Disclaimer: HBO owns Oz, Dick Wolf owns SVU.
Summary: A serial killer brings Elliot and Toby
Author's note: Thanks to Colleendetroit for the
lovely banner and screencaps.
Toby was familiar with the madness. It had been his friend since
O'Reily had so kindly introduced them. Of course, part of that was on
Schillinger, but fuck him. Maybe 'friend' wasn't the right word. Toby
tilted his head to the side and tried to find the proper one. He knew
"All right! Everybody out until seven tonight!"
Toby shuffled to his feet, burrowed into his heavy coat, and went into
the bitter cold of a New York winter morning. His hands were instantly
frigid, and he dug out his gloves. He watched his breath form a cloud.
Today, he thought, was Wednesday, and that meant that he could get a
free meal down at the church. He was never hungry, but the warmth would
be nice. The wind whipped around the corner, and he tucked his face
into his coat. Ducking into an alley, he looked for a place to pass a
few hours until lunch. Some place dry. Stone walls on both sides and he
instantly flashed back. He tried to fight it, but the memory grabbed
him, shook him, and didn't turn loose until it was finished. Insanity
was a good word for it. Gasping for breath, he sank down behind a
dumpster and balled his fists into his eyes. Please. No more today.
"Elliot, Liv, this one's for you," Cragen said and handed him a piece
of paper. "Make sure to wear your coats."
"Sure, Dad," Elliot said with a grin, but they did get their coats and
their hats. It was damn cold, and it had been nice because it slowed
the crime rate down dramatically. No one was willing to go out to dump
"You driving?" Olivia asked.
"Don't I usually?" Elliot had the keys to the sedan. "Why? You feeling
Olivia snorted. "You're not the best driver on snow and ice. Toss me
Elliot shrugged and tossed them. "No Christmas card for you."
Toby didn't like the noise. The sirens made him remember, and the loud
voices made him want to hide. So he did. The dumpster wasn't much, but
no one had seen him yet. He'd stay here. He covered his ears, bit his
lip, and curled tighter. If he were lucky, none of this was real.
Elliot looked up and down the dirty alley, but didn't hold out much
hope. "Any witnesses?"
The uniformed cops shook their heads. There was no one. It was too damn
cold. Elliot crouched down over the victim again and committed the
details to memory. Someone had been very angry.
"We got fluids," Warner said. "Sodomized and beaten before her throat
Elliot heard the sound clearly. Between the cops and the crowd, the
scene was loud, but he'd heard something. He took two steps and looked
in the dumpster. Nothing.
"Usually we let forensics do the dumpster diving," Olivia said. "She
Elliot heard it again. He grabbed hold of the dumpster and rolled it
away from the wall. "I believe we have a witness."
Toby was crazy again. He had grown comfortable with it. No, that wasn't
the right word. Damn, what had happened to his vocabulary? He didn't
want to look at the cop with the voice that couldn't be true, but he
did, and he blurted, "You're dead."
"Not yet. Did you see anything?" The cop that couldn't exist squatted
down next to him. "The girl. Did you see who killed her?"
Toby could only stare. The voice and the face matched up. This couldn't
be real. It was another memory. "You were never a cop."
"Technically, I'm a detective." The memory smiled in a gentle way and
put out his hand. "Why don't you come to my car and we can talk?"
Toby didn't remember any cars either. He shut his eyes, opened them,
and it was all still there. "But, you're dead."
Toby got to his feet under his own power, and he couldn't help but see
the girl. He whimpered. "I hate men that fuck us up the ass."
"No, Liv. I don't think so." The detective that was dead took Toby by
the arm and led him out of the alley to an ugly car. Toby didn't want
to get inside. He pulled his arm away and leaned against the hood. His
false memory smiled and said, "You saw who did it, didn't you?"
"I'm not sane." Toby smiled back at him. He was still so beautiful,
even in a stocking cap. "When I wake up, you'll be dead again."
"We need to start a canvass?"
"Munch, would you help our friend here get down to the station? Some
coffee and a warm room might help him remember."
Toby frowned. "You're talking about me?"
"I don't think so. Bad things happen when I talk to cops. I only made
an exception because this isn't real, and it's you." Toby stuck his
hands in his pockets. It was very cold today. "I'm cold. That is real.
"Elliot, let him go. He's drunk or on drugs or something."
"He's a witness, and we need one."
Toby started at the shoes and worked his way up. "Elliot? Not Chris?
Elliot. Could this be real? No. There's no way it could be." He
shivered. "I'm still in New York City, right?"
"Right." Elliot - not Chris - opened the car door. "Can you do a dead
man a favor?"
"Uh." Toby didn't think it was a good idea. "Listen, I, um, don't
understand this. Can I go now?"
Elliot got very close. Toby stared harder. There were differences. He
could see them now. The other cops said some stuff that he didn't
catch, and he didn't resist when Elliot put him in the car. He
should've fought. They'd fought before. Out of the depths of his mind,
it roiled up and over him, and he clasped his head.
"No! No! No!" Toby hated this one.
"He's a nutball," Munch said.
Elliot sighed. "Do the canvass. I'll take him back."
"He'll probably piss in your car." Fin frowned. "You sure he saw what
"He was right there. And every time someone said sodomize, he
whimpered. He saw it. We just have to get it out of him." Elliot
watched the homeless man rock and cry out. Poor bastard. And this
winter was a bad one. It was too damn cold to be living on the streets.
"I'll meet you back at the house," Olivia said. "I'll go with Warner."
"Thanks." Elliot knew this witness was his baby. No one else wanted to
deal with it. He opened his phone and called Dr. Huang. That was the
first step, and getting him to the house before he pissed himself was
next. Even though, for a homeless guy, he didn't smell all that bad.
The yelling had stopped by the time he got the car started. "You okay?"
"Sorry. It's my brain. I'm a fucking nut." The guy took off his gloves
and grabbed himself by the hair. "You gonna stay alive this time?"
"I hope so." Elliot pulled out and drove faster than usual. He used the
Elliot figured it was drugs then. Addicts were never hungry. He was
probably wasting his time, but any witness might point them in the
right direction. "What's your name?"
"You know it." The guy frowned. "You forgot me already? That's cold,
Elliot looked at him in the rearview mirror. He didn't know this guy
from Adam. "I'm dead, remember?"
"Oh, yeah." The blond head ducked and his blue eyes narrowed. "I wonder
where I'll be when I wake up from this."
"Somewhere warm." Elliot parked the car and got him out. "You have
anyone we can call?"
"For what?" The guy was suspicious now. "They ain't got nothing to do
with this! Just leave them the fuck alone!"
Elliot used his most soothing voice. "I won't call them. I promise.
Settle down. I need your help."
"You always want something!"
Elliot took him inside the squadroom, got him some coffee, and put him
in an interview room. "Wait here. Okay?"
"This is a damn bad idea. You always fuck me over, and I expect it
again. Thank God this is a delusion."
Elliot had a uniform step inside. He went out and took a deep breath.
Cragen came up behind him.
"That's our witness?"
"Yep." Elliot rubbed his hands together. He had a feeling about this
guy. It may take some work, but it'd be worth it in the long run. "I
"You need your head examined."
"I'm here to help," Huang said. Elliot chuckled at the timing.
Toby drank his coffee, and when he was warmer, took off his coat. He
looked down at his clothes and fingered his sweatshirt. It was dirty,
but it was so damn cold. He blew on his hands and took another sip.
This did seem real, but it couldn't be. It couldn't be! He wished
someone would punch him so he'd know for sure. His brain betrayed him
in that instant, and he shuddered, lowering his head. It rocked him,
and he saw only the past. When it faded away, he got up from the corner
and brushed off his pants. That had been a small one.
"How long have you worked here, Father Mukada?" Toby asked and went
back to his coffee. He was thirsty, and it was warm.
Father Mukada smiled. "My name is Dr. George Huang. I'm here to help
Toby blinked. This was getting stranger and stranger. "Well, okay.
There are days where everyone starts to look like someone from Oz. This
must be one of those times."
"Can you tell me your name?" Huang was calm, composed.
Toby wasn't going to do that. "If they find out I'm here, there'll be
"The Aryan fucks." Toby hated to even say the words, but his brain left
him alone for a change. "Is this reality? Can you tell me?"
"I promise you, this is real." Huang nodded. "Are you on any
Toby shook his head and finished his coffee. "I don't do drugs, and I'm
not on any medications. I'm insane. There's nothing they can do. It's
okay. Don't frown. I'm good with it."
Huang got up slowly. "More coffee?"
"Please." Toby nudged the cup over. "I like cream and sugar, but I'm
grateful for what I get."
"I can see that." Huang left, and some other guy, who didn't talk, came
in the room. Toby tilted his head at the glass. This wasn't a dream. He
was at a police station. It was warm, and he had coffee. It just didn't
Elliot sighed in disgust. This had been a mistake. "He's crazy."
"He thinks he's insane, but I doubt it. We do know that he was in
Oswald. You could run his particulars and find a name. It might help."
Huang looked through the glass. "If he saw what happened, he'll tell
you, but only if you gain his trust."
"Me? He thinks I'm dead!" Elliot didn't think that was likely.
Huang nodded. "And therefore, you're harmless. He sees me as a threat.
Give him a little more time to settle down, and then try again."
Elliot nodded. "I'll find his sheet. Are you going to watch him?"
Elliot took that as a yes. He went quickly to his computer and started
punching in what little data he had. Blond hair, blue eyes, height, and
the fact that he was out: it wasn't much, but the database spit out six
possiblities over the last year. He clicked through them all.
"Hello, Tobias Beecher."
Toby wasn't sure he liked the guy in the room with him. "You a Nazi?"
"I'm a cop."
"That's no fucking answer." Toby got as far away as possible. He always
carried a shank, and he made sure it was easy to get at without taking
his eyes off him. At least he was warm. Time did that thing it always
used to do at Oz, and he blinked in surprise when Not Chris came
through the door with a cup of coffee. Toby cautiously approached the
table. "You're Elliot?"
"Detective Elliot Stabler." Elliot smiled. "Cream and sugar?"
Toby sat down across from him. "Thank you. I can't believe this."
"Believe it, Mr. Beecher."
Toby got to his feet fast and went backwards until his shoulders hit
bricks. Bricks. Walls. "No!"
"It's okay." Elliot held up his hand and didn't stand. "I'm not going
to hurt you."
"You always say that!" Toby put his hand on his shank. "You were
supposed to stay dead!"
"I know." Elliot? Chris? The fucker slid the chair back and came around
the table. "Settle down. Please."
Toby nearly shanked him. That jarring of metal against bone was
something he knew very well, and Oz threatened to drag him down again.
He brushed his hair back and bit his lower lip. Pain. It hurt. This
wasn't a lie. Slowly, he pulled out the shank. He couldn't take a
chance on accidentally hurting Chris again.
"Take this or I might hurt you. I won't want to, but I get confused."
"Thank you." Elliot took it calmly and went back to sit down. "Can we
"You remembered my name." Toby didn't see how this was possible. He
crept back to the table and his coffee. "Thank you for the coffee."
"You're welcome." Elliot glanced behind him. "Do you want me to get Dr.
"The priest? No. I like him, but I'm not Catholic like you are." Toby
took a drink. It was very good. His heart was still racing, but he
could sit and talk. "Usually, you want something from me. What is it
"Can you tell me what happened in the alley, Tobias? I know you saw it."
Toby looked deep in those blue eyes. Something was wrong here.
Something was . . . not right. Even his fucked up brain knew
"Did you tell anyone that I was here? Post it on the internet?"
"No one knows you're here. I didn't tell anyone."
"Liar." Toby laughed, but he was scared. "You're still damn good at it.
All those cops know and whoever is behind that glass. They'll come
after me now. Just a matter of time. Damn. I'll have to relocate and
with my brain, that won't be easy. Shit!"
"Who's after you?" Elliot frowned.
"The Aryans, of course." Toby rubbed his eyes. He was warm now and a
little tired. There was something that this cop wanted from him. He
would remember it, and he concentrated. "Wait, the girl. She's dead."
"Yes." Elliot seemed to move closer. "Can you help me?"
Toby heard the world crack. He looked up at the ceiling to see if it
was falling down. This wasn't Chris. Somehow. It didn't make any sense,
and his brain hurt. "You're not him. You never were."
"I didn't lie to you."
"Not much." Toby took a big drink and let it all run around in his mind
again. If Chris was still dead, then Elliot wasn't him. Wait. "I read
about dopplegangers once. Never thought I'd see one. Are you sure I'm
not crazy right now?"
"You seem fine."
"Another lie." Toby wasn't going to count them, but that was two. "The
girl was ass raped. I could tell from the noise. It hurts. Oh fuck, it
Toby shrugged that off. "You're sorry for her. Not me. No, don't lie."
He drank some more coffee and wasn't sure what he should do. There was
his family to think about, and they came before a dead girl or himself.
"I can't help you. If they find me, they might find my family, and I
can't risk that."
Elliot rubbed his hand down his face in one smooth movement. Chris had
never done that. "I'll make sure they don't find you. I'll hide you."
"I was hidden until you found me!" Toby shook his head. It was too
dangerous. He crossed his arms and refused to look at him.
"Beecher, trust me."
Toby saw it coming. It was going to be a bad one. "Get out. My brain .
. . " He clasped his head and howled as it yanked him down and then
threw him up.
Elliot went as far as the door. He had the knife with him, but Beecher
was still dangerous. Huang came inside. "Don't touch him."
"No shit." Elliot showed off the knife. It was big and sharp, and he'd
been very close to getting sliced with it. "Good thing he's not, say,
"He does trust you or he'd have killed you." Huang frowned. "I went
through his file. Let me sedate him. When he wakes up, he may be more
"I need it now."
"You can wait a few hours. You should look at his file also. His fears
about the Aryans aren't delusions."
Elliot had a hard time with that, but he wasn't going to get anything
out of Beecher as long as he was sobbing in the corner. "I'll help."
"Good." Huang went out and came back with his bag. "It's a mild
tranquilizer. We'll get him up to the crib and let him sleep."
Elliot nodded and made sure the knife stayed outside the room. Beecher
was strong, and he didn't want a shot, and Elliot crooned to him, "It's
okay. I promise. It's okay."
"I love your lies." Beecher seemed to collapse in on himself, but
Elliot didn't turn him loose until Huang gave him the sign.
"Upstairs." Huang would've gotten Beecher's other side, but Elliot
waved him away. Beecher wasn't heavy, and he was able to stumble along.
