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by Debra Baschal
WARNINGS: This is a cross over with The Sentinel. This
is post TSbyBS and Blair is a cop.
Rhonda sighed as she made her way through the bullpen to her desk.
Sometimes she really hated Cascade.
Oh, she loved her job and adored her boss and friends, but sometimes
she really missed Denver.
She missed watching the sunrises over the prairies in her husband's
arms, she missed the sunsets over the front-range, things felt backwards
here. She missed having snow more than 3 or 4 days a year, not to mention
snowball fights with Chris and Buck, with a tiny Adam trying to join
in. Or the somewhat drier summers, but not the tornado watches and warnings.
She missed using her first name and real hair color.
Most of all, she missed her husband, Chris and his best friend Buck.
Of course, he was her brother also.
She sighed again as she started working. It was coming up on the sixth
anniversary of their deaths. Only 3 more days.
She promised herself that she wasn't going to cry the whole night
after she got Adam to sleep. At 10, he was getting old enough that he
was waking up if he heard her cry. He was so much like his father, blonde
hair, sea-green eyes. Plus a glare when he was angry that almost broke
her heart every time she saw it he looked so much like Chris when he
would get mad. She could also see Buck's good-natured influence still
showing on her son.
She wished she had been able to have something from them to make it
easier to show the boy what wonderful men both had been. However the
men that had kidnapped them had been working with one of the detectives
at the DPD. Until she knew who it was, she couldn't risk returning back
home. She wasn't sure there was anything to return home to. They had
bombed their house, killing Chris and Buck as they had returned home
from an assignment out of town.
Thankfully, she was able to point out the friendship that Jim Ellison
and Blair Sandburg had as an example of the type of unconditional love
the two had for each other. She was grateful that they were able to help
make up for the loss of the 2 men in his life. Both men had become uncles
to her son, as had the rest of the detectives in Major Crimes, well.
he did call Megan, aunt. Grinning ruefully at her thoughts, Rhonda went
about her normal work.
The bullpen was quiet since everyone was in the conference room. An
emergency joint mission with the ATF. This bust was so big and had come
about so fast within the last 6 hours that they had sent in one of their
best teams. Team 7 from the Colorado office, the ATF's 'Magnificent 7.'
They had all heard about their near perfect record, but she hadn't had
time to check back into the Denver based team. She hadn't even had the
time to learn their names.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of the refreshments she
had arranged for from home. Simon had insisted that she come in at her
regular time instead of in time for the 7am meeting when they had talked
that morning. She only hoped the agents didn't have the typical fed mentality
that the local authorities were useless lunk heads. Although she's love
to see Jim's response if they did. Her husband and brother, both detectives
for the Denver PD, had been the same way.
She pushed those thoughts out of her head as she moved towards the
conference room, the people from the bakery following her.
She smiled as she imagined some of the comments the agents might make
about their newest detective. His name had been cleared through Jim and
his brother's intervention and Blair had also been allowed to receive
his doctorate using his real dissertation on police subcultures. Rhonda's
smile grew larger as she thought about the help she had given in convincing
the Board of Regents and several others at Rainier about that Edwards
woman's vendetta against her young friend. She couldn't help it if Adam
was best friends with some of the grandchildren of various board members.
His decision to take the offered badge hadn't really been a surprise
to anyone in Major Crimes. She had helped him with the paperwork for
him to attend the academy after his graduation just after that mess with
that psycho Barnes. Joel, as a captain, had signed his letter of recommendation
As she entered the conference room, her concerns about Blair were
immediately laid to rest. One of the agents' hair was longer than his.
As she turned from checking the coffeepot, she gasped in surprise as
she spotted two of the men across the room. Both were as pale as she
was as she sunk into darkness.
Chris Larabee sighed as he and his team entered the conference room
following Captain Banks and the detectives of Major Crimes. It was bad
enough that he had an emergency investigation to work this time of the
year. Now, because they had all been called to Cascade, Washington, he
couldn't visit with Sarah and Adam this year.
He loved his job. The 6 men that made up his team had all become family
He still missed his wife and son. He missed holding Sarah through
sunrises and sunsets. He missed having Adam join them in their bed after
a bad dream, he didn't even have the bed any longer. He missed teaching
his son to play catch, and playing catch with Buck using his son, a game
that Adam adored but terrified Sarah. He missed the good times he Buck
and Sarah had had together, both before Adam's birth and after. He missed
the snowball fights and the mud fights. He missed giving Adam his bath,
and joining Sarah for one after their son was asleep.
