Redhawke.org
Red Dust
Red Dust
by Melinda Holley

Beta Read by Yvonne
Written for PetFly by:
Teleplay by: David Balkan
Story by: Ann Powell and Peter Lance
Rated PG
internal thought in * *

~~~~~ ACT I ~~~~~

Markov's Restaurant

It was said that first generation immigrants never really left home. They chose to spend what little free time and money they had to recreate their homeland. Thus were the Little Italy's, Little China's, etc., founded. Second generation immigrants tended to try to assimilate and left the conclaves of the older generation for the suburbs or uptown apartments. Third generation immigrants tended to want to rediscover their 'roots.' They returned to the conclaves of their grandparents in an attempt to experience the 'Old Country.'

Markov's was a smooth blend of Old World and New in an attempt to cash in on those trying to experience Mother Russia. Replicas of Russian icons hung on the walls spotlighted by the most up-to-date American lighting. Russian music played softly in the background as guests sipped fine California wine. A few older patrons sat in corners quietly talking about how the younger generations didn't understand or care about 'traditions.'

Most of the patrons were young immigrants either consciously or unconsciously trying to hold onto something familiar in this new land they'd chosen. A few non-Russians could also be found in the dining room. But they tended to dine there because Markov's was quickly gaining a reputation as one of the ethnic 'in places' to be seen. Staff and management appreciated their patronage, but they were never given the best tables.

"For She's A Jolly Good Fellow! For She's A Jolly Good Fellow! For She's a Jolly Good Fellloowwww…"

The two young women at the table laughed as the waiters brought a cake with burning candles across the dining room and set it on the table in front of them. As the waiters clapped, the two women hugged.

"For you, Katrina. Only the happiest of birthdays with many more to follow." Micki Kamerev smiled as she pushed a strand of hair behind one ear.

"There will be. My time is just beginning." Micki's younger sister eyed the cake with wide eyes. She remembered a life in Russia where bread was both a treat and a novelty.

Across the room, a table with three men sitting around it watched with various degrees of appreciation. One of the men, Anton Mayakovsky, motioned to a nearby waiter. "The birthday celebration over there. Send them a bottle of something expensive and light." When the waiter nodded, Mayakovsky caught his arm. "And make sure they know it's from me."

"Of course, sir. I'll take care of it immediately." The young waiter nodded as he turned and walked away.

The two women were toasting each other when the waiter brought over a bottle of champagne. "From the gentleman at that table. With his compliments on your birthday."

Micki and Katrina looked to see Mayakovsky staring at them. The three men raised their glasses in a salute.

"Thank him for us." Micki coolly nodded. She lowered her head and adjusted the linen napkin on her lap. "That pig."

Mayakovsky looked at the man next to him. "What time is it, Alexei?"

Alexei checked his watch. "Eleven-thirty. He is late."

Mayakovsky shrugged. "Where else is he going to go?"

The door opened briefly allowing the noise of the traffic in the street to interfere with the gentle strains of Russian music playing in the dining room. A young man entered, carrying a silver case. He looked around the dining room, then slowly began walking towards the rear. Behind him, another man entered and followed.

Katrina looked up as the young man approached. "Sergei!"

Micki unsuccessfully reached for her as Katrina got to her feet. "Katrina, no!" she hissed. She looked around with concern as Katrina and Sergei briefly hugged.

"I thought you'd be here earlier." Katrina gently touched his cheek. "You're ill."

"I'm fine," Sergei assured her. "Sit with Micki. Let me handle this." He lightly kissed Katrina on the cheek.

Micki pulled her sister's arm, urging her to sit down.

Sergei turned and walked towards Mayakovsky's table. Just as he halted at the table, someone shoved him from behind. Startled, Sergei fell to the floor. As he fell, the silver case slid from his fingertips. "Nyet!" Sergei yelled. Then he covered his head, instinctively drawing himself up into a small ball.

The man who had shoved Sergei had pulled out an automatic pistol and began shooting at the men sitting at Mayakovsky's table. All three men at the table, immediately returned fire.

Patrons screamed as glassware exploded. Men and women began either running for the exits or hid behind overturned tables. Russian curses could be heard from the safety of the kitchen.

Sergei saw the man who had shoved him lean down and grab the silver case. Firing to cover his retreat, the man quickly left the restaurant. He glanced over his shoulder to see Mayakovsky slowly getting to his feet. Both men who had been with him lay dead, their blood staining the formerly pristine white tablecloth. With a quick look to be sure of Katrina's safety, Sergei ran towards the kitchen and out the back door.

~~~~~~~~

Thirty minutes later, Captain Simon Banks stood watching as his officers sorted through the mess. He grabbed the elbow of a nearby investigator. "Tell everyone to take the time to do this right. No mistakes. And no one, I repeat, *no one* gets into this crime scene without my authorization. And I don't care what network they're with."

He turned to see Jim Ellison flashing his badge at the uniformed officer on the door. The young patrolman glanced at Simon, who nodded. "Let 'em in," he called. He wasn't surprised to see Blair Sandburg, who'd been partially hidden behind Jim, quickly follow.

"Mmmmm…nice threads, Simon," Blair grinned. "Moonlighting tonight?"

Simon scowled. "I was at a dinner for the commissioner. I got paged while the mayor was in the middle of one of his more captivating speeches." He barely restrained from rolling his eyes. "I consider myself fortunate in that I was able to leave."

"What happened?" Jim asked, his eyes scanning the trashed room.

"He continued droning on about his re-election," Simon grumbled.

"I mean here, Simon," Jim patiently explained.

"Some guy came in and shot up the place," Simon grunted. "We're just lucky only two people got killed."

"Witnesses?" Jim crisply asked.

"In Little Moscow?" Simon shook his head. "Nobody's talking. Apparently they were all diving for cover."

Blair had been looking at the room with wide-eyed horror. "Can't say I blame them, man."

Jim nodded as Dan Wolfe approached. "Captain? We'd like to bag and tag 'em. The sooner we do some autopsies, the sooner you can get some answers."

"Anything you can tell us so far?"

The medical examiner shrugged his massive shoulders. "Well, it's preliminary, but their teeth are odd."

"Odd?" Blair frowned.

"The fillings are steel and crudely placed." Dan nodded. "Not my idea of dental work."

"Go ahead and remove the bodies," Simon ordered. He saw the frown on Jim's face as Dan walked away. "What is it, Jim?"

"They were in a gulag," Jim quietly answered. "Probably guards."

"How do you know that?" Simon's eyes narrowed.

"A guy I knew in the CIA told me about an interrogation," Jim briefly explained. "The guy had a mouthful of steel fillings. All courtesy of the Russian prison system."

"Yewww." Blair shivered as he turned away from where Dan was supervising placing the bodies in black body bags.

"If they were guards, we may be looking at some sort of payback," Simon mused.

"With all this?" Blair waved his arms to indicate the surrounding carnage. "Isn't that a lot of overkill?" He saw the sour looks on his companions' faces. "Sorry. Bad pun. Completely unintentional."

"He's right, Simon," Jim pointed out. "There was a lot of firepower used. Could be a mob hit."

