Big fluffy flakes fell wetting the ground where they landed. December first brought with it a snowfall to brighten dreary downtown Denver. Passersby seemed lighter on their feet, the snow heralding the coming Christmas season. Chris stood staring out of his office window quietly reflecting on the events of the last few weeks since Weller's re-capture.
It hadn't taken long to piece together what had happened.
The man masquerading as John Beck, the lessee of the house where three more murdered young women had been found, was in fact innocent. His real name was Henry Gardner. A paranoid schizophrenic, Henry was on probation from a psychiatric hospital to determine if he was ready to live out in the community.
Weller had chosen Henry because of Henry's general similarity in appearance to himself. Henry had a night shift security job that necessitated he sleep during the day. That, along with a tendency to avoid contact with people, a symptom of his illness, meant no one in the neighbourhood saw Henry too often or got to know him very well. Henry's case worker had been pleased that Henry had found such reasonably priced rental accommodation with the only condition that Henry not go into the basement where the owner had some of his own belongings stored.
It was Henry's paranoia, which had caused him to run from Ezra and the FBI that day. There were too many cars he didn't recognize and too many people not normally on the street. Along with that, Henry revealed in questioning that he'd been receiving telephone calls every morning for a week. The mysterious phone caller had warned Henry that he was being watched.
When Henry didn't pick up his usual telephone call that morning, Weller knew his plan was in motion. Now he only had to wait for the FBI surveillance agents to leave. Once caught, Henry would be an effective decoy for an hour or so, just long enough to kill Del and get away. John Osipenko and Bronwen Lind agreed. It was likely Weller intended to continue the psychological game with Josiah after Del's death.
That's where Weller lucked in. Frank Pollard, the stupid bastard, had deviate from standard procedure and called off the surveillance on JD, Del and Rosie before Henry Gardner had been captured and his identity had been confirmed. Frank probably figured they had the right man. In relieving the surveillance on Del, Rosie and JD sooner than he should have Chris would most certainly file a complaint. Since nothing was expected to have happened, at worst Frank would have gotten a note on his file and the chance to thumb his nose at Chris one last time before his retirement.
Instead Frank's rash decision cost Sandy Williamson his life and quite nearly cost Del and Josiah their lives as well. Chris wouldn't need to file a complaint. The FBI had dealt swiftly with Frank. Frank had immediately been retired and he could kiss his government pension goodbye. He had been lucky the Federal Attorney's office hadn't opted to lay criminal charges. Chris had no sympathy for the man. He hoped Frank rotted in some night security job for his remaining years on this earth.
Once the FBI surveillance agents passed Weller waiting at the Star and Bars, Weller made the bomb threat call from the telephone booth there. Sandy Williamson, for his own reasons hadn't left, probably just stayed to visit with Del and Rosie for a few minutes. It would have been the sort of thing Sandy Williamson would have taken the time to do.
Ezra, for his part, had immediately realized they had been duped when it was understood how old the bodies in the basement were. By then the bomb threat emergency measures were in place and the FBI surveillance units had been called off. Ezra telephoned Inez at the Saloon on the chance that the team would be somewhere in the street not too far away.
Ezra's quick thinking and Josiah taking his time in getting home had given Chris and the rest of the team enough time to get to the homestead before it was too late.
The paramedics examined Del and advised her to go to the hospital. Del, predictably, had refused. She would heal better at home with her family she said. When the FBI found Williamson's body Nathan suggested a visit with Aunt Rain, at least overnight. Del took the hint: the FBI would need at least twenty-four hours to investigate the crime scene. Del, Rosie and Josiah ended up staying with Nathan and Rain for three of days.
Weller's comment to JD concerning JD's determination not to talk when ordered to by the Nichols brothers confirmed that he knew about the kidnappings. But without the Nichols brothers there was no evidence to indicate that Weller had engineered the kidnappings. Further, without a murder weapon it would be tough for the DA to tie Weller to the Nichols brothers' deaths or the deaths of the photographers Fragomeni and McGregor.
Sandy Williamson's murder was another matter. Sandy Williamson's body was found behind Del's truck, hidden by Weller before Del came looking for JD.
The bodies of the young women were in the process of identification. Three more families would have answers concerning their missing daughters.
JD was hospitalized for two weeks because his second concussion followed so soon after his first. This second concussion was also far more serious than the first. Chris was present when JD was questioned as to the specifics of his confrontation with Weller and Williamson's death. Up until then, JD hadn't known Sandy Williamson had died. JD took it hard. Williamson died leaving a widow and children. Why hadn't Weller kill him as well? Chris explained that Weller's reasoning was that Williamson was of no value to him while he could use JD to get to Del and Rosie. No matter what else happened, JD needed to remember Weller chose to kill Sandy Williamson and there was nothing JD could have done to stop him.