But most of all he missed Sarah and Adam. He knew he would for the
rest of his life.
As would Buck. He had been the one to introduce them. He had wanted
his roommate to meet his sister while they were in the Navy. He knew
what he had gone through afterwards had been hard on his friend, watching
his brother-in-law self-destruct over their deaths. At the same time
feeling guilty about both, keeping Chris out of town the extra day and
being responsible for their loss.
Concentrating on the briefing around him, Chris was able to bury the
grief that was threatening to engulf him. He didn't understand why it
picked now to surface though. It usually waited till the day before the
anniversary before blindsiding him this badly.
He forced all thought that didn't matter to the case to the back of
At least they hadn't given Vin any grief on his hair or JD on his
age. Detective Sandburg may be a Ph.D., but his curly brown locks were
almost as long as Vin's and he looked closer to JD's age than Ezra's.
Looking at the detectives of Major Crimes, he had to admit that they
were prettily evenly matched with Team 7. Even if there were no females
on their team. He smirked as Inspector Connor once again shot Buck down
in flames. Not that the lady's man let that stop him. He shook his head
as Banks reminded the spirited Australian that she'd end up getting deported
if she shot an ATF agent.
Hearing the door open he noticed a woman leading 2 or 3 other people
towards the counter on the side of the room. The aroma of fresh pastries
filled the air. Glancing at her, he was startled by how much her movements
reminded him of Sarah, even if she had the wrong hair color. He knew
Buck had seen her and had noticed the resemblance as he felt him tense.
He felt himself go pale as the woman turned around and he recognized
his late wife's features. She gasped as she saw them and fainted.
Everyone rushed over as Rhonda collapsed to the floor.
Jim and Nathan were the first to reach her.
"Stay back," Jim told him. "I was a medic in the army."
Nathan nodded, but didn't move. "I'm an EMT."
Chris tried to move closer to Rhonda, but Jim held his arm out holding
him, back. "Just let us have some air."
"That's my wife." Chris growled at him. "Now get out of my way before
I move you out of the way."
"Wife!?" Blair squeaked. "But Rhonda's been working here for years."
"We were told she and their son Adam died in a fire at their house
back in '93." Buck told them.
"How old would Adam be now?" Simon had a sinking feeling.
"He was the first baby born in 1990 in Denver." Chris told them, "he'd
be 10 now."
Rhonda came too with a slight moan. Jim leaned in front of her as
he and Nathan helped her to sit up.
"How are you doing?" Jim asked gently.
Rhonda blushed slightly. "I'm sorry, it just two of the agents looked
like my late husband and my brother."
"Sarah?" Chris asked as Jim leaned back so she could see the rest
of the room.
Rhonda looked stunned for a moment. "Chris?"
He nodded, smiling gently.
"Oh, my god, Chris!" She exclaimed happily as she threw herself into
Buck smiled through the tears of joy streaming down his face. "Sari?
Is that really you?"
Rhonda pulled back from her husband's embrace and looked at her brother.
"Yea, Chris it's really me."
"Chris?" Nathan looked surprised.
"Why'd she just call Buck, Chris?" JD asked.
Buck's smile grew. "Because my full name is Christopher Buckley Wilmington
Connley, although I stopped using Connley back in high school. Had it
legally changed back to Wilmington back in College."
"My father had adopted him when he and Mom were married." Rhonda supplied.
"Of course there's a Junior in there too."
"What?" Blair asked confused.
"I think she hit her head on the way down." Nathan decided.
Buck started laughing as he gave his sister a bear hug. "No she didn't.
I was born Christopher Buckley Wilmington Jr. I just dropped saying the
Jr. part when Sari's dad adopted me."
"You dropped it?" Rhonda's eye brows climbed towards her hair. "You
were 9 months old at the time. I think Mom did that."
"Either that or she dropped Buck." Chris supplied smoothly.
"He started going be Buck back in grade school. There were 5 Chris-es
in his 3 grade class."
"How are you feeling, Rhonda?" Simon asked as Chris and Buck helped
her into a chair.
"I'm OK. I thought I was seeing a pair of ghosts though." Rhonda confessed.
"Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait to discover what Mrs.
Larabee meant by that remark. We have less than 2 hours before the raid."
AD Travis interrupted.
Every one agreed and returned to the table. Chris and Buck kept Rhonda
between them, tucked into Chris's side, his arm around her
possessively. Buck kept touching her to make sure that she was real.
