Mind Games

by Kati

Part of the New Agent Series

A cold breeze blew through the open window of the beat-up, rusty Jeep. Summer had finally lost its stronghold on the city and fall had arrived in the state of Denver. Vin closed the window when he saw his passenger shiver a little bit. He smiled. Sidney was sound asleep next to him. He had picked her and Nathan up at the airport about ten minutes ago.

"Didn't take long for her to drop did it?" Vin asked as he turned off the interstate.

"I'm surprised she lasted as long as she did," Nathan answered. "Those guys in Seattle had us working twenty four seven. I don't think either of us got more than four hours of sleep for the last two weeks."

"At least you caught those bastards," Vin answered, pulling alongside a pale blue condo, the residence of Buck, JD, and Sidney. Nathan nodded his head tiredly.

"We no longer have to worry about illegal shipments of firearms coming from Japan on the East Coast." Nathan answered. Vin put the truck into park. The rusted vehicle not only stopped moving, it stopped running all together.

"You piece of shit!" Vin swore whacking the dashboard with a fist, then withdrawing it in pain. Nathan just smiled and shook his head. "Don't you say a word Nathan. Chris already gives me enough crap for driving this around."

"Vin, I don't know why you're so attached to this thing. We may not make a whole lot of money, but it's defiantly enough to afford a more reliable set of wheels than this. I am sure you can find a new Jeep that...

"Don't tell you are embarrassed to ride around in this thing too? Ezra won't even stand with ten feet of it."

"I'm just concerned about your safety. How do you know that it won't clunk out on you in the middle of the freeway?"

"It hasn't yet and I don't expect it ever will," Vin answered. He leaned over and pushed Sidney gently on the shoulder.

"Hey Sid, wake up." Sidney opened her eyes and looked around tiredly.

"We home already?" she asked groggily. She squinted her eyes in an attempt to get them to adjust to the light..

"Yup, you fell asleep three minutes after we left," Nathan answered. Sidney took off her seatbelt and got out of the trunk. Still half asleep, she trudged to the back of the vehicle in a drunk like fashion. She opened up the hatch and pulled out her suitcase.

"You need help?" Vin called out the open window.

"I got it," Sidney answered, slamming the back door shut

"Have a good night," Vin called. "Chris says that we got at least the day off tomorrow. He said he'll stop to check on you tomorrow." Sidney nodded her head as she trudged to the door. Both men watched her fumble with her keys and disappear behind the closed door.

"You think she heard a word of that?" Nathan asked with a yawn.

"Hell no, that girl was still half asleep. I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't even make it to her apartment."

Vin turned the key in the ignition to restart the vehicle. Nathan cringed as the Jeep squealed loudly in protest. The side window flew open and Buck's head popped out.

"Knock it out Tanner, or I'll call the cops on you for obstruction of the peace. Normal people like to sleep at this hour."

"Shut up Bucklin," Vin answered. "Make yourself useful and make sure Sidney got inside without collapsing on the steps."

:"Think I might go do just that. Congratulations Nathan. Have a good day off tomorrow." Buck said before sticking his head back in the window. After three more attempts, Vin finally got the old truck to start. He eased off the curb and into the street. Right before Vin turned off the street, The Jeep backfired. The explosive sound waves bounced off the building walls and created a deafening echo.

"Buck did have a point about people trying to sleep Vin," Nathan said with a shake of his head..

"Hell, it's to quiet around here anyway. You should here what Purgatory's like at night . These people should feel blessed that the only sound they hear is a little backfire from a car."

The echo reached Buck's ears as he walked up the steps. He shook his head and smiled. He reached the top of the steps and knocked on Sidney's door.

"Hey Sid," he called, but the only response was the quiet bark of Riley, Sidney's faithful old golden retriever. Buck tried the door handle. He was not surprised that it opened. The dumb girl never locked her door. He chuckled at the sight when he walked in the living room. Sidney's suitcase had been thrown haphazardly in front of the door. Her jacket had been thrown over the armchair Sidney, she had collapsed on the couch. Buck strolled over the coach and pulled the afghan off the edge and covered her up.

He bent down to scratch Riley behind the ears, the dog had been pushing against his legs.

"Bet you're glad to have her home Mutt, aren't you?" Riley licked his hand.

"Yeah, so am I," Buck answered. "Good night Squirt," he said with a smile. He closed the door behind him, making sure the door was locked.

+ + + + + + +

The sun was shining brightly and the leaves were just beginning to turn. Sidney closed her eyes and let the warm fall sun beat down on her.

"This is the life, isn't it?" she asked her horse, Calypso. The little palomino bobbed his head up and down, as if agreeing with her. Sidney had woken up early, surprising early for how exhausted she had been. She had driven out to Chris's ranch and planned to spend all day out on his land with Calypso. Her stomach rumbled

"What do you say we head down to the stream for some lunch?" Sidney asked. Ezra had often chastised her for talking to an animal that couldn't respond, through she had forced him to eat his own words when she had caught him doing the same thing. She turned the horse down on of the less manicured side trails. She let the reins slip out her hands, confident in her horse's ability to get to the stream. Calypso knew the trail just as well as she did. She watched the squirrels dodge in and out of the colored leaves in their final search for the last acorns of the season.

Calypso whinnied and reared up, catching the girl totally off guard. She just managed to grab onto the reins before she was flung out of the saddle. The horse shook his head up and down agitatedly.

"Easy boy," she soothed, patting him on the neck. She looked around for what had spooked the horse. At first, she thought it had been one of the squirrels, but a quick glance told her otherwise. About ten feet ahead of her was the reason Calypso had shied. Sidney thought she was going to throw up.

"Holy shit," she said quietly and dismounted. She pulled her cell phone out of the saddlebag. Chris insisted that they carry one with them when any of them went riding alone, just in case. Sidney highly doubted that Chris planned the phone to be used like this. First she dialed 911.

"I need an emergency team our here right away. No, umm I don't think we need an ambulance. You probably want to get a forensics team out here as soon as possible though." She gave the dispatcher her location and ten called Chris. Her hands shook as she dialed the numbers.

"Larabee," the familiar gruff voice answered.

"Chris, we've got a problem," Sidney said.

"Sidney, its nine o clock. Ezra isn't even at work yet! You're still supposed to be sleeping!"

"Yeah, well things change. I'm thinking you might want to be at your ranch right now." Chris heard how distressed her voice was.

"What's wrong Sid?" he asked in a much different tone.

"Because there's a body hanging in a tree about a half mile away from the creek."

"Oh Hell," Chris swore quietly. "Are you okay?"

"As long as I don't turn and look at her," Sidney answered. "I already called the dispatcher. They send they would send a team over here in twenty minutes."

"We'll be there in fifteen" Chris answered. "Sidney, do you want me to stay on the line?"

