Ghosts of the Past by The Neon Gang

Editors' Note: The original version of this story first appeared in the multi-media zine, A Small Circle of Friends #13, published by Neon RainBow Press, Cinda Gillilan and Jody Norman, editors. When we all decided to post the stories that have appeared in the issues of our zines that are more than two years old, we opted to use a generic pen name because, while Dani Martin is the primary author of this story, she had so much help from the other folks writing for the press that it just made sense to consider the story to be written by the Neon RainBow Press Collective! Resistance was futile. So, thanks to the whole Neon Gang – Dori Adams, Sierra Chaves, Dana Ely, Michelle Fortado, Patricia Grace, Deyna Greywolf, Dani Martin, Erica Michaels, Karson Raine, Nina Talbot, Kacey Tucker, Rebecca Wright, and Lorin and Mary Fallon Zane. Story lasted edited 6-16-2008. Art by Shiloh

Authors' Note: This story was inspired by the "Till Death Do Us Part" episode of Counterstrike and is set between the Without a Trace episodes "Trip Box" and "Moving On," in the second season. I want to thank The Neon Gang, and especially Erica Michaels, for all their support, encouragement and patience as I worked to get this written. Be warned, however, violence to teenaged boys occurs in this story, but it is integral to the plot and in keeping with preexisting storylines in Without a Trace. A slash version of this story was published in Come and Gone #4.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

3 p.m.
They had been going nonstop for almost four days now; not the way any of them had expected to spend their Thanksgiving.

The first boy, Andrew David Evers, fourteen, had gone missing on Saturday, the 22nd of November, a second, Martin Gerald Fitzhugh, fifteen, on Monday, the 24th, and the third, Jonathan Mahoney, sixteen, just yesterday.

Jonathan's parents were sitting in an interview room at FBI headquarters in New York City, and Jack could tell from their expressions they had been contacted, something neither Andrew's nor Martin's parents had faced, and it made the agent wonder if the third boy hadn't been taken by someone else. But he knew he hadn't – he could feel it in his gut. All three cases were related. Whoever had taken Andrew and Martin had also taken Jonathan.

Jack stepped into the small, comfortable room, and said, "Mr. and Mrs. Mahoney, I'm Jack Malone. You've heard from the kidnappers?"

Mr. Alan Mahoney, a tall, slender man with receding grey hair and pale green eyes nodded, then removed a CD in a paper sleeve from his pocket. "This came to my office at the university earlier today. I called here as soon as I saw what it was, and the woman I spoke to said we should bring it to you right away. I'm the only one who's touched it."

Jack nodded, reaching into his pocket to remove a plastic evidence bag and holding it open so the man could drop the CD inside. "I'm going to go give this to our technicians; can you wait here for me?"

"Of course," Mrs. Sarah Mahoney said. She was petite and slender, her grey-touched red hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her arms were folded over her chest, her hands resting on her shoulders as she tried to ward off the chill that had settled into her bones.

"Thank you, I'll get back to you just as soon as I can," Jack told them as he headed for the door.

"Agent Malone, our son's still alive, we know he is," Alan stated, and Jack couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't more for their sakes than his.

Jack hesitated for a moment, knowing the boy was probably running out of time. Still, he gave them a quick nod, then slipped through the door before he had to lie to them.

Stalking down the hallway toward their office so he could gather the rest of his team, he was met by Danny when he stepped out of the elevator, saw Jack, and hurried to catch up to him.

"Preliminary autopsy report on Andrew Evers just came in," the tall, handsome Cuban said. "He was strangled… The report says he was also tortured and sexually assaulted, and they found ketamine in his blood. From the dosage, the ME thinks the kid was probably unconscious, or nearly so, through most of it."

Well, that's something, Jack thought as he took the file Danny handed him. "Time of death?"

"Yesterday, late evening – six or seven, they think."

Jack nodded. "The Mahoneys got a CD from the kidnapper. Get the others and meet me in Technical."

Danny perked up, some of the tiredness disappearing. "Okay," he said, veering off at the next hallway as Jack continued on straight to the technical division. He handed the CD over to a technician and then took a seat to wait. A few minutes later he was joined by the rest of his team, Danny filling the others in on the Evers autopsy while they continued to wait.

As they did, Jack went back over the facts for the first two boys. He couldn't decide why the CDs had been sent to those boys' schools, while Jonathan's CD had been sent to his father's workplace. It made no sense, and he worried about the stability of the kidnapper.

"Okay, we're ready," one of the techs called and the members of the missing person unit crowded in behind him. "First, no prints on the CD or on the sleeve, just like the other two. CD is brand new, and there's just one file."

And the agents all knew what it would be, too. They had already seen it twice. Then, on the computer monitor, a downloaded digital movie began to play.

Jonathan Mahoney was sitting in a wooden, straight-back chair, naked, terrified, his lap covered by a folded newspaper.

"We need a date," Sam said, her attention focused on the boy's face. Jonathan was gagged, just like the other two boys had been, the rubber and leather device reminding her of a horse's bridle. He was biting down on the rubber bit, his eyes puckered with fear and confusion at the temples. His hands were tied behind him somehow, each of his ankles secured to the wooden chair legs by leather cuffs.

"No need," Martin replied a little thickly, "that's the Monday edition. I still have a copy sitting on my desk."

"Evers and Fitzhugh weren't marked like this in the movies on their CDs," Vivian stated.

Jack sighed. "He's escalating, starting the torture sooner," he said, noting the raised welts on the boy's chest and shoulders. "He's anticipating what he's planning to do to the boy," he added, his voice flat and sad.

"Something about this bothers me…" Martin added, but he trailed off before he finished the thought. He hadn't planned to say anything, not yet, anyway. He didn't know exactly how to say what had been niggling at him, not without them thinking he was crazy. Besides, he was already in the dog house with Jack over the Delgato shooting. And, if Malone knew the whole truth about it, probably fired as well.

But Malone looked at him, and Martin had to fight the urge to squirm under the man's intense gaze. "What?" the older man asked, although it came out sounding more like a demand.

Martin sighed and shook his head. "I don't know exactly…"

"Martin, if you've got a hunch, tell us," Vivian encouraged him.

Martin lifted his chin and said what had been haunting his thoughts since they had started working on the second boy's case: "Spaulding."

"What?" Jack responded, sounding more than a little like Martin's father when he was about to shoot down something his son had said. "Spaulding's dead."

"I know," Martin said, adding, "but the sexual assault, the ketamine, the age of the boys… even their names."

"Their names?" Sam repeated, then frowned slightly as her thoughts raced ahead.

Martin nodded. "Andrew Daniel Evers… Andy D. Evers… Andy Deevers. Martin Gerald Fitzhugh—"

"Martin Fitzgerald," Danny finished, nodding, seeing where Martin was heading.

"Jonathan Mahoney… his mother said he goes by 'Jack,'" Sam said. "Jack Mahoney… Jack Malone."

Malone scowled. "Graham Spaulding is dead," he stated again, and he ought to know, he'd watched the man fall to his death.

"You have to admit, it is one hell of a coincidence," Vivian said, looking thoughtful. "And all three boys are students at boarding schools in the area."

"And all three of them went missing from their schools," Sam added.

Jack frowned. The facts did bear a striking resemblance to Spaulding's work in the past.

"Revenge?" Danny suggested.

"For Spaulding's death," Sam added, nodding.

It was more than they had at the moment, Jack allowed. There were no connections between the boys, or their families. No teachers in common, no sports teams, no hobbies. It had looked, until now, like they were three completely random victims. But the names were too much to be explained away as a coincidence.

"Start digging," Jack told them. He sighed as he stared into Jonathan Mahoney's frightened eyes. To the technician he added, "See if you can find me anything."

"I'll go over everything again, but I just don't think there's anything to find."

"Double check, then do it again," Malone said, then turned and left, wondering why he hadn't seen the similarities earlier himself, but he already had a pretty good idea. Spaulding had gotten too close. He'd gotten inside Jack's head, and that had pissed the agent off – big time. Once Spaulding was dead, Jack could forget about him, and he had. But he should have known better. Ghosts from his past had a way of coming back to haunt him…

He caught up to Martin in the hallway. "Good work," he told the younger man, and then almost grinned when the agent blushed.

"Uh, thanks," Fitzgerald replied, looking decidedly uncomfortable with the praise.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

6 p.m.

The members of the missing person unit sat scattered around the conference table in the center of their office space. Each had a file folder or a pad of notepaper in front of them.

"What have we got?" Jack asked them.

"I checked the visitor logs while Spaulding was in prison," Danny said. "His lawyer was the only one who came to see him. And the psychologist he was seeing while he was in prison said he didn't mention anyone other than his known victims."

"Phone records weren't any help either," Martin added. "I went back to all the calls he made from his home while he was at Spaulding Academy, and there's nothing – just the boys we knew about, or the ones who came forward after he was arrested."

