Title: FROZEN TURKEY
Rating: General Audiences
Word Count: 9,079
Summary: It's December. Blair Sandburg is contemplating Christmas. And wondering if he will live to see it this year.
A/N: A gen, angsty, H/C story with a happy ending! In terms of timeline, I think this story could possibly fit into any point in the show but maybe it’s in the early days. Written for TS Secret Santa 2013.
Okay, let's review the situation. How bad can this be? I'm not injured, that's a big plus. They could have cut me into little pieces. They could have smashed my head in with a brick. They could have – wait, this isn't helping.
What did they do? They locked me in here, and left me to freeze to death. Could be worse.
Blair Sandburg contemplated the eight-foot steel door sealed shut before him. Each breath blew out in clouds and ice crystals were already fringing his lashes, glittering in the dim blue light shining from the thermostat high on the ceiling. Frost was forming on the sleeves of his shirt. He had goosebumps the size of carbuncles and shivers were coursing through him, impossible to resist.
Yep, it would have been good to have been left the coat, but hey, could be worse.
He launched himself at the door again, pounding with both fists.
“LET ME OUT OF HERE!”
Simon Banks closed the door of the interview room heavily. He ran a hand over his face and turned to confront the two concerned-looking patrolmen waiting in the corridor.
“Okay, from the top, please.”
The taller of the two exchanged a brief glance with his Captain, who stood next to Simon.
“It's like we said to Captain Donaldson. We were helping the paramedics move the stiffs… er…bodies from the crime scene and we saw the backpack. And I said to Joey, I said, ‘that sure looks like Blair's backpack.’”
“So you removed evidence from the crime scene?” broke in Captain Donaldson, a dangerous note to his voice.
The patrolman's pale face got paler.
“Sorry, Captain, but we … er … we didn't want it to get overlooked. We figured we should bring it back – tell Detective Ellison.”
“Davies, you are well aware of crime scene protocol.”
Simon put a hand on his colleague’s arm.
“Don, I don't want to get into the whys and wherefores. We've got it, it’s definitely Sandburg's backpack. If it was at the crime scene, it strongly indicates that he was there. But he wasn't with any of the perps arrested, nor was he one of the bodies, thank God. So the question is, why was the backpack there?”
“Sir,” ventured Joey, hitherto mute with nerves at being faced by two PD Captains reaching the peak of their slow-burning rage. “I guess Blair … er… I mean… Sandburg isn’t here? Do we know where he is?”
Simon opened his mouth to bark at the patrolman that he should speak when he was spoken to. Today was going very badly indeed, and this latest discovery only made things worse. But then he registered the two young faces in front of him – so young, they seemed – and reflected that they had walked into the aftermath of a brutal firefight which left four men dead – two of them cops -and three badly injured. It was a lot for them to handle.
“Davies, with Captain Donaldson’s permission, I want you to go upstairs to Major Crimes right away and tell Captain Taggart every detail about where you found the backpack, okay? I'll deal with Detective Ellison.”
With a quick look at their Captain, who nodded his assent, the two young men hightailed it off down the corridor.
Donaldson turned to Simon, his voice low.
“So, do we know where Sandburg is?”
Simon shook his head.
“I know that Ellison couldn’t get hold of him earlier, when he failed to turn up for a meet. Not that anyone would care, in the normal course of things. Then we got news of Nordyck’s arrest by your guys – and the firefight. Jim drove down there right away to see what he could salvage from the crime scene. I guess Sandburg kind of went off the radar. But now…”
Simon sighed heavily and went over to the corridor phone, punching in a well-known number.
“Jim, where are you?”
Donaldson could hear the irate answer clearly in the comparative quiet of the corridor.
“Cap, I’m just coming back from the shootout. Jesus, what a mess! If it weren't enough that the uniforms blundered in, it looks like a lot of the records we were after were torched. We've lost so much ground.”
Simon heard the sharp intake of breath by Donaldson as the man heard the clear criticism of his own people. He interrupted swiftly.
“Jim, Captain Donaldson is here with me right now. We’ve been getting Nordyck’s interrogation underway. Exactly where are you?”
The phone crackled a bit.
“Just walking into the precinct, Simon.
Okay, meet me on 2, by Interview 6.”
“Just get here fast, Jim.”
Simon rammed the phone back into its cradle. He saw Donaldson watching him with some irritation.
“Ellison is going to be ticked off about this foul-up, Don. He and the MC gang have been building a case against Nordyck and his arms smuggling connections for a couple of years now. It’s not been easy and Nordyck’s a nasty sonofabitch, as you well know. But we had new intel and I know Jim thinks it would have brought all Nordyck’s operations to a halt.”