Mary got her exclusive and had broken the full story in the next evening's newspaper. The letters to the editor and local radio and TV talk show callers proclaimed the members of Team Seven to be heroes. How was it that none of them felt much like heroes?
Mia showed up at the office two days later. Chris thought back to how strange it seemed - it was as if Vin knew she was coming. Chris was talking to Vin at his desk when Vin suddenly stood up and faced the door to their offices a moment before Mia came through it. There were no words between them as Mia immediately buried herself in Vin's arms. They stood holding each other while Chris, Buck, Nathan and Ezra, made a discreet exit. A backward glance on his way out the door and Chris caught the tears in Vin's eyes. They returned an hour later not surprised to find Vin gone, nor did they hear from him the rest of the day. Chris discovered a message on his answering machine when he arrived home that night. Vin and Mia were going home to the reservation. Mia had asked Vin to go on a healing journey with her. Vin said he would call when he got back. Chris figured that wasn't likely to be anytime soon, and that was okay. Vin's last comment made him smile. "Ah, thanks, Cowboy, fer not lettin' me cross the line."
Once the initial investigation was completed and he was no longer needed, Josiah spent the next ten days at home with Del and Rosie. He took Rosie to and picked her up from school every day. As strong a woman as Del was, she had just survived sexual torture administered by a man who had it down to an art. She would need a lot of the tender, loving care for the next while. Knowing Josiah as he did, Chris knew Del couldn't be in better hands.
Josiah returned to work on a part time basis yesterday. Chris talked to Josiah briefly about Josiah's decision to quit profiling. Chris suggested a compromise: maybe Josiah could stick to consulting and not take the primary lead on any more cases. Josiah said he would think about it. It wasn't a "yes", but then it wasn't a "no" either. Chris was content with that for now.
Late last week Chris had gone to collect a file off of Nathan's desk. In so doing he had nudged the computer mouse. The screen saver disappeared and Chris couldn't help but notice the minimized document on the screen was entitled "Resignation". That was five days ago now and Nathan still hadn't said anything about it. Chris decided not to ask. Rain had managed to talk Nathan out of resigning once before. Maybe she would again.
The fourth day of JD's stay in hospital, Orin Travis telephoned Chris at home. Travis had received a call from the CEO of the hospital. Travis was now passing the message and the problem on to Chris. Chris arrived at the hospital to discover Rosie sitting outside the CEO's office. The usually busy, talkative youngster sat quietly sipping on a small carton of milk.
Rosie brightened noticeably when she saw Chris. When asked where her uncles were she advised him solemnly that Uncle Ezra and Uncle Buck were in the "Principal's office".
Uncle Ezra and Uncle Buck had decided to treat Rosie to McDonald's and an afternoon in the city. It had all been part of a bigger master-plan. Rosie had been somewhat out of sorts at not being able to see JD, so Uncles Buck and Ezra had tried to sneak Rosie into the hospital to visit with him. It would help calm Rosie's precocious ways knowing JD was being well cared for and maybe it would help JD's frame of mind.
Chris shook his head as he recalled the conversation in his office afterwards. How could two supposedly elite ATF agents not pull off something as simple as smuggling a four year-old in and out of a hospital? Hospitals were not exactly fortresses when it came to security. Ezra blamed Buck for getting carried away with flirting with just one nurse when he was supposed to be diverting the attention of all the nurses. Buck shot back that for someone who was supposed to have re-written the book on undercover work, how could Ezra have been so clumsy with the laundry hamper that Rosie was hidden in? A collision with the hamper and a stacked trolley full of mid-day meals had led to a spectacularly noisy crash. Chris had to wonder though, with the number of times Ezra had visited the hospital, not to mention the number of stays Ezra personally had had, why no one had recognized him in the green orderly's smock. It just lent credence to Ezra's claim that it was the clothes and the demeanor people saw, not the person.
Chris threw them out of his office. Discipline would be swift and particularly distasteful, he promised. Some days this place felt like kindergarten. In the meantime Chris had been able to broker a deal concerning visitation whereby Rosie could meet with JD privately in the sunroom for half an hour a day but only if one of her parents brought her. This was possible only because JD's doctor had been very pleased by the sudden improvement in JD's vitals and emotional state after Rosie's visit.
Beau recovered from his gunshot wound. The bullet had lodged itself in the bone of his shoulder. Though he seemed free from pain and retook his place as number one dog with little effort, he, like his master, would limp for the rest of his days.
Then there was Jonathan Becks Weller. The report lay on Chris's desk. Weller was recovering from his gunshot wound in his cell awaiting his trial. In the meantime Weller had taken up a new hobby, songwriting. Apparently Weller sang songs constantly twelve hours a day, making the words up as he went along. The report went into detail as to the contents of these songs: songs praising God; songs threatening revenge on Josiah Sanchez and the other members of Team 7; songs of known victims and songs that hinted at other as yet unknown victims.
The FBI was recording everything.