"I talked to his neighbors," Vivian said. "From his most recent residences, I got nothing, but the woman who lived across the street from him when he was still headmaster at the academy said there was a young man who used to stop by on a regular basis. She thought she recalled Graham telling her once that he was an old employee of his."

"You get a description?" Jack asked her.

"Depends on how you look at it," was her reply. "White, brown hair, slender – that's all she remembered. She never met him personally, just saw him arrive and leave from across the street. She said he sometimes stayed overnight on Sundays and left early the following morning. She assumed he had to get to work."

"Stay on that," Jack told her and she nodded. He looked at Sam.

"I spoke to all the former employees from the academy – everyone who worked there while Spaulding was headmaster – to see if I could come up with a longer list of names: boys he'd been close to over the years," she said. "It's pretty impressive, but again, most are known victims. I also called all the victims who came forward after his arrest and asked them about other potential victims. I need to make the follow-up calls to the names I got from them."

"Martin, give her a hand with those," Jack instructed.

"Sure," Martin replied.

"Uh, excuse me?"

The team members looked around to find Mrs. Mahoney and her husband coming up to the table. They looked frightened, and Alan was holding another CD in another white paper sleeve. "This just came to the house," he said. "We brought it straight over."

Jack stood and pulled out his handkerchief, using it to take the CD from the man and stalking off. The others watched him go, then went back to work, Vivian taking the Mahoneys aside to get the details of the CDs delivery.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Several minutes later, the team was back together in the tech's office.

"No prints, brand new CD, just like usual," the man reported. "But this one is audio only."

He clicked his mouse and a digitally modified voice stated, "By now I hope you've discovered that these kidnappings have nothing to do with the boys themselves… although, I must say that I have been enjoying their company."

"Bastard," Danny hissed.

"I'm also guessing that you'd like to get Martin and Jack back… alive."

"You guess right," Sam stated.

"I want a million dollars," the voice continued. "I will call with instructions for delivery at eight p.m. tonight."

The voice went silent and the technician looked up, saying, "That's all there is. Oh, and I can tell you now that all of the CDs were burned on the same computer. It's a PC and it's running Microsoft. If you find a PC, I can tell you if it's the one that made the CD's, but that's it so far."

"Stay on it," Jack told the tech. "See if you can isolate any background sounds from this one, and if there's anything in the background of the images that might give us a clue on the location."

"Already been doing that, and there's nothing. He's using a set of some kind, so all we're seeing is that solid color background and the vics. But I'll get started on a background noise analysis for this one."

Jack nodded and checked his watch: 6:32 p.m. They had an hour and a half to be ready for the call – more than enough time.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

8 p.m.

The call came in exactly on time. "Malone," Jack said when he picked up the phone, which was wired so they could try and get a trace.

"Hello, Jack, nice to finally hear your voice again."

Malone knew the caller was using a professional scrambler to conceal his real voice, another indication that whoever it was, they were technologically savvy. "What do you want?" the agent asked.

"I told you, Jack, I want a million dollars," was the reply.

"That all Graham was worth to you?" Jack questioned.

"Oh, very good, Jack, very good. I knew you'd figure it out… eventually. Or was it one of the others, Martin, perhaps?"

"I want to speak to Martin and Jonathan," Jack stated.

"In good time, Jack, in good time," the voice replied. "Right now I'm having too much fun with them to let you interrupt. I really do like playing with you and Martin…"

"I am not playing with you," Jack growled.

"Oh, yes you are… and you'll keep right on playing with me, Jack, because if you don't, I'll have to hurt you, badly, and you wouldn't like that, now would you?"

"All right," Malone said, his voice becoming softer, more accommodating. "Tell me what you really want."

"That's better, Jack, much better. You see, if you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you, too." There was a pause, and in the background Malone thought he heard someone whimper. "Now, I want you to come over… one-twenty-three Graham Drive, at midnight. And bring Martin with you, won't you?"

"Don't hurt those boys," Jack said, but the warning was clear.

"You're in no position to make demands, Jack."

"Please," Malone added.

"Ah, that's better. See, you know how to play nice after all. I'll see you later, Jack – you and Martin. Now, it's time I had some fun…" The line went dead.

The technician trying to get a trace shook his head. "I just know the call came from the New York, New Jersey area, nothing more specific. Sorry."

"One-twenty-three Graham Drive," Jack told the others while other technicians set up to replay the conversation for the others to hear.

By the time they had all heard the exchange Sam announced, "One-twenty-three Graham is in Orange, New Jersey."

Jack nodded.

Danny reached for a phone, saying, "I'll contact the state troopers, make sure the Turnpike and two-eighty are clear. I'll have them call if any accidents or delays are reported."

Malone nodded, his mind already racing ahead, thinking about the meeting.

The team drifted apart, each member having their own responsibilities to attend to.

Back at his desk, Martin dropped into his chair, fidgeting with his pen until Danny was off the phone. Taylor looked over at him and frowned. "What are you thinking, Martin?"

"I… I don't know," Martin replied, shaking his head. He was the newest member of the team, and still a little green. Maybe his instincts were wrong, or maybe he hadn't really learned how to listen to them yet. He looked up at Danny. "Look, it just feels to me like whoever this is, he's trying to get Jack out in the open, and he's falling for it."

"Jack and you," Danny replied.

Martin shook his head. "I don't think so."

"Why?" Danny asked. "You both testified against Spaulding. Whoever that is, he wants you and Jack."

"Yeah, on some level, maybe so, but I watched Spaulding at the trial, and even when I was on the witness stand Spaulding was watching Jack more than he was watching me. If this is some friend of Spaulding's he should know Jack was the man's real focus, not me." Martin's eyes rounded slightly. "The trial… He said it was nice to hear your voice again. He was at the trial."

Danny nodded. "You follow up on that," he said. "I'm going to call and see how traffic is in the Lincoln Tunnel."

Martin nodded and swung around to face his computer.

Friday, November 28, 2003

11:51 a.m.

They arrived in New Jersey in two cars, Sam and Jack riding in one, Vivian, Danny and Martin in the other. They parked a block away from the address the kidnapper had given them. Local police had already blocked off the surrounding streets, and an earlier drive-by conducted by an unmarked police car seemed to indicate that no one was in the house.

It was a residential area, the homes all on the small side, with tiny yards as well – a working class neighborhood, one that had seen its better days, probably back in the 50s and 60s. The home at 123 Graham was currently listed for sale.

Before Jack could climb out of the car, Sam reached out and stopped him. "Let me do this for you," she said.

Malone scowled at her. Martin had shared his concerns with the team when they had come back together, just before leaving the city, and apparently Sam seemed to think there might be something to them. He had to admit, he agreed, but that didn't change anything.

"No," he said.

"You're risking your life for no reason," Sam argued.

Jack flashed her a small, wry smile. "This job is my life, hadn't you noticed?" And with that he climbed from the car. Martin exited the second vehicle and walked over to join him.

"You ready?" Jack asked him.

Martin nodded.

Malone studied the younger man for a moment. He still wasn't sure how he felt about Fitzgerald. He didn't care much for the man's father, but then AD Victor Fitzgerald didn't care much for Jack, either. Still, Martin had proved himself, even if he'd also made a few mistakes along the way. But a few mistakes were to be expected.

"Just follow my lead," Jack instructed the man, then turned and started walking, Martin following him.

The others stayed in their cars, using specially designed binoculars to follow their progress to the house. Once inside, the wires they were wearing would let the others hear what was going on.

Just as they reached the house, but before they could turn up the walkway that led to the door, a limo pulled up at the curb. Jack knew Vivian must have told the police to allow the vehicle though. The passenger side window came down and a confused-looking driver asked, "Uh, you the ones looking to be picked up?"

"It seems so," Jack replied.

"Uh, all right, get in. I should have you there in twenty minutes. The cops told me not to get out of the vehicle, or I'd get the door."

"No problem," Jack said as he reached out and opened the door to the back, climbing in first. Martin followed him, sitting down across from his boss.

"Where are we going?" Malone called to the driver.

"My instructions are to take you to twenty-oh-three Spaulding Lane," the man replied. "That right?"

"Yep," Jack said, repeating, "Two-oh-oh-three Spaulding Lane," so the others would hear it. With luck, the local cops would be able to set up a perimeter around the second location in time to keep anyone from leaving.

The driver pulled away and, a moment later, the strains of familiar music filled the limo. It was the same song Andy Deevers had downloaded for the girl he wanted to impress. The same song Martin had played the night Jack had gotten the man to lead them to Andy…

A cold chill snaked down Jack's neck. He had a bad feeling about what they might find at 2003 Spaulding Lane. His gaze cut to Martin and it was clear the younger man was having similar thoughts.

"You can cut the music," Jack told the driver.

