"I should get going."  Lance said softly as he stood up.  He'd spent another half-hour with her in the room just sitting in awkward but warm silence while she rested her head in her arms.

            "You're right Lance.  We need to work together on this... to find the guy."  Jenna mumbled into her forearm without raising her head.  "We've got to come up with a plan."

            "Yeah."  Lance whispered.  "We'll have to do that later though."  He placed his hand on the door handle and turned it carefully.  "I'll uh... I'll call you."

            She didn't respond with words, she simply nodded her head against her arm and sighed.  Lance paused for a second as he deliberated saying more or staying then shook his head and lowered his eyes.  He pushed the door open and stepped out in the hall with a deep set frown and his shoulders hunched over.

            When he made it to his own room several minutes later his lower lip was raw from him pulling it between his teeth on the elevator ride up.  "If I sit here and worry about everything all the time I'll go nuts."  He tried to convince himself as he let himself into his dark room.  The air conditioner was going full blast, though he didn't remember turning it on.  He crossed the room quickly and turned it off, then opened the curtains to look down on the Vegas strip in front of him. He had a clear view of the Excaliber hotel across the street and wished for a minute that he could be staying there, or anywhere else, to be some nameless guy not in his situation.

            Lance pushed his daydreams aside and fell back on his bed as he reached over his head for the remote.  He clicked to the pay-per-view channel and selected a comedy before he pulled himself up and headed for the bathroom for a quick shower.

            "Men in Black II" was playing when he stepped out and slid under the covers. He was still slightly damp so the sheets clung to the wet spots making it difficult to find a comfortable position.  After a few minutes he sighed and dropped his head on his pillow.  He was ready for sleep so he let Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones send him off with the promise of alien dreams for the night.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            Lance woke the next morning with the forty-five second preview for "Men in Black II" playing over and over on the TV at the foot of his bed.  He stretched and ignored the clock, sure that it was after nine in the morning and glad that he was able to finally get a good nights rest.  As he dressed in front of his open suitcase he couldn’t help but feel that there was something odd with the day so far.

            He shrugged it off and ran his hands through his hair to try to style it as best as he could with the little big of styling gel he had left.  "Why bother?"  He grumbled at his reflection as he switched the bathroom light off and fell back across the bed.  With a few clicks on the remote control, he was watching "Men in Black II" again with hopes of actually seeing the whole thing.

 

            By eleven Lance realized what felt weird about the day.  His phone hadn't rang once, and it had been on the table all morning.  He quickly looked down to make sure that the power was on and that he had both battery life and a signal.  Satisfied that both were maxed out, he flipped to his 'missed calls' screen only to find that he hadn't missed any.  He dialed his number in Florida then hung up when it rang. Everything with his phone was in working order; it was just that no one had called.

            Lance smiled to himself and put his phone back on his belt.  It was the first time in months that he could remember having a silent phone all day, so he relished every quiet minute he had.  He turned the TV off before the movie ended and grabbed his room key.  Staying inside was no longer an option, not when his phone had let him have that much peace and quiet.  Without knowing how long the silence would last he drove down the strip and spent the day in the Venetian's art exhibits, doing everything he could to keep his mind off of the real reason he was there.

            The unexpected silence lasted until twelve the next afternoon when his cell phone played the little melody and startled Lance away from his lunch and yet another pay-per-view movie on the TV.  He swallowed the bite of pizza in his mouth, then wiped his mouth with the napkin and flipped his phone on.

            "Hello?" He answered, then cleared his throat to make his voice sound less like a frog and more like a human.  "Hello?" He repeated in a normal voice.

            "Mr. Bass?"  There was a hint of sarcasm in the voice on the other end of the line.

            "Who's this?"

            "Detective Crawley."

            "Oh."  Lance blushed quickly.  "Hey."

            "I understand you and the sister are working together now?"

            "I… what?"  He frowned quickly.

            "I got a message from Ms. Saylor saying she didn't think we were doing enough so you guys were gonna start looking into this yourself."

            That was all news to Lance.  "Oh.  Uh…"  He stuttered, trying to find the right words.

            "That's a-ok with me.  But I wanna meet with you guys first."

            "We ahh…meet with us?"

            "I need you at the station at eight."

            "Eight?"

            "This evening."

            "Tonight?"  Lance mentally kicked himself as he repeated everything the detective said.

            "I'm working late and I want to cover you guys on the ground rules."

            "Gr - "  He stopped himself from asking, "Ground rules?"  and instead said, “Okay.  Eight tonight at the station."

            "Right."

            "And Jenna will be there?"

            "Yep."

            "Do I need to bring my lawyer?"

            Crawley rolled his eyes, “You can bring your dog trainer for all I care.  We'll be discussing your involvement in the investigation not your involvement in the crime, if that's what you're worried about."

            "Okay."

            "So I'll see you at eight?"

            "Yeah.  Yeah I'll be there.  Thanks."  Lance nodded and said goodbye before he hung up the phone and stared at it for a minute.  So apparently Jenna called Crawley and told him that they were going to be working together.  That was a whole new frame of mind he had to get used to before he showed up there that evening.

            Lance finished up his lunch then picked up the phone to call Johnny and his parents just to touch base and keep them updated.  He argued with Johnny for a half hour about coming home and finally convinced him that another couple days would be a good thing since most people didn't know he was still in town.

            Once he was done with his calls, Lance killed more time visiting the little shops in the hotel before he gathered his jacket and car keys and headed to the police station in the dark.  The lights on the strip lit up the street pretty well, but after a few miles Lance was shuttled into the darkness of the side streets where his high beams came in handy.

            He pulled into the police station and parked his car as close o the front door as he could and then walked quickly into the building.  The young officer behind the counter recognized Lance and pointed him in the direction of the office floor where Lance went the first day.  "The girl is here already."  He called after Lance as he stepped into the room.

            "Thanks."  Lance raised his hand in a half wave and sighed as the door slammed shut behind him.  He strode across the crowded room with his head down and his eyes on the floor.  "Hey."  He said as a greeting as he lowered himself into the chair beside Jenna.

            "Hi."  She sighed and kept her eyes on Crawley.  They hadn't seen each other since the scene in her room and she was still embarrassed about it.

