Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Without a Trace, and the only thing I gain from this work of fiction is the satisfaction of finally sitting down and writing it!

Comments, warnings: Some cursing, a little violence, a tiny innuendo to sex. This is my first attempt at a WAT fic. It’s sort of a mild version of h/c, Martin centered, but all of the gang is represented. I tried to get in their heads and tell a portion of the story from each character’s point of view. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but it was fun. Oh, and there’s some romance, too – I don’t normally do that, but it just sort of came out. It takes place just after the Christmas party …

It was 8:35am, exactly three minutes later than when she’d last checked, and Sam wished she’d stop doing that. Stop looking at her watch and stop thinking that there was anything at all significant about the time because there wasn’t. She took another swallow of black coffee, tepid now, and made a face. She hated lukewarm coffee--hated lukewarm anything, really. Cold stuff should be cold and hot stuff should be hot and why did that make her think of Martin? Really, who knew that behind that stoic, controlled persona lived a passionate, exciting, hot lover?

Well, she probably should have known and would have known if she was paying the least bit of attention. It should have been obvious and she should have wised up sooner and appreciated it more, but she didn’t. Because it wasn’t enough . . . he wasn’t enough. No matter how great he treated her or how warm he made her feel--no matter how hot he was--he wasn’t enough to stop her from getting all breathless and stupid when Jack looked at her in that certain way.

She shook her head at her foolishness and slanted her eyes towards the clock on the wall. Not really checking the time, but it was now 8:41 and Martin was officially late. He was usually in at 7:30 or maybe 8:00 at the latest, though he wasn’t really due until 8:30. But now he was eleven minutes late and that may as well have been eleven hours, in Martin’s deliberate world, and she just knew she had something to do with it.

She had everything to do with it. He’d seen it all, probably more than it all, at least in his mind. It was late last night, and she really had thought he’d gone home. And she really had no intention of stopping by Jack’s office, except the light was still on and it was apparent by the way he held his head in his hands that her boss was despondent. That happened a lot lately, and she’d gotten good at playing the concerned friend. Besides, it really couldn’t do any harm because the truth was that she was happier with Martin than she’d thought she could be; she’d meant it when she told him that. So maybe this wasn’t so complicated and confusing after all. Maybe she could be friends with Jack and lovers with Martin and work with them both.

God, she was every kind of stupid, wasn’t she?

So she’d entered Jack’s office and offered an ear and a smile, and before she knew it, she was in his arms and it felt familiar and safe. Comfortable; like time hadn’t really passed at all. Except it had and she’d found someone else; someone who looked at her like she was everything he’d ever wanted. His mistake--she’d tried to tell Martin as best as she could not to expect too much from her. She was pretty screwed up, after all, and there was still the lingering Jack business to consider.

It didn’t stop him, though. Martin remained infinitely patient and considerate and too good to be true. Too good for her, anyway, and way too good to have his heart trampled on like it had been last night . . . and it was now 8:59 and even Jack was eyeing the empty desk suspiciously.

He’d seen it, too, the look on Martin’s face last night. Jack had enfolded her in his arms and kissed her with uncharacteristically reckless abandon and there was Martin, in the glass, looking in, and how would she ever explain?

She couldn’t explain because she didn’t understand it herself. She couldn’t have made an intelligent statement at that moment if her life depended on it. She could barely make one now, twelve hours later.

“Anybody heard from Martin?” Jack asked nonchalantly, as if he didn’t know.

She’d told Jack right then and there; confessed the moment Martin turned away and walked out that they had a ‘relationship’, she thought she’d called it. Well, it was that . . . sort of. Much more than that to Martin and she knew that, and now she was a real jerk in addition to being stupid.

Danny frowned and looked around the room, as if Martin might pop out from behind a partition. “What? He’s not here?”

“Apparently not,” Jack responded a little testily, and he couldn’t stop peering at Sam through hooded eyes.

Guilt there or maybe it was a reflection of what she felt as she returned the look. She’d gone after Martin last night; had taken a cab to his apartment and sat outside on the sidewalk for a good hour, but she never went in. He probably wouldn’t want to see her, and there was that problem of coming up with coherent sentences and explaining the unexplainable.

God, she was a mess.

“I’ll call him,” Viv offered, and thank goodness someone had some sense.

Danny’s gaze flitted back and forth between Sam and Jack, and he finally spoke up. “Something going on?”

It wasn’t like Danny to push; he’d known for weeks about her and Martin and kept it to himself. It wasn’t until Sam went missing that Martin caught on that Danny had caught on. Even then, Danny kept it quiet and respectful. Not that she deserved the consideration, but Martin did.

No one answered Danny’s question. Jack fumbled through papers and Sam looked at the clock and it seemed like it took Viv hours just to make the call.

“No answer,” Viv said, when she finally returned to the table. “Should we be concerned?”

That was said pointedly at Sam, or maybe it just felt that way. No, by the glare in Viv’s eyes, the aim was definitely on Sam and it was on target.

Sam stuttered, “Not that I . . . know of. I mean . . . he was here late last night.”

“You hear from him after that?” Danny asked as casually as possible, but what was the point? They all knew now, and they all knew they knew, so the game playing just seemed completely unnecessary.

Sam shook her head. “No. He left here . . . alone . . . and I didn’t hear from him after.”

Jack cleared his throat. “He was upset about a . . . personal matter. He probably needs a little time. And since we have nothing pressing today, I suggest we give it to him and get to work.”

Dismissed . . . and she hated how he did that. A wave of his hand and a few magic words and it was all over. Go to work, Sam.

Silly, that she should be angry with Jack. He was almost as innocent as Martin in this disaster. After all, he had no idea that she and Martin were . . . whatever it was that they were . . . when he kissed her. Did he?

No, he didn’t. Jack wouldn’t have crossed that line if he believed for a moment that there was anyone else in Sam’s life, especially Martin. Oh, the two men had their differences, but they also respected each other. Martin looked up to Jack and Jack kind of seemed to like Martin, as much as he liked anybody . . . and this was probably why she’d been warned about office romances.

