Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: This fic includes a small crossover cameo and is a sequel to One Night In Vegas
My thanks as ever to the wonderful Helen for all her hard work.
Main Characters: Buck and Ezra with some help from Chris and JD.
"Where is he?" Chris asked, barely keeping a lid on his temper as he ground the words out.
"Through here." The desk Sargent showed the Larabee through the cells.
Buck was stretched out on the hard brick ledge, topped with a plastic covered foam mattress that served the police cell as a bed.
"Bang when you want out," the policeman told Chris before he closed the door behind him.
Chris took a long breath - he wasn't going to shout, he had decided that and he wouldn't hit his oldest friend well, not inside the stationhouse in a strange city anyway, the cops in Denver might be used to Team Seven's idiosyncrasies, but not these cops.
"So, tell me what the hell is going on?" he demanded.
Wilmington made no reply, he didn't even move, his arm resting over his eyes.
"Do you know what they say you did?" The man on the bed nodded almost imperceptibly. "Is it true?"
There was a long silence then finally just one word. "Yes."
"What!" Chris bellowed. It was more shock than anger. Buck had one of the longest fuses of any man he knew; maybe only Nathan took longer to rile. He was also an inveterate defender of others, you only had to look at the way he protected JD and all but worshiped women to see that. "Why for God's sake?"
Buck didn't answer.
"God damn it Buck tell me what's going on, defend yourself, don't just lie there."
"Stay out of it, it's got nothing to do with you." The tall man on the cell bed still hadn't moved.
"No way, I'm not gonna let you throw your career away like this. Hell, you could go to jail! Have you any concept what your life expectancy would be in jail?" Chris was confused, angry and afraid. Never good at handling such emotions he advanced on Wilmington, intent on gaining eye contact and some answers. But Buck was too quick for him. In a flash the lanky agent was up and in two strides was at the door, banging on it and shouting for the guard.
The door swung open almost instantly. "He's leaving," Buck stated without looking up, then he crossed back to the bed and lay down as before.
"I am not."
Officer Rance took a deep breath. The tall blond man had already been throwing federal weight about, and he didn't want to tangle with him again, but there were rules to follow.
"I'm sorry sir, you can't stay if the prisoner wishes you to leave, sorry." He stood by the open door holding his arm out, inviting Chris to leave.
"We are not through," Chris warned Buck as he left the cell.
"Well?" JD asked as Chris came out of the stationhouse.
"He admitted it."
"What? No way! Chris - Buck wouldn't do that - he just wouldn't," JD protested.
"He says he did."
"There were witnesses," Ezra attested as he walked up.
The other two turned to face Standish as he approached.
"What have you found out?" Larabee demanded, making no attempt to control his temper.
48 Hours Earlier
"What?" JD asked his friend. Somehow JD always knew when something was bothering his 'brother'. "I thought you were looking froward to this trip?"
Buck pulled his face away from the plane window, looking as if he were a thousand miles away.
"What - oh I am, just well it's been a while, you know? Look." The tall man pulled back so JD could see the view. It was night and their plane was dropping down though a clear night to land at Las Vegas. The myriad lights of the Strip were spread out below them, like a horizontal firework display.
"Wow," JD breathed.
Four members of Team Seven were attending a long weekend convention for federal agents from all the different agencies. Chris and Ezra were sitting behind Buck and JD on the plane. The other three had attended a similar convention in Atlantic City the year before, so they were 'minding the shop' as Chris put it.
The four of them dutifully attended some of the seminars and presentations; mostly they had fun, met old contacts and indulged. Chris met some old friends from the ATF office in San Diego, Ezra disappeared into the hotel casino with a look of pure joy on his face and Buck took it upon himself to show JD his hometown.
On the first evening - Friday - they went on the town together, partied with some of the other delegates and finally ended up in a small but comfortable bar around the black form the convention hotel. Chris was sipping a fine malt whisky, while Ezra nursed a brandy. Buck and JD were drinking beer and tucking in to mini ribs in bar-b-q sauce.
"What delights do we have tomorrow, Mr Dunne?" Ezra drawled.
"Oh, um, hang on a sec " JD wiped the stickiness from his chin and fingers.
"Mr Larabee, did we have to bring the children on this trip?" Ezra asked.
Larabee just rolled his eyes, as JD read allowed. "Um Saturday June 15th we have a seminar on sexual harassment." JD and Ezra both turned to look at Buck.