"Sure, no problem," the driver said, reaching out to kill the CD player. "Guy who hired me gave me the CD to play during the ride."

"Just not in the mood," Jack responded.

"You know what's going on with all the cops?"

"Don't worry about it," Jack replied.

Friday, November 28, 2003

12:23 a.m.

The limo pulled up to the curb and stopped. "Here you go, sir, twenty-oh-three Spaulding Lane," the driver said after he'd climbed out and came around to open the door for Jack and Martin.

Jack climbed out first, followed by Martin. Malone flashed the driver a good look at his badge and ID, saying, "I need you to stay here until we come back to talk to you. Understand?"

"Uh, yeah, sure," the man replied, looking confused.

With a jerk of his head to Martin, Jack led the way up to the house. It was a Victorian, the neighborhood here older, with large trees lining both sides of the street. The houses were all bigger, and older in style if not construction – definitely not working class anymore.

The house in question was dark, but the front door was unlocked when Jack reached out to test it. He glanced at Martin, who already had his weapon out. Jack palmed his own and nodded, then turned the knob and gave the door a light push. It swung open. Both agents pressed up against the wall of the house on either side of the doorway, waiting.

Nothing happened.

Jack held up his hand and then lifted one finger, then two, then three.

Jack swung into the doorway, the gun in his hand up and ready to be used. He stepped into the house and Martin followed.

They checked the downstairs first, finding nothing but bare, empty rooms. They returned to the bottom of the stairs leading to the second story. Jack started up first, his attention focused on what lay ahead while Martin kept a close eye on where they had been, just in case.

Reaching the top of the stairs, Jack went to the right first and they found nothing but more empty rooms.

In the second room to the left of the stairs, however, they found a large glass box inside of which sat Jonathan Mahoney. He looked a lot like he had in the movie, naked, gagged, his wrists and ankles bound. His head hung down, like he was sleeping or, more likely, unconscious.

Jack took a step forward, but stopped when a voice commanded, "Stop. Sorry, Jack, but I can't let you get too close. If you do… well, let's just say you won't like it very much and leave it at that, shall we?"

Jack glanced around, catching sight of the camera set up on a table, a computer beside it. The image of Jonathan inside the box filled the monitor screen.

"Jonathan," Martin called, but the boy didn't stir. "Jonathan."

"The cage is soundproofed," the altered voice stated. "Hello, Martin. Jack, did you bring my million dollars?"

"I have it," Jack said. "It's out in the car."

"Oh, yes, your other car, where your… friends – Danny and Vivian and Samantha – are waiting."

Martin was studying the boy intently now, and frowning.

"What is it?" Jack asked quietly, hoping the microphone wouldn't pick it up.

Martin cocked his head slightly to the right, then lifted his gun and fired at the glass box. The glass shattered and Jonathan disappeared.

"Hologram," Martin said, looking more than a little annoyed with the elaborate deception.

There was the sound of someone clapping their hands. "Very good, Martin, very good. I knew you were intelligent when I saw you. And those eyes… so blue… you're so handsome."

"Look, I have your money, where are the boys?" Jack cut in.

"In due time, Jack, in due time. I needed to see if you're worthy."

"Worthy of what?" Martin asked and Jack shot him a look that ordered him to "shut up" as clearly as if he'd spoken the words out loud.

"Worthy of what you took from me, Martin. Mmm, you are handsome… so young, so pretty…"

Martin looked like he might just get sick when he heard someone struggling in the background, the sounds distorted, probably from the presence of a gag.

"You and Jack stole something from me, Martin, something precious and dear. You were both bad, very, very bad. And bad boys have to be punished."

"Do you want the money or not?" Jack demanded, his tone plainly stating the game was wearing thin.

"Money doesn't mean anything to me," the voice snapped back.

"Then why ask us to bring a million dollars out here?" Jack questioned.

"I wanted to see if you'd come, Jack. And I wanted to see how long it took you to discover my illusion. But I only told you to bring Martin, not the others."

"It doesn't work that way," Jack replied.

"It had better, Jack, from now on, or I'll have to punish you, both of you. And you won't like that, I promise you. I call the shots here, Jack, not you."

"All right," Jack said, his tone one of capitulation, "you call the shots. What next?"

"Next I'll have to punish you."

"You do know that you don't really have Martin and I, don't you?" Jack asked.

"Oh, but I do, Jack, I do. And when I hurt you, you both feel it, I promise you that."

The red light on the camera blinked out.

Friday, November 28, 2003

8 a.m.

After the failed rescue, Jack sent the rest of his team home to get some much-needed sleep. As for himself, he opted to stay at work, stretching out on the sofa in his office and sleeping there rather than driving all the way back to Tribeca.

He managed to get two hours before a technician woke him to tell him that the computer they had found in the house in Orange was the same one that had made the CDs. Jack wasn't surprised, and he wondered if they would be getting any more CDs.

He went back to sleep, his dreams fragmented and haunted by Graham Spaulding.

He was awakened again just after seven, when an agent delivered the complete autopsy report on Andrew Evers.

Jack sat up on the sofa and looked over the report, reading through the details and matching them up with the details he recalled from some of Spaulding's past cases – the same ones they hadn't been able to bring up in court…

The nature of the sexual assault and the use of ketamine to make the victim manageable matched Spaulding's past victims, right down to the dosage. The use of restraints, the marking of the victim, those were not at all like Spaulding.

The boy's age and his physical type both matched Spaulding's past victims, as did his personality – socially awkward, semi-loner, in need of a father figure.

He sighed. At least it was likely the boy hadn't suffered much at the end. He would have been so out of it from the ketamine, he probably wouldn't have even realized he was being choked to death.

The depth of the bruising suggested the perp they were looking for was a man, and the size and spacing of the bruises pointed to one who was five-foot-eight to five-foot-ten inches tall.

So, if they were looking for the man Spaulding's neighbor described, he was a five-foot-nine White male in his late twenties or early thirties, with brown hair and a slender build. A description that was still far too vague to be of any real use.

The number and kinds of injuries to Andrew Evers' body were not what he would have expected from someone who was copying Spaulding's kills. But then he already knew he wasn't looking for a copycat.

More like a protégé, he thought to himself.

He set the report aside and stood, stretching before he adjusted his clothes and headed out to get some coffee. He stopped when he reached the ring of desks his team shared. Martin was already sitting at his workstation, and was on the phone.

Jack paused, waiting as his newest team member thanked someone and then hung up. "Thought I told you to go home, get some sleep."

"I did," Martin replied. "I got here about a half hour ago. I wanted to make some calls, see if I could catch people before they left for work."

That caught Malone's attention and he walked over and dropped into Danny's chair. "Who?" he asked.

Martin leaned back in his own chair and looked down at the pen he was still holding. For a brief moment, Jack could see the younger man as he must have looked when he was in high school. He would have matched Spaulding's victims' profile to a T.

"Yesterday," Martin said without looking up, "I was talking to Danny, and I had a thought…" Now he glanced up, meeting Jack's eyes. "The trial," he said. "And the guy said he was glad to hear your voice again."

Jack thought for a moment and nodded. It would make sense. The details of the case had been covered in court. He and Martin and Andy Deavers had all taken the witness stand, too. If Spaulding had a protégé in the audience… "Get anything so far?"

Martin shook his head. "Security tapes aren't held that long. I called the bailiff, the court reporter, and the attorneys on both sides. No one remembers anyone who stood out – except Spaulding himself… and you."

Jack's expression turned sour for a moment, but then cleared.

"I'm going to call the victims' families later today," Martin added.

Jack nodded and pushed himself to his feet, his need for caffeine increasing. "Just… go easy with them. And don't be surprised if they tell you they don't want to talk to you about it."

Martin nodded, appreciating the advice. He watched as Jack turned and started off, a question escaping despite his best efforts to keep it unspoken. "Why do you figure he killed Andy, but kept our namesakes alive?"

Jack paused and turned. "Andy Deavers was supposed to have been Spaulding's victim, Andy Evers had to die to complete what was supposed to be," Jack stated, confident he understood the man's reasoning, as twisted as it was.

"And Jonathan and Martin?"

"He's not done punishing us yet. Until he is, he'll keep them alive," Jack said quietly, then turned and left.

Martin leaned back in his chair, wishing not for the first time that they had never met Graham Spaulding. Everything about the man made his skin crawl, and he knew Jack had to feel the same way.

He still thought it was downright scary how Jack had climbed into the man's head, impressive, but scary. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to do something like that, or if he'd even want to, although, if it could save the life of a kid, it would be worth it. He just wasn't sure the price he'd pay would be one he could afford. And he sure as hell wasn't sure how Jack managed it.

Friday, November 28, 2003

11 a.m.

It was an irate Alan Mahoney who stormed into Jack's office. "The agent said they were acting on your orders!" he accused, his wife hurrying in to join him.

