Title: On Deadly Ground
Chapter 8 – The Spoils of War


"Wordy," Ed whispers as he tries to help Wordy sit up so they could leave as fast as possible.

"Ed…hurts."

"I know it does but I gotta get you outta here."

"You…saved my life."

"Wordy…" Ed groans as he wills his body to stay upright long enough to help get Wordy uprighted also. "I got you…my turn now," Ed slightly smirks, his body on the verge of a complete physical collapse. But just before his weary arms can give way under Wordy's weight, Sam is at his side making sure he stays upright and completes his mission.

"Raf…I need you and Tony down here to help get our boys out. Spike, call the local coroner and whatever RCMP detachment is responsible for this; not the locals. Bring in the big boys."

"Copy that boss. How are they?"

"Alive," Greg replies with a small smile as he watches Sam kneeling down beside Ed at Wordy's side.

"Wordy…can you sit up?" Ed inquires softly as he slowly turns his best friend over to face him; his own face mirroring Wordy's wince as he does. Wordy had gone a few rounds with Lockhart's men and it showed; the criminal mastermind not taking any pity on the courageous father of three. But in the end, there were no broken bones and no permanent damage done, just a few bruises, scrapes and cuts that would be tended to and heal.

"Eddie…" Greg's hand gives Ed's uninjured shoulder a comforting squeeze, his warm dark eyes fixed on the angry looking wound on Ed's shoulder.

"Boss…thank god for…your timing," Ed manages as he takes the cloth Sam had handed him and gently dabs away some of the fresh blood around Wordy's nose and mouth.

"Ed…"

"It's over…good guys are here," Ed nods to Sam, making Wordy twist his head to the left and look up and smile.

"You both had us worried," Sam replies with a heavy frown as they both help Wordy slowly sit up. "But I knew you'd be okay," he concludes as Raf and Tony hurry to their side.

Ed watches Greg and Tony head over to Lockhart's unmoving corpse and feels himself inwardly curse and heave a sigh of relief at the same time. But it was time to go home, so Sam, Ed and Raf help Wordy to stand up, Raf taking Wordy and Sam supporting Ed's weary frame as they all head for the stairs, Greg lingering with Tony and thanking his long time trusted friend for his invaluable help at the right moment.

"You know when I got your call…you sounded…strained."

"Sorry…I didn't know who I could really trust but I was desperate and took a chance. I know it's been a few years."

"I'm glad you did…it was the right one," Tony replies with a smile as he extends his hand and then takes Greg's. "I'll take care of this stuff here."

"You sure?"

"Go take your boys home to their families."

"Thank you."

"Keep in touch. I still want that soda."

"Copy that," Greg chuckles, making Tony chuckle also as Tony's team leader, Ian walks up to them.

"Ian…we got work to do."

Greg leaves the rest of the war zone in Tony's capable hands as he hurries up the stairs and rejoins the rest of his team now gathered around Ed and Wordy on a bench inside the inner courtyard.

"I just called Shelly and Sophie and told them we got them both and they are alive and we're all heading home," Jules informs Greg with a warm smile.

"Medi-vac takes too long to get you outta here…can you survive the police chopper ride back to TO?" Greg asks as he sits down beside Ed, Wordy slumped onto his right shoulder.

"Yeah boss…that's fine," Ed manages with a weary gaze. "We just wanna leave."

"Ed's sick of being…in the country," Wordy quips as Ed nods, making them all lightly laugh. After having stripped some boots and jackets from Lockhart's fallen men, Sam gently drapes one around Ed's tired shoulders, telling him to just rest his wounded shoulder, Wordy able to actually pull on the jacket, slowly and with some help.

With the help from the team, the two of them are finally escorted to the waiting helicopter, the sounds of sirens heard in the distance looming closer; a comforting sound to all those still waiting. Ed and Wordy slowly ease themselves down onto one of the benches, Sam and Raf opting to take the floor for the shorter ride home, Jules, Spike and Greg on the other bench. Greg watches Ed struggling to remain awake and gives him a small frown.

"Eddie…just close your eyes…you're both safe now. We'll hear the stories later."

"How'd you know? I mean even where to look."

"Yeah…doubt Lockhart would have left you a note," Wordy frowns.

