Title: Love Comes Once
Summary: After discovering she is pregnant Sloan disappears

For once in her life Sloan Parker wished she had a camera. Or better yet a video
camera. The look on her best friend's face right now was absolutely priceless. Doctor

Ed Tate rocked back on his heels as he studied the dark haired woman,"Say that
again?"

Sloan giggled as she tossed one of the couch's pillows at him,"I said I was pregnant."

Ed wasn't quite quick enough to catch the pillow so consequently it hit him square in
the face. "Y-You're have a baby?"

Sloan grinned as she stood and headed toward the small kitchen in her apartment. It
was Saturday and she and Ed were having their traditional 'the weekend's finally
here' celebratory breakfast.

"That's usually how it works."Sloan replied as she poured pancake batter onto the
small grill.

Finally regaining his composure enough to form a semi-coherent sentence. The young
brown haired man stood and walked over to the kitchen counter struggling to control
the rage that was building. His friend was putting up a brave front but he could see the
anxiety and fear in her eyes. If Daniels had taken advantage of her in any way shape
or form Ed would personally string the man up by his fingernails.

"Sloan,level with me."Ed pleaded as his hands gripped the counter,"This happened
while you and Daniels were on the run,didn't it?"

Sloan's grip tightened on the wooden spoon as she turned to face him. She hadn't
missed the fact that he was now calling Tom by his last name. "He didn't force himself
on me,Ed if that's what you're thinking."

"He's always had a spell on you."Ed protested as he leaned against the counter.

Turning back to the pancakes Sloan closed her eyes and mentally counted to ten. She
knew Ed was only being concerned. That he was only asking these questions with her
best interest at heart. In his defense she had just dropped quite a bombshell. "Tom
and I are in love."Sloan corrected as she flipped three of the pancakes.

Ed ran a hand over his face,"Then why isn't he here with you,Sloan?"

Sloan couldn't hide the shadow of pain that flickered across her face,"He thinks he's
protecting us."

"He's protecting himself,Sloan."

"That's not true and you know it!"Sloan protested as she whirled to face him,"Ed,you
didn't see him. You didn't see him after Lewis reprogrammed him. Even in that
state,when he had no control over his actions he still did everything he could to protect
me."

Ed sighed,"And I'm forever grateful for that,but it still doesn't excuse....."

"I didn't tell Atwood this when you two found us."Sloan said in a soft voice as she
leaned against the counter,"Lewis gave Tom a choice."

Ed froze,"What kind of choice?"

"That he would let me go unharmed if Tom returned to them."

"He agreed to that?"Ed asked in amazement,"Knowing what kind of *man* Lewis is?
Knowing what his life was like with them?"

Sloan nodded sadly,"Yes."

"Does he know?"Ed asked softly.

Sloan shook her head,"No,I only found out two days ago."She rested her chin on her
hand as she looked at her friend,"Ed,I could really use your support."

Tate took her hand in his squeezing it gently,"You have it,on one condition."

Sloan looked at him warily,"What?"

"I want to take you back to the lab,run some tests. Make sure everything's okay."

Sloan gently touched his face,"Alright."She agreed softly,"But first we eat."


********

Three hours later Ed had all the necessary tests running and was waiting for the results
to come up on his desk computer.

"I have one favor to ask of you."Sloan said softly as she stood by the office window
watching the busy lab

"Anything."Ed replied as he scooted closer to the desk leaning his elbows on the
surface.

"Don't tell Atwood about the baby."Sloan pleaded softly as her right hand absently
fiddled with her gold chain link necklace.

"I......"Ed started to say but his friend didn't seem to hear him.

"I don't want my child to become a test subject,"Sloan replied,"Whatever happens I
need you to promise me that."

Ed walked around the desk coming to stand behind her,"You have my
word,Sloan.Atwood won't find out that the baby is Daniels."

Sloan turned to face him eyes briming with unshed tears,"Thankyou."

Ed smiled gently as he brushed a stray brown hair away from her face,"But what are
you going to tell him?"

Sloan shook her head as she pulled away from him,"I don't know,Ed. I guess I'll just
say I had a one night stand......."

Ed folded his arms across his chest,"Or you could say it was mine."



* * *
Chicago,IL

FBI agent Thomas Daniels stood leaning against a railing at the bustling Navy pier.
The early spring sun was obscured by dark clouds that threatened a thunderstorm but
Tom stayed where he was.
Not caring.

It had been almost a month since Lewis had kidnapped Sloan.
Almost a month since his former mentor had forced the pair on the run.
Four weeks since he had last held Sloan in his arms.

God,how he missed her.
He never thought he could miss another person this much.
The empty,cold feeling in his chest told him different.

He thought of her constantly. Wondering what she was doing. What she was feeling.
Did she hate him for leaving? For going back to Lewis? Did she realize why he had
done what he had?

"Thinking of your lady love?"A voice said behind his left shoulder.

Tom stiffened as he recognized the voice but didn't turn,"Are you that bored,Lewis
that you have to follow me around?"

Lewis came to stand next to his former pupil,"You turned your phone off."

"I had no need for it."Tom replied quietly.

Lewis gripped Tom's right shoulder whirling the dark haired man around and sending
him back several feet. "Get this straight. You have no life. You have no free thoughts.
Your life is mine. You do as I say,you are within contact whenever I need to get in
contact is that perfectly clear?"

Tom's eyes narrowed sharply but he bit his tounge,"Crystal."

*******

Sloan shook her head as she turned away from her friend,"Thankyou for the sweet
offer Ed,but I can't take advantage of you like that."

Ed didn't miss the pain that flickered across her face,"Its hardly taking adavantage if I
volunteered."

Sloan crossed over to the file cabinet, "You've already had to lie too much in this
whole mess and I don't want you to have to do it again."

Ed placed a gentle hand on her shoulder turning her to face him,"This is one lie I don't
mind. You know of the estranged relationship with my parents,Sloan. You're the
closest thing I have to family. I want to help if you'll let me."

Sloan gently touched his right cheek as she felt tears start to flow,"Thankyou,my
friend."

* * *

Lewis leaned against a nearby bench looking out at Lake Michigan,"Now that we
have an understanding I have a job for you."

Tom stiffened knowing what was coming. He didn't know if he could kill again,but if it
would protect Sloan and her friends.......

"You're next target is Doctor Edward Tate."Lewis said turning to face him,"I believe
you two are already acquainted?"

Tom leaned against the railing,"Why?"

Lewis glared at him,"You are not to question my orders,you know that. You have
your assignment."

