Broken Trust Broken Hearts

 

Autor: anmodo

 

Summary – One of the witnesses in the team’s newest case brings up memories from Danny’s past. D/OC relationship, all characters present.

 

Spoilers – Risen, Clare De Lune, Legacy

 

Disclaimer – I’m just borrowing the wonderful WAT characters.

 

Club Zion – 2 a.m.

Angela Simpson was ready to get home. Her shift was just ending. She’d been serving drinks and flirting with club-goers all night. She couldn’t wait to go home and crawl in to bed. Angela said goodbye to a couple of her co-workers, then walked out the back door of the club into the alley. As she quickly walked through the alley, she vanished into the night.

 

FBI office – Two days later, 8 a.m.

Jack walked in the bullpen quickly to meet his assembled team at the table.

“Angela Simpson, 21 years old. She left work Club Zion at 2 a.m. this past Saturday morning. No one has heard from her since,” Jack stated.

“Who called it in?” asked Vivian.

“Her father. Apparently, she was supposed to meet her little sister on Sunday to go shopping, and never showed. She isn’t very close with her parents, but her father said she would never miss spending time with the little sister. NYPD spoke to Angela’s boyfriend. She lives with him. He said she never came home after work.”

“Any sign of foul play?” asked Danny.

“Not so far. Danny, you and Martin go to her apartment and search it. Then question the boyfriend. See if he is on the up and up. Samantha and Vivian, go to Club Zion. Talk to her co-workers. I’m going to talk to her family.”

They all took copies of the file, and left the table.

Angela’s Apartment

Danny and Martin knocked on Angela’s Simpson’s apartment door. After several minutes of knocking, a bleary-eyed young man partially opened the door.

“Randy Atkins?” asked an annoyed Danny.

“Yeah, what do you want?”

Martin replied tersely, “FBI. We are here to talk to you about Angela’s disappearance, and to have a look around. May we come in?”

Randy hesitantly opened the door. “Look, she probably just took off for a while. I don’t know why her parents are so worried. They never talk to her anyway.”

Danny, still annoyed, said, “You haven’t seen your live-in girlfriend for two days, and you aren’t worried at all?” Danny looked at Randy and then surveyed the apartment. “Are you on something, Randy?”

“What? No way, man.”

“Oh come on. I can smell it on you, Randy. How can you possibly help find your girlfriend if you are so busy getting stoned?”

“Look I don’t have to answer you, and I could ask you to leave. I know my rights.”

Danny smirked and looked at Martin, “Well check Randy out. That’s very impressive. Look Randy, why don’t you relax and have a seat. We’re going to look around to see if we can figure out where Angela is.”

Martin added, “We’ll let you know if we need your assistance.”

Randy sat on the couch and buried his head in his hands.

Martin and Danny went to look around the bedroom. There wasn’t much to find. It looked like both Angela and Randy barely lived there. Danny looked under the bed. He found a small locked box. It looked like something where a little girl would have keepsakes. Danny took out is pocketknife and pried open the box. The box contained a couple of letters from what looked her Angela’s sister. He also found a small pillbox. Danny opened the pillbox.

“Hey, Martin – take a look at this.”

Martin walked over, and looked in the pillbox. “What are they?”

“Looks like speed, and these little blue ones are probably ecstasy.”

“She is working at that club,” said Martin.

“Yep,” Danny replied as he dug deep in the box. Danny then pulled out a business card. “It looks like she may have been in some trouble.”

Martin looked at the card that read, “5th Street Rape Crisis Center.” Someone named Anna wrote her name on the card with a message that said, “Please call me when you are ready to talk.”

“Should we ask the boyfriend about this?” asked Martin.

“No. He may be involved. Let’s see if he’ll meet us at the office and question him there after we talk to this Anna.”

Danny and Martin finished searching the small apartment. They then asked Randy to be ready in two hours. Someone from the FBI would pick him up and bring him to their office. Before they left Danny said, “Try to sober up, Randy. We have lots of questions for you.”

Martin called Jack and filled him in on what they found. He told Jack that they were on their way to the RapeCrisis Center.

“That’s good. I haven’t heard back from Samantha and Viv yet. Keep me posted.”

“All right. Talk you later.”

Danny asked, “Any new leads.”

“I think we have to best lead so far.”

Danny nodded as he turned in to the parking lot of the RapeCrisis Center. They got out of the car and walked into the run-down old building where they encountered the receptionist.

RapeCrisis Center

Martin held out his id, “Hi, we are with the FBI. We need to talk to Anna. Does she work here?”

The receptionist eyed the men skeptically, “Yes. She runs this place. What do you want with her?”

Danny glanced at Martin, and then smiled at the receptionist. “We are with the missing persons unit. We found this card in the apartment of a young woman who is missing. We are hoping you can help us find her or this ‘Anna’ can.”

The receptionist smiled slightly, “Do you have a name? Maybe I can help. Anna is due in any time, but I can try to help in the meantime.”

“We’d appreciate that. Her name is Angela Simpson,” Danny said as he held up her picture.

“She doesn’t look familiar. Let me look in our files.”

The receptionist went over to a large file cabinet, and looked in one of the drawers.

“Nope. No Angela Simpson. She could have given Anna fake name. That happens a lot.”

“Did you say that Anna was on her way here?” asked Martin.

“Yeah. She called on her way in. She should be here any time. If you’d like, you can wait in her office.” The receptionist pointed to a small office down the hall.

“Thank you,” said Martin as he and Danny walked in to the office.

Martin and Danny waited in the small office. Danny paced around impatiently. They finally heard someone say hello to the receptionist.

“Hey Jennie. God, sorry I’m late. Traffic is horrible.”

Danny looked up quickly sensing that he recognized her voice.

“No problem. But you do have a couple of visitors waiting in your office.”

“Who?”

“They are with the FBI. They are looking for a missing girl. I guess they found one of your cards in her things.”

Danny heard her footsteps as she walked to her office door. He never wanted to disappear more than he did at that moment.

Martin stood up as Anna entered the office. “Anna? I’m Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald. This is Special Agent Taylor. We are with the FBI.”

Anna barely noticed Martin standing right in front of her. Her eyes immediately went to the other agent.

“Danny?” Anna said in almost a whisper.

Danny looked at Martin, and then looked at Anna. “Hi. I, uh, I thought you were in Boston.”

“I was…I…I moved back two years ago.”

Danny wasn’t sure what else to say. “Well like he said,” Danny said as he motioned to Martin, “we are looking for a missing girl. Martin, this is Anna Ridley…an old friend from college.”

Martin just nodded sensing the tension between the two people.

Danny held up the picture of Angela. “Does she look familiar to you? Her name is Angela Simpson.”

“Yes. I recognize her. She’s missing? I just spoke to her a few days ago,” Anna replied as she avoided making eye contact with Danny.

“So she came here?” asked Martin.

“Actually, no, she didn’t come here. Her sister came here, and asked me to get in touch with Angela. She was worried about her.”

“Is that why you don’t have a file on her?” asked Danny.

“Right. She wasn’t really sure what happened to her. She wasn’t sure she was raped. I was trying to help her figure it out.”

“What do you mean she wasn’t sure?” asked Martin.

“From what I could get out of her, she was in an abusive relationship. This guy got her hooked on drugs. She would go back to him for a fix, and he would hurt her. I did get her to see a doctor. She did a rape kit, but Angela wouldn’t talk to the police.”

“Did you keep any sort of file on her, notes, anything to help us?” asked Martin.

“She spoke to me in confidence…”

Danny cut her off, “At this point, she’s been missing for 48 hours. There’s no doctor/patient privilege here. Whatever she told you could help us find her.”

“Well if you let me finish, I was going to say she spoke to me in confidence, but I’ll give you what I can,” Anna responded icily to Danny as she reached into her briefcase. “Here are the notes I took on her, and couple of tape recordings of our conversations.”

Martin asked, “Did she outright tell you it was her boyfriend, Randy Atkins?”

“No. It wasn’t her boyfriend.”

“You said it was someone she was in a relationship with,” Danny said.

“It wasn’t her boyfriend. She didn’t come out and tell me, but I think it was someone she works with.”

“You’re sure,” Danny asked.

Anna looked directly at Danny this time and said pointedly, “Yeah, I’m sure.”

Martin looked at the two staring at each other in stony silence and said, “Well, I think we have what we need for now. But, I’m sure we’ll have more questions for you.” Martin handed Anna his card, “If you can think of anything else that may help us, or if you hear from Angela, please call us.”

“I will,” Anna replied as she finally glanced away from Danny.

Martin and Danny walked out the door. As they were walking to the car, Danny said, “I, uh, forgot something. Why don’t you call Jack, fill him in. I’ll be right back.”

“O.K.” Martin replied hesitantly as Danny walked back in the building.

Danny re-entered Anna’s office. “Hey. I just…I didn’t want to just leave without…”

Anna looked up from her desk, “Without what?”

“I’m sorry if this is uncomfortable for you.”

Anna nodded, “I want you to find her. I feel terrible about what has happened. I’ll help in any way I can, but I would really appreciate it if I didn’t have to deal with you on this.”

Danny looked down and tried not to show how much that hurt him, “I understand. You can call Agent Fitzgerald if you have new information. You won’t have to see me again.”

Anna just nodded as Danny walked out.

Danny walked quickly back to the car and got in. "What did Jack say?" he asked Martin.

"Sam and Vivian questioned her co-worker's. Some of them said she might have had a thing with her boss. Jack is going to get the guy to come in for an interview."

"Good."

Martin glanced over at Danny as he was pulling out of the parking lot. "So what was that about back there?"

"Oh…it was nothing," replied Danny.

"Nothing?"

Danny looked at Martin, "What? It was nothing. I knew her like eight years ago. We were friends. That's it."

"Right." Martin decided to drop it. He knew that Danny wouldn't divulge anything personal to him anyway. Everything he knew about Danny was from things Samantha and Vivian would say. However, even they didn't know that much about him. Danny did tell him about being an alcoholic, but that was only because he was forced to. He certainly wouldn't have said anything if it hadn't come up in a case.

 

 FBI Office

Martin and Danny entered Jack's office. Vivian and Samantha were already there.

"Jake Anderson, the club owner, just got here. I'll question him with Vivian. Randy Atkins is on his way. Martin and Danny, see what he knows. Samantha, stay on the family. Talk to her sister. I think she knows more than she is letting on. Also, I think we need to get Anna Ridley from the RapeCrisis Center in here for a longer interview."

Danny looked up, "Uh…we have her notes and tapes. I don't know how much more she can give us."

"All the same, call her. Have her come back in. She was one of the last people to talk to Angela. See if you can get more details from her."

"Jack, I sort of know her. So, maybe Samantha should interview her with Martin. I wouldn't want there to be any sort of conflict."

Jack eyed Danny skeptically, "Fine. Samantha will talk to her."

The team then dispersed. Samantha walked out and quickly sped up to catch Martin. "He 'sort of' knows her? What was that about?"

"I'm not sure. All I know is you could cut the tension with a knife when we were there talking to Anna Ridley. I asked him about it after, and in typical Danny fashion, he said it was no big deal. Translation: It's none of my business."

