An Off Day

by Liz

Disclaimer: All Without A Trace characters belong to Hank Steinberg and the folks with Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Productions. I'm borrowing them for a while; no infringement is intended, and no profit is being made. Thanks again to my betas, Carol and TAE for keeping the characters true and the writing tight.

3:00 p.m. Tuesday

"Hi," Anne said, walking into his office.

"Hi," Jack replied, settling back into his chair and fiddling with his pen.

"Have you decided what you're doing tomorrow? One day just doesn't seem enough time."

"I agree, too short to go to Chicago for the day to see the girls. I thought I'd go to storage. I've gotta do it, I've just been putting it off."

"Oh, okay, well, if you want to get together for dinner, give me a call."

"I will, either way," he replied, returning his gaze to the open folder in front of him.


Jack looked up.

"Think about sleeping in, would you?"

"Yeah, it's on my list."

"Take care."

"I will, thanks."

Anne left his office and Jack shifted in his chair to return his concentration to the paperwork on his desk. He had arrived early, realizing that he needed to get a head start before the team came in at nine. They had just finished finding a young man who had wandered away from his group home. Thankfully, it was a happy ending, but he had been missing for more than five days and the paperwork was brutal.

5:00 p.m.


"Hi, Viv," he said, looking up to see her on the other side of his desk.

"I'm heading out. Do you need anything else from me?"

"No, I'm set. I just have to finish the last of these reports and get them into Van Doren's box; then I can go home."

"Did Tyler call you?"

"Yeah, he's coming up tonight but he isn't sure about his schedule, tomorrow. I've already got some things planned that I've been putting off."

"Okay, take care and maybe eat something tonight!"

"What?" he looked up at her.

"You missed lunch again, today."

"I did?"

Vivian looked at him, realizing that he really was unaware that he hadn't eaten. She shook her head and smiled before leaving him alone.

Jack continued to work, losing himself in the morass of paperwork until his cell phone interrupted him.


"Hey, it's Tyler."

"Hey, yourself. Are you in town?"

"I'm on Amtrak, actually got a ticket on the Acela and arrive in a couple of hours or so to Penn Station, that is if the train's on time. Look, I hate to spring this on you, but Phoebe screwed up and I don't have a hotel room. Can I crash at your place?"

"Sure, whatever you need."

"Are you still at the office?"

"Yeah, I have to finish these reports before I can go."

"Should I meet you there?"

"Call me when you get in. Maybe I'll be done and we can meet at Frank's. I missed lunch."

"Typical, Malone. Okay, I'll call you."



Jack closed his phone and slipped it back into his trouser pocket before returning his attention to the slowly dwindling stack of paperwork in front of him.

Cracking his neck, Jack stood for the first time in over four hours, feeling the familiar pain in his left knee. He moved his leg slowly as the mobility began to return. As he did so, his cell phone rang.


"Hi, I'm at Penn. So, what, Frank's in thirty minutes?"

"Yeah, that should work. Remember, they moved; sixteenth between ninth and tenth, closer to ninth."

"Thanks, see you soon."

"Bye," Jack replied, closing his phone.

He gathered his finished reports and walked out into the hallway to put them in Van Doren's box. Heading back to his office, he made sure everything was secure before he left for the garage.

The drive was short and he was able to park on the street. Walking into the restaurant, he smiled at Steve, the bartender, and then looked for Tyler. As usual, he was surrounded by two attractive women.

"Hey, man," Tyler called, spotting Jack at the end of the long walnut bar.

"Hey," Jack replied, walking up to him.

They embraced as they always did when it had been a long time since they had seen each other. Steve put Jack's scotch and water on the bar.

"Thanks, Steve."

Steve waved in acknowledgement as he looked down the bar for a new customer.

"Jack, this is Jennifer and Patty. They work across the street at Milk Studios. Girls, this is Jack."

"Hi," Jack said, shaking the women's hands.

They returned his greeting as he took a sip of his drink. Jack sat on a stool and smiled as Tyler flirted with the two women. After another round of drinks, they politely excused themselves and left the restaurant.

"Nice girls," Tyler commented, sipping his whiskey.


"Not really interested in us, were they?"

"No, but they were nice."

"You fellas gonna eat at the bar?" Steve asked.

"Sure," Tyler replied.

"You know what you want?"

"May I have the sliced steak, Block potatoes for two, and the asparagus." Tyler requested.

"Steamed asparagus?"

"Yes, please."

"And for you?"

"The veal parmesan on linguini, please."

"Okay," Steve replied, turning to the cash register/computer to enter their order.

"You look tired," Tyler commented.

"I am."

"What are you doing tomorrow, besides sleeping?"

"I have to sort through my storage unit. Between the divorce and my Dad's death, I just haven't done it."

"I might be able to help you in the afternoon, if you want. I have a nine, a lunch and a two o'clock."

Jack remained silent, looking into his drink.

"I'll call you," Tyler said.

Dinner came and they ate quickly. The conversation was short and sporadic as both men felt their energy draining. Paying the bill, they headed out to Jack's car. Jack handed him the car keys and Tyler put his suit bag in the trunk.

"Mind driving?"

"Okay," Tyler said, getting into the driver's seat.

Twenty minutes later, Tyler was finessing into a parking spot down the block from Jack's apartment. Jack was quiet, not sleeping, but eyes closed.

"Let's go, Malone."

Jack opened his eyes and then the car door. Slowly, he got out of the car and stood still, leaning back onto the vehicle.

"You okay?" Tyler asked, retrieving his suit bag.

"Yeah, my knee's just acting up."

"This wet fall weather isn't helping, I'm sure. I'll work on it, if you want."

Jack smiled before limping up the stairs to unlock the outside door of his apartment building. Slipping his keys into his pocket, he let Tyler lead the way up the stairs. Tyler had paid for part of his Columbia education as a licensed masseur. He was trained in physical therapy and shiatsu. After Jack's initial injury during his second year as an agent, Tyler had helped when the pain got too much. Taking his set of house keys from his jacket, Tyler headed up the three flights of stairs, hearing his friend's slow, uneven, footsteps behind him. Unlocking the apartment door, Tyler left it open before heading to the guest room to put his suit bag on the bed.

Jack entered his apartment, shut and locked the door, removed his electronics, gun and holster, loosened his tie, and continued to limp to his bedroom. Hanging up his suit and tie, he dropped his shirt into the dry-cleaning bag and slipped on a pair of shorts and a zip-up hooded sweatshirt. He walked back into the living room to see Tyler standing in the kitchen, in his shirtsleeves, making two drinks.

"Sit on the sofa; left leg on the coffee table, pillow under the knee," Tyler instructed.

Jack obliged, barely suppressing a groan when he put his leg on the table. Walking into the living room, Tyler handed Jack his drink and then gently laid an ice bag wrapped in a kitchen towel over Jack's knee. Taking a sip of his drink, Jack rocked his head back onto the sofa cushion, realizing that the liquid was almost straight scotch. Ella Fitzgerald began to sing softly after Tyler turned on the stereo. Ten minutes later, Tyler removed the ice pack from Jack's knee and looked at it closely for the first time.

"What did you do?" Tyler asked, gently probing with his fingertips.

"Our missing person stopped taking his meds and left his group home. We found him yesterday. He charged me and we both went down a flight of stairs. No big deal; he thought I was a grizzly bear, apparently," he replied, eyes closed, smiling slightly.

"Did you go to the hospital?"

"No, EMS checked the both of us. He dislocated his shoulder, I bruised my knee."

Tyler continued to gently touch Jack's swollen knee.

"Do you want me to see if I can get it to loosen up at all?"

"Honestly, I'm too tired to care. Can we do it tomorrow?" Jack asked, opening his eyes.

"Sure, if you're up at eight, I'll work on it before my first meeting."

"Thanks," Jack said, shifting his leg off of the coffee table.

He put his glass down and stood, rocking slightly. Tyler put a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder to steady him before he picked up the glasses and ice pack.

"Night," Jack said, his voice low and rumbly.

"Night," Tyler said, heading to the kitchen before turning out the lights and stereo and following Jack to bed.

Jack walked into his bedroom, flipped the lights on, and shut the door. Heading to the bathroom, he opened the medicine cabinet. Removing a prescription bottle, he looked at it for a moment before returning it to the shelf, choosing instead the plain aspirin. He shook out six tablets, filled a glass with water and swallowed them three at a time. Walking back into the bedroom, he switched on the bedside light, before walking to the door to turn off the overhead. He unzipped his sweatshirt and tossed it on the chair, and then carefully got into bed. Extending his arm, he turned off the lamp and started his relaxation exercises, trying to turn off his mind and stop the pain.

Chapter One
Wednesday 1:00 a.m.

He was running down an alley, being chased by Zachary Paulus, who was armed, dangerous, and had nothing to lose if he killed an FBI agent. Jack was running for his life, his gun in his holster, empty. Max Cassidy had set it up but the trap failed. Tyler and Jack were the rookies; two years in, they did all the leg work. Zachery Paulus enjoyed killing young men after torturing them.

Jack broke the case; not sleeping for four days, just sitting at his desk in a sort of stupor; staring at the evidence laid out before him. Tyler was supposed to be the bait; his blonde hair and tanned skin fitting the profile. But Paulus sensed there was something wrong and started shooting. Tyler was shot immediately, falling backwards from the impact to his vest; giving an Oscar-worthy performance as they taught him at Quantico. Paulus moved in on Max even as Jack gave cover fire. Finally, in desperation, after running out of ammunition, Jack goaded him.

"You want a hunt? I'll give you a hunt," he shouted, coming out from behind a dumpster.

Paulus looked at the thin handsome man with the long brown hair, tight jeans, t-shirt under his vest, and smiled as he reloaded his gun. Jack took off, running down the alley as he had been taught in the Army; changing directions, trying not to get shot. He ran out of the alley for the Hill, and in the pitch dark of the moonless night, he started to run down 'C' Street. He heard the footfalls and pings from the bullets hitting near him. Finally, after almost twenty minutes, Jack was beginning to tire. He was ahead of Paulus but not by enough. Running up the steps of the Capital, he heard a voice directed at someone else before he felt the pain.

"Stop, Federal Police."

Jack knew the pain, and as he collapsed onto the white steps of the Capital he heard the shots ring out as the police saw Paulus with his gun drawn.

Jack woke up, sitting up in bed, covered in sweat, shaking, and his left knee was on fire just like it was when he had been shot. He drew a couple of deep breaths, trying to calm before getting out of bed and limping to the guest room, putting most of his weight on his right leg.


Tyler woke up immediately when the door opened. He got out of bed quickly and went up to his friend, laying his hands on his shoulders.

"Hey, Malone, jeez you're soaked. Okay, let's get you back to bed."

Tyler helped Jack back to his bedroom, turning on the light before helping him sit on the bed. Jack lay back onto the pillow, his eyes closed. Looking at the knee, the original scar was red and the swelling had returned.

"Just relax, Jack, you're safe."

Slowly, Tyler went to work on the knee, looking at Jack occasionally, knowing that it hurt, but also knowing it was necessary.

"I ...I dreamt about that night," Jack said, his voice full of pain.

"I figured. Just relax, think nice thoughts."

2:00 a.m.

Jack finally fell asleep as Tyler released the muscle spasm from his knee. Turning out the bedroom light, Tyler reminded himself to call Viv to find out more about the fall.

2:00 p.m.

Jack woke up to his phone ringing.


"Oh, Jack, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."

"Hi, Viv, it's okay. What's up?"

"Tyler called me this morning and I wanted to check on you. I didn't realize that you had reinjured your knee Monday when Brian attacked you."

Jack paused, still not totally awake.

"I'm fine, Viv."

"Are you sure?"

"I'll be fine," he corrected.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Thanks."

"All right then. Have a nice day off."

"Thanks, bye."


Jack hung up the phone and looked at the clock in semi-disbelief. Slowly he got out of bed and used the toilet. He shook out six aspirins and swallowed them with a quick glass of water. Deciding not to shave, he walked back into the bedroom and changed into a loose pair of chinos and a Chicago Cubs t-shirt that the girls had sent him for Father's Day. He slipped his feet into a pair of driving moccasins and walked to the kitchen. The coffee pot was full and there was a note from Tyler.


It's eight and you are out like a light. I hope you find this in the afternoon.
I haven't seen you this wiped out in a long time. I'll call you after my last
meeting and touch base.


Jack smiled and poured a cup of coffee. Setting it inside the microwave, he set the timer for three minutes and pressed start. He found his empty duffle, the key chain for his storage unit, and pulled out some large garbage bags before the microwave beeped it was done. He filled the duffle with the garbage bags. Carefully taking the cup out, he leaned against the kitchen counter, putting most of his weight on his right leg, and sipped his coffee.

Ten minutes later, he gathered up his keys, sunglasses, cell phone, slipped on an old leather jacket, picked up the full duffle, and left the apartment. The storage area was only ten blocks away, but Jack decided not to risk walking when his knee wasn't 100%.

3:30 p.m.

He parked the car in the authorized zone and walked across the street to the storage building. He waved his magnetic entry card and entered through to the elevator area before having to open the roll-up gate to get a cart. Having done so, he waited for the elevator. Jack waved his pass again after getting into the elevator and went up to the ninth floor. Pushing his cart to his unit, he reached into the duffle, removed the keys, and unlocked the small room. He sighed and then started in on the boxes closest to the door. The first box was all clothing. Jack emptied its contents into a garbage bag and set the bag back on the cart. He continued, not thinking, really, just doing it.

7:00 p.m.

The cart was almost full when Jack stretched, cracking his neck and then his back. His knee throbbed but it was manageable. Turning back to the task he saw two boxes with his name on them in his father's handwriting. When his father had moved from his apartment to the assisted living facility, Jack was on a case and had to leave the packing to the moving company. He didn't even supervise the boxes getting to storage. Picking the first box up, he opened it and stood very still. His mother's favorite sweater rested in a clear dry cleaning bag on top. Slowly, he put the top back on the box and set it on the cart. Jack picked up the second box and set it next to the other one. The storage room now contained some furniture and some things of his that he couldn't part with. He looked around, locked the door, and headed for the elevator. Getting to the first floor, he set the cart on the edge of the dock and walked across the street to get his car. Jack backed up and then opened the trunk. His two boxes of treasures were set aside as he filled the trunk with things he could give to the Salvation Army. The other bags and broken down boxes went into the dumpster. Returning the cart to the office area, he put the boxes in the back seat with his empty duffle, got into the car, and drove home.