"No, I'll be okay," she answered. "See you in a bit." She hung up the phone. Without looking at the body, she took Calypso's reigns and guided him back down the trial they had come. She tethered him to a tree branch. The big animal would only get in the way when the Forensics technicians arrived. There was nothing to do but wait. She just stood there, stroking Calypso's nose. She tried hard to calm her nerves and get rid of the bile that threatened to come out of her mouth.

Slow traffic caused Chris and the CSI team to arrive at the Larabee ranch at exactly the same time. Chris, Vin, Buck, and JD watched as three CSI employees piled out of their van. Jeff Norton and Kali Bridges walked over and immediately greeted Team Seven. Jeff was you're typical gangly lab genius stereotype. He had the black unruly hair to prove it, but he was a great guy. Kali was tall with an athletic build. Even with her blond hair pulled back in a bun and unflattering Bulky CSI commissioned coat, it was easy to tell that she was overwhelming attractive.

Vin and Kali shared a timid hello. Norton and the rest of Team Seven hid their smiles. None of them would say it out loud for fear of embarrassing Vin, but the attraction between the two was very obvious.

"Can we get this show on the road kids and do what the government is paying you for?" a gruff voice echoed in all their ears. Chris gritted his teeth. The voice belonged to the third technetium. As much as he liked Jeff and Kali, he hated Bryan McGinnis. The stocky white haired man headed the Denver forensic department and fallen victim to his power. Needless to say he wasn't very well liked by his employees or the people that had to work with him.

"Sure boss, Sidney Marks gave us the location of the body," Jeff answered.

"Then let's get down there and stop this girly chit-chat. Get in the truck." Chris opened his mouth to protest, but closed it.

"Is three a problem Chris?" Kali asked.

"That trail follows a ravine. There's really bad erosion on it. Driving along it is only to make the problem worse, but I understand that you guys got to get your equipment out there."

"We can carry it," Jeff offered. "None of the stuff is that heavy."

"Are you out of your mind Norton?" McGinnis asked dumbfounded. "We are not required to walk anywhere."

"Of course we're not required," Kali spat. "But we can show a little common decency. I'm going to walk over there.. How about you Jeff.?"

"It's a nice day and I could use the exercise" Jeff answered. "Looks like you stuck walking too Boss, on account that you don't have a valid driver's license." The members of Team Seven snickered. The story about a drunken McGinnis running into a parked fire truck had become a part of Denver law enforcement .legend.

:"I could have you fired for this insubordination," McGinnis growled.

"You've already tried that boss and it hasn't worked yet. I haven't had a complaint filed against me in a while. I could use the excitement."

Buck stifled a threatened laugh. There were only a few people that could talk to their boss like that and get away with it. Kali and Jeff were too valuable for the city to fire them. Any other city in the country would scoop up workers with their skills. Both of them knew it too and proceeded to give McGinnis as much crap as possible. The only other boss in the city who got more shit from his employees was Chris Larabee.

McGinnis growled and grabbed one of the equipment suitcases and sauntered down the trail. Kali and Jeff exchanged smirks.

"Hold up boss, we're coming," Jeff called. He and Kali grabbed similar suitcases and took off after him.

"Those two are something else," Buck said with a shake of his head. "Only they could get away with shit like that." JD had already started to follow the techies.

"Hold on a sec JD, I want to be behind them quite a bit," Chris answered.

"Not in a hurry to see a body huh?" Vin said.

"That and I think I would end up pushing McGinnis into the Ravine," Chris spat.

Sidney spotted her team and the Forensics team. She walked over to them.

"Where's the body?" McGinnis asked without a word of greeting.

"Down the trail about one hundred feet. She's hanging from a tree dangling right over the dirt path. Pretty hard to miss."

"How do you know it's a she? You didn't enter the crime scene area did you?" McGinnis asked in an accessory tone.

:"She was naked," Sidney answered, not willing to take any of his crap. "I am a cop McGinnis, I'm not stupid.."

"Let's go," McGinnis said ignoring Sidney's haughty remark. He started to walk down the path, snapping on a pair of gloves in the process.

"Are you okay Sidney?" Jeff asked. Sidney nodded her head.

"I will be," she answered. "Still have to get over the whole shock part though." Jeff gave her a sympathetic smile and patted her on the shoulder before following his boss.

"I suggest you guys stay back here unless we call for you or something," Kali said. "He's madder than a hornet right now , and there's now telling what he might do if you get close to his crime scene.

"We'll stay back here," Chris agreed, just holler if you need anything. Kali smiled in gratitude and disappeared down the trail.

"Why am I so shaken up?" Sidney asked. "I see dead bodies all the time It's not like this is nothing new."

"Maybe because the bodies you are used to seeing are of murderers and criminals," Buck answered. "I would freak out too, if I saw somebody hanging in a tree." Calypso started to snort and throw his head around anxiously. Buck reached out to sooth the anxious horse, and was rewarded with a bite to the hand.

"Damn it," he swore. "What is your problem you stupid horse?" The other agents laughed. Chris reached out and patted the horse. The animal instantly settled down under Chris's touch.

"I don't know what you did to him Buck, but he defiantly has it out for you." Chris said.

"I didn't do anything! That horse is the son of the devil, I swear!"

"Well at least Peso if off the hook," Vin said.

"I better take him back to the stable. This isn't the place for a horse right now." She untied the reigns from the branch.

"I'll take him back Sid. They will probably need to get a statement from you." JD took the reins from Sidney. "I'll make you some nice warm apple mash," he said to the horse. "You deserve it after what you saw today."

"The only thing that beast deserves is a ride down to hell," Buck growled. Calypso backed up, ended up stepping on Buck's left foot. Buck howled in pain. JD, fearing for the horse's safety quickly led Calypso back down the trail. The remaining agents enjoyed a good laugh at Buck's expense.

"It's not funny," Buck growled, but his threatening tone did nothing to curve their laughter. They only stopped when saw Kali walking down the trail.

"Any of you got a cell phone I could use?" she asked. Vin reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. Kali flipped it open

"It's roaming," she stated. "I don't want to pay for it."

"Don't worry about it," Vin answered with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Thanks Honey, I'll try not to make it very long." Kali dialed the number and walked a few feet off the trail. Vin blushed at the term of endearment, as Buck and Chris exchanged knowing smiles. Kali returned from her phone call and handed the phone back to Vin.

"Gus Morgan is on his way over here. He has to check out the crime scene." she stated.

:"Do you think this has anything to do with the Buffalo Killer?" Buck asked.

"I would bet a lot of money that this has everything to do with the Buffalo Killer," Kali answered.

"Buffalo Killer?" Sidney asked, confused.

"I forgot that you've been gone for two weeks," Buck answered. "You remember that University student who committed suicide right before you left?"

