In Dreams

by Kim Maddox

Chapter 22
Chris awoke with a pounding headache and Nathan looking at him from across the living room. He didn´t remember sprawling out in the large armchair, nor did he remember someone putting a blanket over him as he slept. Nathan´s arrival was a surprise, last thing he knew Ezra was there. They weren´t even trying anymore to find excuses for being at his house. They were babysitting, pure and simple. The funny thing was that Chris didn´t even care anymore. They could go, they could stay; the song remained the same. He felt like hell and thought to himself, “Oh well, when in Rome…” Chris squinted his eyes against the glare coming in through the open blinds. “Shut those will you Nate?”

“Nope, it´s time to let some sun in here. Come on Chris get up and let me get you something to eat and something for that headache.”

“How did you know I have a headache?”

“Cause you been guzzling coffee like there ain´t none left in Columbia, now you ain´t had any in a few hours. It´s called withdrawal,” replied Nathan with a grin.

“Well just add that to my rather long list of vices. Caffeine addiction, what a rush,” Chris said grimly.

“What you want to eat Chris? Some eggs maybe, or how about some of Josiah´s chili?” Nathan asked pleading for Chris to agree.

Chris started to refuse but knew it would only lead to an argument. He looked over at Nathan and said, “How about some toast and coffee?”

Nathan grinned, “That´s a start, be right back.”

Chris leaned back against the chair and closed his eyes. The anxiety was back. His stomach threatened to rebel against the very thought of food. He just kept seeing the illuminated blood stains in his garage and the burnt bodies of his family. He could smell the burning truck. A cacophony of odors assailed his senses, gasoline, rubber, and burning flesh. He sat up jerking his eyes open. He had almost went there, the place inside himself, the place he had sworn not to go again. Nathan came back into the room with a plate of toast and a cup of coffee. Chris looked at the toast and his stomach heaved. He didn´t think he could do it. Jackson was watching so he picked up a piece of the toast and took a small bite. He chewed and swallowed and was surprised to find that the food stayed down. He finished one piece of the toast and ate about half of the other one and drank two cups of coffee. He had to admit that he did feel a bit better, for about three minutes. Jackson watched in dismay as Chris jumped to his feet and ran to the bathroom.

Jackson found Larabee leaned over the sink running water into his hands and then splashing his face. Chris looked up and caught Nathan´s reflection in the mirror, “I tried Nathan, I really did,” Chris said wearily.

Nathan, momentarily stunned by Larabee´s appearance, answered, “I know Chris, we´ll just have to try again in a bit. You´ve got to get something in you Chris. You´re gonna get really sick if you don´t.” The medic shook his head as he took in the sunken eyes and sickly pallor of his friend. ‘Maybe next time,´ he thought to himself.

Chapter 23

Buck was still raging as he entered the ATF offices. Josiah was attempting to calm the furious man, and having no luck. Wilmington threw his jacket at the coat rack and ignored the fact that it landed on the floor. Vin and Ezra watched in surprise when Buck stormed into the conference room and slammed the door, not even having spoken to them. Ezra gave Josiah an inquiring look to which the profiler motioned the two agents and JD to come into the conference room.

The five agents gathered around the table, uneasy best describing the mood in the room. Buck sat apart from the others still trying to bring his temper under control. Ultimately it was Josiah who broke the silence. “We just left IA. Things are starting to get hairy guys.”

“What ya mean Josiah?” Vin asked curiously.

“The agent in charge, Perkins, seems to have taken an immediate dislike to Chris. He has made it his mission to find something, anything, on Chris. They have tracked down an insurance policy on Sarah. Not a large one, but large enough for them to ask questions. They tried to track where the check was cashed but they couldn´t find it, you would think that it would be enough to satisfy them that Chris didn´t kill his family for gain, but they are on it like a bloodhound,” Josiah stated, an intense look of loathing for the IA officer clearly written on his face.

“Damn, now I know I should have killed that shark,” Ezra said rising to his feet to pace the floor around the table. “Does Chris know of this?”

“No, not that we are aware of, although he seems to be as up to date as we are if not more so,” Josiah responded.

“Go ahead Josiah, tell them the rest. Waiting ain´t gonna change anything,” Buck broke in before Josiah could finish the sentence he had started.