Reluctantly Tom turned to leave,"As you wish." He knew Lewis was testing him by
choosing Sloan's best friend as his first target. For her sake as well as Tate's Tom had
to play Lewis's game.
At least this way he would be back in the city of Angels.
He would be able to see her.
If she wanted him to see her.

*********


During the following three days Ed had barely left her alone. Sloan sighed as she sat at
her desk,she knew he was only looking out for her best interests. She also knew that
if Ed didn't start giving her some distance Atwood would become suspicious. Sloan
hadn't had the opportunity to tell her boss about her pregnancy. She was still debating
about telling him at all.

The only reason he wasn't here now was because she had finally convinced him to go
home and get some sleep. Granted it was nearly one in the afternoon but she knew he
hadn't slept very much since she had told him about the baby.

Sloan sighed as she felt a migraine start to form behind her eyes. This should be the
happiest time in her life.
She and Tom should be celebrating ,making plans.
Instead he was god knows where doing god knows what under Lewis's orders.
She didn't even have a phone number to contact him.
Sloan glanced out the window,she missed him so much.

The main thing she wanted more than anything in the world right now was something
Ed couldn't give her.
She needed Tom's arms around her.
She needed to hear his voice telling her everything was okay.
Sloan just wished she knew if she was ever going to see him again.

* * *

Ed Tate closed the door to his apartment and leaned back against it. His eyes drifted
closed as weariness washed over him. The last few months were finally starting to
catch up with him.

Finding the pillar ,then watching it being destroyed. Sloan being kidnapped.
Lewis forcing her on the run.
Kelly.

Ed's eyes snapped open at the last thought. He just realized this was the first time he
had really been in his apartment since she had died. With everything that had gone on
the last few months the only sleep he had gotten was a catnap or two at the lab. The
only time he had come by his apartment was to grab a change of clothes.

Not bothering to turn on the light the young doctor moved through the living room
toward his bedroom. Ed paused in the doorway,there was no way he could sleep in
that room. Even though Atwood had gotten the lab to replace his bed the room was
still full of memories. Memories of how he had failed a friend who had trusted him to
help her.

So engrossed in his thoughts Ed didn't see the shadow come up behind him. Couldn't
react fast enough when the assailant tackled him to the floor.

*******

Deciding she wasn't getting anything done in her office Sloan decided to go for a
walk,maybe grab something to eat. It was such a beautiful day maybe some sun
would do her some good. Atwood caught her just as she was leaving her office.

"Hi,"She said a little too brightly,"I was just going to grab a late lunch can I bring you
back anything?"

The older man shook his head wearily as he closed the door,"I need to talk to you."

Sloan stiffened,preparing herself for another argument about Tom,"What about?"she
asked carefully.

"The pillar data disks are missing."Walter Atwood replied softly as he sat down on the
corner of her desk.

"What?"Sloan asked in surprise recalling that Ed had spent days after the explosion
putting all the data he could remember on a set of computer disks,"That's not possible.
Ed made three backups."

"Those are also gone."

* * *

Ed managed to free himself from his attackers grasp with a swift left hook. Once on
his feet Ed scrambled for the nearest light switch,"Daniels."Tate acknowledged as he
grabbed a baseball bat from the hall closet.

Slightly dazed Tom struggled to his feet leaning heavily on the bedroom's
doorframe,"I'm not here to hurt you."

"Could've fooled me."Ed replied as he gingerly touched the back of his head.

Tom steadied himself and took a few steps toward Sloan's friend,"Lewis and his
people are watching me I had to make this look real."

Ed shook the cobwebs out of his mind as he focused on the man in front of him,"Sloan
said you made some kind of deal with him."

Tom nodded,"Yes. I need you to do me a favor. I need you to give a message to
Sloan have her meet me later tonight."

Ed finally lowered the baseball bat,but didn't loosen his grip on it,"That's not a good
idea."

Tom felt his heart plummet at Tate's statement. So Sloan did hate him. "She doesn't
want to see me?"

Ed adverted his eyes,"That's not it."

Daniels didn't miss the shadow of worry that crossed Tate's face,"Then what is it?"

Ed walked over to the sofa and sat down on the edge,"This just isn't a good time right
now."

A knot of fear started to form in the pit of Tom's stomach,"Did something happen
after I left? Is she sick?"

Ed's thoughts flew to the baby. He knew what Sloan needed more than anything right
now was Daniels. Part of him,however, wanted to protect her from him. "Its not my
place to tell Sloan's business."Ed replied softly.

*********


"What aren't you telling me?"Sloan asked softly as she leaned against the doorframe.

"We have evidence that Kelly Hammond took them."

Sloan shook her head,"That's impossible. She was under Ed's care the entire time she
was here."

Attwood nodded,"That's exactly my point."

* * *

"I know you've never trusted me,"Tom began softly,"But you must know by now that
I would never hurt Sloan."

"Not intentionally,no."Ed agreed as he absently spun the bat between his hands,"You
didn't see her when you left."

"You still don't get the threat that Lewis is,do you?"Tom asked shaking his head
slightly.

"I understand that Lewis is only one man. One small part of this puzzle."

Tom glared at the doctor,"One very powerful man......"

Ed stood,"Sloan is the closest thing to family that I have right now. I will not see her get
hurt by you or Lewis or anyone else. Now if you don't mind I'd like to get a few
hours sleep before I have to get back to the lab."

Tom nodded curtly before turning and walking toward the door.

"I know you think you're only looking out for Sloan's best interests by keeping me
away,"Tom said softly as he paused in the doorway,"But there are things that your
species can't control and never will no matter how hard you try."

*********


With a half empty container of Chinese takeout sitting in the center of her desk Sloan
Parker contemplated her conversation with Atwood. Frowning she tossed the
chopsticks back into the box. She knew Kelly would never have taken those disks.

At least not under her own free will.

She had always assumed Kelly and Ed had some kind of romantic relationship. Sloan
had just never known how serious it was. She knew Ed was devasted by her death.
Sloan had tried to convince him that Kelly's death wasn't his fault,but he wouldn't
hear of it.

As if he had been waiting for the perfect cue a slightly haggard looking Ed Tate
stepped through her office door. Sloan quickly rose to her feet when she saw his
face,"Ed?! What happened?"

Ed caught her hand as he turned his face away from her,"Its not as bad as it looks."

Sloan shook her head as she ushered him over to a nearby chair forcing him to take a
seat,"Are you going to tell me what happened or am I going to have to play twenty
questions?"

Ed watched as she went back behind her desk to remove a first aid kit from one of
the lower drawers. He knew he should tell her that Daniels was back in town,but for
some reason he just couldn't bring himself to do it.