            "I'm glad to see you guys are on speaking terms."  Crawley smiled slyly and tapped is pencil on his desk.  "So.  What's the plan?"

            "What have you guys come up with so far?"  Jenna answered his question with one of her own.

            "We've got a few leads."  Crawley held her gaze.  "What are your plans?"  He repeated his question again and would continue to do so until he got an answer.

            Jenna set her jaw and sighed softly, “We're going to see what we can find on our own."

            "I'm going to hire a private investigator."  Lance added with a slight nod.

            "You are?"  Jenna looked at him and raised her eyebrow.

            "Yeah."

            "Are you still sticking around?"

            "Yeah."  Lance nodded.

            "Now listen, I can't stop you guys from getting outside people to work on the case, and I can't stop you from doing whatever it is you want to do.  But I'm telling you right now that if you interfere with my investigation at all, I'll have you in here so fast your heads will spin."  He looked from Jenna to Lance.  "In unison."

            "If - "  Jenna started to speak but Lance interrupted her before she could get the first word out.

            "We're not going to interfere."  Lance raised his voice a little to drown out Jenna.  "But I want to make sure that you won't just toss this in the 'unsolved drug crimes' bin or whatever.  I want you to do everything you can to get this resolved."

            "We are actively working on this case.  It is a homicide in my jurisdiction, which means that I personally will work it into the ground.  I don't know what kind of cop shows you've been watching where the police team drops the ball just because drugs were involved, but that's not how it works."  Crawley took a sip of his ever-present coffee and curled his lip at the bitter taste.  "This case is still green, it's still fresh, we're still working on getting diagnostics back on the tests we ran.  We can't do anything really until we have that information."

            "It's been a week."  Jenna said quickly.

            "And we only received new evidence this morning; the tests may take a day or two."

            "What kind of new evidence?"  Lance asked.

            "We have a possible murder weapon."  Crawley dropped his voice and shuffled papers on the desk before looking up at Lance.  "We aren't sure if it's the same gun though, which is why we have to draw up the tests.  This stuff takes time.  Unless we find someone standing over the victim with a smoking gun and a confession ready for us, we have to investigate the case fully."

            "I understand."  Lance nodded and looked at Jenna with a raised eyebrow.  "We're just going to have the investigators look into it, right?"

            "And we'll work on our own."  She nodded, and kept her eyes on Crawley rather than meet Lance's glance.

            "Well..."  Crawley stood up and placed his hands on his desk.  "Just be careful out there."

            "We will."  Lance nodded and stood up.  "You'll keep us up to date?"

            "Sure."  Crawley nodded.  "Same for you."

            "Of course."  Lance smiled and sighed as he looked over his shoulder at the door.  "See ya."  He led the way to the entrance with Jenna only a step behind him.

            "You know, I don't appreciate you speaking for me in there."  She said when they were finally outside.

            "I'm sorry."  Lance shrugged and fished his keys out of his pocket.  He'd had a taxi bring him back to his station the night before and was annoyed that he'd had to come back again so soon.

            "Don't do it again."

            "I was just keeping you from pissing him off.  You get really defensive you know and it looked like you were going to tell him where he could shove it which wouldn't help anything."

            "I wasn't going to go off on him.  I can be professional and calm."

            "Not when it comes to your sister."

            "Monica."

            "What?"

            "You keep calling her 'my sister'.  Her name was Monica."

            Lance blushed quickly and licked his lips.  "You have a hard time remaining calm and professional when it comes to Monica."  He amended.

            "I don't have a hard time remaining calm.  But when they - "  She started in as her face flushed.

            "See that's what I'm talking about."  Lance smiled and swung his keys from his finger.  "Here, let me give you my numbers in case you need to reach me or whatever."  He opened his car door and pulled a receipt from 7-11 off the dash.

            "I have your numbers."

            "I changed hotels actually." He scribbled his cell phone number and room number on the scratch piece of paper.  "I'm at the MGM now too, so... you know..."

            "Oh how convenient."  She rolled her eyes but took the paper.

            "I was moved there before I knew you were staying there."  He said, as if it would make a difference.  "Anyway, there you go.  Now if we have to come back to the station we can ride together or something.  Or if the private investigators want to meet with us or something, we can just do it in one of our rooms or the restaurant or something."

            "Your room.  My room isn't up for grabs."

            "That's fine; we can meet in my room if we have to."  Lance nodded.  "I'm uh… I'm going to start calling around tomorrow to see about getting a reputable investigator."

            "Okay."  Jenna nodded and unlocked her car.  "I'll see you later then.  You know how to reach me."

            "Yeah."  Lance said softly as he bit his lip and frowned.  "Yeah, I'll see you later."  He leaned back against his car and watched her taillights as she pulled out of the parking space and took off for the street.

            With a quick headshake and a sigh, Lance climbed into his own rental car and headed back to the strip to get himself a late dinner at the Taco Bell near his hotel.  He stopped at a drug store on the way back and picked up a cheap paperback book, a king size snicker bar and a liter bottle of mountain dew.  Being someone who never really went for the junk food, he kept it simple and put the bag of Chili Cheese Fritos back as he headed for the register.

            "That'll be ten oh two."  The girl behind the register said as she carelessly threw everything into a thin blue bag.  "Hey, are you that guy?  From Nsync?  The one on the news?"

            "Nope."  Lance lowered his voice and slid a ten and two pennies across the counter for her.  "I get that all the time though."  He looked up at her quickly and silently patted himself on the back for 'forgetting' to shave that morning.

            "That's cool though.  I don't look like anybody famous."  She shook her head.  "I'd kill to look like Jennifer Aniston though.  And to be married to Brad Pitt?  Oh heck yeah." She laughed and dropped his receipt in the bag.  "Some girls get everything, huh?"

            "Yeah."  Lance laughed politely and ducked out of the store before his luck ran out.

 

            Once back in his own hotel room, Lance shook the contents of his shopping bag onto his bed then took a shower.  He snacked on his junk food and drank the soda straight from the bottle as he flipped through the science fiction book he bought.  It wasn't a good story, but it wasn't on the TV and that was all he cared about.  Lance was getting tired of watching movies and staring at the TV all the time so he made a mental note to find a bookstore to get some real books to read.