Elliot got him settled in the crib.
"Oz. I never seem to leave it," Beecher said. "You got my back?"
"I got it. No one is gonna touch you." Elliot pushed Beecher's hair out
of his eyes. "Rest."
Beecher was asleep not long after that. Elliot sighed. He still had a
case to solve, and his witness was out cold.
"If you convince him that his family will be safe, he'll help you. I'm
sure of it."
Elliot hoped so. "I just need the information. He'll never have to
Huang sat down. "I'll stay with him. He's my patient now, and don't
"I won't." Elliot wasn't going to make that mistake again. He went back
to get Beecher's file and flip through it while he was catching up.
"Where's your basket case?"
Olivia's question pulled Elliot's attention to her. "Asleep in the
crib. Huang is with him. He saw it. He knows who did it."
"That's good because Warner isn't enthusiastic about any evidence. Our
guy poured bleach all over her."
"Shit." Elliot wished people would watch less television, and he
couldn't believe the things he was reading in this file. "This guy
should be insane. If anyone has earned it, it's him."
Olivia went past him to get some coffee. It was Munch that asked the
"He was in Oz and tortured by the Aryans. They killed his son and
father, and he thinks they're still after him."
"Are they?" Munch looked interested.
"How can I know? They killed his family. He killed some of them. He's
living on the streets." Elliot had a hard time blaming Beecher for
Munch reached for the file, and Elliot handed it over. "I'll find out."
Elliot groaned softly. Munch loved a good conspiracy, but it wasn't a
bad thing this time. Elliot had to convince Beecher that it was safe.
Maybe Munch could help. Cragen came out for a rundown, and Elliot put
his head in the case. He'd deal with Beecher later.
Toby knew exactly where he was, and there was a bizarre comfort in it.
"Is it count yet?"
"No." Mukada seemed different somehow. Taller? Shorter? Something. "How
do you feel?"
"Groggy." Toby got up slow and put his feet on the floor. "I never
wanted to come back here."
"You're at the police station. I'm sorry this looks like a prison cell,
but it's not."
Toby's intellect clicked over. There wasn't much left, but it was all
he had. "All that shit was real?"
"You're very concerned about reality, aren't you?" Huang. His name was
"It comes and goes. I worry . . . I worry that I'll hurt someone and I
won't know that I did it." Toby put his face in his hands and scrubbed.
"Chris is still dead."
"Yes." Huang reached and put his fingers on the inside of Toby's wrist.
"You're not insane."
"Right." Toby waited for a delusion to set in, but it didn't, and he
breathed again. "Why am I here?"
"You witnessed a murder. The police need your help." Huang smiled and
took his hand away. "Is your head clearer?"
"What did you give me?" Toby glared. He hated being medicated.
"Diazepam? Xanax? Prozac?"
"Something different. I'm sorry, but you were unable to authorize it. I
wanted to help."
"I'm an alcoholic. No Xanax!" Toby couldn't believe the gall of this
so-called doctor. "What the fuck was it?"
Huang sighed softly. "It was a tranquilizer - Ativan."
"And if I'm allergic? You fucker! I hate doctors!" Toby got to his
feet. This was beyond what he would accept. "I'm leaving. No, you may
not experiment on my brain!"
The door opened, and Chris was there. No, it was Elliot. Toby looked
again to make absolutely sure. It was Elliot, and he said, "Let's take
a deep breath. I ain't fond of doctors either, but Huang was trying to
"Brain chemistry isn't something you do by trial and error. He should
have drawn blood and run a few damn tests!" Toby wasn't going to get
over this. "It's a complete violation of my privacy. I ought to sue
"But then the Aryans would find you," Elliot said softly. "Right?"
Toby stopped dead. He put a hand to his head and tried to shove it
away. It was right there on the edge of his consciousness. "You're
right. I can't risk it. I'm fucking insane, but not that crazy."
Elliot pointed out the door. "Coffee? Food?"
"I gotta piss." Toby wanted to slap Huang across the mouth. "Come near
me again and I'll twist your head around backwards."
Elliot grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled. Toby went with him
because it was him. Hurting him wasn't an option. Chris would get mad
about it. Elliot took him to a locker room. "Shower? I have some clean
clothes you could change into."
Toby pissed before coming out to answer. "Showers are not safe places."
"This one is. I'll keep Huang away. Go clean up. You'll feel better."
Elliot smiled in that way of his that was so much like Chris. Toby
capitulated and smiled, but only because he'd found the right word. He
slowly took off his shirt, hesitating on where to put it.
Elliot sat down on a bench. "I put your coat in that one." He pointed.
Toby went over, opened it up, and put his shirt there also. He was very
relieved to see his coat, but he made sure not to show it. "Stupid
doctor. I can't wait for the drooling to start!"
Elliot shrugged, and Toby stripped before he could change his mind
again. The water would feel good, and he was safe here. There was soap,
and he made sure to get completely clean. When he shut the water off,
Elliot tossed him a towel.
"You can stare, if you want." Toby saw the nervous eyes. "I don't care."
Elliot seemed to relax. "Sorry about that."
"I'm fucked up on both ends." Toby dried off and wrapped the towel
around his hips. "You're still not him."
"Nope." Elliot shook his head and went to a locker. He got out a
sweatshirt and some sweat pants. "These okay?"
"Yeah." Toby took them, but carefully, in case Elliot changed his mind.
"I need some new clothes again."
Elliot frowned. "What do you mean?"
"When I get them filthy, I buy new ones." Toby shrugged. He knew it
wasn't normal. "I can't stand naked in front of the dryer at the
"Good point." Elliot shut his locker. "You have money?"
"Yes." Toby didn't want to discuss it. He wasn't poor, just homeless by
choice. It was safer that way. "I had an apartment at first, but they
threw me out."
Elliot frowned. "For what?"
"My fits are noisy. It was too dangerous anyway. They haven't quit
looking for me." Toby hung up the towel and shut the locker he'd been
given. "I can't stay here. I have to go."
"Can we talk first?" Elliot spread his hands. "Please?"
Toby hated this. He felt obliged to help this detective that wasn't
Chris and never had been. "I can think again. The words are coming
"Maybe the tranquilizer helped. Huang is one of the best." Elliot
chuckled softly. "Don't tell him I said that."
"I won't - the little prick bastard." Toby was still pissed, but he was
glad that his brain didn't seem to be looping out of control. "Okay, we
can talk, and I'll explain it in little words so you understand."
Elliot took him down a hallway, bought him a soda, and they were in a
room full of desks and cops. Toby didn't open his can. He wanted to
hide. "These places are usually a bad idea for my kind."
Elliot pointed at the chair by his desk and sat down. "Your kind?"
Toby sat down, feeling as if he should watch his back and putting the
can on the desk. "Ex-cons. People hate us. They're all smiles until
they find out and then, they frown. Next, they find a reason to make
"We're a bunch of cops. We aren't going to bother you." Elliot opened
the can for him and pushed it close. "Let's talk about what happened in
"No." Toby took a sip. "But I like you. You're stupid, but nice." He
heard laughter, and he looked around at the other cops. "Sorry."
"That's the nicest insult I've heard this week." Elliot waved a guy
over. "This is Detective Munch."
Toby didn't smile. "Yes, I'm an ex-con. No, I won't eat your children."
"Interesting." Munch sat on the far edge of the desk. "Elliot, I
researched the problem with my customary efficiency. Mr. Beecher's
picture has been posted on several Aryan websites. They want him dead,
and there's a reward for any information on him or his family."
Toby shut his eyes. It hurt to hear it, but it was true. "Cops are
Aryans. You put my name on one report and they'll be waiting outside
when you cut me loose. I have to disappear again. Now. Before it's too
Elliot got to his feet. "Munch, let's talk privately."
"Go ahead, but you aren't changing my mind. What's left of it is
dedicated to protecting my remaining children." Toby smiled. He'd found
the words again. His brain wasn't completely fried. He drank some soda
and glared when he saw Huang coming towards him.
"You won't hurt me," Huang said as he took Elliot's chair. "Again. I
apologize. I overstepped my bounds."
"You sure as fuck did." Toby crossed his arms. He wanted to hurt him,
but he wouldn't. "Just because I'm homeless doesn't mean I'm a damn
"I never thought that. Your flashbacks are perhaps the worst I've ever
seen." Huang leaned forward. "Let me help you."
Toby could only stare. He didn't get doctors. "I've been this route. I
have post-traumatic stress disorder and a drug disorder and a host of
other disorders. The drugs don't make it better. They only made me
drool, dizzy, sleepy, and have bowel problems that I wouldn't wish on a
Nazi. Well, that's a lie."
"Your mind is clearer, isn't it?" Huang seemed to be hanging on every
Toby pushed his palms into his eyes. He was thinking more clearly, and
he knew he had to get the hell out of here. "Why am I staying here? I'm
not under arrest. I'm so damn stupid."
Huang shook his head. "You were a lawyer. You know right from wrong.
"No," Toby whispered. He was wavering, and that was bad.
"You'll never be called to testify. They only want what you can give
them and then they'll use other means to obtain a conviction." Huang
smiled slightly. "Please."
Toby ran his hands up and pulled his still-wet hair. It was longer than
it had ever been. Spotting a rubber band on the desk, he made his hair
into a ponytail. Very dimly, he heard Vern laughing, but he didn't
care. It was out of his face. He looked up. Huang was still there.
"No paperwork. I want assurances that there will be no reports filed."
Toby sighed softly. He was a damn fool, but he needed to vanish and
cooperating would get him out the door faster.
Elliot was suddenly there again. "No reports. Just tell us what you
know and walk out."
Toby looked around the big squad room. He spotted two guys that had
potential to be Aryans. "I need a note pad."
Elliot dug one out and gave it to him with a pen. Toby took it and
headed for the locker room. It would be safer there. He didn't ask
permission, and he knew Elliot would follow him. Sitting down on a
bench, Toby shut his eyes, pictured it all again, and wrote it out
while the images were right there. He knew his hand was shaking, and he
nearly cried for her again, but he kept it together until he was
finished. Throwing the note pad to the floor, he hugged himself tightly
and let Oz take him.
Elliot picked up the pad. His words of thanks died away as Beecher slid
to the floor and crawled under the bench. He hated seeing it. This man
was so much more than Oz had forced him to become.
"Doc, can't you help him?"
Huang moved closer and watched carefully. "The tranquilizer did help,
but there must be some traumatic event that he refuses to acknowledge.
A good part of the treatment for PTSD is talk therapy."
Elliot was half-listening because he was reading. "He saw everything."
"He relived the event and it forced an attack on him."
"I have to take care of this." Elliot was torn between leaving him and
doing his job. He had pushed until he got what he wanted, but he had
further damaged Beecher in doing it. "Take this to the captain. Give me
a minute with him."
Huang looked skeptical. "Don't touch him."
"Please. Take this." Elliot held out the pad. He didn't move until
Huang was gone, and then he dropped to his knees and pulled Beecher
out. It was the right thing to do. "Come on. You're safe. I got you.
Don't quit on me."
Beecher clutched at him. "Chris?"
"No." Elliot held him tighter, putting his back to the wall. Beecher
burrowed into him, and they sat together. He didn't understand it, but
he wanted to help. "You did good, Toby. I can catch him now. You did
Beecher made a soft sound in his throat. "Not Chris. Chris is dead?
You're not him. Christ, why is my brain so fucked up?"
"Dunno." Elliot thought that being able to ask the question meant that
Beecher wasn't all that bad. Beecher groaned and wrapped his hands into
Elliot's shirt. Elliot didn't turn him loose. Their bodies jumbled
together, and he knew they should get up. Huang would be back soon.
Elliot pushed Beecher away another inch or two. "You can make it. You
"They're safe. That's what matters. Not me." Beecher suddenly darted,
and their lips met. Stunned amazement jolted through Elliot, but he
couldn't hurt him.
"Elliot! What the hell are you doing?" Huang pulled Beecher off him.
Elliot was on his feet quickly. He brushed off, but Beecher was still
"I have to go," Beecher mumbled. His blue eyes were murky. "It's not
Elliot stepped so he was all Beecher could see. "It's cold. Where will
"No place is safe. I'll find an alley." Beecher reached up, and Elliot
had plenty of time to move away, but he didn't. A gentle hand traced
around Elliot's face. "I'm glad you're not completely dead."
"Me too." Elliot wanted to offer him something. "You have a hat?"
"Lost it." Beecher broke away and went to the locker. He put on the
pants over the sweats, and layered the shirts. That was smart. Elliot
dug his hat out of his coat and gave it to him.
"Take my business card," Huang said, but Elliot didn't think Beecher
even heard him. Beecher was ready to go.
Elliot walked him out of the precinct, back into the cold. "Thanks. I
mean it. I owe you one."
Beecher's eyes seemed far away. "If someone asks for me, I need you to
"I will. My word." Elliot didn't like this at all, but he had no way of
holding him. Beecher looked back once and was gone into the cold night.
Elliot bit his lip. He felt as if he'd screwed up, and he didn't know
why. Huang was waiting for him in the squad room, and he didn't want to
"We need to talk," Huang said forcefully.
"No. I'm going to work the case." Elliot put his hands on his hips. He
looked around, spotted Olivia, and went to find out where they were
going. Huang frowned, but said nothing else. Elliot was not discussing
this further. That was the end of it.
Toby didn't go far. He wasn't sure why not, but he didn't. Leaning
against a building, he forced his mind to focus on the kiss. He was a
greedy bastard, and he'd taken it. It had tasted good. Elliot wasn't
Chris, but it had still been a great kiss.
"Hey, fucker, got any money?"
Toby's hand flashed to his knife. It wasn't there. Fuck. "Go fuck
The guy glared but left him alone, and Toby groaned. He didn't have his
shank, and it was too late to buy another one. Elliot had it. Toby
wrote it off. He'd get by without it. It wasn't as if he'd ever used
it. It just made him feel safe. He shivered. The sun was down, and he
knew it was too cold to be outside. He had no idea when the
tranquilizer would wear off, and for the first time in a long time, he
didn't know what to do.
Looking up at the street sign, he tugged Elliot's hat a little lower.
It was warm. "Where am I?"
No one answered. He frowned. This part of the city was unfamiliar to
him. He sighed and watched the air blow away.
Toby turned around. He knew he should mumble something and wander off,
but he told the truth. "I helped the police, and now, I'm not sure
where I am."
