by Jeanne

Chris heard the conversation going on around him but he didn’t listen. The ‘fog’ was back. It was so calm, and quite. Nothing touched him when he just sat quietly. He could feel it swirling around him. Sometimes he could see dim colors in the fog, but not often. He liked it here in this gray place. He could just stay here and maybe the other people would go away. These men he was suppose to know. They were always around asking him questions. They wouldn’t leave him alone. They kept insisting he eat or drink or move. He didn’t want to do any of those things. Mostly he didn’t want to talk to anyone. If he didn’t move, or drink or eat or talk maybe just maybe his head would stop hurting and he could remember where Sarah was. He just wanted to wrap the fog around him like a quilt and sleep.

He closed his eyes trying to shut out entirely everything around him. He needed to shut out that Texas drawl. For some reason that voice kept coming at him, pulling him back.

Come on Cowboy, you gotta try.’ Cowboy, I hate that. Why does he keep calling me cowboy? Why won’t he go away? Then just as he was drifting off to sleep in his minds’ eye he saw blue eyes smiling at him, promising him….something.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Chris was in the kitchen and Buck was talking. Something about his date last night. They were laughing and Adam ran through waving at Buck "Hi Uncle Buck." Buck grabbed him holding him up.

"Hey pard, slow down just a hair. Wow, you’re all slicked up. Them girls at school are just gonna love you."

"Ah, Uncle Buck. I don’t like girls."

Buck raised his eyebrows, "Hey there, kid no nephew of mine can say that." He wiggled his eyebrows up and down making Adam laugh.

"Leave it Buck, he’s got plenty of time to think on girls. You be good in school today."

Adam wiggled down and ran to Chris who bend down and pulled him into a hug. "Ok, Daddy. Love you Daddy."

Chris let go smiling "Love you, Little Man."

Sarah came into the kitchen. "Morning, Buck."

"Morning, Beautiful."

Chris looked up, "Watch that, Buck."

"Hey Stud, I’m harmless." Buck grinned wiggling his eyebrows again.

Sarah laughed and turned to Chris wrapping her arms around him. "There’s no one but you, Cowboy." She grinned, mischief in her eyes. "That’s what you are aren’t you? Some hot shot John Wayne Cowboy Cop. Right?"

Chris closed his arms around her, "Only you think so, Love. Now Buck, he’s the real hot shot."

"Sure he is." Sarah looked around the counter, "Where’s the keys?"

Chris reached behind her and grabbed the extra keys to the truck. Holding them high he dangled them over her head. "What’ll you give me?"

Sarah’s smile turned wicked. She held her hand in a cupped claw just above Chris’ crotch. Her fingers twitched, "You really want to know?"

Buck choked on his coffee, "too much information here. Give her the keys Stud before I have to save ya."

"Shut up Buck" They said simultaneously. Chris leaned down and kissed Sarah. Putting the keys in her hand. "See that was easy, bye. Love you."

Sarah keys in hand looked over her shoulder, "Love you too."

But she wasn’t walking away she was fading.

"No, no, Sarah…….." Chris’ whole body jerked.

"Sarah? Where am I?" Chris reached out with his hands. Covers, he was laying down, in bed. How did he get in bed? He felt his stomach start to rebel and tried to get up too quickly. The covers tangling in his feet tripping him, causing him to fall hard on his hands and knees. That was when his stomach spewed forth its meager contents while his head was splitting in two.

Buck heard the thud from Chris’ room and rushed in flicking on the lights. He saw Chris on all fours convulsing as his body tried to expel what wasn’t even there. Chris was gasping in great gulps of air, head hanging down. "Chris!"

He rushed over and reaching down tried to help Chris up. At his touch Chris jerked away. "Leave me alone."

"Come on Stud, I’m just trying to help. We need to get you to the bathroom to get you cleaned up."

"No, I…I can…do it"

"Yeah? Ok, where’s the bathroom?"

Chris raised his head and moved it from side to side, as if trying to remember, his shoulders slumped in defeat. He slowly shook his head hissing at the movement. "I…don’t know." He whispered.

Buck gently laid a hand on the shaking shoulder, "I do, come on lets get you cleaned up."

He reached around Chris’ waist and carefully helped him to stand. Chris swayed a bit, "Whoa, easy, ready to move a bit?"

