Tell Me There's a Reason

by Heather M.

Part 7

"Hang on a minute, Ezra, I want everyone to hear this." Chris punched in the transfer to the speaker phone in the conference room.

Chris strode out his office, signaling to the men in the bullpen on his way through, to join him in the conference room. The urgency of the message understood, without explanation they hung up abruptly on their telephone conversations, rose quickly from their chairs and converged on the conference room.

Knowing they would follow immediately Chris hit the answering button, "Go ahead, Ezra."

"We believe we have found him." Ezra paused knowing they would need a moment to digest this information, "at least where he is presently residing."

No one said a word but anxious glances were exchanged around the room.

"The description of the resident, though somewhat vague, is consistent with that of our suspect. According to the landlord, the name on the lease agreement is John Beck. The signature has not yet been verified but it was enough to warrant an investigation of the residence. The next door neighbour tells us the lone occupant moved in three months ago, appears to work at night and keeps very much to himself."

"Good, Ezra."

"Have you been inside?" The urgent question came from Josiah.

"Not as yet. This same neighbour is retired and keeps a rather close watch on the neighbourhood as a whole. He tells us that we can expect Mr. Beck home from work at any time. We have set up surveillance rather then risk alerting the suspect to our presence."

"Keep us posted, Ezra."

"Most assuredly."

Chris hit the end button. They had all leaned in toward the speakerphone not wanting to miss anything Ezra had to report. Straightening now they exchanged furtive glances with one another.

Josiah leaned back against the wall arms crossed, chin down, lost in thought.

"Do you want to go?" asked Chris turning to the profiler.

"No need," replied Josiah giving his head a brief shake. "Ezra's more than capable of handling the situation."

"What's got you bugged then?" persisted Chris.

"Nothing... everything...." Josiah frowned. He brought an arm up swiftly and scratched the back of his head in a frustrated gesture. "I was so damn sure he was here in Denver." He sighed before looking up at the other men in the room. "Maybe I'm losing my touch."

"Maybe we just got lucky fer a change," drawled Vin.

"It'd be nice to have things fall into place for us just once," commented Buck.

"You're thinking maybe something's not right?" asked Nathan.

Josiah lips twitched into a grimace. "Maybe." Josiah couldn't shake the feeling that this was too easy. He had been sure Weller had been after him but then again maybe not. He was missing something here. Archangel Raphael, Patron Saint of the blind...

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

"Aaaaghh!" With a banshee cry Rosie leaped over the back of the couch landing squarely on JD's back. "I found you, I found you!" she crowed victoriously.

JD grunted and swayed with the sudden weight landing on his bruised back, "You found me alright!" He replied laughing as he rose from behind the couch with Rosie on his back."

"Giddy up horsey!" she ordered.

"Where to this time, my lady?"

"Mommy and Daddy's room."

Rosie broke into delighted laughter as JD twirled around with her on his back a couple of times before "galloping" into the kitchen, around the kitchen table and then back out through the living room into the hall. Ending the pony ride by flopping onto the bed in the bedroom where Del was working away at her accounts on the computer set up on the little desk in the far corner of the room. "Noooo... more horsey ride."

"Child, have respect for your uncle, he's not yours to order around," admonished her mother gently.

"It's okay, Del, how often to we get to play just the two of us?"

"JD, you're bruised and still limping, she doesn't have to be so rough."

"Oh, JD, I forgot," her eyes were big with concern, "Are you okay?"

"I am a little sore," admitted JD batting sad brown eyes at his niece.

"What would make you feel better?" she asked seriously." Her face was full of concern for her surrogate uncle.

"Well..." he bit his lip, "maybe..."

"Maybe what?" she asked leaning toward him anxious to help if she could.

"Maybe.... Playing... TICKLE MONSTER," he yelled swooping down to tickle her with both hands. Rosie screamed and rolled back and forth on the bed laughing and pleading with her uncle to stop.

"Where are you getting your energy from?" wondered Del as she watched the two on the bed. "You waited up for your father until he got home at two a.m. and then got up at six to have breakfast with him. You should be exhausted."

It wasn't long before the activity on the bed slowed. Taking a deep gulping breath she asked, "Mama, can I go to school now?"

Del exchanged a quick glance with JD before answering, "Maybe tomorrow, Rosie."

"But I'm bored," moaned the youngster with a dramatic sigh.

"Hey, Rosie, it's your turn to hide now."

Suddenly Beau, who had been nestled contentedly beside the desk watching the antics on the bed, was on his feet and growling.

They could hear the rest of the dogs out back, barking and howling.

"Cussed hounds," cursed Del, "probably another squirrel. I haven't been able to take the dogs out for run since this all started, they're as antsy as the dickens." Del started to get up from her chair.

"Hey, twiglet, how about you hide while I go see what's up with the dogs for your mom?"

"Okay, but take a long time cause I'm going to hide really good this time."

"You got it, but I bet I still find you!"

"How much do you want to bet!" The little girl's eyes lit up at the prospect of a wager.

"No betting," vetoed her mother firmly, "now go hide!" The little girl bounced happily out of the room. She would have to have a few words with Uncle Ezra mused Del grimly.

"Thanks, JD, day two and she's already a handful and I have to get at these accounts."

"Hey, no problem, Del." JD rolled off the bed. "We'll catch him soon, I just know it." He flashed her an encouraging smile on his way out of the room.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

It was a full hour before Ezra phoned back. Five men stood at the ready the moment the muted beeping of conference room speakerphone began.

Josiah leaned across the table and punched the "on" button. "What have you got Ezra."

"I regret to inform you that we do not, as yet, have the suspect in custody. I do not know how but he made us and ran. Myself, Mr. Osipenko and a number of the local FBI contingent, have made an unfortunate discovery in the basement at this address..."

Josiah made the leap. "How many bodies, Ezra?"

"Three... so far." Josiah's head dropped at Ezra's reply. A heavy silence filled the room before Ezra continued, "John Osipenko has no doubt this is Weller's handiwork, the appropriate teeth are missing.... Josiah, I'm truly sorry."

"Where is Weller now," asked Chris.

"At present he is barricaded inside a local mini-mart with an undetermined number of hostages. SWAT is on scene, it is only a matter of time. Bronwen Jones is on site to make the appropriate identification."

"Thanks, Ezra, keep in touch"

"Will do." The hum of the disconnected line filled the room before Nathan hit the off button.

"I guess that's it then." Buck was the first one to break the heavy silence. "Josiah, I wish we coulda caught him before..."

"So do I. Buck." Josiah dropped heavily into a chair. His voice was weary and heavy with defeat. Once again he had failed to find Weller in time and innocent young women had died.