Jack stood up from behind his desk and gestured to the empty chairs in the room. "If you'd please have a seat…"

"I want to know what's going on, Agent Malone," Alan demanded. "Why weren't we allowed to view this new CD?"

His wife took him by the arm and pulled him over to the chairs where they sat.

Jack sighed softly. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to explain this to you in person," he began, but Sarah cut him off.

"Is he dead? Is Jonathan dead?"

Jack shook his head. "I don't think so, no."

"Then why can't we see what's on that CD? That's our son. I want to know what this monster's doing to him," Alan managed to get out. "Why did he take our son?"

Alan Mahoney was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Jack leaned forward, resting his forearms on his desk and saying, "This isn't about you, or your son."

"What are you talking about?" Sarah Mahoney asked. "Are you saying the kidnapper got the wrong boy?"

Jack hesitated for a moment and then said, "This isn't personal, the kidnapper isn't interested in you, or in your son."

"Then why was Jack abducted?" Alan demanded, his voice climbing.

"Jonathan's disappearance is related to a case this unit worked on last year."

The Mahoneys exchanged looks, both of them clearly upset. "I don't understand," Sarah said, reaching out to cling to her husband's hands.

Jack didn't want to explain it, but he knew he had no choice. "Your son was abducted because his name is similar to mine," he told them.

"I still don't understand," Sarah said, her voice a little more desperate this time. "We don't know you, Jonathan doesn't know you."

"We think the man who has your son was an associate of Graham Spaulding, a—"

"Pedophile," Alan interrupted, almost spitting out the word. "We saw the news coverage last fall."

"Three boys have gone missing," Jack told them. "Your son, who we think the kidnapper sees as a substitute for me, another boy who is standing in for another member of my team, and a third, who represented the victim Spaulding went to trial for."

"Andy Evers and Martin Fitzhugh," Sarah said, nodding. "We met their parents here…"

Jack nodded as well. They had staged a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the parents of all three missing boys pleading for the safe return of their children.

"But what does this have to do with us, with Jack and this Spaulding man. Wasn't he killed recently?"

"Last month," Jack acknowledged. "Apparently there's someone out there who wants to avenge Spaulding's death, and he—"

"He's going to kill Jonathan?" Sarah gasped, one hand flying to her throat.

"We're doing everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen," Jack assured her. "And as soon as we're finished with this new CD I'll talk to you again."

"I want to know what's happening to my son," Alan stated, the tone offering no room for negotiation.

Jack nodded. "I'll let you know as soon as we're finished with it. You have to understand, we found the computer that was used to make the earlier CDs. We didn't anticipate another one turning up."

Alan Mahoney nodded, then stood. He reached out and took his wife's hand, helping her to her feet and wrapping his arm around her shoulders.

"If you go back to the waiting area, I'll send someone for you when we're ready," Jack told them as they reached the door to his office.

He watched them go, silently praying their son was still all right. The phone ringing cut though his thoughts and he grabbed it. "Malone."

"He's upped the price to two million," Danny said.

"I'm on my way," Jack replied, hanging up and heading for the technician's office so he could see what was on this latest CD for himself.

Twenty minutes later he almost wished he hadn't.

Watching two boys being tortured wasn't something Jack wanted to see – ever. Knowing that they were being punished for something he'd done made it all the worse.

The bastard had been right, though, he realized. By hurting the boys he had hurt him, and Martin, too, if the green cast to the man's face had been any indication.

But at least nothing being done to the boys was going to kill them, although he was all too aware how it might very well scar them psychologically for the rest of their lives.

The instructions that had accompanied the images were simple: "You and Martin will go to the Golden Dragon restaurant in Chinatown. Bring two million dollars worth of cocaine," the voice instructed them. "Wait there until a limo arrives. Jack, you will take the limo to where sweet little Martin will be waiting for you. Agent Fitzgerald, you will remain at the restaurant until you are contacted. At that time you will hand over the cocaine and leave. If I see that either of you are being followed, I will kill Jack – slowly. I hope that is perfectly clear this time. Be at the restaurant by one."

Friday, November 28, 2003

12:15 p.m.

Jack looked down at the small, pill-like device in the palm of his hand as the technician spoke.

"It's a new generation of tracker. It can't be scrambled or overrode."

"Yet," Martin added.

The technician grinned. "Yeah, yet. But right now we have an advantage… until the bad guys find a workaround."

Danny hurried into the room. "The CD the limo driver had was made on the same computer we found in the house in Jersey. They pulled prints from it, too. Most were the driver, but there were two others, too. They're being run now."

"Let me know if we get a hit," Jack said and Danny nodded.

"I still don't think you and Martin ought to do this alone," Sam argued as the props were readied.

Jack just shot her a look.

"She's right," Viv scolded Malone.

"Not this time," Jack replied. He looked over at Martin and asked, "Ready?"

The younger man nodded and they were off.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

As they drove to Chinatown, Jack asked Martin, "Did the interviews with the victims' families turn up anything?"

"No," Martin replied, "but there are still two people I wasn't able to reach – the divorce rates after an event like this seem to be off the charts."

Jack nodded. "The death of a child often means the death of the marriage as well."

"I left the names for the others to follow up on."

Jack nodded.

They rode along in silence for a short while before Martin asked, "Why did you leave the others out of this?"

Jack glanced over at the man, but he turned his attention back to the traffic before he answered. "We don't know how this guy is keeping up with us; I just don't want to take any chances with these kids' lives."

"But ours are okay…"

Jack smiled indulgently. "That why we get paid the big bucks."

Martin snorted softly.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Back at the office, Danny hung up the phone and spun around in his chair to face the others. "Bingo!"

"What?" Sam asked and Vivian came over from the conference table to join him.

"I just got off the phone with the former Mrs. Spaulding, and she remembers a man who used to work for her husband, back before his first victim was hired in Arizona. He was White, had brown hair and blue eyes, average height and he was slender."

"She remember a name, too?" Viv asked.

Danny shook his head. "Greg or Gary, she thought, something like that. He worked for Spaulding in the summers the whole time Graham had his practice there."

"Garrett?" Sam asked, sifting through a pile of paper on her desk.

Danny shrugged. "I can call her back and ask… She said it started with a G, but she couldn't remember what his name was."

"Why Garrett?" Viv asked Sam.

Sam continued sorting through the pages until she found what she was looking for. "Here," she announced, pulling the sheets free. "It's a list of everyone who was given a press pass for the courtroom during Spaulding's trial." She skimmed down the list of names, stopping near the bottom of the first page. "Here, Garrett Matthews. He was there for the National Register."

"The tabloid?" Vivian asked. "Why would they send someone?"

"Probably wanted to come up with a scoop like, pedophile really illegal alien from Pluto," Danny offered, shaking his head.

"I've been calling the reporters who were there, asking them if they remembered anyone unusual from the trial," Sam explained. "Garrett Matthews was one of two names where the papers said they didn't work for them, now, or then. The other one is Toby Richards, for the Star. Given that they're both tabloids, I thought they were just blowing me off," she said, "but now…"

"Double check with the papers, then call the reporters back," Viv told her. "Find out if anyone talked to these guys, and find out what they looked like."

Sam nodded and turned back to her desk. Danny did the same.

Minutes later Danny announced, "Garrett it is. But she didn't recognize the last name, said she thought it was a different last name."

"Great, thank you," Sam said, then hung up and turned back to the others. "That was the Star, they did have a Toby Richards on staff, but Toby is now Tabitha Richards – the surgery was apparently a complete success."

Danny winced.

"And the Register?" Vivian asked.

"I talked to a different person, and they still say they've never had a Garrett Matthews working for them," Sam told them.

"I'll start a background on Garrett Matthews, see what turns up," Vivian said.

Friday, November 28, 2003

12:50 p.m.

Jack parked the car in the alley behind the restaurant, he and Martin entering through the back, the younger man carrying a metal suitcase that contained artificial cocaine. They took seats at a table next to the window and waited. Promptly at one o'clock a black limo rolled up and stopped outside the restaurant.

The two agents stood and walked out to the sidewalk.

The rear door opened a few inches.

The two agents exchanged looks, then Jack pulled the door open all the way and looked inside. A young man was sitting there, grinning. "Get in," he told them. He was blond, although his roots said brunet, with light brown eyes. His features were angular, and Jack guessed he was eastern European. He was also thin, and dressed in tight jeans and a clingy cotton shirt.

Jack climbed in, followed by Martin, who set the suitcase next to him on the seat.

The young man, who Jack guessed was probably nineteen or so, pulled out a handheld electronic device and leaned forward, running it back and forth above their bodies. It made no sounds when he did Martin, but when he did Jack, the device beeped when it reached his chest. The kid dropped back against the seat and grinned. "Lose the tracking device, friend."

Jack shot Martin a wry look, then reached into his pocket and removed a cigarette case. He opened it and removed a small pill-like object and handed it to the boy.

