Disclaimers, et al found at the beginning of part 1.


Lee nodded to the whisper and looked across the doorframe at her dark haired partner.  Both had guns drawn and were standing on opposite sides of a beaten up door.  A lead on a series of brutally violent robberies had led them to a ten-story apartment building in a less than desirable area of the city.  The building was somewhat familiar to Sam as being a place she had visited before in her rounds on the Police force.

With a nod to herself, Sam knocked on the door.  When she received no answer, she knocked again.  Sam's lips twitched when her sharp ears detected movement inside.  They had been fairly certain that the guy they were after was still inside, now she was sure.  Rather than try for the subtle approach, Sam went straight for the gusto.  "Police!  Open the door!"

When there was no answer, Sam positioned herself in front of the door, quickly assessing the weakest part and then kicked out with one powerful leg.  The door shattered inward and the detective quickly moved back to the side of the frame.

Nothing happened, Lee indicated she'd cover low and both swiveled their bodies in turn to look inside the room.  A serviceable couch, beaten up table and chairs and a couple of threadbare rugs were all that faced them.

Carefully, they both entered the apartment leading with their guns.  Hearing a sound off to the side, they veered in that direction and then slammed open the door to the room they heard the sounds from.

Lee's mouth dropped and both of Sam's eyebrows rose as they viewed the inside of the room.  Sam sucked in a breath and tried to keep the mirth out of her eyes, a quick glance at Lee showed she was having the same problem but Lee moved over to the naked figure trying to climb out of the window and pulled the woman back inside the room.

Sam kept an eye on that and moved into the room, allowing her eyes to survey the scene before her with more than a touch of humor in her face.  "Having a good time, Marty?"


Sam smirked and noted Lee handcuffing the woman and seating her on the floor.  The man in the bed was basically naked in the bed, fur padded leather cuffs secured his arms to the metal headboard and held his ankles firmly to the base of the bed.  A wonderfully bright and frilly scarf covered his eyes in a blindfold and a feather lay on the floor.

Sam reached over to remove the blindfold, barely keeping the smirk inside, and said "Nice shade, compliments your skin tone rather well."

Marty blinked a couple of times to get used to the light and then realized who was standing at his bed.  "Aw crap, I didn't do it!"

"Didn't do what?"

"Whatever it is you're trying to say I did."

"Marty!" Sam said with feigned shock.  "Are you trying to tell us you're innocent?"

"Bet your ass I am!"  Marty squirmed as he saw everyone looking at him. "Jesus!  At least cover me up!"

"And here I thought you were just an exhibitionist, Marty." Sam took quick look and lowered her voice slightly, "Not that there's much to make an exhibition of."

Lee grinned and carefully started removing the leg restraints first.  As she checked the pants on the floor for any weapons before giving them to Marty, he looked her over carefully.

"Shit, she's a cop too?  What do they feed you in cop school, Amazon wheaties?"


"Marty.  You want us to help you or not?  You know it's just a matter of time before we get the others."

Lee passed behind the dark haired woman and stepped around the table, ending her steps by leaning against the wall behind the man seated opposite Sam and crossing her arms.  Her gray jacket was unbuttoned and hung in a complimentary fashion from her lanky frame, "Let's see what damage we can do without him.  Put the word out that he's given up a couple of the group and see what that flushes out?"

The two had briefly discussed what method to use with Marty Korabek before they'd entered the room to see what information they could get from him.  They had decided to try and break him quickly, it had been a couple of days since the last robbery and they were due another at any time.  The guy they really wanted was Ray Coombes, he was a decidedly warped individual who delighted in the pain he gave to others.

"Oh please, that's old."  Marty rolled his eyes.

"Maybe, but we know you were the driver on at least one of them, Marty old boy."  Sam took a stab in the almost dark as they only had a partial description on the other person, "We know that Ray Coombes was with you on one of them too.  Ray has an interesting past.  Are you aware of the personal attention he takes when someone annoys him?"  She leaned back in the chair and hooked an arm around the metal frame, leaving the other hand tapping on the table.

Lee spoke up, "Not pretty pictures really."  She moved away from the wall.  "Anyway, wanna get some food before we head out?"

"Sure, why not."  Sam stood.  "Where did you want to start out?"

Marty had started to sweat a little, he knew that Ray was indeed a nasty guy.  He'd seen the handiwork of the man up close and personal when someone had shorted him on a deal.  He shuddered slightly.   He watched as the two women prepared to leave, when they got close the door he asked, "Isn't now when you offer a deal?"

Sam turned, "The only deal we'll give you is a promise that nobody will find out where we got the information that you tell us.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy yourself in prison before Ray finds you."

He looked between the two women, obviously torn.  He'd dealt with Foster before and had found her a tough, difficult to please and brutally honest advisory.  He was completely overwhelmed by her and knew he didn't have a chance with any game she wanted to play.  He didn't know the other woman at all and was concerned that she'd been brought into the situation.  'Still.'  "I want some guarantees."

Both women looked at him and Lee spoke up, "We don't have any to give you beyond what you were just told."

Sam was pleased that Lee was following along so well and could see Marty gulp from her place by the door.  She made a conscious decision to try and get him on their side, "Well, and the guarantee that we won't sell the pictures that we found of you in those lovely pink undies."

Lee snorted as Marty looked at Sam with wide eyes.

Stepping back to the table, Sam leaned a hand on it.  "Marty, come on.  We need to get him off the streets.  I know you're small change here.  Give us what we need and let us take care of it."

"I can't!"

Shaking her head, Sam looked at Marty.  "Look, you've helped me out before and I know I owe you for that but you got involved in some bad stuff here.  I can't ignore that, neither can the D.A., so we're looking at you giving me everything and needing to trust that I'll do what I can for you.  You know me, Marty, you know I won't lay you out there for him."

Looking straight into the dark haired woman's eyes, Marty tried to read them and then looked beyond her to the other woman who still stood by the door.  Seeing nothing to help or hinder, he broke down and gave them the only address he knew for Coombes and an additional admonition, "He finds out and I'm dead."

"He won't."  Sam said firmly and then left with Lee after telling the attending officer to make sure that Marty was taken to a cell by himself.


Kris was exhausted, she'd had a late afternoon class that had been as boring as anything she'd ever taken part in before.  The Professor had explained lawyers trust accounts in great detail and how the interest on such accounts was handled in different states.  It was more information on trust accounts and the interest than she ever wanted to know.  She already knew that the IOLTA was responsible for some people being able to have a lawyer when they had no money of their own. 'Still I suppose some people there didn't know that.'

