Chris opened the front door to Vin's apartment and stepped slowly inside, gently latching the door behind him. He stood still for a moment, his eyes circling the room. It was nearly dark outside so there was little light inside but there was enough that he could see the sparse furnishings. Vin wasn't a fancy man. A couch, coffee table, small kitchen table and chairs and the computer desk. Knowing how much Vin hated using his computer at work, he wondered why he ever bothered to get one for home.

Next to the computer desk was a small bookshelf. Only one of the shelves had anything on it and Chris stepped up to it to examine the contents. There were several 'how-to' books on computer usage, a few on police procedure and, shoved off in the corner, was one that looked like a photo album. Chris reached for it and pulled it out, somewhat surprised that he had never noticed it before. He flipped open the pages and found remarkably few pictures in it. There were some pictures of a child that Chris couldn't positively say was Vin, but couldn't say it wasn't. He turned the page and saw his own face staring back at him. The next four pages were all pictures of the team at various times during the past three years. Chris smiled as each shot brought back the memories of the occasion they were taken at though when he thought about it, he didn't remember Vin or anyone else having a camera at the time.

After the pictures of the team, there was nothing in the book. Chris flipped the pages to the end but found nothing more. He sighed as he slipped the book back into its spot on the shelf.

He walked up to the window and stared out at the street below. Not much activity, just a few pedestrians and the occasional car. He drew in a deep breath and let it out wearily as he leaned his forehead against the glass.

"God, Vin...where are you?"

******* ******* *******

Pictures. Marti had found that by using just pictures, Vin could figure out what she wanted. After reading how the two previous sessions had gone, she knew she had to try something else.

Vin looked very sad when he was brought in for his next day's tests, though he was allowed to walk there on his own, which he seemed to appreciate. Wheel chairs were for invalids.

When she pulled out her sets of cards, he sighed and looked away. She smiled knowingly and laid the cards out in front of him. She grabbed the picture of a chair and showed it to Vin, making him look. Then she moved it to the picture of a table and picked that up, holding the two side by side.

Vin looked at the two pictures, then looked down at the others on the table. A small smile crept up on his face. He saw several others there that could be paired up. She picked up the picture of the fork and looked at him expectantly. He slowly raised his hand and guided it to the picture of a knife where he gently tapped his finger tip on it.

"Yes, John. Very good." She smiled broadly at him as she picked up the matching picture and removed the pair. Then she pointed to a picture of a horse. Vin didn't hesitate and his hand moved to the picture of a saddle. She smiled again. "Yeah, you just needed the right set of cards," she said to herself.

Once Vin had matched up all of that set of cards, Marti pulled out another set. These were all clock faces but they didn't have numbers on them, just tick marks where the numbers would be. She began by grabbing a couple of cards, trying to let him know what she wanted him to do. He knew she wanted them in order from earliest to latest and arranged them that way quickly.

Marti leaned back in her chair and smiled at Vin for a moment then her expression turned pensive. "Now we just have to figure out how to get you talking again."

******* ******* *******

Vin definitely enjoyed his sessions with Marti more than he had the previous ones because he felt like he was finally able to communicate. No one exerted as much effort to try to get through to him as she did. However, when he wasn't working with her, he felt isolated from the world. The other therapists, orderlies and nurses had tried to include him in some activities but being around all the other patients, none of whom he could understand, just made him feel more isolated and lonely. The staff seemed to sense this and eventually stopped trying to get him involved. He spent most of his time staring sadly out the window as the world continued on without him.

******* ******* *******

'By-the-book' turned out to be getting the ATF agents nowhere. Every lead turned out to be bogus. They had gone back to Vin's neighborhood and talked with dozens of people but no one admitted to having seen anything. Every idea they had that was based on intuition rather than hard facts was shot down by the higher-ups. They didn't seem to be getting any help from anywhere. And time was running out, though that long ago stopped being their primary concern. Yes, each one of them would love nothing more than seeing Russell Chassen put away for the rest of his life. But more so, each one would give his own life to see Vin returned safely. It had been six days and no body had turned up, no word had been heard.

******* ******* *******

Vin sat on a bench in the main hallway of the hospital ward and stared at a mural that was painted on the opposite wall. It was an exaggerated painting of downtown Amarillo and though Vin didn't know what city, he did recognize what was supposed to be depicted.

Marti watched him from down the hall for several minutes before she approached him and sat beside him. He glanced at her and smiled sadly, then turned his attention back to the wall. She stood up and got in his line of sight. She slapped the wall with her palm and then waved her arms around her.

