"Officers, if you could give us the facts?" Leo said, not quite sure how to get the ball rolling. Sachs drew herself up and went into professional mode, consulting a small notebook.

"We got a 911 call at twenty three twenty seven, reporting a dead body at the Vietnam Memorial. Officer Hotchkins and I went to the scene and found a white male, mid forties, with a single gunshot wound to the right temple. The weapon, a fully loaded 9mm automatic, was on the ground nearby with one round fired. There were no signs of a struggle." Here, her steady voice started to falter. "I recognised him, despite the wound, but I checked his identification just to be sure. His driver's license and his credit cards confirmed that it was Toby Ziegler."

"Could he have been mugged and something went wrong?" Josh asked.

"If he was, the thief left nearly two hundred dollars, three Platinum credit cards and his car and house keys behind," Sachs said, with painful flippancy. "I'm sorry, but all indications point to suicide. Including this."

She pulled out two envelopes from a bag.

"Mr Ziegler's car was parked nearby. It was untouched," Sachs continued. "We also went to his residence to see if there was any evidence of a crime. We found two notes, one addressed to Andrea Wyatt and one to CJ Cregg."

Andrea cried out softly as Sachs passed her a thick envelope. CJ's was thinner and she took it with stoic silence.

"I'm sorry," Sachs said softly. "There isn't anything more we can do."

"Officer, may I ask a question?" Andrea said, her voice steadier than any of them thought possible.


"Was he tested for drugs in his system?"

The room went silent. What was Andrea suggesting? Sachs checked her notes for a long moment.

"Yes. That's standard procedure," she said finally. "There was a small amount of alcohol in his system, not enough to suggest impairment. There was a larger amount of diazepam."

"Oh, Christ," Leo muttered. Valium. Booze and Valium, his own darkest nightmare. How in hell had he not seen that? He had successfully hidden his own addiction to the pills, but he should have known. He should have seen.

"Anything else?" Andrea asked, leaning forward.

"No." Sachs shook her head, rereading the report.

"Oh, God." Andrea put her head in her hands and started to cry. It was painful to witness.


Sam stood in Toby's office, with a vague notion of cleaning out Toby's personal effects, since he needed to do something. Ginger went with him, to keep her eye on him. She knew Sam was devastated. Her own tears and grief could wait.

"What the hell was Andrea implying, anyway?" Sam asked her as he shuffled papers from one side of the desk to the other. "That Toby was on drugs or something?"

"Maybe she was looking for a reason why this happened," Ginger said softly.

"Toby was not some pill popper." Sam slammed his hand down on the desk.

"No, he wasn't," Ginger replied firmly. "He had a prescription for it, though."

"He did?"

"Yeah." Ginger nodded. "He got it refilled a couple of days ago. I picked it up for him at the pharmacy."

"You knew he was taking something?"

"Sam, if anybody around here needed to take a Valium, he did," Ginger pointed out. "He had a prescription for them, Sam, and he had a full bottle a few days ago. If he was some kind of addict, he would have had a lot more than that in his system."

"I guess." Sam opened a drawer at random. Inside was one of Toby's rubber balls. He bit his lip. How often had he been annoyed by the bouncing of that ball against the walls of the office? Under the ball was a small pill case. Sam glanced at Ginger and, since she wasn't looking, slipped the case into his pocket.


Josh sat in his office, thinking. The Valium was a blind. Hell, he had a prescription for the stuff himself. Stanley had given him some to help calm him down, although he rarely used it. If there was ever a time when he should take it, it was now. But he needed to think.

Everybody seemed to accept the police report. Suicide. The notes were the clincher; Toby had written notes to the two women he cared about and that was that.

Josh didn't believe it for a minute. He wished he could read the notes, to find out what Toby had written. CJ and Andrea both knew Toby's handwriting; they could not have been faked. Forging a signature was one thing, faking a letter in someone else's writing was quite another. It was possible that someone could forge his indifferent scrawl, but not Toby's almost Spenserian script. God, he had beautiful handwriting, difficult in this age of computers to find. Not very likely to be forged.

So Toby had written the notes. Had he been coerced? That was more likely. Okay, so Toby wasn't the most weak willed man on the planet, but a gun to the head is pretty good incentive. And Toby wasn't stupid; he would have gone along with it, looking for a better opportunity to resolve the problem.

