Everything on this page is fiction. Any resemblance or reference to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

"...What Could Happen?"
By JoeyPare

Early morning rays of sunshine streaked through the blinds of Reisner's Major Crimes Division squad room. Like a laser, one sunbeam struck Sergeant Joe-Bill McCandless' pewter coffee mug and bounced directly into the Bonsai tree on the desk of Sergeant Joey LaFiamma. Joey thought it was awfully quiet for a Friday morning. No one was arguing, no suspects were being brought in, no one was even around except for him, his partner, Sergeant Levon Lundy, and two other detectives - Sergeants Carol "Legs" O'Brien and Estaban Guiterrez. Joey's mind was not on the stack of case folders piled in front of him. He stared at the police sketch of two suspects in a recent rash of armed robberies. All in small neighborhood banks. Banks just like the one Julie Hutchinson LaFiamma worked in. Joey 's left thumb absentmindedly played with the gold band on his left hand. He smiled to himself as he remembered the faces of the people he worked with when he announced that he was getting married. You could have pushed them over with a feather.

He and Julie had been dating for only four months, when one night his comment of 'we might as well be married, it would save on gas and food,' brought the seriousness of their relationship to a head. Julie asked him if he was serious or blowing smoke? Julie outmatched any woman he'd ever known. She didn't mind that he was cop. She didn't mind dinner dates being interrupted. She'd waited for him on so many occasions he couldn't even count them. Maybe it was because her father, recently retired from the U.S. Army, was in the Military Police for twenty-five years. But the shoe fit both ways. Joey remembered several times when he had stretched his lanky frame between two chairs in an unused office and dozed as he waited for her, at the bank where she was a loan officer, when appointments sometimes took longer than expected. Instead of grumbling over lost reservations like most women he'd dated, Julie would suggest her place, or his, to cook a quiet dinner and just relax. Joey didn't know of any other girl he'd dated that he had ever talked so freely about himself and his family. The Italian smiled to himself remembering the squeal of delight that Aunt Theresa yelped into the phone when he called to say he was getting married, and to a Catholic girl yet!

Joe's thoughts of his bride blocked out the quiet activity around him. He stared at the light blinking on the telephone in front of him, yet really didn't see it.

"ANSWER THE DAMN PHONE, LAFIAMMA!" Lundy barked, turning from the filing cabinet. Grumbling under his breath, the Texan stomped across the room to his desk to pick up the ringing phone.

"Huh?" Joey muttered looking up into the angry face of his partner, and again seeing Julie. This time he heard her voice telling him this wasn't going to be just an ordinary day. She had more than just women's intuition, it was almost a sixth sense. A gift of God she called it.

"You still on this planet?" Lundy asked as he reached for the phone. "Lundy! Yeah. For you!" The Texan growled angrily at his partner, before pushing the Hold button on the phone.

Joey stared at the blinking light. Doctor Middleton wasn't due to call Julie back about the pregnancy test for a couple more hours. Aunt Theresa and Uncle Mikey were in New York for a wedding, so who would want him?

"He says he's your grandfather. You going to pick it up or not?" Levon groused, waving a hand in front of his partner's face.

"WHAT?! My grandfather!?" Joe exclaimed, his head jerking upward, shock edged his voice as his fingers reached for and tightened around the receiver. He hoped for once, this one time, his new wife would be wrong about something happening out of the ordinary today.

"LaFiamma," Joe said, an automatic respond since he'd been a cop, startled indeed was he to hear his grandfather's voice on the other end of the phone. They had not spoken to each other since his dad's funeral twenty-five years ago.

Trained since he was two years old to come to attention when his Grandfather spoke or came into the room, as all LaFiamma children were, and without thinking about where he was, Joey snapped his chair back and came to a tight military stance, while listening to the elder LaFiamma rant at him.

Walking into the Squad Room just as Joey pushed his chair back, Lieutenant Joanne Beaumont had to do a quick side step to avoid being hit by Joey's chair. The other detectives in the room watched in disbelief at the instant reflect the sudden change that came over the Chicagoan. Startled faces exchanged mute glances at the control this man, they didn't know existed, had over their detective.

"SIR!" Joey repeated three times before breaking into a rapid fire Italian dialogue. Just as suddenly as it began, the conversation was over and the Italian dropped the receiver back onto its cradle like it was molted metal.

"Damn! Who the hell does he think he is!?" Joey fumed, anger raging through him. Looking up, the Italian meets the eyes of his boss, Lieutenant Beaumont. He didn't dare look at the others in the Squad room. He'd come unglued and for what... for an old man who was once again trying to destroy his family.

"Joe," Lieutenant Beaumont asked cautiously, as she walked closer to him, "something I should know about?"

"My grandfather," Joe said off-handily, as if no one had heard the conversation. But instead of answering Beaumont's question, Joe turned back to the telephone and angrily punched in an 800 number.

"Come on! Come on! Answer the damn phone!" he mumbled impatiently, tapping his fingers on the folder he'd been staring at earlier.

"Yeah, Joey LaFiamma here. Have Tomas call me ASAP! In the next ten minutes if not sooner! OF COURSE, IT'S URGENT!" Joey bellowed into the telephone, "YOU THINK I'D BE CALLIN' THE FEDS IF IT WASN'T?!"

"Sergeant LaFiamma!" Joanne Beaumont said curtly, the second the receiver was replaced, once again coming into her detective's face. "Would you kindly inform me just what is going on here?"

"I'm not putting you off, Lieutenant. Honest! But I just can't explain it right now. Got to get some answers first. Got to know what's going down," Joey pleaded into his boss' frowning face.

The four officers stood in mute silence watching one rattled Italian pace, glancing at his watch every few seconds, and getting more and more uptight.

"LaFiamma, you going to wear a hole in the floor you keep pacin' like that," Lundy replied, his voice softer than before, concerned about what seemed to be happening to his partner.

"Joe, you want to tell me what is going on here? Please." Joanne asked quietly her brunette hair hanging loosely against her shoulders. In the four years since Joe had been transferred down to Houston from Chicago, Joanne had never seen her detective so agitated.

"Hey, Joey! What's up... you need Uncle Tomas in such a hurry?" Captain Tomas LaFiamma asked, walking briskly into the squad room.

Spinning on his heel, almost knocking Joanne off her feet, Joey came face to face with one of his uncles. Tomas Josef LaFiamma was just an inch or two shorter than his nephew was, with jet-black hair, a small mustache was, and looking like the stereotype of an Italian gangster was. And Tomas dressed in just that fashion; he looked as if he'd just stepped out of a frame of "The Godfather" movie. 'If you look like a Fed, Joey, no one will talk to you - but a gangster, they spill their guts too.'

