by Liz

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 to TAE for her beta work and support. Follows the fiction "An Off Day"

Jack turned onto 78th Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills and parked the car. He pulled out his phone and dialed Danny.


"It's Jack. Sam and I are at the house. Where are you guys?"

"We're stuck in traffic. Garbage truck hit a VW bug on the 59th St. Bridge. We'll be there as soon as we can."

"Fine," Jack said, closing his phone. He sighed and then looked at Sam. "They're stuck in traffic. Looks like we go it alone."

Jack got out of the car, paused, and headed to the rear.

"This should be fun," Sam commented, apparently to herself, getting out of the car.

Jack opened the trunk and removed his jacket and tie before slipping on his vest.

"Vests? I thought we're just questioning him."

"We are, I just have a feeling, that's all."

He was nervous and felt the adrenaline rush as he started down the block to the house. After a few steps, he turned back to look for Sam.

"Is there a problem?"

"Not really, it's just that the breast plates have to fit just right, otherwise it's a waste of time. I'll be right there," Sam said, struggling to get the vest on.

Jack waited a moment and then continued towards the brick house. The lawn needed to be mowed and the trees needed trimming. He walked up the concrete steps and scanned the doorframe for a buzzer. Seeing none, he opened the storm door and knocked. The door eased open. Removing his gun from its holster, Jack took a step in.

"Mr. Alvarez? FBI. We'd like to talk to you," he called.

Jack stood for a moment just inside the door. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he took a nervous breath. He heard footfalls behind him.

"Anyone home?" Sam asked, out of breath from jogging down the block.

"Sam, get out of here, now. There's something very wrong," Jack warned, continuing to scan the stairwell to the second floor and the hint of the living room.

"What?" she asked, following him into the foyer.

"Now, Sam!" he said, loudly as he took two tentative steps towards the living room.

Sam turned quickly, but lost her balance and reached for something to stop her fall. The click that he heard when Sam clung to the closet door handle caused him to freeze in his tracks. Sam ran out of the house as Jack ran away from the sound and into the living room, diving behind a large sofa. There was a flash, a horrendous noise, and then silence.

Two days earlier
13.5 Hours Missing (9:30 a.m. Tuesday)

"Missing person is Lucy Aston, twenty eight, paralegal. Her roommate called it in," Vivian said, writing the information on the whiteboard and taping up a photograph of a blonde with green eyes and a great smile.

"Pretty girl," Elena commented.

"Martin is in Washington for the week taking that course, whatever it is, so Elena, would you and Danny run over to her apartment and interview the roommate? Samantha you and I will start digging," Viv directed.

"Where's Jack?" Sam asked.

"He's giving his deposition on the missing sailor found off the rocks at Governor's Island last month," Viv replied.

14.5 Hours Missing (10:30 a.m.)

As he rode the elevator alone up to the twelfth floor, Jack tugged at his tie. Walking onto the floor, he headed straight for the break room to brew a cup of coffee using the Keurig B50 high-end single cup coffeemaker. Taking a sip, he walked out to the bullpen to check in with Viv.


"Hi, how did it go?" Viv asked, her eyes glued to the monitor.

"Fine, just the same bureaucratic BS. I'm just tired," he sighed before taking a sip of his coffee.

Walking up to the whiteboard, he studied the timeline, nursing his coffee.

 Lucy Aston 7A-NY 516884 

"What do you know?" he asked, turning to face Sam and Viv.

"She lives in Jersey City and works for AIG. She has a night job at some place called the Red Rock West Saloon in Manhattan," Sam replied.

"She pays her bills on time. I should be getting her phone records in a few minutes," Viv remarked.

"Okay, Elena and Danny are at her apartment?"

"Interviewing the roommate, an Allison Rosen," Viv read from her notes.

"Keep me posted," Jack said, taking one last look at the picture on the whiteboard, before heading to his office.

"Miss Rosen? I'm Special Agent Elena Delgado, and this is my associate, Special Agent Taylor. We're here to talk to you about Lucy," Elena said, holding up her badge.

"Of course, please come in," the small red-headed woman responded, opening the door wider.

The two agents walked in and sat down on the sofa that faced the window overlooking the marina.

"Nice apartment," Danny commented.

"Thanks, it helps, having two incomes."

"What do you do?" Elena asked.

"I work at American Express, in the city."

"Tell us about Lucy," Danny asked, pulling out his pad.

"I've know Lucy for about six years, since she got out of college."

"Where did you meet?" Elena asked.

"I met her at her job."

"At AIG?" Danny asked.

"No, at the Red Rock West Saloon on West 17th St."

"Go on," Elena prodded.

"She bartends. It's a pretty wild place. I was there with some friends and we just hit it off. Sometimes it just works that way, you know? You meet someone and it's as if you've known them all your life," Allison paused as tears started to roll down her face.

"I know this is hard. When was the last time you saw Lucy?" Elena asked.

"Uhm, yesterday morning, we walk to work together. I take the water taxi from the base of her office building to the city. We had reservations to go to dinner; the three of us, Luce, Joe and myself. Joe is my boyfriend."

"We'll need to speak to him. What's his last name?" Danny asked.

"Joe Enkland, 201-555-7342. That's his cell. He's an actor, so that's the easiest way to get a hold of him."

"What makes you think there's something wrong, Allison? Maybe Lucy went out with some other friends," Elena asked.

"No, she isn't answering her cell phone and she always calls if she's going to be late," Allison said, getting up and turning her back on the agents.

"What aren't you telling us?" Danny asked, standing up.

Elena got to her feet as well, walking up to Allison, sensing her fear.

"There was a man she had been dating. They had been going out for about a month, I guess. His name was Roberto."

"Did you meet this Roberto?" Danny asked.

"Once, right after they started dating. She had the night off from Red Rock, so we went to Woody McHale's on 14th St. for a drink. I met him there. I didn't like him. He kind of scared me."

"Do you know Roberto's last name?" Elena asked.

"No, I'm sorry. Lucy knew that I didn't like him. I mean we even had an argument about it. After that, she never mentioned him until she broke up with him."

"Hi, it's me. I just broke up with Roberto. I'm taking the 8:45 water taxi home. Want to meet me at Liberty House for a nightcap? Call my cell. It's 7:30."

"I met her at the bar and I could tell she'd been crying," Allison explained.

"You were right. He was scum. He was seeing someone else, when wasn't with me. I was such an idiot. I thought he was so great, such a romantic."

"Luce, it's okay, now. He's gone and you don't have to deal with him"

"So why do you think Roberto is involved?" Danny asked.

"Because he showed up at the Red Rock last Tuesday and caused a scene. The bouncers kicked him out, but she was scared. She took the rest of the week off from the bar."

"Thanks for your help," Elena said, reaching out to shake her hand.

"Please find her. She's my best friend."

"We'll do our best," Danny promised.

They got into the elevator and pressed one.

"We need to find this guy," Elena stated.

"Yeah, and we need to talk to Joe, the other boyfriend, to corroborate."

Entering their car, Elena called the office.

"Agent Johnson,"

"Hi, Vivian."

"Hi, Elena, how did it go?"

"We have a clearer impression of what might have happened. Do you have her phone records?"


"She had a boyfriend named Roberto."

"Hmm, Roberto, Roberto...no, nothing here."

"Okay, after work, Danny and I will go up to the Red Rock and see if anyone remembers this guy. Apparently, he was bad news."

"All right, I'll see you back at the office when I see you."

"Sounds good, bye."


"No one by the name of Roberto called her cell or was called by her," Elena reported.

"It's never easy, is it?" Danny remarked as he drove towards the Holland Tunnel back to the city.

16 Hours Missing (11:30 a.m.)

Jack looked up and saw Danny and Elena walk by his office to the bullpen. He picked up his coffee and followed them.

"How did it go?" Jack asked.

"We have an ex-boyfriend who may be a suspect. He threatened her at her bartending job." Danny said, removing his suit coat.

"Right, she worked at Red Rock?"

"Yeah, do you know that bar?" Elena asked, turning to look at him.

"I have been there, yes. Uhm, it's a politically incorrect bar," Jack hedged.

"How incorrect?" Viv asked.

"If you're not a white blue collar male you'll be hassled. I was at the DEA a couple of months ago, across the street, and stopped in for a beer. Never been back," he said softly.

"So I guess you and I will go there, Jack?" Sam said in the vortex.

"You're gonna be hit on from the time you enter to the time you leave."

"Not if you play it right," Sam said, returning her concentration to her computer.

Jack gazed at her back, raising an eyebrow, before returning to his office.

"You said no calls from or to a man named Roberto?" Danny asked.

"Right," Viv confirmed.

"We need to talk to Allison's boyfriend and then we need Jack's report from the bar," Elena stated.

Viv looked at her, eyebrows raised; before Elena gave a detailed report of their interview with Allison.

21 Hours Missing

"You ready?" Jack asked.

"Almost," Sam replied.

Jack waited patiently at the end of her desk.

"Done," Sam said, looking at him for the first time.

"Uhm?" she said, seeing him in a tight black t-shirt, black suit jacket and jeans, his St. Jude and cross hanging in view.

"Yeah, we have to talk, come on," he said, holding out his hand.

"Okay," she said, grabbing her purse and raincoat before taking his hand and following him.

They went to his office to get the duffle filled with his trousers, shirt and tie and then headed to the elevator. As the doors closed, he started to explain.

"This is a working class bar. If I enter in a suit of any kind I'm a Fed be it DEA or FDA. You need to dress a little sexier; not in a power suit."

Sam thought for a few minutes and as the elevator car door opened, she smiled.

"Let's go to my apartment and I will become your gal."

"Uhm, okay, that's great. I'll throw my duffle in my trunk and leave the car here. We'll take taxis tonight; it'll be easier then trying to find a place to park."

"You're not kidding."

22 Hours Missing

Jack walked into the Red Rock and took a seat at the bar. The bartender, a young tattooed woman in black with bright red lipstick came to take his order.

"Scotch on the rocks," he said loudly to overcome the jukebox.

"Slick, do you want to be more specific?"

"Sure, Johnny Walker Black, two rocks," Jack said with a smirk.

She smiled back as she turned to fill his order. Moments later, she brought the drink.


"Leave it open," he said, handing her a credit card.

"Sure, slick."

Jack sipped his drink and waited for Sam to make her appearance. He didn't have to wait long.

"Hey, blondie," a very drunk man behind him called.

He looked towards the door and she waved. Jack stood as she crossed to him at the bar. Quickly, he kissed her before she sat on the stool next to him . Her black suit had been replaced by a short skirt and a low-cut blouse.

"What would you like to drink?" he asked.

"Vodka and orange juice, I think."

The bartender came over to take her order.

"Absolut orange and tonic," Sam said, changing her drink before Jack could order for her.

"You got it."

"She's with me," Jack added.

The bartender nodded, still facing away from them, pulling the drink.

The night progressed as Sam made friends with the bartender, Jack made friends with the bouncers. He stood outside, inhaling the secondhand smoke.

"I was hoping Lucy was working tonight," Jack said.

"You know Lucy?" The blonde bouncer asked.

"I met her once. She told me to stop by if I was in the neighborhood."

"She's taking some time off."

"Is she okay?"

"Yeah, her ex showed up and was a jerk. I think she'll be fine."

Jack turned to face the other man, quietly flashing his ID.

"Hi, I'm trying to find Lucy. She's gone missing. Can you describe the ex for me?"

"What? Uhm, yeah, of course. He was high and tight-"

"Wait, are you saying he was military?"

"Yes, or ex, I guess, but he had a military cut, tattoo on his right bicep, two As,"

"82nd Airborne," Jack remarked softly.

"Yeah, well he was a dick, rude to Lucy, and just a pain in the ass so we threw him out of here."

"How was he when he left?"

"He was fine. We just ejected him. We didn't tune him up at all."

"Thanks, what's your name?"

"Derrick Allen."

"What branch did you serve?"

"Marines, you?"

"82nd Airborne, 1st Brigade, 504th; the Red Devils," Jack said, reaching out his hand. "Do you think you could talk to our sketch artist; maybe give us a good likeness?"

"Sure, tomorrow, though, after I wake up."

"Great, we need to find this guy," Jack said, handing the man a business card.

"He said his name was Ricardo, Ricardo Alvarez," the other bouncer offered.

"Are you sure?"

"Oh, yeah. It was loud but I generally don't forget an asshole," the man smiled.

"I'm Jack Malone."

"Terry Matthews, Jack. Good to meet you. Come back, hell, you can even wear your suit. I'll let you in."

