Disclaimer: Not Mine.. no profit.
Acknowledgements: Mogs Universe - Thank you.
This is an attempt at a crossover. It is doubtless filled with inaccuracies,
so to you New Yorkers and TV Buffs, sorry about that! I havent been
to NYC since I was a kid and I have never seen Without a Trace
I dont watch much TV (if the kids arent watching Winnie the Pooh
then my husbands watching football) but I do know we havent got
it here yet. That said, Ive only seen one episode of M7 and Ive
never been to Denver, but that hasnt stopped me writing! Its
fiction after all. Unfortunately, WAT hasnt got much fan fiction yet
and the episode profiles only give a brief outline of the scenario, without
character interactions, so I had to read all the character profiles etc to
get a feel for the show and I based this on that information. Tari inspired
the scene on the airplane. More Ideas?
A huge thank you to the person who nominated this series for a Mistresses
of Malarkey Fan fiction Award. I dont know who you are but it
gave me a real boost! This is dedicated to you.
New York? Rorie bounced up and down in excitement, Im
coming too? Truly?
Ezra nodded, grinning at her enthusiasm. His gold tooth glinted in the
candlelight. Consider it a reward for winning the Truman Academic
Scholarship. I have already cleared your absence with the school, although
you will be required to complete some homework assignments. You will also
be expected to regale the class with details of the heaving metropolis upon
your return. He laughed, well aware that his daughter loved an audience
and the prospect of being the center of attention would only add to the thrill.
The bouncing became manic.
Settle down pumpkin, afore ya explode. The Texan, sprawled bonelessly
in a chair in the living room, chuckled. It was going to be a long flight.
Even with Daddy and Uncle Everybody they were going to have their
hands full with a four-year-old jack-in-the-box on the plane.
Six and a half hours in a confined space, with Rorie. Joy.
Its an ATF/FBI Interagency Relations Convention, of four days
duration. We will subsequently have two days free to see the sights, IF,
and I mean if, you behave yourself in the hotel crèche whilst we are
working. The Southerner gazed meaningfully at the child who blithely
ignored the pointed look and continued to bounce unabated.
Yeah, yeah. Can we go to the Statue of Liberty? The Empire State Building?
Did you hear me Aurora?
Rorie stopped jiggling. There was that tone again.
Yes Daddy. I am to behave myself. She peeked up at him seriously
through her lashes and then turned to her uncle as he seconded the motion.
No trouble. Vin frowned in warning.
No complaints from the staff, parents or other children. Her
head swung back to her father.
No practical jokes. Vin raised his brows at her.
And ABSOLUTELY no vanishing acts. New York is a Big City.
Okay. Deal. When do we leave?
Seven Continents Hotel
New York City
Ezra yawned and stretched, blinking the sleep from his eyes even as he answered
his internal, silent wake-up call. He peered blearily over the mound his
body created under the blankets and grinned at the sight of Rorie, still
in pyjamas, following a complicated aerobics workout on the muted TV set.
With all the ungainly grace of a hippo with a hernia, she pumped short arms
and legs in time with the busty blonde in the turquoise leotard leaping about
on the grainy screen. Attempting to follow the complicated dance routine,
the little girl mistimed a step, got her legs tangled and tripped, arms
wind-milling as she vanished from sight.
There was an Oomph and a soft giggle as she hit the floor.
Are you all right Honeybee? Ezra sat up and leaned forward, peeking
over the foot of the bed. Rorie grinned up at him from her prone position
on the doubtlessly grubby carpet.
I think Ill wait here and let the lady catch up! She pointed
at the screen and Ezra looked up in time to see the blonde getting into position
to do stomach crunches. He laughed and climbed out of bed, watching in amusement
as Rorie crunched along with the teacher. What she lacked in
technique she made up for in enthusiasm.
Go take a shower, brat, while I shave. Once you are dressed you will
wait for me and we will descend to breakfast together.
Okay. Rorie leapt to her feet and stripped on the way to the
en-suite, dropping her clothes haphazardly on the floor as they came off,
only to stand bare and shivering as she waited for her father to adjust the
shower so it wouldnt burn.
The Undercover Agent patiently answered the endless questions as he rid himself
of his morning beard, careful not to cut himself as he talked. Finally hauling
her out, he wrapped her in a towel and sat down on the edge of the bath to
fight through the wet, tangled, red-blonde tresses plastered to her head.
Having won the familiar battle, he sent her to dress before climbing into
the cubicle and grabbing a quick shower himself.
By the time the Standishes arrived at Team 7s breakfast table in the
main dining room, the rest of the group were already assembled and the buffet
was closing. Ezra helped himself to coffee and juice leaving his daughter
to charm the hostess into persuading the typically temperamental chef to
rustle up a late plate of pancakes.
They were just preparing to head towards the convention room when a dark
haired man, approximately Chriss age, approached the table and clapped
Sanchez on the shoulder.
Josiah! I heard you were going to be here this year. This must be your
ATF Team. He nodded to each man in turn before focussing on the enigmatic
blonde who was clearly leader of the motley group. The two men gazed at each
other and, apparently satisfied with what they saw, shook hands as the big
Profiler made the introductions.
Brothers, this is Jack Malone, head of the FBI Missing Persons Task
Force here in the city. I had occasion to work with Jack and his team on
a serial kidnapper case a few years back. Jack, this is our team leader,
Chris Larabee, and the rest of the boys, Nathan Jackson, Medic and explosives,
JD Dunne, Technology, Buck Wilmington, Surveillance, Ezra Standish, Undercover
and Vin Tanner, Sharpshooter.