“Buck, I don´t know if what we heard is right or not,” Josiah began.

Buck stopped him mid thought and said, “ It came from a reliable source Josiah, you know that as well as I do.”

Josiah took a deep breath and sighed. ‘I might as well tell them before they hear it from someone else. Besides they´ll have to help me run interference with Chris once this is brought to his knowledge.´ “OK, here is what I overheard in the IA´s office this morning. The forensics report is back on the blood in the garage. The blood samples showed some ‘irregularities´, I believe was the word they used. There was a sample there that belonged to Sarah, but there was no blood samples at all that matched Adam´s type. They cross matched, and tried 12 ways to Sunday to match it, but it was a no go. They are now in the process of DNA testing. I figure they will be at Chris´ door within the hour with a subpoena for a blood sample. I also heard that the next step is exhumation. Chris will go ballistic,” Josiah added.

“Oh God, you know what this means?” Vin asked excitedly.

“Yeah Vin, it means that Chris will lose what´s left of his mind. He can´t handle this shit Vin. You got what you wanted, but what´s it gonna do to Chris?” Buck asked angrily. Wilmington then turned and once again stormed off.

“I´m sorry everybody, I guess I just got carried away. I don´t want Chris to get hurt either. It´s just that if those blood samples don´t match Adam´s, who do they belong to?” Vin asked.

“That is a very good question Mr. Tanner. One I suggest we answer before IA gets their hands on it and fouls up law enforcement for a hundred years,” replied Ezra, a hint of disgust evident in his voice.

The agents went into covert mode. JD put his hacking abilities into play and once again, despite improved security, managed to hack into the Internal Affairs data base. The findings were distressing; confirmation that Chris was indeed being investigated for the murders of Sarah and Adam Larabee. Tanner saw red. “How the hell can they think that Chris would kill his family? God, he loved them more than his own life. They are damn well insane and I´m gonna make them see that,” Vin shouted.

“No Vin, we can´t let them know that we have found this information. It might mean JD´s job. Besides, the less they know the more we can find out, if you know what I mean,” Josiah entreated the younger agent´s silence.

“He´s right Vin,” the agents turned to find Buck standing behind them, “I know I wanted to tear them apart when I heard what they were saying, but we have got to do this by the book if we are going to save Chris´ career, not to mention his life. We are just going to have to keep our eyes and ears open.”

Buck returned to his desk and placed a call to AD Travis. He filled the man in on the latest information and then asked the Judge for a leave of absence. He explained to Travis that he needed to be around to take care of Chris, he further explained that he could sense the blackness returning to claim his friends soul and that he was the only one who knew what to expect and how to deal with it. The Judge apparently agreed because Buck thanked him politely and hung up the phone.

The other agents stood, mouths open, as Wilmington talked to the Judge. Buck was leaving them to handle this alone. They needed his help. Vin was the first to speak. “You know when I wanted to take time off to stay with Chris you were the first to tell me I was needed here. Are you too good to take the same advice Bucklin?”

“Now Vin, I knew you would feel that way, but Junior trust me. I know what I´m doing. If I´m not there to head Chris off he´s gonna be running amok with every agency in Denver. It´s better this way, I can keep him out of trouble. I´ve been doing it for a long time,” Buck replied attempting to get the other agents to see things his way.

The other agents finally acquiesced, agreeing to let Buck proceed if Chris would allow it, which would be the next obstacle. Buck thought he could get Chris to go along with him staying at the ranch. It seemed that the man didn´t care much for being alone right now.

Chapter 24

Chris was incensed. There was no way he was going to allow Buck to take a leave of absence to stay home and keep an eye on him. Buck was needed at the office, after all the others still had jobs to do. He had built that team from the ground up and he´d be damned if they were going to let it all go to hell. That team was important to him. He needed to know that it was there, succeeding, thriving, living, and breathing, even if he wasn´t.

“You get that damn fool notion out of your head now Wilmington, then get your ass to work. Don´t tell me the ATF has no more cases to work on just because I resigned. Besides, it´s time for me to start getting by on my own. I appreciate that all of you have been here and stood by me, I really do. But I´m telling you Buck, some heads are gonna roll and I don´t want it to be yours, or the others,” Chris stated emphatically. “Go on now, you know me. The more I´m alone the better I like it. I´m serious Buck, I need the time alone to breathe, to think, maybe it will clear my head. Go on,” he added gently “go to work. I appreciate the thought and I promise I´ll be here when you get back tonight.”