"There was nothing you could have done that would have made a difference here." Nathan had always tried to provide perspective in the face of perceived failure.

Josiah acknowledged Nathan's attempt at comfort was a tiny nod of his head. "I know."

"Look, Josiah, we can take it from here... go home." The order came from the boss. Del and Rosie could do more for him right now than they could.

The head of grey curls nodded slowly in reply. He had failed, at least three more young women had died and this time he'd been faked right out of the picture. He stood slowly, moving like a man twice his age. His failure at being so thoroughly fooled by this madman weighed heavily on him. He had been blinded by his fear for his family.

"You okay, pard?"

"No, Vin, I'm not."

Josiah stood and looked straight at Chris, "I think maybe it's time I get out of this business. Like Nathan said, there was nothing I could have done to make a difference."

Chris opened his mouth to argue but then seemed to decide otherwise. He nodded stiffly, "I'd like to talk about it before you make a final decision." Chris didn't want Josiah making any decisions now, not when this failure was so fresh in his mind.

Josiah nodded again, he moved toward the door.

"You're going straight home... no stopping at the Stars 'n Bars? Right?" The last time Josiah had been too late to stop Weller; he'd ended up in a fistfight outside the bar.

"Yeah, Chris. Straight home. No stops."

"You want some company? I could drive you home," offered Nathan.

"No thanks, I'm fine to drive."

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

JD stepped out the back door to find the dogs milling around the dog run. They seemed to take no notice of him as he walked towards them. One by one they trotted around to the other side and back again, ears back, growling menacingly. JD watched as they repeated the exercise again and again.

"What could it be?" he wondered. The perimeter was lousy with FBI surveillance what could have the dogs so upset. "An animal maybe," he thought as he cautiously made his way around the dog run.

The foliage was so dense beyond the homestead property that JD didn't see them until he spoke.

"Get rid of the dogs!"

There, in amongst the trees, well back from the property line and the threat of the dogs, stood Jonathan Becks Weller.

The pack paced back and forth around JD growling at the two men standing stock-still. He could barely see Weller. Weller was shielding himself with the other man. Weller's arm wrapped his neck while holding a gun to his head. JD recognized other man as Sandy Williamson; the FBI surveillance agent assigned to watch him. Blood ran down the side of Sandy's face from a gash high on his forehead.

"Get rid of the dogs or he dies," repeated Weller, shoving the snout of the silencer hard into the side of Sandy's head.

JD glanced quickly at Sandy who winced at having the metal silencer jammed into his skull. Sandy didn't look good. He seemed barely able to stand and a little disoriented. JD didn't think Sandy would be much help to him.

JD nodded in response and backed away toward the dog run, whistling for the dogs as he went. He opened the cage door. Pointing, he ordered them inside. Reluctantly the dogs did as they were bidden, crossing the yard and entering into the dog run. All except Beau, he was still watching from his post at the kitchen screen door and couldn't see the threat on the other side of the dog run yet.

JD secured the gate and turned to look at Weller all the while glancing left and right, "Where the hell was the FBI?" he asked himself.

Now that the threat of the dogs was gone, Weller was making his way slowly forward with Williamson still in front of him. "Agent Dunne, good news, Jonathan Becks Weller has been captured." JD could hear the triumphant tone in his voice, "or at least he will be shortly."

JD's mind began to race. Weller had arranged a decoy somehow, probably in Kansas City so everyone's attention would be focused there. JD looked around again desperately seeking any sign of help.

"Oh, and as a result," sneered Weller. "Your FBI guards have been called off."

The rest of the team was occupied with a fake Weller and the FBI surveillance agents gone; it was up to him to get Rosie and Del out of this. He started backing up hoping Weller wouldn't notice and follow him out into the open where Beau would see him.

"Tell me, JD why don't you use the name John... nice name John, don't you think?"

JD didn't answer he just took another shuffling step backwards.

"Nothing to say, John?" the toothy grin gave JD the shivers. "Just like with the Nichols brothers eh?"

JD felt his stomach lurch. Josiah had been right! This creep was behind his kidnapping and beatings.

"Tell me, John how long will the dogs keep that noise up?"

The barking had been incessant. Del was probably so used to it she didn't even notice. Again JD took another step backwards.

"Stop right there! Not another step!" again he shoved the gun into Sandy Williamson's temple. Sandy winced as the action drew fresh blood.

"Answer me!"

"Pretty much steady as long as you two are here, you're strangers. Hounds don't like strangers." JD replied warily. He had to draw the man out around the cages, out into the open, so Beau could see him. Beau would alert Del.

The barking of the dogs slowed for a moment. They paced up and down the fence line growling as they watched Weller coming ever closer to their cage. Out of frustration the young blue tick, Chance leapt up onto the fence beside Weller. The unexpected action startled Weller. He turned his gun toward the dog. The impression of helplessness was gone in an instant as Sandy Williamson suddenly drove an elbow hard into Weller's ribs. Weller grunted against the blow. He kept his feet and tightened the arm around Sandy's neck and retaliated by driving the gun hard into the FBI agent's lower back.

JD managed to cover fifteen feet between them but with broken ribs and bruised hip he wasn't fast enough. He froze as Weller turned the gun toward him. Weller said nothing only smiled maliciously at him. JD's eyes dropped to Williamson. From the pain filled expression on Sandy's face and the ragged breathing he could tell Sandy was in real trouble now.

"Turn around, John," said Weller harshly.

"Was he going to kill me now?" thought JD desperately.

"I said turn around, John," repeated Weller, again pointing the gun back at Williamson's head.

JD raised his hand and turned slowly but not before he caught the look of alarm in Williamson's eyes. Too late he realized the danger. He heard Williamson's strangled warning cry of "Dun...!" punctuated by a quiet pop just before the world suddenly burst into a thousand bright lights.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

This computer was fighting her. She couldn't get into her stupid e-mail again! Maybe JD could...?

She looked up suddenly. Something was wrong. The tone of the barking and howling had changed. She was used to the barking and baying of the dogs and long ago had learned to recognize the differences in their howls. They weren't bored and barking at a squirrel now, there was an urgency to their tone. Something was wrong. She checked her watch: fifteen minutes since JD had gone out to check on the dogs. He hadn't returned, neither had Beau.

Damn! She'd become too preoccupied with the accounts.

Del rose quickly from her chair at the computer tucked away in the far corner of their bedroom, moving quickly and listening intently, she picked up the telephone receiver on Josiah's side of the bed and hit the speed dial number for his office number, no tone, nothing... no wonder the e-mail wasn't working, the line was dead. The landline was all they had: their home was situated in one of the "grey" areas where cell service didn't reach. Moving quickly she moved around the bed to scoop up Tess from the bedroom closet.