Messed up and stupid and a real jerk . . . and it was 10:04 and damn it, Martin would not do this. He’d suck it up and he’d come in and do his job.

She couldn’t concentrate and she jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. “I’m going to his apartment,” Danny mumbled softly in her ear. “You wanna come?”

No. Yes. And why did Danny act like it was a clandestine operation? Surely they could leave work for a few hours to check on a friend?

Maybe more than a friend . . . and maybe she should have paid better attention.

+ + + + + + +

Jack watched them leave, but he didn’t get up from behind his desk. It was the right thing to do, and he was glad that Danny had covertly taken the initiative to check on their missing co-worker. From what he could see, Sam was hesitant to go along, but she gave in because that was the right thing to do, too. She probably knew Martin better than any of them.

Hell, no probably about that anymore. Jack had figured out that his two agents were more than likely sleeping together. He had seen how Martin reacted to Sam’s abduction and the look on his face when they found her. He just wasn’t sure how Sam felt about Martin. And somehow, that made it alright to hold her and to kiss her. He couldn’t be held responsible for Martin’s feelings, after all. Fitzgerald was a grown man and he knew what he was getting into with Sam.

So why did he feel so damn guilty? It was just one kiss after all, and it didn’t mean anything. It couldn’t mean anything right now, not with all of the other crap going on in his life. He’d even tell Martin that when he saw him. Maybe. If it came up. And this was a good time to say again that Martin was an adult. If Jack knew the man at all--and he was pretty sure he did--he’d guess that Martin would suck it up and come in and do his job like nothing at all had happened.

That’s what he thought anyway, but Martin wasn’t there and he wasn’t answering his phone, so maybe that bit about being concerned was warranted.

Or maybe not.

Really, it wasn’t a big deal that Martin was late. It wasn’t like they worked regular hours or that they were in the middle of something right then. So Fitzgerald decided to take a break and come in at a normal hour for a change . . . so what? Just proved the man was human, after all. Type A, overachiever, own-worst-enemy be damned.

Yeah, right. Jack knew that hadn’t happened and wouldn’t happen because he was Martin ten years ago--complete with the overbearing, impossible to please father and the total inability to manage a personal life.

Except Martin had managed to create a personal life, or at least he’d made an attempt at one, and it wasn’t exactly his fault that his choice wasn’t the wisest. Jack certainly couldn’t fault the man for his attraction to Samantha. He couldn’t fault the man for much of anything when it came down to it. Martin was driven, but he was also passionate and compassionate--willing to break the rules if that’s what it took to get the job done, and guess who he’d learned that from?

A younger version of himself . . . and there was no way Jack would have let a woman get in the way of his job when he was just starting out, like Martin. Which made it all the more unlikely that the man had just not come in or called because he was “upset”.

Jack checked his watch and picked up the phone. Danny should have called by now.


“Well?” Jack wasn’t in the mood to beat around the bush. Okay, so he was never in the mood to beat around the bush. But today he was particularly on edge and it wasn’t like he didn’t know what Danny and Sam were up to, or that they didn’t know that he knew.

“Jack?” Apparently Danny wasn’t going to let on, however.

“Quit screwing around, Danny. I know where you are. Is he alright?”

A soft chuckle as Danny replied, “I’m sure Martin will be touched that you care, Jack.” His tone dropped considerably when he added, “I’ll be sure to tell him . . . when I figure out where he is.”

“Go inside. Make sure there’s no sign of . . . anything.”

“Well, uh . . . we are inside. Sam had a . . . key.”

A key? That stung, though Jack wasn’t sure why. She’d admitted they had a ‘relationship’. What the hell did he think she meant by that? There was that guilt thing rearing its ugly head again. Martin gave her a key? Shit.

Pushing that disturbing thought aside, Jack went on, “So is everything in order?”

That got a genuine laugh out of Danny. “We’re talking about Martin here. What do you think? It’s spotless--practically sterile. Classic and sophisticated but lacking a distinct sense of style, sort of like his ties.”

“I don’t need a critique of Martin’s decorating or fashion sense . . .”

“. . . or lack thereof.” Danny completed the sentence.

Alright, if Danny was making jokes it couldn’t be too bad, right?

“He probably had an appointment or something and forgot to let us know,” Jack said, thinking out loud.

“Except his car’s still here,” Danny noted dubiously.

“Taxi, subway, bus--take your pick.”

“Maybe.” But it was apparent that Danny wasn’t convinced.

“He could have spent the night with an old girlfriend.” That made the most sense, after what had happened. Find some willing arms to ease the pain and ouch--that hit a little too close to home. Of course, that still didn’t explain Martin not coming to work.

“Why would he do that?” Danny asked suspiciously, and Taylor was just too damn good a detective sometimes.

But Jack was not going down that road. “Just come on back. We’ll make some calls later if we don’t hear from him.”

“Yeah, okay.”

Hanging up the phone, Jack peered at his watch again. It was after eleven now, and he wondered exactly when he should get worried. After all of his years finding missing persons, he had no idea exactly when a person should be considered missing to begin with. Depended on the person, he supposed, and up until last night, he would have considered Martin missing at 8:35.

But things had changed, thanks to one little kiss. Well, not exactly a little kiss. It was a passionate, long-awaited, long dreamed of kiss, and he wasn’t sorry it happened. He was sorry he hurt Martin, but he couldn’t deny that he wanted Samantha. And he couldn’t deny that he was lonely and sad . . . and guilty as sin. He’d screwed up his kids’ lives and Sam’s life and now Martin’s, too, in a way.

Okay. One o’clock. If he didn’t hear from Martin by then, he’d make some calls. And he knew who he’d have to start with--that jackass Fitzgerald Senior. Talk about guilty as sin; there was the man who’d really screwed Martin over.

Didn’t take away Jack’s own culpability, though.


He gave her a key?

+ + + + + + +

Just call him the peacemaker. And wasn’t that ironic as hell? Danny the hothead had somehow fallen into the role of mediator between his colleagues. Sure, he’d started out having his differences with Martin, but they’d gotten past that pretty darn quick, once he figured out Martin was on the level.