After the late night with Sam and the stress in the office, Kris just wanted to go home, skip the batting practice and take a nap.  The late day sun wasn't helping any, shining directly into her eyes as she waited in the long line to leave the parking lot.  Her mind was skipping from one thing to another when her cell phone rang, jumping slightly she quickly answered it.

"Hey kid!"

"Hiya Leo, what's up?"

"Not sure but Garcia's out and I just got a tip that something might be breaking on that series of bad robberies.  Are you anywhere near Braxton and Sixth and if not how long will it take you to get there?"

Kris spared a moment for the bed she'd just been coveting and then surveyed the line in front of her to get an estimate on how long it would likely take to get out of the parking lot.  "Probably at least twenty minutes."

"That'll have to do.  I'm trying to get you a photographer but it may not be until too late and you take great pictures anyway."

"I'll do what I can, I have my digital with me."  Kris took her attention off the traffic long enough to realize what Leo had said and smile.  "Thanks, Leo."

"No problem, kid.  Keep me up to date and stay out of trouble."

"Always."  Kris thought she heard a snort from Leo as he hung up but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Once she got out of the parking lot, it didn't take too much time at all for her to get to the location Leo had given her.  If the Channel Four van hadn't been enough of an indication that something was going on, then the presence of several police cars certainly was.

Grabbing her camera she quickly went to the closest officer she could see.  Kris had taken pains to never capitalize on her father's position in the department and always tried to choose people she didn't know when getting information from his people.  This time, she made a beeline for a young officer standing alertly watching the growing crowd. 'Time to go to work!'

Unfortunately, the officer wasn't able to give her much information and so she did a round of the bystanders to try and drum up some information.  After that yielded her nothing, she sidled up to the Channel Four van to see if the TV reporters had gotten more information.   She had talked to the Channel Four team several times before at other scenes like this and felt comfortable approaching them now.

Kris discovered that an errant scanner message was the reason for the coverage and shook her head at such a dangerous mistake by whoever had given the wrong information over the radio.   Her eyes tracked to the building when she heard who was the officer in charge.  After an unsuccessful attempt to find Sam outside she sent up a prayer to keep the tall detective safe and kept her eyes on the building.

Sam looked at the uniformed cops down the hallway for a signal indicating their readiness, which she promptly received. 'Good.'  She'd already verified that the cops in the alley by the fire escape were ready.  She had been and still was frustrated by the radio error made by the rookie, he would certainly be written up for it.  It was only by pure luck that she had heard the mistake and had covered the exits quickly along with setting up a perimeter otherwise this might have ended before it began.

They had waited long enough to evacuate the floor that Ray Coombes' apartment was on but had dared not wait any longer.  In an almost exact copy of the morning's operation she looked to Lee for an indication that she was ready.  'Let's get on with it.'  A quick nod later and Sam was again knocking on a door.  There was no answer and so Sam tried again.  The sharp rap should have been easily heard inside.

Sam felt her rate of breathing increase, she could almost sense something in the air, something not right.  When Lee made a move to try and open the door from across the doorway, the dark haired woman flashed her hand up and stopped her.  Just as Lee moved back beside the doorframe, parts of the door exploded outward sending shards of wood into the hallway as several bullets ripped through it.

Kris was standing by the van with the smartly dressed newscaster from Channel Four, Meg Bryden, watching the cameraman setting up when the sound of firecrackers going off occurred.  She jumped what seemed like a mile, then realized that they were shots being fired. She tensely watched the building, deciding right then and there 'I never want to be at another ongoing crime scene when Sam's out of my sight.'  Why it would make a difference if Sam were in her sight she didn't know, but this not knowing was far too nerve wracking.

She absently noted the cameraman as he scurried to get pictures of the building, even though there was nothing to see, and also Meg as she tried to contact the station to give them an update and see if they wanted to put her on a live shot.

Sam turned her face from the door and crouched slightly as the bullets flew.  The instant they stopped she was moving, swinging herself up in one smooth motion, she let loose a powerful kick at the door and then threw herself to the side again just as more bullets came through the now open doorway.  She thought for a moment and received several curious glances when she removed her jacket and balled it up.  They quickly got the idea when she listened for a few seconds and then threw the jacket across the doorway to land close to the rest of the officers.

When no gunfire accompanied the swiftly moving jacket, Sam motioned to Lee that she would go high if Lee wanted to go low.  With a swift nod at each other, they both turned into the doorway and tried to use the wall for as much cover as it could provide.  They glanced at each other momentarily when the room showed itself as being empty.  'Quietly now.' She mentally told her and hoped that somehow Lee would hear too.

A door, apparently a closet, was closed to the left of the entrance, two other doors were on the other side of the room.  A small ratty, flowered couch lay off to one side with a TV in front of it.  Papers lay strewn about the room, newspapers, flyers and, it appeared, garbage.  Several pieces of clothing lay on the couch and on a wooden chair by the closet.

"Yes, Leslie.  We heard the shots about five minutes ago."

Kris listened to the one sided conversation as Meg spoke to the camera but was apparently answering an anchorwoman who was speaking into Meg's earphone.  In a hastily concluded phone call, the station had decided to put a flash bulletin out on what was happening with one of the regularly promised "More news as it develops" blurbs following.   She had watched the other woman check over her makeup and attire very quickly, then mumble the story she was going to report to herself as she paced by the news van.

Kris shook her head slightly.  In reality, they were both part of the same group but this just wasn't something she wanted to do.  She enjoyed the craft and the joy of watching the words appear before her in a story that would hopefully captivate the reader.   She had watched Meg fluff herself up at least three times and spend several minutes going over her story before the camera actually began running only to have the whole thing pared down to just a few sentences beyond "Yes, Leslie." and "No, Leslie."  'Definitely not my cup of tea.'  Just after Meg signaled a cut to the cameraman another shot rang out and everyone's attention flew to the building.

With a quick glance to verify Sam's readiness, Lee stepped into the apartment and moved carefully towards the closet as Sam watched her back.  Lee felt as if the people in the next building should be able to hear her heart beating and she might either create a wind tunnel or hyperventilate if her breath increased any further.