He was five minutes away when his phone rang.


"Hi, it's Anne. I'm at your apartment. I was going to surprise you and make you dinner but you surprised me first."

"I'm five minutes away. Would you mind helping me carry up a box to my apartment?"

"Of course not, I'll meet you outside."


Shutting his phone, he started to concentrate on finding a parking place. He saw a car pulling out at the end of the block and quickly put his turn signal on before negotiating his way into it. Turning off the engine, he slowly got out of the car; the aspirin had completely worn off. He looked up and saw Anne walking towards him. He opened the back door and pulled out the two boxes, setting them on the trunk.

"You look better," she said, putting a hand on his unshaven cheek as she guided him in for a kiss.

"Thanks, I slept 'til two."

"Just these two boxes?"


"Okay," she said, picking up one box, waiting for him.

"You go ahead, my knee is bothering me. It'll take me a while," Jack said, picking up the other box and the empty duffle.

Anne leaned over and kissed him softly on the lips before walking up the stairs to the outside door. She could hear him groaning softly at every step. Ten minutes later, they were both in the apartment. Jack hung up his coat and set his keys and phone in the dish. Anne moved the boxes to the small dining table as Jack retreated to his bedroom. The phone rang.

"Could you get that?"

"Sure, hello, Malone residence."

"Hi, Annie, it's Tyler."

"Hi, Tyler."

"How's Jack?"

"I'm not sure. He told me he woke up at two this afternoon and that his knee hurts."

"Annie, I hate to be blunt, but I was staying in the guest room. Would you rather I go somewhere else tonight?"

"No, of course not. Do we need to count you in on dinner plans?"

"Unfortunately for me, no. The day is blown to hell and I suspect that dinner, if at all, will be very late."

"Take care, Tyler."

"I will, Annie. Bye."

"Bye," she said, setting the phone back into the cradle.

Jack walked out of his bedroom slowly, favoring his left leg.

"That was Tyler. He asked about you and then made sure that he wasn't going to cramp your style."

"Ah, always considerate," Jack said, slipping his hands around her waist.

"Oh, yes, definitely. He will not be joining us for dinner."

"Excellent," Jack replied, leaning in to kiss her.

Anne shifted her weight and he lost his balance, forcing most of his weight on his left leg. Grasping for the breakfast bar, he stood solely on his right leg, Jack just shut his eyes, trying to breathe through the pain.

"I'm sorry, are you okay?" she asked, holding his upper arms tightly.

"Yeah, just, just help me sit down on the sofa."

Anne put her arm around his waist as they walked to the sofa. He slowly sat down, trying not to bend his left knee too much. He leaned back, eyes closed, breathing through the pain. Touching his hand, Anne squeezed it, feeling him squeeze back. After five minutes, Jack's breathing evened out and she carefully stood up to go to the kitchen. She poured him a strong scotch and set it on the coffee table before walking back to the kitchen to start dinner.

As the pain diminished to a dull throb, Jack opened his eyes and saw the dark glass of scotch. He picked it up and took a big sip, followed by another one. The liquid burned slightly as he swallowed it but it was taking the edge off and he felt better afterwards. He heard Anne's voice in the kitchen as she sang softly to herself while she was cooking. Jack looked at the dining room table and saw the two boxes from storage. With some effort, he stood, walking to the table to move the boxes closer to the sofa. He opened the first box and saw some photographs on the top. Setting the lid back on, he opened the second box. Jack sat on the sofa, stretching his left leg out under the coffee table and reached for his mother's sweater. He opened the sealed plastic bag and smelled her. It had been thirty years, but her perfume was embedded in the fibers. Jack sat back on the sofa, the sweater against his face and tried to remember her. Anne walked in to check on him and sat on the sofa, her leg underneath her, facing him.

Silently, she put her hand to the back of his neck and pulled ever so slightly. He fell against her, all defenses down as the strong sensory contact reminded him of that fall day. He held her tightly.

After a time, he started to slow down and then sat back on the sofa, holding the sweater tightly. She brushed his hair back, and kissed his forehead before checking on dinner. Slowly, he folded the sweater and placed it in the plastic bag, sealing it tightly. Setting that aside, he sat up, wiped his face on the edge of his t-shirt and looked into the box. In the left corner was a small box. He picked it up and opened it; it was his mother's crucifix. The chain was broken, but the gold cross gleamed. She had told him her father gave it to her after her confirmation. Jack ran his thumb over the engraving, trying to divine something from it. He undid the chain around his neck. Carefully, he slipped the crucifix onto the chain next to St. Jude. He put it back around his neck and redid the clasp before slipping it under his shirt. Taking a mouthful of his scotch, he drifted for a moment.

"Jack, dinner's ready. Would you set the table?"


Jack put the lid back on the box and set it on top of the other one. He stood carefully and walked to the cabinet to remove two placemats. Setting them on the table, he walked into the kitchen and took out the silverware and two paper napkins. Placing them on the table, he picked up his scotch and walked into the kitchen.

"Would you like some wine with dinner?" he asked.

"Yes, please."

Noting that it was salmon as Anne took it from the oven, he walked to the fridge and pulled out a chilled sauvignon blanc. He removed two glasses from the cabinet and walked slowly back into the living room. The wine was from New Zealand and had a pressurized screw top rather than a cork, so he opened it easily. He poured their glasses and waited as Anne walked in with dinner.

"Maple salmon with rice and green beans."

"It looks terrific," he said, kissing her quickly on the cheek before sitting down.

Sitting down herself, she couldn't help but notice his discomfort.

"Do you need to see a doctor?"

"No, I just need Tyler to do his magic," Jack replied and then told her the story of his original injury.

"You got shot playing decoy so Max could get away?"

"That wasn't my plan but that's what ended up happening."

They sat in silence, enjoying their dinner. Finally, Jack sat back and looked at her.

"The sweater...the sweater belonged to my mother. It was her favorite and...and it smelled of her perfume."

Anne reached across the table for his hand and he grabbed for it, holding tight.

"My mother committed suicide when I was sixteen. I guess my father kept some of her stuff, I didn't know, I just found this, and it threw me. I just...I just miss her, sometimes."

"It's okay, I understand," she said, squeezing his hand in support.

They finished dinner in silence and took the dirty dishes to the kitchen before taking their glasses and resettling on the sofa. Jack cautiously landed his left leg on the coffee table, slipping a pillow under the knee and leaned back, his head resting on the cushion. Anne sat quietly sipping her wine and holding his hand, rubbing her thumb over the calluses. Slowly his eyelids dropped and his hand went slack in hers. His empty wine glass remained upright on the firm cushion. She stood and picked up their glasses and went to the kitchen to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Ten minutes later, she was finished and she walked back into the living room. Jack was still asleep. Anne looked at her watch. She hadn't planned on spending the night. Walking to the breakfast bar, she picked up the pen and wrote him a quick note.

Dear Jack,

You're asleep and I won't wake you. I have an early meeting tomorrow. I
just hadn't planned on spending the night. Call me, please?


Her first appointment was at eight and she still had work to do beforehand, so she kissed his cheek, grabbed her coat and purse, and left the apartment.

Thursday 1:00 a.m.

Tyler unlocked the door and walked into Jack's apartment. He stopped for a moment, seeing Jack sitting on the sofa looking through the contents of a box.

"Hey," Jack greeted softly.

"Hey, what are you doing up?" Tyler said, shutting the door and locking it behind him.

"I couldn't stay asleep."

Tyler saw the empty rocks glass amidst the clutter and walked to the kitchen. He pulled a glass from the cabinet, filled it with ice, picked up the bottle of scotch, and headed back into the living room. Clearing off a section of the table, he put down the glass and the bottle and sat down heavily.

"Long day?" Jack asked, looking at his friend.

"Yeah, I hate this bureaucratic bullshit."

Tyler poured half the ice into Jack's glass and then filled them both amply with scotch. He took a sip and then looked at the stuff spread out on the coffee table. There were two framed photos of whom he presumed was a young Jack and his mother set aside on the corner of the table, several manila envelopes, three velvet boxes, three thin green folders, four track trophies, and a stack of loose photos and papers.

"This from storage?"

"Yeah, my old man saved this stuff for me. One box is full of my mother's things and one is full of mine."

"What's in the velvet boxes?"

"Look for yourself," Jack replied, sitting back with his scotch.

Tyler leaned over and picked up the first one. He opened it looked at the contents and set it, still open, on the table. He then opened the second one, and did the same thing. When he opened the third one, he just looked at Jack, who appeared to be studying his scotch.

"Are these your father's?

"No, they're mine."

"A Bronze star, a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart; that's impressive."

Jack remained quiet but repositioned himself to get to his feet. He'd been sitting there since Anne left at ten and his knee had stiffened up considerably. Grasping the arm of the sofa he stretched his leg while Tyler took a sip of his drink. Limping off to his bedroom, Jack continued to the bathroom and ran cold water over his face. He opened the medicine cabinet and again looked at the prescription bottle before shaking the aspirin out of the large white bottle on the countertop. He took them two at a time with water and waited a few minutes before walking to his closet to change out of his trousers and into a pair of shorts.

By the time he got back to the living room, Tyler had opened the leather folders and read the commendations.

"Feel better?"

"Maybe when the aspirin kicks in," Jack replied sitting on the leather chair.

Tyler walked to the kitchen and took the ice pack out of the freezer. He wrapped it in a kitchen towel and brought it back with him, carefully laying it on Jack's knee.

"Tell me when you want me to work on it again."

"Again?" Jack looked over to him.

"Yeah, you woke me up at one this morning. You dreamt about the shooting at The Capital. You don't remember?"

"Not at all."

"You were in a lot of pain. I got you back to bed and worked on your knee for an hour or so."

Jack looked at his watch and realized it was almost two. He sighed and waited another ten minutes for the ice and aspirin to take effect.


"Jack, I've got to go to bed," Tyler said, slowly getting to his feet.

"Night," Jack said, not moving from his chair, but setting aside the ice pack.

"Come on, Malone. Even you need sleep, sometimes."

Jack stretched his arm up and Tyler pulled him to his feet, holding onto his shoulders until he was stable. They walked back to their respective bedrooms.



Jack shut the door behind him and walked in darkness to his bed. He lay down, putting the extra pillow under his knee, and quickly fell asleep. With his sleep came his dreams. They were vivid, in color, and exhausting until he woke himself up. Looking at the clock beside his bed, he noted that he had slept a little over an hour. Feeling anything but rested, he knew he didn't want to try to go back to sleep because of his dreams. He got out of bed and got ready for work.

Chapter Two
4:00 a.m.

Jack walked onto the quiet floor and headed right to his office. He hung up his coat and went to the kitchenette to make himself a cup of coffee. He waited a moment while the Keurig B50 one cup beverage maker did its job. Van Doren had lobbied for it and Jack had to admit the coffee was great. His knee felt better, the aspirin finally having kicked in, and he was able to walk without a significant limp. Making his way back to his office he loosened his tie and undid the top button of his shirt before sitting down at his desk to go through his in box.

8:00 a.m.

Jack's cell phone rang.


"Hey, you left for work early."

"Morning, Tyler. Yeah, I needed to get a jump on the day," Jack said, leaning back in his chair.

"Did you sleep?"

"About an hour, but frankly, it felt more like five minutes. I had dreams that bordered on nightmares."

"Can you leave early?"

"Maybe, right now there aren't any cases but that could change. When are you going back to D.C.?"

"Tomorrow at some point."

"Then I'll see you tonight."

"Yeah, how's your knee?"

"Feels better, the aspirin caught up."

"Take it easy. Get up once an hour or it will really lock up on you."

"Point taken," Jack said, shifting in his chair to get to his feet.

"See you later."

"Bye, Tyler."

Jack closed his phone and slowly walked around his office for five minutes before sitting down again at his desk. He heard the ping of his computer announcing a new email and opened it. Starting to read it, he hit the print command and waited for the printer. His desk was clear, his outbox was full. He removed the pages from the printer and started again to read.

Jessica Allan Lambert, age twenty-nine, gallery owner of The Right Folk art gallery on Norfolk Street. Left the gallery Tuesday night after an opening and hadn't been seen since. Jack continued to read her basic history and then looked at the photo. She was pretty, blonde hair, brown eyes, with a smattering of freckles on her nose. Looking into his desk drawer, he pulled out a manila folder and started his own file. He read the information again, and made notes on the inside cover of the folder before sitting back in his chair, his eyes closed.

9:00 a.m.

Vivian walked off the elevator and headed for the bullpen, walking by Jack's office. She smiled that he was in early but stopped when she saw the circles under his eyes. Continuing to her desk, she put down her purse and coat before going for her first cup of coffee. Walking back from the kitchenette, she knocked on Jack's office door with her ring. He opened his eyes and motioned for her to come in.

"Hi," she ventured.

"Hi," he replied straightening before getting to his feet.

She looked at his desk and then at him again.

"What time did you get in?"

"Around four, I guess,"

He buttoned his shirt and tightened his tie before picking up his coffee cup and case folder. Vivian sighed and followed him as he walked out of the office to the kitchenette. He made a fresh cup of coffee and they headed side by side to the bullpen. Jack walked up to the whiteboard and put up Jessica's photograph and her case ID number. He turned around to see Danny, Martin, and Sam walk from the elevator. He sat at the conference table and sipped his coffee until they were settled and sat down with him.

"Jessica Lambert, art gallery owner on the lower east side, went missing Tuesday night. Viv, I'd like you to do the usual background check," Jack said, pausing to look at Danny and Martin who were giggling at something.

"Heckle and Jeckle, check out the phone logs. Sam check out her apartment, take Elena with you."

