"You've got to help me find her."
The voice echoing through the receiver was almost unrecognizable, years of practiced authority instantly worn away.
"Aw, man," a different voice sighed desperately, "I don't know where to start."
"I tracked her cell - she's heading west. Bank records show she used her card once, to take money from an ATM outside a bus station next town over. The last thing she looked up on her phone was the schedule, endpoint, California. She wouldn't go back to Stanford so soon. She's got to be coming to you… Please, man. I'm begging you."
"California's a big state, Jack. What makes you think she's heading here, to my place?"
"Because you're the only person she knows there anymore, Clu."
Jack heard his friend sigh again and pictured him running a hand through his hair, a nervous habit he'd witnessed Clu perform many times before.
"Jack," Clu's tone hushed, "Any other time, I'd help you out in a heartbeat, but it's my weekend with my son, and there's no sign she's in any danger here."
"Don't try and lay a guilt trip on me, man. I would do anything for Fi, you know that-"
"I just said I-"
"Good, then you'll help me. I'll be there as soon as I can. I'm in Cheyenne now, so, eighteen hours, tops."
Jack ended the call without another word. It was rare for him to admit he needed help, a trait he'd always bared even as a kid. Looking after his sister was his responsibility and no one else's. He knew that. He was kicking himself for letting her slip through his fingers, but he needed some sort of assistance now. Maybe he didn't need Clu as much for the hunt as he did for support; someone to tell him it was okay that he'd lost sight of her, that things would be alright and she'd be safe and sound and that they would laugh about this someday.
He'd been asleep when she left, he concluded, after waking that morning to nothing more than rumpled sheets on the twin bed beside his. She'd run away, just like she did years ago when she cowardly dodged out of Colorado.
Their spat last night would hardly qualify as a significant argument in Jack's eyes, at least not one that would trigger this kind of reaction. Just more of the same: tension between siblings suddenly forced to be family again. Fiona was insisting that Jack didn't know her anymore, which was ridiculous. Of course he did. He was her big brother. He knew her better than anyone. That's why he should've expected this little stunt of hers.
Jack had the Mustang going as fast as he could get her, keeping his eyes peeled for speed traps as a series of worst-case-scenarios played out in his head. Though he believed Fiona could take care of herself, he didn't want her to have to. That was his job. His one job. And he couldn't afford to fail.