Mirror Image

A Cagney and Lacey story written by Joanne Siderius based on characters created by Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday. I wrote these stories for the enjoyment of fans of "Cagney and Lacey". I would really appreciate receiving your comments, reviews or even greetings: siderius@netidea.com

"Oh, you'll tell me."

His fingers slip as she kicks out at him. Her knee makes contact with his groin. He almost screams as he turns and crouches in pain, but she can't shake his grip. His face is livid when he turns back to her. He rams his fist hard into her stomach. She doubles over in pain - gasping for air. The pimp pulls her to her feet by her hair and spits in her face before slamming his fist between her eyes. Her head snaps back and hits the wall behind. She slumps against the wall, stunned. She is barely conscious now, breathing in sharp gasps. Pain. She is on her hands and knees struggling to get up. He grabs her hair. He forces her head back before slapping her hard with his open hand - and again.

"Well, bitch?"

She can taste blood: she can feel it pouring from her nose. He pulls his foot back and kicks her in the ribs, knocking her back against the wall. He pulls her up by her collar, choking her.

"Need more time to think it over - eh?"

He throws her back to the ground. She lays where she has fallen. She is unconscious before he finishes gagging and binding her.

She wakes to throbbing pain in her head, face and ribs. The floor reeks of old oil and dirt. She is stiff and bone-cold from the hard cement and her feet are numb. The rag in her mouth tastes of mildew - and her own blood. She is on the verge of vomiting and she has no idea if it is day or night. The garage is lit by a single naked bulb suspended from the ceiling. A fat bluebottle fly flies from one end of the ceiling to the other, bouncing and buzzing incessantly over and over along the same route. A spider waits patiently in the corner. The fly is oblivious: it keeps buzzing back and forth looking for the sky.

The heavy metal door opens, grating along the rough cement. The door catches half way. "Damn". He kicks the door open, dislodging a pebble that bounces along the floor and into a dark corner.

He stops a few feet from her. It is the other man, the one in the pressed suit, who bends over her, rolls her onto her back and peers closely at her for a moment.

"Bring her", he says to Clark.

Turning back as the pimp stands her on her feet prior to hoisting her over his shoulder.

"No. Untie her feet. Let her walk."

She can't of course. She has no control over her numb feet, stumbling and tripping so badly that Clark tries dragging her. With the returning circulation comes incredible pain and he finally has to wait for her. She is on her knees waiting out the pain when Mr. Suit walks back to see what is keeping them. He pulls the rag from her mouth in disgust, saying:

"Really, Clark. Was all this necessary?"

The other man was surly: "You got a better idea? - This is my problem too, you know."

"You lack imagination, Clark. But I forgot - your fists do your thinking for you."

With that the suit turns and walks up the stairs. The pimp pulls her to her feet and pushes her along in disgust. He has no answer to the other man's wit. He never does. The rag is gone, but she hasn't spoken - her mouth is so dry that she couldn't if she tried.

He knows everything. The room is still spinning and she is wet from sweat -from the exertion of desperately trying to tell him nothing. The whole operation - everything -names, dates. Her partner. Even her partner.

The suit grabs her arm. He pulls her arm out straight and wraps a tie on her upper arm waiting until her vein bulges. He inserts another needle. Even had she not been tied, she would have been powerless to stop him - her free will is reduced to constant screaming in her head. She can barely focus but she can still see the scissors, and hear the snipping as he removed a lock of her red hair.

He finishes the injection and strokes her cheek, staring into her eyes. He relishes this moment. She is trapped - speechless unless he bids her speak. This is as close to owning a soul as he will ever come. Despite her own will - he owns her. He despises women like her - and he will leave her despising herself. He means to enjoy the next few minutes. While her soul is rent and raging, his howls with delight.

"Ever done heroin?"

"No" Her voice is dull and flat. The drug compels her to answer.

"It is a very interesting drug. Every sensation heightened to a fever pitch. Such ecstasy -" He is unbuttoning her shirt, and unbuckling her belt. "-such deep, deep pleasure."