"TOMAS?! TOMMY! What the hell you doing here?" Joe asked flabbergasted, yet not, at the sight of one of his non-wiseguy uncles.

"Got a call on my pager. Rich said you were pretty shook up," Tommy answered, walking up to his nephew, giving the young detective a reluctant hug. Without missing a beat, Tomas continued, "Gianno's on the move. Did he contact you?"

"Yeah...! Just now.. he and Catherine... boarding a flight for Houston. What the hell is going on, Tommy? He said Catherine's coming with my kid, a four year old? What happened to Peter? Last I heard they were still married?" Joey shot back, realizing something big was up for his grandfather to even have the nerve to call him.

"His money contact in Mexico got arrested last month for leaving the scene of an accident. Word is, he's going to try to mend fences with you, and find an outlet to pass his money through Houston until he can get his contact in Mexico going again." Tomas replied smiling, standing back to have a better look at his nephew. "It's going to be okay, Joey." Tommy said lightly, seeing the anger in Joe's face. "Nothing's going to happen to you and your lady." Tomas continued, pulling out his wallet to show Beaumont his identification.

"Excuse me? But just who are you? And how did you get in here without a visitor's pass?" Beaumont quizzed, walking around the end of Joe's desk to where the two men stood.

"Lieutenant Beaumont?" Tomas answered, opening up his wallet to reveal a badge and Justice Department identification. "I'm Captain Tomas LaFiamma, Justice Department."

"Justice Department!" Those present gasped in unison.

"What's the Justice Department got to do with Joey?" Joanne asked, obviously surprised at who the man was.

"What?!" Tomas replied indignantly, turning back to Joey, waving a finger in his nephew's face, "You didn't tell them you got an uncle that's a good guy?"

"You think they'd believe me, when all they ever see is Uncle Mikey? They only know I came from a mob family, they don't care about the rest," Joey replied, disgust in his voice. "Come on, we have to find a place to talk. They're in the air by now!" LaFiamma responded, stepping closer to his uncle.

"Any chance this kid IS yours, Joe? Catherine was down here four years ago," Tommy questioned, knowing he and Catherine were quite the couple before she married Peter.

Joey stared at his uncle. The last memory he had of his grandfather was not a good one, yet he realized that only his mother had believed him before... maybe the time had come to pull this secret out and get rid of it once and for all.

"No, Tommy, the kid's not mine. If any of Catherine's kids were mine it would be Jason. Her first one. She was dating both Peter and I pretty heavy. When she suddenly up an' married Peter... you could have blown me away! Man, I thought I was the lucky one. Besides I think it's pretty hard for her to have any more considering she had a hysterectomy after Matthew was born. Doesn't Grandfather know Aunt Theresa and others keep me informed about what's happening in the family? He obviously doesn't know I'm married either! Man, I figured Aunt Theresa would have announced it to everyone! He told me he expects me to .. do the right thing.. those were his words, 'I know you will do the right thing, Joseph."

Without answering, Tomas moved back to the open double doors he'd walked through and closed them. "These people here... they trustworthy, Joe?" Captain LaFiamma asked quietly.

"Yeah, sure," Joey answered, surprised that his secretive Uncle would talk in front of strangers. "Tomas, you want this old man taken down... I'll do it!! Anything!"

"Joey, you got a wife now..," Tomas began, only to be harshly cut off in mid-sentence by his nephew.

"He.. killed.. Dad.., man!!" Joe growled every fiber of his body tensing. "I was home that day! That's when strep throat kept me home more than at school. I saw Grandfather's limo drive up and asked Dad what the old man was doing out in the middle of the morning... I mean he never got up before ten." Joey said, shaking his head, the memory of his father grabbing him from under warm blankets was as fresh today as the day it happened. "Dad grabbed me up out of my sick bed, raced into the kitchen with me, and literally throw me into the broom closet that was by the back door. I heard the old man come in the front door just as I fell in a heap on top of the stuff stored in there. Gianno acted like he owned the place. And maybe he did. He and Dad started arguing right away. The next thing I knew, I saw Bruiser and Henri' slamming Dad up against the kitchen cupboards, they were punching him... hard! When he fell to the floor, they kicked him, and kept on kicking him. Then they picked him up and dragged him to the basement steps. I don't know if he was conscious or not, but there was a shuffle in front of the door, then Henri' bumped up against it locking me in," Joey stopped momentarily as he felt the light touch of his partner's hand on his arm. "It was a Tuesday. Tuesdays, Mom took Sophie to the hairdresser. So the old man knew only Dad would be home. I was trapped in that closet for four hours, Tommy! A terrified eight-year-old with his right foot wedged between the vacuum and a floor scrubber. My foot was numb by the time Mom came home and heard me screaming and banging on the door to get out. Had some nerve damaged. That's why I was on crutches at the funeral... why I walk with a limp," Joey's voice trembled as he described the last moments of his father's life.

"You sure about this Joey? I know after Anthony's death Christina refused to let you kids come to anything the old man was apart of... but kill his son?" Tomas quizzed, finding it hard to believe that his father would kill one of his own sons.

"I'm as sure as I see you standing in front of me. Mom called her sister Sadie in Springfield. They had an independent coroner come up and do a second autopsy? Someone Grandfather didn't know, and hadn't and couldn't pay off," Joey continued, emotion heavy in his voice, earnestly trying to convince the unbelieving face of his federal agent uncle. '"Course it didn't do any good," Joey said sarcastically, waving a hand into the air. "The old man had already paid off cops, the coroner, a couple of judges. So his cause of death was listed as suicide. Pretty damn hard to hang yourself, though... when you're already unconscious, don't you think." Joey watched the facial muscles of his Uncle Tomas move, eyes awakening to long ago memories, questions.

"Why do you think Grandfather insisted on a closed casket? Dad had bruises all over his face, his hand was swollen and broken... Gianno couldn't let anyone see that. After Mom viewed the body at the funeral home, she came home and held me close, and cried for the longest time. Then she called her sister in Springfield and asked if there was a coroner that couldn't be bought off..." Joey's voice trailed off, he was suddenly aware he'd just revealed one of his darkest secrets to his fellow detectives.

Tommy's mouth hung open, he had never believed that his favorite brother had hanged himself, and often wondered why the family was not allowed to view the body.