"Give me the case," he said and Jack handed that over, too.

"That was a gift from my wife," Malone said. "I'd like it back."

The boy ran the device over the case and then handed it back to Jack. Then he pressed the button to lower the window, tossing the tracking device out of the car. He waited for the window to come back up, then pointed at Martin and said, "You, out."

Martin took the case and climbed back out of the limo. The boy followed him, then turned and said to Jack, "The driver will take you to a building in Tribeca."

"The boys are there?" Jack asked. But the kid just slammed the door shut without another word and the limo pulled out into traffic.

"C'mon," he said to Martin, leading the way back inside the restaurant. They sat down at the table he and Jack had been using and waited for several minutes, the kid even ordering egg rolls, which he ate while Martin watched. Then he stood and held his hand out for the suitcase.

Martin shook his head. "Not until Jack calls and tells me he has the boys," he said.

The kid grinned. "Think you might want to change your mind, friend," the boy said as two of the waiters stepped up to the table, each of them carrying guns.

Martin handed the suitcase over.

"Nice doin' business with you," the young man said, and he was gone. The two waiters followed him, pulling their aprons off and tossing them aside as they went. The older man who owned the restaurant saw them and began yelling at them in Chinese, clearly at a loss as to why his help was walking out on him in the middle of the day.

Martin stayed at the table, waiting for five minutes, then he stood and headed out to the car. He climbed in and started the engine, then leaned over and pulled out from under the passenger seat what looked like a thick map guide of the city. He opened it, and inside was a handheld electronic device. He turned it on and, a moment later, he had a lock on the two tracking devices – one on the money case, the other inside on the cash itself. He left the device resting on his thigh, the small red and blue dots blinking to let him know they were still moving, and pulled into traffic. He took his cell phone from his pocket and called the others.

"I'm trailing the money," he told them, giving them his present location.

"I'll catch up to you as fast as the traffic lets me," Danny told him.

"What about Jack?" Martin asked.

"Viv and Sam are following the limo," Danny replied.

"Wait a second," Martin said, watching as the signal stopped moving, remaining stationary for a short while. Then the two signals began to move again, only this time they were moving in different directions. "They must have moved the money from the suitcase to something else."

"Yeah, I see it," Danny said. "NYPD will follow the suitcase."

"Okay, let see where the money trail takes us," Martin replied and heard Danny snort in reply.

"You've been watching too many episodes of CSI, m'man, you're starting to sound like Grissom."

"Damn," Martin said, grinning, "and here I was going for Horatio."

"Yeah, well, guess you have to have the magic sunglasses to pull that off," Danny told him. "At least it looks like round two is going to the good guys."

"I hope so," Martin replied, "for those kids' sake."

Friday, November 28, 2003

3:43 p.m.

Martin continued to follow the signal coming from the tracker in the money, the signal leading him northwest, out of the city and, eventually, to Tuxedo Park, and a quiet residential street filled with large, expensive houses.

Martin drove down the street to locate exactly where the money was, then pulled around the block and stopped down the street from the target house. He sat there for a moment to see if they would be on the move again, then climbed out of the car and started up the street.

Pulling his cell phone from his pocket, he called Danny, asking, "How close are you?"

"About fifteen minutes away. Where are you?"

"Tuxedo Park," Martin replied and gave Danny the address, adding, "The name on the mailbox is Wesley."

"Sam was right!" Danny replied.

"About what?" Martin asked, walking up to the mailbox. A tall stone fence surrounded the property, and there was an iron gate that was presently standing open, allowing access to the cobblestone driveway from the street.

"Sam found a guy, Garrett Matthews, who was given a press pass for Spaulding's trial, but the paper he said he worked for has never heard of him. That matches with what the former Mrs. Spaulding told me about a young man who used to work with her husband in the summers in Arizona. We found a Garrett Wesley who worked for Spaulding through social security and IRS records. Wesley was Garrett's father's name, when he divorced his wife, Mrs. Wesley remarried."

"And became Mrs. Matthews?" Martin finished for him.

"Yep, and Garrett changed his name."

"What do we have on Garrett Wesley-Matthews?"

"Viv started a background check, nothing so far."

"Well, I have some movement here," Martin said, moving closer to the open gate, but using the wall to hide his presence. Inside the property, he saw a man come out of the house, guiding what appeared to be a teenaged boy. He helped the boy into the passenger seat of a small truck, then sprinted back to the large house and went inside.

"Looks like they're getting ready to move again," Martin said. "I don't see the kid who met Jack and me, but think Garrett Whoever has Jonathan Mahoney with him. I'm on the move."

"Martin, wait!"

But it was too late. Martin closed his cell phone and sprinted straight up the driveway to the truck. He went to the passenger side door and tapped on the glass. Inside, the boy sat, slumped against the door, his back to Martin.

"Jonathan," Martin called, tapping on the window again, but there was still no response. Deciding the boy was probably dosed with ketamine, Martin tried the door, but it was locked. He started around the truck to the other side.

Reaching the back of the vehicle where the sliding door was almost all the way down, he paused and checked inside the back. There was a lump lying up against the rear wall, and it was big enough to be another teen, or a body.

Martin checked around the edge of the truck, but it didn't look like Garrett was returning just yet. He pulled back and leaned over, calling into the truck, "Martin?"

The lump didn't stir.

Cursing softly, Martin lifted the rear door just far enough for him to crawl inside, then climbed into the back of the truck and hurried over to the object lying on the truckbed. Whatever it was, it was covered with a blanket. He squatted down and reached out to pull the blanket off.

Just as he did, the door behind him slid down and he heard the lock catch.

He bolted to the rear of the truck and tried to raise the door, but it was now securely latched. "Damn it," he hissed, reaching for his cell phone.

"Martin?" Danny asked.

"Houston, I have a problem," Martin stated more calmly than he felt.

"If you think this is Houston, your problem's worse than you thought," Danny replied.

"I'm locked in the back of a truck – like one of those small U-haul vehicles."


Martin explained what had happened, adding, "Oh, and now we're moving."

"Great," Danny grumbled. "Did you find Fitzhugh?"

Martin looked back at the heap of moving pads, walked over and pulled the blanket back. He sighed. "No."

"But you said Mahoney's in the front?"

"I think so," Martin said. "I didn't actually see his face."

There was some soft cursing in Spanish, then Danny said, "Okay, the signal's moving, so I've got you. I'll contact the local authorities, see if we can't get a roadblock set up… Hang in there, okay?"

"W-What did you say?" Martin asked, suddenly feeling dizzy.

"I said—" Danny started, then stopped. "Martin, can you hear me?"

"Yeah," he replied, the word slurred. "I can hear you just fi…"

"Martin?" Danny called, but this time there was no answer. "Damn it, Martin, answer me!" But he knew it was no use. Garrett Wesley had his partner, and there was nothing he could do about it except keep following the truck until he could catch up with it.

The device said he was only ten minutes behind, but it felt like a lot longer. He pressed down on the gas, hoping to close the distance.

Friday, November 28, 2003

3:21 p.m.

Jack hated traffic, detested it, especially when he was trapped in it. But there was nothing he could do. A short conversation with the driver had made it painfully clear that the man had no idea what was going on. He was just doing his job, transporting someone from one place to another. But at least Jack now knew where it was he was supposed to be going, and it didn't surprise him in the slightest.

He removed his cell phone and called Viv. "You caught in this mess, too?" he asked as soon as she answered.

"Of course."

He passed along the destination to the woman.

"You've gotta be kidding," she replied.

"Makes a sick kind of sense," Jack replied.

"If you say so," she responded, then there was a pause and she added, "Sam says the police have just cleared the accident, we should be moving any time now."

"When we get there, I want you to stay back, let me go in alone."


"I know, all right, but if the boys are there…"

"Five minutes, that's all I'm giving you."

Jack shook his head. "That's called insubordination, you know."

"And I'm so good at it," Vivian replied.

He could hear the smile in her voice and knew there was no use in arguing with her. "Look, we're on the move again, I'll call when I get there."

"We'll be right behind you."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

A half hour later the limo pulled up to the building across the street from Jack's own building. He looked up at his window, glad that the girls would still be at school for their after school activities, and Marie would still be at work.

He shifted his attention back to the second building across the street from his home. It was the same building Spaulding had taken an apartment in, the building where he had fallen to his death…

"This is it, sir," the driver said.

Jack nodded, pulling his phone from his pocket and saying, "I'm here."

"See you in five," Viv replied.

Jack returned the phone to his pocket and climbed out of the limo. He showed the driver his badge and ID, instructing him to say put until he could talk to him later.

"But I have another gig in a couple of hours," the man said.

"Call and cancel, you're going to be busy," Malone told him, then turned and headed to the building. He buzzed the building super and waited for the man to come down, then used his ID to get inside.

"I need to get into apartment five-thirteen."

"You got a warrant?"