She didn't like this. She didn't like it at all. "Where is JD?" Then as icy fear gripped her heart as she wondered, "Where is Rosie?" "Slow down, Delancey," she counseled herself, "don't get yourself into a panic or you'll end up shooting someone you shouldn't... one of those useless as a pet raccoon FBI surveillance agents for instance."

She peered around the door jamb before moving cautiously into the hallway. With light steps she moved soundlessly down the hallway before stopping just outside Rosie's room. Leaning flat against the wall she could just see into bedroom. The bed that sat against the wall was unmade and held only Rosie's stuffed toys. Bringing the rifle up to her shoulder she leaned away from the wall and moved so she slowly panned the room. The bedside table, the bookshelf, the mobile of the sun and nine planets that made up the solar system hung from the ceiling, it was absolutely still, the Barbie dollhouse, then her closet, as usual the door stood wide open there was nothing unusual within.

Turning her attention now on the bathroom at the end of the hall Del worked her way past the bedroom. The door was slightly ajar; she watched it intently as she approached it and ever so cautiously she nudged the door open with her foot. Again nothing, the shower curtain was drawn back to reveal an empty bath tub, there was simply no place else to hide in the tiny boudoir.

The linen closet stood before her. Though it wouldn't hold a man, Del was suddenly reminded that more than once Rosie had hidden in the closet by tucking herself under the bottom shelf. Del slowly turned the door knob, she felt rather than heard the satisfying little click as the door unlatched itself. She swung the door open and grimaced as the bottom hinge squealed as it had always done. Nothing!

Where was she!

Del held Tess at the ready as she made her way stealthily back down the hall. She paused a moment to put her hand on the deadbolt on the door to the porch; it was too high for Rosie to undo but she confirmed that it was still securely latched.

She paused where she was stood very still, listening. She couldn't hear a thing above the dogs. Beau was in the kitchen. He wouldn't leave the house without her. He would be closer in the kitchen - she should be able to hear him above the din outside. Her back against the door to the porch and Tess at her shoulder she led with the barrel as she swept the living room. No one, and no place to hide except if you were six years old. Moving quickly through the room, she held the rifle upright and close to herself again as she inched her sight line around the doorjamb to the kitchen. She didn't like what she saw.

JD had left the bigger inside door open, and now the screen door was open as well, listing gently on its hinges. The nylon screening in the door wafted gently in the breeze as the screen door listed gently. The screening had been torn out. No. The ragged edges pointed outwards something had gone through the door from the kitchen out into the yard. Beau? From here she heard something else, a music-like chinging. She had heard the sound once before. A mountain cat had found its way into the yard one night. The dogs had tried in vain to jump the twelve foot high chain link fence to get at the animal. They could only jump up against it and fall back to the ground within the confines of the cage. It had been their bodies bouncing off the fence that made the chinging noise.

A half a dozen quick steps took her just far enough a cross the kitchen to see out of the door. From here she could see JD's dark head as he lay on the ground on the far side of the dog pen.

She fought the urge to run out the door to him. She knew he had to be hurt and bad.

He made no movement with the riot going on behind the fence directly beside him. Think, Del, she ordered herself. The threat, whoever it was, was outside. Rosie... precocious as she was, was not a disobedient child. Rosie was inside. Secure the house and wait for help. She didn't like that option. She much preferred to go after the threat rather than to wait for it to come to her at a time of its own choosing. But with her daughter's life at risk it was the wisest thing to do. What about JD? He would have to wait, she decided. In her priorities her child came first. She would make sure Rosie was safe and secure and then she would figure out a way to help JD.

She moved forward again. She was reaching out with her left hand to grab the big door so push it shut when she saw Beau. His limp form lay in the dirt, a dark pool of blood beside him.

The sight of Beau caused her to hesitate. She wasn't sure if she heard or felt the threat, only that she raised her eyes as the breeze swung the screen door toward her. That's when she saw his distorted reflection in the upper window of the door.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

"SONOVABITCH! What now?" roared Chris.

Nathan appeared at Chris's doorway. He read Nathan's lips rather than heard his voice over the constant ringing of the bell. "Bomb threat!"

"Shit just what we needed!" he cursed to himself.

Chris shot into the bullpen, bellowing, "Cell phones off! Everybody out!"

Nathan, Vin and Buck followed each other quickly out of the office heading toward the stairwell.

The last to leave, Chris looked down to see the light flashing on Josiah's desk phone. It was probably ringing as well but he couldn't hear it over the alarm bell. In any event the caller would have to wait.

For some reason he couldn't fathom, that minor decision nagged at Chris as he descended the stairwell.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

"Pick up! Pick up!" chanted Ezra desperately into his cell phone. "Damn it! One of you, pick up!"

"Any luck yet?" Bronwen's frightened eyes starred back at him.

"Not yet!"

John Osipenko appeared in the doorway. "Standish, Ops just received notification of a bomb threat in the AFT offices in Denver."

"Lovely," mused Ezra grimly. He realized that meant the building had been evacuated and cell phones had been turned off.

"How are we going to get a hold of them?" asked Bronwen.

"Local PD?" suggested Osipenko.

"That would take too much time, John," argued Bronwen.

Ezra's smiled suddenly and then started fingering the buttons on his cell phone, going through the entries in the directory. "I need a land line now!" he ordered.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

Instantly she moved to reset the rifle against her shoulder. He was quicker. He reached into the room just as she had both hands on the gun, and grabbed the barrel of the gun. Del, not ready to fire but not wanting to give up the gun, found herself dragged through the doorway. Bracing his body against the house he swung Del around by the rifle and flung her backwards toward the stairs. Feeling herself falling, Del instinctively let go of the rifle.

Weller had flung her with such force she sailed backwards over the steps to land hard on her back on the ground below.

Del had had the wind knocked out of her; looking up she saw Weller as he stood at the top of the steps gazing victoriously down at her. He took a step down and picked the Remington where it had fallen and threw with all his might. It landed in the tangle of cedars that ran down the side of the yard.

He made his way slowly down the steps taking each step deliberately one at a time; he had time to savour this first victory over Josiah Sanchez.

Del struggled up on one elbow as she fought to breathe. She looked up into his smug, smiling face. She had to get up she thought desperately. She had no chance against him on the ground. No matter what happened she wasn't about to make it easy for him. She rolled over onto all fours as he approached and tried to scramble to her feet. But still gasping for breath she was slow.

