The FBI's main office complex at Federal Plaza is a daunting building to negotiate if you know it well. It's even more imposing to the uninitiated, but Amelia Parker knew she had no choice. Her father was missing and the NYPD weren't interested in looking for him. To be perfectly honest if he'd been missing on his own she might not have bothered to look for him, but Mikey, his 14 year old foster son was also missing. Her father worked with troubled kids, troubled boys in particular. Mikey was his latest.
Her mother had been killed in a car wreck when she was only 10. That's when her life changed. She and her mother had always been very close. His own mother had died in childbirth. He'd been raised by his father and with few women in his life; he didn't know how to handle having a daughter. He wasn't an unkind man; he just found it easier to cope if he kept her at arms length. That didn't change with her mother's death, if anything their distance grew. He was lost when his wife died, to cope he poured himself into his work. As a social worker, he'd been fostering and mentoring boys for as long as she could remember. He devoted most of his time and energy into the kids he was working with, Amelia was just along for the ride.
There'd been a long parade of troubled, abused or homeless boys over the years. Most of them she got along with, some not. She never forgot one boy her father took in almost three years after her mother died. He was a year older than Amelia, his name was Danny Alvarez. He'd lost his parents in an accident when he was 11. Danny lived with his older brother Rafi, who had a long history of problems with the law. Danny had gotten into some trouble himself and the judge gave him a choice, an after school program, her father helped with or juvenile detention.
Danny came to stay with Amelia and her father when his brother Rafi went to county lock up for a short 'vacation'. He may have been a foster kid on paper, but he was much more to Amelia in her heart. She'd thought about him from time to time over the years, but since her father and Mikey disappeared, he'd been in her thoughts daily. She couldn't understand why.
Amelia had filed a report with the NYPD, but the detective she spoke to hardly put his coffee down long enough to write down any details. "A grown man and a runaway?" he rolled his eyes. He made her feel like she was wasting his time. She could see him switch off as soon as she'd said Mikey was a ward of the court. "Face it sweetheart," he smiled leaning back in his chair, his desk piled high with case files and Styrofoam coffee cups, "The kid's done a runner and your old man is probably lying on a beach in Cabo taking well deserved break. It happens all the time. You said his car is gone right?" He didn't wait for her to answer. "Well don't worry your pretty little head too much, he'll be home soon."
Patronizing bastard! She thought to herself as she rode the elevator up to the FBI's Missing Persons Unit. She'd seen them on the news a number of times, but after her reception at the NYPD she didn't think the FBI would consider her father and Mikey's disappearance to be high profile enough for them to investigate. She tried searching on her own but after five days she was running out of options and hope.
She gathered the little information she had and ran the gauntlet at the federal building. She held her papers close to her chest. Her footsteps sounding loud as her heels announced her arrival. Her mother's Cuban heritage showed in Amelia's long dark brown hair and huge brown eyes. Her flawless olive complexion meant that even in the depths of a New York winter she looked as if she'd just stepped off of a beach. She'd dressed in a simple red pencil skirt and light blouse, the New York summer was just beginning.
The moderness of the building surprised her. She'd always pictured federal offices as old and dingy with bad fluorescent lighting and outdated office equipment. What greeted her was the exact opposite. Clean modern lines, light wooden walls and lots of glass and natural light. Every desk was equipped with one or more computers that looked like they'd just come from Microsoft's test lab.
There was a bustle of activity as she got off of the elevator. People were hurrying around, more than one of them with a gun or an empty holster at their waist. She walked up to the reception desk. There was a young woman in a business suit sitting behind it.
"Can I help you?" she asked. Amelia noticed her ID badge said intern.
"My father and his foster son are missing." Amelia said quietly.
"Have you reported them missing to the NYPD?" she asked. She sounded bored.
"Well yes, but they won't help me." Amelia was afraid that she wasn't going to get help here either. "The detective said Mikey probably ran away and my dad is taking a vacation. But I'm sure there's more to it…" she shook her head. "My dad doesn't take vacations."
"Well there's a first time for everything." The intern sighed, "Has an agent contacted you?"
"No, I don't think any of them know that they are missing yet." Amelia said. She was startled by laughter behind her. She looked over her shoulder to see a man and a woman getting off of the elevator. She was tall and blonde, her long hair in a pony tail. He was tall and handsome with light brown hair that had a hint of a curl at the ends. He caught her eye and smiled his beautiful blue eyes crinkling at the corners as his grin spread.