Jack Malone stared hard at Tanner who shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny.
I apologise for staring, Mr Tanner. You remind me of someone. Sort
of. He shook his head and turned back to the table, fixing his gaze
on the little girl who stared back, grinning.
And who is this?
Rories hand shot out and he dutifully grasped it in his larger one.
He had two daughters of his own and a definite soft spot for little girls.
Aurora Standish. Pleased to meet you Agent Malone. You are really in
the FBI? Jack nodded. Do you know Mulder and Scully? She
grinned impishly at him and he laughed at the annoying old joke despite himself.
I can see by the twinkle in your eye that mischief is your
middle name. The charming little blonde pouted playfully before breaking
into a grin.
Yahuh. Thatd be me! She turned to her father and uncles
with a comically overplayed look of awe. These FBI guys are good!
Ezra rolled his eyes at the little drama queen even as the others laughed.
Thats not what you said the last time you met one.
After him, the only way was up! The Southerner shook his head
at her and glanced at his watch.
Time to get you to the crèche. Chris nodded in agreement,
commenting, tongue-in-cheek, that his habitually tardy undercover agent
wouldnt want to be late. Ezra uncharacteristically refrained from making
a verbal reply, instead allowing his fingers to do the talking and making
the others laugh again at this uncommonly crude display. He ushered his daughter
towards the foyer and the seven remaining men were able to catch the start
of an interesting conversation.
Daddy you made a rude sign at Uncle Chris.
No. I was merely using non-verbal means to converse with a colleague.
Sometimes silence is obligatory whilst simultaneously communication is essential
to ensure understanding. In order to facilitate comprehension of sentiment
in all parties, it is occasionally necessary to employ
Now I know you were being rude, Daddy, youre going
It quickly became clear just why the Texan had transfixed Jack Malone. His
own newest team member, Martin Fitzgerald, bore a remarkable resemblance
to the sevens sharpshooter. Unlike Vin though, he dressed and acted
more like Ezra. It was almost as if the shy tracker had cut his hair and
decided to play dress-up in one of Ezras suits.
The purpose of the convention was to improve relations between Federal Law
Enforcement Agencies and the ATF and FBI teams were each told to hook up
with an opposite number from the other Agency. Having already met and sized
each other up, Larabee and Malone got their squads together for the Inter-Agency
Relations exercises scheduled for the rest of the week.
Unusually for the trouble-prone team from Denver, the week progressed fairly
smoothly. Nobody brawled, got shot, stabbed or otherwise maimed and even
their little mascot seemed to be behaving herself. It almost looked like
they would be able to complete the trip without incident. Merely thinking
of that gave Chris chills.
It couldnt last.
By the end of the week, Team 7 and Mispers had developed grudging respect
for each other. Of course, that didnt mean that they had to put up
with the usual crap the FBI handed down and the Colorado group were not about
to lower their guard whenever they had to deal with them.
Leaving his teammates to their own devices, the Southern Undercover Agent
took his small daughter on a tour of the sights.
First they visited the Empire State Building to admire the view. Ezra placed
a quarter in the telescope and held the little girl up so she could view
the sights. She ignored the view and instead focussed on a window in an opposite
building, informing him, loudly and with acute disgust, that the man in the
office was picking his nose. The visit lasted for all of five minutes before
they were on their way again for the Statue of Liberty.
They didnt stop. Knowing that they would be unable to climb all those
stairs, Ezra opted just to take a ride around the island on a small tourist
boat and admire the regal lady from a distance.
By the time they reached the Guggenheim Museum it was mid afternoon and even
the childs abundant energy was flagging. Sensing her waning interest
in the artwork, Ezra selected a table at the museums busy restaurant
and sat down to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee.
Rorie steadily worked her way through a glass of milk and a huge piece of
chocolate cake before announcing that she needed to use the facilities. The
pair made their way to the mens room but were stopped at the door by
the attendant who flatly refused to let the obviously female child enter
the strictly male washroom. After a heated argument, Rorie declared herself
big enough to go to the girls on her own. Reluctantly, her father conceded
and he waited anxiously outside while she disappeared into the ladies room.
When she hadnt reappeared after five minutes he began to worry.
The woman struggling to get into the bathrooms with two small children looked
at him warily. Yes?
I am sorry to impose. My small daughter went in there a few minutes
ago and has not reappeared. If you would be so kind
Sure. Whats her name?
Rorie. Shes four, wearing jeans and a green Jacket. She has green
eyes and blonde hair in bunches.
The woman nodded. Okay. She disappeared behind the grubby door.
Ezra could hear her calling Rories name. A minute later she stuck her
Shes not here.
The ATF Agent paled. Are you certain? The woman nodded, a look
of concern on her face.
I checked all the stalls. Youd better call security.
I will. First I must check for myself. He pushed the door open,
startling the woman who took a step backwards.
Getting some curious looks and ribald comments from the women in the washroom
he began to search for his daughter. It didnt take long to confirm
that Rorie had indeed vanished. He all but ran from the room, straight into
the arms of a suspicious uniformed security guard.
What the hell are you up to in there? Ezra grabbed his wallet
and flashed his badge in the mans face.
Shut down the exits. My four-year-old daughter is missing.
Within minutes the doors of the huge building were secured and a search was
conducted. After half an hour the police were called. Half an hour after
that the rest of Team Seven began to arrive, summoned by the frantic Southerner.
It took two hours to complete a thorough search of the whole building. Everyone
leaving was checked through a tight net of security personnel and police.