            Lance fell asleep on the pages of the book with the light beside his bed shining down on him.  He slept straight through till morning, not moving or stirring in his dreamless sleep.  When his cell phone rang on the table beside his head the next morning, it took three rings before Lance could put thought to sound and recognize it as his phone.

            "Yeah?"  Lance reached out and grabbed the phone then pressed 'talk' as he brought it to his ear.

            "Oh shit, did I wake you up?"  Justin's laughing voice rang through the earpiece.  "Sorry."

            Lance sighed; Justin didn't sound too sorry.  "Yeah.  S'okay.  What's up?"

            "Nothing, I was just calling to check in or whatever.  Make sure you're still alive and kicking.  You know... just to find out when you're coming back to the reality of Florida."

            "I'm alive."  Lance stretched and grunted into the phone.  "Not kicking just yet though.  And I'm not sure when I'm coming home.  Soon though, I hope."  He moved the blankets down to expose his face and to take a deep breath of fresh air.

            "What time is it there?"

            "Three hours earlier than it is where you are."

            "Damn."  Justin said under his breath.  "It's like, almost nine here."

            "So it's almost six here.  Thanks a lot."

            "Sorry."  Justin muttered again, sounding sorrier than he did the first time.

            "S'okay."

            "So…"  The younger man sighed and blew his breath into the mouthpiece.  "Have you seen any shows or anything?"

            "Shows?  No, not really."

            "What have you been doing then?"

            "Nothing."

            "Nothing?  You're just sitting around the hotel?"

            "Pretty much.  I can't really go out a lot, you know."  Lance explained with a yawn.

            "Well yeah but staying in your hotel room?  What the hell kind of fun is that?"

            "I'm not here for fun."

            "Yeah well you're not there to watch all the pay-per-view movies either.  You should go catch a show or something.  Go see those white tigers in that magic show."

            "Siegfried and Roy?"

            "Yeah."

            "No thanks."

            "Well how about a showgirl act then?  Or the dam.  You could go see the dam.  Joey said it was cool."

            "It's a wall of cement."

            "Hey, it's gotta be better than watching movies in your room all day."  Justin shrugged.

            "True."

            "So what are you doing today?"

            "Going to the dam apparently."  Lance smiled and sat up, there was no use trying to go back to sleep.

            "Right on.  Well hey; I was just calling to check your pulse and stuff.  Give me a call later or when you get back, alright?"

            "You got it."

            "Alright, I'll talk to you later then."  Justin laughed as he hung up and left Lance smiling.

            Lance stood up and shuffled to the bathroom to use it and splash some cold water on his face.  If it was already nine in Florida he could call over to Jack Richardson's office to see about finding a private investigator to hire in Las Vegas.

            Within ten minutes Lance had the name and number of Jack's top choice for private investigators in Florida who he was sure could recommend someone in Nevada.  "Daniel Raymond, how can I help you?"  A soft-spoken man answered the phone on the first ring.

            "Um, hi.  My name is Lance Bass.  Jack Richardson recommended you actually.  I was uh…"

            "Jack huh?  How's that guy doing?  I haven't heard from him in a while so he must be keeping out of trouble, huh?"  His voice smiled in recognition.

            "He's uh, I guess he's doing pretty good."

            "Better than you huh?"

            "What?"

            "Well if you're in need of my services you must be in a little bit of a bind."

            "Yeah.  Yeah I guess I am actually."  Lance licked his lips.  "Well actually, all I need from you is a recommendation.   I'm out here in Nevada… uh, Las Vegas actually.  Jack said you might know of an investigator out this way who can help me."

            "The Nsync kid.  Lance Bass, that's right."  His voice took on a serious tone.  "I'm Daniel Raymond by the way, I don't know if I introduced myself.  You're in trouble huh?"

            "I… well you might have heard that I was being questioned on a homicide case out here.  Now I've been cleared and everything but I want to help find the guy who did it."

            "What are the cops doing?"

            "Well they're investigating it I guess.  But see…"  Lance sighed and tried to explain it as well as he could.  "The girl’s sister doesn’t think they're doing enough and I know they're busy so I wanted to hire a private guy to do it.  To help I mean."

            "It's an active investigation?"

            "They're still working on it, yeah."

            "Okay."  Daniel was quiet for a minute.  "So you need someone in Vegas, right?"

            "I guess."  Lance shrugged; he didn't know the area well enough to know which cities were nearby.

            "Okay.  I'll tell you what... I'll make some calls to my buds in California, they'd have a better idea about Nevada.  Is there a number I can call you back on or do you want me to go through Jack?"

            "No, you can call me."  Lance recited his cell phone number from memory for the investigator.

            "Okay kid.  I'll make some calls and get back to you in a few minutes with a name.  Shoot, I might just call up Jack and see what's going on with him."

            "Okay."  Lance smiled.  "Thanks a lot."

            "No problem.  Just stay outta trouble."

            "I will."  Lance cleared his throat as he hung up and dropped his cell on the bed by his hip.  He picked up the book from the night before with its bent pages and flipped to the chapter he left off on.  He couldn't get into the plot of the book and the characters were poorly written, but for some reason he still wanted to find out if the girl made it out of the space pod safely.

            With another two chapters read Lance stood up and stretched.  The sun was now officially up and he needed a shower in more ways than one.  He reached over his head and pulled his shirt off then yawned and scratched at his warm stomach.

            His cell phone rang for the second time that morning and made his heart skip a beat.  He'd have to remember to turn the ring volume down if he was ever going to get used to the sound.  "Hello?"

            "Hi, Lance?"

            "Yeah."

            "This is Daniel Raymond again, I've got a firm for you."

            "A… a firm?"

            "Yeah.  I talked to Frank Saddler in LA and he said these guys are like, the best of the best.  Lowell and Lowery.  They're based out of Las Vegas even, so you're in luck.  It looks like they're located only a couple miles from the strip.  Are you on the strip?"

            "Uh, yeah."  Lance nodded and looked around for a pen and paper to write the information down.

            "Great."  Daniel nodded.  "I haven't called them myself, but when you get them on the line tell them that you were referred by Saddler, okay?"