Donaldson opened his mouth for a retort but Simon held up a placating hand.
“I know, I know. It was a genuine mistake – a missed call by Dispatch and unlucky timing on the part of the uniforms. Your boys didn't have a clue what they were walking into. I'm sorry indeed for what's gone down, and the casualties. But I'm just saying, my team won’t be happy.”
“Neither are those two new widows,” grated Donaldson. But before he could continue, the swing door at the end of the corridor burst open and Jim Ellison strode in, aggravation personified. He was already on the offensive.
“Captain, I don't know what we can rescue from this mess, but I'd like to lead on the interrogation of Nordyck. That new information can easily make part of the case and…”
He stopped dead in his tracks. Simon faced him in the corridor, holding Blair's backpack by a strap. Jim stared at the battered piece of Sandburgiana and then at his Captain.
“Oh, Jesus, what's he done now?”
Rolf Nordyck, still sprawling on the floor where Jim’s punch had sent him, shuffled back against the far wall of the interview room. He pointed a wavering arm at his assailant, while mopping at his bloody mouth with his other hand.
“What the fuck is this? This is police brutality! Where the fuck is my lawyer?”
Jim was still held in Simon's vice-like grip, preventing him from following through in his attack. He was breathing heavily.
“Let me at him, Simon!”
“Don't be an idiot, Detective, hissed Simon, menace in his voice. “What the hell are you thinking? We foul up this arrest, we’ll never nail him!”
Nordyck struggled to get to his feet, still bleeding from his mouth and nose. One of the uniforms in the room righted the chair and helped him back into it.
“Don't waste your sympathy on that bastard!” yelled Jim.
“Captain Banks,” said Captain Donaldson with barely concealed anger, “you want to get Ellison out of here? This interview will be suspended.”
“He knows where he is!” shouted Jim, pointing at Nordyck, who leered back at him.
“I told you, Captain, so you find a guy’s backpack in my compound? What does it mean? Doesn't mean I wasted the guy, right? You better take that animal Ellison and lock him up – he's the real criminal here!”
Simon tried to usher Jim out of the door. Donaldson turned to his uniformed men.
“Cuff him again and take him down to Holding to wait for his lawyer. We'll recommence then.”
“See, Ellison?” crowed Nordyck. “See, you think you got me, but you got nowhere near me. Now you, I got you right where I want you, and you can't do a damn thing about it!”
The unstated threat was obvious. Simon halted in his tracks. Both he and Jim turned round again to face the man at the table.
“Nordyck, don't kid yourself you got the upper hand here,” barked Simon. “We’ve already got enough evidence put you away for a very long time. So if there's something you’re withholding, something about Detective Ellison’s partner, you better cough up fast.”
Donaldson was already interrupting.
“I want this to stop now, Captain Banks. I don't want to jeopardise the arrest.”
“Oh, you got jeopardy, okay!” laughed Nordyck. “My lawyers are gonna have a field day! I don't need to make no deal with you on this. I don't need to help you out with backpack guy and I don't intend to.”
He turned to Jim with a vicious smile, his eyes full of hate.
“Oh, you’ll maybe find him one day, Ellison,” he continued. “And you’ll wonder how long it took for him to die, and whether he forgave you for never getting to him in time. And you know what? That'll be the best Christmas present I ever had!
“You’ve been following me for two years, Detective. You’ve been bugging me for two years, destroying my life, my livelihood. Well, you can't hold me, and I ain't gonna tell you shit about where to find your little friend. You think you’re such a great cop, yeah? Such a great Detective? You see if you can find him, see just what kind of turkey you got partnered with. But you better hurry, because he's getting real cold in there…”
Jim moved again to break out of Simon’s grip but his Captain held firm. Both Simon and Donaldson dragged him out of the room, Nordyck’s echoing laughter following them into the corridor.
Simon threw Jim against the far wall, and glared at him to stay put.
“Detective, you are gonna be up against disciplinary if you don't watch yourself!” growled Donaldson. “You’re more than halfway there already.”
“You heard, Captain!” Jim's face was set. “He knows where Sandburg is, and Nordyck doesn't treat his enemies well. Sandburg … well … he's at serious risk.” He turned to Simon.
“Give me five minutes,” he pleaded. “Five minutes! I’ll make him tell me!”
Donaldson grabbed Jim's arm and shook it.
