BLINDSPOT

Written by: Jonah Malloy
Rating: R

Summary: Van Doren and Sampson interview a suspected kidnapper and neither expect the outcome.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from Line of Fire. Copyright infringement is definitely not my intention with the writing of this story.

Author's note: This story is a one-shot that deals with only the FBI agents (sorry to all you Malloy clan fans out there). Sampson and Van Doren are the stars of this little ditty. Enjoy!


FBI Office (Morning)


Sampson rushed into the office, visibly frazzled by the hectic morning she'd experienced at home.

"You okay?" Van Doren asked as she approached her with a mug of hot coffee.

Smiling, she took the mug. "One of those mornings. Hunter's home sick, says he has a stomach ache but I'm not sure I believe him. Carl can't stay home with him and neither can I so we ended up begging our neighbor to take him." Slumping down in her chair, she breathed a heavy sigh.

"Remind me not to have kids."

Shuffling some papers on her desk, Sampson uncovered a manilla folder that contained the details of a case she and Van Doren were working on. "We're going to talk to Mr. McCarthy this morning, right?"

"You up for it? I mean, if you want to chill out for a while I can go..."

"No. No. I'm fine. Just give me ten minutes to clean up this shit-hole-of-a-desk and we'll head out."

"Okay. I'll be in the research room. There's a few things I want to check out. I'll meet you outside in ten."

"Yup," Sampson replied without looking up.

Van Doren waited out in the parking lot for Sampson, checking her watch periodically as she leaned against their car.

Finally, Sampson emerged from the building and was quickly walking towards her, cell phone to her ear.

"No, I can't and you know I can't. Carl! No! Listen, there's no discussing this right now because there's nothing to discuss. I CANNOT leave. You'll have to call your sister and have her watch him then." Van Doren climbed into the driver's seat as Sampson climbed into the passenger's seat. "That's such bullshit. Don't lay that kind of guilt on me because you know that's not true! Carl! Carl! Geezuz!" Sampson turned the phone off and stuffed it into her pocket.

"More trouble in paradise?" Van Doren asked hesitantly.

"I can't believe he hung up on me." Sampson ran her hand through her hair as she tried to calm down. "He basically said that I don't care about my own child because I won't come home."

"Why does he want you home?"

"The neighbor had something come up and she can't watch Hunter now so Carl wants me to come home. Heaven forbid HE come home to stay with him."

"Sounds like a mess."

"Yeah, it is. Carl keeps saying that I care more about my job than my family. He even told me to just stay at work and don't come home."

"He said that?"

"I think we're going to need marriage counseling pretty soon. It's getting to the point where we're fighting all the time. I don't want my kids surrounded by that."

The remainder of the ride was silent, both women lost in their own thoughts.



McCarthy Residence (Morning)


Van Doren pulled up to the curb in front of a house that was once white, dirt and rot stained the wooden planks making it seem more like tan. The shutters were falling off and some windows didn't have any at all. The yard was surrounded by an equally dirty fence whos gate was swinging open and closed in the slight wind.

The two women walked up to the rickety porch and Sampson knocked on the door. When there was no answer she knocked again. "Mr. McCarthy?"

The door slowly opened and a middle-aged man appeared. "Can I help you?" His messy appearance mocked the unkempt look of his home.

"I'm special agent Van Doren and this is special agent Sampson, we're with the FBI. We'd like to ask you a few questions about Lucy Henderson."

The man frowned. "Who? I don't know who you're talking about."

"Can we discuss this inside, sir?" Sampson asked.

McCarthy paused for a moment as he contemplated his answer. "Fine. Fine," he said as he backed away from the door.

Van Doren and Sampson followed the man into the living room, neither wanted to sit because the furniture was ripped and filthy.

"What's this all about?" he asked as he sat down in his recliner chair.

"A little girl named Lucy Henderson," Van Doren said as she handed him a small photo.

McCarthy looked at the photo, squinting a bit. "I've never seen her before."

"Are you sure?" Sampson asked. "Take another look."

"No, I'm sure of it," he said, handing the photo back to Van Doren.

"Mr. McCarthy, you worked for the Bennington Elementary School for almost ten years, is that correct?" Sampson asked.

"Yes."

"And you were let go in April of last year because you'd grabbed a little girl..."

"Now wait a minute," he seethed as he stood up, "Those charges were dropped because I did NOT touch that little girl."

"Right. It just seems odd to me, Mr. McCarthy that the little girl who accused you is the best friend of Lucy Henderson, and right now little Lucy is missing. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

"This is ridiculous," McCarthy huffed as he blew past Sampson and Van Doren and headed to the kitchen. "Get out of my house!"

They followed him and watched as he opened the refrigerator door and reached in. Both kept a close hand by their gun as he turned around, but in his hand was only a can of beer.

"I'm gonna look around. Keep him busy," Van Doren whispered to Sampson. Moving away from her, she looked at McCarthy. "I'll be right back, I just got paged and need to make a phone call."

Before Sampson could stop her, Van Doren disappeared down the hall.

