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First Flight Home

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In his time away from the NYPD, Elliot had worked for and developed a close relationship with the head of an international private security firm. His boss, Mark, was also a retired marine. He’d been the first call Elliot made after hanging upon his daughter.

Over the course of working together, Elliot had talked about Olivia with him. Confessed the level of his feelings, needing to share with someone. Mark had called him a fool.

A tragic accident had taken Mark’s husband away from him. He’d called Elliot a fool for wasting time. What are you waiting for? What happens if you look up one day and it’s too late? What will you do then?

The words punched Elliot in the gut as hard as any fist would. 

Mark was kind enough not to say I told you so. He promised to put a team on standby. They’d have the earliest flight from Rome available booked for Elliot. Mark would pick him up at the airport in New York.

Their intel team had already begun work on William Lewis. Elliot had suggested contacting Fin, who’d readily provided what they had. They’d gotten details about the trial and her abduction.

How had no one checked on her? Two whole days. Olivia had been gone before anyone even bothered to give her a call. Elliot had never wanted to punch something more than he did at that moment.

Control your rage.

Channel it.

Find. Her.

Find her alive.

Please God, please let us find her alive.

“Are you going somewhere?” Kathy found him packing his toiletries in the bathroom. He’d tried not to wake her. they’d been sleeping in separate bedrooms for the last three months. “Elliot? It’s four in the morning. What are you doing?”

“I’m flying out in a couple of hours.” Elliot carried his toiletry bag into the bedroom. He had his suitcase half-filled already. Kathy followed him. “Did you honestly believe I wouldn’t find out about Liv’s abduction?”

“Elliot.”

“Don’t bother.” He peered over his shoulder at him. “She saved your life. Saved Eli’s life. And you tried to hide it from me. Why?”

“I was worried about you.”

“Worried about me? Or worried we’d have to face the state of our failed marriage once and for all?” Elliot threw the rest of his clothes haphazardly into the suitcase. “I’ll call you when I’m in New York.”

“Elliot.” She tried again. Her hand reached out towards him.

“Not right now, Kath. Not right now.”

They don’t speak again, not even when Elliot is walking out the door. He made sure to kiss Eli goodbye. New York had called him home.

And he hoped he wasn’t too late.

Elliot had raced through JFK the instant he’d gotten off the plane. He’d found Mark waiting outside of the airport in one of their company vehicles. “What’ve we got?”

“We’ve followed his trail of carnage out to a remote beach. There’s a handful of beach houses.” Mark gestured to the file on the dashboard. “Read up. We’re meeting the team and heading out. Jesse managed to hack into camera feeds in the area. We’ve narrowed it down to four places. All supposed to be empty.”

“NYPD?”

“You’re friend mentioned they were having trouble getting a warrant to access the cameras. Their ADA has put his career on the line…and still can’t get a judge to sign off.” Mark shrugged. “What they don’t know can’t hurt them. We’ve given them two of the places. We’ll check the others.”

“Do they know that?”

“Do I have to repeat myself? What they don’t know can’t hurt them.” Mark was always a little too cavalier about local authorities when it came to hostage rescue. They’d lost a hostage once because of police politics. He’d promised himself never to do so again. “We’ll get your girl back.”

“Not a girl.” And not mine.

Not yet.

The drive out of the city took longer than Elliot remembered. He’d texted back and forth with his children on the way. They’d wanted to know what was happening.

He also read through the files on William Lewis. Mark had pulled over to allow him to dry heave on the side of the road when he’d read about the pan on the stove. Melted keys. Cigarettes. A small courtesy badge found on the floor.

“Elliot?” Mark had allowed him to seethe in silence up until they’d turned off on the road leading to the last beach house. “Do I have to worry about you killing him?”

“No.” Elliot lied.

Mark reached out to clasp him on the shoulder. “I don’t care if you do. I just want to know if we’re going to have to stage the scene. He’s a monster. No one’s going to have a problem with him being killed in self-defence. No one's going to mourn his loss.”

"Self-defence?"

"Repeat after me. He came at me with a weapon while I was attempting to rescue Detective Benson. He fired and missed. I did not." Mark slowed the vehicle down, stopping out of sight of the beach house. "We'll walk in from here. Dark enough we should be able to sneak up on the bastard."