All disclaimers apply--you all know the main character's don't belong to me, I just posed them a bit then returned them for the next fic writer.
The character's I do own are: Connie, Fillman, Harden, Sayer, Mael, Sean, Ian, Colm and the unnamed appearances...I also claim Connie's sister's.... er... um.... I guess I actually can't now that I think about it because.... well, you'll see why when you get to them. :-D
.....SAILOR TAKE WARNING
Alex Stone glanced over at her sleeping passenger and smiled. She recalled the day he came into the Widow's Walk five weeks ago.
"Afternoon, Daniel. Did you come by for lunch?"
"I had lunch at home." He shook his head. "I actually, um, need to talk to you."
"Oh, okay." Alex replied putting down her cleaning rag on the bar to give him her full attention.
"Do you think we could go outside?"
"Sure." She nodded, wondering why he seemed nervous.
She led him to the patio where she barbecued a lot of orders during the summer.
"I have great news, Arnie's finally getting married and he's asked me to be his best man." Daniel grinned.
"That's great, I'm so happy for him." Alex smiled meaning it. She liked Arnie... especially after he pitched in when Boris hot-footed it out of town after a dream the KGB were after him.
"I'm going to rent a car in Seattle and drive to San Francisco."
"You do plan on stopping I hope, you'll end up exhausted trying to get there straight through."
"Not if someone----this isn't coming out right." Daniel sighed dropping into a chair and looking at her. "Arnie's invitation said I could bring a guest... he personally hand wrote how nice it would be to see you and Dylan. So... Alex, will you be my date for Arnie's wedding?"
"I'd love to be your date for the wedding." She smiled.
"I guess I'd better call Arnie and let him know we're coming then." He smiled back as he stood and started to leave then turned back to her. "Alex?"
"I'm glad you're going with me."
"So am I."
Daniel nodded then left with a smile.
Molly had taken one look at her face when she went back inside and drug her into the empty kitchen demanding to know what was going on.
Alex told her what Daniel had said not bothering to hide her excitement.
The blonde insisted they immediately go upstairs and decide what she would wear citing that a wedding date was much more romantic and she needed the perfect outfit. She rejected all of Alex's dresses then said they would have to see what Daniel was wearing in order to find something complimentary for her. If it was a tuxedo.... Alex recalled Daniel wearing one in the play and looking quite dashing, then she would need something very dressy, on the other hand if it was a suit she could go with something less formal. Molly immediately went to the phone and called Daniel and Alex couldn't help but laugh as her best friend rattled off question's of style and color to the minister then exasperatedly told him she would come up to the house and he'd try on every suit he owned and she would decide what looked best on him. Alex felt sorry for Daniel by the time Molly hung up. She was half afraid his head was spinning and he'd need Dr. Watson to come hold it steady.
Molly returned after two hours looking triumphant but would only tell her that when she saw Daniel in his suit she would fall for him all over again!
The next Friday the two women went shopping in Seattle, going to six different stores before Molly found what she deemed the 'perfect dress' and had Alex try it on.
Alex was less sure when she looked at herself in the mirror... it was cut lower than she was used to and adhered to her curve's making her self-conscious but Molly had said the magic words... it was guaranteed to make Daniel look only at her, so she bought it before she could talk herself out of it. They also purchased matching shoes and a new suit for Dylan. Alex didn't feel so bad since she spent less than a hundred dollars, with all of it being on sale.
Every time she got into her closet she touched the dress and imagined dancing in Daniel's arms and it made her tingle all over.
Alex pulled her thoughts back to the present and glanced in the rearview mirror as Dylan stirred but didn't wake-up. She turned her attention back to the road then realized Daniel was watching her. "Sleep well?" she half-smiled.
"Yeah, thanks for driving. I was beat."
"You were up half the night with Charlie, then church this morning, you were in no shape to take the wheel when you arrived after that, besides, we agreed to share the driving... after lunch it's your turn." She smiled.
"How long has he been out?" Daniel asked glancing at the sleeping boy in the back seat.
"Shortly after you. I think he was too excited to sleep much last night."
"Has he ever been to California?"
"No, neither of us have."
"There's a lot to show you in 'Frisco."
"How far is Irvine from there?"
Sometimes it wasn't nearly far enough, he thought.
"About 350 miles." He answered aloud.
"You wanted to get away from your family huh?"
"Look who's talking Miss Miami." He retorted.
Alex rolled her eyes.
"So did you live in a dorm or what?"
"Arnie and I shared an apartment."
"How did you two meet anyway?"
"We were in some classes together at Irvine High."
"So college, then theological school..."
"Then Kate." He sighed looking out the window.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring up painful memories."
Daniel shook his head and smiled at her. "Doesn't hurt nearly as much as it did last year."
"So time really does heal all wounds?"
"I'm not sure that's true... but it does put it into some kind of perspective."
Alex nodded after a moment then they rode the rest of the way to the border in silence.
"We could take a little side trip." She teased.
"You'd really let me go to Eugene?" He falsely enthused.
"Only if you're good and eat all your lunch."
"Oh, thank you Alex!" He laughed and she joined him.
"Are we there yet?" Dylan yawned.
"We have several hours yet buddy." Daniel smiled back at him.
"You ready for lunch baby?"
"I'll find a rest stop and pull in then."
"There's one a couple of exits from here." Daniel noted as they passed a sign.
"That's good, 'cause I really need a bathroom." Dylan replied.
Alex pulled into the rest stop and Dylan and Daniel went to the bathroom while Alex lifted the hatch of the SUV and opened the cooler pulling out 3 sandwiches, lemonade and some fruit.
"You guys are in a good mood." She smiled when they returned ten minutes later laughing.
"We feel so much better." Daniel replied holding out his hand which Dylan slapped.
"Good, now eat." Alex ordered.
They sat down on the tailgate and watched other cars pull in.
I could get used to this, Daniel thought, stealing a glance at his companions.
He watched a man get out of a truck a few spaces down with his wife and son and smiled.
That could be me one day.
My wife Alex, my son Dylan... okay, getting a little ahead of yourself here Coop!
"Earth to Daniel..." Alex chuckled.
"Huh? Did you say something Alex?" He asked embarrassed.
"I asked you if you wanted some apples?"
"Sure." He smiled and took a couple of slices from the container she held out to him.
Alex looked away quickly so as not to be caught looking at his lips. She imagined him kissing her again, not like the first time, that had taken them both by surprise... and they hadn't kissed since then and it was months ago. She sighed as she put the fruit away. "I need to use the ladies room." She announced picking up her purse from the front seat and handing Daniel the keys.
Daniel and Dylan cleaned up and climbed into the car to wait for Alex.
"How about some music?" Daniel asked starting the car as he espied Alex.
Dylan nodded and Daniel tuned the radio into 'What you Need' by the Australian band INXS.
Alex climbed into the passenger seat and buckled up her own belt.
"We're off again." Daniel said heading for the highway.
"You mind if I turn the music off? I have a little headache." Alex requested.
"Why don't you try to get a nap, you'll feel better." Daniel said shutting the music off.
Alex nodded closing her eyes and resting her head against the back of the seat.
Daniel glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Dylan engrossed in a Harry Potter book so he turned his attention to locating a gas station.
Alex's eyes opened slowly.
"Mom! Wake up!" Dylan whispered a little louder.
"What is it baby?" She asked turning to him. "Where's Daniel?" She asked realizing they were parked along the side the road.
"He's talking to a hitchhiker."
"WHAT!?!" Alex nearly shouted, turning in her seat to see where he was then adjusted the rearview mirror and did indeed see him talking to a young girl carrying a dufflebag. "Stay here!" She ordered her son then got out and strode over to Daniel and the girl.
"Alex,this is Kim, I told her we'd give her a ride to Portland, they have a shelter she can stay at."
"Will you excuse us?" Alex asked as mere formality, taking Daniel's arm and leading him away.
"Are you out of your mind?!?" She whispered fiercely. "You do not pick up hitchhiker's!"
"Normally I wouldn't but she can't be more than fourteen and I am not going to leave her out here alone. You and Dylan can take the front, I'll sit with her in the back."
"Alex, I gave her my word."
She glared at him then stalked back to the car telling Dylan to get in the front. Kim and Daniel climbed into the back and Alex pulled back onto the road without a word. Daniel pointed out a rest stop and she pulled in and he got out and looked in the phonebook then made a call before getting back into the truck. "Okay, they've got a room for you." He smiled at Kim as he buckled up.
Alex had been watching the girl like a hawk then turned back around as Daniel gave her directions.
Twenty minutes later they pulled up in front of a brick building. 'Horizon House' the sign read.
"Do you want me to go in with you?" Daniel asked sensing Kim's hesitation.
She nodded gratefully.
"I'll be back in a few minutes." He told Alex then got out and walked the girl to the door of the teen shelter.
Alex and Dylan switched places again and waited fifteen minutes for Daniel to return.
He slid into the driver's seat and glanced at Alex who was sitting rigidly and staring straight ahead. He sighed silently and turned on the car then headed back to the highway knowing he'd have to talk to Alex about this. He glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Dylan look from his Mom to Daniel and back again. When Dylan's asleep, he decided. If Alex is going to let me have it, and I know she will, then Dylan shouldn't be subjected to it.
He drove until nearly six p.m. then pulled over so they could eat. Alex didn't say a word to him, just handed food over.
They found a gas station and refueled then Alex drove for several hours not once breaking her silence.
Daniel glanced back and saw Dylan was asleep and decided he might as well get it over with. "Alex, I know you're mad at me---"
"You're damn right I'm mad at you! You put my son's life, not to mention mine and your own, at risk! What if she'd had a knife... or a gun? Would your being a minister have protected us?!?" She snapped quietly.
"I just couldn't let a fourteen year old girl hitchhike." He defended quietly.
"Superman! That's what you think you are Daniel Cooper! You think you always have to rescue everyone and that's not your job!"
"You're wrong... it is my job, more importantly, it's who I am." He replied and turned toward the widow.
Neither spoke again, even when they changed seat's.
Alex dozed for a while then awoke and laid very still. She heard sniffing and realized it was Daniel. She opened her eyes just a fraction and saw him wipe his eyes with the back of his hand.
He's crying, she thought guiltily. She felt the truck turn and deduced he was pulling into a rest stop. She heard him get out, taking the keys with him and closed the door quietly. Alex opened her eyes and watched his retreating back.
I didn't mean to hurt his feelings, but he could have been hurt, we all could have, didn't he understand that?
He's such a good person he doesn't want to see the bad in others.
She glanced at the clock, seeing it was almost one, they would be at the hotel in a few more hour's.
She got out upon seeing him come back.
"You want me to drive the rest of the way?"
"Thanks." He nodded, handing the keys over and starting for the passenger side.
Alex took his arm gently and he turned to her questioningly.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you. If you didn't help people then you wouldn't be the person we all... love." She apologized.
"When I was fourteen, we were living in Philadelphia. There was this girl in my geometry class who lived with her Dad and step-mother, her real Mom lived in Ohio and she talked about going to live with her since she and her step-mom weren't getting along. One Monday she wasn't in class and we all speculated that she'd gone to live with her mother.... they found her Tuesday in some woods close to the border. She was alive but she'd been badly beaten and raped. She lives in a convalescent home now... she will for the rest of her life due to the brain damage she suffered. I didn't want that to happen to Kim." He told her softly.
Alex hugged him.
"You are an incredible human being Daniel Cooper and I am so happy you are in our lives."
"Thanks Alex, that means a lot to me." He replied hugging her back. "Let's get going, we're all tired and could use a bed." He added stepping back and smiling at her.
They got back into the car both feeling much better and headed for 'Frisco and the hotel where the wedding would take place.
It was after three when they pulled into the hotel parking lot.
"Dylan, sweetie, we're here." Alex called lightly as Daniel got their bags.
"What time is it?" The boy asked sleepily.
"Early, we're going to check in and get you back to bed." She answered helping him out of the truck.
Daniel came around with their two carry-on bags and two garment bags draped over his shoulder's, following them inside he placed the bags with Alex and checked in.
Alex watched him a moment then turned to her son. It had been a long drive for Dylan but he had been as excited as she had when she told him that Daniel had invited them along. Almost a whole week in California with just the three of them. It had been several years since she'd been away from Hope for an extended period.
She looked up as Daniel returned to them.
"Someone made a mistake so we only have one room. You and Dylan take the bed, I'll crash on the couch and get this straightened out tomorrow."
Alex nodded and got Dylan to his feet as Daniel once again picked up the luggage and led them to the elevator.
They found room 310 easily and Daniel slid one of the key cards into the door which unlocked it. He pushed it open and Alex propelled her son to the bed where she laid him down, took his shoes off and covered him. When she turned around she saw Daniel was already on the couch with his eyes closed. She picked up her jacket and put it over him, kissing his forehead, then removed her own shoes and crawled into bed with Dylan and fell asleep.
Alex awoke to the sun streaming in the windows. She rubbed her eyes and yawned and smiled at Dylan who was still asleep. She quietly slipped out of bed, surprised to see the couch vacated. She took her suitcase into the bathroom and found damp towels hung over the glass shower door, meaning Daniel had already been there. Alex realized she must have been really tired not to have heard him. She stripped her clothes off and stepped under the warm water.
Daniel checked his watch as the elevator reached the lobby. It was 8:30 and he was pretty hungry but he needed to straighten out their room situation first. He walked to the front desk and asked to speak to the manager.
"Is there a problem sir?" The woman asked him.
"My guests and I were supposed to get connecting rooms but we got in late last night to find we only have one room. Can I get another one?"
"I'm afraid not sir. Between the Star trek convention and the film crew that arrived to shoot in the Bay Area a few days ago, we're booked. I could call another hotel to see if they might have a room available..."
"Hey, Arnie." Daniel turned and grinned upon seeing him then the men hugged.
"When did you get here?"
"Sir? Would you like me to call around?"
"Alex and I have to share a room if we stay here, they're booked up." Daniel explained to him.
"You could always stay with me."
"I don't want to leave them here alone. I guess one room is okay, we're not really going to be in it except to sleep and change anyway." Daniel replied to the manager who nodded and left them alone. "So congratulations! When do I get to meet Connie?"
"We're taking the three of you to lunch." Arnie grinned delighted at seeing his best friend.
"They should be up by then." Daniel chuckled.
"You had breakfast yet?"
"No, and I'm starving."
"You remember that little cafe we'd go to for donuts?"
"Dominic's Delicious Donuts!"
"It's still there."
"Let me leave a message for Alex." Daniel grinned.
By the time Alex got out of the shower, Dylan was up so he took a quick shower too.
Alex donned a knee-length spring dress with sandals while Dylan sported a blue short-sleeve shirt, chinos and gym shoes as they headed downstairs to find Daniel and eat.
There were people crowding the lobby so they set out on their own to find him but half an hour later they still were looking so Alex went to the desk hoping for a message.
"Excuse me, are there any messages for room #310?"
The man behind the desk plucked a pink slip from a cubbyhole and handed it to her.
'Alex and Dylan, no spare rooms--sharing okay? Arnie and I went to breakfast, should be back soon. Enjoy the courtesy breakfast but eat lite, he and Connie are taking us to lunch. Daniel--8:40.'
"Looks like we're on our own for breakfast." She told Dylan.
"Let's go see what they have then." Dylan grinned.
Alex smiled at her son and they walked to the dining room together.
Daniel closed his eyes and savored the last bite of donut.
"Better than your usual protein drinks?"
"I'd weigh thirty more pounds if I ate one of these every day." Daniel replied.
"You actually look like you've lost a little weight since I last saw you." Arnie commented.
"Well, I did have the measles for a week plus stressing over money and church repair's... I finally decided to trust God with all of it. For the first time in my life Arnie, I feel like I have a real home."
"I could tell when I visited... you seemed happier than I've ever seen you." Arnie smiled.
"I'm really discovering who I am and where exactly I fit in this world."
"Still, it must have been hard to turn your father's offer down."
"It was... it really hurt that they wouldn't stay to hear me preach, but then Mom showed up and Dad appeared shortly after. I think it was then that he realized that what I had on Hope was something he'd been missing for a long time. Things are better, we still have a long way to go, but we are talking."
"I know your relationship with your father has always been the hardest for you, so I'm glad things are working out."
"There is something I haven't told you." Daniel said, looking at his hands.
"You can tell me anything, you know that." Arnie said covering his hands with his own.
*(1) "I was in an accident a few months ago."
"What?" Arnie asked surprised, Daniel hadn't written him about it at all.
"There was another storm, Dylan had gone bike riding and the storm had come in faster than expected so I went to find him. This tree came down and it was going to hit him..."
"And you saved him." Arnie nodded.
"It fell on me... or so they tell me. I don't remember some things, that being one of them. I was in the hospital for a while, but I'm fine now." Daniel smiled, glossing over the fact he'd come a hair's breath of dying. * Arnie didn't need to be worrying about him when he was getting married in a few days.
Arnie watched his best friend and knew there was more to what had happened than Daniel was telling him, but he also knew Daniel wouldn't tell him more, not wanting to burden him... as if he ever could, Arnie thought to himself. I've certainly unloaded my problems on him enough times over the years. I'll ask Alex, I know she'll tell me if he won't.
"Hey, what do you say we drive by the campus?" He asked.
"I told Alex I wouldn't be long." Daniel smiled back.
"Is there something I should know?" Arnie asked raising an eyebrow.
"She just helped me realize I belonged on Hope." Daniel answered not elaborating.