"What's your hurry, Jezebelle?" He raised his foot and placed it between her shoulder blades to push her down again, but Del had other plans. Feeling his foot on her back, she rolled back over grabbing his foot. She kept on rolling pulling him down on the ground beside her. Again she tried to regain her feet.

"I'll not be beaten by the likes of you, whore!" he bellowed grabbing her by the leg and pulling her down again. She kicked at him. He ducked out of the way of the foot. She kicked at him again. This time she was rewarded with a grunt of pain.

"Bitch," he hissed as he started crawling his way up on top of her. She braced a foot against the ground and pushed suddenly with all she had. She managed to roll them both over but he did not let go of her and rolled them both over again.

Her fists flew as she fought desperately to free herself. He caught her right wrist and grabbed for the other when he suddenly howled in pain.

Del was confused; she hadn't landed a blow that would hurt him that badly. She looked over to her left. Beau! Beau wasn't dead. He'd raised himself up just enough to sink his teeth into Weller's forearm. She caught the waves of agony that coursed through his eyes. He could not hold on, releasing Weller he fell back onto the ground.

Weller raised his good arm and drove his fist into Del's face. Instantly she went limp.

Breathing heavily, he rolled off of her. He lay on his back waiting for his breathing to return to normal. He had never expected her to be so physically strong. 'What else could I have expected?' he thought to himself. 'Josiah is a strong man. The devil would need a strong woman both physically and spiritually to sway him. I will help him see the light,' Weller assured himself. 'I will help my brother see the true form of the devil within this woman. Then together Josiah and I will smite this harlot.' He vowed to himself, 'and if she is so strong that Josiah cannot see her for the flawed unholy creature she is, then my brother Josiah, too will have to die.'

He stumbled his way to his feet. "Praised be Jehovah," he said out loud as he made his way up the steps and into the house.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

They stood a block away watching, waiting for the all clear. So far the bomb squad had found nothing. Nathan had found out that threat had been phoned-in. Since 9/11 nothing was left to chance any more.

The crowds had gathered; onlookers both curious and nervous. Chris was becoming more anxious with each passing minute. They weren't getting any closer to Weller standing on the sidewalk.

"Hey, Inez, what are you doing here?"

Chris turned to see Inez brush past Buck. She held out the cordless phone from the bar to him. "Senor Larabee, this call is for you."

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

The slender hand covered her mouth with bruising strength. He held her head in a vice-like grip back against his shoulder. The ragged sounds of his breathing filled her ear. Instinctively she clutched at his arm.

"Ah, ah, ahh," he cautioned as he pressed the flat of the blade into her throat.

"Oh, no, you don't!" Weller tightened his grip and shook her brutally. "Behave, Jezebelle, or it will be your daughter's life Josiah Sanchez trades for his."

She had no choice. She still didn't know where Rosie was, but she could only hope that Weller hadn't found her yet and that Rosie would stay wherever she was, hidden and safely out of the way. Dammit to hell, where was the FBI surveillance!

She had awoken to find herself lying on the kitchen floor. Her head ached fiercely. Her left eye felt swollen and she couldn't see out of it very well. Weller was leaning over her cleaning her face with the cold wet dishcloth. He had to make her presentable, he muttered to himself. He had to make Josiah Sanchez see how women disguise the evil within them. He had cleaned himself up. He smoothed his hair back into place and washed his own face. It wasn't without a small sense of satisfaction she noticed he had a split lip.

When he noticed she was awake he had dragged her to her feet. That's when, with surgical knife in hand, the "spiritual cleansing" of the Delancey Cowper Sanchez began.

His thin lips twisted into a malicious grin as she acquiesced, lowering her handcuffed arms slowly.

He lowered the knife to catch the threads of the top button of her shirt with the tip of the knife. With a sudden flick, the button flew through the air to land with a tick, tick, tick as the button skittered across the floor.

She felt rather than saw his smile broaden as her eyes widened as he placed the point of the knife under the threads of the next button. A second button followed the first.

He repeated this little ritual until all of her shirt buttons were scattered around the floor.

Using the knife he slowly drew the lapels of her shirt aside to reveal the white lace of her bra.

"Harlot's trappings." The whispered hiss was full of disdain.

Taking the knife he traced the upper swell of her right breast with the cold steel point. "Age has not dampened your powers over men, whore. But I...I alone have been granted the strength to resist your unholy attractions."

The knife moved to the valley between her breasts. Del couldn't help but jump at the sudden turn of the knife as the tip pierced her skin. He tightened his savage grasp on her mouth and slowly, oh so slowly, he drew the razor sharp point over the sensitive skin.

Del moaned mutely into the rough hand, her eyes darting left and right in quick succession against the agony of the incision. Tears gathered in her eyes and began to drip freely down her cheeks.

The ultra fine instrument drew a half moon curve up and over the creamy white flesh to outline the soft swell of her female form. Piercing the first two layers of her skin with surgical precision, blood droplets instantly beaded along the line.

"I really don't understand what it was that brother Sanchez sees in you. Let me be honest, harlot. You are plain of face, you wear the clothes of men and you are lame, not at all a fetching package you must admit. Yet you hold him in thrall, slave to your every ungodly whim." He spoke conversationally as she remained still, her teeth gritted and her eyes screwed tight shut against the agony.

She sagged against him boneless when he finally lifted the metal tip. Only then did she realize how tense her body had been under the assault. In the moment of relief he suddenly jerked her head sideways so her ear was pressed back against his shoulder.

She felt the knife point rest just below the dimple in her chin. Then drop below her chin. With a quick twist to pierce the skin again and as slowly as before he drew the knife along the underside of her jaw line. Eyes still closed she gritted her teeth but that only made the pain worse. She willed herself to relax her jaw. The tears of silent agony began to fall again.

The motion was still well controlled but he could not see what he was doing this time so the incision was deeper than before. Thread thin rivulets of blood began to trickle down her neck. As he approached the end of her jaw he drew the knife up and away from her neck to end at the junction of her earlobe. All the while he spoke, quoting scripture and saying prayers to Almighty. She heard none of it as she fought to control her reactions against the slow torture of the knife.

A second time the torture ended and she relaxed. He just stood there hold her against himself. After a moment she became aware of something poking her left butt cheek. She wanted to vomit; this monster was getting an erection from doing this to her.

The dogs heard it first, rising to their feet and baying a warning. She knew what had alerted the dogs before she heard it; the suburban. Josiah was home.

