Huge thanks to anmodo for betaing this chapter.
Disclaimers – Sadly I don't own Without a trace or any of it's characters but I wish I did.
Walking toward his apartment, Rafael Alvarez enjoyed the bitterly cold but beautiful November afternoon. He thought nothing could destroy his day; life had never been so good. He had a beautiful wife, two adorable kids, and a good steady job that he loved and for the first time since their parent's deaths, he was really getting on with Danny. He knew and understood why his brother had distanced himself from him all those years ago – he just hoped that Danny knew how proud he was of him. Where he hadn't graduated from high school, Danny had not only graduated high school but college and law school as well. He had passed the FBI exam on the first attempt and had graduated top of his class from Quantico and now he was part of an elite, hand picked team in the FBI' New York office. Was he jealous of what Danny had achieved? Of course he was, but if anyone deserved the achievements, it was Danny.
He couldn't wait until the weekend because he and Danny were going to see the Mets game. It was a sport that reminded them of the happier times of their childhoods. How he used to teach Danny baseball late into the night before their father returned from the bars. How he used to tell Danny to stay out practicing so their father could take his anger out of him instead of Danny. How he still could hear the sickening crack of Danny's arm breaking. Who could have done that to a sweet, innocent 5 year child? Think about the happy times always lead to remembering the more common awful experiences. Remembering how Danny used to stare at him with those big brown puppy dog eyes, he had tried to protect Danny but he had failed. He had failed when they were kids, he had failed after their parents had died and he was still failing now. Their roles of the protector and protected had reversed. Danny now tried to protect the citizens of New York from the scum of the earth. His chest swelled with pride when he read the successful outcomes of missing person cases – knowing his brother was part of that outcome. He maybe an ex-con but he was damn proud of his federal agent baby brother.
His cell phone rang, pulling him out of his thoughts. "Hey bro," Rafi said as he answered his phone.
"Hey man, how are you doing?"
"Good. Really good, Danny," Rafi replied smiling. "You ready for the game on Saturday?"
"Ready? I can't wait. I haven't been to a game with you since-" Danny paused as he remembered the last time he had gone to a game with Rafi. "Anyway u-mm, so I'm going to meet your friends?" Danny asked, quickly changing the subject.
"Yeah," Rafi replied nervously. "Danny-"
"I know. I'll be sure to bring my gun and badge," Danny joked.
"Relax man, I'm only joking," Danny paused as he heard the beeping of a waiting call on his phone. He checked the caller ID. "It's work. I gotta—"
"I know, I know," Rafi said smiling slightly. "Hey Danny, be careful."
"Of course I will. You look after yourself as well," Danny replied. "Gotta go Rafi bye."
Rafi ended the call and stared at his phone. He was so happy that Danny that agreed to meet his friends – he didn't think Danny truly knew how much it meant to him to meet his friends.
As he continued to walk down the crowded street, he glanced down an alleyway and felt his heart skip a beat. Instantly, he recognized the face standing in the alley. It may have been many years ago but he'd never forget that face. But it couldn't be, that person died more that 20 years ago. But it was, he knew it was. He wasn't likely to forget his father's face.
But his father was dead; he died in a car crash with his mother over 20 years ago. Danny had almost died that night when that drunken bastard had taken the wheel. That bastard had killed his mother, had beaten the hell out of him and Danny and now he was walking around as if nothing had happened. Slowly turning, he started to walk down the alleyway. He looked around but no one was there anymore. Rafi shook his head; he knew he had been working heavily recently so he hadn't slept much but he couldn't be this tired. He couldn't have reached a stage of exhaustion that he was hallucinating. He turned and walked out of the alleyway, continuing to shake his head. He thought about phoning Danny but stopped; Danny wouldn't want to be disturbed mid case because his brother was seeing things. With some difficultly he tried to put the image to the back of his mind as he walked home.
Soaked to the skin after the recent rainstorm, Danny staggered into his apartment building. He could only remember getting a couple of hours of sleep in the last few days. He wanted nothing more that to collapse in with bed with Megan – his girlfriend. But Megan was away working for another three days at least depending on how much intelligence she had to gather on the activities around the old Soviet nuclear cities. Megan was great. She had a great sense of humour. She was intelligent. She worked in the same kind of work that he did, and to top it all, she was beautiful. They had met four months ago when he had been on a case. Martin and he had been at Rockaway beach trying to find witnesses for their latest case.
"Smile man," Danny smirked. "It's a beautiful day and we are walking down a beach full of bikini clad ladies."
"I'm spoken for," Martin replied with amusement as he watched his friend eyeing up a blond who walked passed them.
"Too bad my man, too bad," Danny said as winked at the blond. He eyed up a perfectly formed brunette who was just walking past them. "Ma-am."
Megan turned her head and flashed a flirtatious grin at the taller of the two men. "What can I do for the Federal Bureau of Investigation?"
"H-how did you know," Martin stammered.
"The suits, the Sig Sauers and badges kind of give it away," Megan replied as turned to face them. "So the legend is correct: there are people other than balding old men at the Bureau."