McCarthy took another swig of beer and looked at Sampson who stood in front of him, arms folded across her chest. "Kenny. Can I call you Kenny?"

"Sure."

"I know you don't mean to hurt anyone, even Lucy, but..."

"I told you I don't know her!"

Van Doren slowly walked up the stairs, being careful not to let them creak too loudly. She made her way to his bedroom and slipped inside.

Going through his dresser, she found numerous photos of Lucy that had been taken from a distance while she played at the school playground, played in her yard and rode her bike. "Dammit," she swore under her breath as she kept looking for more evidence, but before she could get any further she heard a gunshot from downstairs. Then another. Then another. Her stomach dropped to her knees as she unholstered her gun and ran downstairs. "Sampson!" she called out as she got to the corner of the stairs, her heart beating against her chest like a jackhammer. "McCarthy, wherever you are put your gun down NOW!"

Slowly, she eased around the corner and checked the area. Finding it clear, she began walking towards the kitchen. "McCarthy!" she called out again, but she was met with only silence.

She got to the doorway of the kitchen and took a deep breath before entering.

When she made her entrance she wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted her. Sampson was lying on the kitchen floor, unconscious, blood covered her lower torso and had begun to pool around her on the tiled floor. In her right hand, she still clutched her gun.

The back door was wide open and had blood smears on it. Van Doren quickly raced over to it and went out into the backyard to look for McCarthy.

Droplets of blood stained the dirt indicating to her that Sampson had gotten a shot off before he fled. The trail led to a gated fence and the gate was wide open. She took note of the blood that covered the gate's handle.

McCarthy was long gone.

Activating her radio, Van Doren frantically went back inside to help her fallen friend. "This is agent Van Doren. I have an agent down at 114 Maplewood Lane. I repeat, I have an agent down at 114 Maplewood Lane, I need assistance and an ambulance here YESTERDAY."

"Copy that Van Doren. Paramedics have been dispatched and are on their way."

"Jennifer?" she said softly as she knelt down beside her. Gasping at the sight of the blood flowing from two bullet wounds in Sampson's abdomen, she called her name again. "Jennifer, can you hear me?" Without hesitation, Van Doren placed her hands over the wounds and applied pressure. Sampson let out a moan of pain in her unconscious state and her face contorted. "Shhh, you're okay. You're gonna be okay, just hold on. Help is coming." Van Doren had hoped to never see this day, the day that she'd be tending to a wounded partner. She'd promised herself she'd never let this day happen.

Erickson Memorial Hospital - Emergency Room (Morning)


"Where is she?" Carl asked Lisa as he barged into the emergency room waiting area.

"Carl, take it easy, they're prepping her for surgery right now."

"Surgery?!? What? What the hell happened?" Looking to his left, he saw Paige coming through a set of doors. "Paige! What happened?" he asked, rushing towards her. "Someone called me and said that Jennifer got hurt, Lisa's telling me they're prepping her for surgery, what the hell is going on?!?" Then he noticed the blood on her shirt. "Oh my God. Wh...what the..." His head began to spin and he felt sick.

"Here, why don't you sit." Van Doren helped him sit before he fainted.

"I'll get him some water," Lisa said as she watched Van Doren take control of the situation.

"Jennifer and I were out interviewing a suspect today and she was shot." Van Doren didn't feel the need to beat around the bush.

Carl felt a huge lump lodge in his throat. "Sh-shot?" he stuttered with fear.

"They're doing everything they can for her. She'll be okay."

Putting his head in his hands, he began to cry. Van Doren did her best to comfort him while they waited. Jennifer had never been shot before and he prayed every day she left the house that she'd come home to him without a scratch. He hated her job and today was yet another reason why.


Six hours had passed and a doctor approached the small group. "Family members for Jennifer Sampson?"

"I...I'm her husband," Carl said as he stood up. His legs felt like jelly and he did his best not to let anyone notice what a nervous wreck he was.

"She's going to be fine, but she's gonna have to take it easy for a while. One bullet penetrated clean through her side, but the other bullet nicked her spleen. We had to remove it. She's lost alot of blood and is very weak. We have her recovering in I.C.U. and will probably keep her there through the night. You can see her if you'd like, but only for a few minutes."

Carl looked at Van Doren as if to get permission. She simply nodded that it was okay, giving him the strength to follow the doctor.

The smell of the medicines and cleaners turned Carl's stomach, but he focused his thoughts on blocking the smells from his mind and turned his attention to the motionless figure lying in the bed.

"Just a few minutes," the doctor said softly as he held the door open for him.

Carl stepped in, swallowing hard as he took in the sight. Jennifer was always tough-as-nails and it never ceased to amaze him how she'd taken down criminals twice her size with ease, and yet here she was, lying in a hospital bed, pale faced, two holes in her stomach, one in her back, and wires and machines hooked up to her as if she were robotic. This didn't look like his Jennifer.

Gently taking her hand, he began to sob. "I'm sorry, Jen. I'm so sorry that I said those things this morning. I don't blame you if you hate me, I deserve it."

He sat with her for a few more minutes before the doctor poked his head in. "Mr. Sampson, we better let her rest."