"What?" the tall man asked.
"Shit!" Chris exclaimed.
"Well I know it's boring, but Buck really should go to this," JD smirked.
"I ain't never sexually harassed anyone in my life!" Buck protested. "Why are y'all lookin' at me?"
"Now Mr Wilmington, I have seen you, perching on the desks of the young women at work, admiring their cleavage, calling them 'darling' and 'sweet cakes' and 'sugar'. I believe you will find that all counts as sexual harassment, in the current climate," Ezra advised.
"No it ain't, not if they dont report you - has anyone ever reported me?" Buck asked. There was silence around the table. "Well?" More silence. "Right! Because it's only harassment when you only do it for you and you don't mean it. I ain't like that, and the women know that. I do not harass women, fellas, and don't you forget that."
"JD, are you sure it's the 15th tomorrow?" Chris asked.
The young man looked at is watch. "Well technically it's today, but yes - why?"
"Forgot didn't ya?" Buck asked Chris.
Chris just snorted and stood up. "I'll see you boys at the conference hotel - Buck?"
"You are going to that sexual harassment thing and you take notes, you hear me?"
"But Chris, I "
Once the man in black had left the table the other two turned on Buck. "Okay Buck, what is eating Chris, what did he forget?"
Buck smiled evilly. "It's Fathers Day, guess he didn't send ol' Tom a card - again, Maggie's gonna kill him."
The other two just stared at him
"Are we going to receive a translation?" Ezra enquired.
"Chris' parents. Maggie's a real Irish fireball I tell you." He looked up to find the other two looking at him in amazement. "What? You think Chris was bred in a test tube?"
"Well " JD began.
"No," Ezra cut in. "But I believe we were both under the impression Mr Larabee's parents were dead, pray enlighten us further."
"Well I can't, not if Chris hasn't told you nothing."
"Please Buck," JD pleaded, turning on the innocent puppy eyes.
"Oh quit that will you! Okay, okay, Thomas Adam Larabee, Colonel, US Air Force - retired, they live in Florida now." He turned to Ezra. "That's it, that's all I'm saying, and if you tell Chris I told you I'll deny it and tell him you paid the kid to hack into the personnel records."
"Brothers? Sisters? Please warn us if there are more out there like him?" Standish enquired.
Buck through back his head and laughed. "Hell no, Chris is unique, haven't you worked that out? No - there is only Chris."
"Well that is one expense I have been able to avoid at least," JD commented some what wistfully.
"Yeah, me too," Buck added, his tone suddenly more serious. "What about you Ez, you ever send a Fathers Day card?"
Ezra looked incredulous. "While Mother has deemed it necessary to gift me with a step father from time to time, I have never seen the need to line the pockets of the greetings card industry by marking their presence in any way." Maude had made him sign birthday cards for them on occasion but he never chose a card for any of them or showed any interest in any card or gift given on his behalf.
Buck thought it sad that of all the men that had passed through young Ezra's life not one seemed to have formed any relationship with him, not one that was beneficial to the young Ezra at least. He used to wonder what it was like to have a father, to have a man in your home who you could trust, who didn't want anything in return for your affection. But that hadn't lasted long- he was happy with his mother and his extended family of aunts, on all of whom he had showered cards and gifts when ever it was appropriate. As he sat there thinking he almost didn't hear JD speaking again.
"You know why I joined the force?" he asked suddenly.
Both Buck and Ezra had indeed wondered on occasion. MIT graduates on any police force were rare, MIT graduates who were only nineteen with degrees so impressive they must have had every company from Microsoft to NASA after them, were unheard of.
"No, I don't believe I do Mr Dunne, pray enlighten me," Ezra requested, with genuine interest.
"It's what my daddy wanted to be, but he never was." JD looked down at his half-drunk beer sadly.
"What happened to him JD?" Buck asked softly, the hand that had been resting across the back of the booth they occupied moved to rest very gently on JD's back.
"He and Mom were collage sweet hearts, Mom got pregnant his final summer. Dad applied to join the NYPD Academy - got accepted. He would have started in September, but he was killed, hit and run, in the August, so he never got to be a cop and he never got to see me." JD looked up at his surrogate big brother. "He would have been a good cop."
"If he was only even half as good as you kid, he would have been a great cop," Buck assured.
"Was your father's killer ever apprehended?" Ezra asked.
