THE WITNESS

Author nickname: Ukeleleboy
Beta reader: This story is unbetaed.
Summary: When Danny starts a new job as a lawyer in an important firm in
Manhattan, he doesn’t expect the twist his life will make.
Disclaimer: Without a Trace’s characters are not mine… but the story and the rest
of them are entirely a thing in my mind, in constant alert.
 
Leaving the crowded subway, Danny quickly went upstairs and stepping fast,
headed for the shop near the imposing building where his work for the last five
months waited for him.
Greeting the employee, a nineteen years old brunette young woman going after
him without a trace of shame, he left some groceries and an item of The New York
Times on the counter, waiting patiently until the employee completed her ritual.
Danny found it funny and pretty nice, considering the time he was going to spend
in the office working, learning, helping… but in the office. He wished his practice
period were over, being able to deal with his own cases, going to the Court and
exposing allegations.
Being happy with his new life, Danny, however, still found strange to be the rookie
one, being tested in order to give him a definitive job. So, he had no case to take
care about for himself but helping his coworkers. It wasn’t a problem, even though
he was very clear about the subject he wanted to work for: Civil Rights, family
section.
Dedicating a sensual smile to the girl that made her blush, Danny left the shop with
his bag and got into the building, taking the elevator to the  floor, where his
office was at the moment.
Hated to say he had got a job in this prestigious lawyers firm thanks to Martin’s
recommendation, but he was willing to work hard to let them know he deserved
the job and make Martin’s help worth.
He still got emotional at the memories of those old times…
Flashback
At the end of the day, the office was quiet. Martin was removing the picture of the
last missing person they had been looking for, and deleting the collected
information from the whiteboard.
Everybody had left but Martin and Danny were still in the bullpen of the th floor
at the FBI place, in Manhattan.
Typing his report with the usual professionalism, Danny tried to focus on it, as his
heart was pounding to the still unknown news in the letter he had received that
morning. The closed envelope headed from Justice Department, rested quietly on
his desk with the results of his immediate future.
It was his third attempt to get the license. Oh well, no exactly. In fact, this was the
first time he did the exam.
The first time, he had spent all the night studying and he was very nervous. It was a
time when his thoughts were directed to the whiskey to solve all his insecurities
and, once again, he drank. Unfortunately, his car crashed against another one and
he got into troubles… missing the exam.
Second time, two events related to close people made him to desist. Rafie, his drug
addict and alcoholic older brother was missing and his fiancée asked Danny for
help. Even though Danny wasn’t able to deal with the fear for stepping back to the
times where alcohol headed his life every time he got close to his brother, he got
the support of his coworkers and friends Vivian and Martin to solve the situation,
the personal one, the missing person case.
Martin, who was his strong help all that time, nearly dies in his arms, when two
weeks later, they were shot. Danny still remembered the panic as he tried to stop
the blood flowing away Martin’s body, for the time the ambulance arrived.
At the time, the B.A.R. exam was over, and his mind wasn’t focused anything else
but his friend and his brother’s family.
Leaving the printed and signed report on his boss desk, Danny had a look around
the quiet office as a shiver went down his spine. Jack Malone, the man he had trust
his life in the past, the man making him feel miserable every single time he got into
his office, had gone into a turmoil that nobody seemed to stop, not even Sam, his
unofficial girlfriend, that tired of his aggressive and depressive behavior had
turned to welcome Brian, the father of her son, Finn.
Closing quietly the door of Jack’s office, leaving all the bad feelings inside the room,
Danny came back to the bullpen where Martin was collecting his jacket and bag.
“Share a drink?” Martin asked.
Doubting for a second as he glared at the envelope, Danny replied with a smile,
“Okay, maybe… maybe we have something to celebrate.”
Few minutes later they were sat down in a noisy near café with cola and burritos.
Danny silently greeted Martin’s gesture of not asking for an alcoholic drink,
something his friend always did since Danny had told him about his addiction
years ago.
“So…” Martin asked pulling Danny out of his thoughts. “What’s that celebration
about?”
“Oh,” Danny replied waving the envelope. “This is a letter I’ve received from the
Justice Department in New York.” Staring at the envelope he almost whispered, “It
contains the results of the B.A.R. exam…”
“You took the exam!” Martin exclaimed. “I didn’t know, when?”
“Two months ago… I hadn’t planned it, but well, you don’t know but, I’ve been
having some problems with Jack lately and…” Danny explained.
“I know Danny, I know. Viv told me what happened with you two and your
statement.” Martin said seriously. “I couldn’t share your point of view then, but I’m
not feeling comfortable with Jack’s decisions either. Probably, you did well and I
was wrong,” he sighed. “I’m just expecting any day someone from Washington
firing him.”
“Your father…”
“No… and yes, he has told me something. He asked me and I didn’t find a good
defense for Jack if I’m honest. Of course, he pressured me to get another job… close
to him, of course,” Martin smirked. “So… you’re going to leave.”
“I don’t know yet,” Danny said, raising an eyebrow as he waved the envelope.
Taking a deep breath he opened the envelope and extracted a piece of paper. His
eyes made a quick way through it in search of the magic word… ‘PASS’. With
trembling hands, he showed the letter to Martin.
“You got it!” he exclaimed. “So we have something to celebrate!” he said and they
toasted the glasses.
End of flashback
Some people got into the elevator on their way to their offices. Danny greeted
them, trying to remember faces and occupations. Maybe an habit from his previous
job. The picture wasn’t so different from the FBI, all executive suits and dresses,
bags, newspapers, absentminded people, no conversation at all. The silence filled
the whole small cubicle making the stay almost uncomfortable, as the ring of he
elevator announced every stop. Reaching his destination, Danny got out, heading to
the meeting room, where all the team joined to inform about the cases, to discuss
strategies, to receive orders… that was for him. Usually he had to keep his mouth
shut down during the meetings and just listening to the other lawyers, which more
than once was a hard exercise but gave him a big advantage. Observing them, he
knew their way to work, their personalities, he learnt what, when and who he
could trust, who he would like to work with, giving special attention to the lawyers
working family section.
“Morning,” he greeted, as Michael Walsh barely glanced at him, through his glasses.
Some papers kept him busy, as a worried and nervous John Darren waited for the
conclusions of the boss.
Michael Walsh was everything but a boss like Jack Malone. Danny wasn’t sure if
Walsh knew who he was and what he was doing there and had the feeling the
others got his attention just depending on the case they were working.
Taking a seat, Danny realized only Darren and Walsh there, but noticing the
opened file and the cell on the table, reasoned that also Maggie Anderson was
around. Maggie was the expert in criminal law as Darren worked financial area.
Maggie’s cold personality had surprised Danny so he decided to stay away from
her. It had been his first job. They had supposed that, since he had been dealing
with criminals in the FBI, he would fix well to it. But Danny had been working the
other side of the criminals and didn’t feel like defending them. Maggie didn’t care
about what they had done or the evidences, she only wanted to put them in prison
for the less time possible or even back on the streets. They had had an argument
and she had pointed her finger in the area Danny wanted to work. “So, you think
you’re going to defend the poor children and crying mom from the abuse father?
Come on, Danny, last month Walsh in person defended his best friend from the
false accusations of his daughter… a stupid teen. In the current society there’s no
poor children or defenseless wives. If they need help, they only must go to social
services. But no… they force the situation and what they want? Money, just
money.” Danny couldn’t understand why she thought like that, what far from
reality she was and felt the blood boiling inside of him, as painful own or other
people experiences lived, came to him. Sure, Payton LaSalle was around and her
face told him clear to shut his mouth.
“Maggie is a stupid and arrogant with a cold heart, keep away from her or you
won’t stay here for so long,” Payton had advised Danny as they shared a coffee
during a break. Payton had got her definitive job a few weeks ago and was relieved
she wasn’t the rookie at the office anymore. “I’ve heard you’ve been working with
the FBI…”
“Yes, that’s why I think Mr. Walsh assigned me to the criminal law in first instance.”
“No, he always does… I think he knows how hard Maggie is and want to test our
capacity of resistance to her,” Payton smiled.
“She’s not hard, she’s uncomfortable and she’s very wrong about…”

“The abuses, yes,” Payton bit her lips not wanting to continue. Darren
approximated them and they turned the conversation into sports.
Remembering those first days at his new job, Danny didn’t realize Payton sitting
down beside him, as the rest of the lawyers were entering the meeting room
expect Maggie Anderson, the one he had supposed being there from the beginning.
“Bad day for John,” she whispered. “His client called furious to Walsh, late
yesterday, guess the trial is not going well.”
“I see, when I got in, Walsh was revising the papers and John looked pretty pissed
off,” Danny commented, opening the file he was working with Payton. Payton
worked civil rights, was an expert in divorces and getting the best solution for her
clients, and Danny was making his practice with her now.
Payton LaSalle was his closest coworker, maybe the only one, but nothing
compared to his friendship with Martin or Vivian he missed so much.
Flashback
Getting late at work, Danny entered the bullpen hoping not to see Jack around. He
wasn’t lucky. They had a case and Jack was giving the orders. Before nobody could
say anything, Vivian took the coat from Danny’s hands as saying, “Oh, thanks so
much Danny for stopping by the restaurant to pick up Marcus coat!” Danny
frowned before realizing Vivian was covering him.
“Where did you go?” Viv asked as soon the others left the office, and only she and
Danny stayed.
“I… got asleep,” Danny replied, introducing some notes in the computer.
Vivian raised an eyebrow. She knew so well Danny that he couldn’t lie to her.
However, she also knew when Danny didn’t want to tell and she respected that.
“Your coat,” she said handing it to him. He turned and smiled. “Ah, thank you… and
thank you for… the coverage.”
It was at that moment when a piece of paper slipped down the coat’s pocket. Viv
picket it up and couldn’t help but identify where it was from. “Rickers…” she
murmured. “Is everything okay with Rafie?”
“Yeah, just a… visit,” Danny replied cursing his bad luck that morning. “Oh well,
Viv,… later okay? Let’s work.”
Viv handed the ticket from Rickers to Danny. “Sure!”

“Okay, here we are,” Viv said leaving the glasses on the table. They were in a
crowded and noisy café they usually went after work. The case had been closed
and Vivian didn’t want to lose the chance to talk to Danny, especially since he had
been pretty absentminded all day.
Danny just smiled and took a sip of coffee.
“What happened today, Danny? For once in a long time, I think Jack was right in
being angry at you,” she started.
“Yeah, well, that’s not new…”
“But he was right this time, you agree.”
Danny shook his head. “I told him I need some time off, I asked him some time off
to take care of this but he did say no. So he’s not that right.”
“Time off for?” Vivian asked.
“Don’t care, whatever, I think I’ve never asked for it… but… I knew what’s going on,
I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on the work… he can’t ask me for responsibility
now. I just can’t.”
“Okay Danny, if you’re sick, tired…”
“My brother is dying… Viv.” Danny almost whispered.
Viv got speechless.
“He got a pneumonia last month and went for a check at the prison hospital. They
found those shadows on his lungs… a cancer. He won’t survive more than… five
months.”
“Oh, my God, I’m very sorry Danny! I understand now, it’s… have you talked to his
wife?” Vivian asked.
“Yes, I’ve called her. If she needs help I’m here, I promised her to be in contact after
Rafie went into prison again, but I… I couldn’t… actually. But now it’s also Nicky
and the girl and I… I don’t know what to do… how to talk to them.” There were
tears in Danny’s eyes that broke Vivian’s heart.
“Did you tell Jack what was going on?” She asked softly.
Danny shook his head. “Since I made my statement against him, there’s nothing to
say between us.”
“I didn’t defend him either but if I’d have a problem like this, I’d trust him. He’s not
an idiot, Danny, and knows that you acted correctly. He’s realizing his faults,
especially now that Sam is gone.”
“Not my problem anymore, Viv. He spoke clear to me and so did I. He’s just being
vigilant at me, just looking for his revenge.”
“What! No, no, no Danny. You don’t know Jack, he would never do that! I’m sure
that if you tell him what’s going on with your brother, he’ll agree the days off you
need.”
“Well, the matter is… Rafie surprised me, he really surprised me. He’s caring about
his little brother. He… he told me things that I had never heard, it’s like he’s coming
back to be the brother he usually was when we were kids.”
Vivian nodded, not knowing what to say.
“He asked me to take the B.A.R. exam again and he… wants to see it.”
“That’s very nice from him.”
“Yeah… nice. He knew that I had missed it last time because of him. I told he was
wrong but he didn’t care. He wants me to make my dreams real.”
“You want to be a lawyer.”
“And I don’t feel comfortable in the office. It’s… it’s not about you or Martin, or
Sam. It’s…”
“Oh Danny, try it, just try it. Don’t think about reasons, there’s nothing to lose.”
Vivian encouraged him.
“Do you think I can do it?” Danny asked.
Vivian stared at him in surprise. She didn’t know how important her opinion was
for him. “If I were you, I’d take that damn exam. Your brother will know that, after
all those years, he was able to take you on the tracks.”
End of flashback
“Okay, Danny, I’ll spend all morning at the Court with the Harper’s case,” Payton
said, revising her papers once again. She was nervous at the uncertain of the case.
She had known the other part’s lawyer and he was going to be a hard opponent.
“Everything is going on well, Ms. LaSalle, you’ve prepared the case for weeks. You’ll
get it.” Danny replied so politely that he got a smile from her. He was not only
supporting her but also saying the truth. They had been working that case, since
Danny had started his time in that section and knew how well prepared the case
was. Payton had nothing to lose there.
“Thank you,” she said rolling her eyes. “Danny, please, I know my desk is a mess…
I’ve been so focused on this that…”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. When you come back, you’ll have your next target
ready. I’ll make the statements and look for information, okay?”
“Oh, thanks again, you’re an angel,” Payton said and left the office, leaving Danny
laughing.
No, it wasn’t the work he wished to do, but Payton LaSalle was a nice person and
he liked to work with her. Leaving the office, he went in search of Payton’s
personal secretary to take a look to the schedule. Once he found out what their
next priority was about, he came back to his desk with the files and started to work
that case.
Not later than thirty minutes, someone knocked on the door, interrupting his
reading. Raising his eyes from the papers, he met a pale Maggie Anderson getting
into the office and closing fearfully the door. Handing him an envelope, she sat
down, visibly scared.
Still, she hadn’t let her temperament down. “I’m here only because you are… were
an FBI agent, right?”
Danny frowned and nodded. “Got it. This is not going to be an affair,” he couldn’t
help but reply with a smirk.
Now, she was the one frowning. Obviously ‘jokes’ wasn’t part of her social
dictionary.
“Open it!” she demanded nervously, pointing the envelope Danny had completely
forgotten.
“What’s in?” he asked instead.
She stared at him with a stupid expression of misunderstanding, but Danny didn’t
move and held the sight of the blue cold eyes.
“I’m being threatening!” she screamed, opening wide eyes.
Danny would have care of the situation if this wasn’t Maggie Anderson’s but she
just sounded pathetic.
“And? Tell Mr. Walsh… or the police…”
“I can’t, they’d kill me,” she whispered, looking around expecting the gunshot any
time. “Please, open it and tell me what to do.”
“Okay,” Danny agreed calmly. “Is the first time you receive a threatening letter?”
She nodded, as he read the note. “What’s the case about?”
She cleared her throat before starting a long dissertation. As she was speaking,
Danny wondered why she wasn’t able to just reply.
“So the note is from the rival gang.”
“Looks that, right?”
“Probably, you should take the note to the police so they analyze it for finger
prints, and you tell them what you’ve told me to investigate,” Danny explained her.
