No, this chapter does not mark the end of the wole story. Only the end of the main conflict. This is how it all finally plays out. Enjoy, and a review would be awesome and much appreciated.

- Thumper


Chapter 21
The End

Eight police cars screamed to a stop in front of a small house on an empty street. Neighbors peeked out of their windows behind curtains to see what all the noise was about. They seemed too nervous to even show their whole head in the window. That's what happens to a friendly neighborhood when disaster after disaster strikes it. Everyone becomes a recluse, streets are abandoned, and after a while the neighborhood falls apart.

That's what it was looking like now as Don climbed out of the car, fully armed with multiple guns, body armor, transmitter, et cetera. There were at least forty people surrounding him that were the same way. It seemed like every law enforcement agency was here; FBI, LAPD, SWAT, local stations, the whole nine yards was here to take down Los Angeles' latest serial killer. Don was feeling good about today. He finally felt that at the end of the day one more murderers would be off the streets and out of everybody's lives. He knew from experience though that he couldn't let the cockiness them feelings brought get in the way. If it did, the whole thing could be blown and multiple people would probably end up dead.

Definitely not the time for cockiness.

Don saw the rest of his team and moved to stand with them. "This is it," he announced to them.

"About damn time too," David added, fastening the strap of his vest.

"You can say that again," Colby chimed in.

Nikki looked at the tiny rundown house in front of them. Nothing moved in the windows; there was absolutely no sign of life at all. Not even a single bird in the yard. "Charlie was sure this was the place," she said, a hint of doubt in her voice.

Don nodded. "He was pretty clear. And if it's right with Charlie it's right with me."

"It's kind of weird," Liz shook her head with disbelief. "This was the next house on the list to check out."

It was true. They had managed to go through twelve of the thirty-two bookmarked houses on Rolands' computer. The newest one turned out to be occupied by a young couple. After that, they began weeding out the rest by newest bookmarked and closest availability. As it turned out, unlucky thirteen wasn't so unlucky after all.

Amita wasn't able to find anything with the Black Market site. There was too much protection that didn't allow anyone to backtrack any orders. This didn't really surprise anyone, but it was worth a try. Larry, however, had looked at the unsent e-mail that Stacy had made for Charlie and cracked it within two minutes. Apparently it told the exact location of the house where Stacy spent the last moments of her life. Of course there was nothing that helped them now and Don was still adamant on not telling Charlie that e-mail existed.

The house was surrounded now with pointing guns. A SWAT member on a loudspeaker started the normal hostage negotiation a few feet from where they stood. "Parker Rolands, you're surrounded. Come out with your hands in the air."

If only Emily wasn't in there with him, then they could storm the house and arrest Rolands without any worries. Don couldn't help feeling it would be a lot faster, but it was just too dangerous as it was. So they would try to talk him out, but if push came to shove…

There was no sound, no movement in the building. They waited patiently for five minutes, then ten. The SWAT gut tried a couple of more times to talk Rolands into coming out, but still nothing. By this time, Don was getting a little ancy. Maybe Charlie was wrong. He had been off the past few weeks, there was a possibility his conclusions were off too. If it happened once it could happen again.

Don could tell the agents around him were getting restless too when about twenty minutes passed without anything happening in the house. But then in the corner of his eye, he saw a shadow move in the curtained window. It was only a glimpse that lasted less than a half a second, but Don was sure it was there. "Did you see that?" he said loud enough for everyone close to him could hear. "He's in the window!"

With renowned hope, the SWAT member with the megaphone started trying again, saying something this time about how Rolands didn't want to kill anyone, he just let his temper get the best of him. Don sighed, aggravated, "I've had enough of this crap. David, take about five men and try to sneak around the back. Maybe we can flush him out."

David nodded and moved. But Don raised a hand to make him stop when the front door opened and the figure of a girl with dark curled hair appeared in the opening. Emily Harrison stood directly in the doorframe. A gunned hand wrapped around from inside, the barrel pointing to Emily's temple. Besides that, Rolands couldn't be seen; he was hidden too well behind Emily and the shadow of the house.

Everything got deathly quiet and still. For a moment Don was sure he could hear everyone's mind whirling, trying to figure out the quickest way to get Emily out of there and arrest Rolands. Rolands spoke before anyone else did. "Move everyone to the street!" he shouted at them.

Don was fed up with all that involved Parker Rolands by now. He waved at the SWAT member to back off and moved in full sight of the door. Emily Harrison starred at him with wide, red, frightened eyes. "We're done putting up with your shit, Rolands," he yelled at him with no need for the megaphone.

Rolands didn't waste a second. "Move your people to the street!" he ordered again more urgently.

"It's not gonna happen." Don didn't sway.

"Move everyone to the street or she dies!" Emily gasped as the gun clicked in her ear. He sounded desperate now. Desperate criminals with hostages were probably the worst possible situation they could get into. Don swallowed, thinking hard. He'd have to be a little rash if he wanted to reunite Emily with her parents.

