Summary: Aiding a car accident victim has deadly consequences for a member of the MC team; can sentinel and guide find a killer and save their friend?
Disclaimer: I do not own the charcters of TS. If I did I'd take much better care of them! They are owned by Pet Fly and Paramount.
Note: Not beta'ed.
Brian Rafe watched in surprise then horror, as the car ahead of him began suddenly weaving erratically for several seconds before suddenly accelerating and swerving sharply to slam into the highways retaining wall.
"Damn," he swore, whipping in behind the car and pulling out his cell to call dispatch. "This is seven-alpha-tango. I'm on the westbound at the fifth street exit; got an SVA, need a squad car and an ambulance."
"Roger that seven-alpha-tango. Squad and ambulance rolling."
Rafe threw his cell on the seat and ran over to the other car. He saw that the entire front end of the wrecked vehicle was crumpled in, pinning the cars single occupant with the dashboard and steering wheel. The door was bent sharply inwards. So focused on his struggle to open the door and get to the victim he failed to notice the ragged cuts and scrapes he was inflicting on his own hands.
He slid, with some difficulty, between the car and the door; grabbing the steering wheel to balance himself as he stooped to assess the victim. His fingers searched for the carotid pulse and found nothing. He dropped his hand and let out a defeated sigh, lowering his head into his hands; several moments later a hand on his shoulder startled the detective.
"Sir, we need you to move away, we need to get to the victim." A paramedic said.
Rafe just shook his head. "To late guys, she's all ready gone." He grabbed the seat and the steering wheel and pulled himself up and wiggled back out of the tight space between the car and the door. "You're going to need the jaws, she's wedged in there pretty tight."
"We'll take it from here sir. Do you need any assistance, you look kind of pale?" The paramedic asked.
"I'm fine, just not the best way to begin a day." He answered.
"Why don't you let me clean up your hands at least." The paramedic pressed.
"Huh, oh yeah, guess they are a mess…had a hell of a time opening the door." Rafe said, noticing his injured hands for the first time.
While being tended to by the paramedic, the patrol officers took his statement.
By the time Rafe reached the station, two hours later, his bandaged hands were burning and tingling and the beginnings of a sick headache was forming at his temples.
"You all right their partner? Dispatch told us what happened." Brown asked with some concern as Rafe plopped heavily into his desk chair. "You don't look so good."
"Just been one hell of a day all ready." Rafe said with a sigh.
Rafe held his injured hands in front of his face and wiggled his fingers. "Trying to get the door opened." Grinning wryly he added, "Think it'll get me any sympathy points with my partner and he'll do the paperwork…"
Brown rolled his eyes and groaned. "You cut your little *piggies* and you think you're dieing…"
Rafe just wiggled his injured fingers and gave a pout.
"Sandburg been giving your lessons?" Brown groused good-naturedly, swiping up some files off Rafe's desk. "Never let it be said I don't help out my partner."
Jim and Blair came out of Simon's office, followed by the Captain. "Rafe, I heard what happened. Are you all right?"
"Just a few cuts." He answered, adding grimly, "The victim was DOA."
"Tough break. You need to give your report to patrol?"
"At the scene…I'll sign off on it when they finish up."
"Sounds like it's wrapped up then." Simon said, giving his detective a good look he asked, "Are you sure you're feeling all right? Maybe you ought to call it a day."
"Thanks, Captain, but I'll fine, really." Rafe said.
Not quite convinced but willing to let it go for now Simon agreed. "If you start feeling any worse you head home."
"Thanks, captain, I will." Rafe answered. Simon eyed Henri, who gave a nod, before heading back to his office.
"You sure your okay, Rafe? You look kind of pale?" Blair asked again
"Dammit, I'm fine, all right…I got a few cuts and bruises it's the young girl on the slab downstairs that has the problem." He said angrily, slamming his hands on his desk.
Rafe hissed and pulled his injured hands to his chest, trying to fold in on himself. The sudden pain sending waves of dizziness washing over him
"Damn, Rafe, you all right?" Brown said, jumping to his partner's side. "Let me see."
Looking up with moist, pain filled eyes Rafe rasped out. "Sorry Blair. It's just…she was so young…"
"It's okay man. It had to be hard." Blair said.
Rafe nodded shutting his eyes tight against the pain that was now burning up his arms.
"Guess that wasn't the smartest thing to do was it?" He said in pained huffs.
"We've never accused you of being bright." Brown teased.
Jim moved to put a comforting hand on Rafe's shoulder, sweeping his friend with his senses. The Sentinel felt the slight tremors coursing through Rafe's body, heard the racing heart, saw the blood seeping through the bandages. "Come on Rafe we need to look at those hands."
"I'm fine, really." Rafe hissed through clenched teeth.
"Sure you are." Brown said skeptically.