There was no sign of the missing child. Ezra was pale, panic-stricken and
unusually foul mouthed. The others stood around him in a worried group.
That fucking idiot! I knew she should have come with me! Why is it
that only women are allowed to take their children into bathrooms? I cant
be the only single father of a female in the country, surely? Goddamit, she
four! She doesnt differentiate.
Its not your fault Ez. Tanner recognised that most of his
friends anger was directed inward. Ez felt hed failed Rorie,
that he hadnt protected her as well as he should have. Vin narrowed
his eyes at the hovering mens room attendant who had taken a cautious
step backwards, away from the furious lawmen. They were an intimidating group.
I think we need some help. Chris flipped open his cell.
Malone? Larabee. Youre not going to believe this but we have
a missing child. Rorie Standish. Yeah that one. She disappeared from the
Guggenheim Museum two hours ago. Yes weve done that. Okay. Well
wait. He turned to the Senior Police Officer hovering at his elbow.
I have called the FBIs Missing Persons Bureau. Expect to have
them descend on us shortly. The man nodded, impressed with the efficiency
of the ATF Leader. Perhaps the rumors of conflict between the Federal Law
enforcement Agencies were unfounded.
Four Hours Missing
Why does she do this to me? Standish was pacing in the FBI Office
as Agent Sam Spade drew up the customary timeline. An APB had been put out
on the child and every officer in the area was keeping an eye out for her.
Shes done this before? Vivian Johnson and Danny Taylor
Not exactly. Nathan stepped into the silence. She was snatched
a couple of months ago to keep Josiah from testifying in a murder case and
there was an attempt at a kidnapping by a paedophile prior to that. She does
have a tendency to get into mischief around home but she has never just vanished
when weve taken her out. She is an Officers kid and, in light
of whats happened in the past, you can appreciate that shes well
aware of the risks. Danny nodded, inwardly shocked at how much the
small child had already been through. He gazed at the photograph of the petite,
smiling blonde pinned to the whiteboard with a magnetic thumbtack. Cute kid.
She wouldnt have wandered off on her own then? Fitzgerald
re-entered the office from the break room, loosening his tie as he took a
sip of his coffee.
Nathan shook his head but it was Vin who answered his doppelgangers
question. No. Never.
So if she wouldnt have left willingly
Kidnapping. Chriss tone was definite.
No problems at home or at school that you know of? Does she get on
with everyone? You dont think shes frightened to come home for
some reason? Danny Taylor hated to ask questions like that of a worried
family, but knew they were unavoidable.
His boss answered, stepping in even as the Denver team bristled. Not
as far as I could tell when I met her Danny. She strikes me a happy kid.
Taylor nodded silently.
Theres her grandparents. But they had no way of knowing we were
in New York and kidnapping Rorie wont give them access to her money.
Ezra considered the possibility and dismissed it. Viv Johnson pressed for
details and he grudgingly told her about the custody battle and the legacy
bequeathed by her late mother. At a nod from her boss she went off to check
it out. It was a possibility, however remote the father considered it to
be. There was also the possibility of ransom if the child was worth that
kind of money, even though it was not widely known.
So we are left with why and how. Sam turned from the completed
timeline and faced the group in the small crowded office.
How is the easy part. There was a second exit to the washroom, leading
out into the other corridor. Why? Thats open to speculation. Could
be random. Someone wanting a little girl for his or her own nefarious reasons.
Could be related to our jobs.
We need to know what youre working on. Chris nodded.
If it is the second one well get a note or a call.
I think I would prefer the second option. Ezra ran a hand through
his mussed hair as he slumped against a wall. I dont care to
contemplate other possible reasons why someone would want to take a little
girl, the ramifications of that are too chilling to consider. He flinched
as Wilmington placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Well get her back, Ez.
Six Hours Missing
Up-State New York
Rorie washed her hands in the basin in the smelly toilets. She splashed some
water on her face and gazed at her reflection in the mirror, seeing the traces
of dried up tears on her flushed cheeks. She jumped as the woman placed a
hand on her shoulder.
Come Darling. Time to get back on the road. Nodding silently,
Rorie followed her to the door of the roadside diner. She stopped at the
exit and smiled at the waitress.
Thank you Maam.
The tired looking older woman, wearing a badge that labelled her
Joy, summoned a smile for the pretty little girl. You are
very welcome my dear. She looked up into the mothers face.
Your daughter is charming Maam.
Thank you. Say goodbye Brenda. Rorie gazed up at the woman who
had stolen her. She was an attractive middle-aged blonde but the look in
her eyes was bordering on crazy. Rorie had initially balked at being called
Brenda but had stopped arguing when the woman got mad. Frightened by the
wild look, she had resolved to do as she was told. Her Daddy would find her.
He told her last time not to try and escape, to wait for them to come, so
thats what she was going to do.
Joy watched as the pair left the diner and then went to clear the table.
Picking up the plates and cups from the booth they had occupied, she cleared
the table and washed it down with a grimy cloth. Returning from the kitchen
she picked up the coloring crayons and childs menu and stuffed them
back on the shelf with the others, not noticing the plea for help scribbled
in the margin by the small guest.
It was nearly midnight and the diner would close soon. It would be the next
day before any more children would require a menu.
Nineteen Hours Missing
The five FBI Agents had spent the better part of Sunday interviewing the
hotel and museum staff and trying to trace all the families who had had children
in the hotel crèche with the Standish girl during the course of the
week. So far their enquiries had failed to produce anything other than dead
ends. The child had vanished without a trace.