"Oy. They just shoved you out the door." The man seemed friendly. "I
own the deli you're standing in front of. Did you eat today?"
Toby didn't think so, but it wasn't important. "They had coffee. I'll
move on. Maybe, that way to the closest shelter?"
"It's too cold, and the shelters are full by now." The guy stuck out
his hand. "Davey Gruenberg."
"Elliot Stabler," Toby lied instantly. Trust wasn't an option, but he
shook the man's hand. "I have money."
Davey smiled. "Lucky you." He went back to the door, and Toby followed
him inside. This was a bad idea, but the shelters would be full. People
had been lining up early for the spots. It was cold enough to kill.
Davey flipped the sign and threw the locks.
Toby wished for his knife. He was taking a chance, but maybe he could
sleep on the floor. "I'm not sure about this."
"It's hard to trust." Davey went back behind the counter. "What'll it
be? Turkey? Salami? It's kosher."
Toby pulled his hat off and tucked it away. The question that was
always on his mind popped out, "You a Nazi?"
"Jewish." Davey frowned. His hands were busy making a sandwich. Toby
watched him. He was short, dark hair, and glasses with a face that
suggested smiles. Not really handsome, but far from ugly. Toby stepped
closer, cautiously. Davey grinned. "Relax. I'm not a weirdo."
"That makes one of us." Toby laughed but he felt only bitterness.
"Before you smile again, I'm an ex-con. I'm homeless, and I'm not
"An honest man." Davey handed him a sandwich in a red plastic basket
with chips. "Go sit and eat. I need to clean up."
Toby looked at the food. He had money, but he was being given more than
a sandwich. "Let me help."
"Eat first. I'll save the floor for you." Davey nodded. Toby took the
food to a table and his stomach insisted that he eat every bite. He was
careful not to make a mess, and he pushed off his coat when he warmed
up. Davey was humming, cleaning, and Toby relaxed slightly. There were
some good people left in the world. They were hard to find, but maybe
today was his lucky day.
Davey came out with a soda and put it down in front of him. "Better?"
"Yes. Thank you." Toby wiped his mouth. He wanted to understand a few
things. "Why are you nice? Aren't you aware of the backlash against
homeless people that's going on across the nation? People want us out
of sight and out of mind."
"People are stupid. The Jews were homeless until Israel came back to
us. It didn't mean that we would give up though." Davey checked the
napkins at the table and straightened the condiments. "Most of the
homeless avoid this block. The police station puts a damper on things."
Toby believed that. "I'll leave after I mop the floor."
"What's your rush? Want to die?" Davey got to his feet and took Toby's
basket. "I'll show you where the mop is."
Toby tried not to smile. He was probably fucking up again, but it was
better than freezing to death. Pretty soon, he'd have an attack, and
he'd wake up somewhere else. It was his life. Right now, he'd mop the
"Counselor, you can't be serious!"
Novak glared, and Elliot made sure not to sigh. She pointed. "We have a
Elliot pulled her aside. "Not really. He left."
"What?" Novak was pissed at him now. "You have his address and phone
"He was a homeless guy. We let him walk." Elliot had kept praying
they'd get a confession, find some evidence, something solid, but it
The lawyer for the defense laughed. "You're not holding my client on
nothing more than the drunken ramblings of a homeless man!"
Elliot hated lawyers on a good day, and today wasn't one by any
stretch. "We know he did it."
Novak drew herself up taller. "Your client is free to go, but we'll be
questioning him again."
Elliot chewed his lower lip as they walked out. "I was hoping for a
confession. He lawyered up instantly."
"Elliot, you have nothing. Find me some evidence." Novak frowned. "Or
find me your witness and let me evaluate him."
"Get with Huang on that." Elliot sat down and flipped through his
notebook. There had to be something. He was still sitting there when
Munch came through the door.
"Nope. We're screwed." Elliot leaned back. "What's up with you?"
Munch shrugged. "You worried about Beecher?"
"I'm sure he's in California by now." Elliot was worried, but he was
going to keep it to himself. "Why?"
"The Aryans aren't fooling around with him. The reward went up." Munch
leaned against the table and crossed his arms. "If they have a cop on
their payroll . . ."
"They could track his credit cards and bank transactions," Elliot
finished for him. "Beecher knows that. It's why he's hunkered down in
"I bet he's freezing his ass off." Munch wandered out. Elliot put his
head in his hands. He had made a mistake letting him go. That was
"Elliot, we need our witness for a lineup," Cragen said from the
doorway. "Novak is tearing me a new one."
Elliot got to his feet. "Not a good day."
"Get that smoked turkey from the freezer, please?"
Toby nodded and went to get it. He found the one Davey wanted and took
it up front. The customers hadn't done more than glance at him, and his
initial urge to slink under the counter was gone. "I'll clean the
"Thanks, shiksa." Davey grinned.
Toby wasn't sure about his nickname, but it was better than prag. He
found the tray that Davey used to bus the tables and went to work. No
one spoke to him, and he kept busy, surprised when he looked and the
sun was down. Davey laughed and turned the sign to closed. Toby smiled
"A good day. You were a big help." Davey popped open the cash register.
"You want your wages in cash?"
Toby tilted his head to the side. He was surprised at the offer, and he
didn't think it was fair. "You gave me a cot in the back and food to
eat. All I did was clear a few tables and wash a few baskets."
Davey held out some money. "I pay my help."
Toby frowned. Something was pushing at his mind. He rubbed his head,
knowing what was coming and hating it. "Davey, I . . . "
"What's wrong, shiksa?" Davey came closer. Toby squatted down and tried
to shove it all away. He caught sight of Davey's boots. Boots. It
squeezed him tight, and he felt the linoleum under his hands.
"Fuck!" Toby didn't have the strength to fight it, and he saw only
Schillinger. Panting, he slammed his back into the wall. "No!"
Elliot took off his jacket and crashed on the cot. The odd thought that
he was as homeless as Beecher skipped through his brain, and he shut
his eyes. He'd checked the morgue. Three more homeless people had
frozen to death, and he was ashamed at how grateful he was that none of
them was Tobias Beecher. The city should be ashamed also, but he didn't
think anyone gave a damn. Novak was breathing down Elliot's neck to
produce his witness. The homeless shelters hadn't seen him, and Elliot
refused to put out an APB - for now.
Munch was trying to located Beecher's family. Elliot rolled to his side
and rubbed his lips. Beecher had kissed him. It had been a surprise,
and he hadn't liked it, but there was something between them that
wasn't easily explained away.
"Chris is dead?"
Elliot frowned. Chris might hold the key to all of this. Beecher had
talked about him more than anything. Was Chris dead? Had Toby gone to
meet him? Elliot sighed and got up. He left his coat, rolled up his
sleeves, and went to find out. Beecher was somewhere in the city, and
Elliot had to find him.
Toby got shakily to his feet. He knew what would happen now. His
employment here had just been terminated. It was back into the cold for
him, and he'd go without complaining. It was his own fault he was so
fucked up. Leaning against the wall, he shook all over.
"I'm really sorry. I - I - I'll get my coat and leave."
Davey's eyes were wide, and he was close but not touching. "You okay
Toby pointed at his head and forced himself upright. He'd try to get
out of here with a tiny bit of dignity. "It doesn't work right. At
least you got a day out of me." He had to apologize again. "I'm sorry."
"Prison." Toby stuffed his shaking hands in his pockets. He didn't
quite understand. Where was the anger? And why wasn't Davey throwing
him out? "The cops gave me a tranquilizer. It's worn off. Now I'll
start having attacks."
"Go rest. I'll finish up here." Davey waved his hand at the back room.
Toby shook his head. The best thing was for him to leave. He wasn't
able to do anything to help now the attacks were back. "I'm okay now.
I'll leave. Thanks for all you did. You're a good guy."
"Shiksa, why are you rushing off into the cold?" Davey frowned. "I find
it hard to believe that living in an alley is good for whatever is
wrong with you. Take a minute, and then mop the floor."
"Well, okay." Toby blushed. He felt like an idiot. When his head
cleared, he started helping again, and he tried to do a better job this
time. That had been a mild one, and he was only a little tired. "If
that happens during business hours . . ."
"Try to get to the back room. You seem to know when they're coming on."
Davey put a gentle hand on Toby's shoulder. "This, I can handle. The
Toby laughed and brushed his hand along his jaw. Relief eased through
him as he realized that he wasn't going back out to live by a dumpster.
"I guess I could buy a shaver."
"I'll give you one." Davey squeezed. "Try not to think so much. Eat.
Rest. Work. Maybe your brain needs a vacation from all the words."
Toby could scarcely believe his good fortune, and he smiled. "Thanks."
Elliot sat back and chewed his straw. He now knew as much as he wanted
to about one Christopher Keller. Now, that was one guy who belonged in
prison. And Toby had loved him. Elliot wouldn't claim to understand it,
but a place like Oz made men do things that they wouldn't in the light
of day. It was no wonder that Toby had PTSD.
Olivia slapped her hands down. "We got nothing!"
"Except Beecher," Munch said. Fin shrugged. Elliot had nothing to add.
They had five open cases, but this one was pissing them off.
"Did you find his family?" Elliot asked quietly.
"They have the money to hide anywhere. I'm sure they have lawyers here
aiding them, but that's impossible to track." Munch sighed. "Beecher
has been out four months. Two more web sites put up his picture today
as an enemy to the nation. Wherever he is, he better stay there."
"I say we put out an APB on him," Olivia said.
"It might get him killed," Fin put in his two cents. "Elliot is our
best hope. Put him out there and hope Beecher finds him."
Elliot rubbed his eyes. "A magnet for the homeless - my dream job."
Cragen came out of his office. Elliot didn't comment on much. He was
tired and worried and more tired. When it had all been hashed and
re-hashed, Cragen said, "Cold case it. There's nothing we can do, and
I'm open to the possibility that Beecher was hallucinating."
Everyone grumbled but Elliot. He got to his feet. "I need a break."
"You look like shit. Go home. Sleep. I'm sure Munch can pick up the
Elliot grinned like he was supposed to and went to get his coat. He
went out into the bitter cold and stood quietly instead of getting in
his car. Beecher had gone to the left. Elliot walked that way. He knew
there were no churches, no shelters, and no free lunches around here.
Had Beecher known that? Elliot checked out a few alleys. Nothing and no
one. The realization that perhaps Beecher - fresh out of prison -
hadn't had a clue where to go crept over him.
"Shit," Elliot whispered. He stopped at the corner. Davey's Deli was
right behind him. It'd just closed for the night. They hadn't ordered
from there lately - maybe tomorrow. He sighed and gave up. Beecher was
gone. He could be dead. Elliot didn't like to think it, but it was
likely. The wind came pouring around the corner and drove him to his
car four blocks away. He rubbed his hands briskly together and went
towards his apartment.
Toby learned the business from the floor up. He wasn't sure it was
interesting, but it was better than sitting on a park bench, crying and
shivering. Making his brain think about salami, turkey, and swiss had
reduced his attacks, but it was nothing to celebrate. He was still
crazy and most of the customers seemed to sense it. At least he was
able to help Davey.
"You sure about me working here, Davey? Half the customers think I'm
"It's not that!" Davey laughed. "It's the long hair. They're not sure
if you're a hippie or a weirdo!"
"Great." Toby rolled his eyes. He'd shaved his beard, but he had
refused to get a haircut. The computer in the corner shifted to
screensaver and caught Toby's attention. After mopping, when Davey had
gone in the back, Toby sat down and typed in the address that he'd
memorized. He clicked once more and sighed. The picture they had of him
was his mug shot, altered to take out the number. The long hair was
staying, and he should probably grow a moustache - a big one. He heard
Davey coming and clicked the home page.
"Turn that off, if you can." Davey leaned against the case.
Toby nodded. He did and then made sure he was finished. "Anything else?"
Davey shook his head. "Don't suppose you'd take your wages?"
"No. I barely manage to help." Toby snorted. He had no illusions about
his ability to increase the bottom line. Wait. He'd had the words.
"But you're smiling." Davey patted him on the shoulder. "Get some rest.
Tomorrow is Shabbas."
Toby turned off the lights, secured the windows, and made sure all the
locks were thrown. "You know what you need, Davey?"
"A wife." Toby had noticed the lack of one.
"Oy vey, now you sound like my mother!" Davey laughed. "Tomorrow, we
rest. You should go out into the world."
Toby didn't think that was a good idea. "I could look for you a wife -
a good Jewish girl."
Davey grinned and went upstairs to his apartment. Toby took off his
apron and hung it on the hook. He had a book on his cot, and he settled
down to read. Pushing off his shoes, he relaxed. It was quiet. He was
warm and fed and his family was safe. Life had certainly been worse.
A gentle memory lapped at him, and he smiled. Chris would laugh to know
that he had a twin in New York. Toby hoped that Elliot had caught the
bad guy. Elliot was special. He had been kind. It had shone from his
eyes. Toby shut his book and remembered him. Constructing the image
carefully, Toby made sure the badge was on Elliot's belt. Elliot.
Elliot rolled over and fumbled for his cell phone. "I'm asleep."
"Get dressed. I'm waiting for you outside. We got another one." Olivia
hung up on him.
Elliot cursed. He threw the covers back and found some clothes. The job
took and took, and his well was about dry. Slipping on his coat, he
searched for his hat and then remembered he'd given it to Beecher.
Tobias Beecher. Another mistake. Elliot locked the door and went out to
the sedan. He hadn't forgotten the kiss, and he wished he would.
Olivia had the heater going, and Elliot was glad. "Damn cold."
"Two more homeless people died last night, bringing the total to ten.
The newspapers are calling it a disgrace." Olivia got the car moving.
"It is," Elliot growled. "What have we got?"
"The bleach killer struck again."
Elliot saw her coffee and took a drink. "I'll go to the morgue after
this and check for Beecher."
She nodded. "We need to find him."
"Let's hope we can find another witness." Elliot cringed at the thought
of Tobias on the stand, being torn to pieces by some asswipe attorney.
The scene was the same, even if the alley was different, and this time,
they found no witnesses at all. Warner looked half-frozen, and Elliot
gave her the last of Olivia's coffee.
"You need to get this guy," Warner said softly. "He's pissing me off."
Elliot felt the same, but there just wasn't anything to go on. He
stamped his feet. "Anything at all?"
"I doubt it. I'll let you know."
Munch and Fin started a canvass, and they all moved as fast as
possible. By noon, they were in the squad room, wishing someone would
turn up the heat. Elliot found the files and stared at it all again.