And there's more to that story too, Daniel Isaiah Cooper, he thought.
"So what are we waiting for, let's go pick them up." Arnie said standing.
Alex sipped her coffee as she watched her son eat. He couldn't keep his eyes on his food for looking at his surroundings, she knew she should tell him not to stare but what a double standard that would be since she was checking everyone out herself. It wasn't like she'd never been off Hope, she went to college in Miami after all, but the people that surrounded them were dressed far more upscale than she would ever be able to afford and she felt a bit self-conscious, then she looked up and felt more self-conscious, not about what she was wearing, but how she looked in it.
"Glad to see you got breakfast, you'll need the fortification for sightseeing."
"Daniel!" Dylan beamed at him.
"No hi for me?" Arnie pouted.
"Hi, Arnie." Dylan grinned.
"Congratulations." Alex rose and hugged him.
"Thanks Alex, I'm glad you two could come with this guy, someone needs to keep him in line when I'm not around."
"It's hard, but we do our best." Alex teased Daniel who rolled his eyes good-naturedly.
"What are we going to see?" Dylan asked after he finished his milk.
"The college Arnie and I went to."
"A school?" Dylan groaned.
"Wait until I tell you about how Daniel got Dean Fillmore's desk onto---"
"Arnie! Don't give him any ideas! I can just picture Marcus storming into the church..."
"I'll tell you later." Arnie whispered loud enough for all them to hear.
"No, you won't!" Daniel glared at his best friend with a mocking fist.
"Come on, let's go." Arnie laughed.
Alex nodded to Dylan who followed the rabbi out, she grabbed Daniel's arm before he could move away.
"I'd like to hear about this escapade with the Dean's desk one day." She smiled at him.
"Maybe I'll tell you... one day. We'd better go before they leave without us.... and Arnie does tell him." Daniel exaggeratedly shuttered making Alex chuckle.
Dylan was already in the front seat when they reached the car so Daniel climbed into the back with Alex.
Arnie drove, commenting about the things they saw along the way, with Daniel throwing a few things in here and there.
They reached S.F. State U. and Daniel shook his head and smiled.
"I haven't been back here since I graduated."
"Hasn't changed much." Arnie replied.
"There's the conservatory! I'd spend hours in there." Daniel recalled fondly.
"What's a conservatory?" Dylan asked puzzled.
"A music room." Alex answered unable to stop the smile from her lips at Daniel's excitement. "You liked college, didn't you?" She asked.
"Yeah." He smiled back.
"And as I recall, Suzie Neilson liked you." Arnie replied.
"So tell me about this Suzie Nielson." Alex poked Daniel in the arm.
"She was... cute."
"Cute? She was gorgeous and had a monster crush on him. She tried everything short of sedu--" Arnie cut himself off remembering Dylan.
"Thank you Arnie." Alex said under her breath.
"She's not the kind of woman I was... or am, interested in. " Daniel replied looking meaningfully at Alex, who blushed slightly but didn't look away.
Arnie glanced in the rearview mirror and smiled.
Maybe I'll be attending a wedding on Hope in a few years.
"So what are you smart in?" Dylan asked.
Alex and Arnie stifled their laughter and Daniel shot them a look before answering.
"I majored in literature and minored in music."
"Makes sense." Dylan nodded.
He knew Daniel read poetry and could play the guitar and piano from church.
"What do you say we hit Chinatown?" Arnie asked a bit amazed at Dylan's reply.
"Fortune cookies!" Dylan grinned.
"Just skip 56 Ross Alley." Daniel said under his breath with a smirk.
"Right..." Arnie nodded. "To Bush Street and Grant Avenue we go." He added.
"Cool!" Dylan exclaimed as the walked up to the Chinatown Gateway, which was a dragon crowned portal.
"You guys stand underneath it and I'll take your picture." Alex instructed pulling out her disposable camera.
She snapped a picture of them then Daniel took one of her and Dylan and finally Arnie got one of the three of them.
They looked in the shops, which contained jade jewelry, clay Buddha statues, electronics, kites (which Alex splurged on and bought one for Dylan) and shirts on Grant Ave. then they headed north and Daniel took a picture of Old St. Mary's Church, the first cathedral in 'Frisco, built in 1854, to show Father Mac.
On Stockton Street they explored the herbalist shop and fish and produce markets.
Daniel excused himself for a few minutes to return with crumbly almond cookies, which Dylan and Alex loved.
"Where did you get those?" Alex asked as Arnie and her son ran ahead together.
"Didn't you tell Arnie not to go there?"
"I didn't think you'd want Dylan to go there."
Daniel whispered in her ear and she stopped and stared at him.
He smiled taking her arm and guiding her forward.
She glanced at him then got a mischievous look.
"So tell me Daniel, have you bought many X-rated fortune cookies?"
"I wasn't always a minister."
"I can only imagine what you were like in college."
"Oh.... I'm not so sure you could."
"Hey, Mom, Daniel, look at this!" Dylan called.
They hurried to the shop he was in and found him wearing a dragon mask.
"Isn't this cool Mom?"
"It's uh... unusual."
She turned to Daniel and nearly jumped a foot then hit him on the arm for scaring her.
"Ow!" He laughed pulling the mask off.
"Look at this guys." Arnie said holding a dragon statue up for them to see.
Daniel took it from him.
"What do you think? Widow's Walk?" He joked.
Alex eyed the statue warily and shook her head as she picked up a small statue.
"You like?" An old Chinese woman asked her.
"It's ... interesting."
"She give you and husband," the woman nodded at Daniel who'd wandered away with Arnie, "many children. Help you also enjoy effort."
Alex quickly put the statue down.
"He's not my husband." She blurted.
"Ah...." the old woman nodded and picked up another statue, "this make him your husband." She confided.
Alex stared at the statue then shook her head and quickly moved to the other side of the store where Dylan was.
I can't believe I even considered for a second buying that statue.
She espied Daniel looking at them and turned so no one would see her blushing.
When she felt she had herself under control she turned back around but Daniel was gone from there.
She fervently hoped the old woman had not told him what they were but a tiny voice called her a chicken since she was crazy about Daniel.
She spun around startled when a little statue appeared next to her.
"Guess what this is." Daniel smiled mirthfully.
"I..." She said staring at it.
"A fertility statue." Daniel chuckled.
"Why...?" Alex asked, heart pounding.
"For Kevin and Molly." He grinned.
"Oh.... I didn't think you were allowed to believe in that kind of stuff." She managed to reply calmly.
"It's a joke Alex, but if it happens to give them a few ideas..." He shrugged placing it back in the bag.
"You two ready? I figured we'd go by Mission Dolores, that okay with you Daniel?" Arnie asked joining them.
"You know it is!" Daniel smiled broadly.
"What's Mission Dolores?" Alex asked hesitantly.
"La Mision de San Francisco de Asisi, it's one of the oldest intact buildings in the city and one of the oldest mission churches in California." Daniel explained thoughtfully, looking at Alex then turned to Arnie, "You know I'd really like to clean up before lunch, how about we go back to the hotel instead?"
"Uh, sure, no problem." Arnie nodded.
Since when did Daniel pass up a chance to go to his favorite site?
*(2) "So is David a hit at the hospital?" Daniel asked as they walked to the car.
"The kid's love him and they get a kick out of my matching Yarmulke." Arnie grinned.
Daniel smiled back recalling the circumstances under which David had been purchased as a Hanukkah gift for his friend.
The woman on the shop on the mainland had made it for her brother, who sadly, didn't live long enough to enjoy it.*
Daniel said a silent prayer for her family as he climbed into the car.
Alex looked over as Daniel sighed heavily.
She wasn't used to a man with such deep feelings, a man who cared so much, a man who was so incredibly self-less.
Her father and Steve were about as far from Daniel Cooper as men could be.
She knew Daniel would have loved to go to the Mission Dolores but suggested returning to the hotel for her sake and she was deeply touched that he'd put her feelings above his own.
Another reason he has my heart, she smiled to herself.
"So where are we having lunch?" Daniel asked shaking off his melancholy.
"Cable Cars, it's a new place Connie and I really like. They have pictures from old San Francisco up on the walls and the entrance is an actual cable car!"
"Really?" Dylan asked excited.
"I'm a rabbi, I don't lie." Arnie chuckled.
Daniel burst out laughing, making Alex look at him and shake her head.
He leaned over once he'd stopped laughing.
"Picture the Widow's Walk with a fishing boat as an entrance."
"Don't even suggest that to Brian!" She cringed.
*(2) "Rollie might like the idea." Daniel said wickedly.
"Don't you dare! I am still majority owner!" She hit him playfully.
"Rollie? That's the guy you wrote me about isn't it? The one who looks exactly like you?"
"We're not identical, I mean, he has longer hair, a few scars, he's a little older... and Australian---"
"But otherwise they're identical." Alex grinned. "Have you heard from him since he visited?"
"It's been a few months."
"I still can't believe you saw this guy years ago but only had a chance meeting last year. Did you ever find out if you're related?"
"Mom's been so busy helping Dad, she hasn't had much free time to look and Rollie didn't mention a connection in his letter so he must not have found anything either, or he hasn't been in touch with his cousin." Daniel shrugged.*
"I think it would be cool if you were related." Dylan enthused.
*(3) "Could you imagine Rollie with short hair, plastic surgery for the scars, looking just like you?" Alex mused.
"That could actually be fun." Daniel grinned. "Though I couldn't see him becoming a minister."
The Reverend Rollie Tyler... nah.*
Arnie parked the car and they went into the hotel.
"I'll wait here while you freshen up. I told Connie we'd be there around noon or 12:30.
"I just want to change quick so I won't be long." Daniel nodded.
"I want to check my hair and make-up... Am I dressed all right for the restaurant?"
"Yeah, it's pretty casual."
"Can I wait down here with Arnie, Mom ?"
"Um, okay, but don't wander off." She nodded and walked to the elevator with Daniel who was carrying his kite.
"So my young friend, how's life on Hope? How's Boris?"
"Good, he makes cookies for me."
"A baker is a good friend to have." Arnie grinned.
"Can I tell you something, something private?" Dylan asked earnestly.
"Sure." Arnie nodded wondering just what was on the young boy's mind.
"I wish Daniel was my Dad." He confided. "I mean, I love my Dad... but Daniel says it's okay to feel sad and be mad at him sometimes for not being there. Daniel's always there for me when I need him and he's my best friend. I can tell him anything and he doesn't get mad at me."
"He understands, doesn't he?'
"Yeah. When did you guys meet?"
"When he moved to Irvine, we went to the same high school and had some classes together."
"I bet you became best friends right away."
"You would be wrong my young friend." Arnie smiled. "Let me tell you how Daniel Cooper and I became best friends..."
"The truth is that Daniel and I didn't even talk to each other the first three months he was there. Daniel was a jock, baseball, basketball, all the girls hung around him because... well, he was good looking back then too. I on the other hand was on the debate club, no sports interest at all. Daniel and I were about as opposite as two people could be, our religious differences separated us too." Arnie recalled.
"So how did you become friends?"
"Because of Jeremy Clox. He was a jock too and he picked on anyone who wasn't. One day, because it was Hanukkah, a very special time for the Jewish people, see Dylan, a very, VERY long time ago there was this King who had come into Israel and had turned the Temple of Jerusalem into a worshiping place for pagan gods. When he was finally defeated the altar he created was purged and a new one was erected in its place and there was a re-dedication to Yahweh... God, with festivities that lasted eight days. Olive oil was to be burned according to Talmadic tradition but only a small amount could be found but that little bit of oil burned for all eight days. It was a true miracle from God. That's why the Menorah has eight candles, to commemorate that miracle." Arnie explained.
"I remember you and Boris praying together at Christmas." Dylan nodded.
"God has given me many blessings." Arnie smiled.
"Daniel." Dylan grinned.
"Yeah, and back to telling you how we met... I was wearing the yarmulke that day because of Hanukkah and eating lunch when Jeremy grabbed it off my head and began playing keep-away with his buddies. One of them acted like it was a basketball and slam dunked it into the trash just as another student was dumping her left-over lunch in. I was devastated. My grandfather had given that cap to me just before he died, he'd found it at Auschwitz and carried it like a beacon of faith through his internment. I was far too humiliated to tell my parents what had happened so I lied and said I'd lost it. The next day I pretended to be sick and my Mom let me stay home, I think she knew how upset I was over the cap. I did have to go back to school on Friday though and I walked to my locker with dread because Jeremy's was just a few away and I was afraid he'd be there, but he wasn't so I quickly opened my locker to retrieve my books and there was a plain brown bag on the top shelf. I was afraid to open it thinking that it was another trick by Jeremy but curiosity got the best of me and I peeked inside. Do you know what I found?"
Dylan shook his head, enraptured.
"My yarmulke. I took it out and inspected it carefully but there wasn't a stain on it. I folded it up, put it in my pocket and headed to class. All day I wondered if Jeremy could have had an attack of conscience until finally I couldn't stand it any more and went to find him after school, when he found me. He apologized and after I got over the shock I thanked him for cleaning and returning it to me. He guiltily admitted he hadn't been the one to dig it out of the trash and clean it... Daniel had done that." Arnie smiled fondly.
"He did?" Dylan beamed.
"Yeah, I went to the gym knowing he'd be there shooting hoops to practice since it was basketball season, and asked him why he'd done it."
"What did he say?"
"He was in the cafeteria and had seen what Jeremy and his friends had done and had also seen how crushed I was by it and he told me it was wrong to take something that meant so much to me and he wanted to make sure I got it back."
"Then you became best friends." Dylan grinned.
"Yeah, he'd come over to my house and hang out and I'd watch his games and we'd toss the baseball around... we've been together ever since." Arnie smiled at the painful memory that had turned into a blessing of friendship. "Jeremy also never picked on anyone again. I don't know if it was because he felt so bad over what he'd done or because he knew Daniel wouldn't have tolerated it."
"I'm glad Daniel came to Hope." Dylan smiled.
"I think he is too." Arnie confided as they saw Daniel, now dressed in a tan shirt, khakis and loafers step off the elevator with Alex, who had brushed the sides of her hair up and clipped a barrette to hold it in the back.
They make a great couple... but just how long will it take for them to realize it? Arnie wondered as they reached him.
"Let's go, I can't wait to see this place." Daniel said.
Arnie led them to the door and Daniel was surprised to find Dylan's small hand slip into his much larger one as they walked.
He smiled down at the boy who grinned back.
They talked about Hope on the way and arrived at the restaurant at 12:25. They had to take the obligatory pictures in front of the entrance before going inside where they found Connie waiting.
Arnie beamed as he kissed her then turned to Daniel.
"Connie Ziegler this is my best friend, Daniel Cooper."
"Hi, Daniel, it's nice to finally meet you. Arnie has told me so much about your friendship I feel like I know you already." She said hugging him.
"Arnie's told me a lot about you too and I am glad to see him so happy." Daniel answered returning the hug before turning to his friend's. "This is my friend Alex Stone and her son Dylan."
"Welcome to San Francisco. "Connie smiled warmly at the other woman.
Alex immediately took a liking to her.
"So how do you like San Francisco, Dylan?" Connie asked extending her hand which he shook politely.
"Chinatown was neat. Mom bought me a kite and Daniel and I are going to fly it when we get home." Dylan answered looking at Daniel slyly who in return shook his head and smiled as they sat down.
"That sounds like fun." Connie replied after they'd ordered drinks. "Arnie told me about his time on Hope and I feel like I know everyone there."
"What would you say if we came to visit over the holidays?" Arnie smiled at Daniel.
"I'd say I'll make sure a room is available." Alex replied.
"I think you'd better make sure you come, especially if we tell Boris." Daniel beamed.
"He's the Russian cook right?" Connie inquired.
"Not to mention firefighter, painter, dance instructor-----" Daniel grinned.
"Almost cosmonaut and almost actor." Alex added.
*(1) "Oh, and don't forget radio fixer-upper or something like that." Daniel looked at Alex meaningfully.
Alex didn't like to remember that time, they, she'd, come so close to losing him... it still hurt to remember it.*
The waitress returned with the drinks ready to take their orders.
Connie and Arnie went first, knowing what they wanted which also gave the other's time to browse the menu. Daniel and Alex decide on turkey sandwiches while Dylan got a hamburger.
"Daniel says you're a nurse." Alex commented once the waitress had taken their order's to the kitchen.
"Yes, in the children's ward, which is how we met. He's so great with the kids." Connie smiled warmly at her fiancé and took his hand.
"Yeah,he is amazing. Evan didn't say two word's to me but he and Arnie chatted up a storm." Daniel agreed.
"He told me about Evan. Children just have a way of making you see things differently." Connie smiled.
"Yeah, they do." Alex agreed looking at her son, who blushed but grinned back.
"I need to go to the bathroom." Dylan added after a moment looking to Daniel.
"Let's go then."
Alex smiled as they left together.
"Alex, can I ask you about something?"
"Sure." Alex nodded, hearing the serious tone in his voice.
"Daniel told me he was in an accident a while back..."
Alex looked at her hands, she really didn't want to remember that.
"It was worse than he implied wasn't it?"
"I'm not sure I should----"
"Alex, please! He's my best friend yet he told me nothing about it until today!"
Alex looked up and saw the intensity in Arnie's eyes and sighed.