As Samantha and Martin entered the bullpen, Samantha sauntered over to Danny's desk. "Who is she?"

Danny looked at Samantha and then rolled his eyes. "It's nothing. We knew each other in college….a lifetime ago."

"Then why don't you want to interview her."?

"Uh…because…we generally shouldn't interview people we have a personal history with."

"A personal history…"

"Give me a break, Samantha."

"Oh come on, Danny. If the tables were turned you wouldn't let me here the end of it."

Danny smiled and nodded, "You're right. Tease me all you want. Get it out of your system, but there is no story here." Danny then turned his attention to Martin. "You ready to go at Atkins?"

"Sure. Let's go."

Martin and Danny went at Atkins pretty hard. The questioned him for over two hours about his relationship with Angela. By the end of the interview, they were fairly convinced that he had nothing to do with her disappearance. Atkins admitted that he thought she was sleeping with her boss. In fact, he and Angela really weren't in a relationship anymore. They were more room mates that anything else.

As Martin and Danny walked down the hall back to their desks, Danny concluded, "If this guy is guilty of anything, it is not caring enough about her. Hopefully, Viv and Jack got further with her boss."

As they were walking, Martin slowed as they passed the elevators. Danny kept walking at his usually quick pace before he realized Martin had fallen behind. Danny then stopped and turned around. Martin hesitated as he looked toward the row of waiting chairs. Anna Ridley sat nervously looking down at her hands.

"Ms. Ridley, I'm Martin Fitzgerald. We spoke this morning." Danny watched Martin greet Anna. His brain was saying to go back to his desk, but for some reason he couldn't take his eyes off her.

Anna replied, "Of course. An Agent Spade called me. She asked me to come in for more questions. The agent who escorted me up here said that she would come get me." Anna looked up at Martin. Then her eyes traveled over to Danny. Their eyes met for a moment before Danny turned to continued back to his desk.

Martin watched as Danny walked away. "Well, I can take you in. Follow me."

Anna followed Martin in to the busy office. As she walked toward the bullpen, she saw Danny again talking to a woman with long blonde hair. For some inexplicable reason, Anna felt of twinge of jealousy. She hated that she still had these feeling towards Danny. Martin led her over to a large conference table. The blonde came over to them after finishing her conversation with Danny. "Anna Ridley, I'm Agent Samantha Spade. We just have a few more questions for you."

Martin and Samantha sat down across from Anna. Anna was very aware of how close Danny was. He took a seat less than ten feet away from them at his desk.

Samantha started, "I've been reviewing your notes and the tapes of your conversations with Angela. She was obviously traumatized. Why didn't she go to the police?"

"She was scared. She felt like she was doing something wrong. I tried to get her to realize it wasn't her fault, but I clearly wasn't very successful."

Martin continued, "You say she was scared. Do you think who ever was doing this to her was threatening her. I mean a part from violating her, do you think she feared for her life?"

Anna looked down, and then back up with tears in her eyes, "Yes. Looking back now, I think she was terrified. I should have done more. I should made her realize…" Anna's voice cracked in desperation.

Danny was listening to every word. He knew she felt responsible. He ached to console her in some way, but he knew she didn't want that.

Samantha looked at Anna sympathetically, "It's not your fault. You were the only one trying to help her. Do you think she would call you if she could?"

Yes. I think she would call her sister, or me but that is it. She really didn't trust anyone else."

The statement bothered Samantha. She knew that if Angela hadn't already called them, she must really be in trouble.

Anna wiped away a few tears as she waited for the next question. She looked up briefly as she watched Danny get up and walk out of the area. It was so strange for her to be in the same space with him after so many years. They shared so much, and now they were acting like strangers.

Danny decided to check on the interrogation of Angela's boss, Jake Anderson. He felt uncomfortable listening to Anna's answers and hearing the pain in her voice. As he started watching the interrogation, he immediately didn't like Anderson

Anderson was being very difficult. He showed up with his lawyer. He wouldn't give Jack and Vivian a straight answer about his relationship with Angela. Danny could tell he was lying. Jack finally asked Anderson if he would submit to a DNA sample. Danny knew Jack was thinking maybe they could match Anderson to whatever was found in Angela's rape kit. Anderson's lawyer refused and said that he wouldn't submit to anything without a court order. Danny knew, without Angela, it would be impossible to get a court order. Anderson and his lawyer got up to leave. The interview was over.

Danny decided he needed to get some fresh air. He headed toward the elevators. He noticed the doors to one the elevators just beginning to close. He quickened his pace and reached in the elevator to hold it open. "Sorry. I didn't want to wait for the next one," Danny said as he entered the elevator. Just as he realized that he was on the elevator with Anna, he tried to re-open the doors but it was too late.

Sorry, I didn't see you," said Danny somberly.

Anna shook her head, "It's OK." She looked down willing the elevator to move faster.

"How did the rest of the interview go?" Danny asked trying to break up the uncomfortable silence.

"I don't think I was much help."

"That's not true. Don't blame yourself for this," Danny whispered.

Anna looked up. She could see the genuine concern in Danny's eyes. Her defenses were starting to crumble being this close to him. Just as she was about to respond, the doors opened. Anna exhaled as she got off the elevator. Danny followed her off.

"Are you headed back to your office?"

"It's getting late, actually. I'll probably just head home."

"Can I get you a cab, or I could drive you?"

"I'll take a cab."

They walked out the front doors, and Danny hailed a cab. He opened the door for her.

"Thanks," said Anna.

"Thank you for all your help. I'm sure Martin or Samantha will keep you posted. And if Angela calls you…"

"They told me to call as soon as possible. I think they even put traces on my phones. So, I think I am all set." Anna tried to reply matter of factly.

A slight wind passed through, and blew Anna's hair in her face. On instinct, Danny started to brush the hair out of her face with his fingers. He let his fingertips rest on her soft skin. Danny thought she would pull away, but instead she leaned in to his touch ever so slightly.

"I have to go," Anna finally said in a small voice.

Danny took his hand away and stepped back. "Thanks again."

Anna got in the cab and left.

Anna sat back in her seat. With that one touch from Danny, all the memories started flooding back.

 

Eight Years Ago – New YorkUniversity (NYU)

Anna was just finishing her first year at NYU. Instead of going home to Connecticut for the summer, she and her best friend, Willa, decided to stay on campus and go to summer school. Willa promised Anna a fun-filled summer after spending her freshman year hitting the books. Willa wanted to try to get Anna to come out of her shell. Anna was the quintessential good girl. She barely went out her freshman year. Willa was hoping she would loosen up over the summer.

Willa started by getting Anna a fake ID. At first, Anna was completely opposed to using it. She was terrified of being caught. Her parents would surely force her to come home if she were ever arrested. Willa assured her they wouldn't get caught by telling her that bars weren't as strict over the summer. Willa basically wouldn't take no for an answer.

So, Anna found herself in one of Willa's way-to-short skirts going in to this club called Light. Anna felt completely uncomfortable as she and Willa found an empty table a few feet from the bar. Willa ordered her a drink that tasted pretty good. Her only prior experience with alcohol was a little champagne at her parent's annual New Year's Eve party. Halfway through her first drink, Anna started to feel a little looser. Willa, who left to go see if she knew anyone there, finally returned and exclaimed, "You'll never guess who is here."

"You're right. I'll never guess. I don't know anyone who would come here besides you."

"I'll give you a hint – watching him with your morning coffee is your favorite past-time," Willa said excitedly.

"Oh my gosh. He's here?" Anna immediately knew who it was. For the last year, she and Willa stopped by this coffee house before their 8 a.m. class. Anna actually started getting there earlier and earlier each time, just so she could see him. She knew his name was Danny, and seemed to work there every morning. Her longest conversation with him consisted of ordering a muffin and mocha from him. Other girls would come in and flirt with him. He would flirt right back. He was really good at it. Anna would just sit back and imagine it was her. Before she saw Danny, she didn't know it was possible to fall in love with someone without even talking to him. Logically, she knew it was just a crush. The one time she tried to talk to him, her heart was beating so fast, she nearly fainted. He just smiled at her, and told her to have a nice day.

"You have to talk to him," Willa said.

"What? No way. I can't talk to him. Where is he?" Anna asked as she finished her first drink.

"Right over there." Willa pointed to a spot at the bar. He was talking to a small group of people.

The waitress then brought another round of drinks.

"Drink a little more, then maybe you'll summon up the courage."

Anna was barely paying attention to Willa. She was now focused on watching Danny. If it was possible, he looked even better at night. His usual white t-shirt was replaced with a blue button-down and jeans. Anna thought that noone had a better smile in the world. And his eyes – they melted her every time. She kind of got lost in them as she took another drink.

Halfway through her second drink, Willa thought Anna was ready to take a walk. "I don't think I can do it."

"Sure you can, just go up there, and order another drink. The way you look tonight – you won't even have to say anything to him. He'll hit on you."

"You're crazy."

"Just try it," implored Willa.

For some reason, Anna decided it was a good idea. She took her drink and started walking toward the bar. She tried to angle in to get next to the bar but it was quite crowded. His back was to her as she tried to push her way up to the bar. Just as she was making leeway, Danny turned around, and some one pushed up against her. Anna lost her balance in her too-high heels. She started falling right into him spilling her drink on his shoe. Danny reacted quickly by grabbing her forearms before she fell completely down.

As Danny held her, Anna was afraid to look up. She really just wanted to disappear. Danny finally broke the silence, "You O.K.?"

"Um….yeah….I….uh….sorry about your shoes." Anna finally looked up into his eyes.

"No worries. They'll dry. Did you want another drink?" Danny asked as he pointed to her now empty glass.

"Uh…sure…yes…I mean that's why I came up here."

"Right," Danny smiled as he motioned to the bartender for another. "This one is on me. I should really watch myself before I turn around."

"Oh no. It was my fault…these shoes…and the crowd…." The back of Anna's neck was getting really hot. She knew she was noticeably blushing at this point.

"It's my pleasure. By the way, my name is Danny," Danny said as he held out his hand.

"I kn…I mean…nice to meet you. I'm Anna…Anna Ridley," Anna replied as she took his hand.

Danny paid for the drink, and turned his attention back to Anna. "Do you go to school here?"

"Yes. It's my first year…actually I just finished my first year…"

Danny nodded and laughed a little, "I wouldn't say that too loud. You may get kicked out of here, but I'll keep your secret. I thought I recognized you. I go here, too. This is my last year here."

As Anna took a few more drinks, the liquid courage was kicking in. "I've seen you, too. I frequent the coffee house on Bleaker. You are there every morning."

"Right. I knew I recognized you. You look a little different tonight," Danny replied. Anna's blonde hair was out of its usual pony tail. And she was wearing more make-up than usual.

"Different? Good? Or Bad?" Anna asked trying to be a little flirty.

"Definitely, good. Although, I think you look good with the ponytail, too. You just look a little older tonight." Danny said as his eyes traveled up and down her face and body.

Anna could barely contain her excitement. Not only was he flirting with her, but he actually recognized her as well. Anna was silently thanking Willa.

