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Red and blue lights flashed in annoying circles against the brick walls as police officers moved around to investigate. Some were taking pictures of the blood dripping down the walls, others were taking evidence from the bodies. Paramedics were sealing up the two bloody bodies and a crowd of onlookers were talking quietly behind the yellow tape.

"Wow. Your partner did this?" young Officer Dilly asked with wide eyes.

Jaxx didn't answer, but instead nodded absently. He stopped down to the ground and examined the tires of Sonya's motorcycle. They were slashed from a jagged cord that brought the bike to a sudden stop. Next to the bike, Sonya's keycard and wallet were scattered on the ground. But the young blonde lieutenant was nowhere to be found.

"Do you think she's alive?" Dilly asked hesitantly.

"Of course she is," Jaxx snapped as he stood. "She said there were three people, so one must have escaped on foot. She chased after him, I'll bet." There was a loud chirp from his belt. He unhooked his phone and checked the number. It was marked unlisted.

"Major Briggs," he said carefully as he pressed the end button.

"Jaxx, well it's about freaking time. Where have you been?"

Jaxx sighed with relief. "Damn it, Lieutenant, you scared the hell out of me. Where are you?"

"I'm hiding out for right now."


"I'll tell you later. I don't think it's very safe at the moment. I'll come by the hotel sometime tomorrow."

Jaxx held his breath for a moment. "Is someone after you?"

"Possibly. And I think there may be a leak in the station. I followed one the men who attacked me to a hidden room and he informed two others that I'm not an actress, so they know I'm working undercover." In the background, Jaxx heard a loud scream. "Shit! I'll call you back." Sonya abruptly hung up.

"Sonya! Shit."

"Something wrong Major?"

Jaxx turned and looked at Spekly, who seemed slightly out of breath.

"Where have you been?"

"Ah, situation with my mother."

Jaxx stared at him. "You're mother lives here?" he asked flatly.

"No. My sister was in an accident, and she's suffering from some very bad injuries. Mother's afraid that by the time I'm done this case. well, anyway, she wanted me to drop it. Then my sister got on the phone. She's going to be fine." Spekly turned and surveyed the scene. "So," he said, clapping his hands together and rubbing them. "What have we got here?"


"Hatchet! Look." Colt pointed to the wall. There was a bloodstain, in the print of a hand. "I think we found him."

Hatchet nodded. He peeked around the hall. Small pools of blood and an occasional handprint on the wall led down to the last room on the left. He jerked his head, and they began their way down.

"Looks like you got him good." Colt smiled under his mask. It was good to be back in the assassination business again. He tossed his hand up to halt Hatchet, pointed to his ear, and pointed to the room. Inside, there was heavy breathing, and a muffled groan. Slowly, they each took a side of the door, and Hatchet moved in first. Inside the room was a combination of pool chemicals, a stack of towels, a couple of lawn chairs, and a box of tools. There was also a shower curtain pulled across a corner of the room, and it moved slightly.

Hatchet used two fingers to point to the curtain, held up a third finger, and counted down. When he made a fist, they both fired. Loud groans surrounded the gun fire, and a body fell through the curtain and onto the floor. Hatchet and Colt stopped firing and moved toward the bloody corpse.

"Fuck!" Colt shouted. "Hammer!" The fellow gang member stared up at the two men blankly, a long piece of duck tape surrounding his mouth. His hand and feet were bound behind him.

"Shit, where-" Hatchet didn't finish as he was knocked to the floor. Colt turned and Johnny kicked his gun into the air, turned, and caught it. He removed the clip, thanks to the lessons from Sonya, and tossed it through the window, cracking the glass. Twirling the M-16, these guys were serious, Johnny thought, he used the end of it to smash it into his opponent's face. He went down with a yelp. Johnny was swept, and he also fell with a yelp. The gun was kicked from his hand before bullets began blowing up the tiles next to him.

