He'd been fairly certain he knew which cop Elias's man with the scar had meant by the phrase that detective - the one you wanted gone when he had brought the news about the other dons slipping away from them. What Gianni hadn't expected was seeing them come back holding a kid at gunpoint.

That was a step Gianni would never have taken. You don't target your enemy's children - not for taking, not for killing. It would be tantamount to issuing an invitation for your own children to be next. Another confirmation that Elias had no children; the man was alone.

The boy had her coloring, but his features must come from his father. None of his mother's attitude either, from what Moretti could see as Elias's men escorted him to the room just past his.

Carter had been a less entertaining babysitter than Szymanski; too rules-bound for Gianni's tastes, but he had counted on that to keep him safe. Instead Szymanski had taken a bullet to the gut when Elias's men came to get him. Gianni didn't know if the cop had survived; easy come, easy go. Elias didn't stint on the body counts, from all that he's been able to observe recently.

"De Farro's gone," he could hear Elias's man with the scar say. "He tried to stop us."

Apparently the pronoun meant something to Elias. "John?" he asked.

"Who else?" After a moment the man with the scar added, "He was wearing a vest, so he's still alive."

So someone had tried to stop the abduction - someone willing to shoot to kill. Someone Elias and his men knew. Interesting.

Elias's man with the scar went back out; Moretti kept listening as Elias made the kid phone his mother. It gave Moretti a perverse pleasure that his bastard son's plan to use Carter's kid as leverage didn't succeed right away; that part he figured out from the phone conversation he could hear. Gianni rolled his eyes as Elias listed the various crimes of the men Carter was protecting, including their flesh and blood. His son, Elias's half-brother.

"I am the evolution of organized crime." A pure mobster, right. Just another example of the hypocritical beast humanity had always proven itself to be, in Moretti's experience.

A damn shame about Carter's kid. Bringing him here, letting the kid see this hideout - it meant that Elias was probably planning to kill him rather than give him back.

Elias and his man with the scar both made more phone calls and then left after an hour or so, presumably to up the ante with Carter. Gianni sat on the bed, thinking through the various possibilities. The son his wife had borne was depending on Carter to do her job. For all that he didn't like cops, Gianni hoped that this worked better than her efforts to keep him hidden at that safe house in Queens. He didn't see how, though. Too many of her colleagues were in Elias's pockets now; that's something he'd gleaned from the various conversations played out inside this building over the past several days.

Late afternoon; the guards normally in this room were taking a break. Those at the doors were still on watch - more than enough for a teenage boy and one old man, especially considering that he couldn't go farther than the foot of the bed. Gianni stood up and stretched, then walked so that he could see partly into the next room. "Hey, kid, you got a name?"

The boy looked up from his seat on the ground but didn't answer right away. Finally he said, "Why should I tell you?" Trying to be sullen, but the boy didn't really have it in him; instead he sounded scared.

"Might as well. There's no TV here and neither of us is going anywhere."

The kid scooted to his right a bit, peering as far around the corner as he dared. "Are you tied to that bed?"

So he'd at least noticed the bed as they brought him in. Not bad observation skills, considering.


"Oh." The kid looked up at him, a sympathetic expression on his face. "How long?"

"Long enough." Enough of that topic-it's not like his situation was going to change until he'd played passive witness to Elias's games. "You're Detective Carter's kid."

It wasn't a question, but the boy answered yes anyway. "My name is Taylor."

"I met your mother," Gianni said. He didn't go into the details, although he wondered how the kid might react to the news that he was talking to a mafia don.

"Do you - do you know if she's okay?" Gianni raised an eyebrow at that. The boy's next words tumbled out in a rush. "That man told me she'd been in an accident, and I know that was a lie to get me to go with him, but-"

"I'm guessing she's okay for now." No point in adding that she probably wouldn't stay okay for long; he and the kid were both bound and in custody of a dangerous man.

"So, kid." Moretti paused. Here he was with someone to talk to who wasn't in his bastard son's pay, but he couldn't think of anything to say. The kid didn't know what was going on. Elias had walked out of that back room during the phone conversation with Carter, so the boy hadn't even heard all of that.

He could scare the kid with what was coming next, but why bother. Personally Moretti had always wanted death to be a surprise; he wasn't going to get that wish, but he'd leave Carter's kid with his hopes for now. And the boy had it - hope. He was sitting on the floor, hands around his knees, scared, but he had that look about him.