"Okay," he replied softly. He kissed her forehead and left the room. How was he going to explain this to the kids when he couldn't even handle it for himself.

Erickson Memorial Hospital - Sampson's Room (Morning)


The next morning, Sampson had been moved to her own room. Van Doren waited outside as they got her settled. All night she'd thought of the various ways to apologize but no words seemed to be enough.

The nurse came out of the room. "You can go in now."

"Thank you." Van Doren entered the room, taking a deep breath as she walked over to the side of the bed.

"You okay?" Sampson asked weakly in a barely audible voice.

"I...I'm fine." She responded, a little surprised by the question.

"Good. Th-thought maybe he....he got you too."

"I'm sorry about leaving you alone with him. I never should have..."

"...'s okay."

Van Doren shook her head because she felt at fault in every way.

The door opened and Lisa stepped inside. "Van Doren?"

"Ma'am."

"Hi, Jennifer. You okay?"

"Yeah," she replied softly.

Lisa turned her attention back to Van Doren. "Can I see you outside?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"I'll be right back," Lisa said to Sampson as she followed Van Doren out into the hall.

Van Doren crossed her arms over her chest, reading herself for the verbal assault.

"What the hell are you doing? Did I not tell you yesterday that when Sampson woke up I was the first one to talk to her? Do you not remember me telling you that?"

"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but I just wanted to tell her I was sorry. I..."

"When I give you an order you're to follow it, understand?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"In order to conduct a clean investigation I can't have you and Sampson talking about the incident before I do."

"We didn't discuss any of it."

Lisa put her hands on her hips. "Okay. Why don't you go back to the office while we get Sampson's statement."

"Yes, Ma'am." Van Doren chose not to protest, it was useless to do so, especially with Lisa.

Lisa returned to Sampson's room, smiling as she took a seat by the bed, pulling out her small, black notebook. "I'm sorry to have to do this now, but we need to make sure we have all the facts."

Sampson nodded weakly as her eyes struggled to stay open. The pain medication clogged her mind and she fought to cut through it.

"We'll take it slow, okay? Just tell me what happened in McCarthy's kitchen after Van Doren left to search the house."

Sampson swallowed to coat her dry throat before speaking. "I tried to gain his trust...pretended to understand him. He...he kept drinking beer after beer. Must have had about four in about five minutes time." Sampson stopped speaking as a flash of pain erupted in her belly.

"Sampson? You okay?" Lisa got to her feet as a rush of panic washed consumed her.

"It'll pass," she answered through gritted teeth. Doing her best to take a deep breath, she let it out slowly as the pain subsided.

"Sure you're okay?"

Sampson nodded as she bit her bottom lip. "I...I asked him to stop drinking. He got mad...said it was none of my business. He started getting hostile. I asked him to sit down. Next thing I knew, he had a gun. Pulled it out of a drawer." Sampson closed her eyes and prepared herself to continue telling her story. "He shot me before I could get my gun. I fell to the floor, felt it go all the way through. Shot me again." She paused for a few moments to gather her strength. "I pulled out my gun and shot him in the shoulder. He ran out the door. That's all I remember."

Lisa scribbled some notes in her notebook and then looked at Sampson who wore a slight grimace of pain on her face. "Why did Van Doren decide to search the house alone?"

"Don't know."

"Did you discuss it with her?"

"No. She told me she was going to...when....when we were in the kitchen."

Lisa nodded. Van Doren had told her the same thing in her statement but it didn't make it right. "Okay. I think this is enough. Get some rest and feel better, okay?"

Sampson smiled, "Yes, Ma'am."

"We'll catch him, Jennifer. You can count on it."

"Thank you," she said softly as her eyelids closed and she drifted off to sleep.

Sampson Residence (Morning)


The doorbell rang and Carl came to answer the door. "Paige."

"Hi, Carl."

"Listen, umm, I'm actually on my way to the hospital. The kids are staying home today and I'm taking them up with me."

"Sure. Sure, I understand. I just wanted to come over and see if you needed anything."

Hunter ran across the room and latched onto Carl's leg.

"Easy there, buddy," Carl said to him as he patted his head.

"Hey, Hunter."

"Hi," he replied, clinging onto his father.

"I think we're going to be okay," Carl said as he reached down and picked Hunter up.

"Please don't hesitate to call me if you need anything."

"Thanks, Paige. I appreciate it."

Paige smiled and returned to her car.

Carl rounded the kids up and grabbed a duffel bag full of Jennifer's clothes. "Okay, gang let's get going." The kids ran out to the car and Carl trailed behind them.

Erickson Memorial Hospital - Sampson's Room (Morning)


When they arrived at the hospital, Carl decided it was best if they all went in together before he spoke to Jennifer alone. They entered the room and the children immediately latched onto their father, scared at the sight of their injured mother.

"Mom," Hunter sobbed as he clenched the fabric of Carl's pants.

Jennifer's eyes opened slowly. Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she saw her children. "My babies," she whispered, extending her hand towards them.

