Staring at a newspaper clipping about a slain police officer, Detective Charlie Crews listens to a wiretap recording, "There were six, now five. There could just as easily be four." On a diagram of slain police officers, he marks numbers over the ones whose names he knows. Number 3 is James Dunn, who went to the Academy with Jack Reese and supposedly committed suicide. Charlie talks to his widow, who says they only said he was cleaning his gun so she wouldn't lose the pension. Charlie asks her if she remembers the men in the clipping from her husband's funeral. She doesn't. Not even Jack Reese by name.
At a car wrecking yard, Reese and Charlie inspect a crushed car with a body inside. Reese says if the guy was lucky, he was dead before he was put in the car. The victim is Mike Brody, one of the junkyard drivers. Rob Dow, the dispatcher, says he put the car on the line and checked to make sure it was empty. Reese and Charlie inform his fiancÃ�Â©e, Rosa. She tells them that every night, when he thought she was asleep, Mike would lock himself in the garage. In the garage, Charlie and Reese find a computer with pictures of a nude woman. Rosa sees and asks who the hell that is.
At the station, they've learned that Mike had been dead for a day before he was crushed. He had been having an online "thing" with a girl named Bethany who was playing a game with him. She sent pictures of her body each time he did something for her. Tidwell thinks "Bethany" is really a 13-year-old male with an online account and a social disorder. However, on the IM transcripts, Mike asks Bethany why she wants to be with that "fat cowboy," along with a dead-on description of Rob Dow, Mike's boss. They go back to the tow yard and see Rob typing frantically on his computer. They ask him about Bethany and he smashes the computer on the floor. They tackle him, and Reese ends up at the bottom of the dog pile.
In a college campus hallway, Ted nervously prepares for his first day of teaching his business practices class. He prepares himself in case no one shows up, then walks in, seeing a full classroom. Times have changed, and the students take notes with laptops instead of pencils. A girl asks if the class is going to be graded or pass/fail. Ted says graded, and all of the students leave except three.
Charlie and Reese question Rob about Bethany. Reese reads some of their chat transcript and Rob explodes, telling her to shut up, not to speak those words. He says Mike tried to get to Bethany, but she figured him out. Charlie asks what happened that night, but Rob won't tell and says, "It's a secret." He then turns over the picture as if to preserve Bethany's modesty. The detectives take him in.
Discussing the case with Reese and Captain Tidwell at the station, Charlie says that the answer to who Bethany is lays in IM the transcripts. They pull out key phrases, such as "tennis" "junior in college" "lives at home now." From all the clues, they trace her to a palatial mansion where a beautiful girl is practicing on her home tennis court. They ask for Bethany, and she says, "You found her."
Upon learning the police are there to question her daughter, Bethany's mom refers them to her father, record company executive Nathan Gray. Gray laughs when told the victim and suspect are tow truck drivers, as his daughter wouldn't consort with such people. Reese asks if Bethany's been in trouble before. Nathan says she isn't in trouble now. "In my business I know a lot of bad girls," he says. "My Bethany isn't one of them."
At Bethany's old apartment, her ex-roommates say that her dad pulled her out of college after she had an affair with a professor. They say that Bethany's dad tells her about the groupies he's banged and what a tough guy he is. More research turns up that the professor walks with a cane now. They deduce that when Nathan learned about the affair he confiscated Bethany's computer, took a bat to the professor's knees and paid him to drop the charges. Tidwell says to press Nathan.
Back at Grayscale Music, Charlie and Reese visit Nathan, who's already prepared for them. Charlie notices something about the racy CD cover art on his wall as Nathan tells them to talk to his lawyers, sitting nearby. They return to Bethany's old apartment and Charlie finds a photo of her that is strikingly similar to the CD art on Nathan's office wall. The roommate confirms that it's Bethany, and that it was all over the web. She says her father made a CD cover from the photo.
At a storage facility, Charlie's ex-wife Jennifer meets him to let him into their storage unit. He says the case has him thinking about his old albums. Charlie points out their old bed, but she says they aren't going to think about that. Charlie says, "Think about me kissing you." She flirts with him; he thinks she's going to let him kiss her, but she backs away and says, "Lock up when you're done." At the station, Tidwell doesn't even get a flirtatious response when he hits on Reese, who says that sex with him sounds repulsive. He says "Those are the very first words each of my three ex-wives spoke to me." Disgusted, Reese walks off.
