Stop the Press

by Sammie


"All right. Moving on." Samantha pushed a photo in front of the girl. "Recognize these two?"

"Why would I recognize 'em?" Ray paused. "I...the kid looks familiar."

"Okay." The two agents leaned in closer.

"Few...few days ago, I think it was him. Yeah, it had to be him. Came in with his grandmother."

The door dings. Ray looks up to see an elderly woman and a little boy come in. She puts down her book and moves around the counter to the pair. "Hi, I'm Ray. Can I help you with anything?"

"I'm Evie, and this is Billy."

"Hi!" Billy smiles.

"Ma'am, Billy. Pleasure to meet you. Visiting New York?" Ray smiles.

"It's my first time!" Billy announces.

"Well, welcome! How do you like it?"

"We just got here this morning." Evie smiles. "Haven't seen much yet."

"Ah. Well, I hope you enjoy your stay here. There's a lot of neat stuff around here."

Billy tugs on his grandmother's hand. "Gran'ma, I wanna get something for Chris and Jimmy."

"You can look, sweetheart. We do have all week."

"Would you like to look over there?" Ray points at a shelf filled with souvenirs more fitting for small boys.

"Okay. Can I go, Gran'ma?"

"Sure, sweetie."

Billy follows Ray down the aisle.

"I have a little brother your age," Ray starts. "He generally likes some of the stuff from this area."

"Really, you have a brother?" Billy looks up. "That's neat." He sighs. "I want a little brother."

"Really? They aren't all they're cracked up to be, you know," Ray teases.

Billy looks horrified. "How can you say that?!"

Seeing that she's hit a nerve, she changes this subject. "How 'bout this?" Ray asks. She hands him a small toy.

"It's nice," Billy acknowledges. "I'd like it." He pauses. "Do you have any cowboy stuff?"

"Sorry. We don't have real cowboys over here. There isn't even much grass for cows to eat, much less cows or cowboys."

"Oh." Billy puts the souvenir back on the shelf and then leans over to look at another one.

Ray smiles. "They get in your stuff, you know--those little brothers. You'd have to share."

"I'd share everything!" Billy declares.

"Well, that's good. You'd make a fine big brother."

Billy beams, then his expression falls. "But I ain't gonna get one."

"Why not?"

"'Cause Ma said no, not yet, and when adults say 'not yet' it means 'no.' 'Sides, Buck says it takes two to tango."

Ray turns red and coughs. "This...ah...this Buck a friend of yours?"


"I hope you have other friends, too," Ray mutters.

"What's a tango?"

"A dance."

"Oh." A pause. "I still don't know what a dance has got to do with me getting a baby brother."

A pause, then a wicked grin. "Ask your friend Buck." Another pause, then a thoughtful frown. "Actually, that's not a good idea. Ask your mother."

"Buck told me not tell Ma. I'm not supposed to tell Chris, either."

"How true is that," Ray mutters. "Kids his age shouldn't be hearing this stuff." She raises her voice a little. "How old's this Buck?"


"And what else did this Buck tell you?" Ray asks suspiciously.

"He said he knows a guy who might be able to help me get a little brother. Says both Ma and I'd like him. Known this guy a long time, more n' ten years! Buck says he's perfect for the job."

"Really," Ray replies doubtfully.

"Uh-huh. But he says it's long and complicated and so I shouldn't hold my breath."

"I should think so."

"I can't hold my breath real long anyway."

Ray looks relieved that the topic is over. "Me neither. It's hard."

Billy sighs. "I wish whoever Buck said would hurry up."

Ray looks pained. "Well, how 'bout this. 'Stead of asking yer Ma or listening to Buck, tell God you want a baby brother. He works miracles."

Billy contemplates it for awhile. "Okay." He thinks some more. "Thanks!"

Ray breathes a sigh of relief. "Now, did you want to look for something else for your friend?"

Martin looked at Ray. "You're making this up."