“Can’t you help me?” she pleaded.
“I’m helping, I’m telling you what to do. My experience tells me that the best you
can do is going to the police. They know what to do, trust me.”
She frowned and stayed there.
“Mrs. Anderson, I have work to do here,” Danny said since she didn’t look willing to
leave.
“Oh, okay… the police, right? Thank you, Taylor,” she mumbled.
He just smiled as she left the room.
Danny continued his work but the note Maggie Anderson had showed him didn’t
seem to let him to concentrate in the case. Vivian had good contacts in the police…
his fingers reached to drum softly the keys of the phone but the lump of his throat
made him to desist. ‘Damn it, why I can’t move on!’ he cursed silently as the
memories came back like it had happened just few hours earlier.
Flashback
Hospitals had never been good news for Danny but unfortunately he had visited
them too many times during his life. This time wasn’t different but even worse as
he spotted a prisons agent around Rafie’s room.
Three months had passed since Rafie had filled Danny in details of his illness,
sincerity, honesty and brotherhood in it. Danny had no choice but get it.
Resting his hands on his car’s wheel, Danny took a deep breath trying to stop his
trembling body reacting to the emotions. The proud facial expression of Rafie at
the news about the B.A.R. exam, mixed with the visible traces of the illness, had
affected Danny deeply. The bitterness of feeling like brothers a way he hadn’t felt
for years knowing the end was so close, hit his heart hard. Why life was being so
cruel with him?
In the FBI office, a worried Martin checked the time and not because it was late. He
knew where Danny had gone. Since Danny had told him about the B.A.R. exam’s
results the day before, Martin had been talking to some friends of his family. If
Danny was going to leave, the less he could do was trying to find him a good job, to
the person who had saved his life twice, when they were shot and then, later, with
an addition to painkillers he had finally faced it. He had never been so grateful to
Danny for introducing him in the NA meetings. He had sworn himself he would pay
it back, and this was his chance to do it.
Getting into the bullpen as reading some reports, Vivian noticed Martin’s
nervousness.
“Have you got anything?” she asked.
“I’ve got something!” Sam interrupted them as she pointed at her computer. “In
, our missing person Joseph Richey, got free from accusation of robbery with
violence in a gas station in Maryland. Instead, Peter Collins was sentenced to five
years in prison. The DNA found on the abandoned Richey’s car, matches Anthony
Robson, who spent two years, between  and  sharing the same cell with
Collins.” Sam explained.
“So Collins could look for revenge and asks Robson for making Richey to
disappear,” Martin resumed.
“I’ll pay a visit to Mr. Collins,” Vivian announced as she printed the information
about him.
“I’ll go with you,” Sam joined her.
“I’ll call the police to put a search order on Robson,” Martin said.
Dealing a number, Martin glanced at Viv and Sam leaving the office to break the
news to Jack, who was interviewing the missing person’s wife.
Once he talked to the police, he dialed another number, before checking the time
once again.
“Hello, you’re calling to Walsh and Associated. Please hold on, your calling will be
attended as soon as our lines get free,” the automatic replied.
Few seconds later, he heard the voice of one secretary. “Hello, Walsh and
Associated, can I help you?”
“Hello, yes, I’m Martin Fitzgerald, I’ve a got message yesterday evening to call Mr.
Walsh.”
“All right, hold on a second,” she replied as Martin guessed she was dialing Mr.
Walsh personal line. Few seconds later, he listened to the male voice of Mr. Walsh.
Talking to his father’s friends never was comfortable if the matter was a favor,
even though he was convinced Danny deserved the job and he wouldn’t disappoint
him.
Breaking unknown news to a worried wife was never a good matter, but Jack
Malone had been dealing with it for years. Still, sometimes it hurt, especially if the
people were genuinely worried and the news of illegal activities of the sibling was
clearly new to them. This was the case. Mrs. Richey was a kind person who had
been married for less than two years and didn’t even know her husband had been
involved in a robbery some years ago.
Leaving the wife with another agent, Jack was coming back to his office when he
noticed Danny getting out the elevator. Knowing him so well, he just had to glance
at him to know that something was wrong.
Aware of his complicated and disturbing life, Jack had grown a special affection to
this young and stubborn but intelligent and sensitive agent which unswerving
loyalty had been put in evidence when Danny had questioned his capacity of
leadership during an OPR investigation.
Feeling betrayed, the arguments and tension between them during those days had
damaged irreparably their relation, turning into an uncomfortable situation since
then. But, the turmoil Jack was going through ruined the relationship he had
restarted with Sam. Taking the cases to the personal way, he directed his rage and
frustration against suspects, compromising the investigations and the team. His
behavior started to be openly questioned by all the team, but he only saw Danny’s
influence behind it, until the day Vivian spoke clear to him.
Vivian Johnson was his immediate colleague and friend. She had also questioned
him during the OPR investigation and only had refused to take the leadership
because it was not definitive. Vivian put on the table irrefutable reasons, letting
him know the only intention of Danny had been stop the current situation. When
Jack got to accept his personal problem and the urgent need of not involving in the
cases, not only thanked Vivian but also looked for psychological help, a little issue
nobody knew but Vivian. Now, Jack wanted Danny to trust him again, but
somehow, he felt that every time they talked, the old hostility was always present,
and Jack didn’t know how to end it. Finally, he had decided to give up and let the
time healed the issues. The news Van Doren had told him the day before, had
disappointed Jack, not only because he obviously hadn’t control over his agents
before Van Doren, but because Danny hadn’t told him anything.
However, Danny’s face getting absently out the elevator, made him to forget
everything for a moment.
“Danny, what’s going on?” he asked.
Danny stopped on his way to the bullpen and frowned. “Morning,.. eh, nothing… I
told you I had something to do this morning, remember?”
“Yeah, sure, it’s not… uhm… do you have a moment?” Jack replied pointing his
office, it wasn’t a good idea to talk in the corridor. Getting in surprise by Danny’s
body language reaction, he continued, “I just… want to talk to you, right?”
“All right, sir,” Danny replied with a tone that clearly meant he was just obeying an
order.
Jack sighed as he opened the door of his office.
In the bullpen, Martin, still speaking to Mr. Walsh, frowned as he noticed Danny
getting into Jack’s office, increasing his worries.
“Right, Mr. Walsh, I’ll tell him as soon as he arrives… yes, sure,.. yes, my mom will
be glad of it. Thanks again, bye.”
Martin finished the call and clenched his fists in victory. He had got an interview
for Danny that could end with a job in one of the most important lawyers firms in
New York. Waiting impatiently the arrival of his friend, Martin tried to focus on the
work, as he glanced at Jack’s office where they looked to have a normal
conversation, what it was new. Lately, when Danny got into Jack’s office was to
argue.
“Where did you go?” Jack asked as soon as Danny sat down.
“I told you I would get late this morning,” Danny replied sharply.
“Look,” Jack tried to take the conversation to another level but being too difficult
having such a belligerent person to talk. “I’m asking you not because you’re late. I
know what you told me yesterday but sorry to tell, you look a mess. I’m just taking
care of you.”
Danny smirked. “Taking care of me? What’s this? I’m fine, Jack. I’m able to do my
work as well as everyday I come here.”
“I know…”
“And you look a mess most of the time and you don’t care a damn about yourself,”
Danny continued, interrupting him.
“That’s not true, agent Taylor,… the part about not caring about myself. Things…
are changing. I want to…” Jack had got the moment but didn’t want to screw up. “I
want you to trust me as much as I’d like to know I can trust you.”
“I didn’t know you don’t trust me, I trust you my life, Jack, every day… we all trust
each other,” Danny frowned.
“I don’t mean work, I mean… personal stuff.”
“Ah, okay, it’s clear now. There are a few people I trust, I really trust. You’re not
one of them,” Danny replied sharply.
“I know. I’m your boss and I’ve been informed that you took the B.A.R. exam and
you’re planning to quit your job in the FBI. If you trust me, I guess you had told me.
So, I know you don’t. However, and my apology, I couldn’t help but, seeing your
face at getting out the elevator, being worried about you. I’m sorry if it’s not one of
my business but I only wanted to help,” Jack couldn’t help but say in a bitter tone.
“I told you, I’m fine. And if I haven’t told you anything, it’s not a matter of trust. I
don’t know who could tell you that, but I figure out,” Danny replied. The suspect on
Martin was increasing the headache he had got in the hospital.
“So, you’re leaving,” Jack confirmed. “Danny, I wouldn’t like…”
“Hey stop there, Jack. I’m not leaving the FBI. It’s been a long time, and you know
that, I’m trying to take that exam. I remember very well that you had agreed. Of
course, it’s my right to take the chance I consider, but I haven’t made any decision
yet.”
Jack sighed. “May I congratulate you, at least?”
Danny hesitated. The words hurt him, like they were the same words he had
listened from his brother an hour ago in the hospital and he had made all his
driving way to the office trying to control the emotions that now…
“What happened, Danny?” Jack asked noticing the change on Danny.
“Uhm… nothing, I’m fine. Okay, thank you.” He rose quickly. “I’m late, you know… I
have work to do, right?”
“All right, join Martin. He’s looking for the suspect which DNA was found in
Richey’s car.” Jack said, knowing he wouldn’t take a word from his agent.
Danny left the room wondering if Jack was trying sort of apologies. But he soon
forgot Jack’s issues as Martin asked him with a gesture. The question put him back
in Rafie’s bedside and a lump settled in his throat. He tried to ignore the question.
“Jack told me you’re looking for a suspect…”
“Yes, Anthony Robson, his DNA was in Richey’s car. Let’s go to the break room, I’ll
fill you in on our way. I’m waiting for the police call,” Martin explained.
Danny left his jacket and got out the bullpen with Martin, as he listened to his
coworker’s explanations. Once they were sat down with their smoking coffees,
Martin broke the news to his friend.
“I’ve been talking to some friends about you. You know my father knows important
and well-positioned people in the law side…” he started.
“Did you tell Jack about me leaving the FBI?” Danny interrupted him.
Caught in surprise, Martin didn’t know what to reply, but frowned. “No, I haven’t…
I haven’t told anyone but what I’m trying to tell you…”
“Your father knows.”
“No!, I’ve taken advantage of people my family knows but not my father. Danny,
this is a great opportunity for you. Don’t take it wrong, please. I only want to help
you to find a great job, a job you deserve.”
“I don’t need your help, or your family’s help, Martin. I can do it by myself… as I
always did. I don’t need a daddy making gossip around. How the hell Jack knows, I
only told you. I thought we’re friends and know to keep a secret.”
“Forget Jack now! I’m trying to tell you I’ve got an interview for you…”
Danny shook his head. “You don’t understand, do you? What are you doing, uh? Do
you think I’m not perfectly capable of doing it by myself? Why? Because I don’t
have a family covering me? I don’t need help to get a job, I never did.”
“Danny, please. I’m not trying to help, actually. I know you can do it, but please, I
know this people, there’s nothing wrong in make some calls…”
Danny had stood up as Martin did as well. The conversation wasn’t taking the way
Martin had wished and it looked he was offending Danny when the only thing he
wanted was being a friend. “Damn it Danny, you saved my life twice!” he shouted.
“What’s going on here?” The calm but suspicious voice of Vivian surprised them.
“Danny, please… accept my help,” Martin continued.
“What help?” Viv asked. “What’s going on Danny? Do you need help? What’s the
problem?”
“There isn’t a problem, Viv,” Danny replied.
“Danny passed the B.A.R. exam,” Martin explained as Danny grimaced in disgust.
“I’m just trying to get an interview in a good lawyers firm.”
5
Vivian smiled. She knew pretty well Danny to know he wouldn’t like that. But she
understood Martin as well. So Danny had passed the B.A.R. exam and didn’t even
have told her. That hurt but she skipped the feeling. Danny would have his reasons.
“So, you finally got it. That’s great, Danny! Why didn’t you tell us before?”
“I… I knew yesterday, Viv. I had to tell someone else first,” Danny replied with
sadness in his eyes.
Viv stared at him, remembering Rafie’s ask to his little brother. Danny sat down
trying to control the emotions. Martin did the same as Viv took a mug of coffee and
joined them.
“It looks that someone told Jack that I’m going to leave the FBI and I think Jack
believes it’s because of my problems with him since that… statement.”
“I swear you I didn’t tell him,” Martin said.
“Well, I didn’t tell anyone else,” Danny stared at him.
“The FBI is always interested in having lawyers that know the work,” Vivian said.
“Maybe someone saw the list of new lawyers and recognized your name.”
“Sure, it’s possible,” Danny frowned. “News flies. I did share with Martin yesterday
when I opened the envelope with the results and this morning I went to tell my
brother at the hospital.”
“How’s he doing?” Viv asked.
“He’s a loser, he has this terminal illness and doctor told me this morning he won’t
get over three or four weeks more. But, I visited him this morning and he was
happy, proud of me and that was all. To me, the B.A.R. exam is the less important
here, Martin,” he raised his brilliant eyes to look at his friend. “I don’t really want
that job, I don’t know what I’m going to do, it’s not important to me. The most
important is my brother now.”
Martin remained quiet not knowing what to say, but understanding him. He just
nodded.
“But, I’m sure your brother would be grateful of knowing that you took advantage
of it and did something else, Danny,” Vivian said. “You can’t let the chance go
because of Rafie. That’s the last thing he wants, I’m sure.”
Danny remained thoughtful for a moment. “Probably you’re right, Viv. As usual,” he
smiled.
“The best adviser,” Martin conceded. “Well, Danny, you know where I am and what
I can do. The doors are opened and you only must make that call for an interview.
But only when you feel ready and if you want. However, I’m with Viv. I think your
brother would be grateful if you get that job… you deserve it!”
“You see… I can’t leave. Where I’m going to find friends like you both?” Danny said
feeling wrapped and loved, as he never had felt before. “But, Martin,” he continued
remembering his friend’s words, “you don’t owe me anything, I just did what I had
to do and the same you would have done for me,”
“Yes, but you were the one who did, and I can’t help feel that way so let me stay in
peace with myself, at least!” Martin replied.
“Whatever!” Danny agreed.
“Let’s go back to work,” Vivian said as she saw Sam getting into the bullpen after
talking to Jack.
End of flashback
Damn! Danny cursed, as he dialed Viv’s at the FBI.
“Hey Viv, how are you doing?” He greeted.
“Danny! What a great surprise, what’s my pleasure?” she asked.
“Uhm… oh well, maybe some favor,”
“Spit it out!”
“It’s a colleague, she works in criminal law and has received a threatening note.”
“The usual…”
“Yes, I thought that, but it’s the first time she’s going through it and she’s scared…”
“And your interest is…”
Danny could picture Vivian smiling. “No, no it’s not that, Viv, I swear you, I’m a man
of an only one woman and that woman you know who is…”
She laughed. “Oh Danny, I’m sorry to tell but I really miss you here. Okay, what’s
going on with that colleague?”
“She doesn’t want to go to the police as I suggested her so I wonder if you could
make some calls and going through the people around this guy… Mathew Gibson,
she’s defending.”
“Of course, Mathew Gibson…” Viv replied as writing the name. “Criminal law, you
say, so he’s an angel, I presume.”
“Yeah, you know, maybe it’s nothing but…”
“Okay, I’ll make some calls and I’ll tell you if I find out something, right? Good to
hear you Danny. Let’s see if we can share a good baseball game any day,” Vivian
missed him a lot, that was clear and Danny felt it by her tone. That was one of the
reasons he had hesitated in calling. Somehow, he missed them too.
“Of course, maybe any day our schedules match!” he accepted.
“Be careful, Danny,”
“Right, you too, Viv, bye.”