Since then, he’d walked a mighty fine line between Martin and Viv, and Martin and Jack, and Viv and Jack, and oh man, he really didn’t want to think about the entire twisted triangle between Martin and Sam and Jack. He just kept his nose clean and his mouth shut and let them all work it out.

But it was different this time. Martin wouldn’t just disappear. Something had happened, and Sam and Jack knew more than they were saying. And Danny was starting to get pissed off about it.

Samantha sat beside him in the front seat of his car, her doe eyes troubled as she stared straight ahead. He wasn’t going to fall for it, though. She could do that Bambi face all day long and he wouldn’t let it slide. There was too much at stake. He cared about her too much, and Jack and Martin, too. In spite of his active social life, Danny’s job and his team mattered most, and he wasn’t about to let hormones and insecurities and guilt mess it all up.

“What happened last night?” he asked Sam, when it became apparent she wasn’t going to offer anything.

“Nothing,” she mumbled, without even turning her head to look at him.

“No way, Sam. Don’t pull that shit with me.”

She sighed; a soft, slightly desperate sound that made Danny wince, but he wasn’t giving in or letting her off the hook.

“Jack kissed me.”

Great. Just great. What the hell was Jack thinking?

“And Martin saw it?”

A barely perceptible nod was his answer and now it was Danny’s turn to sigh.

“He’s good for you, Samantha. Martin, I mean. Don’t blow this.”

He was surprised that the words came out of his mouth like that. It wasn’t like him to offer unsolicited advice. But he meant what he said. He liked the idea of his two friends together. They needed each other.

He respected Jack more than any man alive, but his boss had issues. And no matter how vehemently Sam denied it, Danny was convinced she wanted that white house-picket fence dream as much as Martin did.

“Might be too late,” Sam answered after several moments had passed.

No, Danny didn’t believe that. Wherever Martin was, he wouldn’t just throw in the towel. He was probably doing some heavy duty thinking at a place where he felt comfortable.

“Do you know his aunt’s number?”

“She died.”

He knew that. Martin had come in that afternoon, after the funeral. He’d gone to his desk and typed up a report like nothing had happened. Danny watched Sam walk near his desk and place her hand on his shoulder, but that was it. No words and no real emotion and he wondered what they were like in private. Did either one of them ever really let go?

There were a few times in the past year when it looked like Martin was going to let go, like he just might shatter if you pressed him too hard. But he’d gotten over it, whatever it was. He’d pulled himself together and bucked up and wouldn’t Dad be proud?

Good thing the guy had real family who cared about him. “He’s still close to his uncle and cousins though, right?”

Samantha sighed again. “The car, Danny . . . he’d have to take the car.”

“So maybe he’s not there. But maybe they heard from him.”

She had the number and, oddly enough, that delighted Danny. But no, they hadn’t heard from him, and should they be concerned? That was the question of the day now wasn’t it?

And he was beginning to think the answer was yeah, they should be concerned. Danny had learned enough about Martin over the past few years to know that no matter what he saw or thought or felt, Martin would never let it interfere with his job. He’d suck it up and come to work and act like it had never happened at all.

They’d taught him well, after all. His parents probably squashed any show of emotional attachment long before he was even walking. And then he’d come to work with them and what had Viv told him? Put your feelings in a box and stuff it away. Danny hadn’t quite learned that lesson and he was determined not to, but then, he didn’t feel the need to prove himself like Martin did. Danny knew who he was, along with where he’d come from and what he’d overcome, and it was pretty much one of those ‘take me or leave me’ things.

It just wasn’t like that for Martin though, and that was why Danny was getting nervous as time went on and they didn’t hear from the man. This wasn’t Martin’s style.

He dropped Sam off at the curb of their office building and went to park the car. She hadn’t said a single word after they talked with Martin’s uncle, and Danny hadn’t pressed her. She didn’t know anything and she was having a hard time taking it all in--putting those feelings in a box.

He parked the car and pulled the keys from the ignition, but he didn’t get out. He just sat there and thought about what might have happened and where Martin could be. He could be hurt, or even dead, and that made Danny’s gut clench. He’d rather think that his missing teammate was simply wimping out, nursing hurt feelings.

As Danny finally climbed out of the car, he decided that if Martin really was missing and in trouble, he needed to be the one to find him. No matter what the situation was, he sure didn’t need to see Jack or Sam right now.

+ + + + + + +

Something was very wrong. Her mother’s intuition was kicking in, though she hated to use that clichéd term. Viv didn’t like to think of herself as the mother figure, although that’s what she was and they all knew it. There were worse things, she supposed, but really, couldn’t she go for the older sister image instead?

She’d done her best to stay out of the personal stuff, in spite of her role as team matriarch. She’d looked the other way and ignored the subtle signs that friendship between co-workers had become something more. But she wasn’t stupid; she knew exactly who was sleeping with whom. And she didn’t like it. It could only lead to trouble, and just this once, she wished she’d been wrong.

She’d heartily disapproved of the first affair between Jack and Samantha, and they knew it. But she’d kept quiet because it wasn’t her business. She’d kept quiet about a lot of things for Jack--some of which was her business--and now she was wondering if it was worth it.

Probably. He was a good man after all; dedicated and caring and willing to sacrifice his entire career just to save one soul, time after time. She just hadn’t caught on that, in the meantime, she was sacrificing her own career as well.

No use crying over spilt milk, and there were more urgent matters to attend to at the moment. Through the glass, she watched Jack talk on the phone, and for the first time, she was relieved she was no longer in charge. The call to Victor Fitzgerald couldn’t be easy. Nothing involving that man was easy . . . and poor Martin. She suspected that the conversation wasn’t going the way Jack had planned by the pained expression on his face.

Curiosity won out and she entered the office as he hung up the phone.

“Jackass,” Jack mumbled, heedless of Viv standing in his doorway.

“Yeah, we already knew that. The question is does he know where Martin is?”

“No. And he’s not the least bit worried about him, either.”