Carl walked them closer, feeling them holding onto him tighter with each step. "It's okay you guys, your Mom's gonna be fine."

Hunter reached out for his mother's hand and attempted to get up onto the bed with her. "You can't, sweetie. Mommie's hurt." Jennifer looked at Carl. "Did you tell them?"

Carl looked down towards the floor and shook his head.

"Carl."

"What happened, Mom?" her daughter asked with a confused look on her face.

Jennifer stroked Hunter's hair as he stood by her side. "A bad man hurt me. He shot me in the stomach. That's why you can't get up here with me. Maybe in a few days, okay?"

"Someone shot you?" her daughter exclaimed.

"Mmmhmm." Jennifer shifted to get comfortable and grimaced as the movement jarred her wounds.

"Did they catch him?"

"No. Not yet."

"Why not? What if he comes back? What if he comes to the house?"

Carl hugged her and brought her close. "Shh, that's not going to happen." Carl looked at Jennifer. "See, that's why I didn't want to tell them. I didn't want to frighten them."

"You can't lie to them."

"Are you okay, Mom?" Hunter asked.

"I'll be okay in a while."

"When are you coming home?"

"Not for a little while I'm afraid."

"But I want you to come home now. Why can't you come home now."

"Hunter, sweetie I wish I could. But I need to stay here until my wounds heal up a little, then I can come home."

"Come on, you two. Let's let your mom rest. She and I need to talk for a few minutes so I'll bring you out to the nurse's station. Okay?"

"Okay," they said in unison.

"I love you."

"We love you too, Mom."

Carl brought the kids out to the waiting area and had one of the nurses keep an eye on them. He returned to the room and took a seat in the chair by the bed.

"What?" she asked, trying to read the expression on his face.

"Why do they insist on partnering you up with a rookie? She almost got you killed!"

In a way he was right, Van Doren did have a habit of getting her in a few jams. "It was a freak thing..."

"Bullshit, Jen."

"There was no way to know he had a gun." Jennifer's breathing began to quicken, causing the heart monitor to beep a little faster. "I knew the risks when I took this damn job." Sweat began to bead up on her forehead and her face started turning red.

"Jen, calm down. We shouldn't be talking about this now. I'm sorry for bringing it up."

"What's going on in here?" a nurse yelled as she entered the room and rushed to Jennifer's side to check her vitals.

"We were..."

"Out!" she instructed him. "She's just had major surgery and she shouldn't be all worked up like this. Out, now!"

"Honey, I'll be back later to check on you." Carl left the room, kicking himself mentally.

The nurse injected the I.V. bag with more medication. "Here, this should help you settle yourself down. Lemme guess, husband?"

"Yeah."

"Figures, they're all the same aren't they. Now you just relax and don't you worry about anything other than getting better. Okay?"

Jennifer nodded slowly as she felt the medication snaking it's way through her veins. Within a few minutes she was fast asleep.

FBI Office (Morning)


"Any leads on McCarthy's whereabouts?" Lisa asked as she approached Van Doren's desk. She and Stevens were going over the case.

"Nothing yet. We've got alerts out to the area hospitals. He's gonna have to get some help somewhere."

"Sampson said she hit him once, in the shoulder. Sweep some of our underground doctors too, in case he makes an appearance there as well."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Van Doren, can I see you for a minute in my office?"

Van Doren looked at Stevens and then looked back at Lisa. "Sure."

Van Doren closed the door behind her and stood in front of Lisa's desk.

"Have a seat."

She sat down and put her hands on her lap, trying to to show her nervousness.

"As you know, I talked to Sampson this morning. She was unsure why you decided to go off on your own. You mind explaining that to me?"

"Sampson and I were talking to McCarthy in the kitchen, it appeared like everything was under control. I said that I needed to go make a phone call and I slipped upstairs to search his bedroom."

"But what if he had someone hiding under the bed, ready to gun you down? What if he ended up catching you going through his things? We had no warrant to search his home."

"I wouldn't have found those photos if I hadn't gone up there."

"Obviously, but the fact that you went up there without permission is what troubles me. That and the fact you left your partner alone with a violent suspect."

"Neither one of us knew that that would happen."

"Oh, so now you're speaking for Sampson and how she feels?"

"No, Ma'am I'm just saying that it didn't appear that he was a threat."

"Nothing is EVER what it seems, Van Doren. You get that through your head right now. The X-Files pinned it perfectly, trust no one. Even the little old lady on the corner with a bag in her hand can't be assumed as innocent. For all we know she's got a 9mm in there. It may seem outrageous to think that way, but we need to be a little outrageous in this business."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Now, we're going to have to do a little cleaning up with this story in order to make it not fall to shit. So, you found those photos after Sampson was shot. Because he had attempted to murder an agent we had the right to search his place. That's when you found the photos. Right?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"It would be in your best interest to keep this to yourself. Understood?"

"I understand."

"I thought it over alot last night and this morning and I've decided to take you off this case. I'm giving it to McArthur and Stevens."

"But..."

"You need to sit this one out, for various reasons."

"If I may ask, what reasons are those?"