“Was it Danny?” Sam asked as Viv hang up.
“Yes, looking for information about the bad guys threatening the ladies…” she
replied smirking.
“Yep, sure… that’s Danny,” Sam rolled her eyes. She had gone from close to just
coworkers through the years they had worked together but now he had left, she
had to recognize that missed him.
Sam’s life had experienced a big change in the last two years and her problems had
kept away from Danny’s issues. As Jack girlfriend, she had assumed what he told
her, and she was blind at Danny’s reasons for ‘betraying’ Jack. But later, when she
realized by herself what Jack was doing to himself, she thought Danny wasn’t
wrong after all, that sometimes hitting the bottom wasn’t that bad and made the
person to react, just what Jack needed. Then, she decided to break with him and try
a risked but important decision in her life, that was sharing it with the father of her
baby Finn, Brian. She barely knew him, but he was so polite and had showed his
responsibility up to the fact she was pregnant and the baby they had in common,
so she thought it wouldn’t be so bad to try.
Flashback
Her pregnancy was barely noticed but the team knew about it since her first
months of it. Not her wish but she couldn’t hide it from them since she had to run
to the bathroom due to the dizziness now and then. Now, she was in her fourth
month and everything was going on better. Jack had started to over protect her,
making her nerves going to the edge, but on the other side, she felt loved by him.
She had been so scared when told him about it, that now she felt the love for him
was very real. She smiled as she drank a sip of coffee from the paper glass,
remembering Jack murmuring about the inconveniences of drinking coffee as
being pregnant.
Leaving the paper glass on the desk, she switched on the computer with that last
picture in her mind, so she didn’t notice the young agent beside her. She startled
slightly at the figure of Danny, a big and enthusiastic smile on his face and a bag on
his hands, a bag from a baby store. Panicking at Danny’s gesture as he got out
something from the bag, she didn’t know how to react. She wasn’t used to this kind
of affection and got surprised when Danny showed her a little t-shirt with the
words of her favorite baseball team. It was so sweet, but at the same time she was
so ashamed. Taking the t-shirt quickly, she smiled nervously and murmured
thanks, confusing Danny who wondered if he had done anything wrong. He
actually asked but realizing her rude attitude, she tried to correct herself, not
getting it, at all.
End of flashback
“How is he doing with his new job?” she asked.
“I think he’s still in a practice period. He’s only five months working there,” Vivian
replied.
“I’d like to see him at the Court, exposing theories and spreading all his charm,”
Sam said, remembering one of his best qualities.
Flashback
“Where are you going, Sam?” Danny frowned. “I’m driving, you’re pregnant.”
“What? I’m not sick. You both are getting me crazy!”
“Who?”
“You and Jack.”
“Oh well, you’re his girlfriend, it’s normal. And you’re my princess, so let me take
care of you, please.”
“I’m not Jack girlfriend and I’m far away from being a princess,” she started but
bust into laugh when Danny, graciously, opened the passenger door for her.
“I’m not a princess,” she repeated in a self-threatening tone.
“Your pleasure, miss Spade,” he started but laughing hard as well.
End of flashback
“I wonder if his new coworkers will understand him,” she wondered aloud.
“Why?” Vivian asked.
“I’ve realized that I never knew him, after all… he always surprised me, especially
with the pregnancy… and Finn, he was so… careful, kind, sensitive, I never had
experienced that. I mean, I had seen him working with children and knew he had a
special touch with them, but…”
“That’s about family Sam. He was happy for you running a family. He always felt we
all were a family and he was going to have a nephew or a niece.” ‘That’s why he felt
so hurt by Jack,’ Viv could continue but stopped in time.
“Yes...” Sam murmured. “Finn… I was so scared then… but he has changed my life
completely, I can’t think about living without him anymore.”
“He’s a beautiful baby,” Viv agreed.
“Yes,” Sam smiled remembering another scene.
Flashback
Coming back from Jack’s office, Sam was trying to fix her new life as a mom and as
an FBI agent. Just two days ago she had come back from her time off for maternity
being hard to separate from her baby. He was still so tiny and she was living that
kind of affection for the first time in her life. Sam was stunning and surprised of
her own attitude, the new feelings she had never thought she had.
Getting into the bullpen, she noticed Danny staring at a screen with a stunning face,
as he smiled amazingly. She approached him, realizing what he was seeing. She had
installed a web cam at home so she was able to see Finn all the time on the screen.
She felt as Danny was violating her intimacy but his stunning expression made her
just share the moment with him. “Amazing, uh?” she said.
Feeling embarrassed, Danny tried an apology, but Sam cut him. “He’s so in peace,
it’s the best thing ever happened to me,” she looked at the screen. “I can’t keep
away my eyes from him.”
“He’s adorable,” Danny nodded. “Look, he’s moving.”
“Oh, yes!” She exclaimed softly. “Let’s see if he rolls over him. I don’t want to miss
it!”
They shared the moment for a while until they remembered the work to do.
Exchanging a confident look, Danny came back to his desk, leaving Sam staring at
her baby, as the feeling of violated intimacy came incomprehensibly to her.
End of flashback
“What’s the matter?” Viv asked, noticing the upset face of Sam.
“Nothing, just… old times.” She replied. She was upset with herself, actually,
realizing how rude she had acted during the last times of Danny working with
them. He actually was such a kind person and didn’t deserve her attitude.
“Maybe… I’ll pay a visit to him any day,” she said.
“Oh, that’s what I’m saying every day, but I never have time!” Vivian exclaimed.
“Maybe you’re lucky with it.”
Reading the documents about their new case, Danny remembered having studied
something similar recently. Typing on the computer, he found Aldrich vs Aldrich
case, held two years ago and started to study how the case had been developed.
Focusing on the case, he didn’t notice an agitated Payton LaSalle getting into the
office and greeting her secretary.
“Idiots!” she exclaimed as she entered, making Danny jump. She started laughing at
him. “Oh, I’m sorry! I’ve been a quarter of hour arguing with security agents.
There’s a problem with the recognizing system, the cards aren’t working out! You
won’t believe, they didn’t want to let me in! How’s possible, I’m coming here every
day for the last fourteen months!” Clients being welcomed as I had to pass a
detailed examination… me!, can you believe it!”
“It’s better to be sure,” Danny commented. “How did you do in the Court?”
“It’s done. I haven’t got all what Mr. Harper wished but I think I got a good deal.
He’s okay… let’s see what Mr. Walsh says,” she smirked.
“If the client agreed, I guess you won’t have a problem,” Danny encouraged her.
“Yeah, let’s see. What about you?”
“I’ve found a similar case to ours… ‘Aldrich vs Aldrich’ judged two years ago. I’ve
printed the basics, but there’s a lot to consider. I… I would like to work this, I
mean… in the Court.”
“How long have you been working here, Danny?” she asked.
“Five months, I know, it’s soon, but I’m used to work on the field, I’m dying here,”
he protested.
“What stuff would you like to work?” she asked. “It’s a different matter when
you’re in the University from being here, the real practice.”
“I… I’d like to work with family section. I’m pretty interested in defending children
from… abuses, getting good places to live… a truly chance for life,” he explained.
“Oh my God, another dreamer,” she sighed.
The comment hurt Danny who didn’t expect that from her. He wasn’t a naïve, he
knew very well the hardest part of living in the social system and that’s why he
wanted to work on it… he knew it. Nobody could lie to him.
“I know that subject pretty well,” he said seriously.
“Maybe you’d like to work a place like Melvin Foundation? Do you know it?”
He nodded. “A friend of mine had good contacts an got an appointment with Mr.
Walsh the day after I got the results of the B.A.R. exam. I didn’t even had asked for
it, but then I had got that interview.”
“Wow, that’s a really good friend,” Payton conceded.
“Yes, he is,” Danny smiled.
Flashback
“So, what?” Martin asked. “When is the interview?”
Driving on their way to interview a witness, Martin got the chance to ask Danny
without the rest of the office hearing a word.
“Yesterday,” Danny smirked.
“What? How… how yesterday?” Martin asked confused.
“I called and they told me to go as soon as possible.” Danny replied.
“I see, you left quickly after the case was over…” Martin frowned.
“Yep, I didn’t even want to think about it, Martin. You had made that call for me
and I really appreciate it, in spite of what I told you.”
“It’s okay, I understood, Danny. Well, and what happened? Did you get it?” Martin
asked.
“I don’t know yet. This Mr. Walsh read my résumé and made some additional
questions. They have a vacant and he must think about my profile and my wish for
working a concrete section,” Danny explained without too much enthusiasm.
“Danny, it’s a good chance, I’m sure you’ll do very well there. If I made that call is
because I trust you. I know the way you reason, you’re an experienced person here
and I’m sure…”
“It’s not the same… it’s all new. You don’t understand, what it’s happening to me
for the last times is so… disturbing. I’ve come from an unquestionable work with
you all to these troubles with Jack and now with Rafie…”
“How’s he doing, by the way?” Martin asked.
“Not good, he’s being sedated to skip the pain. It’s… not good. And there’s Sylvia
and Nicky… it’s being difficult for them. There’s no hope and they know that but
still…” Danny said.
“Yeah, I know. When I knew about my aunt, Bonnie, it was late for her and my
worse feeling was that I didn’t understand why other people get over the cancer,
but not her. I kept the faith on recovering all the time, in spite of what doctors told
us. I think she accepted better than us. Maybe Rafie is in peace with himself now,
that’s why he asked you to take the B.A.R. exam and was so proud you got it.”
Martin rested a hand on Danny’s shoulder that stared at the window, emotions
taking him.
End of flashback
Blinking at the sound of the phone interrupting his thoughts, Danny picked it up.
“Hello.”
“Mr. Taylor, I’m Mr. Walsh secretary. He’s waiting for you at his office.”
“Waiting for me?” Danny asked confused. “I don’t remember…” he started, as
Payton raised her head toward him.
“No, you don’t have an appointment, he called a few minutes ago.”
“Oh, right, I’ll be there right now,” Danny hung up and looked at Payton. “It’s Walsh,
he wants me to meet him at his office. I have no idea of what he wants.”
“Go, the earlier you meet him, the earlier you’ll know what he wants,” she said
smiling. “Don’t worry, Danny. I’m sure it’s nothing, you’re doing very well here.”
“I’ve got a new job for you,” Walsh said as soon as Danny got into his office. “Sit
down, please.”
Danny sat down. He was doing well with Payton LaSalle, and he’d been only a few
weeks working with her. He soon understood, when Michael Walsh put the note
Maggie Anderson had showed him earlier that morning. Danny tried to keep a
professional face, even though, he was figuring out what this was about.
“I’ve got a vacant in the criminal law section. I think you’re best qualified for that
job. You’ve been working with the FBI and know how these people think…”
“I’ve been working with the FBI in the Missing Persons Unit, it’s not like I had
worked with criminals… directly,” Danny tried.
“I want you to protect Mrs. Anderson. I don’t think she’s qualified to go on with this
case… oh, excuse me,” he interrupted himself at the sound of the phone. “Hello?...
Uhm… yes, there’s been crazy day with the id’s but… yes, but the cameras are
working, right? Uh… I see… oh come on, no, I can’t give a personal authorization
every time a client wants to come, are you doing that?... No, of course... Okay, do
whatever you want, but not my office Walter… see you, bye…” Walsh raised a
finger as an excuse. “Lisa, may you call Maggie Anderson and tell her to meet me
here?... right, thanks…” Walsh hung up the phone and looked at Danny. “Well, so as
I told you, you’re going to work Maggie’s case and I’d like you protect her. I know…
I know it’s not your work anymore but your experience here is very valuable.”
“What… what about the other lawyers? Not that I don’t want to do it, but I think
they are better experienced than me.” Danny said feeling upset. He was a lawyer
now, not a babysitter.
“As I’ve told you, there’s a vacant. Actually, it’s the only place where a job will be
available in the next months. This means you will work full time and full
responsibility… including the Court.” Walsh stared at Danny through his glasses.
Danny got speechless. He missed start working at the Court, but somehow he
thought Walsh was taking him for other reasons. However, full work… he felt
tempted. “Well, if that’s the matter, I’ll do my best, Mr. Walsh. You won’t regret.”
“I know I won’t,” Mr. Walsh smiled offering his hand to Danny that shook it.
“Come in!” he ordered at the knock on the door.
Maggie Anderson got into the room noticing shaking hands for a second. “Did you
call me?”
“Yes, I’ve informed Mr. Taylor he’s got the job in the criminal law section. He’ll
work Gibson’s case, so you’ll be assigned to another one.”
“But… Mr. Walsh, this is not necessary. I’m perfectly aware of the risks…” she
started.
“Maggie,” Walsh said in a conciliator tone. “thirty minutes ago, you came in
trembling like a leaf because you had received a threatening note. I have to
recognize I didn’t expect that from you. Do you know how many times I’ve received
this kind of notes?... Here, in the Court, shouting at my face. That’s normal
consequences of working this section, Maggie.”
Maggie blushed not saying a word. The change on the usually confident Mrs.
Anderson surprised Danny.
“On the other hand,” Walsh continued, “we have the privilege of having Mr. Taylor
with us, he’s been an excellent FBI agent for years, I really think he can deal with
this.”
Maggie stared at Danny.
“It’s done,” Walsh said seriously. “Take the documents to Taylor and fill him in it. I
guess you’ll fix well as a team.”
Danny and Maggie left Walsh office in silence. Neither of them was happy with this
decision.
“Did you show him the note, finally?” Danny asked.
“Yes, I did, sure I’d have liked your help but you seemed pretty reluctant to help
so… I had no choice. I knew what’s going on so don’t blame me for it. It’s your
fault.”
“My fault? What? I told you to call the police! What did you want? Me, solving your
problems? You treated me like crap. I don’t owe you anything, you never talked to
me like a coworker, just giving orders and now I’m useful for you… what do you
want, uh?”
“I haven’t treated you like crap, Taylor. I’m… just like that with everybody, don’t
take it personal, please. Why do you think, in spite of what Walsh said, I’m working
with criminals? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were so weak!”, she exclaimed.
He raised and down his arms. “Okay, it’s okay, I’m going to tell Payton, I guess she
will be happy with this,” Danny said angrily.
“It’s not my fault she’s in love with you and the only available job is in my section,
either. Mike left last month, and I guess Susan Jones will go soon, are you going to
be the next one?” she smirked.
“She’s not in love with me. We’re coworkers exchanging friendly jobs, something
you don’t understand. And no, I won’t give up so easily.”
“Oh well, stop there. I’ll be in my office. Go to take your things and come back to
explain you how we’re going to work.” She said sharply turning her back to him
and heading to her office.
“Shit,” Danny murmured, as her provocative way of walk, agitating her long blonde
hair.
Danny left to meet Payton and collecting his things, wondering if Walsh was really
appreciating his work as a lawyer, and remembering their first meeting.
Flashback
Knocking on the door, Danny tried to calm down. It was : pm and they had just
ended the case they had been working for the last three days. Unfortunately, their
missing person was dead, had been dead even before they had received the report,
5
so there was nothing they could do. The bitter feeling every time this happened
was intact, as the first day, but his experience and the years working with the FBI
had taught him how to block it.
“Come in!” he heard, so opened the door. He felt intimidated by Michael Walsh
wide office with an amazing sight of Manhattan, lots of law books, documents, and
impressive furniture. It was when Danny realized who he was going to ask for a job
and couldn’t help feel really nervous.
Mr. Walsh shook vigorously Danny’s hand, inviting him to sit down with a gesture.
The man in his fifties looked extremely confident, but also distant… but also warm,
definitely catching Danny’s interest.