"The one that jumped off the roof of the Student Center? Yeah, I remember." Sidney answered.

"Well, there have been a few more unexplainable suicides. Why don't you explain more Kali, most of the stuff I've heard has been on the news and in the papers."

"What you heard on the news is pretty much all we know. Mary Travis is one hell of a good reporter," Kali said with a smile. "There have been five, well now, deaths. Morgan can't call these deaths homicides, because there' s no evidence saying they are anything, but suicides The Press is blaming the so called Buffalo Killer after the school mascot. The idea of a serial killer preying on young college girls makes good headlines."

"And what do you thing?" Sidney asked.

"It doesn't really matter what I think, but even McGinnis thinks there's something strange about these deaths."

"Sidney, Can I borrow you for a second?" Jeff's voice called.

"Coming," Sidney called and started to jog down the trail.

"Bridges!" McGinnis's voice echoed through the woods making all of them cringe. "I'm paying you to work a crime scene, not flirt. Let's get a move on."

"Yes, Oh fearless leader," she sighed and started to follow Sidney down the trial.

"Hey Kal, can I watch you guys work?" Vin asked. Recently, the sharpshooter had become very interested in forensic science. The science aspect was a very small reason.

"Sure, just make sure you stay out of McGinnis's way or he'll have my head on a silver platter." The two of them set off down the trail.

"Will he just ask her out on a date already?" Buck huffed. "We all know that's been dieing to do it for ages."

"You know Vin," Chris answered. "He'll do it when he's ready. Come on, Gus needs somebody to help him find the right trail."

"He'll be old and crippled by the time he gets around to it," Buck sighed, but let the conversation drop there.

"Kali, you're never going to believe what we just found!" Jeff bounded up to them like a giddy schoolboy.

"Just tell them before you wet your pants," McGinnis growled. "What is he doing here, we only need Marks."

"Relax; he'll stay out of the way. What did you find Jeff?"

"There are two sets of footprints, and only one of them matches the shoes the victim is wearing."

"Really?" Kali asked, her face lighting up. She followed her partner over to the marked indents.

"Do I act all stupid like that when we get a break on a case?" Sidney asked.

"Naw, you always stay cool and collected," Vin answered with a smile. Sidney was notorious for her natural, sometimes over exuberant, highs when she discovered something.

"Sidney, can you come here?" Jeff asked. Sidney ducked under the police tape, leaving Vin by himself. He caught his first glimpse of the body still hanging in the tree. He turned his head instantly, but forced himself to look again. Judging by the body, she was around the same age as Sidney. Her long red hair was blowing around her oval shape. A pair of lifeless blue eyes was staring into the distance. She was very pretty. She was wearing a flower print mini-shirt and jean jacket. The thought that this girl was somebody's little girl, best friend, and maybe girlfriend made him sick to his stomach.

"Whoever is doing this to you is one sick bastard," Vin sighed heavily, feeling the anger build up inside of him.

"I wouldn't call the victim a bastard," Kali answered walking back up over to him.

"What would you call him then?" Chris turned to look at her in surprise.

"Probably something a little more fitting to her gender," Kali answered.

"You mean it a woman?: Vin asked in utter shock.

"Judging by the shoe size, yes. That's why Jeff needs Sidney. He's trying to get an accurate shoe size. My feet are way too big to judge with. At least we can get one clue out of this scene."

"You know two things. The shoe size and that the victim came to this spot under her own power."

"We don't know about the second one," Kali answered.

"Mind if I take a look at the tracks,?" Vin asked.

"Be my guest, but I doubt you'll find anything else out." Kali sighed, handing him two rubber bands from her pocket. Vin just smirked as he put the rubber bands on his feet. He ducked under the yellow tape.

"What the hell do you think you're doing Tanner?" McGinnis growled..

"I'm just taking a look at the footprints," Vin called. "Maybe I can tell you something about 'em.

"What do you know about footprints/" McGinnis scoffed.

"He was freaking tracker in the Army McGinnis," Sidney answered. "And a damn good one too. I'll bet my month's salary that he can get more information from those tracks than you can gather from the entire crime scene."

"I'll hold you to that Tanner," McGinnis said before returning to his camera.

"You're getting worse than Ezra," Vin glared at Sidney. "Now I gotta find out something important in those tracks."

"You tracked terrorists over mountains and desserts Vin. I have complete faith that you can figure something out." Sidney answered, and moved to where Jeff and Kali were standing. Vin knelt down at the first track, tracing it with his fingers. He slowly got to work interpreting the information that the small footprint revealed to him. Vin was so completely absorbed the he didn't notice Chris, Vin and JD return. With the agents, was a broad shouldered, dark skinned middle aged man. He was dressed simply in a denim suit and a pair of Khaki pants. The laugh lines on the face reveled his usually pleasant disposition.

Gus Meeker was not smiling now. Meeker had taken the job of chief inspector for the city of Denver only a few months ago. He had replaced a man named Rotner. Meeker had never gotten the complete story, but the man's resignation had come shortly after a confrontation with Team Seven. He had heard about the exploits of Team Seven even down in Jackson, Mississippi. The ATF team was infamous for their off the cuff, borderline vigilante police work. He had been told to try and avoid them. Those who messed with Larabee and his team usually ended up on the wrong side of things.

Meeker had refused to let Larabee get to him. He was not going to end up like Rotner. He had never been more surprised than he had been when he had first watched Team Seven work for the first time. On the job they were like a well oiled machine. On his first bust with the team, he had witnessed the hardness and somewhat questionable legit action that he had heard so much about. Off the job and in the office, they were completely different. They were a group of fun loving, practical joke playing screw offs. It was easy to sense the bond that they all shared. What had surprised him even more was how quickly they had accepted him as an equal.

At first, they had kept their distance. The scene with the last inspector still fresh in all their minds. Larabee had told him later than he had expected the city to hire another power hungry jerk like Rotner. Once Larabee and the others realized that Meeker was a damn good cop and enjoyed a practical joke as much at they, he earned the respect of Team Seven. Meeker realized how rare this relationship was and he cherished it.

"Alright here's what I got," Vin said standing up. He nodded his head at Meeker in greeting. "Two people walked into this clearing form the east. They were drunk or high on something."

"How can you tell that?" McGinnis asked. Vin motioned for him to come over.

"See how these tracks are over the place? They ain't in a straight line. Sober people, even the clumsy ones walk in straight lines, even if they go a little diagonally. These tracks go in circles, zigzags, and everything else."

"You got anything else?" Jeff asked impressed, pulling out a small notebook and pen. "Well, I'm guessing that our murderer was left handed." Before McGinnis could open his mouth, Vin explained. "Look at how the left foot has a heavier imprint than the right. That means that she was left dominant. She relies more on her left side making her footprint easier."