"Find Beecher," Cragen said. "I don't care what you have to do."
Elliot nodded. They were out of options. They had a serial killer on
their hands, and he wasn't going to stop until they made him.
Toby shoveled the snow away from the door and was very glad that he
wasn't trying to survive outside any longer. He owed Davey more than a
"Shiksa, I got a delivery!"
Toby put the shovel away and went in the back. He stamped the snow off
before going up front. "What's up, Davey?"
"Can you make a big delivery for me?" Davey smiled and pointed at the
box. It was bulging with sandwiches and chips.
"Sure. Where?" Toby had made a couple of deliveries, and he didn't mind
it, but he always hurried back. He found the ticket and stared down at
Davey's crisp handwriting. "I can't do this."
Davey put his hand on Toby's forearm. "Elliot Stabler is a friend of
mine. He called in an order. I need your help."
Toby swallowed hard. He ducked his head, ashamed that he'd lied. "I'm
sorry. I was scared and his name popped in my head. He was the
detective that interviewed me."
"I thought as much." Davey nudged the box. "Dash in, drop it, and get
back here. If he isn't around, he can pay later."
Toby knew this wasn't a big deal. He would wear his hat. No one would
look at him. He'd be fine, and he'd just been thinking that he owed
Davey everything. "I'll do it."
"Thanks, shiksa." Davey laughed and tugged Toby's long hair. Toby
grinned, put the lid on the box, and got moving. He had
them, and Elliot had been kind. There was nothing to fear. Toby kept
his face turned away after he crossed the threshold. He saw Munch, but
didn't stop, putting the box on Benson's desk. She'd seen the least of
"Food from Davey's!" Toby kept his head down and spoke gruffly.
"Fin, your turn to buy," Munch said.
Toby took the money, turned fast, and beat it out of there. Davey
needed him back.
Elliot came in the squad room and caught a bare glimpse of the delivery
boy rushing out the door. Well, it was a guy, but close enough. The box
from Davey's smelled good. Munch started passing out food, and Elliot
sat down to eat. He took his and started to unwrap it.
"I put an APB out on Beecher."
"I hope we don't find him," Munch said.
"If we do, we'll protect him." Elliot hoped they could. He wiped his
mouth. "Davey's is the best."
"I didn't know he had any hired help," Munch said. "And did you see the
Fu Manchu moustache on that guy? That is so seventies."
"Those are in style again." Olivia smiled. "Get with it, Munch."
Elliot laughed. He hadn't seen the front of the guy. Something wiggled
in his memory, and suddenly it clicked into place. He nearly jumped to
his feet, but chasing after him would be a bad idea. Lunch first, while
he thought about it. Beecher had dashed out of here, so he might have
been scared. Elliot would make a quick phone call and assess the
situation. Davey's closed at six, and that might be soon enough.
"Shiksa! Come up front, please."
Toby put the mop and bucket in the corner. The day was over, and he was
looking forward to his book and some quiet. He went through the door
and nearly crumpled to the floor. "Davey, please no."
"Elliot and John want to talk to you." Davey smiled. "They are good
men. You must trust them."
Toby couldn't seem to breathe. He shook his head and took a step
towards the back door. It wasn't far. "No. Please, just leave me alone."
"Tobias, we have to talk." Elliot started for him. Toby moaned softly.
He couldn't do this. Davey suddenly took a good hold of Toby's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Davey," Toby whispered. He had to get out of here.
"I know it's hard, but are you going to let a criminal walk away
because of the damn Nazis?" Davey shook him gently. "You must be a man."
Toby saw Davey's courage, and it shamed him. "If they find out I'm
here, they'll burn you out. Kill you. There is no fighting them.
They're like rats."
"Trust Elliot." Davey look right in Toby's eyes and seemed to will him
to believe. "Oh, and John."
Elliot was close now. "We need your help. The killer struck again."
"I'm as good as dead. Freezing to death would have been a blessing
compared to what the Aryans will do to me." Toby felt the ebony satin
of an attack push at him. "Davey, my head."
Davey nodded and helped him to his cot. Elliot and Munch got out of the
way. Toby jerked as it stabbed at him. The shank struck hard and deep,
and he felt Chris's arms around him again. When it faded, released him,
he gasped for breath. His vision turned outward and he saw Elliot.
Elliot took him by the hand. "Hang on."
Toby gripped him hard. There were no words for this, and he took
comfort in the touch. When his voice would work again, he asked,
"Talking to Munch out front." Elliot helped him sit up. "Better?"
"Yeah." Toby rubbed his face. He had to make one thing clear, and then
maybe Elliot would leave him alone again. "I won't testify for you."
Elliot's eyes were sad. "Then I have to arrest you as a material
witness. Cragen and Novak gave me no choice."
Toby stood up shakily. He had to run, but his legs didn't want to go.
Instead, he went out front. Davey handed him a soda. "Drink it all."
Toby nodded and started drinking.
"It seems to help after an attack. We don't know why. The sugar maybe."
Davey shrugged. "Shiksa doesn't have the attacks very often."
Munch laughed. "Your shiksa is Tobias Beecher."
"Names are not important. He is a good man, and he has worked hard for
nothing but a cot and a slice of salami." Davey glared at Munch. Elliot
sat down heavily, and Toby did the same. He was fucked now. There was
nothing he could do but let the cops get him killed.
"You have to protect Davey. No matter what." Toby stared hard at
Elliot, trying to make sure that he understood. "Promise me. Your word
as a Catholic."
"I promise." Elliot crossed himself. "And I'm not going to let them
"We aren't going to let them kill you." Munch raised his eyebrows.
"Davey, I can't come back here. Once my name goes out, someone will
follow me." Toby hated leaving this way. Hell, he hated leaving. He'd
testify and then he'd have to go back to living on the streets. The
thought made him ache, but he'd do it. "I'm sorry."
Davey looked at Munch. "This is true?"
"Very. We'll probably have to keep him in lockup for his own
Toby got to his feet fast. Elliot moved to intercept him. "Toby, don't
panic. We'll find a solution."
"I am never doing a good deed again." Toby wanted to cry. He'd screwed
up, and now he'd pay for it. The only good thing was that his family
was safe. That's what mattered. He was expendable, and he would be
killed. Not long ago, he'd have embraced it, but now it only made him
Elliot pulled him into a hug. "Settle down. Trust us."
Toby breathed deep and didn't push away. He needed this, and he drew it
deep into his soul to keep for later. "Arrest me."
"Why?" Elliot frowned at him.
Toby smoothed his hand over his moustache. It was turning into a habit.
"It has to be on the report that I was homeless."
Elliot looked over at Munch and loosed his hold on him. "Munch?"
"If we put that he's living here, it might get out. Our system has been
hacked before." Munch sighed. "Let's drag it all out into the light -
the plight of the homeless and the stupidity of a pack of Nazis."
Toby tore away from them and went to the back room. He put on his extra
clothes. His hands shook and he knew he was a fool, but he had no
choice now. Stopping a murderer was more important than his fucked up
"Shiksa, your job will be waiting for you."
Toby put on his gloves and gave Davey a fast hug. "Thank you. You are a
great man, and I owe you more than I can ever repay. And I know what
Davey blushed. "Then get a haircut!"
"It was a disguise." Toby grinned, but it was humorless. "Tell them to
pick me up outside the homeless center."
"You know the way?" Davey sounded worried. Toby nodded. He knew now.
They shook hands, and he went quickly out the back door before he
changed his mind. Elliot was standing on the front step, and he watched
"Be careful, Toby!"
Toby waved and went a little faster. Part of his brain whispered to him
that he could catch a cab and an airplane and be in California before
midnight. He stuffed his hands under his underarms and slogged through
some snow. Elliot had trusted him enough to let him leave. Trust. He
shivered, put his face deeper into his coat, and cursed. There was no
way he could betray Elliot, even if it got him killed.
It was damn cold, and by the time he got there, he couldn't feel his
"We're full!" The priest at the door told him. "Try the one in
"I'll just take a cab." Toby rolled his eyes and shuffled off. It
wasn't their fault. Funding had been cut this year, but that didn't
mean people wouldn't die. He crossed the street and found a corner to
hide from the wind. The cold ate at him, and he almost welcomed the
numbness. Things had been good at Davey's. He'd been doing better -
only three attacks this week. Whether it was the regular food or the
warmth or the simple feeling of being safe was anyone's guess, but he
would admit to some fear that the attacks would return full force. It
had been nice to be able to think again. He shivered and squatted down,
trying to stay warm enough not to die before Elliot arrested him.
"Long enough?" Elliot looked over at Munch.
"I think so." Munch raised his voice, so Cragen could hear him over at
the coffee pot. "Captain, Elliot and I are going to go check the
homeless center again. We might get lucky."
Cragen nodded. "All four of you go. Ask everyone. Find him."
Elliot had some misgivings about this. There was a lot that could go
wrong. He'd trusted Beecher, and he hadn't given it a thought at the
time, but now he was worried. Beecher could be long gone by now. He had
the money. Elliot buttoned his coat and refused to give over the keys.
He would find out in about an hour the kind of man that Tobias Beecher
"Did you check the morgue, Elliot?"
"He wasn't there," Elliot skipped around the truth. They took two cars
and searched the homeless center thoroughly. No luck. Elliot went back
out to the sidewalk and looked up and down the street. Here and there,
he spotted huddled coats. Beecher was going to make this tough on them,
if he was here at all.
Munch came up behind them. "We'll get this side of the street. Got your
Elliot retrieved it from the car and crossed the street. Olivia went
right, and he went left. He just checked hats, and he was shocked when
suddenly he saw a guy get up and run.
"Got him!" Elliot shouted. He saw Fin cross the street, and they
cornered Beecher in a stairwell. He crouched down and put his hands up
to the light.
"No! No, God damn it!"
Elliot cuffed him. "You frozen?" he whispered. He could feel Beecher
shaking. He'd nearly frozen to death to protect Davey, and he'd kept
"About dead." Beecher struggled and fought. Elliot blinked in surprise
when the lights of the media struck his eyes. He hadn't seen them
arrive. Obviously, Beecher had. Elliot and Fin hauled him to the car.
"Detective! Are you arresting this man in conjunction with the recent
Elliot wasn't going to answer that. Beecher's teeth were chattering,
and he'd lost his gloves somewhere along the line. Munch ran
interference as they got him in the car.
"Detective! What can you tell us?"
Elliot slammed the door. "It's too damn cold to be out. A person might
freeze to death." He went around to his side and got in. Slowly, he
pulled out into traffic.
"One Police Plaza isn't going to like that," Olivia said.
"They can chase perps in this weather then." Elliot looked back. "You
"C-C-Cold." Beecher sounded tired. Elliot turned on the light and got
them back to the house quickly. He pulled Beecher out and took him
inside to warm up.
"I'm going to call Dr. Huang," Elliot whispered in Beecher's ear.
"D-D-Don't care." Beecher didn't protest when he was pushed in a cage.
He tucked his hands under his arms and curled up. Elliot stared down at
him and wanted to hold him. The feelings weren't reasonable, but they
were honest. He wanted to brush Beecher's hair back and tell him that
everything was going to be fine. Beecher had shown exactly what kind of
man that he was, and Elliot could only do his best not to get him
"I'll get you some coffee." Elliot went to do that, and Cragen caught
up with him there.
"I called Novak. Good job. Finally." Cragen followed after him as he
went to deliver the coffee. "Is he drunk?"
"Want me to test him?" Elliot opened the door, squatted down, and tried
to see how Beecher was doing. This had to be hard for him. "Huang will
be here soon."
Beecher nodded. "Th-th-th-thanks," he said softly. Elliot locked him in
again and hated it.
"He doesn't look drunk - just frozen." Cragen shook his head. "Someone
will die tonight."
Elliot thought so too, and he was glad it wasn't going to be Beecher.
"I'll go do the report."
"Good." Cragen shook his head. "He should have cooperated."
Elliot wanted to spin this right. "I don't think he wants to die.
Pretty damn simple." He went to his desk. By the time he was done with
the reports, Novak was there. She made it short and sweet.
"I want him in a room. Now. In the morning, we'll have a lineup." Novak
was practically pacing. "We've got to move on this case, and we have
tonight to pull it all together."
"I'll put him in three." Elliot gathered all his files on the murders
and went to get their only witness. He'd have to scramble to keep the
lawyers from ripping Beecher apart.
Toby didn't like the cage. It smelled like Oz, and he curled tighter,
trying to keep his brain from flying to pieces. He drank some coffee
and tried to form a plan of action. His ability to think seemed frozen,
but he had to act as sane as possible. He had to be a good witness or
the scumball would walk. The lawyer for the defense was going to try to
eat him for lunch. When the coffee was gone, he crushed the cup, and
resisted pacing. He was fine. He was.
"Warmer?" Elliot opened the door and asked.
Toby nodded. He fumbled up, so glad that the door was open that he
nearly fell on his way out. "Thanks. Can I piss?"
Elliot took him to the restroom. Toby pissed, washed his hands, and
shook his head at his image in the mirror. Elliot frowned. "What?"
"I look like a renegade biker - on crack." Toby tugged his hair. It had
never been this long. "We gotta do something about this."
"It was a good disguise." Elliot smiled now, and it was handsome on
him. "It was the hat. I spotted it as I came in the squad room."
"Shit." Toby groaned. He was stupid to even look at him. Elliot made a
gesture and took him to a room with a glass window. He peeled off his
coat and sat down to wait. "It's going to be a long night, isn't it?"
"I hope my brain can handle it." Toby combed his fingers through his
hair, found a rubber band in his pocket, and pulled it back out of his
face. "One word about ponytails and I'll kick your ass."
Elliot grinned. He said very softly, "Not a problem, shiksa."
Toby found himself laughing, and it felt good.
"Glad you're in a good mood."
Toby stopped laughing. He stared up at her. "Who the hell are you?"
"A.D.A. Casey Novak." She smiled, but her eyes were sharp. "We have
"Shit," Toby whispered. He gathered the tattered remnants of his
courage. "I think I should be protesting your rough treatment."
She sat down across from him. "Your own fault. And Elliot's. He never
should have turned you loose before I had spoken to you."
Toby resented her tone and the look on her face. He glanced at Elliot
and saw frustration. "I wasn't under arrest. I was free to go, and I
did. My testimony could very well be my death sentence."
"I'm not convinced there's a real threat." Novak shook her head. "Are
you on medication for delusions? Drugs? Heroin?"