*(1) He almost died. He suffered a serious head injury and had to under-go surgery for a hematoma. He made it through with minimal brain damage but it left him with some memory loss. He spent time in therapy to regain physical control and retraining to use other parts of his brain. It was hard to watch him go through it... it was so frustrating for him, but you can see for yourself he's the same man you've always known."*
"I can't believe he didn't tell me when it happened. Although he never has been one to share his problems. He helps everybody else yet rarely turns to other's for help." Arnie shook his head.
"God was gracious with him, let's remember to thank him." Connie said.
"Mom!" Dylan grinned climbing into the booth. "You should see the bathroom... there are street lights in there!"
"Old fashioned lamp posts." Daniel smiled sliding in too.
His smile faded a bit as he looked at their serious faces.
"What were you guys talking about?"
"Stuff that's happened in the last few months." Arnie answered vaguely.
Daniel looked at Alex, puzzled for a moment.
"You told him." He realized.
"You should have been the one to tell me after it happened." Arnie replied, his voice betraying his hurt.
"I didn't want to burden you. You felt so depressed when you visited, I just...." Daniel shrugged looking away guiltily.
"You're my best friend. I want you to tell me when something happens. I will always be here for you." Arnie answered reaching over and covering his hands.
"One good thing came from it... my Dad and I are really talking and listening to each other more. Though I would have preferred something less drastic to make it happen." Daniel half-smiled laying a hand over Arnie's.
"I'm glad you're okay... I would have come."
"I know. I am okay, Arnie." Daniel re-assured him as their lunch arrived and they separated to let the waitress put the plates down.
"I'll drop you back at the hotel when we're done. I have to see a patient." Arnie informed them.
"Jeannie?" Connie asked biting into her sandwich.
"Yeah, she's having surgery again and I told her parents I'd be there. Jeannie is the sweetest six year old with big blue eyes and a gorgeous smile. This is her second time with cancer." Arnie explained picking up his own sandwich.
Alex looked at Dylan, thankful he was healthy.
"They're lucky to have you." Daniel said.
"I'm the lucky one, they are the greatest kids. Being sick doesn't phase them... they are just amazing." Arnie smiled.
"Arnie wrote in his letters that you're from New York." Daniel mentioned as he ate.
"Well, I lived there almost ten years but I'm actually from here. My Mom has some health problems so I moved back home to be closer to her."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Alex replied, thinking of her own mother and how hard it was for her.
"Thank you. I forgot how warm the holidays were back here. My first Hanukkah I expected snow and was actually disappointed." She chuckled.
"I know what you mean, except it was the reverse for me. I lived in Southern California until moving to Hope and the cooler weather took some getting used to... but spending the holiday's at the Widow's Walk, where Alex and Dylan decorated a freshly hewed fir tree and singing Christmas carols and drinking eggnog.... it felt like I was exactly where I ought to be." He smiled at Alex, who returned it tenfold.
*(2) "Daniel gave me 'Treasure Island' for Christmas." Dylan added.
"How could I resist? Look where you live!" Daniel smiled placing a fatherly arm around him.
*(4) "A few year's ago at the hospital, they had a Christmas party for the kids and Mrs. Simms, the woman who organized it, told me that this police detective always volunteered himself to be an elf and that year he brought along a couple of friends. A young woman and another man. The woman was dressed like an elf too, but the man... Mrs. Simms said she'd never seen anything like him and the nearest she could describe him was as a kangaroo."
"A Christmas kangaroo?" Dylan asked.
"That's what I said, but she also told me he had ears that turned and a tail that twitched back and forth. The kids loved it and he's come back every year."
Daniel couldn't help but think of Rollie.
Kangaroos were clearly associated with Australia and Daniel briefly wondered if it was the FX man himself.*
"Can we go sightseeing again this afternoon?" Dylan asked.
"Daniel might want to rest and relax the rest of the day." Alex replied. "We have three days to go sightseeing." She added at his look of disappointment.
"Actually... I felt like driving around the city."
"Yes!" Dylan grinned while Alex just shook her head and smiled at Daniel.
They finished lunch, said good-bye with a promise to Connie to get together for dinner on Thursday and headed back to the hotel with Arnie. Once he'd dropped them off they all changed into jean's and set off in the Jimmy.
They hit the hills... Telegraph, Nob, Russian, etc. then went to the Embarcadero and took pictures of each other on the concrete piers afterward they drove over the Golden Gate Bridge... just so Dylan could say they had. They walked through Golden Gate Park too.
It was nearly 7:00 by the time they stopped at a deli and got a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Dylan wrote down everything they'd seen and done so he wouldn't forget a detail when he told everyone once they got home.
The trio fell asleep easily that night.
Alex awoke from a deep sleep and glanced at the clock. Almost eight...I can't remember when I last slept so late she mused. She closed her eyes and listened to the quiet...well, except for the shower which she knew Daniel was using since Dylan was still sound asleep next to her.
She slipped out of bed and pulled her suitcase from the closet and waited for Daniel to finish.
She looked out the window at the pink sky and frowned.
'Red sky at night, sailor's delight
Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.'
Where had that come from she wondered? It had been a long time since she'd heard it but it never failed to chill her.
The bathroom door opened, startling her and she blinked as Daniel stepped out clad only in his jeans.
"Oh, Alex." He smiled embarrassed. "I forgot my razor."
Alex touched his face and smiled.
"I think you could forego it today."
He took her hand in his and looked at her.
The desire to kiss her drove every other thought from his mind as he bent down.
"Timing." Alex sighed breathily as he stepped away.
"Morning Dylan." Daniel smiled at the boy and let go of her hand.
Dylan sat up rubbing his eyes sleepily.
"Morning." He yawned.
"I'm going to get a shower, if you're done?" Alex inquired.
"Let me grab my shirt." Daniel answered and disappeared into the bathroom for a second, slipping it on before he returned. "You guys get showers and we'll have breakfast downstairs." He smiled at them as Alex went into the bathroom.
"Sounds good." She said before shutting the door.
She stepped into the shower and let the warm water run over her as she closed her eyes. She felt a touch on her shoulder and she turned to find Daniel there. "Alex..." He whispered.
She reached for him and blinked as her fingers hit the wall.
"You have it bad girl!" She chuckled to herself, blushing as to where her thoughts were leading her.
Daniel buttoned his shirt, put on his socks and shoes, brushed his damp hair and fastened his watch all under Dylan's studious eye.
"You have a good time yesterday?" Daniel smiled looking at him in the mirror.
"Yeah!" The boy grinned.
"What was your favorite part?"
"The Golden Gate Bridge. It was neat seeing all the boats go under the bridge."
"I liked watching them too."
"What are we going to do today?"
"We'll play it by ear." Daniel replied patting his foot.
"So what do you feel like for breakfast?" The minister asked him.
"Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast---"
"A little hungry this morning are we?"
"I'm a growing boy."
Daniel laughed at that.
"What are you going to have?" Dylan asked.
"Hmm... I guess they don't have protein drinks do they?"
"I doubt it." Dylan rolled his eyes.
"Then I guess I'll just have to see when I get there."
Alex dried her hair and dressed quickly then exited the bathroom to find Dylan alone.
"He went to get a newspaper. I'm gonna take a shower now." Dylan said and ran into the bathroom with his clothes.
Alex put her pajama's into her suitcase feeling disappointed. She had hoped she and Daniel could exchange that kiss. She frowned as there was a knock on the door. It couldn't be Daniel, he would have taken a passkey.
"Who is it?"
She looked through the peephole and saw a hotel employee so she opened the door.
The man reached down and picked up a small vase of wildflowers. "These are for you ma'am."
"Oh...thank you." She accepted them with a smile. "I'll get you a tip."
"I've already been tipped ma'am. Have a nice day." The man smiled and headed for the elevator as Alex closed the door.
"You like them?" Dylan grinned at her.
"Yes, baby, thank you." She smiled placing them on the bureau.
"I told Daniel to get wildflowers 'cause I know how much you like them."
"This was very sweet of you and Daniel." She replied smelling them.
"I'll get a shower so we can eat." Dylan smiled pleased and closed the door.
Alex pulled a daisy out and laid it on the bureau then brushed her her hair back into a barrette and placed the flower in her caught up hair. She couldn't remember ever feeling this way, not even Steve had made her feel such happiness just to be near him, to see him every day, to see him smile at her.
Alex smiled happily as she inhaled the fragrance of the flowers again and waited for Dylan to finish so they could eat with Daniel.
"Dining alone sir?" The waitress asked Daniel as he sat down.
"No, the woman I love and her son will be joining me soon." He smiled.
"Would you care for a cup of coffee while you're waiting?"
"Do you have tea?"
"I'll get it for you."
"Thanks." Daniel nodded as he opened the newspaper which he'd purchased at the same time as the flowers. He imagined the look on Alex's face when she got them and smiled to himself.
"Pardon me sir."
Daniel looked up to see a hotel staff member holding out a folded piece of paper to him.
"A gentleman asked me to deliver this to you."
"Thanks." Daniel took it,puzzled as he opened it.
'Meet me in the parking lot. A'
Daniel placed the note on the table so Alex wouldn't worry and wondered what Arnie was up to as he headed for the door.
Alex and Dylan stepped off the elevator as it reached the lobby, both smiling happily.
"What would you say if we bought Daniel a 'thank you' gift for asking us along?"
"Yeah! Can we look in the gift shop?"
She nodded and led him inside the shop and they browsed at several items when his eye's lit up and he pointed.
"That huh?" She asked looking at her son.
"He'd like it a lot."
She motioned for the saleswoman as she slid out her one and only credit card from her wallet.
"We'll take that."
The transaction was completed in a matter of moments and they were on their way to breakfast with Daniel's gift.
Alex scanned the dining hall but didn't see him.
"Can I help you?" A waitress asked coming over.
"We were supposed to meet someone here... but I don't see him. Um... he's tall, over six feet, short brown hair, brown eyes.... very attractive. He was wearing a light blue shirt and jeans...."
"Tea." The woman murmured with a nod.
"He ordered tea. I'll show you to his table." She clarified and led them to where Daniel had been sitting and found a newspaper.
"He said he was going to buy one." Dylan nodded.
"Do you know where he went?"
"I saw Charles deliver a message to him..." The waitress responded to Alex's question looking for her co-worker.
"Is this it?" Alex asked retrieving a folded piece of paper from the table and opening it. "Oh, it look's like Arnie wanted to see him... he'll probably be back soon then. What do you say to some breakfast young man?"
Dylan nodded with a grin.
"Can I get you something to drink?" The waitress asked.
"I'll take coffee. Juice, Dylan?" Alex said receiving a nod from her son who was eyeing the breakfast bar.
"Okay, we'll be back in a few minutes."
Dylan took her hand and led her to the food where they loaded up their plates then sat down to enjoy their meal.
Alex finished the paper and glanced at her watch, startled to realize they'd been there half-an-hour already.
She looked at the empty seat across from her with the cold tea and picked up the note and re-read it.
"Dylan, I'm going to call Arnie and see what's keeping Daniel. I want you to stay here."
"Okay, Mom." The boy said munching on a muffin.
Alex went into the lobby and found a pay phone then located change in her purse and dropped the coins into the slot and dialed the number in her little address book for Arnie's home phone.
"Hey, when is my escort coming back?" She joked when Arnie answered.
"Alex? What are you talking about?"
"Daniel's with you, isn't he?"
"I haven't seen or talked to Daniel since I dropped you off yesterday."
"You didn't leave him a note asking to meet you in the parking lot?" She asked feeling worry creep up on her.
"No. Alex, I'm coming over there. It'll be about ten minutes." He said and hung up.
Alex placed the phone back on the hook trying to keep calm. She walked back to the dining room and caught the waitress's attention. "I need to go to the parking lot, could you make sure my son stays here until I get back?"
"Sure." The woman nodded.
"Thanks." Alex said and strode outside. She jogged to the SUV and looked inside then hurried back to find Dylan hadn't moved.
"When's Daniel coming back?"
Alex debated on whether to tell him or not then realized it would hurt him worse if something happened to Daniel and she didn't. "Dylan, Arnie is on his way over... Daniel isn't with him. Arnie hasn't seen him since yesterday, in fact."
"Then where is he?" Dylan asked confused.
"When Arnie get's here we'll sit down and try to figure that out." She assured him.
By the time the rabbi arrived she had half convinced herself the note was from an old friend and he'd just lost track of time.
Arnie studied the message and frowned so Alex mentioned her thought to him.
"I guess it's possible." He nodded though Alex could see the uncertainty in his eyes. "I'm going to talk to security."
"Why?" Dylan asked.
"They've got cameras in the parking lot so we can see who Daniel left with." He smiled to the boy then left them in the dining room.
Arnie went to the manager and explained the situation, able to convince her he was truly worried about his best friend's mysterious disappearance and getting her to let him take a look at parking surveillance.
* (1) Dylan watched his Mom and started to get scared. She had a look almost like the one she wore when Daniel disappeared through the set of doors at the hospital after the tree fell on him.*
He stared at the entrance to the dining room willing Daniel to appear.
A moment later he bolted from his chair.
"Daniel!" He shrieked and flung himself at the man who had just arrived.
"Hey mate, nice to see you again too."
"Dylan, it's not Daniel...it's Rollie Tyler." Alex soothed her son.
The boy looked up at the tall Australian with tears in his eyes.
"What's the matter Dylan?" Rollie asked kneeling down to the boy's level in concern.
"Daniel seems to be missing." Alex answered softly.
"Did you call the police?"
Alex looked at the shorter blond woman standing beside Rollie.
*(2)"Oh, uh, Ange, this is Alex Stone and her son Dylan. I bought into Alex's inn on Hope Island---"
"I remember." Angie nodded holding out her hand. "Angie Ramirez, Rollie's fiancée."
"Rollie talked about how much he wanted to get home to you when he was there." Alex said shaking the offered hand.*
"So did you call the police?" She reiterated.
"We don't actually know he's missing yet. He got a note which said to meet someone in the parking lot, I thought it was from his best friend, the reason we're here is because he's getting married; but it wasn't from him. Arnie's checking with security now, maybe they have the person who Daniel met on surveillance tape." Alex explained.
"You said he got a note? Who gave it to him?" Rollie asked.
"Oh...uh....hold on." Alex answered and hurried over to the waitress who pointed to another man that Alex went over to.
The man followed her back.
"This is Charles,he delivered the note to Daniel."
"Do you remember who asked you to deliver the note? What they looked like, how tall they were? Anything you can remember." Rollie questioned, standing but leaving a comforting hand on Dylan's shoulder.
"Well...he was Arabic....little shorter than you."
"He had one of them robes on, couldn't see what he was wearing under it." The older man answered.
"Okay, thanks for the help." Rollie nodded.
Not much to go on....
"I'm going to check our messages." Angie said touching his arm lightly.
He nodded and smiled tiredly at her.
"I didn't even ask why you're in California." Alex apologized.
*(2) Rollie had once said he didn't particularly like Hollywood so she was a little surprised to see him here.*
"We're working on a film with Mike Salini."
"Oh... Daniel mentioned a convention and a film crew were staying here. We have to share a room because of it."
"You and Daniel rooming together huh?"
That man must have a lot of self-control if his feelings for her are as strong as I suspected from Christmas.
"Yeah, he's been sleeping on the couch." A smile touched her lips. "Though it can't be comfortable,with his long legs hanging over the side. But he hasn't complained.... not that he would anyway."
"He's that kind of guy." Rollie nodded in understanding.
Angie returned with five messages that he read and put them in his back pocket, none being important at the moment.
Alex looked away and saw Arnie returning looking very sedate making her feel fear building up within her.
Rollie followed her gaze and saw a man close to Angie's height coming toward them, he could see by the look on the man's face it wasn't good news.
"Hey Dylan, Ange and I have been making a movie all night and she told me she was starving, you think you could show her where the breakfast bar is?" Rollie smiled at him while giving Angie a look.
"Uh...yeah, I'm famished. You want to help me fill up my plate?"
"Go on Dylan." Alex said.
Angie held out her hand and he took it reluctantly, letting her lead him back into the dining room.
Alex strode over to Arnie, Rollie a few steps behind her.
"Arnie, where is Daniel?" She asked tightly.
Arnie looked at her then saw the man behind her and did a double take.
"Rollie Tyler, tell us about Daniel." Rollie introduced and requested in the same sentence.
Arnie blinked the momentary startilization away.
"He's been kidnapped....at least that's what the tape indicates." He said taking Alex's hands that were trembling.
"Why would someone kidnap him?" Rollie asked puzzled.
It wasn't like Daniel had any money anyone could demand.... he was a small island minister after all.
Alex and Arnie exchanged a look, thinking the same thing.
She turned to Rollie and lowered her voice.
"Daniel's father is Televangelist Cliff Cooper."
"Strike the no ransom then." Rollie frowned.
"Maybe we should call them?" Alex uttered uncertain.
"I'd like to get a look at that tape." Rollie said, thinking maybe he'd see something to help determine who took Daniel or where they took him, something to help find him faster. He wanted to do something to locate his 'twin'.
"I have to tell Dylan." Alex said softly.
Arnie embraced her.
"How am I going to tell him that the man who's been so much like a father to him has been abducted?" She asked in a trembling voice.
"We have to believe he is okay and we'll get him back. God is with him, Alex." Arnie assured her.
Alex wiped her eyes,took a deep breath and headed for the dining room.
"Let's see that tape." Rollie ordered.
"Something bad has happened to Daniel." Dylan said staring at the floor.
"Why do you think that?"
"Because they didn't want me to hear what Arnie had to say."
Angie didn't know how to reply, the boy was very perceptive. She simply put her hand on his arm to comfort him.