"You got any proof, Joey?" Tommy asked tightly, watching the anger in nephew's face.

"Tomas, I got a copy of the report at home! Says Dad was unconscious... lists a bunch of internal organs that were ruptured and bleeding. He never would have had the strength to sit up, let alone stand on a...." The rest of the description died in Joe's throat. "That's why I spit in the old man's face at the funeral," Joey continued after a slight pause, not looking at anyone except his uncle. "I told him that if it took a lifetime, I'd find a way."

Tomas gathered Joey into his arms, holding him until the visible tremble running through his nephew stopped. Softly Tommy remarked, "Well, Joey, if you're sure you want to be a part of this.. let's bring this killer down. I've been tightening his contacts in Chicago. So tight, it seems that he felt he had to contact you and even leave the state. He made several calls from O'Hare, which means he's calling on local talent down here, perhaps people he doesn't even know. And you know him... everyone who works for him gets investigated down to what color toothbrush they use. So he's desperate. I want you wired when we go in. If I recall, Catherine likes roses, so you can wear a rosebud in your lapel and the wire can go inside. While you and Lundy walk through the airport, you can describe any shooters or persons you think might fit his payroll, and we'll pick them. I want only our people, Catherine, Gianno and the boy in the area. You know I don't want any surprises."

"Yeah, but Tommy... if they have a kid that looks like me with them... knowing the old man... this kid's parents are held hostage somewhere... if they're even still alive," Joey remarked, a hint of concern in his voice for the boy, knowing what lengths his grandfather had gone to in the past.

"Lieutenant, I'd like to borrow two or three of your detectives, and make a couple of calls from your office if I may?" Tomas asked, pulling out a small address book from his inside coat pocket.

"You're looking at them," Joanne replied, gesturing with her hand to Lundy, Joe, Carol and Estaban. Joanne looked at her transplanted Chicago detective in a new light. It always amazed her on how much Joey had viewed in his young life.

Again Joey paced nervously, this time in the luggage area of Houston's International Airport. He listened impatiently as Tommy explained what everyone was to do, and not do.

"This has been a long time in the making. A lot of manpower and hours has gone into trapping this man. I don't want anyone to make any foolish mistakes, you understand!" Tomas said harshly, pointing his finger at the Houston detectives. "My men are already in place. Beaumont will join our parents and some college kids arriving home from a tour. Estaban and Carol will be a couple having a family discussion within earshot of Joey. Joey's wire is set, and everything around him even a whisper will be picked up. And Joey, as much as you want to take the old man down for killing Anthony, don't endanger yourself, you hear. I don't want Aunt Theresa and Julie on my neck because you did some grandstand play. I want him on money laundering and now it looks like kidnapping too."

"Don't worry, Tommy, I'm not about to make my new bride a widow," Joey remarked, thinking about the baby he knew they were going to have.

An airport security guard walked up to Tomas, whispered something in his ear and handed him a stack of small pieces of white paper. Tommy nodded his thanks as the guard left. "Okay, we're set to get you people through the security checkpoint. I don't know what Gianno has planned, but I do know the man never travels without bodyguards, and the bodyguards are always armed."

As the group began to disperse, Tomas handed each one a slip of paper with a number on it. "Go to these doors between here and the passenger check point. Knock. Show the slip to whoever opens it. Follow whatever directions they give you. The Flight is circling now. The Captain has been told there is a diplomat onboard and for safety reasons the plane has to dock at a gate not often used. The only one who may be suspicious when they get off the plane is Gianno. I'm sure he's counting on lots of people being around, knowing Joey won't do anything to endanger others. The gate announcement for this flight won't be posted until after the plane is on the ground. The flight is not full, so doing it this way will give us a better way of identifying his men. Once you step off the escalator you're on your own. We'll meet again at the gate, good luck."

Lundy looked at his number.. a zero? What room had a zero for a number? Looking over his partner's shoulder, the cowboy was surprised to see that LaFiamma also had a zero. "Maybe we could just sneak through with those paramedics and the old lady in that wheelchair?" Lundy quipped. "What kind of joke is your Uncle pulling? There ain't no room with a zero on it," Levon grumbled, keeping pace with his edgy partner. "How come your uncle keep's referring to Gee-on-no as old man?"

Tired of Levon constant chattered, Joey stopped inches from the door he was about to knock on. "He calls him old man... because it's his old man! You're always bugging me about being a cop and not taking down a family member... well you're about to get your wish, Lee-VON."

"G...Gianno is Tommy's dad?" Levon muttered, aghast as what his partner had just said.

"Here we are cowboy... your zero and mine," Joey said grimly, as he raised his fist to knock on a door that had a picture of an early World War fighter plane on it. "Tommy's an old fighter pilot. Bet each door has a plane on it. Come on."

"Harold?" Joey gasped in stark surprise at the man who opened the door. "Thought you had retired?"

"I have," the older man answered with a grin. ".. to Austin, if you believe it. Two of our kids live there, nice place, I like it. Lots of good fishing. Been meaning to call you. Then when Tommy called about this job figured I could do it then. This your cowboy partner?" Harold Schultz quizzed, handing each one a pair of airline coveralls as he closed the door behind them.

It took but a few minutes to don the coveralls, go down a flight of stairs, step onto the back of a luggage carrier and be transported to a door marked "Authorized Personnel Only."

As the two detectives emerged from an outside door back into the terminal, Joey looked at his partner and said, "Whatever you do, Lundy, don't embarrass me, okay?"

"Embarrass you? How the hell could I do that?" Levon growled back, trying to remember the last time he had ever embarrassed his partner, knowing full well there were many times he'd done just that.

"Just don't! When you see Catherine, just hit one of those comfy plastic seats and pretend you're asleep. I want to wait until most everyone's gone before I bring this guy down," Joey replied, his eyes scanning the people as they walked.

"Who was that guy back there? You sure were friendly with him. Another Fed?" Levon questioned, spying a man that Levon knew to be a marksman, leaning closer to Joe's shoulder, he gave a detailed description of the man.

"You sure you can do this, Joe?" Levon asked, his voice edged with concern.

Joe glanced at his partner as they walked. It was rare for Levon to call him Joe. "I want this guy, Levon, but I'm not about to get myself killed doing it, not now that Julie's expecting."

"You guys are going to have a baby! Why the hell didn't you tell me this earlier? Man, that's the greatest news," the Texan answered, slapping his partner on the back.