He is right. The heroin kicks in. Her body responds to his touch as it has never responded to anyone before - ecstasy doesn't begin to describe the pure sensuality she feels. She is still crying, "My God - don't let it end this way." But no one hears the indictment. Or at least no one answers. Finally her mind collapses and she plunges into the pleasures of the drug.

Much later, when he has finished with her, when she no longer responds and he can find no pulse, he turns from the couch. He stands, puts on his suit jacket and straightens his tie. He turns to the pimp, who has been watching in the shadows.

"Get rid of her."

The pimp smiles and pulls out a knife. He enjoys this part of his job too.

"No, you idiot. No mess. Take her out of here and dump her."

Clark is sulking, but he puts the knife away and picks her up.

"I mean it, Clark - let the heroin do the job. I want them to find her. But not here, and not that way."

Clark has her in his arms: "Where will you be?" Things have changed and he is far from certain of how to make sure he survives. He is ever suspicious of his "partner". He has every right to be.

"I have something to attend to. Hurry up with her - I need you."

With that, the suit opens the door into a cold, rainy night. He pauses to open his umbrella, pull up his collar and then he leaves, whistling. Clark watches him leave and then carries her down the stairs and into the dark.

He dumps her on the floor of the van and slams the doors shut. The fly is buzzing frantically overhead. The spider is slowly and patiently wrapping it in silk. The fly spins on a single strand of web, jerking spasmodically, still remembering the sky.

The garage door opens and the van leaves. The automatic door closes and only a trace of blue exhaust remains. That and the sound of icy rain pounding the tin roof.

"Another strung - out hooker?"

Mary Beth Lacey throws her partner a look. She hates these calls too - a Jane Doe beaten and tossed into a dumpster - but Cagney should really show more sensitivity - especially in front of the uniforms. It is hard enough to get some cops to take the beating - and near death- of a hooker seriously.

The ambulance has left, siren blaring and lights flashing, in a bid to get the victim to the emergency ward in time. A middle-aged woman - beaten, over-dosed and in a coma. A group of cops are smoking and sharing a joke. Cagney is questioning the deli owner who found the woman tossed in his dumpster. The sergeant's bright yellow slicker is the only splash of colour in a cold and grey, rainy day. Lacey pulls her collar up, sighs and opens her notebook. She walks over to question the attending officers. Another day begins.

"No. I don't think it's that easy."

The young intern is an intense young man. He is new to Emergency - each case is still a challenge.

"Why?" Cagney is impatient. Who knows what plum case they're missing while dealing with this Jane Doe.

"If she is a hooker, she just started - she shows none of the cervical displacement I'd expect to find in a middle-aged professional" He looks up to make sure he has their attention and then continues - "her hands were bound and she put up a struggle - someone beat her just short of killing her - someone -he- knew what he was doing - she was raped -"

"Fine, a novice picked up by a vicious john-"

"I haven't finished, Sergeant"

He waits until she listens. Chris crosses her arms. She says nothing but might as well be snapping: "well, then, get on with it." Mary Beth is amused - the first light moment of her day - but she nods and says:

"Go on doctor."

Still eyeing Cagney, he continues: "She wasn't a junkie. Only two needle marks. Yes -there was heroin in her system - but something else. Sodium amytal -

"Truth serum?" Cagney is incredulous: he has her attention now. Lacey looks up from writing in her notebook.

"Yes. And a few other things: she is in very good physical shape - she probably works out - runs; her teeth show excellent dental work. My opinion? She wasn't an indigent street worker."

Lacey looks at Cagney. Her partner is all business, now totally absorbed in the case. This wasn't your "typical" hooker mugging. But how did she end up nearly dead in a dumpster?

"When can we talk to her?" Cagney asks.

"Talk to her? She's in a coma. Her injuries are severe - she may never regain consciousness."

"Will you call us if she wakes?" Lacey hands him her card. The doctor nods as he is paged.

