Sometimes the Past Comes Back to Haunt Us

by Kati

Part of the New Agent Series

Characters: Chris, Ella Gaines, OCs

I think every author had to write their own twist on the Chris Larabee, Ella Gaines plot. This is is my humble attempt at what might happen in the ATF Universe. This story can be read alone, but it might be a little confusing if you haven’t read The Right Choice


Comments are greatly appreciated.

Chris and Vin watched the sight in front of them intently, never before had they been so absorbed in anything. This was worse than any case they had ever been on. Sweat was pouring down the veteran agents’ backs.

Billy Travis stole the basketball, a quick glance at the clock told Chris that he had eight seconds to try and make up the one point deficit of his team. Billy raced down the court as the seconds ticked away. All of a sudden, two taller and much larger opponents got his way. Chris winced, thinking that was the game. All of a sudden the basketball zoomed through the boys’ legs. Billy’s teammate Mike Jones picked it up and shot. It bounced three times before finally landing through the net, just as the final buzzer went off. The gym erupted into large cheers as boys in red jerseys swarmed the court. A girl with a clipboard in her hands was right in the thick of it. She high-fived Mike and gave Billy a huge hug.

“You know Billy would run if anyone else tried to give him a hug,” Vin smiled. Chris nodded his head in agreement.

“Yeah, but Sidney could be his big sister or something. I don’t think those two could have hit if off better.”

The agents watched as Sidney lined up the boys to high five the losing team.

“I give her all the credit in the world, I don’t know if I would have the patience to handle a team of fifteen twelve year olds three times a week, especially boys. Wasn’t she on the swim team in high school?” Vin asked.

“Never played a game of basketball in her life,” Chris laughed, “No one else was willing to do it. The school was desperate when she volunteered.” The two men watched the scene on the court, as the boys sat in a semi-circle around the girl eating their after game snack of fruit snacks. Vin chuckled when he noticed that half the boys were taller than she was, and the rest soon would be. After about twenty minutes, the two walked up.

“Nice game Billy!” Vin grinned giving the kid a high five.

“Thanks Vin, but Mike made the shot,” he answered.

“Then nice assist, that’s the right word right?” Chris asked smiling.

“I think so,” Sidney answered.

“That pass under the legs was an interesting invention; I’ve never seen anything like that before," Vin said. Billy and Sidney exchanged smiles.

“We made it up before the game," Billy answered truthfully. Sidney grabbed him lightly around the neck.

“I told you to keep that secret or least say you saw the Globetrotters do it!”

Billy asked. Sidney let go of him.

“Never mind, Can we get out here? I’m starved," She said.

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Chris answered. “Where do you want to go champ?” He looked down at the kid.

“Inez’s,” he said immediately. “I want pizza!”

“Sounds like a good idea, who do you want to ride with Billy?” Billy thought for a moment. Billy was currently a houseguest at Chris’s ranch and was enjoying every second of the special treatment. It was funny that giving the thirteen year old rides had turned out to be a war between the agents.

“Well if I go with Sid, she’ll probably end up with a ticket, I’ll get there to late with you, and I might not make it there at all in Vin’s old hunk of junk”

“So what are you suggesting?” Chris asked raising an eyebrow.

“I think the future Michael Jordan is suggesting that he would rather ride to his victory dinner in class,” a voice from behind them answered. Ezra and Buck walked up from behind the bleachers.

“Were you guys here for the game?” Billy asked.

“Yup, court got down early, so we thought we’d come down here and catch the last ten minutes of the game,” Buck answered. “That was some pass kid!” He ruffled Billy’s hair.

“Thanks!” Billy answered. “Can we get pizza now? I’m starved!”

Ezra tossed his keys to the kid.

“I’ll see you out there. If you are really feeling up to it, you could bring the car around, good sir.”

“Race you,” Buck yelled and took off running. Billy was close on his heels.

“Make sure Billy calls his mom Ezra,” Chris said Ezra nodded his head.

“When is Mary supposed to get back from Miami? Vin asked.

“Not till the end of next week, her stupid boss wants her to cover the trial until the end of the week," Chris replied.

Mary Travis had just been promoted to top reporter at Channel five. She had been covering a trial of a serial killer in Florida.

“I bet she’s not too happy about it,” Sidney answered. “I know Billy misses her every time she goes away.”

