Chapter 24 – Why
Bobby raised his head off of the ground. He was lying on a cement floor. How had he gotten here? He sat up abruptly and the first thing he saw was, "Alex!" he gasped. He crawled over to her and was about to check for a pulse when she stirred.
"What's going on?" she asked. She pushed herself up into a sitting position. "Oh my God, Boyd!" she exclaimed. "But where's Lexie? Where is she?" She and Bobby began frantically searching the room, but to no avail.
"Hello detectives," a voice said over a loudspeaker.
"Boyd!" Bobby yelled furiously. "Where is Lexie? Giver her back to us right now!"
"Come and find her," Boyd invited. At the end of the room, a metal door swung open.
"What is this Boyd?" Alex demanded furiously. "What are you playing at?"
"Come and find me, detectives."
Alex and Bobby exchanged glances, but they had no choice. They had to go in further to try and find Lexie. She was still in one of Bobby's old tee-shirts that she used as a nightshirt; he was shirtless with plaid pajama pants. Carefully, they both crept towards the door.
Together they entered the next room, a large room at the end of which Boyd stood, holding Lexie.
"Lexie!" they cried together, rushing forwards. She brightened at the sight of her parents, reaching out to them.
"Stay back!" Boyd warned, pulling out a gun and holding it to Lexie. "We do this my way."
"What do you want from us?" Bobby demanded.
"One more game with the two of you."
"Why?" Alex demanded. "Why us?"
"Why?" Boyd repeated, sounding as if the answer should be obvious. "You mean you don't know?"
"Why don't you tell us," Bobby suggested, his eyes still trained on his daughter.
"Because you were the best," Boyd explained.
"Excuse me?" Alex asked. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I was getting bored of the old routine, killing while concealing myself carefully, never getting caught, no rush anymore. So I decided to invent this little game. I thought about targeting cops. Some like to demand the FBI, but I wanted to be a bit more subtle. So instead I settled for the Major Case Squad. Now I just needed to lay a trail to be identified as a pattern, and have that trail lead to MCS involvement. I wanted there to be a challenge to my capture. And so, I identified the detectives with the highest case closure rates. I selected you."
"You chose us at random?" Alex exclaimed. After being targeted for so long she couldn't believe that with a slightly different twist of fate her family would never have been selected at all. How many less cases could they have solved to have not been the targets? How many more could another pair of detectives have solved to have been chosen instead?
"You chose us for our case closure rate," Bobby repeated. "How did you ensure that we would get the case?"
"I killed the mayor's niece to get MCS involvement," Boyd explained. "And then I managed to convince a few people that I was a cop and got to the mayor, and I told him Goren and Eames had the highest number of solved cases in the department. He demanded that either Goren or Eames was put on the case. You," he indicated Alex, "were available."
Boyd shifted Lexie in his arms making both Bobby and Alex twitch in an automatic instinct to go to her. "But then," Boyd said, growing more animated with anger, "when I was ready to move with the plan, I discovered you two weren't working together anymore," he accused. "Because you had gotten married." His expression was of utmost disgust. "You turned away being the most successful detectives in your unit for that? For this?" he demanded, shaking Lexie slightly with his last word.
"A million times over," Alex said with feeling.
Boyd sneered. "Pathetic."
"So… all this was random?" Bobby asked.
"Of course not!" Boyd exclaimed. "Haven't you been listening? I chose you. Chose you to be my nemesis. And when I discovered that you two had foiled my plans with your coupling, I vowed to play a new game, a thorough game, one that would utterly destroy you."
"You made our lives a living hell because there was a hitch in your game?" Alex demanded. "This is all just a game to you?"
Boyd smiled. "Now you're getting it."
"And Casselman?" Alex asked. "He was just collateral damage?"
"No, I intended to destroy him, kill him, but it was you two that I had my sights set on for the long game."
"You had a lot of very thorough plans that didn't even last very long," Bobby pointed out. "Like locking me in a psych ward."
"I didn't need it to last long," Boyd said dismissively. "Just long enough to cause damage."
"But you went to all that trouble to set up a place that really did treat patients."
"Did I mention that before I chose to focus exclusively on murder, I was a very talented embezzler?" Boyd asked. "Money was no object. I won't need it when I'm dead so I might as well put it to use for my final game."
"COPD won't kill you for many years," Bobby pointed out.
"You know I have emphysema?" Boyd asked. "Very good, very good, you do not disappoint."
"So what, you thought you'd set up this 'game' because you're going to weaken and eventually die?"
"I won't be weakened," Boyd said lowly. "I will set death on my own terms. Playing a game of my own invention. Seeing others suffer has always made me feel alive."