JD shrugged. "Don't know, Mom never mentioned it and I never asked. We sure didn't get any money, I know that."
"What was his name?" Buck asked, his hand moving from the younger mans back to rest easily around the back of his neck.
"John Daniels. Dunne is Mom's name, just because they weren't married she wasn't allowed to list him as my dad."
"Raise your glasses boys," Buck announced, picking up his beer. When all three glasses were raised he proposed the toast. "To John Daniels, a good cop and father."
"To John Daniels."
"So," Buck turned to Ezra. "Since it is Fathers Day, tell us about your dad - your real dad."
Standish regarded his two friends. It was not is policy to reveal his past to anyone, not normally. But Buck and JD weren't just 'anybody', they were family. The amount of alcohol he had consumed was making him feel even closer than normal to the two dark haired men opposite him. Buck in particular he had always had an affinity to, the tall gregarious man had accepted him from the start. He had overheard Buck state quite firmly to Nathan when he had been on the team only a few days that - 'I judge a man as I find him, not as others tell me, so unless he gives me reason not to trust him, I'm gonna trust him." Nathan had responded with "Even with your life? Thats a mighty big thing to be trusting to a stranger." "Ain't no degrees of trust, Nate," Buck had countered. "You either trust someone or you don't, thats it. You don't want him covering your ass, he can cover mine any day." Well if Buck could trust him that much on faith alone perhaps he could be trusted with a little Standish family history.
"Well," he began, "my father was not American."
"Figures," put in Buck.
"And what does that mean, may I ask?" Ezra enquired indignantly.
"Just it figures you'd be different - exotic if you like."
Ezra raised an eyebrow. "Exotic?"
"Yup. Go on tell us about him."
"Well like young Master Dunne, I never met him you understand, and Standish is Mothers name." Ezra took a sip of his brandy. It wasn't a particularly good brandy, but better then he might have expected. "His name was Pierre Jacquet. Mother was in Cannes at the time, fleecing her way through the rich and stupid. Jacquet was a member of the aristocracy, a count, fabulously wealthy, lots of old money - Mother does so love old money. She was young then and he was by all accounts very handsome."
"Maude must have been a stunner then," Buck commented.
"So I believe," Ezra continued. "They were very close, and voila! I was conceived. Maude went to her lover and told him the good news - he was to be a father, they must marry instantly, except "
"He wasn't a rich count at all," JD ventured.
"Very astute Master Dunne, but he was a count, just a very poor one, Mother liked the idea of being a countess, but only if she could be a rich countess. So she returned to the dear old US of A so her child would be born here and there would be not arguments about nationality."
"So if he dies, do you become a count?" Buck asked.
"He might be dead for all I know, and no I do not, for that to happen he and mother would have had to marry - which they did not. We " he looked up at his two companions. " bastards have no rights of inheritance." He watched Buck give him a rueful smile and give JD a gentle squeeze of the neck. "Do you want to know something really funny?" The brandy was having more of an effect.
"Sure, go ahead," JD encouraged.
"See that casino right over there?" He pointed down the street and across the road. JD obediently peered. Buck didn't bother, he knew what was there. "That is where I was born, right there in that casino." Ezra giggled. "It is my destiny to gamble."
Buck frowned at Ezra for a long time.
"Mr Wilmington, what have I said to offend you and thus cause you to frown so."
"How old are you, Ezra?" Buck asked.
"Since you insisted on arranging a surprise party for my last birthday, you know I am 33, what of it?"
"And your birthday is in July, near the end, er 30th?"
"I was there, when you were born I was there in the casino! Well I'll be!" Buck began to laugh.
"Oh come on Buck, how could you have been "
"No I was, I swear."
Buck then told them the tale of the night he saw a child born in the casino where his mother danced. When the story was done, the other two stared at him, open-mouthed.
"You met Elvis?" JD asked in a hushed whisper of awe. Buck nodded. "Oh my God!"
"This is not one of your tall tales is it, Mr Wilmington?"
"Swear to God Ezra, I met Elvis the night you were born."
"And you thought he was your Pa?" JD asked.
Buck smiled wistfully. "Well, let's just say I wished he was."
"Come on Mr Wilmington, we told you about ours, what about your father, who was he?" Ezra asked. JD's silent plea for him not to ask that question came too late.