"Hey I heard some guy from the Aspen search and rescue team saying how they used that technique to search for bodies," Kali said.

"People who are lost in the wood usually end up going in circles. The circles they make generally are in the direction of dominant side they are," Meeker explained. "Sorry Vin, I didn't mean to take away your fire."

"None taken," Vin answered. "How does a guy from Mississippi know about tracking in the snow?"

"I read a couple books about tracking when I was younger,:" Meeker answered,

"Tom Brown?" Vin asked.

"Yeah, I see you heard about him," Meeker smiled.

Heard about him?" Buck stated in disbelief. "I think Vin could kiss the dirt he walks on if he had the chance."

"I don't give a damn about this Brown fella. The crime scene ain't done yet and unless Agent Tanner has any other miraculous things he can tell us from a few footprints then I suggest we continue," McGinnis grumbled.

"One more thing, that might be kind of important," Vin said. "Chris, you haven't gotten a new pair of boots in a while have you?"

"Not since last year, why?" Chris answered.

"Then we got a third person at the crime scene," Vin answered.

"Vin, there's only two sets of footprints around the scene," Kali said.

"He wasn't in the crime scene," Vin answered. "Come over here." Everyone followed Vin to the left side of the yellow tape.

"See this track here? See how there's how this dug up ground around it? This means that something made the second girl stop suddenly. Something scared her. That's why I was looking outside the actual scene for a little while. I found this." He pushed a couple of bushes to the side to reveal a second set of tracks."

"Holy shit," Jeff swore.

"Vin, you're amazing, oh I could kiss you right now!" Kali complimented, and Vin blushed.

"Yup, that's my partner," Buck said proudly.

"That mean's nothing," McGinnis said. "Larabee tropes through here all the time, how do we know those ain't his tracks? Larabee come here and let's see your foot print. Chris sighed not wanting to argue. He walked down and stepped down next the footprint. He lifted up his foot. The two tracks were identical. Almost everyone sighed, except McGinnis.

"I told you," he said gleefully.

"It's the same track Vin," Chris sighed. "I was out here two days ago, looking at the apple trees." Vin just kept kneeling staring out into space.

"It was a good try Vin," Sidney encouraged.

"Yeah, I never would have figured out that something spooked one of the girls," JD continued.

"Hey Chris, remember when I asked you about getting new boots?" Vin asked.

"Yeah, what was that about?" Chris asked. "You know I rarely get new boots, because they're so damn uncomfortable."

"Exactly," Vin said triumphantly. "And why do they hurt so much.?"

"Cause I have to break them in," Chris answered. "I swear I walk around on my toes for two months, because the y hurt so much."

"You see something we don't, don't you Vin?" Buck stated. Vin shrugged his shoulders.

"Take a close look at these tracks. If I didn't look closer, I would have guessed the same thing you did. That these were Chris's tracks. But look at Chris's track. See how much deeper the imprint of the heel is than the toe. That's normally how people walk these days. Heel first, toe second. Now take a look at the original track. Look how much heavier the toe is than the one in Chris's track was. You interpret what you want from that." Vin said standing up, all the emotion from before disappearing.

"Vin, you're a freaking genius!" Buck exclaiming clamping him on the shoulder.

'I thought Tom Brown was the tracking guru, but I think that you might have him beat!' Meeker exclaimed.

"This time I will give you a kiss," Kali exclaimed and kissed him on the check. Vin blushed bright red, and everyone had to work hard to contain their laughter.

"I don't want to be burst everyone's bubble," Sidney broke in. "But we still don't know who these people are. We need to find out who that girl hanging in the tree is." The happiness bubble just about busted, as everyone crashed to earth. They still had an unsolved murder on their hands.

"For once Agent Marks, you are focused on the right thing. We will finish the crime scene investigation and bring the body to the morgue. The reports will be on your desk as soon as possible, Meeker. Right now I am ordering everyone out of my crime scene now!' McGinnis ordered. Everyone thought it best not to argue with him and moved down the trial out of McGinnis and the rest of his team's view.

"Where do plan to go from here?" JD asked Meeker.

"I don't know," Meeker sighed. I don't know what I would do without you Vin, at least now I can declare this case a homicide and get the green light to legally pursue it as such.

"Do you have a connection between the victims?" Sidney asked. "Isn't that the most important thing?"

"It is, but I can't find anything. Maybe this poor little lady will be able to tell me something," Gus said glancing down the trail. "It's pretty hard right now, what with the budget cuts and everything. I'm the only one working on this case, no on else in the department can be spared." Sidney glanced with a raised her eyebrows. Chris sighed and nodded his head.

"We could help you a little bit if you want," Sidney said.

"That's very gracious of you, but I think Travis would wring my neck if I took you away from your jobs."

"Hell Gus, we haven't had a decent case in a few weeks just a couple of puny little ring break-ups. We are all going stir crazy in the office. It's getting so bad that Buck's creating an account on e-harmony for all of us," JD answered.

"If you guys get the chance, I can use all the help I can get," Meeker said. He started to walk back down the trial. "I'll be in my office all day, go figure."

By this time, they had reached Chris's house. There was a blue van parked in the driveway with a pig yellow five painted on the side.

"Oh shit, I don't want to deal with the press right now. How did they find out about it so quick?" Meeker wondered aloud. A tall blond woman got out of the driver's seat. Meeker sighed heavily, "That explains it. I swear Mary Travis has a telepathic memory."

"I can't believe it," Mary said shaking her head walking up to them. "How come you always manage to find trouble Chris Larabee even when you're not looking for it?" She gave Chris a quick peck on the check. Nobody was quite sure about the relationship between these two. Not even Larabee's closest friends. Both of them has such strong personalities that they usually ended up arguing, but despite the arguing it was easy to see their was an attraction between the two.

"Hey guys," she smiled at the rest of the team. "I heard you got another suicide on your hands, Meeker."

"Now Ms. Travis, you know that I can't tell you that. I have no statement ready for the police yet," Gus scolded, but his tone was friendly.

"Notice I didn't bring a crew with me? I just want to know who she was and if you determined it was another suicide."

"Are you sure that none of this will end up on tomorrow's Good Morning Denver?" Meeker asked raising his eyebrows.

"I won't do anything until I have a statement from you or the department," Mary promised.

"We don't know who the victim is yet..."

"Victim? Then it wasn't a suicide!" Mary said triumphantly.

"It wasn't a suicide. Vin was able to determine that there were two other people at the crime scene, one male and one female."

I knew it," Mary exclaimed. "There was no way all those girls would kill themselves like that. This isn't her is it?" Mary asked pulling out a picture. They all looked at it. They had scene the face before, except this time she was sitting on the ground in Denver University courtyard. Mary correctly interpreted the looks the picture received.

