by EJ Katz
Beta Read by Lady Shelley and Yvonne Zicke
Written for PetFly by: Harv Zimmel

Rated PG
internal thought in italics

 


Prologue


Darkness shrouded the area in a tight black impenetrable barrier, the sound of water lapping against the side of the dock was loud in the darkness. The only light on the docks was supplied by a small light on a warehouse nearly a quarter mile away and from the full moon overhead. Neither of which supplied enough light to make the area feel any safer. And everyone one knew this part of the warehouse district wasn't safe to begin with.

Suddenly a flash of light cut through the dark only to vanish in the next second as a black sedan appeared and the driver turned the lights off. It was driven to the end of the wharf of the completely deserted area. It coasted silently to a stop as close to the edge as possible, then the door of the car opened and a bundle was pushed out into the water.

There was no sound except the rumble of the idling engine, and then the splash as the bundle hit the water. A small roundish face appeared briefly out the door; a face with a pair of dark brown eyes, filled with evil and wickedness. They blinked and the face pulled back, disappearing from sight.. The door closed once more and the car moved back the way it had come, vanishing once more into the darkness.
 


Act I



The docks were packed. Activity bustled all around, even as a light rain drizzled down. Two individuals made their way slowly through the crowds. The two were an incongruous pair. An older man, in his late fifties, early sixties and the other, a young boy probably no more that twelve or thirteen. Both appeared to be happy to spend time in each other company and the family resemblance was strong.

They were talking and laughing a little. The boy listened raptly while his grandfather spoke.

"My grandfather was a fisherman, in the old country, not here. He had big hands and a loud voice," the voice spoke with fond remembrance. The man looked out towards the water. He called out to a man on a fishing trawler, "You had a good day, huh, Frankie?"

"Uh-huh," the fisherman called back, waving briefly before turning back to his nets.

"God loves a fisherman," the older man returned. The kid grinned up at him.

"He sure does," Frankie the fisherman replied.

"You see what I did? I called him by his first name. That's very important because it builds loyalty. You never know when you're going to need somebody's help," the man explained to his young companion. They continued to walk, oblivious to the many pairs of eyes focused intently on them from not to far away.


"The boy's name is Edward Lazar. The old man is Dominick Lazar. The kid's his only grandchild, the heir apparent. Since the boy's father, Vincent, untimely demise, Dominick's pretty much taken over raising the boy. There's a big bone of contention with the boy's mother." Blair only half listened as Special Agent Frank Mulroney spoke. Instead, his eyes were focused along with his attention on the monitor before him in the non-descript beige van. His fellow voyeur, also ignoring Mulroney was his partner Detective Ellison.

"Looks like a pretty neat relationship," Blair responded. He could feel Jim's eyes watching him and hoped the twinge of jealousy wasn't too obvious.

Mulroney also looked at him. "Yeah, well, don't be fooled by the sentimentality. Dominick can be sweet and gentle with people he cares about. But you get in his way; he'll kill you, then go out for an ice cream cone."

Blair turned back to the screen. He could feel Jim's eyes burning a hole in the back of his head and he wished he could take back what he said. It wasn't that he cared that he didn't have a father but sometimes when he saw scenes like this he couldn't help wishing he'd had something like that growing up. He was pretty sure Jim would bring this up and the questions would start again.


Dominick and Edward approached the beige Caddy parked near the front entrance. Beside the car stood Lazar's right hand man, Terry Neff. Big and muscular, the guy was a perfect body guard as long as he wasn't required to do much thinking. He tended to react first with limited, if any, thinking later. But as dumb as he was, he was loyal and Lazar appreciated that quality. Neff stood waiting. A small nod indicated to Lazar that he was needed. Dominick nodded once sharply that he saw Neff before turning once more to his grandson.

"Hey, you hungry? You want something to eat?" He smiled fondly at the boy.

"Sure." The youngster smiled back up at his grandfather. There was a fondness in his eyes that Dominick cherished. For all his outward reputation, his family knew he was a softie for them. He tolerated nothing less than perfection, but he showed them his love.

"Mr. Lazar," Terry said as he tossed his head towards the arriving car. "She's here."

