lambourngb: Kirk in bomber jacket (houston problem created by vval)
[personal profile] lambourngb
One of the first things I liked about WaT when I started watching in first season was the dynamic between Martin and Danny. I absolutely loved Danny Taylor, and I was just teased to pieces in the first five episodes about his past- you knew he grew up in foster care because of a car accident, you knew thanks to Claire Metcalf's story that he blamed himself for causing the accident, and you knew that he changed his last name to something Anglo-sounding.

I wrote this before we found out about his brother in prison or any other details from his life. I certainly wrote it before Sam/Martin thing happened. (scrubs brain).

TITLE : "Lost in the Flood"
AUTHOR : Lambourn
RATING : PG-13, R? I got stalled before I could get to the sex. Again.
FANDOM: "Without a Trace"
PAIRING : Danny Taylor/Martin Fitzgerald

DISCLAIMER : Not a word of this is true. Any resemblance to people, living or dead is purely coincidental. The concept of Without A Trace is not mine, nor are the characters- they belong to someone more gifted than I.

SUMMARY: "One of these mornings, you will look for me, and I'll be gone." Which is worse, going missing in body or in spirit?

SPOILERS : First season. Previous cases mentioned: "Between the Cracks" (Eve Cleary), "Silent Partner" (Patrick Kent) "The Friendly Skies" (Linda Schmidt), "Clare de Lune" (Claire Metcalf)

* * *

"Daniel! You've got something to say, big man? You show me some respect! How many times do I have-"

It was familiar, the words, and even the tone my father used with me. It was the same tone he used with my mother. The tone that dared someone to disagree with him. When it came to distracting my father from yelling at my mother, the only way to do it was to make him yell at me. So I did, because I could take it in a way she couldn't.

A car ride with the three of us, always meant there was some sort of fight between my mother and my father.

I could practically recite the words my father yelled back at me, half turned in the front seat because I had heard it many times before. Like any kid scolded, I shrank down in my car seat and looked down at the floorboards in obedience. My eyes on the floorboard, I never saw the truck coming, but then, neither did my dad.

He never finished the lecture, but he didn't have to. I heard it in my head every day after the funeral. In my dreams, he often rose out of his coffin to finish it, "how many times do I have to tell you when I want to hear your opinion I'll give it to you. Comprende?"

Shaking off the nightmare, I rolled over on my side to squint at the ringing alarm clock and sighed. Just after four in the morning. Again. It could go down as a good night's sleep for me, because I managed to at least fall asleep by midnight.

I thumped the top of the clock with my fist, burying my face into my pillow. It kept ringing regardless.

Then my pager began to vibrate on my dresser.

Blindly I reached past my quiet alarm clock and grabbed my cell phone with a half-confused, "'ullo?"

"Danny, it's Martin."

I grimaced at his too-awake voice, but still smiled regardless. "It's a little early for a wake-up call."

"This is the city that never sleeps. New case, my friend, so get up."

It didn't take long for the sleep to clear my system at that. A new case meant a new chance, another chance. It was good work to be in, to be able to bring back someone lost, to those who loved them. It was bad work, when that wasn't the case. I shook off those thoughts. If I let them linger for too long, I'd go insane.

"Danny? You didn't fall back asleep, did you? Jack wants us both at the scene in a half-hour. Don't make me show up alone and solve the case without your ass." Martin teased lightly, in my ear.

"You the one sleeping, man. 'Cause that would happen only in your dreams." I shot back and reached for my towel from the floor, ignoring the amused laughter on the other end of the phone. There was a suit fresh from the cleaners still hanging on the back of my closet door. "What's the address? I'll meet you there."

I scribbled down the address as he rattled it off, and disconnected. A shower, a shave, and finding my car were going to make a half-hour tight, but as long as I showed up there before Jack, I was fine. I thought about calling Martin back and having him meet me a half a block away from the scene for a cup of coffee. He would show up, I wouldn't, and then I would arrive on the scene first, with Jack never being the wiser. It appealed to me for a moment.

It would be juvenile. It would be wrong of me to do that. Martin would be pissed and want instant revenge. I could picture his face, waiting, wondering where I was, and then slowly getting the idea that I set him up. Again.