"Semper Fi," Jack said to Derrick.

"Hoo ra!"

Jack grinned and walked back into the bar to collect Sam.

"Hi, hon, this is Carrie. She's a friend of Lucy's," Sam said, kissing his cheek as he sat down.

"Hi, Carrie, I'm Jack."

"Hi, Jack."

"Carrie was telling me about the night Lucy's ex came in,"

"Oh, yeah?"

"It was really awful. I mean he was cussing her out and stuff; threatening her. She was terrified."

"I would be, too," Sam said, reaching for Jack's hand.

"Can you describe him to me?"


"Because I want to make sure my honey doesn't run into him here," Jack said, kissing Sam on the cheek.

"No problem, Jack. He was tossed and is forbidden to come back."

"Great," Jack said, looking at Sam. "Honey, I'm really tired, would you mind if we went home?"

"Sure, Jack. I'm tired, too."

Carrie cashed out the bar tab and brought Jack back his credit card and the slip to sign. Adding a generous tip, he took his copy of the bill and the card, carefully placing both in his wallet. They stood and Jack slid his hand to Sam's waist, guiding her to the door. They got outside and headed towards Ninth Avenue for a southbound cab.

"What did you learn?" she asked.

"I have someone who will talk to Sheila and get a sketch going," he smiled.

"Great. Carrie said Lucy kept to herself, mostly."

"So you learned nothing new?"

"No, I don't think so."

"It's a little after seven. I'll call the office and see who's there," Jack said, pulling out his phone and dialing a number.


"Hi, Viv it's me. I've got a name, Roberto or Ricardo Alvarez. He was in the 82nd Airborne. Also, one of the bouncers is going to come in and work with Sheila."

"That's great, Jack. Where are you, now?"

"Sam and I are heading to 9th Avenue to catch a cab. Wait, hang on, Viv," Jack said, turning to Sam, who was trying to get his attention.

"Jack, if you don't mind, I'd rather not go back to the office dressed like this. I'd like to call it a night."

"Okay, Viv, uh, Sam is gonna take the rest of the night off. She's not dressed for the office..."

"I understand, I'll see just you, then."

"Thanks, Viv. Bye."

"Bye, Jack."

"So, I'll drop you off then?" Jack asked.

"That would be great, thanks." Sam said, getting in the cab.

Jack climbed into the cab beside her and closed the door.

"Ah, we're making two stops, the first is Greenwich and 11th St and the second is 26 Federal Plaza on Lafayette."

As the cab took off, Sam looked over at Jack, catching him staring out the window.

"Hey?" she called.

He turned and looked at her quizzically.

"That was fun, tonight. I mean, I don't see you except at the office. It was nice to hang out."

"Yeah, it was. I miss your company, too, Sam."

"Okay, first stop," the cab driver announced.

"See you tomorrow."

"See you, Jack."

Jack continued in the cab until he got to the FBI's New York Field Office. After paying the cabbie, he pulled out his ID and headed into the building. Standing in the elevator, he sighed, leaning back against the back wall. The door opened on the twelfth floor and he pushed himself off the wall, walked onto the floor, and headed for the bullpen.

"Like the look," Elena teased, seeing him approach.

Jack sat in one of the chairs at the conference table and leaned back, closing his eyes.

"Jack, you're beat, why don't you go home?" Viv asked.

"I've got him!" Danny exclaimed.

Jack got to his feet and went to stand behind Danny, looking over his shoulder at the monitor.

"Roberto Alvarez was in the 82nd Airborne from 2001 to 2006," Danny read from the screen.

"Check to see if there is a Ricardo Alvarez," Jack instructed.

Danny entered the information and the DOD document came up.

"Ricardo Alvarez, killed in the line of duty in 2005 in Afghanistan."

"They were twins?" Viv asked, now standing with Jack.

"No, brothers, ten months apart," Jack said.

The agents looked at the face on the screen as Danny made both brothers faces appear. The phone rang.


"Yes, hello, this is Joe Enkland, I'm returning a call."

"Yes, Mr. Enkland, I'm Special Agent Elena Delgado with the FBI. I'd like you to come to our office tomorrow to discuss Lucy Aston."

"Why? What's happened?"

"She's missing. We spoke to Allison and now we need to speak to you."

"All right, all right. I can see you tomorrow but it will have to be early."

"That's fine. What time?"


"See you then, 26 Federal Plaza, twelfth floor."


"Goodbye, Mr. Enkland."

Elena hung up and turned back to her associates.

"Allison's boyfriend will be here at eight, tomorrow morning."

"Great, do we have an address on Mr. Alvarez?" Jack asked.

"No, I'm gonna have to dig around," Danny replied.

"I'm going home. Reggie has a History test tomorrow and I promised him I'd help him, tonight."

"Night, Viv," Jack said, barely turning his head from the monitor.

"I'm heading out, too," Elena said, picking up her purse.

"Night, Elena," Danny said as he started his search.

Jack cracked his neck.

"I'm going to type up my notes. Holler when you get something," Jack said, slowly walking to his office.


Walking back to his office, Jack felt the fatigue of the day catching up to him. He sat down at his desk, pulled his notepad from his jacket pocket, and started to type on the computer.

25 Hours Missing

"Jack? I'm heading home. I have calls out, but I haven't heard anything back, yet," Danny said from the doorway.

"Hang on, I'll walk out with you, I'm not getting any work done."

Jack saved his notes and then turned off his computer. He stood slowly and then followed the younger agent to the elevator. Standing there together, Danny looked over at his boss's face.

"You want to get something to eat?"

"Nah, thanks, Danny," Jack said, stepping into the elevator. "Rain check?"

"Sure, no problem; you look wiped out."

Jack looked at him and smiled. Danny followed him into the elevator. Jack pressed G while Danny pressed *1.

"See you tomorrow," Jack said, leaving to get into his car.

"Sure, see you."

Jack walked to his car, unlocked it and got it. He started the engine and half an hour later he was home. Locking the door behind him, he set his phone in the charger, keys in the silver dish, and his gun and holster in the closet. He fixed a scotch and then took his duffle to the bedroom. Taking his shirt and trousers, he put them in the dry cleaning bag and unrolled his tie. Examining it for stains, he hung it on the tie rack in his closet. He took a sip of his scotch and set it down on the bureau. Then he removed his socks and jeans, trading them for a pair of pajama bottoms. He picked up his drink and padded back to the living room. Leaning over, he turned on the stereo and selected a custom CD of Jimmy Barnes' music. The Australian's normal rock n roll voice came over the speakers softly as Jack sat down in a leather chair. He listened to the rough voice and relaxed.

Chapter One
33 Hours Missing (7:00 a.m. Wednesday)

Jack woke up, showered, collected his trappings, and headed for the office. He parked his car and headed up to the twelfth floor. Standing in the kitchenette, he washed his mug, enjoying the quiet of the morning. Placing his mug under the spigot, he waited for the coffee to come out of the machine. Smiling briefly, he took his mug back to his office and checked his email. There wasn't anything pertaining to the case, but something was nagging him. He picked up the phone and thought a moment before dialing.

"Jenkins," the voice said.

"Hey, Ritchie, it's Jack. You have a minute?"

"Sure, what's up?"

"I'm not sure, exactly. I have a missing woman whose ex is also an ex Airborne."


"Yeah, his brother was also Airborne, lost in Afghanistan in 2005."

"Okay, where do I fit in?"

"He was in for five years. What training do you think he received?"

"He knows the basics of being in the infantry, plus he can jump out of a perfectly good airplane. What are you asking?"

"I don't know, really."

"Well, Jack, compared to the general public, we are all dangerous, if that's what you're getting at."

"Yeah, maybe, let me think a bit more on it. I'll get back to you. How's Maggie?"

"She's fine; loves Northwestern. We're going out to see her at Thanksgiving."

"Terrific, look I have to get back at it. I'll talk to you later."

"Okay, bye."


Jack hung up and continued to look at the file while he waited for Elena and her interview.

34 Hours Missing (8:00 a.m.)

Jack walked out of his office to listen in on the interview between Elena and Joe Enkland.

"Mr. Enkland, thank you for coming in, my name is Special Agent Elena Delgado," she said, shaking his hand before sitting down.

"Hi, you said this was about Lucy? What's happened? I was working on a commercial on Long Island and haven't talked to Allison."

"She went missing two days ago. Allison seemed to think her ex-boyfriend may have been involved."

"I don't know how I can help you. Allison said he was a creep, but Lucy loved him, so I didn't say anything."

"Night before last, you were supposed to go out to dinner with Allison."

"Yes, that's right. The three of us had reservations at Liberty House, but she didn't show."

Jack looked through the glass at the blonde-haired, blue-eyed actor. He was lying, but Jack didn't know the subject. Vivian walked into the viewing room.

"Hi, you're in early."

"Yeah, I had to drive Reggie to school. The history test was a makeup exam before school. Anyway, Mr. Enkland is not as squeaky clean as we thought. He has two prior convictions for prostitution; him hiring hookers."

"Oh, well, based upon Allison's statements, she doesn't have a clue."

"What do you want to do?" Vivian asked.

Jack picked up the intercom phone and dialed one. Elena stood and walked to the receiver, picking it up.

"He has two convictions for hiring a prostitute. That may be all, but he is lying."

"Gotcha, thanks."

Elena turned and looked at the man sitting across from her in the metal chair.

"You look nervous."

"Do I?"

"Yes. Is there something you're not telling me?"


"Are you sure? You'll feel better if you tell me."

Joe Enkland squirmed in his seat.

"You don't have to tell Aly, do you?" he asked.

"It depends on what you tell me."

Sighing, Joe Enkland sat quietly for a few minutes.

"Well, you probably know, I was arrested for hiring a prostitute."


"Twice, yes, but that was months ago; before I met Aly."

"Did you know Roberto Alvarez?"

Enkland looked down at the table.

"Mr. Enkland, it is a simple question."

"Yes, he was my...connection."

"He's a pimp?"

"Among other things, yes."

"How did Lucy meet him?"

"I don't know. Wait, he's Lucy's ex boyfriend?"

"Don't tell me you didn't know?"

"Aly said his name was Roberto. How would I have known?"

Elena sat in the chair opposite and looked at the confusion on his face.

"How did you contact him?" she asked.

"There's a number I call."

"I need that number."


"You seem pretty sure, after only calling it twice."

"I was arrested twice, Agent Delgado."

"Stay put," Elena said, picking up her file before walking to the door and then into the hallway.

Jack and Vivian met her.

"Well, what do you think?" Jack asked.

"It doesn't look good for this girl. She may be out of the country, already, or drugged up and hooking for these guys," Elena said.

"Keep digging. Check everything. We've missed something," Jack said, his voice low.

Elena walked to the front desk to locate Agent Darby and instruct him to sit with Joe Enkland before returning to her desk.

Vivian looked concerned at his comment. He paused for a moment and then headed back to his office. Sitting at his desk, he opened the DOD records on the internet and looked up Roberto Alvarez's record. Jack slid his legal pad to the center of his desk and began to take notes as he began to create a personal profile. As he was looking at his record, a flag appeared in the lower right hand corner of the computer screen, indicating Jack's security clearance was not high enough to view the file. The screen went black. Picking up the phone, Jack dialed in-house.

"ASAC Agent Van Doren."

"Paula, it's Jack. I need your help. I have a missing insurance agent. Suspect is an ex-82nd Airborne. DOD has flagged his record. They bumped me. Can you make a phone call?"

"I can try. What's his name?"

"Roberto Alvarez."

"I'll get back to you. Bye."


He hung up the phone and looked at the time; eleven o'clock.

"Jack!" Danny shouted, bursting into his office.


"I found Roberto Alvarez through the V.A.. He may be at his mother's house in Queens. Here's the address."

"Great, grab Elena. Sam and I will meet you there. This is just a meet and greet, okay? We've got nothing on this guy."


38 Hours Missing (12:00 p.m.)

Danny and Elena drove up 78th Avenue, seeing the plume of black smoke and the body on the lawn. He stopped the car as Elena called the scene in to the authorities.

"This is Special Agent Delgado of the FBI. I need FDNY and an ambulance at 174 78th Ave. in Kew Gardens. We have an agent down and one missing."

Danny ran to Samantha's side. She was barely conscious.

"Explosion, Jack inside," she said, before passing out.

Danny reached for his cell phone.

"This is Special Agent Taylor, I need bomb squad at 174 78th Ave in Kew Gardens. We've had one explosion and we have an agent missing."

Danny and Elena waited anxiously with Samantha until the ambulance arrived. At the same time, Vivian arrived.