Danny smirked and stepped forward and pulled out his ID. "I'm Special Agent Danny Taylor and this is Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald, have you seen this man?" Danny said as he handed over a photograph of their latest missing person.
Megan flashed another flirtatious smile at Danny silently thinking to herself that she should pay another visit to 26 Federal Plaza, if he was any indication of what kind of agents the Bureau was producing. Forcing herself back to the task in hand, she looked at the photo and frowned. "So what's this guy done wrong?"
"He's missing and this is one of the last places he was seen. Have you seen him?" Martin demanded, sure that this girl knew what had happened to their missing person.
"Ok, ok," Megan said as she held her hands up in mock surrender. "I know him, but I haven't seen him recently nor have I ever seen him down here."
"You know him?" Danny asked as leaned on her car.
"Yes I do," Megan replied slightly defensively. "So what do you know about him?"
"I thought you said you knew him," Martin counted. "Anyway we are not at liberty to divulge that information."
Megan sighed. "Well then, you know he is NSA analyst who is currently decrypting highly sensitive intercepted intelligence," Megan said as she looked between the two FBI men. "I'm guessing by your body language you didn't know that."
"No," Danny said as he recovered from the shocked of the latest turn their case taken. "What did you say he did again?"
didn't," Megan replied with a smile. "I'm MI6, but I am 6's
liaison for the US. So I regularly work with the NSA, CIA, FBI
"Oh right," Danny replied feeling more at ease again. "So can you think of anyone that would want to hurt Mr. Donavan?"
"Both parties that are involved in the intel he's working on," Megan replied sadly.
"And they are?" Martin prompted.
Megan lowered her voice and leaned towards Danny. "The Russian mob and what we believe is a terrorist group in the Middle East. Look I can't explain everything here, it's-" Megan looked around. "It's too exposed. I will pop down to the fed building if you want and give you his file."
That was four months ago. Danny smiled at the memories of their first twenty-four hours together. She was one hell of intimidating interrogator switching into a different language at a drop of a hat. When the apprehending a suspect, she was scarily calm; asking the suspect to please move so she could shoot him. Maybe it was this element of danger and mystery that surrounded her that had made her so appealing. What he would give to walk into his apartment right now to find Megan dressed in one of his shirts, the material skimming her beautiful, toned legs, but that wouldn't happen as she was probably sitting in some ditch in Siberia. Leaning on the doorframe, Danny closed his eyes as he slowly opened the door.
Stepping into his apartment, he opened his eyes and blinked a couple of times; he had to be dreaming.
"I see Quantico didn't fail you on your observation skills," Megan said as she walked over and wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his stubbled cheek. "So how's the bureau been treating while I was away – by the look of things, not that well."
"Hey I resent that," Danny said as he wrapped his arms around her hips. "What about you?"
"Well while you were saving the world in New York. I was sitting in a freezing cold ditch in Siberia, waiting for the Russian mob to get bored or greedy. During this time, due to convert issues, lighting a fire was impossible," Megan said as she buried her face into Danny's chest. "I missed you Danny, I really did."
"Baby, a few seconds ago I was standing outside dreaming that you were going to be here. I feel like I have walked into one of my dreams," Danny said as he wearily rested his head on her shoulder. "I missed you so much. Being with you has made me realise how much I hate coming home to my cold, empty apartment." He felt Megan running her fingers through his hair and rubbing his back, he could feel the tension of the last few days slowly ebb from his body.
Megan smiled and pulled Danny closer, she totally understood what he was saying. After days, even weeks sometimes of convert operations, she hated being alone. But Danny was different. He knew she couldn't talk about her work half the time and some of the time she just didn't want to talk about it. But Danny was so understanding, their relationship was so strong that they could spend hours in silence enjoying each others company as easily as they could talk for hours on end.
"Why don't you hit the shower, while I grab us something to eat."
"But… but," Danny protested. "You've been in Siberia for a week eating nothing. Let me get the food while you relax."
"Hey," Megan said as stroked his cheek. "I think my energy can extend to picking up the phone and calling for a take out."
"Ok, but you choose," Danny said looking at Megan with concern. She didn't carry any fat as it was, but she looked as though she had lost some weight. But he guessed that's what sitting in sub zero conditions, eating virtually nothing did to you.
Megan looked into Danny's concern filled eyes. "It's one shitty aspect of my job," Megan said. "Like your job, my job is full of a lot of god awful events but there is one event that's so great that it keeps you going through the darkest hours of the job."
Danny produced a smile and hugged Megan tightly. "You're the best you know that?"
"Apparently I have too much of a problem with authority to ever become top dog at 6, but many people think I should be," Megan said with a smirked, knowing what Danny was referring to. "I guess we would make the best team, as you're the best as well."
Danny held Megan for a moment longer before he started to move towards the bathroom. "I don't want any of that healthily shit on my pizza."
Megan smirked. They almost knew what each other was thinking. "I was thinking, no cheese, grilled veg and low carbs organic tomato sauce," Megan said as she tried to keep a straight face as Danny turned around.