"Elena is in Cancun for her sister's wedding, remember?" Danny reminded him.

"That's this week? Right, okay, Heckle, go with Sam to Jessica's apartment." Jack said, looking at Danny.

"The gallery doesn't open until eleven. I'll take a run over there then," Jack said, walking back to his office.

"Doesn't look like he rested much on his day off," Sam commented as she got her things together.

"No, here's Jessica's address," Vivian said, handing her a piece of paper.


10:45 a.m.

Jack sat at his desk and stared at the copy of Jessica's picture that he had just printed. Ten minutes later, Viv walked in.

"Okay, Jessica Lambert, graduate of The Art Institute of Chicago, moved to New York five years ago. Parents both dead, she has a sister in Philly, who reported her missing. Apparently, Jessica was supposed to go visit her and never showed. She bought the gallery space two years ago and has been doing very well. There is an assistant, a William Farrell. He reported her missing."

"Great Viv, I'll head over there, now," Jack getting up from behind his desk.

"You sure you don't want company?"

"Nah, I'm fine, thanks. I'm hoping if we all work on this we might get lucky and find her today."

"Gotcha, keep in touch."

"You bet."

Jack walked to the elevator and went down to the garage. It was cold outside; a raw rainy day and the forecast for the rest of the week was much the same. Standing in front of his car, he changed his mind and decided to take the subway, knowing that parking would be a pain. Thirty minutes later, he was looking in the window of The Right Folk gallery. He walked in, hearing a chime from the back room as he crossed the electric eye. Looking at the paintings, he headed further into the gallery, assuming that someone would come out to greet him. Finally he was outside a door marked Private. He knocked and walked in.

The bullet hit him in his left shoulder and spun him before he fell face first to the floor. A thin man, dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, put the gun back into his waistband and continued to pack a plastic bag with money from a cash box. He stepped over a man sprawled on the floor, in a linen shirt and silk tie, now embossed with blood, on his way to Jack. Rolling him over, he pulled the black leather wallet from his coat pocket. He pulled the money and the credit cards out, tossing the wallet into the waste paper basket. He added it to his bag and continued to search Jack thoroughly, finding his badge, cell phone, and gun.

"You're kidding," the man commented.

Jack groaned and opened his eyes, looking up at the man above him who was holding his gun.

"Come on, Mr. Ness, get on your feet," the man directed, tossing the badge and cell phone on the floor.

Jack rolled over to his hands and knees, grunting as he got to his feet. The man grasped Jack's lapels and then buttoned his jacket, hiding the growing blood stain on his white shirt, before motioning with the gun for him to walk to the door.

"Keep walking, Mr. Ness. I figure that you are here to find Jessica. Well, let's not keep her waiting," he said, leaning over to pick up his plastic bag.

"What's your name?" Jack asked, through clenched teeth.

"You can call me Al."

"Funny," Jack replied, reaching up to loosen his tie and unbutton his shirt several buttons.

"Keep walking, Mr. Ness," Al said, having slipped his hand and Jack's gun under his shirt as he walked on Jack's right side.

The rain had all but stopped as they went down the block and then turned east, rapidly getting into a more run-down area. After fifteen minutes, the shoulder of Jack's black suit jacket was almost soaked through. The blood dripped from his fingertips, but he didn't feel the pain in his knee any longer.

"Up the stairs," Al pointed to the brownstone on their left.

Jack walked slowly, allowing his sleeve to rub against the railing, grunting at every step. He opened the door and was hit by a combination of urine and vomit smell. Biting back the option of adding his signature to the floor, Jack breathed through his mouth and continued into the stairwell.

"Upstairs, third floor."

Leaning against the wall for support, Jack walked up the stairs, hearing them creak under his weight. The stairs corkscrewed rather than switch backed, which helped him continue his trek. His breath was coming in gasps as he fought not to black out.

"Second door on the left."

Jack lurched down the hallway to the door and leaned against the frame as Al unlocked it. Pushing Jack ahead of him, they both entered the apartment. He saw Jessica, lying on the bed, blindfolded, stripped naked, bruised, bloodied, and tied at her ankles and feet.

"Mr. Ness, please sit, and say hi to Jessica." Al said, pointing to a chair that was facing the bed.

Jack sat down and cradled his left arm. He started to pass out, until he felt his shoes and socks being removed and tape being applied to his ankles. Next, Al taped his wrists to the arms of the chair and squeezed Jack's left shoulder hard, feeling him collapse from the pain beneath his touch.

12:15 p.m.

"Anyone heard from Jack?" Viv asked, putting down her phone.

"No, and I have Jessica's phone records and credit card charges. Nothing outstanding," Martin said, looking up from the large pile of papers in front of him.

"Nothing at her apartment, either," Sam said, walking into the bullpen with Danny in tow.

"Tech is looking at her computer but she appears to be a nice, normal, woman," Danny remarked, taking off his coat.

"Well, then, we're waiting on Jack," Vivian said, looking out the window at the grey day.

1:00 p.m.

"Hey, Jack, it's me. Call in, please; we need to touch base with you. It's one o'clock," Viv said, hanging up her phone.

"Still nothing?" Sam asked.

"No, right to voicemail."

"Maybe he went out for lunch and is out of range," Danny suggested.

"Yeah, maybe," Viv picked up her receiver again and placed a call.


"Tyler, it's Vivian. Have you heard from Jack?"

"Hi, Viv, not since I called him at eight this morning. Something up?"

"I'm not sure. He's late coming back from an interview."

"Well, keep in touch."

"I will, bye."


"Tyler hasn't heard from him since this morning," Viv said, hanging up the phone.

1:30 p.m.

"What's the number of the gallery?" Martin asked, picking up the receiver.

"212-555-7684," Viv said, reading off the sheet.

After four rings, someone answered the phone.


"Hello, is this The Right Folk Gallery?"


"I'm Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald of the FBI. I'm looking for one of my fellow agents, Special Agent Jack Malone-"

"This is Jim Binder, NYPD. You should get down here. We have one dead body, a bunch of blood, and your friend's wallet, badge and cell phone."

"Thanks, Officer. We'll be right there," Martin said, getting to his feet before hanging up the phone.

"There's trouble; NYPD has Jack's wallet and badge at the gallery. There's also a dead body and a lot of blood."

The four agents took their coats and ran out of the office. When the elevator door opened on the garage level, Sam looked towards Jack's parking spot and saw his car.

"He took the train," she said out loud.

They all got into Danny's car and had barely shut the doors before they were practically flying out of the garage.

"In one piece, please, Danny," Viv remarked, holding on to anything she could.

Danny slowed down a bit, more to acquiesce to the weather than Vivian. The rain was coming down in torrents but, even so, ten minutes later, they arrived at the scene. Flashing their badges they walked into the gallery.

"It's here in the back," an officer said, waving them towards him.

They walked in as a group and stopped when they saw the blood. Each agent put on latex gloves as they started to process what they saw.

"Special Agent Fitzgerald?" a police officer with bright red hair asked.

"I'm Fitzgerald."

"I'm Sgt. Jim Binder. We found his wallet in the trash can. No credit cards, no cash. His badge and phone were just lying on the floor."

"Martin, it's not Jack," Viv said, straightening up from looking at the body.

"My guess is that it's William Farrell, the assistant," Sam remarked as she walked up. "We saw photos of this man with Jessica in her apartment."

"We need the prints, especially from the wallet and the badge," Viv said, jotting down a note.

"Is there a surveillance system?" Danny asked.

"There was," Sgt. Binder said, pointing to the smashed unit on the floor.

3:00 p.m.

Sam glanced up at the whiteboard, looking at the photograph of Jack and the timeline they were building.

"Viv, what the hell is going on?" a strong voice called from down the hall, approaching the bullpen.

"Tyler, he's missing and probably hurt. We're waiting on the preliminary forensics and fingerprints to make sure," Vivian replied, not moving her eyes from her computer.

"Hi, Tyler."

"Hi, Danny," Tyler said, looking beyond him to the whiteboard.

"May I see the file?" Tyler asked, turning back towards the team.

"Sure," Viv replied, handing it to him.

Tyler took the case file and sat down at the conference table opposite Sam. He loosened his tie and undid the first button of his shirt. Running his fingers through his long blonde hair, he looked up and caught both Sam and Martin staring at him.

"Sorry, I'm Tyler Simpson, FBI, Quantico. I'm actually in Violent Crimes as a profiler. Jack and I are old friends," he said, standing.

"Hi, Samantha Spade," she said, extending out her hand.


"Martin Fitzgerald," he said, also extending his hand.

"I thought you looked familiar. You look a lot like your old man." Tyler said, sitting back down to the file.

Martin blushed and looked back at his desk.

4:00 p.m.

"Okay, the blood is definitely Jack's. Forensics is trying to sort through the fingerprints," Danny said, rushing into the bullpen.

"Samantha, take Martin and canvas the area. We still don't know why Jessica left the opening. Is there a list of who was there?" Tyler asked.

"Uh, yeah, we have a sign-in book. Tech printed a list from the computer at Jessica's apartment." Danny replied.

There was a silence and Tyler finally looked up at the other agents.

"I apologize, Viv. Sometimes I forget my place," he sighed, sitting back in his chair.

"We all miss him, Tyler. Sam and Martin, go canvas the area. Danny you and I will go through the sign-in book."

6:00 p.m.

A decidedly soaked Sam and Martin arrived back at the bullpen. They took off their coats and walked to the conference table where Tyler was working.

"The deli owner, dry cleaner, and liquor store owner all knew Jessica. No one saw her that night," Sam said softly.

"Come on, Malone, where are you?" Tyler asked, looking at his photograph on the board.

Chapter Three

Jack woke up to a sharp cry. He opened his eyes and saw Al raping Jessica. Closing his eyes again, he started to whisper The Rosary, tapping his right index finger in place of rosary beads. After several minutes, the almost imperceptible noise was heard.

"You're up, Ness? What are you doing? Morse code? No, wait, you're praying, how pathetic. Enough of that," Al said, leaving the bed to stand naked next to Jack, sweat streaming down his body.

Al reached across and in one single motion he twisted Jack's right index finger: breaking it instantly. Jack remained silent although every nerve in his body felt on fire.

"I will break all of your fingers if you continue, Ness."

Al left his side and resumed his destruction of Jessica. Jack could shut his eyes but he couldn't shut his ears to the screams from the both of them. Struggling against the duct tape, it didn't give him any freedom. He mouthed The Rosary as tears streamed down his face. Suddenly, the room was silent. Jack heard Al get off the bed and walk towards him.

"You're next," Al whispered in his ear before walking away.

Jack heard the shower and opened his eyes. Jessica was dead, her eyes and mouth open, and the bed was bathed in blood. Looking at the floor, Jack saw the bloody footprints leading to the bathroom. As he was about to try to rip the tape from his hands, the shower stopped. Closing his eyes, he started The Rosary again.

"You awake, Ness?"

Jack opened his eyes to look at Al and tried to be calm but the pain from his shoulder and his finger was etching away his resolve.

"You look like you're thinking, Ness, and that is dangerous for the both of us," Al said, standing in front of him, dressed only in a towel.

Jack saw him turn to look at Jessica. Al's face flushed with arousal and without warning, he started to punch Jack; striking his face. He continued, hitting him on his face and chest. Jack tried to move his chair to get out of the way, only to incur more wrath. Finally, when Jack's face and suit coat were almost covered in blood, Al took hold of two fingers of his left hand and waited until Jack looked at him. Al broke them, at which point Jack fainted. Grinning, Al washed his hands, got dressed, and left the squalid apartment.

8:00 p.m.

"We have a lead," Danny yelled, running back to the bullpen. "We have fingerprints from a Robert Covall, Jr."

"Robert Covall, Jr. oh, this guy is not good. In and out of juvie and he's done time in Attica for rape and attempted murder," Martin said, looking at his screen.

"Any known address?" Tyler asked.

"No, but here's his photo," Martin said, pulling several copies from the printer.

"Yeah, we'll go out right now and canvas," Sam said, pulling on her wet coat, Martin right behind her.

"Thanks," Tyler said, running his hand through his hair again.

"I'll have PD put out an APB," Viv said, turning back to her phone.

"Can I get you a cup of coffee, Tyler?"

"Thanks, Danny."

Friday 1:00 a.m.

Jack woke up in pain, cold, in the dark, and alone. Taking a cautious breath, he leaned over and started to work on the tape on his hands with his teeth.

3:00 a.m.

Tyler's cell phone went off.

"Shit, shit, shit," he said, standing quickly, looking at the screen of his phone.

"What?" Viv said, yawning.

"1976, 1976, 1976."

"Okay, buddy," he said into the phone. "It's Jack," he said to Vivian.

"1976, 1976, 1976."

"I got it, Jack. Don't hang up."

There was only silence on the phone, just the noise of the city in the middle of the night.

"Where's your tech guy? We need a trace."

"This way," Danny said, running down the hall to wake up Mac.

Tyler followed, holding his phone in front of him while Vivian ran at his side.

"Jack is connected, you need to trace this call," Tyler directed.

"Okay, and what's your number?" Mac said, wiping the sleep from his eyes.


"Got it, tracing, a pay phone, routing, Avenue A and 1st Street."

"This is Special Agent Johnson, I have an agent down in the area of Avenue A and 1st Street. Please respond an ambulance, we're on our way."

Danny, Tyler, and Viv headed out to their car and drove in the dark rain the short distance. The receiver was hanging down, but Jack was no longer at the phone booth.

"Malone? Malone?" Tyler shouted.

"He's here, I've got him," Danny said, hearing a groan from behind a pile of garbage.

Tyler went to Jack as the ambulance pulled up. The noise from the siren brought him to full consciousness.

"Help me."

"Jack, it's me, Tyler. You're safe. You'll be okay," Tyler said, distracted by the blood.

"I need...I need," Jack said, panting.

"What do you need?"

"I need Sean, please, Tyler, get me Sean," Jack said as they placed him on the stretcher.

"Who's Sean?" Tyler asked the group.

"I think he means Father Walker from St. Germaine's. He and Jack sort of hit it off a couple of years ago," Danny volunteered.