"It was just my own stupid fault,Sloan."Ed replied softly as he gingerly touched the
large cut above his left eye,"I forgot to leave a light on in my apartment when I took a
nap this afternoon. So when I got up I tripped over my own feet,then over a pair of
shoes before slamming into the corner of my dresser."

Sloan moistened a cotton swab with iodine while shaking her head,"Nice try, Ed, but
dressers don't give you black eyes. You want to try telling me the truth this time?"

Ed winced as the iodine seeped into the cut,"Someone jumped me as soon as I
stepped into my apartment."

Sloan looked at him in shock,"Why didn't you call me as soon as it happened?"

Ed gave her a pointed look before glancing down at her stomach.

Sloan glared at him,"Get your mind back to the 90's Ed. I may be pregnant but I'm
not an invalid! I could have helped and you know it."

Tate tenderly captured her hand as she went to reapply the iodine,"I didn't know how
many more of them there were,Sloan. I could not and would not put you or the baby
in any danger."

Sloan placed a bandage across the cut before quietly putting the first aid kit away. She
stood behind her desk looking at her friend before sinking into her chair,"This day just
keeps getting better and better."

Ed scooted the chair forward,"What?"

Sloan shook her head sadly,"I had an interesting conversation with Atwood earlier this
afternoon and you're not going to like what he had to say."

Ed grinned,"So what else is knew.Just tell me."

Sloan sighed before recanting her meeting with Atwood.

*********

Lewis jumped involuntarily as his cellular phone rang. The gray haired man quickly moved to the left side of the airport corridor as he took the phone out of his coat
pocket.

"Lewis."He answered briskly his blue eyes never leaving the steady stream of passengers.

"I was under the impression that you were the best recovery agent we had."A man's deep baritone replied back through the static.

Lewis felt a chill race through him as he recognized the voice,"I *am* the best."

"Then why is Daniels still out there?"

"I'm handling the Daniels situation."Lewis replied as he leaned against the wall.

"You said that two months ago and then I saw his face plastered all over the evening news!"

Lewis sighed inwardly,"I *am* handling this situation. There is no need for you to get involved."

The man chuckled,"Didn't you know who was pulling your strings,Lewis? I have been involved from the beginning. I will continue to be involved until Tom Daniels is
punished for his acts of treason."

"Everything is under......."Lewis began but trailed off when he realized he was listening to the dial tone.

Lewis shut off the phone and placed it in his black duffel bag. /I really hope you've come back to us this time,Tom./Lewis thought grimly as he headed toward his
gate,/Or it won't be just me you have to answer to./

* * *

Ed Tate shot to his feet and began to pace the small area behind his chair,"That's impossible! Only you,me, and Attwood knew where I had put the backup disks."

Sloan absently fiddled with a pencil as she sat behind her desk,"Is it possible that Kelly followed you? She did spend a lot of time here at the lab."

Ed stopped pacing to stare at his friend in surprise,"You actually think Kelly would betray us?!"

Sloan shook her head,"No,I don't Ed, and I told Attwood as much."

Ed nodded as he leaned his back against the doorframe,"Sloan, when Kelly was here she was so weak some days that she could barely walk to the window."

"Attwood implied he had a security video of her."Sloan replied quietly.

Ed glared at her,"I don't care what kind of proof the great Attwood thinks he has! Kelly would *never* betray us to *them*!"

"She may not have been the same Kelly you knew,Ed."Sloan replied. She didn't miss the venom in her friend's voice when he talked about the new species. She
couldn't help but wonder if the hate was directed at Tom or the new species in general.

"I *knew* her,Sloan."Ed replied softly,"You did too.So why are you on Attwood's side all of the sudden?"

Sloan shook her head,"I'm on your side,Ed,always will be. I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here."

Ed nodded as he returned to his seat resting his chin on the open palm of his hand,"What we really need to figure out is how those disk really got out of here. Only
certain people have access to this section of the lab."

Sloan nodded as she tossed the pencil down on the desk,"That certainly shortens the list of suspects."

Ed stood offering his right hand to Sloan,"Come on,let's get out of here."

Sloan stood accepting his arm as she walked around the desk,"Where?"

Ed shrugged, "Don't care as long as its away from this place. I don't know what it is about being here today,but its like the walls are closing in."

Sloan nodded in understanding as she gently touched his arm,"Let's head over to the beach. If anybody deserves to ditch out a little early its us."

*******

The sun was just setting by the time Ed and Sloan returned to her apartment. Ed was reluctant to close the door behind him. It would mean this great afternoon
would have to end. He finally did close the door tossing their wet towels into the bathroom. It had been so wonderful to see Sloan almost constantly smiling and
laughing. It had been far too long since he had heard her laugh. Since he had seen her so relaxed without a care in the world. At least for a few hours.

Sloan's startled scream sent Ed racing back into the living room. Sloan was standing by the edge of the kitchen counter,facing the living room. Her back to him.

"Sloan?"Ed asked with concern as he came up behind her. Then he saw the reason. Tom Daniels was standing in the center of the living room.

"Get out."Ed ordered forcing himself to keep his voice even. A fight would only upset Sloan and cause stress for the baby.

Sloan snagged his elbow as he started to step past her,"No,Ed. Its alright. I'd like to talk to Tom alone for a few minutes."

Ed's gaze never left Daniels as he asked,"Are you sure? I can have him out of here in two minutes."

Tom grinned,"You think highly of yourself,Ed."

Ed glared at the FBI agent but Sloan interrupted any retort he had planned to say.

"I'll be fine,Ed."Sloan replied forcing her friend to meet her gaze,"There are some things Tom and I need to discuss."

Ed sighed,his gut told him this was a bad idea,but he had to respect her wishes,"Alright,I'll pick you up tomorrow and we can head to work together?"

Sloan nodded as she squeezed his hand,"I'll be fine,Ed. Thank you for this afternoon ,it was wonderful."

Ed smiled briefly,"Yeah it was. We need to do that more often. I'll see you tomorrow."

Sloan nodded,watching as her friend retrieved his small blue backpack from the kitchen counter and quietly left the apartment.

********

After Tate left Tom took a step toward Sloan but stopped. The pain in her eyes broke his heart. He cursed Lewis for putting it there. Tom sighed inwardly,no he
couldn't place all of the blame on his former mentor. He had caused Sloan the most pain and now she hated him for it. Not that he blamed her.

* * * * *

All Sloan wanted to do was bury herself in his arms and never move. But for some reason her feet remained rooted to the floor. It had been so many weeks since
she had last seen him. Part of her was afraid that if she moved or blinked he would be gone. Out of her life for good,this time.

From somewhere she found the strength to speak,"Please have a seat."She said as she motioned to the sofa.