Chris nodded. Buck carefully walked him around the soiled blankets and got him though the bathroom door and sitting on the toilet lid. He turned on the water and wet a wash cloth, "I’m gonna wipe your face ok? Then a sip of water."

Chris nodded again afraid of saying anything least it start his stomach again. The wet cloth felt so good. The water tasted heavenly. "Chris, can you sit here by yourself for a minute? I gotta go pick up that mess in the bedroom. OK? If you need me you can just call."

Chris nodded and put his head on his crossed arms on the counter top. Buck gave him a worried look and then went into the bedroom. He gathered up the soiled blanket and sheet he rolled them up and set them outside. Then he found a light comforter and spread it out on the bed.

When Buck looked back into the bathroom Chris was still sitting as he left him. "Come on Stud, I got the bed ready for you."

Chris raised his head, wishing he could see the man beside him. "K," He held one hand out while the other went to his head. He felt Buck latch onto his arm and pull. He stood and let Buck lead him back to the bed. Chris lay down, and stretched out, and soon felt the comforter laid over him. Buck sat down again holding Chris’ arm. "Can I get you anything? You need something for you head?"

Chris started to shake his head, thought better of it, "Yeah."

"Ok. Stay here I’ll go get you something. Nathan left your meds in the kitchen."

Just outside the door Nathan was about to enter. "What happened?"

"Don’t know. Found him on the floor heaving. I was just going to the kitchen for something for his head."

"I’ll go. See if you can find out what started this."

Buck nodded and went back in sitting on the edge of the bed he again took Chris’ arm more for his own comfort then Chris’. "Chris how’d you end up on the floor like that?"

Chris frowned. How did he end up on the floor? "Had a dream. My stomach was hurting and I tried to get up. Only my feet were tangled in the covers. I fell."

"A nightmare?"

"No…. it was a good dr..ea….m. At least I think it was. I don’t really remember. Shit Buck why am I so log headed. I can’t remember from one minute to the next what’s going on."

"It’s ok Chris you just got you brains scrambled a bit that’s all. Nathan says it’ll clear up soon." Buck Wilmington looked at the man who was his oldest friend and hated having to lie to him. Well, not exactly lying but not the truth either. "We’ll take care of things for ya Chris until you feel better."

Buck glanced up as Nathan brought in some painkillers and water. "Here Chris, I want you to take this," he carefully dropped the small pills into Chris palm. " Then I want you to suck on something. It’ll help calm you stomach."

Chris dutifully swallowed the pills, and taking the larger tablet Nathan had placed in his hand he put it in his mouth.

"Just let it dissolve in your mouth."

"K, I’m tired."

"Go back to sleep, Chris, it’ll be better in the morning."

Buck looked at Nathan with a question in his eyes. Will it be better in the morning?

And to that unvoiced question Nathan just shrugged as he left the bedroom to check on Vin.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Buck could hear their voices from just outside the bedroom door.

"What in hell are you doing up?"

"I heard Chris," came the raspy reply.

"Chris is fine, Bucks in there. YOU get your scrawny ass back to bed."

"Ah, Nate."

"Move now," there was a pause then. "Where’s your knee brace? Damn it Vin."

"Ah, Nate it's jest a little ways……"

Buck smiled as their voices faded going down the hall.

A sleepy voice came from the bed. "He’s in trouble now. Nathan will

tie him down if he gets up again."

Buck looked back down at Chris. "He’d try, but Junior is a sneaky one."

"He is that. Is he ok Buck?"

"He’s fine Chris. His knee is painin’ him some and the cracked ribs don’t help." Buck chuckled, "When you rescue someone you don’t hold back."

"I rescued Vin?" Chris asked puzzled.

Buck paused thinking about what to say. "Yeah Chris you threw him out of the blast path. That’s how you got hurt. Remember?" Buck asked casually.

""Not a thing. My heads…I’m having trouble even thinking Buck. It’s like a never-ending headache. I feel as if an army of jack hammers moved in." Chris yawned.

"I’ll bet, but go back to sleep. Maybe it will be better tomorrow." Buck hoped fervently that it would be better tomorrow. Right now Chris was talking like the old Chris. Maybe when he woke tomorrow he’d still be that Chris.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Making sure Chris was asleep Buck walked down the hall and peeked into the room Vin was in. "Hey Junior, you still in one piece?"

