Mike & Abby rode along enjoying the bloom of summer. Trees and plants grew lush with green leaves. The summer air was sweet around them. "It is beautiful out here," he remarked.
"You should see it in the fall," she replied, "The colors the leaves get are magnificent- lots of reds and golds."
"Sounds lovely," Mike smiled.
"Winter is my favorite season with the snow out here covering everything. It's just breathtaking," Abby sighed, "Can you picture it?"
"Actually, no – I can't," he answered, "It's just so warm and summerie right now."
"Well, maybe you'll have to stick around and see it for yourself," she looked at him longingly.
"I just might have to," Mike grinned.
"Daniel and I used to come out here all the time; during the winter we'd have competitions to see who could make the biggest snow fort," Abby rambled.
"Did you win?" he asked.
"A snowball war usually broke out first- they got toppled before we could tell," she laughed.
"You two were close," Mike said.
"He was a great big brother- we talked every day before he…" Abby's brown eyes became a bit distant. She shook it off. "How about you and your mom?" Abby asked, "You said she lives in London?"
"Yeah," he nodded, "We are close- I'm her boy. Which reminds me I need to call her today."
"It's a bit of a time difference," she noted.
"Eight hours is hard to work around, but worth it," he acknowledged.
"You worry about her don't you?" Abby smiled. She could tell from his face.
"That goes both ways. And I wish she was closer, but the move to London was good for my Mom," Mike replied.
"Have you ever thought of moving there too?" she inquired.
"Maybe one day- I don't have much of a home base right now," he answered. Mike didn't have a home really. He rented out the one he did own. Mike had no time to be at a home with his job. He kept himself busy. "How about you? Ever get the urge to head out of town?"
"I'd like to travel, but I'll always come back here; this is home for me. My family has lived here since before the revolution," Abby beamed.
"No way. Are you messing with me?" Mike tilted his head.
"Nope," Abby shook her head, "I am a direct descendant of James Sinclair who settled here in the 1600's. True story."
"Nice," Mike replied. She definitely had a pedigree.
"We're getting close," Abby said.
It wasn't long until they came to a clearing. A large plot of land was surrounded by a half height stone wall. A well kept family cemetery Mike deduced. "Here we are," Abby indicated. They turned the horses off into the shelter of some trees. "I should only be a few minutes," Abby dismounted.
"Do you need some space?" Mike offered. He followed Abby's example and got down from Aslan's back. The horse shook his head grateful to be rid of the extra weight. Mike shot him a look before rubbing Aslan's nose. Aslan leaned into Mike's hand. The kid wasn't so bad.
"If you don't mind listening to me talk to a stone you're fine," she shrugged. The duo tied Silver and Aslan off in the shade to get some rest and cool off. Abby led the way to an iron gate which gave access to the well kept cemetery.
"Happy birthday, big Brother," Abby said as they approached the correct stone. The white headstone stood tall. It had Daniel's picture on it. She lowed herself to sit in the grass, "Sorry, I haven't been here in a while." Mike read the inscription from where he stood behind Abby. 'Gone too soon - Beloved Son and Devoted Brother.' He lost himself in his own thoughts as she rambled on about the goings on and then nothing in particular.
After several minutes Abby angled back to Mike, "He would have been twenty-nine today." There was a weight to her and it broke his heart.
"I'm sure he's glad to know he's not forgotten," Mike said the only comforting thing that came to his mind.
"It was an accident- he didn't even see it coming," Abby wrung her fingers, "He was at a party when some teenagers got out one of the home owner's guns and decided to mess around with it." Mike shook his head. Guns are not toys. "The gun went off and the bullet struck him in the back of the head," she continued, "Mom's heart just wasn't the same after he died."
"I'm sorry," Mike replied. What else could he say?
"I don't know how my father got out of bed this morning," she sighed, "Five years and it still hurts."
"I can't even imagine what the two of you went through or are still feeling…" he began.
"I didn't mean to eat up your day with a pity party," Abby pushed herself up. She was tired of being sad.
"You have every right to remember your brother," Mike insisted. Abby grabbed Mike's hand and pulled him with her. "Where are you taking me?" he asked.
"Somewhere fun," Abby promised.
Brennan answered the buzz on his intercom. "Lauren Kincaid is here to see you," his secretary announced.
"Send her in," Brennan replied.
Moments later the woman mentioned opened the office door and stepped through. "Hi," Lauren said softly.
