MEDLEY by Laurel


Summary: A MP, a trip for the boys to Utah, Sam with Elena and Viv learning a bit about herself and real men and Jack...well, I like Jack here, not like on the show. Anyway, the impulse behind this was for me to work out my M/S angst, show Sam actually growing up (since the show seems to think she is incapable of this) and give our gorgeous hunks some quality time.

Disclaimers: I don't own the show or anything/anyone involved with it. Trust me, the writing would not have gone down hill so dismally if I did have anything to do with it...don't get me started.

As for the backdrop of the story, I did a little research to make some technical points sound plausible but that's it. Hey, I'm not paid for this or attempting to make any money so while I try to keep it real, I don't spend massive time in the research mode.

This is mostly about friendships but there is an MP in here and I try to do justice to that as well, I try.

If you like it, let me know; if you don't, sorry but I'll keep writing.

Again, thanks to the fabulous Blackraptor site for hosting and posting, I love checking in with you.


Size: Approx 275K

Chapter 1:

Everybody's Fool:
Look here she comes now
Bow down and stare in wonder
Oh how we love you
No flaws when you're pretending
But now I know she never was and never will be
You don't know how you betrayed me
And somehow you've got everybody fooled
Evanescence: Fallen, 2003

The small plane's engine hummed steadily as it traveled in the darkening sky over the rugged terrain. Danny alternately stared out the window of the plane and at his partner on this assignment, Martin Fitzgerald.

They'd been assigned to travel to Utah to interview co-workers of their current missing person, David Braxton. The man's family lived in New York City and he spent as much time there as he could when he wasn't working an incident. Braxton worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and specialized in analyzing wildfire risks, reduction of associated hazards, support during an incident and after incident assessment.

He had been in the Abajo Mountains in Utah overseeing controlled burns to remove heavy fuel buildup, the easily ignitable grass, branches, logs and undergrowth in areas where, if a fire were to start unbeknownst to anyone, it could rapidly reach wildfire stage. The idea was to prescribe a burn, otherwise known as a control burn, in order to clear out some of this area and reduce the risk for a wildfire.

With the first phase completed he had headed to NYC to see his family and be with his wife during the birth of their third child and all had appeared fine initially. However, once he was reported missing the team had uncovered a series of phone calls, emails and even letters through the mail that all were vague but definitely threatening in nature. Since many of the messages contained references to his current work in Utah, Jack thought it best to send two members of the team to conduct interviews on site.

Samantha was four months pregnant and easily crossed off the list for several reasons since inhaling the smoke plus trekking through the rugged terrain with little to no cell phone communication and medical personnel prepared for burns, not pregnancy complications were all realities of this assignment.

Vivian also was just as easily crossed from the list as she was splitting her time between heading up a multi-agency task force investigating human trafficking and the MPU and she needed to be in the city to handle both jobs with any level of effectiveness.

Jack could have sent Elena but decided two things stood in the way of that, first, her background was not likely to aid in the investigation in the back country of the mountains. While Elena was a solid agent and able to handle any assignment as well as the others, time was of the essence and her city background was going to hinder her if not her gender and her ethnic background; in Jack's mind it was just three strikes against sending Agent Delgado.

That left Danny and Martin as Jack preferred to maintain point at the office since his second logical commander, Vivian, could too easily be called away to work on the task force and he wanted to stick close.

Danny stared out the plane's window at the slight glow in the distance. Dusk was falling and with the darkening sky he could begin to make out the rosy coloring indicating the location of at least one if not more of the blazes. He knew their plane wasn't going to fly anywhere near the inferno, no, they would land at a nearby airport in Monticello, Utah and then drive to base camp where they would conduct their interviews. Still, even from this distance the glow was both beautiful and eerie as he knew what it signified.

The Abajo Mountain area was not set to begin phase two of the prescribed burns until David Braxton returned but, since his disappearance, two days earlier, a creeping fire in one of the prescribe burn areas had broken out and, since creeping fires burn with a low flame and spread slowly, no one had seen it until it crowned out and became a crown fire, meaning that it advanced from tree top to tree top. With conditions favorable to fire and no one noticing the creeping fire until it crowned it grew rapidly and, when the wind caught embers at the tree tops, it carried them, spreading them over a large area causing a cascade of spot fires that led to a blowup.

The good news was that no one was in the area when the blowup occurred, the bad news was that the fire was able to establish itself fairly well and what had been an incident for prescribed or controlled burns now became a Project fire, Incident Command was established and temporary infrastructures sprang up, base camp, spike camp, fire camps with teams pouring into the affected area to regain control.

Danny and Martin were already en route from NYC when word came that their investigation was going to be slowed due to the demand of the fire crew. Jack sent them anyway knowing they could stay at base camp and gather background information and then once the fire was confined, they could conduct full interviews.

So Danny sat on the small commuter plane he and Martin had transferred to in Denver and alternately stared out the window and at his partner. Shifting his glance again away from the window to Martin he chuckled quietly at the change in appearance for both of them. Most of the time their assignments required them to wear suits and ties but since they were headed into the rugged country, they'd foregone their usual attire and both wore hiking boots and blue jeans, and dressed in layers, t-shirts under jerseys and FBI windbreaker jackets on top, not high fashion in the city but certainly perfect for where they were headed.

They had been told they would be given proper protective gear and on-site instructions when they reached base camp; standard procedure, they'd never be anywhere where they'd actually need the training or the gear but those were standing orders.

Martin had been quiet during the trip spending his time reading all the information they had on the crew members they were going to interview, background information on their missing person and also any information the Forest Service gave them on the fires and the terrain. Martin liked information, liked the mountains, was good with numbers and easily crunched the financial information for prescribed burns, fires for the past ten years both prescribed and otherwise. He even had a map of the area they were going in and Danny had watched him marking entry and exit routes and other reference points.

Danny didn't mind that Martin was reading and preparing, he too had been doing the same thing, what bothered him was that he and Martin had traded the files and folders and articles back and forth and jotted notes and compared and planned strategies during the flight from NYC to Denver.

What bothered Danny was that Martin was going through it all a second time and that Danny didn't understand. He'd worked with Martin for over five years now and the man's brain was sharp, not as sharp as his own, of course, but still the guy could hold his own just fine. Martin didn't need to reread the information; Martin was obsessing over the information so as not to obsess over something else. Danny was determined to find out what the 'something else' was.

"So, how is it we're stuck in the dog house and sent on this mountain trip and the rest of the team gets to stay nice and comfy back in the city?" Not the greatest of icebreakers but Danny was a bit desperate.