The old man turned to watch a silver grey Mercedes park just outside the gate. A tall woman got out and began heading in their direction. "Yeah, I see her." He turned to Edward. "Listen, I got some business to take care of. Stay with Terry, he'll get you something to eat." He cuffed the boy gently on the side of the head and received a smile in response.


"Whoa! Who is that?" Blair asked, practically bouncing in his seat.

A situation that was quickly getting on Ellison's nerve's he cast a sharp glance at the younger man but said nothing about it. Instead, he answered the question.

"That's Michelle Lazar, Edward's mother, the late Vincent's widow."

They continued to watch outside as Dominick got into the Caddy while talking to the dumb looking guard. Jim figured that the man with short brown hair and big bulky body would be Lazar's personal guard. So he was rather surprised when the man stayed behind as Lazar was driven off with another man, still unseen behind the wheel.


"You stay a couple more hours, buy Edward anything he wants, and don't let him eat too much of that crap," Dominick told Neff, gesturing towards his grandson.

Terry nodded his understanding. "I'll look after him, Mr. Lazar."

For a moment, Terry stood contentedly beside his boss to watch as Edward looked over the edge of the dock. Then Lazar sat back in the car and Terry closed the door. Neff waited until the car had gone before turning back to look for Edward, noting that the boy's mother was searching for him also.


Blair watched as Mulroney reached over to grab the radio off the table. "Unit Two. Subject is on the move," Mulroney told the device.

A voice replied, "Copy that, Unit One."

"I need some way to get closer to Lazar," Jim growled, his eyes piercing as he watched the car drive away. Blair merely glanced at him. Knowing Jim as he did, the man would explain further at some other time.

"They're probably heading back to the compound. What do you say we call it a day? I mean, unless you can think of something else." Mulroney said, ignoring Jim's comment.

Jim shook his head. "Nothing I can think of. Maybe we'll get lucky tomorrow. Thanks, Frank."

"Yeah. You bet. Let's wrap it up."

Jim grabbed an umbrella and opened it as he and Blair left the surveillance van, heading towards Blair's car.

"He seems like a nice guy. Not your normal fed. You know, not that usual superiority trip," Blair said, making conversation. There was something specific he needed to ask but wasn't sure how to broach it without getting his block knocked off, verbally of course.

"Well, we both want the same thing, to take down the Lazar crime family." The answer was vague but it gave Blair the opening he needed.

"Hey, Jim, correct me if I'm wrong here, but you seem kind of intense about this one. Is there something else pushing you?"

To his immense relief Jim merely gave a small wry smile. "You're pretty savvy, Kemo Sabe. Someday ask me about Jimmy Finetti, all right?

"Hey, Jim... Who's Jimmy Finetti?"

"I said someday, not today. I'm going to take a walk." There was that touch of exasperation Blair was expecting.

"All right." He knew when to push it and when to back off. For now, he would back away, but this would not be the end of it. Not by a long shot. He watched as Jim walked off into the rain.


Edward Lazar wandered by himself near the edge of the dock. His young mind was tumbling over everything his grandfather had told him. But added to that was the whole thing with losing his father. For some reason he expected his grandfather to be more upset about it and yeah it might have been a while ago but damn it, he missed his father.

He didn't understand the whole thing with his family. He knew that they weren't like other families, considering he wasn't allowed to go to school like the other kids. He wasn't allowed to play like other kids. But that was okay because he and Grandfather played together and that was kinda nice. He wasn't watching where he was going, just wandering, thinking and wishing.

He turned and headed back towards where he had left Terry.


"Terry, where's Edward?" Michelle Lazar rushed up and grabbed Terry's arm. Her coat was open and she wasn't carrying an umbrella to ward off the drizzle. Her face was pinched with worry as she scanned the wharf for her son.

He shook her loose and replied. "I don't know." He was looking up and down the dock, trying to find the bright red of Edward's jacket against the sea of people surrounding them. Not seeing anything resembling their quarry, the two began searching frantically for the young boy.