"Done to make sure everybody is scared and keeps quiet," Simon sighed. "We need answers and fast." He frowned as his pager beeped. Looking at the display, he grunted. "Ah. The mayor. Why am I not surprised?" He looked at Jim as he replaced the pager. "Keep me informed. I don't want any nasty surprises." Pulling out his cell phone, he walked away.

Jim glanced to one corner of the room where an officer was talking with two very attractive women. He walked towards them. One of the women seemed to be talking quite a bit as opposed to the near-monosyllabic responses of the other restaurant patrons.

"I have told you everything," Micki wearily complained. "How much longer are you going to keep us here?"

"I'm afraid as long as necessary," Jim smoothly apologized, glancing at the officer's ID. "Thanks, Office Brannigan. I'll take it from here." He noted Blair's presence at his shoulder. "I'm Detective Ellison. This is my associate, Blair Sandburg. And you are…?"

"Mikhaila Kamerev," Micki introduced herself. "We were here to celebrate my sister, Katrina's, birthday. A man came in and began shooting. That is all we know."

Blair noticed Katrina sitting in a chair. She looked more tired and weary than most of the other restaurant patrons. He looked around and found an undamaged carafe of water. Checking to be sure the water was clean, he found a glass and poured her some water to drink.

"What did he look like?" Jim probed.

Micki sighed. "Perhaps six feet in height. Brown hair. Two hundred pounds." She smiled a silent thanks at Blair when Katrina began sipping the water. "We had never seen him before."

"No scars? Visible tattoos?" Jim queried.

"We were busy trying to stay alive to notice such details," Micki snapped.

"We were just having a quiet party," Katrina's voice trembled. "We know nothing."

"If you're not comfortable talking here, we can go somewhere else," Blair offered.

Micki exchanged a wry look with Katrina. "Is that what you ask all your witnesses?"

"Why don't I give you my card? If either of you remember anything, please call." Jim handed Micki his card. He tugged on Blair's arm and walked away.

"I wasn't trying a pick-up line!" Blair hissed.

"Good thing," Jim replied.

"Look, they're scared," Blair reasoned. "To them, the cops are KGB. There's a whole trust factor involved here beyond what you're used to."

"Sandburg, they're not in Mother Russia or the gulag!" Jim snapped. "This isn't the first time I've been here or run into this. I've got three unsolved murders that Homicide bounced up to Major Crimes because they've got more than they can handle." He took a deep, angry breath. "They came to this country for a reason, supposedly to be free. They need to act like it."

"Jim, all I'm saying is you've got to find some way to break through the barrier," Blair calmly argued. "It's not that easy for them to trust."

Jim sighed and looked away. "That works both ways, Junior." He automatically moved away from the door as he felt someone approach.

"Detective Ellison. Mr. Sandburg. I must apologize for my angry words," Micki quietly said. She had one arm wrapped around Katrina who seemed very shaken. "You are trying to do a difficult job. I did not mean to make it more difficult for you."

"I understand, Ms. Kamerev," Jim answered.

"I am the editor of a neighborhood newspaper. Sometimes people talk to me. If I hear of something that would help you, I will call," Micki promised. She urged Katrina to walk, and they left the restaurant.

Jim's eyes narrowed as Blair began humming the theme of 'From Russian With Love.' He turned to say something, but spotted something metallic lying in the ruins of a bullet-blasted table. He walked towards the object, pulling on a pair of latex gloves.

"What?" Blair asked, eagerly following.

Jim squatted and picked up the small piece of metal that resembled a charm of interlaced number sevens. "It's hot," he murmured in surprise.

"Hot? Hot how?" Blair frowned.

Jim slid the metal into a small evidence bag and sealed it. He stared at his fingers and gently rubbed them together. "My fingers are tingling."

~~~~~~~~

The Next Day – Simon's Office

Simon waved his hand for Jim and Blair to enter his office. He leaned back in his chair, rubbing his forehead as he listened to the voice on the other end of the telephone.

Jim shrugged at Blair's silent, questioning look. He gently closed the door behind them.

"You're absolutely positive?" Simon anxiously pressed. "Yes, I know you know your job. No, I didn't mean to…it's just not what I was expecting, okay?" He paused and refrained from rolling his eyes. "I understand. Of course, this is on a need-to-know basis. No one talks about this. I'll let you know how we're going to handle this." He slammed the receiver in its cradle and looked up at the other two men. "That piece of metal you found last night? Turns out it's radioactive."

"Radioactive?" Blair squeaked. "You mean…like Chernobyl?" His voice raised a half-octave.

"It's not dangerous," Simon quickly assured him. "Just loaded with enough…whatever…to get readings." He took a deep breath and glared at Jim. "Tell me this *isn't* related to those shootings last night. Because, if it is, the Feds will have to be involved. And you know what *that* means."

Jim shrugged. "No one's talking yet, sir. But we'll get some answers."


~~~~~~ ACT II ~~~~~

'The Rumor' Newspaper Office

Blair frowned at the sign over the newspaper office. "'The Rumor'?" he muttered.

"You read Russian, Sandburg?" Jim asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Enough to know a play on words," Blair admitted with a slight smile. "I guess she has a sense of humor."

Jim shrugged as he opened the door. The front office reminded him of a school newspaper room. Not much room. Not much organization.

Micki glanced up from where she sat proofreading papers. "You must believe I can work miracles," she commented. "I have nothing to tell you."

"Do you recognize this?" Jim held out the bag with the radioactive piece of metal. He saw Blair's look of surprise and concern.

Micki slowly shook her head. "Should I?"

Jim pocketed the piece of metal. "It's radioactive."

"And you think I know something about this?" Micki slightly smiled. "I run a newspaper office, Detective. Not a nuclear power plant."

"I think you can help me if you want," Jim carefully answered. "This charm was close to something radioactive. So was whoever was wearing it. It's possible this has something to do with the shooting last night." He stiffened at Micki's half-smile. "Even if it's a coincidence, whoever was wearing this could be very sick. A friend. Maybe even your sister." He saw Micki glance over at Blair.

"Have you found something of interest, Mr. Sandburg?" Micki asked.

Blair looked up from reading the mock-up of the newspaper's front page. "Why did you name your newspaper 'The Rumor'? Isn't that a contradiction?"

"It is a reminder of my homeland," Micki explained. "Where we had no free press. The only news we had came by rumors." She stared down at the papers in front of her. "Where rumors and truth were both sometimes lies," she bitterly added.

Jim's eyes narrowed, listening as Blair seemed to be searching for a small piece of common ground.

"So maybe there's a rumor you've heard that could help us," Blair suggested. "We don't need anything concrete. Just a starting point, Ms. Kamerev."

Micki studied him for a moment, then nervously tapped the desk in front of her. "My sister's friend. Sergei Tomsk. They like the same music, the same lifestyle." Her voice was slightly disapproving. "He thinks he is living the American dream. He was at the restaurant last night." She looked at Blair. "It might be a part of his bracelet." She wrote on a piece of paper, then handed it to Jim. "I think you can find him there."

"Thanks." Blair smiled. "If he's been in contact with that charm, he could be sick."