Viv rolled her eyes and left the office. She believed Victor loved his son, in his own sparse way, but he also had tunnel vision. It was nothing short of amazing that Martin had turned out like he had. Kind and considerate, but also passionate and reckless in his efforts to get the results he wanted--bend every rule in the book if you had to--and Jack set the perfect example. She’d watched both men let emotion overrule reason, and had too often been on the receiving end of their mistakes.

It was hard to stay miffed about that however, when they both trusted her so completely. Jack and Martin confided in her when they were troubled, although she suspected she’d only scratched the surface with Martin. He’d come to her when he seemed on the verge of falling apart, and she’d simply told him to file all of the bad stuff away. She wondered now if that was a mistake.

She wondered, too, if it was a mistake to have kept her mouth shut about the relationship business. Maybe she should have gotten involved because things were certainly in chaos at the moment. Maybe she should have at least warned Martin, even if she was secretly hoping it might have worked out for him and Sam.

Something had clearly gone wrong; something had obviously happened last night between Jack and Samantha and Martin. Was it coincidence that no one could find Martin today? The detective in her said, ‘no way’, and she marched back into Jack’s office.

“Tell me what happened last night,” she demanded.

Jack did that maddening thing he always did . . . briefly met her eyes and then started shuffling those damn papers as he answered, “Nothing that has anything to do with Martin’s . . . unknown whereabouts.”

His tone made it pretty clear that he had no intention of discussing the situation further, but she didn’t care. He owed her, and he would continue to owe her for a long time to come.

“I’ve known you for years, Jack. Save it for someone who can’t spot one of your lies from miles away.”

He winced at that, a barely there reaction, but she didn’t miss much. After a half a minute, he lifted his eyes and he said, “I honestly don’t think this has anything to do with Martin not showing up today, but he did witness me and Sam in a rather . . . unfortunate moment.”


“I kissed her.”

“Jack! Have you lost your mind? What were you thinking?”

“Obviously I wasn’t thinking. I was lonely and she was here and I’m human . . . and is it so difficult to believe that I might actually care about Sam?”

“Of course not. In fact, I’m sure you more than care about her. But you’re involved in a messy divorce. And she’s involved with someone else. She’s got a chance for something good and normal. I realize you didn’t know about her and . . .”

Oh, wait a minute. She knew that look. Jack lowered his eyes and drummed his fingers on his desk and good Lord, she’d kill him.

“You did know! You knew about her and Martin and you kissed her anyway?”

“I suspected. I didn’t know for sure. And I didn’t plan to kiss her and I certainly didn’t plan for Martin to be standing outside my window taking notes. Now unless you consider me a suspect in Martin’s disappearance, I suggest you get busy checking his phone records.”

She didn’t miss that either; that little flash of regret and guilt and worry in Jack’s eyes. He was still one of the good guys, and he genuinely cared about his team--including Martin.

“We’ll find him, Jack,” she reassured her superior.

But she left the office with more than a little doubt about that fact. A kiss would upset Martin to be sure, but it wouldn’t keep him from coming to work and doing his job. That could only mean that someone else had prevented him from doing that. Martin may have dealt with mostly white collar criminals, but the same couldn’t be said for his father. The older man had to have a whole slew of enemies. Viv wanted to strangle Victor Fitzgerald and he’d never even done anything to her.

As much as she hated digging into Martin’s personal affairs, she’d do it. They were going to find him and he was going to be just fine, she told herself, ignoring that nagging voice that said otherwise. Mother’s intuition could be wrong, especially considering the fact that her teammates weren’t children. She glanced back at Jack and thought about him and Sam and Martin being involved in a ridiculous love triangle. So maybe they weren’t children, but they occasionally acted that way.

+ + + + + + +

Martin’s head hurt. That was his first thought. And the second was that he was stupid; stupid in so many ways that he couldn’t quite remember them all at the moment. Of course that could be because his head was pounding and his vision was blurred, and he was having a hard time focusing on where he was and why he was there. His ribs hurt, too, and there was something not quite right with his ankle--something not quite right with his whole body, now that he’d mentioned it. He was pretty sure there was a correlation between how rotten he felt and the stupidity thing, though. Give him a minute and he’d figure it out.

The image came to him; burned white hot in his brain, and this had all started with that moment. He’d followed after Samantha last night, wanting nothing more than to say goodnight to her. No, that was a lie. He wanted much more than that; more than a goodnight kiss and more than sex, too . . . just more. He wanted her to look at him the way . . . the way she’d looked at Jack just before he kissed her.

And she had once. That night at the Christmas party when she told him she was happy, he was pretty sure that she looked at him just that way. But maybe he was stupid or blind, because there was no mistaking what he saw last night through the window to Jack’s office.

He should have known. All that stuff he’d spouted about old feelings and new feelings was just a load of crap.

Martin closed his eyes and leaned his aching head back against the post. He was not going to think about the kiss because God knew, he had worse problems right then. Somehow, he’d managed to get himself tied to a pole or pipe in some God forsaken basement, and there was that stupidity thing again.

He’d left the office last night and went straight for a drink, or maybe two, before heading home. He’d parked his car like usual and he would have been fine if he’d just gone inside. But Sam was there, sitting on the walk in front of his building and he couldn’t face her. So he went for a walk instead, and that probably wasn’t one of his smarter ideas.

Embarrassing is what it was; an FBI agent jumped in an alley by one guy. Maybe he could fudge that part a little . . . “Oh yeah, Danny, there were four or five of them at least.” No, that wouldn’t fly. He didn’t work with stupid people. Unfortunately.

He couldn’t really remember what happened after that first conk on the head, although he vaguely recalled an intense scuffle and a painful roll down a flight of stairs. That would explain the sore ribs and throbbing ankle, but not who or why or most importantly, how the hell he was going to get out of this.

Would they be looking for him?