Ezra, already tired and edgy, jumped as his cell phone rang. He pulled it
from the clip on his hip and glanced at the display. He didnt recognise
the number. He gestured to Malone who initiated a trace as the Southerner
answered the call.
Hello? The voice was that of a woman, clearly unsure about the
call. Um, you dont know me Mr Standish, and Im sorry to
bother you. I found your number scribbled on a kids menu in a diner
with a request for help. It was signed ACS. Does that mean anything to you?
If not I will make sure the number is scribbled out
It means something. There were looks of amazement around the
office as everyone listened in to the call. Can you read it to me
please? Ezra sat down heavily in a chair. Vin gripped his shoulder.
Sure. Kidnapped. Need help. 555-743-8762, ACS. Thats
Who are you? The woman was obviously startled by the new voice.
Agent Jack Malone, FBI Missing Persons. Where are you please?
Joeys Diner, south of Paddington, Maine. Is this for real?
Yes Maam. ACS is a missing child who disappeared in the City
yesterday afternoon. The number you called is her fathers cell. Could
you please stay there? We can be with you in under an hour.
There was a rush for the door. Danny Taylor was on the phone organising a
chopper to take some of the group, the rest would follow in cars.
JD, Josiah, you boys stay here and man the computers, we may be able
to dig up something to give us a lead. Malone nodded, agreeing with
Larabee that someone should stay in the office. JD and Josiah reluctantly
remained behind, watching as the office cleared of FBI and ATF Agents.
Twenty Hours Missing
Thank you Mrs De Marco, for taking the trouble to call the number.
Ezra smiled wanly at the mother of three with whom he had spoken on the phone.
Maria De Marco patted his shoulder. I hope you get her back. Will you
call me and let me know what happens? She handed him a card with her
name, address and phone number jotted on it.
Of course. Thank you. Ezra saw the family out to their car and
then approached the group talking to the waitress.
Joy looked up as the smartly dressed man came to stand with his colleagues.
She gasped as she met his eyes. Good Lord. She looks just like you.
Except for the hair. You must be Brendas father.
Ezra looked taken aback as the others frowned.
Brenda? The pretty blonde FBI Agent zeroed in on the name. The
woman called her Brenda?
Yes. Isnt that her name?
No, maam. Thats great, the information may help. How did
the woman treat the child?
As if she really was her daughter. Just normal I guess. Sure didnt
ring any alarms if you know what I mean. The little one was real quiet and
polite. She called the woman Mama. Ezra winced.
Jack Malone and Chris Larabee looked at each other. Empty nest? Replacement
child? Childless woman fulfilling fantasies? Chris questioned.
Possibly. Ask JD to check deaths of any girls, about Rories age
and named Brenda, in the Upstate New York/Maine area. Its a starting
point and currently all we have. Chris nodded and initiated a call
to his computer whiz.
Miss Joy? The waitress glanced at the male FBI Agent.
Just Joy Mr Malone.
Did you see them leave? Yes? Did you notice what vehicle they were
Im not really good on cars.
Anything you remember may help. It was a car not a truck for
Yeah. Just a regular sedan. I dont know what make though.
It was dark outside so I cant be sure but I think it was blue,
maybe dark green.
Did it have any marks? Like dents from accidents or anything?
No, I dont think so. It was new looking.
Thats good. Any ideas about the plate? What State it was from,
or any numbers?
Any bumper stickers?
Joy thought about that for a moment, her brow creasing in concentration.
You know I think there was a sticker in the back window. Yeah there
was. I think it had a picture of an eagle on it. I cant remember the
writing though. Im not even sure I was close enough to read it.
Could you draw a picture of it?
Im not a very good artist but Ill give it a go. Will it
help? She pulled her notebook from her pocket and began sketching with
Agent Spade responded. We may be able to identify the sticker. It could
be a sports team, or a school, something which could give us a local connection
to the kidnapper. Joy nodded, amazed by what the FBI could make out
from such a small detail.
Okay. Jack Malone took the proffered sketch. She was right, Joy
was no artist. Her eagle looked more like a crow. He handed the paper to
Sam who used the diners fax machine to send it to JD in the office.
They went north?
It looked like they were going to go that way but you can do a U-turn
further down the street, so I cant be sure.
Malone nodded. Okay Joy, thanks. If you think of anything else, however
small or insignificant it seems to be, you can call me, anytime. He
glanced up as Tanner, Johnson, Wilmington, Taylor, Fitzgerald and Jackson
arrived at the diner.
Tanner approached Standish. Ey, Ez. Hows it going? He smiled
at the waitress who automatically smoothed her dress and smiled back.
She was here Vin. Ezra handed the Texan the menu with Rories
Tanner nodded, tracing a finger over the message as if it could bring him
closer to the child. Its good Ez. Shes still alive an
Okay. Shes workin ta contact us. Ya know that kid, shell
probably appear in a police station somewhere. All smiles and smart mouth.
Twenty-Four Hours Missing
Daddy where are you?
Theyd arrived at a small clapboard house in the suburbs of a tiny town
in the early hours of the previous morning. Rorie had absolutely no idea
where they were. The wintry street outside had been quiet as she was hustled
into the house and up the stairs. Shed got a glimpse of floral wallpaper
and a piano in the front room before being pushed into a bathroom.
Mama had given her a bath, cooing and teasing as she bathed
her pseudo-Brenda, trying to get the child to play the part shed obviously
cast her in her own mind. Rorie had reluctantly played along, doing her best
to stem the terrified tears as the woman dressed her in a frilly pink nightdress
and tucked her into bed.