Buck knew that Chris would be good to his word but he still had to tell him about the investigation. Chris already knew but he didn´t know about the exhumation. Buck dreaded telling him but the team knew it would be better coming from him. He didn´t know how Chris would react after he told him. Exhumation, a terrible thing for someone to have to go through, some folks considered the digging up of a loved one´s remains to be totally heinous. Buck thought so. He couldn´t stand the thoughts of Sarah and Adam´s resting place being disturbed. But what if it weren´t Adam in that grave. A shudder tore through him as he considered the consequences. Sure it would be wonderful to have that little boy back home where he belonged, except that Adam wouldn´t be that same little boy. He would be ten now and have ten year old problems compounded by the fact that he had been torn away from his family and gone from his loved ones for four years. Then there was Chris; if Adam were alive that would mean that he had mourned a living child for four years. How would it affect the grief stricken man to discover his child was not dead and that he had been grieving for someone else´s child all these years? Buck grew weary thinking of the possible outcomes of the conundrum.

Wilmington began softly, “Chris, there´s something that I need to tell you and it may throw you Pard. The rest of the guys thought it might be best if I told you out here in private. This is a hard thing for me to tell you. I guess the best way would be to just start at the beginning.”

Chris didn´t like the way this conversation was starting out. His heart started beating faster and felt like it was about to explode from his chest. He started to knead his fists into the denim of his jeans, clenching and unclenching his hands around the soft faded material, much the same way his jaw was clenching and unclenching of its own accord. Buck´s voice was low and Chris had to concentrate hard on what he was saying. At first he was only picking up key words and phrases and then complete sentences. As Wilmington explained Chris became more and more agitated.

“Chris, we did some research and investigation after you started having those dreams. The whole thing with the cabin and the ball glove really threw us all for a loop. We got to thinking and I know this sounds crazy, but how did the glove get there? We know that the campground closed down the summer before Adam and Sarah died. How did it get there? We came up with a theory and kind of acted on it. Then the thing with the garage, well that brings me to what I´ve been trying, and failing miserably, to tell you. The IA is definitely investigating you. They think you killed Sarah and Adam, Chris. We all know you´re innocent and we are working around the clock to prove it. Chris they have the results of the blood samples taken from the garage back. The results are irregular so they are going to do DNA samples next. They will probably be here in an hour or so for some blood from you…” A now suspicious Larabee interrupted Buck.

“Why?” the question was so softly spoken that Buck almost missed it, almost. He took a deep breath and began, “None of the blood taken from the garage matches Adam´s type. They want to do DNA to see if maybe the sample was degraded by the time that has passed. Chris there is more.” Wilmington stopped and looked at the face of his oldest friend and at that moment would have laid down his life to take the pain away from Chris´ countenance.

“Go on,” the command issued from the blond man´s mouth, “you might as well tell me all of it. I know there are things you´ve been hiding from me the last few weeks. With me acting the way I did I can´t blame you though. I´d be afraid to tell me too,” Chris replied with a sad smile.

“Chris, it´s not that we were afraid of you, we were afraid of what it would do to you. We didn´t want to hurt you or bring back bad memories for you. It was all for nothing though, you did get hurt and the bad memories came anyway. It was stupid of us to think we could keep it at bay,” Buck declared bitterly.

“NO, no it wasn´t nothing, and it wasn´t stupid. It was admirable and I do appreciate the effort. Trying to avoid causing someone pain is never nothing Buck. I want to know everything now that it is out in the open, everything,” Chris directed.