Shrugging his shoulders, Jim give Brown a quick wink, saying nonchalantly. "Okay. We can take a look at them here or we can make a quick trip to the hospital."
Blair watched in amusement as the protective instincts of the sentinel extended out to encompass the other members of the *tribe*. 'For a change,' he thought.
"Really, guys…" Rafe stopped his protest, seeing he was up against not one but two immovable forces…his partner and Ellison!
With a frown and a roll of his eyes he quietly held out his injured hands to Jim, who chastised him gently. "Look what you've done here…they're bleeding again. Pound your hands like that again and you're going to end up needing stitches."
"Now you're a doctor?" he quipped.
"Nope, just an army medic." Jim said with a smirk. "Lets get to the bathroom so I can grab the first aide kit."
"Is all this necessary?" Rafe complained, uncomfortable with the attention.
"Okay," Jim shrugged, "hospital it is."
Rafe aimed a pleading look at his partner, "I could use some back up here."
Brown just chuckled and held up his hands in surrender. "Don't look to me for sympathy, I agree with Ellison."
"You're so much help." Rafe grumbled. "Fine let's get this over with."
"I knew you'd see reason." Jim said with a triumphant grin.
Rafe hissed in pain as Jim's hands wrapped around his elbows to help him up. Jim's brow furrowed in concern. "What is it, Brian?"
"My arms, they hurt almost as much as my hands do." Rafe answered.
"Maybe an infection is setting in all ready." Blair said, frowning "Maybe you should get checked out at the hospital."
"Guys, ease up. I just cut my hands up a little bit, okay. Let's just get them re-bandaged so we can all get back to work before Simon puts us all in the hospital. " Rafe said in exasperation.
Jim turned and started to lead Brian out of the bullpen, Blair and Henri following right behind.
"I don't need an audience." Brian snapped, adding with an apologetic grin, "Besides, I believe my partner offered to do my paperwork while I recover from my injuries."
"Keep it up GQ and *I'll* put you in the hospital." Henri grumbled, turning to go back to his desk.
In the bathroom, Jim sat Brian on the bench and undid the bandages. He frowned as he turned Brian's hands over to inspect the damage; there were dozens of cuts and scrapes on each hand and up his forearms, each raw looking and oozing blood. "You call this a few cuts, your hands and arms look like hamburger here. Your hands are warm and red…they're becoming swollen…"
"Well, slamming them down on the desk didn't help much…" Brian stopped as Jim began to run his hands up each of Rafe's arms. "Uh, Jim, what are you doing?"
The frown never leaving his face, Jim asked. "Did they paramedics give you an antibiotic shot at the scene? Your arms are starting to swell, they feel warm to the touch." Giving the other detective a pointed look he asked, "Are you having any other symptoms?"
Rafe, unaccustomed to the 'blessed protector' routine, stammered. "Uh, well, I…uh, I do have a bit of a sick headache; feel a little dizzy and nauseous, thought it was because of the pain…and no, I don't think I got a shot, I really don't remember."
"No argument Brian, I really think you need to go the hospital." Jim said, quickly rewrapping his hands.
"Jim, you're making me a little nervous here…" Brian said with a weak chuckle.
"Then let's all feel better by getting you to the hospital. Now." Jim said grim faced.
Jim hustled Brian out of the bathroom and back into the bullpen, calling for Brown.
"Change of plans, Rafe *is* going to the hospital." Jim directed. "While the doc's have him in there cleaning those cuts have them do a blood test."
"A blood test?" Rafe and Henri exclaimed in unison.
"Rafe nothing gets infected that fast…especially since you were treated at the scene…now you're showing signs of a fast moving infection." Jim explained.
Brown nodded to Jim and grabbed up his and Rafe's jackets and hustled his partner out the door and to the elevator, calling back to Jim. "Tell Simon where we're going."
"Call as soon as you find out anything." Blair called after them.
"I don't know which is worse. Waiting in the ER for a doctor to tell you something or sitting here waiting for the phone to ring." Blair complained, sitting back and looking at the clock. "It's been almost two hours."
"He can't call if he doesn't know anything, chief." Jim said. "We'll give them another thirty minutes and give them a call if we haven't heard anything. I could use a break, how about you…I think there's a candy bar in the break room calling my name."
"Think I'll stick to my trial mix, thank you…least I know what's in it." Blair said.
"Yeah, great snack—if, you're a squirrel." Jim shot back, heading out to the break room.
On his way back from the break room he scooped up Rafe's ringing telephone as he passed by the detectives desk. "Detective Rafe's desk."
"Jim? This is Serena, Detective Rafe around?" the lab tech asked.
"He wasn't feeling well…"
"I thought he'd want to come down and see this." Serena continued, "I got the prelim tox screen back on his SVA victim from this morning…looking for the usual-- drugs, alcohol. What they found instead was a complex toxin the lab cannot even begin to identify."