"Speak for yourself, Danny, I'm happy to get out of the city." Martin replied glancing up from the file he was rereading.

"Well, I for one had plans this evening; actually, Elena, Sophie and I had plans."


"So, no plans, Martin Fitzgerald, all work no play that seems to be you everyday."

Martin glanced up sharply and Danny could see there was a glint of anger in his eyes.

Well, I've found at least one button to push, let me try another.

"When was the last time you had a date?"

This time Martin ignored him.

That didn't take long, when Martin ignores me I know I've gotten to the root of the problem.

"You know, if you're having trouble finding someone and I know you would be having trouble," Danny raised a hand in surrender as Martin shot him a look of pure hostility, "Not cause you're not a happening guy or nothing but simply because you work, work, work is all I'm saying--"

"I don't need any help finding a date. I can go on a date pretty much whenever I want to."

"So why don't you?"

Martin sighed, "Just not too interested in anybody these days."

Such a simple statement and it spoke volumes as Danny watched the look of sorrow that flashed across Martin's face and heard the regret in his voice.

"I'm sorry, man."

"You know, it wouldn't be so bad if we didn't lose the friendship and--" Martin stopped and appeared to be thinking on whether or not to continue.

"And?" Danny prompted, his friend had been in the blues for weeks now and Danny was determined to snap him out of it and this trip was perfect since there was no one but themselves.

Martin glanced at Danny and saw the look of real concern and friendship and decided to hell with it, he didn't owe her anymore especially after what had happened earlier that week, "And if she didn't keep throwing Jack in my face." There he'd said it.

"Jack? I'm confused, what does Jack have to do with it?"

"You really don't know? Huh, Samantha wasn't certain if you did or not."

Danny was truly confused; he didn't know all the reasons that Sam and Martin had broken up although he'd heard little bits of their exchanges in the office and guessed that Sam had some commitment issues and that Martin was getting tired of hiding their relationship.

Danny used to tease Martin about his romantic views and his straight-up dating philosophy but since he and Elena had become an item he'd realized that Martin really had had the right idea all along and he liked being in a mature and healthy relationship with Elena and he loved Sophie and wasn't at all adverse to having an instant family in his life.

Danny remembered asking Sam why she was hiding her relationship with Martin when it was so obvious that they were great together and he sensed trouble when she'd hesitated at answering but before she could answer they'd been interrupted by another agent giving them some information and he'd not given it another thought.

"Sam wasn't certain if I knew what?"

Martin shook his head slightly before looking him straight in the eye, "She and Jack had a little fling a while back."

Danny sat back in his chair stunned whatever he'd expected to hear it wasn't that. Sure he knew that Sam and Jack had an easy familiarity with each other but so did he and Jack and he sure hadn't had a 'fling' with Jack.

"When?" Oh, God, Danny thought, was that why the two of them broke up, was she seeing both of them at that time?

"Apparently it happened before I joined the team and it was only a few months and it was over--well, it was over for Jack that is." The bitterness in Martin's tone snapped Danny out of his wandering thoughts and he focused his attention back on his friend.

"Is that why you two broke up?"

"It was a number of things, not the least of which is that I was absolutely in love with her and certain that I could fix all her phobias, her liking of men that are unavailable, her liking of complicated, messy relationships. I thought I could change her mind about a couple of kids, a dog, a little house, stupid now that I look back but at the time I was so taken by her strength and vulnerability, her beauty and brains that I just was willing to take the chance."

"So you knew for two years she and Jack--" Danny was stunned. He'd worked with Sam longer than Martin and he hadn't known, how is that Martin had figured it out so soon?

"Two years--no, do you think I knew--, No, Danny, right about the time Jack announced he was going to Chicago is when I learned that she and Jack had---anyway, our friendship had grown and we'd been flirting and then I'd saved her that I've looked back on it, several times, I realize that I was just available at a time when she felt like she was being abandoned, so she took her consolation prize, me."

"Martin, I don't think that's how she saw you." Danny interjected, he'd seen the looks on Sam's face when she was watching Martin and didn't think anyone was watching, and she had had looks of pure happiness on her face. Danny also remembered the anguish on Sam's face when he'd interrupted her trying to call the hospital for information on Martin's condition after he was shot and how scared she was that she was going to lose him.

"Yeah, well, I'll let you in on a secret, Danny, I knew, I knew for so many months before I finally ended it that, once Jack stayed, I had no chance and to be honest, even if Jack had stayed away I'd still have had no chance. It's hard to be in a relationship, a committed relationship, with someone who sees you as second choice, second best, not worthy."

Danny had had enough of this, both Sam and Martin were his friends and while Martin wasn't really pounding Sam as much as he was telling his side of their history together and how he viewed it, Danny wasn't going to watch Martin pound himself either.

"Yeah, well if you're her second choice, then why did she ask you to be her Lamaze coach?"

"What makes you think she did that?" the surprised look on Martin's face spoke volumes to Danny, gotcha, my friend, you're not getting away with pounding yourself or heaping loads of emotional baggage on Sam.

"Because I heard her."

"Tell me what you heard." Martin countered stonily.

"I was in the conference room sorting some past files to go back to archives and it was early evening and everyone else but you, me and Sam had already left and I heard her ask you to be her Lamaze coach."

"What else did you hear?"

"Nothing, I didn't want to pry on you two, I was just glad that you both seemed to be finding your way to be more comfortable around each other so I quietly closed the door."

"Well, I'll let you in on a little bit more of what happened, first of all it wasn't only you and Samantha and I that were left in the office; Jack was still in his office. Secondly, I was gathering up phone records and financial records at the conference table in the middle of the bullpen getting ready to take them to the file room and watched as Samantha finished a phone call, packed up her desk, grabbed her bag and walked out of the bullpen giving me a "night" on her way by.

I collected all the papers and boxed them at my desk where I had a clear view of Jack's office. Inside his office with the door closed stood Sam and she was talking to Jack. She was doing her usual twisting of her hands when she's all nervous about something. She finished saying whatever she was saying and I watched as he sat back and said nothing and then he shook his head from side to side.

As she got a stunned look on her face of complete disbelief I turned away, carried the box to the file room and came back. When I got back about ten minutes later she was sitting in my chair. As I approached she got up and did the same little act of the nervous twisting of her hands and then she said that she'd signed up for Lamaze classes and that she'd be needing a coach and she wondered and hoped that I'd be her coach and then she held out a sheet of paper that she'd written the date and time and location of the first class."