Alex stopped upon seeing her son and the blonde sitting together in silence.
How am I going to tell him? He'll be devastated.
She turned away trying to formulate the words when she felt a hand slip into hers.
"Mom, what's happened to Daniel? Tell me the truth." Dylan requested as she turned to him.
"Rollie is in the security office." She told Angie.
"Thanks." Angie nodded in reply and left mother and son alone.
"Let's go outside baby. I'll tell you everything that's happened."
Angie watched from the front desk.
Poor kid, he really loves Daniel Cooper, I hope he'll be okay.
Rollie studied the tape carefully as he watched Daniel get knocked unconscious by a blow to the back of the head then none-too-carefully get dumped into a cleaning service van. One of the kidnappers, Arabic looking indeed, got into the back with him while another man of the same descent climbed into the passenger side and they drove off.
"Can you get a close-up of the men and the license plate?" He asked.
"We don't have the equipment but the police will when they get here." The security man shook his head ruefully.
"You called them already?" Arnie asked.
"As soon as I saw the tape."
"Can I get a copy of the tape?" Rollie requested.
"No. This is a police investigation."
They turned to see the manager in the doorway with Angie.
"I appreciate the police... I've worked alongside them many times, but they'll need to interview witnesses, go over the crime scene, view this tape... All of that will take time which is the one thing Daniel doesn't have!"
"Please, let us have a copy, we might be able to cut down on the time it takes to locate him, giving him a better chance of being found alive." Angie added quietly.
"I know you have no reason to believe or even trust we're telling you the truth but Ange and I work in the movie business and we have access to equipment the police simply don't. Something on this tape could help us find Daniel... something they might not see.... something that could save Daniel's life." Rollie pleaded.
"Daniel is a minister, he'd do whatever he could to help another... please do this to help him." Arnie asked.
The woman looked from Arnie to Rollie to Angie and sighed.
"Make them a copy. I want all of your names for the police."
Rollie pulled out a business card with his and Angie's names on it then borrowed a pen and wrote down Frank and Mira's names and precinct number so the S.F.P.D. would know they were legitimate.
Arnie put his name and address down on a piece of paper then after a moment wrote Alex and Dylan's names as well and Hope Island, Washington.
A few moments later the copy was done and handed to Rollie.
"Tell the police if we find anything we'll get it to them as soon as possible." He called as the trio hurried out of the room.
"I hope I did the right thing." The manager said to the security officer who shrugged.
"Can you tell me why you and this Daniel Cooper are in the city Miss Stone?" The harried looking detective asked Alex as she and Dylan sat on the sofa in their room.
"Daniel's best friend is getting married Friday--"
"That would be Arnie Greenberg?"
"Yes. Daniel is his best man."
"Who knew you were coming here?"
"Everyone one on Hope of course, Arnie and his fiancée Connie...and I'm sure some other members of the wedding party."
"Do you know of anyone who would want to abduct Mr. Cooper?"
"It's Reverend Cooper and no, Daniel is one of the kindest people I've ever known."
"He helps everybody...you don't even have to ask him." Dylan added quietly.
The detective nodded and continued writing in his notebook.
"Do you know why someone would abduct Reverend Cooper?"
"Because of who his father is." She admitted.
The detective looked at her.
"Televangelist Cliff Cooper."
"Then there'll be a ransom demand." The man sighed and closed his notebook. "Please don't leave the hotel in case we need to ask you any more questions." He added as his younger partner hung up the phone.
"Tyler and Ramirez check out and Greenberg is a Rabbi and friend of Cooper's."
"Cooper isn't a run of the mill kidnapping...his old man is a t.v. preacher. " Detective Harden relayed.
"We'd better find out if he's been contacted for ransom yet." Detective Sayers frowned.
Harden nodded to Alex and the policemen left.
Alex hugged Dylan trying not to think about where Daniel was...or if they'd find him in time.
She had no illusions.
How many kidnapping victims were found still alive?
Please let Rollie come up with something.
Angie pulled up the first image of the man who had climbed into the back with Daniel. It was a close-up of the man's face but by the time the whole image was finished they would have his life-sized body to examine.
Rollie and Arnie were looking at the tape frame by frame searching for any clue to lead to identifying the men.
He would freeze-frame something he or Arnie spotted and magnify it on the monitor.
Rollie wished for the hundredth time they were back in New York because their equipment at the loft was even better and would have been able to analyze everything in the video more rapidly.
"There! When he opens the door, there's something on the floor of the van." Arnie pointed out.
Rollie noted the time index on the video and Angie would program the times he wrote down into the computer and it in turn would print out a photograph of the image for that time.
He and Arnie watched it four times until they decided there was nothing more to be found on it.
"How's it coming on those images Ange?"
"The first guy is about a third of the way printed." She answered as they joined her.
Rollie handed her the list of times and she rolled her chair to another screen.
"Thanks love." He replied laying a hand on her shoulder.
She nodded then concentrated on her task.
As soon as she heard it was Daniel Cooper she knew Rollie would do everything to help find him.
Ever since he had told her about his 'twin' she had a feeling their lives would be intertwined.
It took several minutes for the first time image to begin printing.
Rollie pulled it out and picked up the magnifying glass, like professional photographers used,and began examining every inch of the picture.
Alex nearly jumped at the knock on her door.
She looked through the peephole then opened it quickly to let Connie inside.
"Arnie called me, are you two okay?"
Alex nodded even though she wanted to admit she was terrified, but she couldn't do that in front of her son and frighten him even more.
Connie hugged her, sensing what she wasn't saying, then released her and ruffled Dylan's hair.
"You know what I'd like and maybe it will help you both feel better too?"
"What?" Alex asked, not sure anything would help her feel better until they had Daniel back.
"Well, Daniel is Arnie's best friend but I only know a little about him...mostly the past that Arnie has told me, but you two see him everyday. Tell me the things he's done on Hope, what he's like, what was your first impression of him?"
Alex couldn't help but smile.
She recalled Daniel's first week on Hope and it had not been good...for either of them.
She had been furious when he'd asked Dylan to be his acolyte without consulting her but when she heard him tell Dylan his father hadn't been around much when he was growing up too and that he could really use a friend she had begun to soften toward the new minister realizing he understood the pain Dylan was feeling due to Steve's absence from his life because he'd been through it himself.
Sometimes she was still amazed that her son's first real friend on Hope was the minister when she herself would not have chosen a clergyman for her son to bond with.
And her own feelings for Daniel had surpassed friendship before they had ever kissed.
"...And he play's catch with me and we go camping sometimes and bike riding." Dylan finished.
"He sounds like a great friend." Connie smiled.
"He is," Alex answered, "he's done a lot for the Islanders. He'll pitch in anywhere he's needed, no matter what it is. He's not afraid to get dirty along with the rest of us. Daniel's been like a breath of fresh air to Hope. I can't imagine him not being there now." She admitted.
"A real God send?" Connie offered.
Alex nodded after a moment.
"You two just have to have faith he'll be found soon. God will watch over him the entire time."
"I hope you're right." Alex sighed.
Arnie,Rollie and Angie walked into the police station and asked to see the detectives. The Rabbi had called the hotel on the way there and gotten the names of them, letting Alex know they had gotten some things from the tape, to her clear relief.
Two men, one somewhat older than the other appeared a few minutes later.
"Tyler, Ramirez and Greenberg." The older one grumped.
Rollie ignored the man's disposition.
He'd been around enough cops to recognize the 'I'm a cop, you're not, so leave the investigating to us!' attitude.
"If you have some time we can show you what we found on the surveillance tape." He answered pleasantly.
The man frowned but knew their information could cut down on the time it took to locate Cooper and that was the goal.
He pushed open the small gate that allowed them access to the desks.
"Let's see what you have." He ordered.
Rollie opened a manilla envelope and extracted two photographs.
"There was a third person driving that was never seen. As you can tell, these men appear to be Arabic so you'll want to run them past Interpol as well."
"Get on it Toby." Harden ordered.
Sayers took the pictures to another desk and placed them on the scanner as he booted up the computer.
"What else do you have in there?"
Rollie pulled out the license plate photo and Harden called up DMV to get the registration.
The Aussie placed another photo in front of him while he relayed his request for information.
"What's that?" The cop pointed as he was placed on hold while they checked their computer.
"The two who took Daniel had this tattoo on their wrists." Rollie explained.
"Could it be a gang symbol?" Arnie asked.
"Not one I've ever seen before-----yeah? Figures, thanks. The plates were reported stolen last night." Harden said hanging up his phone.
"We have one more picture." Rollie replied putting it on the desk. "Arnie spotted this." He added as Harden looked at it.
Rollie studied the detective to see if he noticed what the Rabbi had.
"Benniker, you got a minute?" Harden called and the female cop sitting a few desks away came over.
"Computer again Pete?"
"You're going to have to come into the 21st century sometime." She shook her head and booted him up as he stood to let her sit at the terminal.
"Not if I can help it." He muttered as she tapped a few commands into the computer.
"What do you need?"
"I want to know who rented this piece of cleaning equipment." He answered showing her the photo that had a clear serial number in it.
Rollie and Arnie looked at each other and smiled.
Mr. Mael closed the door as the bell hop left.
He opened his lone suitcase and removed a smaller metal case which he typed a combination into to open.
"Now,let's see what's going on with the woman." He uttered to himself as he donned a very small headset and pressed a few panels on the screen.
Alex sat in the chair looking out the window.
Connie had gone and Dylan was asleep.
She closed her eyes,terrified Daniel would not be found alive. Her heart was breaking over the possibility of never seeing him again. In her mind she saw him smile at her, his eyes full of humor and warmth. The way he'd look at her when he was being stubborn. The way he was with Dylan... She wanted it back. She wanted to feel his lip's on her's over and over again. She couldn't bear losing Daniel Cooper. She loved him with her whole heart... even if she didn't have the courage to admit it to him just yet. She bought her hands to her face and silently cried out the terror in her heart.
"Three cleaning companies have this serial number on a 'Dragon Scrubber'. They all rent. You'll have to call their offices for company records, I can't access those from here." Benniker reported.
"Sayer!" Harden called to his partner who came over, leaving Angie by his computer where she'd drifted to when Rollie and Arnie were showing Harden the other photos.
She had caught the young detective looking at her more than once and she'd smiled in a friendly but not flirting manner.
He had explained to what he was doing as the mug shots were loaded to find a match in a national database and she'd nodded, having done the same thing with Rol a number of times before in their own work.
He had inquired about her job and they'd spoken about the movies she and Rollie had worked on.
She had gotten him to tell her that there had been no ransom demand of the Coopers yet, but it was still very early and they would undoubtedly be contacting them within the next few hours.
Finally, he asked her how long she was going to be in the area and would she care to have dinner with him when the case was over?
Angie was flattered but turned him down slipping the exquisite engagement ring Rollie had given to her onto her finger as she gazed at the Aussie. She never wore it while working, she explained.
"He's a pretty lucky guy." Sayer had said following her gaze.
"I think I'm pretty lucky myself." She smiled as Harden summoned him over.
"We have a couple of cleaning supply places to check out. Benniker can keep an eye on that. Let's go."
"We can split up and check the other two." Rollie said as the cops started off.
"You three go back to the hotel, we'll notify you if we find Cooper. Thanks for your help." Harden replied.
"We've helped as much as we can Rol, let's do what they say and go back to the hotel." Angie said taking her very unhappy fiancé's hand.
Rollie frowned but acquiesced and let her lead him out.
Arnie followed silently, feeling as though he were letting Daniel down.
He hadn't been there when his best friend was injured and near death and now he wasn't being allowed to help locate him.
"You okay mate?" Rollie asked glancing in the rearview mirror at the silent rabbi as they drove.
"Yeah! I'm great! My best friend in the entire world is missing and the police just said thanks for all the information now run along back to your hotel room like a good boy and wait until we decide to inform you we found his body because we were to proud to accept help from you, a mere civilian!" Arnie snapped.
"Sounds like you don't plan on following orders." Angie replied.
"If I knew a way to find Daniel I wouldn't!"
"A way like,say,tapping into the police computer to see if they get a match on the kidnappers?" Rollie asked.
"You can do that?" Arnie was surprised and looked from one to the other.
"Piece of cake." Angie smiled back at him.
"I have to tell Alex." Arnie said, relieved to know they weren't walking away.
"We're in Suite 1405, bring her and Dylan up. If we can get a match we'll find out where they live and hopefully one of them will lead us to Daniel."
"I didn't say it before, but thanks for helping Daniel." Arnie said with deep sincerity.
"I consider him a friend." Rollie smiled.
"And I'm anxious to see if he really looks as much like my fiancé as Rollie claims he does." Angie smiled at the grinning Aussie.
"I can tell you that they definitely look alike." Arnie answered shaking his head but smiling.
Alex walked to the window and looked out for the umpteenth time.
"Yeah, baby?" She turned to him and smiled.
"Can I pray for Daniel?"
Dylan slid off he bed and went to his knees as he steepled his hands.
"Dear God, please keep Daniel safe. Help Rollie, Angie and Arnie help the police to find him and bring him back to us soon. Amen."
Alex hugged her son, sharing his sentiment.
There was a knock on the door and she quickly got to her feet and went to answer it.
"Alex, Rollie and Angie are working on some leads, they want us to come up to their suite." Arnie said without preamble as she opened the door.
Alex grabbed her purse and they left with him.
Mael sat up when his mini-bugging receiver alerted him to voices from the room. He re-donned the headset and listened, at first incredulous, which quickly turned to fury. He slammed the case closed and repacked it into the larger one.
He was in his car two minutes later heading for the location where his accomplices were.
"This is suite 1405, we'd like a plate of sandwiches and fruit delivered. Just make it a variety, thanks." Rollie ordered from room service then hung up and headed for the door a moment later as there was a knock on it. "Hey, come on in." He invited, seeing Arnie, Alex and Dylan there. "Ange is already connected to the police computer." He added as they followed him into the bedroom where Angie was all set up.
"No match from the U.S. so far. Sayer also set it up to reference Interpol's database so it will go there next." She commented without looking up.
Dylan walked over, full of curiosity as to how she got into the police computer.
"Isn't what she's doing illegal?" Alex asked quietly.
"Probably, but they owe us. They're a he...heck of a lot closer to finding Daniel than they were an hour ago! Plus, I'm not willing to stand by as the hours go past and Daniel comes closer to being murdered." He answered. "I'm sorry Alex, but that's the reality of a kidnap victim." He added seeing the stricken look in her eyes.
"Then let's do whatever is necessary to find him. Whether the police approve or not." Arnie replied.
Alex nodded in agreement then walked over to her son and the blond.
"Seems complicated." Dylan said with furrowed brow.
"It is." Angie nodded.
"What are you doing baby?"
"Um...just asking Angie what she did to get into their database. Government systems have a lot of security to them."
Alex gave Dylan "the look", that he knew meant she had better never catch him attempting anything like this.
Did she really tell him how to get in?" Arnie asked.
There was a knock on the door and Rollie motioned him to follow.
"Ange probably gave him thirty-five steps to follow. Even if he remembers them all he won't get in." The Aussie assured him as he opened the door to let the room service man in.
He signed the bill that would go to the studio picking up Tyler F/X's hotel tab then rolled the cart into the bedroom.
"Everyone grab a sandwich, we've got a lot of work to do. The bar is stocked so help yourself."
He pulled a duplicate set of photos that they'd given to the police out of a manilla envelope.
"We need to find out what this symbol is." He pointed to the tattoos the kidnappers had on their arms as Alex looked over his shoulder.
Some instinct told him it was the key... and his instincts were seldom wrong.
"What do ya mean? That can't be right!"
Mael turned on his cohort as he strode back to the group. "I heard them myself!" He erupted.
"So what do we do?" Another asked.
"We keep to the plan. Get to work on your end of things. You two have another job to complete." He answered and motioned them up the steps.
Rollie scanned the data scrolling across his PDA. They had used it to dial up the computer in the loft and send the image, via the mini-camera on the PDA, of the tattoos. It hadn't found an exact image... yet, but he was confident it would in time. His computer was better than most, thanks to Ange and her talents with it.
The phone rang and he picked it up.
"Tyler----now? All right. What? Why there? Okay, okay, tell him I'm on my way."
"Problem Rol?" Angie asked once he'd hung up.
"Salini's having some kind of fit about the dailies. He wants to see me 'now!'."
"You want me to come? This thing doesn't need me to run it."
"No,that's okay. No point in both of us getting bloodied." He sighed then went over and kissed her. "Stay on top of this Ange." He requested quietly.
"I will. Don't let Salini lay into you."
He smiled at her then left.
"What's that?" Dylan asked, pointing.
"It's a PDA. Personal Digital Assistant. We use them a lot in our work. It's basically a palmtop computer with touchscreen technology. This little device has a mini-camera, microphone and speaker as well as complete telephone capabilities." Angie answered amused by the look of awe on his face.
"Okay, this is a way in which Daniel and Rollie are nothing alike." Arnie shook his head.
"Yeah, Daniel can barely type." Alex added looking at the device warily.
"Rol built one for him and one for me."
"I bet you got a really cool house!" Dylan's eyes lit up.
"Rollie lives in a loft, which is also our studio."
"You don't live there with him?" Alex asked, a little surprised.
"I have a apartment. There is such a thing as a little too much togetherness." She smirked.
"Are you going to keep your apartment after you're married?" Dylan asked puzzled.
"No, but we will decide on neutral corners before then." Angie answered humorously.
