Crossing Paths

by Jareth Reznor

ATF Universe

Crossover with The Pretender

Disclaimer: I regret to say this, but Chris, Josiah, Vin, Nathan, Buck, JD, Mary, and especially Ezra and Jared do not belong to me. I am not making any money for the story.

Chris Larabe looked over the file one more time. 'Christ!' He thought and he looked at the bodies of the five children again. They were all together in the same grave. He fought his brain from recalling memories of his own son's death. "JD! Get the men together and in here now!" He yelled to the young man who was a couple rooms away. It was late on a Friday night and he new that JD was going to have trouble locating all the men, but that he would have it done within the hour.

+ + + + + + +

When the team of seven was all seated in Chris's office the leader passed out the photos that he had received earlier in the day. They were equally disturbed as Chris and agreed to take the case. "When do we start?" Vin asked trying not to be bitter but unlike Ezra didn't hide his emotions too great when it came to children.

"Tomorrow. The FBI is sending up a Forensic Anthropologist to help us on the case. Her name is Michaela Trent and before getting into the forensics division she was one of the ATF's best."

Ezra lifted his head from the folder."Ms. Trent? Where have I heard that name before?" he mumbled to himself.

Chris cleared his throat, "Don't you remember working with her when you were with the FBI Ezra?"

"Yes, I believe we briefly met when she replaced me on a stake out. Never actually got to know her very well."

Buck let out a yawn; "I think it's best if we all get some rest. Look's like we have a big case in front of us."

Chris nodded, "I want you all back here at eight o'clock in the morning." He waited until the men had filed out of his office before leaving himself, still trying in vain to block the memories of his son out.

+ + + + + + +

A grin crept up onto the gambler's face as a tall redhead walked towards him. "Well, it is lovely of you to grace us with your presence Ms. Trent."

She gave him as soft smile in return, "It's nice to see you again too, Ace. How long have you been with this team?"

"A few years. When did you leave the ATF?" he shot back as he led her Mr. Larabee's office.

"Just before you joined it." She stepped into the room where she felt the eyes off six other people on her. "Well, this is a big team, I'm sure it will be a pleasure working with all of you," she spoke as she shook their hands.

Buck was the first to speak up, "Well ma'am, allow me be the first to tell you how grateful we are for you time." She noted a few of the men in the room shook their heads and held back from laughing. "My name is Buck Wilmington and my office is right over there, feel free to come over if there is anything I can do for you."

"Well, Buck, there is just one thing."

Buck's heart jumped, "Name it and it shall be done."

"You could let go of my hand before it falls off," she smirked as Buck released the grip he was unaware that had been holding on her.

"Okay, now that the introductions are over, let's get down to business," Ezra stepped in. "When were the bodies of the poor children found?"

"Five days ago in a camp ground in the Rockies, a teenage couple found them while looking for a place to make out." Agent Trent opened her briefcase and removed more photos, ones she had taken herself. "I examined the bodies and found them to be children who were between the ages of five and ten, all taken within the past year. The FBI is now tracking down who the children were and that may give us some lead as to why this happened." She took a breath and let the information sink in. "From what I could tell these children were all killed with a .45 to the chest. Their hands and feet were tied and they were blind-folded. It appears that the killer has not kept up with this in the past five months and hopefully it will stay this way."

The room was silent for a few minutes, "So what do we do now?" JD Dunne asked.

"There were some clues left at the grave site, an ATF badge was one of them, that's where you guys come in. So far two of the children have been identified and personal items were missing from each home. I think that who ever took them, not only took belongings from all the homes, but is keeping them close to him a trophies."

Vin spoke up, "I'll go through all the files starting from three years ago if someone wants to help."

"I'll go through them with you Mr. Tanner." Ezra offered.

"Actually I may need your undercover abilities for this one," Agent Trent said quickly.

Chris glanced over at Ezra, "I thought you said you didn't really know each other that well?"

Agent Trent realized she had made a mistake saying what she had and was fast with a reply, "We don't. I took it upon myself to research each of you on the plane trip over; Mr. Standish seems to be the best man for an undercover assignment."

Ezra thanked her gracefully and Josiah stepped up to help Vin with his task.