He looked up from the stack of mail he was going through. "Hi," he replied. Brennan opened the letter in his hand. She studied him closely. Days associated with his son were especially hard on Brennan. Lauren could tell. He carried his sadness in his shoulders. "Anything I can do for you?" Brennan inquired. He needed to stay busy today.
"You have enough on your plate," she perched on one side of his desk.
"There is always something else to do," Brennan replied. No matter how much or what he did the day just seemed to drag. Finding nothing remarkable about the letter Brennan put it back in the envelope. A blue card envelope was next on his pile of mail. It had a printed address. Brennan sliced the envelope. He slid out the contents. It was indeed a greeting card. Brennan read the front, "Our Deepest Condolences." He frowned.
"May I?" Lauren requested. Brennan handed over the card. She opened the card to find a folded up print out. Lauren set the card itself aside. Brennan picked it up. He looked it over. It was pretty generic. The card itself was left unsigned. Lauren unfolded the paper to find a small picture of Daniel with a blurb printed beside it. She read the blurb. Her eyes widened when she realized it was his obituary. In the section that listed Daniel's survivors Chloe and Abby's names were blacked out with a marker. Brennan saw Lauren scowl.
"What is it?" he demanded.
"I need to get this processed," she replied.
"Let me see it," Brennan insisted.
"I don't think you should," Lauren warned. He snatched the paper from her. She watched his eyes dart over the paper. Brennan cleared half the desk with one swipe of his arm. He bolted from his chair and stormed across the room to the window. Lauren didn't flinch at his sudden outburst. She simply stood. Lauren straightened herself and went to him. She gave him a moment to register her presence before wrapping her arms around his waist from behind. Brennan briefly stiffened before surrendering to her embrace. Lauren laid her head between his shoulder blades. His whole body shuddered. It was nearly enough to make her cry. If she could she'd take his pain away.
Brennan cleared his throat, "Where is my daughter?"
"She's on the estate with Mike," Lauren answered, "I would have been notified if they had left the property."
"This has to stop," he angled back to her.
She pulled back and released him, "We are working on it."
"When are they going to get back to you about the gun?" Brennan straightened.
"Sometime today," Lauren nodded. If she didn't get a call in the next twenty minutes she was going to go over to the forensics lab and light a fire under the technicians.
"Let me know the moment you have something," he directed.
"I will," she promised. The intercom buzzed again. "You should get that," Lauren suggested.
Brennan went to the desk and answered it, "Yes, Rita."
"Senator Westen is here for your meeting," the secretary replied.
"Give me five minutes," he instructed. Brennan squatted down to pick up the things he had scattered. Lauren joined him. "You don't have to-," he began.
"It's all right," she cut him off.
"Thanks," he pause momentarily to lock eyes with her. Lauren nodded. They finished collecting the debris into a box to be sorted at a better time.
"I better head out," she took the card and envelope.
"See you later," Brennan said.
"Later," She fingered her cell as she exited the office. Lauren decided it was time to call in more of Paul's resources. She didn't care if all of them weren't exactly legal. Brennan was right. This had to stop and soon.
The ER doors opened. Johnny watched Charlie and her team rush to the gurney that the paramedics raced in with. She had been paged for this. "What do you have for me?" Charlie asked.
"3 to 5 year old female," the lead EMT began, "Blunt force trauma to the right neck, back and leg- possibly the head, pulse is thready. She fell down a flight of stairs."
"Give me the stats," Charlie directed.
"40 pounds, BP is 55 over 96."
"Got a name for her?" Charlie inquired.
The lead EMT shook her head, "She was found unconscious, alone, and had no identification on her."
"Han…" a small voice croaked.
Charlie turned her attention to the tiny child on the gurney, "Han? Do you mean Hannah?" She looked small and thin for a five-year-old.
The little girl tried to open her eyes, but could barely crack them. She strained to get out another response, but was unable to do so.
"I'm Doctor Charlie," the surgeon placed two of her fingers in Hannah's left hand, "Can you squeeze for me?" She held her breath as the child did as directed. "Good, you're doing great," Charlie praised, "You can squeeze to answer for me- two squeezes for yes and one for no."
"Did you mean Hannah? Is that your name, Sweetie?" she asked. The little girl squeezed twice for the last question. Charlie looked to her team. "I need her in that CT machine two weeks ago," she barked.
"On it," came the reply.
"Hannah, we're going to fix you- just hang in there," Charlie coaxed. The team took over the gurney from the paramedics. Johnny was on their heels as they ran Hannah to the elevator.