Wilmington just shrugged. "Got no idea." He didn't offer anymore information. "Come on kid, Ezra may be able to stay up all night but I need my beauty sleep." With that he was up and heading to the door. JD gave an apologetic shrug to Ezra and followed Buck out of the bar.
By the time they all met up again it was ten in the morning and they were having breakfast. Which was to say Buck and JD were eating breakfast while Chris and Ezra sipped black coffee.
"So Stud, did you find yourself a Father's Day card?" Buck asked Chris over his ham and eggs.
For once Chris didn't glare at him, he actually smiled. "Sure did, you know you can buy anything in this place, even in the middle of the night? Sent it FedEx, he should get it later this morning."
"Isn't that a somewhat costly way to send a greetings card?" Ezra enquired.
"Oh he knows," Buck supplied with a smirk.
"Buck," Chris warned.
"No cost is too great to avoid the wrath of Maggie! Right, Chris?"
Chris tried to look mean and glare at his old friend but he couldn't keep it up. "Too true, you guys have no idea! Buck you remember that time your leg got sliced and you wouldn't stay in bed?"
Buck stated laughing. "Oh man, that was scary," he admitted.
"See," Chris began. "Dad was teaching at the air force academy when we were first in the DPD. Some punk slashes Buck across thigh and nicks an artery, he near bled out! So he's about to be discharged to this rat hole apartment he had and Mom comes steaming it the hospital and refuses to let him go home. He took him home with her - I wasn't even living at home!"
Buck shook his head. "I'd only met her once, but there is no saying no to Maggie."
"He was meant to rest for a week but you know Buck. He was up after two days, it was a real battle of wills." Chris was grinning like a loon now.
"Who won?" JD asked.
"You have to ask? Where do you think Chris learned to glare?" Buck explained.
Buck obediently attended the lecture on sexual harassment - he fell asleep after about ten minutes. The others attended various presentations on new equipment and techniques, then met up again at lunchtime. Ezra was bitching about the fact that the hotel had no copies of the Wall Street Journal left.
"Well if you got up in the morning, there might have been some left," Chris pointed out.
"Ten a.m. is morning Mr Larabee," Standish pointed out.
Buck suggested he take a look at the Las Vegas Review Journal - he even went and got him a copy. Standish muttered about 'hic towns' and 'remote fly blown sand traps' while he read his paper. As they ate Buck read the other side of the Ezra's paper, there was a slight disagreement when Ezra turned the page and covered up the sports page.
"Let's remember who bought the paper, shall we?" Wilmington grumbled.
Eventually Ezra had read the business pages and moved to the news, this left Buck reading the entertainment news. Had he not been hidden behind the paper the others would have seen him stiffen, they would have seen a look pass momentarily over his face that was pure hate, then a blank mask to rival any Ezra had was in place as he stood up.
"I have to take care of some personal business; I'll see you guys." With that he tossed a twenty on the table to take care of his share of the bill and strode out of the diner. It all happened so fast no one had time to react.
"What the hell was all that about?" Chris asked the others, who could only shrug in response.
"If Mr Wilmington will not aid in his own defence I suggest we do want we are trained to do and investigate this crime. I have faith in him and I believe the truth - the real truth will be revealed," Ezra stated.
"I agree," JD chimed in.
"Very well, what is this man's name?" Larabee looked over at Ezra, he had proposed the investigation, and he could lead it.
"His name is Jean-Michel Henry."
"Hey I know that name, he's some kind of big name on Broadway," JD added excitedly.
"Correct - a producer. So why would a gallant and honourable man like our Mr Wilmington strike an elderly Broadway producer?"
They split up, Chris stayed close to Buck and kept an eye on the official investigation - which since Buck wasn't denying the charges was cursory at best. JD returned to the hotel and hooked in the internet and the office in Denver, asking Josiah to pull Buck's personnel file, scan it and e-mail it to him. Ezra went to see the victim.
Jean-Michel Henry had been more shocked than hurt when he was struck by the tall dark stranger. He was a tall man himself, with narrow features, broad shoulders and balding grey hair. There had been people in the corridor when he opened the door of his room to the tall stranger. All the man had done was hit him and walk away. One of the witnesses called hotel security who detained the man as he walked out of the elevator. Henry insisted charges were pressed and Buck was arrested.