The raid went as planned. They had managed to confiscate over 5 million
dollars in weapons and another 3 million in drugs, as well as arrest
3 major players and dozens of minor ones. No one from the Cascade PD
or the ATF were injured.
That night, they all met at the Loft on Prospect, since it was big
enough to allow for seating for everyone involved.
Only Rhonda's insistence and Simon offer to drive her kept Chris and
Buck from accompanying her to pick up Adam from daycare and bringing
him to the loft. She knew her son had the faces of his father and uncle
memorized. She preferred for their first meeting to not take place in
front of all his friends at the school's daycare. Their relocating back
to Denver was going to be hard enough with out Adam getting teased his
last few days for being a crybaby at seeing his father and uncle from
his entire class before he left.
She hadn't told Simon that she was leaving yet, she knew he wasn't
going to take it very well. According to him, she was the backbone of
the entire unit and that he'd be lost with out her. She doubted that,
but knew she was good at her job and that he depended on her. If it weren't
for her getting her husband and brother back, she would have never even
thought about leaving, unless another incident like that psycho Barnes
or what had happened with Blair's dissertation happened again. She had
come very close to quitting over Jim's treatment of Blair both times,
and Simon hadn't been much help on either occasion either with his let
it blow over attitude.
Outside the Loft, Rhonda told her son that there was a big surprise
for him on the other side of the door. Anxious to discover what his Uncle
Jim and Uncle Blair had for him, Adam opened the door at his Uncle Simon's
urging and hurried in.
The sight of so many men he didn't know brought the 10 year-old to
a halt. As he scanned the faces in front of him, he recognized 2 of them
from the picture his mother had made a copy of for him.
Walking up to the 2 men, he looked at the Blonde man dressed in black.
Swallowing past his suddenly dry mouth he asked. "Excuse me, but are
you two Chris Larabee and Buck Wilmington?"
Chris smiled as he nodded his throat suddenly full of a lump of emotions,
his eyes rapidly filling with tears. "Yes son, we are."
"Daddy?" Adam joyously said in disbelief as he threw himself into
his father's arms.
Chris caught his son as the tears fell unabashedly down his face.
Buck pulled Rhonda into a hug as she joined them. "God I'm glad you're
both Ok, Sari." He whispered holding her tight.
Later, after introducing Adam to the rest of Team 7 and Judge Travis,
Rhonda started filling them all in on what had happened back in '93.
"I had just got home from picking up Adam from daycare, I was putting
away groceries, when several men burst into the house. One of them grabbed
Adam and forced me to leave with them. They put us into a RV and drove
away. I had no idea who they were and they didn't say what they wanted.
They kept driving for 2 or 3 days. I think they took highways instead
of freeways, because it never felt like we got going very fast. When
they finally let us out of the RV we were here in Cascade. We were in
a warehouse down on the docks. They kept us there for almost a week.
The night before they were going to move us again, there was a police
raid. The men were arrested and Adam and I, and about 15 others were
freed. I tried to call home, but was told the number was out of service.
I called Helen Larson, next door. I talked to her daughter, Nancy. She
was in tears. She told me that our house had exploded. I asked about
you and Buck. She was sobbing so hard I could barely understand her,
but I did hear that you were both in there." She stopped as the lump
in her throat made it impossible for her to continue.
Chris pulled her close as tears streamed down both their faces.
"Why." Buck's voice broke. He cleared it and began again. "Why didn't
you come back home to Denver? You know both you and Adam were my heirs."
"Because I had heard one of the men make a phone call. They were working
for one of the detectives you two worked with. I didn't know who it was,
and I couldn't put Adam in danger. I've been trying to discover who it
is from here." She grinned ruefully. "I guess there's a reason I never
went to the academy. I haven't been able to find anything."
"Why would they bring you to Cascade and fake your deaths back in
Denver?" JD asked.
Rhonda looked at him startled. "Faked our deaths?" she turned towards
Chris and Buck. "I had no idea that you. When I heard that the two of
"It's OK." Chris soothed her. "The charred bodies of a woman your
size and a little boy were found in the ashes of our house. The autopsy
determined that the explosion killed them. They only tried to determine
the cause of death. Since it was our house, we already knew who the bodies
"We may never know who that woman and child were." Josiah informed
"Why did they bring you to Cascade?" Blair asked.
"They were planning to ship everyone they were holding in the warehouse
to the orient." Simon informed them. "We raided the warehouse on a tip
about a white slavery ring that had been operating in the area at the
time." He grinned at the startled looks from his men.