"Shit!" Johnny rolled backwards and kicked his feet up into Hatchet's stomach, knocking him off balance. When Johnny landed, he spun around and his heel connected into Hatchet's face, cracking his jaw.

"Augh!" Johnny moved closer to the stumbling foe, grabbed his shirt, and gave him an uppercut that shattered his jaw. Shifting his weight, Johnny brought Hatchet's leg up, wrapped his arm around it, and snapped it at the kneecap. Hatchet screamed, fell, and rolled on the ground, moaning like a child. Johnny only had a moment to stare before he was tackled. The two men struggled, but Johnny was stronger. He was able to pin Colt to the floor, and was ready to knock him out when there was another gunshot. Johnny collapsed on top of Colt, bleeding from the cut near his temple. Colt rolled the actor off and chopped down on the back of his neck.

Johnny grunted as colors flashed behind his eyes. After a bit of effort, he rolled on his back.

Colt reached behind him, and pulled out a knife. He spun it around his fingers, brandished it over Johnny's stomach, and thrust down.

Johnny watched through blurred eyes as the knife came at him, and nearly pierced his heart if not for another stopping him.

"No. No time. We have to go."

Colt looked angry. "Come on, just a minute. I want to ruin this little fuck. It's been a while since I've mangled someone's face."

"The fire will be enough torture for him. Let's tie him down so he can't get out."

"No! Damn it, Larson, he killed-" A gun was thrust in his face.

"I'll kill you if you don't help me tie him up. Now."

Larson chewed his lip, but complied. Johnny could feel himself being dragged across the floor; his wrists were seized and tied behind a pipe. His legs were bound at the ankles and above the knees.

"Sorry, mate, but we just don't trust ya." Larson patted Johnny's cheeks and stood. "I planted the evidence, let's go." He turned and walked out.

Colt knelt by Johnny, the knife still flashing in the moonlight. "I'd love to stay a play, but we gotta blow." He laughed. "Actually, you're the one who's gonna blow. Have a nice trip to hell." He moved to stand, but stopped and knelt again. "Oh, just to make sure you don't try any more of this MacGyver shit." He threw the knife into Johnny's thigh.

Johnny screamed as the blade tore his flesh and muscle, and nearly passed out as Colt turned it a few times before tearing it out.

"See ya'round, buddy." He rose, turned, and walked through the door.

"Mwat! 'olt!" Johnny noticed Hatchet struggling toward the door.

Colt paused and looked at his comrade.

"Colt! Move out! That's an order!" The stealth black-clad man looked down the hall then back to Hatchet.

"Sorry, Hatchet. Looks like you've been given a new assignment. Keep Cage company while he goes up in smoke." With that, he ran.


Up above, the numbers ticked past 5:00.


"No, 'ont eve ie heuh!" Hatchet crawled across the floor, his snapped leg dragging across the floor behind him.

Johnny felt sorry for him, even though he tried to kill him. He called out to him as he pulled at his bonds. "Hey."

Hatchet didn't respond.

"Hatchet, wasn't it?"

" 'uck ou!!" Johnny groaned slightly as a throbbing began in his head.

"Hatchet. They're gone. They left you."

Hatchet moaned. "I 'ont anna aie." He continued to moan, nearly sobbing.

Johnny's eyes widened in disbelief. Here was a guy who tried to kill him, used guns, knives, and by the sound of it, explosives, and he was afraid to die?! The irony. He suddenly picked up on Hatchet's odd moans. They were a single word, being chanted like a mantra. It sounded like Elly.

"Hey. Who's Elly?"

Hatchet turned his head and looked at him. " 'uck ou!" he shouted again.

"Hey, Pal, I'm just trying to be nice here! You're the one who tried to kill me, remember? And now you're whining like some beaten pup because you got involved with the wrong people!"

"I uh ou air?"

Johnny took a minute to translate. "I care because I think if we work together, we can both get out of here."

Hatchet moaned again. "Elly."

"She your girlfriend?" No response. "Bet you wanna see her again, huh?" Still no answer. Johnny sighed. "I got a girl too, and I want to see her again. So whadda ya say we get out of here, and I'll treat all four of us to lunch."