Jim walked up to a food vendor, closing the umbrella as he perused the wares. "A cup of coffee, please," he requested. He moved over a barbeque grill and asked, "What have you got to munch on over here?" He only half listened as the vendor pointed out the burgers and beef smokies sizzling on the grill.

Jim's hearing picked up a strange sound, like the echo of metallic creaking. With his sight, he glanced across docks, his hearing drawing his sight up to see a cable on a crane holding up a heavy pallet, which was beginning to tear and rip. Another sound drew his focus underneath the pallet, to where young Edward Lazar was walking. The boy was unaware of what was happening above him.

Jim ran through crowd, pushing people aside. He began yelling, "Hey! Hey!"

He watched in horror as the cable finally ripped apart and the pallet started to fall. Jim boosted his speed as other people in the crowd became aware of the danger. "Look out!" he heard someone shout as he dove toward the boy now paralyzed with fear.

Jim reached Edward, grabbing him around the waist and in the same movement, removed them both from danger as the pallet crashed to the dock.

He checked over Edward, running gentle hands over his torso, checking for injuries. The boy stood numbly allowing the comforting hands their search. Jim could still feel the tremors in his own body as the adrenaline began to fade.

"Are you all right?" he asked, concern in his voice. As much as he wanted to end the Lazar family rule, he didn't want to see and innocent child like Edward Lazar get hurt in the process.

"Yeah, I think so," Edward replied, his voice a little shaky.

Jim looked up as Michelle and the muscle man joined them.

"Edward! Oh!" Michelle wrapped her son in a tight embrace, which the shaken boy returned enthusiastically. She looked up at the man who Jim thought was Lazar's bodyguard. Jim wondered how the man got his job as he had a confused look on his face and seemed unsure of what to do next. "This never should have happened."

"I just turned around for a couple seconds. He just disappeared." Jim watched the man's confusion melt into anger. He could even feel the heat of it as he watched the three interacting.

Michelle released Edward and looked up at Jim. "I don't know how to thank you. If you hadn't been... Edward, don't you have something to say?" She glanced down at her son.

"Thanks," Edward told Jim, the tremors nearly gone from his voice now.

"You're welcome," Jim told him before looking back at Michelle. "I think he's just a little shaken up. We're probably both a little shaken up. He'll be all right."

"Are you hurt?" Michelle asked Edward.

"No, I'm fine, Mom. Just wasn't watching, is all." Edward appeared contrite but that could have just been residual shock.

"Go back to the car with Terry. I'll be along in a moment," Michelle told him, pushing him slightly toward the bodyguard.

"Come on, kid. You've been in enough trouble today." Jim watched as together they left, heading for the parking lot and most likely home to tell Dominick Lazar what had occurred.

When they were gone, Michelle turned back to Jim. "I hope this doesn't sound presumptuous, but I'd really like to reward you in some way. I don't even know your name. I'm Michelle Lazar."

"Uh... I'm Jim. Anybody would have done the same thing." Jim stumbled over what to say. The opportunity of a lifetime was sitting at Jim's feet. His mind was turning over the possibilities as he tried to figure out a way to run with it and make everything work out in his favour. This is the perfect set up to get into the Lazar family workings.

"You just saved my son's life. I can't just thank you and walk away. At least let me feed you. I know a great restaurant." Michelle argued.

Jim agreed silently, No, trust me the last thing I want to do is walk away. "Uh, that's really not necessary," he told her.

"It's not far from here," she continued to entreat. Inside Jim was pleased. Maybe this would work for the best after all.

"Well, okay. Thank you." Jim capitulated. "Let's go let your friend know he can take your son home. I can drop you off later. If, of course that's okay with you?"


The restaurant was quiet and tasteful, and the food, contemporary European, was excellent. Jim and Michelle made small talk discussing the weather, the latest set back for the Jags, during most of the meal. Conversation was winding to a halt again as they waited for dessert.

"So, I guess..." he began.

"So, do you do this...?" she asked at the same time.

They laughed softly as they spoke together. A moment of silence followed as they collected themselves.

"I was going to ask if you perform heroic acts on a daily basis," Michelle asked, her voice soft and inviting.