"A toxin…poison?" Jim asked, sitting on the corner of Rafe's desk. "Are your saying that it wasn't the accident that killed her?"
"I'm saying that with what the girl had coursing through her bloodstream she was most likely dead before she hit that retaining wall."
"So, we're looking at a possible homicide." Jim stated. "Has she been identified yet?"
"According to what I have here she had an ID card in her wallet. Her name was Julie McCabe, twenty-seven, unmarried. She worked for Jamar Labs and Pharmaceuticals." Serena answered, turning pages in the file.
"So she could have come in contact with this poison at work?" Jim surmised.
"It's a possibility. But if that's the case then either that lab has a serious breach in protocol that needs to be addressed or she was a very careless worker…or…"
"Or she was murdered." Jim finished the sentence grimly.
Jim was starting to get an uneasy feeling about all this. "Serena, does the report say how the poisoned was introduced?"
"I've only got a preliminary report from the M.E. The body showed not signs of burning or lesions around the mouth, esophagus or nasal cavities so it appears it wasn't ingested or inhaled…so it was probably injected." Serena theorized.
"Which leads us back to murder." Jim said. "No one would intentionally inject themselves with a toxin. What about absorption…through the skin? Could it be a contact poison?" Jim asked, remembering Rafe's swollen hands and arms. "Were her hands and arms red or swollen
"Let's see, according the M.E.'s report the victims palms were extremely red and slightly swollen."
Dread took hold of the sentinel. "Where is that car?"
"Most likely the impound yard by now, why?"
"Have it brought to the lab…I'll bet you a weeks pay that somewhere in that car you'll come across the poison that killed her. And whatever you do don't let anyone near that car unless they are suited up." Jim said earnestly.
Although only hearing one side of the conversation Jim's sudden panic had Blair question worriedly, "Jim, you don't think…Rafe?"
"What's up Jim?" the lab tech asked.
"Rafe cut up his hands trying to help that victim this morning…by the time he got to work his hands and arms were swelling like they were infected and he was feeing ill." Jim explained.
"And you think…?" Serena cut her question off suddenly realizing time was of utmost importance on this case. "I'll get right on it. Jim, if Detective Rafe isn't all ready at the hospital he needs to be there now."
"That's where he was heading when he left here…you need to fax that tox report over to Cascade General…two labs can work faster than one. We need that toxin identified." Jim said.
Jim motioned Blair towards Simon's office. Understanding his intent, Blair went to inform the Captain of the situation as Jim hung up from Serena to redial Henri's cell number, "Brown. It's Jim. How's Rafe?"
Brown's tone was tight with worry. "Not good man. By the time we got here he he'd started running a fever and had a nosebleed. His arms hurt him so bad that he couldn't stand for the doctors to touch him. They had to sedate him. The took blood, trying to find the infection…"
"Henri, listen to me. It's not an infection. We think Rafe was poisoned…"
"That car accident victim this morning, toxicology came back…she had large amounts of an unknown toxin in her body. The lab hasn't been able to identify it yet, but the M.E. is pretty sure that's what killed her. Serena is faxing the victims tox report to the hospital so their lab can compare it to Rafe's blood sample." Jim explained quickly.
"How in the hell did Rafe come in contact with some poison?"
"Right now the theory is that is was some kind of contact poison, somewhere in the car. Serena's team is going to check out the car…"
"This isn't adding up to an accident is it?" Henri commented grimly.
"No, it looks like there is a good possibility that this is going to turn out to be homicide."
"You said the lab couldn't identify it…what if the hospital can't either." Brown exclaimed.
"The victim has been identified. We're going to go check out where she worked—a pharmaceutical company, name of JAMAR labs. Hopefully they will be able to ID the toxin." Jim said.
"But if that is where the toxin originated from…and this does turn out *not* to be an accident…." Brown trailed off.
"I know." Jim said with a knowing sigh, finishing Browns thought silently. 'We have to find the killer to find the antidote."
"Find the doctor, tell them to expect that tox report. Find out if they have anyone on staff who would be familiar with toxins, venoms…anything like that and have them work from that." Jim directed after a moments silence.
"I'm on it." Brown said. "What the…"
The sudden commotion coming from the other side of the doors caused Brown to lower his phone in confusion, forgetting his phone call.
"Code Blue. We have a code blue in exam four. Code blue." A harried voice came over the intercom.
"Henri? Henri, what's going on."? Jim questioned tightly, gripping the phone. "Henri?"
"He…Rafe…he's in exam room four…god, Jim, they just called a code." Brown gasped out.
"Damn." Jim hissed under his breath, extending his hearing into the exam room. "Stay with me Henri, don't hang up."
