Sihn's Empire
05 Strength
by Olivia

I know this has been forever and I am really sorry. My boss has been on this vendetta against me and its been a tough few months. Fortunately I just finished my graduate class and I've decided that as far as work goes whatever happens happens since nothing I do seems to appease my boss. Sigh. Anyway I'm back to writing
I'm not thrilled with this chapter, but it gets me where I want to be for the next session so I figure its time to stop holding onto it and move on with life.
I can't remember who suggested the title for this series, but thank you.

Sequel to: 04 Situations

JD adjusted his headphones as he leaned back against his seat and watched the scenery pass him by, the arid plains of Eastern Oregon giving way to the mountains of Idaho. His gaze focused on the lap top in front of him, JD absently blew a bubble as he waited for the information from the satellite he had cut into to download.

The black Santa Fe made its way around the curves with confidence despite the heavy rain and slick roads.

Ezra frowned as he stared at the road ahead of him.

"We'd be there by now if we could have taken the Jag."

"Uhm-mm," JD replied without looking up. "And if we flew like I wanted we'd have been there yesterday." JD glanced at his companion. "Besides there is no way we could have packed all this gear into the Jag so stop whining and drive."

"I don't whine, I just complain persistently and with style."

JD laughed.

After a few minutes, Ezra glanced over at JD.

"You sure about this?"

JD looked up.

"Yeah." JD paused. "Mostly. Somewhat anyway. Although if you're still thinking of leaving me behind for my own good....."

"I wasn't even going to suggest it. Or at least suggest it again. It's just.... No one would blame you for being nervous."

JD shot him an intense look. "I'm not afraid of him Ezra."

"No. I know. But no one knows better than I do what it means to confront your demons. You haven't seen your father since...since events happened. If you want to sit this one out..."

"Partners Ezra. You and I are partners in the Robin Hood/Godfather business."

Ezra choked on his Evian. "Robin Hood/Godfather?"

"And here I thought you would choke on the term partner."

Ezra grinned. "I've always considered you a partner JD." A pause. "Junior partner naturally...."

"Naturally." JD punched a few keys on the laptop. "I wonder what he's up to."

"Your father? I don't know, but I don't trust this sudden desire to serve the public good."

"So what's the plan?"

"What makes you think I have one?"

JD smirked. "You always have one Ezra."

"What's your father's weakness?"

"Holy water? Garlic?"

"Besides the obvious."

"Let's see.... Publicity."

"Right, and if he's running for public office he's going to crave it more than ever. Which is why he's going to open his home to Evan Sanders, freelance reporter for the LA Times."

"Wouldn't it be easier if I simply walked up to the front door and announced to dear old dad that the prodigal son was back?"

"NO!." Ezra's tone was sharp and pronounced. "I don't want your father or his associates knowing that you're alive much less close by. I don't trust them."

"Ez it would be easier..."

"I said no." Ezra's voice was quieter as he stared ahead. He had never said anything to JD, but he had always felt like they had left some loose strings behind them in Hong Kong. He'd killed all of the men who had been holding JD, but that didn't mean that they hadn't had partners. Partners who hadn't minded using an innocent kid as a pawn in a deadly business. Partners who might still cause problems. JD had become too important to him for Ezra to feel comfortable risking his life in anyway. He'd be damned if he lost someone else out of his life.

"Ez..." JD's voice was quiet, soft, and reflective as the car continued on its path. "I'm not afraid of my father." A certain hardness fell over JD's normally friendly features as he repeated his earlier words. "He can't hurt me anymore."

Ezra nodded. "No he can't." Ezra's fist tightened unconsciously on the steering wheel.. "And he won't." Ezra vowed silently.

Chris Larabee stared at the message in his hand, trying to figure out when life had gotten so incredibly screwed up and then he sighed. He knew when things had gone wrong for him. The minute he had lost Adam and Sarah...he closed his eyes wearily. He hadn't lost Sarah. She was still there, the stillness of her figure mocking him. He thought of Vin and her father. Didn't they get it? Didn't they know how hard it was for him to see Sarah like this. To see her beautiful face without any expression in it? To look at her eyes and not see one flicker of intelligence in them? To see Sarah and yet know in all the ways that counted that that wasn't Sarah? Not his Sarah.

Chris opened his bottom drawer and pulled out the picture of Sarah and Adam that he kept there. It had been Adam's first Halloween. He remembered how Sarah had groaned when Adam had declared that he was going to be a police hero just like his father. Chris has still been a uniform cop in Four Corners back then and Adam's costume had mimicked his uniform down to the last detail.

Chris felt his throat burn as he stared at the picture, the bright, glowing, and happy child that Adam had been.

The child that had been raped and killed while his mother watched.

Chris could almost hear Adam calling his name, trusting that Daddy would rescue him.