Alex and Arnie chuckled while Dylan looked at them then shrugged, figuring it was grown-up humor. He eyed Rollie's PDA wishing he had something this cool. He imagined all the stuff he could do with it... like spy on Rebecca during recess. He would never admit it to his mom but he thought Becca was the prettiest girl on the whole island. He smiled slyly as another use for the PDA came to mind.... getting his mom and Daniel together! "Angie, the PDA stopped." He announced.
The blond got up and walked over to him to take a look.
"What is it?" Alex asked concerned by the look on her face.
"We have a match."
"That's good news right?" Arnie inquired.
"Yeah.... but why would two Arab guys be wearing tattoos associated with Ireland? This is really strange, I'm going to call Rol." Angie replied and picked up the hotel phone where she pressed the number for an outside line then called up the studio.
"This is Angie Ramirez, my partner Rollie Tyler is meeting with Mike Salini. Would you please give Rollie a message when he arrives? Oh, do you have his cell number?" Angie asked grabbing the pen and jotting down the number on the paper by the phone then hung-up.
"Salini isn't at the studio so I might as well give Rol another thirty minutes to get to his location and talk to him personally." She explained, returning to her computer.
"Hmm, no match of these guys nationwide so I'll just access Interpol's database and let it search there." She smiled, pleased with her work as the Intepol logo appeared after a few commands and requested a password, which she provided.
"How do you know the password for Interpol?" Dylan asked in awe.
"Rol and I have friends in the F.B.I." She answered as the search began. "Now we wait and see what comes up." She added, leaning back in the chair.
Alex walked into the living room with Arnie right behind.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
"I'm scared. Why haven't the kidnapper's called the Coopers to demand a ransom? If they don't want money then what do they want?" Alex asked worriedly.
"Maybe they haven't decided on how much to ask for?" Arnie shrugged.
"Something just doesn't feel right about this." Alex shook her head.
"I don't know." She sighed. "I just don't know."
Harden and Sayer snapped rubber gloves on and began to examine the cleaning machine found in the back of the kidnapper's van which a unit on routine patrol discovered just as the two detectives were heading out to check the rental places. They got even more lucky that the first rental agency was the one where the cleaner was from. The surveillance tape they looked at showed the same Arab men as the hotel tape did. They took the video as evidence and headed to the van's location.
"What do you have Pete?"
"Used in a kidnapping. Can you get me a rush?" Harden requested motioning to the interior.
"Sure. The other cases we have are dead. Be nice to find this one alive." Debbi Tompkins,head of San Francisco's Crime Scene Investigations Unit nodded as she snapped on her own pair of gloves. She glanced around the inside of the van then turned to them. "How long has it been?"
"Almost three hours." Sayer replied glancing at his watch.
"Most of the evidence should still be in tact." She replied looking around at where the van sat. "We'll get to work on it right away. " She replied heading back to her car to call in a flatbed truck to haul it to the lab.
"This is the break we needed." Sayer sighed.
"Let's get back to the office and see if those photo's have been i.d.'d yet." Harden answered.
Angie glanced at her watch and realized almost an hour had passed.
"I need to call Rol." She said and reached for the phone.
It rang three times before there was an answer.
"Mr. Salini? It's Angie Ramirez. I need to speak to Rollie---he left already? I don't understand...he didn't show up? Wait, wait...he got a call from someone saying there was a problem with the dailies and you wanted to see him." Angie explained then sat on the bed listening. "Yeah....thanks." She replied and hung up.
"Angie? Is something wrong?" Dylan asked looking up from the PDA she had been explaining to him.
Alex and Arnie came back into the bedroom from the living room where Arnie had been regaling her with tales of Daniel's exploits in high school.
"Salini says he didn't call Rol." She replied looking at them. "That he never told anyone to call him." She added looking at her engagement ring.
Alex came and sat beside her on the bed.
"Maybe it was just a mix-up. Rollie will probably be back here really soon breathing fire over this."
"Yeah, you're probably right." Angie smiled at her in gratitude. "I'd better get back to the computer." She nodded moving back to Dylan's side.
"You want to take a walk? I could use some fresh air." Arnie asked Alex who nodded and followed him into the hall.
"What are you thinking?" He asked, once the door closed.
"You know how I said before something didn't feel right? I'm getting that feeling ten times stronger now. My instincts are screaming that this thing with Rollie is not a simple mix-up." She confided.
"What do you think has happened to him?"
"I don't know...but I'm afraid it's connected to Daniel."
"You think whoever took Daniel made that call to Rollie? Why? Because he's been helping us?"
"I don't know Arnie...I just...I don't know."
"Okay, we've got two Arab guys, possibly three, who snatch Cooper. It's been over four hours but there's been no ransom demand from his moneyman father, and the Arab guys have turned up....but not where we expected. So what the hell is going on here?" Sayer asked sitting on the corner of Harden's desk.
"Got the prelims guys." Tompkins said handing her report over.
Harden scanned it and stood.
"Son of a-----!" He snapped and tossed it to his partner. "Let's go!" He barked.
Sayer hurried followed him intending to read the report on the way to wherever they were headed.
"Mom! Arnie!" Dylan opened the door and called to them.
They ran back inside.
"What is it?" Arnie asked as they followed him into the bedroom.
"Angie found something on the guys who kidnapped Daniel!"
"What did you find?!?" Alex demanded of the blonde who was staring at the screen perplexed.
"They're in prison...in England."
"How could they have taken Daniel?" Arnie asked confused.
"They were wearing some kind of masks." Alex deduced.
"And wigs that made them look Arab."Angie nodded. "It's an excellent job." She murmured looking at the pictures again. "Almost like what..." She trailed off and her eyes grew wide.
"Angie?" Alex prompted.
"Nothing." She shook her head and wiped the computer screen then used it to contact the loft's computer.
Alex and Arnie exchanged a look.
It was clear Angie knew something she wasn't ready to share just yet.
They all jumped at a pounding on the door and Angie ran to answer it.
"Rol!" She said pulling it open only to be met by the detectives.
"We need to speak with Mr. Tyler." Harden ordered.
"He's not here." Angie replied and hurried back into the bedroom.
"Do you know where he is?" He asked Alex and Arnie.
"He was called away by the director of the film they're working on except...."
"Yes?" Sayer prompted Alex.
"Except the director has no knowledge of the call." Arnie answered.
The detectives exchanged a look and headed for the bedroom where Angie was closing her computer.
"Miss Ramirez, we're taking you in for questioning in the kidnapping of Daniel Cooper." Harden gruffed and took hold of her arm.
"What?!?" Alex and Arnie said in unison.
"Angie didn't have anything to do with Daniel's kidnapping!" Alex said angrily.
"Perhaps not Miss Ramirez, but we have reason to believe Mr. Tyler did." Sayer answered.
"NO! Rollie didn't do this! Neither of us did!" Angie exclaimed as she was led out.
"Wait! Why do you think Rollie is involved?" Alex asked grabbing Sayer's arm.
He turned to her and answered.
"We've found solid evidence linking him to the crime."
"What evidence?!?" She demanded to know.
"Mr. Tyler is an FX expert, we found hair from a wig, remnants of a latex mask----"
"That doesn't prove----" Arnie began.
"And human hair that looks like his, all found inside the van used in the kidnapping and once we find Tyler I'm sure we'll get a DNA match." Harden growled.
"Can't you see Rollie's being framed!" Angie cried as she was taken into the corridor. "You know he didn't do this." She pleaded with Alex and Arnie as she was escorted onto the elevator with several people looking on.
Alex looked dazed as the doors closed on them. How can I believe Rollie had anything to do with Daniel's abduction? But they have good evidence! How could Rollie's hair have gotten into the van unless he was inside it? And his sudden disappearance....NO! Daniel's trust could not be that misplaced! Angie had to be right, this is all a frame. "We need to get her a lawyer." Alex said decisively.
"I'll make a call." Arnie nodded and headed for the phone. He didn't know for sure what to believe but he trusted Alex and if she believed in their innocence he would too.
Dylan looked at his Mom feeling a little scared. They said Rollie took Daniel but he couldn't have.... could he? Rollie had been nice to all of them on Hope. Why would he kidnap Daniel? "Mom?" He asked with trembling voice.
Alex strode over and hugged him.
"It's okay baby. I don't think they kidnapped Daniel. I think that whoever did take him wants to make it look like Rollie did it to get him into trouble with the police. We need to be strong to find out the truth and get Daniel back, okay?"
Dylan nodded. He trusted his Mom and if she said Rollie and Angie were innocent then they were and he was relieved they could still help find Daniel.
"Okay, my friend is on his way to the precinct." Arnie said hanging up the phone.
"Good, let's get down there." Alex nodded and grabbed her purse.
"Bloody hell...anybody get the license plate of that truck?" Rollie groaned as he raised his head.
"I'd like to help but I've been a little tied up."
Rollie opened his eyes and found himself staring into a pair of matching brown ones.
"Daniel! You're okay! I found you!"
"I hate to point this out, but my kidnappers' found you." Daniel replied, not able to control the wry smile that tugged at his lips.
"S'pose you're right mate." Rollie answered realizing he too was tied up. "So, have they told you why they took you?" The Aussie asked looking him over carefully and seeing he didn't seem too worse for wear save for a few bruises on his face that might have been from the van ride.
"I guess money."
"They hadn't ransomed you...at least while I was free." Rollie shook his head.
Daniel looked at him puzzled which grew into confusion. "Why did they grab you?"
"Guess they didn't like me lookin' for you." Rollie shrugged.
"Did you see Alex? Are she and Dylan okay?" Daniel asked worriedly.
"Yeah, they're okay. They, your friend Arnie and Ange are working on leads. Tell me about these guys who took you."
Thank you God, Daniel said silently before answering.
"And you. I've only seen one of them-----"
"Arabic." Rollie nodded.
"No," Daniel frowned, "he didn't look Arabic at all."
"On the surveillance tape from the hotel, the men who took you looked Arabic." Rollie matched his frown.
"Maybe they're working together." Daniel shrugged.
"What did this guy look like?"
"A little shorter than us...blonde hair, not quite shoulder length....very intense blue eyes...."
"Did he say anything?"
"No. He just came in, grabbed my face and stared at me a moment, then left just as quickly as he'd come."
"You're telling me. It was scary Rollie...the way he looked at me...." Daniel shivered.
"I think it's time to stop pondering him and figure out a way to escape."
"I'm not sure we can. The door seems to be locked from the outside." Daniel sighed.
"First things first, let's work on getting untied."
"Well, I have a head start on you there."
"Good, if you get loose first you can help me, it'll be a little hard to concentrate with this pounding in my skull."
"I got the impression you had a hard head."
"You must have talked to Ange behind my back!"
Daniel smiled, grateful he wasn't alone any longer....though he hated that Rollie was in danger too now.
Rollie smiled back but knew they were expendable now that Daniel had been allowed to see one of their faces.
Come on Tyler, a lot of people are counting on you, he thought as he worked on his ropes.
Angie sat in silence as the detectives bombarded her with questions. She refused to help them help the kidnappers' crucify her fiancé!
"Not another question gentlemen."
Angie and the detectives all looked up startled.
"Jack Notestein, Miss Ramirez's attorney. You haven't volunteered anything to them have you?"
Angie shook her head glaring at the men.
"Good. I'd like a moment alone with the detectives."
Angie stood and gave them a nasty look as she walked into the corridor.
"Are you okay?" Alex asked as she, Dylan and Arnie arrived.
"Yeah, thanks for the lawyer."
"No problem, Jack and I have known each other for a few years now and he was glad to come." Arnie smiled.
"Angie,we don't believe Rollie had anything to do with Daniel's kidnapping, I want you to know that."
"Thanks,Alex...I wish those jerks did!"
"Okay....they have a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing to Mr. Tyler's involvement...what they don't have is a motive. I told them once they find one, if they can, to obtain the proper warrants, until then they're to leave you alone or we'll slap a harassment suit on them. If you hear from Mr. Tyler contact me immediately." Jack informed her handing his business card over.
"Thank you for your help Mr. Notestein." Angie nodded.
"Thanks Jack." Arnie echoed shaking his hand.
"I have to get back to the hotel." Angie uttered following him to the door as the others ran to catch up.
The blond was silent on the drive back and once inside their room she hurried over to the computer and checked it.
"Yes!" She said typing in a new command.
"What is it?" Alex asked.
"I was checking the loft's computer for the faces in the photos. Rol made these masks for that big mummy film in '96. Someone accessed his hard files and recreated them but Rol, wanting to safeguard his work, had me tag all his files a few years ago, so I can basically trace anyone who's accessed any file from our system."
"Won't their computer have protection programs?" Dylan asked.
"True, but Rol didn't want his hard work lifted so we created a program to get around that. This'll take some time though."
"Do you have any idea who could be behind it?" Arnie inquired.
Angie picked up the photo's of the tattoo's and looked at them.
"Two guy's wearing Arab mask's but also Irish tattoo's...unless those are fake too." She shook her head and tossed them onto the table. "It just doesn't make any sense and I really wish Rol would call."
As if on cue,the phone rang and she snatched it up.
Angie slowly hung the phone up a moment later and sat down. "Salini doesn't know who called Rol on his behalf." She told them with a scared look in her eyes.
"Angie, Arnie and I were talking earlier and we think Rollie's disappearance is tied in with Daniel's abduction----"
"You said you didn't think Rol had anything to do with it!" Angie jumped up, eyes blazing.
"We don't." Alex quickly answered. "What I mean is that maybe they've taken Rollie too...possibly because he's been trying to help find Daniel."
Angie took a shaky breath and picked up all the pictures again. "All the clues are here....we just have to figure them out." She replied.
Daniel and Rollie worked in silence on the ropes binding them. Each man was lost in his own thoughts.
Daniel's focused on Alex, Dylan, Arnie, his parents and everyone on Hope. He wanted to get back to all of them, especially Alex. When she smiled at him it send a feeling through him that he hadn't felt since falling in love with Kate. He knew in his heart he loved Alex Stone and he vowed this time would be different. He would not let his father separate them. He pulled one of the ropes and found he could move his hands much easier now. He focused all thoughts on sliding his hands out of their bonds.
Rollie thought about Angie and was sure she would be worried by now but he fervently hoped she would continue working on the leads. I'm sorry Ange, I can't seem to stay out of trouble. The thing is...I didn't see this one coming and don't know why it's happening or who is behind it. If we get out of here I'm going to find the answers.
Angie looked out the window not really seeing the view. She turned feeling a hand on her arm. "I'm scared." She admitted to Alex.
"I know...I am too, but we have to be strong for them."
"Thanks." Angie said softly.
Alex embraced her and spoke quietly to her. "We have to believe they're okay and will come back to us." Alex counseled.
"I love Rollie so much. I can't imagine life without him."
"Then don't." Alex said pulling back and looking at her.
"You love Daniel too, don't you?"
"Yeah. I could never have imagined falling in love with him. I didn't even like him all that much when he first came to Hope. I'm not very....religious and he made my son his acolyte. I was pretty pissed when I found out and I refused to let Dylan help. I made him tell Dylan and I sort of...eavesdropped. He told Dylan he didn't need an acolyte...but he could use a friend. My anger seemed to fade hearing that, the loneliness in Daniel's voice made me realize he knew how Dylan felt and I couldn't deny my son that friendship. We came very close to losing Daniel, driving him away actually. He didn't feel like he belonged on Hope, or even feel welcomed. Every day I am grateful for whatever changed his mind and made him stay."
"I can relate, I was awful to Rol when he first came to work for my father. I felt threatened. It had been just me and my dad for so long and I felt like Rol was trying to become part of my family. I resented the hell out of him and said some awful things to him, nearly driving him away. I was a real brat! Thank God I didn't. I have loved him for so long, it's hard to remember a time that I didn't feel this way now. It took us a long time to get it together and I don't want to lose him. I can't lose him!"
Alex hugged her again knowing how she felt.
The armored car pulled up to the gate and the guard stepped out of his booth.
"Where's Ray?" He asked eyeing the two men in the truck.
"He's got that flu that's been going around." The driver answered with a sigh.
"Had a lot of runs?" The guard asked sympathetically.
"Initial this for me." The guard ordered handing over his clip board.
The driver obliged and handed it back, then the guard gave them two badges and opened the electrified gate waving them through.
The men clipped the badges onto their uniforms once they reached the entrance of the building.
The badges granted them limited access to the facility.
They got out of their truck and walked the few steps to the door where a camera zoomed in on them and a moment later a heavily armed guard appeared to let them in.
"So Ray's home sick huh?"
"Yeah, he really got hit hard this morning."
"I've had to cover several shifts myself this week." The man nodded as he led them down the corridor to a vault where he pressed a code to unlock it.
The door slid open to reveal numerous bags of cash.
"You get 30 bags, 10 for each bank." He informed them checking the clipboard.
The driver pulled a near-by cart over and the men began to load the money onto it.
The second man had just started to lift his fourth bag when he dropped it suddenly.
"You okay Joe?"
"I don't feel so good."
"You too? Can you get him to the bathroom?" The driver requested picking up the dropped bag.
The guard hesitated.
"We're already running behind and I have two more pick-ups before our shift is over, besides having to drop these three off. I could really use a hand." The driver told him.
"Yeah, okay." The guard nodded and took the second man's arm and led him away to the bathroom. "You gonna be okay in here by yourself?" He asked helping him into a stall.
"Yeah, maybe you could help my partner?"
"Sure. I hope you feel better." The guard nodded and left him.