Or maybe they’d just think he didn’t show up because he was upset about . . . you know, the kiss. ‘Poor Martin’. Oh God, how humiliating. He could see it all: Sam looking pouty and sad, and Jack looking guilty. Danny would be puzzled and probably a little pissed off because it was for damn sure that Sam and Jack wouldn’t volunteer anything. Viv would be cautiously concerned, her mother genes kicking into full gear when midday rolled around and they still hadn’t heard from him. Yeah, he could see it all.

He would have sucked it up. He would have come to work and done his job like nothing had happened and they should know that. They should know him. They should be looking for him right now because they should know that he was a bigger man than that. He would be right there at work where he belonged if he wasn’t chained to a pole in some dark, wet--God it was freezing--basement.

What the hell was this about anyway? What was the point of whacking him in the head and tying him up? He should probably be thinking about that; about getting the hell out and finding some damn Tylenol rather than how stupid and embarrassed he felt.

They’d better not put his picture up on the board. Or make a timeline. He groaned at the thought of it. And his apartment . . . would they go through his personal things? Of course they would, and he groaned again. Maybe Viv would do it; if she found anything embarrassing, she’d never tell.

So alright, Viv could go through his stuff, but he hoped it was Danny who found him. He couldn’t even fathom seeing Sam or Jack, and Viv would just be too serious and way too concerned. He could not take sympathy right now. So yeah, it really needed to be Danny.

Any time now, Danny.

Danny knew about him and Sam. He’d never said much, but Martin knew that he approved. It didn’t change anything, but it was nice to know that Danny was on his side.

Viv knew, too, but she was non-committal and Martin couldn’t blame her. He and Jack had both screwed her over, though he’d never meant to. Neither did Jack, or at least, Martin didn’t think so. Jack had come back and taken over his old job and they’d all acted like it was no big deal, but it had to be a huge deal to Viv. Huge to Martin, too, now that he fully understood the ramifications of it.

God, it was so cold. The bastard had taken his overcoat and his suit coat and even his goddamn tie. Wait until Danny heard. Somebody obviously liked his ties. His chattering teeth upped the tempo of the throbbing in his head, and he was almost certain his hands were frozen to the old, rusty pipe. His shoulders ached from being pulled back, though his wrists were mercifully numb, although maybe that was a bad thing. His ankles were tied together, too, and that could explain the throbbing, if he was lucky. But maybe he could get up on his feet anyway and take stock of the situation; maybe that would be a start.

He actually managed to pull his feet beneath him and push himself up as he slid his bound hands up the post behind him. His wrists screamed in protest when he lost some skin with the movement, and he decided he liked it better when they were asleep. Unfortunately, the pain in his wrists was nothing compared to the excruciating agony in his ankle and damn, he had to have at least cracked a few ribs. But he was up and standing, sort of, and that seemed like progress.

Okay . . . minimal progress, at best. He was still stuck and still cold and great, now he was going to throw up. And worst of all, he couldn’t get the image of Sam’s face out of his head.

+ + + + + + +

6:04pm and it was official that Martin was missing. They weren’t going to put his picture on the board, however, and Sam would slap the first person who tried to draw a timeline.

His father was characteristically unconcerned and she would slap him, too, if he dared to show his face. Victor had told Jack that it was just like Martin to do the unexpected; to call him tomorrow if they still hadn’t heard from him, and Jack had barely refrained from expressing his disgust. How could the man be so completely wrong about his own son?

The only bright spot was that it was beginning to appear that the KISS--in capital letters now because it had become so much bigger over the hours--appeared to have nothing at all to do with Martin’s disappearance. Of course, the flip side of that coin was that it meant Martin could be in serious trouble.

He could be hurt. He could be dead.

It was a fifty-fifty proposition, based on her years of experience, but she wouldn’t let herself think about the odds. Just like she wouldn’t let herself think of every tender moment they’d shared, or the fact that it was always, always Martin doing the giving while she did all the taking.

So maybe she had used him at first, but she was open about it with no promises and no expectations. Besides, he’d known how she was and he’d accepted it; told her not to worry so much and just go with it. But she knew it was a cover-up. He was trying to give her space and time, but he wanted more.

And maybe, just maybe, she wanted more, too . . . because damn, she was happy. She hadn’t made it up and it surprised her almost as much as it surprised Martin.

“Sam? Are you sure you never saw him when you went to his apartment?” Jack asked her, his expression dark and intense, and this is what it felt like to be on the other side of an interrogation.

“I think I would remember that, Jack,” she answered a bit more defiantly than the situation probably called for. But hell, who did he think she was? A rookie?

Martin was the rookie in their group, even if it had been a few years since he’d come on board.

She’d liked him right away. Admittedly there were a few difficult moments. She’d gotten after him for jumping to conclusions and he’d gotten after her for profiling him, and they were both right, so it was a wash. Martin had this killer smile and he looked great in a pair of jeans--well, he looked great in anything and nothing--and oh, God--she was thinking about him in the past tense and he was not dead.

“Sam?” Jack’s hand was on her arm, and his eyes were soft and concerned. For her? Or for Martin? It seemed absurdly important to know.

“Are you worried about him, Jack? Do you want us to find him?” she asked tersely.

Okay, low blow, and Jack’s eyes expressed shock at her accusation.

“My God, Sam, I can’t believe you’d even think that.” He didn’t raise his voice and he didn’t look away, which was a sure sign that he was pissed off, but also sincerely hurt by her insinuation.

She was the one to break eye contact as she sighed and muttered, “I’m sorry. I just . . . I don’t know what to think.”

“We’ll get it worked out, Sam. But right now, my gut tells me Martin’s in trouble, so I need you to do what you do best . . . concentrate on the details.”

She wanted to remind him that it was Martin who did that part best, but she let it go. “He never made it in to his apartment,” she offered.

“How can you be sure?”

“He has this ritual. He comes in and puts his keys on the hook and hangs up his jacket . . . and the keys weren’t there this morning, when Danny and I checked.”

“That doesn’t mean he didn’t take the subway or something this morning, though. The keys could still be in his coat pocket.”

No. No way. That’s not how Martin worked. Why hadn’t she thought of that sooner? She shook her head. “He never made it in, Jack. I know it.”