"What happened?"

"We don't know, exactly. Samantha said there was an explosion and that Jack was still inside."

The unmarked police car drove up quickly and a tall African American man stepped out. Vivian walked up to him.

"Sgt. Jenkins?"

"Agent Johnson, we should be on a first name basis at this point. Please, call me Ritchie."

"Ritchie, I'm Vivian."

"Vivian, what do you know?"

"Jack is inside and there was an explosion. That's really all I know."

"He called me this morning about a guy; Alvarez. He had a premonition. I need NYPD to give me a two block radius. No more radios. How's your other agent?"

"Concussion, from what I understand. She'll be fine."

"All right, Vivian. I need you to stay here," Ritchie Jenkins of the NYPD Bomb Squad instructed.

"I won't move."

Danny walked up to Vivian.

"He seems familiar," he said, looking at the man putting on the body armor.

"That's Ritchie Jenkins from the Bomb Squad, Maggie's father and one of Jack's oldest friends."

"Right, okay, I remember. I sent Elena with Samantha to the hospital. What do you want me to do?"

"Follow Enkland. Check into his financials. I think he's involved."


Ritchie stood with Captain Liam Flaherty of the FDNY, looking at the blueprints of what used to be a house, in front of them.

"Sarge, judging by a quick visual of the house and the statement from Agent Spade, Agent Malone should be about here."

"Damn it, not a lot of protection. Liam, gas and electric are off, right?"

"Con Ed turned it off last month; failure to pay."

"Let my boys come in and see of there're any more devices. Then I think we should search thermally. It will be faster than the dogs."

"You're in charge; we've just got your back."

"Thanks, Liam."

Jack woke up, lying on his left side, his face in water. Coughing, he rolled onto his back and found he could breathe, barely. His head ached and the entire left side of his body pulsed with pain. His eyes stung and his ears hurt. He tried to find his cell phone but it was underwater and the struggle caused enough pain for him to pass out.


"It's ASAC Agent Van Doren. Jack asked me to look into a Roberto Alvarez. I can't get through to his cell phone."

"He and Agent Spade appear to have walked into a trap. He's missing at the site."

"What? Oh my God. Well, then this is very important information for you. Alvarez was borrowed from Airborne to attend a secret elite weaponry group called W7 Wolverines. He was discharged two months ago. How's agent Spade?"

"Samantha has a concussion and is en route to the hospital. I'll pass on that information to the police."

"Can I send any more help?"

"Not here, but if you could work with Danny. I've asked him to look into Joseph Enkland, the best friends' boy friend. We still don't have a clue about Lucy Aston, the missing person."

"I'll liaise with him, thanks."



Vivian watched as Ritchie's crew quickly started to comb through the wreckage for any evidence of the bomb or new devices.

"Got a trigger, boss," said one man.

"Bag and tag and keep looking, Felix."

"Ritchie, we just learned that Alvarez trained with the W7 Wolverines. Does this make sense to you?" Vivian asked.

"Unfortunately, yes. That explains the precision of the implosion as well as the fact that there was no fire. Thanks, Vivian. Felix, Eddie, Ian, I need you guys here, now," He called tersely into his special hi-tech walkie-talkie.

The team assembled in front of him, wiping the sweat from their faces, although it was a cold November afternoon.

"We have some intel update. Our bomber was trained to make bombs from available mediums. Look for anything suspicious. I want everybody on coms. Come on, we got to get to our guy."

"You got it, boss," Felix answered for the team before they trotted to their van to get kitted.

42 Hours Missing (4:00 p.m.)

"Cap, we're clear. Let's get thermal res in here," Ritchie directed.

"You got it."

The helicopter hovered over the house. In the southwest corner was an orange form in a blue field.

"Damn, Cap, the water main must have broken. He's cold but not dead, yet. We gotta get him now."

"You bet, Sarge. Sean, take Rob and Skyler with you. Our guy is in the southwest corner and he's in water. He's been there for four hours. The clock is running gentlemen."

"Yes, Skip," the men answered almost at the same time.

The four man team, with the aide of the Bomb Disposal Unit, started the tedious task of removing debris.

Elena walked into the office, picking up a mug of coffee before heading to her desk.

"How's Samantha?" Danny asked, seeing her out of the corner of his eye.

"She was very lucky; a concussion, and cuts on her hands and knees from landing on the concrete sidewalk. It could have been much worse. What do you know here?" she asked, looking on the suspect whiteboard at the new sketch of Roberto.

"Terry Matthews, the bouncer from Red Rock, worked with Sheila on that sketch. Van Doren has been helping sift through the DOD red tape. Alvarez was sent to a special weapons training class. His expertise was bomb making. But, before he went into the Army, he was involved in some illegal activities. Plenty of arrests but none of them stuck."

"None of them?"

"Nope, not one. Ask me what he was involved in."

"Okay, I'll bite, what was he involved in?" Elena asked, sipping her coffee.

"He was involved in his brother's prostitution ring."

"So, when the brother dies, he takes over the family business?"

"Yes, and Van Doren found that Ricardo was in trouble in Afghanistan. He was under investigation there on prostitution charges."

"Wait, I've just thought of something," Elena said, picking up her phone and dialing quickly.

"Lt. Quinlan, Special Agent Delgado calling from the FBI; yes I'll hold."

"Elena? Long time, how are you?"

"Fine, Quinnie, listen, I need some information. What do you have on Roberto Alvarez?"

"He's bad news, has been since he was a kid. Why, what's up?"

"Are you at your desk?"


"I have a missing person's case, Lucy Aston. She's been missing more than forty hours. Her ex-boyfriend was Roberto Alvarez."

"Oh, hang on. Yeah, I see that case. Okay, uhm, wait a minute, okay we have a task force that's investigating him. You need to speak to Lt. Holmes, Jaye Holmes. Her direct dial is 212-555-7421. Give me ten minutes and I'll have her call you, okay?"

"Sure, thanks Quinnie, I owe you one."

"I'll remember that. Are you still at the 5125 number?"

"Yes, that's correct."

"Okay, talk to you soon."


Elena hung up the phone and swiveled in her chair.

"They have a task force investigating him. The team leader will be calling in ten minutes."

"Great. I'm looking into Alvarez's mother, she remarried. Her name was Alejandra Molinaro. She died in October and the case is still open. It was her house in Queens and I'm looking to see if she has any other property. Also I crosschecked Lucy's telephone records again. She received many phone calls from Alejandra Molinaro."

Elena was listening closely to what he was saying and then let out a gasp.

"Oh my God, Danny, I'm sorry. I forgot to ask about Jack. What have you heard from Vivian?"

"Nothing, Elena; I've heard nothing at all."

They sat in silence reading text off of their computers, trying to not to think about Jack. Suddenly, Elena's phone rang.

"Agent Delgado."

"Hi, this is Lt. Jaye Holmes. Quin asked me to give you a call in reference to Roberto Alvarez?"

"Yes, thanks. We think he has something to do with our missing person, his ex-girlfriend, Lucy Aston."

"Do you have a photo?"

"Sure, what's your email address?"


"Got it, thanks, I'll send it to you right now."

"I'll call you when I get it."




"She wanted a photo of Lucy," Elena said, sending the email.

"That doesn't sound good."


"Hi, I just got off the phone with Agent Johnson. Still no word on Jack. The bomb squad cleared the house and they think they have him located but he's not out yet," ASAC Agent Van Doren said as she walked into the bullpen.

"No news is good news, I guess," Danny said, turning to look at her.

"What do you know?"

"The NYPD have a task force investigating Alvarez. We're in touch with the team leader."


"I'm looking into the family. Roberto worked for Ricardo before they both went into the Army. Ricardo continued to work in the family business in Afghanistan. When Roberto came back to the States, he simply went back to work."

"And the family business is?"

"Prostitution," Danny said softly.

Danny's computer pinged and he turned to look at the screen.

"I have something. Alejandra Molinaro rents a small warehouse in Richmond Hill for....$6900/month. That seems pretty expensive."

Van Doren walked over to him, looking over his shoulder.

"How long has she been renting it?"

"Uhm, ten years,"

"She could have bought it by now," Elena commented, catching up on her email.

Her phone rang, and she picked it quickly.


"It's Jaye Holmes. Lucy Aston was seen last night in the area of 41st St. in Flushing. My lead officer just confirmed her photograph with the surveillance tapes."

"About what time was she seen on the tape?"

"Uhm, I'm looking at the notes. Here it is, blonde woman enters building at 41St and Kissena at Blvd. 2000H so eight o'clock."

"Great, what's the next step?"

"What are you doing tomorrow at 11pm?"

"Nothing, why?"

"We have a tip that Alvarez is bringing in some new girls. We want to take the snake out from the head down,"

"I understand your position, Lt., but I have a missing person who is being held against her will. We need to figure out another option."

There was a moment of silence on the phone.

"You give me a plan that won't blow my six month operation, and I'll consider it."

"Thanks, I'll call you soon."



Elena turned to face her two co-workers.

"She was alive as recently as last night at eight o'clock. She was seen entering a building in Flushing. They're going in tomorrow night and arresting the whole lot, but that leaves Lucy with Roberto until then. If we give Lt. Holmes an alternative to get Lucy out without jeopardizing the operation, she'll consider it."

"Let's go talk to Joe Enkland," Danny said, standing at his desk.

The three agents walked into the interrogation room and Agent Darby stepped out.

"I thought you forgot me," Joe Enkland said, trying to be funny.

"Mr. Enkland, this is Assistant Special Agent in Charge Van Doren, and Special Agent Danny Taylor. We have a proposition for you," Elena said, sitting at the desk.

Danny sat at the table as well while Agent Van Doren stood by the door.

"We found Lucy, but we need your help. When you used to call Roberto, did you have a particular girl you liked?" Danny asked.


"Okay, I want you to call Roberto. Tell him you have a friend in from Mexico who likes blondes. You want to hire Jasmine and this blonde girl. Be very specific, describe Lucy well. Tell him money is no object. Have them meet us at the Paramount Hotel bar tonight at eleven. Do you understand?"

"What's in it for me?"

"Heaven points," Agent Van Doren said.

"Make the call," Danny said, motioning to Joe's cell phone.

Joe picked up his phone and hit a speed dial number.


"This is Joe Enkland. I need to see Jasmine tonight. Is she available?"

"Yes, Mr. Enkland, she is. I thought you weren't going to see her anymore? I thought you had a girlfriend."

"She's out of town. While the cats away, you know, the mice will play."

"Yes, I suppose they will."

"Oh, I have a college friend in from Mexico. He's looking for a blonde girl, slim, with blue eyes. I know you generally have Asian girls but-"

"I can help you there as well but she costs extra."

"That's no problem."

"Where do you want to meet?"

"The Paramount Hotel bar on 46th St. at eleven tonight."

"Then bring eleven hundred dollars in cash and only pay Jasmine."

"Always easy doing business with you, Roberto."

"And you, Mr. Enkland."

The phone went dead and Joe hung up.

"No problem, but he wants eleven hundred dollars in cash."

"Don't worry about that," Van Doren assured.

"Now, we just need to figure out how to get Lucy out without Jasmine thinking we've caught on."

"Uhm, I know," Joe Enkland said softly.

"What do you know?"

"She's allergic to shellfish. If you set it up that she eats some, she'll get sick. She won't die, but I'd have a doctor and ambulance close by."

"That's pretty dangerous," Van Doren commented.

"The idea is solid, but she may not eat anything at all. What does she drink?"

"Patron margarita up with salt," Joe answered.

"Perfect, we'll stop at Hop Lee's and grab some ground shrimp powder and doctor her drink. I'll wait for them. Lucy might say something if she sees you first."

"All right."

"We're going to send you home with Agent Darby so you can change clothes. He will drive you to the Paramount to meet me at 10:45. "

"All right."

"Now, I have to talk to Lt. Holmes," Elena said, standing up to leave the room.

"I have to go get papers for body mics and requisition the cash," Agent Van Doren said.

She motioned to Agent Darby.

"Check with Agent Taylor, he has some specific instructions for you."

"Yes, ma'am."

Elena continued to her desk and found the pad with Lt. Holmes' number on it. She dialed, sitting at her desk sipping her cold coffee.

"Lt. Holmes."

"It's Elena Delgado. First of all, do you know about the warehouse in Richmond Hill?"

"No, what warehouse?"

"It's leased by Alvarez's mother, Alejandra Molinaro."

"I'll look into it thanks. Did you come up with a plan?"

Elena told her the idea in great detail.

"Sounds risky but it might work."