“Are you out of your mind? I can't condone that kind of behaviour! Not to mention that anything you beat out of him will be unreliable as well as inadmissible, and our case will be down the toilet before it’s even started.”
“The case?” yelled Jim. “This is about Sandburg's life!”
“You don't know that,” started Donaldson.
“With respect, Captain,” said Jim, his voice tight, “you know Nordyck’s reputation as well as I do. Sadistic and violent. I'm not surprised he tried to shoot himself out of his run-in with your uniforms, and I'm sorry for the losses you sustained. But if Sandburg did walk straight into Nordyck’s operation somehow today, then Nordyck won’t have wasted the opportunity to get back at the PD in some way. Sandburg is in serious danger.”
“And for all you know, he could be beyond your help already,” rejoined Donaldson, fighting hurt with hurt. Jim’s face tightened, his eyes suddenly cold, and Donaldson relented a little at the sight of the man’s obvious distress. He gave a heavy sigh.
“Look, I've lost two good men to that lowlife and his hoodlums and I've got two in hospital badly injured as well. As far as I’m concerned, nothing is happening to Nordyck that might jeopardise the case against that bastard. I owe my men that. They might have stumbled on a Major Crimes op, sure, and upset your plans for a take-down, but we got enough on Nordyck right now, just with this shoot-out, to take him out of circulation. That's good enough for me.”
He turned abruptly.
“Keep a tight guard on Nordyck,” he instructed his uniformed officer on the door, with a meaningful glance at Simon and Jim, and then strode off down the corridor.
Jim took a step back towards the interview room door, but Simon grabbed his arm.
“Don't even think about it,” he growled. “It’ll get us nothing but grief and we’ll be no more certain of finding Sandburg. Look, Donaldson is focused on Nordyck. What about his goons? We might be able to lean on them to find out what happened.”
“Ah, Captain?” broke in the uniform at the door. “Sorry to interrupt, but I don't think that'll help. There were three with Nordyck. Two were killed outright, and the third was gut-shot – pretty bad. He's in Memorial, I think, still in surgery. They say it's likely to be a few hours.”
Simon huffed his annoyance, then turned in alarm as Jim snatched the backpack from him and started off down the corridor.
“Where are you going?”
“Back-track,” called Jim over his shoulder. “We need to back-track. Sandburg must've been where the backpack was found. So chances are he’s around there somewhere, or there are clues. I just have to look for them.”
Simon broke into a run, powering through the doors after his friend.
“Wait up, I'm with you!”
Bad move, Sandburg. Don't touch the wall with your bare hands. Or any part of you for that matter. Be sensible, you asshole. Cold steel at Christ-knows-what-below and human flesh is not a good combo.
He danced around the freezer, waving his hands. It was a weird pain; a burning feeling. He shouldn't have spent so long searching the door seal. The possibility of some kind of emergency override was a nice thought, but slabs of cod didn’t usually get locked in by mistake. Other than the remote, unreachable thermostat blinking away and the door frame, the room was featureless; a space some eight feet high and wide, and maybe twelve long. There wasn't even racking, just a double row of large boxes lined up along the back wall.
Great, not even a popular freezer. How soon would anyone come and check it? Would anyone?
He rubbed his hands up and down his arms, dancing on the spot in a futile attempt to warm himself. The hand with the glove on was more effective, so he kept switching the glove, kidding himself it was making a difference.
Come on, Sandburg, think. Thermostat – controls temperature. Can you change the temperature in the freezer? Only one way to find out.
The thermostat winked its red eye at him from its corner of the ceiling. The rest of the device was lit with a blue glow from somewhere in its metal heart. The red light presumably was just to confirm it was running okay, like a kettle…
Kettle. What he wouldn't give for some tea right now. Anything warm – but tea, Heaven. Or coffee, Jim's good, flavoursome breakfast coffee. There hadn't even been time for that this morning….
“Sandburg! Get your sorry ass out of the bathroom now or I'm gonna drag you out by your hair!”
Blair gathered up his clothes and towel and exited hurriedly, cannoning into Jim who had been poised at the threshold.
“All yours, man.”
“It is mine, Sandburg!” snapped his landlord. The bathroom door closed with a bang. Blair sighed and trudged to his room, flinging his towel on the bed and picking up his backpack. Think, think, what did he need? Paper on Kenya, the essays he'd finished marking at 2 am – yeah, that was all. With luck, a fair wind and no breakfast he would still make Rainier in time; oversleeping this much was manageable, whatever Jim’s choleric view on the matter.
Said partner slammed out of the bathroom, still complaining.
