A/N: Thank you again for all your comments and guesses. Can we make it to 200 reviews? Fingers-crossed. And Barbara, I love it! A list of endless possibilities, just as it should be. (evil grin)
The weather had taken a turn for the worse, the temperature plummeting and changing the rain to sleet and, if anything, the wind was blowing even harder, making Bobby wish he'd put on something more than his leather jacket when he'd left home but that would only have served to keep the cold from the outside, not warm the chill which gripped him inside. The question he'd asked Sue before he'd left had been a rhetorical one but nevertheless, as he drove towards the city, it kept niggling at the back of his mind… What would he do… apart from tearing Capono apart with his bare hands that was?
He could count his real friends on the fingers of one hand but none of them came anywhere near close to Jack. They'd known each other for years and faced all manner of problems and dangerous situations together. Knew each other inside and out... He was supposed to be rule-breaker, landing himself in all kinds of bother while Jack was the steadfast, sensible one who he could always rely on to keep him on the straight and narrow… Not that Sparky wasn't reckless once in a while himself… but when it happened, it was usually because he was trying to bail him out of something he'd gotten himself into, like the time he'd been suspended or when he'd fallen so deeply into debt with his gambling that his colleague had virtually given him the shirt off his back to get him out of trouble. No, Jack was a cut above the rest and if he was gone it would leave a gaping void in his life that could never be filled.
He'd been heading for the office to meet up with the rest of the team but suddenly, with a screech of tyres, he executed the ninety degree turn that would take him down to the river. He needed to see for himself what had happened and make sure nothing was overlooked but, more importantly, he wanted to make certain there was nothing left at the scene that could be misconstrued or incriminate Jack in any way.
As he pulled into the lot he saw that he'd arrived too late, the forensics teams were already at work, checking the car with help of the headlights from the other vehicles. A young MPD officer, who he didn't recognise, approached him as he got out.
"Sorry Sir you can't park here, this is a crime scene."
Bobby pulled his badge and showed it to him. "I'm aware of that. Any idea what went down here?"
"Not really Special Agent Manning, I've just been assigned to keep the sightseers away but I believe there was some kind of shoot-out, those guys will know more."
The Aussie shivered involuntarily, thanked him and walked to the nearest man wearing a CSI jacket, flashing his ID once more. Jack had been right about one thing, they really were both getting old. The entire team in front of him appeared to be fresh out of university while the Metro cop looked like his mom still tucked him in at night and when he was greeted as 'sir' for the second time it felt more like deference to his age than his status as an F.B.I Agent.
"Is it okay if I look inside?"
"Yeah, we're about finished, this belong to one of yours?"
Bobby nodded not trusting himself to speak.
"You're recruiting them young these days, aren't you?"
The guy shone his light onto the child seat in the back.
"Off-duty... Well, as off as we ever get."
"The kid wasn't with him?" He asked in alarm.
"No, she's safe at home."
"Thank the Lord for that. Why would he be in this godforsaken place alone at this time of night?"
Bobby merely shrugged noncommittally.
"Well whatever his business was, if someone hadn't called it in, I dread to think how long it would have taken to find him."
"Why's that?" he hastily cleared his throat to cover his lack of sincerity in asking the question when he already knew the answer.
"GPS was on the fritz, looks like a loose connection, but I can't for the life of me figure out why they couldn't pick up the signal from the LoJack, it seems fine now."
"Did you say it was working?" The Aussie queried in surprise.
"Yep and his cell's in the glove compartment, switched off but fully-charged, yet we were told they couldn't pinpoint his location. Guess they must have been using rookies or something."
"Do you know who reported it?"
"Not my purview, sorry..."
With more questions than answers but knowing he wasn't going to find out what had happened to his friend by standing there prevaricating, he forced himself to turn his attention to the part he'd been dreading, repeating the question he'd asked earlier. "Any idea what went down here?"
"Sorry, we're just assigned to the outside, there's another crew dealing with the crime scene."
Bobby swallowed hard. "Where do I go?"
The man pointed a beam of light across the lot. "See the red sign, just round the corner there's a disused building, that's where you need to be."
He started towards his car to fetch his own flashlight but the CSI called him back.
"Agent Manning, you might want to see this." He'd been joined by another member of the team who handed something to him. "Your lot might have lost him but someone knew exactly where he was." He held up a small mystery object.
"A miniature tracking device, state of the art, too... It was tucked under the wheel arch. We'll take it to the lab and see what we can find out."
"You'll let me know?"
"The guy who was driving… Was he a colleague of yours..?"
The younger man nodded. "We'll let you know."
He'd been to many a crime scene over the years, some of which had looked like something out of a Tarantino movie, but this one… this was different. His legs felt like lead as he walked in the direction he'd been shown and when he turned the corner, he literally had to force himself not to turn tail and run. Standing in the entranceway was a black vehicle which was unmistakeably from the county morgue and as he drew closer, three more forensics people emerged carrying cameras and evidence bags.
Pushing himself forward, he was about to ask what they'd found when he heard the distinctive sound of metal wheels on concrete. He'd recognised the noise before the trolley came into view and virtually stopped breathing when he saw the black body-bag lying on it.
"Can I help you, Sir?" The question went unanswered so the attendant tried again, this time touching his arm to get his attention. "Is there something you need?"
Bobby sucked in the cold air to revive himself, then flashed his badge for a third time. "What..? What happened?"
"We don't have all the details yet I'm afraid. We'll know more when we get him back to base."
"You must have some idea."
"I'm sorry but we can't divulge that information."
The big man grabbed him by the collar and stared at him menacingly but he was rescued by a softly-spoken assistant coroner. "It's okay, I've got this. A gunshot wound to the head. Looks like a professional hit although I can't be sure. He didn't stand a chance, I'm afraid."
"Do you know who..?"
"He wasn't carrying any ID but from what they found in the car over there, we believe he's one of yours. Perhaps you could take a look, see if you recognise him. I should warn you though, it's not pretty."
"I've seen dead bodies before," the Aussie retorted angrily but it was borne out of fear not malice.
"Very well," he motioned for the two men to wheel him closer.
Bobby had been determined not to show any sign of weakness but as he reached for the zipper, his hand started to shake, making it impossible for him to grasp it. He tried several times but in the end the older man moved him to one side.
"I'll do it. It's freezing out here tonight, you should be wearing gloves. Cold fingers and toggles just don't mix. Ready..?"
The kind gesture wasn't lost on Bobby and with a curt nod, he braced himself for the worst but when the man pulled it down, he almost sobbed in relief.
"His name's Anthony Capono from our San Diego Field Office."
"I take it that wasn't who you were expecting to see?" He addressed the two attendants. "You can leave now."
Rubbing his face with his hands, the tall Aussie sighed audibly. "Was he alone?"
"No, there was one other casualty, they took him to City."
"You did say casualty right, not fatality?"
"The paramedics were working on him in the back of the ambulance when I got here. He was alive then but he was drifting in and out."
"You know something mate, if you weren't a guy I could kiss you right now."
"Why let that, stop you?"
Bobby stared at him in stunned surprised.
"Kidding..! Go and find your friend. We still have work to do, and we're freezing our butts off standing out here. Oh by the way, I was kinda listening in on the investigator's conversation earlier, not intentionally you understand, and neither of your fellow Agents' guns had been fired. Just thought you'd want to know..."
"I hope he makes it."
"Me too," Bobby concurred, looking Heavenward as he ran back to his car.