TITLE: The Road
KEYWORDS: MS, Alternate Universe
ARCHIVE: It will be posting simultaneously at and
THANKS: To every single one of you who reads my fics and more so to the ones who review. Thank you!
SPECIAL THANKS: To Spyglass for all her hard beta work. Thanks for catching/correcting all my many grammatical errors and most particularly, thanks for helping keep this fic on track.
DISCLAIMER: Hank and Co. own everything Without a Trace. No copyright infringement is intended. Heaven knows if I had any control over the show I wouldn't have to write at all.
SUMMARY: Do the decisions we make change the course of our lives forever or are some paths destined to intersect?
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled. And that has made all the difference." – Robert Frost, 'The Road Not Taken'
Samantha sat at her desk and leaned back in her chair. She brought her Starbucks cup up to her lips, savoring the taste of her cappuccino. It was one of those rare days were her reports were up to date, the white board was clear, and at this moment no one was in missing in the state of New York that required their services. She intended to enjoy every minute of it.
"Don't get too comfy chica," Elena said aloud. Sam looked over and eyed her best friend and fellow agent sitting at her desk. Elena pointed in the direction of Jack's office and said, "El jefe is headed in our direction and you know what that means."
Sam smiled at Elena's nickname for Jack as she looked over just in time to see him exit his office, file in hand. Both women had worked with him long enough to recognize the signs of a new case.
"It was nice while it lasted," she lamented with a heavy sigh. She took a long drink of her coffee before standing up and walking over to the conference table and joined Elena as they waited for Jack to debrief them on the case.
She heard some light laughter filter down the hall and watched as Louis Flynn and Mike Eakman met up with Jack in the hallway. Louis Flynn had worked with Jack longer than anyone else on the team. He was tall and lanky with salt and pepper hair and a goofy, crooked smile. She knew that his friendship was very important to Jack. They had seen each other through huge milestones in their lives: between them they had three divorces, four kids, five OPR investigations, and innumberable cases.
Mike on the other hand, had only been with the team for about a year. He was medium height with a perfect smile and thick, dark curly hair. He was undeniably handsome but he knew it too. He was the Casanova of the FBI; secretaries, rookie agents, and even members of the cleaning crew were not spared from his pursuits. When he first joined the unit, he hit on both her and Elena but seeing he had a snowball's chance in hell, both women swearing not to mix the professional, he eventually gave up and became a good friend to the two women. Plus, his exploits provided them with a lot of amusing anecdotes as well as cautionary tales.
The three men entered the bullpen and Jack quickly said, "Recess is over kids, time to get back to work." Jack smiled at the bemused groans of the team as Louis and Mike joined her at the table. He stood at the head of the table and handed a photograph to Samantha. "Meet Fiona Rogers."
She took the photo and studied it. Staring back at her was a young woman in her late twenties with short brown hair, big green eyes, and an intense look of concentration on her face. She handed the photo to Elena and asked, "Who reported her missing?"
"Julie Harris, her supervisor at EcoCause," he replied, opening up his file. "She's a lobbyist with their firm. Mrs. Harris reported that the last time she talked to Fiona was on Tuesday afternoon when Fiona was on her way to have lunch with Martin Fitzgerald."
Sam cocked an eyebrow and asked, "Senator Martin Fitzgerald?"
"One and the same," he replied with a nod. "We all know his father is Director Victor Fitzgerald but do you know much else about him?"
"Not really," she replied. "He's young but one of the few Senators who is welcomed on both sides of the aisle. His main passions are environmental issues. He's been in the news a lot lately since he was appointed as head of a committee on an investigation into oil drilling in Alaska."
"You sound like a fan," Mike teased, his eyebrows waggling. "Is Samantha Spade a senatorial groupie?"
Sam rolled her eyes. "Just an informed citizen."
"I'm surprised you voted for a Republican," Elena commented, sharing a bemused look and laugh along with Mike.
"I vote for the best candidate. Besides he represented a cause close to my heart," she replied as a small, proud smile crossed her lips. Looking over at Jack, she added, "He's the one who helped Brian Owen with the lawsuit against Wyland Industries."
"Who's Brian Owen?" Mike asked.
"He was a paparazzi photographer who went missing person back in 2004," Samantha explained. "He became involved with an environmental group known as Planet Rescue. He discovered that Wyland Industries was dumping silica and heavy metals into their foundry. It was linked to cancer cases in Ashton." She remembered the case well; she had never felt so helpless at the injustice of it all. "He managed to get a photograph of Hugo Wyland with his mistress. The photo then led to a divorce and exposing him for the sleaze we know him to be. Once the scandal broke it also opened the doors for the people of the town to file a lawsuit." She took a breath and looked up at Jack. "It makes sense that Fitzgerald would be meeting with someone from EcoCause."
"When can we talk to him?" Mike asked.
"I called his office and his lawyers are already circling the wagons," Jack replied, sounding annoyed but not surprised. "They insist on being there when we talk to him. I managed to get an eleven a.m. meeting and his lawyer made it sound like I should be grateful to get an audience." He checked his watch before adding, "Also, considering the high profile nature of the case we should be prepared to deal with Van Doren or Olcyzk 'checking in' on our case."
"Are you asking us to tread carefully so we don't piss them off?" Louis asked as he took the photo from Samantha.
Jack smirked. "I just said be prepared. I didn't say anything about being careful not to do it."
The team shared a light laugh and knowing smiles. They all knew that Jack Malone had never shied away from pissing people off – particularly the bureau higher ups.
He looked directly at Louis and Elena and said, "I'd like you two to go check out Fiona's apartment. You know the drill. Mike, I want you to check up on her financials and phone history," he looked over at Samantha and said, "Sam, since you know a little more about the senator you're coming with me to talk to him."