"Tell me something about yourself," Gianni finally said.

The kid looked at him and then looked back down. "Like what?"

"You're in school, right? What are you good at?"

The kid shrugged. "I'm not bad in math."

Funny to think that outspoken Carter was raising this quiet mouse. Who knew - maybe the boy was a braggart when he wasn't being used as leverage. Marlene Elias's whelp had seemed like a mouse in his twenties. Too bad Moretti's own men had failed him when he'd sent them to get rid of the rodent.

"Math, that's good." Moretti hadn't had the schooling, but he'd always been careful with finances. Sure, he'd employed the numbers guys, but what was the point in running something if you didn't know where your money was going?

The kid looked at him again. "I don't know your name, sir." Oh so polite, this one.

He debated telling. Why the hell not, though. It wasn't like he had anything to lose. Maybe by some miracle the kid would make it out alive and mention it to his mother. If Gianni wanted to trade in miracles, Carter having some idea of his location would be a good place to start. Besides, it was amusing to think of Carter's reaction to her son having a conversation with him.

"I'm Don Moretti."

"Mister Moretti," Taylor said, and nodded his head. No doubt the kid thought Don was his first name.

Gianni glanced toward the back; the man he had labeled surly blond was returning, so Moretti casually walked back to his bed. Surly blond had a violent streak - as did all of Elias's men - but he also lacked self-control.

As the man walked by him, Gianni looked him in the eye, his face blank. The man didn't say anything; he went past the corner and looked at the kid. No talking to the kid either, but Moretti could hear him checking his rifle. Intimidation tactic-like the boy needed to be more scared.

Late afternoon ebbed into evening; another meal eaten with his hands, a trip to the bathroom. The kid stayed quiet. If the guards had taken another break Moretti might have tried talking to him again. Instead Gianni lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling. His son was probably holed up in some safe house with Carter while he was waiting here with Carter's son.

The man with the scar came back, but not Elias.

It was close to eleven when the shooting started. The man with the scar was already with Carter's son, submachine gun in hand. Gianni watched from his bed-he couldn't see much, but someone had made a quick entry and was taking out Elias's men with ruthless efficiency. Surly blond was near the foot of his bed, but he wasn't guarding Moretti; like everyone else, he focused on the intruder.

The man coming in was tall, he could tell that much. After moving in he used the racks of barrels as a staging point. Surly blond got hit; Moretti couldn't see if it was fatal or not. After more rounds of gunfire, the man came out, striding past him to where Carter's son was tied up.

He recognized that face. The man had been with Detective Carter the day Gianni left prison. Along with Carter, he'd fired a gun at the team Elias had sent to bring him in. He'd stayed - silently - in the car with him and Carter during their drive to the safe house in Queens.

Gianni heard the sounds of fighting; hand to hand, rather than weapons now. Elias's man with the scar got thrown out of the room, landing near Moretti's bed. The man quickly regained his footing, grabbed a weapon and ran toward the back. Surly blond was still alive; he tried shooting the man, but got hit again. The tall man stepped past the wall for a moment, looked around and then went back to Carter's son.

Moretti listened to their conversation and thought about who this man was. What did this man with the training and weapons have to do with Carter, with Moretti's own abduction, with Elias and his men?

"Are you okay?" the man asked the kid. Low voice.

"Yeah. Who are you?"

"My name is John. Your mother sent me."

They came around the corner to Gianni's bed. Time to find out what was going to happen to him next. "You here to rescue me or shoot me?"

"Tonight? Rescue." The man had a twisted sense of humor, judging by the way he said that second word.

The three of them went toward the front door; Moretti didn't bother looking at the bodies and neither did John. The kid, though - he looked at them.

Outside a man wearing glasses was waiting with a dark car; he and John talked quietly for a few moments. Taylor Carter looked around, his face blank.

"Someone's looking out for you today, kid," Moretti told him.

The kid looked down. "I guess," he said, sounding bewildered. "Yeah." He sounded more sure this time.

Gianni didn't know if this John had been part of the reason his safe house in Queens hadn't stayed safe. Certainly it was a possibility, but if Carter had sent this kind of help - whatever suspicions Gianni had about him - then maybe Gianni Junior would be okay, too. Maybe Carter had more people backing her than he thought.

He looked at Taylor again. The boy briefly smiled at him before looking down one more time; it was the first genuine smile Gianni has seen all day.

Maybe Gianni would be able to pull something useful out of this. About time something went his way again.