DISCLAIMER: The characters used in this story are not mine and belong to various people I have to contact with.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A little faster in the updating this time around. I've rediscovered my love for this story, thanks to a couple of very nice reviewers!
SPOILERS: Up to S2 for The 4400, round about S1 for The Gilmore Girls.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

3459: Lorelai Gilmore
By CharmedLassie


Part 9

Tom sauntered into the office, jacket flung over his shoulder, whistling- of all things- out of tune. Dropping his coat onto his chair, he questioned, 'You okay today? It's a beautiful morning out there.'

Diana rubbed at her forehead and muttered, 'Don't start. I've already got a God-awful headache and I'm really not in the mood, okay, Tom?'

Chastised, he sat down opposite her, frowning deeply. 'Has something happened? When I left you yesterday you were perfect. You haven't had another row with Lorelai, have you? Honestly, you two-'

'I haven't,' she interrupted, smarting at his insinuation that she and Lorelai couldn't stay on an even keel for more than five minutes at a time. 'Lorelai's back in Connecticut telling her daughter that she's fallen in love with…'

'You,' Tom supplied.

'Yeah. Me.' Diana sighed and threw down her pen which had been a useless artefact since she'd arrived in work forty minutes earlier anyway. 'Maia's barely said two words to me since. It took all my best efforts to get her out of the apartment this morning. I don't think she blames me but…'

'What, you think she knows something?' he asked.

'Maybe. And it can't be good, whatever it is.'

'Look,' he reasoned, resting his elbows on the desk, 'maybe you're jumping to conclusions. I saw her yesterday with Lorelai. She adores her. You know, it's gotta be hard on her that she had to just leave the way she did. On you as well,' he added, watching her.

'I won't deny that,' she admitted, pulling her head back far enough until her vision got lost within the electric lighting. 'I don't know what to do.'

'I know what you used to do,' he replied. 'You worked and drank coffee. Guess we should start there, huh?'

Mustering a smile, she nodded. 'Sounds like a plan.'

There was no word from Lorelai all day, not that Diana expected anything. She could feel the frigid air from the Gilmore residence intimately, despite the distance. In reality, however much she wanted to hear Lorelai's voice on the other end of the phone, it was going to be a while until they had significant contact again. She didn't want to even contemplate when they might next see each other.

Maia was monosyllabic for most of the evening. After a few failed attempts to coax something out of her daughter, Diana gave up. Maybe Tom was right and Maia was bound to be subdued with Lorelai gone. Perhaps she just had to give it time and let it pass. Still, it was a feeling she could empathise with: she missed Lorelai too, as badly as thought she might.

Though she really couldn't concentrate she tried to work that evening. It was a while since she'd put sufficient effort into what she was supposed to do for a living; in fact, she'd practically forgotten all the germs of ideas that had popped into her head before her trip to Stars Hollow almost a month ago. Even before that she'd barely been getting by; ever since she met Lorelai things had been different, both with her home life and her working life.

A bit of determined effort got her up to date on Marco's latest crackpot theories and a couple of 4400 incidents she hadn't been made aware of. There was a new firestarter in Nashville- his power had set light to his college before he got it under control. A returnee in France had registered the ability of particle coercion, in that she could literally stop water dead it its tracks and, ironically, would've been able to control the fire started by Harry Glison. Nothing was really routine about her job but at the moment it felt like it. It was almost like she'd seen it all before, bought the t-shirt and the novelty cup of weirdness and was just hanging around to see if anything of any use popped up. Intuition told her it wasn't about it.

When she next looked at the clock it was after midnight. Sighing, she clipped her laptop shut and leaned back into the couch, tempted to sleep where she sat. Unfortunately, that was a recipe for a mean neck ache the next day and she knew that all too well. So, mustering her willpower, she made it as far as the bedroom door when the telephone rang.

Instantly awake again, she rushed to grab it. 'Skouris?'

'Hey.' Lorelai's voice was flat and lifeless.

'I wasn't expecting to hear from you for a while,' Diana replied, sitting at the dining table and allowing herself a brief smile. 'How are you?'

'How am I or where am I?' asked Lorelai.

'Where are you?' Diana altered, not relishing the answer.

'Well, let's just say it's lucky I run an inn. Otherwise I'd be pitching up on a bench in the bandstand tonight.'

'I'm sorry,' she said sincerely. 'Wanna talk about it?'

