“Kurt, what are you doing here?” Anne asked as the German walked over to her bed.

“Someone needed to watch over you, and I volunteered,” Kurt said. The simple statement brought an unwanted heat to Anne’s cheeks. Damn drugs, they always screwed with her.

“I’m sorry about Erik,” Anne said, “I think he saved me somehow. I hated him so much, but then he…” Kurt’s arms were around her as the tears started down her cheeks. She wanted to hate Erik so much, and then he gave his life to protect her from the bomb that destroyed her apartment and killed one of her neighbors.

“Don’t, Anne,” Kurt said, in a low, soothing tone, “Erik’s alive. Veronica and Samantha are busily putting him back together.”

“How?” Anne choked out as her mind grappled with the news.

“That’s a good question, and none of us have a good answer,” Kurt answered, “He just appeared at the safehouse very badly injured. If Veronica hadn’t discovered him, I doubt he would have survived more than a few minutes.”

“It’s like ten miles from my house to your place,” Anne said, “How did he get all the way to the house?”

“Veronica and Samantha were asking the same thing when I left,” Kurt said, “Don’t worry, I’m sure he will be just fine in their care. And you will be just fine under my care.” Anne let out a strangled chuckle.

“You must be Mr. Schneider,” Jason McMurtry said, walking into the room. Anne’s grip tightened on Kurt’s arm as the detective investigating the bombing walked in.

Ja, that would be me,” Kurt said cheerfully, “How can I help you, Detektiv?”

“I have some questions for you about your involvement with Detective Hearst,” Jason answered nonchalantly, “I’m just trying to nail down the timeline of events. Do you have a few minutes?”

“I would love to speak with you,” Kurt answered, not missing a beat, “Would tomorrow morning at nine be convenient?”

“What about now?” Jason asked, “Sooner we get this done, the sooner we can find who tried to kill Detective Hearst.”

“As much as I admire your desire to find the Schurke, tomorrow morning would be the earliest I could talk with you,” Kurt answered. Jason looked like he was going to press Kurt harder, but stopped when he saw Anne’s face.

“Mr. Schneider, can I ask you to step outside for a moment?” Jason asked, “I need to speak with Detective Hearst alone for a moment.”

“Of course, I will be just outside,” Kurt said and strode out the room. As soon as the German closed the door, Jason’s professional demeanor disappeared.

“Who the hell is this guy, Anne? Don’t bullshit me,” Jason said, clearly annoyed.

“He helped me out the other night, and then I went out to brunch with him and some of his friends,” Anne answered. Jason studied her face.

“Did you sleep with him?” Jason asked.

“No! Not that’s it’s any damned business of yours,” Anne shot back.

“You’re holding something back, Anne,” Jason said, “I’m trying to figure out if it’s something pertinent to the investigation.” His features softened. “Look, have you thought that maybe this guy’s appearance isn’t just a coincidence?” Anne studiously kept quiet.

“Anne, I’ve got a dead body in the morgue because of this mess. You know you can trust me. If it’s not related to the case, it won’t go into any report. If it is, and you don’t tell me, I’ll have you for accessory after the fact,” Jason warned. He waited for a long moment. With a frustrated grunt, he stormed out of the room.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Detektiv,” Kurt called back as he came back into the room. His cheerfulness melted into concern as he saw Anne’s face. “What’s the matter, Anne?”

“I got a woman killed today, and Erik almost killed,” Anne answered, “I became a cop to protect people, not get them killed.” Thankfully, Kurt didn’t protest or try to make her feel better. He just held her hand as she sobbed herself to sleep.


The room was black when Erik’s eyes snapped open. He immediately knew two things. First, Sam was in the room with him. Second, he hurt. The dull throbbing seemed to come from every part of him. Well, pain was something Erik had dealt with before. There were too many things that needed to be done to let pain get in the way. Erik made a slight move to get up and stopped. He nearly screamed as waves of sharp pain wracked his body.

“Serves you right,” Sam said, with a familiar mix of concern and annoyance. “You need to rest.” A dim light filled the room and Sam’s face hovered over him.

“I’m at the safehouse,” Erik said. It wasn’t a question.

“It’s a good thing too,” Samantha said, “You nearly died, Erik. Again.” He felt the weight of that last word.

“I promise, I wasn’t looking for it,” Erik said.

“Damn it, I wish I could read your mind and know if that’s true,” Sam replied.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard you say that,” Erik said. The fact that they couldn’t read each other was part of what had sparked their friendship back at the Academy. They were each other’s refuge from the rage of thoughts and emotions surrounding them.

“I spent too long helping you put yourself back together after all that nastiness with the Commandant Affair. And Anya,” Sam said, “I am not going to lose my best friend to his own darkness.” Erik wanted to reach out to her. Any movement hurt too much. Samantha gave him a tired look and stood up.

“I told Veronica I’d wake her when you came around,” Sam said, walking to the door. She stopped at the door and turned back. “I know you think she’s too green for this op, but that girl just saved your life. I didn’t even think it was possible for someone on this side of the gate to pull that much magic without a bargain. Would you do us all a favor and try to be nicer to her?”

“I’ll try,” Erik croaked. “Sam?”

“Yes?” she asked, giving him a wary look.

“You did put me back together. I wasn’t looking for death,” Erik said, “That bomb just surprised the hell out of me.”

“Then why did you drag yourself all the way over here instead of calling us? Or even wait for the paramedics?” Sam demanded.

“I didn’t,” Erik said. “I was gated here.”