"Well... hasn't been officially confirmed. Doctor Middleton should be calling Julie about now," the detective replied, glancing up at a huge clock overhead. "But she's got that look.. I've seen it enough times growing up.. just a special glow that pregnant women have.. I know she is.. and it's going to be a girl too."

"A girl?! You told me girls are rare in your family. And I remember Aunt Theresa saying the first born is always a boy," Lundy replied, shaking his head in disbelief as they turned the last corner toward their destination.

"Yeah...well, I'd bet anything that my first born was Catherine's first son, Jason. And that being the case, well, the next one is usually a girl. At least in my immediate family," Joe replied, slowing their pace a bit. "Though, Aunt Theresa said, if we have a girl, the family will look at it as the first born. And if it is, she's going to be named Katrina, after my grandmother. Not the woman Gianno is married to now... but my real grandmother. The one that came with him from Italy. The one who died after giving birth to Tomas."

Levon stared at his partner and the group of people opposite him. Joe's grandfather was far more elegant looking than what the cowboy had expected. The man could have stepped out of a GQ ad. Lundy guessed he was in his late seventies, but he looked sixty, with just a slight hint of white streaked through his raven black hair. Dressed in a three-piece suit and charcoal gray overcoat, he could be any high priced attorney or company executive. Catherine hadn't changed at all. She was still shapely, though her shoulder length hair was a bit shorter. It was the little boy that Catherine hung onto that drew the Texan's attention. Levon had seen kids that were afraid, but this little one looked terrified. Lundy wondered what the child had been witnessing too. The death of his parent's maybe, the way Joe had witnessed his father's death.

Levon wished he was close enough to hear what was being said, but there were few chairs in this area. In fact, it looked to Levon like this part of the terminal was being torn down.

Joey greeted Catherine LaFiamma, his cousin's wife, warmly before kneeling down to ask the little brown-haired boy what his name was. It was several minutes before the boy came up with the name Benjamin, which came out as Benjam, and was more of a question than an answer. It was the accent the boy had that alerted Joey to the fact that this child wasn't Italian. Before Gianno or Catherine could speak or react, Joey gathered the four-year-old up in his arms, sprang to his feet, turned and shouted, "Hey! Yo! Estaban!?

Sergeants' Guiterrez and O'Brien, who were leaning against a wall talking, were surprised when their fellow detective called to them. "Yo, Estaban! If think this little guy talks your language. Why don't you two have a chat?"

Catherine reached for the backpack the boy was hanging onto, but Joey caught her hand. "Sorry, Cat that goes with the boy. Unless of course there's something in it that you're afraid will be discovered.

"What do you mean, what's in it? What is wrong with you Joey? I mean I can see bringing Lundy? But two other cops. Don't you trust us - your own family!?" Catherine lambasted, moving toward him, giving him a look that in the past would have made him melt.

"Trust you? How can I trust you Catherine, when you show up with a kid you know isn't mine?" Joey questioned, watching a pink blush pass through her face. It was the flash of concern that crossed his grandfather's eyes, as Estaban began to unzip the backpack, that told Joey something was inside that shouldn't be discovered by the cops.

"Something in there that concerns you, Grandfather?" Joey said evenly, trying to keep his anger under control.

"The only thing that concerns me is that you don't realize the seriousness of making this woman pregnant four years ago!" Gianno Josef LaFiamma replied sharply, stepping up to his grandson, seeing for the first time the tightness in Joey's jaw.

"I? Made her pregnant?" Joey laughed his voice cold, tightening one hand into a fist to keep from decking the man who stood in front of him.

"I find that a little hard to believe, don't you, Sir. Considering she had her motor taken out after Matthew was born. If any of her kids are mine, it would be Jason. After all, she was dating both Peter and I at the same time. pretty damn hot and heavy we were too... could have pushed me over with a feather when she married Peter... I thought I was the love of her life."

"Where'd you kidnap the kid from, old man?" Joey asked in a tight controlled voice, watching the man's face change as Joey called him old man. "His parents still alive, or you did do them in like you did Anthony?" Joe's blue-gray eyes stared cold into the black eyes of his Grandfather.

Maybe it was the distance away that the Texan was sitting, but Joey's grandfather looked an inch or so taller than his grandson, though Joey still seemed to be eye-to-eye to him. Off to the left, Beaumont mingled with a group of Tomas' people who were dressed as college kids. One with a video cam taking pictures of each other, and everything around them. Levon wondered if the money was stashed in that backpack that Catherine was so concerned with when Joey handed it to Estaban. That was a real surprise move, Levon thought, when his partner called to the Hispanic officer to take the boy. Levon wondered if the phony money might be in the backpack, it would be one of the first places the cops would look, course Gianno didn't expect cops either. How could he pretend to be asleep? These plastic chairs weren't fit for anyone's body to sit in, let alone sleep in. If he was facing the man responsible for his father's death, Levon doubted he'd be as calm as he partner appeared to be.

He's older, Joey thought facing his grandfather. Yet that essence of power still reeked around him. Joe wondered which of the people working in the area in janitor's clothes, airline uniforms were Gianno's. Or even Tommy's. Though he knew most of the college kids and those adults with them were Feds, his grandfather's bodyguards, which were always obvious... weren't today.

Intensely staring into his grandfather's face, Joey noticed the man's eyes were quickly scanning groups of people in the area. "You know, it might do Jason some good to know his real dad is a cop... don't you think? Aunt Theresa said he doesn't seem to fit into that family."

"I repeat my question, grandfather. The little boy's parents still alive? Or you kill them off like you did my father?" Joey asked, grimacing at the inner pain he felt. The flicker of alarm that ran across Gianno's face did nothing to easy the pain this confrontation was causing.

"I was home that day, you know," Joey continued, seeing a horrified look descend on the black eyes opposite him. "That was the year I had strep throat so much, that they finally decided to take out my tonsils. I saw your limo drive up and asked Dad what you were doing up and out before noon. He grabbed me out of bed so fast it made my head swim... he literally threw me into the broom closet in the kitchen. You came into the house shouting, cussing, and swearing at him. I'd never heard or seen you that angry before." Joey watched Gianno's face change, eyes widen, his nose flaring open. Joey knew this man always took great pains to make sure there were no witnesses to any of his deeds, yet on that day he had not searched the house to see if anyone else was home.