'No. Just wanted to hear your voice, that's all. Remind me why I'm putting myself through the Gilmore family version of 'Thriller' here?'

'Is it really that bad?'

'The Cold War's got nothing on us, Di, I promise you.' Lorelai paused. 'How's Maia?'

Diana grimaced. 'Not talkative. But I can't blame her.'

'You know, she was really upset when I was in there last night. I could hardly get her to let me go.'

'I can't say I don't know how she feels,' Diana admitted with a wry shrug to herself. 'It's only been twenty-four hours.'

'Less than,' Lorelai clarified. 'I feel it too. I wish I could come back.'

'I wish I was in Stars Hollow but… Not yet. We can't. Not while things are so mixed up.' She didn't know who she was trying to convince with that argument but it sure as hell wasn't working on her own mind. 'I want to, Lorelai, but…'

'It's okay,' the returnee interrupted hollowly. 'The timing sucks.'

'Doesn't it always?'

'Yup. That it does.' After a moment, Lorelai continued, 'I should go. Rory might try to get through or something.'

'Of course. Call me if you need me, alright? Anytime.'

'I'll hold you to that.'

'I wouldn't expect anything less.'

At breakfast the next morning she persevered and managed to get Maia to eat some of her cereal, though it was a bit of a close call. Trying to get her out of the apartment was a different matter, however.

Maia was adamant. 'I don't want to go.'

'I have to go to work sweetie. Anyway, I thought you liked Mrs Hargraves?'

'I do. But I don't wanna go today.'

Diana sighed and sipped at her coffee. 'This isn't negotiable, Maia.'

'I don't want to go!'

'Okay,' she replied, kneeling next to her daughter, 'you give me one good reason and I'll take the day off. You know something I don't?'

After a long pause Maia shook her head. 'No.'

'You are being honest with me, right?'

The slight aversion of her daughter's eyes betrayed the truth but still Maia muttered, 'Yes.'

Unconvinced, Diana nodded. 'Okay. Now, I've got you booked for another flute lesson with Miss Clarmount this afternoon. How's that sound?'

'Nice,' Maia answered unenthusiastically.

'Sweetie,' Diana tried, sitting beside her, 'I need you to tell me what's going on here.'

Her daughter looked at her miserably. 'How's Lorelai?'

'Um… I think she's okay. She sounded okay when I talked to her.'

'Did she ask about me?'

'Oh, of course she did, honey!'

Maia pushed her spoon around her bowl. 'Does she… like me? I mean… Does she like me like Aunt April liked me?'

Her lips thinning, Diana put her hand over her daughter's. 'Lorelai is different to Aunt April, okay? Do you believe that?'

After a tense moment, Maia nodded. 'I believe it.'

Diana let out her breath. 'Alright then. That's sorted.'

'Feeling any better today?' Tom questioned when she stormed into the office an hour later. Watching her slam her briefcase down onto the desk, he went on, 'I'll take that as a no then.'

Exhaling heavily, Diana pressed her palms flat against the desk. 'Walking out feels like a good option right now.'

'More problems?'

'No, just more of the same.' Shaking her head, Diana sat down. 'Throw a case at me.'

'Well, I'd love to do that but Jarvis called half an hour ago. Wanted to see you when you got in.'

'That's the last thing I need. Did she say what it was about?'

'One of your independent cases,' he said with a shrug. 'Better not keep her waiting, huh?'

'Now wouldn't that be terrible?' she murmured, earning herself a wry smile from Tom as she left the office. Knocking on Nina Jarvis's door she received a curt nod in. 'You wanted to see me?' she questioned.

'Yep, take a seat.'

Immediately disarmed, she dropped into the chair. 'What's the problem?'

Nina pushed a file across the desk. 'That returnee you dealt with a couple of months ago- Patrick Flyte?'

'I remember him. Has he developed an ability?'

'No, just a penchant for bigamy.' Her boss cleared her throat. 'It seems you were right about Flyte's problem being personal rather than an ability manifestation. Still, it's always best to err on the side of caution, isn't it?'

'I guess it is,' she agreed. 'Where are we holding Flyte?'

'He's downstairs. Local authorities want to prosecute but I want you to sit in on the interview. All returnees are vulnerable to a little bit more pressure than normal criminals. It comes with the territory. If you don't mind sitting in, that is?'