“Alright. Then whatever happened to him, happened between parking his car and going to his apartment. That’s pretty much what Danny surmised, too, so he’s out talking with the people in the area. Maybe someone saw something.”

Maybe. Maybe not. It was always a crap shoot in the end. Sometimes people lived or died based on pure luck; on finding that one person who saw something--and who remembered seeing it--and who was willing to talk about seeing it. Sometimes people were already dead so it didn’t even matter.

No, it did matter. She couldn’t bear the thought of Martin just disappearing off the face of the earth without a trace and them never knowing what had happened to him. But she couldn’t imagine him being dead, either. He could not be dead. He was one of the good guys; he had too much left to give and if there was anything good and right in this world, Martin would not be dead.

And she had to have the chance to set things right, even if she had absolutely no idea how she was going to do that or what she was going to say. She only knew that she’d start with an apology . . . after she soaked up his eyes and touched his face and she made sure that he was really, really alright. Oh God, please let him be alright.

She didn’t realize that she was crying, until she felt something wet drop onto her hand. Jack was standing now, his hand on her shoulder, and he leaned over and said quietly in her ear, “You need to pull yourself together, Sam. It’s not even been twenty-four hours, we still have time. We don’t even know for sure that something has happened to him.”

“Yes, we do,” she responded woodenly. After a little over two years, they knew Martin better than his own father, and it was insulting to imply that he would put them through this unnecessarily. It just wasn’t how he did things.

But Jack was right that there was still time. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she prepared to go over their previous cases, looking for anyone who might have a bone to pick with her missing . . . co-worker. Not friend, not lover, not today; she’d learned to shut off her emotions, mostly, and that was exactly what she’d do. Martin’s life depended on it.

Her cell phone rang, and for one heart-stopping moment, she had the feeling it would be Martin.

It wasn’t.


It was Danny, and she couldn’t hide the disappointment in her voice when she responded, “Yeah?”

Please say you found something, she thought. Anything . . .

“Where would Martin go?”

Broad question, way too broad, and Danny should know better. Then again, she and Danny had worked together a long time and there was really no need to waste time on explanations and drawn-out conversations. What Danny was really asking was where would Martin go to drown his sorrows?

Danny and Martin did hang out sometimes, but rarely at a bar. Martin was respectful of Danny’s situation, just like he was respectful of everyone else . . . and he had never even tried to kiss her at work.

She kind of wished he had.

Nevermind. Focus, Sam.

“There’s a little bar on 42nd, O’Brien’s, I think. We went there a few times, and they seemed to know him.”

“Okay. I’ll check it out.”

It wouldn’t make any difference. All Danny would find out is when Martin left there; put a time on the invisible line: ‘11:59pm Martin leaves bar’.

Something had happened to him after that, when he’d gone back to his place. And she was sitting right there, on his walk.

+ + + + + + +

Sam didn’t mean it. She was obviously distraught and not thinking clearly.

Maybe she did love Martin. But if she did, Jack was reasonably certain that she didn’t know it.

In any case, she couldn’t believe that he would wish the man harm. Maybe Jack did want Samantha in the worst way, but he’d never hurt Martin to get her. Not physically hurt him, anyway, and hell, not emotionally either, if he could possibly avoid it.

He liked Martin. Sure, Fitzgerald was a pain in his ass on occasion, but he was also a good agent and a better man. And though Jack would never admit it openly, he liked it when Martin challenged him and stood up to him. Plus, Martin had never once used his father’s name to get out of a jam. He had to respect that.

Danny had found out that Martin had gone to a bar and had a drink, but he didn’t stay long. They knew when he’d left and when he should have arrived back at his apartment, and by all indications, Sam would still have been sitting on his walk when he got there.

She never saw him, but Jack speculated that he saw her. He probably turned and went in the opposite direction, and if that was true, then this could be a random case of a simple mugging gone bad. The wrong place at the wrong time, and that made it even harder to solve. It would be better if one of Victor’s enemies was out looking for the opportunity and took it, because sooner or later the guy would come forward for the recognition or maybe even a ransom.

As if Victor gave a shit anyway.

10:10pm and still no word. The local officers were on it, so he and his team really should call it a night; start fresh in the morning. But Jack couldn’t do that. He knew without a doubt that if the situation were reversed, Martin would be there all night. After a rocky beginning, he was a part of the team--their team--which was why Viv was still searching through Martin’s apartment and talking to his neighbors, Danny was on the streets, and Sam was pouring through files.

Jack was on the phone . . . and damn the bastard if he didn’t get serious this time.


“It’s Jack Malone. I wanted to let you know that we, uh, we haven’t heard from Martin.” He paused a moment to let that sink in and then added, “I believe something has happened to him.”

A heavy sigh and then, “I agree. I’ve made some calls. And I have a few men looking into things on this end.”

Jack raised his brows in surprise and tried to keep the sarcasm out of his voice when he replied, “Really? Well, good for you.”

“For God’s sake, Malone, he’s my son. Did you honestly think I’d ignore your previous call?”

“I honestly had no idea what you’d do, but here’s a thought: wouldn’t it be more conducive if we worked together?”

Damn stupid jackass . . . he was down there doing his own investigation?

“This is a difficult situation, Jack. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve been involved in some sensitive situations that require the utmost discretion.”

Goddamn idiot. “Are you implying that my team can’t be trusted?”

“Of course not. But if someone is using Martin to get to me, I’m going to have my own men working on it.”

Yeah, and if there was something, Martin’s co-workers would never know it. It would be covered up and swept under the rug. Victor may be worried for Martin, but the welfare of his son wasn’t his only concern--probably not even his main concern.

“Good for you,” Jack repeated and this time he didn’t even try to hide his contempt. “Can you at least tell me if your men have uncovered anything that might be useful in helping us locate your son?”

There was a moment’s hesitation and Jack wanted to pound the damn phone on his desk in frustration, but finally the older man answered, “Nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s like he just . . . vanished.”

Victor Fitzgerald’s voice faltered just a fraction with that last word, and for one brief moment, Jack almost had sympathy for the man. Almost.

