in there. You hear me? The department needs you."

Neither man gave any overt sign of hearing their Sergeant's heartfelt plea.

Three days later, after arriving at the hospital and receiving intensive medical care, Jon woke up. The first person he saw was Getraer.

"Joe, what happened to Ponch? Where is he?"

"Don't worry, Jon. He's right here. They put the two of you in the same room," the Sarge said, not adding that it was his own idea, figuring that each man would aid the other's recovery. "He hasn't waken up yet."

"Why not? What's wrong with him?"

"Well...the head injury...he's got a skull fracture. He...he's slipped into a coma."

"But he'll be okay?" Jon questioned anxiously.

"If he wakes up soon, the doctor says he should be," Gatraer explained.

"He has to be all right..." Jon whispered. He felt a slight squeeze on his arm.

"If anybody can fight his way back, it's that hard-headed partner of yours."

Jon tried to return the smile that Gatraer offered, but failed. Instead, he asked, "How did you find us?"

"A woman and her daughter found the two of you and called the police."

"Remind me to send them both some flowers," Jon commented.

"You got it," the Sarge said. "By the way, we got Smith. Dale Smith is the one of L.A.'s largest drug lords and the guy you arrested two weeks ago, Adam White, was his right hand man. Smith heard that White made a deal with the D.A. and that he had told you two everything. He hired a man in jail to kill White and hired James Morrison and Mike Anderson to shut you two up. You're very lucky to be alive. It seems the LAPD have suspected Smith in the death of two officers a year ago but could never find the proof. Smith, Anderson, and Morrison are all in jail on two charges of kidnapping, assaulting a police officer and two counts of attempted of murder."

"I'll be more than glad to testify against them when the time comes," Jon said ruefully. "I wanna make sure they don't get out for a very long time...if ever!"

"Listen, you get some sleep," Sarge instructed, seeing a heavy fatigue settle down upon his officer.

"But, Ponch..." Jon started to protest.

"Sleep!" Gatraer ordered firmly.

Despite his desires to the contrary, Jon's weakened body forced him to comply.

Later that day Ponch slowly opened his eyes, seeing a bright light.

"Am I dead?" he mumbled.

"Hardly," came a deep voice, sounding somewhat amused.

He batted at the offending hand that was shining a pin-point white light into his aching eyes. A blurry figure, dressed in a white lab coat, came into his view.

"Mr. Poncherello...I'm Dr. Hampton. Welcome back to world..."

"Thanks..." Ponch winced again the throbbing pain in his head. "I think."

As his sense of awareness returned, his thoughts flashed to his Partner.

"Jon!?" he called out anxiously.

"Right over here, Ponch."

Ponch looked toward the sound of the familiar voice.

"Jon?" A grin creased Ponch's pale face. "Man, it's good see ya'. I thought...I thought...for sure..."

"Yeah..." Jon nodded. "For a while, so did I. How do ya' feel?"

"Like somebody is playing La Bamba on my head." Ponch groaned, but the old twinkle was back in his eyes.

Jon chuckled, shaking his head.

"How 'bout you?" Ponch asked him.

"Like a shish-ka-bob," Jon kidded and it was Ponch's turn to laugh.

"Listen, what about Smith and his goons?" Ponch asked.

Jon told Ponch everything that the Sarge had told him.

Later that evening, Sergeant Getraer entered the room. "Well, it's good to see you both awake and talking. How do you feel, Ponch?"

"I've had better days, Sarge...but I'll make it," Ponch said.

"Never doubted that for a second," Getraer said quickly, although, in fact, for the first few hours after his men had been found, he had feared that neither would survive. He was thankful to have his officers and friends back. He visited with his two officers for a few minutes, passing along messages from their fellow officers.

"You two relax and get plenty of rest," Getraer said as he got up. "And Baker, when you are out and feeling better we are going to have a talk...a nice long talk...about following procedure."

"Uhm--right...Sarge," Jon responded, sheepishly.

Once Getraer was gone, Jon glanced over to find Ponch grinning like the Cheshire Cat. "What's so amusing?" he asked.

"You," Ponch responded. "I mean...usually it's ME heading into the Sarge's office for one of his lectures..." Shifting, he placed his arms behind his head, still grinning. "Nice to know you're just plain human after all, Partner."

Jon moved to defend himself, then simply broke into laughter.