Toby leaned back. He was facing a woman who had no real idea of how
she'd get him killed. "Elliot, you're convinced, right?"
"Yes." Elliot pulled out a sheet and handed it to her. "The reward went
up again. Munch is working with TARU to monitor any activity in regards
to your arrest."
"Let's start at the beginning." Novak put the sheet away without really
looking at it. It wasn't reassuring. "And tomorrow, you have to pick
him out of a lineup. Can you do it?"
Toby nodded slowly. His mind flashed a picture of the brute and he
controlled a shiver. "I can, but I wonder if I should. What are going
to do to protect me?"
Novak looked at Elliot. "Lockup tonight."
"The Nazis are going to make a play for me before this is over. If I
were you, I'd get some extra security."
Elliot rubbed his arm. "I'll take care of it."
Toby tilted his head. "You too?" He tapped Elliot's arm.
"Shot last year." Elliot shrugged. "I'm fine."
"But you know." Toby felt more reassured than ever. He might have a
chance now. Maybe. If Elliot believed, he might actually work to keep
him safe. It was possible.
"I do. We'll be careful."
There was a tap on the glass, and Elliot got to his feet. Toby wanted
to go with him, but it wasn't possible. Novak was flipping through her
paperwork, and Toby fidgeted a little. "I'm hot. You mind if I strip
off a shirt?"
"Go ahead." Novak nodded. "And then let's start."
"Counselor, I'd like to speak with Mr. Beecher first," Huang said
softly but firmly as he came through the door. "Please."
Toby took off his extra sweatshirt and pants. He adjusted everything,
but didn't return to his chair. Novak had given ground, but she'd watch
from the window, and Toby found some words.
"Hello, Tobias. How are you?" Huang had his hands in his pockets, and
he hadn't sat down.
"I'm pretty good." Toby tapped his head. He wasn't excited about
talking to Huang, but the guy had made the effort to come down here.
"I'm still crazy, but it seems to be better."
"Elliot thinks so also. Have you taken any medications or drugs since
we last talked?"
"No." Toby leaned back against the wall, willing to talk about it. "I
used to have a dozen attacks a day. I'm down to about three or four a
Huang looked hopeful. "Medication and therapy could see you free of
Toby sighed. "I think Novak will have an opinion about everything. If
she thinks it's good for the case, you can medicate me."
"Once a lawyer, always a lawyer." Huang sighed. "Your mental health is
"Than catching a murderer?" Toby interrupted. "I'm not sure she'd agree
with you. Ask her. I'm fine either way."
Huang came over to him. "Where have you been?"
"Here and there. Surviving. Does it matter? This testimony will be
coerced." Toby thought it was better that way. If he looked reluctant,
he'd look more honest. "Anything else?"
"Is this real?"
Toby looked around. "Unfortunately, it is, and it may see me dead."
Huang didn't look as if he disagreed. "The lawyer for the defense is
going to be brutal."
"I know. It's his job. I may have an attack on the stand, but that's a
risk that Novak will have to take." Toby had no solutions. His brain
could only do so much. He went to a chair and sat down. It was getting
late, and his feet were tired. "Please don't let them put me in lockup.
I would rather be sedated and cuffed to a bunk in that room upstairs
"You're sure?" Huang looked satisfied.
"You have my permission if it comes down to it." Toby was sure this
would be the longest night of his life since he'd been branded. Novak
came through the door. Elliot was right behind her and gave him a
squeeze on the shoulder. Toby braced himself. He had to stay sane.
Elliot wasn't going to let him out of his sight. He'd sleep later.
Tobias Beecher was a far cry today from the man that had been pulled
from behind a dumpster, but it was still going to be a long night and a
"How's he doing?" Cragen asked.
Elliot put the coffee down on the shelf outside the room. "He's holding
up. Novak is pushing him hard."
"It's her job." Cragen crossed his arms. "I know you feel protective of
him, but don't lose sight of the case."
Elliot picked up the coffee and took it inside before he cursed at his
captain. Lose sight? As if that was possible. Toby thanked him for the
"Do I get some sleep before this lineup?" Toby asked Novak. "Don't you
need me at my best?"
Elliot nearly laughed at Toby's blatant manipulations. Novak snapped
the file shut. "Put him in lockup."
"I can't get a haircut if I'm in lockup." Toby pulled the rubber band
out and let it fan around his face. "Elliot, you know a good barber?"
Novak got to her feet and right in Elliot's face. "Lose him and I'll
have your badge."
Elliot wasn't scared, but he raised his eyebrows at the threat. "Come
Toby laughed and beat Elliot out the door. Elliot took him to the
locker room, and he stowed his clothes and coat.
"Shower?" Elliot asked. He didn't think Toby needed one.
"I'm good. Are my clothes clean enough?" Toby picked at his sweatshirt.
"Is that mayo?" Elliot moved closer and pointed. He couldn't help but
smile. Toby looked down and shrugged. He smiled, and Elliot nearly
reached for him. The urge to hold him was overwhelming, and he sighed
softly. It wasn't possible to feel this way about this man, but he did.
Toby stretched out his hand and touched Elliot's face. "I never doubted
that you were real."
Elliot didn't slap the hand away, and Toby slowly dropped it.
"Well, I began to think that I'd hallucinated you."
"I should have gone to Brooklyn, but I couldn't find a cab." Toby
shrugged as if it hadn't mattered. "I was lost when Davey opened his
door for me."
"I know. He had words with me about it." Elliot wouldn't do that again.
"Hey, you gave me a hat, which I should have refused." Toby smiled and
edged closer. "Got a shaver?"
Elliot nodded. He had everything here. Hell, he lived here. Seemed as
if Toby did too now. They were both homeless. Toby went to the sink and
shaved his face clean. Elliot went ahead and stared.
"You look very different."
"Geeky, I know. Scissors?" Toby grinned. "Or if you still have my shank
lying around, I can use that."
Elliot didn't remember what he'd done with the knife. It might be in
his desk. "Wait here." He went out and found a pair of scissors. Toby
was still at the mirror when Elliot got back. "Thanks for not running
Toby raised his eyebrows. "I'm all yours, Elliot."
Elliot nearly dropped the scissors. He made sure he had a good grip,
but he couldn't find words to answer him. Toby pulled his hair back and
kept it in his fist. "Cut right above my hand."
"I'm not a barber." Elliot didn't think this was a good idea.
"Trust me. It's all one length. It'll look better, but not too good."
Toby made a gesture. "Do it."
Elliot took hold of the hair and cut it off. He stared down at the
inches left in his hand. "That's a lot of hair."
"I'm a hairy guy." Toby avoided the scissors and grabbed Elliot's hand.
"You look tired."
"Busted my ass looking for you," Elliot said gruffly. It wasn't
completely true, but he had to say something. He couldn't seem to take
his eyes off the hair. He was tired. Toby's feet moved right next to
Elliot's and he still didn't look up. "Don't get me in any more trouble
Toby leaned into him. Elliot didn't mind. He should've, but he didn't,
and before he could think clearly, he put his arm around him. Toby
groaned softly. "Just a touch brings my world into balance. Thank you."
"You are crazy." Elliot laughed softly. He thought the same, but he
couldn't say it. "Let's go up to the crib, and then breakfast, and then
Toby sighed. "You're staying with me?"
Elliot heard the disbelief. He reassured him, "I like my badge." He
took a single step, and they were apart and moving. The hair, he
dropped on his desk. Putting his hand in the small of Toby's back, he
steered from behind. "When this is over, you have to run."
"No shit," Toby drawled.
"Can you meet up with your family?" Elliot pushed open the door and
nudged Toby towards a cot.
Toby snorted and flopped down. "I don't know where they are."
Elliot didn't believe that. "You should be with them."
"Not gonna happen." Toby rubbed his eyes. He rolled to his side. Elliot
took that as a hint to shut up. He lay down also, but there was too
much going on in his brain: the case, Novak, his kids, and Toby.
Beecher. Whatever. Elliot closed his eyes. He was out of luck on all
Toby woke up in his usual manner - panicked. The dreams oozed away
instantly, and he saw who was in the cot next to him. Elliot was
asleep. Toby slipped off to the floor and sat next to him to stare
while he could. Not Chris. Chris was dead. Elliot wasn't a lying,
killing, whoring sex machine. Toby controlled a soft groan. He did miss
Chris - proof of insanity.
Running away would mean that he'd never see Elliot again - fucking
Nazis always ruined everything. Toby curled his fingers into a fist. If
he was never going to see his family again, did it matter if they
killed him? No, it didn't.
"Elliot, time to get up!"
Toby startled at the sound of Munch's voice. Elliot swung his legs
over, and Toby got the hell out of the way. He felt like a damn fool,
and Munch was grinning from ear to ear.
"I'm up. There sure as hell better be coffee," Elliot growled. "Toby,
what are you doing?"
"Nothing," Toby mumbled and found a way to his feet. He brushed off his
pants and combed his fingers through his hair - what was left of it.
"Coffee would be good. I'd be helping Davey open shop about now."
"No worries, shiksa. I sent my nephew to help out." Munch was never
going to let that nickname slide. Toby knew that no amount of
glares would work. He might have to shank him.
Elliot scratched his head and surged up, stretching. "Any news?"
"Nothing on the internet yet." Munch held the door open for them.
Toby clapped Munch on the shoulder. "Don't worry about it. My family is
safe. That's all I care about."
"Munch, worry about it. Novak wants him alive until she gets a
conviction." Elliot poured two cups of coffee. Toby added cream and
sugar to his and sat down at a small table to drink it. Elliot went to
the stairs. "Come on."
"Nah. I'll sit here. You go do cop stuff. I'm not going anywhere." Toby
took a sip. He shut his eyes and did a brain check. Everything seemed
okay. Being here wasn't sending him into fits. Images flashed against
his eyelids, and he breathed. He breathed. The steam from the coffee
went into his lungs.
"How are you today, Tobias?"
Toby slowly opened his eyes. "You do look like Father Mukada - the
priest at Oz. I'm not just being a prejudiced white man, even though
that's what I am."
"It's possible that I have a cousin." Huang smiled and sat down. "Does
it bother you?"
"Not today." Toby took his coffee and went to stare over the rail at
Elliot. "Seen weirder shit."
Huang must have been getting some coffee because Toby heard the splash
and dribble. Elliot was on the phone and chewing a straw. Munch and Fin
were talking about something, and Toby wondered how long he'd be living
here at the precinct.
"How long do you think the trial will last? A month? Two? A year?"
"He might plead out. We can't know."
Toby laughed. "Bullshit. One witness? This will be in the courts
forever." He didn't have a life to speak of, but he wasn't sure he
wanted to spend it here. "What did Novak say about the drugs?"
"She'd rather we waited, but it's your decision. It's your mental
Toby didn't care. He shrugged and said nothing, sipping his coffee.
Elliot hung up the phone and glanced up at him. Cragen came out of his
office and called a meeting. Toby hoped it wasn't about him. He turned
to face Huang.
"Did they book you?" Huang was sitting calmly at the table.
"Not yet. Why do you think the attacks have lessened?" Toby went to sit
across from him.
Huang hesitated. "Have you confronted any of the possible issues that
precipitated the attacks?"
"Uh, no. All I did was work in a deli - push a broom and sling salami."
Toby didn't want to deal with Oz and Chris, especially not now that he
was under arrest. "Hey, maybe it's a miracle cure."
"Or maybe you felt safe for the first time in years." Huang proved that
he was no fool again. "You were able to relax and your flashbacks
"Maybe so." Toby thought that was as good an explanation as any. "After
the lineup, I'll probably have one. Warn Novak."
"I already have."
Toby drank his coffee and hoped his brain behaved long enough to get
the job done. "I never had a problem until after Chris died."
Huang's eyes zoomed in on him. "Nothing until then?"
"Not one. Sure, I did drugs and drank and had all the problems that
come with that, but the attacks started when I was clean." Toby stared
into his mug. He shouldn't be talking, but it was old news and unlikely
to cause an attack. "After he died, and he killed all those Aryans, I .
. . just . . . stopped living in the real world. If I have one a day or
every other day, I can function fairly well, but when I have one every
hour, it's difficult to walk and talk."
"I'm surprised Oz released you." Huang sipped his coffee and looked
calm, but his eyes were sharp. He was making an assessment, no doubt
Toby finished his coffee and took the mug to the little sink to rinse
it out. He'd been surprised also, but he'd become an expensive
prisoner, so they'd tossed him on his ear.
"Sister Pete argued against it, but I'd served my time."
"Did they have you on meds?"
"You'd have to ask Sister Pete. I swallowed what they gave me,
usually." Toby had been in solitary for months after the bus ride. Dr.
Nathan and Sister Pete had tried to help him. He gave them credit, but
he'd been hopeless. He went back to the railing. "Drooling isn't much
"No, it's not." Huang was slowly turning his coffee cup. "I'll contact
her, if you don't mind."
Toby turned away from him. "Whatever. I'll sign a release, if you
want." He was tired of talking about Oz. Right now, he had to face this
problem. "How many homeless people died last night?"
"One. The press is calling for an investigation." Huang made a rude
noise. "There's never enough money to help, only imprison."
Toby thought that was true. He needed to brush his hand down Elliot's
arm, and he slowly went down the stairs - one step at a time. Elliot
immediately turned towards him. Their eyes met.
"Can we go get breakfast?" Toby edged close enough to casually touch
him in a way that no one would comment on and watched his face. Elliot
frowned and that was answer enough. Toby put his hands behind his back
and blurted, "Forget it. How long?"
"An hour or two." Elliot gestured to Munch. "John, take Beecher out for
Toby wasn't sure he wanted to leave Elliot's line of sight. It was
safer when he was around. Munch nodded though. Toby went to get his
coat, and they took an elevator upstairs. Munch was talking about
something, but Toby wasn't really listening. The cold, winter air
rushed into Toby's lungs, and he stopped to breathe it deep. They
crossed the street to a little coffee shop, and Munch ordered for both
Toby looked at each customer for tats. This place seemed safe enough.
He told himself again that he didn't care, but still, he looked.
"Not funny." Toby unzipped his coat. He was glad to see more coffee.
"You have kids?"
"No, just lots of angry ex-wives." Munch sighed heavily.
Toby smiled at the drama. He asked very softly, "The Aryans shot
"And me. Right in the butt." Munch wasn't speaking quietly. "No love
lost there. We're going to keep you safe."