* * * * *

As she came into the living room Sloan flipped on the light by the sofa. It allowed Tom his first good look at her in weeks. The gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach
returned. It was the same feeling he had while talking to Tate in his apartment. Something was wrong. From the shocked expression on her face earlier it was
obvious Tate hadn't told her he was back in town. Which only led him to more questions. If she was sick why wouldn't Tate have told him? Unless his kind had
been the cause.

Sloan absently folded her hands together on her lap as she turned to face him,"First I want to apologize for Ed's behavior......"

Tom shook his head,"No need. His priority has always been to protect you, he sees me as a threat."

Sloan nodded as she reached out and took his right hand in hers,"He's just very protective of me sometimes. Especially the last week or so....."

Tom blinked. She looked fine to him,maybe a little pale, a little tired but other wise alright. Beautiful as always. If Lewis or any other of his kind had done something
to harm her Tom wouldn't be held accountable for his actions.

*******

Sloan mentally shook herself. Enough with the small talk. Tom deserved to know what was going on. Taking a deep breath Sloan met his gaze,"Tom,I have
something to tell you and I'm not quite sure how you'll react to it."

Fear gripped Tom's heart as he moved closer to her on the couch,"Are you sick?"He demanded.

Before Sloan could reply a pair of headlights splashed across the window gaining Tom's immediate attention.

Sloan caught his expression,"What is it?"

A whisper touched the back of Tom's mind a familiar warning. But one that couldn't have had worse timing. "I'm sorry I have to go."Tom said softly as he tenderly
caressed her right cheek."

Sloan caught his hand in hers,"Lewis?"

Tom shook his head,"No,but I am being watched. It was wrong of me to come here,but I had to see you."

"I've missed you too."Sloan said softly.

"I'm not sure if I can risk seeing you again,but I will be near by."Tom promised as he stood,"I'll always be near you,remember that."

Tears started to form in Sloan's eyes blurring her vision. By the time she blinked them away Tom was gone. "I love you."She whispered as she sank back into the
sofa drawing her knees to her chest.

* * * * *

Promptly at seven the next morning Ed Tate pulled up in front of Sloan's apartment building. With a bag of Sloan's favorite bagels in one hand Ed walked up the
front steps. Knowing her as well as he did Ed figured she probably hadn't eaten a thing after Tom left.She needed to keep her strength up,no matter what was going
on. The difference in the baby's DNA worried Ed. He wasn't sure what that would do to Sloan's health,if anything.

Ed's heart froze in his throat as Sloan's door opened easily at his touch. The bag of bagels hit the ground as he rushed into the familiar room. However,nothing was
familiar about the site that greeted him. From Ed's stunned point of view it looked like every single solitary object that Sloan had ever owned was strewn across the
floor.

His sneakered feet waded through ankle high piles of books and magazines as he made his way into the living room. "Sloan?"Ed called fear in his voice as he gingerly
avoided glass from a broken light bulb. Only silence answered him. /Damn,he knew he should have stayed with her./

Only will power kept his hands from shaking as he removed his cellular phone from his jacket pocket.

"Peterson?"The former Los Angeles detective answered on the third ring.

"Its Ed Tate."Ed replied softly as he surveyed the damage,"There's trouble at Sloan's."

That got Peterson's full attention,"How bad?"

"The place is trashed,Ray. I haven't found Sloan yet."

"I'll be there in fifteen.Try not to touch anything."

* * * * *

After ending his conversation with Peterson, Ed called out for Sloan one more time. He knew it was a futile gesture on his part. Ed knew if she was here she would
have answered him already if she was able too. Unbidden an image of Sloan's broken and bloodied body sprang into Ed's mind. Flinching the young doctor forced
the horrible thought away and continued his search.

Sloan's bedroom,bathroom and small kitchen yielded no clues to the bio-anthropologist's whereabouts. Disheartened Ed returned to the wrecked living room. This
time moving toward the couch. Something on the floor near where the coffee table was supposed to be caught Ed's attention. Ignoring Ray's warning of not to touch
anything Ed quickly cleared the debris away.

His worst fears were confirmed when he spied a pool of blood by the sofa's left leg. "Oh God Sloan,where are you?"Ed whispered as he rocked back on his heels.

********

/Knew I should have listened to my mother and followed Dad into the construction business./Former Detective Ray Peterson thought grimly as he struggled to
shove Sloan's door open.

"Ed?"Ray called out as he finally opened the door wide enough so he could step through.

"In the living room."Came Tate's tense reply.

Ray tried to take a few steps forward and nearly broke an ankle on a volume of an encyclopedia. "Man,you weren't kidding when you said this place was
trashed,"Ray commented as he gingerly walked into the living room,"How's Sloan?"

"I don't know."Ed replied quietly.

Even with his police training it took Ray a full minute to find the young doctor among the debris. Tate was sitting on the floor next to the sofa,arms folded across his
knees. Fear for his friend's safety grew immensely as Ray saw the fear on Tate's face.

"Ed? Where's Sloan?"Peterson asked softly as he knelt next to the younger man.

The doctor shook his head,"I don't know,Ray. I was supposed to pick her up for work this morning and found the place like this."

Ray rubbed a hand over his face as he glanced around the living room,"Okay,let's not panic here. Are you sure she was here last night? Could she have stayed
somewhere else?"

Ed shook his head,"Sloan and I cut out early from work yesterday and headed to the beach. When we got back here about six good ol' Tom was standing in the
living room like he owned the place."

Ray did a double take,"Daniels is back?"

Tate nodded,"Sloan wanted to talk to him alone so I respected her wishes and left."

Ray saw where this was headed,"Ed,this is not your fault."He said firmly.

Ed glared at him,"I *never* should have left her alone,Ray. Especially with him."

"From what I've seen Tom would never hurt her."Peterson replied softly.

Ed shot to his feet angrily gesturing to the pool of blood near the sofa,"Daniels is *not* like us!! What will it take to get that through your heads! Sloan had
something serious to tell him. Daniels didn't like it so he flipped out........."


* * * * *

"Sleeping on the job?"

Tom Daniels jerked awake nearly smacking Lewis in the forehead in the process.

"What are you doing here?"Tom demanded glancing around the run down hotel room.

Lewis grinned as he leaned back in the chair folding his arms across his chest,"Just keeping an eye on my employee."

Shaking sleep from his mind Tom slowly sat up in bed leaning against the wall. Absently he glanced at his watch,noting that it was barely seven thirty. "That's not an
answer to my question."Tom replied quietly.

Lewis leaned forward,"I don't really care if you like my answers or not, Tommy boy. You are in the city of angels to make sure Doctor Edward Tate has a slow and
painful death,nothing more;nothing less. Is that perfectly clear?"

