Carl got back into the van. "Mark, get us back to the chief's office and don't waste time worrying about your speed."
"You got it," Mark said as he stepped down on the accelerator.
"That turned out to be very successful," Harold said.
"Not yet it hasn't," Eve disagreed.
"I don't understand. You got the man you were after," he said a bit confused.
"It's the other guy I am worried about. He is going into the chief's office. He will be holding the chief's aunt. Ironside is by himself," Carl said.
"But I thought Sgt. Brown was staying behind to protect him." Harold locked the wheels on Ironside's chair to stop it from rolling around.
"Wagner is going to use the chief's aunt against him. There is no telling what he will do when he gets there and finds out the chief outsmarted him and has Rogers in custody," Eve explained. "That is why Ed wanted to stay behind. Ed will be handicapped with the same problem the chief has."
"Wagner has a hostage and that hostage is the chief's aunt," Harold said as he understood the concern Carl and Eve had.
"He has two hostages," Eve said. "Don't forget the child. The chief is going to do everything he can to protect her as well."
"I would not count the chief out," Harold said. He is plenty resourceful."
"Right now I just want to get there and change the odds more in the chief's favor," Carl said. "Step on it Mark! No cop is going to pull over the chief's van.
Derek kept his arm around Victoria's neck with his gun against her temple. "Hank said he saw you leave this office. He saw you in Golden Gate Park," he said in disbelief.
"Of course he did. That is exactly what I wanted him to see. Mr. Rogers should be in custody by now. Ed is very efficient," Ironside said. "You really didn't think I would fall for that ransom ploy, did you?"
"Since you did not it is only logical to assume you have found the journal," Derek tighten his grip around Victoria's neck.
Amy Adams stared at the man in the wheel chair. The little girl remembered her mommy reading the newspaper. She asked him mommy about the man in the wheelchair who was in the picture. Her mommy said he was a good man who protected people. What was it mommy said he did? Of yes, she remembered now. The man in the wheel chair was a police officer. Mommy said police officers could always be trusted.
The lady had been very nice to her but she could not stop the bad man from hurting her. She had to get to the man in the wheel chair. The lady had her arm resting around Amy's body. Amy just had to get away from this bad man. Amy quickly dropped out from underneath Victoria's grip to the floor. Victoria made no attempt to stop her. She knew she would be safer with Robert.
Amy ran toward Chief Ironside. Victoria watched in horror as Derek raised his silenced gun and pointed it at the child. Victoria raised her right leg and slammed her high-heeled shoe into his foot. Derek yelled at the pain the heel caused as it slammed into his toes.
Amy reached Chief Ironside who grabbed the child by the waist and with one arm swung the little girl around and in behind his wheel chair. "Stay there," he told her.
Derek slammed the butt of the gun into the side of Victoria's face. Just as quickly, he raised the gun and pointed it directly at Ironside. "Don't move, Ironside or I will kill her," he shouted.
Ironside looked at his aunt. With rising rage over his helplessness to protect Victoria, his twenty plus years of experience as a cop tempered his desire to act. He would wait. An opportunity had to present itself to use the gun tucked under his leg.
"You cannot get out of this building, Mr. Wagner. By now, my staff has contacted the police downstairs to inform them of the situation up here. Rogers is in custody and under my orders, your shelter has been raided by police. The guards are under arrest and the children have been rescued. Give me the gun, Mr. Wagner," Ironside barked. "It's over. You have nowhere to go. You will be shot the moment you leave this building.
Derek Wagner laughed openly at Robert Ironside. "Get a load of this. The crippled cop is ordering me around. Let me set you straight Ironside. I AM walking out of the building. If I see a single cop, I will kill the old lady. Now give me the journal, NOW!" He shouted.
Ironside shook his head. "What good do you think retrieving that journal will do you? We know all about your operation. Even if I give you the journal, we have the computers," Ironside pointed out.
Derek laughed again. "Hank destroyed them by remote control."
"No, Mr. Wagner. Haven't you ever heard you should destroy the hard drive, not just what is on it. Quite often, the data can be revived. That was the case with your computers," Ironside bluffed.