Part 8

Josiah had taken his time on the drive home. He needed time to reflect. He'd driven five miles under the speed limit, and, against Chris's express orders, had stopped for gas, had the oil checked, all to give himself time to think. A great weight seemed to lift from his shoulders at the thought that he didn't have to do this for a living anymore. Eighteen years of living inside the heads of killers, rapists and other assorted crazies. He'd done his part. It was time to gear back and enjoy life with his wife and daughter; Rosie'd be grown and gone before he knew it and he'd miss out if he wasn't careful. Yeah, retiring from profiling was definitely something to consider. Given his experience he could lecture or even take on a full time teaching job to bring home the bacon. The sedate lifestyle of an academic had a certain appeal right now.

He drew slowly to a stop beside the plain Chevy sedan sitting on the side of the road a few hundred feet from his driveway. It was an FBI surveillance vehicle and no one to be seen anywhere. 'Strange,' he thought to himself. He hadn't seen any other cars either. He hadn't expected to, since surveillance would have been called off once Weller had been captured and identified in Kansas City.

Then he remembered Sandy Williamson was the agent assigned to JD. Sandy and his wife Karen had been in the same pre-natal class as he and Del; the Williamsons' daughter had been born the day after Rosie. A really nice young couple, they were expecting their second child around Christmas. Sandy had been twenty-eight to Josiah's forty-eight at the time. The memory of the age difference was another jolt of reality reinforcing Josiah's thoughts, that it was time to quit profiling.

Josiah pressed the accelerator and eased the aging vehicle around the corner into the driveway. It was then that he was struck with the feeling that something was wrong. Even before suburban completed the turn into the driveway the dogs rushed the fence and began baying at him. It was not the usual greeting for the familiar suburban. They weren't usually inside the dog run, unless Del was away from the house, and he could see her pick up truck parked in its usual spot under the sycamore.

Josiah continued slowly up the driveway. At the halfway point he crested the small rise in the driveway; only then did he see Beau. The dog lay unnaturally still about fifty feet from the house.

At the sight of Beau's body Josiah knew immediately... his family was in danger. The dogs, the noise of the suburban, whoever it was knew he was here. He gunned the engine the last few hundred yards and pulled to a squealing stop. Leaping from the driver's seat Josiah saw them even before he hit the ground.

Weller stood at the top of the porch stairs, smirking triumphantly at him. One arm was crooked around Del's throat, while the other held a scalpel behind her ear.

Del looked awful.

Her brown curls were gray with dust, as was her clothing. Her left cheekbone was purple with bruising. Josiah could see blood on her neck and shirt. She kept her handcuffed hands down so that her shirt hung open to reveal her blood stained bra. The memory of Estelle Kolochek's body flashed into his mind. How her distinctly female anatomical parts had had the skin peeled off them, likely before she had died, according to the medical examiner's report.

Josiah, suddenly blind with rage, made an inhuman growl and roared toward Weller. Weller reacted by pulling his arm tighter around Del's neck and bringing the knife up in front of her eyes.

Her eyes... Del's eyes pleaded with Josiah for control. He stopped dead some twenty feet from the steps, and looked up at them.

"That's right, brother," said Weller silkily. "Stop, listen, and learn how you have been manipulated, won over to the ways of sin and eternal damnation by this Jezebelle."

Josiah had never had to do anything this hard before. 'Stay calm, Sanchez, listen to him, work with him.' He had to. This monster held Josiah's whole life at the point of a knife. He looked at Del again. She was frightened, but she wasn't beaten. He had to stall for time.

"Teach..." His voice was barely more than a croaked whisper. Pausing, he swallowed hard to clear his throat and to give himself a moment to muster enough composure before continuing loudly. "Teach me, brother, I want to learn."

A menacing smile spread across Weller's face. "A change of heart, brother, from the last time we met?" His eyes were bright as he stared down at Josiah triumphantly. "I think you would say anything to save this harlot! Her power is strong, but through me your heart will be opened up to His Word and you will learn how she has deceived you. I will gladly teach you, but first things first. Your gun."

Josiah moved to take his gun out of its holster.


He froze.

"Take your jacket off first."

He shrugged the jean jacket off his shoulders and let it slide down his arms and drop to the ground behind him.

"Now remove the holster, gun and all."

Josiah did as he was bidden, snaking one arm slowly out of the brace, then letting the holster slide down the other arm.


He stopped again, eyeing Weller warily.

"Don't just let it drop. Throw it, all of it," Weller indicated with a tilt of his head, "over there into the bushes."

Josiah let the holster drop into his hand and then with a deliberate slow motion swing of his arm tossed the weapon into the cedars.

"Now your shirt."


"Your shirt. I want to make sure you're not wired."

'Weller is amazingly clear thinking for a madman,' thought Josiah as he tugged his shirt gently out of his jeans. Stripped to the waist now, Josiah couldn't help but shiver at the loss of warmth in the late November air.

"Now your shoes and socks."


Weller jerked Del tightly around her neck again.

"Okay! Okay." Josiah held up his hands in surrender to indicate he was going to do as he was told. "I'm taking them off," he said as he bent over, and stood on one foot and then the other to pull his Nikes and socks off.

"Do you remember your bible, Josiah? I go before my God naked and he clothe me. So you are now, brother Sanchez, naked in your understanding of His Purpose, He will clothe you with His Understanding."

The ground was cold under Josiah's bare feet. If he had to chase Weller, bare feet would slow him down. The skin of Josiah's upper body tightened into goose flesh against the cold air.

Weller jerked Del backwards, holding her even more tightly. Del winced but made no sound. Leaning backwards as she was with all her weight on her left leg, Josiah knew that her bad hip was screaming at her. Weller pushed Del forward ahead of him and she took a stumbling step down the porch stairway.

"On your knees, sinner, and repent," ordered Weller as he pushed Del down the next step. The knife wavered ever closer to Del's neck.

'Don't.... don't hurt her,' Josiah pleaded in his head. "I am repentant," he said out loud as he dropped to his knees and stretched his arms out toward Weller, palms up. "Since our last meeting, I have had time to reflect. Your liberation spoke to me. If you were truly wrong in your mission, why then would God have delivered you from the prison bus? Many nights I have lain awake pondering those events that freed you from your incarceration. In seeking his understanding I have seen the error of my ways. You have delivered me from very brink of hell and damnation."

From the corner of his eye he could see Del's face. She knew what he was doing. She too was waiting for their chance.

"Not me!" screamed Weller. "Not me, it is your Lord God who speaks to you! He uses me as an instrument of his will. It is He, not I, who wills your obedience."