“Yeah, don’t tell anybody, but Billy was crying for her last night.” Chris smiled. Ezra opened to door and held it open till all three of them filed out.

Buck was standing outside the door looking exasperated.

“Problems Buck?” Vin asked.

“Stupid kid locked me out!” he answered. Buck yanked hard on the car door. The door flung open. Buck landed hard on the ground. Billy burst out laughing from the front seat.

“See you guys there,” Sidney laughed as she got into her truck. “I am not hanging around for this”.

As Billy predicted, Sidney arrived at Inez’s first. She had to wait fifteen minutes for Ezra and Chris to show up. Vin was still nowhere in sight.

“He’ll be here eventually. Let’s go eat," Chris said. They all walked into the restaurant. Inez was there to greet them as they walked through the door.

“You are looking lovely today Inez,” Buck greeted.

“You say that every time you come in here Buck,” Inez answered rolling her eyes.

“How is espanol coming along senor Billy?” she asked.

“Muy bien, I got an A on my Spanish quiz today. Thanks for helping me study.” Inez smiled proudly.

“Where are Vin and the others?” she asked Chris.

“Nathan went with Rain to her cousin’s wedding, Josiah’s visiting his sister in Colorado Springs, and JD is spending the weekend with Casey in the mountains. Vin…”

“Had to change a tire," Vin answered as he walked into the restaurant. “Don’t even start," he answered the amused looks he received.

“You can sit down when you are ready. Your table is open. I am assuming you want the usual?” she asked.

Chris nodded his head.

“And a kitty cocktail for me please,” Billy added. Inez smiled as walked into the kitchen.”

Buck had picked up a newspaper and started skimming through it. His face paled slightly when he saw an article on the second page.

“We’ve got a problem Chris," he stated. Chris gave him a questioning look. Buck handed him the newspaper. Chris skimmed the article that his friend pointed to. His face paled even more than Buck’s. The two looked at each other with horror.

“Ah Billy what do you say we play a game of pool. You win I buy some ice cream. You loose, we watch a western tonight” Buck broke the silence with a fake smile on his face. Billy didn’t notice.

“You’re on!” The two walked towards the game room. Chris’s change in demeanor may have gone unnoticed by the thirteen-year-old, but not by the rest of his team.

“What’s up Chris?” Sidney asked, trying to reach around to see the article.

“Don’t read any of this shit, it's better if I tell you the whole story. Let’s sit down.”

Buck and Ezra exchanged confused looks as they followed their boss to their seats.

“Do you guys remember Ella Gaines?” Chris asked looking at Vin and Ezra. They both sifted nervously.

“The trial was just wrapping up when I became a member of the team. You were..umm.. a little hesitant to share the details," Ezra answered. Chris knew what the undercover agent was talking about. Ezra had asked about it one time and had nearly gotten his ass chewed off.

“Wasn’t she tried for your family’s murder?” Vin asked quietly.

“I thought that was never solved!” Sidney looked at the men across the table.

“It never was. Ella was arrested, but never convicted of it. There wasn’t enough evidence. She went to jail for fraud.”

“Perhaps you had best start at the beginning of the story Mr. Larabee. That might clear up some of our confusion.” Chris nodded his head. He wished he had told Inez to bring out their beverages early. He could really have used a drink right now.

“Ella Gaines was an old high school flame. We dated for about three years back in my hometown. I tried to break it off, before we graduated. She was talking about marriage and I wasn’t ready for that yet. Besides she was a little brain. Could have gone to Harvard if she had really wanted. Anyway, she followed me and Buck to the Academy I tried to get her leave peacefully. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. It got so bad, Buck had to threaten her. He never did like that girl. I guess she finally gave up. Then suddenly she dropped off the face of the earth. That was about the same time Sarah and I got married. I didn’t think much of it. I thought she had let go. Apparently I was wrong," He paused. He dropped his head into his hands.

“Six years later I was at the hospital identifying my wife and little boy’s bodies.” He reached for the glass that Inez had set down in the middle of his story. Sensing the somber mood of the table, the owner hadn’t stayed around long. The others wouldn’t have minded if she did, but Inez wouldn’t have felt comfortable Sidney waited till Chris had taken a swig of his whisky.

“So how did she end up on trial if there was no evidence?”