            "Yeah, Saddler.  Thanks."  Lance scribbled furiously on the inside cover of his book.  "And it's Lowell and Lowery?"

            "Yep, you got it."

            "Great, thank you so much."  Lance smiled and added their names under the Los Angeles based investigators.

            "Anytime."  Daniel cleared his throat.  "So their number… you're gonna need that."  He rattled off the ten-digit number and asked, "Do you want the address?"

            "Um, no I don't think I'll need it.  If so I'll get it when I call."

            "Okay."

            "Thanks again.  This is going to help a lot."

            "Anytime.  Feel free to give me a call if you get stuck or run into any problems."

            "I will."  Lance nodded and circled the name and number in front of him.  "I'm going to go give them a call right now."

            "Good idea."  Daniel said as another phone on his end began ringing.  "Talk to you later kid."

            "Bye."  Lance hung up, then immediately dialed the Las Vegas firms number.  After going through the standard company phone tree he was connected to a secretary who then put him on hold to talk to Mr. Lowell himself.  Lance knew his identity might make some things easier in life, he just never expected to use it this way.

            Mr. Lowell was pleased to hear from Lance and very eager to take on the case.  Publicity was never something the firm could turn down, in the event that they helped solve the case.  They talked for almost an hour with Lance filling him in on the details and promising to stop by that afternoon to sign the contract and arrange for payment.  Without that much cash ready at his disposal, Lance would have to call Johnny and have him wire the money to the firm.  Once again Lance regretted giving up the simple pleasures such as check books and actual cash.  He'd used credit cards or management credit for so long he wasn't sure he'd remember how to fill out a check, nevermind where to find his.

            When they were done Lance ran his hands through his dirty hair and made his way to the bathroom to take the shower he'd planned on taking earlier.  As he turned the water off and stepped out onto the cold and slippery tile, Lance heard the phone ringing out in the other room. His room phone, not his cell phone.

            He quickly wrapped a towel around his waist and flung the door open to catch it before it went into the hotel voice mail system.

            "Hello?"  Lance dropped the phone and fumbled to pick it up again as water dripped down his nose and onto the pages of his book.  "Hello?"  He asked again when the phone was securely in his hand.

            "So did you hire someone yet?"  Jenna asked.  He was getting used to how she never started a phone conversation like a normal person, but instead jumped right into what she wanted to say.

            "I… yeah.  I made a few calls and got a guy in Florida to recommend someone out here."  He ran his wet hand over his face and flung the droplets of water from his fingertips, trying to keep the phone as dry as possible.

            "Who?"

            "Daniel Raymond."

            "When do we get to meet with him?"

            "Daniel?  He's in Florida."

            "Who's the guy in Vegas?"  Jenna sighed.

            "It's a firm; they have more than one person."

            "Okay, when do we get to meet with them?"

            "I uh… we're not.  I guess.  I've talked to them on the phone and I gave them all the info we have."  Lance shrugged and pulled his towel tighter around his waist, as if dropping it right then would be embarrassing though she was only on the phone.

            Jenna sighed and he could practically hear her roll her eyes.  "Wonderful.  Great.  Well listen, I've gotta go over to Monica's place and clean it out.  The landlord is a royal pain in the ass.  Do you know if Crawley's little team or whatever has been by there yet?"

            "I don't know.  Did you call him?"

            "Yeah, no answer."

            "If they've been through there, you'll be able to tell.  Do you have a key?"

            "Yes, I have a key."  A hint of annoyance crept into her voice as she spoke quickly.

            "Do you want… I mean, I can help…"

            "No."  She said a little harsher than she intended.  "I don't need help.  It's… it's probably just junk anyway."

            "Okay."  Lance ran his hand under his nose to catch the water drop before it fell.  "Well, you know if you decide you need some help or whatever, just give me a call."

            "I can do it."

            "I'm not saying you can't."  Lance sighed; she could be so difficult.

            "Whatever.  Listen, I've got to go.  Can I have the name of the investigating firm?  I'll want to call then and tell them what I know, since you couldn't have shared that."

            "Lowell and Lowery.  702-279-9000."

            "Thanks."  She hung up the phone and left Lance sitting there shaking his head and wet.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            Jenna's strong exterior remained in place as she walked across the dusty, yet uncluttered courtyard to her sister's apartment on the ground floor.  The window to the right of the door was covered in a soft green and yellow gingham print curtain that immediately reminded Jenna of their grandparent’s house in Connecticut.

            "Come on now."  She whispered to herself as she slid the key in the top lock.  She'd given herself a pep talk on the way over and so far it was working, but she could feel her defenses begin to falter and her insides start to twist as she pushed the door open and stepped in.

            As soon as the screen door slammed shut behind her, Jenna smelled the instantly recognizable scent of cinnamon and dish soap.  Tears sprung to the corners of her eyes with the memories of her grandparent’s house that looked, and smelled much the same.  She hastily brushed them away and propped the front door open to let the fresh air in.  Jenna busied herself by opening the other windows in the small home to let what little breeze there was pass through.

            Since they were children, Monica was always the sloppy pack rat while Jenna was the tidy minimalist.  Nothing had changed, Jenna noticed as she saw the pile of magazines beside the couch, which if she looked she was sure that half of them would be a year old, if not more.

            It didn't look as though the police had been through there, but then Jenna didn't know what to look for really.  There were no telltale signs of fingerprint dust, but then why would they need it?  She couldn't tell if anything had been disturbed since the place was cluttered as Monica's homes had always been.  Suddenly the task of cleaning out her sister's apartment seemed daunting.  She had no idea where to start but it was obvious that she would need boxes to pack everything up into.  "Dangit."  She mentally kicked herself for not thinking of that beforehand.

            Jenna sighed and figured that if Monica was indeed the pack rat that Jenna knew her to be then the boxes she had used to move to Vegas must still be around somewhere.  She gave herself the five-cent tour of the small one bedroom apartment and poked around to find the boxes.

            On the little back patio Jenna noticed a little table and chairs blocking a weatherproof door.  "Ah ha, I'll bet that's where they are."  Jenna said to herself as she stepped outside and tried the main key in the handle of the outside door.  It swung open easily and three flat boxes fell out.  "Jackpot."  Jenna smiled, for once glad that her sister saved everything.  The little storage area was filled with flattened boxes from the move so all Jenna had to do was assemble them and pack everything up.