"Okay, Viv, do you want to ride with him?"

"No, Tyler, I think you should do it. I'll call Sam and then I have to go home. Danny would you track down Father Walker?"


"Night," Viv said, walking over to Jack, who was being treated by EMS on the gurney.

Viv slipped a hand on his jaw and he woke immediately, looking at her.

"I have to go home, but you're going to be fine. Danny is bringing Sean and Tyler is going to stay with you," Viv explained.

"Anne?" he whispered.

"I'll call her."

"No, don't," Jack said before the EMS technicians took one last reading.

"All right, I won't. Okay? You're safe, now Jack," Viv said, leaning over to kiss his forehead before turning away to hide her tears.

Tyler climbed into the ambulance as they loaded Jack. Tyler tried to calm his friend by gently brushing back his hair. Jack's left eye was swollen shut, but the other one was fixed on Tyler. An oxygen mask was placed over his battered mouth and nose as the EMS technician noticed Jack struggling to breathe.

"Easy, easy, we're almost there," the man soothed.

"Jack, listen to me. You need to relax into the medication. I'm not leaving you. You know that."

Jack blinked as tears started to stream down his face. Tyler too had silent tears looking at what had been done to his friend.

"Okay, we're here at St. Vincent's," The tech said, as the ambulance shifted into reverse.

The doors opened and two orderlies helped get the gurney out of the ambulance. Tyler walked in eyesight of Jack until they entered the trauma room. Jack started to hyperventilate as Tyler's image disappeared.

"Easy, we have to access the damage, just breathe," a man's voice said firmly.

Jack moved his head to the voice and paused before finally giving in to the pain.

4:30 a.m.

"Are you with Agent Malone?" a doctor in scrubs came into the waiting area.

"Yes, we are," Tyler replied, standing with the other agents next to him.

"Well he's pretty banged up, but he'll be out of here in a few days. I repaired his shoulder, taped his ribs, and set his fingers. Which one of you is Sean?"

"I am," a quiet lilting voice came from behind the group.

Father Sean Walker stood looking at the doctor.

"Father, please come with me before we move him upstairs."

Sean followed the doctor into the open trauma area. Going behind a curtain, he saw Jack, his face bruised and swollen, his fingers bandaged, with his left shoulder wrapped and arm strapped to his chest. He also saw the restraints.

"Father, he's very upset and won't talk to anyone. All he does is struggle against the medication. He was halfway out of the bed before we were able to subdue him. I'll be at the nurse's station if you need me."

Sean nodded and walked up to Jack's right side. He put a gentle hand on his right shoulder and started to pray.

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen."

Sean opened his eyes and continued.

"Our Father, Who are in heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen."

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;"

A low quiet voice from the bed joined him in the prayer. When they had finished, Sean looked at Jack. He pulled a chair up to the bed and sat down, waiting for Jack to speak. His eye spoke volumes as he looked at Sean. His right hand grasped the sheets as tightly as he could with his splinted finger.

"Jack, what is it? Do you want to confess?"

"I...I can't...please Sean, stay with me until I fall asleep."

"I won't leave you, Jack," Sean said, gently brushing Jack's hair from his sweaty forehead.

"So tired."

"Just sleep, your body and mind need the rest."

6:00 a.m.

"We have a room for him, Father. You can walk with us if you wish," an orderly came into the curtained area.

"Thank you," Father Walker said, waiting until Jack was ready to be transported.

They left the trauma area and passed the waiting room on their way to the elevator. Sam, Martin, Danny, and Tyler all stood to follow.

"Eighth floor," the orderly commented.

"We'll meet you there," Tyler replied.

It was the first time the others had seen Jack and they were shocked. Their canvas of the area near where they found Jack had proven fruitless. Now it was up to the NYPD to find the alleged kidnapper.

They entered the passenger elevator and got off on the eighth floor, they saw Father Walker standing outside the room.

"They're just getting him settled."

A few minutes later, the orderly came out to see them.

"He's asleep but the doctor said he can have one visitor at a time."

Sam looked at the men around her and then walked into Jack's room. The tears started as soon as she was close enough to see the extent of the injuries to his face. Leaning over, she kissed his forehead and sat down on the chair next to him. Holding his hand gently, she continued to cry, eventually waking him. He looked at her, blonde hair, brown eyes, a collection of freckles and he lost control. Shutting his eye, he started to speak.

"No, no, no, please leave, you're not real."


"No, please leave. You're not alive!" He shouted.

Father Walker and Tyler ran into the room. Tyler walked up to his left side and Father Walker to his right.

"Leave, Samantha," Tyler instructed.

"What?" she sniffled, standing and moving away from the bed.

"Leave now," Father Walker said.

Sam left the two men as they tried to calm Jack. Tyler picked up the drip button and hit it once before placing his hand on Jack's head. Father Walker picked up Jack's right hand and held it lightly before seeing the cross peeking out from his gown. He pulled it out and held it, feeling an embossment on the back. Flipping it over, Sean saw the name, Doris, and the date of her confirmation.

"Relax, Jack, relax."

Jack opened his eye to look at Father Walker and then at Tyler.

"I can't see her. I don't know. Please make her understand."

"I will. It's all good, now. Just try to sleep."

Jack closed his eye but the monitors showed he was still awake. Slowly, his heart rate and breathing began to ease as he started to fall asleep.

"Jack, I have to go give morning mass. I'll be back this afternoon. I'll talk to Samantha."

"Thank you, Father," Jack whispered.

Father Walker left the room and walked up to Sam, who was being consoled by Martin.

"Tyler's going to stay with him. What Jack needs is for you to find out what happened to him. He can't talk about his ordeal right now," Father Walker said before walking to the elevator.

"He's right. Let's all go home, grab a shower and meet back at the office at ten," Danny suggested.

Martin looked at Sam and then Danny before nodding his head in agreement.

Tyler turned out all of the lights but one and sat in the chair nearest Jack. He was sleeping but restless, struggling against the restraints.

"No, no, no, no, no..." Jack said softly.

Tyler gently put his hand on his chest. Feeling something, he pulled back the gown to reveal the St. Jude and gold cross. He set them on top of Jack's gown and then placed his hand again on Jack, just trying to calm him.

9:30 a.m.

Paula Van Doren walked into the bullpen after being on vacation for four days and was surprised not to see anyone. At that moment, Vivian stepped off of the elevator and went towards her desk.

"Agent Johnson, where is everybody?"

"I received an email. The team went home around six this morning to shower and change into fresh clothes. I expect them in a half an hour," Viv said, taking off her coat, her fatigue evident.

"And Jack?"

"Jack was kidnapped yesterday morning and escaped earlier today. He's at St. Vincent's with Tyler Simpson. NYPD is trying to find the suspect, Robert Covall, Jr.," she said as she put her purse into her bottom desk drawer.

"How is he?"

"He was shot, beaten and tortured," Vivian remarked, looking at her superior.

"Do we know why he was kidnapped?"

"We were investigating the disappearance of an art gallery owner on the Lower East Side. Jack went to the gallery alone to talk to the assistant. The assistant is dead, and there was a pool of Jack's blood on the floor. That's all we know right now."

"Keep me in the loop, if you need anything, let me know."

"I will."

"Did you call Anne Cassidy and Maria?"

"No, I wanted to hear from the team exactly what the doctor said."

"All right, I understand."

Tyler sat with Jack until a man in a suit walked in.

"Hi, Det. Delbrizzio, NYPD. How is he?"

"Special Agent Simpson, FBI, physically, he'll be fine. He's not talking about what happened yet."

"I'm following up on William Farrell's murder. I need to ask him some questions."

"I understand the need, I'm just not sure how much he can help you right now. Jack? Malone? Wake up. PD is here to talk to you."

Jack opened his eye and looked at the man standing by his left side.

"Special Agent Malone, I'm Det. Delbrizzio, NYPD. I need to talk to you about the gallery."

Jack looked back at Tyler and then at the detective. He took a breath and started his story.

"I went to the gallery to talk to Farrell about his boss's disappearance. The door was unlocked so I walked in. I kept going further and further into the gallery until I came to a door marked, private. I knocked, then opened it and was shot."

"Describe the man who shot you, Jack," Tyler instructed.

"Thin, 5'-8", mid twenties, greasy brown hair, edgy," Jack replied.

"Did you see Farrell?"


"What about the gallery owner? She's still missing. Have you seen her?"


Jack turned back to Tyler, his face draining of colour as the monitors started to beep faster. He grabbed Tyler's hand as the doctor and nurses ran in. They pushed the police detective from the room but they couldn't get Jack to release Tyler until he was sedated. Tyler took his hand back and massaged it as he walked out of Jack's room.

"I'm sorry," Det. Delbrizzio said, seeing Tyler exiting the room.

"Forget about it," Tyler said, before quickly walking off in search of a place he could use his cell phone.

Finally finding the cafeteria, he called Viv.


"Viv, it's me. Jack just gave me a description of the shooter. Thin, mid twenties, 5'-8", greasy brown hair, and edgy."

"That fits the photo of Covall that we have."

"Look Viv, I need you to lead a team in a four block radius of the gallery. This guy is probably a crack addict. Look for flophouses, S.R.O.s, or squatters. Wherever he lives, you can bet you'll find Jessica."

"All right, Tyler. The team is just coming in now."

"He's armed and dangerous. Don't take any chances."

"I won't. Are you coming?"

"No, I need to stay here with Jack. What' s the name of the shrink at the office, Len?"

"Glenn Bradley, you want his number?"

"Yeah, the doctor says Jack's physical problems are moderate. He should be out in a few days. But, I think Jack saw something and whatever it was is scaring the crap out of him. He freaked at Sam and the detective who just did the interview."

"Whoa, okay, Glenn is at extension 7502."

"Thanks, Viv. Keep in touch."

Tyler closed his phone, bought a cup of coffee, and opened the phone again.

"Dr. Bradley's office."

"This is Special Agent Tyler Simpson, is he in?"

"Yes, but he is with a patient. May I ask what this is about?"

"Would you tell him that Agent Malone was kidnapped and escaped from his captor. He is now at St. Vincent's, room 804. He really needs Dr. Bradley."

"One moment, please."

Tyler sipped his coffee until a new voice came on the line.

"Agent Simpson?"

"Dr. Bradley, it's Tyler, please. Jack really needs you. He can't talk about what happened and I think it's somehow tied up with this woman who's gone missing."

"Tyler, I have thirty minutes left in this session and then I'll be right over. Does my secretary have the information where Jack is?"

"Yes, and thank you."

"You're welcome."

Tyler closed his phone and took the elevator back to the eighth floor. He walked into Jack's room just as the doctor was leaving.


"What happened?" the doctor asked.

"The police asked him about a missing woman and he lost it. He knows something but he won't let himself remember."

"What do you do for a living?"

"I'm a profiler for the FBI."

"Well, he's been calm when you're with him so if you can stay, that would be great."

"I'm not leaving. I'm having the FBI staff psychiatrist stop by in about an hour."

"Page me, I'm pulling a double shift. I'd like to sit in on his session."

"All right."

Tyler went to the chair and pulled it close to the bed again. The room was quiet except for the soft beeps of the monitors. Jack was asleep but his eyes were active under their lids. He noticed that the swelling had gone down and his left eye looked like he could open it. The perspiration started at Jack's hairline and Tyler held his hand gently.

Chapter Four

"Hi, Viv," Danny said, taking off his coat.

"Put your coat back on. We're taking four NYPD officers with us and we're doing a four block search for Covall."

"Four blocks starting where?"

"The gallery. Jack described Covall perfectly. Tyler says we're to look at abandoned buildings where squatters might hang out, flophouses, and single room only hotels. He thinks if we find Covall, we'll find Jessica."

"All right, let's go," Danny turned and walked into Martin and Sam.

"Where' re you going?" Martin asked.

"I'll explain in the car. Everyone is wearing a vest on this excursion," Viv proclaimed.

They started their search, one FBI agent with one police officer. The rain had let up a bit but there were large puddles everywhere. Sam and her partner, Officer Adam Jenkins, headed off towards the east. They showed Covall's photo to everyone they saw. Room to room searches of each building were tiring as well as frustrating. As they stood outside a four flight abandoned building, Jenkins walkie-talkie went off.

"Robert Covall, Jr., armed and dangerous, arrested and in custody without mishap at Manhattan South,"

"That's great, but we don't have Jessica," Sam said as she turned to walk up the stairs.

Opening the door into the dark hallway, she gagged on the smell, looking on the floor for the source, turning on her flashlight. That's when she saw it, the pool of blood droplets.

"Viv, it's Sam, I think we have the building. We're on B and 4th," Sam Nextelled Viv.

"Stay put until we're all there, Sam."

"Will do."

Officer Jenkins undid the small leather strap that held his service revolver firmly in place. He pulled off his cap and ran his fingers through his short blonde hair.

"Relax, Adam, we're just waiting for a few minutes."

The rest of the team arrived and Sam walked into the building again with Adam right behind her. Holding her flashlight, she pointed to the blood trail with the beam on the floor and then on the stairs as they proceeded up as quietly as they could. The blood drops stopped on the third floor. Sam tried the door, but it was locked. She stepped back and pulled out her gun.

"Take the door down," Viv ordered quietly, easing her gun from its holster, slipping her flashlight on top of it.

"We don't have a warrant," Martin argued, doing the same.

"No, we have blood evidence. Now do it," Danny snapped, his hands holding his gun tightly.

Adam took a step back and kicked the door in. Immediately they rushed in flashlights and guns at the ready and all stopped when the tableau was revealed in front of them. The bloody footprints on the floor, the chair with the duct tape beside it, and the drops of blood on the floor, and the girl, dead in the bed and covered in blood.

"Call it in, guys," Viv directed.

"This is Officer Jenkins, requesting coroner and CSUs at 330 Avenue B off of Fourth Street."

The police officers stayed at the scene, but tried to not compromise the evidence, Viv recused the FBI agents from the scene. They stood outside the abandoned building quietly while she made some calls.

"Van Doren."