By the time Ezra arrived at the large suite, the police had left and Henry's assistant and secretary were already dealing with the press. Ezra easily mingled with the reporters, listening and remembering all kinds of tit bits of information. He noted that the elderly man was looking tired, and as Ezra watched he whispered to the man who appeared to be his assistant and then slipped back to the bedroom. Ezra knew there was a door to that room from the corridor, he had seen it, and he had also noted that unlike the rest of the doors it was opened using a key and not an electronic key card. The relatively simple lock yielded to Ezra's lock pick in seconds.
"Who the hell are you?" the elderly man lying on the bed asked, sitting up.
"No one you need to be worried about. Ezra Standish, Federal Agent." Ezra flashed his badge so fast the man had no chance to read it properly. "I have a few more questions to ask you sir."
"Oh for goodness sake - you lot have asked every question, you can't have any more! And in any case, what does a federal agent want with this matter?"
"Well," Ezra prowled the room while oozing charm and sincerity. "The federal government likes to keep an eye on celebrities it considers a national treasure," he purred. It was always good to stroke the egos of the rich and famous, especially if they were in show business. "Tell me, is this your first trip to Vegas, Mr Henry?"
"No, as I told the other officers, I started out here producing shows. I still have friends here and I like to keep in touch."
"Really? Las Vegas must have changed a lot since you first came here, when was that?"
"In the sixties if you must know, and yes it has changed a lot look, why are you here Mr Standish, because I am tired and I need some rest."
"Yes, of course. I am so sorry, do you mind if I use the bathroom just quickly?" Ezra was already walking toward the bathroom door.
"Well I don't I " But Ezra was already in the doorway.
"Thank you so much, so kind." With that Ezra was out of sight and the door was closed.
JD and Ezra met up at the room JD and Buck were sharing. "What have you found out?" Ezra asked, as he came in, not even bothering with any pleasantries.
JD looked up from his laptop. "Buck lived here from the age of about six, went to school and college here. His mom was a dancer in the shows at least in the first few years, what she did after she stopped dancing I don't know." There was something about the way he said it that made Ezra think the young man did know but wasn't about to tell. Well, that wasn't unexpected - he and Wilmington were like brothers, so it wasn't surprising they shared secrets.
"What about his father?" Ezra asked.
"Like me - listed as 'unknown'." JD suddenly looked up at Ezra, his expression easy to read.
"Have no fear, I will not reveal any personal information you pass on about our friend. Your birth certificate may say 'unknown' but you know who he was, don't you?"
"Yeah, but if he knows he's never mentioned it to me."
Ezra nodded. "Tell me about Henry, tell me about the shows he produced here in 1962."
JD clicked on Jean-Michel Henry's bio, scrolling up to the beginning of his career. "Yup he was here, look." Ezra walked around to view the screen. "Why do you need to know?"
"A hunch; is there a list of the cast of these shows?" he asked.
"Not on line but there must be a record somewhere here in town." JD looked up at Ezra, the southerner was pacing.
Finally he looked up. "Find it. I need the cast lists for shows he produced from August '62 to spring '63."
JD was thinking of asking what he was looking for but decided it was better just to do as the undercover agent wanted.
Chris was increasingly frustrated with Buck who was doing nothing to save himself and refused to speak to him. Ezra's call was a distraction to his frustration. He met Standish outside the Las Vegas crime lab.
"Tell me again - why we are here?" he asked his mercurial undercover agent.
"I need a DNA comparison on two samples. I think you are the best one to 'convince' the CSI's to help us."
Chris rolled his eyes, and headed into the building.
The offices of the Las Vegas crime lab were modern and apparently constructed mainly of glass. After negotiating the minions in the front office with Larabee's usual flair they found their way to the CSI office of one Gil Grissom.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" he asked.
"Chris Larabee, ATF out of Denver, this is Ezra Standish, we are here "
"For the convention," Grissom supplied.
"Yeah, but that's not why we are here now, we need " He turned to Ezra. "What do we need?"
"A DNA comparison. I can explain it to your technician."
"Oh Gris I " Nick Stokes stopped mid-sentence when he found unexpected visitors in his boss' office.
"Sorry Nick, I'm coming. Mr Larabee, we can process your request but I dont know when. We are very pressed for time."
"So are we, this involves one of my team, currently in a Las Vegas jail cell " Chris was about to go all 'scary, full on glaring' Larabee on Grissom, little knowing how ineffectual it would have been, when Stokes spoke.
