Stop the Press

by Sammie

The young, slim blonde steps into the bathroom and grabs a brush, running it quickly through her hair. "Sweetheart, don't forget to bring your jacket," she calls. "It's chillier today than it was the past few days." She checks her appearance in the mirror quickly before stepping out into the bedroom.

"Ma? Can I wear the bomber Chris gave me?" The little voice floats in from the next room.

"Billy, the bomber's for colder weather. It's already springtime. Besides, I didn't bring it."

"I did!" A boy appears in the doorway, wearing a small bomber jacket, his little face sporting a huge smile.

An elderly couple sitting nearby chuckles. The older man looks up from his paper and peers at the little boy. The older woman smiles at the other woman. "Just let him, Mary. He's going to outgrow it soon, anyway."

The blonde shakes her head. "I just can't believe I missed finding it when I was unpacking." Despite herself, she smiles. "Okay, Billy, but bring your blue spring jacket, in case it's too warm for the bomber."

"Okay, Ma." The little boy disappears into the other bedroom of the suite.

The woman tugs her phone off of the charger and turns it on before putting it into her purse. "Orin, Evie, we'll have dinner, go walk around Times Square, and should be back at 9 pm. My cell ph--"

"Yes, Mary, we have your number, we know it will be on, and we know that we can call if anything happens." Evie smiles. "You and Billy go have some fun."

Mary smiles a little sheepishly and slips her arms into a dark red jacket.

Billy runs up to his mother, his blue jacket in his hands. "C'mon, Ma, let's go! I'm hungry!"

"Now don't you cause your ma any problems." Orin wags his finger playfully at the little boy.

"Nope! C'MON, Ma!" Billy grabs his mother's hand and begins to drag her out of the room. "Bye Grandpa! Bye Grandma!"

0621 EST

The three bleary-eyed agents moved through the automatic front doors into the hotel and made their way quickly through the lobby.

"Sir, ma'am, can we see some ID?" Three FBI badges flashed at the doorman. "Oh. Um, thanks."

"They're with me." The young woman strode across the polished floor. "Samantha and Danny are upstairs already. I told them to keep working and that I'd come down for you."

"Madison," Vivian greeted the detective. "How you doing?"

The young woman smiled. "Vivian. Not quite awake, but Folger's is working that problem. Jack."

"Leaving the nest to be on your own, huh?" Jack smiled. "How's the old mother hen?" he asked about her mentor.

"Got kicked out of the nest more like it when he ended up in the hospital. Docs say Frankie shouldn't be up and around yet, although his sister said he's healing all right. Given this case, though, I really wish he'd heal a little faster."

She turned to the third agent. "Maddie Wynn, NYPD." She stuck out her hand with a smile.

Martin returned his trademark grin and shook her hand. "Martin Fitzgerald."

"Right this way, please." She led them out of the lobby.

"What's going on?" Jack asked the detective.

"Mother and son left the hotel suite around 5:30 in the evening yesterday. Hotel staff, security cameras all confirm it. They were supposed to get back before 9 pm but never showed." She banged on the elevator button before turning back to the three. "Kid's grandparents got worried, began calling her on her cell, but she never returned the calls and never came back. They called the police around 11:30."

Martin furrowed his brow a moment. "Kid's grandparents. They're not the mother's parents?"

"They're her former in-laws. Her husband was their only child and he was murdered a few years back." The door dinged open and the three stepped onto the elevator. "Before you say anything, though, the in-laws got really mad when they overhead one of our guys mention that maybe the mother took her son and ran. Said she'd never do it without good reason."

"Any evidence that she might've wanted to run?"

"She has her cell phone, her wallet, and her purse. Of course, that could be enough for her to run or for her just to take the kid to Times Square, which is where the in-laws said the two had planned to go. And I doubt she's running from that elderly couple. Most people would kill for in-laws as good as they appear to be."

"So where are they really from, if they're just here to visit?"

"Denver. Two things about that." Maddie stepped out of the opening elevator doors and led the agents down the hall. "Number one, the missing mother and her son are Mary Travis and her son Billy."

Martin blinked. "Travis?"

"Heard of them?"

"Just sounds familiar, from when I was in Seattle."