The bedroom door had been locked from the outside and Mama had
promised to bring her buttermilk pancakes in the morning. Rorie had immediately
climbed out of the bed and tried to open the window, never mind that she
was on the upper floor.
It was nailed shut.
Finally giving up on trying to prise it open, Rorie had investigated the
rest of the room as well as she could in the darkness. There were toys and
books tucked neatly into the shelves and a corkboard with childish artwork
tacked to the surface. The name Brenda, obviously written by
an adult, jumped out at her from the corners of the construction paper paintings.
The chest of drawers and walk-in wardrobe held musty smelling clothing that
looked to belong to a little girl of about her age. It gave Rorie the shivers.
After an hour exploring the room she climbed back onto the bed and gazed
at the shadowed ceiling, tears trickling down her temples and pooling in
her ears. Finally exhausted, she slipped into a restless sleep.
The whole of Sunday had been spent within the confines of the bedroom, with
short trips to the bathroom to relieve herself. Mama watched
her the whole time, reading her stories and clutching the bemused little
girl to her chest and rocking her like a baby. Uncomfortable at the close
contact with the strange woman, Rorie remained stiff as a board the whole
time, making her muscles ache with fatigue. At five oclock the woman
had gone back downstairs to make her daughters favourite food for dinner.
Rorie wondered what her favourite food would turn out to be.
She gazed at the ceiling of her bedroom, following the swirls
in the artex with her eyes and trying not to cry.
Daddy, where are you?
Hundreds of miles South, in the foyer of the hotel where the group of
investigators were preparing to hole up overnight, Chris Larabee answered
the ringing of his cell phone.
Yeah Josiah, what have you got for me? The milling Agents all
stopped to look at the ATF Team Leader.
JD found two Brendas, deceased in the last five years, within a four
hundred mile radius of the diner. Got a pen?
Chris fished in his pockets even as Malone held out a pen and paper towards
him. He took both gratefully, tucking the phone into the crook of his neck
as he took down the details.
The first one Brenda Marie Coombs, aged 3, died alongside her father
and brother in a car accident six months ago. Mother Anne-Marie Coombs lives
at 1253 Washington, Deep Falls. Thats two hundred miles North West
of the diner. The second one, Brenda Tellagio, aged 5, died three years ago,
of multiple stab wounds inflicted by her father, Alberto Pascal Tellagio,
currently on Death Row at the State Penn. Her mother, also Brenda, lives
in Hardington, at 73 West Avenue. She was an only child. Hardington is three
hundred and forty miles due North of the diner. Both women drive dark colored
sedans purchased in the last 18 months. We are still working on the eagle.
Got it. Well split up and check them both out. Thanks Josiah.
Tell JD he done good.
Will do, brother.
Chris turned to Jack indicating a sheltered alcove with a slight inclination
of his head. Their squads followed.
Two possibilities. We need to split into two groups to check them both
out. Malone nodded, scanning the information on the pad. Larabee gazed
at his Undercover Agent. He was holding it together, probably too tightly.
He was like a coiled spring. He exchanged speaking looks with his second
in command. Standish needed watching. Ezra youre in my group,
Vin, youre with Malone. The rest of you split up evenly between us.
He turned back to the Senior FBI Agent. Jack, this is youre
jurisdiction. Can we get warrants?
Yeah, no problem. Sam, organise that as we go. Lets move.
Chris and Ezra, along with Buck, Danny Taylor and Vivian Johnson, were to
head to Deep Falls to check on Mrs Coombs. The rest, Jack Malone, Sam Spade,
Martin Fitzgerald, Vin and Nathan headed towards Huntingdon.
Twenty-Six Hours Missing
Following instructions from Sam, Danny approached the black and white patrol
car stationed one block from the Coombs house. As he pulled up behind and
cut the lights, two uniformed cops stepped out of the vehicle and approached.
Chris leaned over from the passenger side and flashed his badge at the Officer.
We have the warrant, Sir. There has been no movement in or out since
we arrived here a little under two hours ago. The house is occupied, though,
and the lights are on. The area is surrounded by squad cars, at a distance
as requested. He handed the warrant to the blonde ATF Agent. Do
you want us to remain where we are or close the net?
Stay here. There are five of us already and we dont want to spook
her. We dont know for sure that this woman is responsible for the
kidnapping. Maintain the loose net but stay in radio contact. The cop
nodded and he and his partner returned to their own vehicle, grateful to
get out of the cold again.
Danny started the engine and pulled around the police car. He drove slowly
up the street and stopped in front of the old house. There was no car in
the driveway but the lights were on downstairs. They could see the flicker
of a TV set in one of the windows.
Buck, you and Danny go round the back. Vivian, Ezra, with me. Ez, stay
calm. We dont know
Mr Larabee. I am nothing if not professional. Let us get this done.
Chris nodded as Standish climbed out of the car and the others followed.
Waiting until he was sure Wilmington and Taylor had had enough time to move
into position at the rear of the house, Chris pressed the doorbell.
Within moments lights came on in the hallway. The door opened a crack, and
the woman inside peered at them over the safety chain. Yes?
Who are you?
FBI Maam. Vivian handed the blonde her badge and she took it
inside to see it clearly in the lighted entranceway.
What can I do for you? She passed the badge back to the FBI Agent.
May we come in Mrs Coombs? Larabee asked softly.
She seemed to consider that. Okay. The crack was closed and they
listened to the rattle of the chain being removed. The woman opened the door,
holding it wide to allow them entrance.