Toby drew a few quick conclusions. "That's why I haven't been
processed. You lost the paperwork."
"I might have. It happens." Munch shrugged, and the food arrived. Toby
ate and didn't try to think any longer. Munch didn't talk until his
plate was empty. "You buying?"
Toby nodded. He unzipped his inner coat pocket and put a fresh fifty on
the table. "I don't have any twenties right now."
"Damn." Munch put on his coat. "You do have money."
"Why would I lie about that?" Toby zipped his coat shut and hoped that
Munch didn't think that he was a liar. "I'm homeless, not destitute."
Munch put on his hat, and they were out the door. Toby eyed the
precinct and hated to go back. He knew all the reasons that he should,
but it was still jail, and he hated it. Elliot wanted him to help, and
that was enough to send him up the stairs again.
"How do you get your money?" Munch waited until they were in the
Toby shrugged. He wasn't going to tell the truth. "I buried a box of
money in Central Park. When I need some, I dig it up."
"Right." Munch laughed. "I'm a cop, yes, but that doesn't automatically
make me a fool."
Toby liked Munch's sense of humor. He slipped off his coat. "I need a
new coat. It practically screams homeless." He spotted Novak and
groaned. "Shit. We're busted."
Munch disappeared quickly, leaving Toby to face her alone. She looked
him over. "Better. Are you willing to help us now?"
"No." Toby nearly smiled at her clear frustration. "Why would I? Are
you paying me? Offering me shelter? What do you have that I want or
"You were a lawyer. It's your civic duty."
"And? What else do you have? The only way I'm doing this is if you
compel me." Toby paused for one beat. "Otherwise it will look like a
very shady deal."
She stared for a long minute. "Alonzo Keane has the best lawyers money
can buy. They will thoroughly investigate you. I fully expect them to
attempt to pay you off. The only hope I have is that your testimony
holds up in court."
Toby knew all that. "Not much hope, I know. I'll try to think of
something to help." He hadn't replayed the scene since the time in the
locker room. He hadn't wanted to, but he would now. "Do you usually pay
homeless people for testimony?"
"We have offered rewards in the past. It never looks good." Novak
pointed, started walking, and he obediently followed her. Elliot met
them before they were all the way back to the squad room.
"We're ready." Elliot gave him a small smile. "You?"
"Yes." Toby clutched his coat. He wanted Elliot's arms around him
because this was going to be difficult, but that wasn't possible. They
took him to a small room that was bursting with men in suits. Toby
hadn't worn a suit in a long time. He tried to focus on Elliot.
"Okay, this is the drill. They'll file in. Wait until they're all in
the room, and then tell us if you see him. No pressure. Don't rush."
"That's enough coaching, Detective," one of the lawyers snapped.
Toby nodded because he was supposed to, and Elliot used an intercom to
tell them it was time. The men filed in one after the other, and Toby
stared at the floor until he saw that all the shoes had stopped moving.
"Take your time," Novak said.
Toby was slightly appalled that he recognized the shoes. They were the
same ones. Had the idiot gotten a rush by wearing them today? He lifted
his eyes to their faces and told his brain to shut the fuck up.
"It's number four," he said firmly.
No one in the room said a word.
Toby looked at the fucker's crotch. "Does he have pubic hair now or is
he still hairless down there?"
"We've heard enough," a different lawyer snarled. "You'll have a motion
to suppress by the end of the day."
"I expected it. Thank you for your time, Mr. Beecher." Novak gestured
at Elliot, and Toby went without making trouble.
"He was." Toby leaned closer. "He has the same shoes on," he whispered.
Elliot pulled him around, and he saw the surprise on Elliot's face. "I
recognize them. He stood in the blood and snow, and I was crouched low."
Toby sat down in a chair that was close. Munch hurried over. "What?"
"Watch him." Elliot rushed off. Toby held his coat tightly. He had to
breathe. Breathe. He was safe. Munch was close. Davey trusted him. It
was safe. Toby rubbed his mouth and made sure not to whimper like the
bitch he was. That fucker had hurt her. Hurt her. The lawyers came into
the squad room, and all eyes were on him. He could feel them hating him.
Munch used his body to block them from sight. "Move along, fellas."
"Mr. Beecher, is it true that you were arrested and forced to make this
Toby knew that no answer was the best answer. Munch growled something,
and Toby saw the black curtain coming down. There wasn't much time.
"I have to throw up."
Munch turned fast, grabbed him, and took him to the closest restroom.
Toby sank down right inside the door. The linoleum was hard beneath
him. "Leave. My head . . ." And the precinct was gone. He saw Chris
again, smiling. She struggled, but weakly. Chris didn't love him. A
forearm dug into Toby's neck, and Schillinger laughed and laughed.
Chris howled with glee as bones snapped. She made a terrible noise
behind her gag. Toby sobbed for all he'd lost and imagined. The glimmer
of hope had been extinguished, and he wanted to die again as she died
in the dirt and the snow.
"Toby! Can you hear me?"
Toby grabbed Father Mukada. "She's dead!" He arched his back and his
legs snapped into so many pieces. Schillinger yelled obscenities, and
Chris's arms held him tightly. Her eyes had been so big, so frightened.
His arms hurt and he wept for Chris. It didn't have to be that way.
Poor Chris. He'd never had a chance.
"I could never love you!" Chris laughed and shoved Toby's head. Toby
reached for him. Chris smiled, and suddenly it was Elliot. "Toby,
please, fight it!"
Toby clutched at the man that might be Chris but wasn't. "Hurts. He
laughed at her! He laughed!"
Another pain jolted Toby's arm, and he saw only the girl. Poor girl. He
gasped at her agony and then things started to turn blacker. Chris
grinned, and Toby watched him fade away.
"That was worse than yesterday," Elliot said. He still held him, and he
wouldn't feel guilty about it. Toby had put himself out there for them,
and this was the result. "Much worse."
"He was mixing her trauma with his own." Huang snapped his bag shut.
"Let's get him to the crib to sleep it off."
"Munch, check for lawyers or press." Elliot got to his feet. He wished
Keller were alive so he could take a punch to the face.
"Looks clear. You two move him. I'll run interference."
Elliot got one side and Huang the other. Toby wasn't heavy, and they
put him down carefully on a cot. "Doc, is he going to be okay?"
"Yes. I'll do an evaluation when he wakes up, but I believe he's doing
much better overall."
Elliot raised his eyebrows. He hoped the doc was right for once. "If
you say so. I have things I have to do. I'll send someone up."
Huang nodded. "He'll sleep a good part of the day, and I'll check in
with him frequently."
Elliot pulled Toby's shoes off, put his coat close by, and covered him
with a blanket. "Part of me thinks he must be crazy to help us."
"He still has a strong moral fiber. He'll protest, but he'll do what's
"I gotta go." Elliot put his head in the case. He'd think about Toby
later. If they were lucky, they'd gather enough evidence now to make
his testimony nothing more than the icing on the cake.
Toby hit the floor before he was fully awake.
Toby lifted his weary head. "Yeah." He pushed and sat on the cot,
rubbing his face. Had a bus hit him? At least he knew where he was, not
that that was a good thing.
Toby wanted Elliot, not Huang. "Yeah." That was the only word that came
to him. He lay back down and covered his face with his arm. There was
no place he had to be, so he'd stay right here and hope that Elliot
held him again today. That had been the worst one ever, and he said a
small prayer that he hadn't further damaged his fucked up brain.
"Tobias, I know you're tired, but we need to discuss what happened."
Toby didn't move his arm. "If that happens in court, Novak is screwed."
"We need to take the trauma out of the memory. Talk about it until you
can handle it." Huang wasn't going away. "The last thing you need is
another flashback to haunt you."
"No shit." Toby still didn't get up. "Shouldn't we wait?"
"No, your mind is tired now. You're less liable to have another one."
Toby sighed heavily. He could see the sense in that, but there was a
lot that Huang didn't know. "What do you want?"
"Tell me what happened."
Toby didn't want to relive it again. He sat up and tried to really look
at him. "It's not the words, it's the images. My brain plays it like a
movie. I can't control it."
"We have to use the words to give you control over the images. The
brain creates a groove, like a record, and we have to skip you out of
it." Huang was earnest.
"Do they even make records any more?" Toby scrubbed his hands through
his hair. "I gotta piss, and I'm thirsty."
Huang got to his feet. Toby was stalling, but he wasn't all that good
at facing down the traumas that he'd forced away for years. Pretending
that they hadn't happened had worked for him, until Chris had died. Or
had it been all the Aryans? He walked sightlessly to the restroom. That
done, he cleaned up and smoothed his hair behind his ears.
"What time is it?"
"About six o'clock." Huang handed him a soda. "Let's go to my office."
"Damn. I was hoping to avoid that." Toby took a long drink. "But okay."
He followed along, wishing that Elliot would come around a corner, but
he didn't. "Are you going to send me a bill?"
Huang stopped and looked at him. "Can I?"
"Sure. Unless Novak is paying you." Toby would do this, but it would
end when he was finished, not Huang.
Elliot had a brief moment of panic when Toby wasn't in the crib, but
his coat was still there, so he hadn't fled the building. The coat was
on the floor, and Elliot picked it up. He felt a crinkle that wasn't
fabric. Curiosity got the better of him, and he slid his hand up and
down the inner lining.
"What are you doing?"
Elliot turned and tried to look innocent. "Your coat was on the floor."
He held it out. Toby practically snatched it, and Elliot had some
answers. "You're about due for a new one."
"Rough winter." Toby held it close. He looked stressed out, and Elliot
sensed that Huang was behind that. Toby glared. "I saw Novak in the
hallway. She wants me in lockup tonight."
"That ain't happening," Elliot said firmly. He hadn't liked it the
first time, and Toby was much more fragile now. "Did you piss her off?"
Toby shrugged. "She's freaking out. I didn't do shit."
Elliot wondered what Keane's lawyers had thrown at her today. This case
might be over before they convened a grand jury. He still had his
reports to do on the evidence that he'd managed to find today - thanks
"Let's go find some food. You eat today?"
"Breakfast with Munch, remember?" Toby mumbled. He was putting on his
coat and practically hiding in it. "I don't mind lockup. I'm not a
"I mind." Elliot herded him out and down the stairs to the squad room.
"Captain, I'm taking Beecher to dinner. We'll be back."
Cragen frowned. "My office. Beecher, find a seat."
Elliot watched Toby sit. Toby was close to falling-down tired. Elliot
went to Cragen's office, determined to make this quick.
"Did you see the news?" Cragen asked.
"No. I was busy."
"I have a tape." Cragen put it in and they watched together.
Elliot wasn't surprised, but it was a problem. "So, Beecher's a
homeless psycho that committed the murders and is now trying to pin
them on Keane?"
"In a nutshell. He's an ex-con. Keane is squeaky clean." Cragen sighed.
"This is going to be very ugly. Novak wants Beecher here, in lockup, no
"That's not going to happen. You know as well as I do that lockup isn't
safe. One skinhead and Beecher could be dead." Elliot shook his head.
He was not backing down. "I'll take him home."
"Elliot, he has a history of violence and alcohol abuse."
"Which we knew before we wanted him for a witness!" Elliot wasn't
scared of that shit. "Either Novak wants him or not, but we aren't
punishing him for helping us out."
Cragen just looked at him. Elliot shook his head and pointed out the
door. "My case, my witness, my decision."
"I'll let you take the heat." Cragen sat down at his desk. "I think
"That makes two of us." Elliot went out to get his witness. He'd finish
the paperwork tomorrow. Right now, he'd take Toby home and get some
food in him. Toby had his head down on the desk, and Elliot touched him
gently on the shoulder. "Let's go."
Toby stumbled up, and Elliot had to steady him. Their eyes met, and
Toby whispered, "I'm not sure I can do this."
Elliot had no words to make it easier. Grabbing his coat, he got Toby
moving towards the parking lot. They both shivered, and he drove
quickly. He opened his door, and Toby went right to a chair and sat
down hard. Elliot locked up, made sure the heat was on, and turned on a
few lights. The place looked crappier than usual. Maybe because he
hadn't been here for a day or two. He ordered Chinese from a place that
delivered no matter what the weather.
"You live here?" Toby sounded surprised.
Elliot shrugged. "I live at work. I change clothes here."
"For some reason, I saw you as the type to have a house." Toby hadn't
taken off his coat.
"Kathy got the house in the divorce." Elliot took his coat off and hung
it up. His cell phone rang, and he snapped it open. "Stabler."
"Where are you and my witness?" Novak snapped.
"At my apartment. I ordered Chinese." Elliot knew he was walking a fine
line, but they were doing this his way. "One skinhead in lockup and
your witness is dead. He's safe here."
Novak said nothing for a long ten seconds. "He better be. If you think
you were followed, find a hotel and get some backup."
Elliot heard real fear in her voice. "Keane's people?"
"Yes. We did some digging. People have a tendency to disappear when
they disagree with him."
"I'll keep him safe." Elliot looked out the blinds on the front window
but saw nothing suspicious. "We'll be in tomorrow morning."
"Be careful, Elliot." Novak clicked off. Elliot put his phone away and
saw Toby's blue eyes looking straight through him.
Toby spoke softly. "Let me go."
"Not an option." Elliot would be damned if he'd give in so easily to
some rich bastard and a pack of Nazis. "How's your head?"
"Huang took it off, stuffed it full of bullshit, and put it on
backwards." Toby leaned over and rubbed his face. Elliot had to laugh
softly. He was glad to see a small grin break out on Toby's face.
"Elliot, you have any good news?"
"Got the shoes." Elliot went to the fridge to find something to drink.
There usually wasn't food, but he did have soda and beer. Beer was a
bad idea. He might have to think fast. He got two sodas and handed one
to Toby. "You did a good job there."
"Stupid fucker. He did it to taunt you." Toby slowly slipped out of his
coat, but leaned back against it. "I know there was something else that
could help, but it keeps slipping away."
Elliot wasn't going to push for it. That was a bad idea. "You need some
food and sleep."
"You may be right." Toby shut his eyes. "When this is over, and
hopefully it will end, I'm going on vacation."
"Sounds like a good idea." Elliot checked the window again. He didn't
think that Keane's people were stupid enough to kill a cop, but it
didn't hurt to be careful. "We'll eat and then go find another place to
Toby was suddenly at the window. "A hotel is too easy to track. Why do
you think I skip them?"
"I know a place or two that operates on cash. I'm surprised you don't."