"….Intubated…critical, but stable…move to crit. Care ICU stat…round clock monitoring…rush on the lab work…." Jim heard the doctor report to his team.
Several moments later a grim faced doctor stepped into the waiting area, coming straight to Brown. "Detective Brown…"
"What happened? What's wrong?" He asked, lowering the phone.
"Your partner stopped breathing…we had to intubate. He is now on a respirator to help him breathe…"
"What are his chances?" Jim asked.
"Honestly, unless we can identify the toxin and give him the proper anti toxin in the next twenty four hours his chances are less than fifty-fifty. Right now the best we can do is treat him symptomatically and try to keep him stabilized until we nail down this toxin." The doctor reported. "We'll do everything we can."
Henri shook his head mutely. "We're moving Mr. Rafe to the critical care unit on the sixth floor. When he's settled you can sit with him for awhile."
Henri was pulled from his stupor by the tinny voice yelling for his attention. He raised the phone to his ear. "Jim…he…"
"I heard Henri, I heard." Jim said. "You sit tight, Blair and I are on it. We'll find that antidote."
"Hurry." Henri whispered as he ended the call.
While Jim and Blair raced to Jamar labs to question the staff, Simon dispatched haz-mat and forensics to the victim's apartment.
"As soon as the area is secured I want that placed searched top to bottom. Let's find out who wanted that girl dead." Simon ordered Joel and Meagan, adding. "Be extremely cautious, we still don't know what we're dealing with or where she came in contact with this…toxin."
As his detectives got up to leave the phone rang. "Banks. Serena, please tell me you have something for me. A what? Can you identify it? Okay, let the hospital know. Thanks."
Hanging up from the lab tech he turned to his expectant detectives. "It's a poison…a venom to be exact. It was on the steering wheel."
"So all we have to do is get the anti-venom, right." Meagan prodded hopefully.
"Not that easy. Serena says it's a combination of several venoms and something synthetic." Simon sighed heavily.
"So they're no closer to finding an antidote for Brian then?" Joel asked.
"Let's hope forensics finds something in her apartment…" Simon began.
"Or Jim and Sandy find our killer…" Meagan finished.
Without preamble Jim flashed his badge at the security desk of Jamar pharmaceuticals and demanded to speak with Julia McCabe's supervisor. Several moments later a tall, graying gentleman in lab coat met them at the desk.
"What is the meaning of all this commotion? A detective?" the man fired off questions. "Is something wrong? You mentioned Julie, she in some kind of trouble?"
"Sir, are you Ms. McCabe's supervisor?" Jim asked.
"Yes, Doctor Giles Markus, Julie works in my lab. Why? What is this all about?"
"Sir, is there someplace, more private, we can talk?"
They followed the man to the fourth floor, through a large lab and into a far office. Once seated the man asked again, "Why are you asking about Julie?"
"Sir, I'm detective Ellison, this is my partner, Blair Sandburg. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Ms. McCabe was killed this morning…"
"Killed?" the man gasped out in shock. "How?"
"She was in an automobile accident…but our M.E. thinks she was dead before she hit the retaining wall." Jim said pointedly.
"What…what exactly are you trying to say, detective? Did she or did she not die in an automobile accident?" Markus asked suspiciously. " Are you implying it was something else?"
Jim reached into his pocket and pulled a copy of the lab's tox report out of his jacket pocket. "This is the preliminary report from our M.E.'s lab. You tell me."
Doctor Markus reached into his pocket and pulled out his glasses before taking the report.
Jim and Blair waiting quietly while the doctor scanned the report. "This, was found… in Julie's system?"
"Yes sir. Can these…toxins… be found in your lab?" Jim asked casually.
Still stunned by the report he answered distractedly. "Yes, yes. We work with many kinds of animal venoms…but I don't understand. Julie doesn't work with any of the animals, she doesn't handle the venoms…she's an analytical chemist…"
"So you're saying she couldn't accidentally become exposed to any of these venoms?" Jim pressed.
Looking up from the report, Dr. Markus answered. "Absolutely not. We have very strict guidelines for working with dangerous substances; and we have emergency protocols in place for just such an event of accident or contamination. I assure you Julie McCabe was fine when she left this lab yesterday."
"Doctor Markus, can any of these venoms be delivered topically…through absorption? The M.E. didn't find any evidence of ingestion or inhalation…and so far no marks to suggest she was injected." Blair asked.
"Uh, yes, they could be delivered that way…you would need to add some sort of topical precursor…something to pull the venom into the skin. These venoms aren't dangerous unless they get into the bloodstream." The doctor responded, looking over the report.
"But they are animal venoms…of animals you have right here in your lab…so you could have the anti-venom then?" Blair asked.
The ringing of Jim's phone stopped the conversation. "Excuse me for a minute."