            She took them back into the apartment and went to work folding them into the boxes she needed.  With a dozen of them ready to be filled she turned the stereo on in the family room, opened the cupboards in the kitchen and got to work.

            Jenna spent three hours just in the kitchen. She filled one big trash bag with the perishable food that was well on it's way to walking out of the apartment on its own, then filled another bag with food that was unopened.  She had called around that morning to find shelters that could use the food and clothing so she separated the living room into three sections.  The stuff that needed to be thrown away, stuff that was going to the shelters and stuff that was being shipped to New York to be stored until Jenna could decide what to do with it.

            With a heavy sigh she placed her hands on her hips and thought that this was definitely not a job for one person.  "My options are slim."  She whispered under her breath as she pulled another drawer open and shuffled through the contents.  Her hand fell onto an address book and she frowned as she flipped through it.  It looked to be a couple years old; some of the pages were torn or folded beyond recognition, several entries had been corrected more than once and there were a half dozen business cards tucked in between the pages.

            Jenna frowned, then set it down and assembled another box to put things that she was going to take back to the hotel.  The address book might hold information that could help with their investigation.

            It was long after dark when Jenna finally loaded the last box into the trunk of her car and headed back to the hotel.  She would return in the morning to pack up whatever else needed to be packed and to arrange for Goodwill to come and pick up everything else.  There were only two small boxes of things that Jenna thought might help the investigation, so she carried them up to her room and sat them by the table to go through later.

            Intending on going through the boxes that night, Jenna showered then sat on the bed to dry her hair.  Her muscles ached from all of the lifting and packing she'd done and just the thought of looking through more of her sisters things exhausted her.  It had been an emotional day for her, an emotional week in fact, and all she wanted was a good night sleep.  She said a silent prayer for her sister then pulled the covers back and slid naked between the cool sheets.  Her hand jutted out from under the comforter and clicked the light off before she could change her mind.

            Within minutes her tired body gave in and let her sleep off the weariness of the past week to give her the energy she'd need the next day when she would have to dive into the past of her sister.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            It was after two the next day when she finally finished packing up Monica's apartment.  She'd donated some of the furniture to other residents there and gave the rest to Goodwill who showed up an hour late to pick up the boxes of clothes and what remained of the furniture.  Jenna carried one more box to the car with her, then went to the apartment managers office and told him to keep the security deposit since cleaning the place was the last thing she intended to do.  She handed over the keys and sighed as she stepped out into the hot desert air with a single box of her sisters possessions.

            When she stepped into her hotel room the phone on the table was ringing.  She set the box on the floor and kicked it over to where the others sat, then answered the phone breathlessly.  "Hello?"

            "Ms. Saylor?"

            "Who's calling?"

            "This is Detective Crawley at the Las Vegas Police Department." He said with a mocking smile in his voice.  She knew who he was, but he liked the sound of the whole title.

            "Oh, hi."

            "Hi."

            "Can I help you?"  Jenna prodded.  She wanted to get into the boxes she had and he was wasting her valuable time.

            "I'd like you to come down to the station tonight."

            "What'd you find?"

            "I have some information I'd like to share with you, but I won't have it confirmed until this evening.  Why don't you swing by around eight?"

            "What's with you and all these night meetings.  Don't you guys have regular business hours?"

            "Regular business hours don't apply here.  I work when I'm needed, and I keep working till the job is done.  If you don't wanna come by at eight that's fine.  I'll share it with the husband and you two can work it out."

            "No, I'll be there."  Jenna said quickly.  She didn't want to have to rely on lance.  "I'll try to be there."  She said as she reached into the box closest to her foot and flipped the pages of the dusty diary open.  "Eight?"

            "Yep.  Eight o'clock at the station."

            "Okay.  Bye."  Jenna hung up without waiting to hear his response and went to the front of the diary.  The date dazzling the cover in gold was from ten years ago, but the dates printed on the used pages were only from the year before.

            She skimmed the first few entries without noticing that her 'message waiting' light was lit on the phone beside her.  The light wasn't noticed until her phone rang again several hours later as she made notes on the hotel stationery.  The little red light illuminated her hand as she reached to answer it on the third ring.  "H-hello?"  She frowned as she looked at the message retrieval instructions on the phone.

            "Hi, Jenna?  This is Lance."

            "Hi."  She said quickly.

            "I was… I called you earlier and left a message but I uh… I guess you were out."

            "Yeah, I was at Monica's cleaning her apartment."

            "Oh.  I thought you were doing that yesterday."

            "She had a lot of stuff."

            "Oh."  Lance bit his lip.

            "Is that all you needed?"

            "No, I - "  Lance paused, the reason he was calling slipped his mind.  "Oh."  He said as he remembered.  "Did you get Crawley's message?"  She didn't answer right away and his mouth spoke as the thoughts came to him.  "You probably didn't though because you didn't get my message so you probably didn't check them so you - "

            "I didn't get his message, I talked to him."  She cut him off to stop him from continuing.

            "Oh, okay."  Lance pressed his fingertips into his forehead and shook his head.  He hated not being able to talk coherently for no real reason.  "Do you know what this meeting is about?"

            "I don't know.  Maybe they found something.  Or something."  She scribbled more notes onto the hotel stationery and drew an arrow to the name she had written at the top to connect the two.

            "Do you think they got the tests back on the gun already?"

            "I don't know."

            "Well why would we have to go in if they found out though?  Couldn't they just tell us over the phone?"  Lance's brow crinkled with confusion.

            "I don't know." Jenna sounded distracted as they talked.

            "Are you going?"

            "I don't know.  Yeah, probably."  She sighed with exasperation.  "I've gotta go.  I … I'll see you later."

            He frowned quickly, "O - "  He started to reply, but she had already disconnected.  "Okay then yeah, I'll see you tonight at the police station.  It was nice talking to you again.  Really.  We should do this again sometime."  He said softly into the silent phone.