“All right, here goes. After you started dreaming of seeing Adam the way he would be now, it got us all to thinking, a little too much maybe. Vin, well you know how he is about the messages in dreams. Well he got to thinking that maybe Adam was alive and trying to contact you through the dream. I told him pretty much that it was hogwash, but he didn´t let it go. We had a couple of dust ups over it, but he didn´t back down. He went into tracker mode and I begged him not to open up the old wounds for you again. I was wrong Chris, I should´ve let him just go to you and tell you his suspicions, but I didn´t want you to have to live through the grief all over again if we didn´t find him alive. We requested, officially, to look at the autopsy reports on Sarah and Adam, and they were full of inconsistencies, according to Nathan, it just looked like a bunch of hooey to me. Then when you found the blood in the garage I knew something was wrong. Never in a million years would I think that you would kill them Chris, but if you did you would be never be so stupid as to kill them in your own garage for God´s sake. Then the reports came back and none of the one hundred and eleven blood samples matched Adam´s, well I knew that there was more to this than we ever imagined. That brings us to now. The blood didn´t match so they are going to try DNA, and then if that doesn´t give them the answer that they are looking for…” Buck´s voice trailed off and Chris knew in that instant what the CSI and the IA were preparing to do.

“They´re gonna dig up my family aren´t they?” Chris asked clearly and concisely. Amazingly it was the clearest thing Buck had heard Chris say in weeks.

“Yeah Pard, that´s the rumor,” Buck replied sadly.

“Buck, just let me ask you one question, and I want a straight answer,” Chris requested.

“Sure Pard,”

“Do you think that Adam is alive? Remember I want the truth, win, place, show.”

“Chris, after the blood thing I´ve got to say, Yeah Pard, I think he´s alive,” Buck said with a grin.

Larabee sighed a huge sigh of relief. “Thank God, there for a minute I thought I was the only one who did, except for Tanner of course, and every one knows how crazy he is. I´ve been denying this for weeks, knowing that if Adam were alive it would mean I just threw him away, didn´t even attempt to look for him. I should have known he was alive. He was my son. I should have known. But I just took the word of idiots I trusted to know what they were doing. God Buck, the kid has got to hate me, I didn´t look for him,” Chris cried out as he paced the floor.

Buck was at once relieved and nervous about his friend. Chris had run the gamut of emotions, relief, denial, panic, distress, and terror, in the matter of a few seconds. He didn´t know how to reassure the man in front of him that he had done what any grieving parent would have done. Buck was pulled out of his musings by an insistent Chris Larabee. He was throwing a jacket to him and had already pulled on his own. “Come on, we´re going down to the lab. I´m going to give them a sample of my blood and I´m gonna make it easy on them. They ain´t gonna need a court order to exhume their bodies. I´m gonna sign a release form for them to do just that. I ain´t got nothing to hide from them, or nothing to prove. The only one I have to prove anything to is Adam. If by some chance, if God is smiling on me and gives me another chance with my son, I am going to prove to him that I can be a good dad to him. If I can only get the chance Buck,” the intense agent looked and seemed calmer that he had been in days. Buck went back to feeling relief again. Every thing was going to be all right.

Chapter 25

Chris went to the lab and samples were taken of his blood and swabs were used to take samples from his mouth. The people at Internal Affairs were surprised to see Chris and to have him volunteer for the tests was a relief. No one wanted to show up at Larabee's door with a subpoena.

After he gave the lab tech all the samples she would need for this case and the next one, Chris left the building and took a cab to the body shop. He had gotten the call the evening before that his truck was ready to be picked up. He had missed his truck and would be glad to have it sitting in the yard at the ranch again. Buck tried to talk him into letting him come home with him but Chris stood firm. He told Buck to go to work, for the first time in two months he felt like he could get up in the morning. Buck went to work, relieved at the change in his friend.

The shiny black Dodge Ram Club Cab truck was waiting for Chris outside the garage. Chris silently apologized to the big truck for trying to use it for deer hunting and promised next time he would use a shotgun. Of course he didn´t say these things aloud, no use in anyone else thinking he was crazy. After giving the mechanic a check for the repairs Chris climbed in and fired the truck up. The truck was just like him. Dark, arrogant, rowdy, and forceful, maybe not his best qualities, but ones you have to have to get what you want. What Chris Larabee wanted now was justice; justice for his wife, his son, and himself.