“You can thank Buck for that. We were still working at Homicide at that time. He combed the city for information. When he found our that Ella Gaines had checked in to a hotel, Buck had her in cuffs faster than you could say, “You’re under arrest, The trial took forever to get going. Buck and I were already forming Team Seven by the time the trial got started. Nobody tried to find any evidence after the trial started. That all died with Buck. It was only by chance that the idiot detective assigned to the case found out that Ella had been living under a complete alias since the last time I saw her. Guess that is a pretty big offense she ended up going to jail for twelve years. I felt safe for the last twelve years, but I know that peace isn’t going to last long.”

“Why not?” Vin asked. Chris dropped the newspaper on the table.

“Cause they released her yesterday," He answered quietly.

“Aren’t you counting the chickens before they hatched? She must have learned her lesson to stay away from you," Sidney said.

“You don’t know Ella Gaines Sid, that woman is obsessively scary. She’ll stop at nothing to control me.”

“Well we are not going her to that to you Mr. Larabee. She comes after you; she will have seven extremely disgruntled people to deal with," Ezra said firmly.

“Shouldn’t we try to nail her for the murder Chris, I mean now that she’s out of prison?” Vin asked. .

“No I want all of you stay as far away from this case as possible. You have no idea of what she is capable of.”

“As long as she stays away from you Chris, that bitch can live out her miserable life the way she sees fit.” Sidney stomped her foot.

Chris smiled. Sidney was right. There was no use counting the chickens before they hatched. As hard as he tried he could not get rid of the nagging feeling in the back of his head that told him something bad was about to happen.

+ + + + + + +

Ezra turned the TV off and got out of his leather armchair. He walked over to his couch and pulled a quilt off the top. He covered the sleeping girl. Sidney had fallen asleep halfway through the movie. She looked so comfortable. Ezra did not have the heart to wake her up.

Ezra had a report that had to be on Travis’s desk by Monday. As usual, he had procrastinated as long as possible. He had realized that he needed his partner’s opinion on the bust that morning. Sidney had volunteered to come over that night and finish the report, so they both could have the weekend free. Both were anticipating a weekend at Chris’s ranch. Sidney had already brought her golden retriever Riley over, much to Billy’s enjoyment.

With two brilliant minds working on the report, it had only taken a half an hour to finish. Ezra had suggested viewing a movie. Ezra knew Sidney had not fallen asleep out of boredom. At least he hoped not, he had always thought the girl was quite fond of old Bing Crosby movies. He knew that Sidney’s apartment was in the loudest part of Denver. She often came to work complaining about the noises in the streets during the nights. Ezra was glad that his home ten miles outside of the city served some purpose. He turned out the lights and walked up the stairs to his room.

Sidney pushed the heavy quilt off.

“Why is it so hot?” she wondered. She tried to go back to sleep, but the room was too bright. She rolled over and nearly screamed at what she saw. The wall connecting the living room and the kitchen was on fire. The flames were spreading rapidly. Sidney sprang of the couch and was rewarded with a fresh gulp of smoke. She started to cough. Remembering the fire safety she learned in Kindergarten, she dropped to her knees. The air was a little better but not much. Sidney had no idea where she was, and trying to navigate on the floor was nearly impossible. The flame caught onto a chair three feet away from the girl, she jumped out of the way, before she caught on fire. The fire was spreading across the room. There was only one way to escape. The fire hadn’t reached the stairwell yet. She crawled as fast as she could up the steps. Something hard hit her head. A picture landed in front of her. The nail had had melted. The picture was of a familiar face probably about twenty years ago on a very expensive bike.

“Ezra!” she screamed. Not caring about the smoke anymore, she got on her feet and ran all the rest of the steps. She had only been upstairs in Ezra’s new house once before. She knew she would never be able to find his room; She had to resort to calling out his name. She felt frantically across the walls for a doorway.

Finally, she heard a loud “What the hell?”

“Ezra?” she called again.

“Sidney, where are you?” he called back.

“I don’t know, somewhere near the top of the steps The flames are coming up the stairs," she cried.

“Listen to my voice okay? The only window up here is in my room. Just ignore the fire follow my voice….”

Sidney listened for her friend’s voice. Her hands were on the wall. The temperature kept rising as Sidney felt her skin start to burn. She wasn’t going to be able to keep going much longer.