"Chris Larabee?" Nick asked, coming further into the room. "The Chris Larabee, as in ATF Denver?"
"Yes," Chris responded cautiously.
"As in Team Seven, Los Magnificos?"
"Well yes." Chris was unsure where this line of questioning was going.
"Grissom, you do know who these guys are don't you?" Stokes asked his boss, a huge grin on his face. Grissom just frowned looking from Stokes to the two strangers and back. "Look, we're the best CSI lab in the county right?"
"We're the second best Nick, as well you know," Grissom corrected, not letting how much that grated with him show in his voice.
"Nah, we're number one, you know DC only beat us 'cause they run to the FBI lab whenever they get stuck," Nick stated firmly, not missing the soft snort from Standish. "Now Mr Larabee " Nick knew enough about Team Seven not to be too familiar with its notorious leader. " is the team leader of the best tactical team of any federal agency in the whole country, Team Seven, Los Magnificos, the Magnificent Se "
"I know what it means, Nick," Gil cut the younger man off.
But Nick was not to be stopped. "Best arrest to conviction ratio, best clear up rate, one of the most economically efficient teams."
Ezra raised his eyebrow at Chris, as if to say. We are economically efficient? If this is so, why do you keep complaining about my perfectly legitimate expense claims?
"Shut up Ezra," Chris growled.
"I didn't say a word sir," Ezra protested.
Chris gave Ezra the glare and then turned back to face the two CSI's.
"So what can we do for you," Nick offered before Grissom could say anything.
Ezra stepped forward. "We are in need of a speedy DNA comparison, would you be able to assist me in locating the laboratories?"
"No sweat, glad to be able to help you guys, I'm sure Greg can do it for you - right Gris?"
Grissom had been watching it all with a degree of curiosity and amusement, it was clear Stokes was something of a fan of Mr Larabee and his team. He nodded silently as Nick led Ezra out of the office.
Once in the lab Ezra produced two evidence bags, each containing a toothbrush, one labelled W one H. Greg took the two brushes away and set about extracting DNA. The tests would take some time to complete so Nick took Ezra's cell number and promised to call as soon as he got the results. Once the two ATF agents had left Grissom turned to his subordinate.
"So what are you, some kind of federal agent groupie?" he asked, with a typical look of detached curiosity.
"I keep an eye on the law enforcement community thats all - but honestly, if even half what they say about those guys is true, then they deserve our help." He turned to face Grissom more fully. "Besides you never know when we might need a favour in Denver."
"From the ATF?"
"From anyone. I reckon you could get help from anyone in Denver just by using Larabee's name."
"Mmm," Grissom considered what he had observed of Mr Larabee. Definitely an alpha male, he thought to himself. "Very possibly."
JD had discovered that the individual hotels kept the records of show casts, luckily Henry had only worked on one show, at the Dunes. He was standing at a photocopier dutifully copying show casts and employment records from forty years ago. Eventually, he carefully placed the papers back in the files, profusely thanked the office assistant who had helped him and gathering his copies set out to return to his hotel room. Ezra was already there when he came in.
"Any luck?" JD asked.
"We shall see."
JD moved into the room. "Where's Chris?"
"Gone to talk to the witnesses. Have you found anything?"
"Give me a chance! It would help if I knew what I was looking for," Dunne pointed out.
Ezra picked up some of the papers. "I believe we will know when or if we find it."
Nearly an hour later JD suddenly sat up. "Got it!" he cried.
"What do you have, Mr Dunne?"
"September 15th 1962, Cynthia Wilmington, born March 16th 1943, employed as a chorus girl, Jean-Michel Henry was the producer." JD looked up. "Is that what you were looking for, Buck's mom?"
"I suspected. For how long was she employed?"
"Um hang on, I'll check." Eventually he looked up again. "She was dismissed in January '63. Four months, thats not long."
"Does it say why she left?" Ezra asked.
After scanning the documents again JD shook his head. "Sorry."
Ezra collected the relevant documents and lay back on the bed - all they could do now was wait and call room service. An hour later Chris walked in, throwing the keys to his hire car on the bed, regardless of the fact that Ezra was lying on it eating a steak sandwich.
"You know this my room," JD pointed out, "mine and Buck's."
"Whatever." Chris slumped down in the nearest chair. "Ezra, what did Henry look like when you saw him, how much damage did Buck do?"
"Cut lip - not split - slightly swollen nose, it probably bled a bit."