Danny just stared at her for a few moments, and then finally asked, "Do you wanna dance?"

Anna felt like she was dreaming. She just nodded and quickly finished her drink. Danny finished his beer and then led her towards the dance floor. As they maneuvered in the crowd, Danny put his hand on the small of her back. His fingers touched her bare skin where her tank top didn't meet her skirt. Anna could feel the goosebumps start to form on her arm. She only hoped that Danny didn't notice.

Once they reached the dance floor, they started dancing to a rather fast song. She just followed his lead. As the songs went on, Danny started getting closer and closer. His hand found the small of her back again, and he pulled her against him. Then he started to kiss her neck lightly. Anna's legs felt like they would give at any moment. Danny braced her with his other hand, as he started to kiss her lips. He tasted like beer, and some other liquor, but she didn't mind. He smelled amazing. She was pressed so close against him, she wasn't sure where she ended and he began. She couldn't believe he was kissing her in the middle of a crowded dance floor.

They made-out on the dance floor for a few more songs. She was feeling light-headed from what was a combination of a lack of oxygen and the three drinks. Danny's hand traveled down back to her thigh. He was rubbing small circles underneath the material of her skirt. Anna had never gone this far with any guy in public or not.  She finally broke from Danny to try and collect herself. "Maybe we should get another drink."

Danny nodded, and took her hand as they made their way back to the bar.

Anna took the opportunity to find Willa as Danny ordered their drinks. Willa was talking to a guy she'd been dating on and off. "Hey, girl. Looks like pining for a year paid off."

"I can't believe it. He's amazing," Anna replied.

"Yeah, I can see that. Listen, I'm going home with Ryan."

"What? What should I do?" Anna said as Willa looked over at Danny.

"Uh…I think your evening plans are taken care of."

"I can't go home with him, Willa."

Willa took Anna's hand and walked her back over to Danny. "Hi, I'm Anna's friend, Willa. I've got to get home. Can you make sure she gets home safe and sound?"

Anna looked at Danny with an embarrassed look. "I'll take care of her," Danny replied as he gave Anna a drink.

Willa just smiled and left. Anna was going to kill her tomorrow.

"I'm sorry. I…we didn't plan…"

"It's fine. You want to stay here a while."

"Sure," Anna said as she looked at the drink in her hand. "What is this?"

"It's just a shot of tequila." Danny then showed her how to lick the salt from her hand, drink the shot, and then finish with the lime. Anna repeated what Danny did, but she thought she may be sick after she finished.

"Are you OK?" asked Danny laughing.

"I'm not sure. That was a little intense. Maybe I should drink some water."

Danny handed her a bottle of water. "Maybe you are done for the night."

"Yeah…Where's the ladie's room?"

"I'll take you."

Danny waited outside the crowded hallway until Anna came out. "I think I need some air."

Danny nodded, and led her out the fire exit into an alley. "I'll make a mental note. Next time, no tequila." Danny put his had on her face. Anna smiled up at him.

"I'm OK. Really I am. See." Anna said as she twirled around a couple of times. Then she lost her balance and Danny caught her in his arms.

"I think you are drunk."

"I think you are right," Anna said arched up to kiss Danny. He responded by pulling her closer, and then backing her against the wall in the alley.

Anna wasn't thinking anymore. All she could focus on was how great his body felt against hers. His lips were kissing down her neck into her cleavage, and then back up to her mouth. His hands were traveling up her thigh and up her shirt at the same time. Danny murmured in her ear, "I want you."

"Not here," Anna couldn't believe what she was agreeing to.

"I live across the street."

Anna nodded, and followed Danny across the street, and down into a basement apartment. She walked in to what amounted to a closet. There was a bed, a t.v. and a bathroom. Nothing else.

Danny started kissing her again, and removing her clothes. First, her tank top and then her skirt. She was pressed against him in her bra and panties as he took his shirt off while still kissing her passionately.

Anna was in a haze. It was a combination of the alcohol and being with someone who she had a crush on for a year. But as she stood in front of him almost naked, she made a sober statement, "I should tell you…"

Danny stopped undressing. "What?" Waiting for the admission that she had a disease or something.

Anna looked down embarrassed, "I've never…"

"Never what?" Danny whispered

Still looking down, Anna replied, "This. I've never done this before."

The realization hit Danny. She was a virgin. "Oh," Danny said hesitantly as he started to re-button his jeans.

"What you are doing?" asked Anna.

"Well, not you…not tonight anyway."

"What?" Anna crossed her arms suddenly very aware of her lack of clothes. "I didn't say I didn't want to…I just…I just didn't want you to be surprised."

"I appreciate that. Look, you're drunk, and I, thankfully, haven't had as much as I normally do. So, I'm thinking pretty clearly. And, this is a bad idea. You don't want to do this. Not with me. Not here." Danny looked around the tiny room.

Anna was completely embarrassed. Tears started to fall from her eyes. She turned around so he wouldn't see, and picked up her clothes. Then she walked quickly to the bathroom. She dressed quickly, and put cold water on her face. She wasn't sure why she was upset – because she was so willing to give up her virginity so easily to a stranger, or because she was rejected by him. Either way, she was completely humiliated.

When she came out of the bathroom, Danny was sitting on his bed. "Are you O.K.?"

"I'm fine," Anna said as she quickly walked to the door.

Danny got up and followed her. As she opened the door, Danny put his hand on the door to shut it. "Let me go, Danny."

"Look at me." Danny said as his hand braced the door shut.

Anna turned around and leaned back against the door. Danny's face was inches above hers. At first, she thought he was going to kiss her.

"You can't go home alone. I promised your friend I would take care of you."

"You don't owe me anything. I can get home fine."

"Listen, it's late. You probably live in the dorms, right? That twenty minutes from here. Why don't you just stay here, and then I'll take you home in the morning."

"I think you made it pretty clear you didn't want me to spend the night."

"I don't want to have sex. I don't think I have ever said those words," Danny laughed. "But I don't mind if you spend the night."

"There is only one bed."

"Now you are worried about sleeping with me?"

Anna smiled at silliness of her statement. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry now because you'll be really sorry in the morning with a hangover."

Danny reached into a drawer and pulled out a t-shirt. "You can take the bathroom first."

Anna took the t-shirt and changed in the bathroom. When Danny went into the bathroom, she got into bed and under the covers. Danny came out of the bathroom wearing only boxer shorts. He slid into bed next to her. "Now don't try anything," Danny joked. Anna laughed as she turned to look at him.

"You know I dreamed about this night for a whole year."

Danny looked confused.

"Why do you think I kept coming back to the coffee house?" asked Anna.

"The coffee, of course."

Anna lightly shoved him. "It was you. And then seeing you tonight, it was like it was meant to be."

Danny just looked at her not sure how to respond. Anna then turned away from him as if to silently say she was ready for sleep. Danny reached over her to pull her to him. He held her like that all night.

 

Back to present

That night started what would be the most significant relationship in Anna's life.They spent the next year together. She spent many more nights with him in that tiny apartment. She learned to love it because he was there. She never knew anyone like Danny before. The job at the coffee house was one of three jobs he had while he kept up a 3.8 GPA. He was compelled to be the best at everything. And while he worked very hard, he played even harder. That's where things started to fall a part for them.

Anna's thoughts were interrupted as the cab stopped at her apartment. When she entered her apartment, there was message on her phone. It was from Angela Simpson. She immediately dialed the number for the FBI. When the operator answered, she asked for Danny Taylor without even thinking.

 

FBI Office

After talking to Danny, Anna brought the answering machine tape to the FBI office. She was escorted to a room where Danny and Samantha were waiting. Jack, Vivian and Martin had all left for the evening vowing to start fresh in the morning. Danny and Samantha were just finishing up when Anna called Danny.

Anna walked in and addressed the two agents, “Here it is. I feel terrible about this. I was at my parents place in Connecticut this weekend. When I drove in this morning, I went straight to the office. I didn’t think she’d call me at home.”

Danny took the tape from her and placed it in the playback machine. “It’s OK. You couldn’t have known. The important thing is we have it now.”

The tape started playing: “Anna, it’s Angela Simpson. Um…I just….I wanted to tell you that I am taking your advice. You were right. I can’t keep living my life like this. I’m going to get help. I’m telling him tonight that it’s over. I don’t need him anymore. I went to my first NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting this morning. I can kick this. I couldn’t have done it without your help. I just wanted to thank you. Talk to you soon.”

When the tape finished, Anna said, “I don’t understand. She sounds so hopeful. This has to mean something bad happened, right? She wouldn’t just run away.”

Danny sensed the panic in her voice. “Not necessarily. Maybe she did just take off for few days to clear her head.”

Samantha glanced at Danny. He wasn’t usually the one to think the glass is half full. Samantha stated, “Listen, Danny and I need to go over a couple of things. Why don’t you go down the hall and get a coffee, and we’ll come get you after we’ve had a chance to review this thoroughly.”

Anna understood. They needed to discuss possible scenarios that she wouldn’t want to hear. “That’s fine. I understand.” She walked out and down the hall.

“It’s not really the best idea to give her false hope. If anything, this tape means something bad did happen,” Samantha said.

“I know. I just didn’t want her to worry.”

“Right.” Samantha could tell that Danny was extremely affected by Anna Ridley, but she did her best to get Danny back on track. “Let’s run the possibilities. She calls Anna from the club at 1:15 on Saturday morning. Then 10 witnesses say they saw her leave through the alley door at 2 a.m. She told Anna that she was going to tell him it’s over. Gotta be Anderson, her boss, right?”

“Right. So, sometime between 1:15 and 2 a.m., let’s say she tells Anderson where to go. He gets pissed, and maybe confronts her in the alley or somewhere on the way home? Because we know she didn’t make it back to her apartment. The alley…Did NYPD do a sweep of the alley?”

Samantha could see that Danny was back on his game, “Just a preliminary, to look for signs of foul play, but they didn’t find anything.”

“Let’s get one of our crime scene teams over there first thing in the morning. There’s got to be something there. And let’s re-canvass the route between the club and her home. Someone had to see something.”

“I’ll arrange the crime scene team,” Samantha replied as they left the room. “Why don’t you make sure Ms. Ridley gets home OK, and we will start the re-canvass first thing tomorrow.”?

“Sounds like a plan.”

Anna watched as Danny and Samantha left the room. Samantha touched Danny’s arm as she said some parting words to him then walked away. Once again, Anna felt a pang of jealousy not knowing what the exchange actually meant. Danny started walking toward her.

“We are going to re-canvass around the club and alley. Hopefully, we missed something. Knowing she probably talked to her boss before she left could mean a lot. Thanks for bringing the tape in. We’re going to keep the trace on your phones, OK?”

“Of course,” Anna replied.

“Listen, it’s really late. I’d hate to just put you in a cab. Let me drive you home. If there were someone else here to do it, I would ask him or her. I swear,” Danny pleaded.

Anna hesitated at first, but then realized how exhausted she was and relented, “Fine.”

They drove in silence back her to apartment. Anna directed Danny to pull in front of an old renovated building in Soho. “This is me.”