"The Lord God Almighty!" thundered Josiah from his knees, gesturing into the sky with one hand. "He graces us all with His mercy, undeserving sinners that we are. Through you, brother, I have seen his true bidding. From the time of Adam, woman has been the bane of man's existence..." Never would Josiah have thought his father's fire and brimstone sermons would have been any use to him. He bellowed on, buying time, waiting for an opportunity. He just didn't see how he was going to get off his knees and close to them with Weller holding that knife to Del's throat.

"We shall rejoice together, brother. You and I together, we will rid this Earth of the abomination of Harlots. We will sit to the right and the left hand of the Almighty. Rejoice-" Weller's eyes were bright with his madness, caught up in his delusions as he ranted on. Then suddenly, to accent his sermonizing, he raised the knife from Del's throat and gestured with it into the air.

A crack split the air. Blood instantly appeared on Del's face and shoulder. Terrified, Josiah thought she'd been shot. Mindless of the fact that Weller had only been armed with a knife, all logic gone, he launched himself at Weller, roaring with rage.

Weller was already down as Josiah fell on him. Holding Weller by the neck, Josiah pounded on him. Over and over again he drove his fist into Weller's face, heedless of the damage he was doing to Weller or himself, driven by the primal rage of avenging one's mate.

Strong arms clamped onto Josiah's shoulders and dragged him backwards. Josiah bellowed his outrage at being prevented from beating Weller to death. He shook them off and charged at Weller again. Again Josiah was grabbed, this time he was forced backwards onto the ground.

"Josiah." His named was growled in his ear as he struggled to get up from under the three men. "JOSIAH! He's down! He's been shot!" Only then did Josiah stop fighting the men holding him down. He blinked and looked up.

"Shot," he repeated dumbly to Chris. "Where..." frowning at Chris, then Nathan and finally Buck in his confusion. 'Where did they come from? How did they get here?'

Chris, Nathan and Buck sat back on their knees breathing hard from the effort of holding him back. Josiah levered himself up on one elbow and looked over at Weller. The madman still held the knife despite the fact his shoulder was a mass of blood and broken bone. His face was decorated with blood and snot from a broken nose and what looked to be a broken cheekbone.

It took another second for him to notice Vin was standing over Weller, pointing his rifle at him.

Then Josiah realized it was over.


He turned on his elbow searching for her. Del was kneeling on the ground a few feet away, close enough for him to see that she was shaking with shock.


He rolled up on to his hands and knees and crawled over to her. Kneeling beside her he took her in his arms. "Delancey girl," he whispered his throat tight with relief.

"F..f..fool" was all she could say. She buried her face against his chest, seeking the security there, while he buried his face in her curls. He clung to her, reassuring himself that she was okay. He didn't even notice that Chris had unlocked the handcuffs until Del's arms slid up and around him drawing them both tightly to one another.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

Chris turned away from Josiah and Del. They needed a moment and Chris had a crime scene to secure.

Chris spied Buck over by the dog run. Buck was rubbing JD's back as JD heaved into the dirt.

"Whattaya think, Nathan?" Buck asked as Chris approached.

Nathan's hands traveled quickly up JD's neck and through his hair. He grimaced in sympathy at the nasty lump he found there. "Another concussion for sure."

"Get me up!" JD gasped, before wiping foul smelling spittle from his mouth with sleeve.

"I don't know, JD, maybe you should take it easy," cautioned Buck.

"Get me up!" JD ordered a second time.

Buck looked over at Nathan who just shrugged his shoulders. "Okay, kid," Buck replied in resignation, and with Nathan offering a strong arm on the other side, JD latched onto them both and struggled gamely to his feet.

"Stubborn, kid," muttered Buck loud enough for JD to hear as they watched him make his way unevenly toward the house.

"Reminds me of you, Buck," commented Chris mildly as they watched JD lean forward to put his hands on the steps ahead of him to steady himself as he made his way up the steps.

Chris then followed Nathan over to where Beau lay. Nathan knelt down beside Beau.

"Nathan?" asked Chris.

"He's alive, Chris," replied Nathan. Chris could hear the worry in Nathan's voice. "I don't know how, because it looks like he's lost a lot of blood."

"Call it in, Nathan," ordered Chris. "If they give you any static tell them I authorized it."

"Will do," replied Nathan with a wide smile, heading for the Ram to use the car radio.

"And, Nathan, see if they can get word to Ezra. Let him know we made it and that everyone is okay."

Nathan nodded and continued on his way to the truck.

Chris smiled to himself as he turned his attention to Josiah and Del again. Dispatch had to be used to unusual requests from Team 7 by now. Nathan more than any of the others seemed to enjoy making them and listening for the reaction on the other end of the call.

In the meantime Buck had retrieved Josiah's shirt and shaken the dirt out of it offering it to Del for warmth and to cover up Weller's handiwork. Josiah had helped her put it on. Chris watched as Buck deftly insinuated himself in between Josiah and Del to do up the shirt when Josiah's hands shook too much to manage the buttons.

The barking of the dogs caught Chris's attention. Vin had dragged Weller's unconscious body over to the dog pen and handcuffed his good arm to the fencing. The animals stood at the fence letting Weller know what they thought of him. A word from Vin and the pack quieted down, but there was something about Vin's stance that sent a chill up Chris's spine. Weller was handcuffed and unconscious yet Vin stood with his rifle at his shoulder trained on Weller's head.

"Hey, Cowboy," said Chris as he approached Vin.

"Stop right there, Chris," warned Vin not raising his face to look at Chris.

Chris froze still some ten feet away. "What's up, Vin?" asked Chris guardedly.

Vin didn't move a muscle. "Say the word, Chris, and no one'll have to worry about bein' hurt by this piece of shit ever again."

"What?" The words were spoken so quietly and with such hate Chris wasn't sure he'd heard Vin correctly.

"He's a monster, he doesn't deserve to live."

"Vin, that's not our decision to make. It's up to the courts-"

"It's justice!" Vin spat out vehemently. "I could do it and never lose a wink of sleep over it." The cold look in Vin's eye and the barely restrained fury in his expression frightened Chris.

Vin shifted the rifle to his eye. "Long as he's alive, he'll be a danger."

"Vin, you can't do this."

"How are you gonna stop me?"

"I can't, but I'll turn you in. I'll have to. It'll tear me up to do it but I won't let you get away with cold-blooded murder. You'll go to prison."

Vin looked up at him, the cold blue gaze probing his own to see if he was serious. Chris made sure Vin saw he was dead serious.

"So what, I got nothing left that matters. Mia's gone."

"There's still time for you two to work things out."

"No, no there isn't. You don't understand, Chris, I've lost her for good. She can't stand the sight of me. I look..." Vin swallowed convulsively. "I look too much like Aiyana." Vin voice caught on Aiyana's name.

Vin turned his attention back to Weller.