"I usually take Sundays off," Jim joked uncomfortably, then quickly changed the subject, "How old is Edward?"

"He's 12 -- going on 30." Michelle smiled fondly. It was a sad sort of smile but it still transformed her face.

"He seems like a regular kid." Jim nodded and returned the smile.

"I hope so. I'm afraid he keeps a lot of things locked inside. It's not easy being who he is." She paused and picked up her water glass.

Jim watched as she took a sip from the glass. After a moment, she seemed to make a decision. "We're part of a very well-known family," she told him. "Edward's father was Vincent... "

"Lazar. Dominick Lazar's the boy's grandfather. You were right, it's a pretty well-known family." A commotion near the door caught Jim's attention, but he kept his eyes on Michelle. He heard the manager greet Lazar at the door, and was content to wait for him to approach. Jim's mind was working a hundred and one different scenarios to make this work out to his advantage, to help him get close to the Lazar family and hopefully bring Jimmy Fenetti's killer to justice.

Dominick approached their table. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything. I owe you a debt of gratitude. I'm Dominick Lazar."

"Jim, uh, Curtis." His mind worked to remember the name of the ex-con profile the department had on file. He'd used it on other occasions and could easily pass examination. If he remembered correctly, Curtis was officially on parole also.

For a moment the man stared at him, something in his eyes made Jim pause in his planning. This man didn't get where he was by being easily fooled. "Well, I see the two of you have become fast friends." This was directed at Michelle

"I was simply thanking Mr. Curtis." Michelle smiled at Jim who was still silently regarding Dominick Lazar

"I'm sure you were." He turned to Jim. "So what can I do for you? It seems like dinner in a fancy restaurant is not enough."

Jim considered the question as if somewhat reluctant to ask but wanting to appear a touch desperate. "I could use a job."

"Doing what?" Lazar asked. Michelle was gaping at him in surprise

Jim kept his eyes on the mob father. "At this point, anything with some future."

"You know who I am?"

"Yes, sir."

There was a moment of silence while Dominick pondered this thought. "Well, you have me at a disadvantage. So how do I find out more about you?"

Jim thought fast. He couldn't exactly send references for the type of work he needed to have done but names would work. "I did some work for Cyrus. He'll vouch for me. I can have him call you. He's kinda tough to get a hold of unless you know someone who works for him."

"Yeah, I know of Cyrus. Doesn't get his own hands dirty. You have him call me. If I like what I hear, then we'll continue this conversation. Enjoy your dinner. Michelle, don't stay too long. Remember, you have a son to take care of." Jim watched as the man left then turned back to Michelle. He was not surprised to see the red-hot anger burning in her eyes. However, she seemed to recover quickly as she met his gaze.

"Well, you're just full of surprises." She paused as if needing to rein in her original words. "Look, I don't know what kind of problems you have, but getting involved with this family is not the answer."

"Michelle, I'm an ex-convict. Jobs don't come too easy to my type."

"Working for the Lazar's is not easy either." Bitterness laced her words and Jim grabbed the opportunity, maybe she could be an ally on the inside.

"Why do I get the feeling that you're not very content with life in the family?"

"You know that old saying -- be careful what you wish for…" She let the words trail off as the waiter approached with their desserts.


Later that evening

"Look, you want to sling bull, do it with the guys in the break room, not me. Now, how could you make a decision like this without consulting me first?" Simon was furious. This situation was so far out of hand it would be impossible to change anything now. It was the first good chance of getting someone inside the Lazar organization and he knew it but he would be damned before he liked it.

"Because it fell into my lap, and there wasn't time. How long have we been after the Lazar family? Six, seven years? I'm telling you, Simon, it's reaching critical mass here." Jim argued, though not strongly. He stood before Simon's desk ignoring the glare from his partner and the strangely non-committal look from Mulroney, both of whom sat at the board table.

"You don't know that for sure," Simon muttered weakly. He was more than aware of just how right Ellison was without having to hear it.

"I believe in my information."