Investigating a scene at five in the morning was going to be rough, and any amusement I gained from tormenting Martin kept me a little saner than I was before. Saner and a little less likely to turn in the paperwork for a transfer or the vacation the Bureau not-so-subtly hinted I needed. I told them I would vacation the week after Jack does, which put it somewhere on the calendar after the date the ski slopes in Hell opened for business.

I dialed Martin's number by memory, while I shaved, careful not to nick myself as I grinned imagining the look on his face. Or really, just imagining his face, something I was disturbingly doing a lot of lately.

The stress was getting to me.

*

"Where's Martin?" Jack asked, automatically looking past me for the always punctual agent.

I took a moment to catch my breath after walking up the seven flights of stairs to the scene at the victim's apartment.

"Right behind Mr. Out-Of-Breath." Martin chimed in, looking composed and cheerful, holding two cups of coffee from the café I had asked him to meet me at. "Black, three sugars, right Danny?" He held out a cup of coffee, an amused and annoyed look warring in his eyes.

"Um, right." I covered smoothly, and accepted the cup of coffee and dug into my pocket for a twenty. "Thanks for picking up the coffee." I pressed the bill into his hand, and gave him an apologetic look for my prank.

"It was my pleasure." He pocketed the money, without looking for change. I knew two cups of coffee, even in New York, did not cost twenty dollars, but I wasn't about to bicker over the price. It was apparently the price of my apology.

Jack looked between us for a long moment, before turning his attention back to the scene and the case at hand. "The victim's name is Jessica Perris. She is a web-designer and graphic artist, as well as being a free-lance writer of various professional manuals on software. She's 37, single, Caucasian. A week ago, she was due to turn in a draft of a user's handbook for a book-keeping program that will probably become standard for small businesses in the next two years. She did not make her deadline, or the two after it."

"She missed some deadlines, so her publisher reported her missing?" Martin questioned, as we walked into the apartment as a range of crime scene investigators began dusting all the available surfaces for fingerprints.

The apartment was a little larger than average in Manhattan. From the floor plan, it was a two bedroom, one bath apartment complete with a kitchen, a living room, and a dining room. Each wall had a bookshelf that reached from floor to ceiling with books in the living room, but curiously there were no chairs, sofas, or couches to be found.

I stepped into what should have been a dining room, and saw much the same thing. The room had been converted into a library as well, as had the second bedroom. It wasn't until I reached the master bedroom that I found a chair, and even then there was only one cushioned computer chair that was pushed into a large executive desk setup. Not surprisingly, there were books lining all the available wall area, surrounding a sophisticated laptop.

The screen flashed a standard geometric shape blending that came standard on all computers. It was not what I expected to see in the apartment of a technical writer.

"Not quite." Jack replied, a little sourly. It was a tone that we often heard directed at people who don't seem to care about the lives caring on around them. These publishers proved to be no exception to the self-involved interest we often encountered in an investigation. I knew right away that this was a 'no one really cares about this person' case that Jack especially hated.

"Apparently, even though Ms. Perris never missed a deadline before, that wasn't enough to rouse her agent or her editor's concerns."

"So who reported her missing?" I asked, sipping my coffee absently as I looked at the titles of the books and the organization of the library.

"Someone out of state. A woman named Diana Nelson, a school teacher in Sacramento." Jack answered, looking down at his notes. "Someone Jessica Perris frequently corresponds with online in e-mail and chat rooms. After her emails were returned due to an overcrowded inbox, she became worried and contacted the authorities."

I lifted my eyebrow at that and whistled softly in surprise, "missed deadlines didn't get anyone's attention but a returned e-mail does?"

"The victim had the habit of checking her e-mail at five minute intervals. In order to get the mailbox to collapse and bounce messages, 20 MB of e-mails have to collect on the server."

"That would be a good reason to be worried." Martin commented, from the desk chair, and inspected the laptop's outward settings. "As CSU dusted this yet? I'd like to see how much e-mail she typically gets and let's contact the ISP to see when the last time her account registered activity. Maybe we can work backwards and get an estimate of when she went missing."