She basically fell through Ezra’s doorway. She felt a strong pair of arms grab onto her. Ezra dragged the half-unconscious girl to the window. She had been in the deadly smoke longer then he had, and it was starting to show. Ezra had already broken the window with a crystal statue.

“We’re going to have to jump," he informed the girl. All Sidney could do was nod her head “On the count of three, one..two…three!” Ezra grabbed onto the girl as they both fell from the two-story building. Ezra’s fall was broken as he landed on the girl. He dragged her to a safe distance away from the fire and collapsed next to her.

“Thank you for breaking my fall, my dear,” he wheezed.

“Anytime,” she responded between coughs.

Neither of them had the energy to sit up as firefighters rushed past them. A familiar voice yelled, “Sidney, Ezra!” Both of them sat up when they heard that voice. Before they knew what happened, Buck and Chris were by their sides.

“Are you guys okay?” Buck asked, worry showing on every line of his face.

“I don’t think any life threatening injuries,” Ezra answered. “May I inquire to how you arrived so fast? I was not aware that any of you were telepathic.” Chris put his arm around Sidney, who leaned into it gratefully.

“Somebody called the fire in to 911. Mike Borg son recognized the address and called me as soon as he could.”

“Mike’s here?” Sidney asked.

“Yeah, I’m glad to see I don’t have to go in there and drag your asses out of there.” A tall, dark man was hovering over Buck. Captain Mike Borgson was an old friend of Chris’s.

“What happened in there? That’s one hell of a blaze.”

“I woke up on the couch and saw flames on the wall, I climbed up the stairs, and woke up Ezra, and then we jumped out of the window," Sidney answered.

“A very abbreviated version, yes,” Ezra couldn’t help, but smile.

“Captain, we need your help!” a voice called

“You guys don’t look like your hurt, but I want you checked out, The ambulance just pulled up,” Mike ordered before rushing off to the burning building. The four watched the house burn.

“I’m sorry Ezra,” Sidney said quietly.

“It’s only a pile of well constructed wood, Ms. Marks. I don’t have anything worth saving in there. I would have been extremely upset if something had happened to you on the other hand.”

Chris pulled out his cell phone.

“Who are you calling?” Sidney asked.

“Vin and Billy,” he answered “I didn’t want Billy here in case you were..” He didn’t need to finish his sentence.

None of them wanted to think about what might have happened if Sidney hadn’t woken up when she did

+ + + + + + +

“Sidney, will you sit still!” Buck said. “The doctor said you weren’t supposed to put any weight on your ankle! That sprain could turn into a break without much effort.” Buck was sitting with Sidney in a Denver Mercy hospital room. Chris was with Ezra in the next room. Neither of the agents had suffered any serious injuries except Sidney’s sprained ankle. They did both have a few third-degree burns, but the doctor had decided the best place for the victims would be with their friends.

“That’s what they made crutches for Buck! If JD can manage them, I can too.” Before Buck had a chance to react, Sidney had grabbed the crutches from the side of the bed, and hopped up on them. She didn’t expect the pain that radiated from her hands or the dead weight of her exhausted body. Buck caught her in his arms, before she hit the ground.

“JD had two working hands after he fell off his bike. You jumped off the top floor of a burning building. I think he had a little bit of an advantage. Even then, he was still tripping over everything for two weeks.

Buck set the girl down in the awaiting wheelchair. The nurses had given him permission the wheel the girl outside, thanks to his charming persuasion skills. Buck almost ran into Chris, who was pushing Ezra out of the hallway.

“I am never staying in a room with them again!’ Buck and Chris said at the same time.

“Nice to know we’re esteemed,” Ezra grumbled.

“Maybe if you stopped using such big words and pissing of the doctors, I would be a little nicer” Chris shot back trying to hide the smile on his face...

The banter between the agents continued as they walked down the hallways. The nurses shook their heads and smiled. Another night with the magnificent seven was over. Now things could get back to normal.

Chris went to the front desk to sign his agents’ papers. An older looking nurse smiled when she saw Chris. She had already pulled out Ezra and Sidney’s files. Sidney had only been there a few short months and her file was already three times as big as the normal patient.

“Heading home, Mr. Larabee?” the nurse asked. Chris nodded his head.

“I think they would tear this hospital apart if we left them here over night, Loraine.”

