(Disclaimer: I don't own WAT or any of the characters or any of the companies to do with above. I am not consulted by the show or any of the people involved in the show – even though at times I wish that I were. This is a completely fictional piece of work. All of the place names are real, none of the people bear any resemblance to anyone I know of in real life.)

Hope you enjoy

PROLOGUE:

He opened the door to his apartment and set his bags just inside on the floor. Turning, he closed the door, locked it, flicked on the light and hung his keys up. After the mechanics of arriving home were complete, he leaned back against the door, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Opening his eyes he took in the sight of the apartment he had left a week ago. The air smelled a little stale. Despite the crisp late winter air outside he'd let a little in to freshen the place up. Otherwise, the only indication that his apartment had been empty for a week was the stack of mail, correction; stacks of mail Sam had collected and brought in for him each day. Looking at the stacks that covered his table he grimaced, definitely not tonight.

Thirty minutes later, showered, changed, bags unpacked he grabbed a glass of juice from the fridge, at least that hadn't gone bad yet and sat down on his couch. Exhaustion etched every line of his face. He stretched his legs out in front of him and closed his eyes as he tried to grasp all that had happened in the past week, or more to the point, what hadn't happened and now would never happen.

The evening shadows moved across the room slowly as time wore on. The figure on the couch didn't move, lost in his silent reflection of conversations had, those not had, conversations imagined and planned but now would never be. This silent, internal soliloquy was interrupted by the shrilling jangle of the phone. Deciding that he wasn't up for another sympathetic message, another, "I'm so sorry, If there's anything I can do," he opted to let the machine pick it up.

After five rings the answering machine clicked on, "Hi, you've reached Martin. Sorry I'm not available. Leave a message, and I'll call you as soon as I'm able. Have a good day." The requisite tone sounded and then there was silence for about three seconds then the voice began: "Martin…Martin…Marty, Marty, Marty Martin. I know you're there. I know you're home. If home is where the heart is, then where do you go? Where there's no heart, there's no home. I'm coming for you. I'm coming soon."

Click. The answering machine dutifully recorded the message unaware if it was from friend or foe and not caring in the least. Martin didn't move. He continued his frozen position on the couch. It wasn't that he didn't hear the message. It wasn't that the message particularly frightened him. It was more that he was beyond caring…

CHAPTER 1:

"Morning Martin."

"Morning, Elena."

"Martin, welcome back. We've missed you."

"Thanks, Viv. I appreciate that. I didn't get a chance to thank you and Marcus for making the trip that meant a lot to me."

"We wanted to be there, wanted you to know we were thinking of you."

Nodding again he made his way to his desk. Wading through the stacks of emails, phone calls and additional well wishers and sympathy expressions he failed to note the arrival of Jack, Sam and Danny. Seeing him thoroughly engrossed in catching up on his back log they in turn let him be until Jack appeared folder in hand and called the team to order.

"Lynn Benway, age 32, mother of two, left her house yesterday evening to go to her part-time job as a medical records transcriptionist. She hasn't been seen or heard from since.

Viv, Elena, I need you to go and interview the family. Danny and I are going to go to the hospital to interview her co-workers. Sam, Martin, I need you to get going on the phone, financial records and her address book, start calling her friends and get them in here for interviews."

With that, Jack, Danny, Vivian and Elena headed out, leaving Sam and Martin in the office to begin the search through the records.

7:00 p.m. MPU Office

After nine hours Lynn Benway had been found. Nothing spectacular, no great mystery; just the victim of a random mugging gone awry. The streets and parking lots around St. Vincent's Hospital were known for frequent attacks and this time it had been Lynn Benway. Unfortunately for her, her family and co-workers this story ended in tragedy. She was found in a dumpster, her throat slit, her watch, wedding ring, and $27.00 dollars and credit card were stolen.

The quick closure of the case was no comfort to the family who had lost a mother and wife. For the team, all that remained was the business of closing up the case and heading home.

"Martin, wait a minute." Danny jogged a few steps to catch up to Martin who was just entering the elevator.

"I…just wanted to say that it's good to have you back."

"Thanks, Danny. It's good to be back…I always think that sounds so dumb when people say that, but the truth is, after awhile, you just want to find normal again."

"Yeah, whatever that is. Anyway, I…I'm glad you're back."

"Thanks…"

"Hey, hold the elevator, please." Sam rushed up, gave Danny a quick smile good night and stepped in as Martin held the door.

"See you tomorrow."

The doors closed and the elevator started down. Both Sam and Martin stood in silence as the elevator clicked off the flights until it reached the garage. Once there, Martin walked Sam to her car before turning toward his.

"Hey, Martin."

"Sam, thanks for getting the mail and collecting all of it. I appreciate that."

"Yeah, I wish I could have done more. I…you'll call me if you need anything?"

"Yeah…I'm not using if that's what you're worried about."

"I didn't think you were, but yeah, I'd be a fool if I didn't think the stress might be a factor."

"You're not a fool, Sam. I'm sorry. I'm just really tired. I just want to get home and get some sleep."