"I can't remember which of your bodyguards grabbed Dad first, but until the day I die... old man," Joey began, emphasizing the words old man, "I will remember you standing there.. in our kitchen... watching them beat your son... my father... to death!" It took every bit of energy Joey had to keep himself from knocking this man down, and kicking the shit out of him. . "Then you... YOU!... helped... drag him down the stairs... where he supposedly hanged himself. What did he do? What could he have possibly done, that would have hurt you? Half the cops were on your payroll. Plus a congressman and a few judges. What did he do that would have caused you to be present... to watch him be taken down? And if you'd found me... would you have beaten me to a pulp too? Hung me up next to him?" Joey demanded his voice raw with pain.

"Was it, worth it!?" Joey growled angrily, moving but a few inches from his Grandfather's face. "WAS IT, Grandfather!!?'

Joey faced the man responsible for his father's death. He watched his grandfather age before him. After a long silence, Gianno mumbled, "No."

"What?" Joey demanded again, wanting an answer that could be heard.

"No!" The elder LaFiamma answered sharply irritated that he had to repeat the answer. "No, it wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth it all!"

"You paid out a lot of money, old man," Joey said tightly, his voice ragged with pain. "A lot of money... to keep people quiet... to look the other way... and why... for an honest cop that nobody believed was honest except for his family!"

"It is something I have long regretted doing, Joseph," the elder LaFiamma replied sadly, reaching out to touch his grandson. "I not only lost a son, but your mother and all of you too."

Joey shrugged off his grandfather's touch. Looking at his grandson, but aware of a discovery found in the backpack, Gianno's voice quivered only for an instant, "In the long run, the information I had later proved false... it was a mistake that I made that could not be rectified. He was a beloved son... I did not find pleasure in doing it. Believe me."

Joey stared dumb struck at his grandfather. His father had been killed because of an informant's misinformation!? "Old man," Joey growled, taking a step backwards, "it's a mistake you're going to rot in hell for!" Turning on his heel, the Italian searched the chairs for his partner.

The speed as which Joey turned caused his jacket to fly open revealing to one of the real college kids in the group that a man in the area had a gun.

"A gun! ...he's got a gun!" Someone shouted, bringing Lundy instantly to his feet, automatically drawing his weapon, and holding it close. His eyes searched the people in the area but saw no one who seemed to be a threat to Joe. A second later, the flash camera Carol was holding to take a picture of the money and plates found in the backpack went off unexpectedly, illuminating the silver butt of Joey's pistol.

Levon saw the flash inches from where his partner was standing and his reaction was instantaneous. The cowboy knelt, and fired directly into the reflection figuring he would hit the shooter square in the stomach.

The impact of the bullet ricocheting off his gun butt staggered the Italian, he barely felt the entry and exit of the bullet that passed through his side.

"NOOO!!!" Gianno screamed, looking around to see if one of his men had done this horrible deed.

Lundy stood frozen in his tracks disbelieving the horror in front of him. Joe's grandfather caught his grandson as he staggered backwards, gently laying him on the floor. Tomas had prepared for anything, the paramedics and their "patient" that the detectives had seen earlier, that Levon thought was on a flight out, were now on a dead run for the fallen detective.

It was the uncontrollable sob of a grandfather making the sign of the cross on himself and on Joe that burned into Levon memory.

The Texan did not fight the two men who shoved him roughly to the ground, grabbing his gun, and angrily handcuffing his wrists behind him. Mini-scenes played around him but Levon only saw a paramedic grabbing Gianno's arm, shaking his head no. //Oh, sweet Jesus, noooo... tell me I didn't mortally wound the best partner I've ever had.//

"What the hell you think you're doing, Lundy? Thought you and LaFiamma were getting along okay. Why the hell did you go and waste him?" One of them growled, pulling a small mike from his jacket pocket, telling their boss they had the shooter.

"On your feet, Lundy! You're going to be cooling your heels in a Federal jail for a few days." A man in a Texas A&M sweatshirt growled roughly.

Barely glancing at Lundy, Joanne Beaumont handed her "doll baby" to one of the college kids near her and sprinted to LaFiamma's side.

"We got it all on camera," someone in the group told Joanne as she tossed her bundle. "That flashbulb going off behind LaFiamma looked just like a gun retort - even I thought it was!"

Remorse settled into Lundy's gut, he couldn't believe it when he saw Joe fall. He thought for sure there was a shooter there. Why didn't he wait to see if anyone else reacted? //Oh, god, what about Julie?//

The Texas was oblivious to the men talking around him and about him. The only picture implanted in his memory bank, on a constant repeat roll, was the paramedic shaking his head back and forth, and Gianno LaFiamma doing the sign of the cross on himself and Joe.

Sean Callahan, the first paramedic on the scene, lightly touched Gianno's arm. "He's not dead, sir."

The paramedic's "patient" retrieved a cell phone from her pocket and dialed 911.

"Joey?" Tomas asked quietly, tenderly touching his nephew's face.

"What the hell happened?" Joey muttered, staring up at the faces around him.

"Lundy shot you!" Came the answer.

"Yeah.. but why?" Joe questioned, attempting to move until a strong arm of a paramedic told him to take it easy.

Seeing Beaumont, Joey rasped, "Joanne... I was suppose to call Julie... set up a lunch date... we... we find out today... if she's pregnant...don't want her to hear this... over the news."

"Carol and I'll take care of it Joe," Lieutenant Beaumont answered, directing other security guards and Houston cops that had come from nowhere at the sound of the gunshot. "Estaban, bring the boy with you to the hospital. I'll call Children Services on my way to Julie's bank."

"Lieutenant," Estaban replied, anxiously "the boy's from Houston. His name is Armundo. His parents were on the plane. Protected by some really big men, he said."

"Okay, work with HPD to find them, then get to the hospital and stay with Joe."

Grinning, Julie hung up the telephone, debating about calling Joey now or waiting for his call about lunch. She wasn't sure she could contain herself that long but then thought she had better or he wouldn't be able to concentrate on his work if he knew he was going to be a father in seven months. Getting up from her desk, Julia LaFiamma paused for only a moment before walking from her office into the lobby of the bank.

Judie Mitchell, head teller, saw the broad smile on Julie's face as she walked, "Well, what did Doctor Middleton say?" Questioned the older woman with short gray hair.

"He said... YES!!" Julie squealed, thrusting her arm into the air. "I'm pregnant!"

"Well, you are going to call Joey, aren't you?" Another asked.

"Thought I'd wait until he called me about lunch... if I can wait that long," Julie laughed happily accepting hugs from people she worked with.

Julie's happiness was short-lived, for as she shared her happiness she watched Joey's lieutenant walk into the bank.