Danny parked and exited the car as Anna got out her side. Anna then said, “I have a doorman. I can get in fine on my own.”

“I just want to make sure you get in OK, and I’d like to check your home phone to make sure the trace is working. I promise I’ll leave in less than five minutes.”

Anna just nodded and Danny followed her into the building. She put a key in one of the elevators, and the doors opened. They rode up to the 15th floor in silence. They got off the elevator and entered a huge, contemporary loft space with windows all around to show an amazing view.

Danny smiled as he entered the loft, “I guess Daddy’s trust fund finally kicked in, huh?”

Anna looked down embarrassed, “I don’t have a trust fund, Danny. My father really wanted me to come back to the city. When the job at the Crisis Center came open, he offered this as an enticement to come down. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Get to do the work I want to do, and live in a great apartment in the city.”

“Got it. Well, I’m glad you’re back. I know you always loved this city. Where’s your phone?”

“Right over there,” Anna pointed.

Danny walked over and picked up the phone. He dialed a number and spoke quietly to someone on the other end. Then he hung up.

“You’re all set. If she calls again, just try to keep her on the phone so we can get an exact location.”

“O.K. Do you really think she will call again? I mean…I can’t help but think that she is…”

“We don’t think like that. There’s always hope,” Danny replied fighting his pessimistic nature.

Anna smiled and shook her head.

“What?” asked Danny.

“I just think it’s funny that you have a job that forces you to be optimistic. That was never your style.”

“Well, I think it’s good for me to have a job where I get an occasional happy ending. It helps.”

“So you are happy. I mean…you’re OK?”

Danny knew what she was asking, “I’m fine. I’ve stayed sober for over 7 years now.”

“Good. That’s good to hear.”

“Are you happy? Talk about a job that doesn’t have happy endings. What made you go into this kind of work?

“I always knew I wanted to try to help people. I thought I would counsel kids, you know. Then my senior year something happened.” Anna looked down.

Danny’s got an awful feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Something happened to you? Did someone hurt you?”

Anna saw that panic is Danny’s eyes, “No, not me. You remember my friend, Willa?”

Danny nodded.

“She went home with the wrong guy one night. She was raped. I took her to the hospital and went through all the motions with her. She had so much self-doubt. You know…second-guessing….blaming herself. The nurses and the police were helpful, but you could tell what they were thinking. That she somehow asked for it. I was touched by how the Rape Counselors helped her. They made her realize it wasn’t her fault. It was an inspiration.”

“Did they get the guy?”

“Yeah, but the DA didn’t prosecute….not enough evidence. That was and still is the frustrating part. I mean take Angela’s case. No DA would prosecute that. If she was married to him, maybe he’d get domestic abuse, but…”

“Sad, but true.”

“What if I handled Angela’s case wrong? I pushed her pretty hard to stand up for herself. Maybe I just should have focused on getting her to talk to the police.”

“You did the best you could. She needed help. If she would have stayed on drugs and dependent on that jerk, it would have been worse.”

Anna just nodded and tried to hold the tears back in her eyes, but they started any way. “I’m not so sure,” Anna replied helplessly.

Danny immediately went to Anna. He put his hands reassuringly on her arms. “We’ll find her. It’s going to be OK.”

Anna looked up at him, and saw the man she fell in love with so long ago. Danny was trying to comfort her by lightly stroking her arms. Anna reached up and touched his stubbled cheek. Then she kissed him lightly. Danny responded by deepening the kiss but then they both realized it wasn’t a good idea. As they parted their lips, Danny held her a few seconds longer not sure what to say. He then lightly kissed her forehead and stepped away from her. They just looked at each other for a moment before Danny finally said awkwardly, “Uh…Samantha and I are going to re-canvass first thing tomorrow. I’ll call you if we find anything.” Danny started for the door.

Anna’s next words surprised even her, “You and Samantha? Is she…are you?”

Danny laughed, “What on earth would give you that impression?”

“You just seemed close. She’s beautiful, and seems nice…I just…”

Danny cut her off, “What-- you thought I couldn’t work with a beautiful woman without getting her into bed?”

“I didn’t mean that.”

“Sure you did,” Danny said quietly and turned for the door.

“Danny,” Anna walked quickly to catch him before he got to the door. “It was just a question. I think I have the right…”

“What right do you have? I haven’t seen you in seven years. People change, Anna. I’ve changed. I tried to tell you that seven years ago, but you wouldn’t listen.”

“I think I had good reason to be skeptical, Danny.”

Danny shook his head, “I don’t want to talk about this now. It’s late. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Danny walked out. He tried to contain the anger rising in him. Anna didn’t have the right judge him anymore. He changed. He stayed clean. This is why he should have kept his distance from her like he planned. They had too much history. But seeing her again—it was so hard not to re-connect with her. He still remembered the good times between them. He didn’t really remember the bad times because he was drunk for most of them. He blocked those memories just like he blocked the memories from his childhood. Danny Taylor – Master of Denial.

When Danny got home, he tried to put her out of his mind. He had to try to sleep for a couple of hours. But all he could think was her face, and all the times they shared.

 

Eight years ago

After Danny and Anna spent their platonic night together, they immediately started dating. Danny liked her. She was sweet, innocent and beautiful. She was different from the women he usually dated. They went to the movies, spent long afternoons in the park, and made out like crazy in his tiny apartment. Danny was almost scared to go any further with her. She seemed to care about him so much, and he didn’t want to hurt her.

Danny knew that Anna came from money. She talked a lot about her parents in Connecticut, and going to an all-girl private school. But he didn’t know how much money until she invited him to come spend the weekend with her at her parent’s vacation home. They’d been dating for about two months. It was the end of the summer, and they were both getting ready to head back to a full school schedule. Danny hadn’t had a break all summer. He kept working his three jobs and even took a summer school class. When Anna asked him to spend the weekend with her, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. He needed the break.

They borrowed Willa’s car and drove out to the Hamptons. They entered a gate and drove up a path to a huge house right on the beach.

“This is your vacation home,” asked Danny.

“Yeah, I know, it’s a little overwhelming. My parents are incapable of doing anything small.”

“I guess. You’ve been holding out on me.”

Anna looked up at him sheepishly as they got out of the car. “What did you want me to say, ‘Hi, my name is Anna Ridley, and my family is filthy rich.’”

“That would have been a start.”

“That’s rich coming from you. The only thing I know about your family is…well gee, Danny, I don’t know anything about your family. Care to share?” Anna wrapped her arms around Danny’s neck as he put his around her waist.

“Good point,” Danny kissed her lightly and changed the subject. “I’m ready for a tour.”

Anna showed him the whole house, and then they spent the rest of the day by the pool, and walking on the beach. Sometimes Anna caught herself staring at Danny like she used to in the coffee house. To her, he was so beautiful. She loved everything about him. Sometimes, he would catch her staring and smile. She would look away embarrassed.

That night, they slow danced by the pool under the moonlight. Then they went for a swim. They didn’t really swim. Danny just held her in the pool. They talked a little, but mostly they just kissed. As they stared into each other’s eyes, Anna felt compelled to tell Danny how she felt, “I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen in love with you.”

Danny smiled and kissed Anna as he pulled her even closer to him. As Anna’s head rested on his shoulder, Danny whispered, “I love you, too.”

Anna tilted her head up and looked into his brown eyes. “Don’t just say that because you think it is what I want to hear.”

Danny shook his head and whispered, “I’m not. I promise.”

They kissed again passionately. Anna pulled away, “Let’s go upstairs.”

Danny made love to Anna for the first time that night. Anna always thought she’d feel scared and apprehensive. But instead, she felt safe and loved. She was so happy they didn’t have sex that first night in his apartment. Waiting meant that this was real. She could see a future with Danny. She wanted to belong to him forever.

After they returned to school, Anna officially stayed in the dorms, but she was never there. At first, if they weren’t in class or Danny wasn’t working, then they were together. They didn’t go out a lot, but when they did Danny would drink. But he never drank too much when he was with Anna.

As the school year progressed, Danny was under more and more stress. He was trying to decide what to do with his life. And then, Anna started questioning him about his background. As much as he loved her, he wasn’t ready to go in to all of that. He didn’t want to tell her that his only living family, was a brother in prison. As the stress started to build up, Danny started to pull away from Anna. He’d go out without her and drink with friends or alone. He’d come home and pass out next to her.

At first, Anna didn’t say anything. She just thought he was going through a tough time. She wanted to help him. So she stopped asking questions, and just tried to be there for him. But the drinking didn’t stop. Finally one night, he stumbled in at 3 a.m. Anna was awake. Before Danny could pass out, Anna got up to confront him.

“Danny, what’s wrong?”

Danny just looked at her not sure what to say.

“You’ve been drinking almost every night this week. We haven’t been talking at all. Just tell me what’s going on?

“Nothing, baby,” Danny tried to laugh it off as he walked toward her. Danny then put his arms around her, and pulled her close to him. Then he started to kiss her. At first, Anna responded to him even though he breath reeked of alcohol. But, then he started to take off her t-shirt. She didn’t want to have sex with him when he was like this so she pushed him away.

“No, Danny. Stop.”

Danny staggered back, “What wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with me? I don’t want to be with you when you’re like this.”

“Fine. Whatever. I’m going to bed,” he started to move past her, but she grabbed his arm.

“I want to talk about this. Why are you drinking so much?”

Danny pulled his arm away, and looked at her disgustedly, “Nothing is wrong. Just leave me alone.”

Anna kept pushing, “I can’t accept that. For months, everything has been great, and now all of the sudden, you can’t talk to me? I don’t understand.”

Danny started to seethe with anger. He didn’t want to talk, so he yelled, “LEAVE ME ALONE! You are always here. I just want some peace and quiet. We don’t have to be attached at the fucking hip. If I want to go out and have a few drinks, I should be able to without getting the third degree.”

Anna was shocked. He never spoke to her like that before. He never raised his voice or used foul language with her. She didn’t know what to do, but she knew she didn’t want to be with him. So she got dressed and left. Danny didn’t say another word to her. He passed out shortly after she left.

The next day, Anna didn’t want to get out of bed. She felt like she was punched in the stomach. Danny was a completely different person to her the night before. She didn’t know what to do.

Later in the morning, she heard a knock at her door. She opened the door and there was Danny. He looked like a lost, little boy. Anna wanted to shut the door in his face but she couldn’t because standing before her now was her sweet Danny, not the angry, disgusted man she saw the night before.

Danny just looked at her with sad, brown eyes, and whispered, “I’m so sorry, baby. I didn’t mean any of those things. I’ve just been so stressed with work and school. I just wanted to forget about it all for a while. I…”

Anna started crying as Danny reached out and touched her face. She slowly relented and let him take her in his arms. Danny then said, “It won’t happen again, I promise.”

But it did happen again. Things would be great between them for weeks, and then Danny would start drinking too much again. They would fight. He would make her cry. Then he would crawl back to her and beg forgiveness. Anna forgave him every time because she loved him so much. And she started to realize things about Danny. The reason he never talked about family was because he had no family. He had horrible scars on his body. When she asked how he got them, he always told her some incredible story they both knew was a lie. As a result of all this, Anna cut him slack. She forgave him every time. She was terrified of losing him, because her sweet Danny was the one that she loved.