"It depends on what shape Lucy is in when she gets to the hotel."

"Good luck."

"Thanks. Bye."


Elena hung up the phone and saw Danny.

"It's almost eight and I'm starving. Do you want to go to Hop Lee's and have dinner?" she asked.

"Sure, then we can pick up the fish powder." Danny said. "Just let me call Vivian.


"Hi, Vivian, it's Danny. How are things on your end?"

"He's alive, but it was a two storey house and it all ended up in the basement on top of him. How about Lucy?"

"We found her, or at least NYPD did. They're running a task force on Alvarez's prostitution ring and caught Lucy on a surveillance tape last night. We've set up a meet with Joe Enkland and me, double-dating with Lucy and another prostitute tonight."

"Terrific. Keep me in the loop."

"Did Elena call you about Samantha?"

"Yes, they'll probably release her tomorrow."

"Have you seen Anne?"

"No, do you want me to call her?"

"No, Danny, let's wait. She's high strung to begin with and two months pregnant. I don't want to put her through this until we know something definitive."

"Okay, Viv, whatever you think is best. Elena and I are going out to Hop Lee's."

"Have the hot and sour soup for me."

"Sure, I'll do that."



Danny closed his phone and put on his top coat. Elena already had hers on and they walked to the elevator.

Chapter Two
47.50 Hours Missing (9:30 p.m.)

Danny and Elena walked onto the twelfth floor from the elevator straight to the bullpen. They took off their coats and Elena called Van Doren.

"Van Doren."

"We're back."

"I have the paper and the cash. Have Danny come to my office and I'll have Mac bring up the mic."

"All right. Bye."


"Van Doren wants you to mic up in her office," Elena said, raising her eyebrows.

He raised his eyebrows in return and laughed, pulling his tie off and opening his shirt a few buttons before walking to the elevator. He walked off the thirteenth floor and headed straight to Van Doren's office. Heading to her office he walked in and stood there, waiting for instructions.

"Hi, jacket off, shirt open, please," Mac said, setting up his gear.

Danny complied watching. Ten minutes later he was wired and went down to the twelfth floor.

"I'm all set," he said to Elena.

"Great, let's go."

They walked to the elevator and then to the street to catch a train up to 46th St. They walked into the hotel together, seeing that it was 10:40. Elena sat on one of the comfortable chairs in the lobby while Danny walked up the narrow staircase set against the wall to the bar. Five minutes later, Agent Darby and Joe Enkland walked in. Joe headed up the stairs, while Agent Darby sat with Elena.

"Hi, let's go find the manager," Danny said.

Joe nodded and followed him to the maitre'd station.

"I need to speak to the manager," Danny said, quietly flashing his badge.

"Of course, one moment."

Five minutes later, a handsome man in a dark suit and dark tie came up to them.

"My name is James Andrews, what can I do to help you, gentlemen?"

Danny explained in great detail what was about to take place. He handed the baggie of shellfish powder to Andrews.

"Got it?"

"Yes, but I need to let my security supervisor know. We don't like working girls in here."

"All right," Danny said. "Here's the money, Joe. You'd better stay here. I'll go wait for them."


"Joe, it'll be all right. You have to trust me."

"I know, uhm I guess. I've just never done anything like this."

"Here they come," Elena said into Danny's wireless earpiece.

"They're coming," Danny said, walking to stand near the top of the stairs.

He watched them move across the lobby. The brunette was leading but Lucy was close behind. They walked up the stairs carefully in their high heels. Jasmine started to walk by Danny.

"Excuse me, are you Jasmine? I'm Danny, Joe's friend from college."

"Oh, hello, where's Joe?"

"Men's room. He should be back in a minute."

Lucy started to caress Danny's arm.

"This is Lila."

"What's she on?" Danny asked.

"Just a little X, just to get her relaxed. She's new," Jasmine explained.

"Oh, good idea. Don't want my girl to be uptight," Danny said, giving Lucy a kiss on the cheek.

He led them to a table and they sat down. A waitress came over to them quickly.

"What would you like to drink?" Danny asked.

"I'll have a glass of champagne. Lila, what would you like?" Jasmine asked.

"Patron margarita no salt, please," she said, her hand firmly on Danny's knee.

"Joe will have a Stoli and tonic," Jasmine elaborated.

"I'll have Patron on the rocks," Danny added.

"Thanks," the waitress said.

Joe picked that moment to arrive. Danny took Lucy's hand in his tightly.

"Hey, babe. Are you feeling okay?" Jasmine asked, kissing him.

"Yeah, why?" Joe asked, sitting next to her.

"Danny said you were in the toilet," Lucy said, not really looking at him.

"This is my friend, Lila," Jasmine said.

"Pleased to meet you," Joe said, reaching out his hand.

"I think I love you," Lucy said, gazing at Danny.

"She's had a little X to calm her down. Jasmine explained that she's new to this," Danny explained.

"Oh, I see."

"Joe, do you have the money?" Jasmine asked.

"Sure, honey," he said, reaching for the black velvet jewelry box that Danny had given him earlier.

Jasmine took the box and opened it briefly. She smiled and shut the box before putting it in her purse. The waitress brought the drinks and distributed them.

"Toast, to a memorable evening," Danny said, raising their glasses.

"To a memorable evening," the others responded and touched glasses before taking large sips of their drinks.

Danny started an inane conversation about where to have dinner, but before he could finish the sentence, Lucy sat up abruptly. Her face started to turn bright red as hives began to appear on her skin.

"Lila, what's wrong?" Jasmine asked.

"Can't breathe," she gasped

"She needs a doctor," Joe said.

"She needs an ambulance," Danny said, pulling out his cell phone.

"Yes, a woman has collapsed in the lobby bar of the Paramount Hotel. Thank you."

"Danny, uhm..." Jasmine started.

"Go ahead, Jasmine. I'll get her to the hospital. Joe, you go too. Have a good time," Danny said, as he manhandled Lucy back on the loveseat.

"Are you sure?" Jasmine asked.

"Yeah, does she have ID in her purse?"

"She should. Uhm, Joe, we need to get going before the police get here," Jasmine said, standing.

"Of course, I'll get the bar bill."

"That's okay, Joe. I took care of it when we got here," Danny said.

"Thanks, I owe you one. I'll talk to you tomorrow," Joe said, heading to meet Jasmine at the top of the stairs.

"Bye," Danny said before returning his attention to Lucy.

Jasmine and Joe walked by Elena out the door and disappeared into the night. Elena and Agent Darby stood and walked quickly upstairs to find Danny rescue breathing, waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Five minutes later, the EMTs arrived and administered epinephrine before transporting Lucy to NYU Medical Center. Danny rode in the ambulance as Elena drove behind them. Agent Darby went back to the office.

12:00 a.m. (Thursday)

"I think I've got him!" a cry came from somewhere in the house.

Ritchie and Vivian ran up to the edge of the collapsed building. They looked into the debris towards the men who were working and saw the uniformed men carefully clearing an area standing mid-shin in filthy water.

"Get the litter down here," Ritchie directed.

The EMTs of the FDNY sent the litter down and almost thirty minutes later, Jack was lifted from the basement. His normal pale pallor was almost blue. His skin had an odd texture from being under water. Immediately, the EMTs put blankets on him and slid him into the ambulance.

"We're taking him to Queen's General, like we did the other one," the technician said.

"I'm riding with him," Viv said, remembering how Jack rode with her when she collapsed from her heart condition.

"Get in now." The tech ordered.

"I'll meet you there, Vivian," Ritchie said, starting to remove his body armor.


They shut the ambulance door and raced to the hospital with the sirens blaring. Jack appeared unconscious as they unbuttoned his shirt and started to cut off his Kevlar vest. Parts of his shirt were soaked with blood. Vivian stared at the shards of metal which were embedded in his vest and then at Jack's chest, now covered in bruises from the impact. Jack's eyes fluttered open and Vivian was disturbed to see the blood in them. He started to panic, but Vivian reached a hand to his face to calm him. As she did so, the technician restrained him. Then the monitors were put on his heart and the oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. Jack shut his eyes and passed out. The ambulance arrived at the hospital moments later and Vivian was told to wait as they took Jack into the ER. She called Danny to give him the update.


"Danny, it's Viv. We got him. We just rolled up to Queen's General."

"That's great news. I just left Lucy at St. Luke's. She's going to be fine."

"Put an officer with her until they arrest Alvarez," Vivian suggested.

"Done. I'm heading home for some sleep."

"Would you call Elena and tell her about Jack? I have to make one more call before I head into the hospital.."

"Sure I will, night, Viv."

"Night, Danny."

Vivian searched her phone and dialed a number.


"Anne, it's Vivian. Jack's been in an accident. They've taken him to Queen's General. He's in the emergency room right now. I don't know the extent of his injuries. I'll keep you posted."

"I'll get dressed and be right there."

"There's nothing you can do right now. Come by in the morning when he's settled in his room."

"Oh, thank you for calling, Vivian. I'll talk to you soon," Anne said, hanging up the phone.

She turned on her bedside light and started to cry.

"No, where's Sam? How's Sam?" Jack shouted.

He hurt all over. He eyes felt full of sand, his head pounded, and his entire left side pulsed with pain.

"Agent Malone, please relax," the nurse soothed.

"Where's Sam? I need Sam," he continued.

"Is there a Sam here who knows John Malone?" a nurse asked the people sitting in the waiting room.

"Yes, Samantha Spade, she's a patient. She was brought in with a concussion at around twelve noon, yesterday," Vivian answered.

The nurse picked up the phone and five minutes later, Sam was wheeled into the ER. She looked at Jack's face and felt fear. Standing slowly, she stopped as he shouted. The doctor stood at her side, motioning for her to comfort him.

"Where is Sam? Is she all right? Why won't you answer me?"

"Hey, Jack, I'm here," she said taking his right hand.

"I need, Sam," he said, the fear evident in his voice.

Sam looked at him and gently released his right hand. She put her right hand on his bare belly and softly rubbed in a circle. Her left hand brushed through his hair as she kissed his cheek.

Smelling the faint odor of her shampoo, he relaxed slightly.

"Thank God. Sam, I can't see, I can't hear. My left ankle hurts like crazy, as does my left knee, hip, wrist, and shoulder. It hurts to breathe...Sam, I'm scared."

Sam picked up his hand and put it to her lips.

"Don't be scared. I'm here," she said, softly.

"Okay, Agent Spade, that's enough for you. I don't need you any sicker," the doctor noted.

"Wait, do you have a pen?"

"Yeah," he said, handing it to her.

"Just in case he forgets," she said as she wrote on the palm of his right hand.

okay. You'll be fine. Love, S. S. 

Jack smiled when he felt the pen on his hand and then fell asleep into the pain.

"Let's get to work, folks. Sally, call Dr. Stevens and get him down here to consult on eyes and ears. Where is the rest of his vest?"

"Uhm, here," a resident answered, picking it up.

Dr. Aswan looked at the pieces of metal sticking out of the vest and then regarded his team.

"Strip him, he might have shrapnel wounds"

Indeed, they found four pieces of shrapnel; one in Jack's left shoulder, one in his left hip, one in his left calf and one barely lodged in his occipital lobe, visible only due to his recent haircut. They slid him through x-ray after packing blankets around him to get his temperature up. His left ankle was broken, left knee, hip, and shoulder bruised. His left wrist was dislocated. An hour later, Dr. Aswan came out to talk to Vivian and Ritchie.

2:00 a.m.

"You brought in John Malone? I'm Dr. Aswan."

"Doctor, how is Jack?" Vivian asked.

"He'll be fine, but he'll be here for several days. His hearing should return shortly, as it's been more than sixteen hours since the explosion. Dr. Stevens said that Jack's eyes were flashed. He's flushed and bandaged them. We'll see later how they are. I'm keeping him sedated for six hours just for him to get warm and for his body to catch up. You can come by later this morning to see him if you wish."

"Thanks, Dr. Aswan," Vivian said.

"I have to go on my rounds," Dr Aswan said, stepping away.

"One more thing, Doctor, we're going to need the shrapnel you recovered from Jack's body," Ritchie said.

"Yes, I believe that it is in a bag at the nurse's station."

"Thank you, again."

"You're welcome," Dr. Aswan said, leaving them alone.

Vivian looked at her watch and sighed.

"I need to go to bed."

"Me too, can I drop you?"

"If it's no trouble, could you take me back to the mother's house and I'll pick up my car," she said, heading to the nurse's station to pick up the evidence to give to Ritchie.

"No problem, Vivian. Just let me get this to an officer to hotfoot it to the lab and we'll be off."