Chris rolled down the windows in the truck and let the wind blow through his hair. Sometimes it seemed to him that he hadn´t felt anything in the four years that his family had been gone. Even now with the possibility being acknowledged out loud that his son might be alive, Chris still felt like he was being suffocated. As quickly as the strangling fear and anxiety began, it disappeared. The emotions that had been bottled up for so long started to be released, and Chris Larabee, despite the fear of Adam´s resentment, smiled. It wasn´t the smile he pasted on his face when it was required that he be pleasant, but rather a full, great day to be alive smile. He drove the rest of the way home with the same grin plastered to his face. He actually began to believe that his son was alive and would someday be home where he belonged.

Larabee parked the truck in the driveway and walked into his house. The garage was still sealed and would remain so unless he decided to tear it down. The place was too full of bad memories for him and just opening the door took a toll on him. After the investigation was over and the CSI released the garage to him, he would talk to a contractor about renovating and just removing the garage altogether.

The blond man glanced through the mail that he had picked up at the mailbox on his way in, nothing important, just a stack of bills that he had been too distracted to pay. He was going to have to get back on track and catch up on the daily grind of living.

Next, Larabee checked the answering machine. “You have fourteen new messages,” the electronic voice stated. Chris grinned as he heard Buck ask in his most annoyed tone of voice, “Damn it Chris, where are you? You call me as soon as you get this message!” The next three messages were also from the usually congenial ladies man. ‘Right now ol Buck wouldn´t win Miss Congeniality,´ Chris thought to himself and laughed. He had started to walk into the bedroom to change clothes, getting ready to meet the other agents at Inez´ in a couple of hours. The next message on the machine stopped him cold in his tracks.

“Chris, oh God Chris, please be there. Help us! She won´t let us go. I can´t talk now, please if you get this message, please stay where I can reach you. I´ll try again in a few minutes,” the message ended with a sharp cry.

Chris stood rooted to the floor. All color was gone from his face and he was shaking. He came back to his senses and rushed to the machine and played the message again. It couldn´t be. It just couldn´t be. It sounded like Sarah, but something wasn´t right about the way the words were spoken. He played the message over and over listening carefully for any clue as to what was wrong with the voice. He finally zeroed in on it. The voice was too high pitched. Sarah´s voice was deeper, almost husky. The Irish lilt was there as was the hint of old Virginia, but the tone just wasn´t right. Chris was actually amazed that he was able to react like a cop and realize that there was no way that it could be Sarah on the other end of that message. He was finally able to accept that she was gone, even with a voice from the past calling out to him from the confines of an answering machine.

Chris was about to pick up the phone and check in with Buck and tell him of the mysterious message on the machine. Just as he reached to pick it up, it began to ring. He could almost feel the urgency in the ring.

“Oh God, Chris is it really you? After all these years, am I really talking to you again? Please help us Chris, Please you have to help us, I can´t get away from her. She won´t let us go until you come. You have to come, it´s the only way,” the fear and urgency in the voice was palpable.

“Who is this and what do you want from me?” Chris demanded firmly.

“You don´t know me? Chris, Chris, has it been that long? God Chris, it´s me! Sarah!”

Chris stopped breathing. He fought to get control of himself. ‘It ain´t her Larabee. It ain´t her. It´s not possible. Sarah is dead. The lab proved it. The blood samples matched. She is dead and buried in the City Cemetery. Think, keep her on the line. Find out where she is. The time has come to finally figure out who is responsible for the last few weeks of torture.´

“Sarah, honey where are you and who is it that has you?” he asked hoping to get an approximate location.

“I think she has us at some kind of warehouse. I can´t really tell. It is so dark here Chris. The walls are black and so are the ceilings and floors and the windows are covered in black and it is like midnight here all the time. Please get me out. Please,” the woman pleaded.

The begging was almost Chris´ undoing. He had to get past the similarities in the voices of Sarah and the woman on the other end of the phone line. “Sarah tell me what does this woman want? I´ll give her whatever she wants to get you back. Just get her to tell me where to meet her,” Chris urged. He heard rustling in the background and what sounded like an argument. Finally “Sarah”, was back on the line and ready to give Chris a location.

“Chris, she says Heritage Park at the back jogging trail in forty five minutes. She said to come alone or you will never see me again. Please hurry Chris, I´m scared.”

The call was abruptly disconnected and Chris´ concerns were clearly answered. He was sure it wasn´t Sarah. She would never admit to being scared. Not for anything.