Micki's troubled expression bothered both of them.

~~~~~~~~

"Welcome to Little Moscow," Jim snorted in disgust. "Where you can't even get the time of day." They stood in the lobby of the building bearing the address Micki had written on paper for them. People passed by, carefully avoiding coming in contact with them. None would meet their eyes nor even acknowledge hearing their requests for help in locating Sergei.

"Jim, it's a cultural thing," Blair argued. "At least I know now what it feels to be like part of the establishment."

"I don't want to hear it, Sandburg!" Jim snapped. "This is Cascade. Not Russia."

Blair sighed, not wanting to argue. "Okay, let's work with what we have."

"Which is what?" Jim irritably argued.

"Your senses," Blair calmly stressed. "If Sergei's been in contact with that charm, he's probably leaving a trail of hot spots." He paused. "You know, I'm not really thrilled with you handling that charm. We have no idea, man, how radioactivity could be affecting your senses."

"Not now, Sandburg," Jim growled. "What's your idea about the hot spots?"

Blair pointed at the nearby row of mailboxes inset into the wall. "Metal's a good conductor."

Jim looked unconvinced as they walked across the hallway. Silently, he raised his left hand and slowly moved it along the row of metal.

Blair shuffled his weight from one foot to the other, impatiently waiting. "You know, Sergei's name…Tomsk…that's so familiar, man," he muttered.

"This one's hot," Jim muttered as his hand hovered over one of the boxes. From the expression on Blair's face, Jim couldn't tell if he was happy the experiment had worked or unhappy at Jim connecting with more radioactivity. "Come on," Jim ordered, taking note of the apartment number on the box. "Number 208."

They heard the loud music as the reached the second floor. Jim winced, absently rubbing his left ear. Blair grinned in appreciation of the sounds. He bounced and shimmied as they walked down the hall.

"Down, boy," Jim growled. He reached for the doorknob, then jerked his hand away.

"Jim?" Blair quickly questioned. "Hot?"

"Like one of your tamales," Jim grunted. He shrugged out of his jacket and wrapped it around his left hand. Pounding on the door with his right hand, he shouted. "Cascade PD! Open up!" Not surprised at no one answering, Jim opened the door with his left hand.

The loud music crashed around them. Blair's enthusiasm for the pounding beat was mitigated by Jim's obvious pain. The younger man couldn't help but bounce along to the beat as they looked around the small living room and kitchen. The loudest music seemed to be coming from the bedroom. Reluctantly, Jim lowered his sense of hearing as they approached the half-closed door.

Blair tried not to smile as Sergei and Katrina automatically dove under the sheets when Jim stalked into the room and turned off the stereo. Turning towards the bed, Jim held up his badge.

"Sorry for the interruption," Jim dryly spoke. "I'm Detective Ellison of the Cascade PD. You must be Sergei Tomsk."

"He has done nothing," Katrina fearfully denied. She struggled to hold the sheet around her as she sat up.

"No one says he has," Jim smoothly answered. He held up the evidence bag with the charm. "I think you dropped this last night, Sergei."

Sergei eyed the charm for a moment then looked away. "I do not know what you are talking about."

"How did you find us?" Katrina asked, pushing her hair back from her face.

"Your sister," Jim explained. "She's worried about you."

"Micki has no right to interfere," Katrina angrily replied. She looked at Sergei, then back at the evidence bag loosely held in Jim's hand.

Sergei sighed and sat up. "The charm is mine. But I know nothing about the shooting."

Jim put the bag back into his jacket pocket and shrugged the jacket on. "We'll talk about that later," he promised. "Right now, you both need to get dressed and accompany us to the hospital emergency room."

"Why?" Sergei frowned.

"The charm is radioactive," Jim explained. "You both need to be examined. Now…if you'll get dressed, please."

Katrina silently wrapped the sheet around her body and walked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. Sergei, dressed in boxers, got out of the bed and reached for his clothes.

Jim eyed Blair for a moment, then wandered back into the living room to see if he could spot anything.

Blair hesitated then walked over to the stereo. "You were listening to Dread, weren't you?"

"You know of Dread?" Sergei asked in surprise as he laid his clothes on the rumpled bed.

"Oh, man, are you kidding?" Blair grinned. "Their Frankfurt concert was awesome."

Sergei smiled in return. "I know. I was there."

"No way!" Blair's eyes widened. "You were there when it was recorded?"

Sergei reached for the stereo. "I have the CD, bootlegged from Germany. Listen." He turned on the stereo, immediately flooding the small apartment with loud music.

"SANDBURG!" Jim yelled from the living room.

"Just a minute!" Blair yelled back. He briefly closed his eyes, letting the music pound into his body. "Oh, man, this is great," he murmured.

Katrina returned to the bedroom, casually dressed in jeans and a sweater. She resentfully glared at Jim as she joined him in the living room.

"Get dressed, Sergei!" Jim shouted, ignoring Katrina's angry stare.

Sergei apologetically shrugged at Blair then went into the bathroom, shutting the door.

Jim leaned closer to Katrina. "We're doing this for your own good."

Katrina smirked. "Yes. Everyone is worrying about my own good. Micki worries. You worry." She gritted her teeth. "I thought I had left that behind in Russia. I decide what is good for me."

"Micki is short for Mikhaila?" Jim guessed. Before Katrina could answer, he turned towards the bedroom. "Turn it off, Sandburg! NOW!"

"Okay, okay," Blair muttered. He quickly turned the stereo off and returned to the living room. He gave Katrina an apologetic look.

"Come on, Sergei!" Jim yelled towards the bathroom. "Get out here!" When no one replied, he rushed towards the bathroom door and flung it open. "Sergei!"

He stared at the empty bathroom with its open window then slammed his hand against the doorway.

~~~~~~~~

Cascade Memorial Hospital

"Jim, what harm can it do?" Blair argued.

"It can…and will…waste a lot of time, Sandburg," Jim grunted. "There's no need for anybody to do any testing on me." He almost hissed the word test.

"You admit that you can *feel* the radioactivity," Blair hotly shot back. "We don't know what this will do to your senses. Especially since you've been carrying that charm around all day." Before Jim could answer, Blair stabbed his finger into Jim's chest. "If it's serious enough that Katrina and Sergei need to be examined, so do you," he continued.

"Is there a problem?" Simon's voice interrupted.

"No, sir," Jim quickly answered. His expression dared Blair to say otherwise.

Blair turned away, biting his lower lip.

"Forensics searched Tomsk's apartment and found his passport." Simon adjusted his glasses as he recalled the information. "Our boy's a traveler."

"Where?" Jim asked.

"Eastern Europe mostly." Simon stared at Jim with narrowed eyes. "You think he has radiation poisoning?"

"Probably," Blair muttered.

"Or exposed to radioactive material," Jim smoothly added.

"What about this woman? Katrina Kamerev?" Simon demanded.

"They're running tests on her now," Blair quietly answered. "Right now, we don't know anything."

"Well, I know something about our victims from last night's shooting," Simon grunted. "Interpol came up with a match for us. Both are street thugs from Eastern Europe with active warrants."

"Connected or free lance?" Jim frowned.

"They worked for Anton Mayakovsky," Simon explained. "He was on the fast-track to being one of the top men under the Communists to obtain your choice delights. Drugs. Women. Armament. You name it. Then he lost it when the Communists fell. Evidently, he's here to establish a new base." He nodded at Jim's unspoken question. "He's been in Cascade for about a year. Came in legally since the Russians couldn't…or wouldn't provide any information that would keep him out. He runs a small gymnasium in Little Moscow." His dark eyes narrowed. "Question is, how does this connect with your Russian…Sergei…what is his last name?"