Sighing Sam sat in the driver's seat of her car and watched as Martin walked away.

8:00 p.m. Martin's Apartment (outside)

Martin was juggling a bag of groceries, dry cleaning, his briefcase, the mail and the keys to his apartment when his cell phone rang.

"Damn," Martin uttered as his keys, mail and briefcase hit the floor while he tried to slip his cell phone from his coat pocket.

"Hello," Martin spoke through his gritted teeth as they were being employed to grip the hangers of his dry cleaning having run out of hands and shoulders to carry all the items.

"Martin, it's Jack."

"Hey, hang on a second, let me get inside and put stuff down."

Back at the MPU office Malone sat behind his desk and continued jotting notes in a folder while listening to the muffled sounds coming through the speaker phone of Martin unlocking his apartment and opening the door. The sound of rustling paper bespoke the settling of whatever the 'stuff' was that Martin needed to put down.

"Sorry 'bout that, caught me just as I was getting home and trying to carry too much at one time."

"Yeah, I know the feeling. Listen, we have a meeting with Van Doren in the morning about…"

Jack stopped speaking as he heard the sound of Martin's startled exclamation coming through the phone. He jumped slightly at the clattering of Martin's cell phone hitting what was likely the floor and then the distinctive sounds of struggling, crashing and fighting collided together and reached his ears via the speakerphone.

"Martin! Martin! What's going on!"

His shouts were met with nothing but the continued crashing, and he was certain he could hear strangled sounds of someone trying to breathe. Jack's mind imagined the worst as it created a scenario of someone strangling Martin.

Keeping his office line open he grabbed his cell, dialed 911, identified himself and got confirmation of all available units being sent to Martin's address to respond to a federal agent in need, assault in progress.

Torn between wanting to run out of the office and head immediately to Martin's and not wanting to leave the tangible link to his agent, he stayed where he was frustrated at only hearing the sounds of someone being strangled and not being able to do anything more.

After what seemed like an hour but in reality was less than three minutes he heard a different sound in the background. Another voice sounded across the telephone speaker. Jack wasn't able to make out the words, but he heard shouting, more crashing and then footsteps thudding close by and then fading away. All was silent except for the struggled gasps for air of someone Jack was certain, was Martin.

"Martin! Martin! Is there anyone there? Somebody talk to me!"

"Hello…hold on…let me find a light…Oh my God, Mr. Fitzgerald, are you all right? What happened, who was that?"

"Pick up the phone!" Jack was beyond angry now and cursed that he had called Martin on his office phone and not his cell, but he was loath to cut the connection.

"Hello, who is this?"

"This is Jack Malone, I'm Martin's boss. Who is this?"

"I – I'm one of the maintenance guys here. I was fixing some of the hall lights, and I heard a commotion, and I came down to check it out and –"

"I've got police and rescue on their way there right now. How is Martin; is he hurt? Can you give him the phone?"

"Here, Mr. Fitzgerald, it's your boss."

"Jack."

Jack winced as he heard Martin's damaged throat constrict around his name.

"Martin, I've got police and rescue on their way. I'm on my way. I'll be right there."

When nothing but the rasping for air met his ears, Jack grabbed his coat, keys and cell and ran from the office.

8:30 p.m. Martin's apartment

Jack parked haphazardly behind all the other emergency personnel that were arrayed outside Martin's building. He flashed his ID and ran up the stairs. On the drive over he had called Vivian since she lived the closest, and he wasn't surprised to see her entering Martin's apartment just in front of him.

Inside he stopped short. There was a bag of some groceries just inside the room, milk and orange juice mixing on the floor while, ridiculously, a dozen eggs sat neatly in their container, lid flipped opened, not one smashed. Continuing to take in the scene Jack saw dry cleaning bags in a crumpled pile, apartment keys dropped on a side table at the entrance, Martin's briefcase half under the sofa peeking out from the back. On the floor was the shattered remnants of a lamp and the glass in a couple of photographs were smashed on the wall where bodies had evidently hit hard in the struggle Jack had heard.

Continuing through the apartment Jack stopped at the table just before the kitchen and saw the piles of mail neatly sorted. Several large piles of what could only be sympathy cards lay unopened and Jack shook his head sadly at the losses recently inflicted upon Martin and now this. He stopped his musing as he heard Vivian's soft voice speak Martin's name with deep concern. He resumed his pace and entered the kitchen in time to see the paramedics beginning to close up their cases.

Martin sat in a chair with an ice pack on the side of his face that didn't fully cover the bruising that was rapidly developing from his left eye down to his lip. He had butterfly stitches on a cut over the same eye, there was blood on the collar and front of his once white shirt that was also torn but what shook Jack fully was the swelling and redness at Martin's throat. He walked straight to his agent, squatted down next to him and peered intently at his throat. After staring for several seconds he raised his eyes and met Martin's square on. Someone had taken a wire and tried to throttle him. Judging from the bruising, blood and depth of the impression, they had come awful close.