Chris was desperate now. He watched in disbelief as Vin brought the gun to his eye again.

"What about Kody then? Eh, Vin? Think about Kody! The courts will deny you access, they'll have to if you go to prison. He'll grow up without you!"

Vin showed no sign of wavering.

"Vin... VIN, you grew up without a father, is that what you want for Kody? Is that what you want, Vin, to miss out on your son's life?"

Vin hesitated. Chris saw his chance to reach him. "Is that what you really want?" Chris asked in an urgent whisper.

It was a long moment before Vin slowly lowered the rifle. Then he raised his face to catch Chris' gaze with his own. "I still think it'd be the right thing to do," he said quietly before turning and walking away.

Chris watched as Vin made his way across the yard. The confrontation had left Chris shaken and sweating. Vin, on the other hand, looked calm and collected as he took his rifle case from Nathan, who was returning with it from the Ram.

Weller moaned but didn't wake up. Chris signaled to Nathan to take a look at him.

"Hey, where's the twiglet?" asked Buck of no one in particular.

Chris, thinking Del and Josiah would know where Rosie was, watched as they exchange a fearful glance. Chris suddenly realized Rosie was still unaccounted for. Del and Josiah rose quickly to their feet and ran toward the house, up the steps and into the kitchen through the broken screen door, with Chris, Buck, Vin and Nathan close behind.

JD was well ahead of them all. Chris could hear him calling to Rosie from somewhere inside the house. "Okay, Rosie, you win, I can't find you. Come on, Rosie." Using the age-old song, JD called out to her. "Come out, come out, wherever you are."

Everyone in the kitchen paused and listened. After a brief moment of silence a little voice replied, "I'm here, silly!"

Chris sighed with relief. Rosie's voice was full of childish indignation. She was innocent of all that had transpired in the last few hours.

In a voice that sounded all the world like nothing had happened and that the game was still on, JD replied, "Where?"

"Here," Rosie replied impatiently. "In Barbie's house."

"Ya sure had me fooled!" JD replied lightly, keeping the pretense of the game up.

Josiah went through the living room and around the corner down the hallway. Del started to follow until Nathan grabbed her by the arm. "Del, wait," whispered Nathan, handing her a clean, wet tea towel. Del paused to wipe the blood and dirt from her face and neck, letting Nathan finish the spots she missed. All the while she listened to Rosie's running monologue.

"Daddy, where's your shirt and running shoes? It's too cold to go outside without a shirt on," she scolded her father.

Josiah appeared carrying Rosie, hugging her tightly to himself. He didn't reply to her question. From the look in Josiah's eyes it was taking everything he had to hold back tears of relief.

"JD, you took so long to find me I feel asleep in Barbie's house," said Rosie petulantly over her father's shoulder to her uncle who was following behind them.

"Child, don't speak to your uncle that way." Del scolded as she approached them while JD slipped into the kitchen with the others. "It's no wonder you fell asleep, you hardly slept last night."

Chris could hear Rosie ask, "Mommy, what happened to your eye?" as he watched JD sway on his feet. Buck and Vin moved quickly and quietly to catch him before he fell.

"I'll explain later, child," replied Del from the other room while Buck and Vin settled JD into a kitchen chair and Nathan knelt down beside JD to take a look at him.

Shifting Rosie to one arm Josiah put his free arm around Del and gathered them both tightly to himself.

Chris glared sternly at JD as JD tried to wave Nathan off. The effect of the glare was spoiled when Chris couldn't help but smile along with the rest of the men in the kitchen at the little voice that said, "Daddy, you're squeezing too hard."


Big fluffy flakes fell wetting the ground where they landed. December first brought with it a snowfall to brighten dreary downtown Denver. Passersby seemed lighter on their feet, the snow heralding the coming Christmas season. Chris stood staring out of his office window quietly reflecting on the events of the last few weeks since Weller's re-capture.

It hadn't taken long to piece together what had happened.

The man masquerading as John Beck, the lessee of the house where three more murdered young women had been found, was in fact innocent. His real name was Henry Gardner. A paranoid schizophrenic, Henry was on probation from a psychiatric hospital to determine if he was ready to live out in the community.

Weller had chosen Henry because of Henry's general similarity in appearance to himself. Henry had a night shift security job that necessitated he sleep during the day. That, along with a tendency to avoid contact with people, a symptom of his illness, meant no one in the neighbourhood saw Henry too often or got to know him very well. Henry's case worker had been pleased that Henry had found such reasonably priced rental accommodation with the only condition that Henry not go into the basement where the owner had some of his own belongings stored.

It was Henry's paranoia, which had caused him to run from Ezra and the FBI that day. There were too many cars he didn't recognize and too many people not normally on the street. Along with that, Henry revealed in questioning that he'd been receiving telephone calls every morning for a week. The mysterious phone caller had warned Henry that he was being watched.

When Henry didn't pick up his usual telephone call that morning, Weller knew his plan was in motion. Now he only had to wait for the FBI surveillance agents to leave. Once caught, Henry would be an effective decoy for an hour or so, just long enough to kill Del and get away. John Osipenko and Bronwen Lind agreed. It was likely Weller intended to continue the psychological game with Josiah after Del's death.

That's where Weller lucked in. Frank Pollard, the stupid bastard, had deviate from standard procedure and called off the surveillance on JD, Del and Rosie before Henry Gardner had been captured and his identity had been confirmed. Frank probably figured they had the right man. In relieving the surveillance on Del, Rosie and JD sooner than he should have Chris would most certainly file a complaint. Since nothing was expected to have happened, at worst Frank would have gotten a note on his file and the chance to thumb his nose at Chris one last time before his retirement.

Instead Frank's rash decision cost Sandy Williamson his life and quite nearly cost Del and Josiah their lives as well. Chris wouldn't need to file a complaint. The FBI had dealt swiftly with Frank. Frank had immediately been retired and he could kiss his government pension goodbye. He had been lucky the Federal Attorney's office hadn't opted to lay criminal charges. Chris had no sympathy for the man. He hoped Frank rotted in some night security job for his remaining years on this earth.

Once the FBI surveillance agents passed Weller waiting at the Star and Bars, Weller made the bomb threat call from the telephone booth there. Sandy Williamson, for his own reasons hadn't left, probably just stayed to visit with Del and Rosie for a few minutes. It would have been the sort of thing Sandy Williamson would have taken the time to do.

Ezra, for his part, had immediately realized they had been duped when it was understood how old the bodies in the basement were. By then the bomb threat emergency measures were in place and the FBI surveillance units had been called off. Ezra telephoned Inez at the Saloon on the chance that the team would be somewhere in the street not too far away.