"We followed Lockhart's trail of breadcrumbs…" Greg starts.

"He means bodies," Sam interjects.

"Plus a call from a worried wife."

"Which one?" Ed wonders.

"Shelly."

"Was her turn," Wordy replies with a warm smile.

"And a few other things, help from an old friend and pure old fashioned luck."

"Your timing…coulda been better," Ed lightly teases Greg.

"I know. You look like you survived hell."

"We did – literally."

"That Lockhart…he's one messed up dude," Raf notes.

"And determined. Glad you have friends up here," Ed tells Greg directly.

"I'm just glad Tony is as honest as I remember. He told me most of the force up here is on Lockhart's payroll."

"That'll change with him gone," Wordy replies with a heavy frown. "And at least one person back home will be unemployed over all this"

"Another insider?" Sam wonders as Wordy nods. "Who is it? Did you ever find out?"

"Bobby Ryan…Spencer's cousin. A rookie on our team."

"Your team employed Spen…"

"He came with the name Robert Lineman…covered his tracks but good. Lockhart figured I wasn't going to live to tell and his MO is….was his arrogance. So he told me."

"Well you can do the honors tomorrow. Right now you are heading for the hospital to get checked over and home."

"Even I'm not gonna argue that one," Ed pipes up, earning himself a few smiles before his tired eyelids finally fall shut and he slumps into Wordy a bit more. Greg looks at the two beat up best friends huddled together asleep and smiles. Sam's words were right…it was their close bond of friendship that kept them fighting at each others side right to the end; neither giving up on the other in spite of the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them. It was admirable. But as he ponders the stuff that the two of them had to survive he feels his agitation soar and wonders if two regular men, strangers, would have been able to accomplish what they did. Or if they hadn't found the right clues if they'd be attending a double funeral this weekend instead of reading of Lockhart's?

They near the hospital and neither Ed nor Wordy puts up much of a fuss when two stretchers are presented, both of them literally collapsing on top of the clean sheets and allowing themselves to be wheeled into separate examination rooms; their wives now in the waiting area for their release.

"Alright team one…you have all earned the day to go and sleep…"

"But we were just getting started," Spike lightly teases, earning himself a few groans.

"See you all tomorrow."

Greg watches Sam, Jules, Spike and Raf all accept grateful hugs from Sophie and Shelly before they head for the door, Clark at the safe house with Izzy and the girls waiting for their father's to return.

"How are they?" Sophie asks in haste.

"They've both taken quite a beating," Greg frowns. "But I gotta tell ya…seeing what they survived, it was their close bond and love for their families that got them through all that," Greg assures them. "In a few days they'll be okay."

"A few days?" Shelly asks in surprise.

"Less?" Greg quips as the three of them settle into a bench in the ER waiting area. About half hour later, Wordy is the first to breach the ER doors, rushing into the arms of his wife and holding her close a few seconds longer. Sporting a small limp, a few cracked ribs, a few facial and chest bruises, Shelly pulls back and looks at her husband in wonder.

"I'm okay," he assures her warmly. "Ed's getting his shoulder stitched up," Wordy informs them as he gives Sophie a brief but warm hug. "He's gonna be okay. He saved my life."

"You'd do the same for him," Sophie acknowledges.

"He already did," Ed replies as he slowly heads toward them, looking just as worse for wear as his best friend; both also suffering from the lingering effects of hypothermia.

"I'm glad you're safe," is all Sophie manages as she holds onto Ed before finally letting go. Greg gets a bit more scoop before he tells Ed he'd see him on Monday and then finally takes his leave. The four remaining adults walk to Ed's Ford Flex in silence, Wordy's van still being fixed after it had been removed from the wrecking lot; the dog already recovered and adopted by a better owner. They talk briefly about their ordeal as they head for the safe house, picking up all the kids and then heading to Wordy's, dropping off Wordy and Shelly and then heading home.

"I'm almost too tired to say thank you for everything you did…Ed if you hadn't come out of that cell when you did…" Wordy's words die out as he looks at Ed with a strained expression, his tormented gaze lingering on the ring blackened purple around Ed's right eye.

"You save my life a few times back there also…we're even," Ed smirks as he gives his best friend a warm hug. "But you promise me that you won't try to arrest Lineman without me there."