Hatchet seemed to mutter some obscenities.

"Uh, once we get that jaw fixed." Johnny winced. "Sorry about that."

"Ou 'ont et it! Ell ill ie! Anuh ou!"

Johnny frowned. Kill me? "Who? Who'll kill us?"

Hatchet tried to answer, but a coughing fit cut him off.

Another groan escaped Johnny's lips as his wrists started to bleed from being rubbed raw. Damn. "Hatchet, listen. If you help me get loose, I'll take you someplace safe. If you save my life, I'll protect yours. I swear it."

Hatchet seemed to hesitate.

"Please, Hatchet. You can't get out of here on your own, and I can't get free on my own. Help me, and I'll get you out." Johnny held his breath. Pleased don't let this guy's loyalty be the end of us. "You don't want Elly to get a letter saying her boyfriend is dead, do you?"

Moments passed in heavy silence. Johnny sighed and leaned his head against the cold metal of the pipe. It looked like he wouldn't be getting into work tomorrow. Something scrapped the floor. Then again. A third time. Johnny opened his eyes to see Hatchet dragging himself across the floor toward him.

"That's it, Hatchet." Three feet away. "Come on, you're almost there." Two feet. "A little closer!" One foot. Then Hatchet brushed against his legs, and there was a knife hacking away at the cords holding Johnny down. In a few moments, Johnny was completely free.

"All right, yes!" Johnny whispered. He carefully rose to his feet, mindful of his recent leg injury. Positive that he could walk on it, he pulled Hatchet up, draped his arm over his shoulder, and began to carry him out. They walked down the hall, and Johnny carried him out to the garage. There, he helped him into the '01 Subaru Outback. When he was all the way in, Johnny shut the door, and moved to the front, jumped into the driver's seat, put the key in the ignition, then dropped his head against the steering wheel.

"Having the keys would help." He pushed himself out of the door and ran back into the house. He raced up to the living room and practically tore the room apart.

"Where did I leave them?!" Johnny yelled as he raced up the stairs. "Shit, I wish I learned how to hot wire a car!" He ran into his bedroom and looked at his bed. Then he froze. Something was ticking. He turned and looked at the bedside dresser. There was a little black box with red numbers turning past 1:00. I minute to detonation.

"Shit!" Johnny quickly moved to the bed and checked his tossed shirt and jacket. He felt inside his pockets, and heard a jingling. "Yes!" He moved toward the door, when he noticed a letter on the floor. It was in Nise's handwriting. He hesitated, and ran out the door. His feet pounded down the stairs and he nearly dislocated his shoulder as he used the railing to turn himself toward the garage. He burst through the door, jumped through the window into the driver's seat, and started the car. He clicked for the garage door to go up. Then he floored it. The tires screeched as he tore out of the garage. Behind them, the house expanded in a large ball of fire that left absolutely nothing but shattered glass, blackened metal, and burnt wood.

"This is definitely not one of my better days."


Sonya rushed from the kitchen, her gun drawn, and she burst into the bedroom. Kaoru screamed again when she saw Sonya. She dodged under her covers. Sonya quickly looked about the room.

"Kaoru?" she asked cautiously, stepping toward the terrified girl. "Kaoru?"

"Go away! I want my father!" Sonya's heart sank. Walking around the side of the bed, she sat on the floor, keeping her gun ready.

"Kaoru. Honey, we need to talk." The girl continued to sob. "Kaoru?"

"Who was he? That bad man who had his face coming off?"

"That wasn't your father, honey. That was a thief, who wants something that belongs to you."

"Where's my father?" Sonya sighed.

"Your father is gone. I'm sorry." Kaoru became silent. Her head moved out from under her covers. Red rimmed and full, her eyes pleaded at Sonya to say it wasn't true. Sonya shook her head. "I'm so sorry."

Kaoru bowed her head as sobs wracked her small frame. "Who are you?" she managed to choke out.