Only he hadn't. Couldn't.

His eyes drifted to the numerous awards and certificates on the wall. Right. Chris Larrabee rising star of the Four Corners Police Dept. Transferred to the FBI Multiple awards for going above and beyond the call of duty. A rescue of hostages from a bank. A serial killer who preyed on young children caught before he could claim his next victim.

All of the people he had managed to save.

But he couldn't save Adam. And he couldn't pull Sarah out of the darkness that held her captive.

Which left him alone. Alone with nothing but the memory of a child he could never hold again and a wife who was as lost to him as if she too were buried in that cemetery.

Chris stared at the piece of paper in his hand. A message from Mary Travis. A simple note to meet her at her apartment this evening.

An invitation to an affair. Chris considered the writing. Stylish. Sensuous. Not unlike the beautiful reporter herself. There was something about the beautiful blonde that beckoned to him.

In her arms he knew that he could forget the pain of the last three years and at the same time remember what it felt like to touch another person in that way again.

What would it hurt? Who would know?

Chris closed his eyes and leaned back in his leather chair.....

He sat up straight as his office door opened.

Buck grinned. "I think you better see this pardner. We may have an ID on our John Doe in the picture with Gambino."

Five minutes later Chris sat in front of the computer screen and let out a soft whistle. "You have got to be kidding."

"Nope. We even had the boys at the CIA run it through their image matching computer and they agree. The identity is a match. Our boy meeting with Gulvani is one Jonathan Dunne, prodigal son of Michael Dunne. Apparently young Mr. Dunne was arrested as a minor after he played a prank at school. No official charges were filed, but they kept his fingerprints in the system. I guess Daddy's money didn't quite wipe the slate clean enough."

"Dunne? The industrialist whose running for Senate?"

"The very same."

"I don't get it. The kid comes from an Ivy League background. How does he end up hanging out in coffee shops with one of the heads of the Gambino family? It doesn't make sense."

"It doesn't have to make sense." Chris found himself grinning. "It's the best damn lead on this killer we've gotten yet." Chris stared at the picture. "Something tells me if we find this kid than our guy is going to be close by."

"I don't know Chris. Dunne is a powerful man with friends in high places. There's even a rumor that the Senate is just a stepping stone to the presidency for the man. He's not going to like it if we start nosing around his family." Buck looked at the picture of the young man again, something about the dark-haired youth intrigued him. "Kid doesn't look like a hardened criminal to me."

"Don't care if he's some kind of lost angel." Chris's voice was dripping with sarcasm. "The fact that he's hanging out with a devil like is all the evidence I need. If this kid is some kind of go between for our killer and his clients, than we're going to get him. And once we get our hands on this kid, we'll have all the bait we'll need to catch our assassin."

"Chris..." Buck began to protest, a little unnerved by the pure venom in his best friend's voice. When had this case become so personal?

"Don't even start Buck." Chris's voice was low. "It wasn't just Gulvani that the bastard killed. He put a bullet through the man's wife and child. He killed two innocents and I will do whatever it takes to get him." Chris turned to the other two men. "Get me everything you can on both Dunnes. Then we're going to pay the candidate a personal visit."

Outside of Denver

JD stared at the high brick wall with a soft frown. Windhaven. He closed his eyes as memories came back to him. The good times, here with his mother when he was still a small child. The time she had kidnapped him from his governess and taken him on a picnic by the lake. Or the laughter in her eyes as they tried to get a homemade kite to fly. Or the quiet times in her garden where she would tell him stories about the fairies that lived among the roses.

JD opened his eyes slowly almost as if he could feel his mother beside him, giving him her strength and love.

God he missed her. He missed her laughter. He missed her never ending faith in him.

Unlike his father. He had never been good enough for his father. Everything he had done had been wrong. His interest in computers had been ridiculed. He had done well in school, but none of that mattered when it became clear that he would never be popular or socially accepted.

He supposed from his father's point of view it made a twisted kind of sense. Your wife isn't what you want. Replace her. Your kid is a disappointment. Have a couple of more that you can mold into your image. All you need to do is forget your first kid ever existed.

JD's jaw tightened. He could have coped with being forgotten about. After all it wasn't as if his father had ever really remembered his existence.

But he couldn't forgive his father for Hong Kong. Involuntarily his eyes lowered to the track of old needle marks in his arm and a sick feeling swept through him as he remembered in vivid detail his captivity.

A captivity that his father could have, should have rescued him from. Instead the man whose approval JD had craved his entire life had turned his back on him. Instead of rescuing him from that hell hole, his father had allowed it to happen, allowed them to shoot him up, allowed them to beat him, allowed them to...