“Special agent Daniel Taylor, from the FBI,” he started, reading what Danny
supposed it was his résumé he had left to Walsh’s secretary, a few minutes ago.
“I’ve been hearing memorable things about you lately. You’re a good friend with
the son of one of my best friends, Victor Fitzgerald.”
“Yes, sir. Martin and I are friends. We… we’ve been working together for years
and…”
“Yeah, yeah, he already told me. I trust him, you know, I trust him and his family so,
even though, I don’t use to do this, I’ll give you a chance here. Let’s see how it
works. So, relax, son.”
Danny felt uncomfortable with Walsh’s words, but his plastered smiling confused
him. Maybe it was his way. He didn’t know what to say, was he there just because
of Martin or his profile?
“If you check my résumé, you’ll see I’ve studied at…”
“I’ve checked it, there’s no problem. You must know it’s not so simple to meet me
for an interview, after all, Taylor,” the smiling face there again. Danny was even
more nervous. “I only have a few questions for you.”
“All right,” Danny replied. “I’m ready to explain you whatever you want to know,
sir.”
Walsh put his glasses and picking up Danny’s résumé, he read it carefully. “Why do
you want to leave the FBI?”
“I’ve been working for the FBI for such a long time that I wish a change. It’s a
matter of the work I want to do. I attended Queens College, getting my degree, so…
it was a chance. I love to work as a lawyer, it’s been my…”
“So, why didn’t you take it in first place? I see you obtained your degree before
joining the FBI.”
“I missed the B.A.R. exam once I finished my degree and I needed a job. I felt good
there, so I’ve been working since then.”
“And you’ve passed your B.A.R. exam just a few days. Why did you take so long?”
“As I told you, sir, I felt good working with the FBI and it’s been like that for years.
Still, I wanted to try. Being an FBI agent, the time necessary for studying is not
enough, as you can figure out, so it’s been long.”
“Martin Fitzgerald told me you had tried once…”
“Yes, I couldn’t take it. Work…”
“Working for the FBI was more important for you than the B.A.R. exam and the
possibility of starting a career as a lawyer. Were you hesitating? I ask you this
because I don’t want to waste my time in teaching you the rules and the way we
work here just to see you leaving in the name of another dream…”
“It wasn’t the work, sir. Well, it was but not. My partner, Martin Fitzgerald was
shot. Maybe you know that he was close to die.” Danny explained.
Crossing his arms, Walsh nodded as frowned. Danny continued, “I was with him
during the shooting that happened just a few days before the exam so I wasn’t able
to focus on anything else but what had happened and Martin.”
“I see, it’s a matter of loyalty, then. That’s different.”
Danny nodded. “Yes, we were there for him, all the team and at the same time
working to find out who had done it.”
“So… you were in the shooting, seeing your partner dying and… yet did you
continue working? That’s hard, interesting. I presume you don’t give up at extreme
situations.”
“We had to, for Martin and because we were only three in the office, including my
boss.”
“Don’t take merit away. Not everybody do that, believe me.” Walsh disagreed.
“Okay, Taylor, it’s my intention that you start here tomorrow, but I know you must
do the paperwork with the FBI. So call back when it’s done to assign you a job,
right?” Walsh said as standing up.
Danny stood up and they shook hands. “I’m glad to meet you, Taylor.”
“Thank you, Mr. Walsh. You won’t regret.”
End of flashback

On their way to interview a witness, Vivian’s cell started ringing. She frowned
recognizing the number and glanced at Jack’s concentrate figure on the road.
“Hello?” she asked.
“Hey Viv, it’s Bobby. Would you mind to tell me who asked for this guy?”
“Hi, Bobby, I’m sorry, I promised not to tell but, what happens? Anything really
serious?”
“I don’t know what to tell, Viv, but as soon as I tried to poke my nose on it, the
words classified and confidential was the only thing I found out, plus a call from
my boss.”
“Really?” Viv sounded so worried that Jack started to pay attention to her
conversation. “I’m sorry Bobby, I didn’t wish to cause you any problems. Just stop
it.”
“I’m sorry for not being able to help. Is everything okay around?” he asked
sounding genuinely pissed off.
Viv smiled, she knew Bobby well to know he was upset for not helping her. “It’s
okay, tell Miriam I’ll visit her any day soon.”
“She will be glad of it, Viv. Uhm… well I gotta go, I’m really sorry.”
“I know, Bobby, don’t worry, thanks for trying it. Bye.”
Viv ended the call and looked at Jack who was expectantly waiting. “A favor
someone asked me to do,” she explained.
“It’s all right, you just sounded a bit worried.” He excused himself.
“I didn’t expect that reply. It looked something pretty simple, just a favor, but
maybe there’s something else behind. I… I haven’t got all the information, just to
ask. Maybe it works for him,” she explained, dialing a number.
“Taylor,” the angry voice of her former coworker made her frown.
“Danny, it’s me, Viv, bad moment?.”
“Oh, Viv, I’m sorry,… uhm… actually, yes. It’s nothing, really… what’s going on?” he
asked sounding still annoying.
“I asked about that guy, but there’s no information about it. Everything is classified,
confidential. My source even received a call from his boss telling him to stop.”
Vivian said.
The silence at the other side of the line, made Viv think the line had been cut.
“Danny, are you there?”
“Yes, yes… uhm… listen, I can’t speak now, but I’ll call you later. Maybe I’ll work
this case so… oh, I’ll call you back, right?” he said.
“Yes, of course, Danny, take care, right?” she agreed.
Closing the cell, this time Jack’s questioning face was more than evident. “Him
meant Danny,” he said.
“Yes,” she murmured.
“What’s happening?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Oh well, maybe I caught him in a bad moment.” She replied.
Danny ended the call with Vivian right before opening Payton LaSalle office,
without even knocking on the door.
She raised her eyes in surprise at Danny’s angry face. “What happened? You look
weird…”
“I’ve got my definitive job,” He announced.
She stared at him, waiting for complete explanation; judging by his angry tone,
there was more news.
“In criminal law section.” He said, without looking at her and starting to collect his
things.
She opened her mouth in confusion. “What? Why? What happened?”
“It’s not easy to explain, Payton. Basically, I think I’m more important as an ex-FBI
agent than a lawyer at this very moment.” He said angrily.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“Downstairs, with Mr. Maggie Anderson, to babysit her,” he replied.
Payton couldn’t help but smiling at the picture. But she was also very angry. “There
must be a reason…”
“I told you. It’s about my former work. I… I have to go. Maggie is waiting to instruct
me,” he smirked as headed for the door.
Payton shook her head in disbelief as feeling the blood boiling inside. Maggie had
always been jealous of her, since the times of her period in the criminal law
section. She came back to her work, trying to focus on the documentation Danny
had prepared for her. ‘Damn it,’ she thought, ‘he was perfect for this.’
“Maybe you need to remember that here, the fact the people you’re defending are
guilty or not guilty is irrelevant, right?” Maggie said.
Danny had left his things in the office he had been assigned and had gone to
Maggie’s office to take the documents about the case and was patiently listening
her dissertation.
“On criminal law, you only must examine the facts, and look for the crack that help
you to ruined the attorney allegations and get the best result for your client. That’s
the law, every part doing its work, is it okay?” she explained, as she was the only
expert in criminal law of the entire building. Her loudly exaggerated tone didn’t
disturb Danny in other times, but he was pretty pissed off.
“You don’t need to teach me anything, Mrs. Anderson. I’m only here work the case
you aren’t going to defend anymore by Mr. Walsh order. Not my pleasure, but I’ll
do. I perfectly know how to work this.” He said.
“We’ll see,” she said angrily. “Not my taste, either.” She dropped the five heavy
folders in front of him. “All yours,” she said, as picking the phone that had started
to ring.
“Thanks,” Danny said, collecting the folders without expressing any gesture.
He was leaving the office when Anderson interrupted him. “Taylor, Mr. Walsh
wants us at the meeting room, right now.”
Danny raised an eyebrow, and left to his new office, where he left the folders,
picked up a notebook and went out, heading to the meeting room.
Some minutes later, all the lawyers present in the office were there. Payton was
discussing in an angry guarded tone with Walsh, as Maggie tried to avoid any
contact with them. Danny saw John Darren who greeted him, and also Michael
Petersen, who hadn’t had the chance to work with, from the environmental area.
He had missed working with Darren as well. Tim Donaldson, also from the
financial area, like Darren, joined them. He noticed Susan Jones, looking for the
furthest seat from Maggie and shook his head, remembering Maggie’s comments
about Susan leaving the next month. He would have preferred to work with Susan
instead of Maggie on his practice period.
“Okay, guys,” Mr. Walsh’s voice, made the little conversations to stop and pay
attention to him. “This is just a briefing to inform you about new changes. You all
know that Daniel Taylor joined us some months ago. He’s been working his
practice period and he has been assigned to a definitive job at criminal law section,
today. Since Mike left, it’s urgent to cover that job, so I’ve thought he’s the perfect
match.”
“But, he hasn’t completed the round,” Tim protested. “I’d like to see how he does in
financial area. It’s true that there’s no vacant there, but we’re full of work,” he said,
looking at Darren, who nodded.
“I think we need another lawyer there. Lately, the financial cases are increasing,
probably due the problems the crisis is causing,” Darren said.
“Yes, I know,” Walsh said, “but there’s a matter, a delicate matter on criminal law
section and I’ve considered a priority to assign someone to that job, and he’s the
best qualified at the moment.”
“Did you work as an FBI agent before, right?” Petersen, from environmental area
asked.
Danny blushed lightly, not because he was ashamed but he knew the meaning of
the question that coincided with his suspects. “Yes, but I don’t think it helps here.
It’s a completely different context.” Danny replied.
“Yes, of course. Being a Federal, the lawyers are the bad people to ruin your work,”
Petersen sharply said.
“No. My work consisted in looking for missing persons. I never took care for the
reasons of suspects or witness, just finding the missing person. Whatever
happened next, it’s not my business.”
“Oh, come on, don’t tell me you aren’t pissed off, when a lawyer destroys your
evidences.” Petersen laughed.
“It never happened to me,” Danny lied, remembering that case where they couldn’t
get an order because of an illegal collecting of a photography album showing naked
boys.
“Well, stop here. We’re wasting time.” Walsh said as frowning when all the lights
started to fail. “What the hell?”
“It’s been happening all day.” Darren said. “Not this, but security cameras, ID’s are
failing today.”
“I guess the building is too old,” Tim said.
“I’d like to say something,” Payton had stood up, and collecting her thing. “I’ve been
working with Taylor for the last weeks, as you all know, and I’d like to say here
that I think he’s very qualified to work the family section. He has the required
sensitivity to work there. I believe, and excuse me if I’m offending you, Mr. Walsh,
you’re wrong in not keeping him this area. But well, we’ve been discussing this for
a while before and doesn’t look you don’t care about my opinion.”
Without giving the chance to reply to Walsh, Payton collected her things and left
the meeting room, being followed by Petersen that obviously wasn’t happy with
that decision.
She pushed the button call of the elevator boldly, as Petersen grinned. “What? It
looks that Anderson won over you this time, am I right?”
She didn’t reply, entering quickly the elevator. Petersen followed her. “Okay,
Payton, it’s only a game, you’ll find another hot Latin lawyer for you.”
She was ready to snap his stupid face when the elevator suddenly stopped and the
lights went off. “What’s happening?” she fearfully asked.
“Damn it! The electricity is failing again,” Petersen said, looking for the alarm.
“Hey, wait, what’s that?” Payton whispered. “What’s that?” She screamed at the
sound of the gunfire outside. “Oh, my god! Help! Help!” she cried hitting the doors.
“She’s lying,” Jack commented.
“Sure, do you think she’s involved?” Vivian asked.
“She is hiding something, that’s evident.” He replied. “Tell me Martin,” he answered
the cell.
“The apartment is clean, there’s no sign of Phoebe around and nothing suspect. It
looks there’s nobody living here for weeks,” Martin explained.
“Right, come around the local and keep me posted about Mrs. Lawson’s
movements. She’s over something and I want to know what.”
“Okay,” Martin replied.
Jack ended the call just arriving at the parking lot, in the FBI offices.
Vivian looked at the time as they got into the elevator to the th floor and sighed.
Phoebe Miles was missing for too much time and she started to fear the worst. She
hadn’t used credit cards and there was no sign of violence at her home. Only her
friend, Mary Lawson seemed to know something but she was reluctant to speak.
“Maybe we should go back to pressure her,” she spoke aloud reading Jack’s
thoughts.
“We don’t have anything against her, we can’t do it.” He said. “We need evidences
or the law will come against us. Uh… why don’t you ask our expert in law? Tell him
what the case is about, he surely has an idea of how to skip that little
inconvenience…”
“Jack, please.” Vivian started. “Aren’t you going to forgive Danny anymore?”
“No, I’m not.” He replied in disgust, and Vivian knew Jack missed him as well. She
smiled. What a pity Danny didn’t know the emotions Jack hid inside.
Flashback
“Please Viv, don’t tell him,” Danny asked nervously.
“Oh, come on, Danny, I can’t believe it. Are you scared of Jack?” she laughed. “He’ll
be happy for you!”
“I’m not so sure,” Danny grimaced. “I didn’t know I was going to leave this soon.
Damn it, Martin, why did you do?”
“I had never seen you like this, Danny. Are you Danny, the real Danny Taylor I
know? Maybe you want me to tell him. Uhm… I’m sorry Jack, I can’t join Danny to
interview the witness because he… He’s the lawyer of our suspect!”
“All right, all right!” Danny protested. “I’ll tell him… later.”
“No, you tell now, the sooner the best.” Vivian encouraged him.
“Okay,” Danny said but didn’t move.
“Now!” Martin and Vivian said at unison.
They saw as Danny headed to Jack’s office taking all the time he could to reach the
door. Knocking at the door, he glanced at the bullpen, as Vivian and Martin quickly
focused on their works.
“Jack, do you have a minute?” He asked.
“Yes, what’s going on, Danny?” Jack asked noticing the nervous agent.
“Uhm… I… I don’t know how to tell you.” Danny started. “It’s… it’s about… Martin
got an interview… I didn’t know it would be so fast… I’m… they want me to start as
soon as I’ve done the paperwork here and…” he started. ‘Bad, bad, damn it! I’m not
like that, it’s just Jack’. “I’ve got a work as a lawyer in Walsh and Associated and
they want me to start as soon as possible.” He said then staring at Jack.
“Oh, so you were going to leave, after all.” Jack said calmly.
“No, I wasn’t, but… I got this chance and you understand I can’t say no.” Danny
said.
“When were you going to tell me?” Jack asked.
“Now, I’m telling you now, it’s been very fast.”
“And why the urgency? Have you become the best lawyer in NY and I didn’t know
about it? Are you wasting your time here?”
“No, it’s… just a chance. Martin…”
“Martin is your accomplice, I see, and Vivian, probably. Who else, Sam as well? Who
am I for you, Danny?” Jack said ironically.
“You’re taking it wrong,” Danny replied ‘As usual’ he skipped to say. “Martin just
tried to help. He got this interview for me. I didn’t want to go and had an argument
with him, but Vivian caught us and encouraged me to go.”
“Great!” Jack stood up.
Vivian and Martin were looking at the gestures and frowned as Jack standing up
waving his hands and looking pretty pissed off. “I can’t believe it,” Vivian said.
