Reed caught Malloy’s eye and swallowed a couple of times, then turned his back.
Malloy knew how he felt; he also was sickened to be stuck in the middle of this. It was one thing to tangle with bad guys; you didn’t know their story. Nothing could excuse them, but at least you could assume a weakness, something to lessen their evil. With your own brothers, though… What could you do with that? One dirty cop made you realize you’re not as safe as you thought. You’re not as clean…
Malloy shook his head. It made you think too much. “Jim,” he said, “we’ve got to play it cool.”
“Cool?” Reed said. “This?” He gestured with his head to Bobby, whose lips were moving without sound. “One of us did this! That means we’ve got to play it cool?”
“Yes, Reed,” Malloy said. “And it means we’ve got to play it smarter.”
The grinding sound of a slotted metal door being slid up made the three of them raise their eyes. Then a purring engine started and drew inside the building until it was just on the other side of the shelves.
“The unit,” Reed said.
“Yeah.” Malloy’s mouth was turned down. He’d left the keys in the ignition
The warehouse door slammed shut.
“They’ve pulled it inside,” Reed said.
“Yeah.” No hope of the force tracking them down that way. Malloy looked to his partner. “You didn’t get a message out over the radio, did you?”
Reed shook his head. “Not a word.”
“I didn’t think so.” The station probably still tracked them as on Seven. Mac didn’t even know they were missing.
“Ah,” Bobby said. His eyes were shut, and his head flopped one way and then the other. “The radio…” He started shivering, and pulled his arms underneath Malloy’s jacket. His face was very pale, and his breathing made his chest jump up and down with shudders.
Reed pulled toward him, as if he hoped the cuffs would stretch, but he just jarred his wrists.
“Hey!” Malloy yelled. “Hey, Will! Come quick!”
It took a minute, but Will sprinted around the corner and skidded to a stop.
“The boy,” Malloy ordered. “Look to the boy!”
Will rushed to Bobby’s side and knelt down. He lifted the boy’s eyelid–dilated pupils. He checked the pulse and put the back of his hand to Bobby’s cheek. Then he got up, grabbed the kid’s feet in their hiking boots, and dragged him toward the shelf. The boy screamed as Will jerked his injured leg, and Reed protested, but Will pulled until he rested Bobby’s feet on the second-lowest shelf beside Reed. Bobby’s shivers became silent.
“What did you do that for?” Reed demanded.
“Send blood back to the heart,” Will said, then he rushed around the corner.
Bobby’s teeth were chattering. “Hang in there, kid,” Malloy said.
“There’s got to be something we can do…” Reed said. His shoes scuffed against the concrete.
Malloy said nothing; he pressed his lips together.
“You know,” Bobby said, his voice trembling with cold. “The dying part’s not so bad. I think I could handle that.” He took a deep breath, which was really a lot of shorter breaths strung together. His body stilled a little, and he spoke more calmly. “The bad part is that he’s probably the last person I’ll touch.”
Air slipped out of Malloy’s lungs, like he had nothing to keep it in. He glanced to Reed. His partner was frozen, pain in his eyes.
That’s when Will returned. He draped a woven Mexican blanket over Bobby, covering his chest and Malloy’s jacket, and checked the pulse in the kid’s neck. Bobby shivered and tried to pull away. Of course, he didn’t get very far.
“Leave him alone!” Reed said.
“Jim,” Malloy said.
Reed shut his mouth but continued to glare.
Will swiveled on his crouched legs to look at them. His eyes flicked back and forth and finally rested on Malloy, particularly picking out the shoulder of his uniform. Then he stood, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a key. “Okay, Malloy,” he said. “You and me need a powwow.”
He came close long enough to unlock Malloy’s left hand. Then he stepped back and slid Malloy’s pistol from the pocket of his overalls. He didn’t threaten with it, just held it ready. “Now bring your hands down and snap it back on.”
Malloy looked down as he clicked the cuff into place.
“Those tight?” Will said.
Malloy put on a grim smile. “As tight as they’ll be when I put them on you.”
“Don’t count on it. Head for the van.”
Malloy walked in front down the aisle. He glanced back to his partner, but Reed wasn’t looking at him. He was turned away, watching Bobby’s uneven gasping, his arms resting against the shelf level with his head. Then Malloy stepped around the corner.
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