Thank you. The woman led them into a comfortable living area
and indicated they should take a seat.
The foursome gazed at each other in silence for a few moments.
Mrs Coombs, where is your car? The woman looked startled by the
In the shop. Its having a major service, I do a lot of miles.
Is there some problem with it?
No. That isnt what this is about. Mrs Coombs, where were you
yesterday afternoon, about six oclock?
Here. Now the woman looked worried. Can you tell me what
this is about?
I understand you lost your family recently Maam. Im sorry
for your loss.
Ah, um, thank you. The woman looked at Ezra for the first time
but there was no hint of recognition in her eyes. Larabee and Johnson noticed
this, as did the Southerner. His heart sank. They were on a wild goose chase.
If this woman had taken Rorie, the resemblance between them was marked enough
that she would see it.
They still had to search the house to be sure.
Chris stepped in. Mrs Coombs, yesterday afternoon a child, a little
girl of four, was kidnapped from the Guggenheim museum. We managed to track
her some distance from the city. She was seen in a diner south of here with
a blonde woman, driving a dark sedan, who referred to her as
Brenda. That isnt her name. Our inquiries led us to you
and another woman, also a bereaved mother of a Brenda.
Anne Marie Coombs was very, very pale. Oh god. It wasnt me. You
think I took that girl to replace my daughter? Nothing could replace my daughter.
You vile man, you have no concept of what I have lost
Actually Maam I do. I lost my wife and only child a few years
ago. My colleague, he nodded towards Ezra, lost his only child
yesterday afternoon at six oclock. The woman
gasped and placed her hand over her mouth, eyes filling with tears as she
looked between the two men.
The FBI Agent indicated the paper in Larabees hand. We need to
search the premises, Maam. To be certain. I am sure you had nothing
to do with the little ones disappearance but we have to do our jobs.
Mrs Coombs reached forward and lightly touched Ezras hand. I
am so sorry. I swear I had nothing to do with it. Please, search all you
want. I have nothing to hide.
Well be careful, Maam.
Summoning the pair guarding the rear door, the Agents quickly and efficiently
searched the building and yard. It took an hour to be thorough, but by the
time they took their leave, they were sure the child was not on the premises.
A call to the mechanic had confirmed that the Dark Green sedan was indeed
in the shop and a neighbour verified having a conversation with Mrs Coombs
in the yard at around four thirty the previous day. There was no way this
woman could have been in central New York City at six.
Thank you for your co-operation Mrs Coombs. I am sorry for causing
you disruption and anxiety. The Southern ATF Agent smiled weakly at
the homeowner as she watched them leave.
I hope you find her. Please let me know how it turns out. Chris
nodded as he climbed into the car.
Ezra wondered how the other group were faring.
Twenty-Seven Hours Missing
Like the other team, there was a squad car waiting near the targets
house. Malone collected the warrant from the uniformed officers and they
stood by the vehicles for a short while discussing tactics.
Inside the old clapboard, Brenda Tellagio was nervous. Shed noticed
the squad car parked down the street when shed emptied the trash. While
she felt sure no one was trying to steal her daughter she was still edgy.
When the second car arrived she watched through a darkened window as the
officers talked with the new arrivals. She could see the movement of more
people in the unmarked car and began to panic.
Running up the stairs she unlocked the door to the attic and then collected
Brenda from her room. The child was obviously frightened and began to whimper.
Hush baby. Mommys gonna keep you safe. There are some bad men
outside. I just want to keep you safe. You have to be safe. She pulled
a reluctant Rorie towards the dark attic.
Rorie looked into the dimly lit, narrow attic stairway and baulked, trying
to pull her arm away from the woman. No!
Just to be safe. You have to be safe, baby. When the child continued
to struggle, the woman slapped her across the face. Stop it Brenda!
Mama will keep you safe. She pulled the shocked child up the dark stairs
and shoved her into an empty trunk. She threw an old blanket over her and
shut the lid. Rorie banged on the side of the wooden prison.
Stop it or you will regret it! She thumped the top of the chest.
The banging ceased. As the woman closed and locked the door to the attic,
there was a ring on the bell.
Jack Malone stood on the front step of the house, Vin Tanner and Sam Spade
on either side.
Maam, sorry to disturb your evening. My name is Agent Jack Malone,
with the FBI Missing Persons Bureau. These are my colleagues Agent Spade
and Agent Tanner. May we come in?
What is this about? The blonde woman looked suspiciously at them.
We just need to talk to you Mrs Tellagio. Sams voice was
gentle, trying not to aggravate the woman.
Im sorry but its late. Come back tomorrow. She made
to close the door but the Texan sharpshooter was quicker. He shoved his foot
into the doorway, forcing the door inwards.
What the Hell do you think you are doing? Im calling my
We have a warrant, Mrs Tellagio, to search the premises. Jack
nodded to the two Agents who moved off in different directions. Nathan and
Martin appeared from the side of the house and joined the three already inside.
They too moved off, upstairs, while Malone concentrated on the obstructive
You cant just some in here
Yes we can. We have a warrant to search the house. Mrs Tellagio where
were you yesterday at 6pm?
Brenda Tellagios eyes narrowed. Im not saying anything
without my lawyer.
Fine. Jack picked up the hallway phone and handed it to her.
Tanner and Spade quickly cleared the downstairs and moved outside to thoroughly
check the yard, garage and a series of dark sheds standing sentry outside
against the rear perimeter wall.
Upstairs, Nathan and Martin were transfixed by the childs bedroom.