"Sounds like your assignment," Jack commented with an approving nod. "I'll have CSU bag her laptop and send it to your desk." He turned to where I was standing by the closet, staring down at the floor in puzzlement. "You got something there, Danny?"

"I'm not sure," I began softly. "You said she lives alone, right? I'm going to guess that judging from the clothes and belongings that she has for some time. It doesn't look like she dates much, or even leaves her apartment…" Following a hunch, I walked over to the bookshelf by bed, and got down on my knees to peer under the bed. "Does she have any history of psychiatric treatment? Medication?"

Jack glanced down at his notebook, "There's no record of her having billed her insurance company for anything other than a routine physical three months ago." He looked up with a slightly questioning look, "what do you think; the victim disappeared and went off her meds?"

The mention of the Claire Metcalf made me pause for a moment, ruffling the still raw remembrances of the girl on the bridge, ready to jump because of what she blamed herself for doing. She had been a child listening to a radio, and her mother came upon her suddenly, startling her. Snatching away the headphones, Claire's immature but instinctive response to her mother's actions had been to push back… Daniel! Stay out of this; it's between me and your mother…

I jumped a little, as Martin's hand appeared suddenly in my face. I remembered where I was then, not in the backseat of my parent's car, but still kneeling on the floor of Jessica Perris's bedroom. I reached for Martin's hand and pulled myself up to my feet, flashing him a small grateful smile, before turning to Jack, where he was still waiting for me to answer his question. "Sorry, no, I don't think we're looking at another Claire Metcalf but I wouldn't be surprised to find some history of mental illness in her background, judging from her closet."

"You can tell that from the closet?" A female voice came from just behind me. I turned in surprise and met the amused eyes of Samantha Spade, as she tucked a long strand of blond hair behind her ear.

I grinned widely, and gave my careless little shrug of confidence. The disturbed memories receded easily into the background, and I almost forgot I had slipped into that backseat. From the expression on Martin's face though, I had a feeling he hadn't forgotten it, but still I covered with a casual and slightly-conceited grin, "When you're good, you're good. What can I say?"

Martin snorted, and moved past me to look into the closet, brushing my shoulder lightly and then shook his head. "Oh he's good all right. He's very good at stumbling on the obvious." He nodded to the floor of the closet with a raised eyebrow, "no shoes."

"No shoes." I echoed with a smile, ignoring the little dig.

"So because she has no shoes, you think she's been under psychiatric treatment?" Sam narrowed her eyes at me, "don't you think that's a little sexist, Danny? Even for you."

Jack remained quiet in the doorway, not appearing to follow the exchange at all. The absent look, though, I recognized as being his look of complete and total absorption. He only looked like he wasn't paying attention, when asked; he could and did repeat word for word any conversation going on in his hearing.

I raised my eyebrow and met her silent challenge, "Tell me, Sam, how many pairs of shoes you own?"

"Not every woman has a Melda Marcos complex." Sam replied dryly, and then answered. "I have ten or eleven pairs of shoes, not counting my sneakers or my hiking boots."

"You hike?" Martin asked with surprise. "Somehow I never pictured you as the hiking type."

"Are you saying women can't hike?"

"Well… no, women can do anything that men can do, but…" he trailed off, and shot me a look of panic as he wandered into a verbal minefield. "It's just that you don't seem …"

"Rugged." I finished for him, and nodded toward Sam's well-groomed dress, manicured nails, and the elegant French twist her hair was in. "I'm not a woman," Martin snorted softly at that comment and I continued with a slight glare in his direction, "And I own at least three pairs of shoes. Work, running, and dress shoes, and I'm a simple man," Martin snorted again at my comment, "Now this Jessica Perris is apparently wearing her only pair, or packed all her shoes, and left all her clothes. One pair of shoes, not even an old pair in her closet, means she probably didn't have need for shoes. She probably didn't leave her apartment unless she had to."