"Wait a minute, so you think she asked Jack first and, when he said no, you think she came to you? For all you know she could have been asking him to assign her out in the field more, you know how he's been holding her in the office. You're assuming facts that aren't in evidence, pal."

"Yeah, well the phone call she was finishing at her desk was her signing up for Lamaze class since I heard her use the word coach, and repeat the date and time. I also know she scribbled a note on a pad of paper on her desk and heard her tear it off as she left her desk and walked by me. When I saw her in Jack's office she was holding the paper while she was twisting her hands and when she handed me the sheet of paper it was pretty crumpled from someone twisting it in their hands and it had the date and time that she'd repeated back to the person on the phone.

You know, Danny, I was born at night, it just wasn't last night. No matter what I do or don't do or who I am or how I change and grow I'll never be good enough for her. I'll always be her second choice. She gave her heart to Jack."

"The problem with that, Martin, is that Jack doesn't want it." Danny said softly.

"You know what the bigger problem is?" Martin countered.

Danny shook his head silently.

"She still has mine."

Everybody's Fool:
Perfect by nature
Icons of self-indulgence
Just what we all need
More lies about a world that
Never was and never will be
Have you no shame don't you see me
You know you've got everybody fooled.
Evanescence: Fallen, 2003

Chapter 2:

Taking Over Me:
You don't remember me
But I remember you
I lie awake and try so hard
Not to think of you
But who can decide what they dream?
And dream I do...
Have you forgotten all I know
And all we had?
You saw me mourning over my love for you
And touched my hand
I knew you loved me then
Evanescence: Fallen, 2003

Sam lay on her couch thinking how her life had changed in the past couple of months. She'd known within a few weeks of that night that she was pregnant. How could she have been such a fool? Well, not so much a fool, she'd use birth control and so had he, still what did it mean when she, who always prided herself on not bringing her personal life into the office, now wore it front and center where everyone could see.

She'd always been so in control, so untouchable. She could flirt and hold her own in any situation and while she bristled when men in her field commented first on her physical appearance she'd always been able to back up her status with her abilities.

Now her life was spiraling out of control and had been for so long she didn't even know when it had first started. She supposed the first time was when she had met Jack; her attraction was instantaneous, hot, exciting, forbidden. Even now so many years later it stirred something inside her, the longing for him to be in her life was overpowering at times.

She had no one she could talk to about this: Vivian knew of the affair but she couldn't talk to her; Martin knew and, of course, Jack but she couldn't talk to either of them. Besides those three people--well, OPR knew of the affair and she sure as hell wasn't ever going to try to talk to anyone in that department about it. As it was she and Jack had gotten away by the skin of their teeth for that breach of protocol. Something inside Samantha told her that Victor Fitzgerald had something to do with that; if that wasn't irony she didn't know what was.

Fitzgerald, Martin Fitzgerald, she loved him once, didn't she? She was so confused, she'd always been able to have the men in her life, the ones she thought were in her life, be there for her, now she'd been turned down flat by both of them within the same week. They were supposed to be her friends weren't they; why the hell wouldn't either one of them help her when she needed it?

"Hi, Jack, got a minute?" Sam asked as she stood in the doorway to Jack's office. It was after 6:00 p.m. and she wanted to go home but she needed to ask Jack this now.

"Sure, Sam, come on in." Jack took his reading glasses off and put them on the desk.

Sam closed the door behind her and stood in front of his desk.

"Sit down." Jack indicated the chair across from the desk.

Samantha looked at it and then back at Jack who remained seated.

"Ah, no, that's okay. This will only take a minute. I just - um - I just wanted to ask you if you would--you see I signed up for--my doctor recommended I sign up for Lamaze classes and well, you know that the father isn't interested in being here for me and the baby so--I need a coach and I thought--I'd like you to be my coach."

There, she'd said it, now hurry up Jack, tell me you'll be there for me so I can run out of here, God, I never thought this would happen to me.

Jack leaned back in his chair and looked at her quietly, Sam couldn't read his expression; she'd always been able to read his expression

"Sam," Jack began slowly, keeping his eyes focused on hers, "there's no possible way I can be your Lamaze coach."

Samantha barely heard the rest of his word, she just saw him shaking his head from side to side. She just felt herself grow cold inside, was it possible to grow so cold inside of ones body that the baby actually shivered? She moved back out of his reach as she saw him stand up and start to come around the desk towards her.

"That's okay. I just thought, you know, I just--I'll ask somebody else, don't worry about it. It was just a silly idea." Sam heard herself babbling and willed herself to just shut up and get out, she never babbled.

"It wasn't stupid and I'm honored you'd ask me but it's completely improper and you know you want someone who can be there for you and the baby when it's time to give birth and that can't be me."

"I know that, Jack. I was kidding, just wanted to have one over on you. Well, see you tomorrow." With that Sam fled from his office, trying to maintain some semblance of dignity.

She hid in the ladies room for almost five minutes before she felt brave enough to face walking back down the corridor and heading home for the night. As she exited the ladies room and slowly made her way down the corridor she noticed that Jack's office was dark, good, at least she wouldn't have to see him again tonight. Just her luck in her haste to make a 'semi-dignified escape' she'd gone in the wrong direction and would now have to pass by his office.

As she came upon the bullpen she noted Martin's desk light was still on and his coat was hanging over the back of his chair. He wasn't in sight but she figured he wouldn't be gone long.

Walking over to his desk she rested her hand on the back of his chair and felt his jacket fabric under her hand. Why not; he was her friend and it wouldn't be improper.

She pulled the chair out and sat down in it and slowly swiveled from side to side absently clutching the paper with the information for the Lamaze class. Good thing she'd stopped herself from using it to blot her eyes as she fled from Jack's office, now she could give it to Martin.

A few short minutes later she heard footsteps and smiled, she recognized his step. She slowly swiveled the chair around and saw him approaching. He looked surprised to see her but gave her a small smile.

"I thought you'd left for the night." Martin said as he walked over to her.

"I was leaving but I needed to ask you something." Sam stood up and stepped to the side so he could straighten his desk and shut down his computer.

He finished shutting down his compute, straightened his desk and then turned to look her straight in the face.

"What did you need to ask?" Sam ignored the flatness of his tone.

"I signed up for Lamaze class."

Martin just looked at her and nodded. "Okay."

"Well, I don't know if you know much about Lamaze," She paused waiting for his easy grin; it didn't come so she moved on. "Well, there's the mommy and the father that attend Lamaze, of course the baby is there but, you know, that's 'cause mommy goes."

Martin's expression didn't soften, there was no smile on his face, no light in his eyes. Sam swallowed and moved forward.