Jarvis threw the last question out so casually that Diana would forgive herself for thinking it was as unintentional as it seemed. However, her intuition wasn't taking a holiday. 'No, it shouldn't be a problem,' she said calmly. 'As long as there aren't any catastrophes in the offing.'

'Good.' Nina paused before continuing, 'Just so you know, there haven't been developments in the investigation into Lorelai Gilmore's injuries. Agents Cody and Phillips have drawn a blank, so have the local police. They're going to rule it as a freak accident.'

Diana nodded. 'That makes sense to me. From what I saw there was no rhyme or reason to what happened.'

'So long as we're on the same page with this one. You need to know that we put all our resources into investigating every incident involving the 4400.'

'Why do you feel the need to reassure me of this?'

Nina held up a hand. 'I want to reassure you that we on the same side, that's all.' While Diana held back her derisive retort the woman opposite her spotted it anyway. 'You don't think we are on the same side, do you, Diana?'

Eventually, she said, 'I think we have different agendas.'

'Why? We both want to learn more about the returnees, we believe there's more to this than the incitement of fear and hatred. That puts us on the same team.'

Diana pursed her lips. 'Yeah, but here's the thing, Nina: I don't advocate the collection and return to quarantine of all returnees with abilities. That's what makes us different.'

Now it was Jarvis who looked surprised, more so than Diana could remember ever seeing her before. 'How do you know anything about that?'

She gently shrugged. 'I listen.'

'That's some hearing ability you have since I haven't spoken to anyone about the proposed recall of the 4400.'

'Well, let's just be thankful that it was nothing more than proposed,' Diana answered, staring her superior out.

Nina exhaled into a laugh. 'We're not enemies! Bringing back the returnees with abilities would allow us to study their manifestation to greater levels than we can on their quarterly visits. You understand the significance of those discoveries as well as I do, if not more so.'

'Maia would have been quarantined! She's nine years old, all she wants is to lead a normal life and go to sleep cuddled up to her stuffed dog every night. You're telling me that putting her behind locked doors would've helped her development?'

'No, I'm not. Given what you obviously think of me I don't suppose you'll believe that I was advocating voluntary recalls, for months at a time instead of prolonged periods.'

'That's not what I heard,' she said bluntly.

Jarvis sighed. 'We've got a job here, Diana. Containment, research, protection. They all meld into one.'

'Not as far as I'm concerned. I protect my daughter. Everything else is secondary and if you don't like that…'

'Hey,' Nina interrupted, 'don't put words into my mouth. I'm not saying that at all. I completely understand your concern for Maia's welfare and I personally think that she couldn't have found a better mother.'

Frowning, Diana stood. 'If there's nothing else I'd like to get down to Patrick Flyte's interview.'

'Of course. I wouldn't dream of keeping you.'

When she reached the door her hand slipped off the handle and she turned back. 'What do you want from me, Nina?'

'Results: the same I want from all my personnel.'

Diana smiled with a touch of bitterness. 'You really are a hard-nosed bitch, aren't you?'

Jarvis chuckled. 'Yes, I am, Skouris, and you better remember it.'

Unsure of the joke, she left, pausing to glance back at the chortling figure of her superior before she rounded the corner. She had the feeling she was either missing something or had stepped into an alternate reality where Nina Jarvis was no longer the cold woman she'd grown accustomed to in recent months. Still, Jarvis really was the last problem on her mind at the moment: Maia and Lorelai still had top billing in her thoughts and weren't about to be dethroned either.

Trying to focus on Patrick Flyte's bigamy case she stepped into the elevator. As long as she was working at NTAC she should try to get some productive work done.

Forty minutes later she returned to her office thankful that she was not currently out in bars trying to pick up men like Patrick Flyte. If half-baked excuses for conning women out of their life savings was all modern American man had to offer then she was well out of it.

Sitting at her desk she was seriously tempted to call the inn and check on Lorelai but knew she could just stir up more trouble if Rory happened to be around. If- or when- she still felt the urge later she'd contemplate the possibility again. For now she had to write her report on Patrick Flyte and try not to use more than ten expletives in the five page document. It was going to be a tough ask.

Soon after she'd settled down at her computer she heard thudding footsteps outside in the open office and ignored them until they entered her space. Looking up, she was about to angrily kick whoever it was out when she caught the expression on Tom's face. Immediately, she was on her feet. 'What is it, what's wrong?'