"It's Johnson. We found Jessica Lambert murdered in Covall's apartment. NYPD has Covall in custody."

"We need to talk to him about Jack."

"Yes, and I think Tyler should handle the interrogation."

"Good idea, I'll call the hospital and get a message to him."

"Did you call Anne or Maria yet?"


"Fine, I'll do it," Vivian said with a sigh.

"Thanks, I'll see you shortly."

"Right," Viv said, hanging up her phone.

"Well?" Danny asked.

"Let's get back to the office. We have a lot of paperwork to do."

"This phone message just came in. If you need to use a phone, I can let you use the one at the nurse's station." A nurse whose tag said 'Suzie' remarked.

"Thanks, ah, Suzie," Tyler said, reading the note from Van Doren.

He smiled briefly and then looked at his watch. Father Walker was coming back in the afternoon. Plenty of time. He sat in his chair and watched Jack sleep.

11:30 a.m.

"Tyler?" a voice said from behind him.


"Good to meet you. How is he?" Glenn asked, looking at Jack.

"Sleeping solidly, right now. His doctor wanted me to page him when you got here."

"Okay, I'll wait here," Glenn said, settling into the chair.

Tyler returned a few minutes later and they waited for the doctor to arrive. They didn't have to wait long.

"Hi, I'm Bill Randolph, Agent Malone's attending."

"Glenn Bradley, FBI," he stood extending out his hand.

"Okay, well, let's do this," Dr. Randolph said.

"Jack, wake up. I need to talk to you," Glenn said, loudly.

Jack opened up his eyes, although his left eye was still swollen, and looked at the three men in front of him.

"No," he replied softly.

"I need for you to tell me how you got hurt."

"No," Jack said, looking at the ceiling and then shutting his eyes as the images came flooding in.

"Jack-" Glenn started.

"NO," Jack shouted in a loud voice, drowning out the others.

Dr. Randolph looked at the monitors and pressed the call button. A nurse came in.

"30ml. of Dipravin, stat," he ordered.

The nurse left quickly as Jack started to pray.

"Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus," He started, slowly.

Glenn stepped back as Tyler felt for Jack's right hand, gently.

"Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen."

The medicine was added slowly to the intravenous drip and Jack fell asleep.

"Given his weight, he should be out for ten hours, give or take."

"He wasn't scared by what he saw, but rather by what he heard," Glenn remarked.

"NYPD has the man in custody, and the FBI found the missing girl dead in his apartment," Tyler replied.

"I would guess, then, that Jack was present at her murder. It would explain why he's praying for forgiveness," Glenn said.

"Then I have come at the right time?" Father Walker remarked, walking further into the room.

"I don't envy you. He disavowed the Catholic Church when his mother died. Last year, he seemed to find his faith. Now I'm not sure," Glenn said.

"What's happened?"

"We believe that Jack heard a woman being murdered," Tyler stated.

"I've cleared my schedule for tomorrow. I'll be here until I'm not needed," Father Walker said, sitting in the chair near Jack.

"I sedated him for ten hours," Dr. Randolph mentioned.

"We'll see," Father Walker said.

"I have to interview the suspect. I'll be back," Tyler said.

"I'm here," Father Walker repeated, returning his energies to Jack as the other men all left the room.

"Viv? It's Tyler, can you meet me at Manhattan South for the interview?" he asked, standing at the nurse's station, using their phone.

"Sure Tyler, if that's what you want."

"Yes, Viv, I want you there."

"See you soon."



Tyler walked into the men's room to wash his face with cold water. Feeling a little more on his game, he walked out into the hallway and then stepped on the elevator, heading for the ground floor and ultimately a taxi. Getting the taxi was easy, but it took them almost 20 minutes to get to the precinct house. He checked in on the first floor and headed up to the room they said was going to be good for an interview. Det. Delbrizzio stepped into the room and held out his hand.

"Hi, Agent Simpson," he said.

"Please, call me Tyler."

"Tyler, I'm Frank."

"My colleague, Vivian Johnson, is going to sit in. She's a friend of Jack's and I thought it might help him."

"Whatever, this is your interview, I'm just listening."


The two men stood for ten minutes until the door opened. A skinny, sweating, man entered the room and sat down. Tyler started the tape on the mini-disc recorder.

"Are you Robert Covall, Jr.?" Tyler asked.


"What do you like to be called?"


"Okay, R.C., I'm Tyler Simpson from the FBI. This is Frank Delbrizzio of the NYPD. I'm here to talk about Jessica Lambert. So what happened on Tuesday?"

"You don't want to talk about Mr. Ness?"

Tyler paused, his mind racing trying to follow the conversation. He smiled and focused again on the man in front of him.

"No, not yet, I want to talk about Jessica. She had a gallery opening. She left and never returned. What did you know about that?"

"She left the gallery for fresh air. Rufies can do that to you."

"How did she get Rufies?"

"I put them in her wine."

"You were at the opening?"

"Yeah, she hires me sometimes as a handyman. The gallery's got a lousy toilet; expensive, but pure crap."

"How long have you known her?"

"Six months, I guess."

"So what happened after she walked out of the gallery?"

"I escorted her to a nice place," R.C. replied, smiling.

"I'm sure you did. About what time was that?"

"Eleven, eleven fifteen."

"Then what did you do to her?"

"I brought her home."

"And did what?"

"Well she wanted to have sex, so we did."

Vivian slipped into the room.

"This is Agent Johnson, my associate."

"She's with Mr. Ness, isn't she?"

"Yes. Now, I'd like to talk to you about Wednesday."

"Nothing happened Wednesday, we just slept in," he said with a leer.

"Got it, then why did you go to the gallery on Thursday?"

"I needed money."

"So what did you do?"

"I took her keys and went into the gallery to steal the money from the cashbox."

"Was there someone already there?"

"Some poof assistant."

"What happened?"

"I killed him."

"Then what happened?"

"I planned on going to score but Mr. Ness walked in and he changed everything."

"Mr. Ness is about five foot eleven, 185 pounds, black hair, and black suit?"


"Let the record show suspect is identifying Agent Malone."

"Yep, that was his name. Although he called me Al and I called him Mr. Ness."

"What happened when Mr. Ness arrived?"

"I shot him."

"After that."

"We went back to my apartment to meet Jessica."

"She was still alive?"


"Then what happened?"

"Jessica and I made love while Mr. Ness watched."

"Wow, you're a real ladies' man. For hours this happened?"

"No, he interrupted us. He's a Catholic and I had to put him into his place. Then I finished with Jessica. She was tired."

"When you say you finished with her, what do you mean?"

"I ceased her."

"What about Mr. Ness?"

"I knocked him around. He made me mad. I was coming back to do him when you found me."

"Okay, thanks," Tyler said, turning off the mini-disc player and slipping it into his coat pocket before leaving the room with Vivian walking behind him.

Tyler stood leaning back against the wall, his eyes shut.

"Did I just hear a threat against a Federal Agent?" Vivian asked.

"Yes, you did, but more important you heard of the murder of a woman, the kidnapping of a Federal Agent, and the assault of said agent."

"Jack needs to tell us his version."

"Yeah, but he's been sedated. The doctor doesn't expect him to wake up for at least ten hours. Let's try to do the paperwork on this guy for now, okay?"

"Sure. Who's with Jack now?"

"Father Walker."

"I spoke to Maria and Anne."

"You'll get heaven points," Tyler said, rubbing his tired eyes.

"Maybe, Maria was Maria but I bet Anne will be at the hospital tomorrow."

"Okay, thanks. Let's go back to your office and type up the notes."

Saturday 2:00 a.m.

Jack woke up briefly and then fell back asleep after seeing Father Walker asleep in the chair next to him.

8:00 a.m.

"Father, we need to work with him. Can you give us ten minutes or so?" the nurse asked.


Father Walker left Jack's room in search of a toilet and then a cup of coffee. He missed the brunette walking by him.

"Miss? Mr. Malone is with his nurses. You can see him in a few minutes," a nurse called from her desk.

"Oh, okay..." Anne said and sat down outside the room.

Twenty minutes later, two nurses left Jack's room.

"If you want to go in, you can. He's asleep," one of them said as she passed by.

"Thanks," she said and walked in.

Viv had told her of his injuries but she wasn't prepared for the bruises. The room was silent except for his breathing. The top sheet rested just across his sternum; his St. Jude and gold cross were quietly laid out. He was pale, bruised, and somehow looked very small. She sat in the chair and touched his right hand, being careful with his broken finger.

Father Walker walked in ten minutes later.


"Hi," Anne replied.

"I'm Sean Walker,"

"I'm Anne Cassidy,"

"I'm happy to meet you. Jack has spoken of you, often."

"How is he?" she asked, tears streaming down her face.

Father Walker put his hand on her shoulder.

"He'll be fine. Physically he was shot, beaten, lost a ton of blood, and had several fingers broken, as you can see. We both know that is not what's troubling him."

"No, he wants to save them all," Anne remarked, wiping her eyes.

"I don't think he was able to save her."

They stayed with Jack, listening to him breathe, watching him fight his sleeping demons until he woke up at noon.

"Hi," Father Walker said.

Jack looked at him and at Anne. He closed his eyes for a few minutes and then opened them.

"I need to walk," Jack said softly.

"Sure," Father Walker said, helping him out of bed and into his slippers.

"So am I naked as a J-bird?" Jack asked.

"Uhm, it's possible. Hang on, here's a bathrobe," Anne said, finding one in the closet and helping him into it.


"How do you feel?" Father Walker asked.

"I'm tired. I want to go home. What day is it?"

"Saturday." Anne replied.

"Did anyone call Maria?"

"Yes, Vivian did, right before she called me."

"I'm sorry."

"Come on, Jack, let's take a walk," Father Walker said.

Jack slowly got to his feet and headed out the door. The three of them walked the hall that circumnavigated the floor, resting at each corner, before finally getting back to the room. Jack stood at his bed, mulling something over.


"Yes, Jack."

"Did you and I pray together?"


"Did I confess?"

"You refused."

Jack nodded and undid his bathrobe. Anne gently took it off and then helped him get into bed. She pulled the sheets up to his shoulders and kissed his sweaty forehead. In moments he was asleep.

Chapter Five
2:00 p.m.

Tyler walked into Jack's room to see Anne asleep in the chair and Father Walker pacing with his rosary.

"Hi, I think I know what happened but we need to get him to talk," he said quietly.

"He was up a couple of hours ago. I don't think he'll talk in front of Anne."

"Okay, let me wake him and see where he is."

"Jack? Wake up; I need to talk to you."

"Uhm, hi Tyler," Jack said, struggling to sit up.

"Relax, Malone. I need to interview you."

Jack looked at Anne sleeping in her chair.

"We can go to the solarium," Father Walker suggested.

Jack nodded and started the process of getting out of bed with Tyler and Father Walker's assistance. They walked out of the room and Jack headed for the nurse's station.

"I'm taking a walk. My friend fell asleep and I didn't want to wake her. If she asks, we're in the solarium."

"Of course, Mr. Malone. Good to see you up and around," the nurse replied.

Jack smiled and walked down the corridor, followed by Tyler and Father Walker. They arrived at the empty solarium and Jack chose a chair in the corner. He sat down and waited for the two other men to sit next to him. Tyler removed a mini disc recorder and set in on the table between them.


Jack took a breath and then nodded.

Hitting the <record> button, Tyler began.

"Special Agent John Michael Malone, my name is Agent Tyler Simpson and I am conducting this interview on Saturday, Sept 9, 2006 at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. Present in the room is Father Sean Walker. Please tell us of the events when you went to The Right Folk Gallery on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2006."

"I went to the gallery around ten-thirty to interview William Farrell, Jessica Lambert's assistant. My team was investigating her disappearance."

"Please tell us what happened."

"I walked into the gallery, the door was unlocked. A security bell rang briefly as I crossed the threshold. As I looked at the art, I moved further into the gallery space, finally coming upon a door marked private. I knocked on the door and walked in."

"You were shot in the shoulder and fell to the floor," Tyler said.

"Yes, I woke up and saw a man holding my gun on me, telling me to stand up. He called me Mr. Ness. He told me to call him, Al."

"Right for Al Capone, Elliot Ness's nemesis."

"We walked out of the gallery to his apartment. I held my arm down, hoping that you could follow the blood trail."

"Unfortunately, it rained that day," Tyler commented.

"We got to his apartment building and I leaned on the railing, covering it with blood before we entered the building. Then we climbed up three stories and I entered the apartment."

Tyler sat forward as this was the information no one really had. Father Walker sat near Jack, watching his behavior.

"He told me to walk in and sit down on a chair that was facing the bed. That's when I saw Jessica. She was bruised, naked, tied down, but pink; still alive. I was about to pass out from the pain from my shoulder when Al removed my shoes and taped my ankles and then my wrists to the chair. Then I must have passed out I guess 'cause when I woke up he...he was starting to rape her. I shut my eyes and began to recite The Rosary. I tapped the different beads with my finger on the arm of the chair. Al broke off from what he was doing and stood naked in front of me. He heard my tapping and broke my index finger." Jack said, closing his eyes at the memory.

"I understand now," Tyler whispered.

"What?" Father Walker asked.

"Jack kept repeating Hail Mary when he was upset. That was where he was interrupted while reciting the Rosary."

Tyler looked at Jack and noticed the tears staring to fall down his face.

"Malone, you know you need to do this. What happened next?"

"He...he went back to her and I...I couldn't stop it. I heard all of it until there was silence. Then he told me I was next. I opened my eyes and saw her on the bed, covered in blood. He took a shower. When I heard the water stop, I waited, thinking about what I could do to save myself."

"Okay Jack, keep going," Father Walker whispered to the man who was all but sobbing in front of him.

"Al told me to open my eyes. He accused me of planning something, and then he started to hit me. I couldn't get out of the way. When I woke up he was gone. I started to tear through the tape with my teeth but it took over an hour to get my right hand free."

Jack paused, getting his emotions under control.

"The rest I think you know."

"We have him in custody, Jack. We just needed your statement," Tyler said softly.