"Or was forced to." Jack spoke up from the doorway, with a glint in his eyes. He gestured for me to follow him into the kitchen area. "She didn't pack, unless she left without her keys." He nodded to the wall where a small key ring was still hanging innocuously on a nail by the refrigerator. "Here's the plan, Danny, you and Sam start interviewing the neighbors and see what type of person Jessica Perris was." I nodded at the order, and looked over at Martin with a shrug, since we'd just been split up. Jack followed my gaze to Martin easily, "Martin, you're on tech with this, see if there's any security cameras, sign in procedures. We all had to buzz the apartment to get in, so let's see if there's a log of that."

Sam waited a moment, and then lifted her hand. "Where will you be?"

He grimaced a little, "I will be meeting with her publisher, her editor, and her agent in an hour. We meet back at headquarters to put what we learn together at noon, okay?" Jack paused and then sighed again, "This looks to be worse than Eve Cleary, people. We have no idea how long it's been since someone actually saw the victim, so the chances are, this trail is has been cold a long time."

*

The yapping dog didn't even pause for a breath filling the small hallway with so much noise I had to remind myself that I was an animal lover, and burying my foot down the dog's throat wouldn't endear me to the neighbor.

"The girl from upstairs?" The elderly woman repeated in a tone that made me wonder if she had turned down her hearing aid just to escape the incessant barking. "Has something happened to her?"

Sam, seeing the brittle patience in my face, stepped forward and took the lead in the interview, "That's what we're trying to find out, Mrs. Winnicet. How well did you know Jessica Perris?"

"Oh…oh, as well as anyone can, I suppose." She replied, straightening her glasses on her nose, before glancing down at her dog. "Shush, Princess. It's not polite to talk when I am…" Mrs. Winnicet scolded fondly, as her small dog continued to bark. "She's a quiet girl, was never loud, and never complained, no parties. Not like that girl from 5D, she's a wild one, always letting strangers into the building at all hours of the night. Now that one I wouldn't be surprised that she was in trouble, but not Miss Perris."

I made a note to talk to 5D, and prompted Mrs. Winnicet with a charming smile, "You know her as well as anyone can?"

"She didn't go out. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen her outside her apartment. It didn't make sense, a pretty girl like her, never going out and being so reclusive. I guess she was shy…" Mrs. Winnicet brightened suddenly, "wait, you know who would know? Jonah Arnold, in 8A. He picks up her mail for her, and brings it to her door. I don't know if they're friends, but he does do that. He said she doesn't like stairs…"

Samantha shot me a slightly frustrated look, as we both thanked her for her time. The door closed, muffling the noise from the dog thankfully, as Sam sighed softly. "Reclusive is putting it mildly. Jessica Perris doesn't go out to shop, she doesn't go out to eat, she stays in her apartment and never leaves the floor. I think you might be right that she's probably had some psychological treatment."

I closed my notebook, and pushed the button for the elevator. "Well, she had her groceries delivered, someone picked up her mail, and she worked from home. Sounds like she had no reason to ever leave if she didn't want."

"Except that she wanted to leave the day she disappeared."

"Or she was forced to leave." I punched the eighth floor, and looked down at the name Jonah Arnold. "Maybe the guy who picked up her mail knows something. Maybe she got mail order porn or sent chain letters. Something interesting."

She half-smiled and headed down the hall to 8A. "I hope Jack found something more from her employers. Someone had to know her personally, or at least remembered seeing her leave…"

"I'm not going to hold my breath. It took her employers a week to figure out she wasn't just late on a deadline. Personally I think our best bet is the computer. That was her outlet. Martin will have something, no doubt." I stated confidently, and rapped lightly on the door.

A tall, wiry man with a fading hairline and light curly hair looked out from between his door and chain, "Can I help you?"

I lifted my badge until it was eye level for him, "We're with the F.B.I Missing Persons Task Force. We're looking into the disappearance of your neighbor…"

He closed the door, and unlatched the chain with a concerned look, "Which neighbor?"

"I'm Agent Spade, this is Agent Taylor… and you are?" Sam prompted him gently.

"Jonah Arnold." He opened his door wider and frowned. "It's not Jessica is it?"

"Actually it is…" I leapt onto his words. Finally someone who knew her, I thought. "I understand you picked up her mail for her, Mr. Arnold. Do you know when you last saw Jessica?"