Bobby and Alex exchanged glances. What else could they say to keep him talking until they were found? Would they even be found?
"One final game for you detectives. Have you ever played Wack-A-Mole?" he asked.
"What?" Alex snapped. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Your target appears on one side," he said peeking around Lexie, "and then it disappears." He hid his face behind her. He walked behind a metal ledge that covered him to very nearly the shoulders and settled Lexie on top of it. He peeked around her and grinned. "I know you must want me dead. So, here's your chance. He tossed their guns back to them.
"Is this some kind of joke?" Bobby asked.
"Some kind of trick?" Alex followed.
"No jokes, no tricks. This is the final chapter. You get to see me dead, finally see me pay, but be careful," he advised, ducking behind Lexie again, "You might just wack your mallet in the wrong place."
"We're not fucking risking that," Alex snapped. "Give it up, Boyd."
"You don't want to play?" he asked innocently. "That's fine, your choice." He pulled out his own gun and rested the muzzle against Lexie's temple. "Then I'll get my satisfaction this way. You each get three shots. Miss, them all, and she dies. Refuse to play, and she dies. You decide." He watched them, grinning. "Three," he said slowly.
"We have to play," Alex said hurriedly to Bobby. "He's going to kill her if we don't."
"We could kill her if we do," Bobby returned.
"Two," Boyd said.
"Which is worse?" Alex asked desperately. "We don't even try or we take a risk."
"Is there any other way to get around this?" Bobby asked.
"I can't see one," Alex fretted.
"Wait!" Alex called. She picked up one of the guns and passed the other to Bobby. "We'll play," she said.
Bobby looked over at her and the two shared a terrified glance. They were still both frantically trying to think of something else to try. But they had no time to wait to try and think of how to get out of the situation. Slowly, both raised their weapons.
Boyd leaned around Lexie and grinned darkly at them. Neither Bobby nor Alex made to shoot.
"Come on detectives," Boyd taunted. "If you don't play, you know how this ends." He kept his own gun pressed against Lexie's head.
A shot rang out. Boyd ducked behind Lexie and the bullet ricocheted off the wall behind Boyd and Lexie, eventually settled in the floor. Alex was still aiming where she had shot at Boyd. At the sound of the gunshot, Lexie started crying.
"You'll have to be quicker than that!" Boyd said gleefully over Lexie's cries.
It was Bobby who took the next shot when Boyd leaned around Lexie on the other side. He didn't duck in time, but he didn't need to. The shot had missed completely. Alex and Bobby were both aiming wide to avoid hitting Lexie.
"You'll have to do better than that," Boyd taunted. He peered around Lexie's other side. "You keep this up and I'll have to take my revenge sooner rather than later." He shook the hand holding the gun to Lexie's head slightly for emphasis. "Are you scared you'll hurt this little girl?" he asked in a baby tone. "Are the best detectives really so afraid that-"
He was cut off abruptly in an echoing bang. Alex and Bobby had shot at the same time. They crept forward slowly and carefully at first, then at a full run. Bobby quickly scooped Lexie into his arms. She was spattered with blood, but not any of her own. He breathed a sigh of relief. Snuggled in his arms, Lexie started to settle.
Alex went to check on Boyd. After a long pause she said, "He's gone."
"Are you sure?" Bobby asked, turning towards her and realizing that yes, she was sure. One of their bullets had hit him straight between the eyes, the other dead centre of his forehead. His blood and brain matter were splattered on the wall behind him.
"He's gone," Bobby echoed wonderingly. After terrorizing their family for so long, it seemed impossible that it all could be over just like this.
"He's gone," Alex repeated.
"It's over," Bobby said.
"It's all finally over," Alex echoed, tears filling her eyes. She rushed forward and wrapped her arms as far around Bobby as she could get them, Lexie caught between the two. Bobby wrapped the arm not holding Lexie around Alex. The family stood clinging to each other, thanking whatever deity was listening for them finally being released from terror that had wracked their lives.
Bobby and Alex smiled as Lexie toddled towards them, and fell forward into her father's arms. He lifted her into the air above his head, then brought her back down for a kiss on the head. Alex leaned in to give their daughter a kiss too, and Lexie gave her a wide smile before burrowing into Bobby's chest.
Things had gone back to normal. They saw Mike and Carolyn regularly, and had frequent visits with Lewis too. Bobby and Alex had both returned to work, and Alex's parents were watching Lexie again. For the first time in over a year, they were both completely and fully happy. Finally, they were free from the threat of Boyd.
Their little family was content. Alex and Bobby exchanged an easy smile, then returned their gaze to their daughter. Everything was going to be just fine.