"Tomsk." Blair's eyes widened in recognition. "That's it. Forbidden city."

"What are you talking about?" Simon demanded.

"Sergei's name," Blair excitedly explained. "I remember it from a lecture on microcosmic societies." He waved his hands in their direction. "You know…a society within a society."

"I'm sure there's a point to this," Simon warned.

"Tomsk is the name of a city," Blair quickly replied. "One of the seven cities. That's why the charm had the sevens. Those were the cities where the Soviets had their most potent nuclear weapons. There were a lot of accidents and leaks. Man, Chernobyl was just the tip of the iceberg, you know? It got so bad, the Soviets had to evacuate entire cities." He grinned. "It's not unusual for immigrants to take the name of their former home. Remember The Godfather? Corleone was the name of Vito's village…not his actual last name." He triumphantly bounced on his toes. "That's why Sergei calls himself Tomsk. It's where he's from."

Simon shook his head. "Sandburg, I have no idea how you know all this." He looked at Jim. "But if he's right, there's no telling what this Sergei from Tomsk might have brought out with him. I want this guy found and fast." He held out his hand. "Better let me have that charm. I want it back in the evidence lockup."

Blair looked relieved when Jim silently handed Simon the evidence bag with the radioactive charm. Simon immediately pocketed it.

Jim looked past Simon where an angry Micki Kamerev was arguing with a nurse. Micki noticed them and walked down the hall towards them.

"They won't let me see Katrina," she complained.

"They're running a lot of tests," Blair soothingly spoke. "I'm sure you can see her soon."

"What about Sergei?" Micki demanded. "Did you find him?"

"We will," Jim assured her. "This is our boss, Captain Simon Banks. Sir, this is Mikhaila Kamerev. She's the owner and editor of the Russian newspaper, 'The Rumor,' in Little Moscow."

"Miss Kamerev." Simon smiled. "I'm sure you'll have news soon about your sister." He glanced at Jim. "I'll be talking with you soon."

Jim nodded, mentally wincing at the inferred command.

"Come on, Mikhaila. Why don't we sit over here?" Blair urged Micki towards a row of hard plastic seats in a small alcove.

"Please, call me Micki. No one calls me Mikhaila anymore." Micki sat with a sad smile. "Mikhaila is more for formalities."

"Do you know where Sergei was from in the Soviet Union?" Jim stood across from the chair, arms folded across his chest.

"I hardly knew him," Micki admitted.

"Your sister and he were more than just friends," Jim sternly replied. "She must have told you something." He ignored Blair's frown. "Does the number seven have any meaning?"

"Why are you interrogating me like this?" Micki angrily demanded.

"Micki, we need information," Blair gently answered. "And you're the only one who's even talking with us."

"Miss Kamerev?" A middle-aged doctor stood in the doorway of the alcove. "I'm Dr. Frank Gladstone."

"What about my sister?" Micki immediately rose to her feet.

Dr. Gladstone ran a hand through his thin gray hair. "She's had a heavy dose of radiation poisoning. She spiked with a high fever during her examination. We're going to have to keep her to bring it down."

"Doctor, I'm Detective Ellison, Cascade PD," Jim identified himself. "When can I see the patient?"

"Not until she stabilizes," Gladstone firmly answered. "At least twenty-four hours." He nodded at Micki. "I'll have someone keep you informed, Miss Kamerev."

Jim waited until Gladstone had left before looking at Micki. "You have *got* to tell us what you know."

Blair helped Micki sit in the chair. "Please. If you're trying to protect someone, you're not doing them any good by staying quiet. Katrina is sick. Sergei is probably even sicker."

Micki reached into her purse and brought out several tissues. She wiped her eyes before answering. "It is complicated. Katrina and I see the world very differently. We have…been apart…estranged somewhat. But we were trying to put that behind us." She looked up at Jim. "That is why I know so little about Sergei."

"What about last night?" Jim quietly asked. "At the restaurant?"

"Sergei came in, carrying a suitcase," Micki admitted. "But it was a metal case. I do not know what was in it. He kissed Katrina then went to give the suitcase to a man named Anton Mayakovsky."

Jim and Blair exchanged a quick look.

"Does Mayakovsky have the suitcase?" Jim asked.

Micki shook her head. "The man who did the shooting grabbed it and ran."

"We'll be in touch," Jim promised. "If you remember anything else, contact us immediately."

Micki nodded, her fingers starting to shred the tissues in her hands.


~~~~~ ACT III ~~~~~

Anton Mayakovsky's Gym

Anton's Gym was located in a small run-down building located near the center of Little Moscow. The interior was dimly lit, with a few folding chairs sitting along one wall. A boxing ring was situated in the middle of the room illuminated by a light bulb dangling from the low ceiling. One door, towards the far right of the room, was the only exit besides the one to the outside.

Jim was surprised no one challenged them when they entered the building. Then he saw at least a half-dozen burly men standing around the ring watching as two men, one of them Mayakovsky, inside sparred with each other. He casually edged in front of Blair as they walked closer.

Mayakovsky coldly smiled and snarled something in Russian to his opponent. The man flushed and lunged towards the other man. Mayakovsky easily ducked the punch and landed a punch of his own on the man's left jaw. He danced back and mockingly motioned for the other man to come for him. When the man hesitated, Mayakovsky shouted something at him. Once again, the man punched at Mayakovsky who quickly moved to his right. One more solid punch to the man's jaw sent him reeling to the other side of the ring where he stumbled and fell.

Mayakovsky angrily shouted something in Russian.

"Want to try that in English?" Jim casually spoke.

It bothered Blair that none of the men seemed to feel threatened by their appearance. Each of the men looking at them quietly exuded a cold sense of menace.

"Never let your opponent dictate your emotions," Mayakovsky repeated. He curtly nodded at this boxing partner, who ducked between the ring ropes and headed towards the showers.

"That's easier said than done," Jim quietly spoke.

"It's not meant to be easy," Mayakovsky snapped. One of the men outside the ring stepped inside and began removing Mayakovsky's gloves. "Do we know one another?"

Jim slowly removed his badge and showed it.

Relieved of his boxing gloves, Mayakovsky leaned against the ropes of the ring. He looked at Jim's badge then shrugged. "What do you want, Detective?"

"Have you seen this man?" Jim held up an 8x10 picture of Sergei's passport photo.

Mayakovsky's dark brown eyes coldly stared back. "He means nothing to me."

"He was at Markov's Restaurant the other night with a metal case he was bringing to you," Jim calmly explained as he put the photo back in his pocket. "Someone took the case during the shooting. Which, by the way, cost the lives of two of your men."

"I think you have me confused with someone else," Mayakovsky quietly replied. "I know of no one close to me who has died recently."

Jim slightly smiled. "No. There's no confusion." His blue eyes flickered to cover the other men. "I don't know what you're involved with. Yet. But I will. I'm certain we'll have this conversation again."

"As you wish, Detective," Mayakovsky shrugged. "But you must excuse me. I am giving private lessons. The gymnasium is closed to the public today."

Jim nudged Blair who turned to walk away. He walked backwards, keeping his eyes on all of the men until he reached the half-open door behind them. Outside the building, he and Blair quickly got into the truck. As Jim pulled into traffic, he glanced once more at the building they'd just left. "Whatever was in that briefcase was worth killing someone for," he grunted.

"The problem is, it could be anything." Blair frowned as he drummed the fingers of his right hand on his thigh. "Drugs. Money. Security secrets of some sort. It doesn't have to be anything radioactive."

"Sergei was wearing that contaminated charm," Jim argued. "And we know he and Katrina have been contaminated."

Blair frowned. "I keep thinking we're missing something," he said after a few minutes. "What do we know about Sergei?"

"Not much," Jim admitted. "Simon's working on getting us something from Interpol. But the last thing we need is any sort of Federal involvement."

"Well, if we have the time, you should get to the hospital," Blair suggested after a moment.

Jim sighed as they stopped at a red light. "For the last time, Sandburg, there's noth…" His eyes widened in surprise.

"Jim?" Blair quickly asked. He reached out to touch the other man.

Before he could do so, Jim stiffened and began convulsing.

"JIM!" Blair shouted. He quickly unsnapped his safety belt and reached for the ignition key.

"Stop it, Sandburg," Jim laughed, batting Blair's hands away. Seeing the light had turned green, he pressed the gas pedal.

Blair sat back in his seat, staring at the other man. "You…you…you…"

"See. Nothing's wrong," Jim pointed out with a smirk. "Nothing I need to go to the hospital for."

Blair angrily snapped his safety belt. He stared out the window and said nothing.