Walking out of the office Jim answered his cell. "Ellison."
"Jim. Simon. Serena's lab identified the toxin as a combination of several animal venoms. It was found coating the steering wheel of her car. Something else. When forensics got to her apartment they found it tossed."
"So this is definitely a homicide." Jim said. "We're at the lab now, with a Dr. Markus, he was just confirming that suspicion for us also. He says Julie Markus was fine when she left work yesterday…and that the victims' job never put her in contact with the venoms in question."
"Someone with access to that lab thought this girl had something worth killing her for. Forensics is dusting for prints now and Joel and Meagan are questioning the neighbors." Simon reported tightly. " We're running out of time Jim."
"I know Simon. We're going to check out all the employees who have access to the lab…we'll get back to you." Jim said.
"That was Simon. The lab just discovered they were animal venoms, also. They found it on her steering wheel." Jim said.
"On her steering wheel? Then someone did this to her on purpose?" Dr. Markus said.
"You said these are animal venoms. What about anti-venom serum?" Jim countered.
"We need to find out which species the venom came from…each animals venom is slightly different…the serum made specifically from the animals own toxin." Markus explained.
"How long will that take?" Jim snapped.
"It could take two to five days…"
"Jim." Blair said worriedly.
"Doctor, we don't have two days; maybe not even two hours…" Jim started.
"Why? Julie is dead…" Markus interrupted.
"We have a detective in the ICU, dieing from whatever this poison is that killed Julie McCabe. We need answers now." Jim ground out. "We need to talk to everyone who had access to this lab that knew the victim."
"Dear lord." The doctor gasped out. Quickly regaining his composure he took charge of the situation. "Have the hospital fax me over the blood work from the patient, I can't promise anything but maybe I can come up with something."
"Thank you doctor. While I call the hospital please set me up an area where we can question the other lab workers." Jim requested, adding. "Doctor Markus, please do no not inform your staff of our suspicions…leave it as a traffic accident until we have proof."
"Of course detective. I find it hard to believe anyone would want Julie dead." Markus agreed. "They'll be coming back from lunch soon, I'll set you up in the lounge down the hall."
Twenty minutes later a young, Asian looking woman came into the lounge, her eyes red-rimmed. "Is it really true? Julie's…dead. Dr. Markus said she was in an accident."
Blair led the distraught young woman to the couch and sat down next to her, handing her a tissue. "Julie was your friend?"
Looking up and taking the tissue the young woman responded. "Thanks. Yeah, she and I were friends…I just talked to her last night."
"Kwan. Me'Ling Kwan." The young woman provided.
"Miss Kwan, did Julie have any enemies, anyone that she had problems with or say anything about anyone bothering her?" Jim asked
"No. No one. She really didn't socialize much…didn't have a boyfriend." Me' Ling said quietly. "Well, her and Frank went out a couple of times a few months ago…"
"Frank Dobson. He's a lab tech, third year chemistry student at Rainer." Kwan said. "He's real good at what he does and isn't afraid to let anyone know it."
"Was the break up amicable?"
"I guess. They were only casually seeing each other so they really didn't break up."
"And you can think of no other problems she might have been having here at work?" Jim continued.
Me' Ling frowned at the question. "I don't know about problems…but she did seem preoccupied lately. She spent quite a few nights over the last two weeks working late."
"Was that unusual, for her to work late?" Jim prodded.
"No. Yes. Well, when we have a deadline, or are in last stage testing for FDA approval we all work round the clock but right now we are only involved in preliminary testing of animal venoms for pharmacological use."
"What happens after the preliminary testing phase?" Blair asked.
"If we get positive results we apply for funding to continue the project."
"Is this company the only one pursuing this line of research?" Blair asked.
"No. There are two other companies that have similar research in progress."
"So then whoever comes up with the best results the quickest can get the funding and FDA backing." Blair continued. "Doctor Markus told us Julie was an analytical chemist. Was it Julie's job to analyze the results of your labs testing and experiments?"
"Yes. She would take the results of initial testing and feed it into her computer…extrapolate possible outcomes…help keep our experiments going in the right direction."
"What if someone's experiments weren't going in the right direction? Could Miss McCabe stop an experiment?" Jim asked.
"Not alone, no. She would have to take it up with Doctor Markus or Doctor Spears. But they did value her judgment and relied heavily on her analysis."
"This is big business isn't it…if your lab got the funding, was the first to put something on the market as a result of the research from this lab." Jim questioned.
"The first person to market with a viable product could make the company billions of dollars and apply for the patent."
"And net themselves a pretty penny to boot." Jim agreed. "One more question. Did she keep all of her work here?"
"As far as I know… all her data should be in her computer."
"Did anyone else have access to her computer?" Blair asked.