Derek's mind feverishly tried to process what Ironside had just said. Derek did not know enough about computers to know if what he said was true. "You're lying Ironside."
"Am I, Mr. Wagner. Then tell me, how would I know this? You and your brother are both products of the very system in which you and Rogers have been running for the past five years. Until then the couple you know as your parents ran it. You and Harry were kidnapped from your real parents and you were raised by the people whom you accepted as your parents since you were five years old. You know fully well the only way I could have gotten that information was from those computers."
Derek stared at Ironside in shock. How could he know that? Even Harry had not known that. Derek tried to remember his conversations with Hank. Was that information on the computers or was it in the journals? Derek's head was swimming.
Ironside took advantage of Derek's confusion. He whispered to Amy behind him. "Go into the room behind you and lock the door. Don't come out until I come for you." Amy did not hesitate. She knew this man would protect her. She turned, ran into the room and locked the door. Derek did not even seem to notice.
Mark pulled into the parking garage. Carl and Eve jumped down from the van. Mark joined them. "Eve, send Ed a text on his phone. Ask him where he is and what we can do to help. Let him know that we have informed headquarters on what is going on up there. Tell him we have unmarked cars ready to follow Wagner if he tries to leave using Victoria as a hostage."
"I am already on it, Carl." Eve had her phone out, fingers flying across the keyboard.
A plain-clothes officer approached Carl with his badge in hand. "Lieutenant, we have all of the men in place you have asked for."
"No one is to move in unless I give the order. Is that clear?" Carl said.
"Yes sir, I have already told the officers that," he told Carl.
"Carl, Ed has answered. He understands and would like us to come up and take his place. He and Fran are going to go around and attempt to enter the chief's office from the other entrance," Eve read from her cell phone.
"Let's go. Mark, I know that it is useless to tell you to stay here so make sure you stay behind Eve and me," Carl said. All three entered the elevator.
Victoria watched as Robert whispered something to Amy. To her relief she watched Amy turn and run into the room behind Robert. Victoria heard the lock click into place.
Ironside acute hearing heard the door to the second entrance to his office open. His instincts told him Ed had just entered the office. He knew between him and Carl, one of them would disobey his orders and stay behind. Ed was more apt to disobey an order when he knew Ironside would be in danger. This was one time he was glad Ed had. Nevertheless, he knew he would have to verbally reprimand him for doing so. "Derek, give me the gun. You cannot escape. Let Victoria go. You are in enough trouble without adding more."
"You would like that, wouldn't you Ironside. No, I am getting out of here, NOW GIVE ME THE JOURNAL or I will kill your aunt right here in front of you!" He shouted.
Ed unlocked the door to the secondary entrance to Ironside's office as quietly as he could. Staying low, he entered the office and then motioned for Fran to do the same. They could hear Derek Wagner threatening to kill Victoria unless their boss turned over the journal.
"The journal is useless to you now. The computers have been restored," Ironside insisted.
"Those computers did not have everything on them Ironside. I want that journal. I am not going to tell you again!" Wagner pointed the gun directly at Ironside.
Carl put his hand on the doorknob of the main entrance door into Ironside's office. He turned slowly and left the door slightly ajar. He looked at Eve who nodded to let him know she was ready as soon as he gave the order. Carl waited to hear what was going on inside the office.
Ironside knew he could stall no longer. He could not take a chance Derek would make good on his threat to kill his aunt. He reached down the side of his chair.
Derek stretched out his arm, pointing the gun at Ironside and screamed, "Don't try anything, Ironside. I will kill her. I mean it!" He turned the gun back toward Victoria pressing the barrel to her temple.
Ironside held his hand up. "The book is under my right leg. What do you think I am going to do while you are holding a gun on my aunt? It is not as if I am going to give my officers some signal to storm this office. Are you going to let me reach for the journal or not?" Ironside asked.
"Go ahead," Derek said tightening his grip on Victoria. "But don't try anything."