"My name is Sonya. I'm a member of the United States Special Forces unit. I help protect people, and I put bad people in jail."

"Are you going to protect me?"

Reaching her hand out to brush some of the blonde hair from Kaoru's face, she nodded. "Yes. I'm going to be with you all the time until we can get you safely back to your grandparents in Japan."

Kaoru flinched from Sonya's touch. "How do I know I can trust you?"

Uh, oh. Sonya took a deep breath. "You don't, Kaoru. I know I can show you my badge, and my personal records, and even my pay stub from the military, but for you it could all be a lie. So, the only thing you can do is have faith in me."

Kaoru's sobs quieted a bit. Her small hand brushed away a stray bang before moving to the bandage on Sonya's arm. "You got hurt."

"It's nothing," Sonya shrugged.

"You got hurt because of me."

"Well, I certainly wasn't going to let you take the brunt of the fall." She noticed Kaoru's eyes become confused, so she changed her words. "I was not going to let you get hurt."

The little girl nodded, more tears streamed from her eyes, and she wiped them away. Then she pulled off the covers and moved off the bed to stand in front of the kneeling lieutenant. Her little lips trembled, her shoulders were shaking, and suddenly she wrapped her arms around Sonya's neck. She cried into her shoulder, and Sonya just sat there, stunned at the sudden trust the child gave her.

Many minutes passed before Kaoru became quiet. Sonya's fingers ran through her hair as she spoke. "You're going to be ok, honey. Everything will get better."

Kaoru sniffled. "I know. It will get better faster if I get something to eat."

Sonya looked down at the girl. She was smiling through her red eyes. "You're hungry? Why didn't you say something sooner?" Moving to her feet, she helped Kaoru up and they moved off to the kitchen.

Sonya was floored. For a seven year old, she ate more than Jaxx after a workout. Two bowls of dry cereal, eggs, pancakes with the works, and a half a bag of pretzels for dessert. Sonya just helped herself to a cup of instant coffee as she watched the girl chow down. They talked for a little while, about anything that came to mind. Sonya needed her trust, and she was willing to work for it. And even though she knew nothing about them, Sonya listened with a smile to everything Kaoru said about the Power Rangers. If Jaxx could see her now.

Kaoru was in the middle of describing Princess Tatsuko, a legendary girl in the town where her grandparents lived, when she began yawning every two minutes. Sonya checked her watch. It was after one. Time for bed.

"Ok, sweetheart, I'm tired. You tired? I'm tired." Sonya stretched and yawned herself. "I think it's time for bed."

Kaoru nodded, yawned, and nodded again. Dragging herself from her chair, she walked back to her room with Sonya behind her. The beautiful blonde lieutenant pointed out where her room was, and told Kaoru to get her if she needed anything. She tucked the girl in, wished her sweet dreams, and left the room.

Sonya stretched again and looked at herself. She was still in the black and white jean suit she had worn from the gym. Her face fell into a frown. Nothing to change into. Oh well. Then there was a low rumble. Sonya froze. It was the garage door opening. Johnny's here? Always wary, Sonya pulled her gun and waited by the door leading into the garage. Two doors slammed shut from inside, and there was a lot of groaning. The door opened, and Sonya pointed her gun at the half unconscious man who came in.



"Johnny?" She moved her head around to see the actor carrying this guy into the house.

"Gimme a hand, huh?" Sonya placed her gun in her belt and held up the open side of the stranger's body. They carried him over to the couch.

"Who's this?"

"A member of your gang that's after the girl." Sonya glanced at him in disbelief, but kept her focus mainly on the guy. She tore off his mask.

"My God." The man couldn't be more than eighteen. Such a young life already ruined by a bad influence. She checked his pulse and examined his wounds.

"Damn. What happened?"

"He and another group of people tried to kill me," Johnny called from the bathroom. "They blew my house, and this guy saved my life."