“I’ll keep in touch,” was all Jack said as he hung up and rang Danny’s number.

“Nothing. Not a damn thing,” Danny said in lieu of ‘hello’. He was unaware that he had just repeated Victor’s words verbatim.

“Where are you?” Jack asked. The last thing they needed was for Taylor to disappear while canvassing the seedy alleyways and back streets of the city.

“A few blocks from his place. And don’t worry - his neighborhood is nothing like mine, or even yours.”

“Doesn’t make a difference. It’s still not safe for you to be out there alone.”

“I’m not coming in.”

Jack had figured as much. He wondered if Martin had any idea how desperate they were getting. He wondered if Martin was able to wonder anything at all, when it came down to it. Was he still alive? Jack thought he should know; should be able to feel it, one way or the other. Sometimes, with perfect strangers, he just knew what the end result would be. But this was someone he worked with every day, someone he knew like family, and he had no idea, no sense of whether Martin was alive or dead.

“I know. I’ll meet you. We’ll look together.”

“You don’t have to do that, Jack. I can get an officer to help me out. You can rest.”

“Right. I’ll meet you at his car in an hour.”

He’d only just hung up when Viv called. She couldn’t get anything and the neighbors were getting less congenial as the night wore on. Jack told her to head home and get some sleep. She’d scoffed at that and told him sleep wasn’t on the agenda, but she went anyway. She had the most normal life of any of them, and Jack would do his best to see that she kept it.

He could see Sam through the glass, rubbing her eyes, and he wondered if she was crying again. He’d give her a minute, but then she was going to take a break, whether she wanted to or not.

As he came closer to the table where she’d spread out file after file, he noted that her eyes were red and swollen, but still determined. She had an inner strength that he found irresistible, though he doubted she’d believe that. She still saw herself as a troubled child; difficult and cynical and conflicted, but she couldn’t hide her softness and vulnerability no matter how hard she tried.

He wondered how Martin saw her. He wondered if Martin really knew her at all. What were they like together? Two smart, beautiful, younger adults . . . was it all about passion? Or was there more? If he were honest, he hoped not. But he suspected there was. He suspected that Martin had fallen as hard for Samantha as he had years ago.

It didn’t matter now, though. The only thing that mattered was finding Martin, so he set his mind back on that task as he peered over Sam’s shoulder at the stacks of files.


She shook her head and pulled a hand across her eyes. “Nothing.”

It broke his heart, seeing her like this, and he’d do anything to just make it go away. “Sam, you’re exhausted. You need to lie down.”

“I’m not leaving,” she said, without looking at him or moving a single muscle.

“I’m not suggesting you do. Take the couch in my office and just rest your head for a few minutes. I’m going out with Danny.”

She looked up at him gratefully, and he wasn’t sure if it was because of the couch offer or because he was searching with Danny. He had a hunch it was the latter, though. She rose stiffly from the chair and turned towards his office, but she stopped suddenly and stepped into his arms.

“Make it alright.” she whispered as she laid her head on his shoulder.

Jack wrapped his arms around her back, pulling her close as he promised, “We’ll find him.”

She didn’t notice that he failed to guarantee what she asked for--that it would be alright. Instead she nodded as she pulled away and met his eyes. The faith he saw there was almost childlike, and it nearly took his breath away. She trusted him and he could not fail her, even if it meant losing her in the end. With renewed determination, he grabbed his coat and rushed out the door to meet Danny.

+ + + + + + +

“Damn it, Martin, what the hell did you get yourself into?” Danny cursed under his breath as he traversed the blocks surrounding Martin’s apartment for what seemed like the hundredth time.

Going in circles, chasing his tail, and one of Jack’s euphemisms popped in his head about working smart, not hard. This was pointless. Martin could be anywhere within the city, or the entire country for that matter. But Danny didn’t think so. He thought Martin had been the victim of some random act. The man was just too noble to have any real secrets.

Well, except for his relationship with Sam.

Of course, how many times had they searched for a victim who wasn’t at all what they appeared to be? He was glad that Viv had that assignment; sticking her nose into Martin’s personal and financial affairs, going through his stuff. Martin would probably want it that way--Viv would be his choice. Danny just couldn’t see himself investigating a friend, getting into the really personal shit. He’d rather round the block a hundred more times. Maybe it was a guy thing.

It was surprising, really, that he considered Martin a friend. They had nothing in common, except for the job, which admittedly was a lot. They were both passionate about it, even if they approached things from different angles.

And then there was the totally dysfunctional family issue. Danny’s family and Martin’s came from opposite ends of the spectrum, but they were still totally screwed up. He and Martin had both learned to stand on their own two feet, apart from their upbringing, or maybe in spite of it.

Okay, so maybe they weren’t so different.

He saw Jack approaching him and he glanced at his watch. He wasn’t supposed to meet his boss for another fifteen minutes, but Jack must have flown across town in record time. Danny understood that feeling of urgency. There were times when sitting in the office staring at papers and numbers felt like you were doing nothing at all.

“What have you got?” Jack asked when he was still several feet away from Danny.

What did his boss expect? That he had unearthed some ground-breaking info just forty-five minutes after Jack had called?

“I’ve got nothing. No one saw him, although several women asked if they could have his number once we found him.”

Jack didn’t even smile at that. He just stared straight ahead, past Martin’s building and down the street. “Where would you go, Danny?”

He didn’t know where he would go, but he knew exactly what he would do. “Well, Jack, to be perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure I would have marched up to my girlfriend and demanded to know what the hell she was thinking.”

It was a straightforward answer and it was the truth. He wasn’t quite stupid enough to get involved with a co-worker to begin with, but if he had, he sure wouldn’t go the other way.

Jack sighed in exasperation. “Let me rephrase that: if you were Martin, where would you go?”

He tried to do the ‘Jack thing’. He tried to visualize Martin, getting out of his car and seeing Samantha on the walk, waiting for him. Where would he go?