Megan laughed, "I'm joking. Can you see me eating that? So extra cheese and tons of meat."
An hour later, Megan lay in Danny's arms. "Danny, u-mm tomorrow-"
Danny froze. He'd been so caught up with Megan's return that he had almost forgotten about going to the game with his brother.
She turned around to face him, "I'm really sorry but I have to go a CIA debriefing tomorrow. I was too knackered to do it today."
Danny ran his fingers through her hair, feeling guilty that he should be enjoying himself while she was at a CIA debrief. "It's ok, baby," Danny paused. "Tomorrow I am going to the Mets game with my brother and a couple of his friends – I hope you don't mind."
Megan found herself grinning; she knew how difficult it had been for Danny to reconnect with his past. She knew he thought his past brought up many painful memories, she knew he thought the past should remain were it belonged – in the past. "Why would I mind? That's great, Danny. I'm so happy for you," Megan said as she hugged him. "I really mean that Danny, it's great. Enjoy yourself and don't rush home after the game if you don't want to."
"You really mean that?"
"Of course I do, what kind of person would I be if I didn't allow you to see your family?" Megan said as she returned her previous position of lying in Danny's arms.
Danny kissed the top of her head as he realised just how lucky he was to be with a girl like Megan. He just hoped nothing would come in-between them.
Rafi stood nervously outside of his car waiting for Danny to turn up. Between thinking he had seen his father again and spending time with Danny, he had barely slept due to nerves. He watched as Danny's car pulled into the parking lot and beside.
"So the girlfriend let you out for the day," Rafi joked.
"By the skin of my teeth and I have a curfew," Danny bantered. "Nah she's gotta work and she's really happy for me."
"Is this girl 'the one'," Rafi asked.
"I don't know bro, I don't. But I would like to think that she is," Danny replied. "Anyway shall I meet your friends and then watch the Mets kick ass."
Three hours later, Danny walked out of the stadium on a wave of ecstasy. The Mets had just thrashed the Cubs 5 - 2. He turned to see Rafi look suitably subdued. Danny worried about his brother, he knew his brother had taken the brunt of the abuse from their father and like him he had turned to addiction to drown the nightmares. He just hoped he wasn't the cause of his brother's depressed mood – thinking that he had already done enough damage.
"Rafi what's the matter?" Danny asked his voice full of concern.
Rafi heard his brother speak; he heard the concern in his voice. But he didn't need to trouble his brother with this matter that could just he a figment of his imagination. "Nothing Danny, it's nothing."
"Bullshit Rafi, we're brothers. You can tell me, maybe I can help. I was up my own ass before, I won't judge you now," Danny said hoping that he could get Rafi to open up. He really didn't want Rafi to screw his life up again.
Rafi looked at his brother only see concern, he knew Danny wouldn't judge him. But Danny had enough pressure from his job. He didn't need to be waylaid with his problems as well. "It's nothing, Danny; I'm just worried about my kids." Rafi turned away and thought for a moment. "Hey Danny promise me if anything happens you will look after Sylvia, Nicky and Danielle."
"Of course I will. You don't even have to ask me. Rafi please tell me what the hell is happening. Whether it's through the badge or the street kid in me, I can help you. I want to help you," Danny pleaded.
Rafi laid his hands on Danny's shoulders. "It's nothing Danny I promise," Rafi said wincing as he saw the pain in his brother's eyes. "Anyway I've got to get back to the kids and you have to get back to that beautiful girlfriend of yours."
"Danny, it's nothing I promise, see you later," Rafi said as he turned and started to walk towards his car.
Danny stood in the parking lot. He knew he wasn't going to get any information out of Rafi tonight. Maybe he would arrange a 'friendly' lunch with Rafi, Sylvia, himself and Megan. Megan could help find out what the hell was going on with Rafi. Sighing Danny turned and walked towards his car. He hoped that Megan had finished with the CIA when he got home.
Rafi got into his car and closed his eyes; he rubbed his face before he placed the keys into the ignition, not noticing the person that sat in the shadows. He watched as Danny's car left the parking lot and gave a friendly wave. He sat there for a few moments as he gathered his thoughts. He didn't notice the knife until he felt the cold steel against his throat. He slowly moved his eyes to the rear view mirror and froze.
"Well, well you remember me," Marco Alvarez replied. "Now where is that brat of your brother?"
Rafi could feel beads of sweat running down his back, but he couldn't tell this bastard of their father where Danny was. He was Danny's big brother it was his duty to protect his baby brother. "I have no idea," Rafi said as he prayed that their father hadn't seen Danny.
"Where is Danny?" Marco said as he pushed the knife into Rafi's, just hard enough to draw a little blood.
"I don't know were Danny is I haven't seen him since we were kids," Rafi replied wincing as he felt the knife. He felt the knife being moved from his throat but before he could react, he felt a sharp pain as his father brought the handle of the knife sharply down on his head. He just remained conscious long enough to see his father laugh before everything when black.