"Did he fall for it?"

Henri Brown was perched on the edge of Maldonaldo's desk, one of his biggest grins plastered across his face. Luis looked up and winked.

"Hook, line and sinker, Compadre, hook, line and sinker. He was stopping at the Post Office first, then onto.....".

"Excuse me, is there a Detective Maldonaldo here?" A tall, skinny young man stood, just inside the squad room.

Puzzled, Luis stood.

"I'm Det. Maldonaldo."

"Here you go, man."

Three men entered with dozens of bags and on each bag was the logo and restaurant name, "Wonderburger".

The mountains of goodies were set down on every available space and the men went back out and returned a few moments later, this time carrying containers of drinks. When everything was down, the young man who'd first approached the detective, pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper and laid it down on Maldonaldo's desk.

"Hey, man. You were lucky, some guy called and said the order you'd placed was wrong, that it should have been doubled, with half going to Vice. We've already delivered there and they said thanks."

The kid stood there, waiting. For his money.

Luis looked at the bill. $125. And Major Crimes exploded in laughter. Sandburg had done it again. He'd successfully turned the joke around and turned the perp into the victim. There was a new king.

Maldonaldo forked over the money, the money Sandburg *should* have to give up while supposedly picking up just two lunches.

"Damn, he's good." Luis mumbled.

Beth grabbed one of the bags, plopped down opposite her partner, gave him a saucy wink and said, "Gee, partner, thanks for lunch', then she turned to everyone and yelled, "RIGHT, GUYS?"

A hail of "Right", "Amen, sister", and "Long Live the new King!" greeted her question.

Which was when Simon came out of his office. And he wasn't smiling. The joking and bantering came to an abrupt halt and MC waited.

"We have a hostage situation at the Twelfth Street Post Office. FBI is rolling. Rafe, you take Connor. Brown, you stay here and co-ordinate with the Feds. Maldonado - Jenkins, roll."

But Luis didn't move.

"Sandburg. He was going to the ~ Post Office."

"Roll, people."

The four detectives moved.


Simon turned the corner onto Lexington and pulled up alongside of Ellison. Jim jumped in and Simon sped off, with lights and sirens.

After Maldonado's announcement, Simon had immediately called Jim, gave him all the facts as they were known and told Jim he'd be right there.

Now Ellison sat, stiff, looking straight ahead.

"Simon, do we know for sure?"

"No. But he didn't answer his cell."

"He would have turned it off the minute he knew there was trouble and he couldn't use it."

"That's what I figured."

A few minutes later, they, along with other squad cars, SWAT trucks and FBI vehicles, were pulling into the parking lot of the Twelfth Street Federal Post Office.

Both men quickly exited the car and, keeping low, made their way over to Joel.


"The FBI has already taken over. They won't even let us deploy our people, hell, they won't even let them out their cars! I approached the AIC, Agent Lister, told him one of our men was probably inside, but he brushed me off. This is weird, Simon."

As Joel talked, Jim concentrated on the voices coming from inside the Post Office, listening for one in particular. He didn't have to listen for long.

<<Sssh, it's okay, sweetheart, don't cry.>>

Jim could hear what sounded like several small children whimpering and Sandburg trying to calm them, then......


He heard the speaker move forward, heard Blair trying to reason with the man, then heard the crunch of flesh hitting flesh, followed by another yell.....


And finally, Blair's voice again, obviously directed to the cop he was hoping could hear...

<<Jim, there are eight of them. Terrorists. Heavily armed, kevlar, explosives, very high tech weaponry. Something went wrong, I heard one say that the FBI had been waiting for them. Jim, you've got to get our people back, these guys can cut you all to ribbons.>>

Ellison glanced over at Simon, but found the space next to him empty. Banks had moved to the AIC and was talking and angrily gesturing to the agent. Jim turned to Joel, resting one hand on the other detective's arm.

"Joel, get in your car and pull back, onto the street. Tell the others to do the same. Now."

Joel understood completely. As he started away, he confirmed, "He's in there?"

"Yeah, now move."

"Got it."

The warning was good. Accurate. And *way* too late.

As Joel climbed into his car and reached for the radio, one of the terrorists lifted a blind just enough to get a count. That was all that one very angry and frustrated FBI agent, named Elkins, needed. He took careful aim and fired.

And the world exploded.

The terrorists inside immediately retaliated by opening fire on anything that moved.

The officers and Detectives of Major Crimes were sitting ducks.