Chris grabbed his jacket from the chair and grabbed his wallet, keys, and cell phone from the table by the door. Larabee contemplated leaving a note for the others but knew he just didn´t have the time, also he was supposed to meet them at the bar, they wouldn´t be coming out here tonight. He decided to call on the way to the park that would save time. He quickly glanced back to the bedroom and thought about taking a gun, but remembered that the other agents had cleaned him out, ‘Oh well, just have to take my chances.´ There was no way he was going to pass up this chance to find out who was trying to drive him crazy, and why.

Chapter 26

Buck slammed down the phone in anger. “Where the hell is he?” he fairly shouted with anxiety. The other agents gathered around the bar at Inez´ all sensed the anxiety and were a little uneasy themselves. Chris had promised Buck when he left him at the lab that he would go home, straight home. Buck had been calling for two hours and nothing. “He promised me, I am going to kill him when I find him,” the, at the moment, pissed off agent swore.

“You´ll have to stand in line behind me,” muttered Vin, “right now I don´t think he´s running on all cylinders.”

Buck calmed a bit, “No Vin, right now I think he´s doing better than he´s been in a while. You should have seen his face when he left that lab. It´s like the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders. I just hope those tests turn out all right.”

“Everything will be all right Buck, I have it on good authority,” answered Josiah grinning.

Buck returned the grin and picked up the phone to try again to reach his friend.

Chapter 27

Chris angrily threw the cell phone in the seat beside him. “The damn thing is dead, that´s just lovely. No backup,” he muttered. He continued to drive at a break neck pace toward the city park. He didn´t know for sure what he was driving into. He started to pull off and find a pay phone and call the others, feeling that backup would be prudent, yet each time he looked at the digital readout of the car stereo he knew time was running out. Larabee made up his mind and floored the accelerator. The speedometer was sitting flat on 90 mph as he drove haphazardly down the twisting mountain road leading back into the city. He once again apologized to the truck.

He reached the park within the appointed time frame with a couple minutes to spare. He looked cautiously around and wondered if he was even alert enough to spot trouble if he saw it. His eyes were drawn to a small alcove of trees off to his left. Yep, his senses were still sharp, he knew if there was trouble that was where it would be hiding. He stepped over to the trees and was about to ease in between two of them when a figure darted from behind one and started running in the other direction. Chris took off after the figure. The sun was almost down and it made it difficult to see once they crossed the tree line and made it into the darkened forest. Larabee wove in and out through the trees and the undergrowth. He spotted his prey and began to close in. He propelled himself into the air and landed on top of the struggling body. He flipped the figure over and his breath left him as he looked into the face he never thought he would see again.

“Rachel?” Chris questioned as he moved to help her to her feet. The shock was plainly written on his face as he struggled to come to grips with the image standing right in front of him.

The young woman standing in front of him appeared to be oblivious to his question. She stared straight ahead and seemed to look right through him. He shook her and repeated her name, this time a little more forcefully. “RACHEL!” The woman jerked and then threw herself into his arms. “Chris, thank God you´re here, she is insane. She has had us for four years now; I didn´t think you would ever come for us. But you did, you came for us.”

Chris, trying to understand her frantic ramblings, shook her again and asked “Who´s had you, and where are they now?” He looked around cautiously, he was unarmed and in a very unsecured location. He didn´t want to risk being located. He put Rachel behind him and started to ease his way out from within the trees. He was starting out into the open and he whispered to Rachel, “When I say go, you run like hell to that black truck over there. Get in and lock the doors. I´ll be there in two minutes. If I´m not you drive like hell out of here. You understand?” There was no reaction from the young woman. “I said, do you understand Rachel?” At this the woman snapped her head up and Chris could not mistake the hurt look in her eyes.

The world started to spin out of control. Rachel came at him like a wild cat, spitting and clawing. “You bastard, how could you do this to me? My own sister, damn you. How could you, with my sister?” Chris was reeling, “What the hell are you talking about?”

“You were cheating on me with Rachel? Why her, if you had to betray me why couldn´t it have been with Jerry´s wife or with one of Buck´s girlfriends, why did it have to be with Rachel?” The hysterical woman continued to beat Chris´ chest with both hands as he tried to control her actions.