+ + + + + + +

The team had worked straight into the night, going through files, making plans, assigning people to certain jobs. Vin and Josiah had managed to narrow the search down to nine people who they thought would have been in the position, and state of mind, to commit the crimes. Buck set Ezra up with a false identity and an apartment where the Agent would be staying while undercover. JD got the necessary surveillance equipment for the case together, then him and Ezra went over to the apartment and began to set things up. Chris and Michaela over looked all the details to make sure that everything was properly in place for the investigation to work.

Around seven, Chris told everyone to go home and get some rest. Slowly the building emptied out and the cars one by one departed, Michelle confronted Ezra. "Why did you lie to Mr. Larabere?"

It took Ezra a moment to remember what he had lied about. "Well my dear, I was merely sparing your reputation. Besides, it has been three years and I wasn't sure how you felt about your co-workers having knowledge of our engagements." Ezra looked away from her stare.

"Ace, you know that I loved you, I'm not ashamed in any way of that. I guess I just wish…" she trailed off and stepped closer to him.

Ezra felt his heart jump into his throat, "What?"

"That I hadn't let you out." She leaned forward and planted a light kiss on his lips and then took a step back to wait for his reaction.

Ezra looked into her light blue eyes, "Me too," he replied and returned her kiss. "We shouldn't be doing this right now," he whispered.

"Why not?"

"Well, because JD has not left yet. He will be down any minute and I would much rather take this to my place." Michaela agreed and followed Ezra's black Jaguar to his apartment.

+ + + + + + +

An all too familiar sound of the alarm forced Ezra to open his eyes to locate the snooze button. "Morning Ace," Michaela laughed. "You never did like to get up in the morning, did you?" She was standing at the foot of his bed with wet hair and in his dark green silk bathrobe.

Ezra rubbed his eyes to make sure she was really there, "How long have you been up?"

"Only an hour, I watched you sleep for half of it, and then used your shower. I hope you don't mind." She moved toward the side of the bed and took his hand in hers.

"Not at all my dear lady, you may help yourself to anything here." He brushed a lock of hair from her face. "Including me."

"That's a very tempting offer Ace, but you need to get ready for work. It wouldn't look to good if we were both late now would it."

"No, I suppose you are right. Did you sleep okay?" He sat up and removed the covers from his body. He smiled and kissed her deeply.

"I slept fine. It always was easier to sleep to the sound of your heart. Now go get ready and I'll fix breakfast."

"Oh, you mean 'go take a shower so I can run to the coffee shop down the street because I can't cook?'" he teased and made his way to the bathroom.

"You know me too well Ace." She shook her head and opened her over night bag to retrieve a change of clothes. Her face went pale as she removed a blood stained child's shirt that was still wet. "ACE!" she yelled and held the shirt up to him as he ran into the room. "It was," she began to choke on tears, "in my over night bag."

He rushed to her side and she dropped the shirt, "Oh shit, I'm so sorry. I'm calling Chris." He reached over to the nightstand and hit memory and then one. "Chris, we have a problem." He explained the details and Chris said he would call the team and be at his place in a half hour.

+ + + + + + +

When the team arrived at Ezra's they found Michaela wearing one of Ezra's white shirts. "You will want to wear gloves, it's bad enough that my finger prints are now on the evidence, we don't need yours as well."

Buck and Vin examined the bag and put each piece of clothing in plastic bags.

"There sure is a lot of blood here, I really hope that this was just a sick joke," Vin mumbled to himself.

"Buck, I want you to run the bags over to the lab and have them analyzed ASAP," Chris ordered, "Josiah and Nathan, run a check on all missing children's files for anything recent. JD I need you to comb every inch of this apartment for fingerprints and send them over to the lab to be identified. Ezra and Agent Trent, come with me."

The team quickly separated to do their jobs and Chris, Ezra and Michaela went to the ATF offices. Chris escorted them to his office and shut the door behind them. "Don't know each other?" Chris scowled, he hated being lied to.

Ezra was quick with a defense, "I was only protecting the lady's reputation Mr. Larabee, and I assure you that the misleading was nothing personal."