The guard had been helping the driver for less than a minute when the lights went out.
"You guys are part of the rolling blackouts too huh?"
"No." The guard replied and stopped loading. "We're supposed to be exempt." He added with a sigh.
"Maybe you ought to check it out then, just in case. I ain't goin' no where 'til I'm done." The driver replied nodding at the cash still on the shelves.
"Okay...I won't be long." The guard agreed and headed for the main entrance and the reception desk.
The driver checked his glow-in-the-dark watch and nodded.
Joe had listened to make sure he was alone then donned surgical gloves and climbed into the air vent and started crawling. He had the layout memorized and reached his objective quickly.
He stopped at another vent and peered inside it to make sure no one was there then he removed a small box from his inside jacket pocket and placed it on the bottom of the vent, he gripped his fingers over the grating with one hand and pressed a control on the small box, a vibration tickled is fingers for ten seconds then ceased. He eased the grate into the vent and slid his body down to the floor below.
He quickly crossed the room and placed another device on the vault which opened it in five seconds. He removed the object inside, resealed the vault, used a chair to lift the item into the vent, replaced the chair, so no one would be the wiser, then jumped up and hauled himself into it as well.
He glanced at his own glow-in-the-dark watch and saw he had three minutes left.
He rapidly remagnetized the vent and quickly but quietly made his way back to the bathroom where he removed his stolen package and himself from the vent and waited for the lights to come back on.
He heard the door open a moment after the lights resumed and splashed some cold water on his face.
"You okay in here?"
"Yeah, what's with the lights?" Joe asked toweling his face off.
"Power company said it was an overload on the grid. They rerouted power and got us back in business in five minutes." The guard answered, walking him out and back to his partner, who was almost done.
"A little, though it still feel's like lead in my gut."
The driver smiled appreciatively at the joke as he finished loading the cash.
The guard walked them to the door and kept watch as they started for the gate.
The driver waved as they drove away, silently thanking him for supporting their case....even if he didn't know it.
The guard at the gate waved them through as he wrote down the time they departed.
Once they were on the road Joe removed the two metal blocks with a grin.
"Feel better now?" Mael smirked.
"Much!" 'Joe' laughed.
They drove for another mile then pulled into a storage area where they transferred the cash to a hidden compartment in another van.
Mael took the metal blocks and let 'Joe' drive as he pulled off the disguise he had worn for the theft.
"Let's go see how our guests are holding up." He ordered.
"Ian wants to kill them soon." 'Joe' said.
"He'll get to. You pick out a place for their remains?"
"Sure. Nobody will discover them for years to come."
"Good." Mael smiled in satisfaction as he settled back into the seat.
Daniel blinked in surprise.
The Aussie looked up questioningly.
Daniel lifted his freed hands from behind his back with a broad smile.
"Good job Daniel!"
It took the minister another few minutes to untie is feet and get the feeling back into his legs before he went to help Rollie.
"Let's see if I can figure out a way to get this door open." Rollie said once he was free.
Daniel watched him explore the door and the wall around it, grateful the Aussie, who undoubtedly had experience escaping various places, was there too.
Rollie turned over the wooden chair he'd been tied to and began trying to break a leg off.
"What are you doing that for?"
"This wall is plaster. If I can get this leg off I can use it to punch through...maybe find the wires to the door lock and short them out."
Daniel and Rollie took turns on the leg and finally broke it loose.
Rollie began poking through the plaster until he found the wires.
"Stand back." He advised after following the exit point to the outside wall, the best he could, for each wire.
Daniel moved back to the far wall saying a silent prayer for his safety and their escape.
Rollie took a deep breath and gripped the wires.
"Now or never. " He uttered, closed his eyes and pulled.
Daniel threw an arm up to protect himself from the sparks.
"Okay..."Rollie said a moment later with shaky breath, "let's see if it worked."
Daniel nodded and joined him in attempting to push the door open.
They smiled at each other and put their full weight into it as it started to inch open.
Neither was willing to take a break when they were that close to freedom and their persistence paid off several minutes later when they got it far enough to squeeze out.
"Now what?" Daniel asked, hardly believing he was free.
"Now we get the...heck...out of here!"
Daniel grinned in appreciation at his choice of language in his presence as he followed him across the nearly empty warehouse for the door.
"Uh-oh..." Rollie breathed looking around as the overhead door started to go up.
Daniel followed him to the only hiding place available, behind a dozen various sized crates where they ducked down and watched a white van with repairman's signs on the side pull inside.
"The blond is the one who came into the room." Daniel whispered as they got out of the van.
The 'twins' looked at each other worriedly as the men spoke.
"Should I check on them?" Sean asked.
"They'll be taken care of soon enough." Mael shook his head as he walked to the stair's. "I'm going to contact our associates and let them know we were successful."
"I'll get this stuff into the crates for the transport to the ship."
Mael nodded and climbed the stairs to the office where he sat down at the computer and logged on.
'Rounding third base...heading for home.'
'Glad to hear it. The game will be won and team loyalty will prevail.'
'Yes. Our opponent's best player has been taken from the game....soon to be retired....permanently.
'Excellent. I look forward to a recap of the game.'
'See you soon.' Mael signed off and sat back in his chair.
"For the cause, my brother." He uttered.
"Irish?" Rollie whispered in surprise.
"Uh, Rollie...they said they were going to load the crates....these are the only crates here!"
Rollie scanned the warehouse then pointed up.
Daniel looked up and swallowed the lump in his throat.
They waited until 'Sean' was in the van before scaling the crates to the window above which was ajar.
"Gotcha!" Angie squealed as the computer froze.
"What?" Alex and Arnie asked in unison.
"I got the phone number used to access Rol's files and someone was just on that line...now to tap into the phone company and find out where that line is located." She answered working quickly.
"Mom, what would you think if I became a special effects artist?" Dylan asked.
"I think you have plenty of time to decide on a career." Alex smiled at him.
Dylan nodded and went back to watching Angie and dreaming of working with her and Rollie one day.
Rollie went down the outer drain pipe slowly, keeping one eye below on the docks and the other above on Daniel, who he knew had never done anything like this before....and he himself had done it far too often.
"Just take your time Daniel." He softly cautioned.
"That was my intention." Daniel answered trying not to look down.
"You're doing fine."
Rollie dropped the last few meters to the dock.
He watched Daniel's pace knowing he couldn't tell him to hurry or risk him falling.
He kept his eyes on the move, from Daniel to the door to the 'street' and back again.
"Uh-oh......Daniel freeze!" He whispered urgently as a semi headed their way.
The minister stopped where he was, practically holding his breath, as the truck drew closer.
Angie watched the numbers and names roll by on her screen waiting impatiently for the one to tell them, hopefully, where Rollie and Daniel were.
She looked at Alex and Arnie as there was a pounding on her door.
"Detectives Harden and Sayer,we have some question's for you Miss Ramirez."
Angie stood and stomped to the door pulling it open with an angry yank.
"I believe my lawyer told you to call him!" She spat at them.
"Miss Ramirez, your fiancé was involved in a federal crime less than an hour ago." Sayer replied holding out a still shot of Rollie taken from video tape.
"He robbed the San Francisco mint." Harden added.
Angie shook her head in disbelief.
"No! You are wrong!" She said with hardened voice.
"Look at the photo." Sayer said quietly.
Angie snatched it from him and turned her back.
It looked like Rollie, the hair, the face--right down to the scar on his cheek...even the necklace he had worn since she'd known him...
She squeezed her eyes shut.
It is not him! Rollie would not steal!
"I may not know Rollie Tyler all that well but I don't believe he did this." Alex said.
"Besides, where's the logic in kidnapping Daniel if he was planning this? It seem's to me he wouldn't want the police anywhere near him but taking Daniel invites police involvement." Arnie frowned.
"Ego. Tyler wouldn't be the first criminal to flaunt his supposed superior intellect. We always get them in the end." Harden answered.
"I don't care what you think this, and all your other claimed evidence is, but it only shows me even more that Rollie is being framed! Now get out!" Angie threw the picture back at them and crossed her arms defiantly.
"It will be better for Tyler if he turns himself in." Sayer said with compassion.
"Get out!" Angie enunciated each word.
The detectives were barely in the hall when she slammed the door closed.
"Thanks for sticking up for Rol." She said gratefully.
"Let's look at this whole thing again." Arnie said. "Daniel is kidnapped, it's been hours but no ransom has been demanded----"
"And Rol gets a call from someone saying the director wants to see him but it turns out to be bogus, now Rol's vanished too."
"You discover the kidnappers were using masks from your movie files and that their tattoos are actually Irish." Alex nodded.
"And the police find hair from a wig, remnants from a mask and strands of human hair, that they say looks like Rollie's, all in the van used to take Daniel....appearing to link him to the kidnapping as well." Arnie added to the puzzle.
"And now Rol supposedly robs the mint." Angie sighed. "It's obviously a frame, but why?"
"And why involve Daniel? Did someone know he and Rollie were acquainted?" Alex asked.
"If Rol did rob the mint they must have forced him to....maybe by threatening Daniel." Angie added.
"Everything is here, we just need to put this puzzle together." Arnie sighed frustratedly.
"Couldn't it have been a mask?"
The trio of adults turned to Dylan.
"What do you mean baby?" Alex asked.
"The picture the police showed Angie. Couldn't it have been someone wearing a mask of Rollie. They made masks to kidnap Daniel right?" The pre-teen reasoned.
"He's right, there's no reason they couldn't have done that." Angie nodded.
"I reiterate, what does Daniel have to do with all this if they were looking to frame Rollie?" Alex asked.
"Maybe...." Dylan hesitated then looked at Alex who nodded encouragingly. "Maybe they didn't mean to take Daniel." He finished the thought.
"What do you mean?" Arnie asked.
"Well, Daniel and Rollie do look alike..." He shrugged.
"Oh my God! The note!" Alex exclaimed.
"Huh?" Angie asked confused.
"The note was signed 'A.' ! I thought it meant Arnie, but what if the kidnappers thought they were giving it to Rollie?!?"
"'A' as in---" Arnie began.
"'Angie'." The blond whispered.
"They kidnapped Daniel by accident so they had to take Rollie too!" Alex looked at them anxiously and realized they had reached the same conclusion she just did....Daniel and Rollie would probably be killed...if they weren't dead all ready.
"The computer stopped." Dylan announced.
They raced into the bedroom more worried than ever.
Rollie watched the truck with baited breath.
If either of those men glances up, we're dead, he thought silently, wanting to look up and make sure Daniel was okay but not daring to lest he miss one or both men catching a glimpse of the minister on his precarious perch.
"Cooper gets one to the head, no muss, no fuss." Ian said lighting his cigarette.
"Tyler will get something a bit more creative?" Colm asked chuckling.
"It won't be quick and painless." Ian grinned taking a drag on the cigarette, then he put the lighter on the dashboard, leaning forward to do so and automatically looking up.
"Daniel! Jump!" Rollie shouted as the semi's brakes squealed.
Daniel froze for a split second then simply let go of the pipe and gravity kicked in pulling him down...
And into Rollie who rolled with the impact and was back on his feet and pulling Daniel up in seconds and running away from the warehouse.
Daniel only had a second to register his surprise when Rollie threw him into the water then dove in himself.
Mael pounded down the stairs upon hearing gunfire.
"What the bloody hell is going on?!?" He demanded.
"Tyler and Cooper escaped!" Ian, the smoker, spat.
"It'll take them a while to get to a phone, but we'd better finish and get out of here just in case." Colm added holstering his gun.
"Let's move. The most important thing is to get this home." Sean ordered glancing at Mael who stared at the water with pure hatred. "We'll get him next time." Sean added.
Mael looked up with venom in his eyes then nodded.
"The cause comes first." He uttered and walked back to the warehouse.
Rollie watched the men walk inside and took his hand from Daniel's mouth.
"You okay?" He asked concerned.
Almost as soon as they hit the water, he realized Daniel was in trouble so he swam to him as fast as he could and drug him several meters to the pier and covered his mouth so Daniel's coughing wouldn't draw their attention.
"Yeah." Daniel croaked, silently admonishing himself for not taking swimming lessons after Jake had to rescue him from drowning his first week on the island. "We have to find a phone and get the police here." He added in a stronger voice.
"You take care of that, I'm gonna hitch a ride on that truck." Rollie replied starting to swim, with Daniel in tow, out the other side of the pier.
"Rollie, that's too dangerous." Daniel protested.
"If I don't, they'll get away, and I'm not about to let that happen mate!" Rollie answered as they reached the dock and he hauled himself then the minister out of the water.
The two soaked men quickly ran back to the warehouse and peeked inside.
Rollie turned to Daniel as they stepped back.
"When they start to pull away I'll jump onto the back of the semi. I want you to find a phone, call the police and ask for Harden or Sayer, they're the detectives working your case."
Daniel nodded then laid a hand on Rollie's arm.
"Please be careful." He requested.
"That's my middle name." The Aussie joked.
Daniel looked at him in earnest.
"I will. You be careful too." Rollie replied with sincerity.
Daniel nodded, offering up a silent prayer for both of them.
Rollie held out his hand and Daniel clasped it.
"See you again soon mate."
"Go. Get the police."
The young minister nodded and took off across the dock, keeping low to avoid detection.
Rollie watched him for a moment, wishing him Godspeed then turned his attention to his own actions.
He would not allow these men to get away... not after what they had done to him and Daniel, not when they planned to kill them.
He sat back and waited, he was a patient man.
Arnie and Angie drove in silence.
He had suggested calling the police but she vetoed the idea.
It would be a simple reconnaissance mission to see if the men were indeed being held there, then they would call the police, she had stated.
Arnie understood why she was angry at the detectives, but his concern was all their safety.
Please let Daniel and Rollie be okay, please let us find them, and please let the police get to all of us in time, he silently requested... again.
Angie checked her PDA.
"Take a left at the next light." She ordered.
Hang on Rol and Daniel, we're coming.
She had to believe they were alive... anything else was unthinkable.
She would not lose him.
"So what do we do when we get there?"
"We'll have to park away from the warehouses to avoid being seen, then sneak up to it.... hopefully see Rol and Daniel inside."
At least Alex knows where we are. If we don't contact her within the hour, she'll call the police."
"You've never done anything like this before, have you?"
"No, but I'm guessing you and Rollie have?"
"More times than I care to recall. How long have you known Daniel?"
"A little over fifteen years. I'm grateful to have his friendship. How about you two?"
"Sixteen years. I was just a kid when Rol came to work for my dad. He was 19, a stuntman who did some effects work on the side. My dad saw something in him and took him on as an apprentice in his special effects business." She smiled recalling.
"How long have you loved him?"
"Sixteen years." She chuckled.
"Rollie's very lucky."
"Thanks. Take a right turn up here."
"You're the guide."
Daniel jogged to the closest warehouse and tried the door but it was locked so he moved on. He fervently hoped to find a phone and get the police there before the truck, and Rollie, left. He didn't like the idea of Rollie risking his life like that but knew instinctively he would not change the man's mind.
"Please God,watch over him and keep him safe." He whispered trying another door. He replayed the events of the past several hours as he walked. He certainly hadn't expected to be kidnapped when he woke up this morning. The morning brought a smile to his face. He and Alex had nearly kissed again.
* (2) The last time we kissed was under the mistletoe at Christmas and we played it off to those at the Widow's Walk watching. 'Tradition', Alex had said to everyone, though the look in her eyes had to seemed to convey she didn't mind that tradition one bit... of course neither did I. I remember the look on her face when she opened the pins.* The smile she gave me warmed me all over and the gift she had given me, a blanket she had hand knitted and is on the foot of my bed, touched me deeply. I will get back to her and Dylan and make sure Rollie gets home to Angie. I have to, he said silently as he reached for another door handle.
Rollie heard the truck engine and took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself for this 'stunt'. He peered around the corner and realized he'd have to revise his plan.
The truck slowly began to pull out of the warehouse and Rollie psyched himself up for the only chance he was going to get.
One...two...three! He counted silently to himself then started a rolling dive between the large wheels of the semi and grabbed hold of the undercarriage and pulled himself up off the dock.
He let out a shaky breath and fervently hoped they were not going far.
Arnie and Angie turned onto the dock's and drove very slowly.
"Warehouse six... down there." Angie pointed.
Arnie stopped the car at warehouse three and they got out.
Angie led him stealthily to six where the large door was closed. She cursed silently until spotting a window open a few feet above a ledge. She bit her lip trying to figure out a way up to it when Arnie pointed to a door with a window at the top.
She nodded and they crept over to it, she tried the handle gently but it was locked and she shook her head.
Arnie pointed to the window then his own shoulders and he knelt down and Angie climbed onto him but found she was still too short then remembered the PDA in her pocket. She pulled it out and set it for record then held it up to the widow so it could scan the entire warehouse. She felt Arnie shift slightly below her feet and knew she must be very heavy on his shoulders but she needed another minute to be sure she got the whole place.
Daniel crouched down, breathing hard and watched another car go past. He'd barely made it behind the barrels upon spotting the first car and thought he was safe until this one came along.
What is going on? More men involved with the ones who kidnapped me and Rollie? I have to get to a phone! There has to be a public one around here somewhere. He cautiously stood and began jogging away when he espied a call box across the dock. He looked up and whispered his thanks, checked to make sure no one was coming, then ran as if he were in a track meet, to the phone. Ha was breathing hard by the time he reached it but his regular jogging to stay in shape helped him recover quickly and he pressed "0" for the operator who directed his call to the police as requested. He asked for Harden or Sayer, only to find they were out.