She'd been in similar situations before but just something about Sam seemed to have an edge of danger she'd never experienced before.  There was an almost tangible aura about the woman and something that she wasn't sure she could explain if anyone had asked her about it.  All she knew was that in the matter of days she had known her partner life seemed that much more interesting, whether or not that proved to be a good thing had still to be decided.  'One to think about for a while.'

Sam positioned herself to watch the rest of the room and doors and keep half an eye on Lee.   She half stepped toward the couch as Lee opened the closet door.  Her shoulders tensed automatically as she heard the door open but she saw Lee shake her head in her peripheral vision.  She waited for a moment as Lee turned to face the room so that she could move to the couch, then gingerly moved across the carpet to a good position to check behind the couch.  Her gun came up close to her shoulder in both hands as she prepared to look.

Dropping to a knee, hoping to confuse anyone hiding behind the couch, Sam swung her arms down to cover the area with her gun but there was nothing there.  In the same instant that she realized the area was clear, she barely heard the opening of the door on Lee's side of the room.  'Dammit!'  Moving to a half crouch to clear the couch, Sam looked over the now annoying piece of furniture just in time to see a very upset child standing in front of an armed man in the doorway to what was apparently the bedroom.

In a move that could have been coordinated, Sam saw a glint of metal move from the child's head to point at Lee exactly in time with Lee's movement of her gun away from endangering the child.  Sam's eyes widened as she frantically grabbed at the only chance Lee had and yelled "Coombes!!" as she brought her gun up.  As she had hoped, in his joy of having Lee in his sights he had not noticed her by the couch.  He accidentally hip checked the child in his haste to turn and the young boy stumbled toward Lee, who fell on him as the gun went off.

Kris quickly sidestepped out of the way as the cameraman came right at her, not paying attention to the fact that she was standing in his path as he rushed to grab the best angle of the building and reporter.  He kept moving until his arm rested against the Channel Four van, then indicated to Meg that he was ready to shoot.  They had obviously worked together before as a minimum of words were used to set everything up.  Very soon they were filming and Meg was holding her one sided conversation again.  Kris' mind wandered back to the building as she waited impatiently to see the tall figure she needed to see.

The blonde thought about that for a few moments.  'Needed?'   She mulled that over a couple of times before smiling slightly to herself, 'Yes, needed.  Goofball.  Why are you even questioning it?'   Her mind turned that around a few times and examined that from various angles, why indeed.  So intent was she on that thought that when she felt something on her shoulder she literally jumped in the air.

"Shit, didn't mean to scare you.  Sorry."

Kris could feel the trip hammer of her heart and took a moment to just suck in a breath.  'Jesus!' She'd been so tied up in being worried about Sam that she had completely tuned out her surroundings and that was very unusual for her.  She liked to know what was going on, liked to people watch.  The blonde smiled at her red haired friend.  "Sorry, Anne.  I was miles away there.  What are you doing here?"

"I live two blocks down now, moved a couple of months ago."  Anne looked over at the police and up at the building, "So what's the story here?"

"Well, I'm waiting to find out what the story is really.  All I know is that they were going in to apprehend someone they think is responsible for a bunch of robberies but there's been gunfire."

Both pairs of eyes looked warily at the building, Anne broke the silence. "God, I don't know how cops do that.  How can they knowingly head into danger like that?"

Kris had wondered the same thing herself many times when she'd seen Sam calmly take in a situation and handle it.  She thought of the conversation she'd had with Sam about making a difference, "I think they need to make a difference for us and that makes it worth it."  The blonde indicated the building with a nod of her head, "It'll be fine.  Sam's in there."

Anne caught the nod out of the corner of her eye.  "Jesus."  The redhead glanced quickly at Kris and then back at the building before hiding a smirk, "So is that why you're here?"

Kris took that in with a frown, "I'm here because my editor asked me to check out the story.  Found out Sam was inside after I got here."

"Ah, I see.  You know, though, I really don't understand something.  Look at Sam.  She could probably be anything and she does stuff like this.  Why?"

Kris blinked and then turned her head sharply to look at Anne who hadn't noticed the movement.  "Because she loves what she does and she's damned good at it."  The statement came out perhaps a little sharper than she had intended.

Anne's head turned at that and she regarded Kris with an odd half smile, she was definitely in a mood to play.  "Yes," her eyes dropped to the ground for a beat and then back up at Kris again, "I bet she's good at a lot of things."

'Don't do it!'  Self-admonitions aside, Kris couldn't help the flush that flew up her neck and started to cover her face even though she was well aware that's exactly what Anne wanted.  'No, no, no.  You're not going to fall into that trap.'  Unbidden, the memory of Anne's arm around Sam during one of the pizza parties they'd had for the softball team breezed in and wafted around for a few moments before something growled and then clicked inside. 'Don't!'   Staring straight at Anne, Kris let a soft sexy smile slide onto her open face.  "Oh yes, she has many, many skills."

The blonde held Anne's all too knowing eyes for a few moments until the sound of voices from the building interrupted and they both moved their attention to the commotion.  Kris' heart dropped when several officers and a paramedic unit ran inside.

Sam moved close to the body on the floor, kicking away the gun.  Although she could see the shot placement quite easily and had to swallow at the results of her own shot she still knelt down and felt for a pulse.  Finding the expected result of no pulse, she leaned back and blew a relieved breath that nobody else had been hurt.  She immediately turned to check on Lee and the child, both were sitting up and had twin looks of scared relief.

Not leaving anything to chance, she checked in the room that Coombes had been in and waved one of the officers who had been waiting in the hallway in to check behind the other door.  When both the bedroom and bathroom turned out to be empty, Sam turned her attention back to her partner and the boy.  Sharp eyes caught the slight tremble in Lee's hand as she returned her gun to its holster but the dark haired detective addressed the brown haired child first after moving him out of eyesight of the body.  "Hi there, I'm Detective Foster and the lady who just helped you is Detective Carson.  What's your name?"

Lee could not think over the explosive beats of her heart, a headache pulsed at her temples.

The young boy looked at the two women and gulped loudly, "Davey.  Davey Thomas.".  His voice cracked from the fear and he was obviously fighting a battle against his fear.  His brown eyes were red rimmed from the tears he had shed.

Sam knelt down on one knee and smiled gently at the boy, "Where do you live, Davey?"   She judged him to be about nine or ten and assumed he was from a close apartment.