Amelia found herself smiling back but there was still fear in her dark brown eyes. "Sorry." She turned back to the intern.
"Fill this out." The intern handed her a form. "Give it back when you're done and someone will be in touch."
"Do you have any idea when?" Amelia asked looking at the rather simple piece of paper.
"No as soon as an agent is available someone will be in touch." the intern sighed, "You can use that table." She dismissed Amelia.
Feeling lost, aggravated and ignored she turned and not seeing him she ran straight into the man with the beautiful blue eyes, all of her papers dropping to the floor and scattering.
"Oh I'm sorry." Amelia was startled. She knelt to retrieve her papers scattering them further in her embarrassment.
"No problem here let me help you." He said gently and helped her gather her papers.
"I… thank you." She said softly. She was about to burst into tears. Pull yourself together! She thought to herself. She put her hand over her eyes quickly before drawing a breath and standing up. "Thank you." She said shakily.
"Are you alright?" he asked her with concern.
"Not exactly" She looked up into his eyes and she was struck by how kind they were. "My father and his foster son have been missing for nearly a week and no one seems to give a damn."
"I'm Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald." he said. "Why don't you come with me and I'll see what we can do."
Always wary of people she looked at him, she couldn't explain it, but she knew she could trust him. "Thank you." She nodded and he led her down a corridor with high glass walls.
She looked at him discreetly as they walked. He was dressed in well tailored suit, Brooks Brothers she guessed. "In here." He smiled as he opened a door and ushered her into a small room with a table and several chairs.
"Have a seat" he offered her a chair. He took the one next to her and pulled a little notebook from his inside pocket. Clicking his pen, he smiled at her "Now why don't you tell me all about it?"
Amelia looked at him and felt immediately at ease. She knew he'd listen to her. She drew a breath and began to tell him her story. "Well I'm Amelia Parker. It's my father; his name is Stephen, he and his foster son Mikey… sorry Michael Cortez, they're missing." She watched him write down their names.
"What is your father's full name?" he asked
"Stephen Brian Parker," she said. "I have Michael's details here somewhere…" she searched through her paper's "I was organized once..." she smiled sheepishly as him.
"Take your time" he smiled easily at her as he watched her reading a sheet before handing it to him.
"Here it is, Michael Anthony Cortez." She said as he took it "My father has been fostering him for nearly a year now. He's a good kid; he's just been dealt a bad hand." She smiled sadly; Mikey was one of the one's she genuinely liked.
Agent Fitzgerald nodded his brow wrinkling as he read the report on Mikey and his sad short life. "Can I keep this?" he held up the report. She nodded "Good thanks, now, when was the last time you saw either of them?" he set the report aside and picked up his pen.
"I stopped by my father's house six days ago. I took over a lasagna… neither of them can cook very well so I try to make something for them every couple of days." She shrugged.
"That's nice." He smiled and made note of the date, "and you've had no further contact since Saturday?" he looked at her with those big blue eyes.
"No, on Monday when Mickey didn't show up for school they called my father's house. When he hadn't returned their call by lunch time the secretary called me. She knows my dad well and she was worried, so I went to check on them." She shook her head. "They weren't there. I waited but…" she held out her hands. Agent Fitzgerald was nodding and taking notes.
"Does your dad have a car?"
"Yeah, it was gone too. He drives a silver '98 Mazda 626, his plate is..." she looked at her papers "YMT 935." She looked into his big blue eyes, fear in her own, before asking "You don't think he's just driven off do you? It's not like him. And where's Mikey? Why didn't he tell me? Or leave a note?"
"Whoa, one step at a time…" He said gently "For what it's worth, I don't think he just picked up and left but stranger things have happened. Right now just give me as much information as you can and I'll do my best to figure out what happened."
"So you'll help me then?" she asked quietly. She couldn't believe he was going to help her.
"I'll do my best." He gave her his most reassuring smile. She nodded and he spent the next 20 minutes extracting as much information out of her about her father and Mikey as he could. She was surprised by some of his questions, some were quite personal. He even asked her if there had ever been any inappropriate contact between him and any of the boys, real or imagined. There hadn't been any, ever.
"Ok" he nodded looking at his notes. "Can you write down the names and addresses of friends, family, anyone you think he may have contacted… I know you said you've contacted a lot of people but sometimes they are more willing to talk to strangers about certain things."
"Especially if that stranger has a badge…" She couldn't help but smile. Martin noticed what a wicked grin she had, just like someone else he knew, he couldn't help but think.