“He was probably confused, hurt, thinking he was an idiot . . . and if he saw her there, he might have just wanted to avoid the inevitable for awhile. So . . . I think he’d turn around and go back through the parking garage and come out the other side.”

“Let’s go then.”

“I’ve only done that fifty times, Jack.”

“So we do it fifty-one.”

“Yeah.” It was pointless, but better than doing nothing at all.

The men walked along in silence for several minutes before Jack spoke up, “That was a little harsh, don’t you think? The bit about Martin thinking he was an idiot?”

Danny shrugged. “Maybe. But it’s how he thinks.” Changing the subject, he asked, “Did Viv find anything?”

“No. He’s squeaky clean, just like I figured.”

Like Danny figured, too, but it was nice to know that some people really were just what they appeared to be. He was pretty sure the same couldn’t be said for Fitzgerald Senior, though.

“Yeah, but maybe Dad’s not.”

Dad is doing his own damn investigation,” Jack said with obvious disdain.

“If it helps us find Martin . . .”

“Yeah, I know. I’m just not sure if . . .” Jack trailed off without finishing the sentence.


“I’m not sure if it came down to Martin’s life, if his father would be willing to give anything up.”

“Talk about harsh, Jack.”

“It’s reality, Danny. And even if Victor wanted to give into some ransom demand, he may not be able to. His hands may be tied.”

That wouldn’t be good. Danny didn’t even want to think about Martin being a pawn in some sort of terrorist game involving his father.

Danny offered an alternative, “We don’t even know that’s what happened. Martin could have been mugged by some deranged druggie and dumped in a basement somewhere.”

Jack looked at him dubiously.

“Well, it could happen,” Danny said.

He liked that theory better anyway, until he remembered just how many deranged druggies and abandoned basements littered New York City. It had already been over twenty four hours since Martin went missing; another twenty four and he’d be in serious trouble . . . if he wasn’t already.

His heart jumped in his throat at the thought that Martin could already be dead. Martin was a good agent and damn good member of their team, and Danny didn’t want to lose him. Even more than that, he didn’t want to lose a good friend.

+ + + + + + +

Viv didn’t even bother trying the bed. There was no way she could lay in relative comfort when the world had gone to hell around her. She couldn’t sleep anyway; could not close her eyes and allow her mind to take her places she just didn’t want to go.

But even with eyes wide open, she imagined it: them finding Martin days from now, his body cold and stiff, like so many they had found too late. But no, it couldn’t be and she banished the thought. That handsome, boyish face suddenly stilled was just too disturbing to even contemplate.

They would be devastated, all of them, if it were true, but especially Sam. She might even blame herself, especially if Jack’s theory that Martin had seen her there at his apartment and turned the other way proved to be true. If only Sam hadn’t gone there, if only she hadn’t kissed Jack, if only she hadn’t screwed with both men to begin with.

Okay, so Viv obviously had some anger issues, even if she wasn’t entirely justified. She couldn’t really blame Jack for turning to Sam in a moment of weakness; she couldn’t blame Sam for turning to Martin in her search for stability and acceptance; and she couldn’t blame Martin for grasping onto Sam because she wanted him for who he was - with no expectations that he couldn’t possibly live up to.

It all made her own life amazingly simple and sweet. She had the sudden urge to relish the face that meant most to her, so she walked softly down the hall to Reggie’s room and peeked in the doorway. Safe and sound, and how often had she taken that for granted? How many times had she gone to bed at night with the knowledge that her loved ones were safe and accounted for, while others were experiencing the sheer agony of just not knowing? Could anything be worse than spending night after night wondering what had happened to someone you cared about?

She thought she knew. She thought she’d been empathetic and compassionate towards the people they’d helped, but she already saw things differently. Martin was only gone one day and now a second night, and already she’d learned that it was entirely different, seeing things from this side; the side of a co-worker, a teammate, a friend. How much more excruciating would it be if it were her family or God forbid, her child?

Viv thought about Martin’s mother. She’d never met her and he never talked about her. Maybe he had to Sam, but to the rest of them, she was non-existent. How was she handling Martin’s disappearance?

She’d overheard Victor once, telling Martin that he would tell his mother he looked well. It was an odd thing to say. It implied that Martin couldn’t or wouldn’t tell his mother that himself; that she didn’t see her son on a regular basis and possibly didn’t speak to him, either. Which explained Martin’s deep feelings for his aunt; she must have been the one he got his heart from. That was a leap, Viv admitted, but her intuition had kicked in again and told her she wasn’t far off. Martin’s mother just wasn’t in the picture like she should be. If it were Reggie that was missing, she’d be in the face of every FBI agent within a thousand miles of her son.

It was now 6:35am and there was still no sign of Martin. They would have received a ransom call by now, if there was going to be one. Danny and Jack had pounded the pavement until early in the morning before finally giving in and reluctantly going home for a few hours of rest. They needed clear heads, because the fact of the matter was that they had nothing and they were going to have to start over.

She’d dug through it all and hated herself the whole time: Martin’s financial records and phone records; notes and photo albums and mostly blank address books. She’d even logged onto his computer, with a little help from the wizards in the office, and gone through his email. He had nothing to hide, not even a dirty magazine stuffed under his bed. He was a voracious reader of everything from crime novels to history, with a fondness for sci-fi being his only guilty pleasure.

Oh, and he liked Samantha. He kept a picture of her next to his bed and her favorite brand of coffee in his cupboard. And that left Viv feeling guilty, too. Maybe Sam should have been the one to invade Martin’s privacy since it was clear she was already a big part of his life. But that would have been harder on her, and maybe harder on Martin, too. Viv was probably the best choice, and whatever little things she’d learned about Martin, would go to her grave with her.

She sighed as she gave in and headed for the shower. She couldn’t stand to sit at home another minute. Maybe there was something they’d overlooked, or maybe that one neighbor who wasn’t home saw something. If she hurried, she could be back at his apartment before everyone left for work. There had to be someone somewhere who knew something, and she’d find that person, if it she had to talk with every living soul within a two mile radius of Martin’s home.

Jack wasn’t the only one who was good at his job.