"So do we," Mulroney interjected. "Just follow this for a second. Since Vincent's death, there's been a power vacuum. The Asians, the Latinos, the Lazars, they're all taking shots at each other. Now Dominick isn't going to live forever. Some say he's starting to show his age. His only other kid is Erika. And being a woman, there's no way they'll let her take over."

"So what's your point, Mulroney?" Simon asked.

"My point is, somehow the don is trying to consolidate his power. He wants to preserve his family fortune for Edward, and he wants payback for killing his son. Now, if that happens, it's going to be a real bloodbath. We need somebody on the inside."

"Now how you gonna make that work? Once Jim's in there, he's going to be completely cut off," Blair said, speaking for the first time since Jim had returned from the docks, breaking the news of his sudden desire to go undercover in the Lazar family's fortress.

"I didn't say there wasn't going to be any risk. If I'd saved the kid, I'd be the one volunteering," Mulroney told the young observer.

"Are you sure this isn't about something else?" Simon asked, changing the subject suddenly.

"Like what?" Jim's eyes hardened as they turned on his captain.

"Like Jimmy Finetti?"

Jim stared at Simon for a moment as if trying to determine if he really wanted to know the answer to that, or if he was trying to get Jim to back down on the Lazar situation. "This is about the Lazars and nothing else."

Simon frowned uncertainly as Jim turned to Mulroney. "Now, Frank, I'll need a record, Curtis' preferably. GTA, burglary perhaps, a dishonourable discharge. Whatever you come up with has got to be good or else I'm done before I even start, you got me? Plus, someone will need to contact Dominick as Cyrus and give me a reference." With that he reached out and motioned for Sandburg to follow him. "Let's go, Chief."


Blair followed Jim out of Simon's office, he could tell Jim's mind was made up and arguing about the undercover assignment would be pointless. Instead, he decided to find out why Jim was determined to break the Lazar family. He watched as Jim unloaded his pockets of everything associated with Jim Ellison and put the various bits of ID and personal items in one of his desk drawers. After watching for a few seconds he asked, "All right, this is the second time I've heard the name Jimmy Finetti. Who is this guy?"

"Okay, Jimmy Finetti was a friend of mine who was a cop. Hell, he was a damn legend around here. He could infiltrate anything. He went after the Lazar's with an obsession. He worked his way deep into the organization and one day he just disappeared. That was about four years ago."

"Well, you know, I've always wanted to do a study on a family like the Lazar's. You know, the way they interact with each other, with society, their arcane codes of conduct -- things like that."

Jim looked at him like he's lost his head. Blair felt the exasperation beginning to build already, he could already hear the arguments that were about to follow his next statement. "Jim, you need me in there to watch your back."

"I appreciate the offer, Chief, just not this time." Jim cuffed him lightly on the side of the head. For once Blair didn't try to avoid the blow he stood there staring after the departing back of his friend and sentinel for a long while until Jim was no longer in sight, then he turned and headed back to Simon's office.


The blue and white pickup seemed highly out of place as it pulled into the manicured grounds of the Lazar estate. A pair of brown eyes watched as the driver braked, then cut the engine. The watcher saw Terry Neff approaching the truck as the driver got out. Words were faint but they floated up to the watcher before the figure moved away from the window.


"Mrs. Lazar told you I'd be coming, right?" Jim said as he set the brake and opened the door. The man wore a surly look like he already had made the decision to dislike Jim without even attempting to get to know him. Jim could live with that. After all, he was here to do a job, not make nice with the hired help.

"Yeah. There's a place above the garage for you," the man told him, pointing towards the building which Ellison assumed was the garage. He finished climbing out of the truck and turned to get his bag from the back of the pickup. Rough hands grabbed him and forced him into the side of the vehicle. Those same hands began a cursory and half-assed job of searching him.

"Whoa, whoa, easy. I guess you couldn't hear me. I said I was a guest."

"Everybody gets searched. I don't care if you're the pope." The man pressed him harder into the truck, and Jim could feel the metal of the tire well digging painfully into his hip.

"All right, you made your brownie points for the day. Why don't you take your hands off me." Cold fury began to build, but the guard was too ignorant to recognize the deadly tone.