"Yes and no. Her initial input and extrapolations of our experiments were password protected…but then she would transfer her findings to each persons file when she was done. She felt strongly about keeping the scientific integrity of the experiments in tact; sometimes a scientist can get so caught up in the experimentation process and the results they want to see that they don't see when a line of research is leading to a dead end."
"Thank you for your time Miss Kwan. You've been very helpful." Jim said. "We need a few minutes before we talk to the next person."
Blair helped the young woman up and saw her to the door.
"So you're thinking it's someone who doesn't like the results they're getting from her analysis?" Blair questioned.
"I'd say several billion dollars and the recognition of coming up with some break through drug would be a motive. Right now it's the best theory we have. Simon said her apartment was tossed, so someone was definitely looking for something. That toxin came from this lab…put on her steering wheel purposefully…we've got billions of dollars riding on the outcome of her work…"Jim mused.
"But Jim, it still doesn't add up… killing her doesn't change the results of an experiment…experiments are done over and over to validate them. Sooner or later the flaw would be caught anyway." Blair reasoned.
"Maybe, but what if she was ready to shut down someone's experiments, take them out of this loop. If she wasn't around to analyze the results then the killer would have the time to get the results they wanted, or skew the results in their favor long enough to get the funding. It's whoever is first, right, that gets this funding? So, you give the FDA the results they want to see, get the funding…." Jim surmised.
"Cut out your competition and then work to get the right results later when you have the time to really work on it." Blair finished. "Jim we're running out of time here; it could be any one of those people and we don't have time to do background checks not to mention it will take days for the lab to go through the data in her computer and tie it to one of the scientists."
"I know chief, we're fighting the clock on this one. Running checks and digging through all her computer data will take too much time " Jim puzzled. "We need a way to force their hand. Now, chief, if someone had questionable results of one of your experiments…"
"Providing the I didn't find what I was looking for at her apartment, I would want to get any evidence she had off the computer before the police got to it… can't know for sure whether a police lab would be able to make heads or a tails out of the data from the experiments, thus tying me to the murder." Blair finished Jim's thought, then continued with a frown, "But, Jim, now that she is dead they are all going to want into her computer to get their test results. How are we going to figure out which one…it could be more than one of them? And if she did have it at home the killer might all ready have the evidence."
"Wouldn't it look suspicious for some ones data to be totally missing from her files?" Jim mused aloud, chewing his lower lip. "The killer wouldn't want to erase it, just change it a bit."
"So, what, we wait and see who sneaks in to her office. Jim, we don't have that much time." Blair said in exasperation, pacing the lounge. "Besides, catching the killer doesn't guarantee an antidote."
"So we bait our killer, make them feel at ease...feel like they got away with--murder." Jim said running a hand over his face. "Now, it was made to look like Julie McCabe had a traffic accident…our killer wouldn't necessarily know a full lab work up would be done on an accident victim, so as far as they know it will be ruled an accident. In the shock and chaos of the next several days the killer was probably expecting to be able to find and change the lab results without suspicion since everyone would need in her computer to retrieve their results." Jim said.
"I don't see how that helps Rafe?" Blair said in confusion.
"We throw a wrench in their well laid plans; we tell them about Rafe!"
"What! Why?" Blair exclaimed. "How is that going to help us catch the killer or help Rafe?"
"Hear me out, here. Our killer knows how potent his poison combination is…knows the time frame for a fatal build up in some ones system." Jim said as if that explained everything."
"I'm following so far…" Blair prodded.
"If you thought you had just gotten away with murder would you want a cops death opening up a bigger investigation that would expose everything?" Jim asked. "We tell them the lab ruled that Julie died because of her accidental exposure to something in the lab, causing her fatal car accident; but, because of the accident a detective was also exposed and is in the ICU. We tell them if the neither lab can identifying the contaminate by morning we will have to start an official investigation into everything she came into contact with in the lab, and that all the workers need tested to rule out a spread of the contamination. We'll also mention that her computer will be confiscated for further analysis and comparison."
"So, what, we tell them and see who comes up with an antidote first? That's taking an awful big chance there, Jim." Blair questioned. "What if our killer is smart enough to know that the one who comes up with the antidote is the prime suspect in Julie's murder?"
"Let's hope they buy our story that it's being ruled an accident. If the killer thinks all he or she has to do to get away with murder and protect their work is to make sure the cop in the hospital doesn't die. If you've got a better plan chief, we don't have a lot of time and we don't have a lot of options." Jim replied.
Blair just shrugged his shoulders. "I know. I just hope it works."
"I'm going to call Simon and fill him in. You go have Doctor Markus round up all the lab employees and have them in the lounge in twenty minutes." Jim directed Blair, as he pulled out his cell phone.