The main door banged open. Carl and Eve burst into the office with guns drawn as Ed and Fran did the same from the other entrance.
Derek swung around to the main door. It was opportunity Ironside had been waiting for. He pulled the revolver from behind his leg, aimed and shot the hand in which Derek Wagner was holding the gun. He screamed, dropped the gun and grabbed his bleeding hand.
Carl, who was closest to Wagner and Victoria raced over and grabbed Victoria, shielding her with his body. Eve grabbed Victoria from him to free Carl to deal with Wagner.
Ed had already raced in, kicked Wagner's gun toward Chief Ironside. He holstered his gun, pulled out cuffs and put them on Wagner. Fran held her gun on Derek Wagner, insuring he did not try anything further.
Mark came up behind Ironside. "You ok, chief?"
Ironside let out a sigh of relief. "I'm fine Mark."
Fran went to the phone nearest her and called downstairs to inform them the situation was under control and to call off the plain-clothes officers.
Eve released Victoria after Ed had the cuffs on Wagner.
Victoria walked toward her nephew. When she reached him, she bent down and Ironside put his arms around her. "Aunt Victoria, I swear if I catch you interfering in anymore police work, I will personally throw you in jail myself. Do I make myself clear?" He pushed her back, holding on to both her arm and looked directly into her eyes.
"Yes, Robert. You make it perfectly clear," Victoria said.
Ironside turned his chair around and wheeled to the door behind him. He knocked on the door and gently said, "Amy, this is Chief Ironside. Everything is all right. You can come out now.
The door opened. Ironside backed up his chair to give the child room to re-enter the office. Amy ran right for him and climbed into his lap. "Mommy said you protected people. She was right." The little girl hugged Ironside.
"You're safe now," Ironside whispered. "I bet you would like to go home, wouldn't you?"
She let go of him and with tears in her eyes said, "Do you mean it. Can I really go home and see mommy and daddy.
"You sure can," Ironside assured her, gently wiping the tears from her cheek with his thumb."
A smile broke out across her face. She kissed Ironside's cheek and said, "Thank you, Chief Ironman."
"Eve, call Amy's parents," Ironside ordered.
While Ed was busy reading Wagner his rights, Fran attended to his bleeding hand.
Carl went over to Ironside and sat down beside him and the little girl. "Ok, how did you know we were here?"
"I heard both of the doors open. You don't think I could have lived here for several years without knowing the sound those doors make when they open, do you?" Ironside said gruffly.
Eve came over to take Amy out of Chief Ironside's lap. The little girl wrapped her arms around his neck and held on for dear life.
Ironside reached behind his neck and released her grip. "This is Officer Whitfield. She is a police officer too. I would like you to go with her. She will protect you. She is going to get you cleaned up to see you mom and dad."
Amy nodded and kissed his cheek one more time. Eve took the girl out of Ironside's lap.
Police officers entered the office and took custody of Derek Wagner.
"Now, I would like to know which one of you disobeyed my orders," Ironside said.
Ed, Eve, Fran and Carl looked back and forth between one another. No one said anything.
"That's what I thought. None of you did," Ironside barked. "Well whichever one of you….or more than one of you that did 'NOT' disobey my orders, consider yourself verbally reprimanded."
Everyone looked at the boss and smiled. Ed grinned knowing he had just dodged the proverbial bullet. The NOT meant whoever did disobey his order was being overlooked….this time.
"Ed, Eve get over to that shelter and find out everything you can. That journal is going to put a lot of people in jail from what I have read in it. Carl, go downstairs and oversee the booking of Wagner. I don't want any mistakes. Oh and release the Tuesday Afternoon Bridge Club. Fran, you can report back to your department."
On their way out, they were met by the Adams. Amy jumped off the chair she had been sitting in and ran into the arms of her mother. "Mommy, mommy. Chief Ironman protected me! You were right!" Her mother and father hugged her tightly.
Amy's father walked up to Ironside. "We can't thank you enough, Chief. You have no idea what it means to have her returned to us safely. Thank you, chief." He shook Ironside's hand.