“Just so you know, I wrote a proposal to the board of directors that asked for new wing just to build for Team Seven. It would have extra large rooms with seven comfortable chairs, and an extra bed or too. There would be showers and enormously large coffee makers.” Loraine was a favorite nurse of the team. She was cocky, witty, immune to Buck’s charms, and one hell of a good nurse.

“It’s a good thought,” Chris chuckled as he handed the nurse back her pen.

“Take good care of them Mr. Larabee,”

“We always do, they won’t be doing anything for a while.”

“Yeah right, he’ll tie us to a chair, and tell us tell us it’s for our own good,” Sidney yelled. People in the waiting room turned their heads. Buck quickly wheeled the girl outside before she could create an even bigger scene.

“Could you do anything else to embarrass us, squirt?” Buck asked, “Wait, forget I asked that, I already know the answer.”

“Watch them, I’ll bring the truck around,” Chris told Buck. He walked around the hospital building,” Ezra glanced at Sidney, and they both smiled evilly. Buck noticed the look.

“Don’t you even think about it..,” he started to say, but Sidney and Ezra were already sprinting across the parking lot in their wheelchairs.

Chris was laughing at the scene in front of him; Buck was trying desperately to catch them. He was amazed at the smiles on Sidney and Ezra’s faces. Other then the bandages, you would never be able to tell that they had almost been burned to death, six hours before.

:”Some babysitter you make," Chris told Buck.

“I’d like to see you try to catch them!” Buck snorted. Chris laid on the horn.

“Get in the truck now!” he roared. Ezra and Sidney wheeled their transportation over to the truck.

“You cheat,” Buck grumbled.

Twenty minutes later, Chris pulled his truck into the ranch’s driveway. He saw JD and Josiah’s vehicles were already there.

“I guess news spreads around here like a wildfire,” Chris turned around,

“Sorry Ezra,”

“No offense taken Mr. Larabee," he said quietly. Chris got out of the truck. “Do you need any help?” he asked Ezra. The events of the night had finally caught up with the man.

“I would be very thankful for a little help Mr. Larabee,” Ezra said weakly. His face was very pale. The day’s events had finally caught up with him. Chris was touched by Ezra’s statement; it was the last thing he would have expected. The cocky, self reliant Ezra Standish was actually asking for his help. Chris rushed around the front of the truck. Ezra put an arm around Chris. Buck was carrying Sidney.

“How long as she been out?” Chris asked.

“Five minutes outside of the hospital,” he answered. Chris’s front door opened. Vin, Billy, Josiah, JD, Casey, and a very anxious golden retriever came rushing out.

“You guys got here in a hurry,” Chris said to the three new arrivals.

“I left as soon as I got the call from Vin,” Josiah answered. He glanced at his two friends. He had trusted Vin, but seeing them in person was the only thing that would completely satisfy him.

“How fast were you going JD?” Buck glanced at the kid. “It’s at least a seven hour drive to the cabin you were staying at”

“Not when you’re going ninety-five the whole way home,” Buck turned to Casey.

“You are very brave or very stupid, young lady," he told her. Casey shrugged her shoulders.

“I’m sorry to have ruined your weekend,” a muffled voice said. Buck looked down at the bundle in his arms.

“I thought you were sleeping!”

“You expect me to sleep through all this racket?” she asked.

“Don’t worry about it Sid, we weren’t having that much fun anyway,” JD said, Casey nodded her head in agreement.

Riley barked,

“Don’t forget us little people down here,” Billy said impatiently. “I made a bed for you on the couch Sidney. Chris said you hurt you ankle and I didn’t want you to have to climb the steps.” Buck got down on his knees so Sidney could comfort her dog,

“I’m okay Riley, really," she said. She looked up at Billy, “Thanks Billy," she yawned.

“Alright Missy, it’s time for you to go back to sleep, the doctor said that’s the best thing for you right now,” Buck ordered, “Both of you," he said to Ezra. Ezra gave a mock salute.

“Aye, Aye captain," he answered tiredly. They all started to make their way back to the house.

“Nathan is catching the soonest flight from Detroit, he should be hear early tomorrow morning," Josiah told Chris.

“Will you be spending the night Casey? You can have the room Sidney usually sleeps in. I know you don’t have a car here or anything,”

“If it’s not too much of a problem,” Casey answered.