"Yeah, that fits with the witness accounts, one blow to the side of the face. He didn't have a black eye?"
"Jean-Michel Henry says he was struck repeatedly," Chris explained.
Ezra shook his head. "Once I would say, and once only. And Mr Wilmington pulled that punch - I have seen him hit. You, Mr Larabee, have felt him hit I believe. If he had hit that old man at full power he would be in the hospital."
"See! I knew it," JD exclaimed. "I knew Buck wouldn't hurt an old man."
"He may have pulled the punch, but he definitely did hit him," Chris confirmed.
Two hours later Ezra's cell phone rang. Once he finished the call Ezra stood up, he collected up all the documents he and JD had sorted out headed to the door.
"I had a hunch, seems I was right. I will tell you what I have found out after I have hopefully aided in Mr Wilmington's release. I ask you to trust me."
"Yes?" The man at the door asked Ezra.
"Ezra Standish, federal agent, I need to speak to Mr Henry." He flashed his badge at the assistant.
"Mr Henry is sleeping, can't this wait?"
"No." Ezra pushed past the man and into the hotel suit. "Is he in the bedroom?" Ezra strode toward the second room.
"No! Wait! You can't go in there!" the assistant protested, but it was too late - Ezra had already opened the door. There, in the light spilling in from the other room, was Mr Jean-Michel Henry, aged 77, in bed with his twenty-something secretary - if she really was a secretary.
"Well, well, well. Old habits die hard, don't they," Ezra sneered.
Henry looked up from the bed. "What the hell are you doing here? You have no right to be here, get out!" he protested.
"I don't think so. You " Ezra looked down at the girl, "need to leave." He picked up the silk kimono from the chair and handed it to her.
"Joe, call hotel security," Henry instructed his assistant.
"Joe, if you value your job, you will do no such thing." Ezra tuned back to the man in the bed. "Trust me if you don't want some very nasty, not to say embarrassing publicity, you will listen to me."
For a long time the elderly man in the bed debated what to do, but in the end he decided to at least listen to the well-dressed southerner. Only a few minutes later, the secretary and assistant were banished to the main room and Henry was dressed in casual pants and polo shirt.
"Well Mr Standish, speak to me."
Ezra tossed down the paper work, the entries for Cindy Wilmington were circled. Jean-Michel scanned the documents. "So? So along time ago a girl was employed by me as a dancer and then left, it happens all the time, so what?"
"Did you even bother to enquire the name of the man who hit you?" Ezra asked.
"Well sure the cops wanted to know if I knew him, um Buck something, Williams, Wilson? Something like that?"
"Or Wilmington, possibly?"
"Yeah! That was it, Wilmington."
Ezra just stood there looking at him and the papers, on eyebrow raised. The connection finally dawned on the former Vegas show producer. "So he's mad at me because I fired his big sister or cousin or something? For Gods sake, it was forty years ago!"
"She was his mother. Are you sure you don't remember her? She was a tall striking woman, with blue eyes and thick dark hair." Ezra had never seen a picture of Buck's mother but it was - given the evidence - a reasonable, and as it happened accurate, guess at her appearance.
"I see hundreds of dancers, they're all tall and striking and lots of them have dark hair and blue eyes, so no I don't remember her."
"Shame." Ezra pulled the two evidence bags he had retrieved from the CSI lab out and laid them on the bed.
Jean-Michel stared at the bags. "Hey that's my toothbrush! What the hell are you doing with my toothbrush?" he demanded to know.
"I needed a DNA sample; this " he picked up the second bag. "is Mr Wilmington's toothbrush; and this is a paternity test." He dropped the document on to the bed beside the toothbrushes.
"Yes. It states unequivocally that the owner of brush H thats you - is the father of the owner of brush W - thats Mr Wilmington."
"It's a scientific fact. What was it? The good old casting couch, but she got pregnant and you fired her? She was nineteen, she was alone and pregnant and you just cast her off. I have known Mr Wil Buck, for some time; this attack is totally out of character. Buck is a good, honest, decent and brave man, you could not ask for a better friend. So I have no doubt that he felt very strongly that you deserved what he did."
"He assaulted me!"
"He hit you once, little more then a tap, or you would be in the hospital. Lets get to the point here Mr Henry. Either you drop the charge against Buck or I will go public, not only with the evidence of your cowardly and boorish behaviour toward an innocent girl and your own unborn child, but also with Buck's record as a lawman a lawman who's career you are ruining. He's a bone fide hero you know - you will not look good, believe me."