'There's been a call from Maia's tutor. She's been…'

'Tom- what?!'

'Taken. She's been taken.'

It was fortunate he caught her before she fell down. Getting her back into her chair he called something about getting her some water then knelt down beside her. Diana looked at him shakily. 'How?'

'One minute she was there, the next she answered the door and was gone. Mrs Hargraves is distraught and completely at a loss as to what happened.'

'Tom, how can that be?! People don't just disappear.' The falsity of that statement struck her and she felt sicker. Drawing herself back up, she stated, 'We have to find her.'

He nodded. 'Everyone's on high alert. We've got every police force within a fifty mile radius paying close attention to every nine year old girl out there. We're collating footage, interviewing potential witnesses. We will find her, Diana.'

'Okay, okay! Just do it, Tom, alright? I mean it.'

A fresh wave of nausea hit her. Forcing her eyes shut she waited until it passed. When she looked up again her office was full of colleagues booming well wishes and generally trying to appear as if they cared. None of that mattered. Dragging herself up she pushed past them all, making a beeline for the bathroom where she promptly vomited.

Straightening, she wiped her mouth and then swept away the tears streaming down her cheeks. Maia was… missing. Maia was missing! That was incomprehensible.

But if it was really happening… Well, she had to find her daughter. That was nothing else apart from that.

Walking back into her office she didn't care how much like hell she looked. She went straight past a dozen people before stepping in front of Nina Jarvis. 'What are you doing to find my daughter?'

Nina's face was impassive and business-like. 'Everything we can. I need names from you, Diana. Everybody that Maia has been in contact with in the last three months. Addresses, phone numbers. I want her daily schedule and anything written by her that remotely sounds like a vision, okay?' Looking to Tom, she added, 'Baldwin: take her back to her apartment.'

Looking at the clothes she'd ruthlessly strewn around the bedroom in the hope of finding something, Diana swallowed hard. There was nothing there. No magic little button that told her where her daughter was or who she was with. No flashing neon sign hidden at the bottom of a drawer with an address written on it: nothing that could help her remotely.

'Diana? You find anything?' Tom questioned, striding into the room.

'No,' she muttered tightly, raising herself off the floor with the aid of the bed. 'You?'

He sighed. 'Nothing that I can see. Have you found any notebooks or diaries of Maia's yet?'

'I doubt she's written anything else down since I got her diary subpoenaed, Tom!'

'It's worth a look, alright?' he argued, kneeling down. 'Have you looked under the bed?'

She shook her head. 'No.'

While he scrabbled around under there Diana glanced around at the posters on the wall, feeling completely nauseous and helpless. Maia had looked to her for protection and what had she done? Let her down.

Tom pulled his body back and held up his hand. In it was a thin blue notebook. He passed it to her. 'Here.'

She hesitated, but only momentarily. Flipping through the pages she started at the last entries. Aware that Tom was watching her, she cleared her throat and read aloud. 'Mrs Hargraves is going to break her wrist while she's shopping and I'll have a week off school. Mommy's going to…' She swallowed. 'Mommy's going to buy me a flute of my own when I get good enough. Rory's going to Yale. Mrs Gilmore's going to get married.' Frowning at that one, she continued, 'I'm going to learn baseball, like The Famous Five.'

When she stopped Tom looked at her questioningly. 'That makes no sense.'

'I know,' she replied, going over to the bookshelf. Leafing through all the Famous Five adventures she halted at Maia's favourite novel. The piece of sticking paper that was usually attached to the back of the hardbacked books was loose. With trembling fingers Diana probed underneath it, finding a piece of folded paper which she pulled out quickly.

It was taken from a sports page and dated a few months earlier. 'What is it?' Tom pressed urgently.

'Navarro Misses Majors,' she read, a cold sensation nipping at her stomach as she looked back to Tom. 'Gary Navarro?!'

For the entire journey back to NTAC Diana tried to formulate answers in her own mind. Maia had evidently left her this message to find and the only explanation was that Gary Navarro was somehow involved in her disappearance. The last Diana had heard he was working on top secret projects in D.C. How the hell had he slipped out of the net long enough to come to Seattle and kidnap her daughter?! More to the point, why had he felt the necessity to?

Though Diana had to admit that she could hazard a guess at that one.