"Well, anyway, I know I haven't told you who the father is and even if I did it wouldn't matter because first of all you don't know him and second of all he's made it completely clear he wants nothing to do with me or the baby so, I need a coach; I'd like that person to be you." As she said it she held out the paper with the information about the class.

There, she'd said it, guess practice does make things, well, if not perfect, at least a bit easier.

Sam stood there watching Martin for what seemed like a half an hour but was really less than 15 seconds, it was so quiet in the bullpen she could hear the click of the clock on the wall.

"You'd like me to be your Lamaze coach?" He asked her stonily.

"Yes, silly, I'd--I'd like it to be you." She reached out to touch his arm and was shocked when he flinched away, what was going on?

"When did you decide you wanted me to be your Lamaze coach?" Martin asked her. Sam could hear an undercurrent in his tone she didn't know how to decipher as she'd never heard that from Martin.

"What does it matter, I asked you." She snapped without thinking.

"Yes, yes you did ask me." Martin turned away from her and looked out of the bullpen. She watched him as he appeared to wrestle with his thoughts and then he turned back to her.

"Did you ask me because Jack said no?" He asked it so softly Samantha had to lean in to hear him and when she did she felt something inside of her harden.

"Why would you ask me that?"

"I saw you go into Jack's office. I saw you hold out that same piece of paper to him and I saw him shake his head no and I saw you stand there in disbelief."

"You were spying on me?" Sam spat back angrily.

"You're something, Samantha Spade. I didn't have to 'spy' on you. I was standing right at this table, facing the corridor and Jack's office. You knew that as you'd just walked past me on your way to his office."

"Did you enjoy the show?" Sam was hurt and angry an--she really didn't know what she was anymore but she sure wasn't going to stop swinging.

"Yeah, Samantha, the show was great. It was so good I walked to the file room and archived the papers I had been gathering up. I had no idea what you were in there talking to Jack about nor did I care as what you do is none of my business anymore, if it ever was. But then I come back from the file room and am getting ready to head home after a long day and just grab a quick dinner, maybe some of the game and head to sleep and here you are sitting at my desk waiting for me.

What do you expect me to think when I see you with the same paper, standing there in the same posture and same hand twisting gestures as you just did in Jack's office?"

Sam was so angry she wanted to slap him, how dare he not be her friend; he was the one who'd broken up with her and that had been over two years ago. She could ask who she wanted, what did it matter if he was her second choice.

"You know what the real irony is, Samantha," Martin's soft tone reached her ears and without wanting to she turned and listened.

"If you'd asked me, if you'd come up to me and said, Martin, I'd like you, as my friend, to be my Lamaze coach, I'd have said yes. But you didn't, you asked Jack and when he turned you down, you didn't even think or wait or anything--not like that would have made it better--but you came right to me, your second choice.

I know I'll never be good enough for you to consider as someone to love or to think of as anyone other than--I don't know anymore, Samantha, I thought we'd have a chance again at our friendship, but you've made it clear that I don't even rate that high for you. I'll never be anything other than your fallback plan and I can't do that anymore."

Sam stood there stunned as Martin flicked his desk light off, grabbed his coat from the back of his chair, collected his backpack and headed out of the bullpen leaving her standing there in the semi-dark.

Sam shifted on the couch and thought about the next day when she'd walked into the office. Jack had met her and tersely told her to head to tech and work with Lucy on some wiretaps that had come in from an old case. She'd spent the better part of the morning in there listening to enhanced audio, by the time she'd finished with that and returned to the bullpen she'd learned that Martin, Danny and Elena were out running down some leads that had just popped up on a cold case.

The next day or so was much of the same and then they'd caught their newest case, David Braxton. She'd hardly had a chance to see or work with Martin, not that she cared she was still angry with him. She'd been paired with Danny on interviewing the man's wife. At least that had gotten her out of the office since the woman had only given birth four days prior.

It had been a little scary to see that tiny baby, Braxton's wife, Caitlin, had let her hold the baby, "for practice" and she'd been amazed at how tiny the little girl was. It didn't encourage her at all, all she felt was a sense of terror that in the next five or so months she'd be holding her own.

When she and Danny returned, she had done her best to ignore Martin unless they had to discuss the case. She'd reviewed her notes to bring him up to speed and he'd gone through what he and Viv had found on the cell and phone records.

Thankfully the next day Jack had decided to send Martin and Danny to Utah to interview members of the crew Braxton had been working with. Sam was relieved, it would give her a chance to have some emotional space from Martin; she was still angry with him.

Sam decided it was time to get to bed so she got up off the couch and grabbed the remote to click the TV off. She'd had it on the news channel with the volume down low. She didn't want to hear the news she just liked having something on in the background.

As she looked at the TV the screen was filled with images of a forest fire. She watched amazed as the flames engulfed giant trees and then the camera panned back and she saw a huge area being eaten by the fire. She was about to click the TV off when a map came up in the corner and a member of the fire fighting crew started to speak, the caption underneath said, Abajo Mountains.

Knowing that was where Danny and Martin were heading she turned up the volume to hear the fire official finish giving the rundown of the fire.

"Initially we thought we'd be able to confine the fire and allow it to burn out but the area is quite dry and there's been a treacherous wind that has allowed continued spotting, as well as slopover, so it's been difficult to keep the fire contained."

"Can you explain what slopover means and spotting for our viewers?" The newsperson asked the FIO (Fire Information Officer.)

Good question, thought Sam.

"Slopover is when the fire spreads outside the boundaries of a control line. We had started setting some control lines once the fire made its presence known but the crowning nature of the fire - the fact that it's in the tree tops--combined with the wind conditions keeps pushing it against the barriers, some of which weren't completely set when the fire reached them, that's the ground part of the fire so it was able to escape the boundaries we had intended it to remain within.

The spotting occurs when the updrafts catch the burning embers and debris from the tree tops and carries them outside of the burn area and then drop them either into tree tops or onto the ground where conditions remain favorable with enumerable flash fuels available, dry grass, leaves, pine needles, tree moss etc. All of that is stuff we were intending to clear out during an upcoming prescribed burn but unfortunately Mother Nature decided to help us along."

"Thank you for that information, can you tell us how much of the fire you have contained at this time."

"At this time we've been breached on several of our borders and with the winds forecast to remain high it's going to be difficult to fight this with our normal aerial assault. I'm not ready to give a containment estimate at this time. Since the sun has gone down, we'll work through the night to establish some additional control lines and get teams and equipment into position. I'm sorry, but that's all I can give you right now."