Blair assembled the lab's seven employees in the lounge and Jim spent the next thirty minutes filling the lab employees in on their co-workers 'accident' and the suspicion of her 'careless' exposure to something in the lab.
"So, to ensure your safety, our lab will take blood samples and make sure you are all free of the contaminate and do a general sweep of the entire lab, and we would appreciate any information you can give our lab on the contaminate and what Ms. McCabe may have been working on at the time. Ms. McCabe's death is being ruled accidental; however, if Detective Rafe dies this lab and its employees may be facing manslaughter charges for the serious breach in protocol procedures in dealing with dangerous substances that ultimately contributed to Ms. McCabe's death" Jim finished his explanation to the assemble group of scientists and lab technicians. "Any questions?"
There were murmurs of understanding from the assembled crowd. "Good. Our lab techs are almost done with the sweep of the lab, if you all would just take a moment to allow the tech's to draw blood you can get on with your work. Sorry for any inconvenience."
Jim and Blair stepped out into the hallway while the technician's drew blood samples from the lab's employees'.
"So, Jim, did you pick up on anything?" Blair asked.
"Chief, they are all tense and stressed out over McCabe's death. I'm getting what I expect to get from a group of people who just found out a friend and co-worker died."
"I got through her password protections and downloaded everything from McCabe's computer…but it will take days to sort through this data." Serena reported coming out of the main lab. "We'll most likely have to compare these findings with what each of the scientists are working on at the moment, and for that we'll need a warrant."
"So what now?" Blair asked.
"The hardest thing of all, chief, we wait." Jim said grim faced.
For three tense hours, Blair hovered around the lab, watching as they all worked to identify the toxin that was killing Rafe, while Jim finished questioning the employees.
Throughout the rest of the afternoon, as Blair suspected would happen, each member of the team went into Julie McCabe's office to download their data from her computer."Are you sure you should be letting them in there like that?" Blair asked.
"Serena all ready downloaded all McCabe's data, besides we said it was an accident. If we try to stop them from getting to the computer it might arouse suspicion. I can understand the killer wanting to get in there as soon as possible, but the rest of them: even if it were all just an accident, isn't it kind of cold how they just go about their business." Jim groused. "There co-worker, and friend is dead!"
"This from Mr. Leave-Your-Feelings-At-the-Door Ellison."
"I'm a cop Sandburg, I'm supposed to 'leave it at the door' so I can do my job."
"Well, besides the fact that they may actually need the data to help find a cure for Rafe, they also have a job to do and some of these experiments may be time sensitive." Blair explained.
Doctor Markus met the two men's worried eyes and slowly shook his head. They followed the man into his office where he sat down heavily into his chair, taking his glasses from his face and pinching the bridge of his nose before saying, "I'm sorry gentlemen, we can identify two of the three poisons as snake venom but the synthetic substance is at least a day, maybe two, from being identified…I'm afraid without a closer match to the poison any anti-venom we give your detective will have little effect and may even make his condition worse."
"Jim!" Blair gasped worriedly.
"I'm sorry, but we won't have any more results to our tests for at least another twelve hours. I'm sending my people home, there's nothing more they can do tonight. I'm staying…to keep an eye on the tests." Markus continued tiredly.
"We're going to post a few officers in the lab and the lobby to make sure you aren't disturbed." Jim said.
Startled, the doctor asked. "You don't think the killer would try anything tonight do you?"
"We're not taking any chances with any one else's life or with finding an antidote." Jim stated, leaving out that the officer's were actually being posted to guard against the suspect getting back in the lab and stealing any evidence. "Have your people finish up and we will escort them from the building."
"Now what? No one had one bad thing to say about Julie or about any problems with any of the current experiments being done." Blair asked glumly, climbing into the truck and watching the lab employees go to their cars and pull out of the parking lot. "No one came up with anything. I thought for sure if the killer didn't come up with the antidote they would at least push a co-worker in the right direction of a cure."
"I know chief, it's frustrating. But our killer knows he's running out of time…"
"So isn't Rafe, man." Blair interrupted angrily. "What is it with you…Rafe is dieing and all your interested in is making an arrest."
"That's not true, chief." Jim shot back. "Listen, our killer passed up the chance to come up with the serum in the lab, even though we kept them updated on Rafe's condition; and they know our lab is no closer to finding the cure…"
"Yeah, so?" Blair said sullenly.
"But they still have to make sure Rafe lives to get away with the crime."
"I know all this Jim?" Blair questioned irritably with a wave of his hands.
"So! If you can't come up with the antidote without giving yourself away and you can't wait for your colleagues to figure out your formula how would you get it to the victim?" Jim asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jim's thoughts soon became Blair's. "You think the killer might go to the hospital and try to administer it himself?"
"It's about the only option left to our killer."