Blue eyes twinkled, "I’m a might tender and that’s a fact."

"You should be. Damn Vin that’s not the smartest thing you could do. You want to end up having surgery on that knee?"

"Ah, hell Bucklin, I heard Chris. I didn’t know anyone else was around. I…." Blue eyes searched darker blue, "knew he was in trouble. I needed to get to him." Vin ducked his head plucking at the quilt with one hand and rubbing his sore ribs with the other.

Buck reached over and placed his hand on Vin’s leg. "I know Vin. I feel the same. It's one of the scariest things I’ve ever faced."

Vin looked up. "What is?"

"Chris Larabee not in control. Chris Larabee is always in control. Always knows exactly what’s what. Except right now Chris Larabee doesn’t know squat and that scares the hell out of all of us."

Buck squeezed Vins’ leg, "Chris needs us, all of us. But right now he knows me from before as well as now. For whatever reason right now he’s holding on to me. But we’ll get this crazy, and we’ll get Chris back." We have to. Buck added silently

"Sure Buck. You know he’s here," Vin taped his head, "But he’s not. I can feel him; I know when he’s hurting, but it’s like it's only going one way. Buck, this whole mental thing with Chris is scary enough, but it's even scarier when it's not there.

"You know when he’s hurting?"

"Not that, kind…well, yeah that too but mostly when he’s" Vin paused searching for the right word. "When his heart’s hurting." He grinned shyly. "I know this sounds crazy but when he’s acting like it’s the past the hurting is less. Not gone just buried so deep he doesn’t have to notice it any. Ah hell, I can’t explain it right."

Vin studied the landscape hanging on the opposite wall, trying to loose himself in the mountain valley it depicted. Almost to himself he started talking again. "It's’ like Chris always has this bottomless black hole inside him. Waiting to swallow him up when he least expects it. So he’s always fightin’ it, and dodgin’ it, but right now, it's like the hole is covered with glass. It’s still there but it's not. Hell, this is nuts, it must be the painkillers Nathan keeps shoving down me. It’s makin’ me fanciful."

"Sure it is Vin. Get some sleep. We got lots to do. And Stay off that leg."

"Yes Ma!" Buck threw Vin a birdie as he clicked off the lights.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Nathan opened the bedroom door carefully. "Chris?"

"I’m awake, Nathan."

Nathan entered the room carrying a tray. "It’s time to doctor your eyes."


Nathan set the tray down and sat down beside Chris. "How’s the head?"

"Seems a little better."

Chris just lay passively while Nathan took the bandages off. He washed gently each eyelid and prepared to put drops in Chris’ eyes. "Easy now. First one and then the other."

"Nathan, how long?"

"How long what Chris?"

"How long before I get my sight back?"

Nathan sat back, "We don’t know Chris. The combination of the burn and the concussion makes it hard to tell."

"I’m so tired of just laying around here forever. I…I don’t have any control over my life anymore. I hate this. I feel like I’m wrapped in cotton. Don’t think I don’t know you’re all up to something. You’re not fooling me. I know you too well."

"Getting a little paranoid are we?"

"Yeah, right! Where is every body?"

"Well, Buck’s taking care of the horses. Vin’s still asleep and the rest of the crowd is at work. Now, all finished. Want to get up and go to the living room?"

"Maybe later. Nathan?"



Nathan smiled, "You’re welcome boss. Chris seriously, give yourself some time you got a serious bump on the head and it’s gonna take more then a few days to get to feeling better."


7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Josiah, Ezra, JD and Vin sat silently at the table, Buck stood looking out the window. Case files were spread over the table along with evidence, and crime scene pictures. Each of the men sitting at the table felt a distinct unease.

Chris Larabee was a very private man. Sharing the details of his past was almost impossible. Having the intimate details of the murder of his wife and son examined again would be unbearable, if he knew. But he didn’t know. At the moment Chris Larabee was blissfully asleep in the bedroom thanks to the painkillers Nathan had given him after lunch. He remained oblivious to the activity under his roof. The one and only advantage to Chris being blind is it made it easier for the others to do what they deemed necessary to protect Chris.