Then came the night of the 20th birthday party. Anna was very excited because Danny would finally meet her parents. She told them all about him. Her parents rented out the Rainbow Room for the party. Danny who was usually cool and confident when meeting anyone was suddenly very nervous about meeting her parents. He seemed about the come out of his skin when he came to pick her up.

“Are you OK?” Anna asked.

Danny nodded, “I’m fine. Just not used to a tux, you know.”

“You look amazing, It suits you.” Anna rose up to kiss him, and noticed the faint smell of alcohol.

“Danny, please don’t drink tonight,” she pleaded.

Danny rolled his eyes, “Don’t start this. I had one beer.”

“I’m not starting anything. I’m just asking you to please not drink.”

“Fine. I won’t drink. I won’t do anything to embarrass you in any way.”

“Everyone will love you. How could they not?”

“Right,” Danny replied skeptically.

When they arrived at the party, Danny started to feel the walls close in on him. Her parents were nice enough, but he couldn’t help but feel they were disappointed. Especially when they asked where he was from and Anna quickly changed the subject to his plans after college. She told them he was thinking of taking the FBI exam, and how hard he worked. Danny felt like she was over-compensating to cover-up his lack of breeding and perhaps even his Latino heritage. Her parents finally whisked her away from him to meet some of their friends.

After about a half hour of greeting guests, Anna went to find Danny. She saw him coming of the bathroom.

“Hey, stranger. Don’t you want to dance with the birthday girl?”

“Absolutely.” Danny lead her on to the dance floor. He thought Anna never looked more beautiful. He blonde hair was swept up with a few errant strands tucked behind her ear. She wore a pale blue strapless cocktail dress that brought out her bright blue eyes. Looking at her as he danced with her, Danny knew he didn’t deserve her, but he held her close anyway.

“Thank you for coming. I know you weren’t exactly looking forward to this.”

“It’s fine. I’d do anything for you.” Danny looked down into her eyes.

As Danny spoke to her she could see the redness in his eyes, and she smelled a mixture of liquor and mint on his breath. But she didn’t say anything. She didn’t want to make him angry.

After a couple of dances, Anna’s father asked to cut in and Danny obliged. He took the opportunity to disappear into the bathroom again. He took a flask from his coat pocket, and drained it. Then he went back to the party and ordered a couple more drinks while Anna was on the dance floor. He watched her dance with several men. Men Danny knew weren’t relatives or family friends. As he got more drunk, he got more jealous. He then walked back to the dance floor, and tapped on the most recent dance partner’s shoulder.

Anna immediately broke from the man, and said, “There you are. I was looking for you earlier. This is Matt. An old friend from the country club. This is Danny, my boy…”

Danny started dancing with Anna before she finished the introduction. He didn’t even acknowledge her friend. “That was rude, Danny.”

“I’m sorry, but I really don’t care.”

Anna knew now he was drunk. He wasn’t even trying to hide it. She needed to get him out of there before anyone noticed. She took his hand and lead him out a back entrance. “Why are you doing this?”

“Doing what?” Danny asked as he staggered outside.

“Do you want to embarrass me? I asked you not to drink.”

“Maybe I was getting tired of watching you flirt with half the room.”

“I wasn’t flirting, Danny. They are my guests. I’ve known most of them my whole life.”

“Yeah, I don’t get it. These are your kind of people, and yet you end up going after someone like me. What did you just want to piss off your Daddy by going multicultural?”

“Stop it. I love you. You are better than any of those people. Don’t make this some class thing.”

“Oh come on,” Danny said as he walked toward and pulled her against him. “You know you just wanted to know what it was like to slum it for a while.” Danny started to kiss her as he backed her against the wall. He was kissing her hard invading her mouth with his tongue and running his hand up the inside of her thigh.

Anna finally summoned enough strength to push him away, and slapped him hard. “Don’t ever do that again,” she cried, tears streaming down her face now.

“You bitch,” Danny yelled and grabbed her by the arms. He pushed her against the wall again and looked angrily in her eyes. Then in an instant Danny had a moment of clarity. He saw the fear in her eyes as she looked up at him. It was the same fear he used to see in his mother’s eyes when his father would yell and scream. Danny quickly let go. He looked down and started to walk away. Anna didn’t say a word. She just watched as Danny ran away.

After Danny left, Anna returned the party. She told her parents he wasn't feeling well. Instead of going back to her dorm, she went to her parents' house in Connecticut for the weekend.

Danny woke up in his apartment alone and extremely hung over. The only thing he remembered was that he and Anna argued. As he stood under the shower, he let the hot water clear the cobwebs in his mind. The memories started flooding back….yelling at Anna….seeing her tears…grabbing her and pushing against a wall…watching the fear in her eyes. Danny started to wretch in the shower. He tried to vomit but nothing would come. He hated himself. When he got out of the shower, the first thing he wanted to do was drink. But he couldn't do that. Never again. He had to get her back. He would stop drinking for her. She would be his motivation.

Danny looked for her at her dorm, but Willa said she went to her parents' after the party. He begged Willa to use her car. Anna obviously didn't tell Willa what happened the night before, because Willa gave him her car and directions to Anna's house.

Danny arrived at the huge gated estate. Anna's mother answered the door, and greeted him warmly. She told him how sorry she was that he fell ill, and hoped they could get to know him better. Anna obviously didn't tell her parents either. Her mother showed him where Anna's room was. He knocked on the door.

"Come in."

Danny entered the pink room. It was like something out of the movies. Anna was sitting in a overstuffed chair looking out the window.

"Mom, I told you I wanted to…"

"Your mother told me it was OK if came up," Danny interrupted.

Anna quickly got up and turned around, "Get out."

"Anna, just listen to me OK."

"No. I don't want hear any more excuses. Get out. If you don't get out, I'll scream. I swear I will."

"Baby, I messed up. I know. I'm sorry. Just give me five minutes."

Anna shook her head and whispered, "Why should I?"

"Because you love me, and I love you. I have a problem. I know that. I've been drinking since I was twelve years old. Drinking to forget stuff…"

"It's no excuse for what you did last night. I don't care how hard your childhood was. I've never hurt you, Danny. Not ever. I didn't deserve to be treated like that," Anna stated as her voice quivered. She desperately didn't want him to see her cry.

"I know. It's no excuse." Danny walked closer to her. He could see red marks on her upper arms where he grabbed her. He raked a hand through his hair as he reached out to her, "Did I do that?"

Anna backed away from him and sat down on the window seat, "Yes."

A few tears escaped Danny's eyes, "I will never hurt you ever again. I promise."

Anna just shook her head and looked down.

"Anna, this is it. I'm quitting cold turkey. No more. Just don't leave me." Danny stood directly in front of her and fell to his knees. "Don't give up on me."

Anna had never seen Danny cry. It wasn't even like he was really crying. Tears were just falling from his eyes. She reached out to wipe a few away, and then they embraced.

"Don't make me regret this. This is the last time."

"You won't regret it. I won't let you down. No more drinking, I promise."

Anna returned to school with Danny that day. And just like he promised, Danny quit cold turkey. They went back to their normal routine. For a while, they were a happy couple again. It was Spring and Danny was getting ready to graduate, and studying for the FBI exam.

Danny vowed that Anna would never see him drunk again, but it was getting harder and harder. He'd lay awake in bed at night craving a drink. It was the first thing he thought about in the morning. When he was 18, Danny tried going to AA to quit. It was shortly after he changed his name to his foster parent's last name. He wanted to turn over a new leaf and start college clean and sober. But it didn't last long. Danny felt stupid in the meetings. He didn't think he was like all the other people there. He was different. And Danny didn't understand why he should surrender everything to God. What did God ever do for him? Where was God when his parents died, and his brother went to jail. Where was God when didn't have a single person in the world he could depend on. Danny didn't want to go back to AA.

So, he started to drink again. But this time, he was more careful. Danny waited until Anna fell asleep next to him. She was curled against him with her head on his stomach. He gently moved her over and got out of bed. He hated himself more and more as he watched her sleep before he got dressed and went to a bar across the street. Danny drank the tequila like it was water…one after another. With each drink, he forgot more and more about how awful he felt. After he was there about an hour, a cute brunette waitress sat down next to him.

"My shift just ended. Do you want to buy me a drink?" she asked Danny.

Danny looked at her with hazy eyes, "Sure." Danny motioned to the bartender.

Danny and the waitress drank for another half hour or so. They didn't talk much. And then she asked him, "Do you want to get out here?"

"OK," Danny answered guiltily.

"Your place?"

"No, we can't go to my place," answered Danny.

"I gotta kid at home so we can't go there."

Danny just looked at her suddenly realizing he wasn't sure what her name was. "Come with me," Danny said.

The waitress followed him to the back of the bar, and into the men's restroom. Danny brought her in to one of the stalls.

"You're a real romantic, aren't you?" the waitress teased.

"Do you want to do this or not?"

"Yeah, let's go."

Danny closed his eyes as he kissed her and touched her. He didn't feel anything really. He just tried to forget everything while he buried himself inside of her. After he finished, the waitress pulled his head down and kissed him hard "God, you're good, honey. Call me anytime, OK?" She handed Danny a piece paper, and he nodded.

Danny just stood in the stall after she left. He wanted to die. This is what his life was before he met Anna. Getting drunk, hooking up with a girl, and then never seeing her again. He never thought he would do this again. And he never wanted to do this to the woman he loved.

But Danny kept doing it. Sometimes it was the only thing to get him through the day -- knowing that as soon as she fell asleep he could go out and get drunk. The women he had sex with were just collateral damage. He tried to tell himself that it didn't mean anything. Every morning after he went out., he would immediately get in the shower before Anna woke up. He needed to wash away the stench of alcohol, cheap perfume and sex.

One morning after he'd been going out about a month, Anna woke before he could get back in bed. She was sitting up in bed as he stepped out of the bathroom wearing a towel low around his hips. "Hey , morning. I didn't mean to wake you, baby."

"Where were you? I woke up earlier and you were gone."

"I went for a run," Danny lied. "I just needed to clear my head. I'm sorry I should have told you."

Anna smiled, "It's OK." She got up on her knees, and faced him as he stood in front of her. She kissed him, and ran her hands down his chest and stomach. "Come back to bed. I want you."

Danny smiled as she started to tug on his towel, but he stopped her. "Listen, I want you, too. But, I planned on going to the library this morning to get some studying done. I have a final tomorrow."

Anna looked up at him disappointed. "Danny we haven't…made love...in weeks. Is there something wrong?" Anna asked shyly.

"No. God, there's nothing wrong." Danny took her in his arms. He knew how hard that was for her to say. "I'm just tired from working and studying. After exams are over...things will get back to normal." Danny hated himself more than ever at that moment.

"OK. If I can help you, you would tell me. Right?"

"Of course, baby. Now go back to sleep. It's still early."