"I think I owe you that much," Wordy nods, before he pulls back with a small worried expression. "Ed back there…"

"No Wordy…it's okay…I know…okay I know. Just get some rest and I'll see you tomorrow."

"No Ed…I didn't mean to come down on you about the whole tire thing."

"Yes you did just like I meant to badger you about coming back to the team when you only had that one shot and saved my ass. Guess we tend to bring out the best and worst in each other. Keeping that from you was a mistake."

"At least we are both here to make amends for it," Wordy replies with a heavy sigh. "See you tomorrow."

"Okay," Ed answers as he offers Wordy one last smile and then watches Wordy head for his house with Shelly's arm around his waist; before he gets into his own car and heads for home.

As soon as they get home, Ed slowly heads upstairs, wanting nothing more than to take a hot shower and crawl into bed – two actions his family willingly allow; Sophie telling him she'd have something waiting for him to eat as soon as he was up. Ed surveys the dark circles on his chest and then looks at the black eye on his face and small cuts on his cheek and lips from their near death ordeal in the woods and then in Lockhart's lair. His shoulder starts to complain a bit louder as he strains it upward, pulling his arm back down and telling himself that he'd have to use his other arm in the meantime. Not caring about getting the fresh bandaging wet, Ed stands under the warm streams of water for what seems like a small eternity, the last of the hypothermic shivers finally dissipating and his entire frame starting to relax. With the warm shower over, Ed redresses and then literally collapses into bed until supper time; his body more than thanking him for the muchly needed rest.

Ed rubs his weary face as he slowly sits upright in bed and looks over at the clock, it was dark outside now, the temperature dropping as per the winter theme; but inside was warm and comforting. His sleep for the most part had been fraught with tormented nightmares but his body was too physically exhausted to wake him from the dark realm of light slumber until it was ready; Ed awaking not as mentally refreshed as he would have wanted. Nevertheless, at least he would only have to worry about a hearty meal and more rest before taking on the day tomorrow. Despite the fact that it would be Sunday, he knows Wordy wants to get the business with Robert Lineman out of the way and then start fresh on Monday without having to worry about another Lockhart lackey watching his every move.

"Wow dad you look tired," Clark mentions as Ed slowly enters the kitchen and nearly collapses into the chair beside Clark.

"I feel it," Ed groans as he rubs his face and then looks at Sophie with a heavy frown. "But I'm okay."

"Ed…"

"Just the shoulder…we got off pretty lucky actually," Ed answers in truth as he takes Izzy into his arms and starts to bounce his happy baby girl on his knee.

"Dad you have a black eye and a big bump on your forehead."

"Lockhart is known for his torture of cops so…actually we got off pretty lucky. A few close calls but um…we got the ending we wanted."

"And some guy who Wordy works with was in on this?" Clark wonders.

"Yeah. He had suspected someone on the inside but at least Lockhart's arrogance served us well before he died, he gave us the name," Ed explains. "Wordy and I will arrest him tomorrow…"

"Tomorrow? Dad…tomorrow's Sunday," Clark pipes up.

"Cops still work on Sunday's," Ed retorts, making Clark roll his eyes. "And it's just an arrest. Greg called for the warrant on the ride back to TO so everything's in order. But I do want to be there for the arrest. I owe it to Wordy to back him on this."

"And then you'll just rest right?" Sophie arches her brows in haste.

"Is that an order?" Ed teasingly retorts.

"You better believe it is," Sophie answers flatly.

"Well I think it's an order I might actually want to follow," he assures her with a firm nod. The rest of the evening at both houses is spent telling their families as much as they wanted, not all the near death details as both wanted to spare the children nightmares; each spouse getting the rest of the horrific story alone in private. Ed looks up from his warm nest of covers as Sophie enters and gives her a small smile.

"I'm glad you didn't tell Clark all the details. Wanna talk about them?"

"Was just um…hell," Ed sighs as Sophie climbs into bed beside him, looking at him in concern. "Nearly lost my best friend out there…and all I kept thinking was…this is my fault."

"Why?"

"Don't know," Ed slightly shrugs. "I know Wordy wouldn't blame me…"

"Then maybe you should take his cue."