"Thank you. I'm Amy Palmer from--"

Sam clicked off the TV and placed the remote on the shelf next to it.

Well, happy times Danny and Martin. Danny, I hope you get to roast lots of marshmallows, Martin, I hope you get soot in your eye. Sam thought as she headed off to bed.

Taking Over Me:
I believe in you
I'll give up everything just to find you
I have to be with you to live to breathe
You're taking over me.
I look in the mirror and see your face
If I look deep enough
So many things inside that are
Just like you are taking over
Evanescence: Fallen, 2003

Chapter 3:

Going Under:
Now I will tell you what I've done for you
50 thousand tears I've cried
Screaming deceiving and bleeding for you
And you still won't hear me
Don't want your hand this time I'll save myself
Maybe I'll wake up for once
Not tormented daily defeated by you
Just when I thought I'd reached the bottom
I'm dying again
Evanescence, Fallen, 2003

It was 11:00 p.m. local by the time Danny and Martin arrived at base camp. After landing at Monticello's little airport, they were picked up by a member of the firefighting crew who was in charge of supplies. He had come to pick up some additional gear and replacement parts for radios and had stayed to pick up the two FBI agents and deliver them safely to base camp.

Once there they were escorted to the Incident Command Center and, upon walking into the tent, they were met with a hive of activity, people were on short-wave radios, others were tracking satellite imagery of the fire and weather patterns, a large table was covered with topographical maps and easels were arranged against one wall with bulletin boards and other maps that were covered with various markers delineating placement of what Danny and Martin guessed were crews and equipment.

The hum of generators filled the background and kept the lights and computers running along. As their eyes adjusted to the interior they noticed a man look up and after a beat he walked over to them.

"Emmett Grenz, I'm the incident commander." The tall, somewhat grizzled yet fit man shook each of their hands sizing them up.

"Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald and this is Special Agent Danny Taylor." Both men showed their badges.

"Hope you two don't mind roughing it and hope your schedule is flexible as our first priority is containing and stopping this fire. I understand you've got your job to do but out here things change mighty fast, and I can't spare people to be escorting you around nor can I allow you to go off on your own."

Neither Danny or Martin took offense as Grenz' tone wasn't condescending, it was matter of fact, and he wasn't saying anything other than the truth.

"We understand, obviously when we arranged to come out here circumstances were different, but as you say things change fast." Martin answered by way of agreement. Grenz favored him with a quick nod that reminded Martin of his grandfather's military bearing.

"We just need access to Braxton's survey team and any files or papers he kept here. Hopefully we'll be able to conduct our interviews quickly and be out of here in the next day or so." Danny added glancing around taking in the number of computers, the maps and noting that while occasionally someone would look up in curiosity most of them were intent on their work. It was a calm and organized area that buzzed with excitement but not panic, these were professionals.

"The survey team members are at another camp close to one of the hot spots. You'll hunker down here tonight. I had a spare tent set up for you both, not much but it does have some folding canvas cots, a table and a lantern. As far as any papers, computer files etc, all that stuff is with Braxton's crew further up the mountain. You can access it tomorrow when you join up with that team if conditions allow.

Mike here will fit you guys out with brush jackets and pants as well as some better footwear for this terrain. We shouldn't ever be in an area where the threat of fire is imminent here at base camp but tomorrow I'll send you up the mountain to some areas that have already burned and we're mopping up and you'll need to be properly geared up.

Mike will go over everything in the packs and show you the proper way to wear everything. You boys look smart, look like you understand the risks of your job; understand that I understand the risks of mine. I'm not fitting you out in this gear 'cause I want you to feel like you fit in, I'm doing it to keep you alive. Like I said, you shouldn't ever be anywhere near the fire, but if you are, you'll be prepared. Pay attention to Mike and anyone else I assign to you and you'll do fine, agreed."

"Sounds good." Martin replied shaking the man's hand firmly.

"Agreed." Danny took Grenz' hand as well.

For the next hour they got a quick tour of the dark and mostly quiet camp, were shown their tent and learned the proper way to lace their boots, tuck their pants and shirt, wear their shrouds, helmets, goggles and were given spare packs with routine medical kits, flashlights, head lamps, compass, spare batteries, fire shelters, gloves, signal mirrors, hex whistle and Leatherman tools.

Finally Mike left them telling them they could grab showers if they wanted to but turn the water spigots off and on throughout the shower. Danny and Martin decided a quick clean up was in order since their day had started some 20 hours earlier EST. Remembering the caution about being quick they both returned cleaned and somewhat refreshed to the tent a few minutes later and stretched out on their cots to grab what sleep they could.

The next morning base camp was awake and noisy at sunup. Martin and Danny both rolled from their canvas cots and joined the line for what passed as the men's room and after a quick clean up and making sure they were suitably geared up having watched some of the others in camp, they headed to the mess hall for morning chow. There Mike greeted them and indicated they should grab their trays and join him and Grenz at a table.

"You two sleep all right?" Grenz asked amiably enough as Martin and Danny sat down and dug into their breakfasts.

"Just fine, thank you."

"I see you paid attention when Mike showed you your gear." Grenz had appraised them on their walk across the small tent and noted their boots were properly laced and their brush shirts were tucked properly into their brush pants.

"Mike will take you up the mountain right after breakfast; Braxton's survey team is already up there. Take your field packs and stop off at the end of the counter there on your way out, there's MREs and water you'll need to carry with you. You'll meet up with Chad Putnam, he's Braxton's second in command. He's assessing areas that burned yesterday and also overseeing the mop up.

You can spend the day with him and you'll get a chance to meet all of Braxton's crew. Should be able to conduct most if not all of your interviews, take everything with you that you think you're going to need since you'll probably stay with Putnam at the spike camp that he's at. It's closer to the fire line but it's in an area that we have containment; you'll be well behind it. Still, if Putnam bumps you back, no questions, you bump back to base camp."

With that Grenz bid everyone at the table a good bye and headed out of the tent, dropping his tray at the collection site.

"He seems like a good guy." Danny commented as he finished chewing his toast.

"He is," Mike agreed. "He's been fighting fires across the west for over 20 years. He knows a lot about terrain and weather and burn index, he's also heavy into safety and he's real uneasy about you guys being here. No offense intended but this isn't a place for someone who doesn't know what they're doing, that's why he's so cautious about where he sends you."

"Well, no offense taken. Agent Taylor and I intend to do our job and get out of here in one piece." Martin offered and then drained his coffee cup.