"We'd like to examine her personal effects-" This time he interrupts:

"I'm wanted in emergency, Sergeant - go ahead. Keep me posted?" He is rushing away. He is reluctant to leave this case, but the urgency of the moment is taking him to another emergency. He is paged again as he rushes down the hall.

"Yes, thank you doctor -" Lacey calls after him. Cagney snaps her own notebook shut: "Well detective, let's see what our Jane Doe had on her, shall we?"

"She's not here": Cagney closes the missing persons book shut and leans back in her chair, closing her eyes.

They are back at the precinct the next day, examining the victim's personal effects and chasing down missing person reports. Lacey is toying with a tooled leather belt with turquoise inlay.

"This is an expensive belt, Chris. Hand tooled, and a beautiful buckle. Made in Calgary."

Cagney leans forward to take the belt from her partner. "A raven - north-western native design. Hmmm." She looks at the articles on the desk. "Shoes. There are no shoes."

"Robbed in the dumpster, or maybe stripped from her before she was dumped?"

"The shirt and jeans aren't cheap - she knew how to chose her clothes - New York labels. The shoes. Her belt is still here, but why no shoes?"

"Expensive? Worth stealing? Maybe the thief was in a hurry and the belt was harder to remove. Maybe the deli owner knows. Is it that important Chris?"

"Just a feeling, Mary Beth. The pieces don't fit and that piece is missing. I don't know where else to look. " She gets up and grabs her purse: "Up for a deli sandwich? - my treat."

Lacey eyes the well-used paper bag holding her peanut butter sandwich and grabs her own purse: "Twist my arm, Sergeant."

"Those are nice boots - worth about 500 dollars, I'd say." Cagney casually flips her wallet open showing her badge to the waitress. She takes another bite of her pastrami.

Lacey nods, showing her own badge: "Pretty steep for a kid working as a waitress."

The kid serving them stutters: "My dad gave them to me - he's the owner - over there." She points to the till. She is wearing a beautiful pair of hand-tooled cowboy boots - swirls of turquoise and white leather through deer hide. Very nice indeed.

The owner comes over, alerted by his daughter's behaviour. The young woman scurries back to the kitchen.

"Sit down Mr. Strutman. Relax." Cagney points to her sandwich "This is very good pastrami."

The deli owner wipes his hands on his apron and sits down: "You found who dumped that body?"

Lacey puts her coffee down and answers: "She's still alive, Mr. Strutman. And missing some (the barest of hesitations) boots. Now, maybe someone picked them up thinking they'd been tossed away - it happens. Who knows why some people toss things?"

Mr. Strutman is watching them warily. Lacey continues: "Maybe even thinking it was only right, all the used needles and condoms and patrolling ladies and johns he has to put up with. And who'd miss the boots? - certainly not a dead woman." Mr. Strutman is definitely feeling cornered.

Cagney speaks up, some of her hidden anger on behalf of this woman emerging: "But those boots are evidence. They could help us find out who beat, drugged and then left a woman for dead in an over-flowing dumpster. With-holding evidence is a serious crime, Mr. Strutman. So is being an accessory to attempted murder."

Lacey is eyeing her partner as she jumps in: "But someone who merely finds the boots and then turns them in would only be doing their civic duty, right Sergeant?"

Cagney takes her time chewing her sandwich. Her whole demeanour suggests she is giving the matter serious consideration: "Right, Detective. Of course."

Later, as they wait their turn to pay at the till. "Mary Beth, can you spot me five?" She is still searching through her pockets. Her wallet is empty. "I haven't made it to the bank this week."

"Oh no need for New York's finest to pay here, Sergeant" Mr. Strutman comes out from the kitchen and smiles as he hands Cagney a bag large enough to hold a pair of boots.

But Lacey carefully counts the money - plus tip - into his hand. "Thank you Mr. Strutman, but it most certainly is necessary."