"Two do...doors down."  Tears fell again as Davey explained in a rush of words, "I sometimes get his paper and stuff and I thought that's what he wanted but he heard you guys coming and and..." The boy's head dropped.

"Hey, kiddo.  You were very brave, okay?"

Lee took a deep breath as her heart dropped to a slightly slower than a million beats a minute tempo and spoke up.  "Yeah, Detective Foster's right.  You were great when I told you not to move and stuff after I grabbed you.  Nice work there."

Under the praise of the two very impressive women it would've taken far less of a human being to not stand a little taller and feel a little better.   The boy tried not to sniff as he wiped his tears away, then seemed to realize something and stiffened.  His eyes got a little frantic.  "My mom should be home by now.  I'm gonna be in trouble!"

Sam put a hand on Davey's shoulder, "Don't you worry about that.  We'll explain everything to your mom.  In fact..." She looked up at the officers, trying to find one she knew could handle what she wanted with a minimum of explanation.  She winked at the boy, "Hold on here for a minute."

Lee's mind finally spoke up as her partner got up, 'Christ, I thought I was dead.'  She felt the jolt in her stomach and struggled to keep her lunch.

Standing, Sam walked over to a familiar face and asked quietly, "Could you verify where Davey lives and some of the details with his mom who's probably frantic outside?  Keep them apart from anyone and stay with them until we get a statement from him, okay?"  At the officer's nod and smile, Sam turned back to the boy and smiled at him.  "Officer Hamilton here is going to take you to find your mom and then stay with you until we can get someone to take an official report from you.  That sound good to you?"

Davey looked from one adult to another, his desire to find his mother making the final decision for him.

After the two had left, Sam turned her attention to Lee and pulled her aside from the others in the room.  Keeping total eye contact she lowered her voice and asked, "You okay?"

"Sure, I'm fine.  Not a scratch on me."  Lee tried to sound nonchalant about it all, even though her insides were still wobbly.   She hid her hands in her pockets, embarrassed that they were still trembling.  Then she looked away from the other woman and watched the paramedics as they arrived to declare what the two women already knew about Ray Coombes.

Sam heard her partner's easy answer and recognized it for what it was.  She wished she knew Lee better so that she could judge whether or not to say something.  Pursing her lips, she thought for a moment before making a decision.  "You were great with the kid, covered him so fast I couldn't keep track."

Deep blue eyes flashed up at Sam warily and then words came out in a flood.  "Thanks but Coombes got the drop on me and..."

Sam held up a hand to stop her partner from beating herself up, "You did everything by the book.  Perfectly.  I'm your partner, sometimes you watch my back and sometimes I watch yours but we'll both need it at one time or another."  She smiled slightly, "I know it's not been long but I think my back's pretty safe."

Realizing the gift she'd just been given Lee couldn't help but respond with a shaky smile.  "And I already know mine is."

Sam opened her mouth to respond when a grating voice made her wince and turn to face the doorway.

"Which one of you?" Jackson jerked his head toward the body.

Sighing internally, Sam stepped forward.  "Me."

"Figures." Jackson muttered under his breath.

'Jerk.' Trying to control her lip, which wanted to curl at Jackson quite badly, Sam removed her gun from its holster and handed it butt first to him since he was the ranking officer, missing Lee's widened eyes at the actions of the other detective.

Jackson bagged it for testing later.

Even though it was normal procedure when there was a death like this, it still galled Sam to have to do it.  Still, there was no question it had to be done.

"Took you long enough." He disregarded Sam in a split second and looked around her to Lee, "You going to verify this is the gun and it was in her possession this whole time?"

Lee's incredulous stare didn't phase him one bit and so she said "Yes, absolutely."

"Yeah, well, no more talking quietly you two.  Need to get your statements."

Fuming inside, Sam clenched her jaw tightly and refused to give him the satisfaction of responding to that implied insult.   She knew Jackson deliberately goaded her sometimes just to try and get a response, the one time she had indeed responded had not been good for either of them and so she just tried to ignore him as much as possible or make sure she had witnesses to his comments.  "Fine, we can do it now."

"No.  We'll do it when I say."

Lee, didn't do as well in controlling her temper as Sam.   Between the experience she had just had, trying to forget that she had witnessed Jackson talking behind Sam's back earlier that morning, and the fact that she had not commented or put a stop to it, and how very raw she was from her recent problems with her last partner she was on her last nerve.  Simply put, she couldn't take it, the woman had just saved her life and done everything correctly.  It wasn't right and Lee had major difficulties when things were not right.

She walked straight up to Jackson and looked him right in the eyes, "Look, I don't know what your problem is but it was a clean shoot and I'll tell that to anyone who is interested.  She doesn't deserve any crap about it."  The still shaky woman turned to leave and then swung back again, "You know, I haven't been here long but it only takes a few hours to find out who's doing a good job and who's slacking.  She's definitely not a slacker.  Let me know if you want me to include that in my statement too."

Sam watched with wide eyes as Lee turned away from a now flushed Jackson and walked out the door.  Sam guessed that he had apparently caught her meaning about slackers and was trying to figure out a way to respond.  If she hadn't been so amazed that Lee had stood up for her she was quite sure that it would have been difficult to hide a smirk.  She was saved by the arrival of Peters from the Coroner's office.

As focused or perhaps inobservant to live human matters as he was, Peters completely failed to notice the tension in the room as he quickly moved to the body.  Even though he may have been oblivious to what was going on in the room, he was good at his job and immediately set about doing it, which effectively stopped any further interaction between the detectives.

Sam did take a moment to relish the fact that Jackson didn't meet her eyes when he left the room before she decided to get a breath of fresh air and let Peters get to his work.

Kris couldn't help the smile that hit her face when she finally sighted a tall figure she somehow knew that she would recognize in the darkest of nights.  A sigh of relief rippled through body as it relaxed for the first time in what felt like days to her tense body. 'Thank God.'

Sam took a deep breath of the cool air and tried to rein in her anger as she thought, 'Asshole.' Her mouth quirked up slight as she remembered Lee's parting shot at Jackson and she felt part of the anger break away.  Another deep breath as she reached for good thoughts.  Instantly, an image of Kris appeared in mind and a sudden tingle hit her senses.   Her brows contracted slightly and she found herself surveying the crowd, quickly passing over bodies that weren't what she was looking for.  'What am I looking for?'