After rejecting her like that, Danny felt like a bastard. Something had to change. Even though she didn't know about the drinking or the other women, he had to stop hurting her. So Danny decided he would break up with her. It was the only way. He just had to let her go.

A couple of weeks after Danny made the decision, he graduated from college. Everyone had their whole families there. When they called names, families would get up and cheer. But there was no family to cheer for Danny. The only person there was Anna. After the ceremony finished, she ran into his arms.

"I'm so proud of you," Anna said as Danny held her close knowing this would be one of the last times he would do that.

"Thanks," Danny said quietly.

"I have a surprise for you."

"You didn't have to do anything."

"I know. It's no big deal. Just come with me."

They got in Willa's car and started driving. "Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise. You actually need to close your eyes."

"Anna, I don't like surprises."

"I know, but I do, so indulge me please."

Danny smiled. He loved it when she was like this. Like a little girl in a candy store. So he closed his eyes and played along. Soon enough, he was going to have to break her heart.

They stopped and what sounded to Danny like a valet took the car. "OK…open your eyes."

Danny opened them. They were in front of the Waldorf Astoria. "What are we doing here?"

"We are going to stay here tonight. That's all I can afford, but we are going to get pampered and it will be great."

"Babe, this is too expensive. I don't make enough in a month what it costs to stay here one night."

"OK…listen…my father has this corporate suite thing here so it actually doesn't cost me a penny. I told him that Willa and I were going to use it tonight as an end of the year treat. I don't think he would like me bringing a guy here."

"I don't know…"

"Danny please…things have been so crazy lately, and you've been so distant. Which I totally understand….I just…"

Danny looked at her knowing this would probably be their last night together. He should give her that. He owed her that much at the very least.

Danny nodded, "OK. It sounds really great."

"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." Anna threw her arms around him. "I love you so much, Danny Taylor."

Danny just smiled. He couldn't respond.

They spent an incredible night together. Danny made love to her for the first time in weeks. Then he watched her sleep all night curled against him. He was going to miss this the most.

In the morning, they had sex again. Danny didn't want to let go of her. He wished he could just freeze time, and they never had to leave the room.

When they came out of the bedroom, they found that room service brought breakfast.

"Is this the life or what," asked Anna.

"It's pretty great."

They sat down to eat. And then Anna said, "I have one more surprise for you."

"I think you've done quite enough."

"Look under your plate."

Danny looked under his plate. There was a round-trip ticket to Spain. Danny looked up confused, "I don't understand. What is this?"

"My mother wants to take me to Europe this summer. She wants to do the whole tour thing for the whole summer. But I told her I didn't want to spend the whole summer without you. So, this ticket is for you to meet me in Spain for two weeks this summer."

Danny sat in shocked silence, and then finally said, "I can't accept this."

"Yes, you can. It will be amazing. My mother is going to stay behind in Paris. And then she'll join me there later."

Danny stood up from the table. "I'm sorry, but this is too much."

"OK…if it's about the money, then you can pay me back after you start with the FBI."

"I haven't even passed the test yet. I don't know if I even have a job."

"Danny, you are going to pass. You succeed at everything you try. Don't worry about that."

"It doesn't matter. I can't go with you." Danny started toward the door.

"Danny, don't go. I don't understand."

"I can't go because…" Danny couldn't say it.

"Because why?" asked Anna quietly.

Danny looked in her clear blue eyes, and he saw the scared, hurt look he saw that night on her birthday. He had to put an end to this, because he can never tell her the truth.

"I can't go because I don't want to do this anymore."

Anna felt like he slapped her. "Do what?"

"You don't want me, Anna. You need someone who can take care of you. Who can really love you."

"You do take care of me. You do love me."

Danny shook his head, "No, I don't.

"Danny, don't say that. Yes, you do. We've had some rough times, but we are past them now. We belong together. I belong to you." Tears started to stream down Anna's face.

Danny looked down, hating himself for what he was about to say, "I'm over you, Anna. We had some great times, but I never thought it would be forever. I don't want to be with you anymore, I don't want to go to Spain with you, and I don't want to marry you."

Anna could hardly breathe. She didn't understand. "You just made love to me. You looked into my eyes last night while you were inside of me. I could see the love in your eyes. Stop lying. You don't have to go with me to Spain. We don't have to get married. I just want to be with you," she said desperately.

Danny answered, "Last night was just sex for me. I haven't felt anything for you in a long time."

Anna thought about the last few weeks, and how distant he was, but she still couldn't believe it. "Look me in the eyes right now and tell me you don't love me."

Danny looked down at tear-stained face, and summoned all he had to hold back his tears, "I don't love you." He turned around and walked out the door.

Anna ran to the door after him and hit it with her bare hand as she broke down in tears.

Danny stood on the other side listening to her sobs, and wiping his tears from his eyes. It was over.

Danny went to the nearest bar and started drinking. Then he stopped by a liquor store on the way home, and bought a two bottles of tequila. He went on a bender that lasted for days. And there was no one there this time to save him. Part of him just wanted to die. Danny remembered that his brother owned a gun, and left it with Danny several years ago. Danny always meant to get rid of it, but never did. It was buried in a box in the back of his closet. Danny waited until the day he knew Anna left for Europe. He pulled out the gun and loaded it.

Danny kept drinking the tequila trying to summon the courage to pull the trigger. But images kept flashing in his head. Anna's face -- the time she said, "I love you so much Danny Taylor". His college graduation -- his mother would be so proud of him, and his brother wouldn't believe it. Danny worked so hard to change. He remembered Anna saying, "You succeed at everything.." She was right. He kept it all together even though the deck was stacked against him. Danny was letting the bottle beat him. He couldn't understand why. He didn't have any excuses anymore. It used to be he drank because he didn't have anything. But he had someone. Anna believed in him. And he ruined it.

Danny put the gun to his head., and started to sob. He finally cried out, "God help me. Please, I don't want to die." Danny put the gun down as he continued to sob. The tequila bottle fell out of his hand and crashed to the floor.

Danny just laid there for hours. He knew what he had to do. That evening he showered and dressed, and left his apartment. He walked to the building that he passed everyday, and wished for the strength to go in. He walked in the door and went to the last room on the left. A large group of people already assembled. Danny took a seat in the back row. Some one finally got up and welcomed everyone, and asked if there were any new people. Danny raised his hand. "Yes, you in the back row."

Danny stood up, "Hey, my name is Danny, and I….I really need help. I'm an alcoholic, and I don't know how to stop."

The room answered, "Hi, Danny."

He took the first step.

Six Months Later

Danny was about to celebrate his six month birthday in AA. The past six months had been the best and worst of times for Danny. The best because he took the FBI entrance exam and passed on the first try. The he graduated at the top of his FBI training class. Graduating at the top of the class meant he was able to get his first choice of assignments - the New York City - Violent Crimes Task Force. Danny finally felt like he was on the right path, and he belonged there.

It was the worst of times because he didn't have Anna anymore. He heard she returned from Europe, and moved into an apartment. A few times, he watched her from outside her building. But, he would never let her see him. It was also the worst of times, because staying sober was the hardest thing he had ever done. He wanted to drink all the time. Sometimes, he went to meetings twice a day just to stay strong. Danny realized that he wasn't any different from all the people at his meeting. He needed them to stay sober.

As he worked the steps of the program, he came to the step called "Making amends." He was supposed to make a list of all the people he hurt while he was drinking. The only name he knew was Anna's. Of course, there was a long list of women he should probably apologize to for using them, but he couldn't begin to know how to contact them. Anna was the only person he could really make amends with. The only problem is that he was fairly certain she never wanted to see him again. He thought about writing her a letter, but knew that would be cowardly. He knew to truly come clean he would have to tell her everything he did while he was with her. And that would mean hurting her all over again. But maybe it would help explain to her why he walked out on her so abruptly.

So Danny found himself standing in front of her apartment building. He was freezing standing outside on the cold winter night, but he couldn't make his feet move. Finally, he summoned the courage. So he went to the door, and rang the buzzer.

"Yes," Anna voice came over the intercom.

"Hey. It's me. It's Danny. I need to talk to you,"

Danny didn't hear anything for what seemed like a full minute. He was about the ring the buzzer again, but then she said, "I'll be down in a second."

A few minutes later, Anna came down. Danny almost lost all his nerve upon seeing her face. She had what he could only describe as hate-filled eyes.

She walked out the door, and immediately asked, "What do you want?"

Danny replied, "It's freezing out here. I…uh…I need to talk to you about something. Can we go inside?"

"No. We can go to the coffee shop over there."

"We should probably do this in private."

"I don't want to be alone with you."

Danny nodded, "Fine. Let's go to the coffee shop."

Danny found a out of the way table in the coffee shop. He ordered a coffee. She didn't order anything. She could barely look him in the eyes.

Danny didn't want to launch into his speech yet…so he tried to break the ice, "How was your trip?"

Anna then looked at him dead in the eyes, "Did you ask me down here to make small talk? Don't waste my time, Danny."

"Right. I'm sorry. Um…OK…after we broke up….I kind of hit rock bottom. I was drinking a lot, and I was actually so wasted that I almost….it doesn't matter. The point is I had to just give up, you know. Alcohol was controlling my life."

Anna looked confused, "I thought you quit. After my birthday, I thought you were done."

Danny shook his head, " I never really stopped. I just got really good at hiding it from you. Anyway, I finally found the strength to back to AA."

Anna looked confused again, "Back to AA?"

"Yeah, I went before when I was younger, but I just couldn't stick with the program. I just wasn't ready I guess. This time was different though. This time I understood it was my last chance. I had to make a change. I hate how much I hurt you. I said all those things to you at the hotel because I was still drinking. And I thought I would hurt you more if I stayed with you. I know I would have hurt you more."

"So you didn't mean those things?"

"I didn't mean it when I said I didn't love you. I did love you. That's why I left."

"Why didn't you ask me for help? I would have helped you.," Anna asked as tears filled her eyes.

"I had to do it on my own. I couldn't disappoint you anymore. The more I hurt you, the more I wanted to drink. But I have it under control - as much as it can be under control. I have my six month birthday coming up in a week. I'd like for you to be there. I have to tell my whole story. You don't have to come, but it's at St. Marks by my apartment, if you want to come."

Anna nodded, "I'll try."

"I have some more good news. I passed the FBI exam, and finished the training. I've been working at the New York field office for the last month. You were right. You believed I could do it."

Anna smiled and hesitantly put her hand on top of Danny's, "Of course, I believed. I'm happy for you."

Danny looked at their intertwined hands and remembered the real reason why he asked her there. He gently pulled his hand away, and said, "Listen, there is something else. A part of the 12- step process is to make amends. To tell the people you hurt that you are sorry, and more importantly to tell them why you are sorry."

"I know you are sorry. I know it was the alcohol, Danny. You aren't that person."

Danny couldn't believe how forgiving she was. She amazed him with her capacity to love. He didn't want to continue, but he knew he had to.

"You're right, it was the alcohol, but it doesn't excuse the things I did. The decisions I made that indirectly or directly hurt you and others."