His frown deepened behind his rimless glasses and gestured toward myself and Sam, "of course, it was last month around the beginning of the month." Jonah Arnold moved inside his apartment, shaking his head in obvious distress. "Oh god, when did she go missing?"

I stepped into his small apartment, noticing the resemblance in layout to Jessica's. Where she had books and bookcases lining the walls and filling the available space, Arnold had plants. Lots of plants. "That's what we're trying to find out…" I commented, and gestured toward the various pots and bushes, "I see you have a green thumb."

"Gardening is my passion." He replied gently, and then moved quickly to intercept Sam as she reached out to stroke the soft green leaves of plant. "Careful, the oils on your fingertips leave blemishes on leaf. Just breathing on the naevephias monolylitus can bruise it's stems."

She snatched her hand back with a soft apology, and making her own survey of the apartment. "Ever think about moving out of the city? You might have more roam to grow things."

"I tried, but I work on Wall Street and the trains to commute make me feel claustrophobic. After I started to black out and have panic attacks, I decided to move to the city. When I look around though, my plants help me feel relaxed. They just fill this apartment with plenty of fresh air, cleansing out the pollution of the city." He picked up a small water bottle and began to gently mist his plants, "I can sleep knowing there's plenty of air to breath. That's what I liked about Jessica, she understood that."

Samantha nodded patiently, as if his explanation make perfect sense. "You were friends?"

Arnold paused in the middle of his misting, "of a sort. I got her mail for her, because she didn't like stairs or the elevator."

*

The ever-present Day of Disappearance timeline was scrawled neatly across the whiteboard with a picture of a sober dark haired woman with deep blue eyes tacked next to it.

I didn't have an outline for this, so I don't remember where I was going, other than long hours working a case leading to m/m text over the subtext the show delivered. *g* The victim was based very-loosely on my own experiences with anxiety disorders/internet addiction and isolationism, and I was going to find myself dead. Perhaps that's why I stalled on the story.

The thing was, I started a sequel, that I might as well offer up on WiP Amnesty day.

TITLE : Point Blank
AUTHOR: Lambourn
RATING: NC-17
FANDOM: "Without a Trace"
PAIRING: Danny Taylor/Martin Fitzgerald

DISCLAIMER: Not a word of this is true. Any resemblance to people, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The concept of Without A Trace is not mine, nor are the characters- they belong to someone more gifted than I.

SUMMARY: "We all have our Chet Collins, you will too."

SPOILERS: Yes, first season. Previous cases mentioned: "Between the Cracks" (Eve Cleary), "Suspect" (Andy Deaver), Silent Partner (Patrick Kent)

Sequel to "Lost in the Flood"

* * *

It began with a phone call.

I reached over a cold cup of coffee, rubbing the grit out of my eyes, for another M&M to munch on in lieu of breakfast. The task of tracking down ISPs and e-mail correspondence from the Jessica Perris case could have officially been handed over to an aid, or secretary now that the case was closed. It was silly and obsessive to be here at six in the morning, but I had decided that one of these e-mail addresses must have belonged to someone who knew Jessica's family.

It didn't sit right with me that no one was there to claim her body. That no one seemed to care that she was dead outside of a few online friends who hadn't even been trusted with her real name. In the past four years, Jessica had sent over 2600 e-mails, and I was clinging to the hope that one of them might have been a relative.

It was silly to someone who didn't work this floor of the F.B.I building to be going through all this effort to find a next of kin in a now closed-murder case. It was definitely obsessive to even the people who did work with me, except for Jack. He seemed to understand, being obsessive in his own way.

And Martin. He just seemed to understand everything, including the reason why I was now avoiding talking about what happened the week after Jessica Perris's body had been found. Falling asleep on his shoulder, now that I was okay with, that didn't really break any rules. The sensation of feeling his lips kiss my forehead when he thought I was asleep and the two-fold disappointment I felt when that was as far as it went was another thing altogether.

Loneliness and stress were causing me to distort that action out of context, because even though I hadn't ever done it, I was sure it was acceptable and heterosexual for a man to kiss another's forehead. I had kissed Sam's forehead one night after she admitted she watched the Mets, and I was very certain that meant nothing because I had no designs on sleeping with her. I vaguely remember Vivian doing the same to me, when I returned the favor and handed her two first-base side tickets to the ALDS with the Yankees and the Anaheim Angels. As irresistible as I was, I felt pretty confident she had no other motive other than feeling the moment and expressing her excitement.