            Rather than spend another night holed up in his hotel room, Lance checked the show schedule on the brochure on his desk and called down to get tickets to the dinner show that started at five.  It was just after four so the timing was perfect.  The tickets would be waiting for him at the ticket booth just inside the theater so he changed into a clean shirt and ran a brush through his hair.  The dark blonde spikes brushed his ears and he sighed, he never used to let his hair get that long.  He was a good three weeks overdue for a hair cut so he made a mental note to get that done maybe later in the week.  Getting his hair cut would kill about an hour of time and that was what he needed; something to do to kill time.  He never thought he'd have this much time to spare or he'd have prepared something.  Anything.

 

            While Lance sat in stoic silence as the un-funny comedian tried to entertain a room full of eaters, Jenna waited anxiously by the phone.  She's called a contact in Monica's book and was just waiting to hear back while she poured over the other things she brought back from Monica's apartment.  The notepad of MGM letterhead paper was quickly filling with facts and names that might prove useful.  As much as she didn't want to, she knew she'd have to have Lance go over these with her and brainstorm.  She hated to admit it, but in going over her sisters things she discovered that she didn't know Monica half as well as she thought; so Lance's input might just be helpful.

            Jenna sighed and pulled her hair back into a clip before she flipped the light on to ease her weary eyes and started in on the last box of possible clues.  She didn't once check the clock or notice that she was already late for her meeting with Lance and the detective.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            Lance parked in the far corner and ran into the police station as he checked his watch.  He wasn't as late as he thought, but it was still after eight.  When he pushed the doors open and rushed in the officer behind the desk looked up quickly and his hand twitched toward his belt like a nervous rookie.  "Can I help you?" He asked as he placed both hands on the desktop.

            "I'm here to see Detective Crawley, he's expecting me."  Lance said calmly.

            "Your name?"

            "I don't have an appointment, he called me this morning."  Lance explained as the young man flipped open the book in front of him.

            "Mr. Bass, glad you could make it."  Crawley's voice boomed across the front room of the police station.  "Come on up to my office."

            "You're back upstairs huh?"

            "Yeah, for now.  Until they find something else to fix."  Crawley gave Lance a half smile and held the elevator door open for him.  Once Lance was on the elevator he turned to address the young officer, "Thanks McTavish, keep up the good work laddie."  He laughed at his own poor Irish accent as the doors shut and they headed up to the second floor.

            "Sorry I'm late."

            "It's okay.  My watch stopped working this morning anyways so I've been relying on these incompetent wall clocks around here.  There aren't two of 'em in this whole place that tell the same time."  Crawley sighed and pushed open the door to his closet sized office.  He held it for Lance, then followed him in and shut the door.  "Where's the sister?"

            "Jenna?"

            "Yeah, Ms. Saylor."

            "I don't know."

            "You guys aren't talking again?"

            "No we're - "  Lance stopped as he caught Crawley's smirk.  "We're talking, but I don't know where she is.  She said she knew about the meeting, so…"  He shrugged and leaned back in the chair with his arms crossed over his chest.

            "So now we wait."  Crawley opened up a case file and flipped through it without giving Lance a second glance.  They sat in silence with only the sound of moving paper between them for a quarter of an hour.          "Well, it doesn't look like your friend is coming."  Crawley said as the hands on the clock ticked past the three.  Lance just shrugged and crossed his ankle over his knee.  "Well all righty then.  I know you don't know anything about Monica from before the night you met her, but we've found a connection in LA and we wanted to let you know that someone might try to contact you."

            "What?"

            "There are some people from LA who are looking for Monica."

            "Looking for her how?"

            "Just looking for her.  Or well, for information about her.  They know she's been killed.  They're people she used to deal with and as far as we can tell they're harmless.  But when they got wind that she'd been killed they started calling into the station and asking questions."

            "Shit."

            "They've read the paper and obviously seen the news.  They know about you and they know about Jenna."

            "Jenna hasn't been in the news."  Lance shook his head.  His name was the only newsworthy one in the story, so he'd gotten the brunt of it, which to his surprise hadn't been that much.

            "They knew about Jenna from Monica.  Apparently she'd been out to LA to visit Monica."

            "So they're looking for me?"

            Crawley shrugged, “They might be.  I just wanted to give you guys a heads up.  If you can pass that on to Jenna, that'd be great."

            "Who are these people?"

            "There's a Kelly and a Skank, or well… that's what he calls himself.  Anyway, like I said so far they've just called trying to figure out what happened.  We've verified that they knew Monica in the last two years.  And like I said, they seem harmless."

            "Great."

            "But we're keeping an eye on them as well and if they make it up to Nevada, we'll let you know."

            "Great.  Thanks." Lance fought the urge to roll his eyes.  For a moment he thought of calling Johnny to have a security team sent out, but then he figured he wouldn't be in town much longer anyway.  "Is that all?"

            "That's all."  Crawley nodded and reached for another file on his desk.  "How's your investigation going?"

            Lance shrugged in response.  "We haven't done much yet.  I hired a local private investigator, but… well it's only been like a day, so…"

            "We'll find this person.  One way or another."  Crawley said softly, and then smiled up at Lance.

            Lance smiled back as he stood up.  It was good to hear Crawley being so positive about the case, it gave him real hope that the case was in good hands.  "I'll talk to you later then."

            "Alright kiddo, take it easy."  Crawley opened up the other case file, signaling to Lance that their conversation was over.

            "Bye."  Lance mumbled as he let himself out of the office and headed for the elevators.  As he waited a frown slipped into place and he wondered where Jenna was.  She wouldn't miss getting new information on this case for anything, and he was almost scared to find out where she'd been.

 

            When Lance got back to his hotel room he tried calling Jenna's room but was told that the hotel guest he was trying to reach was unavailable.  He hung up rather than leave a message, then called his mom and dad to touch base and keep them up to date.  It was after eleven in Mississippi when Lance finally hung up and dropped his cell phone from hand to hand.  JC was asleep, and waking him up wasn't an option.  Justin was probably out, and he wasn't sure where Joey was at the moment.  With a sigh and a silent prayer he dialed Chris' number.  If Chris was awake there would be no problem, but if he wasn't he could either be glad to hear from Lance, or pissed off.