A volley of bullets hit the beige Taurus driven by Luis Maldonado just as he got the word from Joel to pull back. He was putting the Taurus into gear when the bullets hit. The second volley of bullets hit both Maldonado and Jenkins. Maldonado was struck twice in the leg and Jenkins was hit in the chest and the neck. Luis still managed to get the car turned around but got no further as another volley took out his tires and the car plowed into several parked vehicles.

Joel saw the bullets hit the Taurus and with a start, realized his own car was being pummeled as well. He made a desperate dive out his door and rolled away, coming up behind the mini-mail center. He drew his gun, but correctly held his fire.

Detectives Martin and Sbarro had just pulled their white Buick into the parking lot, on the other side of the Taurus, when the shooting began. There was nowhere for Martin to go. As the car was hit, Peter threw his body over his partners, taking three bullets in the process.

Detective Rafe was parked at the opposite end of the parking lot, next to the FBI. As soon as he realized that Maldonado/Jenkins and Martin/Sbarro were in trouble, he leaned across Connor, released her seatbelt, opened the door and shoved her out. His only thought was to buy his friends some time. He hit the accelerator and drove across the parking lot, directly in front of the building.

Joel, who was trapped, watched in horror as both cars were strafed, then watched in equal horror as Rafe drove through it. He knew what Rafe was trying to do and looked frantically around for help. He spotted Jim and Simon moving quickly toward him, ducking and dodging. As the gunfire moved away from the two cars and concentrated on Rafe, the three men made their move, and working with uncanny timing, saying not a word, they pulled the four detectives from the cars and got them back to the safety of the mini- mail center.

Joel and Simon immediately began assessing the conditions of the four people, while Jim ran back toward Rafe. The Blazer had finally slowed and come to a stop a mere two inches from the Taurus. Weaving and bobbing and against all the odds, Ellison reached the Blazer and pulled Rafe out. He gave a fleeting thought to how he would get the injured man back to safety when suddenly he found himself facing a single body armor shield, wielded by Connor. Megan placed herself behind Ellison, who draped Rafe over his shoulders, and together they made their way back to the others.

Agent Lister mobilized his men and the SWAT team and irregardless of the civilians and postal workers inside, he ordered that they open fire on the building. Eventually, he used a full "Five Man Body Armor Shield" to storm the Post Office.

Twenty minutes after the first shot rang out, the war was over.

Three of the terrorists lay dead, two critically wounded. Another was brought down by Sandburg and the other two dropped their weapons and hit the floor when the FBI broke in.

Two civilians were also dead, victims of the FBI assault. Three Postal workers received minor injuries.

Blair Sandburg kept five of the civilians safe by getting them face down on the ground the moment the shooting began. He pulled two of the big work tables down on either side of the two women and three children.

The ninth civilian had hidden under a counter and stayed there. He was a thirty two year old security guard from the bank down the street.


Blair came out of the Post Office and into what looked like the remains of Armeggedon. He stood blinking in the sunlight, unbelieving, as he watched men limping, holding wounds, at paramedics, rushing from one site to another, watched as officers rushed forward, taking the remaining civilians, and observed the press, swarming over the scene like locusts.

His eyes scanned the bodies, looking with his heart in his throat, looking for......


Jim stood before him, his clothes covered in blood. Blair's hands went out to him, but Ellison stopped him.

"Not mine. You okay?"

Sandburg nodded, relieved, and Jim carefully steered him over to where a stunned Simon stood, hand rubbing his jaw as he gazed down on the devastation.

Blair could only stare.

Martin Regan sat on the asphalt, cradling Peter Sbarro's body in his arms as paramedics tried to pull the lifeless body away.

Luis was being lifted onto an ambulance and was conscious, but his eyes were trained on one of two covered stretchers, both waiting for the Coroner's Van.

Megan sat on the ground next to the other stretcher, her hand resting on the blanket that didn't quiet hide Detective Brian Rafe's head. Joel

sat with her, his arms around her, giving comfort the only way he could, his own face tear streaked.

Beth Jenkins had died the instant the second bullet pierced her neck.

Peter died in his partner's arms, after briefly regaining consciousness. Martin's face was the last thing he saw.

Brian Rafe had been hit seven times. He'd died before his Blazer ever came to a stop.

Blair felt the tears threaten, even as his mind and body tried to deny the truth. He started forward, to go to whom, he didn't know, but he was stopped by the loud and angry voice of AIC Lister.


His anger and rage was palpable. Banks didn't have the opportunity to answer, Blair stepped forward.

"I was inside."