Daniels winced inwardly.Damn he hadn't been as careful getting away from Sloan's apartment as he had thought last night. If one of his kind had laid a finger on
her....... "Crystal."Tom replied briskly.

"Good."Lewis replied with a smile as he stood,"Now that that's settled why don't we grab some breakfast?"

Tom glared at his former mentor,"I'm not hungry."

Lewis shrugged as he picked up his black leather jacket,"Suit yourself. I will be near by in case you change your mind."

"I won't."Daniels replied as he swung his legs over the side of the mattress.

Lewis merely began whistling an old irish folk song as he left the room.

******

"Have you called the police yet?"Walter Attwood asked from his office at Whitney University.

Ray Peterson shook his head as he glanced at Tate,"No,not yet. I figured it would be best to alert you to the situation first."

"And Ed has no idea where Sloan is?"

"No,he came here about seven to pick her up for work and found the place trashed."

Attwood slowly took his glasses off as he rubbed the bridge of his nose tiredly,"Let the police know what's going on. Tell them its a missing person case that could
possibly be a homicide.Nothing more."

"Right."Ray replied as he ended the conversation.

Peterson hit a familiar number to one of the few friends he still had left in the department. With a few terse sentences Ray explained what had occurred at Sloan's
and hung up before his contact could ask too many questions.

Ray turned his attention to Ed who was leaning his back against the small kitchen counter,head down. "The cops are on their way."Peterson reported softly as he
pocketed the phone.

Ed barely nodded,"You think she's dead,don't you?"He asked in a whisper.

Ray shook his head sadly,"I'm not sure,Ed.I don't want to belive that,but this looks bad,real bad."

Tate raised his head and Ray could see the cold anger resting just beneath the surface,"If we've lost Sloan,Daniels is a dead man."

Peterson turned to face him,"What makes you so sure that Tom is behind this? He's no Randall Lynch,Ed......"

Tate finally met his friend's gaze,"Sloan had something to tell him."

Ray nodded,"You mentioned that earlier.What exactly did she have to tell him? Do you know what it was?"

Ed looked at the pile of debris that had once been his friend's living room. A mound of brown fur caught his attention and Ed saw that it was connected to a small
teddy bear lying near one of the over turned bookcases. "Sloan is pregnant."


* * *

Lewis had sufficiently killed any notion of Tom falling back to sleep. With a sigh Tom rose and showered and changed. Might as well go under the pretenses of
tracking Ed down.

Maybe if he staked out Tate's apartment for a few days Lewis would get off his back and allow him some breathing room. And perhaps a chance to see Sloan
again.

That thought brought a smile to Tom's face as he grabbed his car keys and left the small room.

*******

"Is it Daniels?"Ray Peterson asked softly as his gaze roamed over the debris that had once been Sloan's living room.

Ed nodded,"Yes."

Before Ray could ask any more questions the police arrived. They quickly secured the area with yellow crime scene tape and ushered Ed and Ray out of the
apartment.


* * *

Sloan Parker slowly awoke. As she opened her eyes she thought for a minute that she was staring directly into a rainbow. Colors of all kinds danced before
her,partnered with the darkness that threatened to overwhelm her.

Sloan closed her eyes,taking several deep breaths to steady herself. After a few minutes she opened her eyes again and discovered she was in a small dark hotel
room.

Her head throbbed like a private Metalica concert. As Sloan raised her right hand to her forehead she realized her hands were bond behind her with a coarse rope.

The confinement of her hands brought the memories crashing back.
Lewis
Being forced on the run.
Tom.
The baby.

With a start Sloan's gaze flew to her stomach. Forcing the panic back Sloan reached out with her mind. She hoped that if the baby had a little bit of its father's genes
she would be able to tell if it was alright. Relief washed over her as she leaned her head against the back of the chair.

The baby was fine.

Now all she had to do was get out of where ever she was and tell Tom. Sloan wasn't fooling herself she knew the odds were against her. She could only pray that
fate wouldn't be so cruel that it would take her and the baby away from Tom before she even had a chance to tell him he was a father.

* * *

Detective Katherine Krieg was the lead investigator to arrive at Sloan Parker's apartment. She was a tall thin woman with short cut red hair. Ray had always pegged
her to be somewhere in her late thirties but being a typical woman Krieg would never confirm or deny his guess.

Katherine stepped aside allowing the forensics team into the room as she ushered Ray to the opposite side of the hallway.

"What am I looking at here,Ray?"Krieg asked in a lowered voice,"You weren't exactly forth coming on the phone."

Ray glanced back at Tate who was pacing the corridor like a caged tiger,"This apartment belongs to a good friend of mine,Sloan Parker."

Krieg's eyes widened in reorganization,"The anthropologist who discovered this new species?"

Ray nodded,"Yes,Dr. Ed Tate over there is her best friend. He was supposed to pick her up for work at seven this morning and found the place like this. There's
blood by the sofa that we think is hers."

Katherine glanced back into the apartment at the destruction,"Whatever caused this has the strength of a small tornado. You want me to treat this as a simple
robbery attempt?"

Ray shook his head sadly,"Treat it as a robbery leading to a possible homicide."

Krieg's eyes widened slightly but she didn't question him. Instead she took out a small pad of paper and gestured to Ed,"I'm going to need to interview Dr. Tate
before I can let either of you leave."

Peterson nodded,"Just make it fast,Katie. He's had a hell of a week and its not getting any better."

********

Twenty five minutes later the *short* interview that Ray's police contact had promised him was still going and showed no signs of slowing down.

"Where you in love with Sloan Parker,Dr.Tate?"Det. Krieg asked not looking up from her notebook.

Ed placed his right hand against his forehead as he closed his eyes. His thoughts had scattered during the barrage of questions. He had to bring himself back under
control if he was going to be any help to Sloan at all.

"Why aren't you out there looking for her?!"Ed demanded ignoring the question.

That finally got the woman's attention away from her notes,"I believe I'm the one asking the questions,Dr. Tate. Do I need to repeat my question?"

Ed glared at the detective,"No,you don't have to repeat it because I refuse to answer such a ridiculous question! My friend is out there somewhere, hurt! If you
people aren't going to look for her I'll have to do it myself!"

Before Ray or Katherine Krieg could reply Ed Tate spun on his heel and stormed out of the apartment building.

* * *

Ed had made it half a block before he stopped remembering he had drove. His sneakers slipping on the rain soaked sidewalk Ed made a sharp turn heading back to
Sloan's. The light rain that had been falling when he had stormed out of Sloan's apartment building was now a full fledged downpour.

Peterson caught up with him,offering the rain soaked doctor an umbrella,"Ed......."