"Her name is Karen Barton. She's a junior and a business major. She's been missing since this morning when her roommate filed a missing person's report."

"You sure you don't want to reconsider you career Mary, you'd make an excellent detective," Meeker complimented.

"These murders have really gotten to me," Mary said. "Listen, I have to and tape a segment for the five o clock news. Please let me know if I can be of any help"

"Sure thing Mary," Meeker answered. They all said their good-byes to the reporter before she got in t in the van and drove off.

"We'll meet you at your office?" Buck asked.

"Sure, I'll see you there in a little while. Looks like its going to be another long night." Chris noticed him playing with a pink flower in his pocket.

"What's that?" he asked.

"My little girl Jinni gave it to me this morning. She and my son Damon are growing their own indoor garden. I was going to pick them up from school in a half an hour and make my infamous Cajun chicken, but looks like I'm going to have to call my wife and cancel."

"When's the last time you had dinner with your family," Chris asked.

"God must have been a couple of weeks now. Either I'm at work or sleeping," Meeker answered. "But what can you do when you got a job like ours?"

"Go spend some time with your family Gus," Chris said.

"I wish I could Chris, but I've got a forensic report to read, a statement to prepare for the press, new evidence to interpret..."

"Nathan is a forensic liaison,, he can write down the important parts of the report for you. As far as the press goes, they can wait a couple of hours."

"What about the girl's parents? Somebody has to inform them about their daughter. I don't want to put that burden on your shoulders."

"You've already had to tell five sets of parents about their daughter's deaths Gus," Sidney answered. "I can handle it for once and give you a break." The inspector still looked a little hesitant.

"Go home Gus, before you burn yourself out," Chris demanded.

"I'd do what he says Gus, right now he's being nice. You don't want to see what happens if you don't listen to him," Vin said.

"You giving me an order, Larabee?" Meeker challenged.

Damn straight I am," Chris answered. "A worn out detective isn't going to be very good at finding a murderer."

"Well Larabee..." Meeker answered getting in the other man's face. "This is one order that I'll be damn happy to obey.

"With a wave of his hand, The inspector got into his car and drove away.

"So much for my day off," Sidney sighed. "Nathan isn't going to be happy about getting called back in either."

"I think he would be more pissed off, if we didn't call him," JD stated.

"Come on guys, let's get to work," Buck said. "Put you damn cell phone away Vin. What's so fascinating about it anyway?"

"Nothing," Vin said quickly, before flipping it shut. He was quick, but not quick enough. Chris had seen the text message that his sharpshooter had been looking at.

Hey Vin,

Give me a call sometime. Let's get a drink or something.


Chris just shook his head as followed his friends to the truck.

"Did you discover anything of interest Mr. Sanchez?" Ezra asked. It was almost ten o clock at night. Josiah and Ezra were the only ones left in the Meeker's office. There has been nothing more that the other agents could do so they had all went home. Sidney was still talking to the victim's parents.

The room that the agents were working in was large and covered in papers. Files on the murders were spread all over the room in organized chaos. A poster on the wall marked where the deaths had occurred. Josiah looked at the map and sighed.

"Nothing," he answered. "There has to be a connection somewhere!" he said, grabbing a new set of papers.

"Not necessarily," Ezra said. "You, a psychology man, should know that many serial killers commit random acts. We do have on, these girls are all university students"

"Let me rephrase that," Josiah answered. "I hope that there is a better connection than just students otherwise we are screwed.

"Screwed about what?" Sidney walked into the office. She plopped down in one of the plush chairs and put her head in her hands. "God, that was tough."

"Just finish talking to the parents?" Josiah asked. Sidney nodded her head.

"That girl had so much ahead of her. She wanted to be a doctor and work for Doctors Without Borders. Her boyfriend waiting until her birthday in a couple of weeks to propose to her....Times like this make me happy that I only have to deal with criminals. I don't think I could handle doing that all the time." Ezra patted her on the shoulder and pushed a plate of brownies towards her. She raised an eyebrow at him.

'Meeker's wife baked them for us," Ezra answered. "No Ms. Marks I did not bake them."

"Figure anything out?" Sidney asked, spitting out brownie crumbs.

"Sidney, that's disgusting," Ezra said disgusted, "Didn't you ever learn not to talk with your moth full?"

"People tried, but they weren't very successful. " she answered. "Hey Ezra, you got a stain on your shirt," Sidney exclaimed.

"Where?" Ezra cried, looking down at his shirt.

"Gottcha," Sidney giggled.

"Ms. Marks, I think that is the most childish thing I have ever seen you do,."

"Aww thanks Ezra, that's the best compliment you've ever given me," Sidney answered. Josiah just shook his head and continued looking at the victim's class schedule in front of him. She had had Psychology of the Mind every Tuesday and Thursday at eight thirty in the morning. Something seemed familiar about that class.

"Ezra, can you pass me those other class schedules?" Ezra passed over a stack of papers.

"Did you find something?" Ezra asked hopefully. Josiah quickly looked through the paper. Karen Barton was the only one who had the class this semester.

"No," Josiah answered disappointingly. "I thought I did but I guess not." Sidney walked over to the garbage can.

"There's a lot of paper in here," she said.

"Those are the girls' old class scheduled from all the years they were in college the university couldn't just give us a copy of this years." Sidney reached down and began picking up the papers.

"Ms. Marks, I assure you that there is plenty of paper for you spit wads in the office,' Ezra informed her.

"This paper can all be recycled," Sidney answered.

"Oh God, don't start with this environmentalist ploy again," Ezra sighed.

"Do you have any idea how many trees are needlessly cut down every year? If that stupid university could just figure out a way to print out one year's schedule, none of this would be necessary."

She glanced at the sheet of paper in her hand. "Come on, do we really care that Clara Gordon took Psychology of the mind three years ago?"

Josiah nearly flew out of his seat. "Sidney let me see that!" he exclaimed. She hesitantly handed him the sheet, a little taken back but his outburst. Clara, victim number two, had taken the class her freshmen year of school. "Sidney, can you hand me the rest of those papers?" Josiah asked. This was a long shot, but he had to try. He took the papers from Sidney and grabbed a pink highlighter. He began flipping through the schedules, highlighting what he wanted to see. Sidney and Ezra watched him throw papers around and mark others with looks of confusion on their faces. Finally Josiah finished the last page.

"There!" he exclaimed triumphantly. He threw the papers in front of Sidney and Ezra. "I think I found the connection we were looking for."

Ezra picked up the papers and held them so Sidney could see. The pink highlights marked the Psychology of the mind class. Each one of the girls had taken the class at some point during their college career.

"Josiah, you're amazing!" JD exclaimed the next morning as Meeker and Team Seven were gathered in the inspector's conference room. AD Travis had given his team clearance to help Meeker until they were assigned to another case. It was a Saturday, but none of them had even thought about taking a break.