"Those places are dangerous. I've been raped enough, thank you very
much." Toby turned away and went back to sit.
Elliot wasn't sure what to say to that. Anger flooded through him. "I'm
going to watch out for you."
Toby said nothing, and Elliot stayed at the window until he saw the
delivery man. Elliot pulled out his wallet, but Toby beat him to it.
"I'll get the car."
Toby shook his head. "No. Shut it and lock it." He had the food in his
hands. "The back window. No car."
"I can tell you've done this before." Elliot looked at his clothes.
"Let me change and get us some clothes for tomorrow."
Toby nodded. He was digging in a sack. Elliot didn't take long, and he
was lifting the window. They scooted out, went two blocks over, grabbed
a cab, and ended up in a fleabag hotel. He was glad he'd brought his
gun. Toby crashed on the bed with the food. "I gotta eat."
Elliot threw all the locks. He thought they'd been overly careful, but
if it made Toby feel safe, it was worth it. The food smelled good, even
if it wasn't as warm as it had been, and they passed the containers
back and forth.
"I told you I had an apartment, right?"
Elliot nodded. "Yep." He ate the last of the sesame chicken.
"Two days after they threw me out, the building was torched." Toby
didn't look at him. "They found swastikas painted on doors."
Elliot didn't remember that. "Are you sure?"
"Read it in the paper. No, it wasn't a flashback to the time Em City
was blown up." Toby put his container down. "One bed. Two guys. You
gonna freak out on me?"
"Shouldn't that be my question?" Elliot started cleaning up. By the
time he was finished, Toby had crawled to a pillow and had his eyes
shut. Elliot made sure his cell phone was charged, put his gun on the
nightstand, and tried to relax. He needed some sleep.
"Thanks," Toby said very quietly.
Elliot wasn't sure what to say. He shut off the light and listened to
Toby breathe. Tomorrow night they were staying at the precinct where it
was safe. Abruptly, the realization that he could be hiding out with
Toby for the next . . . how long could the case take? Elliot groaned
softly, but he wasn't going to back down. Toby was not going to lockup.
Toby heard the groan and had the feeling that Elliot had finally
realized what he was up against. It had been bound to happen. Now there
were two sets of people trying to kill him. He didn't mind if they
succeeded, but what if Elliot were caught in the crossfire?
Sleep pushed at him, and he went, but his first thought on waking was
where exactly he should run. Quietly, he eased off the bed. Elliot
still slept, and Toby went to the window, his coat in his hands. The
click was loud in the quiet, and he whirled.
"What the fuck?"
"Come back to bed." Elliot took Toby's coat and tossed it. Toby tugged
at the cuff. Elliot smiled and clicked the other one on his own wrist.
"I need more sleep."
Toby pointed at the restroom and refused to worry whether or not Elliot
was embarassed. It was his own damn fault. Toby washed and pulled
Elliot back to the bed. "They'll kill you."
Elliot laughed and it was out of place. "I'm in charge here, and you're
not going anywhere."
"You know I'm right." Toby took the time to kick off his shoes. He was
still tired, and he lay down on his back. Cold steel circled his wrist
and Elliot lay right next to him. Toby had to say it once more. "I'll
get you killed."
"We're going to avoid the dead thing."
Toby nearly laughed. And they thought he was crazy. He tried his best
to think of nothing, nothing, nothing, and the night crept over him.
What woke him up was warmth. More warmth than he'd felt in years, and
he made sure that he didn't even twitch. Elliot's arm was heavy around
him and they were spooned together. Toby was almost sure he could feel
Elliot's breath on his neck. Safe at last - but it wouldn't last and he
was going to stay awake to enjoy every moment of this stolen intimacy.
Elliot heard the beeping, but he didn't want to get it. "Shit," he
grumbled. He needed some damn sleep! The beeping stopped, and he was
glad. He flinched when 'The Ride of the Valkyries' assaulted his
"Better get that." Toby was laughing.
Elliot was wide-awake now, and he pushed Toby slightly away, only to
have his arm jerked. "Oh, yeah." He fumbled for his phone, the key, and
the damn phone. Toby laughed some more, and Elliot flipped it open.
"Good morning. Where the hell are you?"
"Even I heard that."
"Shut up," Elliot said to Toby.
"Liv, I was talking to Toby." Elliot tried to rub his face, but Toby
didn't cooperate. "We're in a hotel."
"You and Beecher are in the same room?"
"He tried to run." Elliot glared at him. "We'll be in soon."
"Your apartment's been trashed. I'm here, looking for you, panicking!"
"Sorry." Elliot had to start thinking. "We're fine. I'll meet you at
the precinct. Just lock the door and walk away."
"You're a messy guy. She could be mistaken," Toby said.
"I'll have them dust for prints. Maybe we'll get lucky." She sighed.
"Will do." Elliot hung up. "Where's the key?"
"Like I know." Toby was still lying down, his arm in the air. "Don't
you carry it with you?"
Elliot thought about it. "It's in my other pants."
"At your trashed apartment." Toby patted him on the leg. "I feel like
I've entrusted my life to a member of the Keystone Kops."
Elliot rolled his eyes. He wasn't that bad. "Let's go find coffee. We
can shower at the house."
"It's interesting that you call it a house. Are you homeless, Elliot?"
Toby still hadn't sat up, but his blue eyes were intense.
"Have been ever since Kathy divorced me. Twenty years just thrown
away." Elliot was apppalled at what he's said, even if it was the
truth. He swallowed hard and tried to make a joke. "And you thought you
had it bad."
Toby clasped Elliot's hand. "I guess my benchmark will be 'as long as
I'm not living at a police station - things aren't that bad.'"
"Exactly. Tonight, we'll use the crib." Elliot pulled him up. "Let's
Toby shivered when they stepped out into the cold morning. Putting on
his coat wasn't an option. Elliot walked faster, and Toby rushed to
keep up. Getting in the car made him laugh, and he hoped that Munch
never let Elliot live this down. They went through the drive-thru at
some donut shop. The coffee was pretty good though, and Toby let Elliot
drag their arms up and down.
"You seem to be enjoying this a little too much."
"I'm used to cuffs." Toby grinned. "This is more fun than usual though."
Elliot snorted. "Tons of fun. I don't know what's in store for us today
so tell your brain to hang on."
"Drop me anywhere." Toby wasn't looking forward to another day at the
precinct, but he had no choice. It was slightly better than freezing
his ass off, but much worse than working for Davey. Elliot parked, and
they bumbled their way out and into the squad room. Novak was already
there and breathing fire. Toby took the coward's way and stepped
slightly behind Elliot's broad back. Chris's had been bigger, but
Elliot was a tiny bit taller.
"What happened?" Novak snapped.
"We went to my place, ordered food, and took it to a fleabag hotel
where I paid in cash." Elliot sipped his coffee. He was playing it
"Keane's bail hearing is in two hours. I want remand. Do you think his
people wrecked your apartment?" Novak should probably lay off the
caffeine. Toby made sure not to laugh at her, but he was giggling on
"It was him or the Nazis. Munch! Any movement on the internet about
Munch didn't answer immediately. Finally, he said, "There's talk he's
Toby shut his eyes and refused to think. No thinking. He breathed.
Elliot cursed, "Damn. Casey, you need to push this case through the
"Before I get killed," Toby said. He didn't shout it. It wasn't all
Novak had more to talk about. "Why the cuffs?"
"I tried to run," Toby jumped in before Elliot could say anything,
peeking around him. "He caught me."
"After this case, I want a vacation." Novak rubbed her forehead and
glared at him. "Worst witness ever and I've seen it all."
"Munch, could you find some keys please? I left mine at the apartment."
Elliot held up their arms.
Novak went straight to Cragen's office, and Elliot tugged Toby. "You
screwed up. She'll push hard for you to be in a cell tonight."
Toby would much rather fall asleep in Elliot's arms, but he shrugged.
Munch took the cuffs off and laughed softly. "You forgot the key? The
cop union better never hear about this!"
"They'll throw me out." Elliot smiled. Toby seemed to sink into it. He
wanted to pull that mouth down on his and die from lack of oxygen.
"My office, both of you." Cragen looked angry. Toby took a step with
Elliot, and Cragen shook his head. "Not you. Munch and Elliot. Put him
in a cage. Now."
Elliot sighed. "Fin, get Toby some coffee and put him in here."
"Will do." Fin stepped right up to Toby's face. Toby went with him
without protest or long looks at Elliot. There were a few cages at one
end of the squad room, and they were empty. Fin locked him in and
asked, "Cream? Sugar?"
"Both, please." Toby noticed the lack of furniture. These cells were
for that fifteen minute stay that always made people tell the truth,
unless they were guilty. He sat down, used his coat to lean against,
and whispered, "It's not a cell. It's not a cell."
Five minutes later, Fin unlocked the door and handed him some coffee.
Toby took it, instead of knocking him down and running away.
Toby didn't try to smile reassuringly. He was right on the edge, and he
knew it. "Thanks."
Fin nodded and locked him inside. Toby focused on the coffee cup. He
breathed. This was nothing. No one could get him in here, and Elliot
wasn't too far away. The Nazis were on his trail now. They'd catch up
with him soon. He could only hope no one died when they showed their
ugly faces. They would never give up. The only thing that would satisfy
them was his death. Chris really had fucked him over. Oh, his
intentions had been good, but he'd underestimated their ability to
breed like the rats they were. Chris's heart had been in the right
place, and Toby didn't blame him for trying.
"Are you Tobias Beecher?"
Toby flashed to his feet and put his back to the wall. "Elliot!" he
yelled as loud as possible. His vocal cords strained and he dug his
fingers into the bricks behind him. Bricks. No. Not now. He bared his
teeth and fought the wave of panic.
"Who the hell are you?" Elliot's voice was loud.
"Lawyer for Mr. Keane. I'd like a word with Mr. Beecher."
"No. You'll have chance when he's on the stand. Get out." Elliot
Toby pushed at the black. He would not do this. His brain would not
betray him now. "No, Chris. Not now. Later," he whispered. Chris's grin
flashed in front of Toby's eyes and was gone. Toby could see the
scumbag lawyer again. "Leave me the fuck alone!"
"Belligerent witness." The lawyer laughed. "He looks crazy."
Novak and Elliot combined to drive the fucker away, and Toby sat back
down. He put his head on his knees and rocked. He hadn't had an attack.
He'd won that round, but it felt like a hollow victory. Chris and Vern
and all the Oz boys would be back. The lawyer was right. Toby was
crazy. His testimony was worthless.
"His mental state is precarious! Putting him in a cage makes it that
much harder for him to sit on the stand and give clear testimony!"
Toby looked up at Huang, who was clearly angry at Elliot. The black
raced at him, and he went down hard. It all happened in slow motion
this time. The car pulled into the alley, the door opened, and she gave
out a muffled cry. Duct tape was over her mouth. Toby almost ran, but
his feet refused to move. Keane slammed her into the wall. She didn't
fight. She should have, but she didn't.
"Dirty slut. You're nothing but trash."
Toby cowered, and she made a high-pitched noise as she was raped. He
hid his face. He cried for her, but he didn't make a sound. Keane
yanked her head back and sliced. The knife gleamed in the morning sun.
Toby bit his hand. She died. Keane fixed his pants, ripped the tape off
her mouth, and went back to the car. Bleach ran all over her, and Toby
"Bitch." Keane laughed and laughed. He opened the trunk, and Toby
tilted his head to get a better look. There was something wrong. He
took two steps and crouched down to look up.
Toby ran to hide, and he cried for her, but Elliot had found him. Found
"Let me get my bag!"
Toby snapped his eyes open. "Elliot!"
Elliot was there. He was. "It's okay, Toby. Hang on."
"No." Toby grabbed him by the arms and held on tightly. "His car - the
one I gave you the tag number for - has a secret compartment in the
trunk. I saw him stash the knife in there. I saw it!"
"I'll get a warrant."
Elliot pulled him closer. "Breathe. It's okay."
"Can I sit down?"
"Oh." Toby looked him right in the face. Keane was more important than
him sitting and sobbing. "Go do your job. I'll be fine."
"Go." Toby pulled himself away. He found his coat and put it on,
wrapping himself tightly. Elliot strode away, but he looked back once.
Cragen crouched down next to him. "You're sure?"
"Positive. He hid the knife, the bleach, and the duct tape that he
ripped off her mouth in there." Toby was tired now. He usually was
after the bad attacks, and this one had been awful. "I think she was
"She was." Cragen got to his feet. "Thank you."
Toby nodded. He had to rest, and this patch of concrete would do fine.
His eyes fluttered shut and dimly he heard Huang say, "Help me get him
back up to the crib."
Toby tried to help, but his feet felt very far away. He was glad when
he was flat again. There was a prick on his arm, and he didn't care. He
had to sleep.
"We got him," Elliot said. "He's gonna fry."
Warner nodded. "I may ask to be the attending physician."
"Take a number," Munch said. "Now we only have one problem left."
"What?" Elliot frowned. He hadn't screwed this search up.
"How to get the Aryans off Beecher's ass." Munch put on his hat.
Elliot waved to Warner. She'd done a great job, and he might bring her
flowers next time. He had an idea on how to help out their shiksa.
"Munch, accidents happen in jail all the time. Tobias Beecher might
have to have one."
"Think he'll mind if we kill him?"
"I doubt that he will. The only question we have to ask ourselves is
how much fraud we're willing to commit." Elliot was worried about that.
Munch smiled. "We'll get Novak's help. She owes the shiksa a big one."
"That she does." Elliot laughed, relief was setting in. "He did cut his
"Not all that much."
Toby groaned. "Who was driving the bus that hit me?"
"I was," Huang said.
Toby didn't protest as his vital signs were taken. "I'd like to go a
day without you sedating me."
"We can try." Huang helped him sit up. "Let me check your eyes."
"They're crossed." Toby gently pushed him away. "What day is it?"
"Same day, but it's the evening now." Huang took a step back. "Are you
ready for a drug regimen? There's one that Dr. Nathan didn't try,
because of the cost. It's called Effexor, and I think it will be
"Yes." Toby held out his hand. He had to have some help fighting off
his hyper memories. He saw that clearly now. "Please and thank you."
Huang opened his bag. "What convinced you?"
Toby didn't tell him that it had been Elliot's frightened eyes that had
made the difference. "I want to die without seeing my entire life flash
before my eyes."
"We'll start with a low dosage."
Toby just took the capsule. He did hope that the side effects were
mild. Elliot came through the door, and his eyes were bright and
shining. That told Toby everything he needed to know about the case.