"Sir, I'm not smart enough to make up something like that."

On the other side of the wall the ATF team was sliding down the walls in their laughter. Danny leaned his forehead against the window, his shoulders shaking silently.

"Buck," JD gasped between fits, "Chris is gonna kill you."

"And if he fails," Ezra added, "Ms. Travis will do the honors."

"Well how was I supposed ta know he was bein' so attentive? What'm I gonna do now?" Buck was in no small amount of panic.

"What happened then?" Samantha asked, finally calming down.

"Ellie came out."

"Ray, Simon has something in the back for you to do."

Ray turns around quickly, obviously surprised, and sees Ellie standing there. "Ellie! Ah--"

"I'll take care of our customer here." Ellie smiles.

Ray nods and smiles at Billy. "Billy, you have fun in New York." She's about to move on when she adds, "Oh, Billy's grandmother is near the front of the store."

Ellie nods and stares at her steadily.

Ray quickly scoots back behind the counter. Just as she's about to go in, she turns back to look at where Ellie is gently pushing Billy back to Evie.

She shrugs and steps past the curtain into the backroom. "Simon?" she calls. "Simon!"

"Oh hey, Ray." A middle-aged woman appears with a box. "Simon left already to run to the bank."

Ray looks puzzled. "When?"

"15 minutes ago."

"Oh." Ray pauses. "He leave any instructions?"

"Nope. But could you help me out with this stuff? The new snowglobes came in, but I have to do inventory this afternoon."

"'Course." Ray takes the box and sits down at the table, where she begins to unwrap the globes.

"He was gone."

Ray nods. "It was a little weird."

"And Ellie?"

Ray shrugs. "That was a little puzzling. She'll wait on customers sometimes, but she doesn't get along with kids, it seems."


"After a couple of minutes, I remembered I left my book out on the counter, so I went to get it. They were gone by then. Ellie was rearranging some stuff on the shelves."

Martin and Samantha exchanged looks.

"Do you know where Simon and Evie live?"

Ray paused a moment. "I have it in my address book."

"Get it!" the two agents nearly shouted, starting up.

"Okay, okay!" Ray fished through her bag and pulled up a small notebook. "Simon lives in an apartment near the store."

Martin and Samantha shared a look. That had to have been the one on JD's list.

"Ellie, when she's out here, stays in some house out on the richer part of Long Island. She invited us there for a Christmas party once, but." Ray shook her head.

"You didn't go?"

"No. I don't feel really comfortable around her." Ray flipped another page.

"You know anything about the house?"

"Liz--that's one of the other girls who work there--said each room's got a theme or something. One room looked the Old West. There was Asian-style furniture in another. One looked like Ellie had stolen a room from Colonial Williamsburg. Liz's favorite was the Victorian furniture in the foyer. That's all I know." Ray turned the book around and pointed at an address. "There."

"325 Chai Lane," Samantha read. "Perfect." Martin and Samantha bolted for the door.

"Look," Ray called after them. "Ellie and Simon, like I said, they disappear on us all the time. It's not a new thing. They'll be annoyed if you just bust in on them. I'm sure they're fine."

The two agents turned slowly. Martin nodded at Samantha, who quickly left.

"This look familiar?" Martin pushed a photo of Mary and Billy in front of her. Changing his mind, he pulled it back and put another one of Chris, Mary, and Billy.

"There's Billy," Ray commented. "That guy...looks a bit like Ellie's boyfriend. 'Cept...he's actually smiling."

Martin rolled his eyes. "This--is Chris."

"Ellie's boyfriend?" Ray was puzzled.

"Who your Ellie thinks is her boyfriend." Martin pointed at the photo. "This is Billy's 'friend' Chris."

Ray stared at the photo. "He's not--"

"No, he's not 10. He's over 40." Martin pulled the photo back and looked at her pointedly. "Your boss's real name is Ella Gaines, and she's wanted for the murder of Chris' wife and son and suspected of kidnapping Billy and his mother."