Turning the newspaper clipping over in her hands fretfully she caught sight of a pencil scrawl in Maia's handwriting in the lower margin. Three words: Careful. Bexboard. Alarmed!

'Tom…' she muttered, reading the words aloud to him. 'What do you think it means?'

He shook his head, glancing sympathetically to her then returning his gaze to the busy afternoon highway. 'You know Maia better than anyone. Odds on she thought you could figure it out.'

'She's got too much faith in me,' she murmured. 'Besides, if she knows everything, why not just tell me, huh?'

'It isn't supposed to be changed sometimes.'

Diana chewed on her lip as she willed the car to go faster. She was all for letting things play out- letting fate play out if you wanted to use that word- but not when it was her daughter in the thick of it. She didn't know how being turned into a quivering reckless wreck was meant to in any way develop her as a person. All this was doing was antagonising her and throwing any guilt she'd ever felt about her part in practically incarcerating Gary Navarro into a life of slavery and subterfuge down into the river.

When they finally got back to the office after what seemed an excruciatingly extended journey Jarvis met them in the corridor. 'Diana,' she said briskly, 'I've spoken to Navarro's handler in D.C. It seems Gary slipped out of an assignment in New York last week and hasn't been seen since. They were keeping it quiet for obvious reasons.'

Diana gritted her teeth. 'Have they any idea where he is?'

Nina briefly lowered her eyes. 'No. He's proved pretty elusive so far.'

'The guy's a mind-reader,' Tom put in. 'It's hardly surprise of the century is it?'

'I understand your frustrations,' Jarvis answered. 'But we need to focus. How are you doing with that list of names, Diana?'

She'd finished it on the way to her apartment and duly handed it over. 'The majority of names on there are just fleeting encounters.'

Nina looked over onto the second page. 'Half of Connecticut's on here!'

'Well, it was an eventful weekend,' Diana argued. 'Besides, it's none of them. A call to the local police department'll prove that. Gary Navarro's our man.'

'As sure as we are of that, we have to cover all our bases. In the meantime,' her superior added, 'you should go home.'

'No. Not a chance. You're not shutting me out of this one.'

'There may be demands made and you need to be there to hear them.'

'More people have my cell phone number; Gary certainly does. I'm not leaving,' he concluded firmly.

Jarvis didn't look happy but she eventually nodded curtly. 'Don't get in the way of my investigation, Skouris.'

Feeling like she'd won a personal battle Diana watched her walk off but the victory was hollow and she recognised that. Glancing to Tom, she said, 'Gary blames us for what happened to him. We promised him help and then we just…' Her guilt was again washed over by the fact that the former baseball player in question had her daughter held captive in some undisclosed location. 'What is this- revenge?'

He sighed. 'He blames me more than you, Diana. I don't understand why he'd target you instead.'

'Maia's a 4400,' she replied. 'Maybe he thinks I'm not fit to be her mother.'

'Don't speculate on his motives,' Tom advised. 'You'll drive yourself crazy.'

She sniggered. 'Tom, I'm already there!'

'What are you looking for?'

She barely looked up at his question. Her eyes were rapidly scanning the details of returnee 0043, Barrie Jacobi. It took her less than twenty seconds to exonerate him and move onto 0044, Harriet Seymour. Again: nothing.

Tom placed his hand in the path of her mouse. 'Tell me you're not doing what I think you're doing.'

'It follows that Gary has an accomplice and it follows that it's potentially another returnee,' she answered, diverting her mouse around his fingers.

'That's a lot of people to try and eliminate, Diana.'

Her eyes flickered towards him. 'Well, at least it makes me feel like I'm doing something. I can't sit here like a spare part while Maia's out there and…'

'Okay, okay,' he interjected her bleak train of thought and pulled his chair up beside hers. 'Listen, have you spoken to Lorelai yet?'

'I haven't exactly had free time, Tom.'

'So you're gonna, what, wait until you get to her name in the list? Come on, Diana!'

0045, Yosef Gilab. 'She's got enough to deal with right now,' she replied quietly, concentrating on reading the profile in front of her.

Tom cleared his throat. 'Diana, Gilab's dead. He was stabbed three months ago in Turkey.'

Clicking straight onto the next returnee she didn't look to him. 'Haven't you got something you can be doing?'

'You do realise that we appealed on international news…' He checked his watch. 'Thirty seconds ago? That means Lorelai just found out Maia was missing from the television.'