"Maybe this'll help. Her in-laws, the boy's grandparents? Judge Orin Travis and his wife Evelyn." The detective tilted her head at the door to the suite.

The three agents peered past her into the suite. An elderly couple sat in the two chairs in the room, talking with a policeman. The woman had a stunned expression on her face and seemed a little distracted; the man's face was drawn and worried.

Jack turned to look at the detective. "Judge Orin Travis, all right."

"Aren't we lucky," Vivian replied less than enthusiastically.

"Do you know him?" Maddie asked. "Frankie nearly had a fit when he called and I mentioned the name 'Travis.' I guess I haven't been around long enough to know everyone yet."

"'Death Row' Travis out in Denver," Martin replied. "Legend."

The detective sighed. "He was here for a law enforcement conference. Frankie says you can pretty much add his list of enemies to any list of suspects you come up with."

"And the second thing?" Jack asked.

"I made the mistake of mentioning Denver Missing Persons and got my head bitten off, chewed up, and spat out."

Vivian smiled a little. "Looks all right to me," she replied, a twinkle in her eye.

"Modern medicine works wonders, doesn't it?" The smile then fell from Maddie's face as she sobered. "You'll have to ask them about Denver MisPer, but tread lightly."

"There's nothing here." Samantha waved impatiently at the walls. "No family pictures, no nothing. It's a hotel room!"

"C'mon, there's got to be something." Danny ran a hair through his unkempt hair. He sat down on the bed and picked up a little toy. It was a wood carving of a horse, gently polished. It had to be handmade--although the craftmanship was quite good, there were no company logos on it.

"Well, if you count this." Samantha showed him receipts she had pulled out of a coat pocket. "Walmart, grocery stores, Pizza Hut...all in Denver. All I can figure out is that this family is middle class."

"And lives in Denver." Danny smirked when Samantha shot him an exasperated look.

0942 EST

"William John Travis, age 8. Third grade student at Green Elementary just outside Denver." Martin slid a folder down the table to Jack.

"That's it?"

"Well, he gets straight A's, but he's in third grade, Jack."

"Jealous?" Danny smirked at Martin.

"This kid?" Martin shook his head, his eyes laughing. "He's got nothing on my grades."

The others chuckled.

"Mary Rebekah Travis, maiden name Roberts. Just turned 33 years of age. Reporter with the Clarion in Denver. Her husband Stephen was killed about four years ago. Orin and Evie Travis are Mary's in-laws...former in-laws. Typical middle class family." Martin slid the second folder down the smooth table to Jack.

"What else we got?"

Vivian got up and headed to the board with the red timeline. "Around 5:30 pm Mary and Billy leave the suite to go to dinner and Times Square--that's their intended destination. Hotel workers say they saw the two get into a cab, one of the standard Medallion ones."

"Square's less than two miles from their hotel," Danny interrupted suspiciously. "It's not dark out then. Why didn't they walk?"

"Judge Travis said he insisted." Jack peered over his glasses. "He's here for that conference on law enforcement." He opened up a paper, pointed out the article, folded the paper back so the article was on top, and pushed it down the table to Danny. "You'll see Mary Travis's article on a drug ring on the next page. Got picked up by the AP."

"You're saying they could've been a target." Samantha raised an eyebrow at Jack.

"I don't know. Anyway, that's why Travis and his wife insisted they take a cab to the Square and definitely take one back." Jack sat back, a tiny smile cracking his face. "'Sides, Danny, you don't make kids walk 2 miles after a long day of sightseeing."

"What if someone came into the hotel?"

Jack shook his head. "No. We checked the hotel's tapes already. And you know that the hotel checks ID for every person who comes in."

Vivian turned back to the board. "They don't come back at 9, like Mary said they would. At 10 pm the Travises call her cell phone. It keeps ringing and no one picks up, so they hang up and try again. Same thing. When they try to call again at 10:15 pm, the phone goes directly to the answering service."

"It got shut off between 10 and 10:15," Samantha confirmed.

"Something happened between 10 and 10:15," Vivian corrected.

"So they disappear between 5:30 and 10:15, roughly."