Chris smiled at the twenty one-year-old. “You are never a problem, my dear. Maybe you can give Sidney a few pointers about staying off my bad side,”

“I heard that,” Sidney called from her spot on the couch. Billy had piled up blankets and pillows to make a comfortable space on the couch for his friend.

“It feels like I’m floating on a cloud," she said.

“Well Chris always likes lots of cushions when he gets hurt," Billy told her.

“Yeah, but my bones aren’t old and rickety yet," she answered.

“You are lucky you could get away with murder right now, young lady.” Chris' voice was hard, but his eyes were smiling.

“Does that I mean I can tell everyone how you locked yourself in the office closet on Tuesday." She smiled. She shut her mouth when Chris gave her the look.

“Do tell us how that happened Mr. Larabee,” Ezra asked

“I’m never trusting you again,” Chris said to Sidney.

“What are you talking about? I’m the one that let you out, before the others got to the office…”

“As entertaining as this story probably is, I think it’s time we all went to bed,” Josiah chucked.

Billy yawned, “Oh man, I’m not that tired”

Chris laughed, “Of course your not.” He turned to Sidney. “Are you going to be alright down here.” His voice was serous.

“Yup," she answered

“If you need one of us for anything…”

“I know how to wake you up," she answered. She rolled over.

Everyone else went to the rooms that they had claimed as their own. Vin helped Ezra to his room. Both of their rooms were on the bottom floor.

“Can I ask you something Chris?” The two agents were the end of the long train that went up the steps.

“What is it, kid?”

“Did you know what started the fire? I mean it probably was just an accident, but Ezra’s bound to have lots of enemies isn’t he?”

“Yeah I’m sure he does JD, I’m not going to worry about it anymore tonight, but I don’t think somebody who wanted revenge on Ezra started the fire.”

+ + + + + + +

Vin opened his eyes. There was a loud noise coming from the living room. He was out of the bed in an instant. The only thought on his mind was getting to Sidney. He grabbed his gun and rushed through the kitchen in record time.

The surprise was evident on his face when he saw Nathan wrapping bandages around the girl’s hands.

“Hey Vin, you planning on shooting something?” she asked. Vin hadn’t realized he was still aiming his gun. He lowered it quickly.

“When did you get here Nathan?” Vin asked.

“Around 4:30, I walked into the door to see Sidney watching country music videos.” He smiled as he wrapped the final piece of gauze around the girl’s hand.

“You were supposed to be sleeping,” Vin scolded.

“I tried, but my hands started to burn really bad.”

“It’s no wonder, your lucky you got to the doctor when you did, and your fingers have fallen off in a matter of minutes.”

“Now you’re just trying to scare me, My fingers wouldn’t have fallen off," she said hesitantly, looking to Nathan for some kind of reassurance that her extremities would stay firmly placed to her hand.

“If you don’t take care of those burns they still could." The medic smiled.

“Why didn’t you wake one of us up?” Vin asked.

‘I knew you guys were all tired, besides Kenny Chesney can take a girl’s mind off of everything,”

“That’s it guys, that’s the resolution to all our problems,” a voice said from the top of the steps. Buck walked down the steps groggily.

“When did you get back Nathan?” he asked.

“About two hours ago,” Nathan responded.

“I bet Rain wasn’t too happy about it,” Sidney said.

“She wanted to come back with me, but I wouldn’t let her, knowing that you guys were okay.”

“What’s the answer to all out problems, Buck?” Vin asked.

“Well you know how we decided that if we found Sidney a nice little boyfriend, she might actually live to see twenty-one years old?”

Vin nodded his head.

“Well all we need to do is set her up with Kenny Chesney on some little Caribbean Island and she’ll never come back to Denver”

“You’ll never find me a boyfriend, I’ll die an old maid,” Sidney answered.

“Or an old agent,” JD came walking down the steps. “Can you guys get a mental picture of that?” he asked.

“The most feared drug lords of the state running from a little old lady chasing them with gun drawn from her wheelchair,” Buck laughed.

‘I’d pay to see that,” JD trotted down the stairs, Chris and Josiah were close on his heels.

“You swear there was a party going on down here with the noises you were making,” Chris grumbled. He gently moved the girl’s leg so he had some room on the couch.