"Is it all right if Agent Taylor and I head to the communications tent, we need to put a quick call into our SAC back in New York, and I want another look at the maps there to familiarize myself a bit more with the geography." Martin asked as the three men rose from the table.

"No problem, why don't we meet out front of the main tent in 15 minutes, that enough time?"

With everyone agreeing on 15 minutes the men split up with Martin and Danny both grabbing some water and MREs as well as some ready bags or feedbags that were available and that Mike had encouraged them to grab. A quick look inside showed they carried some hard candy and food bars as well as trail mix looking stuff. Stowing these latest additions next to their packs that stood waiting for them outside the mess hall, Martin and Danny headed to the communications tent and ducked inside.


"Hey, Jack, it's Danny." Danny held one hand over his free ear to block out the background noise in the tent.

"About time you two checked in, everything all right?"

"Yes, dad, everything is fine and we called from the airport, remember." Danny grinned. Even two hours ahead of them Jack sounded grumpy as if he had just woke up.

"So what's the plan today?"

"Martin and I are being taken up the mountain to where Braxton's crew is stationed. Should be able to conduct our interviews and check out any materials he left behind, anything exciting on your end?" Danny kept it intentionally vague since he was in an open area where anyone could overhear and he didn't know if the line he was using was tied into any of the other phone lines around him. He didn't think anyone was listening in but as Emmett kept saying, safety, safety, safety.

"Nothing so far, no leads other than what you left with, could all be a wild goose chase. Keep in touch when you can."

With that Jack disconnected and Danny glanced around the small tent before he said good bye as well trying to ascertain if anyone appeared to be a little too interested in his call; no one did.

Standing up he walked over to Martin who was studying a topographical map intently as if memorizing it. Silently he watched as Martin showed him on the map where base camp was that they were currently in, and then tracked up the mountain a bit to where another marker showed the survey team and then another mile or so past that was where the fire edge was.

Having imprinted it in their brains they headed out, loaded their gear and climbed into the jeep that Mike had ready and headed up the mountain.

Four hours later they were sitting in the spike camp main tent pouring through papers and computer files. Braxton's--now Putnam's spike camp didn't carry generators but he did carry spare batteries for the computers and Mike had brought additional fully charged batteries with him when he dropped Danny and Martin off.

Once at the camp Putnam quickly introduced them around and set them up in the main tent which was also where chow was served. The two men had been poring over the documents for about two hours when Martin lifted his head and stared at Danny.

"I've got something here."

"What is it?"

"This journal is a bulleted version of the past five years of surveys that David Braxton has been on." Martin shifted slightly so Danny could get a better view of the handwritten notes.

"Look, he's got notations that indicate the following fires, Sink's Canyon, Wyoming; Cherry, Arizona; Blanco, New Mexico; Long Jim III, Arizona and now Ajabo Mountain, Utah all escaped their prescribed burns."

"Well, we've already heard Grenz tell us that things change pretty rapidly in these situations. Yesterday we were already en route when this went from a survey and controlled burn into an incident."

"Right, and I've been reading up on the Composite Burn Index which the USGS uses to identify and attach a rating to certain areas that identifies high risk, moderate risk and so forth and then teams go in and initiate prescribed burns to minimize the risk of wildfires breaking out. All of these incidents happened where Braxton and a survey team had rated the areas as low to moderate risk but when the prescribed burns were put in motion, all of them grew larger than expected and far heavier damage occurred than predicted."

"Maybe he was doctoring the numbers?" Danny suggested.

"Maybe, but why keep a record of it? If he was minimizing the risks, why carry around the damning evidence where anyone could get at it?" Martin countered.

"Okay. Maybe his assessments were submitted incorrectly or someone didn't listen and follow his predictions." Danny brainstormed the possibilities at the same time as he started shuffling through a list of Braxton's team.

"Possible, it's also possible that somebody didn't follow the prescribed burn plan correctly. We're going to need to get this list to Jack to have him check into who acted on this information and what the after incident assessment concluded as to why the fires escaped containment.."

"We have the list of survey members that are here, does that journal list the members of the escaped burns?"

Martin flipped through the journal and found each of the bulleted fires summarized in a bit more detail which included the survey members."

"All right. Let's make a list of matching names that are here at this fire and also present at all the others and send it to Jack. At least he'll have internet connection and can do the background checks." Danny found the paper he was looking for and held it up.

"Let's see, Sink's Canyon, Wyoming, 2003; all right, here's the list of names." Martin found the page in the journal and held it next to the list of survey members currently at Abajo Mountain.

"We've got three matches, Chad Putnam, Kevin Moody and Brian Keeler." Martin jotted the three names down in his notebook.

"Let's see, Cherry, Arizona, 2002, Chad Putnam, Kevin Moody and Brian Keeler as well as Zac Christian who's here. Okay. Blanco, New Mexico, 2004, Chad Putnam, Kevin Moody, and Zac Christian, and the final one on the list is Long Jim III, Arizona, 2005, Chad Putnam, Kevin Moody and Zac Christian and, Eric Pulliam who's here on this fire."

Martin printed all the names and the fires and held it up for Danny to look at.

"I'd better see if I can get reception here." Danny grabbed the paper and looked around the small tent as he flipped open his phone, three and a half bars, it should work. Dialing the bullpen he was rewarded on the second ring.

While Danny updated Elena, who had caught the call, Martin took a quick stroll outside the tent to first of all ensure that they weren't being overheard and second of all to take a second look at the small spike camp. The smell of smoke was in the air but it wasn't overpowering from where he was standing though he could see plumes of grayish smoke being pushed along by the whim of the wind over the next ridge. The fire was in front of them and judging by the direction of the wind current, it was going to stay that way.

After about ten minutes Danny joined him outside the tent.

"I gave Elena the information; she and Sam are going to run it all down and get back to us."

"Hmm, good." Martin commented. His mind was wandering a bit as he had a few moments to himself.

Danny looked at him carefully and then ventured, "So, when did you have time to read up on Composite Burn Index information that wasn't part of any of the briefing material we had on the plane."

"True, but after you went to sleep, I couldn't sleep. I walked over to the Incident Command tent and Mike showed me around all their maps et cetera and I saw a research booklet by the USGS and read through it."

As Danny gave Martin an incredulous look, Martin added defending himself, "Hey, if we're out here running out a lead that someone in his team or connected to his work was out to get him, might as well know as much as possible about what he does and why."