"Actually if Sidney hadn't been collecting all the paper to recycle them, I never would have figured it out."

"Then thank God, Sidney has decided to become a hippie," Buck answered.

"Just because I want to protect the little environment that we have left doesn't mean that I'm a hippie," Sidney cried throwing her empty Styrofoam cup at his head.

"Now look at that Sidney, now you're littering," he scolded. "What would those PETA people think?"

"Buck, I swear ..." Sidney threatened.

"Watch out Buck or she'll start protesting outside your window." JD warned.

"I don't have to listen to this," Sidney said getting out of her sear.

"Sit down Sidney," Chris ordered. "Buck, JD, lay off."

"Thank you!" Sidney said, thankfully.

"There's about ten kilos of pot downstairs that some of the officers brought in form a local bust. I don't want you to get any bright ideas." Everyone in the office started to laugh. Sidney slummed in her seat in resignation.

"Can we please get back to the case?" she asked desperately and slummed in her chair. Only Ezra noticed the sad look in her eyes. He imagined that the case was getting to her more than the rest of them. After all, she was only a little if not the same age as the victims.

"Good idea," Meeker stated. "So all the girls were in the same class at one time. I already did some checking. All of their classes were taught by a man named Robert Carson. He's awfully young to be a professor, only twenty-eight years old."

"Does he have an MO?" Nathan asked.

"None that I could find, but he should still be our main suspect at this time. It's early in the game and I haven't had much time to dig anything up." Meeker's cell phone began to ring. "For crying out loud, I would have this damn case solved already, if people would just leave me alone! Hello?" he answered. "What?" You've got to be kidding me!" he sighed heavily. "Do you know who they were? Alright, I'll be down there in a second. Thanks. Jeff." He ended his call. The seasoned detective's face turned white and he stared out the window.

"Are you okay Gus?" Vin asked.

"There were two more murders last night." Gus answered. Cries and shouts of surprise echoed throughout the room. "One girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning and the other one was shot in the head."

"Jesus," Chris said, shaking his head. "Who is this sick bastard?"

"Both of them are apparent suicide techniques," Sidney said.

"I need to head down to the crime scenes. Nathan, I could sure use your help and maybe you can pull another Sherlock Homes on us Vin," Meeker said.

"I ain't Sherlock Homes." Vin answered getting up. "That guy always catches the crooks."

"We will get him, Vin." Buck answered.

"The rest of us will look over the forensic reports," Chris said. Vin, and Nathan walked out the door. Meeker grabbed a back marker and mad two more sports on the Denver map. He capped the marker and disappeared out the door. The remaining agents all gazed at the map for a few seconds.

"Do you think these killings happen in random locations or the killer is trying to form a shape?" JD asked.

"Right now, there is not enough information to assess," Ezra answered. "Let's hope we never do."

"Alright looking over these reports," Chris prompted. "The autopsies reveal a significant amount of alkaloid in each of girl's bloodstreams."

"Cocaine?" JD asked. "Where are you going with this?"

"Well, I have a theory, but it's a little far fetched."

"This whole escapade is far-fetched, Mr. Larabee." Ezra answered. "You're whole idea cannot be worse than the situation we're in right now.

"Looking over these files, all of these girls were intelligent and at the top of their classes.."

"Not to mention hot," JD added, then blushed. "Sorry Chris."
"No that's actually relevant here," Chris answered. "They were popular and most of them had serious boyfriends. None of them had any logical reason to use a drug."

"Maybe the pressures of college were too hard on them or all of their friends were doing it," JD suggested. "I've seen stranger things." Josiah stated.

"Possibly, but we all know Cocaine is a hallucinatory drug. What if they were convinced to kill themselves while under the influence?"

"You are talking about mind control?" Josiah answered. Chris shrugged his shoulders.

"This is your area of expertise Josiah; you tell us if this is possible." Chris said.

"Well, I think it is possible, but extremely difficult. Controlling a person's mind depends on how much the person want to be controlled. It doesn't take much to break out of Hypnosis, especially when one is asked to do perform dangerous or unknown tasks. Of course, taking a drug like cocaine could make the job a lot easier.

"This all a load of hogwash," Buck spat. :"All this mind control is a bunch of made up crap. Remember that fortune teller they had down at the police station. She didn't do a damn thing. People have proven that hypnosis is made up."

"That has been suggested too," Josiah acknowledged. I do think mind control theories are over rated, but there has to be some truth to them. You've been awfully quiet Sidney." Josiah switched gears when he saw Sidney staring out the window.

"What? I don't know Josiah," she answered. "Hey Chris, can I have a break for a little while? I'm starting to get a headache."

"Case getting to you?" Buck asked. Sidney nodded her head.

"You need to see a doctor or something?" Chris asked.

"No. I just need to run home and take something, maybe lay down for a little while."

"You've been on the go for the last few weeks Sid, take as long as you need," Chris answered. Sidney smiled and walked out of the room.

:"Wow, she must really be feeling bad if she walked out on a case like this," JD answered.

"She's exhausted kid," Buck answered.

"Well, you and I know when she is, but she never does," JD stated.

"Mr. Dunne defiantly had a point there," Ezra answered. "Out female partner doesn't know when to stop. In fact Cody was the only one she would ever totally listen too." Ezra finished. And his face turned pale. "Wait a second, what's the date today?"

"The third of October, why?" Chris answered.

"I don't suppose you would remember what day this is." Ezra stated. "They really didn't have a whole lot of time to plan everything out, but they decided on this day."

"Ezra, just spit out what you are talking about," Chris growled.

"Sidney and Cody were supposed to be getting married today," the undercover agent answered. An image of the attractive ATF image clouded his mind. Cody Richardson had been one hell of a good agent. He had captured countless criminals and the heart of his teammate. Cody had proposed to Sidney a few months after they had met. The two were perfect together and appeared to be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, Cody had been killed in a bust gone wrong. The reason he and the rest of his team were still sitting here was because of Cody Richardson. Sidney had recovered as well as one might have expected, but the pain was still there and probably would never completely go away.

"Shit, are you kidding me?" Buck asked

"I'm afraid not, actually Cody told me before we went inside the warehouse that night." Chris stood up.

"I better go get her," he stated.

"Please, allow me to handle this one. I don't suppose she even knows that Cody told me," Ezra stated calmly, but there was a pleading look in his eye. Chris hesitated, but nodded his head. Ezra smiled gratefully. He grabbed his jacket and walked out of the door.

"When he joined the team four years ago, I wouldn't have trusted him with something like this at all," Buck stated, "but now, I couldn't think of anyone better."