Meanwhile in his class, Ted asks Maya, one of his three students, why she's there. She says she's taking every class. Another student has a top-secret business plan that he won't discuss. Ed, the third student, says he's there to learn about that thing in the Constitution that says you don't have to pay taxes. Ted says there's nothing like that in the Constitution, but Ed disagrees and says, "Wesley Snipes did it."
At Bethany's house, Charlie surprises her as she's about to drive off in her Viper. He describes what a body looks like when it goes through the crusher, then shows her the CD cover. Bethany, not moved, says she has to go, so Charlie jumps in the car with her. They peel out. Charlie asks Bethany if she went online to escape her father. Bethany says it wasn't her, that she lives in the real world now. Charlie asks who could be impersonating her so well online. Bethany realizes someone close to home is pretending to be her online and because of that, a person is dead. After a dangerous drive, she dumps Charlie on the side of the road.
At the same time, Reese finds Bethany's mother Lynn in a park, volunteering with an outreach program. Reese asks her about her singing career, which led her to meeting Nathan. Lynn says she had one album out and then stopped singing because of Bethany. Reese then asks her what if Nathan, who is prone to violence, found out Bethany was online again. Lynn gives Nathan an alibi, saying he was with her at a party. Reese asks her if she misses singing. Lynn says unconvincingly, "I never even think about it."
At the storage facility, Charlie listens to his old records and looks at his wedding picture. He gets a call that Rachel Seybold, daughter of his murdered friends, is speaking. He visits the hospital to see Rachel, who is laughing on her bed. He goes in and sees Jack Reese in her room. He draws his gun, and Rachael asks Charlie why people always get hurt around him. She says Jack came to say goodbye. Reese asks Jack why he didn't tell them where Rachel is. He says he's always protected her. Charlie tells him he's in too deep, and offers to help. Charlie quotes the wiretap back to him, and asks who "they" are. Jack says he's no rat, and all he's been doing since Charlie got out of jail is cleaning up his mess. He tells Charlie he can clean it up now. Later, James Dunn's widow tells Charlie that Dunn wasn't cleaning his gun and it was no suicide. She says the name of one of the men in the picture is Mickey Raybourne, but she doesn't know the other officer's names.
Bethany comes into the station to talk to Charlie and Reese. She says her mother can't stop crying since they talked to her because there were two hours at that party where her mother couldn't find her father.
In class, Maya says she just Googled Ted and found that he served prison time for looting pension funds. Ted says that he did and isn't proud of it, but before that he was a good businessman who made a lot of money for a lot of people. Ed, the would-be tax evader, asks Ted if he's saying what he did was okay. Ted replies that he's saying business is a system and he knows how it works. And, if any of them want to learn, they'll pick up their pencils now, or get the hell out of his classroom. The students are more concerned with not having pencils, since they all have computers.
Back at the interrogation room, Reese and Crews question Nathan, who acknowledges he has a temper: "Makes me real good at my job." Crews asks him if he's online pretending to be something he's not. Nathan says he doesn't need to, and lasciviously describes his physical needs when he's with a woman. Reese shows Nathan the picture of his daughter that he based the CD cover on, which surprises him. He asks to speak to his lawyers.
Tidwell and Crews go over the suspects. Tidwell says Rob Dow has a secret and appears to enjoy incarceration. Crews says it's as if he's going to get rewarded for keeping that secret. They decide to let Rob talk to Bethany. At the tow yard, Rob tells Bethany he'll take care of everything. She tells him it wasn't her online. Rob says he saw her hit Mike with a tennis racquet so hard that it broke. He says he cleaned it up for her. All she has to do is say she loves him and he'll take it back. Crews asks a clearly confused Bethany if they'll find a broken tennis racquet at her house.
Crews shows Reese a picture on an album cover which she thinks is Bethany. Turns out it's Bethany's mother Lynn. At the house, they confront Lynn, who is playing tennis. They show her the picture, saying she probably still looks like her daughter in the right light. Reese notes her new racquet and Lynn knows she's busted. She says she closed Bethany's online accounts, but before she did, she took just one look. She found a world where she could be an attractive young woman again, posing as her daughter Bethany. She says she went to see Mike, who laughed when he saw her. She didn't mean to kill him. It's just that he laughed and said she wasn't Bethany. She tells Reese to never grow old. Reese tells her she isn't old.