Henry regarded the man before him. His clothes were expensive and immaculate, his voice, with that southern accent, was quiet and unthreatening, his manicure impeccable. Yet there was an edge of pure steel to the man. Henry had no doubt he would do what he promised to do. Then there was the concept of being a father - well he was a father, he had two daughters and even a grand daughter - but the father of a son, a tall, dark, handsome, heroic son who hated him. How many other children has he sired before the days of 'safe sex' he wondered. There had been a lot of women over the years, before, during and after his marriage. His career was all but over, he had gone in to voluntarily retirement, any press furore would die down but his girls, what would they say? If this man really was his son could he in all fairness blame him for what he did?
"I'll withdraw the charge."
Ezra pulled out his cell phone, dialled the number. Once it was ringing he handed it to Henry.
The cell door opened and an officer came in. "Wilmington?"
"Come on up, you're out'a here."
Buck sat up, propping himself up on one elbow. "Out?"
"All charge was dropped, so you're sprung."
Once outside Buck scanned the street and instantly spotted Ezra leaning up against his hire car.
"Welcome back," Standish greeted as the two of them climbed into the car.
"Thanks." Buck eyed Standish suspiciously. "So what happened, why were the charges dropped?"
"Charge - singular, I believe."
Ezra pulled over and parked, then he handed the papers to Buck. "I showed him this."
There was silence while Buck read the documents. Ezra watched anxiously. He knew he had strayed into an area Buck considered private - for such an outgoing, apparently open individual, he was actually an intensely private man.
"You had no right," the tall agent finally said, in that low soft voice that told anyone who knew him, that he was very angry.
"I had to, you weren't going to. I don't have enough friends to be able to risk losing one - in truth I have six friends, six I can truly rely on and losing one would hurt all. I know this is selfish, I never claimed that I was altruistic, far from it. I don't know how you feel, I don't know how what happened effected you or your mother. I have no doubt you had good cause for your actions, and knowing you, I also have no doubt you regretted your action a soon as you did it."
"She had to make so many sacrifices, just because of me because of him." Buck's voice was still quiet, but the dangerous edge had left it. "I wasn't meant to know - about him. But when I was seven I overheard Ma telling her friend she wasn't going to audition for a new show just because he was the producer, and then she told her why. I went to my room and wrote his name on a bit of paper and hid it in my treasure box, so I would never forget it. I don't know why I did this, I have known his name for years. I have known how to find him, so why now?"
Ezra regarded his friend, he looked so sad and lost right then, even ashamed.
"We had been discussing fathers, it was Fathers Day, he was right here, just a stroll away."
"I guess still doesnt feel right, he's an old man."
"An old man whom I discovered in bed with his nubile young secretary. While it is less likely that he is siring more little Buck's he is still taking advantage of impressionable young women, perhaps you have given him food for thought."
"How did you know?" Buck asked.
"I couldn't work out why you would do that. Why you of all people would hit an old man? So I tried to do what Mr Tanner does when he is tracking someone or some animal. I tried to put myself in your place, to think like you. That led to a woman, for you to feel so strongly about something that you would hit an old man, he must have wronged a woman. You hadn't been here long enough to make that kind of attachment, even allowing for the Wilmington animal magnetism! So I started to think about the past - your past."
Buck couldn't fault his logic, he was even quite impressed. Initially he had been angry, now he was just grateful it was over. "When do we get to go home?" he asked.
"I don't believe Mr Larabee would object to us cutting out trip short."
"Do they know?"
Ezra pulled the car out into traffic again before he answered. "I have not showed them the DNA tests, but I believe they must suspect; you should tell them or let me do it, they are also your friends, your family, trust them with a little of yourself."
"Show them the test results, I just want to go home."
They drove in silence back to the hotel. Once there Buck went straight to the bathroom, needing to clean himself physically and mentally of the whole experience. By the time he came out JD had packed his bag and most of Buck's.
"Flight leaves in two hours," he explained.
Buck nodded his acknowledgement. As they exited the hotel not one of them noticed the tall elderly man watching from a car. He followed them to the airport, debated whether or not to exit the car and speak to his new-found son. By the time he had made up his mind it was too late. His son and his real family were through the departure gate and out of reach.
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