"This is where we are," she said, even though she knew he couldn't understand her. She slapped the wall again and then pointed to herself, then to Vin, then waved her arms again.

Vin watched her with an expression of curiosity on his face. He didn't look confused so Marti thought maybe he understood what she was trying to tell him. She looked at him a moment, then an idea struck her. She reached out and grabbed his upper arm and guided him up. She led him down the hall to the nurses' station and stopped at the desk.

"Angela, do we still have that atlas here somewhere?" she asked of the nurse behind the counter.

"Yeah, sure, somewhere," Angela replied as she began opening and closing drawers looking for the book. Finally, she found it and pulled it out, laying it on the counter in front of her. "What do you need it for?" she asked, eyeing Vin suspiciously.

Marti didn't reply as she flipped the pages open till she found a map of the entire country, with the state outlines. She shifted it in front of Vin. She pointed to him, to herself, to Angela, tapped the counter and again waved her arms around, then pointed to a spot on the map.

"This is where we are. Amarillo Texas." Marti could tell that some of this was getting through to Vin. He looked at where she was pointing then looked up at her. His gaze moved several times between the two and finally he smiled weakly.

She pushed the map a little closer to him and tapped her hand gently a few times on his chest, then waved her hand non-committally over the map and shrugged her shoulders. "Where do you live?" she asked, for her own benefit.

Vin's eyes darted between her and the map a few times and it finally dawned on him what she was trying to ask. He smiled again and raised his hand slowly, gently extending his index finger slightly. He lowered it over the square area above and to the left of where she had been pointing.

"Colorado? You're from Colorado?" She asked excitedly, knowing she would not get a response. She eagerly flipped through the map pages till she came to the blown-up map of the state of Colorado. She placed it in front of Vin and waved her hand over the pages and shrugged again. "Where? Where in Colorado?"

Vin didn't need to be able to read the map, didn't need to know what the words said. He knew the biggest blob was where he lived. He raised his hand and lowered it down over Denver, then looked up at her and smiled.

She smiled back as she placed her hand gently on the side of his face. "Denver, Colorado," she sighed.

"You think that's really where he's from? How do you know he understood what you were asking him?" Angela piped in.

"I don't but we aren't getting anywhere around here. What could it hurt to check Denver?" Marti replied. She stepped around the desk and opened a drawer, pulling out a small business card. "I'm gonna call the police station and see if they'll check."

She did just that. She got a hold of the police officer who had been handling this particular John Doe case and relayed that he may want to check with the Denver police department. He seemed reluctant at first but finally agreed to send an inquiry.

Marti hung up the phone and turned back to Vin who had remained standing by the desk. "Who knows, John. We may just find out who you are and where you belong yet."

******* ******* *******

Chris sat in his private office with the door closed as he continued to stare out the window from behind his desk. Friday afternoon and the rest of the building was heading off to enjoy their weekend plans. But he and his team were mourning the loss of one of their own. Though he still had that gut feeling that Vin was still alive, it had dulled significantly since the ordeal started and he was beginning to realize he may have to deal with the loss of not just a coworker but a good friend.

A gentle tapping at his door brought him back from his contemplations. "Come in."

Buck opened the door enough for him to stick his head through. "Chris, I know you don't want to hear this but the lead on Martinez Avenue fell through."

Chris acknowledged the information with a curt nod. A lead fell through, something he had heard a lot of this past week. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he leaned back in his chair. "Why don't you and the boys knock off and go on home, enjoy your weekends."

"What?!?" Buck entered the room and pushed the door shut behind him. "Quit? What are you saying Chris?"

"I'm saying we've checked out every lead we've gotten and we're no closer than we were a week ago. I'm saying we've got nothing new to go on. I'm saying go home and enjoy your weekend." Chris's voice cracked slightly as he finished.

Buck approached the desk and leaned against it beside Chris's chair. "So you're giving up on him now? What happened to the feeling?" Buck leaned forward and tapped Chris's chest lightly at his last words.

"I'm losing it Buck. I'm losing Vin. I can hardly feel him anymore." Chris pushed his chair back and stood, slowly stepping up to the window to gaze out as dusk settled over the city.

"Chris, I know we've discussed this before but it is possible that Chassen's just had Vin detained for a while and after his case is declared a miss-trial, Vin will be let go."

"He'd be able to finger who ever did it though. They won't let him live. They'll kill him and dump him out in the deepest part of the woods where no one will ever find him." Chris's eyes got a far away look in them. "He'll be alone."