            Lance crossed his fingers as the phone rang twice.  "H'lo?"  Chris mumbled into the phone.  Lance was silent, trying to interpret Chris' voice. Had he been sleeping?  Was he upset?  "Lance dude, I've got Caller ID.  No use hiding."

            "Hi."  Lance bit his lip.

            "What's up?"

            "Nothing."

            "Something."

            "Huh?"

            "You're not the kind of asshole to call at midnight for nothing."  Chris yawned and stretched in Lance's ear.  "Hang on."  Lance heard him fumble around for a second, then grunt and yawn again.  "Okay."

            "What'd you do?"

            "I turned my light on and got my glasses."

            "You gonna read?"  Lance smiled.

            "No, but I like to see sometimes."  Chris cleared his throat.  "So what's up?"

            "Nothing really.  It's just… well it's still early here and I just talked to my mom and dad."

            "Ahh."

            "They're not mad or anything."  Lance said quickly.  "I mean, they aren't like, putting out an announcement in the church bulletin or anything."

            "Right."

            "And then Jenna is like… I don't know.  She's thinking we're going to become investigators and find this guy on our own and I just want to hire people to do that because…"

            "Because you're not Magnum P.I."

            "Right."

            "Or that Grissom dude on CSI."

            "Right."

            "Or Don Johnson on Miami Vice."

            "I get the picture."  Lance smiled.

            "And Jenna's the sister, right?"

            "Twin sister."

            "Like that makes a difference."

            "Well it does because if the person who did this is still out and about here in Vegas, what if he sees Jenna and thinks it's Monica?"

            "Monica who he killed?"

            "I'm just sayin'."

            "You're worried about her then?  The sister?"  Chris asked.

            "Yeah.  A little."

            "I thought she was a bitch?"

            "She was.  Is.  She is a bitch.  But that doesn't mean she needs to go out and get shot at or whatever."  Lance sighed and fought a yawn.

            "Yeah.  Well…"

            Lance let it go and launched into what was really bothering him.  "And then the detective dude called me in tonight to tell me that these people from LA who used to deal with Monica are looking for her."

            "What?"

            "They're calling the station looking for information."

            "And the police guy told you that?"

            "Yeah, because they know about me and Jenna and they wanted to let us know in case they tried to contact us to get information."  Lance said.

            "Fucking shit Lance.  Who's out there with you?"

            "No one."

            "No one?  What the hell?"  Chris was wide awake now.  "Someone is looking for you?  A not good sounding someone is looking for you and you're out there flying solo?  Dude, call Johnny right now.  No forget it, I'll call Johnny and have him send the team out."

            "No Chris, don’t.  Crawley said they seemed harmless and that they were being watched."

            "Huh?"

            "Crawley, the investigator. He said that the two people in LA are being watched and if they make like they're coming to Vegas, then I can worry."

            "Hell, you just need to come home already.  Hire your private investigator or whatever, then get your ass back here."

            "You think I'll be any safer there?"

            "Uh.  Yeah."

            "I already hired an investigating team out here.  I'll be coming home soon."

            "Seriously?"

            "Yeah, seriously.  Give me another couple days or whatever."  Lance nodded and pinched his eyes closed.  "I'm sorry I woke you up."

            "That's okay."

            "I'll let you go though.  I just… well anyway."

            "I know you said you didn't need anyone out there, but for reals, if you want me to come out I will.  Or me and Jace or whatever."

            "Thanks."  Lance licked his lips.  "I'll be home soon."

            Chris paused for a second, “Okay."

            "Go back to bed."

            "I will."

            "And take your glasses off."

            "Thanks."  Chris smiled, then removed the glasses and set them on his nightstand.  "Call me tomorrow when I'm awake, then remind me to kick your ass."

            "I will."  Lance laughed, then hung up the phone and went to the bathroom to get himself ready for bed.  It was early still, but he was suddenly tired.

            Lance changed into his pajama bottoms with the faded UCLA logo on the left hip then climbed into bed with his cell phone on the nightstand beside his head.  He didn't realize just how tired he was until his head hit the pillow and he fell asleep almost instantly.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            The first time Lance heard the soft knocking, he wasn't sure if he was hearing things or not.  He frowned into the darkness and strained his ears to listen carefully.  A second later three small taps echoed through the room, a little louder than the ones before.  Lance threw the blankets back and fumbled around in the dark to turn the bedside lamp on, knocking his cell phone off the table in the process.  He made his way to the door and rubbed his eyes before he leaned on it to look through the peephole with his heart racing in his chest.

            He sighed and rolled his eyes when he saw Jenna standing there looking up and down the hall.  "Jesus."  He mumbled under his breath as he flipped the locks and pulled the door open.  "It's two in the morning."

            "I know, sorry to come by so late."  She said as she walked past him into the room, flipping the overhead light on as she went.  "What'd Crawley have to say?"

            "Where were you?  I called your room and you weren't there."  Lance crossed his arms over his bare chest, suddenly wishing for a t-shirt.

            "You're checking up on me now?"

            "Well when we're supposed to meet with Crawley at eight and you miss the appointment and show up at my hotel room at like, two in the morning, yeah."  Lance gave her a look.

            "I went to Delray Street."

            "You…"  He stood there in shock for a moment.  "You went to Delray Street?"

            "Yeah, I wanted to see if anyone was down there to talk to."

            "You went down there to see if anyone wanted to talk?  Are you nuts?  It's not like there's people just walking around down there not doing anything."

            "I know."  She averted her eyes as he pulled a wrinkled shirt over his head.  "I was actually trying to meet someone down there, but he didn't show up."  She frowned and picked up the room service menu from the table and began to flip through it.

            "Are you - you're kidding right?"  An anger he hadn't expected grew in the pit of his stomach.

            "What?"  She asked innocently.

            "You could have been - "  Lance stopped himself before he said 'killed'.  "You could have been hurt.  You should have called me."

            "I can take care of myself Lance."  She looked up with a defiant and daring look.

            "Oh stop with this commando act, we have to work together.  You said it yourself; we have to work together."  Lance angrily grabbed the menu from her hands and threw it across the room where it bounced off the wall and fell onto the bed.

            "She was my sister!"  Jenna raised her voice.

            "I know she was!  You remind me of that every day.  I know she was your sister and I know we have to get to the bottom of this, but we have to work together."  Lance put his hands on his hips.  "Together, as in not you running off to the back streets to meet with Guido by yourself."