"I recon some of us knew that Ezra was hiding something all along," Josiah said, looking Chris. Chris smiled. There had been many times that people had questioned his hiring the wiry undercover agent, Hell, he had often questioned it himself, when he Ezra had abandoned them on his first mission. Yet, Chris had felt the need to give him a second chance. He had never been so glad of anything in his life.

He realized that he was not the one to talk to Sidney right now. The two of them had too much in common. Both of them had dealt with the loss of family members in the most horrible way possible. He would easily admit that he hadn't handled the death of his wife and son very well. Even now, there were days when all seemed hopeless. He expected Sidney was having one of those days right now. He knew the overbearing pain that she must feel sometimes. Not just over the death of her future husband, but also her father's horrible murder. John Marks has been a local cop, murdered in his bed by his psychopath ex wife, Breaking out of that darkness was not his expertise. Ezra, he knew would be a comforting and guiding force for his young agent.

"Back to this case," he stated. "How are we going to approach this professor?'

Ezra drove by Sidney's condo except there was no sign that anyone was anyone home. Ezra had a couple of where she might be. He drove past St. Tomas graveyard, but she wasn't there. Twenty minutes later, he pulled up to Chris's ranch. Sidney's red truck was parked in the driveway, but there were no signs of her. Still, Ezra was not disheartened; he had a pretty good idea about where to find his friend.

The horses in the pasture whinnied when Ezra got out of the car. His own thoroughbred Chaucer trotted along the fence post, trying to reach his master.

"Not now Boy," Ezra told him and started to walk down one of the many trails on the Larabee property.

It was actually a pleasant walk. The sun was shinning brightly and the air was in the pleasant lower seventies. The leaves were in full bloom of their fall colors. Everywhere Ezra looked, there were bright patches of red, yellow and orange. He stopped when he came to a large clearing. This spot looked like is belonged in a tourist brochure for Denver. The clearing opened to a grassy field with a spectacular view of the Rockies in the North. The grassy meadow ended at a medium sized creek. Huge cedar and oak trees covered the ground across the stream.

Ezra was so caught up in the fall beauty of the location he almost forgot why he was here. He quickly remembered when he saw his quarry, when he saw her sitting on a rock by the stream. He walked out of the trees into the meadow. Sidney was so absorbed in the water; she didn't hear Ezra walk up. The undercover agent stepped on a stick, causing it to make a large cracking sound.

The girl turned suddenly reaching for the gun Ezra found the barrel of her handgun pointed right at him. He put his hands up in the air.

"Guilty as charged," he answered. Sidney sighed and put her gun back in its hostler.

"You shouldn't sneak up on people like that Ez," she sighed. "Whet are you doing out here?"

"Needed a break just like you. Chris Larabee allocated me a small amount of time to clear my head and check up on you."

"Man is worse than a mother," Sidney grumbled.

"You know that he is just looking out for you," Ezra answered. "Mind if I sit down?" Sidney shrugged her shoulders. He assumed that it was a yes.

"Beautiful day isn't it?" he asked, looking down at the creek.

"Sure is," Sidney answered in a shaky voice. "Couldn't ask for a more prefect day."

"Yes, perfect for a wedding in fact." Ezra lifted up his head and turned to look at Sidney. Complete surprise was written all over her face.

"You know?" she asked. Ezra nodded his head.

"Cody told me that night what you two were planning. I agree completely that this would have been the prefect spot for you matrimonial engagement." The tears that Sidney has been fighting all day escaped with a vengeance.. In an uncharacteristic motion, Ezra wrapped his arms around the girl and pulled her close. He felt her warm wet tears stain his shoulder.

:"Life isn't fair Sidney. You and Cody should be here right now pledging your lives to each other. I should be sipping the finest champagne and toasting your good health, but some things were not to be. Just think of family's of those murdered girls. They will never get to see their little girls grow up and achieve their dreams. Just like yours, their worlds were shattered. I know that you've heard this before, but Cody wouldn't want to dwell on this, don't let it control your life. You've done an amazing job so far Sidney; don't let it destroy you now."

"It just gets so hard sometimes," Sidney answered. "Sometimes, it feels like my whole body is going to break in two."

"There are going to be tough days. Just like those days when you remember your father. When Cody's birthday rolls around, when you wake up and remember that he was killed on this date. Those days are going to be the hardest. I don't need to reiterate the fact that Cody wouldn't want you dwelling on his death. You're only twenty-one year's old Sidney. You've still got you're whole life in front of you." Ezra let her go and Sidney lifted up her head.

"Sometimes I wonder if what I'm doing is the right thing. If I'm really keeping their memories alive as much I could." Ezra grabbed her hand and squeezed it.

"Sidney, Cody and your father devoted their lives to protecting the public. You are continuing their dream of making the streets a safer place to live.. I couldn't think of a better way to keep them alive."

There was a long silence and Sidney turned her head to stare at the water. She fingered with the engagement ring that she wore around her neck. Ezra knew that she hadn't let Cody's life consume her. The engagement ring was worn in memory, but not on her finger. Sidney hadn't closed her off to a future love interest.

After a few minutes, Sidney looked up at Ezra and smiled.

I know one way that I can make them proud. Let's go catch Meeker's perverted SOB."

"Now that's the Agent Sidney Marks that I love," Ezra laughed. He got to his feet and offered Sidney a hand up. "Sidney, if you ever feel like this again. Please let me know. You've seen first hand what can happen to people who try to deal with this all alone." It was unnecessary for him to mention who he was talking about.

"I'll remember that," Sidney answered;. "Come on, let's get back to work."

"Nobody would be upset if you went home and rested for the rest of the day Sidney. God knows that you've been working hard enough for these last few weeks."

"Are you kidding me?" Sidney cried. "Not when there's a freaking murderer on the loose1"

"I knew that you would say that, and I believe working close to your friends is excellent therapy, just don't wear yourself out."

"I never do,:" Sidney smiled mischievously and started down the trial.

"Of course not," Ezra answered sarcastically. There would be tough days ahead for his friend, maybe even harder than today, but he hoped she realized that she had friends that would always help her thorough. If there was a case to work on, It would make it even better. He followed the girl down the trail.

"We could put twenty-four hour surveillance Robert Carson. Maybe we can catch his with some of his female psychology students," Nathan suggested. Team Seven and Meeker were working out a plan to catch the sketchy professor. The Crime scenes had revealed nothing. Fingerprints had been found on the gun that killed Beth Rodman, but they had belonged to her.

"Tapping his phone line might help too," Buck suggested. "Maybe he calls the girls to arrange meetings.

"What happens if he makes contact with them during classes or inside the building? We have no way to watch things like that." JD answered.

"We could place surveillance inside the school," Chris suggested.

"No, that won't look a little bit suspicious," Vin snorted. "We don't want to spook him Chris. We need to catch him in the act."