"When I'm done." The smug reply was the last straw. With an almost comical ease, Jim switched places with the thug. The fluid movements were pure covert ops. A slight replacing of the feet, a shift in his hips and a twist of his body, and the thug was face first into the truck.

"I don't like people handling me. So maybe you'll just want to tell Michelle Lazar that I'm here and we'll both go on with our day. Huh? All right?" The cold tone was still there only now there was a deadly quality to it.

"Okay, that's enough." A beautiful woman appeared from around the back of the truck. Her eyes were cold, her face set in a displeased look that had the thug ducking his head even as he glared at Ellison who had stepped back, releasing him.

"Terry, my father wants to see you. It's okay. I think we're safe out here. Thank you." With those words, the woman dismissed the thug. Jim realized with belated recognition that this must be Lazar's youngest, Erika. Nothing more was said until Terry was gone.

"Sorry about that. I'm Jim Curtis. I..."

"Saved my nephew's life. Thank you. We're all very grateful to you. I'm Erika, Dominick's daughter. My father's very impressed with your resume. He wants you to be Edward's personal bodyguard." Still there was no warmth in her tone, which instantly set Jim's instincts on high alert. This woman was as dangerous, if not more so, as the old man. She would bear closer watching.

"I'll try not to disappoint your father."

"Do more than try. Edward is the most precious thing in my father's life." A touch of contempt seemed to enter the toneless words, and the dark eyes flashed with something that was gone before Jim could identify it. He shivered slightly before retrieving his bags and following the woman to the garage where he would make his home for the next little while.


"Simon, you have to get me in there." Blair demanded the moment the door closed behind him.

"Sandburg, don't you ever knock?" Irritation was obviously the name of the game today but Blair was too determined to allow Simon's blustering put him off.

"Simon, listen to me. You know I'm right; he can't be in there by himself. Not with his senses, and certainly not on this assignment. You know that."

"Are you trying to tell me my job?" Banks rose to his full height, glaring down on the smaller man. The glare didn't faze Blair at all, or even slow him down.

"Simon, I don't need to tell you your job, you know it but you also know mine. What if something goes wrong? What if his senses go out and there isn't anyone there to pull him out of a zone?"

"Sandburg, Jim has been undercover before."

"Not like this, and not since his senses came back online." Blair paused, and he could see Simon was thinking seriously about his concerns. He knew Simon was just as worried about Jim taking this undercover assignment as he was. Blair hadn't even had time to set up anything with Jim to handle contact or a plan in case Jim's cover was blown. Simon had had even less time to prepare.

Even if nothing did go wrong, there was no way Dominick Lazar would allow Jim off the property without a damn good reason, but maybe, just maybe…

"Okay, Sandburg, let me make a few calls," Banks said. Blair didn't see Simon's eyes rolling at the little bounce and grin that came as a result of his reply.


The truck stop was empty of people, except for the two men in black who crept silently toward the middle of the lot. Both men wore black masks so none of their face showed other than the slightly curved eyes marking them as Asian. One man was slightly taller and he took the lead while the other, thinner and shorter by only an inch or two followed, making sure then were not caught.

They moved quickly but surely between the stored semi-trailers, stopping every so often to double check the serial numbers on the trailers to the number on the small white piece of paper in the taller man's hand. Finally, they stopped in front of a black trailer. While his friend kept guard, the taller of the two pulled out a key, unlocked the trailer and they two crept inside. The door opened spreading light from the nearby street lamp like a sunrise over the inside of the container. As the two began looking over the various boxes and crates, the smaller man pointed out a long, rectangular box against the back wall.

Again the taller man took the lead while the other kept watch. He pulled a crowbar out from behind the container, and began forcing the lid off the case; the lid popped off without difficulty. Together they opened the case and began pulling out automatic weapons. As the guns came out and were laid to one side, the shorter man spotted the expected envelope. He opened it and pulled out an 8x11 photo and they both studied the picture intently. Matching grins lit two almost identical mouths as one pulled out a lighter and lit the picture. Pleasure glowed in the eyes as they watched the faces in the photo burn.

As soon as the glowing light died from the burnt paper, then two men left as quietly as they had come.

Act II