"For starters, your partner is lying in a hospital bed with two bullet wounds. Secondly, you fucked up, to be perfectly blunt. Thirdly, because of reasons one and two, I need your 100%, undivided attention on this one and I'm not convinced you can give that to me right now."

"I beg to differ, Ma'am."

"And you're entitled to, but I've made my decision. Hand over your case files to Stevens or McArthur when you return to your desk. That's all."

"Yes, Ma'am." Van Doren stood up and left the office, feeling as if she'd been kicked in the gut.

"Everything okay?" Stevens asked as Van Doren returned to her desk and closed up her files, handing them over to him.

"Looks like you and McArthur are taking over. I'm on the side lines for this one."

"What?!?"

"Agent Cohen's orders," she said as she walked away and headed for the parking lot.


Erickson Memorial Hospital - Sampson's Room (Afternoon)


Van Doren entered Sampson's room with a good-sized bouquet of flowers. "Hi," she said as she walked towards the nightstand, placing them by the edge.

"They're beautiful, thank you."

"Feeling any better?"

"A little," Sampson said with a sigh. "Just wish I could get the hell out of this place. I hate hospitals."

"I know what you mean, they kinda give me creeps too."

"Carl came by with the kids this morning. He didn't tell them what happened to me."

Van Doren thought for a moment, glad that she hadn't said anything in front of Hunter when she'd seen him earlier. "Really?"

"I told him not to lie to them. Of course he got mad. He just doesn't want to have anything to do with my job anymore." Sampson absently rubbed her sore belly. "He used to give me so much encouragement and now it's like he wants me to find another job."

"Has he asked you to quit?"

"No. It hasn't come to that yet. He's implied it plenty of times though."

Silence hung in the air for a few minutes while Van Doren pushed herself to tell Sampson about the case. "Just, um so you hear it from me first, Lisa's taken me off the case."

Sampson figured as much but acted surprised. "What?"

"She gave it to Stevens and McArthur."

"I'm sorry, Paige."

"You're sorry? You're the last person that needs to be sorry." Tears welled up in Van Doren's eyes and rolled down her cheeks. "I didn't think before I acted and because of it you're lying here. It was extremely selfish of me, in a way." The ring of Van Doren's cell phone broke though the conversation. "Excuse me one sec," she said as she answered the phone. "Van Doren. Yeah. What? Why are you telling me this? Okay, okay. Thanks, I REALLY appreciate it." She hung up and snapped the phone closed.

"Everything okay?"

"Yeah. I gutta go. I'm sorry to dump all this on you and then run, but I'll try and come back tonight, okay?"

Sampson smiled at her. "Okay."

"I'll see ya."

728 Waterbury Avenue (Afternoon)

Van Doren pulled up to the residence behind Stevens and McArthur's car and quickly got out. Both men were standing by the front walk, ready to approach the house.

"We thought we'd wait for you," Stevens said to her.

"I hope Cohen doesn't find out you two told me about this or she'll have all of our asses."

"I know all too well what it's like to see your partner get shot, so the least I could do is help you out." Amiel yanked on the lapel of his jacket and headed up the walkway.

Stevens stood on one side of the yard and Van Doren stood on the other, both looking into the backyard to make sure no one escaped out the back.

McArthur rang the doorbell and waited for someone to come to the door. Finally, an elderly gentleman appeared. "Sir, I'm Agent McArthur with the FBI, I need to ask you some questions about a Kenneth McCarthy."

The man frowned for a moment as he got lost in thought, then he opened the door wider so McArthur could enter. Van Doren and Stevens followed behind McArthur as they walked into the home. Van Doren shook off the flashbacks of the previous day and focused on her task.

"We had a report of Mr. McCarthy having come here this morning, is that true?" McArthur asked the man.

"Normally I would say that I have no idea what you're talking about, but in this case I'm going to help you, you're lucky. Follow me."

"Sir," McArthur said as he reached out and grabbed the man's arm, stopping him from continuing. "Is he here right now?"

"Oh heavens no. He left about an hour ago. Follow me."

They followed the man into the basement where they saw the room in shambles. Medical supplies were scattered and broken all over the floor. "That bastard came to me for help, and I helped him, but then he did this. Then he hit me." The man turned his head towards them so they could get a better look at the darkening bruise by his eye.

"How did he know to come here?" Stevens asked.

"A friend of his told him to come here. I can't say who, of course. But he just showed up here, unannounced, and held a gun to my head, forcing me to help him. If it wasn't for the gun I would have told him to take a flying fuck for himself." The man tried to pick up a few items from the floor to restore the order to the room, but it seemed useless. "He's in alot of trouble isn't he?"

"He's wanted for the attempted murder of a federal agent, my partner," Van Doren stated flatly. "Do you know where he went?"

"Not sure, I was just glad that he left." He sat down on a nearby stool, wiping his brow with a handkerchief. "I'm too old for this shit."

Van Doren crouched down in front of him. "I realize that you're just trying to help people but what you're doing is illegal."