Ray blanched.

2230 EST

" and here." Vin pointed to the two locations on the large map of the neighborhood. "That way we can cover both the back and the front."

"Here we go," JD called as another box came in. "The extra wires!"

"He could either be in this room or in the basement." Danny pointed. "This is the only room without windows."

Jack looked up from the board a minute to see Larabee stride in and head straight over to the blueprint to join Standish and Danny.

Jack caught Sanchez's eye and the tall profiler smiled wearily at him as he headed over.

"Everything okay?"

"Took him to the gym to vent a little. Got a bill for a busted punching bag, but that's it. "

Jack nodded. "He going to be all right?"

"Hope so." Sanchez paused.

"Hey Jack, could ya come over here a minute?" Danny called.

Jack turned to Sanchez. "JD's looking for ya, when you're ready." Sanchez nodded.

"Jack." Danny nodded at Standish when Jack approached. "Chris and Ez came up with it. Dress Martin like Tanner, and Samantha like Mary long enough for Viv to get Mary out and me to get away with Billy."

Martin glared at this teammate.

Danny continued as Vivian joined them. "Tanner's going to be up in the house across the street. Gaines knows that Tanner would be here for this. So we keep Tanner where we need him and put Martin inside the house, like he's gonna be anyway. Except we dress him like Tanner--how Gaines expects it."

"So what's so bad about that idea?" Vivian looked at Martin.

"I didn't say it was bad. I thought it was a good one." Martin glared at Danny. "He's the one who's making it a big deal."

"Fitz, here?" Danny draped his arm around his teammate's shoulder in a friendly fashion. "Standish rather reluctantly suggested Vin's clothes and hat."

"Ain't nothin' wrong with m'clothes." Vin was insulted.

"And I added that Fitz should get the hair."

Martin scowled as everyone chuckled.

"Ain't nothin' wrong with m'hair!" Vin was doubly insulted.

"Can't grow it that long so soon," Martin retorted.

"Rogaine, Fitz, Rogaine!"

"No, I concur with Mr. Fitzgerald." Martin looked a little relieved. Ezra jerked the noose tight. "Hair extensions, or a wig, will suffice."

Vivian chuckled. "And Samantha?"

"She's already gone with the Travises to get the clothes she's going to wear. We're just trying to get Fitz to join her in the hair salon tomorrow morning." Danny smirked.

If looks could kill, Danny would've been a greasy spot on the floor.

2305 EST

"You think this will work?" JD whispered.

"Chris's ideas usually do."

"I hope this fools enough people for as long as we need it to."

"...and here with the FBI. A last plea for the safe return of a mother and her little boy who disappeared three days ago. A high profile case involving...."

"Yeah, yeah, cut to the chase," Martin exclaimed at the TV.

"There's Jack and Chris in the corner," Samantha pointed out.

"...please give us any information you might have about the people who took Mary and Billy," came Evie's sad voice. "Anything would be appreciated. Any leads, any tips. We really want Mary and Billy back and unharmed. ..."

"Stick to 'em, c'mon," Danny muttered.

"And that was Judge Orin Travis from Denver, with his wife, asking for the safe return of their daughter-in-law and their grandson. This case has brought up...."

"I say Evie Travis bluffs frighteningly well." Vivian was impressed. "You'd think that we had no idea about Gaines."

"Now let's just hope Ella and Petrie bought that load of hoohah," Buck finished.


"All their transmissions will go over this line," the agent explained as she tapped the small metallic box. "You should be able to hear everything that happens."

Orin and Evie nodded.

"They're planning to head in in a couple of minutes." The agent gently smiled. "I'll be in here with you as soon as I get word from Jack."

Orin smiled tightly. "Thank you."


"Vin? Can you hear us?" JD radioed in.


"That's it, then. We're ready to go, brothers." Josiah sat back. "Godspeed."