"I had just taken over Major Crimes. That was the first big bust we
"So how did Rhonda get past the department's screening to be hired
using an assumed name?" Blair asked.
She grinned. "I didn't. I've been using my maiden name and my middle
"When she told us about the possible inside man with the Denver PD,
we, as in the Chief and I, thought it would be better if she didn't use
her real name until we got it cleared up." Simon supplied. "The Chief
has had people working on it since then, but had never been able to come
up with enough to go to the DPD brass."
"They must have said something. Given you some clue as to who it was?"
Buck said looking at his sister.
Rhonda shook her head. "They kept us drugged for most of the trip,
only thing they talked about that sounded out of place, that I heard,
was cleats. I have no idea what kind of cleats they were referring to,
but it seemed out of place for a gang of white slavers to be talking
about sports equipment."
Chris looked thoughtful for a moment. "Do you remember exactly what
they said?" He grinned slightly. "I know it was a long time ago, and
that you had been drugged, but can you remember how they said it?"
Rhonda frowned, thinking. "You don't want much do you?" She grinned
back at him.
"We'll have the cleat. us will meet in a month to. split the take.
Hell a. gonna pay us double." Adam slowly spoke as he sat with his eyes
screwed shut, obviously trying to remember.
"What was that, son?" Chris asked as they all focused on the boy in
"It's a little fuzzy, but that's what the man said after he got off
the phone." Adam answered.
"He couldn't have been more than 3 at the time." Nathan pointed out.
"Adam had total recall. They discovered it last year when he was able
to recite an entire report that he had read off my monitor while waiting
for Rhonda. There was a problem and I lost the entire thing." Jim told
them. "Adam closed his eyes and read the report back to me. He saved
me a couple of hours work."
"That's right." Rhonda agreed. "He told me he remembers you and Buck
playing toss the baby with him." She shook her head and muttered "I hated
"Aww, that's only cause you thought we were gonna spike our ball."
Buck grinned as he started tickling Adam.
"No. I thought one of you fumble fingers was going to drop my baby."
Rhonda growled at her brother. "I remember you were the fumble king back
in high school."
"My freshman year." Buck defended himself. "Then they discovered that
I made a better defensive player if I wasn't playing quarterback. I was
all-state my Junior and Senior years." He told the others.
"That just proves you can throw a football, not catch it." Rhonda
declared a glint of laughter in her eyes.
"Can you remember anything else, Adam?" Chris asked his son, who had
taken refuge on his lap.
Adam thought hard for a moment.
"I don't remember a lot. They talked weird."
"How's that?" Chris asked.
"Every time they said cleat, they'd say 'us was' and what ever they
were gonna do. They also said 'hell a' then whatever was gonna happen."
Adam told them.
"Cleat. us was. hell.a." Blair repeated thinking hard.
"Whatcha got, Chief?" Jim had recognized that his partner was putting
his considerable intellect to work.
After a moment, Blair shook his head and grinned. "What if, what sounded
like several unrelated words to Rhonda and Adam, who were both probably
drugged half out of their minds, had really been related words, or parts
of the same words."
Chris' eyes grew as he put it all together. "Cleatus and Ella." He
"Cleatus Fowler." Buck nodded. He was one of the detectives who worked
out of Vice. They found out a couple of years ago that he has ties to
"Who is Ella Gaines?" Megan asked.
"She's the proprietor of approximately a dozen corporations that routinely
secure returns of over $25 million a year, each." Ezra supplied. "She
is also reported to have a number of connections with several disreputable
enterprises across the plains states, including our own Colorado. Figures
last put her estimated personal worth at over 5 billion dollars, and
that is thought to be a rather conservative estimate."
"Seeing as how no one really knows how much her cut of the illegal
stuff is." Vin added.
"But why would she kidnap a woman and baby?" Simon asked.
"Because she's gotta major fixation on Chris." Buck informed them.
Chris nodded. "I knew her back in high school. I was pretty wild back
in those days." He smirked. "I made Buck here look like a monk. Ella
was beautiful and full of life and only wanted to have a good time."
His expression grew serious. "What I didn't know at the time, was that
she is a psychopath. In her demented mind, she saw the wild fling of
a couple of hormone driven teen-agers as a long, lasting, undying love.
I out grew her before the end of the semester, but she was obsessed with
me. She started stalking me. Threatened the girls I tried to date, and
made the second half of my junior year a complete nightmare."