"Did he...did he say why he did it?"

"No, it was completely random. She was just there. You were fallout."

Jack nodded, looking at the floor.

"Uhm, I need to get back to my room," he said softly.

"Of course," Tyler said, hitting <stop> on the recorder.

They walked Jack back to his room. Anne was standing, looking out the window when the door opened. She walked to him immediately and pulled him into a careful hug.

"Malone, I need to get your statement to Vivian. I'll try to see you tomorrow. I spoke to Dr. Randolph on my way in. He says you'll be released before noon. He just needs to check your shoulder."

"Thanks, Tyler," Anne said.

"I'm going to get a cup of coffee," Father Walker said, walking out with Tyler.

She held him tightly, feeling the bandages under her grasp. Anne felt him breathe, felt his hands on her, and tightened her own.

"You okay?"

"I missed you, I'm sorry."

"Why are you sorry?"

"I asked Vivian not to call you immediately. I wasn't sure where my head was at. I know now that I should have had you here. I want you in my life."

"Good, because I want to be with you, too."

They pulled apart and Anne helped Jack out of his bathrobe and back into bed. He held her hand for twenty minutes, looking at her in silence until he fell asleep.

Sunday 12:00 p.m.

Anne arrived with a paper bag filled with Jack's clothes and found him sitting on the edge of the bed.



"So I brought some clothes. Can you handle getting dressed?" she said, putting the bag on the end of the bed.

"Uhm, yeah everything except the shirt I think," Jack said, looking down at his left arm, which was in a sling, now.

"Really? Okay, why don't I lay out your clothes and -"

The door opened and Tyler walked in.

"Hey, buddy."

"Hey, Tyler."

"Hello, Annie. How is he today?" he asked, embracing her.

"Well, we were discussing getting him dressed to leave. Can you help? There was a bit of a debate!"

"No, I said I could do everything but the shirt," Jack said, slightly irritated.

"And I beg to differ!" Anne retorted, her voice rising slightly.

"Okay, what have you got for him, Annie?" Tyler said, trying to diffuse the situation.

"Shorts, running pants, zip-up sweatshirt, and driving moccasins."

"Give us five minutes, please."

Anne left the room, flashing a small smile at Tyler on her way.

"Okay, you're on. I'm just here in case you fall," Tyler said, sitting in the chair.

Jack grunted as he stood. He reached into the bag and laid the clothes out. Pulling at the tie of his gown, it fell to the floor. Naked, he took his shorts and grimaced while he leaned over to put them on. Tyler looked at the bruises peeking out from under the bandages and closed his eyes briefly. Jack grunted again as he pulled on the running pants. Slipping his arm out of the sling, he then slowly put the sweatshirt on; pausing several times when the pain overwhelmed him. Finally he zipped it to his sternum, set his left arm in the sling and eased his feet into the moccasins.

"Sit here, while I get a wheelchair," Tyler said, helping him to sit in the chair he just vacated.


"You're welcome," Tyler said, leaving him alone.

Anne looked at Tyler as he walked out of the room.

"Well, he's dressed but it wasn't pretty. Give him a minute to gather himself. I'm going to snag a wheelchair."

"Oh, okay," She said, looking at the door.

Anne waited for a few minutes and walked in. Jack looked over at her and held out his hand towards her. She walked towards him, her hand stretching out for his. He took her hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss.

Tyler walked in, pushing a wheelchair. Carefully, Jack stood, crossed the few feet to the wheelchair and sat down. Anne picked up the shopping bag and put it in the wastebasket before following Tyler and Jack into the hallway. Jack received copies of his discharge papers and a prescription for pain meds. They headed to the elevator to go downstairs to street level.

"I'm just around the corner," Tyler explained as he set the brakes.

"Okay, no speed records," Jack joked, standing slowly.

Anne stood with Jack as Tyler returned the wheelchair to the lobby of the hospital. A few minutes later, he rejoined them and the trio walked down the block.

The drive home was uneventful, but the three story walk upstairs was almost their undoing. Jack stood at the bottom of the stairs and although his apartment building was neat and clean, he had a flashback to Al's tenement. Backing up until he hit the door, his face went white.

"Jack?" Anne asked.

Jack closed his eyes tightly and then opened them. The plain clean white walls greeted him. He wiped his face with the sleeve of his sweatshirt and started to walk to the bottom of the stairs. Anne went in front of him and Tyler brought up the rear. At every landing they paused for Jack, finally getting to his apartment. Anne unlocked the door and let Jack walk in first. He took a few steps and then stopped, seeing a photo of him and the kids from two years ago.

"Give me the prescription and I'll go get it filled, Jack," Tyler requested.

Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out the prescription.

"I don't have any money on me, or my wallet for that matter," Jack started awkwardly.

"I got this, Jack. I'll be back in a few minutes."


Tyler walked out of the apartment, leaving Anne and Jack alone. Walking into the kitchen, Jack took a glass out of the cabinet and opened the fridge.

"Do you want any o.j.?" he asked.

"Yes, please," Anne said, walking into the kitchen.

He handed her a full glass and pulled another one from the cabinet. With his right hand he poured the o.j. almost to the top. He put it back in the fridge picked up his glass and turned to face Anne.



They sipped their juices without conversation until they were done. Jack put his glass in the sink and was barely able to stifle a yawn.

"That's it, Jack. Off to bed."

"I am not going to argue with you, counselor," Jack said, heading to his bedroom.

She put her glass in the sink and followed him. He was in the bathroom when she walked in, so Anne pulled the comforter off the bed, stacked the pillows, and opened the window. It was a cool day, overcast, but not raining. Jack walked back into the room wearing just his shorts. He held his left arm awkwardly, the sling loosely held in his right hand. Opening the second drawer of his dresser, he pulled out a tattered cotton short sleeved button-down shirt and then walked up to Anne. She took the shirt from him, carefully guiding first his left arm and then his right arm through the appropriate holes. Grasping the sling, she slipped it over his head and then let him put his arm in it.

"Hello?" a voice called.

"In back, Tyler," Anne replied.

Starting at the bottom, Anne buttoned Jack's shirt slowly. She stopped about midway.

"This way you can take it off yourself," she reasoned.

"Thanks," he replied, panting now against the pain.

"You decent?" Tyler called from the hallway.

"Yes," Anne replied.

Tyler walked in and stopped, seeing Jack's pallor.

"You don't look so good, Jack."

Anne looked at him as well as and saw the sweat in his hairline that hadn't been there before. Tyler walked to his side and helped him into bed with Anne's assistance. Opening the pill bottle, Tyler shook out one pain pill and put it in Jack's right hand. He tossed it into his mouth and swallowed it dry before Anne could return from the bathroom with a glass of water. She handed it to him anyway and he took a few sips before lying back on the pillows, his eyes closed, trying to relax into the pain from his shoulder. Within minutes he was asleep.

Anne and Tyler walked back into the living room.

"What are your plans? Are you able to stay with him?" Anne asked.

"Yeah, I was only supposed to be up here for two days, but now my boss has directed me to stay in New York until Jack's on his feet and the case is airtight."

"All right, then, I'll call you later. Thanks," she said, kissing him on the cheek.

"You're welcome, Annie."

Tyler locked the door after Annie left and took a deep breath. He looked at his wristwatch, saw that it was only three, and then tried to remember the last time he had slept more than half hour at a time. He took off his phone, emptied his pockets, kicked off his shoes and barely made it to the guest room before he collapsed into a deep sleep.

Chapter Six
Monday 1:00 a.m.

Tyler woke up stretching on his bed. He sat up slowly and then got to his feet. Walking into the hallway, he noticed Jack's bedroom light on and his bed empty. Curious, he headed to the living room. Jack was sitting in his favourite leather chair, his feet on the coffee table, half a glass of scotch next to him, asleep. Tyler went to the kitchen and made himself a drink. When he returned from the kitchen, Jack was awake.

"Man, you really were out like a light," Jack said, rubbing his eyes carefully.

"Yeah, well I didn't have the benefit of being sedated for ten hours," Tyler joked, looking at Jack.

The hurt on Jack's face was obvious.

"I'm sorry, Malone. I was trying to be funny."

"It's all right," Jack said, softly.

"When did you wake up?"

"Six, I guess, the news was on."

"I'm going to finish this and get back to bed. I have to do the follow-up with the NYPD on your kidnapping at ten-thirty tomorrow morning."

Jack was staring ahead, sipping his drink.

"Jack, you need to go to bed. Do you want a pain pill?"

"No, no pain pills, please, Tyler."

"Talk to me, Jack. What's going on in that complex of grey matter?" Tyler asked, walking over to sit closer to him.

Jack closed his eyes tightly, trying to stop the memories that kept flooding his consciousness. A few moments later, he opened his eyes and looked at the open face of his best friend.

"I'm fine, just gotta get my head around some stuff."

"You're sure?"

"Yeah," Jack said, knocking back the last of his scotch. "Finish your drink and I'll tuck you in for a change."

Tyler smiled, finishing his cocktail in two large gulps before getting to his feet. He waited for his friend and they walked to the kitchen together, dropping off their glasses in the sink. Tyler headed for his bedroom, while Jack followed, turning off the lights in the apartment. Feigning annoyance, Jack tapped his bare foot on the hardwood floor.

"I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying," Tyler said, as he stripped to his shorts and got into bed.

Pulling the sheets up to Tyler's neck, Jack ruffled his hair slightly.

"Sleep well, you hippie."

"You too, rebel."

Jack smiled and turned off the bedside light before walking into his bedroom. He looked at the clock radio, noting that it was almost one-thirty. Sighing he got into bed and turned off the light.

6:30 a.m.

Jack woke up without the alarm, as usual. He was stiff, sore and still tired, but he knew he had to go to the office today, of all days. He had to. Taking a quick shower, with his left shoulder out of the spray as much as possible, Jack kept the cursing against the pain to a dull roar. But after shaving for the first time since Thursday, and getting dressed, it became almost a mantra; especially his tie. He walked out to the living room, opened his desk drawer and took out ten ten dollar bills, before leaving the apartment.

Amazed, Jack found a cab within two minutes and one block of his house. He walked into the lobby directly to the security desk.

"Agent Malone, I believe you need a new ID card. Let's head to the office."

"Thanks, Larry."

Jack followed the man in the dark blue suit and less than ten minutes later; he had a new ID clipped to the pocket of his suit jacket. He got into the elevator and headed up to the twelfth floor. It was almost seven and the sun streamed into the outer shell of the building. He walked out onto the quiet floor and into his office. There was a manila envelope on his desk. Opening it, he peered inside and then emptied the contents onto his desk. His keys, cell phone, wallet, and badge fell out. Sighing, he walked to the kitchenette, took his mug from the stack, and made a cup of coffee. He sipped it gratefully and walked back to his office. Sitting in his comfortable black leather chair, he pulled out a note card from his desk drawer.


Please come to my office. I'll be back by ten.


He stood, picking up his cell phone, badge, keys, and wallet, before walking to Sam's desk, putting the note in her lower left drawer, as he used to do when they were seeing each other. Jack looked at his watch and went out onto the balcony. The predicted rain had held off but it was still cool and damp. Shifting his arm in its sling, he moved his head, hearing his neck pop. Using his right hand, he loosened his tie and undid the top button of his shirt. Standing in the relative silence of the early morning, he leaned on the railing until his phone rang, disrupting his reverie.


"Where are you?"

"I'm at work."

"I thought you were supposed to take it easy?"

"Tyler, I couldn't stay home today. Are you going?"

"Of course. Same spot?"

"Yeah. Eight-thirty?"


"See you then."


Jack closed his phone and walked back into the building. Entering his office, he shut the Venetian blinds before sitting at his desk. Sipping the tepid coffee, he turned his chair around to stare at the photographs on his credenza. Closing his eyes, Jack coasted; feeling the different aches and pains. Fifteen minutes later, he got up and left his office.

Taking the elevator downstairs, he unclipped his ID before leaving the building, slipping it into his jacket pocket. He started walking south down Broadway, turning west onto Vesey street. He passed by the new glass and steel building before flashing his ID and heading into the stone building beside it. At eight o'clock, he was standing on the roof of the Verizon Building. His ID was back on his suit pocket, and he wished he had his sunglasses. There were ten FBI agents who met every year at the same time. As he waited, he looked down onto the construction site below him, and let his mind wander.

8:35 a.m.

"Sorry I'm late."

Jack jumped slightly and groaned from the twinge of pain in his shoulder. He looked around the roof to see who else was there. He counted nine of the original ten and remembered that Max was the tenth man. They began to form two lines, facing the construction site.

The men waited in silence until 8:46am when they quietly started to recite the FBI oath of office. The silence resumed until 9:03am when the men chanted the National Anthem. Finally, at 9:43am, they chanted The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

9:16 a.m.

Sam walked into the office and sat at her desk, opening her drawer to set her purse inside. She stopped for a moment when she saw his note.

"Is Jack here today?" she asked out loud.

"I think Wednesday is his first day back," Danny replied.

"The blinds were shut in his office when I walked in," Martin offered.

Viv walked out of the kitchenette with a fresh cup of coffee.

"Viv, is Jack in today?"

"Sam, if Jack is coming in today, he won't be here until ten. It's the fifth anniversary. He's with his group," she said, sitting down at her desk.

Elena walked in at the end of the conversation.

"Who's with his group?" she asked, hanging her coat on the hook.

"Jack and nine of his friends from the FBI have a reunion of sorts. Jack was at the towers that day. Each year, they have a sort of memorial; that's all any of us know," Sam explained.

"Oh, I see," Elena replied, sitting at her desk in the now quiet bullpen.

10:05 a.m.

Jack stepped off the elevator and slipped into his office. He was tired, his shoulder hurt, and his emotions were on the surface. He picked up his half empty cup of cold coffee and went to the kitchenette. Dumping the old stuff down the sink, he made a new cup and then headed back to his desk.

Sam caught movement out of the corner of her eye and looked up to see Jack entering his office. She gave him a couple of minutes before she got up to go see him.

Knocking on the door, she thought she heard a reply and walked in. Jack was sitting at his desk, and looked up at her.