Jack nodded and looked at this team. "All right. Denver Missing Persons is up and running on this case, so hopefully it'll be off of our hands by this afternoon." He ignored Martin and Vivian's inquiring looks. "Samantha, follow up the credit reports for the things they've got here. Martin, Danny, see what you can scrounge up around Times Square. Vivian, I want you to talk to Evie Travis again, and I'm going to talk to--Judge? Can we help you with something?"

The team turned to find the elderly man standing some distance away, looking worn and tired. "I...I just want to make a phone call back to Denver, just to let some of Mary's friends know what's going on. I would've called earlier, but...I didn't want to worry them beforehand, and...." He trailed off.

Vivian got up and directed Orin to a nearby phone. Jack nodded at his team, and they scattered.

SAME TIME (0942 EST, 0742 MST)


The slight, lanky agent grinned and swung his feet up onto the desk. He leaned back in his chair and took a sip of coffee. "In here, Buck."

A scowling, mustached agent appeared in the doorway. "You made the coffee."


"We told ya ta leave it alone!"


"That means DON'T MAKE IT!"


Buck glared and went back into the kitchen, grumbling. He emerged with a muffin and plopped in his chair. "Where's Chris? It was his turn to get here early and make the coffee."

"Cowboy's in his office. Guess he forgot. Y'know, with the huge bust that just went down, all the reports due, and Mary and Billy gone." Vin's eyes twinkled merrily.

Buck's mood immediately lightened. "Heh heh. Reckon he's missin' 'em?"

"He didn't have nowhere ta go Saturday evenin', after he took 'em to the airport." The two men snorted and covered their faces, trying to smother their laughter lest their team leader come out and shoot them.

"Just like a grumpy ol' bear." Buck grinned as the younger man began to shake with silent laughter.

Inside his office, the grumpy ole bear glared at the door. He was just about to come out of hibernation in his office when the phone rang. "Larabee. ... Judge?"

1051 EST

" closely do you work with Mary?"

The other man's temper flared. "Agent Malone, Mary was the wife of my son, and I see her as a daughter. Considering the fact that my wife and I have lost all three of our children already, I think that we both could be given a little leeway when we take in a daughter-in-law as surrogate family. Especially when her own parents are gone."

Jack sighed. "Judge Travis, I've worked hundreds of these cases and certain patterns develop. Now, I may not like the pattern, but I can't ignore them."

"I know. And I'm telling you right now that Evie and I had nothing to do with this and that Mary would never take off with Billy without a good reason."

Jack turned his piercing gaze to the older man. "Judge, my gut tells me you're okay. Everything I've read and heard about you tells me you're okay. But I still have to ask."

Orin's eyes narrowed. "This is as bad as Denver."


"Of course I seen 'em. Really cute little kid. Was wearin' this bomber. Seemed a bit warm for the weather, though." The man sitting against the wall nodded. "Hey, you want a watch? I only got the best." He grinned and pulled open his coat to reveal a long string of watches hanging on the inside.

"That's quite all right, I like mine." Martin smiled a little. "What did you see?"

"Well, the lady was just looking around, talking to her boy, and the kid seemed ta be listenin' at first. Then he's lookin' 'cross the street at someone or something."

"...broadcast for CBS. Billy?" Mary looks down at her son, who looks a little distracted. "Billy?"

Billy looks up quickly and smiles at his mother. "Yeah, Ma?"

Mary crouches down and faces her son, holding him still. "Billy?" She catches him trying to look out the corner of his eye. She turns her head but sees only crowds of people on the sidewalk. "Billy, what? Tell me, now."

"Nufin', Ma. I just thought I saw someone I knew."


"Dunno. Don't remember her name." Billy shrugs. "Only saw her 'fore. Yeah, when I was with Gran'ma."

Mary stands up, her eyes warily darting around and takes Billy's hand firmly in her own. "Okay, sweetheart."

"Then?" Danny cut in.

"She starts walking down the street again, like before. Only she seems a bit uneasy. Didn't seem 'em after that."

"When was this?"

"After 8 pm."

SAME TIME (1051 EST, 0851 MST)

"Where ya goin'?" Larabee watched as his best friend and teammate slammed the door shut and grabbed his bag from the back.

"New York. C'mon, cowboy, we's gonna be late." Tanner began to sprint down the sidewalk.