~~~~~~~~

Major Crimes – Bullpen

"It's not much," Simon announced as he put a file on Jim's desk. "But it's all I can get on Tomsk."

Blair eagerly opened the folder and began reading. After a few minutes, he turned to Jim's computer and began accessing the web.

"You might be interested to know that girl, Katrina Kamerev, is still in the hospital. They're still running tests," Simon continued.

Jim nodded. "We need to arrange for a tail on her when she's released. She could lead us to Sergei."

"Yes!" Blair shouted. "I knew it!"

"Knew what, Sandburg?" Simon irritably snapped.

"Sergei. Dread. It's all there." Blair bounced in the chair as he happily looked at them.

Jim counted to five. "And this means…what?"

"The music in Sergei's apartment," Blair began.

"If you can call it music," Jim grumbled. He exchanged a sympathetic look with Simon.

"The music in Sergei's apartment," Blair patiently continued. "It was from a CD Sergei said he'd bootlegged from Germany. It was one of Dread's concerts. Now, I checked Sergei's movements according to the information Simon had against Dread's concert dates. Each and every time Dread played a concert in Europe, Sergei was confirmed as being in the same city."

"You mean he's like a Dead Head?" Simon frowned.

"Yeah," Blair grinned. "See, Simon. We *can* communicate."

"So he's a rock groupie. How does that help us?" Jim shrugged.

"The band originated in East Berlin," Blair explained. "Their music is all about repression and escaping from it. Obviously, it strikes a chord with Sergei. I think he believes their music speaks for him." He widely grinned. "*And*, the lead singer is doing a one-nighter at Club Doom. There hasn't been much promotion for it since Dread isn't all that well known in the States."

"If Sergei is that much of a fan, he'll be there." Jim slowly nodded.

"Fan or not, why would he take the risk?" Simon pointed out.

"His whole life has been a risk," Jim mused. "And I don't imagine he'll think we've put this together."

~~~~~~~~

Outside Club Doom

Jim eyed his partner with some concern. The last time Blair had been at Club Doom, Lash had been stalking him. If there had been any way to leave the younger man behind, he would have done so. But, Jim knew he needed Blair’s presence to ground him through the lights and loud music.

Jim also knew his partner's silence was more about the trick he'd pulled that afternoon than anything else. He'd waited for the anthropologist to vent his anger, but he'd been treated to a quiet partner all afternoon. The only time Blair had been animated was when he'd found the connection between Sergei and Dread.

As they stood in line to get into the club, Jim warily eyed the people around them. None of them were over twenty-five, he guessed. He wondered if some were old enough to be allowed inside, although it seemed no one was being turned away.

"Look, Chief, I shouldn't have scared you this afternoon, okay?" Jim finally spoke.

"No, you shouldn't," Blair calmly agreed. He kept his eyes on the couple in front of them.

Jim rolled his eyes. "I mean it. I shouldn't have done it. But I knew nothing was wrong."

"Jim, you did more than scare me." Blair's voice held more than a tinge of anger. "I wanted you to go to the hospital because of what we don't know…not what we *do* know."

Jim sighed. "I wasn't just blowing you off, Chief. I know how I feel. You've got to trust me on that."

"And you've got to trust me to make sure." Blair finally stared up at his partner.

They stared at each other for several seconds then began moving towards the club's entrance.

Inside, Jim immediately covered his ears and narrowed his eyes. Multi-colored lights flashed on and off while other lights of pure white revolved around the room. Bodies, packed close together, jumped up and down to the rhythm of the music blaring from the stage.

Blair kept one hand on Jim's arm even as he grinned and began jumping up and down with the other people.

Finally, Jim stopped moving forward. He planted his feet and tried to ignore the people around him who bumped and jostled him with annoying regularity.

Blair tightened his hold on Jim's arm as the sentinel began looking around. Spotting several people standing along a metal railing that ran around the entire inside of the building, Jim realized it was a mezzanine wide enough for perhaps two people to walk abreast. He tugged on Blair's arm and started walking towards the stairway.

As Jim pushed his way through the mass of gyrating bodies, he didn't see one of Mayakovsky's men from the gym following them. As he hurried up the stairway, Sergei spotted them. He quickly ran past the stairway towards a back entrance.

The young Russian ran down a back stairway and out through the back exit door. A security guard at the door barely paid attention to him or to the men who followed.

Outside, Jim saw a motorcycle idling at the mouth of the alley. Sergei was running towards it and the dark-clad man astride it. Pulling Blair with him, Jim ran towards them.

The man on the motorcycle looked over his shoulder as Sergei approached. He reached for his jacket pocket and shouted at Sergei.

Sergei immediately ducked against the side of a nearby building.

Jim shoved Blair out of the way and drew his gun.

Behind him, Mayakovsky's man and the man on the motorcycle exchanged gunfire. Both men were struck by bullets and fell to the ground.

Sergei darted forward and raised the fallen motorcycle. Gunning it, he raced off into the darkness.

Jim aimed his weapon, but the motorcycle turned the corner before he could fire. He quickly glanced at both men lying on the pavement then back at Blair who was leaning against the wall. "Chief? You okay?"

"Yeah." Blair gulped as he looked at both bodies. "Oh, man. Who are *they*?"

Jim shrugged. He checked both men, then reached for his cell phone. "This one's still alive, Chief."

Blair stared down at the man who'd been on the motorcycle and had warned Sergei. He started to kneel by the man's side, but Jim pulled him away.

"His watch is hot," Jim warned.