Cagney smiles cheerfully at her partner as she holds the door open for her. There are some things about her partner that always make her smile: "Thanks Mary Beth."

Mary Beth doesn't know how to take Chris' cheery comment and looks at her warily: "Don't mention it, Sergeant."

"Again - made in Calgary." Cagney is driving, Lacey is examining the boots - looking under the insoles. "Nothing here."

"We should get hold of Canadian missing persons." Cagney blares her horn at a taxi blocking the lane to pick up a passenger.

"Wait Chris - there's a ring in here, too. She pulls a small silver ring from an envelope that was in the bag. It has a turquoise stone setting.

Chris looks over and whistles: "Well, well. Looks like our Mr. Strutman scored more than a pair of boots."

"There's an inscription: two interlocked hearts - love Kate."

The radio crackles: "Detective car K-12"

Lacey picks up the receiver: "This is K-12, Central."

"You have an urgent call from St. Margaret's hospital, detectives. Please attend."

"Roger central. K-12 attending the call. Over."

"Roger, K-12."

"She must be awake, Mary Beth. Let's go."

Lacey turns on the siren and plants the bubble on the roof - all the while grabbing the dashboard with one hand as Cagney pulls a sharp U-turn and steps on the gas.


Lacey is shocked- not at the bruises and cuts left by the beating- not at the tubes and machines needed to keep her alive - but at the sheer will exerted to force out the words.

They don't understand. They have to get to Kate first-God please: "Kate."

"Where is she?" Cagney leans close.

The woman is now so agitated that the doctor administers a sedative and waves the detectives away. She starts tossing and turning. No. No. "- the belt"


Detectives, this is too much-"

But she persists even as she fades - trying desperately to tell them- calling desperately for her partner: "Kate."

She loses the battle with exhaustion and with the sedatives and stops fighting, lying still against her pillow.

Lacey, deeply moved finally says: "Will she be OK?"

He is monitoring the machines: "She's not in a coma now, but she's still critical" He turns to look at Lacey: "She desperately tried to tell you something. Did you understand any of it?"

It is Cagney who answers - "We will." She turns on her heel and is out the door before she finishes speaking. She hates hospitals. Lacey takes another look at the woman in the bed, nods and follows.

"I've phoned every O' Brian in every book - nothing". Lacey waves at a stack of phone books on her desk. Cagney reaches over to grab the belt.

"Why the belt, Mary Beth?. All that urgency over the belt." She peers much closer at the back of the belt and notices that it has been re-stitched - mended. She picks at it with her nail and then searches in her purse for a nail file. Lacey watches as Cagney pulls the stitches away and pulls out a laminated card.

"Will you look at this: 555-7991" Lacey looks up in surprise: Number One Police Plaza. She leans over Cagney's desk as Chris grabs the phone.

She hesitates and looks up in surprise at Mary Beth before responding: "This is Detective Sergeant Cagney of the 14th Precinct. I have reason to believe that someone at this local has information about a missing woman. Yes, I'll wait." She puts her hand over the receiver and mouths "Major Cases" to Lacey.

Chris turns her attention quickly to the conversation: "Yes, Caucasian, about 5.5", red hair, blue eyes - St. Margaret's Hospital - Rm. 202 - wait - is there a Kate O'Brien there? No - she kept asking for Kate O'Brien. "

"Yes - wait - I understand - keep us informed-"

She puts the phone slowly back in the cradle and turns to Lacey :"He hung up. He said the information was urgent and he would be in touch." She pauses before saying: "She's a cop Mary Beth. So is O'Brian."

The phone rings again and Cagney picks up. "Thank you doctor." She slowly puts the phone down. "She slipped back into a coma and died a half hour ago - heart failure."

Both women are silent. It is Cagney who breaks the silence: "What bastard did that to a cop?" She hurls down her pencil.

"Or to anyone." Lacey's voice is muffled - her head is on her desk - resting on her arms.