"Enough Ezra, that's not important. What is is the fact that we very well may have another murder on our hands and that the plans for your undercover operation that were made only yesterday have been spoiled. We need a plan fast. The killer knows that we are involved and whoever it is, is trying to mess with our heads." Michaela stopped to catch her breath.

Chris was a bit surprised with her boldness, "You're right, fist we need to figure out when the shirt was placed in your bag and who it might belong to."

There was a knock on the door. Chris walked over, hoping it was one of the guys with some news. He opened the door to find a stranger in front of him. The man was about as tall as Chris with short dark hair and eyes that could look right through you. "Can I help you?" Chris asked.

"Yes, are you Mr. Chris Larabee?" the man replied and watched as Chris nodded his head. "My name is Agent Jared Ryan and I believe I can be some assistance to the case you are working on. May I come in?"

Chris stepped aside and let the Agent in. "Sorry my arrival has interrupted a meeting, but the Center for Gifted Children in Blue Cover Denver sent me here."

"I've heard of the Center, why did they send you?" Michaela asked.

"Because it turned out that four out of the five children that were found in the camp ground had at one point seen a specialist at the Center. This caused us great concern," the man stated and looked around the office.

Ezra hid his growing concern behind his poker face. "Why would someone want to hurt a child because they saw a specialist at the Center?"

"That is why I am here, to find that out. I have worked with the police and the FBI and promise that I will be nothing but helpful to your investigation here."

Chris nodded his head, not sure whether or not this man should be trusted, "Okay, you're in." He filled Jared in on the details and the four began to make a new plan.

Two hours later the phone rang, it was Buck, "Chris, the blood was fresh and it belonged to a white male. There was also hair on the shirt that matched the blood. The kid had blonde hair. That's all the lab was able to get so far."

"Good job Buck. Why don't you swing by my office, there is someone I would like you to meet."

"Is she hot?"

Chris couldn't help by laugh, "Well, you would be a better judge than me at that. Come over and find out yourself." He hung up the phone, "Poor Buck, only has his mind on one thing."

+ + + + + + +

The new plan was explained to the team one by one as they came back to report the results, Jared was going undercover, not Ezra. Since he came unannounced and was new to the area he would have better luck that Ezra on the streets. JD was going to be dressing up like a woman so not to be recognized when he went to set the equipment up in Jared's hotel room. JD wasn't thrilled with the idea but the others got a good laugh out of it. Michaela and Nathan would secretly be looking up children who were in the risk of becoming a victim. The others would appear to be investigating suspects and possible witnesses while Jared worked undercover, reporting in to Josiah and Vin on a bi-daily basis. This was going to be tricky to pull off, but it was worth a shot.

+ + + + + + +

It had been a week so far and Jared was beginning to get frustrated. After going through tapes that he had stolen from the Center, he picked up his cell phone and called Sidney. "It's Jared can you talk?"

"Of course Jared, what is it?" the older man asked quietly.

"I've been going through some documents from the center of some children who you tested within the past two years. Four of them have been murdered and possibly another."

The older man was in shock."Murdered, by who?"

"I don't know yet. I'm in Denver working with an ATF team." He gave his friend the names of the children. "Do you remember them?"

"Yes, I do. They were all very bright children. Not genius, but very bright and lively. Let me do some research and I'll let you know if I can find any other connections between these children."

"Thank you Sidney," Jared said and placed the phone back in his coat pocket. He opened his lap top again and reviewed a tape of him as a child. "Sydney, why would anyone hurt those kids like that man did?"

"He was a very troubled man. He felt that by killing these children it would bring closure to a problem in his life."

"Did it?"

"No, and that was why he continued to kill more children, in hopes that one day it would."

Jared remembered that conversation that he had almost twenty years ago when the Center was using his genius to solve national problems. Since he escaped a few years earlier he had been using his gift to help others in need. Even though he was helping people, the Center was still hunting him down hoping to bring him back and use him some more. Sydney was the only one he could trust %100, but he often turned to a computer geek named Broots if he felt safe enough.

Jared began to think out loud, "He stopped killing for a while. Why did he restart?" He reached over to the end table, grabbed a PEZ dispenser and mindlessly popped a piece of candy into his mouth. His mind went over the details again and again. Suddenly he got an idea, he called Ezra up and had him run a search on all the local police who had been either out of work during the time when the killings had ceased or someone who was only employed during that time.