"I want him back on the team," Ed replies simply as he leans over, kisses Sophie on the forehead and then turns off the light, slipping down into the bed a bit further; his body wanting nothing more than to sleep but his mind alert now and replaying the events of the past two tormented days in his head. Finally his mind forces his eyes to close for the last time that day and whisks him away into another tormented realm; nightmares replaying over and over again.

Ed awakens first on Sunday morning, his body stiff and sore and wanting nothing more than to curl back up next to his wife and sleep the entire day. But with his mind still anxious to get the last piece of the puzzle put into place, Ed slowly gets out of bed and heads downstairs to start the coffee; Sunday always being their day to have pancakes, bacon, fruit and of course strong coffee.

After the coffee maker was set, Ed gently heads upstairs to Izzy's room, plucking his fussing baby girl from her crib and just holding in his arms, gently rocking her back and forth, her face lighting up at the sound of her father's comforting voice. Ed's lips kiss the top of his baby girls head before he leaves her room, taking her with him downstairs to check on the coffee and finding his son in the kitchen.

"Clark? You're up early," Ed comments as he enters the now aromatic kitchen.

"Yeah…uh I couldn't sleep."

Ed hears the strained tone in Clark's voice and then looks at the tense expression on his face and starts to develop a tense feeling in his stomach. "Clark…about what I told you yesterday."

"Dad its…it's okay," Clark replies weakly. "Just um…well I overheard what the guy who kidnapped you and Wordy was um…you know into."

"Into? What do you mean?" Ed wonders.

"Hunting men…Spike uh…he found some sick things and I just…I hoped you and Wordy didn't have to go through any of that."

"I didn't know…Clark, I'm so sorry…I didn't know. Mom didn't tell me you heard all that."

"She didn't know," Clark confesses. "She thought I was sleeping but…um. What really happened out there dad?"

Ed looks at the expression on his teenage son's face and frowns. It was always his policy to tell the truth, no matter how painful, learning from a small boy the folly of lies and their painful consequences. But if he was to tell everything, Clark would have even more nightmares than he would right now.

"Clark, you know our family policy is to always be honest with each other but I gotta tell ya…it was hell okay…hell," Ed sighs as he hold onto Izzy a bit tighter.

"I can take it dad."

"Watching stuff on TV and knowing it's not real and that an actor is being paid to do whatever and then he just gets up and goes onto the next isn't the same as hearing um…well unsettling details about your father and his best friend nearly dying."

"But dad…"

"It's also hard for me to talk about," Ed tries another tactic, putting it back on him. "It wasn't easy and it uh…it tested each of us in every way possible. Our close bond helped but it was hell. Lockhart's dead and Wordy and I get to make one more arrest and then…that's it."

"Okay," Clark states with a somewhat glum tone.

"Maybe after the nightmares have died down for both of us okay?"

"Sure," Clark answers with a small smile, Ed's anxiety not lessening at his son's less than enthusiastic response. But he knows that if he was to tell Clark right now all the trials he and Wordy experienced, facing near death more than once, his son would have more nightmares than he is now. His real plan was to hope that Clark got past the notion of even wanting to know; would be less heartache for all of them. Sophie soon joins them and the conversation quickly changes to the rest of the plan for the day and what new words Izzy was trying to create.

XXXXXXXX

"You know I coulda done this with one of the locals," Wordy smirks as gets into Ed's Flex.

"Sophie had a few things to do anyways and then we're all gonna go out for lunch. How's Shelly."

"Asked me about taking a desk job," Wordy remarks with a heavy frown as they head for the precinct to get the warrant and then head for Robert Lineman's residence. Wordy watches Ed's jaw tighten about the comment and purses his lips. "Ed…"

"What did you tell her?"

"What do you think? Would you take a desk job?" Wordy counters. "The answer is no. Not unless you are forced to or come back as an instructor after retirement."

"I worry."

"About me? Can I return the favor?"

"Crime bosses don't target me specifically."

"Yet," Wordy retorts, making Ed shake his head. "'sides you look a little rough this morning. And I know…I do too. I'm just saying."

"I know it was a rough couplea days," Ed states seriously. "But these past few days were a real wake up call. Makes you realize that each moment you need to spend making it count…"

"And less work?" Wordy smirks, making Ed look over and reward his best friend with a soft smile as well. "That was directed at you."