"No, but I've got a gun," Malone growled at the man.

The older man muttered under his breath, but he took the agent to the elevator and they rode up to the fifth floor in silence. When they reached the door to apartment 513, the super used his master key to unlock the door, but Jack stopped him from opening it.

"Wait at the end of the hallway," Jack instructed the man, who scowled at him, but complied. When he was sure the man was out of danger, Jack drew his weapon and turned back to the door, grabbing the knob. He turned it and let the door swing inward.

He listened for a moment and then stepped inside. The apartment looked just like it had the night Spaulding had died.

Moving through the apartment, Jack reached the bedroom. He opened the door and stepped inside. Lying on the bed was the body of Martin Fitzhugh.

"Damn it," Jack hissed, reaching for his cell phone. "Where the hell is Fitzgerald?"

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

The three agents stood in the kitchen of the apartment while the Forensics techs worked around them, dusting the place for prints and looking for evidence to identify whoever had left the body there.

As they waited, Sam and Viv brought Jack up to speed on Martin's capture.

"Damn it," he swore, shaking his head.

"What?" Sam asked.

"He knew he was going to get Martin, that's why he gave us Fitzhugh," Jack said.

"He never wanted the cocaine, or the money," Viv added.

Jack shook his head. "It was just a diversion, to get at Martin," he said. "And I fell for it."

"You were trying to get two kidnapped boys back alive," Viv corrected him. Her phone rang and she answered with, "What's going on, Danny."

"I followed the signal… I'm at a park…" He glanced around as he drove, but he couldn't find a street name or a number. "I'll leave the line open, you can trace me," he said. "The signal stopped here. I—"


"Oh my God, the pond!" he snapped and then she heard the sound of a car door opening and closing.

Viv looked at the others, saying, "They're in trouble."

Jack started barking out orders even as he was leading the way toward the door, Viv and Sam on his heels. By the time they were in the hallway, Sam had a trace started on Danny's cell phone. Viv received a call with the location as they were climbing into the car.

"Shit," Jack said, when he heard it. A moment later he was on his cell phone, arranging for a helicopter. He no sooner finished the call than another came in. The team upstairs had found something. "Go. Call me," he ordered, climbing out of the car and heading back inside.

Friday, November 28, 2003

4:17 p.m.

Danny followed the truck, the drive taking him back toward the city. He called Vivian, telling her what had happened and keeping her updated on his location while she sat, stuck in traffic. Then the signal stopped moving and Danny pressed down on the gas, hurrying to catch up.

Eight minutes later he reached a good-sized pond, or a small lake. He frowned, not understanding at first what was happening, then it struck him just as he'd tried to give Vivian a final location. He stopped the car with a squeal, dropped the open cell phone onto the seat and climbed out, sprinting to the edge of the water, the tracking device in his hand. There was no mistake. The cocaine was here.

He looked down and saw tire tracks in the sandy mud at the edge of the water. Without hesitation, he pulled his coat off, then kicked his shoes off and entered the water. He dove under the surface.

He found the truck submerged. He went to the rear door, but he had to surface for air before he could check it. He dove, checking the door and finding it secured with a padlock. He pulled on it, but it was securely closed.

Kicking back to the surface again, he gulped in more air and dove back to the truck, searching the bottom of the pond for a rock. Finding one, he surfaced again, trying to fill his lungs as full as possible, then dove back to the truck and, using the rock, tried to force the lock open, but it was useless. He couldn't strike the lock hard enough while under water.

Again and again he surfaced, filling his lungs and then heading back to the truck, trying to find a way into the back, but there was simply nothing he could do. By the time he slogged out of the pond the local police had arrived, and, a half hour behind them, Viv and Sam made it to the scene.

The three agents waited in silence while the truck was removed from the water. Danny stood, wrapped in a blanket – courtesy of one of the officers – as bolt cutters were used to remove the lock and the rear door was finally opened.

Sam gasped. Vivian reached out, resting her hand on Danny's arm as his knees went weak. The inside of the truck was empty except for a backpack and several sodden moving pads. One of the cops opened the backpack, finding the counterfeit drugs and the tracking device inside. There was no sign of Martin.

"Damn it," Danny sighed. "I lost him."

"He might not have been in this truck at all," Sam said. "They could've just used it to pull you off."

"We won't know until we find Garrett and Martin," Viv said. She looked at Danny. "Let's get back, see what the techs at the apartment found."

Danny nodded. He'd heard from them about Jack finding Martin Fitzhugh, and the news had hit him as hard as it had Jack.

Friday, November 28, 2003

4:57 p.m.

When the ME was ready, they finally moved the body off the bed, uncovering another CD, hidden under the boy's body. Jack took that and headed back to the FBI. There was nothing more he could do for Martin Fitzhugh.

On his way back to the building he called Viv, getting a status report on what was going on there and telling her to come back to the office as quickly as possible. He was waiting for them when the others returned a little more than an hour later.

"What was on the CD?" Sam asked as soon as she reached the table where Jack sat.

"Fitzhugh's final moments," Jack replied. His voice sounded tired, but he was alert. Papers and photographs were littered across the table. "We need to find out where he's been keeping these boys, because wherever it is, that's where he has Martin," he stated.

The others nodded, immediately getting to work. Danny excused himself, going to change out of his damp clothes before rejoining them. Sam flashed him a smile when she saw his FBI sweatpants and shirt.

They worked steadily for nearly two hours before Jack said, "All right, where are we?"

The others came together around the table. Viv started with, "Both of the limo drivers IDed Benes Tesar, the kid from the Chinese restaurant, as the man who hired them, and it was Tesar's fingerprints on the music CD from the first limo."

Sam nodded, picking up with, "NYPD says Tesar is a low-level player in the Serbian mob. He's apparently also a regular at Chained Male, a BDSM club in the Village. He was arrested once for solicitation outside the club, and was picked up three times in sweeps of the clubs. I talked to the former manager of the club on the phone and he said Tesar has a Chinese boyfriend."

"That explains the location and his gunmen," Jack said.

"And it fits with what I got from the neighbors in Orange, and the building super in Tribeca," Danny interjected. "Both said work crews had been in the locations, and they were Asian."

"All right, so now we know how Garrett Wesley was able to use the locations – Tesar provided the manpower. Do we know how Wesley and Tesar know each other?"

"A funeral," Viv said and Jack turned his attention to her.

She flipped back a couple of pages on the notepad she was using and said, "Garrett's mother passed away from complications of breast cancer two days before Spaulding took his swan dive. Garrett's father, who had been receiving in-home hospice care for three months following a massive stroke, died two days after."

"Every other day," Sam put in, "just like the disappearances of the three boys."

Jack nodded. "The three deaths were the trigger that set him off."

"Tesar has a part time job at Krizova and Sons Funeral Home," Viv continued. "They did Mrs. Matthews funeral. And the day after his father died – so the same day Spaulding died – Garrett went down and had his last name officially changed back to Wesley, his father's name."

"Too soon," Jack stated, shaking his head. "Wesley and Tesar had to have known each other before that. When did this guy have his name changed to Matthews?" he asked.

"About a month after his mother and father divorced," Viv said. "He and his mother left Tuxedo Park and moved into the city. A month after his mother remarried he was Garrett Matthews."

"He's got an interesting past," Sam stated. "His parents are from Arizona originally. Garrett was a brilliant kid, went to college when he was fifteen, but he dropped out two years later, when he was seventeen. That summer he took a job working for Spaulding, and he kept coming back to work for him in the summers for several years. That stopped when he went back to school. A year later, Spaulding's first victim died."

"He outgrew his attractiveness to Spaulding. Graham preferred them younger," Jack said.

"The same year Spaulding left Arizona to take up the reins at Spaulding Academy, Garrett and parents moved to Tuxedo Park," Viv told them. "Two years later they were divorced. According to our observant neighbor, Garrett was dropping by to visit Spaulding about one weekend every couple of months the entire time Graham was headmaster."

"Something had to have brought them together again," Danny said, wondering what it might have been.

"The father," Jack said. "Do some digging, see if we can determine if Mr. Wesley abused his son. Spaulding might have seen Wesley as a rival for Garrett, but once his parents were divorced, and Garrett was living in the city, away from his father's influence, his name changed…"

"Rival gone," Sam concluded and Jack nodded.

"Garrett's got degrees in computer science and in chemistry," Viv said. "He landed a job with the Whitney Museum, doing chemical analyses of paints for restoration work. And he might have met Tesar at Chained Male," she added. "A woman he worked with at the museum said he spent his free time at the, quote, kinky clubs in the Village, but she didn't have any names for me. And get this, she also said Garrett found a press pass after a film crew borrowed the museum to do a couple of scenes for a feature film. He amused everyone in the office when he altered it, adding his own name. Any bets on the newspaper it was for?"

"Nope," Sam said. "The National Register."