Tate glared at his friend,"Don't try to talk me out of this,Ray! I don't know how much of my family life Sloan's told you about,but it isn't pretty. Sloan is all I have
and I'll be damned if I loose her like this."

Ray smiled grimly as he held up Ed's set of car keys,"I was just going to offer to drive."

Ed clasped the older man on the shoulder as they scurried to his car.

"Where to?"Peterson asked as he started the engine,throwing the car into drive.

Ed's gaze was fixed on the rotating red and blue police lights as they danced across Sloan's apartment building.

"Its a long shot but I want to get a copy of Daniels's credit card bills."Ed replied softly,"If he's dumb enough to show up at Sloan's he might have left a paper trail."

* * *

"This is getting us absolutely *nowhere*!"Ed shouted in pure frustration three hours later as he tossed the Xeroxed copies of Daniels' credit card bills on the
dashboard in front of him.

Ray nodded in agreement as he looked out the rain spotted window to the shoe store across the street. The shoe store was the second to the last purchase listed and
they still hadn't found any sign of Tom.

"We're not even sure if Tom made the purchases,"Peterson replied softly,"On top of that we're not even sure this is even related to the new species. It could be just
what it looked like,Sloan walked in on a robbery and the assailant panicked and took her."

Ed shook his head,"If that's all it was we would have received a ransom by now."

"Ed you wouldn't believe how many kidnapping cases I've investigated that the victim's families never received a ransom demand."

*******

Tom Daniels shook himself awake.

Stakeouts had been one part of being an agent that he absolutely hated. The Los Angeles heat dulled his senses as he sat in the hot car. The one rock music station
he had found kept breaking in with traffic reports so often they barely completed one song.

Tom glanced at the clock radio,it was barely ten in the morning. He knew it was probably just the boring routine of the stakeout,but Tom couldn't shake the feeling
that something was wrong.

He wanted to reach out through the telepathic link to Sloan. Make sure she was all right,but he knew he couldn't risk it. Lewis would know in a heartbeat. His
former mentor had endangered her life once before. Tom swore that would never happen again. So that drew Tom to the inevitable bottom line. No matter how
much he wanted to,he couldn't contact Sloan. All Tom could do was pray that Tate was as good at protecting her as he claimed to be.

* * *

Ed Tate jumped involuntarily as his cellular phone rang. With an exasperated sigh Ed yanked the small device out of his pocket.

"Tate."He answered gruffly.

"Ed? Its Walter,"Attwood began softly,"I know you're worried about Sloan but I need you back at the lab."

Ed shook his head angrily ,"Forget it!"

"You're the one who compiled the pillar data onto the disks,"Attwood replied,"I need you to remember as much as you can so we can reconstruct it."

Ed leaned forward,"Where you not listening to me?! I just told you to forget it! Forget the whole damn thing,Walter! There's a time clock on Sloan's life and I will
not spend one precious second of that cooped up in front of a computer screen!"

Atwood stifled a sigh,this was turning into a very long week,"If you value her life as much as you say you do,you'll report back to the lab. I'm as worried about
Sloan as you are,but this is much more than one life,Ed. Much more."

"What was all that about?"Ray asked as Ed collapsed the phone.

Tate took a last futile glance at the shoe store,"I've been recalled."

*******

Ed parked his car in his usual spot in the lab parking lot. When he glanced to his right he half expected Sloan's car to be parked next to him as always.

Ed had dropped Ray back at Sloan's to pick up his car. Before he left Ray had promised to keep Sloan's secret if he ran into Daniels. They both knew that wasn't
likely but Ed wanted to cover all the bases just to make sure. He owed Sloan that much.

Tate rested his head against the steering wheel. Part of him didn't want to believe that Tom could hurt Sloan in that way. For her sake. Sloan had always been too
trusting of a person. Once she let a person into her life as a friend she trusted them with her whole heart.

With a weary sigh Ed ran a hand through his short brown hair before exiting the vechicle. Better go see what the great Attwood thought was so earth shattering
important. Ed didn't buy the damn pillar disks thing for a minute.

* * *

Detective Katherine Krieg returned to the squad room and began the torturous task of sifting through paperwork. If she had a nickel for every paper cut she
received from this job she could retire to Arizona or Hawaii with no financial worries.

Krieg sighed as she took out a new manila folder and labeled the tab as; Parker,Sloan. Inside she placed her preliminary notes on the crime scene and the results of
her interview with Ed Tate. For someone who claimed not to be in love with the victim, that man had shown all the classic signs of a broken heart.

She glanced up at the knock on her office door,"Yes?"

A blond, green eyed man in his early thirties handed her a computer printout,"Thought you'd like to see this as soon as it came in."Detective Peter Hurst replied.

"What is it?"Krieg asked as she glanced at the paper.

"Preliminary fingerprint report from Parker's apartment."Hurst replied as he leaned against the doorframe.

Krieg blinked in surprise,"Already?"

Hurst nodded,"This case is high profile, at least in certain circles. There were hundreds of prints in her apartment, but they were from only four people. Tate, Parker,Peterson and......"

"FBI Agent Tom Daniels."Katherine finished as she looked back through her notes,"Neither Tate or Peterson mentioned Daniels."

Hurst folded his arms across his chest,"Which leads us to the million dollar question: If he was such a part of her life as to have prints all over her apartment why didn't Peterson or Tate mention him?"

Krieg nodded,"Maybe they don't know. He could be married and she's the mistress."

Hurst shook his head,"From the pics I've seen of Parker she doesn't strike me as the type."

Kathrine smiled at her friend,"And who exactly is *the type*,Peter?"She shook her head,"Either way this Daniels is a big part of this case. See if you can track him down. He probably doesn't know that his lady love's in trouble."

Hurst nodded as he started to walk out of the office,"Will do."

*******

Sloan Parker nearly passed out as harsh Florissant light flooded the room. Blinking spots away from her eyes Sloan struggled to focus.

"Well,well, the great Sloan Parker has awaken."

Sloan froze,the voice was familiar but she couldn't quite place it. If only her eyes would focus Once they did Sloan thought for sure they were playing tricks on her.
The person standing before her couldn't possibly be the one who had kidnapped her.

"Timmy? Is that you?"Sloan asked in a hoarse voice as she struggled to get mostiure to her throat.

A man about Sloan's age with short red hair and bright blue eyes walked farther into the room a smile on his face,"You were the only one I allowed to call me that."

Reality slowly dawned through college memories as Sloan straightened in her chair.

"You're one of them."She stated in a whisper.

* * *

As he stretched the kinks out of his back Tom glanced at the clock. It was eleven o'clock and no sign of Tate. Not that he was expecting any, Ed and Sloan were at
the lab. Tom reached for the ignition deciding he needed some caffeine if he was going to sit there all day in this heat.