Amy's parents each took one of her hands to lead her out of the office. Suddenly Amy broke loose and ran back to Ironside. She climbed into his lap, kissed him on the cheek and said, "I love you Chief Ironman." She got down and ran back to her parents.
"Mark, would you excuse us please," Ironside said to his aide. Mark went into his room and closed the door.
Victoria looked down at her hands waiting for the lecture she knew was coming. "Robert…"
"I'll do the talking if you do not mind," Ironside said. "You are my only living relative….."
"You have a half-brother who is a successful attorney in Los Angeles…."
"Victoria!" Ironside said raising his voice.
She looked down again. "I am sorry, Robert. Go ahead."
"What does it take for me to get through to you? You came very close to getting yourself killed.
"Robert, I promise you I will never interfere with police business again," she said.
"Yes, I have heard that before. Those exact same words in a matter of fact," Ironside recalled.
"But this time I mean it, Robert. I have learned my lesson. "I give you my word I will never again interfere with police business. I will leave it to you."
Ironside looked at his aunt. He could see she was quite shaken by the events of the last few days. He changed his demeanor and asked gently, "Do you want to tell me about it, Victoria."
"About what?" She asked.
Ironside lowered his head and raised his eyebrows.
Victoria saw the look on his face and asked, "What do you want to know?"
"Why did you seek out that job at the adoption agency?"
"Well, I read about the child kidnappings and wanted to help solv….."
"Victoria," Ironside interrupted.
She put her hands in her lap and looked down, "It is not easy telling you this."
"Take your time," he said gently.
"When I read about the kidnappings, it brought back memories. I saw an advertisement that the Coleman Adoption Agency was seeking help so I went to the Employment Agency to check out the job. It was the names of two of the listed owners that struck a nerve," she said.
"Derek and Harry Wagner." Ironside guessed.
"Yes, that's right. You see Robert, years ago I knew a man by the name of Jeffrey Wagner. He was in charge of an adoption agency." She became quiet.
"Go on," Ironside told her quietly.
"This isn't easy," she looked away from her nephew.
Ironside took her hand in his. "I'm listening.
"When I was very young, I met this boy. I became very fond of him. My parents forbid me from seeing him but I did so anyway. I fell in love with him, actually. Well one thing led to another and…" She stopped and became silent.
"You became pregnant," Ironside said.
She could not look at her nephew. "Yes. My parents were furious with me. They were worried about how it would look….what people would say. They decided no one would ever know. They sent me away to Bangor, Maine. I had the baby. I was supposed to give him up for adoption but I just could not do it. After I held him in my arms…..I just could not do it. I made up my mind I would run away and raise him on my own.
I went to work as a waitress in a small restaurant. I met a woman who helped me find a babysitter for Jason. She seemed like a very nice woman and I had to trust someone. For about a month everything was fine. Then one day I went to her apartment after work to pick up Jason and the apartment was completely cleared of everything. I could not go to the police. In those days even at seventeen, I was not by law old enough to make decisions for myself. They would have returned me to my parents and they would not have pursued Jason's disappearance. I decided to find out what happened to Jason myself.
I befriend the secretary of the adoption agency. It was run by Jeffrey Wagner. After a while, Margaret began to trust me and she started telling me all about the adoption agency. Except it really was not an adoption agency, Robert."
"You found out they kidnapped children and then sold them to people who could not have children of their own," Ironside said.
"That's right. Jeffrey Wagner found out who I was and he destroyed the records on Jason…at least I thought he had. I did not have any proof except for what Margaret told me. After Wagner found out who I was, I never saw Margaret again. Either she was fired or who know what else might have happened to her. I decide to go to the police. I told them everything I knew but when they learned how old I was, they contacted my parents and I was sent home, just as I thought they would.
When I became a legal adult, I went back to Maine to try to find out what happened to Jason but the agency was no longer there. I was not able to find out where it had moved to.
So when I heard the names of Harry and Derek Wagner, I could not believe it. I got the job at the Coleman Adoption Agency to try to find out if they were related to Jeffrey Wagner. I was hoping to find out what happened to Jason. However, when I started going through the records I recognized Tommy Gavin, at least his picture. That is when I decided to help get him away from the people who bought him."