"We need to place someone on the inside. Someone who can get close to this professor without him suspecting," a voice said from the doorway. They all turned to see Ezra and Sidney walk into the room. Sidney took her seat next to Buck and didn't say anything. The others looked at her hesitantly, but she smiled.

"We talking about how we are going to catch this bastard?" she asked.

"Sidney, we're sorry,." Vin started, but Sidney held up her hand.

"Forget about it, I'm okay for the moment at least." Buck smiled and patted her on the shoulder.

"You couldn't get her to say home?" Chris growled in Ezra's ear when he sat down. Ezra held up his hands defensively.

"I did everything within my power to do what is best for her," Ezra answered. Chris rolled his eyes, knowing that Ezra hadn't even really tried, but by the look on Sidney's face, his friend had done what he had hoped.

"Thanks Ezra," Chris whispered. Ezra simply nodded his head and smiled.

"My pleasure," he answered quietly, and then returned to the numerous conversations that were happening at the table. It appeared like nobody had heard his and Chris's exchange.

"As I was saying," Ezra interrupted. "This is a definite undercover situation."

"Sorry Ezra, but I think you'd have a hard time meeting both of the requirements," Buck answered. "You're a little to old to pose as a college student and the other one, well..."

"Hell Buck, Ezra makes an excellent woman. Remember that time down on main street when he..."

"That will be quite enough, Mr. Tanner," Ezra interrupted. "I wasn't referring to myself."

"You mean Sidney, don't you," Meeker stated.

"I couldn't think of anybody better, of course this is your case, so you have the final decision on who you would like to send in."

"This is my say," Chris interrupted in a gruff voice. "And I'm not sending her into another job this soon. She hadn't been home from Seattle for two full days"

"Besides, we aren't even supposed to be working on this case. It really has nothing to do with what he are justified to do. We are supposed to be ATF agents, not detectives," Buck answered. "Travis had a hard enough time clearing us to be consultants on this case. I don't think he'd look too fondly on asking to send one of agents into a case like this. He won't want to risk her safely needlessly."

"Hello!" Sidney sat up in her chair. "I'm sitting right here and would appreciated if you treated me as such. Chris, I want to do this."

"No, not this time," Chris ordered. "Sorry Sid, but you're not up to this."

"Chris.." she started to sway.

"Sidney, I don't want to risk you're safety," Meeker stated. "But I agree with Ezra. We need to send a girl in there. I'll go and search around for an undercover cop to take this job. I'll be back in a little while. He got up and went to make some phone calls.

"And what happens if he can't find anyone?" Sidney asked angrily.

"That's not our worry Sid. He'll find someone. There's people out there hired of this kind of work." Chris answered.

"I need some coffee," she stated getting out of her chair. She pushed the char into the table with much more force than necessary.

"Wow Chris, You really got her pissed, Vin stated.

"I don't care. I'm not letting her do this. Not only is she tired, she can't mentally handle this right now, what with Cody and everything."

"Mr. Larabee, may I ask you a question?" Ezra asked, Chris turned to look at him.

"How do you manage to escape the days when your family's death seems unbearable? Well other than drowning yourself in alcoholic beverages." Ezra opened his mouth and closed it fast. He knew where Ezra was going with this and he refused to give into his game.

"This is different," he said defensively.

"Please inform me how," Ezra answered back. The rest of the table watched with interest at the mind games that were going on between the two agents.

'Fine, maybe this would make her forget about Cody, but that doesn't disprove that she's still too tired to go into the field again."

"What if we gave her a few days to rest before we put her in?" JD suggested. "The class doesn't happen on Tuesday. That's almost two and a half days for her to relax. That's enough time I think."

"Let's wait and see who Meeker finds," Chris stated, but everyone could see that he was quickly crumbling. Buck smiled. There was a time when Chris wouldn't have dared back down merely for his own pride's sake, but things had changed lately. He knew that Chris would never be the same man that he knew at the academy. Too much had happened to him, but the man that he had come to love so much was slowly remerging.

Meeker and Sidney returned to the conference room at the same time, fifteen minutes later.

:"Awfully long time to get coffee, don't you think?" Chris asked Sidney when she sat down in a huff. She deliberately ignored him. Chris sighed. Sometimes that girl was too stubborn and pigheaded for her own good.

"Did you find anyone, Gus?" Nathan asked, as Meeker sat back down. The inspector ran his hands through his hair.

'You would think that this damn case would take precedence over everything else, and give me the best. But no, there's just too much damn politics involved in that. The only one the city could provide Mcdoogle."

"The Beast from the Southside," Buck asked. This girl needs to be attractive and good at what she does. Mcdoogle doesn't have any of those qualifications." He thought of the twenty-five year old female detective. Mcdoogle fit the stereotype of overweight cops who sat and ate donuts all day. who had blown a case she was working on. She was supposed to be tailing a stalker for the mayor. The mayor had almost gotten shot, because she had overslept the morning one of his speeches. The only reason she still had a job, was because her uncle was chief of police.

"Tell me about it," Meeker groaned. "I might as well call the case now." Chris could see Sidney's face turning red as she clenched her fists. He also could feel the penetrating stares of his agents on him. This was his call, and he knew what he had to do despite his better judgment

"Do you want to do this Sidney?" he asked. Sidney looked up at him surprised. She nodded her head, not daring to say anything. Was she hearing right.?

"Do you promise to go home and rest? I mean really sleep for the next few days?" Sidney nodded her head.

"Meeker, Agent Marks had my permission to go undercover in this case, but on one condition."

"What is that?" Meeker asked, not daring to smile and change Chris's mind.

"My team continues to take a prominent role in this investigation and I reserve the right to pull her if the need arises."

"Agreed," Meeker answered. Ezra and Buck smiled across the table at each other.

"Well there you go Sidney, looks like you've got yourself another undercover job," Chris stated with a sigh. Sidney shot out of her chair and hugged Chris around the back of his neck.

"Thanks Chris," she cried. "I really need to do this." Not even Chris could contain his smile at the girl's youthful experience, but the smile quickly disappeared and he pried the girl's arms loose.

"Now you keep up you're end of the bargain. Go home now and rest. I don't want to see you emerge from your apartment until Monday afternoon."

"Yes sir," she answered, giving him a mock salute. She grabbed her jacket and walked out of the door.

"This still needs to be cleared by Travis. I can guarantee you that he isn't going to like this idea anymore than I do. Guess, I'll go talk to him right now," He turned to Ezra, "and you. Freud are coming with me." Ezra nodded his head and began to stand up, but Chris grabbed onto this hand.

"And if you ever think about messing with my mind like that again, I swear that I will shoot you," Chris growled in his menacing tone. Ezra didn't even flinch.

"I will remember that in the future Mr. Larabee," he answered.