Diana's hand slipped off the mouse suddenly. The icy build up that had been present in her stomach for the last few hours jolted and spread. 'I've just been concentrating on finding Maia, that's all.'

'I know.' The phone began ringing and he grabbed for it. 'Baldwin… Lorelai, hi… Yeah, it is true… We're doing all we can…Diana? Yeah, she's here.'

Knowing she had no choice but to take the receiver, she did so. 'Hi,' she said, recognising a strange lilt in her voice.

Lorelai's tone was equally as tense. 'Why didn't you call me straightaway?'

'I didn't wanna worry you.'

'Screw worrying me, Di! What happened? The news said something about a potential suspect- a 4400?'

'Yeah, Gary Navarro. We've had dealings with him; he's not a fan of NTAC. Maia left…' Feeling a lump rise in her throat she hastily swallowed it back down, hoping that her voice didn't betray how helpless she felt. Glancing to Tom she found he'd skilfully averted his eyes. 'She left some clues that suggested it was him.'

'I don't get it; why not just tell you and stop it happening in the first place?' Lorelai asked.

'If I knew that I'd probably know what the hell was going on here. Listen, I need to keep the line free. I have to go.'

'Do you want me to fly out? I can be on the next plane…'

'No,' she interjected quickly. 'You've got your own problems.'

'Diana, I think I should…'

'I said no. Okay?' Since there was no reply, she continued, 'I have to go. Bye.'

When she put the phone back down she felt Tom's disapproving and knowing eyes on her. A minute of that and she felt nauseous again. Charging out of the office she made it to the bathroom just in time then crumpled into a heap with her back against the door.

Protruding into her mind was the real reason she'd kept Lorelai at arms length since the kidnapping had been discovered: she was scared of letting anyone know precisely how scared she was. She was determined to find Maia, but on her own terms. The only way she could hold it together long enough to comprehend Maia's message was to push her emotions as far out of the equation as possible.

With that in mind, she dragged herself off the floor, washed her hands and her face, checked her appearance in the mirror then returned to the office. On her desk was a copy of Maia's clipping of Navarro and the three words written on the back.

'Careful' was self-explanatory and almost made her smile. That was typical Maia. Her compassion was going to make her a great adult and certainly had to be a factor in why she'd been given the ability of precognition in the first place.

'Alarmed' was, again, quite obvious. It was a warning for when they found her and a bridge Diana would cross when they got there.

'Bexboard' was more problematic. At first she'd thought it might be the name of a fellow returnee but a quick search of the database had eliminated that theory. She'd examined Gary's file in detail and found no references to anything involving 'bexboard'; there were no known associates of his, either before his abduction or after his return, that seemed plausible. That was why she'd started at the beginning and tried to work her way through the returnees- it seemed the only logical way she had of finding a connection. Jarvis had gone more with the theory that 'bexboard' was a street or a place name and was currently scouring every map of Seattle, including ancient ones, to find a match. Marco was investigating the possibility that it was a company name; Tom was looking at whether it could be an anagram.

As much as she appreciated the help Diana knew in her gut that it was none of those things. She knew Maia, and she knew that her daughter would never make it so complicated. If Maia had faith in her that required Maia knowing how she worked. She was an extremely smart nine year-old, Diana would readily give her that one. But she was certain Maia knew how she'd play this one- by looking at the fellow returnees. That was why she was so positive that something would come up if she just looked long enough.

Several hours later Tom, who had been conspicuously absent from their shared office since her clipped conversation with Lorelai, returned and placed a cup of coffee beside her elbow. 'You need a caffeine hit,' he said, taking his own seat.

'What time is it?' she questioned, rubbing her eyes.

'After eleven.'

Shocked, she looked at him. 'You're kidding me?'

He shook his head. 'You've been pretty engrossed over there.'

Glancing out into the wider office she was grateful to see that the staff level hadn't thinned out any with the advent of night. 'I take it there's no news.'

'No. Navarro's slipped under the radar somehow. For now,' he added firmly. 'We'll find him sooner or later.'

'What happens if it's later?' Diana questioned. 'What happens if we run out of time?'

'I don't believe Gary would hurt Maia if that's what you're asking,' Tom answered, his face showing no doubt in his statement. 'He's a ball player, not a murderer.'

'Yeah, but we sold him out, Tom!'

'No. We didn't. D.C did. Deep down, Gary knows that.'