Saved his life? Sonya's eyebrow arched. "We have to get him to the station. Jaxx will put him in custody. Maybe we can use him as a testimony to Balford and the group."

"That's assuming he knows anything. But Sonya, I just brought him here, he's in a lot of pain. Can't we just wait-"

"Absolutely not. He's apart of the group trying to get Kaoru. Keeping him here is putting her in danger." She walked over to the kitchen and pulled out a phone. "I'll call Jaxx and tell him you're on bringing him to the station."

"What?!" Sonya looked up at Johnny's sharp reply.

"I'm not leaving this assassin here with Kaoru in the other room, and I can't leave you with her because she doesn't know you."

"Why can't we just let him stay for the night?"

Sonya couldn't believe it. "Are you fucking high?!" Johnny came out of the bathroom, and for the first time, Sonya noticed his bloody appearance.

"Sonya, I was just attacked. I've been shot twice, and I had a knife tossed into my leg. I'm hurt, I'm tired, my house exploded, and I would just like to go to bed." He moved his arms in a gesture of defeat, his eyebrows rose as he stood with the accent of finality.

"That's right," she snapped, "Everything's about you. Who cares if we have a man in our house apart of a group trying to take over the country after they rip off a couple billion from a seven year old girl and then dump her in a bay somewhere. Yeah, sounds wonderful. I guess I should follow your motto of 'fuck everything' and get a couple of beers and a can of peanuts while I sit down and watch a football game with our new pal." Her hands danced about in the air as she talked before they slapped against her pants. "Yep, there's the answer to all my problems right there! Next I'll be sleeping with you. Oh, no wait, that won't happen. You know why? Because you suck!"

Johnny stared at her with no emotion whatsoever. He disappeared into the bathroom and came out a moment later with a small blue box.

"Midol?" Sonya nearly screamed as she stormed into the kitchen. When Johnny walked in, she was talking on the phone.

"No, I'm fine. There was something I had to deal with. Anyway, yeah, I have a member taking a nap in the living room. I can't leave for reasons I don't want to disclose on the phone, and Johnny's too busy fixing his hair in the bathroom." Johnny's eyebrow arched as he leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. Sonya's eyes caught his, and she could tell he wasn't amused.

"Yeah, can you come over? Hang on a second." She put the phone away from her ear for a minute. "What's the address?"

Johnny remained silent. He stared at her, almost as if there was something bothering him about Jaxx coming over. Then he gave her the directions.

"Thanks, Jaxx. And don't tell anyone about this address. I trust no one. See you soon." She hung up and walked for the living room. Johnny blocked her. She glared at him. "Do you mind?"

"No, I don't. I rather enjoy being in your way."

"And I rather enjoy target practice with live targets." Johnny didn't react. Sonya was really getting pissed.

"Get out of my way or I'll break a rib. Possibly two."

"What are you so pissed about?"

"You, now move."

"No." Sonya stared at him, her brown green eyes flashing.

"Is there something you want, Johnny?" He didn't answer. Surprisingly, she smiled. "I think you want something. And I think I know what it is."

"Oh, I doubt that."

Her voice dropped dangerously low. "Oh?" She moved closer to him, pushing her face up mere inches from his. "I don't." Johnny nearly jumped out of his skin when her hands suddenly pressed onto his hips. Her body moved into his, and she licked her lips as her breath mingled with his. "Am I getting close?" she whispered huskily.

Johnny's arms unfolded and his hands moved around her waist. "I think you can get closer." Sonya chuckled softly and tipped her head up. Johnny's eyes closed as he leaned down. His could feel the very tip of her lips. and suddenly the room flipped as Sonya lifted him at the waist and tossed him over her shoulder.

"SONYA!" He would have struggled if he wasn't so shocked. Sonya carried him across the room and tossed him down on the recliner. He sat there, mouth agape as Sonya stretched.

"So baby," she moaned carefully. "Was it good for you? It was great for me." She winked at him before walking over to the man unconscious on the couch.

Johnny wasn't going to let her get off that so easily. "So," he said cockily. "How much do I owe you?"