The blonde greedily drank in the sight of her friend and Anne was completely forgotten as the blue gaze swept the crowd and finally lasered in on Kris, even as Kris had known it would.  A smile lit up Sam's face, even as it was copied on her own.  The thought occurred to her that she should think that Sam's ability to find her quickly in a crowd was a little strange but then she was usually able to zero in on Sam as well.  Kris thought about it momentarily and realized that they had been able to do it from the beginning. 'Even in the mall?  Weird.'

Anne's eyes narrowed as she watched the smile light up Sam's face.  There was no doubt where it was directed and impossible to miss the complete change in the tall woman's demeanor.  'Well, well.'   She crossed her arms and an index finger began to tap a fast beat against the upper arm it was resting on.  Knowing what she would find but still wanting to be sure, she slowly turned her head to look at Kris.  The smile on the blonde's face was just as familiar and focused.  Anne found that it wasn't a happy discovery.

'Well, was there any doubt what you'd find at the end of that rainbow?'  Sam smiled to herself at the realization of the fact that somehow she knew Kris was out there.   It was very odd but certainly not the first time and she found herself hoping that it wouldn't be the last.  'Perhaps it's a normal thing for close friends?'  Even as she said it she knew that she was really reaching but the why of it wasn't important to her, she liked the ability and that's what counted.

As she let part of her mind cope with that, another part focused on the memory of the night before.  It had been such a nice evening just to spend time with her friend.  They had talked about Kris being a lawyer, the team and a myriad of other subjects.  Without a conscious decision, Sam started in Kris' direction only to have her path changed when a livid and, unless she was far off base, drunken man stood before her dressed in a filthy t-shirt and ripped jeans.

"What in the fuck did you think you were doing?  We could've been killed!"

Sam blinked at him and drew back slightly in surprise and to get away from him as he continued his tirade.  She looked over at the officer who had been trying to hold him back and raised an eyebrow.  The officer started to explain what it was about but the man started up again.

"I'm gonna have your badge, you stupid bitch."  He raised his hand and swung it at her with no warning at all.

With a snort of amazement, Sam easily stepped aside and watched as the man stumbled past and fell down.  'Jesus Christ!'  She looked over at the uniformed officer who was scrambling to get a hold of the drunken man and sighed.  "Farmer, what is this?"

"He was in one of the apartments across the hallway from Coombes and was drunk as a skunk when we took him out.  He started talking to some of the other people about what was going on and must've brought out a bottle with him or something."  Officer Farmer looked rather embarrassed, "Sorry, Detective."  Internally, he was cursing the tall detective's ability to remember names.

"Just make sure he cools off somewhere, okay?"

"Sure, will do.  Thanks."

Sam nodded and moved away, even as the man kept up a stream of obscenities leveled at her.  The officer struggled but finally pulled him away.  The tall woman shook her head and put it behind her as she glanced up to look for Kris and headed her way again.

Anne preened a bit as Sam got closer and then started to fume a little as it appeared the detective hadn't even noticed she was standing by Kris, never mind living on the planet. 'That needs to stop.'

Mentally shaking her head at Kris' ability to break her out of any type of bad mood and distract her attention terribly, Sam put her cop hat back on and surveyed the crowd.  She almost tripped over her own feet when she realized whom the redhead standing next to Kris, and who appeared to be posing for 'something?' was.

When she saw Sam's eyes widen slightly, Kris remembered who was standing next to her.  Her gaze shifted sideways, an eyebrow rose and hers lips pursed as she saw that Anne was obviously trying to attract Sam's attention by 'Uh, showing off her assets?'  Kris' nostrils flared and a fire lit up her eyes.  She returned her gaze to Sam and, before she realized it,  started to pull her arms back to lean back against the TV truck.  The move, accidentally of course, was starting to show off some of her own many assets in a strange, but much classier, version of Anne's show.

Sam frowned when she noticed the change in Kris' stance, it was obvious that the blonde wasn't happy for some reason.  Anne was completely forgotten and her mind wandered for a moment when Kris started to lean back against the van behind her.  She found herself leaning over to follow the movement and her wandering mind was accompanied by an uncomfortable flush that started to fly over her body.  'Whoa!  Stop that now!'

'What are you doing?!' Kris righted herself before she leaned back all the way.  'My God, just what in the hell are you doing?'   Her eyes widened in shock at herself and she found herself squirming in embarrassment and looking anywhere but at two very blue eyes that were firmly focused on her.  Then a pleased note hit her mind, 'Hey, she was watching me.'

Anne looked over in shock at Kris' actions, her mouth opened as she struggled for something to say.  She had suspected that the blonde was very fond of the detective but her actions today had been far beyond anything she had seen thus far.  In consternation, she maneuvered herself to block Sam's view of the blonde. 'Two can play this game!'  She smiled slowly as the blue beams blinked a couple of times, focused on her and then met her own gaze.  "Hiya."

Sam felt her world right itself again as she focused on the woman now blocking her view of Kris and her mind began a long road back from the interesting place it seemed to have fled when the detective had watched Kris' actions.  "Hi..." She cleared her throat, "Hi there."

'No matter, I can deal with competition.' The red head put one hand on her hip and tilted her head. "It's great to see you."

"Nice to see you too." Sam tried not to be obvious in her desire to shift a little to look around Anne to the blonde body...  'Stop it!'

'Oh no, you're mine.  You just don't know it yet.'  Anne's body seemed to be able to mirror Sam's movements easily and block the view behind her.  "We've missed you at the field, coming back soon?"

Still reeling a little from the feelings that had sent heat pulsing around various parts of her body, Sam nodded. "Yeah, next week."

"Great!"  Anne stepped closer, smiled seductively and lowered her voice a little, "I was wondering if you'd like to go out for coffee or something when you're done here?"

Kris was still recovering by the van, her arms were wrapped tightly around her body.  She wasn't terribly happy with herself at the moment for her reaction to Anne but, in addition, the emotion she'd identified and sadly named as jealousy was rearing itself in a very big way.  'Jesus, you have no claim.  Get a grip on yourself.'  Still, she could not control the feeling that a large part of her would shrivel up and die if Sam accepted the obvious intent of Anne's offer. 'What's going on here, girl?'  She tried not to listen but could not help it.

Sam's sharp eyes caught the look of dismay that tinged Kris' face for just a split second and her heart contracted in response.  She worried to herself as she watched her friend hug herself tightly,  'What's going on?'   Then she brought her attention back to the problem at hand, Anne.  She smiled at her team's pitcher and decided to try and leave no room for misinterpretation, "I'm sorry, Anne.  I can't."   Just to be sure, she also made sure she was out of the redhead's arm reach.