"Anything else?" Ezra asked not sure if he could actually believe that one of the local police could be responsible for this.

"No, thank you Ezra."

"No problem Agent Ryan," Ezra said and went to work. He hacked his way into the local police department's system and began his search. It didn't take him very long to find what he was looking for.

Officer Peter Sanborn, six month leave due to family problems in Boston. Ezra quickly logged on to the Boston Globe web site. He read the local news. "The search for a missing Quincy boy grows dim," the headline stated and Ezra read on. "The local eight-year-old boy has been missing for two weeks now and the local authories are begging anyone with information to please step forward." Ezra looked at the picture that was downloading. The child had blonde hair.

Michaela walked up behind him, "Oh my god, Ezra how did you know where to look?"

"Jared called, had me run a trace on all the local cops. Officer Sanborn was the only one who was on leave for the entire time the killings stopped. He came back a two weeks ago. Care to guess where he was during that time?"

Michaela scanned the screen, "Boston?"

"Yup. I'm calling Chris," Ezra said and Michaela ran to the bedroom to change.

+ + + + + + +

It was just past ten at night when the team gathered in the 24 hour coffee shop. "So do we just go strait to the police now?" JD asked.

"No, it would take too along, give me three days and I promise you a taped confession from him," Jared sighed.

"Exactly how do you plan on doing that?" Buck asked.

"I have my ways, and the best part is, it's usually legal too. It will also save the police a lot of time, they will be able take him to trial with a month."

The group agreed to allow Jared three days in which to obtain a legal confession before going to the police.

+ + + + + + +

Officer Peter Sanborn awoke in the dead of night to find himself tied to his bed. "So tell me Pete," Jared began, "Did they beg for mercy before you shot them?"

Panic arose the officer's body and he began to struggle, "I don't know what you're talking about, I swear. What children?"

Jared smiled, "I never said anything about any children. Tell me, did they beg for mercy?"

Sanborn knew he was fucked. "No, they were knocked out. But it's all Larabee's fault. If he had just come home on time that night, he could have gotten his boy out of the fire. I never meant to kill anyone, honestly. I remember seeing the boy's face in the Clarion News and, it told how he was gifted."

"Then why did you kill those other children?" Jared yelled and felt a .45 to Sanborn's head, out of view from the camera.

"I kept seeing the boy's face in theirs, telling me that he was going to tell on me. He was going to make me pay, so I shut him up, and the next one. They would come to me I my dreams and taunt me, so I tracked them down and shut them up."

"Those weren't Chris Larabee's son. They were innocent children that you killed!"

"I know, I just couldn't help it." He began to sob. Jared felt that it was a good enough confession and Vin and Josiah placed him in cuffs, both hoping that Chris would never see the tape. They knew that it would kill him.

The next day Chris confronted Jared."I know you don't work for the Center. Who are you?"

"Trust me friend, it's better if you don't know."

A black rented car pulled up to the building as Jared looked out Chris's office window. He watched as Ms. Parker and some Sweepers stepped out. "Shit. Mr. Larabee, I must be leaving know. Maybe we will run into each other again sometime." They shook hands and Jared took off. A minute later Ms. Parker knocked on Chris's door.

"Have you seen this man?" the well dressed lady asked.

"Why yes ma'am, he left for the airport three hours ago. He mentioned something about a polar bear, but I wasn't paying too much attention, sorry," Chris lied and watched her storm off.

After she had left, Jared popped his head out from Ezra's office, "Thanks Chris," he said and this time really left the building.

+ + + + + + +

"So, I guess now you will be returning to your duties in New York?" Ezra said trying hopelessly to not look disappointed.

Michaela kissed him softly, "Oh Ace, I wish I didn't have to leave, but my work is there. I really love being with you, but we live in two different worlds now. I'm truly sorry." She stepped into her car and drove away.

"Me too darling, me too," he whispered with a broken heart.

Buck snuck up behind him, "Well, it looks like things are getting back to normal," he teased the gambler and patted him on the back.

"It sure does look that way huh?" Ezra replied and put on his poker face.


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