Ezra's quick thinking and Josiah taking his time in getting home had given Chris and the rest of the team enough time to get to the homestead before it was too late.

The paramedics examined Del and advised her to go to the hospital. Del, predictably, had refused. She would heal better at home with her family she said. When the FBI found Williamson's body Nathan suggested a visit with Aunt Rain, at least overnight. Del took the hint: the FBI would need at least twenty-four hours to investigate the crime scene. Del, Rosie and Josiah ended up staying with Nathan and Rain for three of days.

Weller's comment to JD concerning JD's determination not to talk when ordered to by the Nichols brothers confirmed that he knew about the kidnappings. But without the Nichols brothers there was no evidence to indicate that Weller had engineered the kidnappings. Further, without a murder weapon it would be tough for the DA to tie Weller to the Nichols brothers' deaths or the deaths of the photographers Fragomeni and McGregor.

Sandy Williamson's murder was another matter. Sandy Williamson's body was found behind Del's truck, hidden by Weller before Del came looking for JD.

The bodies of the young women were in the process of identification. Three more families would have answers concerning their missing daughters.

JD was hospitalized for two weeks because his second concussion followed so soon after his first. This second concussion was also far more serious than the first. Chris was present when JD was questioned as to the specifics of his confrontation with Weller and Williamson's death. Up until then, JD hadn't known Sandy Williamson had died. JD took it hard. Williamson died leaving a widow and children. Why hadn't Weller kill him as well? Chris explained that Weller's reasoning was that Williamson was of no value to him while he could use JD to get to Del and Rosie. No matter what else happened, JD needed to remember Weller chose to kill Sandy Williamson and there was nothing JD could have done to stop him.

Mary got her exclusive and had broken the full story in the next evening's newspaper. The letters to the editor and local radio and TV talk show callers proclaimed the members of Team Seven to be heroes. How was it that none of them felt much like heroes?

Mia showed up at the office two days later. Chris thought back to how strange it seemed - it was as if Vin knew she was coming. Chris was talking to Vin at his desk when Vin suddenly stood up and faced the door to their offices a moment before Mia came through it. There were no words between them as Mia immediately buried herself in Vin's arms. They stood holding each other while Chris, Buck, Nathan and Ezra, made a discreet exit. A backward glance on his way out the door and Chris caught the tears in Vin's eyes. They returned an hour later not surprised to find Vin gone, nor did they hear from him the rest of the day. Chris discovered a message on his answering machine when he arrived home that night. Vin and Mia were going home to the reservation. Mia had asked Vin to go on a healing journey with her. Vin said he would call when he got back. Chris figured that wasn't likely to be anytime soon, and that was okay. Vin's last comment made him smile. "Ah, thanks, Cowboy, fer not lettin' me cross the line."

Once the initial investigation was completed and he was no longer needed, Josiah spent the next ten days at home with Del and Rosie. He took Rosie to and picked her up from school every day. As strong a woman as Del was, she had just survived sexual torture administered by a man who had it down to an art. She would need a lot of the tender, loving care for the next while. Knowing Josiah as he did, Chris knew Del couldn't be in better hands.

Josiah returned to work on a part time basis yesterday. Chris talked to Josiah briefly about Josiah's decision to quit profiling. Chris suggested a compromise: maybe Josiah could stick to consulting and not take the primary lead on any more cases. Josiah said he would think about it. It wasn't a "yes", but then it wasn't a "no" either. Chris was content with that for now.

Late last week Chris had gone to collect a file off of Nathan's desk. In so doing he had nudged the computer mouse. The screen saver disappeared and Chris couldn't help but notice the minimized document on the screen was entitled "Resignation". That was five days ago now and Nathan still hadn't said anything about it. Chris decided not to ask. Rain had managed to talk Nathan out of resigning once before. Maybe she would again.

The fourth day of JD's stay in hospital, Orin Travis telephoned Chris at home. Travis had received a call from the CEO of the hospital. Travis was now passing the message and the problem on to Chris. Chris arrived at the hospital to discover Rosie sitting outside the CEO's office. The usually busy, talkative youngster sat quietly sipping on a small carton of milk.

Rosie brightened noticeably when she saw Chris. When asked where her uncles were she advised him solemnly that Uncle Ezra and Uncle Buck were in the "Principal's office".

Uncle Ezra and Uncle Buck had decided to treat Rosie to McDonald's and an afternoon in the city. It had all been part of a bigger master-plan. Rosie had been somewhat out of sorts at not being able to see JD, so Uncles Buck and Ezra had tried to sneak Rosie into the hospital to visit with him. It would help calm Rosie's precocious ways knowing JD was being well cared for and maybe it would help JD's frame of mind.

Chris shook his head as he recalled the conversation in his office afterwards. How could two supposedly elite ATF agents not pull off something as simple as smuggling a four year-old in and out of a hospital? Hospitals were not exactly fortresses when it came to security. Ezra blamed Buck for getting carried away with flirting with just one nurse when he was supposed to be diverting the attention of all the nurses. Buck shot back that for someone who was supposed to have re-written the book on undercover work, how could Ezra have been so clumsy with the laundry hamper that Rosie was hidden in? A collision with the hamper and a stacked trolley full of mid-day meals had led to a spectacularly noisy crash. Chris had to wonder though, with the number of times Ezra had visited the hospital, not to mention the number of stays Ezra personally had had, why no one had recognized him in the green orderly's smock. It just lent credence to Ezra's claim that it was the clothes and the demeanor people saw, not the person.

Chris threw them out of his office. Discipline would be swift and particularly distasteful, he promised. Some days this place felt like kindergarten. In the meantime Chris had been able to broker a deal concerning visitation whereby Rosie could meet with JD privately in the sunroom for half an hour a day but only if one of her parents brought her. This was possible only because JD's doctor had been very pleased by the sudden improvement in JD's vitals and emotional state after Rosie's visit.

Beau recovered from his gunshot wound. The bullet had lodged itself in the bone of his shoulder. Though he seemed free from pain and retook his place as number one dog with little effort, he, like his master, would limp for the rest of his days.

Then there was Jonathan Becks Weller. The report lay on Chris's desk. Weller was recovering from his gunshot wound in his cell awaiting his trial. In the meantime Weller had taken up a new hobby, songwriting. Apparently Weller sang songs constantly twelve hours a day, making the words up as he went along. The report went into detail as to the contents of these songs: songs praising God; songs threatening revenge on Josiah Sanchez and the other members of Team 7; songs of known victims and songs that hinted at other as yet unknown victims.

The FBI was recording everything.

The End