"Derek Wagner was blackmailing you. It was because he found out about the pregnancy and Jason?" Ironside asked, although he already knew.
"Yes. He found out you were my nephew. He threatened to tell you about it unless I got you to back off from your investigation of the kidnapped children. I knew you would never do that. I thought I could find a way to provide you with the information on those poor children. I was desperately looking for a way to stop him from telling you about Jason." She again looked down at her hands.
"Why didn't you just come to me and tell me about Jason and what Wagner was doing to you? With the information you had at the time, I could have gotten a court order and raided the adoption agency right then," Ironside said. He continued to speak to her in a gentle voice.
Tears appeared in Victoria's eyes. "Robert, you mean so much to me. You are like my own son. I could not stand to lose your respect or your love. I was afraid you would think less of me and I couldn't bear that."
"Come here," he told her.
She pulled her chair right next to his wheel chair. Ironside took her in his arms. "Don't you realize there is nothing you could have done that would make me think less of you? You will always have my respect and my love. What happened to you happens to many young ladies to this day. I would never judge you for that. I am a cop, Aunt Victoria. I see much more than you ever will. You should never be ashamed of loving someone, even if the love was never meant to be. I will always love you," Ironside said gently.
Victoria again moved into his embrace. She smiled at him and said, "Thank you and I will always love you, Chief Ironman."
Ironside laughed and hugged her tighter. "I have a surprise for you. Earlier today, I had Eve check the births in Bangor, Maine. She found your son's birth record."
"While waiting for you and Derek Wagner to arrive, I read that journal. It is a record of the activities of the Wager family dating back fifty-seven years. They have been running a child trafficking business, passing it down from generation to generation. Hank Rogers actually worked for Derek Wagner. I believe Harry Wagner wanted out of the business and Derek killed him to keep him quiet. The reason Derek wanted that book was it had every transaction, that is every child, that his family had ever stolen and sold…..and to whom."
"While waiting, I did some checking and found out where Jason is today," Ironside told her."
Shocked, Victoria gasps and put her hand to her mouth. "And where is he?"
"I am right here Mother," said a voice from behind her.
Victoria turned around and looked at a man who was standing in the open door of Ironside's office. He was tall, a man just about the same age as Robert. He had graying hair, wore a mustache, a very handsome man. He came down the ramp and sat beside Victoria.
"Chief Ironside called me and explained to me what happened all those years ago. My adoptive parents both died several years ago in a car accident. I found among their records the paperwork of my adoption. I hired a private detective to find my real parents. It lead me here to San Francisco. My problem was I did not know your name. I only knew I had been adopted out of an agency run by a man named Jeffrey Wagner. The private detective learned that the agency had been passed down to each generation. A week ago it became a dead end as when I visited the Coleman Adoption Agency, Hank Rogers claimed to be the owner and told me he never heard of the Wagners."
"Apparently, they hid behind Rogers to keep under the radar. I have been here is San Francisco nearly a month and was about to give up and go home when Chief Ironside called me at my hotel. My name is Justin Pullman. I am the boy you named Jason."
Victoria began to cry. She put her arms around Justin. He hugged her and rocked her back and forth. "It's all right now, Mother. We have found each other at last."
"We have so much catching up to do," she said to him. "Chief Ironside is my nephew."
"Yes, he told me that when he called me. It is nice to know I have a famous cousin." He shook Ironside's hand. "Thank you chief. You cannot know what this means to me. I would like to get to know you as well. But right now, I just want to take my mother to dinner. Is that ok with you chief?" Justin asked.
Ironside smiled. "I think that is a fabulous idea."
Justin took Victoria's hand and turned to lead her out of Ironside's office. She turned back and looked at her nephew. Victoria let go of Justin's hand and walked back to Ironside. "Thank you Robert."
"You're welcome, Victoria." He took her hand and kissed the back of it.
Victoria bent down and whispered in his ear. "I love you, Chief Ironman."