"I agree, but we didn't turn the lights out until almost 1:00 a.m. after Mike showed us all the gear and we planned our strategy for today and we were up by 6:00 a.m., when did you sleep?" Danny was concerned, he liked working with Martin because the man pursued every angle tenaciously, something Danny did as well but he also knew that Martin tended to lose himself in the work and ignore the problems in his life; it was a coping strategy but not a good one.

"I got a few hours, I'm fine."

"Yeah, well, you know if you want to talk about it, I'll listen." Danny didn't look at Martin, instead he looked up at the tendrils of smoke that billowed and plumed and then became wisps as the wind above them lazily moved it as it chose.

"Not much to say anymore, so how was Elena, did she get someone else to take her out last night since you got sent here?" Martin nudged Danny and successfully changed the subject.

"She's fine and no, she didn't go out. She stayed home and pined for her Dannyman. Oh, yeah, and she says, hey, to you."

"Thanks." Martin chuckled. "So--"

"So?" Danny answered back giving Martin a sideways look.

"So, you and Elena now---what, a year maybe?"

"Just relax there, pal. We're taking it nice and slow."

"Ah, ha."

"Yes, slow."

"So that means you're going to hang up your little black book?"

"Why, you want it?"

"No, thanks, Danny hand-me-downs are not what I'm looking for."

"Yeah, well, some of them were pretty good."

"Which is why you're not with them, you're with Elena."

"Elena is different."

"I know. Good for you, she really likes you."

"Funny thing, Martin, when I first met her, I didn't like her at all; I think about it now and I realize that's because I got to know her through Carlos' eyes. He was always going on about how she was always complaining and after him about this and that and he always felt like she was telling him what to do; and she was, that's because he was and is a jerk and he never grew up. Once I got a chance to get to know her as her and not as how Carlos described her; she's pretty terrific."

"But you're just friends." Martin teased.

"Well, friends with benefits." Danny countered cocking an eyebrow at Martin.

"Which of course means--"


"Right, so now you can get into all those Disney movies you've been dying to see without having people think you're a pedophile."

"That's it my man, that's it. Truth is I love Sophie. I've always liked kids and always wanted my own and I don't even care that Sophie isn't of my flesh and blood; I love her anyway."

"That's great, Danny. I hope things continue to work out for you two." Martin said it with conviction because he felt it. They stood in silence for a couple more minutes each lost in his own thoughts and then they saw Chad Putnam heading their way as was planned. He'd agreed to give them a few hours to review the material and then if the conditions were right, he'd come get them and take them farther out where the hand crew was working and they could interview the members of the team.

Going Under:
Blurring and stirring the truth and the lies
So I don't know what's real and what's not
Always confusing the thoughts in my head
So I can't trust myself anymore
I'm dying again
I'm going under
Drowning in you
I'm falling forever
I've got to break through

So go on and scream
Scream at me I'm so far away
I won't be broken again
I've got to breathe I can't keep going under
Evanescence: Fallen, 2003

Chapter 4:

I linger in the doorway
Of alarm clock screaming
Monsters calling my name
Let me stay
Where the wind will whisper to me
Where the raindrops
As they're falling tell a story
In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby
I lie inside myself for hours
And watch my purple sky fly over me
Evanescence: Fallen, 2003

Elena hung up after getting the names, dates and locations from Danny and started the process of running down the information.

Jack was currently in a strategy meeting with Vivian on the joint task force she was heading up so that left Elena and Sam in the office running down leads. They'd spent the morning following up with local morgues and hospitals and all John Doe reports, so far no one matched their missing David Braxton.

Elena was working on her computer pulling up information on the members of Braxton's team that Danny had given her when Sam rejoined her in the bullpen.

"What up?" Sam asked seeing Elena browsing through some files.

"Danny called a few minutes ago, he and Martin are now with Braxton's survey team and they've got access to all the papers, journals and the computer that he left at the site. Martin found some entries in Braxton's survey journal that indicate several prescribed fires that his survey team recommended and then initiated had exceeded their boundaries and led to extensive firefighting costs, as well as loss of equipment, property and in a few cases lives."

"So the boys are thinking someone on Braxton's team is setting fires, or improperly setting the boundaries or that Braxton himself was to blame, what?" Sam asked peering at the list of names Elena had written down.

"Don't know; the boys don't have access to any internet connections so we get to check out the background of these men. All the men on this list are currently at the Abajo Mountain fire and Danny said he and Martin were headed up to where the team was working on mopping up a section of the fire and they'd be conducting interviews. Hopefully he'll be able to call later today--well," Elena stopped and checked the clock, calculated the two hour time difference and amended her statement, "later this evening with their results. By then we should have financial backgrounds and work histories et cetera to review."

"Well, let's get on it then." Sam pushed up her sleeves and took the list from Elena and contacted Legal in order to get the necessary warrants for bank records, phone calls and access to their personnel files.

The two women worked steadily making phone calls, tracking down resume information, bank records, telephone records, work history everything they could get their hands on. Jack and Vivian joined them after a couple of hours as the information flowed in and they were able to build a paper profile on the members of Braxton's team that basically was one dimensional since they weren't able to interview these people.

"All right. I'm going to try and reach the boys and give them a rundown of the major points we have which is pretty much nothing." Jack commented frustrated that at least on paper not one of the people looked to have any motive to threaten Braxton and certainly not to make him disappear.

"Why don't the rest of you head home and get some rest. If anything breaks I'll call you in." It was pushing 6:00 p.m. and, since there wasn't anything to work on in the NYC area, the team was able to stand down for the night.

"Jack's right," Vivian added, "while I hate admitting to a cold trail after only three days, there just isn't anything here in the city for us to pursue and the best chance we have is out in Utah but even that is looking bleak. Go home, both of you. Hopefully something breaks tomorrow."

Vivian gave them both a small smile that everyone knew was an effort as she was just as disappointed as they were that the trail was positively cold. "I'll see you both in the morning." And then she was gone.

"Don't you want to know how the boys are doing roughing it up on the mountain?" Elena asked teasingly as she and Sam gathered up the papers and files and sorted them neatly.

Sam gave her a smile, "How is Danny, is he having fun out in the mountains?"

Elena chuckled, "I don't think fun is how he would describe it. He did say he was amazed at how organized Grenz' operation is." At Sam's curious look Elena took a few moments and filled her in on who Grenz was and the logistics of the base camp.

"He did say that he and Martin got new outfits upon arrival. It seems Emmett Grenz is highly safety conscious and he had them outfitted with proper boots, socks, bush pants, shirts and something called a dragon fur jacket."

Sam cocked her eyebrows, "Dragon fur? I didn't know dragons had fur."