JD stared at his clenched fist. No. He wasn't going to do this. He wasn't going to let his father win, not this way. Hong Kong was a lifetime ago. He wasn't the same naive kid. He was stronger, smarter, more confident.

And Ezra was counting on him.

His expression resolved, JD carefully jammed the small wad of explosive into a cavity in the brick wall. Then he found himself settled back into a small clump of trees about ten feet away. Flipping open the small listening device he set it up and then settled back to listen.

Michael Dunne stared out his window at the vista in front of him, a sense of satisfaction surging through him. Finally, he had it all. The power. The prestige. And as soon as the elections were held the position. Soon his influence and control would extend across the globe as easily as it extended across this estate.

There was nothing that stood in his way now, nothing that could stop him.

He hid the grin that covered his face as he turned around.

"I would of course be glad to answer any questions you might have Mr. Sanders, however it would be more appropriate if you were to direct your request to my campaign manager."

"I know." A sigh and then a grin. "Unfortunately we're up against a deadline and...Oh well. I'll have to tell my editor that we at least tried. I know that he's going to be disappointed and we'll probably get some flack for running a series on future world leaders without including you. Of course we already have the profiles on Montgomery, Scott, and Bryce ready to run so we'll have to make due with what we have..."

"Craig Montgomery? There's talk that he'll be the next leader of the European Union."

The green eyed gentleman nodded. "I think its safe to say that its more than talk." He slowly picked up his bag. "It would have been a nice slant- future world leaders from across the globe. Too bad." Another sigh. "Well thank you for your time Mr. Dunne and...."

"Wait." Michael walked over to his desk. "You're talking about a feature right."

"Right, you know the man behind the candidate type of thing."

"I don't suppose it would hurt to answer a few questions."

Ezra grinned. "I was hoping you would say that."

Over an hour later, Ezra looked up as Dunne's butler entered the room, trying not to let the gratitude he felt show on his face. He'd known Dunne was evil, he just hadn't known the man was also boring beyond belief.

"Excuse me sir, there are some gentlemen here from Denver who would like to speak to you." The elderly servant handed Dunne a card.

Dunne stared at it for a moment and then turned to Ezra. "Excuse me a moment Mr. Sanders. If you would wait here a moment, I should be back shortly. Perhaps Danvers can get you a drink."

Ezra declined the offer and waited until Dunne left before getting up and removing a small object from his bag.

"JD are you still there or did you perchance have the good fortune to fall asleep?" Ezra kept his voice as quiet as he could knowing that the sophisticated microphone he was wearing would pick up his voice loud and clear.

"Nope still here." Ezra could hear the smirk in his partner's words.

"Good, then tell me where the safe is in this room."

"Hang on a moment. Daddy dearest just got some visitors and I'm running the license plate to see who they are." A pause while Ezra could hear the click of computer keys. "You never know when the information might come in handy."

"Agreed but I still need to know where Dunne keeps his important papers."

"Let's see." JD pulled up some blueprints of the house and tried to match them against the infrared pictures of the interior he had taken. "Okay there's no way he would keep info on a computer- he doesn't trust technology. Desk drawers are too obvious."

"Which leaves us with a wall safe?"

"I don't think so." JD shook his head. "The interior walls are too thin....except..."

"Except what?"

"There appears to be a discrepancy between what's on the blue print and the walls in the living room. Either dear old dad has suddenly opted for three feet thick walls or there's some kind of secret compartment."

Ezra swore. "The living room?"


"The most public room in the house."


"Shit." Pause. "Okay I've finished planting the bugs in here and on the phone line. Where's our target?"

JD checked the infra red scans. "Heading your way and he has company."

"Double damn. Okay JD I need some kind of distraction. Something that will clear the house long enough for me to get into that room."

"You sure you don't want to wait until tonight?"

Ezra shook his head. "And wait until this place is locked down even more securely? Our best shot is now."

"Okay. Give me a few minutes."

"No more than five. I have a bad feeling about this."

"You want to pull out?"

"No let's just get this over with now."



"Yeah. I just got the info on that license plate. It's a federal car."

"The Feds? Is Dunne under investigation."

"Not that I could find. The car is licensed to the Denver FBI. Oh hell... You know that guy whose heading the task force to track you down? Larrabee?"


"Well you're about to meet him."

Ezra closed his eyes and listened as the foot steps came down the hallway.

"JD get out of here. I'll meet up with you at the hotel later."

"Nope. Sorry Ez. I'm not leaving. You asked for a diversion and that is what you are going to get."

Ezra had just finished swearing when the door opened and he found himself staring into a pair of ice cold eyes.

JD scrambled down an embankment racing to where he had parked the Santa Fe earlier. Opening the back hatch, he quickly removed a scrambler, some wire cutters, and an electronic jammer. Pausing for a second, he reached in and pulled out some hand grenades and an automatic rifle. Just in case.