"I know. I know. I never meant to break the law, I just feel bad when people are in pain and if I know how to help them I can't refuse my help to them. They're almost like company for me. Ever since my wife died a few years ago I've been alone. I don't have any family left so I guess I welcomed the company."

Van Doren felt sorry for the man even though she knew she shouldn't.

"Your partner, is he going to be okay?"

"She. She's going to be fine."

"Oh dear Lord, he shot a woman!"

"She's a wife and mother of two," Van Doren added, trying to buy more sympathy.

The man shook his head and got up from his chair, fists clenched by his sides. "I'm going to make a few phone calls and see if I can track him down. He shouldn't get away with this, the little bastard. Would any of you like some coffee or a soda while you wait?"

"No thank you, sir," Stevens replied as they followed him back upstairs.

Erickson Memorial Hospital - Sampson's Room (Night)

Van Doren entered the room quietly in case Sampson was sleeping, but she found her staring out the window, her right hand over her wounded side. "Hey there."

"Hey," Sampson replied softly as she turned to look at her.

"Everything okay? You in a lot of pain? Want me to get the nurse?"

"No, I'm fine, just thinking."

"Uh oh, we can't have that," Van Doren joked as she pulled up a chair and sat down.

"I've just been thinking that maybe Carl's right. I mean, what if I died."

"Jennifer! Don't talk like that."

"Seriously, Paige, what if I get killed on the job. Who's gonna take care of my kids? Carl can't do it alone, and I don't want another woman taking care of MY children."

Van Doren reached over and rubbed Sampson's arm to comfort her. "I think the drugs they're giving you are playing with your mind. You LOVE this job, and you know it. It's something you were meant to do and you're damn good at it."

Sampson smiled. "But..."

"This isn't something you need to be worrying about right now. Please? Stop thinking about it. You'll only drive yourself crazy."

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

"Listen, I think we're on the right track in finding McCarthy."

"Wait, I thought you were off the case?"

"I am...sort of. McArthur and Stevens have been keeping me in the loop. DON'T YOU DARE tell Lisa or she'll have my ass. When I left earlier, I met up with them at a doctor's house. He patched McCarthy up and McCarthy roughed him up and basically trashed his set up. When I told him about you he helped us out by calling some of his contacts. We have a couple of leads that we're following up on." Van Doren glanced at her watch. "I'm on stake out in about a half hour."

"Don't do this. Do it by the book. Let McArthur and Stevens handle it."

"I NEED to do this. I need to make it right."

"Lisa's gonna find out and you're gonna be on the unemployment line."

"Well, if that's what it takes to nail the son-of-a-bitch that put you here then so be it."

"You've been watching too many Cagney & Lacey re-runs," Sampson joked, wincing as she laughed.

"Funny."

"I better get going. I'll keep you posted. And we'll just keep this between you and me, okay?"

"Okay," Sampson nodded.

"Sleep tight," Van Doren said as she exited the room.

"Be careful," Sampson whispered.

Star Motel (Night)

McCarthy went up to his room, ignoring the sounds of crying children coming from the surrounding rooms and domestic disputes being broadcast for the world to hear.

Closing the door behind him, he set his case of beer down on the bed and sat down. Opening the case, he took one out, cracked it open and began chugging it down.

Grabbing the remote, he turned on the TV and listened to the newswoman reporting the local and national news.

"In other news tonight, an FBI agent is on the mend after being shot during the questioning of a suspect yesterday on Maplewood Lane. Agent Jennifer Sampson was shot twice in the abdomen by suspected child kidnapper Kenneth McCarthy. She was taken to Erickson Memorial Hospital where she's listed in good condition."

"McCarthy is wanted for the attempted murder of Agent Sampson and is wanted for questioning in the kidnapping of Lucy Henderson. He's considered armed and dangerous. If you see Mr. McCarthy, please contact the local authorities immediately."

McCarthy switched off the TV and threw the remote across the room, angry that they'd shown his photo on TV. "Dammit!" he mumbled, banging on the sides of his head with his fists. "It wasn't supposed to be like this."

330 Park Way (Night)

Van Doren sipped her cold coffee, frowning at the taste. She'd been sitting in her car watching the front door of a pool hall for almost three hours and it was beginning to tire her.

Yawning, she looked at her watch and tried to get comfortable for a long night ahead of her.

Star Motel (Night)

Stevens and McArthur arrived at the motel as quickly as possible.

"Room 332," the desk clerk told them. They both ran upstairs as if their pants were on fire.

They took their positions on either side of the door. Stevens knocked lightly. "Hello? Sir?"

"Go away!" McCarthy yelled.

"Sir? Have you seen my cat? My wife's nagging at me to ask the neighbors and she's not gonna..."

"I haven't seen your damn cat now shut the hell up and go away!"

Stevens shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.

"Try again," McArthur whispered.

"Please, sir. If I show you a picture maybe you've seen her?"

Silence on the other side of the door made the two men wonder what he was up to.

"I'm kicking it in," McArthur whispered as he stepped back and lunged at the door with his foot. The door flew open and both men entered the room, guns drawn. "FBI! Don't move!" But the room was empty and the window was wide open.