An old lady peeked out from behind the curtain. The white van was still there, with its huge cable TV logo.

"I didn't think Patricia would go for cable TV," she said to her husband, who was sitting at the table, reading a paper.

"Mind your own business, Helen."


"FBI! Freeze!" came the shouts as doors burst open.

Danny scrambled inside and flung open the door to the basement, another agent close behind him. The other agent picked off the lone guard attempting to cross the floor. The two descended quietly down the stairs.

The room was sparse--just a long sofa that had a pillow and a blanket on it. The blue jacket lay on the floor. An armoire stood in the corner, the two ornately carved doors shut.

"Where's the kid?" the agent whispered.

Danny shook his head and made his way slowly to the armoire. He reached to grab and fling open the door to find some force trying to hold it closed. He wrenched hard and heard a thump inside as his door flew open. He guessed Billy had retreated behind the other, still closed door. "Billy?"


"Now, I'm just gonna put my ID here on the floor for you to see, okay?" Danny slid his ID forward so the boy could see it. "I'm Danny. I'm here with your friend Chris and Buck and JD and everyone and we're gonna get you and your ma out of here, okay?"



"Where's Chris?"

"Chris is up front. He's gonna take out the bad guys. He and my boss Jack sent me to find you, and my friend Viv is gonna find your ma."

A little, dirty face appeared. Danny smiled encouragingly at him and quickly slipped a vest onto the child before grabbing his jacket and putting it over top. "Let's get out of here."

+ + + + + + +

"Okay, okay, I got it!" the radio crackled.

Orin gripped Evie's hand tightly.

"He's got him in his sights. Back off."

A click and a shot.

"Ya got him, Vin?"


Evie breathed a small sigh of relief.

+ + + + + + +

"No, Vin! Billy--I won't go without him!" Samantha nearly screamed.

"Mary, stop it! Let Chris handle this!"

"Good, good," JD's voice came over the earpiece. "Head towards the front of the house."

The two guards nodded at each other and hurried down the hall towards the two voices.

Martin and Samantha separated briefly and ducked down on the other side of the wall, waiting quietly as they listened to the footsteps approaching. Barely had the two guards appeared at the corner before the two had knocked them out cold on the floor.

Martin pointed down the hallway towards the front of the house.

"It's Tanner. He's got that woman. They're heading up the front."

+ + + + + + +

"Honey? Is Ellie Christopher having a party or something that I didn't get invited to?"

"Ain't nothing you can do about it if she is." Another page turned.

+ + + + + + +

Vivian motioned to the other agent to hold. Her weapon ready, Vivian tried to figure out what she could do to get inside safely. Was there anyone inside with Mary, and if so, who?

Then, better than she could hope for.

"I see someone tied up...probably Mary," Buck's voice crackled over the line. "I can see them from across the street. There's someone with her. Just one."

Vivian motioned to the other agent to try the other door.

He moved over quickly and lightly bumped the other door. Vivian could hear the footsteps going farther away from her door, towards the other agent's.

"He's moving...he's moving over to that door."

Vivian held up three fingers and quickly 'counted down.' The two burst inside.

Vivian moved quickly to untie their quarry as the agent coldcocked the guard. Vivian ripped off the gag and tossed it to the other agent, who promptly moved to bind the prone guard.

"I'm sure glad to see you," Mary whispered.

Vivian smiled. "As are we, Ms. Travis." She tossed the ropes she'd gotten off to the other agent.

"My son. Where's my son? They took--"

"We know, Ms. Travis. We have an agent on it now."

"I'm not leaving without him," Mary insisted in a whisper.

Vivian gripped her arm, looking at the worried green eyes. "You have to trust us."

+ + + + + + +

"Welcome, Brother Daniel." Orin and Evie could almost see the big ATF profiler smiling.

"It's a sad day when I'm glad to see you two," came the breathless voice of the FBI agent.