~~~~~~~~

Outside The Offices of 'The Rumor'

It was early the next afternoon when Jim and Blair arrived at Micki's office. The morning had been spent trying to pull information from Interpol on the injured and dead men from the shooting the night before. It wasn't easy trying to get that information without tipping off the federal authorities. Blair wasn't sure why Jim and Simon were both so insistent on not calling in the Feds, but didn’t question them about it.

Jim put a hand on Blair's arm to prevent the younger man from getting out. He silently nodded at the expensive steel-grey luxury sedan parked in front of The Rumor's office. All the windows of the vehicle were closed and darkened.

"Can you see? Hear?" Blair quietly asked.

Jim frowned and concentrated. "It's Mayakovsky. He wants Micki to find the briefcase."

Blair sadly shook his head as the rear passenger door of the car ahead of them opened. Micki got out of the car and slammed the door. The car's tires squealed as it roared away.

Jim pulled the truck up in front of the office.

Micki watched with barely concealed irritation as both men got out.

"If Mayakovsky is harassing you, I can help," Jim promised.

"What are you going to do, Detective? What law has he broken? You cannot arrest him if he has broken no laws," Micki pointed out. She turned to unlock the door of her office.

"We'll find out what laws he's broken," Jim replied.

Micki hesitated, then looked over her shoulder. "You are a nice man, Detective Ellison. So are you, Mr. Sandburg. I believe you truly wish to help. But you cannot." She quickly entered her office and locked the door behind her.

"Well, that went well," Blair grumbled as he walked back to the truck.

Jim's cell phone rang as he slid behind the wheel of the truck. "Ellison. When? We're on our way."


~~~~~ ACT IV ~~~~~

Cascade Memorial Hospital

Jim and Blair found Simon arguing with Dr. Gladstone when they arrived. The physician glared at Jim. "You should have given me more information, Detective. Maybe we wouldn't be playing catch-up now."

"I don't have more information, Doctor. That's why I'm here," Jim curtly answered. "How is he?"

"*He is Evegny Alexeivich Koravsky," Simon spoke. "He's Anton Mayakovsky's nephew. Apparently he was trying to undercut his uncle and set himself up as head of the family business." He glanced at Gladstone. "He's also got severe radiation poisoning."

Gladstone angrily glared at them. "My patient has severe internal bleeding, endotoxins leaking into his abdominal cavity, infections, septicemia, and massive bone marrow destruction. We don't even consider the bullet hole in his chest to be important. We've isolated him in a wing we have slated for demolition next week."

"I need to talk with him," Jim advised. He absently patted Blair's arm, aware of how upset the younger man was by the news.

"Detective, he's disintegrating even as we speak," Gladstone irritably explained.

"And they'll be more if we don't get some information from him," Jim brutally answered. "Whatever did this to him is still out there. A lot of people are at risk."

Gladstone sighed. "We're working in a clean room. You'll have to suit up. Follow me."

Suited up as though they were planning a walk in space, Jim followed Gladstone into the clean room. Two nurses and another doctor looked up. The doctor silently shook his head. "We're losing him," he reported.

"I want a set of lytes drawn," Gladstone ordered. "Start a lidocaine drip of 100 milligrams."

Jim edged his way next to the bed. He saw the man's eyes were open. "Evegny, can you hear me?" he loudly spoke.

Evegny, a young man with black hair and dark brown eyes, barely nodded. Open lesions covered this face and arms.

"Where is the suitcase?" Jim demanded. "You know it's too dangerous for your uncle to be using."

"Not safe…too much…Sergei," Evegny muttered as he closed his eyes.

"BP's falling," a nurse reported. "He's going into v-fib!"

"One milligram epi!" Gladstone shouted. "Stat!"

"What about Sergei!" Jim demanded, refusing to be pushed aside by one of the nurses.

Evegny's eyes rolled back in his head as he began convulsing.

Jim's eyes widened as he realized what he'd mimicked in the truck mirrored reality. He allowed the nurse to shove him aside.

"Paddles, damn it!" Gladstone shouted to a nurse. The other doctor cut Evegny's hospital gown, exposing his chest.

"Charged," a nurse advised.

"Clear." Gladstone applied the paddles and shot the electricity into Evegny's body which jerked upwards then slumped back to the bed.

"Again," Gladstone ordered.

Leaning against the wall, Jim watched as they fought for Evegny's life. But the shrill whine of the heart monitor never faltered.

Gladstone reluctantly replaced the paddles. "Let's call it."

Jim wearily left the room. In the deserted hallway, he slumped against the wall then slid down to sit on the cold floor. *Damn, Blair. I'm sorry.*

~~~~~~~~~

Waiting Room – Cascade Memorial Hospital

Blair and Simon looked up when Jim entered the room. He was grateful no one else was there. He silently shook his head.

"I just got a report from Forensics," Simon heavily explained. "Seems the slugs from Koravsky's gun match the ones taken from the dead men at Markov's Restaurant."

Jim nodded as Blair helped him on with his jacket. "So our theory is he wanted to snatch the case to undercut Mayakovsky? So where does Sergei come in?"

"Maybe Sergei recognized him as well," Blair suggested. "Maybe Sergei knew a way to get in touch with him, and they were going to team up."

Jim shook his head. "Doesn't track, Chief. Koravsky killed to get that case away from Sergei. He wouldn't just hand it back over to Sergei."

"Unless Sergei was double-crossing him," Simon suggested. "Look, Jim, I've got to call the NRC on this. And that's assuming Gladstone hasn't already done so. They have special teams standing by and can have somebody here in a few hours."

"Micki Kamerev knows something, Simon," Jim frowned. "I know she does, and I think I can get her to talk to me. But if the FBI and guys from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission start questioning her, we'll get nothing."