"Shit!" Stevens swore as he walked over to the window. "Son-of-a-bitch!"

"Don't worry, we'll get him. We're too close now."

Erickson Memorial Hospital (Night)

Sampson slept the night away, lost in the haze of pain medication that pumped through her veins. But suddenly the pain in her stomach intensified, waking her up.

"Wake up!" McCarthy whispered to her as he squeezed her injured side.

"Ugh!!" Sampson attempted to scream before his other hand found it's way over her mouth, muffling her cries.

"Shhh, we don't want to cause some unnecessary attention, now do we? Not like the shit that's all over the news about me!" Sampson wrapped her hands around his wrist, trying to get his hand away from her side, but he was too strong for her in her weakened state. "Tell your friends that they have the wrong guy. You tell them to back off!"

"Mmmph," she cried as she felt the warm trickle of blood run down her side. His roughness popped her stitches and allowed the wounds to bleed freely.

"Tell me you'll tell them to back off!"

Sampson reached under her blanket and felt around for the nurse's call button. Finding it, she pressed it several times.

"I'm gonna take my hand away..."

"What the hell?" a nurse exclaimed as she rushed into the room.

"You bitch!" he yelled as he looked at Sampson, figuring out what she had done. Reaching behind his back, he pulled out a gun and put it to Sampson's head. "You, over here," he said to the nurse who was now putting her hands in the air. "Come over here, that's right."

Sampson struggled to remain conscious as the pain began to eat away at her.

"Get over here and get her dressed. We're leaving."

"You can't take her out of here, she's..."

"Shut up!" he snapped through a clenched jaw. "Get over here, now!"

The nurse walked over to the side of the bed and got some clothes out of Sampson's duffle bag and began getting her dressed. "Oh, sweetie," the nurse whispered as she saw the blood that had seeped through her gown. "She's torn her stitches. I can't..."

"Fix 'em!"

"I don't have the supplies in here."

"Use what you do have and let's go," McCarthy instructed as he waved the gun at her.

The nurse opened a cabinet and pulled out a package of gauze and a roll of tape. She carefully took off the old bandaging and pressed some clean gauze to the wounds. "Hold that there for a minute, sweetie." Sampson clutched the wounds as she tried to steady her breathing through the pain. After a moment, she moved Sampson's hands away and took the gauze, throwing it in the trash can. She put on more gauze and taped it in place. "There. That'll have to do."

"Okay. Okay, enough of this shit, let's get going!"

The nurse finished getting Sampson dressed. "What are you gonna do about her medications?"

"Too bad, that's not my problem."

"The woman is in pain, she NEEDS medication. Once I unhook her from this I.V. she'll be in agony in about fifteen minutes."

McCarthy paced back and forth trying to think. "You're coming with us then. Bring medication with you."

"All I've got is what's here. I don't have authorization to get more med..."

McCarthy pointed the gun at the woman. "Fuck it then. Let's go!"

"We're gonna need a wheelchair. There's one right outside the door."

"Then get it. No funny business either! I'm watching you!"

The nurse opened the door and retrieved the wheel chair, quickly wheeling it over to the bed. "Okay, honey, easy does it." Sampson got to her feet with the nurse's help, stifling her cries of pain as best as possible. "Let's get you seated...eeeeeasy." With a grunt of pain Sampson shut her eyes as she sat down in the chair. The nurse unhooked the I.V. bag from it's hook and put it in Sampson's lap.

"We ready now for Chrisakes?"

The nurse began wheeling Sampson out into the deserted hallway. "We need to go left and take the freight elevator or else someone's gonna see us."

"You better not pull any shit on me," McCarthy said as he got closer to the nurse, digging the gun into her ribs.

"No tricks, honest."

They walked to the end of the hall and got into the elevator. "You doing okay there, honey?"

Sampson nodded weakly, trying to keep from pitching forward.

The elevator came to a stop. "You have a car?"

"Yeah."

"Good, that's where we're going right now."

The nurse headed to the parking garage and brought Sampson and McCarthy to her car.

"Gimmie the keys!"

"I'm not giving you the damn keys. I just bought this car and..."

"Give me the fuckin' keys!" he screamed as he cocked the hammer back on the gun and aimed it at her head.

"Alright! Alright!" The nurse handed him the keys and he went around to the driver's side.

"Get her in the car and get out of here."

The nurse loaded Sampson into the car and no sooner had she shut the car door McCarthy peeled away. Without hesitation, she ran inside to call the police.

Van Doren's Apartment (Morning)

The phone rang and Van Doren huffed in frustration. She still hadn't gotten used to being on call all of the time and hated getting phone calls in the middle of the night.

"Hello?"

"It's Stevens. Meet me at the office as fast as you can get here. McCarthy's got Sampson."

"What?!?" she exclaimed, now fully awake from the news.

"Just get here!"

Hanging up the phone, she raced to get dressed.

Unknown location (Morning)

Sampson woke up to a burning, throbbing pain that made her curl up in a ball. Hugging her midsection, she desperately wanted the pain to stop.