Orin and Evie waited tensely.

"Hey there, Billy," JD's voice came over the line.

"Hi, JD," came the little voice.

Tears began to slide down Evie's face.

"You feeling okay, Billy?"

"Uh huh."

"Danny, there's some water in the back and some blankets. Help yourself."

"Sure thing."

Orin hugged his wife.

+ + + + + + +

With Mary's arm across her shoulders and her own wrapped around the woman's waist, Vivian was making frighteningly slow progress. Mary was trying to move quickly, but her legs were stiff and numb as it was without those nasty red marks that had obviously been bleeding.


Vivian shoved Mary into a hall closet, climbed in after her, and slid the door shut after both of them. Footsteps thundered by and faded quickly. "Okay." Vivian, after checking the room, climbed out quietly with Mary and they started down the hall again.

They rounded a corner and nearly crashed into another pair, who continued on past them. Mary turned in puzzlement as the longhaired blonde followed her longhaired partner down the hall.

They continued on through the living room. Steps, doors opening and closing, and shouts sounded around the house.

Vivian didn't even know her gun had left her holster until she heard the shot. She turned quickly. In Mary's free right hand was her FBI-issue weapon, smoking, and a guard lying flat on the ground.

"Let's get outta here," Mary muttered and shoved the weapon back into Vivian's holster.

+ + + + + + +

"Paul, are you sure you don't want to check on them? Was that another gunshot? What do you think they're doing over there?"

"Could be a car backfiring, and they're probably wishing you wouldn't spy on them."

+ + + + + + +

"Welcome, sisters." Josiah threw open the door and ushered the two women onto the van.

"Hey Mary, Viv!" JD grinned and returned to the monitors. He nodded at the back.

Vivian saw them first. The boy looked even smaller than usual, sitting there huddled in a blanket on Danny's lap. JD's newsboy cap fell over his forehead and he pushed it back as he finished another gulp of water. Danny took his cup and nodded.

The boy moved tentatively past the dark curtain and peeked out. "Ma...?"


"Mommie!" Billy launched himself into his mother's arms as Danny and Vivian smiled.

Mary gave a cry of relief as she sat down hard on the floor of the van. She hugged him tightly, pressing her lips together to keep from crying. The two FBI agents watched with smiles as Mary checked her son over for injuries and then hugged him again.

"Ma, you're squishing me."

"Oh. I'm...I'm sorry." Mary let him go and sat back to look at her son, tears filling her eyes.

"Ma, don't cry." Billy held out the napkin he had in his hands and clumsily tried to wipe away his mother's tears.

Mary enveloped him in her arms again.

+ + + + + + +

"They're both safe, Judge, Mrs. Travis." The agent smiled at the elderly couple.

"Thank you." Orin's voice trembled ever so slightly.

"Agent Johnson said they appear to be all right. We'll be taking them to the hospital soon. If you would like, there'll be a driver waiting right outside headquarters to take you there."

+ + + + + + +


So that was her. Jack moved into the shadows of the front porch as he watched the woman step out of the house. His first thought was that Ella had made a really stupid move, showing up and calling out to Chris...but then again, Ella was insane.

"I've always loved you, Chris."

Jack checked his back quickly and pressed closer to the wall. Then he saw it--she had a holster strapped around her waist. She'd never be able to beat Larabee to the draw, but that didn't mean no one else would be hurt.

"I did what I had to do so that we could be together."

"Stay calm, stay calm," Jack muttered. "Hold."

"I couldn't let her take you away from me. I'm the woman that you love, even if you don't always know it."

"You killed my wife and my son. You were going to kill another little boy and his mother," Chris hissed, finally finding his tongue. His gun was trained directly on her.

"I'll kill anyone who comes between us!"

Suddenly a flash across the porch caught Jack's attention. He jumped out of his spot and ran forward as both he and Chris turned on the intruder and fired.

Shots...Simon Petrie fell.