“If you hadn't been keeping me awake with your goddamn marking all night, I wouldn't have overslept as well. Look, not even time for coffee!”
Irritated, Blair spun round from his contemplation of the schedule for the day.
“That's rich! And a pack of lies! You were snoring from the moment your head hit the pillow. You never stirred once while I was marking. That's the result of one too many beers with Joel last night.”
“I didn't have too many beers.”
“Oh, no? So why is your jacket still on the floor, instead of on its hook?”
Jim went to retrieve the offending garment and shrugged it on.
“You coming or what, Sandburg?”
Blair stuck his head out of his room.
“You know I'm due at Rainier this morning, man! I told you! I have to get these essays back and check the budgets over.”
Jim finished buckling his shoulder-holster, picked up his keys and immediately dropped them on the floor.
“Goddammit! Sandburg, I was counting on you being with me this morning. Sneaks has promised key information on Nordyck today. There's a hell of a lot of background stuff I'll need your help with and I want you to talk to Sneaks, too.”
“And you'll get my help, man! For Pete's sake, it's only a couple of hours. You don't need me to talk to Sneaks. I'll see you at the precinct.”
“Sandburg, I don't know where I'm going to be later, do I? Look, I can't hook up with Sneaks until he’s made his first contact this morning. He said to meet him at ten-thirty – the usual cafe. Can you get there by then?”
“I don't know, man. I'll try.”
“Well, if it's not too much effort for you, Sandburg…”
“Oh, for God's sake, Jim, take your head out of your ass! I got work to do this morning. I'll do my best to be there at ten-thirty, okay?”
Jim glowered at him and opened the door.
“Try not to be late, Professor. This is important work.” The door slammed and he was gone.
“Asshole”, muttered Blair. “And my work’s not important too?” He dragged on his coat, scarf and gloves, gave the cold, empty coffee pot a lingering glance, and followed suit.
There were still uniforms all over Nordyck’s small compound on the outskirts of the industrial district. Forensics were there as well, sifting through the burnt paperwork found in the office area, and Scenes of Crimes personnel were recording the grisly aftermath of four deaths and large-scale bloodletting. The slush and ice on the frigid ground were stained with large patches of red. There were two burnt-out cars, one clearly the remains of an expensive SUV.
Jim and Simon ducked the plastic tape cordoning off the area, and Jim made unerringly to where Joey and Davies said they had found the backpack, lying near one of the burned vehicles. Simon watched him move carefully over the remains, then prowl around the spot in an increasingly wide circle. He was still clutching the backpack. Simon was exchanging words with the officers in charge, still with one eye on what Jim was doing, when he saw the big detective stop abruptly, his head cocked as if listening hard.
Oh God, a zone.
Simon excused himself quickly and went to join his friend. Thankfully, a hard slap to the man's arm brought him quickly to the surface of his senses – he hadn't gone too deep.
“I thought…” started Jim, frowning at the backpack, “… I thought, you know - surely, if he was here, if he had been here, there’d be some trace of him that I’d pick up. That maybe somehow I'd missed it when I was here earlier, even though they’d taken the backpack away before I arrived. But there's nothing. Not a footprint, not a thread, not a hair. Nothing. It's like his backpack was here, but not him.”
“Forensics have looked at all the buildings and vehicles,” Simon reported. “No trace, they say. Maybe you should check too.”
Jim looked bleakly at Simon.
“It's a small site, Simon. It’s Sandburg I'm looking for. I know by now, if I can't sense him, he's not here, and he's not been here. So maybe they dumped him, just brought the backpack out of carelessness or curiosity. So maybe he's…”
Simon grabbed Jim's arm and shook him.
“Remember what Nordyck said? ‘You'd better hurry.’ Sounded like Sandburg was still … still viable when Nordyck left him, wherever that was. Question is, where do we look now? The guys are tracking down all known Nordyck depots and properties, but it's a big area to cover.”
“ ‘He's getting real cold’,” repeated Jim, thinking back to Nordyck’s jibe.
“Jim, it's December. Everywhere is cold.”
“Yeah, but Nordyck was enjoying himself there. He will have wanted to hurt Blair – anything to get at Major Crimes. And he’ll enjoy the idea that it’s hurting us too. So there’s a meaning to all that stuff. Maybe we should be looking for cold storage. Or refrigeration units, ice factories. That’s a big part of Nordyck’s portfolio – one of the main ways he moves his weapons shipments. We need to get the team concentrating on that."