Simon grunted. "Get what you can by the time the Feds get here. But I have to make the call."

~~~~~~~~

Micki Kamerev's Office

It was dusk when Jim drove the Expedition into the alley behind The Rumor. "Wait here, Chief," he ordered. "I don't want to announce our presence so keep a close eye out." Before Blair could protest, he quickly exited the vehicle.

Jim tried the back door, surprised to find it unlocked. He quietly walked through the back room of the newspaper office, finding Micki in the press-room. She looked up in surprise and fear.

"You should be more careful about locking the door if you're that afraid," Jim commented.

"A lot of people are afraid, Detective." Micki regained her composure. "Locked doors rarely keep out those who wish to enter."

"I talked with Katrina's doctor while I was at the hospital today. The test results came back. I asked if you'd called for the results and was told you hadn't." Jim paused, watching as Micki tried hard not to react. "I asked myself why not. The only answer I could come up with was that you already knew. You knew Katrina has leukemia."

"I do not have to listen," Micki reminded him. "You have no right to do this to me."

"You've been playing your own game this whole time," Jim angrily accused. "You knew what was in that briefcase, but you didn't say one word. You enjoy playing with people's lives?"

"You do not judge me!" Micki angrily shouted. "This is my sister's life!"

"And the lives of a lot of other people," Jim reminded her.

Micki leaned against the press. "I do not know for sure what is in the briefcase. All I know is that Sergei was going to sell it to Mayakovsky for a lot of money."

"Why don't you start from the beginning?" Jim coldly suggested as he leaned against the wall, folding his arms across his chest.

"The beginning?" Micki half-sobbed. She began wiping ink from her fingers. "Katrina met Sergei at one of those concerts. They fell in love, and all was wonderful. Then she became ill and went to the hospital. That is when she was diagnosed with leukemia. She and Sergei arrived a few months ago."

"Why didn't you say anything?" Jim demanded.

"A bone marrow transplant costs $250,000.00," Micki explained. "Sergei was going to pay for it."

"Sergei's going to pay for it with what's in that briefcase," Jim snorted. "Did he tell you what that was?"

"I did not want to know," Micki admitted. "I had to protect my sister. She is only 23 and is the only family I have left in this world."

"What was that conversation you had with Mayakovsky in his car?" Jim questioned.

"He desperately wants whatever is in that case," Micki explained. "He needs it to complete something. Because of Katrina, he thought I might know where it is." She proudly raised her head. "I do not know where it is. And even if I did, I would refuse to tell him."

Jim frowned when his cell phone rang. "Ellison," he curtly answered.

"Jim, it's me," Blair said. "Somebody's coming down the alley. It's Sergei, and he's not in good shape." Blair watched as the young Russian staggered, leaning against the side of the building. He carried a dirty backpack over his left shoulder, and the metal briefcase dangled from the fingers of his right hand.

"Oh, man, Jim! Get out here! We've got company!" Blair blurted as a large dark car turned the corner into the alley at high speed.

"Get down!" Jim ordered as he ran for the back door.

"I can't!" Blair answered. He tossed the cell phone onto the seat and turned the ignition key. He saw Sergei watching the approaching car with an expression of dread.

Blair gunned the Expedition's engine, bringing the vehicle to a halt between Sergei and the dark car, which had screeched to a halt. Mayakovsky got out of the back seat of the dark car and stared at the Expedition. "Sergei! Get in!" He shoved the Expedition's passenger door open.

As Sergei started towards the Expedition's front seat, Mayakovsky began shooting. A man stepped out of the passenger seat of the dark car, and ran towards the Expedition.

Blair instinctively ducked when Sergei fell to the dirty pavement. The driver of the dark car grabbed the briefcase and ran back to his car. Mayakovsky smirked and also got back in the car. The car's tires spun as the driver threw it into reverse. As Blair slowly raised his head, he saw the car turning the corner and drive away. He scooted across the seat of the Expedition and knelt next to Sergei.

"Sandburg!" Jim yelled as he entered the alley.

"He's been shot!" Blair yelled. He helplessly patted Sergei's shoulder. "Don't worry. We'll get help." He was frightened at the open lesions on Sergei's left cheek and neck.

"Stay calm," Jim urged as he phoned for an ambulance.

"Sergei, everything will be well," Micki soothed as she knelt beside Blair. "Do not speak."

"No…you must know," Sergei gasped. "Anton needs the plutonium."

"Why?" Jim demanded.

"He is selling it to a Hoy Kim…North Korean," Sergei gasped. "But he doesn't have enough."

"And the shooting at the café?" Jim questioned. "What was Evegny's part in this?"

"It was to look like a robbery," Sergei confessed. "We would sell to Kim for more money." He looked up at Micki, tears in his blue eyes. "I tried…for Katrina."

"She knows you love her," Micki soothed.

"Where were you meeting Kim?" Jim watched as Blair tried to make the dying Russian more comfortable, even laying his own jacket over the young man.

"Tomorrow…dock near the airport." Sergei reached out to grab Micki's hand. "Micki…I am sorry…Katrina…I love…" He released her hand and reached to his right.

"No, don't move," Blair urged. "I'll get it." He reached out for the backpack.

"Take it," Sergei whispered as his eyes rolled back in his head.

Sobbing, Micki rested her head on his chest.

Silently, Blair handed the backpack to Jim, then sat back and put his head in his hands.

Jim opened the backpack to see two canisters resting inside.

~~~~~~~

Major Crimes – Simon's Office

The detectives in Major Crimes watched as the two men exited the elevator. One man was dressed in a suite that screamed 'Federal' while the other was in a military uniform. The suited man heavily knocked on Simon's door.

"Enter!" Simon barked. He looked up at his visitors then leaned back in his chair.

"Captain, I'm Lt. Col. Michael Boyer," the military man brusquely identified himself. "This is Kent McMillan of the NRC."

"Welcome," Simon greeted. "Sit down, gentlemen."

"Let me explain our position, Captain Banks," Boyer curtly began. "There's no need to fight over jurisdiction. For obvious reasons, the NRC is very concerned about this situation."

"So are we," Simon easily smiled. "Especially since it's the fine citizens of Cascade who are at immediate risk." He glanced from one man to the other. "And just what are they at risk from?"

McMillan, a red-haired man in his late thirties, ran a hand through his hair. He started to speak when Boyer interrupted.

"That's not a piece of information you need to know," Boyer decided.

McMillan sighed. "We're dealing with PU 239." He glared at Boyer. "This is my call. I have the authorization to do so. The local authorities can be invaluable in finding this stuff."

"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage Mr. McMillan." Simon ignored Boyer who rigidly sat glaring at both of them. "I only got a gentleman's 'C' in physics."

"High-grade plutonium," McMillan explained. "We believe they're going to ground it down into a powder state."

"Will that make it more dangerous?" Simon demanded.

"If it were to be leaked into the atmosphere, it would be catastrophic," McMillan admitted. "One speck of PU 239 is lethal."

"Which means we cannot allow this information to become public," Boyer coldly ordered. "The panic would be uncontrollable." He fixed his pale green eyes on Simon. "Now, who is the lead investigator on this case? He needs to be debriefed."

"That would be Jim Ellison," Simon answered. He glanced through the windows of his office to see Jim escorting a young blonde-haired woman to his desk. A weary Sandburg trailed behind them, carrying an unfamiliar backpack. "I'll see what I can do get him in here." He genially smiled. "In the meantime, I'll have someone escort you to an interrogation room and supply you with the reports we have so far."

Jim didn't look up as Simon led the visitors down the hall.

Blair, however, followed them with his eyes. Then he turned to Jim. "Simon just took some military guy and somebody else towards the interrogation rooms."