Jack saw, from the corner of his eye, Ella pull her gun and point it at him. He dove under the porch.

"Chris!" came a strangled cry. Ella looked shocked for a moment as the gun fell from her hands and she slid lifelessly to the ground in front of Chris.

Jack got up and scooted over to the body. He took one look at Chris's stunned face and knew that Larabee hadn't fired that fatal shot. He leaned down to take a pulse and look at the wound. "She's dead. Clean shot to the head. Must've been Tanner."

Chris nodded numbly.

Vin half-ran and half-limped towards them, his rifle in hand, the FBI sniper partnered with him close on his heels. He looked at Chris, who continued to stare at Ella's body, and then at Jack.

Jack nodded in response to the question in Vin's eyes and then mouthed, 'Thanks.'

Vin nodded back and moved forward a tentative step. "It's over, Chris."

Chris stared unmovingly.

Jack saw the van peel into the driveway and the door burst open. JD and Josiah piled out, followed by Vivian and Danny, who were helping Mary out of the van. Billy jumped out and started forward. "Chris! I knew you'd find us!" He stopped when his hero didn't move. "Chris?"

Mary's expression fell a little and she moved in front of her son protectively as the other agents moved away from them.

"Chris?" came the little voice again, weaker this time. "Ma? What's wrong with Chris?"

"Chris," Vin repeated quietly.

Larabee blinked for a moment, as if waking from a deep sleep. He looked around, as if seeing everything for the first time, and stalked into the house.

The agents stood watching the front door swing back and forth slowly until it finally closed.

Jack stirred, waving over the other agents and beginning to issue orders. "Get people on the cleanup and let's see what we can find in the house. Where's Martin and Samantha?"

"They just went back inside, when it was all over," JD replied. "Martin had said something about finding that kid's bomber after Danny said he didn't see it."

They headed into the house. Agents swarmed all over it, taking prints, moving things, taking evidence, wrestling those still alive out of the house and into the patrol cars.

"Well?" Jack asked when Samantha appeared.

Samantha shook his head. "Not yet. Martin's still looking."

Larabee passed by them slowly, tiredly, heading for the front door. The two FBI agents watched as he quietly opened the door and stepped outside.

"He was tearing the house apart, looking to see if Ella had more of his wife's things," Samantha murmured. "Martin was helping him. There's nothing out here, though, except one of his old razors. They looked everywhere."

"He going to be okay?"

"I think so. There's none of that usually explosive temper thing we see. I think he's just exhausted emotionally."

"All right." As Samantha left, Jack moved into the foyer. He rifled through the small nook in the corner and moved on to the small desk near a front window. The gentle breeze blew the curtain to the side, and it caught on a nearby lampshade.

Several feet from the van, Mary was standing ramrod straight, watching warily as the ATF team leader stepped back out of the house and onto the porch. She kept her hand on her son, holding him protectively behind her.

She must've been quite used to Larabee's moods.

The little boy peeked around his mother's side and saw the FBI agent standing in the window. Jack smiled and indicated Chris with a tilt of his head. Billy looked hopefully at him and pointed at himself. Jack nodded.

Billy crept around his mother and walked timidly over towards the agent, who fell to his knees in front of the little boy. "Chris, are you okay?"

"Yeah," came the hoarse whisper. "Yeah." He reached out a hand hesitantly, pausing a moment before gently ruffling the boy's hair.

Billy threw his arms around the man's neck and the agent hugged him tightly.

"Eavesdropping?" Danny grinned as he joined Jack by the window.

"Just happened to chance by," Jack corrected lightly.

"Chris?" The little voice floated over to the FBI agents. "Chris, you're squishing me."

The two men chuckled as the agent quickly released the boy, took his hand, and walked slowly to the woman still standing at a distance.

"Jack?" Martin appeared in the doorway, holding up Billy's crumpled bomber in a gloved hand. "Do we want us to take prints or anything?"


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