"What?"

The two of them get out of the Ford Flex, head inside where Wordy goes and gets the warrant, rounds up two on duty officers and then heads for Ed who was putting on a vest over his sweatshirt, not wanting to get into full gear if he didn't have to. The arrest of Robert Lineman was a mere formality but as they head there, Ed can't help but wonder how far it went and if everything would be okay for his best friend after this last arrest. It's true that Lockhart was dead, but in this kind of game, cutting off the head of one snake didn't necessarily mean the body died; it only meant another would step up to claim the body and rebuild the corrupt empire once again.

"Alright, let's get this done," Wordy tells Ed as they stop outside Lineman's place and prepare to enter; the other two officers right behind them. He bangs on the door with angry determination and then both wait the few moments until they hear the door starting to open.

"Kevin?" Robert asks as he opens the door and looks at the armed group at his door. "It's Sunday…what's going on? And what happened to you?"

"Robert Lineman, aka Bobby Ryan," Wordy pauses as he looks at the man before him with a small scowl. "You are under arrest for…"

"Wait what? Arrest?" He asks in shock. "Kevin, have you gone mad?"

"He's serious and if I were you I'd listen and listen good…it's the last chance you'll get," Ed adds in anger.

"Who the hell are you?"

"Robert Lineman you are under arrest for accessory…" Wordy's voice trails off as he next gestures to the uniformed officer to his right to cuff Lineman and take him into custody. "I'll do the rest of the paperwork tomorrow," Wordy tells the other officer, mere moments before he joins his partner.

The two of them stand on Lineman's walkway, watching as the RCMP cruiser pulls away and then both of them heaving an audible sigh of relief as he disappears in the distance.

"It's done. The rest will wait until tomorrow. Thanks for helping with this."

"Never liked that guy," Ed remarks, making Wordy lightly chuckle as he pats Ed on the back. "Right from the start."

"Really?"

"What can I tell ya…intuition."

"Oh right," Wordy lightly mocks, making Ed arch his brows in amusement as they both turn and head for the cruiser, to get back to the precinct and then back home to carry out the remainder of their day. "You know…if you ever wanna switch out…"

"What, back to guns and gangs?" Ed looks over in surprise at Wordy's suggestion. "What about you coming back to the SRU?"

"Okay how about a new place? Traffic patrol?" Wordy lightly chuckles as they continue on to the precinct, lightly arguing about which branch of law enforcement they could both see themselves working together as partners. "Okay I'll talk to you sooner but…see you Saturday."

"Do we hafta get the live bait again?"

"Trust me Eddie, the worms don't bite," he snickers.

"Funny," Ed deadpans. "Well I better catch a big one next weekend or else."

"Yeah how big? This big? I think you can handle that size," Wordy jokes as he holds up his two fingers and shows a few inches, making Ed just roll his eyes and then shake his head.

"And the minivan?"

"I'll have it back tomorrow," Wordy answers in truth they head for his home, their conversation turning back to the fishing trip at the end of the week ahead but neither of them mentioning Wordy's future career plans. They finally arrive at Wordy's house and briefly make small talk before Ed pulls away and heads for home. Ed gets a few things done around the house before it was time to take his family out to lunch he promised; something they all happily pile in the car to do. After the enjoyable outing was over, they all head back home, where Ed departs from his family to head upstairs and crawl into bed to get a few more hours of rest.

But as suspected his sleep is restless and fraught with distorted visions; nightmares twisted and turned every which way, forcing him to wake up with a sudden gasp in a heated sweat. Ed slowly pushes himself from the bed and pads toward the bathroom, dousing his flushed face with cool water and uttering a small sigh at he stands upright and looks at his anguished reflection in the mirror.

As much as he didn't want to hear it, Wordy was right, he wouldn't settle for a desk job unless he was forced to by either the province or a serious health issue; he was front line law enforcement until the end, that was the way of it. Wordy was cut from the same cloth which is why the two of them got along so well for so many years; closer than his own brother. But telling himself that tomorrow was a new start, Ed heads downstairs for supper, spending the last few hours of the day in some quality family time before getting to bed early for an early start the following day.

XXXXXXXX

"Eddie," Greg greets his somewhat refreshed looking team leader the following morning.