Simon got out his cell phone to relay the instructions, and Jim once more opened the backpack and did another inventory of the contents.
“One wallet, contents $30 and one credit card. One Rainier schedule. One copy research paper on Kenyan language forms, one case spare glasses, one broken mobile phone...”
His call over, Simon’s eyes still ranged over the compound, trying to piece together the chain of events that led to so much loss of life, as well as maybe Sandburg’s disappearance.
“Seems to me,” he mused, “that Nordyck was already on the edge when the uniforms turned up. Otherwise, why torch his office and the papers? He must have known we were closing in, so was moving his business out before we got to him. The black and whites rolling in, looking for contraband tobacco, should've been the least of his worries. He could have fobbed them off with time-wasting about warrants. No, something spooked him, which is why he decided to turn the whole thing into one big bloodbath.”
Jim was still scrutinising the phone. He turned to Simon.
“Blair called me earlier this morning, but the signal must have failed because my phone didn't pick it up – it went straight to the messaging service. He said his phone was dead, but that it was okay, because he’d got my message and he'd see me later. I didn't really think about it – what he meant by ‘my message’, I mean. He was supposed to meet me after he dropped something off at Rainier, but we were both running late this morning and I chewed him out a bit for having to spend more time at Rainier when I wanted him on this case with me. Dammit.”
Jim paused, reflecting on the words exchanged with Blair that day. Unnecessary, he thought bitterly. So unnecessary, when the guy was only doing his best. You are such an asshole sometimes, Ellison.
Then he looked sharply at Simon.
“This phone was smashed earlier today, but not by Nordyck or his goons. It happened before he met Nordyck. Blair called me from a public phone, I could tell from his voice. I never gave him a rendezvous this morning, other than to meet Sneaks with me, but because he was running late he never turned up, and I just assumed it was a foul-up and went on to the PD to start planning the final move on Nordyck with Joel.”
Simon frowned, trying to follow Jim's train of thought.
“Sneaks’ information was what you'd been waiting for?”
“Yep, it was from a contact of a contact, in the usual way, but Sneaks had finally got hold of the key locations where the next weapons shipments would be delivered – locations that would implicate Nordyck completely. We’d never been able to prove his involvement for definite before. It would have made a water-tight case against him. Until Donaldson's boys came to the wrong address, looking for contraband tobacco.”
“But I still don't see how Sandburg fits in.”
Jim waved the phone at him again.
“Because he must have gone to see Sneaks. It’s the only place he could have thought he’d been given a ‘message’ from me. After I'd left, he must have tried to catch me up. If he found out something, tried to follow it up on his own…”
“He's not crazy, Jim. He knows what Nordyck is capable of.”
“I don't care, this is the only link I can think of, so we need to check it out. Come on!”
He ran back towards the truck, Simon hot on his heels.
“So where are we going?”
“Nesbitt and Vine.”
The truck roared off, making a turn practically on two wheels. Simon fumbled for the switches that got the blue light working.
“Nesbitt and Vine,” he repeated, holding on for dear life and casting a concerned glance in the side mirror at the swerving vehicles in their wake.
“Yeah,” said Jim grimly. “There's a sale on.”
Gloves! Gloves were a great invention!
Blair wondered who exactly first thought of gloves, with all the little fingers in them – not huge unwieldy mittens. Two gloves were a perfect combination, but if you only had one, that was good too.
For instance, keeping the gloveless hand in his pocket and using only the gloved hand made him feel a lot warmer, a lot. And he could in fact move the boxes fairly easily with one hand as well, dragging them across the floor. Not slabs of cod, as it turned out. Instead, each box contained a turkey and all its trimmings, apparently. That's what the stickers said on the sides – “A Foster’s Award-Winning Turkey”. So these turkeys would be packing out of there quite soon, because they’d be needed for Christmas. Blair contemplated the timings involved, and concluded he might not be able to wait that long.
With resignation, he extracted his gloveless hand from his pocket.
One glove was better than none. Lucky he’d put that glove in his jeans pocket, not back in his coat. Otherwise it would have gone with everything else. One glove…
“One glove,” he started to sing, “one heart! Let's get together and feel all right! One glove, one scarf….”
Laughter bubbled up, uncontrollable.
“Hear the children crying – one glove! Hear the children crying – one scarf!”
He bent double for a moment, gasping. Laughing in the freezing air was bad news. He wasn’t so far gone he couldn’t recognise hysteria, either. When his breathing was reasonable again, he used both hands to move the boxes. Three at the bottom, then two, then one – hey presto, a step ladder!