It was the same for Martin.

He was probably feeling the intensity of the moment, and was trying to express his concern for me. I, being the self-centered man that I was, was reading more into it than it was, and hence, the other half of the disappointment. Not only was the soft kiss just on my forehead and no where else, but it was also just a gesture made in the moment that meant nothing.

I was glad it meant nothing. The fact I was in the office on a Saturday morning, tracing names to email addresses and ISPs, had nothing to do with the fact my mind wasn't letting go of that kiss no matter how hard I convinced it to.

Six in the morning, on a Saturday, and my phone was ringing. I answered it out of habit, even though I could have let it go to voice mail since it was my day off. "Taylor."

There was a pause on the other end, and then a deep male voice answered with no small amount of surprise, "Agent Taylor? Danny?"

It was a voice I vaguely recognized. I balanced the phone against my ear and reached for another handful of M&Ms, frowning in remembrance. "Yes?"

"Agent Taylor, this is Mel Watson from-"

I felt ashamed right then for not recognizing his voice from the start. Even after three years, there was no excuse for forgetting his voice, especially since I hadn't forgotten the case. "Mel…From the Norwinds School on Long Island. I'm sorry I didn't recognize your voice right away, it's been a long morning. It's Danny, remember?"

"I didn't expect you to be in your office," Mr. Watson began apologetically, "but this was the only number I could find."

"It's fine," I soothed, before taking the plunge. "Have you heard from Deborah?"

Deborah Mae Ritter was one of the tough cases, one of the unsolved. Three years ago she and a few friends from her school had gone to the movies together. Half-way through the movie, Deborah had excused herself to use the bathroom, and was never seen again. At fourteen, she was blonde and blue-eyed, with a pretty face that made her look years older that she was. All in all the ideal mold of an all American girl.

Even then, it took the constant badgering of her track coach and lobbying from his attorney wife for the case to be turned over to the F.B.I Missing Persons Task Force. Not to play stereotypes, but a lot of girls went missing, and most of the time the case remained in the hands of local authorities. It took the special cases, where there were no leads, or high-profile victims to make it past the slush-pile of precincts. Special cases were children, with the younger, the more pressure to find them like Sean Collins or girls that had faces that the public cared about.

Young, white, pretty from a good family were all markings of a high-profile case, except in the case of Deborah Mae Ritter who met all of the qualifications of a public interest story, except one. She was a frequent runaway with a drug problem, which was why she was at the Norwinds School.

Mr. Watson swallowed audibly, "I was on the internet searching through unidentified victims, and there was this girl… In Arizona, Danny, Arizona! They… two years ago, they found a body…um… oh Jesus… the description is a match, I think it's Deborah."

I closed my eyes, swearing silently and asked myself when had it happened. Mel Watson was the only one who gave a damn about Deborah Ritter, and he had always maintained that she was alive somewhere, that he could find her if he just looked hard enough. Six months ago he wouldn't have been searching through physical descriptions of unidentified victims. "Mel… it might not be her…" I said, weakly, hoping to rebuild a little of his lost faith, "let me have the link to the report, and I'll call Arizona to find out."

"Thanks Danny, I … I tried to call myself, but they wouldn't release anymore details to me. I don't want it to be her, but this one… the description… it was too close."

"I'll call you as soon as I know anything."

After I hung up, I scooped up the stack of ISP addresses from Jessica Perris's email, and set them to the side regretfully. A phone call or two to Arizona, and I could go back to hunting down her family. Deborah Mae Ritter's file was still the first in my desk drawer.



I think Mel Watson was the obligatory gay character who helps Danny, unknowingly come to terms with the dynamic between him and Martin. I had a vague idea that this was a faked hitch-hiker case, and the body had a receipt from a gas station. I think I had a drug-dealer boyfriend with a violent past as the obvious but incorrect suspect. Again, no outline, so I don't remember where I was going with this one.

I have WaT on DVD so, maybe I'll go back to this one day.
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