Chris is suddenly beside her. Lacey raises her head - startled. "- that could have been one of us, Mary Beth - " Chris breaks off and grabs her coat. She doesn't stay to argue. It is time to go home. Lacey doesn't say anything. She reaches over and turns out both desk lamps and then chalks them both out.

It is two months later - early spring and the sun has returned to New York. The remaining snow is melting and the wet pavement steams in the warm morning sun.

"I wouldn't have thought your plumber was the skiing type." Lacey says dryly.

"Who skied?" Cagney is smiling as they walk in the doors of the precinct. They return scattered greetings and check for messages and then Chris continues: "The fire was warm, the inn delightful and well, the whole weekend was, well (she throws open her arms) ….delightful." Lacey smiles at her partner as she pushes open the door to the detective squad room. She really doesn't like Nick, but she is glad to see Chris so happy, even smug.

They stop their chatter - there is a woman waiting for them at their desk. She is wearing a leather fringe jacket and cowboy boots. She stands and extends her hand in greeting:

"Hello, I'm Kate O'Brian, RCMP liaison with NYPD Major Cases Squad."

O' Brian breaks the awkward silence, smiling: "Nice to finally meet you. I'd like to talk to you." Both hands are now in her pockets. She indicates the others in the squad room: "In private."

"Nice place you have here." Kate says, indicating the grimy green walls and stained counter.

"Well, it is private." Lacey says. Cagney is leaning against the counter, her arms folded.

"I'd like to thank you. You helped us find Sarah." She started out meeting their eyes, but her head is down now.

"I'm sorry, Sergeant…..." Lacey doesn't know how to continue.

Kate's head is still down. She nods and looks up: "Yeah." She clears her throat. "She was my partner. Her name was Sarah Bernier. Detective Sgt. Bernier. RCMP. " The lump in her throat is so large she can't continue.

Cagney breaks her silence: "We tried to find out who she was, but Major Cases claimed… her, and well, they haven't shared any information with us."

O'Brian welcomes the opportunity to shift to "cop talk": We are - were - down here as liaison with your Major Cases. Undercover as hookers - independents. There have been over 30 women killed on the street in Vancouver. Kate and I were certain it was a serial killer - but we couldn't prove it and well… no one wanted to hear it. They wanted more proof that the killings were linked."

Cagney and Lacey both nod. They get the picture - it is hard enough to track down a killer, let alone someone killing hookers - women that few people value. And a serial killer panics the public. Few police departments would welcome launching such an investigation - more proof indeed.

"But we turned up a link with New York - similar killings, similar M.O. The short of it is Kate and I were sent down here to work with NYPD to turn up any links we could."

She pauses, choosing her words: "And we did. That last night - Sarah stumbled on something - " she lowers her head "-she never made it home." She looks up at the ceiling and tries to control her breathing. Finally she wipes her eyes and looks at Cagney and Lacey. Lacey's hands are plunged deep in her pockets. She is physically restraining herself from approaching, even hugging this woman she doesn't know. Everything about O'Brian says that she wouldn't welcome that intimacy. Cagney's turns her head, giving the woman some privacy, and hiding the pain in her own eyes.

A deep breathe as Bernier leaps right in and says what she has come to say: "I can give you a serial killer- help you nail him - but I want to be there when you make the collar."

Cagney and Lacey exchange looks. Cagney raises her eyebrows - she is interested. Lacey throws her a look of warning. It is Mary Beth who responds, still watching Cagney: "Wait a minute -I have some questions."

O'Brian traces circles in the coffee puddle on the table, while the waitress serves the coffee. They have moved to this tiny diner to talk in privacy and a bit more comfort. Cagney has spent a lot of time staring out the steamed-over window, listening. It is Lacey who conducts the interrogation. Kate toys with her turquoise earrings, waiting for the waitress to finish before answering Lacey's questions.

"I have information about where Clark has relocated. I can find out where our suspected killer is through Clark. "

"Then what? You still won't have evidence that he is a serial killer."