"Oh no," Julie gasped suddenly, her smile turning to a frown. Joey told her before they got married that if anything happened to him, his Lieutenant would be the one that would come. And this morning she had been fearful of him going to work, but his words hung in her memory, 'Honey, I'm just going to be doing paper work...what could happen?' Something, she had said, something's going to happen.

"Who are they?" Someone asked.

"One's Joey's boss." Came a soft, stressed answer.

Three tellers quickly circled around, as though warding off an impending Indian attack.

"Oh god, I hope this isn't bad," Julie LaFiamma gasped, grabbing the hands of those next to her.

"Lieutenant... she just found out she's pregnant, don't tell her she's going to be a widow too?" Judie Mitchell declared, deep concern on her face as Beaumont came to a stop in front of them.

Carol and Joanne exchanged quick glances. Joanne hated this part of her job; at least this time her detective wasn't dead, but it still didn't make it any easier. Quietly greeting Joey LaFiamma's new wife, Joanne explained as quickly and gently as she could that Joe had been shot, and that paramedics on the scene felt the wound was not serious.

"You sure it's not bad?" Julie asked, a tinge of fear in her voice, wondering if her unborn child would have a dad.

"JULIA!" a man yelled, coming from a side office at a dead run. "I just heard something on the news about a Houston cop being shot at the airport. I think it's your husba..." the man stopped in this tracks, his speech cut short by the small group of women who turned to stare in his direction.

"It was him, wasn't it?" Ian O'Connell responded quietly, recognizing Beaumont.

"Joey said if anything happened to him... you'd be the one who would come." Julie answered in a quiet voice.

"I'll drive you over," Joanne said, putting her arm around Julie's shoulder.

"That's okay, I've got my car..." Julie began

"Give Carol the keys. She'll drive it over." Beaumont answered, it was a statement that was not to be argued with.

Huddled in the back of a black van, ankles cuffed to the floor, Levon was too stunned to even cry. What had made him do it? He'd never fired without first checking out the situation. What the hell made him fire? The Texan knew their relationship had changed some since Joey got married. They no longer spent Saturday's mornings together or played pool on Thursday nights... but to shoot him!

Levon looked around the sparse vehicle. He didn't even remember being put inside this thing, nor did he know how long they'd been traveling or where he was being taken. Nor did he care. Life without his partner wasn't worth living. The abrupt halt of the van helped to bring him back to reality. Blinking as the sliding door opened, and sunlight poured in, Levon flattened himself against the wall. Two men in suits, stepped in, roughly pulling him to his feet, and unlocking the chains that encircled his boots.

"Tomas wants you put on ice for a few hours, so don't expect to make any phone calls, Lundy." One of them said as they ushered him into a stark gray building, stopping momentarily at a security post.

//Who would I call? The only one who can help me is dead.//

"You really did mess up, Lundy. Orders are to take you to our tightest security cells...The Dungeon!" Laughter broke out among the three agents who had handcuffed him and brought him from the airport.

//Dungeon?// Levon had heard stories all his life about the cells in the sub basement of the federal building, but he'd never believed them. Now as the small group of four men stepped into an elevator and he watched one of his captors push a button on the control panel. No numbers of floors passed overhead, as the car started its downward path.

Levon swallowed hard as the group stood silently in the descending elevator. When the doors finally opened he saw nothing but a long hallway with steel doors on either side.

"Don't expect any visitors down here," one laughed, shoving the Texan out of the car.

"Yeah, food - or Captain LaFiamma, is all you'll be seeing until your Lieutenant discovers your gone, or Tommy decides what he's going to do to you for messing up his show." The other said, grabbing the Texan's shoulder, jerking Lundy to a halt as they took off his handcuffs.

Who the hell cares? Levon thought. Joanne will be so pissed she'll tell them to throw away the key. And god... Julie... I've made her a widow with a baby on the way. It's better to be locked up down here than having to stand trial for killing your best friend. Looking around as they walked down the hall, Lundy wondered how anyone could live in a bomb shelter if they really had to.

"Here we are, cowboy" a suit said, touching a button on the wall, stepping back as the cell door opened, "this here is where you'll be for the next few hours... days... months," their laughter vibrated off the walls. "Take off your belt, hat. Put them in here!" The rougher of the three men growled, dropping Lundy's watch into a container that became visible when the cell opened. "LaFiamma was a friend of ours, cowboy!" A suit growled angrily, grabbing Levon by the shoulders, shoving him hard up against the solid metal door. "You know what happens when a man gets shot HERE!"

Levon grimaced, feeling the tightness of the fist that was being pushed into his stomach just below the ribs. "Your bullet hit his gun butt first... then splattered! Probably take a magnet to get all the little pieces out of him."

The Texan's mouth opened, then closed. The words being spoken to him were barely heard as he was propelled through the open cell door into the bare cell. Blankly he surveyed the small quarters. Smooth white walls almost like polished marble, a high ceiling with a light covered with a wire casing, a small toilet in the corner, and at the end, a thick slab of cement with some kind of a mattress blanket combination. Lundy walked to the bunk, his chest heaving with despair, his gut gnawing from hunger and remorse, he collapsed his frame onto the slab. It took a long time before the tears came and when they did, his body shook with the pain of the deed he'd done.

"Look, doc.., my wife's expecting... it's our first... can't we wait for surgery till she comes... she's going to think the worse if I'm in surgery." Joey's plead fell on deaf ears, as the gurney he was on continued its roll into the Operating Room.

"She'll be a lot madder if she finds out I let you bleed to death, Sergeant. Don't worry, you'll see that baby of yours. And many more, I'm sure," the on-call surgeon replied, giving the nod to the anesthesiologist.

Julie and Joanne entered the Emergency Room to find Estaban in an animated conversation with a Hispanic couple, the mother tightly holding the little boy Catherine LaFiamma had disembarked with.

"Estaban?" Joanne called as Julie walked up to the Nurses Station to inquire about her husband.

"Lieutenant! This is Angelica and Alberto Riveria. Joey's grandfather accosted them at the Chicago airport. Offered them a whole lot of money to borrow their son for a few days, when they refused, they were handcuffed and taken onboard by his bodyguards posing as cops. Armando, was told if he didn't do what Gianno wanted... his parents would be shot to death just like in the movies." Sergeant Guiterrez explained to his boss, breaking into sporadic Spanish between sentences to assure the family that everything okay. That no one was going to take their son away.

Rejoining the group, Julie explained that Joey would be in surgery for a couple of hours, and they have already given him a room assignment, and we could wait there if we wanted to.