"Hi, uhm, you wanted to see me?" she asked nervously.

Jack stood slowly and walked up to her, stopping less than a foot away. He stared at her blonde hair, brown eyes and freckles before stretching his right hand to her face.

"I wanted to apologize for my behavior at the hospital. I didn't mean to upset you. It''s just when I saw you, I saw her; and then I began to -"

Sam put her fingers to his lips, silencing him, before pulling him into a gentle embrace. They held each other, listening to their breathing and feeling their heartbeats. A few minutes later, he pulled away, turning his back to her and wiping his face.

"Are you going home?" she asked softly.

"No, not for a while. I have to talk to Viv and Tyler. Then I have to call Glenn and set up some appointments," he answered, turning to face her.

There was a knock on the door and Anne walked in.

"I'll see you later, Jack," Sam said, leaving them alone.

Jack leaned against his desk as Anne approached him

"Did you go?"

"Yeah, we were all there."

"All of you, except Max."

Her voice broke and Jack looked up, seeing tears streaming down her face. He held out his right arm and she walked into his embrace.

"I miss him, too," Jack whispered, as he tried to be strong for her.

Anne cried for a few minutes before shifting to sniffles. He removed a handkerchief from his breast pocket, which she took gratefully.

"Are you staying all day?"

"Probably not, probably just a couple of hours."

"Okay, do you mind if I hang onto this, today?" Anne asked, gesturing with the handkerchief.

"No, of course not."

She walked up and kissed him lightly before leaving his office. He picked up his coffee cup with care and took a gulp for a little fortitude before walking into the bull pen.

11:00 a.m.

"Hi, Jack. How are you feeling?" Vivian asked, standing to give him her seat.

"Sore, tired, what's to be expected," Jack said, sitting carefully.

"I wanted you to read the report before I send it up the chain, if you're up to it."

"Sure, bring it on."

Viv handed him a manila folder. The tab read John M. Malone, Special Agent. He took another sip of coffee and opened the folder. When he came to the before and after photos of his face he stopped. He slid those aside and looked at the next set; photos of his torso before and after the bullet was removed. Taking all of the photographs, he turned them over as he started to read Vivian's notes. He took a deep breath and sat back in the chair. As he did, he looked at Viv's desk and noticed the Jessica Lambert file. Sitting up a little straighter, he opened it, sucking in a breath at the two photos that were on top. Abruptly, he stood up and walked out to the balcony. The rest of the team looked at him, unsure of what to do.

Tyler strode off the elevator to Jack's office. Finding it empty, he set his briefcase down before continuing to the bullpen.

"Is he still here?"

"He's on the balcony. He read his file and started to read Jessica's. He stopped after viewing the crime scene photos," Viv said softly.

The wind had freshened and the rain began as a fine mist. Soon Jack's face was covered in spray, his hair was wet and he began to feel cold.

"Malone, I cannot switch careers to play nursemaid for you if you catch pneumonia again," Tyler joked as he walked up beside him.

Jack smiled weakly and returned to staring into space.

"Seriously, Jack, you need to come back into the office, drink something hot, and then I need you to initial the report I'm sending in," Tyler said, standing on his right side and gently slipping an arm around Jack's shoulder's.

"When do you go back to Washington?"

"Tomorrow in the afternoon."

Jack nodded and dropped his head for a moment, holding onto the railing. He took a deep breath, and pushed off from it to follow Tyler inside. He passed through the bullpen, but didn't stop until he got to his office.

"What do you want, Jack, coffee or tea?" Tyler asked as the door shut behind them.

"I'm okay, let's just do this."

"Yeah, sure. Here's my report," he said, pulling it from his briefcase.

Jack took the report and set it on his desk. He tugged on his tie, loosening it more and opened another button on his shirt before he sat down in his chair. Tyler sat across from him and waited. Jack started to tap his right splinted finger on the desk as he continued to read. Twice he shut his eyes and pressed the meat of his hand against his forehead as if fighting a headache. Twenty minutes later, Jack pulled a pen out of his desk drawer and signed as well as initialed the report; before handing it back to Tyler.

"Can I drive you home?" Tyler asked as he slipped the file back into his briefcase.

"Sure, but can you give me ten minutes?" Jack asked.

"I'll be in the bullpen," he replied, picking up his briefcase as he left Jack alone.

Tyler walked out into the bullpen and sat at the conference table. The other agents joined him.

"He's going to be leaving in a few minutes and he'll take tomorrow off, I think. I have to go back to Washington so if you could check on him, I'd appreciate it," Tyler said, rubbing his tired eyes.

The agents looked at each other and nodded in agreement, waiting for Jack.

12:00 p.m.

Jack picked up the phone and dialed an in-house number.

"Dr. Bradley's office."

"It's Agent Jack Malone, is he available?"

"Of course, one moment."

"Jack? How're you doing?"

"Hi, Glenn, as well as can be expected, I suppose. Of course today didn't help."

Glenn opened Jack's file and noted the reference to September 11.

"Where are you?"

"In my office."

"Oh, okay. I though you weren't due back until Wednesday."

"I had some things I needed to do here, plus I met with my group."

"I see, are you going home soon?"

"Yeah, one more call, then Tyler's gonna drive me home."

"Good, you sound beat, are you sleeping at all?"

"Not much, the pain pills make me pretty sluggish so I stopped them. My dreams are the problem."

"Do you want to start Wednesday at eight?"

"Sure, Glenn."

"Take care, Jack."

"You, too."

Jack depressed the receiver and dialed again.

"Anne Cassidy."



"I'm leaving for the day; Tyler's gonna drive me home. I'm taking tomorrow off so I was wondering if you wanted to join me for dinner and breakfast then."

"I'd love to. Should I actually bring dinner?" Anne asked remembering that his larder was quite empty.

"Probably a good idea," he said, chuckling.

"I've missed your laugh."

Jack sat back in his chair and closed his eyes.


"I'm here."

"I have to go. I'll come by around six, is that okay?"


"Bye, take care."


Jack hung up the phone and looked around his desk. Standing slowly, he left his office and walked out to the bullpen.

Danny looked up from the conference table.

"Hi, Jack."

"Hi, uhm, I'm going home. I'm back on Wednesday. Viv, would you look into when I can get my gun back? I think I have to requalify this month."

"Of course, Jack. Don't hesitate to call if you need anything."

"No, I won't. Thanks, all of you, for your diligence. It means a lot to me," Jack said, before turning to walk slowly to the elevator.

Viv and Sam brushed a tear from their eyes as Tyler quickly caught up with his friend.

"Nicely done, Malone."

"Do you have to go back to work tonight?" Jack asked, as they got into the elevator.

"No, I'm done, why?"

"Wanna get shit faced?"

"Jack, you can't drink. You're on pain meds."

"I flushed them. Strongest thing in my house is booze and aspirin. I'm sober."

"Oh, well then, yeah. But I need to eat something."

The elevator opened at the garage and they walked to Jack's car. He fished the keys from his pocket and tossed them to Tyler.

"Let's call Luigi's. I could go for some spaghetti carbonara."

"Between that and the booze you ought to sleep."

"Without dreams, I hope," Jack said, as he got into his car, bumping his shoulder in the process.


Jack continued to murmur something as Tyler backed the car out of the parking spot. He looked at his friend, whose eyes were shut tight in pain. Tyler touched Jack's head and ruffled his hair, to try to show some support.

12:45 p.m.

Tyler walked up the stairs with Jack behind him, as the pain from his injuries mixed with hunger and fatigue really began to take their toll. Finally, they were inside. Jack just leaned against the closed door, eyes closed, breathing quickly, trying to work through the pain.

"Do you want help getting out of your suit?"

"Yeah, let's start with a shot first."

"Coming right up."

Tyler poured a true shot of scotch and handed it to Jack, who downed it. He waited for a few minutes and then sighed as he walked to his bedroom. Tyler followed. Sitting on the bed, Jack untied his shoes, murmuring again. Tyler removed Jack's socks.

"It's a lot easier to help you get undressed when you're still not drunk, yet."

"Less fun for me," Jack replied, hissing a bit at the pain in his fingers and shoulder.

Ten minutes later, Jack was dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. Tyler called Luigi's and ordered lunch as Jack made drinks. They sat in the living room, listening to The Who's Tommy, sipping scotch and waiting for their lunch.

1:30 p.m.

The buzzer sounded and Tyler pushed the button to allow the delivery man upstairs. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door and the apartment smelled of great food.

As the afternoon progressed, Jack kept a steady buzz, seemingly unable to get drunk. Tyler, on the other hand, passed out fairly quickly.

Chapter Seven
9:00 p.m.

Tyler woke up on the sofa, feeling tired but not hung-over. Jack was sitting in the leather chair, sipping his scotch.

"How did you sleep?" Tyler asked, sitting up.

"I didn't," Jack replied softly.

Tyler waited for a moment and then took control.

"Come on," Tyler said, standing.


"You're going to bed."

Jack stood and walked to his bedroom. He got into bed and then looked at Tyler, who handed him the phone.

"Call Maria. Tell her you're okay. Talk to your kids," Tyler ordered, sitting in the chair in the corner of the room.

Jack dialed and leaned back against the pillows.


"Hi, it's Jack."

"How are you? I was scared to call after Viv told me what had happened."

"I'm a little banged up, a little lost, but I'm going to be okay."

"I'm glad to hear that, Jack. I really am."

"Are the girls around?"

"Sure, just hang on."

"Dad? Daddy?" two young voices asked.

"Hi, Hanna. Hi, Kate."

"Hi, Dad. You missed your call on Friday."

"Yeah, I'm sorry, Hanna. I couldn't get to a phone."

"Daddy, I got a B on a story I wrote."

"Wow, a B. That's excellent, Kate."

"I scored two goals in soccer today," Hanna added.

"Terrific honey, I'm sorry I wasn't there."

"When are you coming out to visit?"

"I have to check on my schedule, Hanna. Can you put your Mom back on?"

"Night Dad."

"Night Daddy."

"Night, I love you."

"Ditto!" they chimed.

"Hi, Jack."

"Hi, can you email me weekends that would be good for you and the girls so I can plan a visit?"

"Sure, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine; just very, very, tired."

"Well, I'll let you go and get some sleep. Take care."

"Thanks, bye."


Jack hung up the phone, sighed and started to fall asleep. Tyler turned off the bedside light and then went to clean up the living room and kitchen before going to bed himself.

Tuesday 1:00 p.m.

Jack rolled onto his left shoulder and woke up immediately. Panting against the pain, he looked at the clock, realizing he had slept almost sixteen hours. He used the toilet and then walked out into the living room. It was neat and orderly, as was the kitchen. There was a note from Tyler leaning up against the microwave.

I'm in meetings in the morning. Taking the 2:00 p.m. train.
Call me on my cell.
PS: You have no scotch left!

Jack smiled and walked back into the bedroom. Setting the alarm for four-thirty, he fell into a heavy sleep.

4:30 p.m.

Jack woke up to screaming rock music from his clock radio. He hit the snooze bar just to get silence and then turned the alarm off before getting up and walking into the bathroom. He carefully removed the splints from his fingers before gingerly stripping off his clothes. He groaned in pleasure as the hot water hit his sore chest, loosening the tight muscles. As they relaxed, the pain seemed to slip away from his entire body, except for his shoulder, which he tried to keep out of the spray. Touching to his cheek, he realized he needed a shave, which he did quickly. His fingers were stiff but serviceable. Turning off the water, Jack dried off and pulled on a clean pair of shorts, chinos, and a t-shirt. He tried not to put his arm back in the sling, but after five minutes, his shoulder throbbed. Padding into the kitchen, he put two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge as he heard the key in the lock.

Anne walked in and stopped for a moment, looking at him; wet hair spiked up and a sparkle in his eyes.

"Hi," she said, setting the groceries as well as her bag on the counter.

"Hi," he replied, putting his hand on her waist, looking at her skirt and attractive blouse.

He leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips. She melted, as she generally did when he touched her. Slipping her right hand to the back of his neck, she pulled him closer as she kissed him, finding his tongue. Jack started to hum. Anne stopped and pulled away from him.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, kissing is painless but touching my shoulder is painful."

"I'm sorry, sweetheart."

He lifted her chin and guided his mouth to hers.

"You're forgiven," he said before kissing her.

It was nice just to be alone with each other. As their passion increased, so did their intimate touching and the pain until Jack pulled back, panting slightly. Anne opened the grocery bag and pulled out a bottle of scotch and set it on the counter. She took a glass from the cabinet, filled it with scotch, water, and an ice cube and handed it to Jack.

"Thanks," he said gratefully.

"Thank Tyler for telling me that you were out of scotch!"

"Damn, I forgot to call him,"

"Well then, go ahead."

Jack picked up the phone and dialed.


"Hey, sorry I didn't call. I just got up."

"Splendid. Call me tomorrow."


"Oh, yeah."



She kissed Jack on his cheek as she walked by with her overnight bag. Returning to the kitchen, she emptied the bag of groceries and stood looking at the items.

"Would you like a glass of wine?" Jack asked, holding his half empty glass in his right hand.


Jack pulled the bottle out and carefully held the bottle in his left hand as he opened it with his right, thankful again that most South African wines do not have corks. He took out a wine glass and filled it half way before plunking in an ice cube. Turning to hand her the glass, he looked at the food on the counter.

"Thanks for inviting me to dinner. I really didn't feel like actually cooking," Anne said, sipping her wine.

"No problem. I'm more interested in being with you than eating, anyway."

Anne shifted her gaze to him, seeing his smirk.

"It's nice to be appreciated, but I do have to eat something. Lunch was a Snicker's bar and I don't care what the ads say, it didn't fill me up!"

"I'll tell you what, I'll make dinner, okay? Sit down, drink your wine and put your feet up. If there's something I can't do, I'll call you."