"YOU ARE NOT GOING TO NEW YORK!" Chris hollered.

"Ya gonna miss yer flight, Larabee!" Tanner called from the doorway.

Chris ran after him. "Look, Tanner, I don't wanna haveta mess with you bein' claustrophobic on the plane! I got enough--"

"Mornin', brother."

Chris paused to see his team profiler grinning widely at him. The mountain of a man blocked the whole doorway. "Josiah? What're you doin' here?"

"Taking some personal time with my brothers." Josiah waved at the waiting area.

Chris looked past him and swore.

Vin was checking in with an attendant. Nathan was at the next station, hugging his large orange medical kit to his chest protectively. Buck was attempting to charm the attendant into allowing the medic to take the oversized kit on board as a carryon. Ezra was sitting next to a pile of carryons, his arm draped protectively over them as he dozed. JD was madly typing away on his laptop while pushing himself up and down the length of the hallway on a baggage cart, oblivious to the angry shouts from passengers jumping out of his way.

Chris let out an ear-piercing whistle. The whole airport went silent and stared.

"Hey, Chris!" The young teen looked up from his laptop, waved, and continued on his trip down the hall.

One glare sent the other passengers scurrying back to their business. The other, directed at his team, went unheeded.

The Armani-clad Southerner peeled one eye open to look at his leader. "Ah, Mr. Larabee. How kind of you to honor us with your esteemed presence. However, I still must protest. As I was thrown out of my bed most unceremoniously this morning, I would hope you would have the decency to allow me my repose before our arrival in New York. If you would please refrain from such uncouth whistling in a public place, I would greatly appreciate it." He shut his eyes again.

"Sir?" The attendant leaned over the counter to smile warmly at the ATF agent. "Can I check your luggage in for you?"

Chris glared. The attendant looked offended. Nathan defiantly hugged his kit closer to his chest.

Buck sighed.

1110 EST

"Sure they were here. Hadn't seem 'em before." The waiter cleared the dishes off into a large bin and wiped down the counter. "Lady wanted something that had vegetables on it for her kid. Kid didn't look really happy about that." He smiled.

Danny and Martin chuckled. "Go on."

"They sat right over there." He nodded at a booth in the corner.

The waiter walks over to the booth from the counter, holding a large pan. "Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes on half, sausage and pepperoni on the other." The waiter rattles off the order, smiles, and slides the pizza onto the table. He follows up with two plates.

Billy's eyes widen in delight.

"Veggie first, Billy."

The little boy sighs.

The waiter grins. "Anything else?"

Mary looks expectantly at Billy, a small smile on her face. "Go on, Billy."

Billy pauses and then looks up at the waiter. "Mister, why do they call 'New York' the 'Big Apple'? Is there an apple somewhere?"

The waiter laughs merrily. "No idea, kid. Sorry I couldn't help ya out there."

Billy nods.

"Billy? What do you say?"

The little boy gives the waiter a smile and an 'oops' look. "Thanks anyway, mister."

Danny grinned a bit. "Then?"

"They were there for 'bout an hour, kid just chattering away happily. Left 'round seven, I guess."

"What were they talking about?"

"Nothing. Everything. The Denver Avalanche, I think, his teacher at school, some guys named Chris and Vin or whatever. Must've been the kid's friends."

Martin quickly scribbled down a few notes and then asked, "How'd they pay? Cash? Credit?"

", I think."

"Can we see the receipt?"


"...seem any different?"

Evie pressed her lips together, thinking. "I...not really," she commented. "She was sort of down this past month, but she gets a little sad around this time of year--Steven's birthday was last week. Plus their past anniversary--well, what would have been their past anniversary--should've been their tenth." Evie smiled sadly. "It's always pretty hard on her. That's why we thought that she and Billy should come out to New York with us. You know, a little family time. Away from Denver."

Vivian nodded encouragingly. "Do you remember anything specific?"

"She had a nightmare two nights ago--she gets them once in awhile--she sees Stephen and can't reach him to help, or she thinks Stephen's coming to get Billy or something. But that happens every once in awhile."

"Would anything trigger that?"

"Sometimes it just happens. There isn't a pattern that I can see. I'm sure it's with...all that I just told you, but it happens other times, too."