"Aw, what's the matter? Does it hurt?" McCarthy taunted.

Sampson rolled her eyes over in the direction of the voice and saw him sitting in a chair drinking beer. Beside him on the floor was a large burlap bag that was tied up with duct tape.

"Have one of these and the pain will melt away." Laughing, he threw a can of beer at her, hitting her in the leg.

"What do you want?" she asked. The words barely made it out, her throat was so dry.

"I just want you to spend some time in my world. Just the three of us."

"Three?"

"Yep," he said, patting the bag next to him.

FBI Office (Morning)

"We've got a hit!" Stevens yelled to Van Doren, McArthur and Cohen who were standing by a map of the city. He rushed over to them with a slip of paper in his hand. "The nurse had LoJack installed on her car. The police just traced it to an old abandoned warehouse downtown."

"Alright, everyone gear up! We're heading to 1420 Pine's View Avenue. Go silent! If I hear anyone with a siren on they're fired."

1420 Pine's View Avenue (Morning)

"I have to hand it to you. You and your partner were right. I did know Lucy." McCarthy tossed the empty beer can at Sampson and grabbed another from the case lying by his feet. "She was a beautiful girl, but a little stuck up. You know those stuck up, prissy little girls who think they're so much better than everyone else." He chugged some of the beer and wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt. "What am I saying? I bet you were probably one of those girls, huh?"

Sampson's eyelids felt like heavy cement. She wanted desperately to sleep, but she was too afraid of what he might do.

He finished off the beer and tossed the can at her. Standing up, he nearly fell over because he was so drunk. She could smell the alcohol from where she lay.

Taking out his gun, he aimed it at her, causing her to flinch. "Bang!" he yelled and then laughed. "Bang!" he yelled again, but this time he mistakenly pulled the trigger. The bullet hit the floor by Sampson's knee, just missing her. "Oops."

"Put the gun down," she asked, afraid he might not miss the next time around.

"Huh?"

"Put the gun down," she asked a little louder.

"Honey, I ain't doing shit. You barged into my home and said all these bad things about me! You made...you made me feel bad about myself, and I HATE that! That's why I shot you. You had to know that I didn't like what you said." He aimed the gun at her again. "Then you shot me. You fuckin' SHOT ME!"

Just as he'd gotten the last word out, Sampson closed her eyes just as a shot rang out. She waited for the introduction of more pain but she didn't feel it. Opening her eyes slowly, she saw McCarthy lying on the floor in a pool of blood and her fellow agents rushing into the room.

Van Doren held her gun on him as Stevens kicked the gun away from McCarthy's grasp. "Good work, Van Doren," he said to her as he checked McCarthy for a pulse. Finding none, he shook his head.

"Get the paramedics in here now!" Lisa screamed across the room. "Sampson? Can you hear me? We're gonna get you out of here, it's over, okay?"

Sampson nodded and passed out.

"Ma'am," Stevens said to Lisa as he and McArthur had opened the burlap bag beside McCarthy's chair.

"Aw, Geezus," she sighed as she looked at the body of Lucy Henderson.

Psychiatrist's Office - Three weeks later (Afternoon)

Sampson sat in the office, silent.

"It helps if you talk to me, that's why you're here. I can't help you if you won't talk," the doctor pointed out to her.

"I know," she said as she put her head down for a moment. "It's just that I didn't ask to come here, they're making me come here. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what you want to hear."

"I just want to know how you feel. You were shot and kidnapped. That has to have some sort of effect on you."

"I'm...I'm fine. My physical therapy is going well and I'm going back to work on desk duty next week, and..."

"I don't mean how you're feeling physically, I mean emotionally."

Sampson paused for a moment to gather her thoughts. "When I first got shot I immediately thought of my kids, and that they were going to have to attend my funeral." She laughed and shook her head. "I thought I was going to die. Just the pain itself made me believe it was over, then when I saw the blood I got scared."

Wiping a tear from her eye, she continued. "Laying in a hospital bed allows you alot of time to think. At first I thought I was going to turn in my badge and gun and I'd wash my hands of this job, but the more I thought about it the more I started to change my mind. It may sound selfish to everyone around me, including my husband, but I love this job. It's what I've always wanted to do and I'm damn good at it. And I decided that I'm not quitting it for anyone. If someday down the road I decide that I'VE had enough, then I'll quit. But I'm not gonna let what happened to me stop me from doing what I love."

"So your husband disagrees with you I take it?"

"That's a light way of putting it. We're actually going through some marriage counseling. He's having a hard time dealing with what happened to me and it's taken a toll on our marriage."

"I see."

Sampson looked at her watch. "Um, are we done? I need to get my son from school."

"Yes, of course. Thank you for opening up. I hope it helped."

"Yes. Yes, it did."

Sampson shook the doctor's hand and left the office.

EPILOGUE

Van Doren had also been asked to speak with a psychiatrist about the shooting. Even though she hadn't taken a bullet, she was still dealing with her own demons from the incident.

Sampson returned to work, trying her best to make it through desk duty. It took a while, but eventually she made it back into the field where she belonged.