Something inside Chris snapped and he threw Rachel to the ground. “Look Rachel, I don´t know what sick game you´re trying to play, but don´t drag me into it. I loved Sarah. You get it, Sarah.”

The blond woman lying on her back on the ground smiled wickedly, and said, “Of course I do, Christopher darling, I´ve known all along,” and moved to stand. Chris wished for a gun, a knife, a stick, or a weapon of any kind at that moment. The look in her eye was truly frightening. It reminded him of a mirror when he was looking into it at times. The wild insane glint of the eyes and the cool smile sent a shiver down his spine. He was contemplating his retreat when he sensed someone behind him. He spun around and caught a glimpse of someone swinging at him. The bat that was swung connected with Chris´ skull and his world went black. He was bordering on unconsciousness and his last clear thought was “They´ll never even know what happened to me.”

Buck was really starting to worry now. He passed angry about an hour before. The team had decided to split up and look for him. Buck had gone back to the office. JD had waited at the bar in case he showed up there. Josiah had gone to Mary Travis´ to see if he had stopped by to pay her a visit. Vin had gone to the ranch and Ezra had accompanied him. Nathan had returned to the office as well and was checking with the night security on the off chance that Chris had returned and was doing research in the archive office. They hadn´t been able to find him anywhere. It was like the man had just dropped off the face of the earth.

The phone began to ring and Buck snatched it up and snapped, “Wilmington.” Vin was on the other end of the line. “He ain´t here, but I checked the answering machine. There´s another one of those messages on it. The one with the woman screaming about somebody having her and won´t let her go. She begged Chris to stay there till she could call him back. Then she hung up. Buck I checked the wiretap; she called again. He was home. God Buck, she told him that she was Sarah. He responded to her. Buck he knows that the tests came back positive. He knows that Sarah is dead. Why would he talk to her like he believed that it was her?” Vin asked in confusion.

“Maybe he wanted her to think that he believed it was her so he could figure out where she was and who she was. Did we get a location on the tap?”

“Yeah, it´s another pay phone. But she did give a location to find her. At Heritage Park, the back running trail. Ezra is already calling everybody. We´ll meet you there in 45.”

“Roger that,” Buck replied slamming down the phone. He went to the ammo locker and withdrew some extra firepower. ‘Why hadn´t Chris called them in on this? He should have had back up; this whole thing had the possibility to blow up in his face. He started to the door when the phone started to ring again. He stopped at JD´s desk and answered it. It was Stan the downstairs security guard. “Agent Wilmington, there is a gentleman down here who wishes to see you. He has no security clearance so I can´t let him up on the floor. Will you please come down?” Buck replied, “I´m on my way.”

Buck stepped off the elevator and into the security office. He saw the back of a Navy uniform. The officer turned around and greeted his old friend. “Hello Buck, or should I say Agent Wilmington?” the man asked with a smile. “Jake, my God, how long has it been?” Buck asked as he moved to shake the man´s hand. “Four years Buck, it´s been four years, Sarah and Adam´s funeral.”

Buck sobered a moment and looked sadly at the man standing in front of him, “Yeah, the funeral´s, I still miss them, and Chris is still beside himself.” Jake looked at Buck and said “Buck, Chris is why I´m here. He´s in trouble Buck, real trouble, and I could kick myself for not contacting him sooner.”

“What are you talking about Jake?” Buck asked narrowing his eyes till they were slits.

“Where is Chris? I found out through channels that he was head of an ATF team and I tracked him here. I really need to talk to him, warn him.”

“Well, that´s a question we would all like answered, we haven´t been able to locate him for about four hours now.”

“Well four hours isn´t a long time, is it?” Jake asked suspiciously.

“For what´s been going on around here lately it is,” Buck answered. “Chris has someone trying to gaslight him. They´re trying to convince him Sarah is still alive. It´s a long story Jake; let´s just leave it at that. I can´t go into details right now, let´s just say that you are in for a lot of surprises. But now we have to find Chris. He is missing and he´s not himself right now.”

“I think I know where to find him,” Jake stated firmly.

“What are you saying Jake?”

“I´m saying that I know where to find Chris, and we better get there before something happens,” Jake said as he started to the door. “Well, are you coming?”

“Yeah, but I want an explanation,” Buck said as he grabbed a fresh cell phone and headed for the door.


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