"How is he?"
"I'm fine." Toby forestalled Huang's medical diagnosis. "I needed a
nap, and now, for some reason, I'm starved."
Huang spoke up. "Tobias, I want you in my office tomorrow at ten a.m.
for a session. I'll take blood then and we'll decide on how we're going
to proceed with the Effexor."
"If Elliot lets me out of lockup, I'll be there." Toby stood and
stretched. Huang left them, and Elliot pulled Toby into a hug as soon
as the door shut. Toby sank into it. "That feels good."
"We got him. We'd have never spotted the compartment without your
help." Elliot gave him a squeeze. "Now, if it's okay with you, Munch
and I want to kill you."
"Good. I'm sick of this place." Toby smiled. He wasn't worried, and he
wanted to stare at that smile forever. "Can I eat first?"
"I got a pizza or two. Come on." Elliot took him to a lounge that had
pizza, soda, Munch, and Novak. Toby helped himself before it was all
gone. He didn't talk, but he listened as they discussed his upcoming
"Technically, it's not fraud if his heirs claim no financial reward."
Novak wiped her mouth. "And no death certificate is filed, and no
insurance companies pay up."
"We'll stage it, send the pics to the website, and the shiksa can
"After I plead this case out. Give it a week." Novak nodded. "And
Elliot, the death penalty was never an option. He'll get life without
Toby didn't get the distinction. "Why not?"
"His lawyers are good enough to tie this up forever, but if I take it
off the table, he'll go away without a fuss. It's how the game is
"And it sucks," Elliot growled. "If he were a homeless guy, we'd give
him the needle and clap each other on the back."
"Or if he were Black," Toby said. He didn't advocate the death penalty
because he knew the reality of it. "Get him sent to Oz. I'll make a
phone call, and he'll find out what ass rape is all about."
"I didn't hear that." Novak threw up her hand. She gathered her things.
"And I don't want to know what prank you three pull on the Aryan
"We'll remember that," Munch said. No one said anything else until the
door was shut.
"Toby, you need to get another identity." Elliot leaned closer to him.
Munch nodded. "We can't help you, but we know some guys that can - for
Toby laughed softly. "Let's not worry about that, okay? You two worry
about keeping me alive long enough to kill me."
Elliot narrowed his eyes, but the door burst open, and Benson grabbed a
piece of pizza. "What's going on?"
"We're celebrating. Glad you could make it." Elliot smiled at her. "How
bad is my apartment?"
"I'm not helping clean it up, and I recommend a dumpster and a shovel
at this point." Benson sat down. "Good news is that we found prints."
Munch and Elliot both furrowed their brows, and Toby had no idea why
she was stalling. "Mine?"
"Some Nazi skel that just got out of Oz. We picked him up. He's on his
way back." Benson grabbed a soda. "That's the good news. The bad news
is that they must be watching the station."
"Shit," Elliot said loudly. "I want to go home someday!"
"Go on." Toby leaned back and stretched. "I'll slip out the back."
"Novak would kill me," Elliot grumbled. "And Huang. Any ideas, Munch?"
Munch shrugged. Benson kept on eating. At that point, Cragen and Fin
joined the party, and Toby scooted his chair back into the corner. He
watched and smiled as they poked fun at each other.
"So, Elliot shows up this morning, cuffed to Beecher!" Munch laughed.
"Novak about blew a gasket."
"He tried to escape!" But Elliot laughed. "Not my fault I forgot the
Cragen grinned. "That's got to be a demerit of some sort."
Toby laughed softly with them. "You should have seen his face when I
had to piss!"
Elliot turned bright red, and the laughter got louder. Toby grinned at
Elliot's glare. He settled back and relaxed. He was safe tonight, and
it felt good.
Elliot was more worried than he let on. If the Aryans were watching the
precinct, that was just one step from walking through the doors, and it
was possible to sneak a weapon inside. Not likely, but possible. When
the food was gone, and everyone had quit laughing at him, he grabbed
Toby by the shoulder.
"Thinking about drowning me?"
"Yes." Elliot raised his eyebrow. "Making me look bad in front of my
Toby laughed. "You can't look worse than I did today."
Elliot didn't think that was true, but he knew his words wouldn't
change Toby's mind. They walked to the locker room together, and Elliot
dug out the bag of clothes. He needed a shower too, but he wasn't
completely sure about taking one with Toby, who thought the shower was
a dangerous place, and in Oz it had been.
"It's okay, Elliot. I'm not going to freak out on you."
Elliot wondered how Toby always knew what he was thinking. "You've had
a long day. I don't want to make it worse."
"You won't." Toby stripped off his sweatshirt. "Thanks for coming when
I screamed like a girl."
"I about pissed myself." Elliot rolled his shoulders and worked the
kinks out before taking his shirt off. He'd keep his eyes to himself.
He'd had plenty of practice in the military. Flinching from the touch,
he found himself staring into Toby's wide eyes. "What?"
"You sure you're not him?" Toby stroked his hand down Elliot's tattooed
Elliot heard pain, anger, and just a touch of hope. He held out his
other arm. "Did he have this one?"
"No," Toby whispered, "and you're nicer than he ever was, but I loved
Elliot nodded and didn't push him away. There was no fear between them,
and he wasn't angry about a dead man. Toby suddenly seemed to wake up,
and he stripped off the rest of his clothes. Elliot found him a towel
and he was gone behind the partition. Waiting would be smart, but
Elliot didn't feel smart. He pushed off his jeans and went after him.
The water felt good, and he washed away the sweat from getting the
search absolutely lawyer-proof.
"Crib tonight okay with you?"
"If I leave, I'm not taking you with me."
Elliot would remember that. "I need to check on your status."
"Look under N for nuts." Toby grinned.
"Will you be heading back to Davey's or are you planning to disappear?"
Elliot tried to sound nonchalant. He also tried to ignore the sudden
increase in his heartbeat and the slight ache in his chest.
Toby didn't answer until Elliot looked at him. "I never thought I could
have a life again, and Huang is going to want to see me regularly. I
don't know what to do."
"I could help." Elliot wished for those words back when he saw the look
on Toby's face. "Or not. Forget it." He found the shampoo and worked on
his hair. He'd keep his mouth shut from now on and let it play out. His
eyes screwed shut, he flinched when soapy hands touched his back. Toby
didn't say anything, and he didn't linger, but when the soap was out of
Elliot's face, he was much cleaner.
"Do you mind it when I touch you?" Toby's blue eyes wanted the truth.
Elliot choked on the truth. He wasn't afraid. It was just that he'd
never ridden that particular bicycle. He'd been married or too busy to
look, but Toby had fallen into Elliot's life and he was honest enough
to admit that now he was thinking about it. He pushed the shampoo at
Toby took it without a further word, and Elliot waited almost too long
before soaping him. The soap ran in rivulets down Toby's back and
Elliot kept his hands in safe zones. He wasn't ready to really hold
him, but it was coming.
"Do you mind when I touch you?"
"No," Toby said harshly. He rinsed quickly and was gone from the
showers without another word. Elliot turned off the water and followed
after him. Toby was rooting around in the bag. "I'm taking the sweats."
"Thought you would." Elliot kept his towel around his hips. "I threw
some extra boxers in there."
"You wear briefs."
"Yeah, but you don't." Elliot could wish that he wasn't a details man.
He sat down on the bench and waited his turn. "How's your head?"
"Not bad." Toby found the T-shirt that said 'NYPD' on it and threw it
at him. "Shit, another one?"
"They're free. I have a few." Elliot laughed and slid it on. He caught
the briefs that Toby tossed. Jeans, socks, and shoes: and he was done.
He went to the mirror and brushed his hair. Toby needed the brush next,
and they were as good as it was going to get.
"I slept all day." Toby was staring in the mirror. "And I'm still
"I could use some sleep." Elliot went to find his cell phone, badge,
and gun. He had one important question to ask. Catching Toby by the
arm, Elliot pulled him into a tight embrace. "Tobias, do I need to cuff
us together tonight?"
Toby buried his face into Elliot's neck. "Can I say yes?"
Elliot laughed softly and kissed him on the forehead, praying that no
one stepped inside the locker room. "It ain't healthy for you out
there. Stay with me, okay?"
"For now." Toby's hands flexed into Elliot's back. "I can't live here
Elliot broke away; his palms were starting to sweat, his breath had
caught in his throat, and he had a throbbing in his jeans. "A couple
Toby shrugged, and Elliot started for the squad room. Munch looked up
and said, "It's a little cold for softball, isn't it?"
"Shut up, John." Elliot sat down at his desk. They needed a plan.
"Toby, you feel up to looking at some websites with us?"
Toby pulled up a chair. "Yeah. My brain's okay."
Elliot made room so Munch could see the screen.
"This can't be good, but ignorance is bliss," Cragen muttered as he
When he was sure that Elliot was asleep, really asleep, Toby slipped
off his cot and padded down to the squad room. It was deserted, and he
sat down in front of Elliot's computer. He read the news and did some
research on the drug Effexor. So far, he'd had nothing but a bit of dry
mouth, and he could live with that. He sent Davey an email at the deli,
thanking him for everything.
Toby whirled the chair around and surged to his feet. "Don't you ever
"Yes, but I was concerned you might need me tonight," Huang said
softly. "Sit down. I'm sorry I startled you."
Toby sat down and rubbed his face. "It's okay."
"Are you worried?"
Toby shrugged. He wasn't in the mood to have his head shrunk again.
"Being dead probably isn't any worse than Oz or living on the streets."
Huang smiled. "Do you really believe that?"
Toby turned back to the computer. "Not sure. You tell me something -
why doesn't Elliot have a life?"
"You should discuss that with him. You care for him, don't you?" Huang
found a place to sit. He was settling in for a session. Toby had seen
it before. He could go upstairs and back to sleep, but he wasn't tired
enough. Sleeping all day would do that. Huang looked calm, and he said,
"I spoke to Sister Peter Marie. She was relieved to hear that you were
getting some help."
"I'm glad I missed that conversation." Toby hated to think what she'd
said about him - about his obsession with Chris. "She hated Chris."
Huang said nothing for a moment. "You were a heroin addict."
"Yes." Toby left it at that. "Brain damage is such fun. You should try
Huang was silent, and Toby was glad. The computer made a noise, and
Toby quickly followed the prompts. He drew in a deep breath. "Shit."
"Do you know where your family is?"
"No." Toby shook his head. "Maybe Europe, but maybe not. I was too
afraid that they would try to make me tell."
"Tobias, you need your family."
Toby watched the chat room progress. They were coming to kill him, and
they were laughing already. "All that's left is my brother and my two
children. I refuse to get them killed, and the Aryans can get it done."
"But what about you?"
Toby smiled and pointed. "I'm as good as dead." He got to his feet.
Elliot would see all this when he came down in the morning. "Go home,
Doc. I'm doing okay."
Huang stood also. "Start thinking about your future. You're going to
Toby doubted that. He went quietly up to the crib and lay down. There
was a chance, but he wasn't going to count on it. Elliot grumbled
something, and Toby smiled over at him. No matter what happened, he was
very glad he'd met Elliot Stabler.
"Elliot! My office!"
Elliot took his straw to chew. "What's up?"
Cragen sat down before answering. "What's your plan concerning Beecher?
Is he going to live here from now on?"
"I could throw him in lockup." Elliot rolled his eyes. "I'm working on
it. Novak wants him available for another couple of days."
"Keane's on the run." Cragen waved his hand. "And Beecher can't hide in
"Got it." Elliot went back out to his desk. Toby was gone.
Munch strolled over. "Huang took him."
"Poor guy. I bet he'd prefer lockup." Elliot sighed. "We have to
pretend-kill him soon. The natives are getting restless."
"The Aryans too. They want him bad." Munch frowned. "Let's do it. I'll
call a buddy of mine that's magic with a camera."
Elliot considered all the angles. "Tonight, and then we'll smuggle him
out to Davey's."
"How?" Munch raised his eyebrows. "He can't fit in a bread box."
"No." Elliot suddenly smiled. That would work. "We'll ask Fin to take
him out through the garage."
"In the trunk?"
"Why not?" Elliot planned to be in it with him. "Fin can dump him
somewhere, and he'll catch a cab to Davey's."
Munch nodded. "And you?"
"I'll go with him. Just to be sure." Elliot pointed at the computer.
"Let's hope none of those idiots are in this house."
"Yes, let's. Oh, and he needs a new coat." Munch took the mouse and
clicked. "See the new picture?"
Elliot leaned. "Shit. Did that lawyer have a camera phone?"
Elliot rubbed his eyes. Toby needed his moustache back. Hell, he needed
a new look. "Hair dye?"
"I'll get some. You find him a coat." Munch went back to his desk.
Elliot found his notepad and made a list. They'd need an ambulance too
- just for show. Luckily, he had some friends at the hospital. Killing
someone required a bit of planning.
Toby hit the wall hard. He was sure he heard his brain hit the side of
his skull. "Stupid fucking Nazi!"
"You're dead, bitch boy!"
Toby wasn't impressed with that insult. He wiped his mouth. To get out
of the restroom, he had to get past this huge Nazi, and that wasn't
going to be easy. A big fist lashed out at him, and he ducked under.
"Pussy," he muttered and punched him in the guts. He reached deep and
tapped his inner crazy man on the shoulder. "Go wild," he whispered.
"Toby! Toby! That's enough!"
Toby fought until it dawned on him that it was Elliot that had hold of
him. It had to be. Chris was dead. "You sure? He's still moving."
"Not much!" Elliot had him around the chest and pulled him out into the
hallway. "Settle down!"
Toby stopped - completely. He put his arms up. "I'm good."
Elliot released him. "Sit down!"
Toby thumped down on his butt, putting his hands on his head. Actions
spoke louder than words with cops. Munch and Fin came running, and Toby
watched all of them go in the restroom. He breathed hard and tried to
shove away all the anger and pain and anger. His belly quivered and he
grinned. That Nazi had learned a lesson - prags were dangerous.
Elliot came out and grabbed him up. "Crib. Now!"
Toby didn't fight about it. He kept his hands on his head during the
walk there and put his ass on a cot. "I'm down."
"Stay put." Elliot went back out fast, and Toby took a very deep
breath. Charges for assault were possible, but for some reason, it only
made him smile. He'd kicked some Nazi ass, and wow, it felt good. He
felt his mouth, flinched, and laughed as he lay down. Now, he could die
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