"We'd like to take him in for further treatment, but he's refusing to come." One of the paramedics was speaking to Vivian, perhaps hoping she would be able to persuade the obviously injured and shocky man to rethink his original refusal.

"No, I'm fine. Thank you." The words were little more than breathy whispers as the area around Martin's throat was damaged but Jack and Vivian heard the stubborn will behind them.

"We'll take it from here. Thank you very much for your assistance. I'll make sure he sees his doctor in the morning." Vivian's tone brooked no resistance. She was not only a federal agent but a mother as well and she fully intended to make certain Martin saw his physician. She locked her eyes with his and waited until his acquiesced. Satisfied she grabbed a chair and sat down.

11:00 p.m. Martin's apartment

Sighing with relief, Martin closed and locked his apartment door finally alone. He crunched through the broken glass of the lamp and headed for the bathroom. A hot shower to clean off the day's grime and steam some tension out of aching muscles was in order.

On the other side of the door Jack nodded at the agents assigned to the detail of guarding Martin for the rest of the night and walked down the hall. He flipped open his cell phone and sent a quick message. He arranged for the message to be delivered at 5:30 a.m. He knew Paula Van Doren was an early riser and the delivery should reach her before the first news account did, at least he hoped so. He wanted to brief her about this event before anyone else did, and he wanted her briefed before their meeting with Martin.

As he reached the front entrance he noted how calm and neat everything appeared and out front of the building he realized that none of the chaos remained of his arrival a couple of hours ago except for the crooked parking of his car with his hazards still flashing.

Jack had sent Vivian home about an hour after her arrival. She left only after extracting another promise from Martin that he would, indeed, see his doctor. Jack stayed through the giving of the police reports and watched as the forensic team fingerprinted the entrance way of the apartment. Martin hadn't seen much of his attacker as he had been hit from behind and the attacker had been behind him while attempting to strangle him. He was able to give a general build based on his impressions, and he was fairly certain the man had been masked.

The maintenance man, Martin's rescuer, confirmed that the man had been dressed head to toe in black, a ski mask covered his face allowing only his eyes to peak through, fingerprints were lifted but no one believed anything out of the ordinary would be found.

Jack had arranged for agents to guard Martin's door all night and, after he assured the Captain who had responded to the scene that Martin would come to the station the next day and give a formal statement and reminding Martin of his 8:00 o'clock appointment with Van Doren and himself, he left. Twisting Martin's arm into taking the rest of tomorrow off would come in the morning when Sam, Danny and Elena were there along with Viv to ensure that there was enough support to keep Martin out of the office.

Climbing into his car he headed for his own home and a few hours of sleep. The rest of the team would be upset that they hadn't been notified immediately but that would wait until the morning. He needed some sleep.

Martin needed sleep also but found it difficult. After he showered, he fixed a cup of tea and put some honey in it that seemed to go down his throat all right. He swept up the ruined lamp and took the pictures off the wall and gingerly extracted the glass from the frames. Setting them to the side to be finished later he glanced again at the stacks of cards and decided he was just too tired. Putting the empty mug in the dishwasher he crawled into bed, flipped off the light and closed his eyes to sleep.

Sleep did come but it was not the quiet, deep, restful sleep he needed. Instead his mind churned with disturbing flashes of a dark road, bright lights of an 18-wheeler and the screech of brakes, crashing and ripping of metal, horrible screams and through it all he heard a disturbing and disembodied voice call to him "Marty, Marty."

Lunging from the tangled bed covers Martin's hand went to his throat as he gasped for air. He was certain he was being choked again. His hand hit the light and he took in his room. He was alone, no one was there. Gasping for air and trying to shake off the disquieting dreams he looked at the clock, 2:00 a.m.

Knowing that sleep was not going to come he got up from bed, grabbed a glass of water and headed to the living room. Grabbing a handful of mail from the table on his way he sat down and began opening the cards.

He looked at the first one and gulped as he realized just how hard this was going to be.

"In Sympathy" the cover was simple enough. Opening the first card he saw that it was blank, good, he hated the platitudes that were inside canned cards. Instead there was a handwritten note.

"Martin, I'm so sorry to hear about the death of your mother and father. I worked with your father for many years and my wife and I had the pleasure of knowing your parents both in a business and social setting as we all shared similar interests. I know how proud your father was of your accomplishments in the FBI and of you as a man, and Carol and I are so sorry that you have lost them both in such a tragic accident. We feel an even deeper remorse knowing that they were driving on that road that night heading to a weekend getaway based on our recommendation of the place.

I wish I had more words to say how badly we feel for you and for the loss in our lives as well. I know it is trite, but Carol and I truly want you to know that if there is anything you ever need or if you ever want to hear some stories of your dad and mom, we hope you will contact us. We'd love to share our memories of your parents with you.

Our best wishes and sincere sympathy,

Charles and Carol Goodwin"

Martin blinked back the tears that filled his eyes as he finished the first card. This was going to be just as hard as he had imagined perhaps harder. Setting that card aside he reached for another; opened it and began to read.

TBC…