"I know, wild name but it's wind resistant, flame retardant. They've been given field packs with lots of gear. I know Danny said they were being kept back from the fire but it just seems like a lot of gear."

"Well, sounds like this Emmett Grenz is just being thorough." Sam shrugged it off.

"Yeah, I know, still I worry."

"I'm sure Danny's having the time of his life."

"He did say he and Martin shared a tent last night." Elena teased.

"Well, there you have it."

"Oh, come on, Sam. He said they were fine and they were paying attention. They'll both be fine. Next time they call I'll let you talk to Martin."


"Sam, what's going on? I kinda thought you and Martin were friends, but the last several days it's been pretty chilly in the office when you two were here, what's up?"

"Nothing, and we're not friends." Sam replied curtly.

"Oh, something more perhaps, he's nice, and I don't just mean easy on the eyes, didn't think he'd be your type though."

"Nice, yeah, he's nice." Sam didn't even try to hide the acid in her tone. "Wait a minute, what do you mean he wouldn't be my type?"

"I don't know, you just seem--" Elena trailed off as she searched for the word.

"I seem what, someone that a nice guy wouldn't like, not good enough for a nice guy? What?"

"No, Sam, that's not what I'm saying at all."

"Well, I'll have you know that Martin and I did date for about nine months until he dumped me, so maybe he's not so nice after all."

"How come I never knew you dated him?"

"It was over before you joined the team." Sam didn't even notice the echo of the words she had once said to Martin about her affair with Jack.

"When did it end?"

"Right before--right before he got shot. I wanted to go with him to his cousin's wedding and meet his family just like he'd been hounding me to do for months and boom, he dumped me. Did it right at this table, too."

"So, you wanted to go meet his family and he dumped you. Sorry, Sam, you're going to have to fill it in a little bit more, doesn't sound like the Martin Fitzgerald I've been working around for two years now. I'll grant you I came in at a pretty rough time for him but even when he could have seen me as a threat to his job, he helped me learn the ropes and he and Danny are good friends and I trust Danny's judgment, so you're going to need to tell me a little bit more."

"He'd been here for about two years before we started dating."

"And?" Elena prompted when Sam seemed stuck as to where to go next.

"And, eventually Danny found out and then Viv and at some point Jack knew and then when that wasn't so bad and I was ready to go with him to his cousin's wedding, he dumped me, end of story."

"And you were dating how long?" Elena pressed.

"About nine months."

Elena studied Sam carefully and then chose her words slowly.

"You were dating for nine months, what were you doing for all that time?"

Sam looked at Elena in surprise. "What do you mean what were we doing, we were dating."

"Okay. But, you said eventually Danny found out and then Viv and then somehow Jack and then you said something about that not being so bad so you were going to go to his cousin's wedding and I guess meet his family. I'm confused; you were with him for nine months, exactly how many people knew you were dating?"

Sam stared at Elena and opened her mouth to speak only to close it again. "It's complicated."

"Sure it is because he's a colleague like Danny and I."

"You and Danny don't seem complicated."

"That's because we're not. I like him, he likes me. He's great with Sophie. He's there for me. I'm there for him. It's not that complicated. Sam, if Danny who is arguably Martin's best friend and also someone who is pretty close to you didn't know until 'eventually' whenever that is and Vivian, arguably another close friend to both you and Martin didn't know until sometime after Danny, who knew the two of you were going out? Wait, don't answer that, I have a better question. Where were you going out?"

Sam looked down at the table and aimlessly drew circles on the piece of paper in front of her. "We didn't go anywhere."

"So it was just sex; you were just sleeping with each other?"

Sam looked at Elena who met her gaze evenly.

"Don't get me wrong, chica, sex is wonderful but it's not dating. It's just sleeping with someone, and actually we both know there really isn't any sleeping to it."

When Sam didn't answer Elena let her words sink in for a moment before continuing with her thought.

"I've only known Martin for two years and I certainly have never 'dated' him but he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who's just looking for sex. Martin is the kind of guy you marry; take it from somebody who knows the difference."

Sam looked up sharply at Elena who was staring straight at her with a serious look on her face.


"Elena, all due respect but you're dating Danny, do you really think you should be trying to give me advice on who's the marrying kind?" Sam softened the harshness of her words with a small upturn of her lips.

"Yes, I do. I know all about Danny's player past and all his talk of a different girl every night. I'll let you in on a little secret; there weren't more than three girls before me and one of them his brother set him up with. So don't go thinking Danny is this real big player. Danny is the kind of guy you marry. I'm not saying that's where he and I are headed, I'm just saying that I've dated the bad boys, I married a bad boy.

It was sexy and dangerous and hot and heavy and exciting but the problem with that is that it gets old after awhile. One of you starts to grow and change and see things differently, or you get pregnant and have the responsibility of a whole other life that depends on no one but you and, if all you have as a partner in the child rearing is someone who's dangerous or exciting and is all about the thrill and the rush, then you're alone with this little life.

Knowing someone, truly knowing their mind, heart and their body is true intimacy. I am so much more intimate with Danny than I ever was with Carlos and I never worry when I'm with Danny. He's my friend, he takes care of me and that doesn't make me weak; he doesn't look down at me as someone that needs his protection but rather as someone he chooses to protect. He also knows that at all times I'm there for him. I protect him just as much as he protects me."

Elena glanced at the clock on the wall and decided it was definitely time to get home to Sophie as well as to let Sam think a bit on what they had discussed.

"A little advice from someone who's been there, if you've found someone that makes you happy, that wants to be there for you, that's the person to build a future with. Remember what I said, some men are the marrying kind and some aren't. Don't kid yourself into thinking that someone who isn't the marrying kind will change for you; they won't."

Sam sat quietly at her desk thinking about Elena's words, absorbing them, turning them over in her mind. Finally she realized she was not only exhausted but she was hungry and it was time to get home. As she passed Jack's office heading towards the elevators she stopped, knocked and opened his door.

"Good night, Jack, just thought I'd let you know I'm leaving."

Jack glanced up distractedly from his desk, "Thought you were already gone. See you tomorrow." And then went back to work on the papers on his desk ignoring her. Sam slowly closed the door and gave him one last look as she headed down the corridor for home.

Don't say I'm out of touch
With this rampant chaos - your reality
I know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge
The nightmare I built my own world to escape
In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby
I lie inside myself for hours
And watch my purple sky fly over me
Swallowed up in the sound of my screaming
Cannot cease for the fear of silent nights
Oh how I long for the deep sleep dreaming
The goddess of imaginary light
Evanescence: Fallen, 2003