"This is urgent! I have to speak to them, please."
"Remain on the line please."
Daniel held the line, truly his only lifeline, and looked around anxiously, waiting for her to get back to him.
"Dispatch to Cobra Four."
"Cobra Four, go ahead." Sayer answered, picking up the car radio.
"We have a Daniel Cooper on the phone---"
"Put him through!" Sayer interrupted looking in shock at his partner who's face bore the same expression.
"Mr. Cooper, go ahead please, the detectives will hear you."
"Thank you. This is Daniel Cooper, Rollie Tyler said you were the detectives investigating my kidnapping---"
"You've seen Tyler?"
"He and I were held prisoner together."
"Is he with you now?"
"No, he's following our kidnappers. Look, they're driving a semi and they're headed for the shipping docks."
"Where are you?"
A warehouse call box on some docks some where."
The detectives exchanged a look and Harden took the radio.
"Reverend Cooper, take a look around and tell us what you see."
"Um... okay, the warehouse has a large number one painted over its door... there are orange crates stacked high along the side... oh, and a large yellow windsock hanging from an antenna on the roof."
"Son of a-------!" Harden exclaimed getting out of the car and looking back the way they had come. "Reverend...we're at warehouse six. Stay where----"
"Warehouse six? That's where they held us at!" Daniel interrupted.
"I want you to----" Harden began then realized Daniel had hung up. "Go get them." He ordered his partner then tossed the radio onto the seat and strode toward warehouse one.
Arnie felt like his shoulders were about to fall off. Angie was small and probably weighed less than a hundred pounds but he was small too and she was heavy. He turned his head slowly as someone cleared their throat.
"Um...Angie..." He said.
"Another few seconds." She whispered.
"Please come down from there Miss Ramirez, before you fall."
Angie slowly lowered the PDA, she knew that voice and she looked down to see Detective Sayer holding up his hands to her.
She put the device in her pocket and reluctantly took the offered hand, only so she wouldn't fall, and let him help her to the ground.
"You followed us!" She accused.
"Yeah,it's a good thing we did, otherwise we'd be driving the twenty miles out here to-----"
The rabbi spun around and his eyes went wide, a second later he was running and throwing his arms around his best friend.
"Thank God you're all right Daniel!" He cried.
"We need to get you to a hospital Reverend." Sayer said.
Daniel looked up and saw the short blond looking at him with impatience.
"Angie..." He realized, then turned to the cops, "the hospital can wait, we need to get to the shipping docks, Rollie is in danger."
Rollie's arms and shoulders were cramping up and he was afraid, very afraid, he wouldn't be able to hold on much longer as the semi rumbled over the concrete at rapid speed. He thought of Angie and had to chuckle over the fact she would kill him if he got killed. Aussie road kill, put me on the barbie, he joked to himself over the Paul Hogan, come to Australia commercials. We don't even call barbecues barbies! He breathed a sigh of relief as the truck seemed to slow down. He leaned his head back and gritted his teeth, realizing the white van was still behind them. No letting go just yet mate, he told himself. The truck finally came to a complete stop and he lowered himself to the ground once everyone had passed. He rolled out the passenger side of the truck and dashed behind some crates already on the docks. He watched as several men from the ship came down to help unload the semi. He had to find a way to keep them from leaving before the police arrived. He had no doubt Daniel would convince the police to come but how long would it be? He looked around, trying to come up with a plan when a smile touched his lips.
Arnie kept looking at Daniel as they and Angie sat in the back seat of the police car. An hour ago he thought he might never see his best friend again... yet here he was, seemingly all right, and Arnie was more grateful than he'd ever been in his life.
"I'm not going to disappear Arne." Daniel smiled at him.
"You're positive?" Arnie joked back.
Daniel squeezed his hand in assurance and the rabbi smiled again.
Daniel turned to Angie on his right.
"Are you okay?"
She nodded not taking her eyes from the window.
"Rollie's pretty tough isn't he? Good at taking care of himself I bet."
"Yeah, he is." She answered softly.
She looked up in gratitude as he placed his hand over hers.
"God will watch over him." He said with confidence.
Harden and Sayer exchanged a look in the front seat. Pretty damned convenient Tyler would send Cooper to fetch the police while he kept track of the kidnappers. Harden had requested back-up, relaying the information from Daniel, sending units to the airport and bus station since Tyler would have lied about their destination. They called in a couple of units for the docks as well, just in case. There were plenty of criminals that made stupid mistakes that got them caught and he hoped Tyler was one of them.
One way or another,he won't get away, Harden vowed.
Sayer glanced back at Daniel and sighed.
The guy had no idea he was a pawn in Tyler's game of one-upsmanship against us.
Cooper seems decent, I mean, look at the way he is trying to put these two at ease and help them deal with this entire situation.
And Miss Ramirez steadfastly refuses to believe the man she is engaged to could do something like this.
Tyler has a lot to answer for....
Rollie kept his head down, the CAT cap he wore held his hair up, covering its true length while the rumpled jacket helped him disguise his identity even further as he helped carry a crate up the gangplank.
He serruptitiously adjusted the crate as his carrying partner returned to the dock below then he slipped aboard the ship. He didn't have a clear cut plan of sabotage but figured he was darn good at improvising and began to look around. He knew he couldn't cause a fuel spill, or sink the huge vessel, not only because it would take far too long but for environmental concerns as well.
He made his way to the cargo hold where he began poking around. He broke into a smile with the discovery of a few items he could use to stall the ship.
Ten minutes later he was making is way out of the cargo hold as the first wisps of smoke escaped the hold's jammed door.
He nonchalantly descended the gangplank and headed away from the loading area where he allowed for a small sigh of relief.... until a shout froze him in his tracks.
"HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOIN' WITH MY HAT AND COAT?!?"
Rollie turned to see a rather burly looking man pointing at him angrily and striding his way.
"Sorry man." Rollie replied with a fake New York accent as he reluctantly removed the clothing.
An idea popped into his head as to how to get out of this predicament when he heard a voice ring out.
"IT'S TYLER! GET HIM!"
Rollie threw the clothes at the man and took off knowing his problems had just gotten ten fold. He darted into the closest warehouse and had to zig and zag around equipment and workers as he dashed out the back and nearly into one of his kidnappers causing him to wheel left into another warehouse. There were only a few crates there and he made a bee-line for the back door but found it locked so he headed for the steps just as his pursuers spotted him. He hauled it up to the roof and ran the perimeter, realizing he had no choice but to jump... so he did, just as the men chasing him pounded across the roof. Rollie's stuntman training kicked in and he rolled as he hit the ground but pain lanced through his ankle as he came to his feet, slowing his escape down.
He rounded the corner and came face-to-face with Mael...and his nine millimeter.
"Seems you were destined to die today after all Tyler!" He smiled coldly, walking toward Rollie who limped backwards.
"Who are you?!? Why did you kidnap us?!?"
The Irishman cocked the weapon.
"I suppose you deserve to know why you're about to die."
"That's the semi right there." Daniel pointed as they drove slowly along the docks joined by two squad cars.
"You're sure?" Sayer asked,half turning to look at him.
"Yes, I remember the logo on the door....and that white van is theirs too." Daniel answered.
Harden stopped the car and they all got out.
Sayer told the uniformed officers to round up the people at the truck for questioning.
Harden turned to the civilians and instructed them to stay put, then he and his partner walked to the semi.
"I can't stay here and do nothing! Rol could be in trouble!" Angie fumed and took a step away, looking around.
Daniel grabbed her arm before she could get any further.
"He wouldn't want you to wind up in danger too." He said gently.
Angie turned to order him to let her go when his hand fell away abruptly. She gripped his arm in concern when she saw he was staring across the docks.
"Daniel, what is it? What do you see?"
"It's him, Sean." Daniel breathed.
Arnie followed his gaze but saw dozens of people working.
"Which one?" He asked.
"Black windbreaker." Daniel pointed.
Sayer looked over from where he'd been taking notes about someone stealing a cap and jacket from one of the crew, a picture confirmed it was Rollie Tyler, and nudged his partner, nodding toward Daniel. The two men strode back to them.
"What'd you see?" Harden demanded.
"One of his kidnappers, over that way." Arnie answered pointing.
"What's he look like?" Sayer asked.
"Come on." Daniel replied and set off toward where he'd seen Sean.
Being tall, Daniel's stride was much longer making the others practically run to keep up.
They had reached the warehouse where Daniel had seen him when a shot rang out, they ran around the corner just in time to see Rollie fall into the water.
Angie screamed his name and started for him when Daniel knocked her to the ground as the police and kidnappers exchanged gunfire.
It was less than a minute later when silence descended but Daniel didn't move from covering Angie until he heard one of the detectives order someone to put down their weapon.
He started to get up when Angie scrambled out from under him and took off.
Daniel looked over his shoulder and saw Arnie getting to his own feet, thankful he was uninjured by the gun battle, then jogged over to Angie who was desperately searching the water for her fiancé.
He looked as well, owing the Aussie his life.
They both jumped back when he surfaced, coughing hard.
"ROL!" Angie laughed and cried at the same time while Daniel reached out a hand to haul him out of the water.
"Oh, God Rol, you're bleeding!" Angie exclaimed as Daniel eased him onto the dock.
Angie leaned him against her as Sayer ordered an ambulance.
"It's okay sweetie, he just got my shoulder as I dove into the water." Rollie re-assured her.
"Mr. Tyler, we have a few questions." Harden said pulling out his notebook.
Angie shot him a look full of venom and leaned over Rollie even more protectively.
"I think it can wait until he's been treated." Daniel rebuked the veteran cop.
"No, I want to get this over with. See the blond guy over there," Rollie nodded toward the dead man, "his brother, Sammael, was an Irish terrorist who tried to steal the visiting Crown Jewels of England from a New York museum a few years ago, I helped the police capture him. He," Rollie pointed to the younger man, "wanted revenge for that."
"What does Reverend Cooper have to do with this?"
Rollie looked at Daniel apologetically.
"They thought he was me. I'm sorry you got caught up in this Daniel."
"It's not your fault, you couldn't have known there was someone out for revenge." Daniel replied laying a hand on his leg.
Rollie exchanged a look with Angie but remained silent.
The ambulance arrived and took the identical men, along with Angie, to the hospital. Arnie was going to get his car and meet them there while the detectives finished up on the docks.
Arnie walked into the room just as Daniel was putting his shirt back on.
"You okay?" The rabbi asked seeing Daniel wince.
"Yeah, besides a knot on the back of my head, some rope burns on my wrists and a few bruises I'm fine....oh, I am starving too." Daniel smiled as his stomach growled, then he yawned.
"I think it will be food then sleep for you my friend."
"I'm not leaving until I find out how Rollie is....I wouldn't be alive if it weren't for him Arne." Daniel said solemnly and headed for the door.
"I'll see where they took him."
"Thanks." Daniel said stifling another yawn.
He watched his best friend head for the nurses station, grateful for his friendship, when Connie came striding down the hall and embraced him gently.
"Thank God you are all right Daniel."
"Thanks Connie and I do thank Him."
"They took him into surgery to remove the bullet."
"Who got shot?" Connie asked.
"Rollie." Arnie replied solemnly.
"Oh my God." She breathed.
"I should go be with Angie." Daniel replied.
"I'll stay, you go back to the hotel, I know two people who will be more than relieved to see you." Arnie answered.
"I was on my way home, I'll take you." Connie offered.
Daniel nodded tiredly, guilty for not thinking of Alex and Dylan.
Arnie and Connie kissed good-bye and Daniel followed her, making Arnie promise to call him once Rollie was out of surgery with an update on his condition.
Arnie went to the third floor once they were gone and found Angie alone in the waiting room. He sat down next to her.
"He's fine. I sent him back to the hotel....he wanted to stay with you but ---"
"I understand, he's been through a lot today."
Arnie hesitated only a moment before putting his hand on hers to await news on her fiancé's prognosis.
Alex paced back and forth. She had left a dozen messages for the detectives in the last hour but they still had not returned her calls. The officers she left the messages with informed her they were out on an investigation and would get back to her as soon as possible but it had been almost two hours since Arnie and Angie left and she was growing more frantic with every minute that passed by. The knock on the door made both she and Dylan jump. She looked at him hesitantly then headed to the door, gathering her courage to face bad news. She had to be strong for her son she reminded herself, as she reached for the handle she felt his hand slip into hers. She took a deep breath, turned the handle opening the door....and gasped.
Daniel heard Alex's gasp and he gather both of them into his arms and buried his face into her red hair. He felt her silent sobs and held them tighter right there in the doorway, not caring if anyone saw them.
Alex pulled back slightly and just gazed at him, tears streaming down her face. She hesitantly touched him, afraid he wasn't real, until he gripped her fingers in his hand and kissed them.
"I'm really here Alex." He said softly.
Alex hugged him again then started to pull him inside.
"It's okay Dylan." He soothed, stroking the boy's head as he had a death grip on Daniel's waist.
"Dylan, let go of Daniel so he can sit down." Alex added touching his arm gently.
"NO! He'll disappear again if I do." Dylan sobbed.
"I'm not going anywhere, I promise Dylan." Daniel said softly, rubbing his back.
"Come on baby, let Daniel come inside and sit down." Alex soothed kneeling beside him.
Dylan slowly let go of Daniel's waist but clamped onto his hand as Alex stood and led Daniel to the couch, where he slid an arm around the boy once they were settled in.
"Do you want anything? Something to eat or drink?" Alex asked, letting her eyes start at the top of his head, travel down his body, and back up again, to assure herself he really was okay.
"I could use a sandwich and a glass of milk. Can you believe my kidnappers didn't even have the courtesy to feed me?" Daniel smiled at Dylan.
Alex went to the phone and called room service and Dylan leaned closer and whispered to Daniel.
"I prayed that God would bring you back to us."
"I prayed too Dylan." Daniel replied laying his head on top of the boy's. "We need to pray for Rollie too, he was injured helping to catch the bad guys."
"Dear God, please let Rollie get better and thank you for bringing Daniel back." Dylan prayed quietly.
"Amen." Daniel added as Alex rejoined them.
"It'll be here in a few minutes." She told him as she took his hand in hers and examined his wrists gently and touched the bruise on his face with care. She had a lot of questions, but they could wait, she was just so relieved he was alright and back with them. She laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, enjoying the silence. A knock on the door startled them all and Alex let the waiter in with their dinner.
As they ate they filled Daniel in on what they had been doing to locate him. He was surprised but again extremely grateful to Rollie for all he had done. They also informed him of what they deduced about his kidnapping being a case of mistaken identity which he confirmed with the developments on the docks. He could tell Alex was holding something back and made her tell him what it was. Daniel vowed to help clear Rollie's name in the mint theft and the ludicrous notion he was involved in the kidnapping.
"I'm going to shower and change, I want to go back to the hospital to be there for them." Daniel said and got to his feet.
Alex caught the wince and she stood.
"The only place you're going is to bed." She ordered grabbing the liniment from the cart, thankful she had had the foresight to request it from room service along with their dinner. "Take your shirt off and lay on the bed." She added, her voice brooking no argument.
Knowing he couldn't win this one he obeyed and laid face down on the bed while she massaged the liquid over his back, shoulders and upper arms. He sighed contentedly, hoping she didn't stop anytime soon.
Alex kneaded his shoulders feeling the tight knots of tension start to release under her care. It wasn't long before she heard soft snoring and realized with a smile that he'd dozed off. She continued rubbing his back studying the freckles and moles and a birthmark peeking out from the waist of his jeans. She hadn't wanted to believe he would never return to her but she was terrified that's what the person at the door was coming to tell her when she heard the knock. Seeing Daniel standing there had been like a gust of wind scattering her fears away. She had hugged him, never wanting to let him go again.
She stood and went to the bathroom to wash the oil off her hands, returning to sit by Dylan who was reading on the couch, content to just watch the man she had long ago given her heart to sleep peacefully and safely in the bed.
Daniel looked into the eyes of Mael, who smiled coldly and raised his gun.
Daniel's eyes flew open fearfully and he held his breath until he realized he was in the hotel room then he released it shakily and looked at the illuminated bedside clock, 1:10 it read and he sighed. I must have dozed off during Alex's massage. He turned his head when he felt movement beside him and found the red head and her son snuggled next to him. He gently slid his arm underneath Alex's head and smiled as she mumbled incoherently. He laid his head against hers and drifted back to sleep.
Alex slid an arm over Dylan and it landed on the mattress. Her fingers stretched out searching but found nothing solid and she quickly opened her eyes to find Daniel gone. She sat up and looked around feeling panic take hold of her. She scrambled out of bed and urgently knocked on the bathroom door.
"Daniel please open the door." She nearly sobbed.
The moment the door opened she leapt up wrapping her arms around his neck, shaking.
"Alex? What's wrong?" He asked soothingly as he held her.
"I woke up and you were gone! I...I thought..."
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." He apologized, feeling guilty.
"No, I shouldn't have panicked." She apologized, letting go.
"You were sleeping so peacefully, I just didn't want to wake you." He whispered bending to kiss her forehead which was the exact same time she raised her head to look at him and their lips met. The kiss was slow and soft at first then grew more urgent as they caressed each other.
Both were breathing hard when the kiss ended.
"You'd better..." Alex swallowed and tried again more successfully, "You'd better get dressed so we can shower and get to the hospital after breakfast."
Daniel nodded and kissed her again then gently pushed her out the door and closed it.