"Come on, Rolands," he said, "You know I can't do that. This is it for you. You're not getting out of this scot free like the other times. And I know you don't want to kill Emily now." He paused and waited for a response. None came. "Just let her go and we can get this over with."

There was a long pause where it felt like everyone was holding their breath. And then Rolands exploded with a new infuriated anger. "No! Move everyone onto the street! I will kill her! Get everyone on the street!" His hand shook, and even from where Don was standing, he could see his knuckles turning white on the trigger. It was only a matter of time before he squeezed just a little too hard.

Don cussed to himself as he realized he had to back off. "Okay, fine!" he told him, "We'll try this your way." He motioned for everyone to leave their positions and stand near the street. At the same time, he silently told David to continue sneaking around to the back. David picked up on it and started walking carefully around the side, taking people with him as he went.

Finally, everyone was where Rolands wanted them to be. "Everyone is on the street," Don informed him. "Let Emily go."

Instead, Rolands pulled Emily sharply back into the house. Don was sure she was in eminent danger now, more than she already was before. He started running the few yards to the door, knowing there were agents right behind him. But before he even got halfway to the house, a woman stumbled out. Don had never seen her before and it took him off guard. She was older than Emily, and she looked dazed, as if she wasn't fully sure where she was. She turned a little, and he could see a large dark patch in the back of her brown hair. He stopped, completely blindsided by what Rolands had thrown him. Colby seemed to recover quicker than him; he ran to the woman and directed her to a waiting ambulance.

About at the same time, David rounded the corner with a sobbing Emily Harrison in tow. "We got her," he announced. "She came out the side door."

And then it hit him. "How many doors are there?" Don asked him.

David gave him a funny look. "Three," he said, "Front, back, side…" His face changed as he realized what had happened too.

Rolands had released Emily through the side door because he wanted to distract everyone with the other woman he had captured through the front. There was one more door and it wasn't being blocked by police anymore. "He's getting out the back!" Don yelled to the other agents and went into full sprint mode around the corner of the house.

Sure enough, Rolands was already making a break for it through the backyard and over the fence. Don followed behind him over the fence and into the neighbor's yard. Rolands was already a yard and a half away, but he wasn't going to get away this time. Don wasn't going to let it happen.

He was just gaining on him when Rolands made a sharp turn to the left, disappearing behind a house on the next street. Instead of following him around the corner, Don sprinted ahead. He glimpsed some of the other agents around him and heard the sirens pounding the air as he searched for the killer in between the houses. Finally he made a decision and turned toward the neighboring street.

Rolands flashed by and Don rounded the corner half a second later. He was right behind him now. Don reached out a hand and grabbed Rolands shoulder and yanked hard, making him stumble and fall to the ground. Of course by this time he had worked up too much mentum and found it hard to get a good grip on the ground to make himself stop. Rolands jumped right up again and took off, but Don was ready. He grabbed Rolands' arms with both of his hands and spun him around which made them both collapse to the ground in a panting, struggling, heap.

But Rolands had worked too hard the past six months to go to jail. Even after practically flying down the entire street, he was intent on giving a hard fight. He managed to free an arm out of Don's steel-like grip and slugged him right in the eye.

Undeterred, Don returned the favor to his jaw and added another just for good measure. Police cars surrounded them and a few seconds after, everyone on foot caught up. Don pulled the groaning Rolands to his feet, took a pair of handcuffs from Liz who had materialized close to him, and cuffed the man's hands behind his back with a more than satisfying click.

There was only one thing that still bothered Don, and he couldn't make it fit. Through his deep breaths, he asked the last question to Rolands; "Just tell me one thing, why did you change your victim type?"

Rolands turned to stare at him, death in his eyes. "I got bored," he told him simply. There was a hint of smugness in his voice that made Don's gut burn with disgusted anger. He shoved Rolands into the waiting car with enough force to topple him over the seat. After slamming the door shut, he stood and watched the police car pull away, taking Parker Rolands finally to where he belonged.

Liz came over and stood by him, handing him a bottle of water. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Don accepted the bottle and took a drink. "I'm fine," he told her. The time for aches and pains would come later after the adrenaline rush was over.

They were both quiet for a moment, just watching the police car drive away. "Prison's too good for a guy like that," Liz commented quietly.

Don thought about all that Rolands had put them through in the last half year. He wasn't sure how much any of the team had slept, how much time and energy that had been wasted trying to find him. The families of Brittany Taylor, Jennifer McFowel, Stacy Morgan, and Emily Harrison- not to mention the other woman that was trapped inside the house- had been forced through unimaginable changes in their lives, whether it be the loss of their loved one, or living with the fear they witnessed every day of their life from now on. And then there was Charlie and his denied mini mental breakdown he suffered after Stacy was murdered. It was unbelievable how one man with a messed up life could mess up so many others.

Don watched the police car as it turned the corner and vanished from his sight. "Yeah, whel, what can you do?" he sighed. Even though Rolands was finally arrested, there was a bitterness that hung in the air that victory couldn't erase.