            "Kirk."

            "What?"

            "His name was Kirk, not Guido."  Jenna said softly.

            Lance rolled his eyes and laughed bitterly, “Like it matters!  Kirk, Guido, John, Paul, Ringo… Jenna, it doesn't matter.  You know what happened to Monica so why are you out there putting yourself in the same position?  That's ridiculous."

            "If they could help though -"

            "Only you look exactly like her so what if they thought you were her?  You're not thinking."  He tapped his temple and tried not to shout at her.

            "I may not be thinking right but you're not doing anything.  I don't even know why you're still here.  You didn't know her, you didn't love her… you barely knew her name.  There's absolutely no reason for you to be here.  Why are you wasting your time?"

            Lance's jaw dropped slightly, “Wasting my time?  Jenna, I'm trying to clear my name and find out who killed Monica.  If you don't want the help just say so."

            "You call this help?  You sit around in the hotel room all day with that damn phone pressed to your ear, and that's helping?  In case you haven't noticed Lance, nothing has happened.  All the calls you've made and all that?  That's done nothing.  We're at the exact same place we were when we started."

            "It's only been like, two days.  What do you expect?  What have you accomplished?  What has going into the back streets at two in the morning got you?  Do you know who did it?  Do you know why?  Do you even know for sure where?  I'm being safe about it; I'm hiring investigators and working with the police."

            "Who aren't doing anything."  Jenna threw her arms up in the air.  "I swear I'm the only one here who gives a shit.  She was my sister and no one is doing a damn thing to try to find her killer.  The police have all but shut the book and written it off as just another drug deal gone bad and you're sitting here talking on the phone.  I have to do something Lance, I can't just sit here."

            "You have to be careful Jenna."  Lance shook his head and sat at the table.  "I know you want to get out there and find him yourself, but you can't do that.  You can't go putting your life at risk like this."

            "Why do you care?"

            "Because you're the only other person out here who's trying to find out who killed her.  The tabloids are already speculating that I had a hand in it so I need all the help I can get to clear my name."

            "I'm not doing this to clear your name."

            "I know you're not, trust me I know.  But if we find the guy who did it then I'm cleared.  See?"

            "Well for someone who wants to clear their name, you're not doing much."

            "Jenna, I've hired the best investigators I can find."

            Jenna sat across from him and dropped her head into her hands.  "I just feel like nothing we've done is enough because he's still out there."

            "I know… but Jenna, you're not going to do her any good if you go out there and get yourself… hurt."

            "I'm not going to get myself hurt."  She said softly, keeping her head in her hands.  Lance just gave her a knowing look and shook his head.  "I have a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and a Glock 9.  I'm not going to get hurt."

            "You have a gun?"

            "Yeah."  She reached back and patted her lower back.

            "You have it on you!?"

            "Of course."  She looked up at him.  "What good would it do me if I left it in the car?"

            "Are you serious?!"  He stood up and walked behind her where he lifted the back of her shirt.  The butt of the silver gun stuck out of the back of her pants where it was fastened into a holster.  "Shit, take that off.  I can't believe you brought a gun in here.  You're nuts, you know that?  You're absolutely nuts."  He ran his hands through his hair.  "You scare the shit out of me.  Why do you have a gun?"

            "I live in New York."  She said as an explanation.  "You think I'd go walking around Delray Street without some kind of protection?"

            "I didn't think you'd go walking around Delray Street period."  Lance crossed back to the table and sat with his head in his hands.  "Jenna…" He sighed deeply.  "You have to be careful."

            "I am careful."  She argued, and he didn't have the strength to keep up his side of the fight.

            "Okay, fine."  He held up his hands in resignation.  "So who is this Kirk guy?  How'd you find him?"

            "When I was cleaning up her apartment I found her calendar and every Saturday night it said, 'Kirk - Torrance/Delray 11pm' and his phone number.  So I called to see if they were still meeting tonight."

            "Are you serious?"  Lance asked under his breath as he closed his eyes.

            "Yes.  But I didn't get a hold of him so I went down there to see if anyone showed up and no one did, so don't worry about it."  She yawned and covered her mouth.

            "Jesus.  What else did you find?"

            "Lots of stuff.  Most of it was junk though.  I got rid of a lot and sent the rest to storage."

            "Did you find anything else that might help with this?"

            "Her address book, we might find something there."  Jenna dropped her gaze to the table and nodded.  "If she knew him."

            "That's true."  Lance's voice fell.  "We're assuming she knew the person.  It could have been random… a stranger."

            Jenna nodded, then sighed and looked up at him, “But I can't shake the feeling that she knew him.  Trusted him even.  I don't know how to explain it."

            "Maybe it's one of those twin connection things."

            She shrugged, “Maybe."  She stood up and yawned.  "Anyway, I should let you go back to bed.  Sorry I woke you."  She said without sounding sincere.

            "It's okay."  Lance nodded automatically.

            "Give me a call tomorrow and we'll go over what I found and stuff.  If you really want to actually help."

            "You're not going out again, are you?"

            Jenna shrugged and smirked over her shoulder as she opened the door, "Nah, probably not."

            "Jenna."  Lance frowned, but he was really too tired to put up much of a fight.

            "I'm not going anywhere but to bed."  She stepped out into the hall while Lance's hand replaced hers on the handle.  He stood in the doorway and watched as she walked down the hall toward the elevators in the center.

            He understood where she was coming from and admired her determination, but part of him felt an insane urge to protect her.  To keep her from pursuing the same fate her sister had suffered.  If he thought he could get away with it he'd demand that they both leave Las Vegas and go back to their homes far away, but he knew she wouldn't go for that.  No matter how good it would be for both of them to get away.

            "Be careful."  Lance whispered more to himself than to anyone else.  He shut the door carefully then went back to the bed he'd vacated and curled up under the cooled sheets.  With his mind filing the information he'd received, he dreamed of dark alleys and car chases and woke often just to check the time on the clock by his bed.  He didn't fall into a fit sleep until after five in the morning, then he didn't dream at all.

 

 

 Next...

 

 

 

Copyright 2002, Amy Lynn