'Then why take Maia? He's obviously got some strategy we're not aware of.'

Tom didn't respond to that. Instead, he said, 'I've spoken to Shawn. He's alerted every 4400 he's in contact with to call us with any sightings of Maia or Gary. He's also publicly condoned the abduction and begged Gary to come forward.'

She nodded. 'Good. That's a start.'

'Diana,' he went on after a lengthy pause, 'you should go home.'

Picking up her coffee she began drinking, despite how much the hot liquid scalded her tongue. 'It didn't work coming from Jarvis, Tom, and it won't coming from you either.'

'Is this doing you any good?' he pressed. 'I mean…'

'Me sitting at home with my feet up wouldn't do Maia any good, would it?' she interrupted scathingly. 'No one's keeping you here, Tom.'

'I'm not going anywhere,' he countered. 'I'm just concerned.'

'Then keep the coffee coming. That'll help.'

By the time daylight began to creep over the surrounding hills exhaustion was beginning to get to her, though she'd rather pass out than admit it to Tom. He'd stayed with her the entire night, checked any wacky leads she threw his way and persuaded her that narrowing down the list of returnees she was scouring to ones within the country and alive was a promising idea. The trouble was, she was coming to the end of that list and a gnawing at her stomach told her she wasn't going to find anything different in the last five names she checked.

Just after sunrise Alana came into the office with breakfast. Diana took a muffin, only realising then that she'd barely eaten in twenty-four hours. While Tom conversed softly with his girlfriend in the corner she devoured the muffin whilst idly flicking through the names of the deceased 4400s.

Landing on Jordan Collier's name she examined the mass of information they apparently had on him. Most of it was culled from his 'inspirational' book about the 4400, but some of it was private information they'd managed to build up from various sources and moles.

Shortly before he'd been shot a tip had come with a list of Collier's trademark safe houses. He had them all over the country but these were significant as they were warehouses which Collier could potentially store weapons and the like in. They'd been investigated, of course, but his death toppled him off the most influential of returnees and the properties remained stagnant, waiting for a lull in activity and crime before they could be fully investigated.

Going from one photo to the next for no purpose except that she needed something to do with her hands Diana looked at the outer shells of the warehouses. They were all inconspicuous; in fine neighbourhoods: everything that she'd usually expect from Collier.

Stopping on the final picture, she leaned back in her chair and stretched out her fingers painfully. Just as she was about to click elsewhere on the screen she spotted the docks in the background of the shot and gasped. Leaning her nose into the screen, just to be sure, she clearly saw what she hoped she had- a container ship with a black container partly obscured by a red one. The writing on the black container was in vivid white but was only half-visible because of the placement of the red one. What she could see was 'BEX' and then below it on a new line 'BOARD'.

'Tom. Tom!'

Immediately, both he and Alana were next to her. 'What is it?'

'Bexboard,' she said triumphantly. 'Maia's clue. Come on; we should tell Jarvis.'

'No, wait,' he said, grasping for his cell phone as it rang. 'Baldwin… Yeah, okay, understood.' Flipping his phone shut he looked seriously at her. 'We can't involve anyone else. It has to be just us.'

'Tom, what are you talking about? We need to find Maia and if she's in there...'

'Careful. Bexboard. Alarmed,' he interrupted. 'I don't think the careful just refers to Gary, alright? There are other things at stake here.'

'Not as far as I'm concerned.'

'Diana, I need you to trust me. We go down there, check the place out. If it looks promising and we need back-up then we call for it. If we can get in there without anybody getting hurt…'

'You still feel guilty,' she interjected. 'Despite him having Maia you still think that we owe Navarro something.'

He reluctantly nodded. 'I think we owe him the opportunity to explain himself.'

'This is Maia's life you're gambling with, Tom! Would you be asking this if it was Kyle's?'

Exchanging a look with Alana, he again nodded. 'Yeah.'

Sighing, she finally shrugged her assent. 'If this goes wrong…'

'It won't,' he promised. 'You and Alana go down to the docks, park a safe distance away and wait for me.'

As he was disappearing out of the door, she called, 'Well, where the hell are you going?'

'I've gotta make a pit-stop,' he shouted back.

Alana placed a hand on her shoulder. 'He'll be there. Don't worry.'

Diana snorted and muttered, 'That's like telling a fish not to swim.'

Part 10

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