A long shadow splashing across his hand got his attention. Tom glanced out the window and saw a car boxing him in. A limo to be precise. Straightening in his seat
Tom waited. His right hand reaching for his gun in the seat next to him.

The tinted window of the limo rolled down just enough to reveal a familiar face. A woman in her mid thirties with short red hair. Attwood's boss.

"What do you want?"Tom hissed through clenched teeth.

The woman glared at him as she lowered the window the rest of the way down,"Look,I don't care what kind of mind games you and Lewis are playing. If you want
to play both sides against one another that's your business. But don't you dare even think about endangering everything I've worked for!"

Tom stared at her in surprise,"*What* are you babbling about?"

"Its come to my attention that you've become a focus of an LAPD investigation,"The woman continued,"The homicide of Doctor Sloan Parker."

Before Tom's shocked mind could even think of a reply the woman's window quickly retracted and the limo sped down the street.

*******

It took all of Ed Tate's will power to knock on Attwood's door instead of slamming it in.

Attwood glanced through the window and waved him in before returning his attention to whatever was on his computer monitor.

"So what's so important that you had to drag me back here?"Ed demanded as he closed the door behind him.

Attwood smiled briefly,"Would the fate of mankind be big enough on your priority level?"

Tate bristled at his boss's comment,"I thought Sloan and I meant more to you then the monkeys we run tests on?! Or is that just another one of your smoke and mirror routines?!"

Attwood glared at the younger man,"I've bent over backwards to bail the two of you out of trouble more times than I can count! I know you're worried about
Sloan,so am I, whether you want to believe that or not. But the best thing we can do for her right now is reconstruct the data on the pillar. We need to know what
they're planning."

* * *

Tom parked about two blocks from the university's lab struggling to keep his emotions in check. If Lewis even had the slightest hint that he wasn't following orders,
Tate would be dead in an instant. If what Attwood's boss said was true, he owed Sloan to keep Tate safe. Even if it meant sacrificing his own life.

After taking a few minutes to study the guard's rotation, Tom easily bypassed the lab's security and walked into Tate's office.
Now all he could do was wait.
Wait and hope that the first person he had ever loved hadn't been taken from him before he had a chance to tell her.

******

"Thank you."Sloan Parker replied as the cool water slid down her parched throat. Water spilled down her chin and the front of her shirt as Timmy roughly snagged
the bottle away.

"That's more than enough."

"Can you please untie my hands?"Sloan asked,"My circulation's getting cut off."

The blond man shifted from one foot to the other as he avoided her gaze,"I was ordered not too."

"Timmy,this is me,"Sloan pleaded quietly,"How many pizzas did we share as we crammed for finals at midnight? How many times did we sneak ice cream out of the
mess hall? You know I won't go anywhere."

After a long moment Timmy moved behind her and expertly slit the coarse ropes with a small knife,"There. You always get what you want,don't you?"

Sloan studied her friend,"Timmy,where is this resentment coming from? You always were equal or scored higher than I did."

The young man shook his head wearily,"Its a whole different game now, Sloan. Somehow my bosses found out I was a member of the new species and fired me."A
bitter laugh escaped him,"Guess they thought I was a threat to their little company."

Sloan rubbed her wrists in an effort to get circulation back,"Why are you doing this,Tim?"

"I'm just a solider following orders,Sloan,"Tim said quietly,"That's why our species is going to eliminate yours. Your kind can't follow orders."

* * *

Ed Tate stormed into his office slamming a manila file folder onto his desk. He had half a mind to just walk out and continue the search for Sloan.

Grudgingly he admitted that Attwood did have a valid point. If they found out what the new species was planning they'd have something to bargain with.

It was then Ed noticed his chair was facing the window behind his desk. Like in all those really bad spy movies where the bad guy spins the chair around smoking a
cigar.

Ed decided to bluff,"If you don't leave quietly I will shoot you."

The chair slowly spun around,"Kind of hard to do with a pencil. Unless that's a top secret spy gun?"

Tate literally saw red.

Without thinking Ed picked up a heavy marble paperweight and threw it at the person in the chair.

Unfortunately the paperweight missed its target and bounced off of Tom's left shoulder. "What was that for?"Tom asked in bewilderment as he gingerly examined his
shoulder.

Ed clamped his hands on the edge of the desk,"You got a hell of a lot of nerve coming here. Though I will be more than happy to grant your death wish."

Tom looked at him blankly,"I don't know what you're talking about."

Ed glared at the FBI agent,"Fine,you want me to spell it out for you I will. You killed my best friend,now I will kill you."

*******

Tom felt the color drain from his face,"So it is true?"He asked hoarsely,"Sloan's dead?"

Ed stood,"You can drop the good guy act,Daniels. You may have fooled Sloan but I see things real clearly now."

Tom glared at him,"You're also babbling. I swear to you Sloan was alive when I left her."

Ed took a step back from the desk folding his arms across his chest,"Give me one good reason why I should believe you?"

Tom leaned his hands on the desk surface,"Beause you know I would never hurt her."

Ed shook his head as he walked over to the left wall of his office,"I don't know anything any more. All I know is that you were the last person I saw with Sloan.
Next morning there's a large pool of blood on her living room carpet."

Tom swallowed hard,"How was she killed?"He asked softly.

Ed leaned back against the wall,"We don't know. Her bod-,"Tate broke off the sentence as he felt his voice start to tremble,"The cops haven't found her body yet."

A small flame of hope raced up Tom's spine and into his heart as he met Tate's gaze,"So there's no confirmation on her death yet?"

Ed glared at him,"You think I want to believe that she's gone?! You're an FBI agent,Daniels,look at the facts! Her apartment looked like a small tornado had gone through it,blood was pooling near the sofa and no ransom has been delivered yet!"

When Tom didn't answer right away Tate yanked the phone off the desk picking up the receiver.

Tom glanced up,"Who are you calling?"

Ed didn't stop dialing,"Peterson,so he can have the cops take you into custody."

"That's not a good idea."Tom replied softly as he yanked the phone line out of the wall.

******

With the phone line dangling in one hand Tom felt a warning at the back of his mind. A fuzzy image of orange and red flashed through his mind's eye.
There was no time to shout a warning.
In one move Tom dropped the phone cord and lunged over the desk tackling Tate.
The next instant something crashed through the window and bounced off of Ed's desk.
Then the world exploded.