Alex leaned against it and glanced at her sleeping son, he was the only thing that kept her and Daniel from sleeping together, a step she wasn't certain they were ready for. She walked over to her suitcase and pulled out clean clothes and waited for Daniel to finish.
Daniel blew out a breath as he got dressed.
It would be so easy to lose control with her, but it's not the right time for us to become lovers.... maybe one day, a while.... a long while from now, we will go there. He smiled at the thought of making love to the woman he was deeply in love with one day.
He brushed his teeth and hair then exited the bathroom to find Dylan awake.
"All yours." He smiled at them, sharing a special look with Alex.
"Oh! You should call your parents. The police had to find out if there was a ransom for you...."
"They must be frantic if no one let them know I'm okay." He replied climbing over the bed to grab the phone.
Alex sent Dylan into the bathroom and she went into the hall to give Daniel some privacy.
Several people passed by giving her odd looks which she ignored as she settled against the wall for what might be a long wait.
"Alex? What are you doing out here?" Connie asked, arriving a short time later.
Alex quickly stood and smiled at her.
"Dylan's in the shower and Daniel is talking to his parents."
"How is Daniel?"
"He seems okay. That call is hard for him though, he's very close to his mother. I can't imagine what Bonnie must have gone through."
"Probably very much what you have."
"It's not the same."
"You both love him."
Alex looked at her startled.
"Arnie and I can see the way you feel about each other." Connie smiled wryly.
"You can? We thought we were hiding it pretty well."
"Why hide it at all?"
"Dylan,for one. We don't want him hurt if this doesn't work out."
"Sounds to me like you and Daniel are the ones afraid of being hurt." She answered bluntly.
"Daniel and I have a lot of obstacles to overcome to be together." Alex sighed.
"I'm not going to pry but ask yourself this...how would you both feel ten years from now if you didn't at least give it a try? Would you regret it more than if it didn't work out?"
Alex sighed deeply, she didn't know how to answer. All she knew was that she was afraid. She had put her trust in two men in her life and both had abandoned her. She knew it was unfair to compare Daniel to her dad and Steve but she couldn't help it. A small voice reminded her that she had already begun putting her trust in Daniel by letting her son be his acolyte. I have a very long way to go though...I just hope Daniel will be patient enough to wait me out.
Daniel waited for the doors to close before he dialed his parents' number.
It rang once before his mother answered.
"Hello?" She asked quickly.
"Mom." He replied softly.
"Oh...Daniel." She began to cry.
That made his own tears start to fall.
"I'm okay mom. I'm sorry I didn't call last night ---"
"I just thank God you're alright."
"Daniel, it's dad. They said the kidnappers mistook you for someone else?"
"How could that happen?"
"Because Rollie and I look very much alike." We could be mistaken for twins, Daniel added silently.
"You know this Rollie?"
"Yes, we met a while back."
"What is this Rollie's last name?"
"It's not his fault dad, the men who abducted me...and Rollie, had a vendetta against him for stopping their illicit plans a few years back. They were terrorist's dad and if Rollie hadn't been with me I would probably be dead now. I owe him my life."
"It was due to him you were kidnapped!"
"Dad, it was a fluke. We were at the same hotel at the same time and I was taken. Rollie is a good man. He didn't know they were after him and he would have done everything humanly possible to keep me from harm if he had. Please dad, let if go. God delivered me safely from harm and it's over." Daniel answered quietly.
There was a long pause.
"Your mother and I are coming up there."
"No, dad! I'm alright. I just want to put this behind me....please dad."
There was silence then Bonnie spoke.
"Daniel, are you sure you don't want us to come up?"
"No, mom, I really am okay. Arnie's here....so are Alex and Dylan."
"I'm glad you have someone to talk to about this face to face."
"Dad's still in the room isn't he?"
"I know you want to talk about Alex, mom, I'll call you when I get home."
"All right. If you need anything...."
"I'll let you know."
"We love you Daniel."
He heard Bonnie's voice crack and he teared up again.
"I love you too. You're the best mom a man could have." He said softly.
"I was blessed with a wonderful son."
He could feel her loving smile and it warmed him.
The distance between he and his father seemed so vast at times that he was grateful for his mother's closeness.
"I need to go now but I promise to call when I get back to Hope."
"All right sweetheart. We love you."
"I love you both too. Bye, mom." He answered and hung up.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Thank you God for bringing me back to the people I love safely. Please take care of Rollie too and help him recover from his injuries and let the police see they are wrong about him." He prayed.
He wiped his eyes then headed for the door to let Alex back in.
Alex and Connie turned as the door opened.
"Hey Connie, I didn't know you were here." Daniel smiled at her.
"Alex and I were just chatting."
"Have you talked to Arnie, how's Rollie?"
"Arnie said he came through the surgery just fine. He would have called but it was after eleven when he got home and figured you'd be asleep."
"Yeah,I was out most of the night." He answered motioning them inside.
"You do look a lot better." Connie nodded.
"Alex's magic fingers." He grinned.
Connie looked at Alex.
"I gave him a massage using liniment, he was out pretty fast once I started. "
"You want to stay for breakfast? I was going to call room service while Alex was in the shower."
"No, I need to get to the hospital, Arnie asked me to stop by and check on you." She smiled.
"Maybe we'll see you later then, we're going to go visit Rollie."
"Maybe. I'm glad you're alright." She hugged him then left.
"So, what would you two like from room service?" Daniel asked smiling at his two favorite islanders as Dylan came out of the bathroom.
Rollie watched Angie sleeping in the chair by his bed, holding his hand in hers. He had woken just a few minutes before feeling groggy but once he saw her everything came into focus. His shoulder throbbed but he didn't move for fear of waking her, she looked so tired. I did it to her again, he lamented. She was worried sick about me, I could see it in her eyes on the dock. Well, things are going to change, I won't put her through this anymore! He smiled as she slowly opened her eyes.
"Hey, sleepyhead." He said softly.
She got to her feet and kissed him deeply.
"I was so scared." She admitted.
"I'm sorry -----"
She put her hand over his mouth.
"There's no way you could have known this would happen. But I really can't take you anywhere, can I?" She smiled at him.
"No." He answered through her fingers, smiling back.
"How are we feeling this morning Mr. Tyler?" A nurse asked entering the room.
"Apparently you're feeling quite chipper, but my shoulder bloody well hurts." He answered after Angie removed her hand.
The nurse checked his chart and turned the valve on his IV slightly and checked his dressing on the wound then wrote something on the chart before departing.
"Ahhhhhh...blissful pain killers." He smiled exaggeratedly.
They both looked up at the knock on the door and saw Daniel poking his head in.
"You up for visitors?"
"Yeah! Get in here!"
Daniel, Alex and Dylan walked in, Alex carried a small vase of flowers they'd picked up along the way.
"Daniel says you got shot in the shoulder, does it hurt?" Dylan asked as Alex deposited the flowers on the bedside table.
"Yeah, it does." Rollie admitted. "Oh, um, Ange, this is Daniel." He introduced belatedly. "You two didn't really get a chance to meet yesterday."
Daniel and Angie smiled at each other and shook hands.
"Alex, Dylan, would you take this beautiful fiancée of mine to get a bite to eat?"
"You ate what....lunch yesterday? Much as I'd be willin' to share the bed you'll have to get your own IV." He teased her.
"Okay, okay." She smiled and kissed him then left with the red head and her son.
"They're a lot alike, aren't they?"
"Alex and Angie?" Daniel asked, receiving a nod in reply. "Guess that mean's your fianc&acte;e is as stubborn as you then huh? Perfect match!" Daniel grinned.
"Oh, you and Alex aren't?"
"Actually...Alex and I have a big hurdle." Daniel admitted with a sigh.
"Talk about it mate?"
"Alex is...she doesn't have much trust in religion because of some stuff in her past."
"Tough one. Of course, you know what they say...opposites attract." Rollie shrugged.
"Alex and I just have a lot to talk about when we get home." Daniel sighed.
"Good, you two are together, I need to finish questioning you." Harden said coming into the room uninvited.
"What a great morning." Rollie muttered under his breath.
Angie took a sip of her coffee as they sat down in the cafeteria.
"Daniel looks okay." She mentioned.
"A good night's sleep did wonders." Alex agreed. "Any idea when Rollie will be released?"
"You two should come to Hope, you might actually get a chance to relax." Alex joked.
* (2) "Rollie told me about his visit there. He said one of the reasons he bought into the Widow's Walk was to see the look on his dad's face when he told him he was part owner of a bar on Hope Island. Hope Island in Australia is an over-developed tourist mecca." Angie chuckled thinking of the look on Dingo's face when he got word.
"Hope Island is about as untouristy as you can get...not that Brian, the mayor, isn't trying." Alex smiled.
"Rollie also told me you did a great job in bringing the inn back to a lucrative business He was very impressed." Angie said sincerely.*
"My family has owned it since I was a child, after my mom died it was all I had for me and this guy here." She ruffled Dylan's hair and he grinned.
"That's like Tyler F/X for me. My dad left the business to Rollie and me, we're partners."
"Why isn't it Ramirez/Tyler F/X then?" Alex asked.
"Rol was the one people dealt with so I didn't mind. It seems appropriate now anyway."
Alex nodded,sipping her own coffee.
"What was the goriest movie you ever made?" Dylan asked suddenly.
"Oh, Dylan, it's too early for that!" Alex made a face making her son and Angie both laugh.
Detective Harden finished writing the answer to his last question and closed his notebook.
"I'll have this typed up and brought by for you two to read over and sign." He said and headed for the door.
"I'll be back in a minute." Daniel said and hurried after him. "What's all this about Rollie being a suspect in my kidnapping and the mint theft?"
"Actually, he no longer is. One of the terrorists cut a deal and spilled his guts. He admitted it was all a frame against Tyler, plus, we checked on Sammael and his brother and it all added up to the frame. We also recovered the plates and stolen cash from the mint in the crates on the ship. I don't know what Tyler did on board but we had to wear oxygen masks to get into the cargo holds..." Harden shook his head. Oh...and before I forget," the detective reached into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out a sealed bag which he handed over to Daniel, "give this to Tyler, would you, we found it in the van." He requested then stepped into the open elevator, putting his hand out to keep the door from closing. "By the way, watch your backs, that fourth terrorist, Sean, is still out there somewhere....he could have it in for both of you." He added then let the doors close.
Daniel watched him leave, with a bit of apprehension over the warning which he would be sure to tell Rollie about, then shook it off and looked at the baggie and smiled as he headed back to the room.
"Everything okay?" Rollie asked.
"Yeah...I have something of your's." He smiled and held up the baggie.
"Bloody ----I didn't even realize it was gone! Why did Mael take it, did Harden tell you?"
"He wore a mask of your face so it would look like you robbed the San Francisco mint." Angie answered as they came through the door.
"So they kill me and it looks like I disappeared with the money." Rollie shook his head.
"And a hundred dollar plate." Angie added.
"They'd have used it to produce money for their terrorist activities." Rollie deduced as Angie tied the necklace back around his neck just the way he liked it. "Anything else I should know? Spill it Angela!" He ordered seeing the look that passed among the adults.
"The cops thought you kidnapped Daniel." She answered.
"Why would I?" He asked dumbfounded.
"To outsmart them, that's what they claim." Alex shrugged.
"Wasn't very hard." Angie muttered.
"Well, you don't have to worry about it now, Harden said one of the terrorists confessed and told them everything and an investigation into Sammael and his brother supported the confession." Daniel smiled.
"That's a relief." Rollie rolled his eyes.
"Heard there was a party in here." Arnie grinned knocking on the door.
Rollie motioned him inside with his good arm.
"Thanks for staying with me while Rol was in surgery." Angie smiled at the rabbi.
"This guy here wanted to," He patted Daniel's arm,"but was in no shape to. So when are they kicking you out?"
"Tomorrow, I hope." Rollie sighed, wondering if they would speed it up if he complained enough.
"That's good because Connie and I would like you to join us for our wedding."
"As long as you don't want me to dance...I twisted my ankle jumping from the warehouse roof." He apologized to Angie.
"I can dance." Dylan grinned.
"Well, then who needs this guy?" Angie asked flipping her hand non-chalantly at her fianc´.
"Trading me in for a younger model and we're not even married yet." Rollie cracked.
"I've known Arnie for a long time now and can honestly say....thank God he got married." Daniel toasted as everyone chuckled. "Connie, you've got a great guy here and Arne, though I've only known Connie a few days, I see how happy she makes you. So to Arnie and Connie, may God bless you with many years together, beautiful children to love and great friends to share it all with. To Arnie and Connie." Daniel raised his glass and drank to them.
They enjoyed a kosher meal and soon everyone was dancing, including Angie and Dylan.
"You know Rollie, if Dylan were just a few years older...."
"So, are you headed back to New York after this film is finished?" Daniel laughed.
"For a few weeks then it's off to Australia where a friend of mine is directing a film with a native son. This actor has won the Oz equivalent of all the big American awards. My friend says he's gaining a following in the states too. Good thing he's married though or Ange really might dump me."
"I doubt that would happen, she's crazy about you. But out of curiosity what's the actor's name, so I know to check the film out....and your work in it."
"Sorry to interrupt," Connie smiled as she came up to them, "But my sisters here, Peggy and Maureen, swear you are twins, even though I've told them you aren't, they don't believe me."
"Sorry to disappoint you ladies, but I'm from Australia and Daniel here...."
"Was born in St. Louis. Rollie's a few year's older too."
"You didn't have to add that." Rollie grumbled.
* (2) "You just look so much alike, surely you're related." Peggy said.
"Possibly, but so far we haven't found a common relative."* Rollie shrugged his good shoulder.
* (3) "Have you ever thought of trading places?" * Maureen asked curiously.
"No." They said in unison making the three women laugh as they walked away.
"Hey guys." Alex smiled at them as she glanced back at the departing women in puzzlement.
"You're looking particularly lovely this evening Alex." Rollie complimented.
"I need a little air." Daniel commented looking at her.
"I haven't seen the courtyard." She nodded taking his offered arm.
Rollie smiled at their backs as they went through the doors. Those two are as much in love as Ange and I are.
Daniel cleared his throat as they walked.
"That's uh....some dress." He commented looking at her sideways.
"Molly thought you'd like it." She smirked.
"Molly has great taste." He replied raising his eyebrows as he turned to her.
"Yes, she does." Alex agreed, straightening his tie and admiring the cross tie-pin she and Dylan had purchased as the thank-you gift on the day he was kidnapped.
"I'm glad you like your pin too." He smiled.
* (2)Alex touched the enameled pewter hummingbird pin he'd given her at Christmas and smiled fondly.*
"Alex,when we get home, we need to sit down and talk about where we're headed."
"If you can be patient with me----"
"Alex,I'd wait ten years for you as long as I know we have a future together."
"I don't think it will take that long. I've already begun trusting you with my heart Daniel Cooper."
"I won't abandon you Alex." He promised,pulling her into his arms.
"I just need a little more time to get used to the idea of a man who's going to stick around for me and Dylan." She answered laying her head against his chest.
"We also have to talk about God....."
"I know. If we have any chance at all, we have to talk about religion." She sighed.
Daniel raised her chin and smiled at her.
"We'll do that back on Hope. Right now we should put Boris' dance lessons to use." He said holding out his hands as 'Sunrise,Sunset' filtered out from the hotel ballroom.
"Okay little Chinaman mating statue, do your stuff." Arnie said grinning as he recalled putting it into Daniel's suitcase while they were dressing in his room. He watched for a moment then rejoined the other's inside.
WAIT! IT'S NOT OVER YET!!!!!!!
Molly ran down the dock as the ferry was positioned and tied up. She waited impatiently for several tourists to disembark before Alex, Dylan and Daniel appeared. She hurriedly hugged the trio then grabbed Alex's arm and drug her up the dock demanding to hear about everything, especially if Daniel liked the dress.
"Guess we're on luggage detail buddy." Daniel chuckled as he picked up Alex's forgotten suitcase and garment bag along with his own luggage.
"I'll give you a hand." Kevin offered with a grin as he took Alex's suitcase from the laden reverend.
"So how was it? Anything exciting happen?"
"Uh, no," Daniel winked at Dylan over their secret, "no excitement at all."
Well, as I said at the beginning I own none of the Hope Island characters,they belong to Lions Gate Television, Hope Island Productions, PAX TV and PAXSON. F/X:The Series characters belong to Rysher, Hallmark Entertainment, Fireworks,etc. I just tortured them for a little while. :-D
Isaiah, of course, was never given as Daniel's middle name but since the writers said Daniel felt he had a personal relationship with God I figured giving him a prophet name seemed appropriate.
San Francisco State University also was never mentioned as the college Daniel attended but since they have literature and music majors it worked.
My thanks to David for supplying "Sammael"'s name from the F/X: The Series episode: "The Brotherhood"
A special thanks to Peggy and Maureen for allowing me to borrow from their stories, hopefully making mine richer in the process.
The fic's I borrowed elements from are:
Peggy: "Betwixt Wind and Water" & "A Special FX-mas Story"
Maureen: "Hidden By A Calm Sea" & "Where There Is Hope"
I hope you all enjoyed it! :-D
*(1) refers to "Hidden By A Calm Sea" by Maureen (Contest fic)
*(2) refers to "Betwixt Wind And Water" by Peggy
*(3) is a nod to "Where There Is Hope" by Maureen, which I couldn't resist ;-)
*(4) refers to "A Special FX-mas Story" by Peggy.