"It helps sometimes." He laughed softly and gave her a pad and pen. "I'll take these for now." He took her stack of papers, it was bank records, medical notes anything she had thought would be helpful she had brought along. "Mikey's caseworker, her info is in here right?"
"It is" she nodded.
"Ok can I get you a cup of coffee or something?" he asked.
"A coffee would be great, thank you" she smiled "café con leche… sorry, my mom was Cuban, that's…"
"Coffee with milk and sugar..." he grinned nodding. "One of my colleagues calls it the same thing."
He left her sitting at the table going out the door behind her. "Hey brother…" she heard him say as the door shut behind him. She didn't turn she was focused on the list he wanted her to make.
Martin was standing outside the glass door talking to another agent. He was just slightly taller, with short dark spiky hair and deep brown eyes. He dressed better than most FBI agents, but that was his style. "So this is where you've been hiding." He looked in to the room where Amelia sat at the table. "That's the longest pre case interview you've ever done!" He grinned at Martin; it was a gorgeous lopsided smile that was subtlety sexy, mischievous and full of little boy charm all at once.
"I'm not hiding, it's a multiple case and I was just being thorough!" Martin blushed at the good natured teasing and they watched as Amelia reached into her bag and pulled out her PDA. She dropped the pen he'd given her. Standing slowly she bent and picked it up. Her skirt clung to her hips and backside. Amelia had been blessed with her mother's hourglass figure, and the sand was in all of the right places. As she bent her skirt rode up giving them a brief glimpse of her stocking tops before she smoothed her skirt and sat back down. Danny tilted his head with an appreciative smile.
"Sure, and would you like some help?" he grinned cheekily at Martin.
"If you want to run down the background on the kid, I'll get tech to start on the financials." Martin said trying to hide his grin. "I'll get the list from her and we can head out, cool?" the other agent was looking at the papers Martin had handed him and nodded. "Ok, thanks Danny" he said and headed down the corridor.
Danny stood for a moment looking at Amelia sitting at the table going through her PDA. There was something familiar about her, something that tugged at his heart. His brow furrowed and nose wrinkled he shook his head and went to his desk to see what he could learn about Mikey Cortez from the computer. As he walked away Amelia had the strangest feeling and looked behind her. All she saw was the usual hustle and bustle of the agents and support staff going about their jobs. She wrinkled her brow, and shook her head turning back to the list.
She was nearly done when Martin came back with her coffee. "Thank you." she took the cup. "Wow that's perfect." She smiled at him after taking a sip.
"Thank my partner, he made the coffee." He blushed. "How's the list coming?"
"There are a lot of people but I think I've got nearly everyone."
"Ok good, I'm going to go out into the field so Agent Spade," he smiled as the door opened and the blonde woman with the pony tail came in. "Miss Parker this is Special Agent Samantha Spade." He introduced them and they shook hands.
"Please call me Amelia" she smiled
"I'm Sam." She said pleasantly.
"Ok Sam is going to take over here, while I go run some things down." He stood.
"You'd better hurry, Danny's had two cups of coffee on top of his Frosted Flakes" Sam said to him with a knowing smile.
"Terrific!" Martin sighed "I'm driving!" he then smiled at Amelia "Don't worry we'll have some information for you soon." He left the two women together in the little room. Amelia hoped he was right, but she was sure she could trust him.
Sam sat down and together they went through the list, with Sam making notes. When it was all done the only thing left for Amelia to do was go home and wait for a call. Sam walked her to the elevator as Danny was talking to Martin in the bullpen. He stopped in midsentence when he saw Amelia again. He had that same strange feeling. She was familiar he thought, if she would only turn around so he could see her face. Martin startled him back to reality.
"Earth to Danny" Martin teased. Danny looked at him and blushed slightly. He wasn't used to Martin having the upper hand when it came to teasing. "Be careful man." Martin grinned. "If she's got you that distracted from behind…"
"I'm not distracted!" Danny cut him off with his trademark grin. "Are we heading out or what?"
Martin raised an eyebrow at the way Danny swiftly changed the subject. "Sure where do you want to start at DYFS or the school?" he knew with out asking where Danny would want to go first.
"The school" Danny said flatly. Martin nodded, knowing Danny hated going anywhere near the Family Services offices. Danny kept his past a closely guarded secret. Martin knew him well enough to know that he had spent a lot of time there as a child with his own troubled family.