"Boss," Ed walks up to him with a nod. "So…everything settled?"

"Got a call from Tony last night…everything over there has been taken care of and I understand the arrest yesterday went off without a hitch?"

"Wordy's team now has to deal with cleaning up the aftermath," Ed replies with a heavy sigh as he pulls his locker open, allowing his concerned sapphires to rest on a picture of him and his best friend taken a few months back at the summer picnic.

"He's gonna be fine," Greg's warm voice is heard as his hand rests on Ed's uninjured shoulder and gives it a comforting squeeze, much like the gesture he had given Ed right after Lockhart was killed.

"I know," Ed replies as he looks over at Greg with a smile. "Just um…"

"Yeah…you want him back. A few days of near death and relying only on each other brought back memories huh."

"Boss…we were in the woods…one of the hunters had me…Wordy he…boss he took the shot. There was no hesitation…no wavering…he took the shot, he saved the hostage."

"The choice was his, you know that."

"I know," Ed repeats with a heavy sigh. "I know. So how do you know Tony?"

"About ten years ago…"

"Wait boss…ten?"

"Yeah same time my life went to hell in a hand basket. Funny no one ever asked me who my partner was at the time."

"We just assumed…never asked but…it was him?"

"Yeah that case hit us both hard; but we were both heading for disaster before that. His vice was gambling; caught him real bad. He lost everything. The case just before the one that grounded me involved two money launderers and a large sum of money went missing. They fingered Tony. It was an inside job and we he was set up. I knew he was clean but after I fell…Ed I started to turn on him also. I regretted that but was lost just as much as him. Well when I finally came to my senses and started on the road to recovery, he was gone…took a job up north before he landed in Chapleau. Then when Spike made the connection for up there something inside me told me to call. I almost felt guilty coming to him now after all this time…"

"He didn't mind."

"I know but…but I shoulda kept in touch more," Greg confesses with a heavy sigh.

"Well this is as good a new start as any right?"

"Right."

"Glad he was there."

"Yeah…me to," Greg smiles.

"Ah there he is," Raf walks into the locker room with a warm smile. Ed turns and looks at the newest team one member and offers a kind smile in return. He would never hold anything against Raf as in truth he knows it was Wordy's decision. But Greg was right…those past few days just cemented their bond further and proved to Ed that Wordy was still in fighting form – that wouldn't diminish anytime soon. At least that's what he would keep telling himself.

"Hey…welcome back," Sam greets Ed and the rest of the team as the morning is finally in full swing. Opting out of morning workout, Ed heads for the team one meeting room to work on the reports he hadn't finished the week before; settling down into a chair and trying to force his mind to get down to business. But as he looks at his hands and notices a slight bruise on top, he thinks back to that moment in the woods. He was blind and helpless and yet he knew Wordy wouldn't fail him. Twenty years…they still had it; the unspoken bond that would never be broken.

"Alright…let's get this day started," Greg comments as he enters the meeting room, the rest of team one entering behind him, Spike and Jules also offering their warm welcome back's before it was time to get their SRU game faces back on. And unlike the week prior, this week slowly ambles through with routine but tiring hot calls, talks with his best friend about a few tense guns and gangs round ups, family time and of course resting for the big weekend ahead.

XXXXXXXX

"Okay seriously how much stuff are you bringing?" Wordy breaks into a warm bout of laughter as he watches Ed walking toward him with his arms full.

"What? I don't like the cold okay?"

"Even Shelly doesn't bring this much stuff."

"Okay so Sophie was paranoid."

"Oh yeah sure blame her," Wordy smirks as he opens the truck of their family car, Shelly having the mini-van for the day. It was early Saturday morning and despite it being winter, the sun was out and it was crisp and clear – a perfect day for an outing.

"And you got the bait last night right?"

"Any more complaints and I'm gonna use you as bait," Wordy chuckles as Ed closes the trunk and looks at him with a pursed-lip expression. "You are gonna be just fine."

"Secret spot?"

"Only the best for you. Now get in."

"So anymore fallout from Spencer Ryan?" Ed wonders as they both get into Wordy's car and pull away from Ed's home.