Walk purposefully; act like you belong…wearing the lab coat didn't hurt matters either. The figure didn't hide in the shadows but went right to the nurses station and asked for the chart which was given with little fuss, after all, hospitals were full of residents and interns, the nursing staff can't be expected to keep up with all of them.
The figure stopped momentarily in front of ICU bay number six…listening to the hiss and beeps of the monitors. A hand reached into the lab coat pocket and fingered a syringe. Finally, with a sigh and a squaring of the shoulders the figure entered the dimly lit cubicle.
"I'm so sorry…no one was supposed to get hurt." The figure whispered. "She just wouldn't let it go--she knew, not just did the team and the company need those results, I did too. Even if the funding came through someone was being cut from the team. I didn't want to kill her… we'll get you all fixed up and this just all goes away like a bad dream."
The figure stood for a moment longer, staring at the pale man laying in the bed, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out the syringe. "You should be all right now. I'm sorry you had to wait so long, but I couldn't leave before now…couldn't afford to draw any suspicion…" the figure emptied the syringe into the IV line.
The figure put the syringe back in his pocket and turned to leave when two large shadows appeared in the doorway. "What…" he exclaimed, stepping backwards.
"Now we only have to charge you with one murder instead of two." A familiar voice ground out as one of the men stepped from the shadows.
"Uh, detective Ellison, what are you doing here?"
"Arresting a murderer."
"Murderer? What are you talking about…I came because I identified the toxin and was able to formulate the serum to save the officer's life."
"Doctor Markus told us just hours ago that the lab couldn't come up with a serum…couldn't even identify all the components of the toxin for at least two days, how did you suddenly come up with it?"
"I'm very good at what I do." The man said defensively.
"That's not what Julie McCabe thought." Jim said, advancing on the killer. "She had all kinds of interesting things on her computer…"
"No. She…you, you couldn't know what was on her computer…"
"Why not…because you erased it this afternoon. Not before we had a chance to download all her data and have it analyzed at our lab." Jim said, nodding towards the bed he continued, "I hope you're as good as you claim you are Mr. Dobson because killing a cop is a capital offense."
"Get him out of here." Jim said grabbing Dobson's arm and pulling the empty syringe out of his pocket before handing him off to the two waiting uniforms standing in the hall.
Henri had all ready moved passed Jim to stand by his partner's bed. "I hope he's right."
"I'm taking this to the lab, so they can verify its contents."
The night was the longest anyone could remember as the men and women of major crimes paced the small confines of the ICU waiting area for news of Rafe's condition.
The captain had given up hours ago trying to get his officers to go home.
At six fifty a.m. the inner ICU doors opened and a tired looking doctor stepped out to a swarm of detectives and a deluge of worried questions.
Holding up his hands for quiet the doctor let out a sigh and said, "Mr. Rafe is showing signs of improvement. The venom is breaking down and his vitals are stabilized. If he continues to improve at this rate he should be out of the woods in the next six hours."
Letting out a sigh, Simon smiled and shook the doctor's hand. "Thank you doctor, that is great news."
Looking over the assembled crowd the doctor said pointedly. "There is nothing more to be done right now…your friend is stable…so I suggest you all go home and get a few hours of rest." Smiling he continued, "Don't want you scaring my patient when he wakes and sees this surely mob."
They all laughed and shook the doctors hand thanking him.
Calling after the retreating group the doctor called. "Visiting hours aren't until four pm. I don't wont to see any of you before then."
24 hours later
"So Dobson tried to make it look like a car wreck by coating her steering wheel with venom…figured it would be ruled an accident, he'd remove her latest analysis of his experiments, that were showing he was manipulating the data, and no one would be the wiser." Jim explained. "He never counted on anyone else becoming infected."
"All this over some science experiment?" Rafe questioned weakly from his bed.
The detective had improved markedly over the last twenty four hours and had been moved to a regular room.
"These experiments could lead to millions of research dollars and his research wasn't panning out. He was going to lose his place on the team and maybe even his grants at school if it got out he was being unethical." Blair said.
"Unbelievable." Rafe said with a shake of his head. "Well, when do I get sprung from this place?"
"Soon, partner, soon." Brown laughed, patting his friend on the shoulder. "I even saved all your paperwork for you."
"But I'm injured…just at death's door, and you expect me to do paperwork?" Rafe exclaimed melodramatically, holding up his bandaged hands.
"What this boy won't do to get out of his fair share of reports." Henri laughed.
Note: the idea for this story came from an old TV series from the 70's, …anyone guess which show????? I only have the vaguest of ideas how animal venoms work from watching TLC and the Discovery channel. I do know that each venom and anti-venom is specific to each species and one can't be substituted for another, no matter how similar the venom type/effect. I also have no real clue how pharmaceutical testing works. Just suffice it to say much creative license was taken in writing this piece of fiction