"Clark deals. I can get you enough to get a search warrant for his place. What you will really be after with that warrant is information on his associate. Clark and our perp have shared residences in the past- when the bastard isn't in Vancouver."

"How do we know this guy living with Clark has anything in his residence to nail him?"

O'Brian pauses and then speaks in a flat voice: "The killer collects trophies from his victims - a swatch of hair. He will have those close by. Close by where he can gloat over them." She hides her emotion by taking another drink of coffee.

Lacey is relentless. "Fine. Why us?"

"Why you? This is your back yard. He's a vicious killer. A drug dealer." Softly: " A cop killer."

"Why isn't Major Cases following up?"

"They have tabled the investigation."


"The follow- up investigation of Sarah's death was embarrassing for the department. A Canadian liaison officer killed in New York - drugged, beaten first and then dumped in the garbage. And not enough evidence for so much as even a search warrant. I am on light duty pending a review of my appointment to the NYPD."

Cagney speaks up: "Why didn't you find Sarah earlier?"

Kate takes another sip of coffee before answering: "We were deep undercover. I reported her missing to Major Cases - and then I went looking. The girls on the street - paper boys- waitresses - contacts -no one had seen her. She'd dropped from sight."

Cagney cuts in at that:" You were partners - lovers - " Kate looks up at that and eventually nods "- and yet you have no idea where she went?"

Lacey watches closely. Too much is unanswered about Sarah's disappearance .

"She went to check out a lead."

"Alone?" Lacey lets the question hang in the air between them.

"We'd been ordered to lay off - to wait. Kate had a lead that a particularly nasty pimp - Clark - was mixed up with trafficking drugs." She is very careful with her next words, and speaks only after another sip of coffee: "We suspected that Clark was associated with our serial killer - that our suspected killer was bringing in the drugs."

She still hasn't answered the question. They wait. "We argued: she wanted to follow Clark to the drop-off point on the chance that Clark's associate - maybe our killer - would be there."

Lacey says softly: "And?"

O'Brian is playing with her ring, staring at the turquoise setting: "And I think Sarah followed Clark that night."


Alone?" Lacey asks again- staring at the other woman.

Kate is still playing with her ring. She finally looks Lacey in the eye: "Yes, alone."

She sits back in her seat, eyes focused on a point on the back wall: "I never really thought she'd go it alone - not this time. I should have known - but I was angry and she slipped away." She shakes her head sadly. "She could be so pig-headed. It was too dangerous to take on alone and I wanted to wait. But Sarah said it would be too late and he'd get away. She never really believed anything could happen to her - "

Now she looks directly at them "- and when it did I wasn't there for her."

There it was. What was there to say? The waitress brings more coffee. No one speaks. Three cops are caught up in their own thoughts of loyalty, love, guilt and remorse - each remembering the times they would have given anything to turn back the clock. Eventually Cagney and Lacey leave with a promise to think it over and get back to O'Brian.

They walk into a day that has turned colder. There is ice on the sidewalk and clouds over the sun. There is one last snowstorm on the way.

"Well?" They are driving back to the precinct and Lacey finally breaks the silence.

Cagney keeps driving, one hand over the wheel, staring straight ahead. She finally turns to Lacey and shrugs.

"I think she's trouble, Chris. At the very least she has a score to settle. And this story about Major Cases putting a hold on the case. I wish to hell someone there would talk to us."

Chris has been caught up in her own thoughts: "Mary Beth, why did Sarah have that number in her belt?" She looks at her partner: "We've both been undercover - when would you do something like that?"

The penny drops. Lacey turns in her seat: "If I was walking into something where I might not walk away." Softly: "If I didn't trust my back up."

"But …." Lacey knows it is true, but there are some things she will never accept. That partners, lovers, for god's sake - could betray each other is a violation of things she holds sacred.

Lacey continues "Then why is O'Brian coming to us? She could leave it alone and walk away."

"Could you?" That question goes unanswered.

Cagney carries on with the original train of thought: "To get to that killer, like she said."