“Would you kindly keep the racket down in there, some people in this house do sleep at this ungodly hour,” a drawl called from the room below the steps.

“It’s almost seven o clock Ezra, perfect time to enjoy the day,” Vin called with an evil smile on his face.

“Making me leave this comfortable bed would be a grave mistake, Mr. Tanner,” Ezra answered.

“Morning guys,” Casey walked down the steps. Billy was behind her.

“Morning Casey, sleep good?” Chris asked.

“Like a rock, I probably would have slept longer, if the little runt here wouldn’t have woken me up,”

“It’s not my fault Buck left his stupid bowling ball in front of my room; you would have yelled too if you stubbed your toe!”

“Sorry kid,” Buck answered. The doorbell rang.

“What is with this house, does anybody know the meaning of arising at a semi-decent hour?” Ezra moaned. Chris got up and headed to the door wondering who would possibly at the door He looked through the peephole and immediately opened the door.

Mike was standing there with some files in his hands.

“I’m sorry to come so early Chris, I just thought...”

“Come on in, Don’t worry about it” Chris opened the door farther to give the firefighter room to enter. “Have a seat wherever you can find room.”

Mike looked around the room and chuckled. There were bodies in pajamas sprawled out across every piece of furniture in the room.

“Actually Chris, I wanted to talk to you guy about the fire last night." He glanced over at Billy. Casey got the hint.

“Hey Billy why don’t we go watch cartoons upstairs?” she suggested.

“I’m thirteen years old Casey, I don’t watch cartoons anymore. I’m not dumb guys, I know when you don’t want me around," he said standing up, “But I will kick your butt in Mario Cart," he said running up the stairs. Casey rolled her eyes and followed Billy up the stairs.

“Well look who decided to join the world of the living,” Vin teased as Ezra walked into the living room.

“Not by choice let me assure you Mr. Tanner, I am quite alright Mr. Jackson, a couple of burns and bruises but nothing that requires your immediate attention.”

Sidney had told Nathan the extent of their injuries, but that didn’t prevent Nathan from giving Ezra a quick going over. The undercover agent passed the test.

“What can we help you with Mike?” Josiah asked, as Mike found his way over to an armchair. Mike glanced over at Ezra.

“Do you have any enemies Ezra, somebody who could be out to get you?” the sergeant asked.

“Would you like me to make a list Sargent, if I recite them from memory we could be here for a while. Why do you ask?”

Mike breathed in, not really wanting to say the reason he had come to Larabee’s home.

“The fire last night wasn’t an accident, we found two blow torches outside the source of the fire, there wasn’t any trace of who did it, and we fingerprinted the torches and found nothing.” He stopped, amazed at the reaction of the members of Team Seven. None of them looked surprised.

“I take none of you are that amazed by the news,” Mike said.

‘I think it’s something that we all hoped wasn’t the cause, but deep in our minds we knew that the fire wasn’t an accident,” Josiah answered quietly.

Mike picked up the files. “This is all the evidence that we have from the site, I already got you guys cleared for complete access to all the information that you could possibly want. Everyone knows to watch out for you,” Mike smiled. There was a long silence. Buck picked up the file and started scanning through it.

“Would you like to stay for breakfast Mike?” Chris asked.

“I would love to; expect I promised my girls I would take them down the horse auction. Molly’s old pony died last week," he paused and pulled two folded up pieces of paper out of his pocket and handed them to Ezra and Sidney. “I almost forgot, these are from Molly and Mandy. Both agents smiled when they saw “Get Well Soon,” written in rainbow colored markers.

“What’s this?” Buck picked up a file from the bottom of the stack. Sidney snatched it out of his hands.

“Geez, a little grabby today aren’t we?” Buck scolded.

“It has my name on it," She answered. “Is this the stuff I asked you to check up on for me?” she asked.

Mike nodded his head, “You know how hard that stuff was to find? I had to break a couple of rules to find that stuff for you.”

“Thanks, I owe you one," she answered. The others looked at Sidney expectantly, but she gave no sign of revealing what was in the folder.

“I better get going, give me a call if you need anything,” Mike said walking to the door.”

“Thanks Mike,” they all chorused. Vin got up as soon as the firefighter left.

“So who’s up for some waffles?” he asked.