The bed was mussed and there was evidence of recent occupation. There were
open storybooks lying on the bedside table, disturbing the accumulated dust,
and when Nathan felt the bed beneath the blankets they felt warm to the touch
rather than clammy, as they should have been if they had been unoccupied
Shes been here, she cant be far.
Yep. Martin held up the small green jacket and jeans. You
recognise these? Nathan grabbed the jacket from the FBI Agent. He turned
back the collar and smiled grimly, turning it towards Fitzgerald.
Aurora Standish. Martin read the embroidered label aloud. My
parents used to mark my clothes like that.
Ez is nothing if not organised. So where is she?
Not on this floor. Weve cleared all the rooms. Jackson
nodded and headed down the stairs. Malone and the now angry woman were still
standing in the hallway. The front door stood gaping, letting in the cold
blast of air from outside. He waved the Jacket at Malone who nodded.
Lady where the hell is my niece? The habitually soft-spoken medic
The woman clammed up tighter, pressing her lips together and shaking her
head. Tanner and Spade appeared in the open doorway. Nathan handed the jacket
to Vin who took it and held it against his chest. He glared blue fire at
the suspect. She glared at Nathan.
I have no idea what you mean. You are African American. I dont
even know any black children.
Shes white. Now where is she?
Dont be ridiculous. How could YOU have a white niece? The
womans tone was both insulting and snide.
Jackson took a threatening step forward. Malone intervened. Jackson,
Tanner, keep looking. Sam, stay with me. Reluctantly the two ATF Agents
nodded. Martin Fitzgerald stuck his head over the banister.
Where are the keys for the attic? The woman shook her head.
No idea. I havent been up there for years. Not since my
left. Fitzgeralds jaw tightened as he disappeared
from view. There was a silence followed by the sound of splintering wood.
What the Hell are you doing? You break anything and Ill sue your
Pushing aside the remains of the attic door Martin stepped through and peered
up the stairs. He listened. Nothing. Jackson and Tanner materialized at his
elbow. The three ascended together, cautiously. When they reached the top
level they split up, peering into each nook and cranny.
RORIE! Tanners voice echoed in the cavernous space. The
others, not expecting the cry, both jumped.
Jesus, Vin, warn a guy will you? Nathan clutched at his heart.
Hush. The FBI Agent held up a hand. They fell silent. There was
a muffled thud from a dark corner near Fitzgerald. All three men approached.
RORIE, where are ya?
The response was renewed thumping which they traced to a large sea chest
backed against the wall. It was clipped shut but unlocked. Fitzgerald threw
open the lid and tore off the squirming blanket.
A small tousled blonde with the damndest green eyes smiled at him and then
Uncle Vin, what did you do to your hair?
By the time the group from Deep Falls arrived, at speed and with a screech
of tyres, Rorie was asleep on the real Vins shoulder. He reluctantly
handed his precious bundle to her father who hugged her tight and rained
little kisses on the top of her head. She dozed on, secure and oblivious.
Chris stroked the childs hair and grinned at a soft smiling Malone.
I guess you guys get this rush every time you re-unite a family.
Jack Malone exchanged looks with his team. Doesnt happen nearly
often enough. But yeah, its a good feeling. He accepted the hand
held out and the two leaders shook.
Hell of a way to get the two agencies to work together. You boys always
put on such a show? Wilmington slapped Fitzgerald on the back. The
FBI Agent shrank away from the unwelcome familiarity. Buck grinned. Martin
and Vin actually had more than just physical characteristics in common.
Taylor laughed at his partners discomfiture. Yeah, well, we gotta
get you yahoos to respect the senior agency somehow.
Senior Agency? Tanner choked. Since when have yall
bin the Senior Agency? Ya couldnt have found this kid iffn she hadnt
written the note. And shes an ATF kid.
Her father was FBI when she was conceived. It obviously had some lingering
effect. Sam Spade poked the Texan in the ribs. Much to Bucks
chagrin, despite repeated attempts to woo the blonde Agent Spade, she had
shown a marked preference for the quiet Texan.
Tanner chuckled gleefully at the expression on the ladies mans face.
The embarrassment of the attention was worth it if it meant getting under
If you follow that logic, just think what youd get if you crossed
an FBI Agent with an ATF Agent!
Chris and Jack exchanged horrified looks at Dannys amused comment.
Oh no you dont. On that note, its time to head home
Somewhere over Illinois
Chris sat in his seat, between Vin in the aisle and Buck in the Window and
listened to the Undercover Agent behind him arguing with JD. Rorie sat between
them. Josiah and Nathan were behind them, fortunate to have an empty seat
between them. The noisy trio in the middle row moved onto another subject.
Rorie you jacket must be too warm. Take it off.
No. Im okay like this.
You will be cold when we get off.
I want to keep it on.
Chriss mind went back to the last argument at the airport.
The five members of the Missing persons squad had arrived at the airport
to see off their new friends.
Danny Taylor crouched in front of the small southerner. She smiled at him.
Yo Tiny! Danny produced a bag from his pocket.
FAO Schwarz? Rorie accepted the bag and peered inside. Reaching
in she pulled out a huge snowdome featuring the Statue of Liberty in a blizzard.
Wow! Is this for me?
Yeah. Sorry you didnt get to go choose something for yourself.
Next time you come call me and Ill make sure you get to go to the toy
department. You think you can get hold of your Daddys credit card?
He winked at her and she grinned.
Thanks Danny! Rorie gave him a hug, accidentally clocking him
on the side of the head with the gift, and stepped back to shake the dome
again. I dont think getting his wallet is going to be doable.