8:00 a.m.

Anne walked up to the nurse's station carrying her overcoat and showed her ID again. They showed her to his room and she walked in. Nothing had prepared her for what she saw; the bandages over his eyes, the stitching, bruising, and oozing wounds on his chest, arms, and legs, and his broken ankle. She felt faint, and reached for the chair, before collapsing to the floor.

9:00 a.m.

The day nurse came in to check on Jack and found Anne lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He was, thankfully, asleep. She called for assistance and a gurney arrived to take Anne to the ER. Jack woke up briefly to the commotion in the room but it was confusing and chaotic. He felt a hand on his shoulder and then fell asleep again.


"Mr. Simpson, my name is Dr. Aswan from Queen's General Hospital in New York. I have two patients who both have your name and phone number in their wallets. I thought you might be the next of kin."

"Jack Malone and Annie Cassidy?" Tyler said, walking out of his meeting to take the call in the hallway.


"What is the extent of their injuries?"

"Mr. Malone was in an explosion and was buried for several hours. He has flash burns to his eyes, a broken ankle, some shrapnel wounds and basic bumps and bruises. We'll know later about his eyes."

"And Annie, how is she?"

"Well, I'm afraid she had a miscarriage."

"Damn!" Tyler exclaimed.

Jack had just called him two weeks before to let him in on the great secret. He seemed thrilled at the prospect of being a father again although he did admit to being scared as well.

"Mr. Simpson, I hate to ask this, but I think you are needed here. I don't even know this area code. I don't know where you are."

"At this point, I am in Virginia. I could be in New York by the middle of the afternoon."

"Excellent. I will have Jack's eye exam rescheduled until you are here. Also, I wish to speak to you privately on how to help Ms. Cassidy."

"Dr. Aswan, you should know that the baby was Jack's."

"Then I echo your previous comment. I look forward to meeting you."

"Thanks for calling, Dr. Aswan. Bye."

"Bye, Mr. Simpson."

10:00 a.m.

Elena walked into the office, giddy from their successful operation the night before. She dropped her bag on the desk and walked back to get a cup of coffee. Returning to her desk, she saw the message light blinking on her phone. She sat down, and pulled up her pad and pen before retrieving the calls.

<12:10 a.m.>

"This is Jaye Holmes. My guys report your snatch went well and so far there is no ripple effect on this end. Call me when you can."

<9:30 a.m.>

"Hi, Elena, it's Samantha. They're discharging me at one o'clock and I can't leave on my own. They won't let me. Could one of you guys come get me? Thanks."

Vivian walked in to the bullpen.


"Morning, how's Jack?" Elena asked.

"Bruised, battered, waterlogged, but it could have been worse. They're keeping him at least until tomorrow."

"Morning," Danny said, as he walked in.

"Morning," they replied.

"How's Jack?" he asked.

"Battered and bruised but he'll be okay," Viv answered.

"I'm going for coffee. Viv?"

"Yes, Danny, please. Just a black coffee today, thanks."

"I'll be right back."

Vivian put her bag in her desk drawer, and hung her coat on the hook before seeing the message light on her phone. She dialed to retrieve her messages.

<9:45 a.m.>

"Viv, it's Tyler. Call me, please; I can't get through on your cell phone."

Vivian immediately reached for her cell phone and saw five missed messages, all from Tyler. She dialed the number and waited.


"It's Vivian, what's wrong?"

Tyler pulled his car to the side of the road, trying to keep his composure.

"It's Annie. She...she..." he stopped, feeling the tears track down his face.

"Tyler, what's happened?" Vivian asked, taking the hot coffee from Danny and seeing the confusion on his face.

"She miscarried. She's at the same hospital as Jack. I'm on my way up there."

"My God!" Vivian exclaimed, feeling the tears start to form.

"Please can you meet me at the hospital at three? I don't think I can do this alone."

"Of course I can. How are you getting up here?"

"My boss authorized the jet after I looked through the case that you were working on. There are a bunch of missing girls in Queens. Maybe it's your guy, maybe it's one of mine. It's a ninety minute flight, but I can't leave here until noon at the earliest. So after security and meeting my driver, I figure I can make it by three."

"And you run late," Vivian tried to tease.

"Yes, and then there's that. I'll see you soon. Bye."

"Bye, Tyler."

Vivian put the phone back in the cradle and wiped her eyes. She took a sip of coffee and then turned to face her colleagues.

"Anne's had a miscarriage. She's at Queen's General Hospital with Jack and Samantha."

Danny and Elena were speechless.

"I'm meeting Tyler at three with their doctors to find out how to proceed. For now, I don't think we should say anything to anyone."

"That may be difficult, Samantha called to get a lift from the hospital at one."

"I'll do it," Danny volunteered.

"Thanks, I guess we'd better start the paperwork," Elena said, reaching for her phone.


"Hi, it's Elena."

"Hi, so give me the details."

Elena told her everything from the girls' entrance to the hotel to the ambulance.

"Wow, and she's safe?"

"Guarded at the hospital. I haven't called the roommate, yet. I was going to wait until your operation was in play."

"Thanks, well I hope to work with you in the future. Quin speaks highly of you."

"And you also. See you soon, bye."


Quickly, Elena hung up the phone and dialed again.


"Joe, it's Elena."

"Oh, uhm hi."

Elena sensed that he wasn't alone or that there was something else going on.

"I have a part that I want you to read for. Can you meet me for lunch?"

"Sure, where?"

"The restaurant in Battery Park near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Noon okay with you?"

"Fine, thanks, Elena."

"You're welcome."

"Who was that?" Jasmine asked, shifting her hand from his chest to between his legs.

"A girl from my agent's office. They have a script for me to read. Now, where were we?"

11:00 a.m.

Jack woke up, confused at first. He could hear someone in the room.


"Hello, Jack. I'm Nancy, your day nurse. It's eleven in the morning. You were brought in at midnight. Is there something I can do for you?"

"Could you get my doctor, please?" he said, hoping his fear wasn't obvious.

"Sure, I'll be right back."

Five minutes later, Dr. Aswan walked in.

"Morning, Jack. I'm Dr. Aswan. How are you feeling?" he asked, setting his hand on Jack's uninjured right shoulder.

"I have a lot of pain on my left side. My eyes hurt. I have ringing in my ears, and a killer headache, and I'm cold."

"What is the last thing you remember?"

"I sensed something wasn't right in the house. I ordered Sam to leave and...and that's all."

"You were in an explosion. The house collapsed on you. You were found sixteen hours later in the basement in about 5 inches of water. Your left ankle is broken, all your major joints are bruised on the left side, and your wrist was sprained. You are alive because you were wearing your vest. Still, pieces of shrapnel hit you where the vest stopped. You had your eyes open when the blast occurred and flashed them. Dr. Stevens is going to examine you again this afternoon and see how you're doing. The ringing in your ears will dissipate. You have no permanent damage there."

"Was Sam here?"

"Yes, and she left you a note," Dr. Aswan said, reaching for Jack's right hand. "It says, I'm fine, you'll be okay, love, S.S."

"Okay," Jack said, as the pain started to overwhelm him.

"Here's the morphine drip," Dr. Aswan said, slipping the pump into Jack's hand after pumping it once.

Jack pumped it himself before falling asleep. Dr. Aswan took a look at the machines that monitor temperature, heart, and breathing rates. He frowned, seeing Jack's temperature was only 96. Leaving the room, he walked to the nurses' station and pulled Jack's file. Making a note, he turned to Nancy.

"Can you give Jack Malone another blanket? He's not getting warm."

"Of course, Doctor."

Elena sat at the bar, looking out onto New York Harbor, sipping a glass of white wine when Joe Enkland walked in. He looked tired and was wearing the same clothes as the night before.

"Thanks for coming. I hope I didn't disturb you this morning."

"No, it's fine. How's Lucy?"

"She'll be okay, but they're keeping her overnight for observation. I wanted to see you, Joe, to remind you not to say anything to Allison about Lucy until I tell you. There are other players in this and until they are arrested, Lucy is at risk."

"Sure Agent Delgado. Whatever you say."

"Where are you going now?"

"Home, I need a shower and some sleep," the actor smiled.

Elena paid for her glass of wine and stood.

"I'll be in touch."

"Thanks for getting Lucy back," Joe said, standing as well and extending his hand.

"You're welcome."

12:45 p.m.

Samantha sat on the edge of the bed waiting for someone to come and get her. Her headache was minimal and the pain from the cuts on her hands and knees was manageable. Still, her doctor told her she couldn't go back to work until Monday. That was fine, although she didn't know what day it was.

"Hey, college girl!"

Samantha looked up and saw Martin standing in the doorway.

"What are you doing back? I thought your class went till Friday?"

"Let's just say that being the Deputy Director's son is a card I don't play often. Anyway, Viv and Elena are finishing up the paperwork from last night. Danny had to get Jack's car before it was towed. So I was assigned to pick you up."

"Thanks," Samantha said, starting to stand.

"Hey, wait, I have to get the wheelchair," Martin said, ducking back into the hallway.

He returned a few minutes later with a wheelchair and carefully helped her into it. He pushed her into the hallway and headed for the elevator.



"Can we see Jack?"

"Sure, I'm sorry. Do you know what floor he's on?"

"No, they took me to him late last night. He was so scared, Martin."

"I'm sure he'll be all right. Let me check where he is."

Martin went back to the nurses' station and asked about Jack's room.

"Two floors up, 518," Martin said, pressing the elevator button.

"Great," Samantha said.

Martin looked at her, noticing her chewing the edge of her lip as she did when she was nervous. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder as they finished the quick trip. Wheeling her out, they found Jack's room and went in. He was dreaming. Samantha got out of the wheelchair and touched his face.

"He's cold," she remarked.

Martin looked at the monitor and saw it said 94. The blanket had slipped a little and he pulled it over Jack's chest and saw him calm slightly. Samantha touched his face and kissed him. Jack smiled, waking from his dream.

"I'm glad you didn't change your shampoo," Jack's voice rumbled.

Samantha giggled and Martin cleared his throat. Jack turned his head to the noise and paused.


"Wow, Jack, do you know my shampoo too?"

"Nah, it's your aftershave. Gio, I think, by Armani. How did you get out of your class?"

"I pulled some strings. Oh, and I have news from the team. They located your missing person and were able to get her without blowing a six month investigation by NYPD."

"She's all right?" Jack asked, his voice suddenly softer.

"Yeah, she'll be fine," Martin said, looking at Jack and then the machines.

Jack reached for the morphine drip and hit it twice. Martin and Samantha watched him silently until he fell asleep.

"Let's get you home," Martin said, helping Samantha back into her wheelchair.

3:00 p.m.

Vivian stood outside Jack's room and waited for Tyler. Moments later, he came out of the elevator and walked quickly into her arms.



"Dr. Aswan wanted to talk to me before we go see Jack."

They walked to the nurses' station and asked for Dr. Aswan.

"He'll be right down. You can have a seat there," the nurse said pointing to the row of plastic chairs.

They walked over and sat down, holding hands and trying to remain calm.

Five minutes later, Dr. Aswan arrived.

"Agent Johnson, Mr. Simpson,"

"Actually, he's an agent as well. But I think you should call us by our first names. I'm Vivian and he's Tyler."

"Fine, the first thing I want to talk to you about is Jack. He's not out of the woods. His core temperature has not risen to 98 degrees yet. That could prove dangerous to his kidneys. He's still in a lot of pain. Dr. Stevens will be here in a few minutes and we'll remove the bandages from Jack's eyes."

Before either of them could comment, Dr. Stevens walked up.

"Malouf, are you ready?"

"Yes, Philip. These are Jack's friends. I would like them to be in room with us."

"Sure, I'm Dr. Stevens."

"Vivian Johnson and this is Tyler Simpson."

They shook hands and walked into Jack's room. He was asleep but dreaming as he tried to move past the constraints of the tubes and wires. Dr. Aswan looked at his temperature and noted it was still at 96.

"Tyler, do you know if Jack's temperature is generally low?"

"Yeah, we used to joke about is it 98.6 or 96.8."

"So, this may be normal for him," Dr. Aswan mused.

"Let's wake him and then raise the bed up a little," Dr. Stevens said.

"Jack, wake up Jack," Dr. Aswan said.

Struggling through his dream, Jack woke, moving his head to face the voice.

"It's Dr. Aswan, Jack. Dr. Stevens is here to remove your bandages and examine your eyes."

"Viv is that you?" he asked, recognizing her perfume.

"Yes, Jack," she said, leaning over to kiss him on his cheek.