“It’s for Rafie.” Danny said, trying to control his rage. “He’s the most important at
this moment, and I’m doing it for him. I’ve been trying to explain you what my
emotional condition was during the last months but you just ignored it.” He had
stood up, as well. His eyes were brilliant but you couldn’t know if there was the
rage or the tears he was fighting to stop rolling down. “What did you want from
me, Jack? You never listened to me! You take all wrong from me. I trust you my life
and you just… this is nonsense. I’m leaving… now.” He pulled out his gun and left
on the desk beside his badge.
“Danny…” Jack started in surprise at his agent reaction.
“No, I feel an idiot when I think just a moment ago, thinking about how to tell you, I
had thought you would be upset but… not this way. I really didn’t want to leave,
but now… I think it’s the best I can do. You don’t have any idea about what this
team is and the respect we have for you. You don’t appreciate it and have lost the
perspective. I tried to help you as Viv did, as Sam did as well, but you still think that
the world goes around you, that you’re the only one with problems to excuse your
behavior, and you’re very wrong. Bye.” Danny turned back and left Jack’s office,
heading not to the bullpen but directly to the elevator.
Martin ran toward him, as Vivian headed to Jack’s office, furious.
Jack was still collecting Danny’s gun and badge, wondering what had just
happened, when Vivian burst into his office. “What did you do?” she questioned
him.
“I did nothing. Danny told me he’s going to leave.” He replied upset.
“And he left your office like that because you… come on, Jack, you screwed up
again. What happened?” She asked again.
“What’s this, agent Johnson? This is not your business, by the way, why are you
interrogating me?” He said defensively.
“Jack, I care about my coworkers, and I especially care about Danny, because he’s a
loyal friend, because I trust him my life and because I know this is a very delicate
and special moment for him. And you know how it works, Jack.” She said angrily.
“I need time,” he finally said. “I’m healing the damage I could cause with my
behavior but, I’m just trying. I can’t do it with him, he’s so defensive…”
“What a pity. I’m not talking about you, Jack. That’s your fault. Have you ever
listened to him?”
Jack frowned. That was what Danny had told him. He felt dizzy, confused, Danny
made him to lose control and he knew why. He wanted but wasn’t able to forgive
him. “He made me lose my job, my prestigious…” he started. “And I’m trying to deal
with it and make things to work out again but…”
“He did to save you, and you know that. He trusted his life to you and you know
that. We’re his family and you know that. He’s as stubborn as you are but he’s
learnt to accept our help and support, as the friends we are. You haven’t. He has
also tried, Jack and when he came to talk to you, asking you some days off, you said
no. When he tried to explain what was going on, you didn’t listen to him. You took
it personal, once again and never cared about him. What did you tell him today?
Because I’m seeing his gun and his badge here and it looks it’s not what he was
going to do.”
Jack remained silent for a moment, playing Danny’s badge between his fingers.
“Get out of here. Please.” He asked, and Viv could read the pain in his eyes. She
wouldn’t understand this man, unable to express his true feelings, ruining
everything instead.
Questioning Jack’s psychological assistance, she just did what he asked and left,
closing firmly the door.
End of flashback
Vivian and Jack separated on their ways as she went to the bullpen to meet Sam
and Will, the rookie that had joined them two weeks ago.
“Any news from Martin?” she asked.
“He called from outside of the coffee shop. He looked pretty bored. Nothing yet.”
Sam replied.
5
“No movement registered of the credit card either,” Will commented. “Why if she
just left?”
Sam smiled. “There’s nothing to miss in her apartment, Will. If she had simply left,
we would have had news from her. This sounds bad.”
He frowned.
“We must be prepared, Will. We don’t win all the time,” Vivian encouraged him.
His phone started to ring. Hopefully, Will picked it up, just to listen to a desperate
Martin. “Connect channel !”
“Channel !” he repeated, pointing at the remote, as Vivian pushed the button. But
before the images were on the screen, she saw a sick Jack leaving his office and
running towards them.
The breaking news just stopped their hearts. The red lights of ambulances, police,
people running, confusion didn’t let them know anything else but the tragedy had
happened. The cameraman focused on a concrete plate at the entrance of the
building, “Walsh and Associated”, as the words ran from the right to the left on the
screen. “Gunfire at Walsh and Associated offices. More information is expected.”
“Help!” A scared Payton LaSalle screamed, as Michael Petersen tried fruitlessly to
open the doors of the elevator. “Is anybody out there?” he yelled as leaned his ear
on the door.
She looked at him expectant, the only sound of their heavy breathing as company.
He turned at her and she could read the fear in his eyes. “What?” she almost
whispered.
“Listen… there are other people trapped in the elevators. Do you hear the alarms?”
She nodded. “That’s good. Help will come soon. Do you think you can open this?
What do you think has happened?” she asked.
“We’ll know soon, maybe a short circuit. I don’t understand why the generators
aren’t working out. I guess a demand against the maintenance company,” he
replied trying to force the doors open, but shaking his head, he sat down on the
floor breathing heavily. “It’s better wait for help.”
As soon as he sat down, he quickly stood up, when the elevator made a short
movement and the lights blinked to stay stable. Exchanging a hopeful look, Payton
and Michael noticed the elevator saving the short way one floor up.
The close stairs registered an unusual movement of people when they got out the
elevator as someone from there, yelled at them, “Hey, come on, we have to get out
of the building!”
Payton and Michael ran to the stairs and joined the rest of people on their way to
the hall.
Once she was outside, tried to look for someone else from the office, but there was
so many people and confusion that she gave up.
Inside the building only the electricians were trying to repair the systems and the
security guards cleaned all the offices searching for people still in the building. Not
less than an hour later, they could be allowed to enter again.
However, what had looked to be a problem of the electricity system, soon turned to
a tragedy, as a couple of security guards entered Michael Walsh main office.
As soon as Martin spotted another FBI agent coming to the coffee shop to relieve
him, he left to the building where Michael Walsh offices had its place. Since he had
seen the breaking news, he had been fruitlessly calling Danny and news weren’t
giving any new information a part from the fearful gunfire.
Making use of his badge as FBI agent, he had no problem to enter the building,
heading immediately to other FBI agents.
“I’m Martin Fitzgerald,” he said showing his ID, “I’m looking for a lawyer working
here, at Walsh offices, what has happened?”
“Are you in the case?” the other agent asked him.
Martin didn’t know what to say at the moment, but listened to a rough voice
behind him. “Yes, we’re working a missing person case, a lawyer who works in
Walsh offices.” Jack was lying without a shadow of hesitation.
Martin slightly smiled as noticing Sam and Vivian beside him. Not knowing why,
the way Jack had spoken, the genuine worries on all of them, touched him. They
were a team, real team taking care of one of them, even though Danny wasn’t part
of the FBI anymore.
“Floor ,” the agent tiredly said. “All Walsh and Associated workers are there to
be interrogated. Two security guards found out the bodies on floor , in the
meeting room and also the waiting room. Forensics is working there.”
With the hope of finding Danny, they ran to the elevators, leaving the agent still
giving explanations. They didn’t need anything else by now, than where Danny
could be. Still, the fact he hadn’t got the calls, worried them at hell.
Being panic stricken, Payton was attended by an agent, while her coworker,
Michael Petersen tried to explain everything they remembered. They had been the
last ones in seeing Walsh and the other people alive, saving their lives just because
they had left before the meeting was over. Asked if it was a regular meeting, how
much people was in the office, if he had seen anything strange, anybody suspect,
among the clients in the waiting room, he barely was able to reply. He couldn’t
believe what had happened and still thought the gunfire had been actually
explosions of the electricity system that had been failing all day.
That was what Jack, Sam, Viv and Martin saw, just getting into the area where all
concerned workers of Walsh and associated had been reunited. Martin soon
realized there was no trace of Danny and feeling the same worry expression on the
others, tried to focus on the interrogations.
Jack, headed for an agent that explained him what Payton LaSalle and Michael
Petersen’s circumstances were. He realized that if Danny had been in that meeting
room, they would know what had happened to him. “We’re looking for a lawyer,
Danny Taylor, do you know where he is?” he asked to the agent, after showing his
ID.
“He works with me,” a female trembling voice, made him to turn back. Payton
LaSalle was looking at him, her eyes filled in tears and visibly shocked by the
events.
“Do you know where I can find him?” Jack asked kindly.
“He was… he was there,” she only could say. Jack waited for more, but she just
started to cry.
Vivian exchanged a questioning look with the agent checking her notes. “They’ve
been taken to Saint Andrews. He’s one of the survivors but… agent, they both were
critic once they left in the ambulance.”
Not wanting to know anymore, at least by now, they left quickly to Saint Andrews
hospital.
It was the circumstances, the strange professional commitment showed by the FBI
agents in the hospital, what made Vivian remember Bobby’s words earlier that
day, when she had called him to help Danny with information about a man called
Mathew Gibson.
Approaching Jack, she caught his attention to stop his argument with the FBI agent
‘in charge’ who didn’t allow any information about Danny or Tim Donaldson, the
other injured lawyer and had asked all kind of questions to them for just being
there.
Taking Jack to the waiting room, where Sam and Martin had sat down beside Tim
Donaldson’s wife expecting to see any doctor appears to inform them, Viv exposed
her suspects. “This morning, Danny called me. He wanted to look for certain
information about a guy. A coworker was defending him but she had received a
threatening note. He didn’t explain to me what the threat was about, but I made
the call,” she looked at Jack who nodded.
“The unexpected confidential and classified thing,” Jack said understanding Viv’s
point of view.
“Yes, and when I called Danny to tell him, he was pretty pissed off. I don’t really
know if it was because of this but…” she suddenly stopped realizing it had been the
last time she had talked to him.
“Maybe you should make that call again,” Martin suggested. “If this is related to
Danny, we should know what’s happening,” he said as pointing the agents talking
to a doctor and making the others look in that direction.
“My only priority here is Danny,” Sam said.
“Yes, Sam, but I want to know what dangerous is his situation. I don’t like anything
of what I’m seeing with this, less knowing what Viv has told us.”
“Me neither,” Sam agreed, “but the agents are doing their work. Probably Danny
and the other lawyer are the only ones who know what happened and they are in
charge of the investigation. We aren’t Danny’s siblings to have any right about his
condition…” she tried to reason.
“Come on, Sam,” Jack disagreed in an angry tone. “We’re Federals and I’m only was
asking how he was doing. He’s been in surgery for all this time and we don’t even
know what’s going on!” He started pacing impatiently.
“Jack, calm down,” Viv said, “we must stay here, don’t cause any trouble or they
will kick our asses out of here and I’m not going to leave until I know what Danny’s
condition is.”
“Okay, let’s think. They won’t deny any information to a sibling, let’s call Danny’s
sister in law,” Martin said. “She’s the closest sibling, right?”
“The only one,” Vivian said. “But we don’t know her phone nu…” she started when
a nurse approached them. “Any Jack Malone here?”
“Me!” Jack replied.
“Oh, excuse me, Mr. Malone. You’re listed as first emergency contact of the
patient,… Danny Taylor,” she said reading the notes.
“Sure, yes, we’re waiting for any information. How’s he?” he asked.
“He’s out of surgery right now, the doctor will come to explain you the details
about his condition. He’s been taken to the ICU, the usual in these cases.” She said.
“The doctor will come soon,” she smiled at Jack trying to ask more.
She left them and headed to Tim Donaldson’s wife to talk to her.
“You see?” Sam said, but soon changed her opinion as seeing a doctor talking to the
other agents. They nodded and took notes while one of them went with the doctor
disappearing at the end of the corridor.
“I’d have liked they tell us something else,” Jack protested but then saw a familiar
face walking towards them. He wouldn’t let escape his chance. “Miss!...” he called
her, trying to stay unnoticed from the other FBI agent.
Looking at him, she seemed to recognize him so she headed directly toward Jack.
“Are you calling me?” she asked.
“Yes, I think… you were in Walsh offices, right?” he asked.
She nodded. Being calmer than before, the effects of the shock were still evident.
“I’d like to talk to you in private. We’re Danny Taylor’s friends and former
coworkers in the FBI,” he explained observing her reaction attentively.
“I know, I heard you before in the offices,” she said. “I’ve been working with him for
the last weeks. I wanted to know how he is doing and also Tim.”
“We’re waiting for the doctor to tell us, but Danny is out of surgery. I’m his
emergency contact, so don’t be afraid, you’ll know about him. Uhm… let’s go out of
here…”
“Jack,” Vivian interrupted. “You should stay, in case the doctor wants to talk to you,
I’ll go with Miss…”
“I’m Payton LaSalle,” Payton said.
“Right, my name is Vivian Johnson, let’s get out of here. We need some discretion.
Have you talked to anybody else?”
“The police, the FBI, they wanted to know what I knew, well and also Michael,
but…”
“Okay, it’s okay. I want to know about Danny.”
“Danny. Oh well, the meeting was about him, actually. He’s been working with me
for some weeks and wanted to go on in this area but Mr. Walsh called him this
morning to assign him a definitive job.”
“Which is?”
“Criminal law. Danny was angry because he thought the reason was his past as an
FBI agent and his work as a lawyer wasn’t being taking in consideration.”
“Is not the common proceeding?”
“No, he should have worked all the areas, had been working criminal law before…
there was, he said something about babysitting another lawyer, Maggie Anderson.
He was obviously upset and I don’t know why he did that lecture, actually. We
couldn’t talk about it… anymore.”
“So, this was a quick decision…”
“I’ve been working at the Court all morning. When I was back, after all the mess
with the security, he had been working on our next case and we were talking about
it when Mr. Walsh secretary called him for a meeting with Mr. Walsh. He was
pretty nervous but had no idea what the meeting was about. When he came back,
was furious, like I’ve told you. A few moments later, we were called for the meeting
to inform about the news, that’s usual in order to adjust the cases if it’s necessary.”
“Any change?”
“Yes, he was going to work on Maggie Anderson’s current case.”
“That case… do you know what was about?”
“No, but it’s easy to know. Danny should have the papers on his desk, or any of the
other lawyers from Criminal Law know. Sometimes there are meetings with Mr.
Walsh to discuss the cases from the same area,” she frowned. “… were… I… I can’t
believe what happened, it’s…”
“Did you notice anything strange today or the days before?” Vivian asked.
“No, the usual, but today there was that failure with security, and then the
electricity system… I also heard something about the cameras of the building not
working out well. Do you think it could be related to… oh, of course.” She
concluded.
Vivian nodded.
“Who else could have got information about the case Maggie Anderson was
working? Other lawyers from Criminal law…”
“Yes, it’s Susan Jones, but…” Payton got paled and felt sick at the realization of
Susan being killed as well.
“Take it easy, Mrs. LaSalle” Vivian said. “You’re doing very well,”
She sighed and tried to remember. “Mike… Mike Rainer, he’s not working with us
anymore. He left last months after having a violent argument with Maggie. It’s…
she’s very temperamental and not very friendly with anybody.”
“Do you know where I can find him?” Vivian asked. Maybe Payton knew and would
save some paperwork.
“He left to work on his own… I have his card,” Payton replied as looking into her
bag. “Here it is,” she said, handing it to Vivian.
“All right, we can’t get into the offices now to take the documents about the case,
but maybe this guy could tell us something.” Vivian said.
“I don’t understand, aren’t you FBI agents?” Payton asked suspiciously.
Vivian smiled. “Yes, we are, but this is not our case, we work missing persons. If we
are here to know what happened is because we are Danny’s friends and excoworkers.”
Payton nodded. “He… he barely talked about leaving the FBI, but everything I’ve
heard from you is… great. He told me about a coworker helping him to get this job
at Walsh and Associated and now… you are all here and taking care of him. It’s…
I’m sure he would be very happy.”
“He will,” Vivian said. “Okay, let’s go back to see if there’s news about him. Uhm…
Payton, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you one favor, which is not talking about
this conversation with anybody else.”