Anne looked at the food and then back at him before picking up her wine glass and walking into the living room. He turned to the different items on the counter and paused before figuring out the meal; Caesar salad with chicken strips. Taking two bowls out, he divided the salad between the two and then added the pre-cooked chicken strips from the container. He took out a bottle of dressing, shaking it hard, before realizing he couldn't open it. Quickly, he set the table and then brought out the bowls and the bottle of dressing. He refilled his scotch and then walked out to the living room.

Anne was asleep on the sofa, her half-filled wine glass firmly held in her hands. Jack walked up to her quietly and removed her wine glass. He kissed her gently before waking her up.

"Anne? Time for dinner."

Anne opened her eyes and smiled.

"I'm sorry."

"No, I'm sorry for having to wake you," Jack said, refilling her wine glass.

They both sat down to their dinner with sighs born of fatigue. She opened the bottle of salad dressing and handed it to him before adding it to her own salad. They ate quickly and Anne excused herself. Jack did the dishes, his brain on cruise control. When he finished, he walked back to the bedroom to look for her. Walking into the bedroom, he saw her asleep on his bed. He paused before going up to her to kiss her. Jack went back into the living room, his brain too active to sleep, and sat down.

Wednesday 1:00 a.m.

Anne woke up disoriented. She knew she was at Jack's apartment, but she didn't understand why she was alone. Getting out of bed, she padded to the living room and found him standing at the window.



"Sweetheart, you need to come to bed," she said.

Jack turned to her, the circles under his eyes more pronounced. He touched her cheek and held it lightly as he kissed her. She answered softly and then became more aggressive, thrusting her tongue into his mouth. Her right hand anchored his waist while her left hand held his neck and therefore his mouth to hers. He pulled back, pausing for a moment, his breathing fast, his eyes dark. Carefully, he pulled his arm out of the sling and let it hang at his side.

"This may not work, but I'd like to try. I want to feel you against me."

Anne slid her right hand around his waist, feeling his hand snake up her shirt to her breast as their mouths finally did connect. They stood kissing and touching until the next step was obvious. Anne took his right hand and led him back to the bedroom. With infinite gentleness, she helped him take off his polo shirt. He dropped his chinos in place and then stood, looking at her. She started to unbutton her blouse.

"No, wait, uhm let me do that."

Slowly, he walked to her, keeping his eyes locked on hers, and then unbuttoned her blouse. Next he felt for the clasp on her skirt, feeling it pass his legs on its journey to the floor. Anne undid her bra and let it, too, fall to the floor as she walked into his embrace. They kissed, standing chest to chest. She pulled his right hand and led him to her core. Touching her abdomen, he slid his hand beneath the band of her underwear and stroked softly. She was wet and ready. He took a breath and then ever so slowly, inserted a finger into her. They both hesitated; she because of the feeling and he because it was one of his broken fingers. He continued to touch her as he felt her body react. Suddenly, her right hand came between them and explored under the waistband of his shorts, gently touching him. This touching party lasted for almost five minutes until she pulled away. Quickly she took off her underwear and lay back on the bed, her hair spread out on the pillow as if it was in water. Jack pulled off his shorts, his erection very ready. He knelt between her legs, smelling her, taking in the musk of the two of them. Leaning over, he kissed her hungrily as she reached for him. He sucked in his breath, trying to keep control. Sitting back up, he slipped his finger into her again, bringing her to readiness.

"Please, Jack, now."

As he put his weight on his right forearm, she guided him into her. When he made initial contact, he opened his eyes and looked at her as he inched forward. Her face was glowing in ecstasy. Starting a slow rhythm, he kept looking at her. He wanted her to come first, and really held on until he felt her.

"I'm coming, Anne."

It was monumental, a great release, and she actually came again. He semi-collapsed onto her, gaining control. When he could, he rolled onto his back, still breathing hard. Anne kissed him, carefully rubbing his stomach. He kissed her, a slow, loving kiss that lasted for a while. Then he was aware of her hand on his hip, and then on his thigh.

"Just relax."

"Uhm, I don't think I can do that," he chuckled softly.

"Right, don't relax, just let me drive."

Anne lay to his right, kissing and caressing him until his erection returned. She straddled his hips, feeling him against her back. Leaning over, she pulled her hair back and kissed him. He grasped her breasts softly and kissed them, feeling the nipples harden under his touch. She listened to his breathing, watching his face and then slowly impaled herself on him. He lifted his right hand to her, finding her button with his thumb. Her moaning increased, his tempo increased and they came together.

6:30 a.m.

Jack woke up with Anne lying half across his waist. He ran his hand through her curly hair, smelling her. He could feel himself getting aroused as she started to awaken, squirming slightly on top of him.


"Morning," he rumbled.

"Oh yeah, and a good morning it is," she said, crawling up to kiss him passionately.

"What's your schedule?" he asked, in between kisses.

"I need to be at the office at nine."

"Ah, I need to be at the office at 7:45."

"Set a record," she instructed.

7:52 a.m.

Jack walked into Glenn Bradley's office and stood in front of his secretary.

"Ah, Agent Malone. I love a man who arrives on time," the secretary said.

"Uhm, actually, I'm wondering if I can reschedule until this afternoon."

"Oh, let me see. Yes, he has a six o'clock cancellation. Would that work for you?"

"Yes, that would be great, thanks."



Jack went down to his floor, fixed a cup of coffee and went to his office.

8:00 a.m.

The phone rang.


"What you cancelled?"

"Glenn? No I rescheduled for six o'clock."


Jack thought for a moment before replying.

"Because I know that I'll be upset after our session and I wouldn't be able to work."

"I'll accept that answer for now. Just take it easy."

"Thanks, Glenn."

"You're welcome, Jack."



Jack hung up the phone and sipped his coffee before turning on his computer to catch up on his emails.

8:30 a.m.

Viv walked in, passing Jack's office, straight to the bullpen. As was her custom, she walked into the kitchenette and made herself a cup of coffee. She headed for his door and tapped her wedding band on it. He raised his head to find the source of the noise and smiled, motioning her to enter.

"Are you back?" she asked, setting her mug on his desk.

Jack looked at her, perplexed.

"'Cause if you are, I'm opening the blinds. If you're going to hide, I'll keep them shut."

"No, I'm trying to get back to my routine. Please, open away," he replied with a smirk.

Viv opened the blinds and then sat down opposite him. She studied his face, noticing the fading bruises and the way he favored his left shoulder.

"To bring you up to speed, Covall is at Riker's awaiting trial on murder, kidnapping of a Federal agent, and attempted murder of said agent," Viv paused, watching him as he looked at his swollen fingers.

"Jessica's sister came up from Philadelphia and identified the body. William Farrell's mother is on her way in from Seattle."

"So life goes on," Jack commented absently.

"Yeah, of course."

She knew he wanted to say more but it appeared he was struggling to find either the words or the energy.

"I'm going to check on my computer and see if we have a new case yet. I did call about your gun and NYPD assured me that they should be able to get it back to you by next week. Van Doren says she can push your qualifier back until your hand is stronger."

"Thanks," he said quietly.


He looked up at her, his eyes red-rimmed, his face dry.

"Nice to have you back."

Jack cleared his throat before answering.

"Thanks, Viv."

She picked up her coffee and headed to the bullpen, hearing him shift in his chair behind her.

The next hour, Jack sat at his desk, going through various papers that had accumulated in his in-box, as the team walked in for work. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, and Danny stuck his head in.

"Jack, we need you. We have a new case."

He stood, picking up his empty coffee cup and legal pad, before heading to the kitchenette to make a fresh cup. Walking to the bullpen, he was surprised to see Van Doren standing with his team.

"Had to see the miracle man for myself," she said, squeezing his right shoulder.

Jack looked at the floor, but not before Viv saw the look on his face.

"Well, Agent Johnson, I'll let you get to it."

"Thank you, ma'am."

Van Doren left the bullpen and Jack sat down, still not looking at anyone.

"Okay, people. New case; Leslie J. Strauss, thirty-two. Gone missing on Monday. Last seen leaving the Grove Street PATH station in Jersey City."

"What does she do?" Jack asked, trying to get focused.

"She works as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in the Jersey City office."

He wrote notes on his pad, looking up at the photo of the brunette on the whiteboard.

"Jack, I'd like you to dig into her phone records. Samantha, you and Danny check out her apartment in Brooklyn. Martin, you and I are going to her office."

Jack nodded and took his pad and coffee to his office to start his profile on the missing woman.

"Well?" Sam asked, looking at his back.

"One day at a time, Samantha. You all know how this works," she reminded.

The team slowly started to return their focus to the task at hand rather than their team leader.

12:30 p.m.

Jack wiped his face before standing and heading to the men's room. He ran the water until cold was somewhat accurate. Pooling the water in his cupped hands, he immersed his face in it several times. The door opened and Martin walked in, stopping immediately when he saw Jack, and then trying to cover by walking to the far urinal. Jack wiped his face with paper towels and walked up to Martin as he was about to unzip, invading his space.

"Don't even pretend to think you have a clue, rookie! What, are you checking up on me? Leave me alone, junior," Jack said in a low voice that scared Martin.

Jack glared at him for an extra moment, and then left the room. He sat at his desk, frustrated at his behavior, and then started to direct his energy back to Leslie Strauss. Fifteen minutes later, he collected his data and headed out to the bullpen.

"Viv? I have some information on Ms. Strauss," he said, sitting at the conference table.

"Okay," she answered as she walked over to sit with him.

"Turns out she's an avid sailor. She was heading to Liberty Landing Marina the day she went missing. She was also frugal, choosing to walk to the marina, rather than taking a taxi."

"You got this from her phone records?"

"Some of it," he said, smiling.

"Okay, what else?"

"Boyfriend, uhm Jacob Stern. They met at Temple."

Viv looked at him in wonder.

"Okay, Jack. Where is she?"

"I don't know for sure, but it's a desolate area; the walk to the marina. I just don't know if she's a fighter or not."

"Keep digging, I'll send Martin to the marina."

He nodded and went back to his office.

4:00 p.m.

"Viv, I just got a hit on her cell phone." Jack said, walking up to her.

"Who did she call?"

"Her mother; for five minutes. It pinged off a tower in Westchester."

"So she's still here. Good job, Jack. Let me call the troops and get Samantha to check with the mother."

Jack smiled, his adrenaline racing. He put his file down on the conference table and then walked out onto the balcony. Taking a deep breath, he looked out onto the city, ignoring the light rain, before he backed up to the building wall and crouched.

"Jack?" Viv asked, walking up to him minutes later.

"I screwed up!"

"What do you mean?" she asked, crouching next to him.

"I let my guard down at the gallery."

Viv smiled briefly but remained silent, watching him. He closed his eyes and rocked his head back against the slick wall, feeling the rain on his face.

"Jack, can we go inside, please?"

"No, no...not yet. I need to...I just need to think some more."

He reached up and unbuttoned his top button of his shirt, loosening his tie and pulling out his necklace.

"Is that the St. Jude Chet Collins gave you?"


"The cross is new. It's pretty."

"It was my mother's."

Viv reached out to Jack's arm.

"Come on."

"Viv, you don't know what he did to me; to her," Jack said, his voice low and soft.

"I do, Jack. I was in Tyler's interview. I know what he did, I was in that apartment. Please, come inside with me."

Slowly Viv and Jack got to their feet and walked back into the empty bullpen. She slid her arm around his back as they walked to his office. Jack sat heavily on the sofa, again leaning his head back, shutting his eyes. Viv picked up the receiver and called upstairs.

"Dr. Bradley's office."

"Hi, this is Agent Johnson. Jack Malone is ready to see Dr. Bradley. Can he come to his office on twelve?"

"Of course. He'll be there as soon as he can."


"You're welcome. Bye."


5:30 p.m.

Sam, Martin and Danny walked onto the floor, passing Jack's office, noting the blinds drawn and the lights out.

"Lucky break with the phone call," Martin remarked.

"Yeah, but you have to be pretty self-centered to go on a road trip alone for two days without letting anyone know," Danny commented.

"I don't know. I've thought about it," Sam murmured.

"Jack go home after breaking the case?" Danny asked Viv as he sat at his desk.

"Ah, no."

Danny raised his eyebrows, but was then distracted by a noise from Jack's office.

"Guys, let him be. He has to work through this," she directed firmly.

Glenn watched Jack in the almost-darkness of the office. He knew he felt guilty about Jessica Lambert's death because he couldn't stop it. But there was a deeper guilt of his complacency at the gallery.

The books which had been on the middle shelf, were now strewn all over the floor, and Jack was pacing with anger and frustration.

"Feel better?"

"No damn it!" he shouted.

"You screwed up. Did you cause that girl to die? No. Covall said he had planned on killing her from the start. Perhaps you caused your own injuries because you let your guard down; I'll give you that."

Jack sat on the sofa, his jacket long since thrown on the floor with his tie. His shirt was untucked, cuffs unbuttoned; he lowered his head into his hands, feeling hurt and exhausted.

"Can you live with that?"

Jack didn't reply.


"I guess I'll have to," he whispered.

Glenn stood and turned the desk lamp to its next brighter setting.

"Go home, Jack. Go to sleep. We'll pick this up tomorrow, same time."

Jack nodded silently as Glenn left him alone.

Anne walked off the elevator to see Glenn leaving Jack's office.

"Is Jack in?"

"Uhm, yes. You're Anne Cassidy, aren't you? I'm Glenn Bradley, department psychiatrist."

"Oh, hello. How's Jack?"

"He's ready for you to take him home, if you can."

"Sure, I mean, I was planning on it."



Anne paused before she walked into Jack's office without knocking. She was surprised to see the books on the floor, but more surprised at how ragged Jack looked.


Jack remained silent, but slowly moved his right hand from his face and lay it palm up on the sofa next to him. She sat down, gently grasping his hand.

"Can we...can we just sit here for a couple of minutes, before we go home?"

"Sure," she said, reaching her left arm across his back. "Whatever you need."

They sat together for several minutes before he turned to look at her.

"I'm sorry,"


"I screwed up at the site. I was lazy."

"Don't do it again, "Anne said, softly. "I couldn't bear to lose another good man."

"No, I promise."

"Then, let's go home," she said pulling him closer into a tight hug.

"Thanks for being here, again."

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