Sonya smiled slightly but didn't let Johnny see it. Instead, she focused on the man's injuries. Her hands moved down to his broken leg. "How about a towel, some warm water, and some rope or thin strips of cloth. And something to bite on. Oh, chocolate would be helpful, too."

Johnny got to his feet and disappeared into the kitchen. "Getting kinky, are we?"

"You want it kinky, it'll cost you extra." Johnny's head poked out from the side, and he blinked. Is she really playing off me? A few moments later, he came out with a plastic bowl filled with water, a towel, and a big wooden spoon. He left them at Sonya's side. He marched to the closet, pulled out a set of sheets, and tore them down into long strips, as Sonya had asked. When he returned, Sonya was already pressing the towel to his head. He began to stir. The boy tried to speak, but Sonya stopped him.

"Shh. I'm going to help you. I need you to bite on this." She put the spoon to his mouth.

"I don't think that'll work, Sonya. I, uh, really busted up his jaw." Sonya looked at Johnny, her eyes reflecting annoyance, and she moved her hands around the boy's jaw. He groaned and hissed in pain.

"Yep, you completely destroyed his jaw, Johnny. Good job. Now if I try to fix his leg, he'll scream, wake up Kaoru, and the scare the living hell out of here." Johnny took the towel and put it into the boy's mouth.

"Sorry, Pal. I promise this'll only take a moment." The boy nodded, and Sonya moved to his leg. She looked at Johnny, who nodded. Her hands rested carefully on the boy's leg. Without warning, she gripped his leg and yanked it to the right. He screamed into the towel as she moved his leg again, finally getting it into place. She used a nearby hardcover book as a firm support as she made a splint with the stripes of bed sheets. When she finished, he had passed out.

"Better that way," she muttered. Bright lights caught her attention in the driveway. "Jaxx is here." She got up.

"Wait." She looked at Johnny, and suddenly there was a Snickers Bar in her hand. "Extra tip for an extra trip," he smiled. Sonya smiled back and went outside to greet her partner.

Johnny stayed inside and he dipped the towel in the water. He pressed it to the teenager's head. "Don't worry. Sonya and the others'll take good care of you." Jaxx came inside.

"Hey, Johnny. Wow, what the hell happened to you?"

"Good to see you to, Jaxx. It's a long story."

"That him?" Jaxx moved closer and checked him over. He removed all the concealed weapons on his body before he tore the boy's left sleeve all the way up to the shoulder. "Yep. Black dragon. He's a member." Johnny noticed the tattoo of a black dragon with red eyes.

"I'll take him down now. We'll keep him locked up until we get a lawyer, and you can question him tomorrow." Sonya nodded.

"What about his injuries?" Johnny asked.

"I'll have a doctor come in and check it out. Now, if we're done here," Jaxx yawned. "I'm going, he's coming with me, and then I'm going back to the hotel and not getting up again until 10 tomorrow." He kneeled by the couch and draped the boy across his shoulders.

"Thanks Jaxx."

"Don't worry, I'll just add it to the tab. You coming back to the hotel, Sonya?" She hesitated before answering.

"I can't. I need to stay here tonight. I'll explain tomorrow." Jaxx smiled slightly as he looked from Sonya to Johnny.

"Have fun," he joked. Johnny laughed; Sonya shot daggers from her tired eyes. Jaxx got the hint and headed for the door.

"Ok, I'll see you two tomorrow." Johnny got the door.

"I'll fill you in tomorrow," Johnny whispered.

"Johnny!" Jaxx chuckled as he left.

Johnny stretched. "Well, I'm beat. I'm going to bed." He flashed her a seductive smile. "Can I give you a lift?" Johnny's smile faded as a pillow flew into his face. When he looked again, Sonya had already shut the door in her room.

"Hey, I paid for a full night!" He turned out the lights as he walked to his room. "Man, that's the last time I pre-pay for anything," he grumbled as he shut the door behind him.