Michael Dunne gestured for the three men to enter the study and then stopped as he remembered his previous guest. " Oh, Mr.Sanders I had forgotten that you were still here...."

"Perhaps I should go then," Ezra seized his opportunity. "I'll be in touch to arrange a possible photo shoot at a later date..."

"But your deadline.." Dunne began at the same time that Chris turned his full gaze on the stranger.

"You're a reporter?" Chris stared at the other man, there was something familiar about the other man.

"Evan Sanders." Ezra sighed mentally as he held out his hand to Chris. "LA Times."

"What's an LA Times reporter doing in Colorado?"

Ezra looked at the big, burly man, noting the real intelligence that lay in his gaze. "I'm doing a feature on future world leaders." Ezra began in his best Clark Kent voice and then found his voice trailing off as it was obvious that Larabee wasn't interested in his explanations.

"I'm still not clear what you gentlemen want with me?" Michael asked the federal agents, irritated that they had interrupted his interview with the reporter.

Ezra started to edge himself closer to the door.

"We're here to ask you some questions about your son?"

"Michael Jr? He's currently attending a boarding school in Connecticut. Is there some kind of problem?"

"I was referring to your oldest son. Jonathan is his name I believe."

Ezra froze.

A hard look crossed Dunne's face. "Jonathan is no longer my son."

Ezra was going to enjoy killing Dunne when the time came....maybe something slow and painful.

"Jonathan was a sniveling coward who couldn't do anything right." Dunne scoffed. "I haven't heard from him in several years."

Definitely painful and slow with an emphasis on painful.

"Nothing? He hasn't even approached you for money?"

Dunne's voice grew bitter. "The wimp knows better than to ask for money from me. Besides his bleeding heart mother left him all of her money, which was a considerable sum."

"How much?"

"Millions. Trust me the little runt has all of the money he needs for all of his nasty habits."

"Habits. Your son has a drug problem?"

A loud snap turned their attention back to Ezra and the broken pencil he had in his hand.

"Sorry." Ezra lowered his eyes in what he hoped was an embarrassed way but was really to hide his anger at Dunne's callousness.

Chris turned back to Dunne impatiently as Josiah stared at Ezra with a narrowed gaze.

"Look Mr. Dunne we need to talk to your son. We can do it nice and quiet or we can do it in a way that guarantees it will be plastered across the front page of every paper from here to the Mississippi."

Dunne stiffened. "I told you. I haven't heard from Jonathan in years." At Larrabee's glare, Dunne sighed. "I can give you the name of my ex-wife's lawyer. He handled her estate including Jonathan's inheritance. If anyone knows where Jonathan is, he will."

Chris grinned in satisfaction. "Thank you for your cooperation."

"Cooperation hell..." Michael Dunne began angrily when whatever he was about to say was cut off by a series of loud explosions rocked the room, shattering the glass, and forcing the men to the floor.

"What the fuck?" Chris began as he lifted his head amid the swirling dust, automatically drawing his weapon. "Josiah stay with Dunne. Buck your with me."

As the two men exited the room neither of them noticed the missing reporter.

Ezra whistled as he saw where JD's explosives had leveled a section of the stone wall surrounding the estate.

"You like?" JD emerged from behind the gate house.

"Remind me not to get you angry."

JD snorted. "Let's just get out of here Ez. I don't like being this close to either my dad or the Fed's."

"I know what you mean. There was something about Larrabee...." Ezra's voice trailed off as they raced to the Santa Fe. He'd get the information he needed on Dunne from other sources.

They were approaching the black SUV when a voice cut into the air.

"FBI! Freeze!" Both men looked up and saw the two FBI agents closing in. There was no way they could reach the SUV before the agents got into gunshot range.

Ezra stopped a few feet closer the SUV than JD, his hand automatically going to the gun in his holster when he stopped. He had never killed a law enforcement officer. At least none that hadn't been dirty or abusive.

His eyes met JD's. If they were taken.....

Grimly JD made a decision as his reached for the hand grenade in the pocket of his jacket. He whispered quietly, aware that Ezra could still hear him over the wire. "Get the hell out of here Ez."

"JD don't..."

JD shook his head. "No choice Ez. Just get out of here okay. And whatever my father is doing stop him."


"Move it Ez or you're going to blow my grand sacrifice." A shaky laugh. "Sorry bad pun."

"JD you...."

"I know Ez. Just move okay."

Ezra had only felt this helpless once before when he had just a boy faced with a man who held a whip. The pain of what he was about to do cut as deep as that lash ever had.

Turning, he ignored every instinct to stay and moved to the SUV. He had barely reached it and got it moving when he heard the explosion.

Please send feedback to Olivia
Story posted to A Gambler's Lust, The Magnificent Two