Still looking out the window Buck asked, "JD. Phones?"

"All calls are going threw the van. There have been several unidentified calls but when one of us answers whoever it is hangs up. Not long enough to trace and they never say anything."


"I have been in contact with AD Travis, he has approved everything that we have requested. He also put us on special status and I’m to meet with some of the heads of the other teams this afternoon to appraise them on the status of our pending cases and of course this one.

Josiah looked up at Buck, "This isn’t just us. The whole department has taken this very personal and all have expressed their willingness to aid in any way they can."

Buck nodded. He’d seen it before.

"What else Josiah?"

"There is something new. There was a small package in the mail yesterday. It's been checked for finger prints etc."

Buck frowned. "And?"

Josiah set the small box on the table and pushed it toward Buck.

Puzzled he opened the small box. Buck slowly poured the contents into his hand, the gold chain hanging between his fingers. Buck paled "Dear God."

Alarmed JD started to get up. Bucks horrified gaze stopped him.

"This was all?"

"Just the locket and chain. Silly question, but do you recognize it?"

Buck took several deep breaths "Yeah, it’s Sarah’s. We….we never could find it. Sarah wore it all the time. But she though she lost it a few days before she died." Buck stopped, and licked his dry lips. "There was a lock of Adam’s hair in it." He carefully opened it. There was nothing.

Josiah held up a small vile. "There were ashes in the locket. The lab is trying to see if they can tell what they were."

Buck rubbed his finger over the base relief design, "Chris bought this for Sarah when Adam was born. She wore it always. When Adam got his first haircut she took a lock of his hair and placed it inside."

"We looked and looked for it. Chris wanted it to be buried with her. When we couldn’t find it we just assumed she’d found it and was wearing it. That it was destroyed in the heat of the fire."

Buck gently placed the locket back into the box closing the lid and setting it on the table.

"I stopped by the office on my way out. There was another package this morning. The lab said they should be finished with it late this afternoon. I’ll pick it up on my way back."

Buck looked at JD, "ok, just be real careful. Keep it up boys, the bastard is bound to slip up and then we’ll have him."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Chris stumbled, hands out stretched, trying to find the kitchen. He was hungry and he’d kill for a cup of coffee. If only he could remember where the damn kitchen was. He walked slowly one hand brushing the wall lightly while the other felt through empty air for possible stumbling blocks. He reached the end where the hall opened into a room.

Chris stopped trying to decide where to go from there. Sniffing he thought he smelled coffee. He could hear no one, and wondered if they had all gone somewhere. If he could just get to the coffee his head would feel better.

He was about to take his first step into the room when a raspy voice came from his left.

"Goin’ some where Cowboy?"

Chris started. "Vin?"

"Yep, need somethin’?"


Vin watched Chris stand uncertainly as to where to go. "Ya got maybe six to eight steps straight ahead an’ ya’ll be by the counter starting into the kitchen. Once there turn right an’ follow the counter maybe four or five steps then at the corner is the coffee maker."

Chris mentally squared his shoulders and followed Vin’s directions. Surprisingly he made it and reaching up into the cabinet he found the mugs. With the other hand he found the coffee pot and carefully taking the pot he began to pour. Feeling the weigh of the mug grow he managed to stop before he spilled any. Chris sat the pot down turned and walked carefully toward the entrance.


"Here Cowboy. Four steps right turn left and a couple more steps and you're beside your chair…Now reach out on your right. There."

Vin watched as Chris carefully made his way to the front of the chair and sat. Chris took a sip of coffee.

"Well, at least you didn’t make it." He heard Vin snort. "Where is everybody."

Vin glanced out the window where the van was in plain sight. "Oh, they’re around at least Buck and Nathan are. The rest went to the office."

"Ummmm, I guess Buck the keeper had to stay and Nathan hangs around to torture us."

"Don’t let him hear you say that."

Chris smiled, "which one?"

Vin snorted again. "Either one. How’s the head?"

"A little better. It's not gonna fall off right now." Chris rubbed his thumb up around the rim of the mug. "Thanks."

"For what?"

"For letting me do it myself. For not jumping up and leading me around."

"Hell, Chris, can’t do much jumping with this knee."