He knows me too well and I dont want to be grounded for the rest of
my life. She glanced up at her father and smirked at the expression
of reproof aimed at the FBI Agent.
I am appalled, Agent Taylor, that you are encouraging my daughter to
become a pickpocket. And her assessment is correct, she would be grounded
forever if she were to attempt to filch my wallet. He paused thoughtfully
and then raised his brows at the imp. Aurora?
Yes Daddy? The look of supreme innocence, whilst endearing, just
served to confirm his suspicions.
I would consider it very bad manners to steal anyones wallet.
He stared icy green fire at her.
Rorie chuckled unrepentantly even as Danny asked, Is there something
going on here?
Give it back. Now. Rorie assumed an air of injured innocence.
Want me ta frisk her Ez? Tanner came up behind the child and
placed a hand on her shoulder. Rorie gulped loudly and turned to Danny.
Is this yours? She held out a worn black leather billfold to
the FBI Agent who looked shocked. He accepted the return of his property.
All of it!
Daddy, Im getting there! She pulled out his FBI Badge and
his watch. Danny looked at his bare wrist in astonishment before frowning
at her. The rest of his team were greatly amused at his expense and he shrugged
at them wryly.
She looked apologetic. It was your suggestion.
Youre a criminal in the making. Taylor climbed to his feet
laughing. He slapped Ezra on the shoulder. Youd better watch
that one Standish. Ezra rolled his eyes, eloquently expressing like
I didnt already know that! without making a sound.
They were finally settled on the flight and JD had elected to take the hot
seat next to Rorie so they could play games together on his laptop computer.
Chris refocused on the argument behind him when Ezra let out an oath.
What the hell is that?
Beside him Vin snorted. Here we go. He peered between the seats,
trying to see what was going on. Chris leaned around from the aisle and Josiah
and Nathans faces appeared over the rear headrests. Everyone concentrated
on the guilty face.
Aurora Standish, what have you got in your jacket? A stewardess
Is there a problem Gentlemen? She looked around at the group.
Bucks head popped up as he knelt on his seat. Vin also got up for a
Just a family argument, er, he glanced at her nametag, Cindy.
Our niece getting into trouble with her dad again, you know how children
are. He sent her a wide smile which clearly said Im an
Uncle and fond of children, trust me. It didnt work.
Fine. As long as everything is okay. She looked at the small
child surrounded by hard looking men. If I were you Id come clean,
kid. They dont look like you want to mess with them. She winked
and moved off to answer a call.
Its nothing. I just want to stay warm. Its nothing.
Youre sweating. There is such a thing as being too warm and I
saw your jacket move. What have you got in there?
Rorie took on a mutinous expression.
Dont make me ask you again. Last chance.
Huffing with ill humor, the child unzipped her jacket. Ezra leapt to his
feet and into the aisle, clipping his boss smartly across the face as he
A small pair of fluffy, elongated black ears appeared. They were followed
by a cute face with dark beady eyes and a twitching nose.
A rabbit? Vin reached over and took the animal from the disappointed
A bunny Uncle Vin. Hes just a baby.
Vin turned it upside down. She.
Oh. I guess I cant call him
Fred then huh? How
can you tell? Rorie stood on the seat and peered at the exposed underbelly
of the bunny. Vin took a deep breath and turned the animal back up the right
way. He breathed out slowly and looked at Nathan who grinned. The medic could
see the blush spreading.
Josiah and Chris were both watching their Undercover Agent. His speed of
twitching rivalled that of the unfortunate animals nose. They exchanged
Its... A RODENT! He sounded horrified. Everyone
else focussed on him.
No Daddy. Its a bunny.
RODENT! Ezra was beginning to hyperventilate. Nathan looked
Breathe Ezra. He fished an airsickness bag from the seat pocket
and filled it with air. He held it out to the southerner who glared at him.
I hate RODENTS. Get rid of it.
Vin laughed. Ya want I should open the door and let it go free? Were
at 37 thousand feet Ez!
I dont care. Make it go away. The southerner shuddered
Anybody got a black top hat handy? JD was laughing at Ezras
expression of mixed fear and loathing.
Josiah, ask the stewardess if she has something to put it in until
we land. I am sure this must be against regulations.
Ezra backed up a step as Vin offered him the bunny. He was nearly on the
lap of the man on the opposite side of the aisle. Hey! Stay in your
own space Asshole.
Ignoring the swearing, despite the fact that he would normally attack anyone
who uttered a dirty word near his daughter, Ezra escaped down the aisle towards
the galley. Ill go.
Well what do you know? JD started to laugh.
It would seem Ezras afraid of fluffy bunnies. Buck joined
Whered ya git it? Vin frowned at Rorie as he stroked the
rabbit who had all but burrowed under his arm.
From the mad ladys house. Rorie smiled winningly at him.
She would have starved. Can I keep her?
No. Ezra reappeared, standing well back and glaring at his daughter.
She looked appealingly at the Texan. Vin shrugged.
Ya gotta do what ya Daddy says pumpkin. He grinned evilly.
However, I bin lookin fer a pet
Get a dog. Ezra clutched at straws. Or a cat, or an alligator.
Whatever. You are not keeping that RODENT at my house.
I was thinkin about the office. We could let it have the run
o the place
Dont even think about it. Twinkling blue eyes met fearful
emerald. All right Mr Tanner. What is it going to cost me?
The others exchanged thoughtful looks.
Brother, you have no idea!
To Atlantan Legacy XVIII - Elvis, the Denver
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