'Yeah!' A little green-eyed devil shouted in Kris' mind.  'Be quiet!'  Kris' eyes widened as she wondered if she wasn't going a little crazy.  'You're not only talking to yourself but arguing with yourself as well?  I wonder how much the rent is at the funny farm?'

"Well, maybe next week some time."

"If the team gets together, sure."

'Take that you...bimbo!'  The little devil jumped up and down with glee as Kris now laughed to herself for her 'extreme' word choice.  'Bimbo the best word you could come up with?'

Anne frowned but any further attempts at persuasion were cut off by the detective's next words.

"Could you give me a minute with Kris please?  I need to ask her a couple of questions about something she saw."

Recognizing momentary defeat when she saw it, Anne stepped away.  "Sure.  Any chance I can change your mind about that coffee?"

"Thanks, but no." Sam smiled and hoped that the red head would understand that she was saying it on all levels.

The devil smirked and Kris had a hard time keeping it from her face.  Then she realized that Sam was going to be heading her way and Kris was more than a little embarrassed at what had been going on for the past couple of minutes. 'Surely she won't have noticed?  Would she?'

Disappointed but not defeated, Anne replied, "I'll catch you next week then."  At Sam's smile and nod, Anne turned to Kris and repeated the words as the blonde smiled and waved at her.

Sam stepped around the red head to get to her friend.  She got a bit concerned when Kris wouldn't meet her eyes 'Anne better not have done anything!'  Frowning, she asked, "Hey, are you okay?"

Glancing up at Sam quickly and then back to the ground, Kris ran a hand through her strawberry blonde hair.  Her little devil hadn't quite stopped crowing but she tried to ignore it.  "Yeah, I'm fine.  I'm not the one who was just in a gunfight, at least I assume you were.  Are you okay?"

"Sure, I'm fine."  Unsure of what to do about Kris' odd behavior, she decided that direct was best and quickly reached under Kris' chin to bring her head up.  "What's wrong?"

Kris looked into the portals that she somehow knew held parts of her own self that she wasn't sure she knew existed before and swallowed.  Something was changing drastically between them and she wasn't sure if she could stop it, nor if she wanted to.  It was a very scary feeling and not one she could really name at this time.  The devil perked up,'Or is it that you don't want to put a name to it?'

Sam had removed her hand from Kris' chin but the blonde could still feel the tingle from where they'd touched.  'Shut up!'  She replied to the little green guy.  Then she noticed that her tall friend was beginning to look concerned and quickly covered, "I'm sorry, Anne just gets on my nerves sometimes and tonight was no exception." Kris could almost picture the devil as it rolled its eyes at her. 'Hey! It wasn't a lie.'

In the meantime, Sam's protective instincts went on alert and her gaze roamed over Kris as if she could get an idea if Anne had done or said something wrong by a visual search.  "Did she say something?"

"No, it's fine.  She can just be overbearing at times."  'The... Bitch!'  Kris smiled to try and cover her uneasiness at her actions and her overactive mind.   "Really.  It's fine."  Kris shifted to another foot and tried to get a hold on her private devil.  'Bimbo, now Bitch? The parade of bad "B" words?  Knock it off!'

Sam was well aware that something was still bothering her friend but she decided to let it go.  "Okay."  She let a small smile slip, "What are you doing here?"

"Leo heard about it and wanted me to cover it." Kris caught Meg Bryden looking at Sam's back as if she were trying to place where she'd seen the detective before.  "Uh, the TV reporter is probably going to realize who you are pretty soon."

"Damn." Sam remembered one of the reasons why she'd come over to talk to Kris and also her flush from a few minutes ago, she quickly shoved the latter to the back of her mind.  "Hey, Mrs Kelly called earlier today.  Are you free for dinner on Sunday at the Kelly's?"

Blonde eyebrows rose as high as she could get them to go.  "Already?"

Sam grinned, "Yes.  I did warn you, don't you remember?"

"Well yes but I didn't..."

Laughing, Sam replied, "You should know that when Mrs Kelly asks you can bet it'll be soon.  She also never forgets and never gives up."  She tilted her head and looked down at her friend, "So, can you be there?  I'll pick you up."

Kris smiled up at the tall woman glad of a reprieve from her previous thoughts, "That'd be nice.  What time?"

"Pick you up about five thirty?"

"Okay, anything special I should wear?"

Sam snorted, "You'd look great wrapped in newspaper but just be comfy this time and avoid the ink." 'Good grief, how corny was that?'

Kris grinned, "I think I can manage to go paperless but thank you.  It's a deal."  Then she frowned, "Damn."

Sam followed the blonde's gaze and realized that the TV reporter was heading their way, obviously remembering who Sam was.  She reached out and squeezed Kris' arm, "I'll talk to you later tonight?"

Kris smiled softly and nodded, "Yeah."

From a distance, angry eyes watched the exchange with more than normal interest before turning their gaze back to other subjects.


Sam stepped out of her car only to be greeted by an imperious "YOW!"

She dropped her head and glared at the origin of the cry.  "I gave you food this morning."

The cat moved around the car and sat in the middle of the path to the front door.

"Don't even think about it."

The animal didn't move beyond the tail flicking from one side to another.

Sam narrowed her eyes, "Look, you, I let Kris get away with putting you in the garage and you better not be telling her I let you stay there now either.  But you are not coming inside.  Get that through your little feline head."  She looked at the finger she was pointing at the cat and shook her head, "Jesus!  You are so losing it!"

Cat looked up at the human with intelligent eyes, "Yow."

"You better not be agreeing with me because I'm going to check myself into a psych ward if you are."

Cat blinked and his head tilted to one side, "Yow?"

The woman laughed, "Unbelievable, but it doesn't matter, you are not getting in the house.  Live with it."  She stepped around the cat and unlocked the front door with a quick glance at the cat to be sure it hadn't followed.  Stepping quickly inside, she looked around for a now conspicuously absent cat and then rapidly closed the door.

'Crap, did he beat me in?' She looked around suspiciously and then leaned up against the door to peer through the small glass window.  Then she laughed out loud, turned and leaned back against the door.  "I don't believe this," she said to herself.  "This cat is going to put me in the nuthouse, I swear."