"How did you finally get her to leave you alone?" JD asked.
Chris' face settled into a grim mask. "I was taking Shannon Beardsley
to the Junior Prom. She insisted, if I was going to get what I wanted,
I was taking her to the prom." He blushed as he realized what he had
just admitted in front of his team, boss, wife, son and colleagues. "Her
father arranged for a limo to take us. I guess he thought if we were
in the limo, with her uncle as the driver, we wouldn't try anything.
We were planning on ditching him later. Ella shot out the tire and caused
us to roll and crash. Shannon's uncle was knocked out and had broken
a couple of ribs and his arm. Shannon had hit her head and shoulder and
had a broken leg. I ended up underneath Shannon. I had the wind knocked
out of me and a bunch of broken ribs. My nose, collarbone and shoulder
were broke. My knee and hip were both dislocated. Ella tried to drag
me out of the car, after dumping Shannon off of me. She kept ranting
about taking me home with her and taking care of me after she blew up
the limo. Thank god the cops were right there. They had seen the whole
thing. They arrested her and got the three of us to the hospital. Ella
was sent to a psychiatric hospital."
"How long was she there?" Blair asked.
"She was there for 5 years." Chris answered. "When she got out, presumably
cured, I was already in the Navy. She seemed to ignore me and set about
putting her live back together. Then Buck introduced me to Sarah here,
and I forgot all about her."
"About a year after we thought we had lost Sari and Adam, she came
to see Chris. By then she was into all the illegal stuff and Chris and
I were detectives. That's when he realized she was still obsessed with
him. Evidently, her money had bought her way out of the hospital. We
couldn't prove anything, but she did back off. We've both been keeping
an eye on her, but she seems to be keeping her distance." Buck explained.
"Without hard evidence, there's nothing we can do." The Judge explained.
"Unless any of the men involved with the ring collaborate your suspicions
and name Miss Gaines as the force behind Mrs. Larabee and her son's kidnapping,
especially since Detective Fowler's unfortunate death last year."
"He was killed in a shoot out with drug dealers when a bust went bad."
Buck clarified for them.
"So, unless you can prove that this Gaines woman was behind everything,
Rhonda and Adam should stay here in Cascade where they'll be safer."
Simon concluded trying to hide a grin, waiting for the explosion he knew
"The hell they will!" Chris growled. "I'll be damned if I'll allow
anyone to keep my wife and son away from me."
"He's right, Simon. My place is with Chris." Rhonda confirmed.
"And what am I suppose to do with out you to keep the department running
smoothly?" He asked.
"You could transfer to the DPD." JD offered.
"The whole unit?" Blair asked, a smile growing on his face.
JD shrugged. "Then how about the ATF. You all seem to be good enough
to make up another team."
"Naw." Simon shook his head, clearly joking now. "Just leave me my
office manager and everything will be fine."
"Simon." Rhonda laughed. "My resignation's already on your desk."
Simon gave her a mock glare. "You are deserting me? After all these
years? After everything we've meant to each other?"
"What?" Chris growled at the last statement.
Simon continued as if no one had spoken. "After Kincaid, and Quinn
and that idiot Bartley and the mess he caused at the station? Not to
mention trying to survive getting Darryl through high school? And how
do you expect me to handle my nephew being half way across the country?"
"You could come for visits." Adam suggested eagerly.
"Those are some pretty persuasive arguments you've got there, Simon."
"Yea, for running the other way." Blair snorted in amusement.
"You can be replaced." Simon growled, glaring at his youngest detective.
"By three cops and four computers. maybe" Rhonda laughed.
Simon looked at Chris and whined. "But you can't take her. She's mine."
Every one cracked up as Chris leaned closer to Simon and grinned.
"Yea, but she was mine first."
"Mom, does this mean we get to go home with Dad and Uncle Buck?" Adam
"And Uncle Josiah, and Uncle Vin and Uncle Nathan and Uncle Ezra and
Cousin JD." Buck told him.
"You are so full of it, Buck. Big brother, yes, but there is no way
you're a father figure to me." JD protested.
"Oh, come on, Kid. You know you act like you're my son." Buck teased.
"But you don't act like my father. More like my mother." JD grumbled.
"Hey, JD. Is that mother, or muther?" Vin asked, a devilish gleam
in his eye.
"That's it. You're asking for it Junior." Buck declared as he chased
after the younger man. Doubling back he caught the smaller man in a headlock.
He gave him a noogie as the room rang with laughter.
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