"Smart assed Texan."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Buck was waiting when JD drove up. He walked out to the drive. "Well?"

JD took off his backpack and helmet. "It don’t make any sense. It was just like the other one except it’s a horse."


"It’s a horse! A brass horse about two inches high."

"You got it?"

"Yeah, here." JD handed the box to Buck. With trembling hands he opened it up. Inside was a small prancing brass horse. All the air seemed to go out of him. "Damn, damn! Damn!" He had the horse in his hand squeezing it.

JD watched with his mouth open until he saw blood dripping from between Bucks fingers. Reaching out he tried to unclench Bucks fist. "Buck, let go Buck! BUCK!"

Buck looked dazed at JD. "Huh?"

"Let go. Open your hand!"

Buck looked down at his clinched fist and slowly opened it. There were four tiny puncture marks on his palm, where the hoofs had cut into him. He just stood watching the blood weld up. "What the hell?"

"Yeah, that’s what I’d like to know."

Buck looked back up at JD, "I…..I’m sorry. I…." Very carefully as if the little horse were fine china Buck placed it in the box and handed the box to JD.


"Not now kid," Buck said as he walked back toward the house.

Josiah met JD at the door. "JD?"

"It’s the second package. It has a little toy horse in it."

"One would assume it was a favorite of Adam. If a pattern is to be detected." Ezra added sadly.

Buck went straight to the back bedroom. The one no one used. There on the book shelves in front of the books sat a small collection of toys. Little cars, a mini teddy bear and several small brass horses. The horses were arranged so that it was obvious that one was missing.

Buck ducked his head and leaned against the shelves. "He was here."

"Who?" JD asked.

"The Stalker. Adam had a set of seven horses, there’s only six here."

"Are you sure, perhaps one has just been misplaced." Ezra looked around for another explanation.

"No, you don’t understand. These were Adams’ favorites. No one touches them. Not even the cleaning lady."

Buck looked around at the others. "He was here. He’s laughing at us, telling us we can’t stop him."

"You don’t know that Brother."

"Josiah you’re the profiler you tell us. Go on work your magic."

Josiah sighed. "You know it doesn’t work that way for me. I’m not psychic but I will work my own brand of ‘magic’ if you like."

"Fine, mean while we gotta keep Chris safe, away from phones and the mail and" Buck sighed rubbing his face. "We gotta keep Chris in the present."

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Lunchtime came and went, case files were stashed away out of sight, the two small boxes hidden away in a hopefully safe place.

Chris sat in front of the window. Not that he could see much more then smeary colors in the bright outside light. Nothing looked right to him, and it wasn’t just his eyes. Nothing was in the right place. There was no traffic outside. There should be traffic he and Sarah had worried about it a bit because Adam was getting so big.

But there was no one to ask, no one around. After four days he was alone. Oh, no doubt Nathan was around somewhere and Vin he knew was outside with Buck. So many watchers, all watching him and keeping secrets, he could feel it.

He was thirsty. Perhaps he could get up and get him self a drink. That would be new. Chris carefully got out of the chair, carefully because for once his headache was just a dull throb. Almost manageable so he diffidently didn’t want to do anything to stir it up again. He stood orientating himself and then heading slowly toward the kitchen.

He fumbled along the counter top to the sink. Once there he reached up to his left to the cabinet where the glasses were. Fumbling for a glass his hand brushed something knocking it down.

"Shit!" Chris reached down squatting and feeling for what ever it was. His hand brushed across a small box, tipping it over he heard a rattle. "What?" Chris frowned. Picking up the box and standing looking for a brighter light he leaned toward the window over the sink. Opening the box he emptied the contents into his hand. Frowning he fingered the locket and chain. He ran his fingers over it, feeling the cut pattern in the gold.

His breath caught and his heart hammered, "No, no, Oh God! Sarah!!!" Chris fell to his knees holding the locket tightly to his chest rocking back and forth. "No, OH God!" Over and over Chris repeated this while flashes of the last four years bombarded him. The original bomb blending with the latest one, until Chris let out one last agonized howl, "Sarah!! VIN!!" and collapsed on the floor.

Vin ran for the house heedless to the pain in his side or knee. Something was wrong. Chris was in trouble.