Viv nodded.

"And he used that pass to get in to Spaulding's trial," Sam concluded.

"Okay, everything in Garrett Wesley's life seems to have revolved around Spaulding from the time he met him," Jack said. "Wherever he's holding Martin and Jonathan Mahoney, it's going to be related to Graham Spaulding somehow."

"Like Graham and Spaulding streets?" Danny asked.

Sam shook her head. "I checked, and there's nothing in the city like that."

"There's something," Jack said, "we just have to find it. Did either of his parents own other properties?"

"No," Viv said. "His father kept the home in Tuxedo Park, and Mrs. Matthews rented an apartment on the upper west side until she remarried and then they lived on the upper east side. Her second husband left that apartment to her in his will when he died five years ago, and, when she died, it was sold to cover the costs of her medical treatments."

"Do we know where Garrett's been living?" Jack asked.

"He's been sharing a loft with three other museum employees in Queens," Viv told him.

Danny nodded. "I talked to the roommates and they said he moved out during the time of Spaulding's trial."

Jack frowned. "Where did he go?"

The others shook their heads, Viv adding, "Mrs. Kline, Spaulding's neighbor, did say that he hadn't seen Garrett visiting after the trial."

Danny cleared his throat and said, "I talked to the ME about the wounds on Andrew Evers and Martin Fitzhugh; they're consistent with the kinds of weapons that are used in the BDSM community, so I'm thinking Viv's right about that being where Garrett and Tesar met."

"That wasn't Spaulding's scene at all," Jack countered.

"But Garrett might have been into sexual submission as well, which did motivate Spaulding," Sam offered.

Jack nodded. "We need places to look," he said.

"I can't find anything associated with Garrett, or his parents, that hasn't already been checked," Viv said.

"The same with Tesar," Danny added.

"The club," Jack said. "Chained Male?"

"Gone, after the last sweep," Sam replied. "It's now a hot spot for the trans crowd."

Jack's lips pressed into a fine line. "They're here, in the city…"

Danny sat up straighter in his chair. "What about Spaulding Academy?"

Sam shook her head. "The property's been bought and it's in use again."

Danny's shoulders slumped and he sank back in his chair, running his hands over his hair.

"Garrett's going to have to make at least one more play for Jack," Sam said. "When he does—"

"It'll be too late for Martin, and Jonathan Mahoney," Malone interrupted. "We have to find them before that happens."

Another agent approached them carrying a padded envelope. "Jack, this arrived for you via a courier service."

Malone took the envelope and opened it. Inside was another CD.

Friday, November 28, 2003

7:08 p.m.

"The computer that made this CD is the same one that made the last one," the tech said before clicking his mouse to set the movie playing.

It was Martin this time, naked and secured to the chair. Jack recognized the paper lying in the man's lap, too – it was the one from the day Spaulding had fallen to his death. Martin looked drugged, his eyes slightly glassy, his eyelids droopy. He had several bruises on his body, as well as several welts. The corners of his mouth were bleeding and the rubber gag was cinched into his mouth tightly, stretching the torn corners painfully.

"Hello, Jack," the electronically modified voice stated. "As you can see, Martin and I have been getting better acquainted. He's all grown up now, but he's still handsome, don't you think?

"He misses you, I think," the voice continued. "We're both hoping you can come for a visit, but you haven't been playing fair, Jack. Still, time is running out…"

There was a sharp cracking sound and Martin flinched, but it was someone outside of the frame of the image who yelped. Jonathan Mahoney, Jack was sure.

A second crack produced a louder cry and they could see Martin squeeze his eyes shut.

"You really have been such a bad boy, Jack," the voice continued. "Our fathers made us like that. But I'm going to give you one last chance. I'll call tonight, to tell you what to do. Be ready."

There was a third crack and Martin flinched again, but there was no response that they could hear from Jonathan Mahoney this time.

The movie ended.

"When tonight?" Sam almost moaned.

"When he's ready," Jack replied.

The agents were quiet on the walk back to their office. Jack sat down at the conference table, lost in thought.

"He didn't give us anything," Danny said, scrubbing his hands over his face.

"Yes, he did," Jack replied. He thought back over the man's words. "Fathers," he said after a moment.

"'Our fathers made us like that,'" Sam quoted.

"Like what?" Danny asked. "Bad?"

"Like they are, maybe? If Garrett's father was abusing him," Viv said.

"And we know Spaulding's father abused him," Sam added.

Jack's head jerked up with what she said and he stared at Sam.

"What?" she asked.

"Graham's father," Jack said. "Tell me."

The other three looked across the top of the table at the scattered files and notepads. Danny saw Spaulding's folder first and grabbed it. He opened it and thumbed through the pages. "He founded Spaulding Academy… died… Graham took over…"

"Properties," Jack said, a little more harshly than he'd intended.

"The Academy… several houses for the faculty across from the school… the headmaster's house that Spaulding was living in…" Danny said, turning more pages.

"There has to be more," Jack said. "Everybody on that, now. I'm going to talk to the PD, get a SWAT team put on standby."

Less than fifteen minutes later they had their answer.

"I've got it," Danny said, waving a piece of paper. "Spaulding's father bought a second home in the Stateside subdivision, on Arizona Street."

Jack nodded, taking down the address from Danny and making the call to the SWAT commander, who was standing by. "Let's go," he said as he hung up.

Friday, November 28, 2003

11:39 p.m.

Surprise was probably what saved Martin and the boy. Garrett hadn't expected them to discover his use of Spaulding senior's old home. Unfortunately, the necessity of breaking down the front gates in order to gain access to the property meant Garrett Wesley had the time he needed to escape, and the manhunt the local and federal authorities launched failed to locate the man, who was now on the run.

Martin and Jonathan were taken directly to the hospital, the boy undergoing surgery to minimize the scarring on his back, while with Martin it was the ketamine that was the primary problem – the near overdose he had been given worrying the doctors.

Three hours after the rescue, Jonathan was in a private room, his parents hovering at his bedside, while Martin lay in ICU.

Jack had placed a call to Victor Fitzgerald as soon as they had reached the hospital and was promptly told not to leave until the AD arrived, which he did, a half hour before midnight.

"Agent Malone," Victor snapped as he stalked into the treatment room, "why wasn't I notified as soon as my son went missing?"

Jack sighed softly and replied, "Because we were in the middle of an on-going investigation and there was no time to deal with the family of the missing agent."

"I am the family of that missing agent, and I have the authority to determine what you do and do not have time for!"

"Yes, sir," Jack replied, "which is exactly why I didn't call."

Victor's eyes narrowed dangerously. Malone was a loose cannon as far as he was concerned, and if he could find a way of getting rid of the man, he would. Unfortunately, his son seemed determined to stand up for the man. How Malone had won Martin's loyalty, he didn't know, and he sure as hell wasn't happy about it.

"Why are there police outside my son's room?"

"Because the man responsible for this hasn't been captured yet."

"You mean to tell me you let this happen, you failed to call me, and then you failed to apprehend the man responsible?"

"With all due respect, your son's a field agent, he was captured while in the middle of an investigation. No one let this happen, it just did."

Victor scowled. There was little use in arguing with the man now. He'd have the OPR investigate the incident. If Malone was at fault, they would find out, and then he would finally be rid of Malone. "How is he?" he asked, changing topics.

"The doctors say he's doing better. The next twelve hours will be the test."

Victor nodded. "I need to go call his mother."

"I'll be here," Jack replied. He waited for a couple of minutes, then walked over and sat down in the single chair in the room. It was in a corner, next to the only window in the room. He looked out at the darkness, glancing back at the door when he heard it open.

Danny stepped into the small room. "That Martin's father I saw out there on the phone?"

Jack nodded.

Danny sighed heavily. "Are we all fired?"

That brought a small smile to Malone's lips. "Not yet… give him another hour or so."

"Ah, okay," Danny said, then grinned. "Just thought you should know; the house-to-house canvas in the subdivision didn't turn up anything."

"I didn't expect it to," Jack said tiredly.

Danny glanced back toward the door. "You think he'll try to finish this here?"

Jack thought for a moment, then shrugged. "I don't know. Why aren't you home, sleeping?"

"Did I miss that memo?"

"Apparently," Jack deadpanned.

Danny glanced over at Martin. "He wake up yet?"

Jack shook his head.

That prompted a long, audible sigh from Danny. "You know, he's really not so bad, once you get used to him."

Jack's sides jerked with a silent laugh. "I'm sure he feels the same about you."

"Me?" Danny questioned. "Man, what's not to like about me? Charm, IQ and good-looks, all in one fine package…"

"And humble, too."

Danny smiled. "You want me to come by tomor– uh, later this morning and take over so you can get some sleep?"

"I'll call if I need a break. With Victor here and on a tear, I'd rather keep his attention focused on me."