Vivian paused for a moment. "Why would she think Stephen would be coming to get Billy?"

Evie sighed. "Billy...Billy went to visit her once, and he ran away. She couldn't find him anywhere, and I think that might've triggered it?"

Vivian's brow furrowed. Which child "visited" his mother? Why wasn't Billy living with Mary? And he ran away before? "Why would Billy run away? And why was he visiting Mary--does he not live with her?"

"Oh, he does now. But then...Billy...Billy was in the house when his father was killed," Evie explained quietly. "He saw it. It was really rough on him, and the area was unsafe--you know, after what happened. So we suggested they come live with us, but Mary didn't want to leave her home. She agreed that Billy should live with us, though. Mary used to come visit him at our house; sometimes we would take him to visit her. This time he went alone to visit her. He ran away one night, and when they found him, he was screaming something about the devil getting Mary."

1325 EST

Martin and Danny strode in the bullpen and plopped the plastic bags onto the desk. Martin headed over to the board and began to scribble down notes on the timeline. Samantha and Vivian headed over to the table as Danny distributed the sandwiches and drinks.

Jack passed by, grabbed a napkin, and sat down at the head of the table. "Thanks, boys."

"Sure." Martin pushed the bags to the side. "Have we got anything else?"

Jack nodded at Samantha.

"There's nothing unusual about the credit cards or the cell phone records." Samantha shook her head. "She took out some money from her checking account last Friday--in Denver--but so did the Travises. For traveling, I'm guessing. I checked the Travises' accounts, and there's nothing unusual within the last year."


"There's a call from a Terri Greer--New York number--Monday morning. Then two times before Tuesday night, a hotel number. That number checks with the Travises' suite number. At 10:03 pm and 10:04 pm, there are two calls to the cell phone from the Travis suite. Both don't go directly to the answering service."

"The phone was on."

"Yes. Then the call at 10:15, 10:38, 11, 11:20 all go directly to the answering service. The phone's either off--"

"--or broken," Jack finished.

"Right." Samantha leaned forward. "But get this. I checked up on our lovely Ms. Greer? She did prison time for bank robbery."

"Bank robbery?"

"She was the safecracker." Samantha sat back into her seat, a satisfied look on her face.

Jack nodded approvingly. "Martin, Danny?"

Martin pointed at the timeline. "They go to a pizzeria just before 6 pm. They're there for about an hour. Waiter says nothing was unusual; kid was talkin' a lot, both were laughing, that sort of thing. Credit card receipt reads 6:52 pm."

Danny jumped in to continue. "They apparently go for a walk and then pop into an ice cream shop around 7:20 pm. They're there maybe 15, 20 minutes. That's paid for in cash. Just after 8 pm, a homeless man sees them both just strolling down the street. Says that Billy was looking at someone across the street. Kid said he recognized someone."

"Jack, the kid is 8 years old, and there are tons of people he could've seen during his time in New York," Martin protested.

"Jack, I think this kid is probably more cautious than your average kid. His father was killed and his mother is a reporter," Danny countered.

Jack put up his hand. "We'll get to that in a minute. You keep going."

"Then, around 8:20, a restaurant owner said he saw the two of them get into a cab. That's it." Martin taps the 8:20-8:30 mark. "We haven't had time to check in on the cab thing yet. Owner doesn't remember which company."

"So between 8:30 and 10:15, 10:30."


Vivian sighed. "They've got a long history going. Here's what I've got from Evie Travis. See if this checks with what the Judge told you, Jack."

Jack nodded.

Vivian paused a moment and began. "Mary Rebekah Roberts marries Stephen Daniel Travis 10 years ago. She was 23, he was 24; they were friends in college. They met up again when both were reporting with the Denver Post, and that's when they got serious. Billy is born about a year, year and half later after they get married. A couple years later, Mary begins investigating Stuart James. That's her first big investigative article."

"Five," Jack interrupted, looking at a stapled pile of sheets. "Five years ago."

"James is...I don't know what he is. He's a corporate rancher or something. Something about shady deals they can't seem to pin on him. Couple months later, Stephen picks up an investigation on falsified land deeds."


"Yes. Evie said that a family friend was having trouble with property claims, Mary told Stephen, and he decided to look into it. Couple months after that, Stephen Travis is murdered in his home. Billy saw it."