"Damn. The Feds are here," Jim sighed.

~~~~~~~

Major Crimes – Interrogation Room 2

"Jim Ellison. Blair Sandburg. This is Lt. Col. Boyer and Mr. McMillan," Simon introduced as he led them into the interrogation room. "This is Ms. Mikhaila Kamerev. She's assisting with the investigation."

Boyer glared at Micki. "Assisting? It appears she's a viable suspect."

"She's assisting," Blair firmly corrected him. He took Micki's arm and led her to the far end of the table. He noticed she was shaking and glared at the officer.

"I can't say I'm impressed with how you run an investigation, Banks," Boyer snorted. "A suspect and a civilian included?"

"Oh, give it a rest, Boyer," McMillan snapped. "You're *not* in charge here. I am." He looked down the table. "My apologies, Miss Kamerev. Mr. Sandburg." He looked at Jim. "I hope you have something positive for us."

Jim glanced at Simon who shrugged and nodded. He and Simon sat between Blair and Micki and the two government officials. "This North Korean, Hoy Kim, wants to build a nuclear bomb. He's buying plutonium from people like Mayakovsky who had contacts in the old Soviet Union. But, he doesn't have enough. Sergei must have learned about it and got his hands on some. He still needs two containers."

"Given the upheaval in the old Soviet Union, it's not all that difficult," McMillan admitted. "Right now, there is close to 100 lbs. of the stuff that we *know* is missing from Soviet nuclear facilities."

"Dear God," Simon sighed.

"And this Mayakovsky can't complete his arrangements with Kim until he has the final two containers," Boyer mused.

"We want Kim in order to be sure we get all the plutonium in this case," Simon finished. "Mayakovsky might have given part of it to Kim as a gesture of good faith until he delivers the rest."

"Then we set a trap," Boyer decided. "As far as Kim knows, he's still meeting Sergei. From what your report states, it's at a dock near the airport."

"There is one place like that," Simon admitted. "They use it for hovercraft tours of the bay."

"Makes sense." Jim nodded, almost to himself. "Easy access to land, air and water. Fortunately, it's the off season so there won't be any civilians around."

"Ummm…excuse me," Blair hesitantly spoke up. "But how do we get Mayakovsky there? For this to work, he's got to show."

Boyer coldly smiled. "That's where Miss Kamerev comes in. She'll bait the trap for us."

Surprisingly to Jim and Blair, Micki said nothing for a few seconds. "I will do this. For a price."

"Excuse me!" Boyer sneered. "Look, lady, I don't know how it's done in the Old Country…"

"Oh, shut up, Boyer! If you open your mouth one more time except to comment on security matters, I will personally pick up the nearest phone and call General Perry!" McMillan's fist slammed onto the table. "And I don't think I have to remind you that I'll get through without delay, do I? He's very fond of his son-in-law."

Jim leaned back in his chair, openly amused. Simon found the table in front of him to be very interesting, even if his lips did slightly move upward. Blair's eyes were wide as they flickered from Boyer to McMillan and back again.

McMillan took a deep breath to settle himself. Then he turned to face Micki. "Very well, Miss Kamerev. Let's discuss this."

~~~~~~~~

Major Crimes – Simon's Office


"Remember, try to keep him speaking in English," Jim softly urged. "But don't force it."

Micki nodded then dialed the phone. She watched as the tape recorders connected to the phone were activated.

"Mayakovsky."

"I have the plutonium," Micki calmly stated.

"How?" Mayakovsky asked.

"Sergei told me before he died." Micki curled her fingernails into the palm of her left hand. "He was going to sell to Kim. I will take his place and include you. The price is $250,000.00 for me. Anything over that is yours."

"You are being very generous," Mayakovsky considered. "Why?"

"Katrina is sick," Micki admitted. "I need the money for her. I don't know Kim, and I can't do this alone. Do we have an agreement?"

"Of course," Mayakovsky easily agreed.

Minutes later, Micki hung up the phone.

Blair gently rubbed her shoulders. "You did great, Micki," he murmured.

Micki looked up at Jim and Simon. "Katrina. You promised she would be safe."

"I have a uniformed female officer in the room with her as well as a uniform on her door," Simon assured her. "She's also in a high security wing because of her radioactive contamination. She'll be fine."

~~~~~~~~

CABLE'S CHARTER TOURS – Cascade Waterfront

The sun rose early the next morning. As it did, two limousines rolled to a stop facing each other. Mayakovsky and two men exited from one limousine while Kim and two of his men exited the other.

"Where is Sergei?" Kim shouted across the distance.

"I'm taking his place," Mayakovsky easily replied. "I assume the price you negotiated is fair to everyone?"

"Where is it?" Kim demanded.

"I have part of it," Mayakovsky smiled. "For security reasons, the rest is coming with someone else."

Inside the empty building of Cable's Charter Tours, Jim, Simon, Boyer and a SWAT team readied themselves. "She just went out the door, Jim. Can you see her yet?" Simon quietly spoke into the headset.

In the empty building housing the repair shop for the hovercrafts, Jim looked out the window. "Yeah, Simon. She's on her way." He looked across the room at Blair who was using binoculars to watch them.

"And here is the courier now." Mayakovsky smiled. "Give it to me, Mikhaila."

"Let me see the money," Micki demanded.

"You do not dictate to me!" Mayakovsky pulled a gun from his shoulder holster.

Kim watched with narrowed eyes. "What's going on? Do we have a deal or not?"

"Jim, can you take Mayakovsky?" Simon demanded.

Blair held his breath as Jim silently opened the door and aimed his gun. He looked from the sentinel to Micki and back again.

"Say the word, Simon," Jim murmured.

"Do it," Simon growled.

Jim immediately fired, using his sight to send the bullet straight into Mayakovsky's gun. Micki held the suitcase close to her chest and ran behind the charter building.

Members of the SWAT team inside the building fired, blowing out the tires in both limousines. Other members of a SWAT team appeared on the roof of the charter building.

"This is Captain Banks of the Cascade PD!" Simon bellowed through a bullhorn. "You have no transportation and are surrounded. Put down your weapons immediately."

Kim slowly eyed the men on the roof of the building. He nodded towards his men, and they all tossed their guns away. He glared over at Mayakovsky who seemed to be in shock. "Idiot Russian!" he hissed.

Jim emerged from the repair building, his gun pointed at Mayakovsky.

Blair ran behind Kim's limousine to find Micki. Seconds later, they emerged from behind the building.

Mayakovsky's men sullenly tossed their guns into the dirt.



~~~~~ Epilogue ~~~~~



Bullpen of Major Crimes

"Sign this…and this…and this…" Blair shoved paperwork in front of Jim.

"Do I need to read all these?" Jim sighed as he picked up his pen.

Blair shrugged. "..and this…and this…and this one."

"Feds," Jim groaned. "You just got to love their paperwork." He glanced up at this partner who was heading back to the printer. "Oh, come on, Sandburg! There can't be more!"

"Feds," Blair called back over his shoulder. "You just got to love their paperwork."

Jim glared at his partner then looked up as the door to Simon's office opened. He watched a smiling Simon escort Micki into the bullpen. "Good luck, Ms. Kamerev," Simon was saying. "I'm very glad everything worked out for you."

"Thank you, Captain Banks." Micki smiled. She shook his hand then walked to Jim's desk.

"Hi, Micki," Blair greeted as he returned from the printer.

"How are you doing?" Jim asked as he stood to greet her.

"I am doing well. I wanted to let you know, Mr. McMillan has kept his promise." Micki shyly smiled. "The government will pay for Katrina's bone marrow transplant and all of her other medical expenses."

"It's how it should be," Jim admitted. "You risked your life."

"It would not have happened without your help, Detective Ellison." Micki smiled, then leaned forward and gently kissed Jim's cheek. "Or yours, Mr. Sandburg." She gently kissed Blair's cheek. "I hope to meet you both again some day."

Blair grinned as he bounced on his toes. "Anytime."

"That would be nice," Jim agreed.

Micki nodded and walked towards the elevator. Both men watched until the doors closed behind her.

Jim smiled and sat back down behind his desk. He idly tapped his pen on the stack of papers in front of him.

"Detective Ellison," Blair grinned, impersonating Micki's soft accent.

"What, Sandburg?" Jim frowned.

Blair started laying papers on the desk in front of Jim. "Sign this…and this…and this…"

The End

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