Somebody wants Toby dead. They want to make it look like suicide. Josh spun that scenario. Okay, we have a break in or a meeting at home with someone he knew. The guys force him to write the notes, drive him to the Memorial in his own car, shoot him and leave, maybe calling the cops themselves.

There were a few holes in the story, Josh admitted. Toby would not have gone with them willingly and the report said that his house showed no signs of a struggle.

Maybe that was where the drugs came in. He had been drugged into going.

No, there wasn't enough of the tranquilizer in his system to knock him out. The report was clear on that. The amounts of alcohol and tranquilizers in Toby's bloodstream was so small as to make no appreciable difference in his ability to function coherently. Josh had to accept that. Toby had an amazing tolerance for alcohol. He could drink everyone under the table without seeming to get drunk himself. He would get depressed, sure, but not out of control.

Okay, that theory wasn't plausible. Josh threw away the notes he had doodled on a piece of paper and pulled a fresh sheet in front of him.


Sam looked at the pills in his hand. White and yellow capsules, with "N 50" written on them. That meant nothing to him. He tipped the rest of the contents of the container in his hand. Eighteen of the yellow and white capsules, five Aspirin sized white ones, many of them cut in half, and a half dozen tiny pink ones. He couldn't even hazard a guess as to what they were. For all he knew, they were for hypertension or something. Toby was high risk for heart trouble, what with his appalling diet, the stress of his job and his age.

He put the pills back into the container and put the container back in his pocket. He wasn't sure what to do with them.

He wasn't sure he wanted to know what they were. He didn't want to know that Toby had a drug problem.

Toby had some kind of problem, though. He had killed himself. He had taken a gun and shot himself in the head.


A gun. Josh frowned, doodling on the paper. Where the hell had Toby gotten a 9mm automatic weapon? Toby didn't own a gun. Toby didn't like guns, didn't approve of guns and tried to ban guns. Yet he - or someone - had put the gun into his right hand, lifted it to his right temple and pulled the trigger.

It wasn't hard to buy a gun, Josh allowed. It was actually pretty damned easy. Toby had the money and would have passed a background check with flying colours. Maybe someone would have records of the purchase?

Blackmail. Was Toby being blackmailed? Toby had a surprising number of friends, considering his rather prickly personality, and many enemies. He knew a lot of people and a lot of people knew him. Did Toby know something that somebody didn't want anyone else to know?

Toby had been preoccupied for most of the last two weeks, working on something he hadn't wanted to share with anyone. Friday night... The meeting with the President. Toby had come out of the meeting looking like hell. And he had been in a very bad mood since.

Josh shot to his feet. He had to talk to Leo. If it was serious enough to lead to this... No. If it was that serious, Leo would stonewall. Maybe if he got his hands on Toby's notes.


Was Toby ill? Sam recalled seeing a copy of the Merck Manual for clinical diagnosis on the bookshelf. Had Toby always had that or was it a new addition to the eclectic selection of reference books on the shelf?

Cancer was the most obvious choice, that or heart disease. Toby smoked, drank, ate poorly and was slightly overweight. He had been in his mid-forties, a prime age for trouble of that kind.

Most diseases are treatable, Sam thought. Surely Toby would have gone for treatment, rather than... Come to think of it, Toby had been distracted for the last couple of weeks. Had he been in pain? Had the pain become too much to bear? Maybe the pills were painkillers and they weren't working anymore.


CJ curled up on her bed and wiped her eyes for the hundredth time, throwing the tissue on a growing pile. Toby was dead. It was just too painful to think about. She rolled over, took a sip of the water on the nightstand and picked up the letter for the hundredth time.

"Dear CJ - " he had written. "It breaks my heart to imagine you reading this. Despite the number of times I've yelled at you, teased you and fought with you, I do love you. I hope you know that. You've been my friend for a long time, through good times and bad. Sometimes I wonder why you've stayed my friend, but most of the time I've simply been grateful that you are there. I know I've hurt you and I know I've disappointed you.

"Well, I am going to disappoint you one last time. I know you will have questions, but I cannot answer them satisfactorily. I don't have the answers for myself. I'm so tired of it all, CJ. I don't think you can even comprehend just how tired I am. I don't know how to deal with this anymore. I just want it to end.

"I love you, old friend - Toby."

Part 3


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