"Hey, Malone. We have to stop meeting like this," Tyler joked, resting his hand on Jack's right shoulder.

Jack grinned momentarily.

"Don't make me laugh, Tyler. It hurts too much."

"Okay, Jack. We're going to raise the bed up so you're in a sitting position. Tell me if it's too much pressure on your hip," Dr. Aswan said, pushing the remote control.

The head of the bed moved to thirty degrees before Jack's heart rate started to speed up and his breathing increased.

"That's it, Jack. No more. I'm going to turn off the lights, and then remove the bandages," Dr. Stevens said.

"Go ahead," Jack replied softly.

In the darkness, Dr. Stevens unwrapped Jack's eyes. He took a pretreated gauze bandage and opened the wrapper. Gently, he wiped Jack's eyelids to free them from the dried gunk. Jack took in a breath quickly against the pain.

'Where is the pain, Jack?" Dr. Aswan asked.

"My left wrist."

"Sorry, Jack. I must have been leaning against it," Dr. Stevens said, gingerly lifting Jack's arm and setting it across his chest.

Pulling out his handheld direct ophthalmoscope, Dr. Stevens instructed Jack to open his eyes. He did so slowly. He set the UV filter on the scope and turned on the light, away from Jack. Very deliberately, he started his exam. Ten minutes later he was done.

"Okay, Malouf, put your hands over his eyes and I'll turn on the lights," Dr. Stevens said, slipping is ophthalmoscope back into his pocket.


Dr. Stevens turned the lights on and then turned back to face Jack.

"Jack, open your eyes."


"Malouf, remove your hands."

Immediately Jack squinted, raising up his right hand, ignoring the pain from the IV, to block the light. He blinked several times as his eyes grew accustomed to the light. Finally, he lowered his hand and looked around the room.

"Your right eye may be a bit blurred for the next day. But you should be fine."

"That's my favorite necklace of yours, Viv," Jack commented, almost shyly.

"Good for you, Jack. Now, if you will excuse me, I have other patients to see," Dr. Stevens said.

"Thanks, Doc," Jack said.

"You're welcome, Jack," he replied before leaving the room.

"Vivian, Tyler, can you give me the room for a minute? I need to examine him."

"Sure, we'll be back soon," Viv said to Jack.

"I'll be here."

Tyler and Vivian walked to the hallway and then went in search of coffee, returning to Jack's room fifteen minutes later as Dr. Aswan walked out.

"Give me five minutes to catch up with my notes, and I'll be right with you," he said as he headed to the nurses' station.

"Okay," Tyler replied, sitting outside Jack's room, sipping his coffee.

"Let's go to my office," Dr. Aswan suggested.

They walked to the elevator and ten minutes later they were in a crowded office. Dr. Aswan cleared the files off of the two chairs in front of his desk and then sat down himself. Vivian and Tyler sat in the vacant chairs and waited.

"It appears that Ms. Cassidy went to see Jack and collapsed from the shock at the sight of his injuries. At her age of forty-five, unfortunately, the percentage of being able to bring a baby to term is very low and the risk of miscarriage is very high. In addition, the stress of seeing her partner in the hospital added to the general stress she was under from the pregnancy itself."

"How far along was she?" Vivian asked.

"About two and a half months."

"Does she know?" Tyler asked.

"No, the nurses found her at nine this morning. She was rushed to the ER and immediately went into surgery when they realized what had happened. She's sedated and probably will sleep through the night. I plan on speaking to her in the morning. If Jack improves overnight, then I'll remove his catheter first thing in the morning and get him on his feet. He has no idea she's here and the staff is forbidden to say anything. Tyler, I'd like you to take him to see her tomorrow. She has to tell him. It's part of the grieving process for both of them."

"I understand, can we go see him, now?" Tyler asked.

"Of course. He's still in pain and tired, so just take it easy."

"We will," Viv confirmed.

4:30 p.m.

They walked into Jack's room and found him awake, staring at the ceiling. He looked at them as they entered and closed his eyes before opening them again.

"You up for some visitors, Malone?"


"I wanted to tell you that we found Lucy and she's safe," Vivian said.

"Good, was the actor involved?" he asked, not remembering his conversation with Martin.

"Not in her disappearance, no. He helped us to get her back, though."

"Hmm," Jack murmured as he tried to get comfortable.

"Jack, it's been a long day. I'm going to go home. I'll come and see you tomorrow," Vivian said, leaning over to kiss his cheek.

"Thanks for coming by, Viv."

"You're welcome."

The door closed and Tyler pulled the chair up to Jack's bedside.

"You want to talk about it?" Tyler asked.

"Could you turn off the fluorescent lights? My eyes really hurt right now."

"Sure," Tyler replied, standing to reach the switch on the control panel mounted to the wall behind the bed.

Jack took a rocky breath, catching with pain.

"You can hit the morphine button, Jack. You don't have to live through the pain."

"I know, but I wanted to talk to you."

"I'm not leaving, Jack. I'm here."

Jack looked at him in the dim room, seeing his blonde hair curling over his ears and over his collar. Jack smiled and then shut his eyes tight as another wave of pain started in his shoulder and ended up in his ankle. He reached for the pump and hit it twice, before finally getting relief.

"Night, Jack," Tyler said, settling back in the chair.

As he did, he noticed something on the palm of Jack's right hand. He smiled as he read Sam's note, and reminded himself to show it to Jack when he woke up.

Tyler had sat in the chair, watching Jack sleep, occasionally walking around to take a break and get a coffee.

"Mr. Simpson, visiting hours are over," the nurse said.

"All right, let me just wake him to tell him I'm leaving. Jack ... Malone, wake up!"

Jack opened his eyes and tried to focus.

"Jack, I have to leave; visiting hours are over. Okay?"

Jack blinked a few times and tried again to focus.

Tyler leaned over and whispered in his ear.

"If you get scared just look at the note Samantha wrote you on your right hand."

Jack nodded and fell back asleep.

8:00 a.m. (Friday)

Dr. Aswan opened the door to Anne's room and quietly walked in. She was asleep, He checked her vitals and she woke up while he was listening to her heart.

"I'm Dr. Aswan, Ms. Cassidy. How are you feeling?"

"I'm sore and tired," she said, groggy from the medication.

"I need to speak to you-"

"Oh, God, no, Jack's dead, isn't he?" she interrupted in a whisper as tears began to stream down her face.

"Jack? What? No, Jack will be fine. I wanted to talk about you."

Anne looked at him through her tears and started to sob when she realized what had happened. Turning away from him, she curled up, continuing to cry. He sighed and left her alone.

Arriving on Jack's floor, he found Nancy and went in to remove Jack's catheter. He was asleep, but judging by the sheets and blanket, he had not had a restful night.

"I need to see his chart. I'll be right back," Dr. Aswan said, leaving her side.

Nancy began to get set up so she would be ready when he returned. A few minutes later, Dr. Aswan walked in.

"We'll continue and I think I'm going to change his pain medication to pills rather than the pump."

Nancy nodded and pulled aside the sheet and hospital underwear so they could start the procedure. Fifteen minutes later, Jack was lying in a neater bed with the covers tucked to his chin. They left him sleeping.

Chapter Three
10:00 a.m.

Tyler walked in, carefully folding his top coat before setting it on the deep windowsill next to the small duffle he brought. He noticed the partially eaten breakfast and the absence of the morphine drip. Sitting in the chair near the bed, Tyler stretched his legs and watched his friend sleep. Jack's eyes were moving under his eyelids as he continued to dream. Limited by his cast ankle, he still was able to thrash a bit. His heartbeat started to race and the soft beep from the machine was replaced by a louder, more insistent tone. The perspiration that started in his hairline was evident in its sheen on his chest and face. Tyler stood and carefully put his hands on Jack's shoulders, mindful of the bandages.

"Let it go, Jack. Just relax. Let it go."

Jack struggled against Tyler's grip, finally waking himself. He sat up, putting his face in his hands as he tried to catch his breath.

"Easy, buddy."

"Water?" Jack whispered.

Tyler reached for the pitcher and poured half a glass and handed it to him. He took a sip, holding it with both hands. Suddenly he paled, panicking; he pulled off the sensors and tried to get out of bed.

"Jack? What's wrong?" Tyler asked, helping him to his feet.

Jack raised his hand to his mouth and then Tyler understood, hurrying to help him to the bathroom. With the cast, it was difficult to kneel but he managed and was able to empty his meager stomach contents into the toilet. Tyler wet a washcloth and wiped Jack's neck, waiting for him to finish. When he finally brought his head up, Tyler wiped his face and helped him to his feet.

"Stay right here. I brought some stuff from home."

Nancy ran in and saw the bed empty.

"What's happened?"

"He got sick. Can you give us a minute?" Tyler asked.

"Sure, come and get me when you're ready," she said, turning off the machines before leaving them alone.

Jack had his right hand on the wall, leaning against it. Tyler returned with a small bottle of Listerine and a tooth brush. He helped Jack to the sink and poured a capful for him to rinse his mouth. Swishing it around in his mouth, Jack spat the liquid into the sink. He reached again for Tyler and they walked back into the room. In his haste to get out of the bed, Jack had dropped the plastic glass on the sheets. Anchoring Jack to the window sill, Tyler pulled out a silk bathrobe from the duffle and helped Jack into it.

"Have a seat while I go find the nurse. You're supposed to go for a couple of walks today, anyway."

Jack grunted, leaning his head back on the false leather surface and closing his eyes. Tyler returned with Nancy and a Canadian crutch.

"Jack, are you still nauseated?"

"No, Nancy. Just tired and the pain is coming back."

"Okay, I'll go tell Dr. Aswan and I'll change your sheets while you take a walk. Let me just adjust the crutch for you."

Jack rocked his head forward and opened his eyes. Tyler helped him to his feet as Nancy slipped the cuff around his forearm. Instinctively, he reached for the grip.

"That looks good, Jack. Mr. Simpson, I would recommend just to the end of the hall and back. You can take a longer walk this afternoon."

"Thanks, Nancy. Okay, Jack, let's go."

Slowly Jack walked out of the room and into the bustling hallway. They walked silently to the end and Jack stopped. He turned and looked at Tyler. Two women walked by them talking very loudly and the moment between the two men was lost. They headed back to Jack's room. Walking in, they found the bed made and the semi fresh smell of Lysol emanating from the bathroom. Jack paused for a minute and then headed to the bathroom.

"Holler if you need me."

"Tyler, could you get me some juice? Any kind, I...I just can't drink water right now." Jack asked from behind the closed door.

"Yeah, sure. Be right back," Tyler said, leaving the room to find Nancy.

"Mr. Simpson, are you back from your walk?"

"Yes, I think he's about ready for a nap, but he needs his pills and he would like juice rather than water."

"We can surely do that. I'll be right in."


Tyler entered the room just as Jack reached his bed. First, he removed the bathrobe then Tyler handed him an old button-down short-sleeved shirt, and a pair of pajama bottoms. He helped him put his cast ankle on the stack of pillows that replaced the traction sling. Finally, Jack settled back onto the pillow and closed his eyes.

"Pills and apple juice, Jack," Nancy said, as she walked into the room.

He opened his eyes and took the proffered pills; swallowing them dry and chasing them with the juice. Nancy took the cup from him and put in on the table next to the bed.

"I'll check in on you later," Nancy said as she turned and walked out of the room.

Reaching to the foot of the bed, Tyler pulled the blankets up to Jack's shoulders and then sat down. He checked the time and waited for his charge to fall asleep. Half an hour later, Jack was softly snoring, so Tyler headed for the cafeteria to catch up on his missed phone calls.

12:30 p.m.

Jack awoke on his back in the basement. He felt immense pain on his left side. Raising his right hand, he tried to move some of the stuff that was on top of him. The water continued to rise, now submerging him from the ears down. There was a noise from the structure as it continued to settle and additional debris fell on him, pinning him entirely. He breathed through his nose, fighting to stay conscious, as the water level continued to rise. By the time he was rescued, he had tilted his head back to keep his nose above water; trying very hard not to panic.

Dr. Aswan walked in to check on Jack, stopping in the doorway for a moment at the sight in front of him. Jack's back was arched slightly, his limbs limp at his side, and his head was tilted back. He breathed loudly out of his nose. The breaths were labored and rapid. Heading to Jack's bedside, Dr. Aswan pulled out his stethoscope and listened to his lungs and heart. Reaching to the console embedded in the wall behind the bed, Dr. Aswan took the oxygen mask, turned on the flow, and gently placed it over Jack's mouth and nose. At first, he panicked, moving his head to evade the mask, and then he settled, breathing in a lungful of cool air. Minutes later, Jack woke up.