"I think you lost me, Danny. You are sorry about the drinking, right? You were still drinking when you told me you quit."

"I did other things. I waited until you were asleep, and I would leave. That's when I would drink. The last couple of months we were together that's what I did. When I was drunk, I…uh…I slept with other women."

"What?"

"I don't know why I did it. I just…I was trying to lose myself or something. It wasn't about you."

"It wasn't about me? What does that mean, Danny? Because the last few months we were together all I could think about was what I was doing wrong. Why didn't you want me anymore? Was I not good enough in bed for you?"

"It wasn't that. It wasn't you."

"God, you make me sick. How many were there? Where did you meet them?"

"You don't want to know all that."

"Yes, I think I do. I have the right. I mean you had sex with me that night in the hotel after you screwed all those women. So, who were they?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?"

"I met them in bars."

"And then what?"

"Don't…."

"Would you go back to there place? No, I bet not, you probably just took them outside into the alley and screwed them there, right? I mean that's what you were going to do with me when we first met. I should have just let you. Then I wouldn't have wasted my time with you. We could have just had a one-night stand, and then I wouldn't have fallen for your line. If I just would have paid better attention that first night, I would known who you really were."

"You did find out who I really was -- the person I am when I don't drink."

"Right. Well, do you feel better now that you have gotten this off your chest."

Danny sighed. He didn't know what to say.

"Because I gotta tell you, Danny, I don't feel better knowing about it. I doesn't help me. I spent the last six months getting over you. I cried until I didn't have any tears left for you. And now I hear this. So basically what I know now is that you did love me, but just not enough to stay faithful. Lucky me." Anna then stood up and walked out.

 

One Week Later

Danny nervously told his story to the AA group. He told them everything. As he looked out in the crowd, he felt incredibly alone, but it still felt good to talk about it. It was the best way to let it all go and start fresh. After he finished, several people congratulated him. As he made his way through the crowd, he noticed Anna standing in the back of the room. They made eye contact, and Danny smiled. But then, Anna turned to make a hasty exit.

Danny had to run to catch up with her outside. "Hey, wait."

Anna finally stopped and turned around. Her cheeks were pink from the bitter cold.

"Thanks for coming. It means a lot."

"I'm glad you're getting help, Danny. I knew you didn't have anyone else to come. So…"

"Thank you. Maybe we can go get some coffee or…"

"No. This is it. It's over, Danny. I gave you everything I had….my heart, my soul, my body. None of it was enough for you. And you know what kills me? While I was a Europe, I met this really nice guy. And he liked me, and wanted to be with me. But I couldn't because I still felt like I belonged to you. And now I know that none of that mattered to you."

"That's not true. It did matter. I…"

"Shut up. I don't want to hear it. If you truly felt the same connection I felt with you, then you never could have touched someone else, a stranger. Because it's been six months since you left me, and I still can't imagine letting someone else inside of me. I hate that you make me feel like that. I loved you so much. I wanted to give you everything you never had in your life. You blew it."

Anna turned around, and walked away from him.

 

Back to present

Danny lay awake in his bed thinking about that last time he saw her. He can't really blame her for feeling what she feels. He knew she would never truly trust him again.

Danny realized that sleep was not going to happen so he got up, and went back to the office. Hopefully, today they would find Angela Simpson alive and well, so he could give Anna some good news.

FBI Office

Danny and Samantha finished re-canvassing the area around the club by late morning. They returned to the office to meet with the rest of the team, but Martin, Vivian, and Jack hadn't returned yet.

"I wish we would have gotten more this morning. No one seemed to see anything," remarked Samantha.

"I know. The answer has to be in that alley. Hopefully, the crime scene team found something. I think Vivian is rounding up the report on that. From what Angela said on the phone message, she must of talked to Anderson," replied Danny.

"I guess we will find out soon enough. How did it go last night when you took Anna Ridley home?"

"Fine. I took her home and checked her phones. That was it."

"Huh…it seemed like you were pretty preoccupied with her last night. You were pretty concerned."

"She was upset, Samantha. I'm not completely insensitive, contrary to what you obviously think," Danny said defensively.

"I don't think you're insensitive, Danny," Samantha answered quietly. "I just noticed how much you seemed to care about her., and if you wanted to talk about it…her, I'm here."

Danny nodded and replied in a low voice, "I know. It's personal, and it's all in the past. So, I'd rather not talk about it." Danny then got up and went to his desk.

Samantha let it go. She didn't press him further. She'd known Danny for years, and sometimes she felt like they were the closest of friends. Times like these proved how little she knew about him. Danny often acted like he was the most open, easygoing guy in the world. Samantha learned over the years what a well-constructed act that was.

The two agents were finally joined by the rest of the team. They communicated the little they learned that morning. Vivian had the most disturbing information.

"I just finished with the crime scene team. They found traces of blood and semen in the alley. They put the timeline at early Saturday morning. Now get this: The semen is a match for what they have in Angela's rape kit. The blood is Angela's blood type. There wasn't a lot of blood. So it doesn't look like she was killed in the alley and then taken elsewhere."

Martin interjected, "Is that enough for a warrant on Anderson? If we can get a DNA sample from him, we could probably press him harder."

"We can try for the warrant. I'll call the DA's office," Jack answered.

"One last thing," Vivian said. "They found a used needle around the same area as the blood. They are doing analysis on it now."

"On the answering machine tape, Angela said she stopped using," Danny said hopefully.

"Well it could be from someone else, but I guess we will find out," replied Vivian.

Later in the day, Jack got the warrant from the DA's office for Jake Anderson. He sent Danny and Martin to serve the warrant and bring Anderson in.

Danny and Martin walked into Anderson's office at the club without being announced.

Anderson immediately interjected, "Hey, you can't just walk in here…."

Danny walked right in and got in Anderson's face, "Actually, we can and we just did. Mr. Anderson, we have a warrant for your arrest. We need to take you down to our office so you can give us a little blood." Danny handed him the warrant.

"I want my lawyer."

"Oh, he's welcome to meet us down there. Let's go," Martin replied.

While they were driving back to the office, Anderson wouldn't stop talking about his civil right's violations. Then he added, "First, that rape counselor bitch comes down this morning, and now this. I had nothing to do with Angela's disappearance. I don't care where she is. I'm through with her."

Danny hadn't been listening to the babbling until he heard that last statement, "Who came to see you this morning?"

"Some hot little blonde number who was accusing me of rape. I didn't make Angela do anything she didn't want to do. I told her the same thing I told you. I don't care where that bitch is, but I told that little blonde she was in the wrong kind of work. She should come to work for me. She's wasting her talents."

Martin glanced over as Danny tightened his grip on the steering wheel. Martin knew that look very well. Danny was pissed. Danny didn't say another word to Anderson, but when he got Anderson out of the car he "accidentally" knocked Anderson's head into the car door. "Sorry about that, man."

When they got Anderson inside, Martin asked Danny, "Do want take this interrogation with Jack?"

"No, you take it. I have to take care of something."

Martin had a feeling that Danny was going to pay Anna Ridley a visit.

Anna's loft

The doorman called up and announced Danny. Anna's heart pace quickened as he got off the elevator. Anna felt like that eighteen year old girl who watched her secret crush each morning. As Danny approached her and entered the loft, she could tell he wasn't happy.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Danny started trying to control his temper, as he quickly moved past her into the loft.

"What are you talking about?"

"We served a warrant to Jake Anderson this afternoon. He told us he had a visit from you this morning."

Anna looked down, "I just thought…"

"You weren't thinking," Danny cut her off. "Do you realize how dangerous he is? God, you heard Angela talk about him. You know what he is capable of, and yet you confront him. What were you thinking?"

At first, Anna was hurt by Danny's tone, but now she was angry, "Well, if you let me finish….I thought if I told him that I know the truth, and that I would file a complaint on Angela's behalf that maybe…."

Danny shook his head, "Maybe what? That he would confess to you…that he would tell you where she is? He doesn't care about her. He's not going to confess anything to you or anyone else. That's why we need physical evidence."

"I'm sorry. I was just trying to help. I didn't do enough for her when I should have. I was just trying to make up for it now. I'm sorry if I screwed up your work or whatever," Anna said as she started to cry.

"No, I didn't mean…you didn't screw anything up. I just….I was worried about you. I don't want you to go anywhere near him again. Do you understand?" Danny approached her hesitantly and tilted her chin up as he wiped a few tears away.

"I understand," Anna whispered.

Danny looked down into her blue eyes. She took his breath away. He knew it was a mistake, and it wasn't the right time but he couldn't help it. He started to kiss lightly. Anna put her arms around his neck to pull him closer. They started to kiss passionately. Anna felt like she was finally quenching a thirst that she had had for years. Danny's hands started to roam up and down her body pulling her closer to him so there was no space between them. Danny broke from her lips, and started kissing a path down her neck to her cleavage as he guided her over to the couch. Anna started to loosen his tie and unbutton his shirt. She longed to feel his skin on hers. Then she pulled his shirt out from his pants so she run her hands along his chest and stomach. She was momentarily startled when her hand passed over the hard, metal of his gun. Her breath caught, and Danny looked deeply in her eyes. At that moment, Danny regained his composure. As much as he wanted her, he couldn't do this now.

As he started to get up, Anna grabbed his arm, "I don't want you to stop. I know this isn't the right time, but…"

"I know. I want it, too," he said as he gently caressed her face.

"I need to tell you something. "

"What?"

"I'm engaged."

Danny felt like he was punched. "Oh. Congratulations. Listen, I better get back…"

"Danny, I'm telling you because of what has been going on between us. I never thought I could feel like this again. I gave up on feeling this kind of need for someone."

"Who is he?"

"He lives in Boston. You don't know him. He's a lawyer. We were supposed to get married two years ago. I left him at the altar, and told him I couldn't go through with it. That's part of the reason I came here. But, recently, he's been coming down to see me. We decided to continue our engagement., but we haven't made any more plans."

"You love him?" Danny asked even though he was terrified to hear the answer.

"I thought I did. He's a good guy. He's never…."

"He's never hurt you. He's never cheated on you. He's never left you. There are so many ways you could finish that sentence, and they would all apply to me. Maybe you are better off with him," Danny said as he walked toward the door.

Anna let Danny walk out the door. When the door closed, she said, "He's never loved me like you love me."

FBI Office

Danny returned to office in a foul mood. He hated knowing Anna was with someone else. But more than that, he hated that he was always reminded of his past when he saw Anna. Danny worked so hard to change his life, and be a better person. He knew that she would never trust him again. This case was beginning to completely irritate him. Not only did he have Anna to contend with, but also they still weren't any closer to locating Angela.

After Jake Anderson submitted to a DNA test, Martin and Jack interrogated him for hours. He even took a lie detector test. He admitted to having sex with Angela in the alley. He said it was consensual, and Angela was high. He said that after they finished, Angela left and he didn't see her again. He passed the lie detector test, but he refused to answer the questions about giving her the drugs. He didn't want to incriminate himself.

Martin and Jack were relaying this information to the team in Jack's office.

"Well, he's definitely lying about the drugs. I mean he was Angela's source. If she was high, she didn't get them from anyone else," commented Danny.