"I wouldn't say I know that much, Jack," she replied, feeling slightly uncomfortable with being known as the authority on the senator. "I just voted for him."
"Still more than me," he quipped.
"All right," she breathed. She gave a reluctant nod as she stood up and started following after Jack.
"Hey, Sam," Mike called back. "You'll need this."
She turned to look at him as he handed her a sheet of paper. She stared at the blank page and asked, "What's this for?"
He grinned. "Well, you're going to want to get his autograph aren't you?"
She narrowed her eyes at him, crumpled up the piece of paper into a ball and threw it at Mike's head before she turned and followed Jack out.
She met up with Jack at the elevator. "It's only nine, why are we heading out now?"
The doors slid open and as they boarded he replied, "I want to stop by EcoCause first and see what her supervisor can tell us."
Thirty minutes later they exited another elevator and entered the EcoCause offices. The receptionist directed them down the hall to the office of Julie Harris, Fiona's supervisor.
After the obligatory introductions, they sat down opposite her and began conducting their interview.
Observing Julie Harris, Sam surmised that she was a woman of about fifty years old, who bore the look of a woman who was once a radical hippie back in the day. Her attire was all business but hung too loose on her thin frame and was accentuated with large, clunky jewelry. Sam thought she was a woman who preferred wearing jean and hemp tops so she over compensated and the end result had the opposite desired effect.
"Fiona was one of the most ambitious lobbyists in the business," Julie said, pulling Sam out of her internal profiling. "It was a real coup when I was able to lure her away from the NRDC."
Sam raised an eyebrow and asked, "A coup?"
"She's a closer," Julie explained with a wry smile. "She's one of the best in the field at securing votes and getting bills passed."
Jack nodded thoughtfully and asked, "What makes you think Fiona is missing and didn't just take off somewhere?"
Julie gave him a perturbed look and, with restrained irritation, she responded, "I don't understand, I already went over this with the police."
"I know it's frustrating but it helps for us to hear it firsthand," Sam interjected, her tone soft but professional.
Julie studied Sam for a beat before nodding. Leaning back in her chair she breathed, "I grew worried about Fiona when she didn't return from lunch. She generally takes longer lunches than most when she is meeting with a donor or someone of importance but she always comes back and lets me know how it went." She met Jack's eyes and pointedly added, "Always."
"You told the police that she was having lunch with Senator Fitzgerald the last time you talked to her," Jack said, leaning back into his chair. "Do you know why?"
"No, I was actually surprised to hear about it," Julie thoughtfully replied. She tilted her head to the side and proudly added, "But getting one-on-one face time with a senator is a rare treat so it was a pleasant surprise. Particularly since he is chairing a committee involved in key legislation regarding fuel emissions policy."
Sam nodded and jotted the information into her notebook. She looked up at Julie and asked, "What can you tell us about her private life?"
Julie shrugged. "Not much, we don't socialize outside of the office."
"Do you know if she has a boyfriend?" Jack asked.
"I honestly don't know if she was seeing anyone…" Julie trailed off, before stopping and pursing her lips.
Sensing her hesitation, Sam watched as Jack pressed her. "If you know anything, anything at all, you need to tell us if you want to help us find Fiona."
Julie swallowed and shook her head before carefully replying, "She never said anything to me but I was under the impression she was seeing someone. I overheard her talking on the phone last week…"
Julie walked down the hallway, carrying an envelope in her hand. Smiling at some of the staff as she passed, she stopped at a door marked: Fiona Rogers. She poised her fist mid-air as she prepared to knock when she heard Fiona talking on her phone.
"No, I don't understand," Fiona's voice argued. "I'm doing everything I can but it isn't easy. I can only do so much."
Julie hesitated, unsure if she should be listening before deciding to continue. She leaned in closer to the door, pressing her ear to the cool wood.
Behind the door Fiona's voice increased in desperation. "But what about me? What about what I need?" She grew quiet and Julie knew that she was listening to whatever the person on the other end of the line was saying when suddenly Fiona spoke again, her voice soft and sad, "I know you have other commitments but I need to see you."
Julie began to move back, suddenly growing a conscience and realizing how intimate the conversation was that she was overhearing when Fiona raised her voice and icily said, "Yeah, well, you better give that some hard thought because you don't want to cross me." There was a short pause when Fiona suddenly blurted, "What will I do? I just might expose you for the fraud you are that's what I will do."
She heard Fiona slam the phone down so Julie began to nervously step away when the door swung open.
Fiona looked as startled as she felt but quickly composed herself. "Julie, hello." She glanced anxiously at the desk as she smoothed imaginary wrinkles on her skirt. "Is there something I can do for you?"
Deciding to play it cool and act as if she didn't overhear anything she replied, "I just wanted to give you this." She handed Fiona the envelope. "There's a fundraiser on Saturday at the Museum of Natural History. I thought you should be the one to go since I've been assured a lot of contacts will be there."
Studying the envelope, Fiona replied, "Yeah, of course." She looked up and added, "You know me, I'll have all those politicians and philanthropists signing blank checks by the end of the night."
Smiling, Julie replied, "Know it? I'm counting on it."
"I know it was wrong to eavesdrop but, well, sometimes you get carried away with curiosity," Julie rationalized.
Smiling her most non-judgmental smile, Sam asked, "Did you ever find out whom she was seeing?"
Shaking her head, she replied, "No but I suspected that whoever it was might be married."
Looking up from his notes, Jack asked, "What makes you think that?"
Julie frowned. "If he was single why would he be threatened with exposure?"
Sam shared a look with Jack as he answered, "That's an excellent question."