Vin crashed threw the back door stumbling over Chris’ legs blocking the doorway.

He dropped down and reached out. "Chris?" He felt for a pulse and was relieved to find one. He tried to turn Chris over and when he did he saw the gold chain wrapped around Chris’ fist.

"Damn! Chris come on, please wake up. Chris?" Vin tapped Chris’ cheek.

After what seemed like hours but was only a minute or two Chris’ head rolled and he moaned. Then he gasped for breath, "Vin!"

"I’m here Cowboy.""

Chris reached up touching Vins arm then shoulder trying to force Vin into releasing him. "Don’t call me that. Sarah calls…..called me that. Let go. Get away from me," he growled.

"Come on Chris let me help you up." Vin tried to shift around so he could help lift him, but Chris feeling him shift pushed him away. "No, get away! Don’t need your help! Don’t want it!" He started reaching up for the top of the counter.


"No, stay away. I…I…"

Buck roared into the house. "What the hell?"

Chris was standing leaning on the counter. Buck brushed past Vin. "Chris?" He stopped right behind his friend.

With lightening speed Chris turned and swung at Buck connecting on the jaw knocking him back against Vin. "You Bastard. Where’d you get this?" He demanded holding the locket up in his left hand.

"Chris, calm down."

"Where, Buck, it's Sarah’s locket the one…one we couldn’t find. Where’d it come from?" Chris glared, trying to see Buck clearly.

Buck rubbed his sore jaw. "It came in the mail two days ago. We haven’t told you ‘cause you haven’t been quite right in the head since the bomb. You wouldn’t have been able to handle it."

Chris looked around confused. "Two days? No it’s been years. I…" He squeezed his eyes closed, trying to remember. "Vin’s jeep….I got a phone call….Vin?"

"Here Cowboy."

"You ok?"

"More or less."

Chris’ head turned to the shadowy form he knew was Buck. With a strangled voice, "It was him Buck. OH GOD! He’s still alive." Saying that Chris collapsed.

Buck caught his friend and picking him up carried him to the bedroom. A worried Vin followed, limping, but ignoring the pain of each step.

As they passed the living room Vin headed toward the study. "Nathan." He shouted.

Nathan stuck his head out the door, "What?" But one glance at the sharpshooters face and he was moving past him and down the hall muttering "can’t leave you alone for a minute without something happening." He stopped at the door of the bedroom watching Buck carefully lay the unconscious Chris down.

"Ok, what happened?" He asked briskly as he walked over to the bed. Buck backed away as Nathan reached down to take Chris’ pulse.

Nathan sat quietly beside Chris counting beats while both Vin and Buck tried to explain what had happened. Nathan reached for Chris’ left hand seeing the gold chain and tried to open the fingers.

Chris fought him, clinching the precious locket even tighter. "NO!" His head tossing "NO!" His green eyes flew open. His right hand pulling back in a fist, "Leave it."

"Easy Chris it’s just me."


"Yeah? How you feeling?"

Tears welled up as green eyes searched in the dimness of the room. "Head hurts…I remember Nate. I remember it all." Chris offered his statement as a gift.

"I know, Buck and Vin told me."

Chris brought the locket to his lips. Closing his eyes causing the tears to run back into his hair.

Nathan patted his hand. "I’m gonna get you something for the headache." He got up leaving the mourning man.

Vin limped over taking Nathan’s place. Without saying a word Chris reached out and they clasped arms. I’m here Cowboy.

I know.

Buck watched the silent exchange and turned to go.


"Yeah Chris?"

"Don’t go. Sorry I slugged ya."

"Aw hell Stud. Ya hit like a girl when you’re sick."

"Thanks Buck." Thank you for sticking by me then and now. Thanks for being here. Thanks for taking care of business. Thanks for being my friend.

"Sure Chris." I’ve always been there. I always will be.

Vin smiled at the silent exchange.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

Chris Larabee was back. The briefing hummed along around the kitchen table as they discussed the case. Supper dishes and containers stacked in the sink. Coffee mugs around the table were half full.

JD looked uncomfortable. "Chris, another package came this morning?"

Everyone looked at JD. "Spill it kid."

JD sat the small box on the table with it’s content in sight.

Chris waited, "Ok is someone going to tell me what’s in the box?"