* * *

Sloan blinked against the harsh fluorescent light as the door to her small room reopened.
She was surprised to see it wasn't Timmy. She quickly placed her hands back behind the chair,hoping the newcomer wouldn't inspect too closely. The man who
approached her was about Attwood's age with receding black hair. He had darker skin but Sloan couldn't tell if it was Hawaiian decent or Hispanic.

"Where's Timmy?"Sloan asked hoarsely.

The man blinked in surprise as if he hadn't expected her to be concious,"Timothy had an errand to run."

"How long have I been here?"Sloan asked quietly.

"The prey is not to ask questions."

Out of the corner of her eye Sloan spotted a heavy wooden bird statute sitting on a small table just out of her reach. If she could just keep him distracted long
enough she might be able to knock him out.

"We are not prey,"Sloan said icily as the man moved to retrieve something from the closet,"We will fight for our survival."

"And you will loose."The man replied sending a chill of Deja Vu down Sloan's spine. She had heard Tom say that very phrase so many months before.

In a flash Sloan was on her feet snatching the wooden bird statute from its perch.

The man didn't even glance up at her footsteps as she brought the hunk of wood crashing down on his skull.

"We *will* fight."Sloan vowed as the man crumbled to the floor unconscious.

With one quick glance out into the hallway Sloan disappeared.

********

Keys jangling was the first thing Ed Tate heard as he started to return to consciousness. With a groan Ed slowly opened his eyes.

"Ed? Its Walter,can you hear me?"Attwood asked softly as he knelt next to the small sofa in his office,"Just lie still the ambulance is on its way."

Ed shook his head as he struggled into a sitting position ,"No,no hospital. I'm fine."

A hand gripped his shoulder forcing him back down,"You have a hard head,Tate,but not that hard."Tom replied with a grim smile,"If the glass in the lab doors hadn't been reinforced we both would have gone through it."

As his mind recognized Daniels's voice memories came flooding back. Kelly.
Sloan's pregnancy.
Her ransacked apartment.
The blood on the floor.

Ed leapt to his feet his hands gripped around Tom's throat as he forced the FBI agent against the far wall.

Stifling a sigh Walter Attwood grabbed Tate's right shoulder and non-too-gently yanked him back several feet,"Ed this......"

Tate ignored him shaking off the wave of dizziness that had crept up. The young doctor took several steps toward Daniels,eyes blazing.

Attwood stepped between the two men once again. "Have you forgotten that he just saved your life,Tate?"

"He killed Sloan."Ed said coldly.

"Do you have proof?"Walter asked,"For that matter do you have proof of Sloan's death?"

"No he doesn't,"Tom finished quietly,"Sloan was alive when I left her."

********

She wasn't in a hotel.
Sloan had realized that after the first three corridors she had sprinted through. She turned right into the fourth and too late realized it dead ended into a starch white
wall. Damn,if only she had some light she might have a chance.

She pressed against the cold surface struggling to get her bearings. She had to find out which way was the right way.
Quickly.
She had to decide quickly. Sloan didn't have to be 1.6 to sense that her window of escape was rapidly closing. With a deep breath Sloan pushed back the wave of
panic. Moving along the right wall her hands grasped a familiar object.
A door knob.
Sending off a silent prayer Sloan twisted the knob. She heard tumblers click into place,the door swung inward.

Sloan quickly stepped through barely resisting the urge to slam the door behind her. She took several steps forward,no time to relax now. Had to get out. Had to
find Tom. Only when her right foot came solidly down on a cloud of air did Sloan realize what room she had ducked into.

A stairwell.
She was on an upper floor,but how far up? The stairwell was as dark as a cave so she couldn't tell how many flights were above her. Or how many to freedom.
Straightening her shoulders Sloan fumbled for the handrail,only one way to find out.

* * *

Walter Attwood watched with concern as Ed slowly sank down onto the small couch. "What do the police think about Sloan's....."Attwood paused fumbling for the right word,"Situation."

Ed wearily raised his head wishing that instead of playing with DNA strands he could invent a time machine. A time machine that would allow him to send them all back to last year.
A year where everything had been normal.
When human beings thought they were the only human race on earth.

"Its been almost seventy two hours,Walter,"Ed replied softly,"We haven't received a ransom demand,even Ray's running out of leads."

Tom pushed himself away from the wall feeling rage building. He knew for Sloan's sake he had to control the anger,"So that's your answer,Tate?! You're just giving up?!"

Ed rose unsteadily to his feet eyes blazing,"Its all just black and white to you people isn't it?!"

"I thought Sloan ment more to you then that."Tom replied.

Two paramedics took that moment to enter the office. Both in their late twenties,one male,one female. One red head,one blonde.

The blonde woman took a tentative step into the room,"We were told there were injured parties?"

Grateful for the distraction Walter waved them in gesturing to the still fuming Ed Tate,"Yes Doctor Tate here was injured in the explosion. He just recently regained consciousness."

The woman nodded as she ushered Ed back over to the sofa,"Sit down, Doctor Tate,let us have a look."

*******

Sloan Parker had made it down three,maybe four flights of stairs before light flooded the stairwell. Momentarily blinded Sloan nearly tumbled down a flight of stairs
before strong arms grabbed her from behind. Swinging widely Sloan fought her captors as they drug her backwards. But with her eyes still not quite adjusted to the
light she was like a bat forced out into a bright summer's day.

"That was a very stupid move,Doctor."The man to her left whispered into her ear as they moved her out of the hallway and into an elevator,"I thought you were one of their brightest."

Sloan continued to struggle as the elevator started its accent ,"Do you think I wouldn't have tried to take my life back?"

The man merely shrugged as the other tightened his hold on Sloan's neck,"You are prey,we will dominate. That is the only certainty."


* * *

After the paramedics left Ed stood and began to walk out of Atwood's office. His first priority was finding a king size bottle of aspirin. The next and far more important was to continue the search for his best friend.

The bombing of his office only intensified his fear. If they were getting fiercer in their attempts to take out the human race what would they do with one human?

God forbid they would find out about the baby Sloan was carrying.

Ed jumped involuntarily as Tom's hand clamped down on his right shoulder.

"Where are you going?"Tom demanded. Ed glared at him,"To find Sloan."

Tom shook his head,"Not alone you're not."

Tate wearily ran a hand through his hair,"Look,I'm grateful for what you did,but what happened only made me more aware of the kind of danger Sloan's in. That
bomb was a warning,the clock on Sloan's life is rapidly running out and I'm not just going to stand by an watch it happen."

"Don't you think I'd be out there scouring every building in the greater Los Angeles area if I thought it'd bring her home? She's on their turf so we have to play on their terms. We will get her back,I promise you that, but we have to work together."

Ed extended his right hand a grim smile on his face,"For Sloan."

Tom shook his hand,"For Sloan."He repeated softly.