Danny nodded, hoping Martin's father didn't hang his boss, and his friend, out to dry over this. If it was anyone's fault, it was his. He'd been too far behind Martin, and then he'd distracted them while he'd followed and dealt with the decoy truck. If heads rolled over this one, it should be his.

"Go home," Jack told him. "Get some sleep, then get to work figuring out where Garrett Wesley might hole up."

"Yeah, okay," Danny said and turned to go. He paused at Martin's bedside, saying, "You better wake up pretty soon, okay? Sooner your father knows you're all right, the sooner he's out of our hair."

Saturday, November 29, 2003

7:11 a.m.

Martin drifted closer to consciousness, but he wasn't sure he wanted to be awake. The last time he was, his tormentor had been using a bullwhip on Jonathan Mahoney. The boy's cries had been like knife stabs to his heart, but nothing he'd said had helped, or stopped Wesley.

He really didn't want to see the results of that attack, and he didn't want to hear the boy's moans. He wasn't sure what that made him, but both were true. He guessed they were also two more reasons he probably shouldn't be on Jack's team.

Not for the first time, he wondered why Malone had taken him on board in the first place. It wasn't like Jack liked his father, or had any reason to try and kiss up to the man by hiring his son.

Hell, Jack didn't seem to really like him all that much, either, so it wasn't because he'd seen in Martin a potential friend, like Danny was. Jack had an honest affection for Danny – Vivian, too, for that matter. And Sam… well, he was starting to have his suspicions about that relationship. But him?

No, definitely no friendship there. Tolerance, yes, but not friendship, and not respect, although he tried hard to earn that.

Maybe he tried too hard.

He wished now that he'd told Jack the truth about the Delgato shooting right there on the spot. But he hadn't.


Because he didn't want Jack mad at him? Because he didn't want to see disappointment in the man's eyes?

Who the hell did he think Jack was, his father?

Oh, man, he thought. This is all getting just a little too Freudian for me.

But he knew it was true, at least in a way. He'd never been good enough for his father, no mater what he did, or what he excelled in. He was always somehow lacking in his father's sight.

And now, here he was, doing the whole damn things all over again with Jack. Maybe he should see a therapist, try and work out his daddy issues…

Yeah, he probably should.


Laying there, his mind floating, he found himself looking back on the current case, and on Spaulding's case. Little details popped into his thoughts, like why Jack had sent him to interview Eric, one of Spaulding's victims.

Had Jack guessed? Did he know, somehow, that Martin had faced his own Spaulding that summer between sixth and seventh grade?

He was sure the empathy he'd felt for Eric had helped him to reach the boy, and that had gotten him to testify against Spaulding. But how had Jack known?

His own father was completely clueless about the incident.

He was relatively sure Spaulding had sensed it about him, too, which was why he wasn't seen as the threat Jack was.

Garrett Wesley, on the other hand, was another matter.

Martin shivered slightly, recalling how close he'd come to being assaulted and then killed. When he'd finished with Jonathan, Wesley had turned his attention on Martin, beating the agent with a flail and then injecting him with more of the ketamine.

Martin had known that rape and death would come next for him, but before Wesley could act, they had both heard the sound of the front gates being torn down. Martin remembered calling Jack's name, and laughing with relief before the drug had stripped away his consciousness.

Jack's and Danny's voices were the last things he'd heard as he'd slipped away, both of them calling for him, but he couldn't answer them anymore.

Since then he'd wandered in this mental fog. He occasionally thought he heard Jack's voice, or Danny's. And once he'd been sure he'd heard his father's voice, but that was highly unlikely.

He wished whoever was out there would keep talking long enough for him to find his way back from wherever the hell he was.

He knew he didn't belong here, but he couldn't find a way out, and it was starting to get to him, especially when he had a feeling there was someone out there, waiting fro him to wake up.

In fact, if he listened real hard, he was sure he could hear their voices now… two voices…

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Jack was sitting in the chair by the window, dozing. He had been there all night. He wasn't exactly sure why he'd stayed, but he just couldn't get up and leave, not until Martin was awake. Once the man woke, then he could go home and sleep for a few days.

A nurse came in, checking Martin's vitals and other things, noting the results on his chart before leaving as quietly as she'd come.

Victor hadn't come back, which surprised him. It was obvious the man cared about his son, and just as obvious that he didn't have a freaking clue how to show it. In that way he was an awful lot like Jack's own father.

Malone snorted softly to himself. Maybe that was it. Maybe Victor Fitzgerald reminded him too much of his own father. And maybe, just maybe, Martin reminded him a little of himself, too.

He didn't follow that line of thought very far. It left him feeling too uncomfortable. But it did remind him that he hadn't done very much to welcome Martin on board. In fact, he'd been pretty standoffish with the man when it came right down to it. Gruff, snappish… his usual loveable self, only this time he hadn't allowed Martin to see any other sides of him. Danny and Viv weren't just his coworkers, they were his friends, and Sam…

Well, Sam was more than a friend or a coworker, but he wasn't sure what that was anymore.

But he'd kept Martin at arm's length the entire time he'd been there… and that was a little over a year now. Christ, had it really been that long?

He sighed, knowing he had some ground he needed to make up with the man – if he could figure out a way to approach it. Martin Fitzgerald was smart, dedicated and loyal, and he was going to make one damn fine agent, he already was, but Jack could see the potential there. It was his job to see to it that potential was met, but he'd been dragging his feet.

He needed to do some serious thinking about why that was.

He heard the door open again. The nurse, coming back to check on something she'd forgotten, he guessed, his eyes opening just far enough to check. What he saw sent a surge of adrenaline coursing through his body. He was on his feet, his gun pointed at Garrett Wesley before he even realized it.

"Drop the gun," he stated in a no-nonsense tone that usually got results, but Wesley just smiled benignly, his own gun pointed at Martin.

"Hello, Jack," the man said, smiling serenely.

"Put the gun down, now," Jack repeated.

"I can't do that, Jack. You and Martin have to pay for what you did."

"We didn't do anything, besides our jobs," Jack said, trying to get the man talking. He was dressed in a white uniform, and was wearing an ID badge that identified him as an employee of the hospital, which was how he'd gotten past the police guards at the door. With luck they would hear them and take a peek.

"You killed him!" Garrett barked, his hands jerking slightly.

Jack flinched, knowing how easy it would be for the man to pull the trigger. "He jumped."

Garrett shook his head. "No, he wouldn't do that. He wouldn't leave me."

"He jumped," Jack repeated, noticing that Martin's eyes had opened. He met the man's gaze, willing him to stay still, but he could already see Martin's hand moving.

"No!" Wesley cried. "He couldn't! I loved him!"

"Graham Spaulding wasn't capable of loving anyone," Jack stated.

And a moment later, alarms began to sound in the room.

Garrett jumped, looking away from Jack to the man lying in the bed. "Martin?" he called, his finger beginning to squeeze on the trigger.

Martin threw himself away from the man at the same time as Jack fired.

Garrett slumped to the floor, police and medical personnel bursting into the small room. Jack kept Wesley covered until the officers were able to take him out. Martin assured the doctor and nurses that he was fine as they helped him to lie back on the bed. When they were satisfied he was all right, they left, leaving the two men alone.

Jack offered Martin a small smile. "I was hoping you'd just lie there and play dead."

Martin grinned. "Guess I'm not very good about following orders, am I?"

"Not very," Jack replied. "You sure you're all right?"

Martin nodded. "Thanks."

"Like I told you, it's why we get the big bucks," Jack said, seeing Victor approaching at a swift clip. "Look, you get some rest, okay?"

"Yeah," Martin said. "My dad must be headed this way," he said, noting the look on his boss's face.

"You got it."

"Can you tell him I lapsed into a coma, ask him to come back in a day or two?"

"They don't pay me that much."

"I was afraid of that," Martin sighed.

Jack offered him another small smile. "Ready or not…"

Victor pushed the door open and stepped inside. "What the hell is going on?"

"Jack just nailed Garrett Wesley," Martin said.

Victor's eyes rounded with surprise and he looked down at his son. "Martin?"

"Yeah, it's me, Dad. And before you ask, I'm fine. Tell Mom I'll call once I get home."

That brought the man up short and he opened his mouth and shut it twice before he said, "I'll do that."

"Right now he needs to get some more rest," Jack added, heading for the door. "Call if you need anything," he told Martin.

"Yeah, thanks, Jack."

Malone beat a hasty retreat, leaving Martin with his father.

"Are you sure—?"

"Yeah, Dad, I'm fine. Thanks for coming by."

Victor nodded, then turned and left.

Martin sighed with relief. He hated scenes with his father, but this time he'd managed to avoid one. He'd have to thank Jack for that later.

He smiled as he closed his eyes. For a moment there it had sounded like he was Danny, or Viv. It was nice. Maybe there was light at the end of the tunnel after all… Beside, he couldn't be in the dog house forever… he hoped.