Vin snickered, "It’s a toy jeep. A burnt toy jeep."

"Damn he’s playing with us."

"Josiah what do we know."

Josiah took a breath. "He, or that could be she, is intelligent and resourceful. He’s dedicated and determined. Chris we don’t even know if this person was stalking you or if ‘he’ was stalking Sarah. Was he after her or did she get in the way? I know this is hard to hear, but it must be said. This person not only murdered your wife and child but he also set up a ‘classic’ stalker apartment with a plausible substitute as a stand in for him self.

"Then for reasons unknown our killer went underground. What brought ‘him’ back?

Why was Vin his first target when, sorry Buck, Buck would be the most logical choice? Buck being your oldest friend and all."

"And lastly who will ‘he’ go after next. It could be any one of us."

They sat quietly. Then Chris said. "Ok, those are the facts, or lack of them. What does your gut say."

"My gut is giving me hell. My gut says this guy got exactly who he wanted. The locket and horse say that. The set up apartment, the disappearing act. The call that warned you in time for you to get to Vin." Josiah observed. "My gut says he’ll come soon and he’ll come for Chris. He’s through playing games. The next time he strikes it’ll be the last."

Chris drummed his fingers on the table. "Ok, lets give him what he wants."

"NO!" Vin snapped.

"No way." Buck hissed.

"Are you crazy?" Nathan asked.

"No, I’m not crazy. But if we’re ever going to get this guy we’ve got to flush him out into the open."

"No. It’s too dangerous. You’re still suffering from the after effects of a serious concussion. You still can’t see worth a damn. No, nada," Nathan was the first to object.

Chris let their objection flow around him. He finally stood, "I’m going to bed, when you ladies get through arguing let me know." He walked away leaving them in a stunned silence.

7 7 7 7 7 7 7

JD put the phone down. "Josiah something is wrong. I’ve been trying to get a Buck or someone on the phone for almost 30 minutes, no luck, I’ve tried his, Vin’s, and Nate’s cell phone, and the land line and no luck."

Josiah whistled loudly "Lets go."

Ezra came out of the conference room. "Mr. Sanchez? I, Sir am not a dog you can whistle for:"

"No ones answering the phones Ezra." JD explained.

The three members of Team 7 rushed to the car. Josiah drove while JD called the Sheriff’s dept. "This is ATF Agent JD Dunne, we may have ATF agents down at Chris Larabee’s ranch. "

It took an eternal forty minutes for them to reach the road to Chris’ house. They pulled up in front and left the car with weapons drawn.

The front door was open as they carefully approached the porch Nathan’s body came into view. Laying face down with the red feathers of a dart sticking out of his back. Josiah bent down feeling for a pulse and nodded to the others who had positioned themselves on either side of the door. Ezra looked at JD and nodded.

JD turned and went inside low sweeping the room, "Clear." Walking further into the house he looked behind the couch and spotted Vin.

Vin was laying face down arm-outstretched the SIG lying beside it. JD seeing a dart in Vin’s shoulder placed fingers on his throat feeling for a pulse. He looked up and nodded at Ezra who was already on the phone.

Leaving JD with Vin, Ezra went through the rest of the house room by room. When he returned JD looked up. "Ez?’

"There is no sign of Mr. Larabee or Mr. Wilmington. They seem to have disappeared."

"Did you check the barn?"

"No, only the house."

"You stay with Vin, I’m going to the barn."

JD approached the small barn with care. Fearing he’d not find Buck as much as he feared finding him. Standing back to the wall JD peered around the corner. There lying face down was Buck, the now familiar dart sticking out of his back.

Sheriff’s deputies showed up just seconds before the ambulances. There was a flurry of activity as the darts were extracted and placed in evidence bags and the three men loaded into the ambulances.

Statements were given, and suddenly there was only Josiah, JD, and Ezra standing on the porch. The three looking very lonely indeed, JD looked at the other two, "Now What?

Ezra glanced around. "We must check the van of course and then to the hospital. Although I doubt there will be any thing usable left for us to find." Saying that he headed toward the surveillance van.

Josiah turned back to the house closing doors and making sure it was secure. It would be a long quite ride back to town and the hospital. The silence interrupted only by the terse conversation with A D Travis.


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