It was a wobbly ascent. He checked himself with the gloved hand on the wall as he went . High enough, just high enough. The thermostat was a sealed unit, embedded in the ceiling. He picked at the sides but there was no purchase. The red light winked implacably and the blue glow showed a digital readout – minus 30°Celsius.
Not even turkeys needed to be that cold, he reflected bitterly.
Mason’s Shoe Store on Nesbitt and Vine was a maelstrom of queues and tussles and empty shoe-boxes. Jim made quickly for the biggest pile of boxes, and sure enough, Sneaks was there in the midst, jealously guarding his hoard. His look of surprise at seeing Jim turned to horror as the Detective lifted him by his collar and carried him bodily out of the shop.
“They’re my shoes! My shoes!” he yelled in panic, reaching futilely back towards his pile which other shoppers were already dismantling.
Jim got him through the door, and then dumped him unceremoniously on the pavement.
“Sneaks, I’m gonna ask you once and I want a quick answer because I don't have a lot of time here.
Sandburg’s in trouble. I need to know, did you see him today?”
Sneaks looked bewilderedly from Jim to Simon and back again.
“Yeah, yeah, I seen him. Like you wanted, I waited for him, to give him your message.”
Jim gave Simon a look of bitter triumph.
“Yeah? My message? And what time was that, Sneaks?”
He reached down and lifted the smaller man up by his lapels, breathing into his face. Sneaks looked even more panicked.
“I dunno! Eleven? No, ten forty-five - because I said to Blair, I said, I got to be at Masons by eleven. That's when the pre-Christmas sale starts. Pre-Christmas, huh? It’s once in a life-time! I just had to be there. I told Blair, just as well he got there in time.”
Jim shook him again.
“And what did you tell him, Sneaks? What was the ‘message’ you passed on, hey? Think real hard here, because if you get this wrong, and Sandburg’s… and something’s happened to Sandburg because of you, shoes are gonna be the least of your worries.”
Sneaks looked genuinely stricken.
“Blair, hurt? Oh no, no, Jim, I never said nothing. I just told him what you said to me.”
“Spit it out!”
“Ah, ah, I said… I told him…” Sneaks screwed up his face in concentration. “I told you about the drop, remember? And you were rushing off, not even a word of thanks, face like thunder – remember? And I said, shall I tell Blair to go to Nordyck’s north yard? You know, where that main shipment was gonna be? And you said, sure, that's exactly what you wanted, for Blair to go straight to Nordyck’s north yard. And you were going in to the PD.”
Jim shook his burden until the man's teeth rattled.
“You fucking liar, Sneaks! Why would I have told him to do a damn-fool suicidal thing like that? Why? Tell me the truth, you little bastard!”
Sneaks’ eyes went wide.
“It's the truth, I swear! That's what you said to me. You never told me nothin’ different.”
Jim's mouth opened in shock. His grip loosened on Sneaks’ jacket and the little man fell to the ground, where he quickly shuffled himself towards Simon and out of Jim's reach.
Jim turned slowly to Simon, realisation and horror dawning on his face.
“I was ticked off at being on my own, and because he was late again. I thought he would follow me to the PD. I’m going back to the truck and Sneaks says, ‘so, do you want me to tell him to go to the north yard?’ As if I'd want Blair or anyone walking into something like that! And with my head up my ass I say to Sneaks, ‘oh sure, Sneaks, that's exactly what I want him to do.’ Never dreaming Sneaks was going to think… never dreaming …”
Jim ran a hand over his face.
"Simon, what have I done?”
Simon pulled Sneaks off the ground and onto his feet, just as the little snitch was crawling to safety.
“What's at the north yard?”
Sneaks looked from one to the other, from Jim's haunted face to Simon's patent glare.
“Don’t you know already? Trailers. Lots of refrigerated trailers. They’re for frozen food deliveries - that’s Nordyck’s legit business. Fish, meat, that kind of thing. Trucks parked there all the time. That's how he moves his arms shipments around.”
Simon let him go, and grabbed Jim's arm.
“Jim, that’s our lead! Remember what Nordyck said? Sandburg would be ‘getting real cold’? Like you thought – refrigeration! Maybe a refrigerated truck?”
Jim snapped into life.
“Okay, okay, let's go! Get the team to meet us there.”
Simon was already in the truck, and on the radio. Jim jumped into the driver's seat and the engine burst into life. He powered the truck away, but not before he'd cast a final glance at the retreating Sneaks, who knew for sure that there was unfinished business. Time for a Christmas break to Anchorage, maybe.