Before anyone could react, could stop what happened next, Lister flew at Sandburg, grabbed him by his shirt and shoved him back like a man possessed. The two men crashed into the side of the Post Office Island and Sandburg's head snapped back, striking the concrete wall, then flopped forward. Jim and Simon moved as one, ready to pull the agent off the younger man, but they didn't get to him before he wrenched Blair away from the wall and struck him with all the force of his insanity.

Blair's body lurched back, again striking the block wall, then down, the back of his head thudding against the metal stamp machine before he hit the ground, where he lay, stunned.

Simon grabbed the agent, his own anger finding a outlet. He lifted the man as if he were a ragdoll and tossed him away.

Jim got to Blair's side as he was struggling to stand. He put his arm around the younger man, supporting him and bringing him to his feet..

"Blair? You okay?"

Sandburg turned his head with great difficulty but slowly nodded, his hand absently going to the back of his head.

"Fine....I'm fine."

Two other agents had come running and now held Lister up, but the agent was yelling directly at Sandburg.


Sandburg blinked a couple of times and painfully looked over at his friends, at Peter's still form, at the two covered stretchers, at Martin's rocking body, at Megan.......

Simon took a step toward Lister.


One of the other agents began to pull Lister back, while the second one looked at them all, his eyes taking in the enormity of it.

"I ~ I'm sorry."

And he too, was gone.

Simon took several deep breaths and once again turned his attentions to his detectives.

Blair stumbled forward, his face contorted in pain, his eyes pleading.

"My fault? I did ~ this? I did this, Simon?", his voice cracked with emotion as he looked at the horror around him.

"I didn't ~ know.....how could.....I have...." his voice finally broke then and his hand came away from the back of his head and everyone could see the blood covering it and he turned helplessly back to Jim...."Please, Jim, please, I'm so sorry, so....sorry, how could I?

Peter......Beth.....oh, god, Jim......Rafe, Rafe is dead....".

Jim moved swiftly, trying to take Blair, to tell him it wasn't his fault, to tell him he'd done everything right, everything he could, but before he reached him, before he could utter a word, Blair's eyes rolled back in his head, his body convulsed and he pitched forward. Jim just caught him.


Captain Simon Banks sat down in the hospital corridor and dropped his head into his hands.

Three of his people dead. Another might lose his leg and still another......in a coma. He looked at his watch. It was five-thirty. Sandburg was a detective now, even if the actual official/unofficial ceremony hadn't happened. Might never happen.

He sat back, resting his head against the wall.

Dear God.

He'd just come from Luis Maldonado's room, where Tirza sat quietly by his side, pale but brave, asking about Beth's family and reassuring *him* that her dad would be fine, would be back on the job......

He'd seen Sam Jenkins earlier, giving him the news personally, as was his want. He could still see the man's face, the two small children, so like their mother, standing behind their father, not sure what was happening, but knowing it was bad.....

Then the call to Brian Rafe's brother, his only family. But not before facing Henri Brown. The man he'd left behind, the man who hadn't been with his partner in his final minutes. And the fact that Detective Brian Rafe had died for his fellow officers would bring little comfort right now. And Megan, God, Megan. He'd known about their growing attachment, had watched it grow much the same way he'd watched Jim and Blair.....But Megan was strong, tough. He'd wanted to take her home, but she'd insisted on going back to the station, to work, to be with Henri.

And finally Martin. Who had relinguished Peter's body and then insisted on being the one to tell Peter's family. Simon had driven the quiet man to the Sbarro home, knowing full well that George Sbarro, retired cop, would already know. When Simon had pulled up in front of the green house on Edson Street, the front door had opened and six Sbarro's spilled out, crying, arms open, quickly taking Martin into their fold.

George had seperated himself and joined Simon on the curb and the two men had faced each other until Big George pulled the detective into his huge embrace, crying openly for his son, his "son-in-law" and for Simon.

Simon opened his eyes and prepared himself to go up to ICU, to see Jim, who was undoubtedly still sitting next to Blair, where he'd left him all those hours ago.

God, all that violence and Blair had survived. Not only survived, but as Simon had learned earlier, had actually saved two women and three children, had kept his head, kept things as calm as possible, until one stupid man had open-fired and an egotistical bastard had ordered the all out assault on the Post Office.

But Blair *had* made it, and others because of him, and yet, he lay upstairs, comatose, at death's door because of one arrogant son of a bitch.

"How are we going to survive this? *Will* we survive this?" Simon was talking to no one in particular....maybe a god, someone's god.

He pushed himself up, suddenly feeling twice his age. He moved to the elevator. Time to see Blair.


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