She didn’t seem to understand but still nodded. “Okay, you can trust me.”
“No, there’s no way you avoid your responsibility,” Van Doren said seriously. “You
were in charge of a case, and suddenly let your less experienced agent in charge of
it, as the rest of you are going to attend personal issues.”
“Excuse me, but it’s not that personal…” Jack started but Van Doren cut him.
“It’s personal Jack. Agent Taylor worked, I repeat, worked here and I could
understand this in case he had been shot during his work at the FBI and being in
your team. There’s no excuse and you only can thanks agent Will Colbert that had
the good judgment of calling for help,” she said.
Two days had passed since they had left the office to the hospital to know about
Danny’s condition after the shooting and now the case they were working at that
moment was positively solved, Jack’s boss SAC Paula Van Doren was seriously
questioning the team. Jack knew she was right and didn’t want to involve his team,
but he also knew that it was a special situation.
“I accept all the responsibility of this, Paula, I don’t have a problem with it. I
recognize you’re right. But, between you and me, if you see a breaking news on
television about a gunfire in the place where a friend is working, you’d also like to
know about it.”
“Yes, knowing about it, it’s loyal, you can make a call, you can send a person to
know, but not all of you. Fortunately agent Colbert is not Taylor’s friend. You know
I can’t let this pass so easily. I’ll have an eye on you, so Jack, don’t screw up.”
“Okay,” he accepted, knowing that she had forgiven him this time and he owed it to
her.
“I’ve noticed your team is becoming a solid one again, after the trouble you had
during the last year. I suggest you to take care of it, Jack.”
“Thanks, this is the best team I can wish,” Jack agreed, standing up to shake the
hand Van Doren was offering him.
“Oh, Jack, just one more thing. This office has been called because someone is
interfering in the investigation of that shooting.” She said.
Jack raised an eyebrow. “We only wanted to know what had happened to Danny
Taylor. I don’t think that’s interfering. I don’t see the point.”
“Please, let the competent authorities take care of it and focus your work on the
missing person unit, which it’s yours. I don’t want any other calling, is that right?”
“I don’t see…”
“Jack, we know each other for a long time. Just, don’t do it.”
“I’m going to visit a friend in the hospital every time I want. If that is causing any
inconvenient for the agent watching his room, I don’t care about it. I have my
rights. But thanks for the warning,” he said sharply.
Van Doren sighed as Jack left her office. The high level call she had received, had
surprised her, especially when they named a qualified and excellent agent Vivian
Johnson.
Ignoring the suspicious look of the FBI agent watching the room, Vivian opened the
door quietly. Her private investigation had just started and she was realizing that
what had happened should be related to something important. Mr. Walsh funeral
had happened that morning with the impressive presence of important
personalities from different fields beside the families and friends of all the victims
from the terrible attack.
She wanted to get some answers from Danny but she didn’t know how he was
doing, even though the doctor had explained her that the sedation he had been
under during the upcoming hours after the surgery was being removed.
Sighing in relief at the smiling face of his friend, she smiled back and, taking a chair,
she approached him.
“Hey Danny, guess we had a meeting but not here!”
Danny nodded and replied with a harsh voice. “You see, Viv. Unexpected matters
put me in here. What are you doing here?”
“Visiting you, of course.” Viv replied in surprise. “How do you feel?”
“I can’t tell… doctor says I’m doing fine but I don’t feel like I can agree.” He replied.
“It hurts,” he whispered.
“You’ve got a bullet, Danny. Take your time,” she said, squeezing his arm. “You
scared us at hell, you know.”
“You see, so long time risking my life and when I leave, it happens this. Maybe it’s
my gift to start my job from now on,” he smirked.
“What do you mean?” Viv asked frowning.
“I’ve finished my practice. I’ve got my definitive job.” He explained.
Vivian didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t sure about Danny’s mental condition
due to the sedatives, or maybe he didn’t remember what had happened. She
decided change subject.
“Jack was surprised he’s your emergency contact. I think you two should have a
chat any day.”
“Maybe I should change him by you,” Danny said. “No, I don’t know, I guess he’s
my emergency contact for so long, I’ve never really thought…”
“You trust him, don’t you? You do well, you don’t know how well he has done in
here with you…”
“Really?” There was emotion in Danny’s voice.
“Of course, Danny. You know, sometimes you must lose something to really
appreciate it. He misses you, and not only the work you did, but you.”
“I’ve also missed you all. I… I think that maybe I precipitated my decisions but…”
“No, Danny. You took a loyal and important decision, Martin had took advantage of
his family’s position to give you the chance of doing what you did.”
Danny stared at her. “I don’t think I can go on with it. It’s… it’s not my place, Viv.
Someone called me a dreamer… maybe I am, but sometimes I think we speak
different languages. I don’t even know why Mr. Walsh gave me that job but I think
it’s not because of my work as a lawyer. I did because… well, you know why.”
Danny stopped as he tried to keep the tears back.
“You did well, Danny… just in time to your brother passed away in peace.” Vivian
supported him.
Flashback
The weather forecast hadn’t been wrong when they announced heavy wind and
rain that Monday to make things even worse.
Danny remained in his car for more than an hour in the parking lot of the Hospital,
his hands hitting the wheel, as the screaming of desperation and frustration flew
away him. Outside, the rain and wind as company made his crying inaudible for the
people passing by, not that he cared.
But someone else had run after him as he left the hospital and now was knocking
on the car’s window, calling him. “Danny!, Danny!”
Opening the door, she got into and sat in the passenger seat. Her wet hands took
Danny’s face and forced him to look at her. She was also crying, the sadness filling
all her soul, but her heart had been double cracked at the desperation of the little
brother. Sylvia had got to know very well Danny for the time he had come back to
Rafie’s life and she was pretty aware about him at the moment.
“Come on Danny, relax.” She tried as her trembling hands caressed him. Hugging,
they tried to comfort each other. “Everything is okay now, Danny. It’s over, it’s
over, there’s no more pain, he’s in peace now, Danny.”
“It’s unfair!” he screamed.
“I know it’s unfair, Danny. But we must have faith and be strong for the upcoming
times. Think he left learning happy news about you. Danny, that was important for
him,” she reassured him.
Sylvia didn’t know why she was being so strong. Maybe because of her work as a
nurse, but probably, because she had been a certain time preparing herself for this.
Danny knew that, as well, but she understood the time, the years they had lost on
their difficult fight to survive, being healed in the last months of Rafie’s life.
“Danny, I must come back to the Hospital now, there’s things to do with Rafie now I
must take care. Please, try to relax, think about the good moments you spent with
your brother, I’m sure you’ll find some peace in it. And don’t forget what you’ve
done during these last months, for you, and for him. That’s very worth and speaks
5
aloud about the compromise you two actually had. I bet you know that now, he
knew and only wanted you to open your eyes… and you did.”
Danny nodded, not understanding well but feeling better. Trying a slight smile,
Danny saw Sylvia getting out the car and heading for the hospital to take care of
her husband.
Starting the engine with trembling hand, he made his driving at work, with the
feeling he had been living just a nightmare and nothing of that was real. The
expectant faces of his friends, Martin and Vivian, the only ones who knew where he
had been, put tears on his eyes and he just fainted as soon as he reached the break
room.
“Hey, Danny!, Danny! What happens to you?” Martin exclaimed holding his face
and trying to reanimate him.
Vivian handed to Martin a glass of water as they focused on his friend that blinked
for a second before frowning. “Whoa, I’m… I’m sorry,” he murmured, as trying to
stand up.
Martin helped him to sit down and they did the same beside him. “What’s going
on? How’s Rafie? Did you talk to him?” Martin asked.
Danny nodded and rubbed a hand over his face. His red eyes told them that he had
had a bad moment there but they didn’t understand why he had fainted just in
front of them. Vivian noticed his trembling hands as drinking the water and rubbed
his back trying to take him some comfort. He, obviously, was trying to calm down
before explaining. Martin and Viv waited patiently exchanging a worried face.
Danny had gone to the Hospital to tell his brother about the contract he had signed
to work in one of the most important law firms of New York. What had it been
wrong?
“Rafie,” he started with trembling voice. “Rafie has gone.”
“What!” Vivian exclaimed in sorrow. “Oh my God, Danny. I’m so sorry, boy. Did
you… did you…” she started asking in concern.
Danny nodded before she finished the question. “I saw him, I talked to him…”
Danny cried. “I did… I told him I had got it. He…” Danny stopped, the emotions of
the recent memories catching him.
Vivian stood up to take a mug. The tears of sorrow for his friend were something
she didn’t want him to see. With a lump on his throat Martin tried to comfort
Danny. Nothing could have been worse than that. They knew that Rafie was in his
late days, but this was… totally unexpected. He didn’t know what to say and
concluded that nothing should be said, just being there for Danny.
“He told me to take care of Sylvia and the kids, he told me he was happy for me, he
told me not to be sad at all. He… he told me that tale he used to tell me when I was
a child… he… he said goodbye to me,” Danny said speaking to himself more than
the others, like he was looking for any meaning to his brother’s behavior.
“He was apologizing,” he concluded almost in a whisper. Rubbing a hand over his
wet face, Danny finally covered it with his hands and remained silent, lost in his
thoughts.
Vivian and Martin realized that probably Danny wanted to be alone for a while.
“Take your time, Danny, take your time,” Martin whispered in his ear, as rubbing
his back.
They left the break room, leaving Danny alone with his sorrow. It would have time
to talk more about it.
“Damn it,” Martin said.
“Yeah,” Vivian only could say.
They went toward the bullpen. There was work to do, even though they would find
difficult to focus on it for the rest of the day, until they could talk with Danny again.
End of flashback
“I haven’t found any satisfaction on it, not even telling Rafie,” Danny murmured.
“Danny, there’s time ahead to think about your future. Don’t torture yourself, it’s
not worth, you only have to think about leaving this Hospital the sooner the best
and that means focus on your recovery,” Vivian said.
He nodded. “You’re right, as usual,” he smiled.
“Danny, there are some things I’d like to ask you but if you’re tired, I can come back
any other time, right?”
“How the hell I got a bullet, for instance?” He smirked.
“No, I’d like to know about that lawyer being threatened,”
“Maggie Anderson,” he sighed. “I’ve been assigned to the same department she is
working, criminal law.”
“Yes, I know. Your coworker, Payton LaSalle told me you were going to work case
she was working on,”
“Payton? Oh yes, the case she had been threatened about. Mr. Walsh asked me to
work that case. Maggie is not happy with it, we had some words about it.”
“Do you know where the documents about the case are?” Vivian asked quietly.
“Why? Is that important? Is related to the fact I’m here with a bullet on my
shoulder? What are you investigating?” Danny asked.
“You know, you asked me for that guy, do you remember? It’s just curiosity, and if
you’re working that case, I can try to find out something for you.”
“Oh, yes I know. Mr. Walsh asked me to babysit Mrs. Anderson… not with those
words, exactly,” Danny said upset.
“The FBI qualification, I guess,” Vivian smiled.
“Yeah, I don’t know what the case was about. I… I remember I left the folders on
my desk, before going to that meeting…” he started and frowned.
Vivian felt a knot on her stomach. Danny was remembering, but he didn’t say
anything.
“This morning I had the visit of an FBI agent,” Danny said. “They were asking me
about what I knew, what I had seen, what had happened… they also asked me
about Mrs. Anderson threat… it’s… it’s strange because nobody knew about it but
us. I don’t know why they asked me when Maggie could very well give them the
note. I… I hope she did after what… happened…” he stopped again thoughtful.
“I’m… I’m sorry Viv, I’m confused, I think I don’t have all the events in my head…
actually, I don’t remember what happened to take me here. I… we were in the
meeting room but then… it’s…. It’s nothing.”
“What did you tell the agent?” Vivian asked.
“I told them about that note, that guy, but no more else. I hadn’t even read the
documents about that case.”
“Were they specifically interested in that case?” Vivian asked.
“Now you mention, yes. Actually, they were more interested on it than the shot.”
Danny frowned.
“Oh well, the shot is the shot, they are investigating who did to catch him and put
behind the bars,” Vivian smiled trying to play down the importance of the subject.
“Yeah, sure…” Danny closed his eyes. He looked fatigued and the sedatives didn’t
help to remain awake for so long.
“Okay, Danny, I’m going to leave and let you rest. You need it. I promise I’ll come
back every day to see you, right?”
“Don’t worry Viv, I’ll be fine. There are nurses enough to take care of me,” he said
with a smirk.
Viv laughed. “I see you’re doing fine, Danny. See you tomorrow,” she said as
opening the door.
Raising a hand as goodbye, he closed his eyes.
Vivian got out the room and noticed the agent’s eyes on her, once again. She didn’t
even look at him but headed for the reception to ask for Danny’s coworker, Tim
Donaldson’s condition.
“He was released last night,” was the surprising answer of the nurse.
“What? How’s that possible?” Vivian couldn’t help but ask. “I mean... he was injured
and…”
“You can look for yourself…” the nurse started but then turned her sight to the man
that had approached them, the agent sat down outside Danny’s room.
“Any problem?” he asked sharply.
“I’m only asking for a friend’s condition.” Vivian said.
“You have so many friends here, Mrs…”
“Special agent Vivian Johnson,” Viv replied as sharply as he had spoken. “And yes,
unfortunately two friends of mine are in the hospital. I don’t see I’m breaking any
law, here.”
“Of course, agent Johnson,” the agent changed his attitude. “But I’ve been assigned
to take care of the patients and you’re asking by one of them. Fortunately, Mr.
Donaldson injures weren’t as bad as supposed in first time so he’s resting quietly
at home.” He smiled. “I guess, this is good news for you, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s good news, of course,” Vivian said. She’d have time to know if that was
true. If the agent was telling the truth, it was also a good chance to ask Donaldson
about the shooting.
Getting out the Hospital, she took the cell and dialed Bobby’s number. “Bobby? It’s
me Viv… You know what?”
“You already know, uh?” Bobby tiredness asked.
She got surprised by his tone but continued. “Yes, Donaldson is at home. I’m going
to visit him. Maybe he can tell me something about the shooting. Danny doesn’t
remember anything yet. I don’t think he knows what happened to the others.”
“Viv… Mathew Gibson has been killed.” Bobby said in a low and discouraging tone.
“What? What happened?” Vivian asked fearfully.
“I don’t know yet. Viv, I think this is serious… out of our jurisdiction, be careful,
please… and take care of your friend.” Bobby said.
“Sure,” she replied, still stunned by the twist the events were taking. Pulling out
her notebook, she looked for Mike Rainer address.
“I already told the other agents that I don’t have any idea of what’s going on!. I
don’t have anything to do with this,” Mike Rainer protested.
“Mr. Rainer, calm down. I don’t have anything to do with the other agents or the
investigation either. Excuse me for using my qualification as FBI to reach you but
this is, actually, personal.” Vivian said.
“Personal?” Rainer frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I have reasons to think that you could be in danger for some information you have
accessed to. Probably, it’s why the other agents came to ask you.”
“Same reasons for the murders?” he asked fearfully.
Vivian nodded. “It’s only my appreciation and I’m doing this because a friend of
mine is involved.”
“I don’t see what could be so important for killing. Not that I know anything…”
“There were the meetings with Mr. Walsh where you discussing the cases each
other…”
“More or less, if we were in the same area, it was the usual. It was also a way to
gain trust from Mr. Walsh and also helps the firm.”
“I’ve been informed you were working criminal law…”
“Yes…”
“Who else works that area?”
“Oh, Maggie Anderson, Susan… don’t remember her surname, another guy, Steve
diConte… oh well, he was in practice then but got his definitive job in the
environmental area.”