Buck moved up behind Chris and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. "If that's true, and I ain't saying it is, ain't saying he's gone, but if that's true, he won't be alone cause a part of you will always be with him."

"I've never had a friend like him before. Never knew anyone who could...that was..." Chris lowered his gaze, pressing his thumb and forefinger against his tired eyes as Buck squeezed his shoulder. Chris and Buck were friends, had been for the longest time, but it wasn't the same kind of friendship that Chris and Vin shared and Buck knew it and accepted it. Buck felt his heart breaking as much for Chris as he was sure Chris's was for Vin.

Buck leaned in behind Chris. "We'll find him," he said softly.

Chris took a deep breath and bobbed his head a few times as he composed himself. He didn't often give in to the feelings of hopelessness that sometimes crept in from the edges of his mind. He was glad Buck was there to help him fight those feelings off and tackle problems head on again. He turned to look his old friend in the eye. "Thanks, Buck."

Buck squeezed his shoulder again but said nothing.

******* ******* *******

Dr. Barry Lucas sat off to the side as he watched Marti work with her newest patient. This John Doe's case had been truly interesting. There was no head trauma and yet there seemed to be a total loss of communicative skills, if indeed the man had ever possessed any. There was no way to determine that in his current state so they pushed forward on the assumption that he had at one time been able to speak, read and write.

Doctor and therapist had conferred daily on the case and the doctor was well pleased with the progress that Marti had had with this patient. He looked forward to seeing how she attempted to bring him out of his shell. It was obvious to both that the man hadn't lost any knowledge or intelligence, just the means to share it.

******* ******* *******

Chris stared at his bedside clock as it mocked his sleeplessness. Five o'clock in the morning...had he gotten any sleep, he wondered. Chris sat up and switched on a lamp. 'This is Sunday morning' he thought to himself. Chassen'll walk tomorrow because Vin won't be there to testify. He had all but given up hope of finding Vin before the trial but there was still that glimmer, put in place by Buck and the rest of the team, that Vin was alive somewhere and would be returned once Chassen was free. He clung to that like a lifeline, which, in a way, it was. Vin was a big part of his life and Chris knew he'd be dragged down if anything happened to him.

Chris threw back the blankets and crawled out of bed. The room was cold and Chris reached for the robe that was always laying across the foot of the bed, but was seldom actually worn. It must have gotten colder last night than they had predicted. Chris guessed it was time to crank up the furnace for the season. He padded out into the hallway and switched on a light as he stepped up to the thermostat. He repositioned some dials and turned the unit on. It started up immediately and a few minutes later, the house was filled with the 'first-of-the-season-burning-the-dust-off-smell'. Chris wrinkled his nose as he continued on into his kitchen to start a pot of coffee.

As the coffee brewed, Chris wandered into his office. The same folders of information the team had been using all week were duplicated here and he rifled through them for the zillionth time. There had to be something something they were overlooking. He re-read everything in the files again, absently wandering into the kitchen to get his coffee as he read.

Chris purposely tried to change his perspective. By looking at the information from a different mindset, he was sure something would leap out of the page at him.

The telephone ringing startled him and he glanced at the clock as he reached for the phone. Five- fifty-six.


"I'm trying to reach a Chris Larabee," the voice on the other end of the line said.

"This is Chris Larabee." It was a little early for a telemarketer, he thought.

"Mr. Larabee, this is sergeant Marc Ristuccia with the Amarillo police department in Amarillo Texas," he introduced himself. He paused briefly, expecting Larabee to interject something but when he was met with silence, he continued. "Sir, we have a John Doe down here that we have identified as Vin Tanner. We verified his identity..."

"What!?!?" Chris nearly popped the sergeant's eardrum. "You have Vin? Where? Is he all right? Where is he?" Chris knew he should shut up and let the man talk but was having trouble controlling himself.

"Mr. Tanner is a patient at the Amarillo Medical Center."

Chris placed a shaking hand over his face. "Thank god, he's alive," he muttered to himself, though the man on the other end of the phone heard him.

"Yes, sir, he is alive. It says on his missing persons sheet that he's an agent with the ATF?"

"Yes, he's one of my team members. He's been missing for over a week," Chris explained, feeling himself calm somewhat from the initial shock.

"Well, sir, can I pass on any information to the hospital?"

"Tell them that I'll be on the road in five minutes and I'll get there as soon as I can." Chris took a deep breath as a tear rolled down his cheek. "And thank you, sergeant."

"Just doing my job, sir. I'll let them know to expect you today." The line went dead but Chris held the receiver to his ear for a minute more, his mind replaying the words 'we have Vin Tanner.'