Shadow Unit
FBI Headquarters, J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, D.C., December, 2005

"Can you swim?" Brady asked.

"Of course I can swim." Chaz considered leaving it at that, and decided against it. "I grew up in Las Vegas, one of the private pool capitals of the world. Not teaching Vegas kids to swim is equivalent to drowning them."

"Who taught you?"

Chaz shrugged. "YMCA." It was the Cepaks who'd thought kids should learn to swim. All their fosters got swimming lessons. He'd been miserable until he understood the mechanics and made them work. But he'd been determined to make them work, because drowning was a dumb way to die. And whoever heard of a hero who couldn't swim?

That was back in the days when he planned to learn to ride a horse, because you never knew when you might need to steal a horse and ride across the desert at night to escape your enemies. Before he got a chance at that, he'd realized that learning to drive would be better insurance than learning to ride a horse. So he learned to drive as soon as he could reach the pedals.

And that was the end of that foster home.

He wondered if he'd have been better off or worse if Nevada had had a state orphanage system. More stable, in some ways. But it would have been a lot harder to get hold of the car keys.