+ + + + + + +

Sidney sat at her desk looking through the files that Mike had gotten for her. She was grateful the others hadn’t pushed to know what was in them.

They had all went for lunch after a long morning. Finding people that had a grudge against Ezra was easy; discovering which one of them did it was proving to be an even harder task. It had been an anonymous decision to take a break for a while. Sidney had said that her ankle was hurting her, and she wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere. It had been a good excuse, because the others hadn’t argued and they promised to bring her back some food and pain relievers.

Now here she was alone, sifting through information about her father’s murder. She had never given up hope that she would eventually find the guilty party. She had gotten a lucky break when she found out that Mike had worked in Boulder. He had been more than willing to help out the girl and had kept the information confidential.

So far, she hadn’t seen anything that she didn’t know. Sidney had seen the police reports before; she flipped right through the photographs of the crime scene. It had been hell going through the murder the first time; she didn’t need to relieve those memories. Her phone started to ring. She answered it wondering who would be calling her on a Saturday morning.

“Hello? This is Agent Marks speaking," She answered.

“Oh Sidney, it’s so nice to hear your voice” A woman’s voice answered. Sidney’s face went white. She knew that voice. It had been almost fifteen years since she had heard that voice, but it rang clear in her head.

“Mom?” she asked in a quiet disbelieving voice.

“Yes my darling, it is me. I am quite surprised that you remember me.”

Sidney almost dropped the phone.

“I’ve been searching for you a long time; I can hardly wait to see you again.” Sidney let the words settle in. Her feelings of surprise turned cold very hard,

:”I never said I wanted to see you again, you walked out on Dad and me, Do you even know what happened to him?”

“More then you know child, more than you know," she answered quietly

“What are you talking about?”

“I can tell you what happened to your father, Sidney,”


“I can’t discuss this over the phone, I need to meet with you personally,” Sidney let the worlds digest.

“Come on honey; meet with me for old time’s sake. You don’t have to stay long. I just want to tell you what really happened your father.”

Something in the back of Sidney’s mind was sending up red flags. “When do you want to meet?” she asked.

“How about right now? The women answered.

“I should wait and tell my boss, I’m leaving, Everyone will worry...”

“Can’t you leave a note honey, My flight is leaving in a few hours and I don’t have long.”

“I don’t have a vehicle here and I sprained my ankle last night.” Sidney was beginning to regret her decision

“I am right outside the building right now; we can drive anywhere you want.”

Sidney was backed into a corner. She had no way out.

“I’ll be down in a couple of minutes," she answered and hung up the phone. She scribbled a quick note on a piece of paper for her partners and grabbed her crutches. She hobbled to the elevator. Buck was right; the pieces of wood were hard to maneuver. There was a huge “Out of Order” sign on the door.

“Oh shit," she groaned.

“Could you use a hand Agent Marks?”

Sidney turned around to see a Cody Richards, the new agent from Team Three. Sidney would never admit it, especially to her partners but she was slightly attracted to the dark-haired twenty-one year old. She was finding it hard not to blush as she stared into his deep green eyes.

“This hunk of junk needed to be fixed for fifty years, and it decides to break down today of all days," she lamented.

“Would you like a hand down the steps?” he asked. Sidney gave him a quick look to see if he was being sincere. He passed the test.

“I would be eternally grateful." She smiled. Cody smiled too.

“Then I am free to offer the use of my arm my lady," he said with a bow. He took the crutches in his empty arm and led the girl to the steps.

“What are you doing here on a Saturday?” he asked. “Especially after what happened last night,”
“You heard about that?” she asked wincing as she placed her foot down on the first step.

“I am learning that news spreads fast around the ATF," he answered.

“We are trying to find out who would have it in for Ezra. What are you doing here?”

“As designated rookie of Team Three, I have been elected to the position of placing my lovely John Hancock on request forms.”

“Got stuck ordering new supplies? That sucks," she snorted.

“Tell me about it,” he answered. They had now reached the bottom of the steps. Sidney could see a red Porsche parked alongside the sidewalk. A woman waved.

“That your ride?” Cody asked. Sidney nodded her head; she didn’t want her facial expressions to show the feelings in her stomach.

“I’m alright from here," she told Cody. He handed her back her crutches. He started to walk back up to the door.

“See you around," he said. Sidney waved back. She took a deep sigh and headed towards the red car.