Still chuckling and shaking her head, she dropped her keys on the table, hung up her jacket and picked up the phone with a quick glance at the clock to be sure it wasn't past the time Kris usually went to sleep.  Quickly dialing a very familiar number she waited for the normal response and smiled as she heard it albeit a bit sleepier than she'd expected.  She responded, "Hey.  I'm sorry, did I wake you?"

"No, it's okay." Kris blinked sleepily, she'd been tired when she got home after phoning in her story to the paper and had laid down on the couch with a book.  She didn't even remember falling asleep.

"Go back to sleep, I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?"

"No, no.  I'm awake, I'm awake."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure.  How'd the rest of your night go?"

Visions of Jackson being a jerk flew through her mind, along with the unofficial decision that it had been a clean shoot.  There would be other eyes on the case but there was no question that the answer would be different.  Unfortunately, Sam was also aware that she would have to see the department shrink about the shooting.  That was not something she looked forward to but fatal shootings sometimes necessitated it and Jackson had almost certainly pushed for it.  Still, that was not something she felt that she needed to bother Kris with.  "Was fine, cleared up after the shoot and did a few reports.  I'll close it out tomorrow.  How about you?"

"Got Leo his story, thanks again for letting me listen in on your interview with Meg."

"Like I said then, you don't need to thank me it's a free country."

"Yeah, and I happened to be the only free reporter who got to listen."

"Nobody else asked."

"Yeah, yeah.  You know, of course, that I would never, ever ask you to do that for me?"

"I know, don't worry so much.  You've never asked and I know you never will."  Sam opened the fridge and poured herself a glass of ice water, opening a few buttons on her blouse with the other hand as she did so, cradling the phone against her shoulder.

"You have a lot of faith in me."

The tall woman leaned back against the kitchen counter with a tiny smile on her face as she held a glass in one hand and the phone in the other.  "Yep, I do."

Kris laughed, "Just like that, huh?"

Sam's smile grew, "Yep."

Kris took a deep breath and released it, "Thank you."  It never failed to surprise her just how important Sam's opinion of her was and how sweet it was when the other woman complimented her.  Her mind wandered a little bit over the past few years.  It had been difficult to get the time of day out of her taciturn friend for so long and somehow things had changed.  Sam had shown Kris parts of herself that the blonde wasn't sure anyone else even suspected were there, never mind had seen them.  As Kris had thought earlier, things were changing again.  'What does that mean?' She realized that Sam was saying something and struggled to catch up.

"...on Sunday?"

Kris frowned and made a guess, "Five thirty, right?"

Sam laughed as she walked into the living room, "Kris, go to sleep.  I'll talk to you tomorrow."

Sighing, the blonde leaned her head back against the couch's cushion.  "I'm sorry.  My brain's not quite at warp speed.  What did you ask?"

Shaking her head at her friend's stubbornness, Sam repeated her question as she sat down.  "I asked if you were going to tell some of those famous stories you told when I was in the hospital on Sunday."

"Famous stories?"  Kris wondered what on earth her friend was talking about.

"Yes." Sam grinned to herself but decided not to tell Kris what Mrs Kelly had said about people listening in as Kris read to Sarah's children or Sam herself when the detective was unconscious in the hospital a few years ago.  Embarrassment of her friend was never a goal and so she took the easier road.  "I guess Sarah's kids loved the stories you made up and I confess that I might like to hear them again myself."

Now Kris blushed a bit.  'She would?' "You would?"

"Sure." The detective firmly replied.  "I remember waking up a few times in the hospital and thinking how...comforting it was to hear you reading.  With that voice, plus your ability to write and see inside something and pull all the good parts to the surface, I can see you'd be a great storyteller."

The blush blossomed, "I don't know as I'd go that far."

"I guess I can be the judge of that, hmm?"

Kris squirmed a little, "Did you really hear me reading to you?"

Sam flashed back to one of the times that she'd heard Kris reading to her.  She'd been in so much pain and it took every ounce of effort she had to simply open her eyes.  So, rather than do that she would listen to Kris read out loud to her for some time until she finally had to look.  The cadence of Kris' voice had been a balm to her badly wounded psyche and she still only needed to think of that voice or its owner to feel a calm wave wash over her.  "Yes." She said softly as she leaned back against the cushion.  "Yes, I did and I don't think I ever really thanked you for that."

"There was no need to."

'No need?'  A few moments passed by as Sam thought about that.  It wasn't easy for her to share herself, her feelings and definitely not her fears but with Kris...'With Kris what?'  It was different.  'Okay.  It's definitely different from anything I've ever experienced.'  Ever.  It was frightening and yet something she recognized as being required in her life.   That was something she had been hit over the head with during the bank robbery that Kris had been involved in.  As odd at that should be to the hardheaded woman, she had accepted it without question.  Her inner self prodded, 'So tell her.'  It spoke up again as she hesitated, 'She needs to hear it.'

"Kris, you were..."  A wave of emotion hit Sam and she struggled to control it, tears stung her eyes but didn't fall.  She took a quick breath, then released it.  Somehow she knew that Kris needed and deserved to hear this, to know what a difference she made back then and still, that was all it took for the words to be released.  "You were a torch bearer in one of the darkest places I've ever been.  I couldn't possibly ever thank you enough for all that you've done and do for me."

Now Kris struggled to control her reactions.  Tears pooled in her eyes as she worked to think of something to say but just couldn't find the words.  She hadn't even begun to realize how much she needed to hear what her friend had just spoken and, now they were said, she felt a touch of wonder travel deep into her heart.  The blonde closed her eyes and then smiled as she opened them again, "It goes both ways, you know."

"No, I don't think so.  I know I'm not the easiest person to be around, Kris, you don't have to hide that.  I'm very lucky that you're as masochistic as you are to have stuck around this long."

"Uh, that's my friend you're talking about there and I won't have it.  And you can also know that I'm sticking around for a long time, so get used to it."

"Oh really."

"Yes, really."

 Sam tried to lighten the mood a little, "Pushy broad, aren't you?"

"That's me, you can live with that too."

A snort of laughter, "I think I can probably manage that."

"Good, not that you have much choice."  Kris grinned a little, this was a much safer direction to be going.  Even though she wanted her friend to open up more, she herself felt as if she was on shaky ground and needed to look at that a bit more before pushing for something she was not sure she was ready for.