"Because of Sarah?" Lacey's voice shows her doubt: she is sure there is more to it.

"That, and something else. Sarah's death could have been a message, Mary Beth. Maybe she got caught in something between O'Brian and that guy they were after. Maybe the killer has something on O'Brian - something O'Brian is willing to kill for. That and Sarah"

"Butter could melt in that woman's mouth."

Chris has never understood that expression: "Huh?"

"She could be an actor - I believed she was that torn up."

"Maybe she is" Cagney says quietly. "Maybe she never meant for Sarah to die - but Sarah discovered whatever was going on between O'Brian and the killer and she went off on her own."

"And Sarah didn't share her suspicions because she didn't want to believe Kate was involved - and she died as a result."


She didn't just die, Mary Beth."


There is a long period of silence.

"She asked us for help, Chris."


Lacey nods.

"Yes, they both did."

The neon light blinks off and on - sending rainbows splicing through the dark. The man loves glass - glass shelves, glass tables - and glass sculptures. Sculptures that turn pure crystal into a hideous parody of heaven - sculptures of hellish creatures in various states of torment. The brilliant halos of light cast by light and crystal only add to general sacrilege of the room. A school of dull grey fish swim in circles in a huge lit aquarium. In one corner - the glass corner cabinet where they had found the worst abomination of all - hanks of hair arranged by colour. One swatch had been set apart - red hair wrapped around a set of turquoise earrings. Neither cop had spoken when they found this stash - there were no words to describe the horror of finding those trophies. But - the pathos evoked by the sight of those earrings - that was far worse.

O'Brian had done her part: she'd gone back on the street and confirmed her information. And Cagney and Lacey had done their part: they obtained their search warrant. But no warrant could touch Clark now. They had found him dead downstairs - trussed like a pig with his throat cut.

And now they sit in the dark, in this charnel house - waiting for a killer - Cagney, Lacey and O'Brian.

Lacey tenses - someone has stopped outside the main door. She throws a glance over to where Cagney is hiding, but can't see her partner. She hears a key grating in the lock followed by the slamming of the downstairs door. Someone is walking over to where Clark is lying in his own blood. Then silence. Lacey, closest to the door is aware, ten long minutes later, that someone has come silently up the stairs and is standing, waiting, outside the door. She tenses, pulling further behind that damned cabinet and readies her weapon. She senses, knows, that Cagney is ready. O'Brian is a wild card.

The door swings open on silent hinges, the light shifting, slipping in green and red eerily down the lithograph of Dante's Inferno. A man -a dark shadow in a dark room - but his face -

He raises his arm - as Lacey realizes what he is about to do - a flare sputters and then it's crimson light throws distorted shadows dancing on the wall - she uses the dim red light to dive for him shouting-

"Cagney - gas!"

Cagney is hidden behind him - she jumps up and hits the light as her partner dives for the killer. But he twists away - throwing the gas canister at their feet. He punches Lacey and hurls her to the ground and runs down the stairs.

Lacey lies inches from the canister. Cagney grabs a couch pillow- throwing first the pillow and then herself on top of the smoking canister. It isn't tear gas - the gas has a smell she doesn't recognize. O'Brian leaps over the two cops and tears down the stairs after the masked killer.

Lacey staggers to her feet, coughing. She rushes to the kitchen to grab some garbage bags. She hurries back to Cagney who is still lying on the pillow, coughing and desperately trying to contain the gas: "Ready?"

A gunshot from downstairs -

Cagney nods: "Hurry."

"On the count of three" Again Cagney nods - and rolls off the pillow as Lacey grabs the hissing canister in the trash bags and rushes to dump the knotted bags into the aquarium. Cagney waits only long enough to see that her partner is safe, before she races through the door and down the stairs. Lacey follows, pulling her weapon from her holster, wiping her streaming eyes.