"He was still spouting bloody murder over all this but at least they won't be putting him and his cousin in the same prison; of that we are assured. The emails from Lineman tied him to the whole Chapleau thing and with the help from Greg's friend Tony we were able to make something stick so he'd be transferred up there."

"At least the two of them can't plot together."

"That we know of."

"Wordy…"

"I'm just saying what we are both thinking. Come on now."

"I don't want to argue," Ed states plainly. "I just worry."

"Saw the shooting at the track on Wednesday."

"Yeah that was a tough call," Ed replies with a small frown, his fingers absently fumbling with the black toque in his hands. "I don't want to argue Wordy but I can't help but feel that if I hadn't pressed you when I found out that…"

"That I'd still be with Team One?" Wordy finishes, making Ed nod. "Maybe…things are a bit better right now. The meds are holding their own and I've gotten into a good routine with them and…and with a lot of things. Hey at least I can opt out of the really tough calls right?"

"Right," Ed nods with a small tight lipped smile.

"I don't blame you Eddie…I never did."

"You did."

"I did at first…okay? I was pissed but that's done. You gotta let it go."

"I'm…trying," Ed replies softly. "I'm trying. Okay are we there yet?" Ed asks weakly, making Wordy laugh and gently punch him on the shoulder.

"Yeah…almost there."

The rest of the trip is spent talking about things in general: house renovations, team news, spouse happenings, childish antics and sports; work was sidelined and the heavy stuff shelved for when they were back in the real world to deal with it. Neither of them would toss aside the notion they, or the city were completely safe with Darren Lockhart out of commission, knowing that with both Ryan boys alive, the threat was still very real. They had long arms and deep pockets – someone else would happily step up to the plate to stake a claim, forcing them to up their game and always remain extra vigilant.

"This is the spot?" Ed asks as Wordy brings the car to a smooth stop before a small frozen lake with no one else around.

"Come on Mr. Skeptical…" Wordy smirks as Ed pulls on his black toque and the two of them exit the car, head for the trunk, grab their stuff and head for the frozen lake; Ed falling back to let Wordy lead the way. Ed stands back and watches as Wordy expertly cuts a hole into the ice, his mind holding back from mentioning how steady Wordy's hands were and how he should come back to the SRU; it was a tired argument and one that could potentially sour the happy mood of the moment. Instead he offers a small chuckle as Wordy sets up the chairs around the hole and then hands Ed his fishing pole.

"Okay what is that?" Ed inquires as Wordy pulls out a small shiny lure and watches his best friend affix to his hook.

"Allie made it," Wordy states proudly of the creation his daughter made especially for his trip. "Hey I had to use it."

"You get that and I get…this?" Ed lightly groans as he holds up a small dangling worm. "Someone's filming this right?" Ed comments as Wordy snickers, watching Ed's fingers trying to pierce the worm but being unable. "Okay I can't do this."

"You are seriously afraid to kill a worm? Trust me he'll grow back if he's bitten in half."

"That isn't comforting," Ed retorts as Wordy grabs his hook and the worm and puts it onto the end, Ed pulling it back and looking it in shock, making Wordy laugh harder. "I swear you better not tell Clark this."

"Just put that in the water already."

"At least mine looks official," Ed teases.

"Right like the fish care."

"Hey…I'm just sayin'."

"Wanna place a friendly wager to see who catches something first?" Wordy offers.

"My mangled worm over your…homemade appetizer?"

"First one to catch…the other has to clean."

"Right here?"

"I'll kill it for you first," Wordy winks making Ed shake his head but nod in agreement. "Come on...it'll be fun, even for you."

"Okay…deal's on."

The two of them sit for about twenty minutes, laughing, talking, drinking hot coffee and just enjoying each other's company, a close bond of friendship developed over the past twenty years and promised to be even stronger twenty years later; having faced the devil on deadly ground but fighting back and securing their future.

Then about fifteen minutes later one of the line's starts to tug…and then…a jubilant shout is heard…

"I got one!"

THE END!


A/N: hehehe okay so left it a bit open and you can speculate who got to do the killing and who got to do the cleaning. Well I hope you liked the ending to this perilous little suspense story. I had to give them some downtime in this chapter after all I had put them through and hope you all liked it. Please do leave me one final review before you go and stay tuned for more Ed/Wordy adventures on the way. Thanks everyone!