"Steady, it was just a dream, Jack. You're at the hospital, now."

Jack looked at him, unsure. Reaching up with his right hand he pulled the mask off.

"I was pinned under the rubble from the house. There was water everywhere. It was so cold and it was hard to breathe," Jack said, looking at the somewhat familiar face above him. "When I woke up, I couldn't hear anything, I couldn't see anything, I couldn't move and the pain was indescribable."

"It must have been terrifying. You're lucky to be alive."

"Yeah, I guess," Jack's voice faltered for a moment. "I need..."

"What do you need, Jack?"

"Anne, I need Anne," Jack said, setting his exhausted look on Dr. Aswan.

He paused for a moment, judging the situation.

"Let's go for a walk," Dr. Aswan said, taking the O2 mask from him and setting it back on the wall.

He helped Jack up and into his robe before handing him his crutch.

"Are you hungry? I understand breakfast didn't sit well."

"No, not at all."

The two men walked out of the room and headed, slowly, for the elevator.

1:12 p.m.

Dr. Aswan escorted Jack to a hospital room and gestured for him to go in. He opened the door and slowly crutched in a few feet. Jack stood, transfixed. He didn't hear the door close or the sounds of the machines or his own choke of fear before he dropped his crutch and limped to her bedside. Softly, he kissed her forehead and stroked the hair around her ear. Anne woke up, looking at him strangely at first.

"I've missed you," he said, his voice dropping in and out.

She looked at him, her eyes filling with tears. Reaching her hands to his face, she held him. His eyes started to fill in response, not knowing what was upsetting her. She brought his face to hers and kissed him softly on his cheek. Pushing him away gently before he was able to respond, she took a breath.

"I lost the baby."

Jack looked at her and his reserve slipped away, bursting into tears for her and for their unborn child. She took him by the shoulders and pulled him down to her, holding him tightly. He wanted to be strong, but he couldn't do it. After about fifteen minutes, his analytical mind took over.

"What happened?"

Anne didn't respond, she just sobbed softly.

Jack pulled back and looked at her.

"Did you lose the baby because of me?"

Again she didn't respond, but she did look at him and he knew he was the cause. He was devastated, lowering his head to the bed as he collapsed into the chair. His sobs racked his body, and she cried too at his despair.

2:15 p.m.

Tyler stepped off the elevator and walked to Jack's room. He stood for a moment, taking in the empty bed before almost running to the nurses' station.

"Where's Jack Malone?"

"Dr. Aswan took him for a walk. I haven't seen them come back yet," a new nurse offered.

"Which way did they go?"

"Towards the elevator, I'm pretty sure."

Tyler headed for the elevator and when the car came he pressed 7, sighing slightly when the door closed. Moments later, he was standing outside Anne's room.

"Tyler?" a voice called from behind him.

He turned and saw Dr. Aswan. Quickly, he walked up to him.

"Jack dreamt about the explosion. When I was able to calm him all he wanted was Anne. I brought him up about an hour ago."

Tyler sighed, wiping his face in emotional frustration.

"His signs are fine, I thought we'd let them be together until four and then get him back to his room. He needs to eat something and he needs to rest."

"What about Annie?"

"Physically, she'll be fine. I need to wait for the follow-up psych consult."

"I see."

"I'll be back at four, Tyler. He'll be okay, he's just a little lost."

"Yeah, he get's that way, sometimes. Okay, Doc, I'll be patient, no pun intended."

"I figured you were the prankster between the two of you. I'll be back."

"Thanks, Doc."

"You're welcome, and call me Malouf, please. I hate that, 'Doc' thing."

"Sure, Malouf, I'm sorry if I offended you."

"Give it a rest, Tyler."

Tyler grinned before sitting in the plastic chair outside Anne's room.

4:00 p.m.

Tyler paced outside Anne's room. Dr. Aswan approached from the elevator.

"Give me a minute," he said, entering Anne's room.

Tyler started to pace again.

"Tyler," Dr. Aswan called from the open doorway.

He walked into the room and found Jack in a chair, leaning against Anne's bed, his head resting on the edge. Anne's hand was on the nape of his neck. They both seemed to be deeply asleep.

"Jack....Jack time to wake up," Dr. Aswan called, softly.

Jack turned slightly and opened his eyes.

"Jack, you need to go back to your room to rest and eat something," Dr. Aswan said quietly, handing Jack his crutch.

Slowly, Jack stood, kissing Anne's forehead before taking his crutch and walked out of the room. Tyler followed him, easily catching up as they neared the elevator. Jack held his head down, not able to make eye contact with anyone. The elevator came and they went down to the fifth floor and then to his room. Jack walked to the window and looked out onto the grey afternoon. Tyler stood quietly and watched him. Raising his hand to his temple, Jack tried to erase the headache that was starting, feeling the pain in his shoulder as he did so.

"Let's get you into bed, Malone, before you collapse."

Jack turned slowly, allowing Tyler to see his face, now stained with tears. His eyes were reddened, and his lashes were dark and wet.

"What's happened?" Tyler asked, remembering what Malouf said about the grieving process.

"Anne lost the baby," he said haltingly. "She said it was my fault."

"No, Jack," Tyler said, walking up to him to pull him into an embrace. "It wasn't your fault. Malouf said that at Annie's age, carrying a baby to term was dodgy. Yes, she saw you banged up, yes, it might have added to her stress, but you are not to blame for this. Do you understand me?"

Jack couldn't respond; he just held on to Tyler, fighting his emotions and pain.

"Come on, let's get you into bed. I'll get the nurse to give you your meds."

Taking a deep, slow, patchy breath, Jack walked to his bed. Slipping off the robe, he got into bed and tried to settle. Tyler went out to the nurse's station.

"Jack needs his pain meds."

"Mr. Malone had his pain medication three hours ago. He can't have any more for another hour."

"No, Mr. Malone was on the seventh floor with Dr. Aswan at one. He did not have his meds. Give him his meds, now."

"Let me just call Dr. Aswan. That's not what the chart says," The nurse said, paling at the intensity of the man in front of her.

Picking up the phone, she dialed a number from the list.

"Hi, it's Pam on five, look Mr. Malone is complaining of pain. Oh, okay, sure, no problem, thanks."

She hung up the phone. "You're right, he's due his meds."

Tyler smiled and then walked back to Jack's room. He was still in bed, but he was dreaming. His skin was clammy and he was breathing fast, with a lot of effort.

"Easy, Jack. Medicine is coming," he said, placing his hands on Jack's chest, feeling the sweat through his shirt from his exertions.

Five minutes later, Pam arrived with an injection and Tyler relaxed considerably as Jack succumbed to the medicine.

Chapter Four
6:00 p.m.

Viv walked into Jack's room and found Tyler busy on his laptop and Jack asleep.

"Hi," she said softly.

"Hi," he replied, turning to face her, setting his computer on the table.

"How is he?" she asked, looking at Jack in bed.

"About as well as expected, I guess. Dr. Aswan took him to see Anne. Jack said she's blaming him for the miscarriage."

"That's crazy."

"I know, I know. I walked him down here around four and he told me himself. Viv, he was a wreck. I tried to tell him that it wasn't his fault, but I don't know that he believed me."

Viv shook her head and pursed her lips, a trait she seemed to exhibit when Jack exasperated her.

"Trying to get some work done?" she asked, gesturing to the computer.

"Yeah, I think your guy Alvarez, is involved in the disappearance and deaths of four women. They were all young, Asian, and found with their throats slashed under the Williamsburg Bridge. I was tracking the killer and assumed it was a serial, as opposed to just a nut bar," Tyler said, cracking his neck.

"Really? Have you talked to Van Doren?"

"Yeah, I took a break about half an hour ago and went to the cafeteria to call her."

Jack moaned and moved slightly, drawing Viv and Tyler's attention.

"Viv, you were there when they found him, right?"

"Yeah, I was there with Ritchie Jenkins."

"Right, the bomb squad guy. Jack introduced us when we were at Columbia," Tyler said, standing to walk to the window.

A light snow had started and he watched it for a few minutes.

"How was he, when they found him?"

"He was submerged in water, pinned by debris from the house. Ritchie and his crew used thermal resolution to find him. He was in the basement for almost sixteen hours," Viv commented softly.

"You know, Dr. Aswan called me. Both Annie and Jack had my number in their wallets. He thought I was the next of kin," Tyler said, his voice catching.

Vivian walked up to him and gently put her hand on his shoulder to turn him to face her.

"Tyler, I know what they mean to you."

He stepped into her embrace, needing to draw from her strength. Tears fell as they held each other. They were interrupted by a noise from Jack. His back was arched and he was struggling to breathe. Quickly, both Tyler and Viv walked up to him; placing their calming hands on him. It didn't work and as he continued to dream, his breathing now ragged.

"Jack, wake up. Malone, wake up now!" Tyler shouted.

Jack moved on the bed, but he didn't seem to hear Tyler. Viv reached out to his shoulders and held them as he struggled against her hold. He woke up suddenly and then burst into tears.

"Jack, you're okay. Do you understand?" Viv asked.

Instead of answering, Jack shut his eyes tight. His body was stiff, and his right hand grabbed a handful of sheet. His breathing was still unsteady as tears continued to run down his face.

"Malone, you're okay. What's wrong? What's upsetting you?"

"It hurts, everything hurts."

"Okay, take it easy. Just relax. I'll go get Dr. Aswan."

Tyler left to go to the nurse's station while Viv spoke to Jack softly, taking his hand in both of hers.

"I need to locate Dr. Aswan."

"He's off duty. He'll be back on at midnight, the nurse responded.

"You don't understand; Jack Malone was given an injection at four. It's barely six-thirty and he's in agony. You aren't scheduled to give him his meds for half an hour."

"That's correct."

"Look, he's my best friend, and he's crying because of the pain. Please, would you page Dr. Aswan?"

Just as Tyler made his request, he noticed movement at the end of the hall. Dr. Aswan was wheeling Anne down the hall. Tyler moved to approach them.

"Hey, honey," Tyler greeted her, leaning over to give her a kiss.

"Hi, Tyler, how is he?"

"Not so good right now. He's in a great deal of pain."

"Let me examine him," Dr. Aswan said, frowning.

"Thanks. Vivian is at his bedside."

Dr. Aswan nodded and opened the door, walking into the room. Viv looked up and saw Dr. Aswan.

"He's in pain. I think he passed out."

"Can you give me a minute with him?"

"Sure," Viv said, giving Jack's hand a squeeze before lowering it to the bed.

Tyler and Anne were talking and looked up to see Vivian entering the hallway. Anne stood and walked up to her. Suddenly, Viv understood what she needed and held her arms out to comfort Anne. Tears fell down Anne's face as she wept quietly.

Dr. Aswan pulled out his stethoscope and listened to Jack's heart. Frowning, he reached for the electric thermometer and slipped it on Jack's finger. Moments later, the alarm sounded as Jack's temperature crept above one hundred and one.

"Jack, wake up!"

Jack didn't move. Dr. Aswan looked at the thermometer display and pressed a button on the wall. Tyler stood quickly as a nurse and two orderlies ran into Jack's room. Anne and Viv pulled apart from their embrace. They watched as Jack was pushed on his bed out of the room to the elevator. As Dr. Aswan went by he spoke to them.

"He has an infection; from the water, I think. Stay here, I'll be back as soon as I can. Anne, you have an hour and then you need to go back to your room. I'll come to you."

"Thank you, Dr. Aswan," Viv answered for the group.

They wheeled Jack into ICU and there started the task of trying to find the cause for his fever. An IV for pain meds was inserted, as was a catheter. The soft beep from his heart monitor and his thermometer were rapid.

"Draw blood again, full ranging. Have the lab compare it to his previous test," Dr. Aswan ordered.

Watching Jack, he reached over and put the cannula under his nose and carefully placed the elastic around the back of his head to hold it in place. Dr. Aswan walked to the nurses' station to update his chart.

An hour later, the lab results were in; probable pneumonia and a viral infection. Dr. Aswan started Jack on a super regimen of medication. He left Jack alone and went back upstairs to look for Tyler and Vivian. Tyler had packed up his laptop and he and Vivian were sitting in the plastic chairs outside Jack's old room.

"How is he?" Vivian asked, standing.

"Probable pneumonia and a viral infection; we're working on it. I'll know better in four hours."

"He had pneumonia last winter," Tyler offered.


"He was run down, exhausted.... He got stuck in that big snow storm; soaked, walked home, got sick."