O'Brian is standing - gun drawn - over a man in a finely pressed suit. He has fallen over Clark in the chase - there is blood on his suit. He lies draped over his bound and slaughtered partner. A gun lies on the ground between the cop and the killer. He isn't moving. The gas mask moves with his every breath - a rhythmic rasping that proves he is still alive. O'Brian doesn't turn as Chris runs up - nor when Lacey comes to a halt beside her partner. Kate's gun hand is trembling. She bends and rips the gas mask from the killer's face. She is crying. She turns and hands her gun to Cagney. The man on the floor is smiling: he won the battle with O'Brian long ago.

O'Brian speaks to both Cagney and Lacey : "Your collar." Now they see the blood seeping through her shirt from the killer's bullet.

It is six o'clock that morning in a cold interview room. O'Brian refuses to wait. She wants to give a statement and she will give it only to Cagney and Lacey. They sit at a metal table, around a tape recorder. Coleman has brought them coffee and then left. Kate's arm is in a sling.

"His name is Jeffreys? She asks.

Lacey answers: "Arthur Jeffreys."

O'Brian nods. It is good to know the bastard's name.

She starts: "Sarah knew none of this. She had no part in what I did." Cagney nods and O'Brian continues:

"I was on the street - undercover - when I met Clark. He was a fool - but he knew I wasn't what I pretended to be. He figured I was narcotics - and he tried to buy me off. I played along at first - we knew he was a dealer and we were after bigger game." She puts her hand to her forehead. The next is hard and her shame chokes her:

"But I developed a habit. And I got in deep. Clark made me a deal: said he had a partner, a partner who would pay big money for a cop in his pocket." She didn't meet their eyes. "I took his money. I told myself it got me closer to this killer - to Jeffreys - but …. well." Neither Cagney or Lacey responds, and Kate continues.

"It got out of hand and I decided to end it - you can guess how that went. Clark laughed when I said I was walking away. But I was a threat to them - Clark finally said that he would set up a meeting for me with Jeffreys - to sweeten the pot - keep me in. He thought I just wanted more - not out. I wanted to play along - grab Jeffreys. I knew it was a trap, that Jeffreys was just as likely to kill me. But I was arranging a sting with Major Cases to get him. I never got the chance to tell Sarah."

"Most of what I told you about Sarah was true - but she knew about my habit. I promised I would get help and quit - she was part of the reason I wanted out."

Softly, almost as an aside: "I've been clean for 8 weeks. I wish she knew."

Kate goes back to her story: "She was such a smart cop - and somehow she found out about me and Jeffreys. And she found out about the drop at that garage. I didn't know she was going there - if she had waited until I got home and told her about Major Cases agreeing to the sting. But she went and the bastards caught her…. And killed her."

The room is quiet but for the whirring of the tape recorder.

"Next day an envelope arrived for me at work- at Major Cases. It was some of her hair, nothing else. Jeffreys, the bastard, had killed her as a message to me." She whispered "not even a message- just a taunt - he tortured her to death as a taunt."

Her voice is flat, dead. "You know the rest. So, I told you most of the truth in the diner. But for the drugs and the money- my link with Jeffreys. But it was always for Sarah that I wanted him."

Cagney reaches over and turns off the recorder. There is now complete silence in the room.

But O'Brian isn't finished -"She died such a horrible death. Her last moments - oh God forgive me - she was there because of me. " But O'Brian isn't seeking absolution or forgiveness. Only an ending, a resolution - owning up to her responsibility in a tragic, and meaningless death.

She twists the ring on her finger: "Our hearts, our souls, were linked -I pray that, even in the end, she knew that." She looks up. "After all that happened - after what I did - why was she the one to die?"

Lacey finally reaches out and touches Kate's hand. O'Brian looks over at her. "We heard her last words, Kate. She was calling for you."

The dawn light shines bleakly through the grime on the barred window. It's weak light touches lightly on the three women. Lacey and O'Brian are still sitting at the long metal table. Kate is quietly weeping. Mary Beth is holding her hand, her own head bowed. Cagney waits at the window, staring at the iron grey sky through her own tears.

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