“Nobody else?” Vivian asked in surprise.
“Actually, the big deal was the financials… the best ones always got that job, it’s
better remunerated as well,”
“Why did you leave?”
5
“I didn’t feel like I was being really appreciated and found this work by myself and
a friend. I had saved some money and got a certain acknowledgment at the Court.”
“I understand,” Vivian smiled. “Maggie Anderson… she was working a case about a
guy called Mathew Gibson.”
“I don’t know, sorry to say but Maggie was a pain on the ass. I tried to skip her
cases. Why? Is it related to this? I don’t think Maggie went so far to create any
dangerous situation; she’s very confident but not very resolute. Knowing the firm,
I’d go for a financial matter; it’s where the important decisions are taken. Guess Mr.
Walsh had more than one enemy there. It’s my opinion.”
Vivian remembered Danny’s comment of babysitting Maggie Anderson. It looked a
real appreciation about her. “Okay, Mr. Rainer, I don’t think the FBI will bother you
anymore, thanks so much for your cooperation.”
On her way to her car, willing to pay a visit to Tim Donaldson, Vivian started
thinking that maybe she was following a wrong lead, if she considered what Rainer
had told her, but what if not? She had to get the documents about Mathew Gibson’s
case. Pulling up her cell to phone Payton LaSalle, the cell started ringing instead.
She rolled her eyes at the ID.
“Johnson,” she replied.
“Hey, Viv, it’s Jack. Where the hell are you?”
“Traffic jam, I went to visit Danny at the Hospital, as I told you yesterday. I’m sorry
I’m getting late.”
“You could have called.” Jack sounded pissed off. “We have a case. Join me at JFK
airport.”
“Airport?” she asked in disbelief. That was a real setback. If they had to take a
plane, she would have to stop her investigation.
“Yes.” Jack replied categorically. He didn’t understand Viv’s attitude, it wasn’t her
way to proceed and started thinking about Van Doren’s words.
On her way, she dialed Payton. “Miss LaSalle, it’s Vivian Johnson,”
“Hello, agent Johnson. I have some information for you.” She sounded nervous.
Flashback
The feeling of coming back to the place where she could have died some days
before scared the hell to Payton, but she also wanted to know what had happened.
Moreover Taylor’s friends looked genuinely concerned and she was willing to help.
5
The security measures had been increased and she noticed it as soon as she
approached to the elevators zone. An FBI agent called her attention.
“Excuse me, can I see your identification card?” he demanded.
“Of course,” she said nervously, fishing the card of Walsh and Associated out her
bag.
“Those offices are closed, Mrs. LaSalle,” the agent said.
“I know. Look… I’m working a case on the Court tomorrow morning and I left all
the documents in the office. I need to take them…”
“I’m sorry but the orders are that nobody can get into the offices as the
investigation is being done. As you know, some people have been killed there.”
“Sure, I work there. I don’t want to bother but I really need my documents. Maybe
if an agent goes with me, I’ll go straight to the office, pick the folders and leave.
That’s it. It’s very important,” Payton insisted.
The agent hesitated for a while. “Wait a second,” he finally said, pulling up his cell.
Payton crossed her fingers, thinking about what to do, trying to remember what
Danny’s office could be. She had planned to look for the folders in Maggie
Anderson’s desk and then look for Danny’s office, which surely would be the one
Mike Rainer had occupied. But, if she was going to be with an agent, she couldn’t
hesitate on it.
Lost on her thoughts, she completely forgot the agent talking by his cell. As soon as
another agent approached her and pushed the elevator button, she knew she
would have this only chance. “Thank you,” she greeted the agent, before getting
into the elevator.
“What floor?”
“Nineteen,” she replied, trying to look confident.
Criminal law was one floor downstairs to Mr. Walsh office and the meeting room,
where most of the agents were working. Fortunately, Criminal law was closed and
no agents were around. Luckily, the folders about Mathew Gibson’s case were still
there. On her way to Maggie’s office, Payton tried different replies to the agent with
her. Opening her mouth to tell him she would enter her colleague’s office, however,
she changed her mind and headed for Mike Rainer former office, pleading for being
Danny’s and the folders were there.
“Is this your office?” the agent asked as reading Mike Rainer’s name.
5
“Yes, my colleague, Mike, left last month so I’ve moved here. Oh, it happened just a
few days ago, they haven’t had time to change the names,” Payton replied with a
smile at the frowning agent.
Taking the folders on the desk, Payton opened the first page and quickly looked for
the confirmation. Trying to stay calm, she collected the folders and looked around,
looking for something else. “Well, we’ve finished here, you saved my life,” she
managed her best smile. “Let’s get out of here.”
End of flashback
“Maggie’s office was a mess, so I decided to go to Mike office.” She explained Vivian.
“Did you notice any other place in that floor who could have been checked?” Vivian
asked.
“No, there was silence in that floor and everything was in order with the exception
of Maggie’s desk… like someone was looking for something...”
“Okay. Payton, I’m on my way to work a case so I can’t meet you right now, but I
need you do something for me.” Vivian said.
“Of course, whatever.”
“Take a note of an address. I want you to go right now there and ask for Marcus
Johnson. Give him the folders, right?”
“All right,” Payton replied writing on a piece of paper the address of Viv’s husband
work. “Anything else?”
“Uhm… yes, do you remember if Mr. Walsh said something about giving Danny’s
this specific case?”
“I guess… he said something about a delicate matter on criminal law section as
excuse to assign him to the job. I understood he was taken Maggie’s case but not
because of what Mr. Walsh had said but what Danny told me. Still, I left the meeting
before it was finished. Tim Donaldson will know for sure, and Danny of course.”
“Okay, thanks so much, you’ve been a great help. And Payton, please…”
“I know, I’ll keep my mouth closed.” Payton ended.
Viv cut the call with the urgent need of talking to Tim Donaldson. He probably was
less confused than Danny was, but it would be impossible to do in the following
hours of intense investigation in the missing case of an air controller at JFK
Airport.
5
“I’m going to visit Danny,” Martin said checking the time. “Anyone else?”
“I can’t. Brian starts his shift at : and Finn has a cold. I don’t want him to stay at
Lucy’s home for so long.” Sam said. “But kiss him by me,” she continued and
laughed at Martin’s comic face. “Oh come on, figuratively, I mean,” she joined the
joke.
“I’ll go with you,” Vivian said with a smile. Two days had passed since that last
conversation with Payton and Viv hadn’t had time to check Donaldson or the
documents about Mathew Gibson’s case that Marcus had kept at home.
“Uhm… Viv, I’d like to talk to you,” Jack stopped her. She looked at him questioning.
“I’m sorry, I know you want to see Danny but this is important,” he said so serious
that Vivian didn’t hesitate a second.
“All right,” she nodded. “Well, Martin… kiss Danny by me, as well,” she smiled, but a
bitter flash of her look, made Martin frown.
“I’ll do, I’ll do…” he finally raised his hands.
“We’ve been working for…  years?” Jack started. “I think I know you enough to
see when something is worrying you and this is the case, right?”
“I’m worried about Danny,” Vivian agreed.
“I know, me too but Viv, there’s nothing we can do here. Danny, fortunately, is
doing well and there’s an investigation on its way to clarify what happened and
arrest the shooters.”
“I know, Jack. What’s the matter?” Vivian asked.
“Van Doren has called me again. She says my team is questioning some people
from Walsh and Associated. I wonder if your distraction during this case is caused
by it.”
“I… I’ve been talking with Payton LaSalle. She’s Danny’s coworker and…”
“You asked specifically about the other man in the hospital, Viv. Your friend…”
“How the hell?”
“I don’t know, but Van Doren has asked me, no, she has ordered me to stop this. I
don’t want to see how you ruin your excellent career, Vivian. We’re friends and I’m
not going to let you do it.”
“What’s happening here, Jack?”
5
“I think it’s something big and probably dangerous. I know you want to protect
Danny but we shouldn’t interfere. Trust the work of the FBI.”
“When did you start to be so cautious? Jack, it’s Danny who we’re talking about.”
“Yes, Danny, a friend. That’s it. The FBI is investigating, it’s not our business.”
“Jack, I have an idea about why they were attacked. It’s a case, that case Danny
called me about. That man has been killed as well. Bobby called me to tell, right
after I left the hospital knowing that Donaldson had been released. Payton got
some information for me that…”
“Hey! Stop there, Viv, what are you talking about? No, no, no, I see Van Doren was
right. What are you doing?”
“I’m helping a friend,”
“For what? What has Danny to do with it? All the people in that office was shot, the
clients, the secretary, the lawyers, all the people in that office. Bad luck that Danny
was there in that moment but…”
“I think Danny could be in danger because of what he knows…”
“And what he knows is…”
“Nothing yet,” she sighed. “Last time I talked to him, he was still under sedatives,
starting to recover. He had blank spaces in his memory.”
“That’s speculation, Viv. Please, stop this. I don’t want Van Doren coming back to
open a OPR to you by disobey my orders, or me for letting you to continue. I
promise you I’ll be in contact with the investigation and I’ll let you know anything I
know.”
“Actually, I think I know even more than them,” Vivian was angry. “But well, if it’s
your wish,…”
“It’s not Viv, don’t misunderstand me, please. I just think it’s no necessary and
you’re risking your career. Danny is okay and he will, right?”
“Right. Guess our conversation is finished. Unfortunately, I won’t go to visit Danny
today, it’s late and I must go back home. I haven’t seen my family for two days. See
you tomorrow,” Vivian rose and left Jack’s office with an idea in her mind. No way,
she was going to stop, but Jack wouldn’t know. She would act carefully from now
on.
Martin knocked on the door before opening it. There wasn’t an agent outside as
Vivian had told him, so Martin thought they had finished with his friend and would
55
leave him alone. The interrogations were always an uncomfortable matter.
Fearfully, Martin wondered if Danny knew the magnitude of the case.
TV was on and some sports were being aired when Martin spotted Danny watching
it distractedly.
“Hey, bro!” he said.
“Martin! How are you doing?” Danny asked as welcoming.
“That’s the question I should do,” Martin replied shaking hands. “But I see you’re
fine,” he continued.
“Uhm… yes, I’m pretty fine, wishing to leave this place.” Danny said.
“I can figure out, but don’t complain, I spent three months in a hospital bed, and
you’re going to leave any time… very soon.” Martin said.
“I hope so, I really hope,” Danny said. “I’m getting bored here, there’s nothing to do,
nothing to watch, nobody to talk…”
“You know, we’d like to see you more times but work…”
“I know, I know…”
“By the way, Viv and Sam asked me to kiss you by them,” Martin smiled.
“Oh, really? And… what are you going to do?” Danny smirked. “You’re blushing!”
They both burst into laughter making Danny turn finally his gesture to a pain one.
“Ahgg, my shoulder!” he protested.
“Mr. Taylor, you shouldn’t do that,” a nurse said getting into the room. Placing the
thermometer under Danny’s arm, she helped him to incorporate and managed the
pillow.
As she turned to check the IV, Martin smiled at Danny and whispered, “You sure
you want to leave?”
“Yes,” he grunted.
“How’s he?” Martin asked the nurse as she read the temperature.
“He’s fine, he’s not staying longer here,” the nurse smiled. “Don’t get him too
excited,” she warned.
“Oh, okay, that’s fine, I’ll take care of him,” Martin agreed.
“That’s just what I’m afraid,” she said rolling her eyes, making them laugh again.
5
Once she left, Martin turned to Danny. “There’s nobody outside the room. Have the
FBI interrogated you?”
“A couple of agents came in to talk to me, yes,” Danny replied. “I don’t think I
helped them so much.”
“What did they tell you?” Martin asked.
“They wanted to know what had happened, but I…” he stopped shaking his head.
“There’s a lack of memory, it’s normal after a stressful situation,” Martin reassured
him.
“They told me the security cameras didn’t get anything. I know there was a general
failure, the lights went off, and then… then it was the shooting,” Danny frowned
trying to remember.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, relax,” Martin said, “I don’t need you to make that effort now.”
“Martin, I have the feeling they… you all are hiding something from me. I… I have
flashes, I… see… the shooting and… we were all there. I wonder why they are
asking me so profusely and not the others. Why nobody has come to visit me but
you, I mean, nobody from my current work?” Danny asked.
Unsure of what to tell him, Martin, however didn’t find any other solution but
being honest with him. “For what I know, Danny, there was a security general
failure the FBI is investigating, presumably connected to the attack. There was a
gunfire in the office were you were meeting with other lawyers and Mr. Walsh. A…
big gunfire.”
“How… many…?” Danny just dared to ask.
“You and another guy, Tim Donaldson, got injured. The rest of people were… killed.
I don’t have the names but my father came to Mr. Walsh funeral and there was a
collective service for all of them. I’m sorry, Danny.”
Danny tried mentally to remember who were there. “Walsh, Darren… Susan,” he
murmured, “Maggie… oh my God.”
“And two clients and Mr. Walsh secretary,”
“Payton…”
“She’s okay, she had left the meeting a few moments before,” Martin said, feeling
really uncomfortable for being the one breaking the news to Danny.
Rubbing a hand over his face, Danny tried to assimilate the news and the fact that
he could very well have died. Unable to say a word, they just remained silent.
5
“Why?” Danny finally asked.
“I don’t know, the FBI is investigating.”
“What Donaldson said?”
“I don’t know, either, he’s not in the hospital anymore. Maybe he saw or
remembered something else. Danny, I’m very sorry I broke this news to you…”
Martin didn’t know what to say.
“Don’t be sorry, I asked,” Danny murmured. “The meeting,… it was about me, I
mean, Mr. Walsh had called me some moments before to assign me to a new job,
my definitive job in criminal law and was briefing the rest of them. We were all
there… most of us, the ones who weren’t at the Court of working outside.”
“It was probably a coincidence, Danny. They probably didn’t want to leave
witnesses,” Martin said, “They took lot of stuff to make the system fail to get the
access to the offices; I think they were preparing the attack for some time.”
“Yes, it seems so.” Danny agreed.
“This is nothing to do with you, Danny. I… I probably shouldn’t tell you this now
and wait until you recover totally.”
“I’m fine, Martin. You heard the nurse. But it scares the hell, you agree…”
Martin slightly smiled. “We’re here for you. Jack, Sam, Viv… we’re all with you.
You’ll get over this.”
“I know, and I appreciate your support. I’ll be fine, this is not… new to me.” Danny
said looking down. “It’s not the first time the earth engulfs everybody around me.”
Martin didn’t know what to say, not understanding his friend at all. “What do you
mean?” he asked in concern.
“Nothing, don’t care of me now. I’m… rambling.” Danny smiled, but his eyes were
brilliant. “Uhm… listen Martin, I don’t want to be rude, but I’m feeling a little tired. I
think… I’d like to sleep for a while. Guess it’s… late.”
Martin checked the time. “Yes, you’re right, it’s late. Danny, I’m very sorry, I’d like
to be here with you…”
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry. Somehow I feel better knowing what happened. It’s really
disturbing the feeling of people hiding you things, the doctors, the nurses, the FBI…
thanks for telling me,” Danny said.
“I’ll try to come soon again,” Martin conceded Danny’s explanation.
“You better or you’ll find the bed empty. I don’t think I’ll stay here so long.”
5
“Okay, then. Take care, right?”
“Sure, you too and thanks for stopping by.”
“Yeah, you’re welcome. Uhm… Danny, it’s okay feeling bad, don’t keep it inside.”
Danny frowned. “I’m not that vulnerable, Martin, you know.”