"Joanne?" Julie asked after a few minutes, surveying the area in a search for Joey's partner, Levon Lundy. "Where's Levon? Shouldn't he be here by now?"

"Where is Levon?" Beaumont asked, looking around the Waiting Room and down the hall. "I figured he'd be the first one here to see how bad Joe was hurt. I definitely want to have a word with him. What the hell was he thinking when he fired that shot?"

"One of the Feds I talked to, said that camera flash going off, from his angle, and maybe Levon's too. Lundy may have thought one of Gianno's men was trying to take Joe out, and fired back." Joanne reiterated trying to remember all that went down in those few fast seconds.

"Last I saw Levon, the Feds were walking away with him in handcuffs," Carol remarked coming into the room, reaching a hand to Julie to give her back her car keys. "I talked to the one with the videocam. He said he'd drop a copy of f here as soon as he could.'

"Why would the Feds take Levon? What did he do?" Julie inquired, reaching for one of the cups of hot coffee that a hospital volunteer had brought in.

"He shot Joe," Carol replied quietly, offering coffee to Joanne and Estaban.

"No way!" Julie exclaimed, disbelieving what was said, "that is the last thing Levon would do."

"It was a freak thing," Carol answered, watching Estaban explain to the Riveria's that the police that had arrived were only there to take their statements, not to arrest them.

"I was readying a camera to take photos of some things we found in that young man's backpack," O'Brien explained, motioning toward Armando, "it went off prematurely, and a second later Levon fire a shot. "

"And Levon fired back... right into that flash," Julie said knowingly, remembering a similar incident her father had investigated. A half smile crossed the young woman's face as Joanne, Carol and Estaban gave her puzzled looks. "My father was an a MP in the Army for twenty-some years, I know a lot about police work."

"And Joanne!" Carol countered, "That means Levon probably thinks Joey is dead. They took him away before the paramedics got to Joey's side. He's got to be in hell - thinking he's killed his partner."

"We've got to find him... I doubt Tomas will even tell him Joe's alive!"

"Easy, Julia, don't worry, we'll find him," Beaumont assured her, nodding for her two detectives to go into the hall.

"They probably took him to The Dungeon, " Julie LaFiamma continued, "it's in the sub- basement of the Federal Building. Where special prisoners are held that have to be isolated. Joanne... it's like solitary confinement! My dad told me about it. There's no human contact. Even food is..."

"The dungeon? Julia LaFiamma, that is the oldest story in Houston!" Joanne clucked, shaking her head, "What foolishness!"

"It exists, Lieutenant," Estaban remarked, "My cousin got a job there a few months ago. It definitely exists, and if we don't get him out, I got a feeling his uncle is just going to bury him there."

"And Levon won't fight it... if he thinks he's killed his partner...he'll think he deserves whatever they give him," Joanne said, knowing the complex makeup of her detective who once was her partner.

Lundy lifted his head at the sound of metal scraping against metal. Slowly pushing himself into a sitting position, stretching his taut cramped leg muscles he looked toward the cell door to see what made the sound, and watched it slowly slide open. With much effort, the cowboy moved off the bed to a standing position, hanging onto the wall for support, his cramped legs barely holding him up.

"Well, cowboy," Tomas LaFiamma bellowed, strolling boldly into the cell. "You sure made a mess of things, haven't you?"

Lundy gulped back the pain that burned in his throat, as the heavy set man stopped inches from him. "I... I... didn't mean to kill him... I didn't... it just happened. I... saw the flash and. fired into it." Levon mumbled mournfully.

Captain LaFiamma's mouth turned into a devilish grin. //So, you think you killed Joey, do you? Well, I'll just leave you in that hell for a while, cowboy. And if there's anything left of you after you're done with yourself, I'll carry you in a basket back to your lieutenant.//

Tomas' hand came up to Levon's chest, fingers spreading wide, he shoved the Texan up into the wall. "Well, Lundy... You're going to be my guest until your Lieutenant discovers your missing. And it's going to take a whole bunch of red tape to you out of here. You're mine, cowboy!!" Tomas growled into the Texan's face. "My men will tell you I don't like my operations to go haywire. There are men in jails around this land who have been lost because they messed me up. And if Beaumont doesn't have you out by morning - well, Sergeant Lundy, you'll be on your way to a new place." Tomas paused momentarily, giving Lundy time to digest what was just said.

Withdrawing his hand, Tomas stepped back, grinning at the pathetic sight of the forlorn Houston detective in front of him. "Why don't you just think about your partner, Lundy, and what a great cop he was." Turning on his heel, Joe's Uncle strolled back through the open cell door.

Captain LaFiamma listened to a report from one of his men as the cell door closed behind him. "Beaumont's got feelers out all over the city. Traced that video to one of our guys. Now she's tracking Richardson."

"Captain? Don't you think you should tell him his partner is alive?" Another asked his boss as they watched cell door automatically close and bolt.

"Hell, no! Let him suffer. Feed him. I'll be up in my office starting the paper work on this job. Call me when he's going to be transported," Tommy instructed, as devilish smile on his face.

Lundy slowed slid down the wall to the floor. His heart ached to hear the laugh of the Italian from Chicago. They poked fun at each other... drove each other up the wall... but they were friends really friends. LaFiamma was the best friend, since Bobby Wilton, that Levon had ever had. The blond's head fell between his knees, his body retching dry tears, hoping that one day Julie LaFiamma might forgive him.

"Have they found Levon?" Julie asked, deep concern in her voice, as Carol walked into Joey's hospital room.

"Not yet, but we're pretty sure Tomas took him to the cells in the Federal Building. Captain Markle and the Chief have taken over the fight to get him out. Any word on Joe?" Sergeant O'Brien asked, concern for both Levon and Joe showed on her face.

"A nurse came in a few minutes ago to say Joey would soon be leaving Recovery, and be on his way down," Julie responded. "I sure don't want to be around when Joey finds out his uncle has taken Levon. I know the pain I felt just watching you and Joanne walk into the bank. Levon has got to be an agony. And I doubt very much Tomas would even bother to tell him that Joey is alive?"

Levon didn't know how long he'd laid on the floor, his watch had been taken off as he was handcuffed. The coldness of the floor made him feel closer to his partner whom he was sure lay on a tray in the Morgue. It was the smell of coffee filtering into the cell that made the Texan roll into a sitting position. Moving slowly, he brought himself to his feet, to see a tray with food had been slipped through a slot next to the door and what looked like a three-legged stool pushed out from the wall.