"This doesn't make sense. She sounded so hopeful on the answering machine tape. What would make her go back to him?" asked Samantha.

Danny looked down. He knew why. He knew what it felt like to be weak.

Martin then said, "She's obviously got major problems. She probably just took off. At this point, maybe this isn't even one of ours anymore."

The stress and pain of the last few days combined with his reaction to Martin's statement made Danny's temper flare. "Martin, what would you know about it? So, just because she is weak, and she has problem – that means we shouldn't look for her anymore? Are we only supposed to find the people who are perfect, model citizens?" Danny's voice rose, and his eyes turned black with anger.

Martin was taken a back by the outburst. "Danny, I didn't mean that. I just meant – maybe she doesn't want to be found," Martin replied defensively.

Danny wasn't going to back down, but before he could respond Jack put a hand on his arm and said, "It's been a long day. Why don't we continue to work the different angles. Let's assume she left on her own volition. Vivian and Danny, check the hospitals and morgues again. Samantha and Martin, stay on her financials. Maybe she used a credit card or something in the last 24 hours. I'm going to talk to her family again. If we don't get any hits, we may need to call it a night."

Danny was the first to walk out of the office, and back to his desk. Martin, Vivian and Samantha all shared concerned glances over Danny's outburst. Vivian watched Martin look over at Danny's desk. As Martin was about to go over to talk to Danny, Vivian stopped him. "Give him some time to calm down, Martin. You can't reason with him when he gets angry like this."

"I'm not sure what I said that was so wrong, Viv."

"It's not you, Martin. It's this case. He's just frustrated, and maybe struggling with a few of his own demons."

When Vivian said that, it clicked in Martin. Danny was an addict. He must identify with Angela. "I understand," Martin replied.

Vivian smiled reassuringly as she went over to confer with Danny about the hospitals and morgues.

After about a half hour of making calls, Danny went downstairs to get some air. As he was standing against the building, he thought about calling Anna. But he wasn't sure that was the best idea. She finally moved on. Maybe it was unfair of him to want her again. Their attraction for each other has never wavered. That was obvious. He's compared every woman he's been with since to Anna. And he wonders why he can't make a relationship work. Anna was so right when she told him that he blew it.

As Danny was silently berating himself, Martin walked out the front door. Danny didn't notice until Martin asked, "Hey, we ordered out for Chinese. Do you want anything?"

Danny looked up, "No, thanks."

Martin just nodded and started to walk away.

"Hey," Danny called out as he walked over to Martin. "Listen, I…uh…I shouldn't have lost it like that in there."

"It's OK. I just didn't understand…"

"You made a valid point. Clearly, Angela probably just took off," Danny agreed.

"Yeah, but she still deserves to be found. She's been through a lot. She's suffered so much. She deserves to know that people care. I think I lost sight of that."

Danny nodded, "Well, at any rate, I'm sorry."

Before Danny could walk away, Martin asked, "Is there something else wrong? I mean besides this case? Is there something going on between you and Anna Ridley?

"No, there's nothing going on," Danny answered. At first, Danny wanted to tell Martin it was none of his business, but then Danny felt compelled to talk about it. "There used to be something between us."

"You were involved with her?"

"Yeah, while I was in college. She was…she was like no one I had met before. And we immediately clicked. We dated for about a year," Danny replied as he smiled slightly.

"What happened?"

Danny couldn't believe he was talking about this, especially with Martin. But it felt good to talk about it…to talk about her. "I screwed up. I was drinking…drinking a lot. And she was this beautiful girl with an amazing heart. She forgave everything. Every time I would embarrass her, or humiliate her…she would still take me back."

"Did she eventually get sick of it and break up with you."

"No. I left her. I was lying to her…promising her I wasn't drinking, and then going out and getting wasted. And there were other women….God, I was such a bastard. I couldn't look in her eyes anymore, and lie…you know?"

Martin just nodded.

"When I didn't have her anymore, I thought I didn't have anything to live for. So I hit rock bottom, and found myself staring into the barrel of a gun." Danny smiled and shook his head. "I was so lost."

"What did you do?"

"I gave up. I admitted I couldn't handle it myself…which went against every belief I had. I always thought I could only depend on myself. I started going to AA, and I've been clean ever since."

"She wouldn't take you back after you got help?"

Danny shook his head, "I had to be completely honest with her. I had to tell her about the lying, and about the other women. And that killed her. I made her feel like she was doing something wrong because I felt so awful about myself. And all along I was hooking up with these nameless, faceless…I couldn't really blame her for never wanting to see me again."

"What about now? You've been sober for almost eight years. That has to mean something to her."

"She's engaged."

"Oh…"

"Yeah…Oh," Danny replied smiling. "Story of my life: too little, too late. You better go make that pick-up. Samantha gets very testy when she's hungry."

Martin smiled and replied, "Right."

"Martin," Danny called out, "Thanks….for listening."

"Any time."

Danny walked back in the building. When he returned to his desk, Vivian and Samantha were flurried with activity. Samantha quickly said, "I think we found her."

"What?" Danny said.

"We faxed her picture to police stations in the outlying areas once she was missing for 48 hours. A local cop in Glen Ridge, New Jersey swears he ran her off a street corner late yesterday. He suspected she was soliciting. So he ran her off instead of arresting her," Samantha stated.

Vivian continued, "I just called several local motels in the area around that street corner, which is hot bed for drug activity by the way. The office clerk at the Glen Ridge Motor Inn says a young woman checked in early Saturday morning, and hasn't left yet. I faxed him her picture, and he says it could be her. He's not sure."

"Let's go," Danny said quickly.

Danny and Samantha left for Glen Ridge. On the drive to the motel, Samantha asked, "Are you going to call her?"

"Not until I know it's Angela. I don't want to get her hopes up."

Samantha nodded.

After about a half hour drive, they got to the motel. The office manager gave them the motel key. Danny knocked on the door, but their was no answer. "Angela Simpson? This is the FBI. Open the door," Danny called out. After about a minute, he motioned to Samantha to unlock the door as he drew his gun.

They carefully entered the dark room. Danny felt the wall for a light switch, and turned it on. No one was in the room. He and Samantha slowly made their way back to the bathroom. He lightly knocked on the door, and then opened it. He immediately saw a young woman curled up on the floor of the bathroom. Danny leaned down, and turned her over. There was an empty syringe on the floor next to her arm that showed several needle tracks. It was a sight Danny knew too well from dealing with his drug-addicted brother. He quickly felt for a pulse. "She's alive, but barely."

Samantha called an EMT, and then called Jack to give him the update. Danny knelt beside Angela, and covered her up her bruised and battered body with a blanket. Jake Anderson was not responsible for her disappearance, but Danny would do everything he could to hold him responsible for hurting Angela. When he saw the bruises and the drugs, Danny knew what happened to Angela. She tried to face up to Anderson in that alley, and then he must have raped her. Anderson probably injected her with heroin in the alley to keep her quiet. Feeling trapped and alone, Angela ran away. She felt abandoned and alone even though she had family and friends. But, Danny knew, that is what addiction does to a person.

The two agents followed the ambulance to the hospital. Danny still didn't want to call Anna. He wanted to make sure that Angela would be OK. They waited in the ER waiting room as the doctors tended to Angela. A few minutes later, Jack, Vivian and Martin showed up at the hospital with Angela's sister and parents. Danny and Samantha walked over to confer with the team as the family waited to hear from the doctors. Danny leaned back against the wall. He had a sinking feeling in his stomach. This was taking too long.

As the team stood helpless, a doctor came out to the waiting area. They didn't need to hear anything to know what happened. As the doctor spoke, Angela's mother and sister collapsed against her father. They were crying hysterically. The doctor looked tired and defeated.

All five agents felt the same defeat. They didn't find her in time. None of them moved as if watching the family in turmoil was their penance for failing.

Danny heard the automatic doors open just outside the waiting area. He looked over and saw Anna. She stopped dead in her tracks watching the same scene he was. He immediately walked toward her. She had this helpless look on her face as she watched Angela's family collapse in grief. He held out a hand, and touched her shoulder. Without even looking at him, she said, "Angela's sister called me from the car. She said you found her. I had to come…" Her shoulders started to shake. Danny reached for her and pulled her into his arms, and she started to cry almost uncontrollably.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, baby," was all Danny could say.

The four remaining agents left one by one. Jack spoke briefly to Angela's father before he left. As Jack walked out the door, Danny was still holding Anna.

Anna's Loft - Two hours later

Anna let Danny drive her home in silence. They both felt like failures. Anna for not helping Angela enough before she disappeared, and Danny for not finding her in time. Danny guided her up to her apartment, and into her bedroom. She almost didn't feel like anything was real anymore. The past few days seemed like a dream. She was more exhausted than she ever felt in her life.

As she sat on the edge of her bed, Danny removed her jacket, and then her shoes. He unzipped her dress, and she slipped out of it revealing a light slip. Then he removed a clip from her hair, and lightly ran his fingers through it. She felt like a child as he pulled down the sheet and comforter, and slowly tucked her in.

"Do you need anything? A drink or…," asked Danny as he sat next to her.

Anna put her hand on his chest. She could feel the beat of his heart. "Don't leave me," Anna whispered.

Danny looked down unsure how to respond. "Your tired and upset. I don't want…"

"Just hold me for a while. Please."

Danny took off his suit coat and dress shirt. He remove his shoes, and slid into the bed next to her. He held her protectively like he did the first night they met. They both fell asleep in minutes.

A few hours later, as the sun started to rise, Danny woke up. They shifted in the night, so now she was curled against him with her head on his chest. Her hand was laying on his stomach underneath his t-shirt. For a few seconds, Danny imagined it was eight years ago. How he wished he could live that time over again. He would've stopped drinking the moment he met her. But that didn't happen, and they were here now. And she belonged to someone else. Danny felt sick at the thought of someone else holding her like this, or touching her, or being inside of her. But he only had himself to blame.

He was absently playing with her hair, as she slowly woke up. She looked up at him not quite believing he was still there. She pulled herself up on the pillow next to his so she could face him. "Thank you."

Danny looked at her skeptically, "For what?"

"For staying. For being here."

Danny gently caressed her face, "I don't want to be anywhere else."

"I never stopped loving you. Even when I got involved with Michael, I never stopped."

"Me, either," Danny replied. "But I can't ask you to walk away from him for me. I've changed…I promise I have, but it doesn't change the things I did. The lies I told you. I understand that you can never trust me."

Anna looked down as a tear escaped her eye. Those memories of Danny's deceit still haunted her. "That wasn't you., Danny. You were sick, and you got help. I can't keep blaming you for that. I know you suffered so much for so long, and you were just trying to forget," Anna said as she gently traced her finger along the scar across his stomach.

"So what does this mean?" Danny asked as he looked in her eyes.

"It means that I called Michael yesterday, and told him it was over. It means I want to wake up like this with you for the rest of my life."

"Are you sure?"

Instead of answering, Anna leaned in to kiss Danny. Danny pulled her close, and kissed her deeply. He never wanted to let her go ever again.

The End.