"Okay, was he ever a smoker?"

"Yeah, he quit when he got married, so, what, ten years ago?"

"Yeah that's about right."

"Okay, well, I'm going to go check on Anne."

"Thanks, Dr. Aswan," Viv said.

Dr. Aswan walked into Anne's room, not surprised to find her awake and in tears.

"Did Dr. Chesny speak to you?"

She nodded.

"Okay, she's the psychiatrist that I would recommend. You're going to need additional counselling after we release you."

"How's Jack?" she asked, her voice betraying her fear.

"He has pneumonia and a viral infection from the mold in the water, we think. We're running a battery of tests right now. He's in ICU, but I believe that he'll be okay in a couple of days."

"Okay, okay," Anne repeated, the tears now streaming down her face.

"Anne, you need to relax and be strong for the both of you. Get a good night's sleep and I'll come get you for a visit tomorrow, okay?"

She nodded before curling up in a ball facing away from him.

Dr. Aswan walked back to the fifth floor and found Tyler alone.

"Where's Vivian?"

"She went home. She's exhausted and has a teenager to look after."

"I see. I need her back in the morning. Anne needs to see Jack but I think she needs a woman with her."

"Okay, I'll call her," Tyler said, standing.

"I'm going to check on Jack. There's a waiting room on the fourth floor for ICU. I'll meet you there."

"Thanks, Malouf," Tyler said, picking up his laptop and duffle filled with Jack's personal effects from home, and followed him to the elevator.

They walked down the hallway together and Tyler sat heavily in the nearest chair. Dr. Aswan walked into the ICU and directly headed for Jack's bed. He checked his vitals and the two IVs that hung adjacent to his patient. Jack's temperature was holding at one hundred and three. His heart rate had slowed to normal, but his lungs were still filled with fluid. Dr. Aswan raised the bed a few more degrees and set up the bedrails before leaving Jack alone.

"Why don't you go home? I have your number. It's a waiting game, now, until the medicine catches the infection," Dr. Aswan said, as he walked up to Tyler.

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

"Tyler, are Anne and Jack living together?"

"No, why do you ask?"

"I'm planning on releasing her tomorrow. It's going to be hard enough on her without being alone in the apartment she shared with Jack."

"Oh, yeah, I guess I see what you mean. Maybe Viv can pick her up and take her home. I'll give her a call."

"What about Sam?"

"No, that wouldn't be a good idea. Sam and Jack used to be involved."

"I guess in that case, Sam would not be the right choice. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Night, Malouf," Tyler said, before walking to the elevator.

1:00 a.m. (Saturday)

Jack woke up and looked around him, not recognizing where he was. He heard the soft beeps from the various machines around him. Suddenly, a chill passed through him. He tried to reach the sheet that had slipped to his waist, but the various leads and IVs made it impossible. His chills increased as he started to cough. Shutting his eyes to the pain and fatigue, he struggled to sit up, continuing to cough. Moments later, he felt a comforting hand on his back.

"Easy, Jack. Slow down; just little breaths. That's it, nice and easy," the voice soothed.

He started to relax as his coughing subsided. The hands eased him back onto the mattress. He shivered again, before feeling the sheet being pulled over his chest. The hand rested on his shoulder.

"Sleep, Jack. No dreams; just sleep."

Jack sighed and slipped into sleep.

8:30 a.m.

Viv walked into the office, putting her gun and purse in her desk drawer before hanging up her coat.

"The snow makes the city so quiet," Martin mused from his desk.

"Yeah, it sure does. What's up?"

"Danny called. The L train is having problems. He'll be a half an hour late."

"Okay. Any cases?"

"Not yet. Would you like a cup of coffee?" Martin asked, standing up.

"Sure, thanks."

"You're welcome."

Viv's cell phone rang.


"Viv, morning, it's me."

"Morning, Tyler. How's Jack?"

"No news is good news. I'm heading to the hospital now. Malouf said he was going to release Annie today. Is there any possibility you could pick her up and get her home?"

"At this point, I'll say yes with the caveat that since Jack is in the hospital, I'm in charge. If we get a case, we'll have to go to plan B."

"I understand. I'll call you with an update."

"Thanks, Tyler. Bye."

"Bye, Viv."

9:30 a.m.

"Sorry, I'm late," Danny said, walking into the bullpen.

"I just got in myself. I think all of the trains are messed up today," Elena said, looking over at him.

"We have a case; Jonathan Whitman, age ten, last seen playing in his backyard. Martin, you and Elena go and interview the parents. Danny, start a background check," Vivian said, posting the photo of the tousled blonde haired boy on the whiteboard.

Taking the wipe whiteboard marker, she wrote the particulars.

Whitman 7A-NY 516885   

Tyler walked onto the floor of ICU, clipping his ID onto his suit jacket pocket and double-checking that his phone was off. Heading to the nurses' station, he waited patiently until the nurse was finished with her notes.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, I'd like to know how Jack Malone is doing."

"Mr. Simpson? Dr. Aswan said you'd be stopping by. Jack had a rough night; woke up several times coughing. He's been quiet, though, for the last three hours."

"Can I see him?"

"Yes, he's the third bed on the left," the nurse said, pointing to the double-doors leading to ICU.


Taking a steadying breath, Tyler went into ICU. In the fourteen bed ward, he noted that only half the rooms had patients. Seeing Jack, he walked into his cubicle and then to his bedside. There were wires and hoses disappearing under the sheet that was firmly tucked in around his body. Tyler brushed back the lock of Jack's hair that had fallen across his forehead. It was wet. As he watched him sleep, Tyler heard the soft beeps increase in speed as Jack woke up coughing. Pulling at Jack's shoulders, Tyler got him to a sitting position, listening to the wet, raspy coughs. The nurse came in and saw Tyler holding Jack as he coughed.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"A wet towel would be great."

"Be right back."

Jack calmed, finally, and lay back in bed. The nurse brought back the towel and handed it to Tyler, who wiped Jack's face, neck, and bare chest, before he pulled the sheet up to his chin. Jack opened his eyes and looked somewhat blankly at Tyler who grinned at his confusion.

"Welcome back, you had us worried."

"Where am I?"

"You're in ICU. Seems you ingested or aspirated some of the water in the basement. You have a viral infection and a possible case of pneumonia."

Jack looked away for a moment. Tyler put his hand on his shoulder, refocusing his attention.

"You're going to be fine, Jack. You just need to sleep and beat your fever."

Jack nodded silently and then looked at him. They stared at each other for a few minutes.

"No, I'm not going anywhere. Please, Malone, just sleep. You'll feel better, honest."

Continuing to stare at Tyler, Jack fought to stay awake; needing the feeling of safety that he always felt when he was with Tyler. Finally, after almost thirty minutes, he fell asleep.

12:00 p.m.

"Hello, Tyler, I was hoping you were here," Dr. Aswan said, approaching Jack's bed.

"I got here around nine, I guess. He woke up coughing, and was pretty disoriented."

"Has he woken up since?"

"No, he's been very quiet."

"I'm releasing Anne at two. Can Vivian take her home?"

"Let me go call. We'll work something out," Tyler said, getting to his feet. "If he wakes up, tell him where I am, would'ja?"

"Of course," Dr. Aswan said, starting his exam.

Jack's temperature was down a degree. The cuts on his body were healing, but his lungs were still filled. Starting to hyperventilate, Jack woke up coughing.

"That's it, Jack, cough it up," Dr. Aswan said, reaching for the damp towel as Jack spat out grey goop.

This continued for several minutes before Jack settled back in his bed. He opened his eyes and gazed at the doctor in front of him.

"Tyler is calling Vivian. He'll be back momentarily."

Jack nodded slowly, his stare unwavering.

"It's not my fault, is it?"


"The miscarriage; it's not my fault?"

"No, Jack, it's not your fault. Was she upset by what she saw that first day when you were brought in? Yes. But, at forty-five, she had a twenty-five percent chance of having a miscarriage."

Jack nodded again and closed his eyes tightly at a flash of pain.

"What, Jack? What hurts?"

"Everything; tired," he mumbled.

Dr. Aswan pressed the pump and Jack fell asleep again.


"Viv, it's me. Malouf is releasing her at two."

"I can't leave," Viv said, looking at the paperwork on her desk.

She looked around the bullpen and saw Danny finishing up a phone call.

"I'll send Danny. Seventh floor, right?

"Yeah, I'm on four at ICU with Jack. He's better today, but still sick. Have Danny stop by with Annie on their way out, would you?"

"Of course. Thanks, Tyler."

"You're welcome, Viv. Bye."

"Bye," Viv said, hanging up the phone.

She stood up and walked over to Danny's desk.

"So far, the Whitmans appear to be straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting."

"Okay. Look, I need you to do me a personal favour."

"Shoot, what is it?"

"I need you to pick up Anne Cassidy at Queens General and take her home. Get directions before you go. I don't how focused she'll be."

"Sure, Viv. I'll take care of it. What time do I need to be at the hospital?

"Two," she said over her shoulder, returning to her desk.

"How's Jack?" he asked, typing in Anne's name to get her address before running the map program.

"He got sick last night and they put him in ICU. The doctor feels it's a viral infection from the water. He had very high temperature, but Tyler says he's better today. Speaking of which, Tyler asked if you could bring Anne to the fourth floor to see Jack."

"No problem. Look I'd better head out. It's a real trek to the hospital from here."

"Thanks again, Danny."

"You're welcome."

2:00 p.m.

Anne sat in the chair by the window and watched the snow fall. No one had gone to her apartment to get her any clothes, so she was in scrubs. Her coat lay across the bed.

"Ready to go home? Danny asked softly, knocking on the door frame.

"I think so. Are you my ride?"

"How about 'escort'? I thought we'd take a cab to your place," he said, pushing the wheelchair into the room.

"That's fine," she said, getting settled in the chair.

He picked up her coat and set it on her lap before wheeling her to the elevator.

"Did you check out?"

"Yes. Danny, can we see Jack?"

"That's the plan. Tyler is meeting us on the fourth floor. He said Jack was feeling better today."

Anne nodded, taking a fistful of her coat in her hands and holding it tightly. The elevator came and Danny carefully turned her around and backed the chair into the car. Minutes later, they were rolling down to the nurses' station.

"Hi, this is Anne Cassidy, Jack Malone's partner. She's been released and wanted to see him before she left," Danny offered.

"Yes, she's on the list. And you are?"

"I'm Danny Taylor."

"Mr. Taylor, you are not on the list. I'm afraid Dr. Aswan is being very strict about this."

"It's all right, Danny. I'll go see him alone," Anne said, handing him her coat before standing up.

"Okay. I guess I'll wait for you here, then."

She reached up and caressed his cheek before walking into the ward. Looking at the different lit cubicles, she made out the blonde head of Tyler, who appeared to be sleeping. Heading over to the room, she looked at Jack. He was pale and had more than a five o'clock shadow. She wanted to hold his hand but it was tucked in under the sheet. Instead, Anne touched his face, before kissing his cheek.

"Hi," Tyler greeted, his voice betraying his fatigue.


"His fever is down a point. Malouf is optimistic," Tyler stated, standing to stretch his sore back.

"I want to talk to him, Tyler. I need to apologize."

"I understand. Jack, Jack, wake up," Tyler said loudly.

Jack moved slightly and opened his eyes. He looked at Tyler and then felt another presence. Turning his head to the left, he saw Anne. Reaching for her from under the sheet, he sat up with Tyler's help and pulled her into an embrace.

"I am so sorry, Jack. I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't understand," she whispered into his ear as she stroked his hair.

"We'll get through this, honey. One day at a time," Jack said, his voice barely audible over the increasing beeps from the machines.

"Dr. Aswan is releasing me. Danny's outside, waiting to take me home. Please get better soon. I miss you," she said, standing.

"I miss you, too," Jack said, clenching his teeth as he tried to suppress his cough.

"Annie, I think you'd better go. Let it out, Jack," Tyler instructed.

Jack started to cough, reaching for Tyler. Anne backed away from the bed and watched with tears running down her cheeks.

"I love you, Jack," she murmured.

"He knows, Annie. He loves you, too," Tyler said, above Jack's coughing fit.

Anne nodded and then walked out of the room where Danny embraced her.

"How is he?"

"He's so sick, Danny," she said softly.

"Jack's a strong man, Anne. He'll be fine, soon."

Anne nodded and continued to hold him for a few minutes before stepping back to sit in the wheelchair. Danny wheeled her to the elevator and they began their long journey into the city.

Part Two
Part Three

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