Low whistles sounded around the table.

"Billy goes to live with his grandparents for awhile." Vivian put down her notepad and looked up at her team. "Now, I don't think the Travises meant anything by it--they wanted to help Billy and Mary, and it was a mutual agreement. Evie said that she and Orin suggested that Mary and Billy come live with them for awhile. Mary wasn't willing to leave the area, so they suggested just Billy come to live with them. Mary agreed."


"Mary has nightmares every once in awhile. She can't help her husband, and her husband comes back to take Billy." Vivian sat back and looked at the team expectantly.

"You think she took the kid and ran."

Vivian shook her head. "It's just a theory. Let me continue. During this year, Mary visits Billy at the Travises' home; all three try to convince Mary to live with them. They're genuinely worried about her living on her own, with Stephen's killers at large. She drops the Post and takes a job as an associate editor at the Clarion, a smaller newspaper."


"Higher pay...and more time on her hands."

"She's looking for her husband's killers."

Vivian nodded. "She hires a private investigator at one point."

Danny whistled. "Didn't like the police conclusion?"

"They said it was a random robbery. She doesn't seem to buy it all that much." Vivian squinted at the top sheet and then continued. "She meets the new ATF Team 7--about a year later. They're just recently formed team. Couple weeks after they first meet, Billy comes to visit Mary. He runs away one of the nights, and when they find him, he's screaming about 'the devil' coming to get his mother if he doesn't leave."

Martin cursed.

"Billy gets attached to the leader of the team, and the team sets a trap for Stephen's killers. Turns out to be a local hotel owner and a banker. They were in on the deals, falsifying land deeds, and then collecting on foreclosurses and the like. When Stephen Travis started digging, they killed him."

"The running away. Did Denver Missing Persons cover it?" Samantha asked.

"That's the problem," Jack interrupted. "They just faxed in all this info they got from the Post, the Clarion, family friends, etc. In it is their report on Billy Travis's disappearance." He looked up, a mix of disgust and amusement on his face. "Billy Travis ran away. Mary called the police, who called Denver Missing Persons. She then calls the Travises, and the Judge tells her to call Chris Larabee, head of ATF Team 7, for which the Judge often signs off warrants."


"The team comes out to her house, and while Missing Persons is still swarming over her house and trying to decide where to look, the ATF team shows up with the boy."

Martin whistled. "Well, don't say she didn't warn us."

Samantha looked at him. "Who?"

"Detective Wynn with the PD told us not to mention Denver MisPer," Vivian explained.

"Don't tell me the ATF team took him," Danny said in disbelief.

"The Missing Persons team finds no evidence of forced entry, so they think the kid's just hiding out around the neighborhood as a joke. The ATF team starts off thinking the same, but Mary is insistent enough that they think it might be more than just being mischievous. They scatter off to look for the kid. Larabee and his teammate Tanner find him out pretty far, screaming about people who are going to kill his mother. Covered quite a distance for a little boy." Jack pursed his lips and tossed the files onto the table. "That explains a lot."

"Of what?"

"Why both Denver and the Travises are insisting we be the primaries on this case."

Samantha's gaze fell on the papers and then turned back to Jack. "They're Denver inhabitants."

"Travises seem to think they were taken by someone in New York; or at least, they were taken in New York," Jack replied. "And, needless to say, Judge Travis is less than pleased with Denver Missing Persons concerning Billy's earlier case."

"I'll say."

"And the fact that our record is better than theirs...." Jack trailed off. "Let's just say Judge Travis doesn't usually ask for much, and when he wants something, he gets it."

Danny looked skeptical. "Not the way it's done, Jack," he said warningly.

"When I was in Seattle, everyone knew Orin Travis," Martin cut in. "He goes to the wall for anyone in law enforcement. When he asks for a glass of water, people fight to be the one to bring it. I doubt anyone would care that protocol got bent a little."

"I guess that's it, then. It's ours." Jack stood up. "Samantha and I will go talk to this Terri Greer. Martin, scare up what you can on the cab driver. Vivian, get on Mary's investigative articles. Danny, I want every last bit of information you can find on this ATF team and their ties to Travis."


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