"You're too much." The tall woman chuckled and then paused for a second, "Have you talked to Jen since she got back?"   Jen was on the softball team and had just returned from her honeymoon.  Sam and Kris had both played a part in keeping her safe during a nasty situation at a club, just prior to the honeymoon, and the detective wanted to be sure she was doing well.  Not to mention the fact that it got them away from the mushy stuff that was making her more than uncomfortable.

Pleased that Sam asked about Jen, Kris responded, "Oh yeah, they had a great time and she got a nice tan too.  She did have a funny story about the bus ride to the hotel.  Seems like the resort had hired a new bus driver and he got lost along the way because of a detour.  He finally stopped and asked a taxi to lead him back."

"You made that up."

"Nope!  Isn't it great? Jen said they all felt so badly for the guy that they tipped him extra and didn't tell anyone."

"Good grief.  Well, at least they got to the right place and had a good time."

"Oh yeah.  You know, I think I'll make sure you're on the e-mail list when she sends out all her pictures from her new digital camera.  A wedding gift, you know."

"Oh gee, thank you."  The tall woman did indeed know since she had gone together with several people from the softball team to purchase it for Jen.

The blonde laughed, "You're welcome.  Anything for you, you know that."

"You're too kind."

Kris chuckled, "I know, I know."  She then shook her head slightly, "What a day this turned out to be."

Sam rolled her head around her shoulders trying to work out a couple of kinks, wincing when a couple of places cracked.  "Tell me about it."

"Well, since you asked..."


"I swear there's something going on at work that they won't tell anyone about but I don't have a clue what it is.  Robin tried to set me up again tonight and I never did get to batting practice."

Dark eyebrows contracted in a frown. 'Set her up?  Again?'  Sam started to ask one question and then stuffed it down unhappily 'Don't go there.' and asked another instead, "What makes you think something's going on?"

Kris settled back down on the couch, put a pillow under her head and thought about what was bothering her at work.  "Well, it's a bunch of things really.  Tempers have been really hot with the partners.  Even Connie, my boss, has been really bitchy and that's not normal for her.  I mean, she has her moments but not this many.  One of the guys that was almost certainly going to become a partner soon just up and left with no notice and nobody knows where he went, files have disappeared.  It's really weird."

"The guy who disappeared, is anyone looking for him?"

"Yeah, Connie for one!" Kris chuckled, "She'd like to wring his neck since she's had to bear the brunt of the cases he left."

"Could it be he just got a better offer from somewhere else?"

"Well, yeah, it could lots of things but I talked to Marcy, his secretary, and she swears he was really excited about the partnership.  She told me he'd been shopping for a new car to celebrate."

"Do you want me to see what I can find out?"

Kris thought about that for a moment and then shook her head as she said, "No, you've got plenty of work to do without me giving you more."

Sam thought about and rejected a few different answers to that one, mostly relating to how much trouble Kris managed to get herself into. 'Be good, this might be bothering her more than she's letting on.' She went with a safe response."I'll leave it up to you, but I can at least check and see if anyone's put out a missing person's report on him."

Kris thought for a few moments.  She really didn't want to add to Sam's workload but she knew it would only take a few minutes for the detective to check it out. That weighed against the time it would take Kris made it crazy for her to refuse on those grounds.  There was still the fact that she truly preferred to do things on her own but this was Sam and 'Aw crud, you know you want her help and this isn't a personal favor.  I am worried something's happened to him, there are just too many coincidences. Just go with it and stop being so stubborn.' "Actually, maybe you can check out the missing persons thing for me please?"

She had stayed quiet as she watched Kris think, wondering what was going on inside her friend's head.  Now she was pleased that Kris had asked and responded quickly, "First thing in the morning.  I'll let you know.  Anything else bothering you?"

"I don't think so.  Hmm, but can I reserve the right to talk to you about it later if anything else comes up?"

"Kris, you don't have to ask me that.  Of course you can, anytime."

"Really?  Even at say... three a.m.?" Kris teased.

A brief upward turn of full lips, "Yes, even at three a.m. but it better be good!"

"Oh, I promise.  It'd be very good."  Realizing how that might sound, Kris flushed and hoped Sam didn't pick up on it.  Horns poked her, 'You meant every word of it.'

A quickly raised eyebrow indicated the fact that the owner had indeed heard the comment and the sly smile on her face betrayed the fact that she was tempted to tease her friend. 'Better not play around with this.'  "I look forward to it then."  She replied innocently but was unprepared for the rush she felt through her veins as she spoke the words.

Even though the words themselves and the tone were innocent, Kris felt the flush now zoom across her body and swallowed hard as she came up with a response.  "You're warped to look forward to problems in the middle of the night, you know.  As if you don't get your share of trouble during the day."

"True but I hope I'm always available for my friends so don't ever hesitate okay?"

Glad to be back on safer ground, Kris smiled.  "I promise."

"And you'll let me know if you find anything out, no playing private detective please?"

"I'll talk to you."

"Good.  So why don't I let you get to sleep so you can work on clearing your mind for tomorrow?"

"That's probably a good idea.  Plus, I have to be rested up for Sunday don't I?"

"They haven't made me run a marathon yet so you're probably safe."

"Well that's good to know."  Kris smiled.  "I'll talk to you tomorrow?"

"Sure.  Sleep well."

"You too, night."

Kris propped herself up to hang up the phone and then flopped back down on the couch, brushing her hand through her bangs and blowing out a breath.  Her eyes skipped around various spots on the ceiling as she tried not to let her mind wander too far.

Several miles away, Sam leaned over until her elbows rested on her thighs and tapped the phone's antenna against her chin in thought.  It had been a very long and strange day.  Marty, Coombes, Jackson, Lee, Anne and Kris.  'Always Kris.'  A smile gentled her face as she reached over and put the phone in its cradle.  Then she leaned back against the couch again as that thought bounced around her brain a few times before she pushed it back and stood to get ready for her shower and bed.  But not without a final look around to see if her feline raider had indeed managed to sneak in.

'That didn't work too well.' Kris thought with a wry chuckle.  Trying not to let her mind wander had led to a slide show of the day going through her mind.  It seemed to move double time until it, inevitably, stalled at her interaction with Anne.   Heat blossomed on her cheeks as those scenes ran through her brain and the little devil poked his horns in her memory.  It was in the middle of trying to chase those thoughts from her tired mind that she once again fell asleep on the couch.

Continued in Part 3

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