"Better to starve," Levon mumbled to himself, though the growling in his stomach told him different. Slowly, stiffly he walked over and stared at the plate of food. His nerves raw with guilt, he literally jumped off the floor when a bell rang and a voice announced that trays would be collected in two minutes. Reaching for the coffee, already lukewarm, Levon gulped it down in two swallows. Picking up the roast beef and rolling it around the carrots, he hastily ate, wondering how long it had been since Tomas left. Just as Levon reached for the roll, he heard a click-click, and was startled to see the tray vanish from his sight. He barely got off the stool before it folded into the wall, a sliding panel concealing its whereabouts. The cowboy was still trying to get his balance when the cell door slid open, and Captain LaFiamma walked in.

"ON YOUR FEET, COWBOY!!" Tomas barked, grabbing the Texan by the shoulder, "we're going for a ride!"

Looking around the room at his boss and fellow detectives, Joey asked for the third time, "Where's Lundy?"

Those present in the room just looked from one to another, no one dared answer, it was Julie who finally ventured forth. "Tomas took him, Joey. Right after you were shot."

"TOMAS!? That bastard took him to the Federal building didn't he?" Joey quipped tightly, trying hard to push the pain he felt, that medication wasn't touching, out of his mind, remembering the cells in the basements that Tomas had showed him the last time his Uncle was in town.

"I talked to my cousin a bit ago. He says Lundy's down in the Dungeon. That's all he could find out, " Estaban answered quietly, trying not to upset the patient any further. "That's all and - your Uncle hasn't told him you're alive. Lundy thinks he's killed you."

Joey threw back the bed covers, but Julie's hand caught Joey's shoulder as he grimaced in pain in his attempt to get up.

"Joseph!" His wife said evenly, flashing eyes meeting his angry ones.

"Jul..ia!" Joey growled, "Levon's got to know... I'm the only one who can go. The only one he will believe."

"He'll know, Joey. But ripping open your stitches won't help you or him," Julie answered back, gently pushing the man she loved back against the pillows. "People are working to get him here"

"Yeah... but is he going to know I'm alive before he walks through that door... not if Tomas can help it!" Joey groused, "Tomas gets pleasure out of watching someone suffer, especially if they messed up one of his deals."

The nurses at the unit station were too busy to notice the three men, one in handcuffs, who stepped off the elevator later than evening. Levon was having trouble understanding why Tomas had brought him to a hospital. Unless... god, he hoped it wasn't Julie. He could only hope the baby she was carrying wasn't lost because of him.

"This way," Tomas said gruffly, yanking the blond cowboy in the direction of Joe's room.

Levon caught a glance of himself in a window as they walked down the hall. His hair was uncombed, he needed a shave, had black circles were under his eyes. He looked like hell.

Joey's head jerked up off the pillow, at the sound of Tomas' voice in the hall. An involuntary gasp of pain followed the quick movement. Those present didn't need a translation for the Italian words Joe began mumbling under his breath.

"Look, we don't have to do this," Levon whispered, as they stopped outside Joe's hospital room, never figuring it was Joe who lay in the bed, but Julie who had lost a baby because of him.

As the two emerged from the low-lit hallway into the lighted room, it was Joey who first saw the disheveled appearance of his partner... and the handcuffs! "TOMAS! YOU STINKIN' BASTARD... WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HIM?!" Joey roared angrily, stitches or not, he wanted a piece of his uncle.

Levon's head jerked up at the sound of his partner's voice. The cowboy stood dumbfounded staring at the man in the bed, disbelieving what he saw. Turning to look at Tomas and back to Joe, Levon muttered, "Where's.. Where's Julie? I.. thought she...."

"Why is this man handcuffed?" Lieutenant Beaumont broke in sharply, stepping towards Levon, trying to get around Tomas' man who was denying her access to her detective.

"You stinking bastard, Tomas! You're as bad as Gianno!" Joey barked through gritted teeth, pushing the pain he felt out of his head. "You know what kind of hell he's been in the last few hours? And you don't even give a damn, do you?"

"I always take those who mess up my operation. You know that. I haven't seen anything that releases him from my custody and until I do... he's mine," Tommy replied, a slight gloat in his voice. "I brought him here only because your lieutenant was making waves."

"LaFiamma...?" Levon suddenly croaked, moving closer to the bed. "I... thought you were dead, man... saw your grandfather making the sign of the cross on him... on you... the paramedic was shaking his head no...I... thought Julie was here... thought she'd lost the baby cause you... you were dead...." Levon's voice trailed off, his eyes never leaving the face of the man in the bed.

"Well, Levon's not leaving with you, Captain," Beaumont said sharply. "Richardson has seen two videos of what went down, and he agrees with us that Levon's reaction was natural for what he thought he saw."

Turning to where her purse lay, Joanne pulled out a folded piece of paper, walked over and handed it to Tomas. "You want a release form. This is it. I doubt you will debate the signature. Now take the cuffs off!"

"Damn you, Tommy! You got the old man for kidnapping three people, extortion, counterfeiting. And you still want to get even because someone pulled the attention away from you?" Joey was disgusted with the behavior of his uncle, shaking his head; he slowly leaned back against the pillows behind him, surrendering to the whispered demands of Julie to back off.

"One of these days, Captain," Joanne said, "your antics are going to catch up with you."

"I make no apologies for what I do," Tommy said, taking the paper from Beaumont's outstretched hand. "At the time my men took Lundy, Joey's condition was unknown. The fact that Lundy thought Joey were dead, made handling him a lot easier."

Levon turned to leave as Tomas turned on his heel. Estaban caught the Texan around the waist with one arm, "Levon, where you going?"

"I... I killed Joe... got to leave with him..." still not believing the man in the bed was his partner.

"Answer the damn phone, LaFiamma!" Joey barked from the bed, remembering that was the last thing Levon had said to him before their morning was turned upside down.

"LaFiamma? Joe?! Is it really you?" Lundy croaked, turning back to the bed, stepping closer, to stare at the grinning face with unruly hair down across one eye.

Julie looked at the partners, then quickly hustled everyone out of the room and closing the door behind her. Pain and stitches forgotten, Joey reached out and grabbed his partner's arm, pulling him to the bed. For once, Levon did not fight the hug his partner gave him.

"I'm going to be okay, Levon. I am! And so are you partner. So are you," Joey replied softly.

Everything on this page is fiction. Any resemblance or reference to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.