“Nobody is going to think you are, feel free to express your feeling, give yourself
that breathing, right?”
Danny looked down for a second. “Thanks,” he finally said in broken voice.
Martin nodded and whispering an ‘okay’ he left the room with the bitter feeling
that Danny wouldn’t stay that calm and the news he had broken him were more
than disturbing and uncomfortable. Yes, of course they were, but knowing Danny
as well as he knew him, the stress disorder upcoming would be difficult to detect.
The NA meeting he attended that night was useless for Martin, which mind was
still in that hospital with his friend.
Driving her way to Queens, where she lived, Vivian’s headache was increasing as
she thought about the conversation with Jack. Even though it was late to go to the
hospital and Danny would be with Martin, she decided to stop by Tim Donaldson’s
home. She had to know what he knew, if something about that case had been said
in that meeting, and if he had told the FBI. Somehow, the suspicious secrecy was
disturbing her.
Donaldson’s lights at home were off. No noise was heard when she pushed the bell
ring. A neighbor walking his dog gave her the explanations. “They left, yesterday.
Mrs. Donaldson took bags for weeks of holidays, I guess, and put into the trunk of
a… guess FBI car. Guess Mr. Donaldson was involved in that shooting. He’s a
lawyer.”
“You have a lot of information about Mr. Donaldson…” Vivian commented.
“Oh, well they are very appreciated in the neighborhood. My wife and Mrs.
Donaldson share gym classes and cakes recipes,” the man smiled. “She told us what
happened as her husband was in the hospital. I got surprised he was released so
soon, since she had told us he was pretty bad, but look… they left.”
“Thanks so much,” Vivian said in frustration. Clearly the FBI had taken Donaldson
away; maybe witness protection system but… what the hell! If the neighborhood
knew it, the FBI wasn’t doing well the work. And again… why?
5
On her way back home, she dialed Bobby’s number. The policeman had his good
contacts and could get some more information, especially about Mathew Gibson,
killed in prison.
“Bobby, it’s Viv,”
“Hey, Viv, what’s going on?”
“I’ve been at Donaldson home, he’s not here, it looks the FBI took him away. I’ve
also talked to Payton LaSalle. She’s got the folders about Gibson case, and it looks
to me that the shooting is about it.”
“And you know what? When the police started investigating Gibson murder, two
DEA agents that interrogated them exhaustively and got all the information and
evidences they were collecting, stopped them from continuing with the
investigation.”
“The DEA?” Vivian asked in confusion. “What’s happening here?”
“I don’t know but it looks that both FBI and DEA are interested in keep the case in
the darkness.”
“I have to read those folders, maybe I’ll find something there,”
“Why are you doing this, Viv? You’re taking a big risk for your friend.”
“I know, but as I learn more about it, my worries about him are growing.”
“I bet. Good luck Viv. I’ll be here eyes and ears ready.”
“Thanks Bobby, I really appreciate it.”
Viv cut the cell, right driving into her home garage. Getting out the car, she entered
and headed up for the kitchen where the voices of her husband, Marcus, and her
son, Reggie sounded like heaven. She stopped for a moment on the stairs, listening
their laughs. So good feeling at home.
“Morning,” Sam greeted.
“Hey, what happened?” Will asked. “Did Finn steal the sleeping away from you?”
“Oh yes, he’s got a cold and was uncomfortable with no breathing freely. I’ve barely
got to sleep,” she explained with a yawn.
“Hope we haven’t too much work. Viv’s run to drink a really big mug of dark coffee
and Martin looks to be back from the happy party.” He announced.
Sam looked at his coworker in surprise. The picture she had just figure out of Viv
and Martin wasn’t the usual. Intrigued, she headed for the breaking room, where
they seemed to be whispering each other.
She slightly coughed as getting into the room, noticing how they separated in a
start. “Excuse me if I interrupt something,” she smirked.
“No, no, of course.” Vivian said. “We’re talking about Danny.” It wasn’t a lie, after
all.
“Oh, did you visit him, Martin? How’s he?” Sam asked, forgetting immediately the
secrecy between her two coworkers.
“Yes, I did and I kissed him by you two.” He smiled. “He’s fine, he’s going to be
released soon, I guess.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. She knew Martin enough to know that there was
something else.
“Okay, okay, I had to tell him about the others.”
“Oh my God, didn’t he know?” She asked in concern.
Martin shook his head. “No, he asked me because he was noticing they were hiding
something from him and you know how Danny hates that.”
“Poor Danny, I can’t figure out how he can feel, knowing his coworkers have been
killed. By the way, do you know something about it? Have they caught anyone?”
she asked.
“Nope. It must be complicated; there weren’t security cameras, lights off and
witnesses who didn’t see anything. Mr. Walsh and Associated have surely a large
list of conflicts and possible motives.” Martin explained.
Vivian was going to say something but she didn’t, remembering what Jack had
warned her. Not by now, but after reading the folders about Mathew Gibson’s case,
the entire puzzle started to make some meaning to her. An idea was forming on
her mind, a crazy one, but seeing the way of acting from the FBI, the mistakes now
clear to her, she knew that Danny wouldn’t be safe anymore, nor in the hospital or
at home, less if the FBI was going to take care of him.
Objections, arguments, bad moods… it wasn’t what Danny Taylor had pictured as
thinking about the day he’d get his definitive job. And here he was, receiving
everything but congratulations.
He wasn’t happy either. It wasn’t his favorite area and that feeling of being
protecting the only one in the office smiling right there, Maggie Anderson, as the
FBI agent he had been, sounded like a bad joke, a discredit to his work during the
five months he was working in Walsh and Associated.
A bitter feeling, but also a challenge he wanted to win. He’d win and he’d get his
deserved acknowledgment. Things had never been easy for him and he was used to
deal with the adversity.
Payton had defended him and risked her job questioning Mr. Walsh decisions, but
this one didn’t seem bothered by it. Danny even thought to see a glimpse of
satisfaction on Mr. Walsh. He liked people who clearly expressed their opinions to
him.
Jack had been like that long time ago, when Danny had started working with him.
Discussions were always good, opening new leads, new clues, very different of
what was going on in the FBI team Jack Malone commanded lately. Somehow, his
thoughts about it were so far, but still he missed those years when he felt safe
there, when they all were like a family.
The uncomfortable silence in the meeting room after Payton LaSalle and Mike
Petersen left, was cut by Mr. Walsh’s words. Coming back from his thoughts, Danny
realized that everybody had been observing him. Maybe he had to say something
but, he didn’t feel like that.
“One more thing, before ending this briefing. Mrs. Fisher is in charge of this office
for the next three weeks, since I’ll be in our main offices in Washington. I’ll study
your suggestion of human resources for your area when I’m back, Tim. Uhm… I… I
know this have been uncomfortable for you and probably unfair, Mr. Taylor but I
know you’re going to do a great work here and your coworkers will forget these…
differences soon. I hope everything is working as well as usual when I’m back.
Ehm... I wanted to welcome you officially, like an expert lawyer in criminal law.
Congratulations.”
Danny smiled slighted as noticed some of his coworkers avoiding him or mumbling
something like a ‘congrats’.
He was going to thanks Mr. Walsh when the lights started to fail again and went off
definitely. “Oh, come one!” were the words he could hear from Tim Donaldson
mixture with the familiar sound he heard on his back. Turning around, he could see
through the glass wall, the fire of shooting and flashlights in movement quickly
towards them.
Instinctively, Danny knew what was going on and protecting himself, he yelled at
the others, “Get down!, get down! It’s a gunfire!” reaching the place where his gun
used to be, just to find he had none. His heart started racing at the realization. They
didn’t see anything when the door was opened and the flashlights focused on them.
The panic got them, unable to move or to speak when the assaulting started
shooting them. Danny protected himself everything he was able to, but soon
noticed the burning pain on his shoulder, the taste of blood in his mouth, and
then… then… everything went confused, blank, and different.
Unable to process the time passed, the flashlights came back right into his closed
eyes. He could feel it, beside the voices he wasn’t able to identify and a burning
pain on his shoulder. He remembered then, he had probably been shot. Trying to
get some movement, trying to open his eyes, he found out his body didn’t respond
his mind’s orders and panicked again. The voices increased but he soon felt
everything fading away, the voices, the lights, the pain and darkness welcoming
him.
Feeling his mouth dried, Danny realized he was coming back from something, but
he wasn’t able to define anything, where he was, what was happening, how long.
Everything was uncertain, surely there were people around him, he was able to
hear them but understanding was difficult. He tried, he tried to open his eyes, felt
his eyelids moving but couldn’t open to see. Trying to move a hand, a finger, he
found his right side inoperative and then remembered the pain, but wasn’t able to
know where the pain had been located. Feeling a hand on his forehead, he tried to
reach it, but his mind was lying to him because he had moved his own hand on that
another one but the reality was that he hadn’t. He felt the anxiety taking him and
the voices, again… and he could understand what they were saying, or he figured
out, ‘he’s awaking’. It wasn’t one voice, he heard another voices saying the same, he
started to hear the sounds, sounds from two different places but same
circumstances… ‘he’s awaking… don’t tell the federals yet… he must rest. Take him
to the ICU and let the anesthesia gets over, but keep him slightly sedated to see
how he’s responding, and keep me posted with any change. All right, doctor…’
He felt the platform where he was lying was being moved… a doctor, so this was a
hospital. He had been injured and somehow the federals were waiting outside. He
wasn’t feeling the pain now but confused flashes of images came to his mind,
unable to put them in the correct way. Exhausted he gave up and stopped fighting
against himself.
Flashback
The alley was dark. Looking around for a place to escape, Danny found none.
Scared at hell, he let Rafie grabbing his arm and protecting him behind. The
threatening guys Rafie had been treating for the last weeks in a friendly way, held
knives and pipes now. Danny felt the trembling body of his brother, the sweat
through the t-shirt, the heavy breathing, the fears. His mind processed quickly
what had been happening during the last weeks where Rafie took him from his
foster home to get a ride on his eventual car. The rage caught him. Rafie was
always Rafie, he hadn’t changed, he wouldn’t change anymore. Holding back the
tears, the realization and the decision he was taking at that very moment, very well
could be useless if things turned as wrong as it looked. Distracted by his emotions
he didn’t see his brother’s movement of protection, he just noticed how he was left
exposed to those guys, as Rafie yelled at him something like… “Run away!” He
didn’t realize the open metallic door on his right, he didn’t realize his older brother
was giving him the chance to save his life. He didn’t, he just frozen at Rafie’s
desperation. The pipe hit hard on Rafie, once, twice… until he fell unconscious, as
Danny observed it in total scare and shame as he noticed the humidity of his pants,
the less of his problems when one of the guys turned to him. He didn’t see the
other one holding him by the arms, he only saw the knife, he only saw the knife
getting into his body, the burning pain, the contraction of his stomach, the
groaning as a scream, his body falling limply on the ground, the dizziness, the
darkness… the lights, the words… again, the doctors.
“So, boy, are you feeling good?” the smiling nurse asked him.
“What? What I’m doing here?” he replied trying to sit up.
“Hey, hey, stop boy, don’t do it,” the nurse held him by his shoulder. The warning
was useless, he had felt the dizziness and pain on his stomach before she had
finished speaking.
“Don’t you remember?” she asked softly.
Danny shook his head.
“You and your brother were attacked. Someone reported the police an aggression
and you and your brother were found in that alley.”
“Rafie!” Danny suddenly remembered. “How’s he? Where’s he?” he asked fearfully.
“Calm down, boy, he’s okay.” She bit her lips so Danny frowned, he had learnt the
body language very well, so necessary to survive by his own.
“He’s not okay. What’s going on with him? Is he dead?” he asked.
“How old are you?” she asked instead.
“Fourteen, where’s Rafie?” Danny asked again.
“I’m here, bro,” the door had been opened and a bruised face Rafie got into the
room.
Trying to draw a smile, he approached his little brother in bed. “Hey Danny, I’m
fine, don’t worry. How do you feel?”
Danny stared at his brother, genuinely concerned for him, but somehow,
responsible for what had happened. Danny couldn’t help but feel this double
feeling of love and hate.
“I’m fine,” he replied calmly and avoiding him.
“I was worried about you. I’ve spent…”
“Stop Rafie, let it go…”
“I know what you’re thinking Danny. I’m… I’m very sorry, I never had to let you go
with me, I never had to let them know you were my brother. It’s my fault and I’m
very sorry.” Rafie tried an apology.
Danny looked at him. He was only fourteen but his mind had a way to process
things like he was an adult for some matters to deal with. And this was one of
them. “You don’t understand Rafie. Don’t tell me you’re very sorry and it’s your
fault. You’ve gone too far. You had told me you had changed. You had told me you
had found a good job and were going to get my custody. You promised a life
together, a good life together. You’ve lied to me and almost killed me.”
“Danny…”
“Let me alone. I don’t want to see you.”
“Danny…”
“Alvarez!” an agent interrupted them, getting into the room. “It’s time to go,”
“Please, not here,” Rafie murmured trying to catch Danny’s attention. But his little
brother refused to look at him.
Still, Danny could hear the sound of the handcuffs being closed on Rafie’s hands,
and he knew what was going then.
The agent left the room with Rafie and a doctor got into the room. The nurse had
tears in her eyes, her heart totally broken by the scene, knowing about the strength
of that kid but also his vulnerability. The doctor made a gesture for her to leave,
and approached Danny.
“I’ve called your foster home, they are going to pick you up as soon as you are
released. But, there’s an agent outside that want to make you some questions. Are
you ready for it?”
“I’m in troubles, right?” Danny asked in disbelief.
“I’m just a doctor, kid. But there’s one thing I can tell you. You’re very young,
you’ve saved your life for some millimeters. You’re going to get a beautiful scar to
show your girlfriends or you’re going to get something else. You’re fourteen and
5
have all your life to take the right decision. Do the right thing, and you will learn
from this day for the rest of your life.”
Danny’s brilliant dark eyes stared at the doctor, someone expressing some
sympathy for him. It was so strange that for a second he got moved, stopping the
feeling immediately. He couldn’t be so vulnerable. He just smirked, “That’s good,…
the part about girlfriends,”
The doctor smiled. The kid didn’t know him, the kid didn’t know he had had to take
that choice so long ago he didn’t even remember when his life started to change
from the mess it was to the good one he had. But he was able to learn the
determination; he was able to read inside the kid’s eyes skipping the mask of
protection all the street boys learnt to build.
When the agent got into the room, the doctor just warned them about the kid
needing to rest.
“Take it easy, the kid needs to rest,” he said.
“Of course, doctor Taylor, we’re done soon,” the agent said politely but firmly.
The door was closed and Danny felt a lump on his throat at the different attitude of
the agent. “Okay, boy, we have a problem here. The owner of the liquor store
where you take the staff we found in the alley, has identified you as the one
stealing. And he says it’s not the first time.”
Danny didn’t reply.
“Let’s see what the judge has to say about but I bet you’ll spend some time in the
correctional.”
“I didn’t…”
“Shhhh… kid. Best for you is admitting what you did. You don’t have any excuse.
Who’s going to believe an orphan hispanic troubled boy caught with drugs and
liquors, which brother is a drug addict on his way to prison, uh? Maybe if you stop
being a jerk arrogant, you’ll have a chance. Think about it. Now, what can you tell
me about the assault? Did you see who were they and what you were doing there?”
“I… I… don’t remember anything, anybody. I was so scared, agent, I was just going
with my bro, I didn’t have an idea about what was going on? I… don’t know who
where they…”
“Names, tattoos…” the agent started.
Danny shook his head. He didn’t trust that threatening agent. No, he definitely
wouldn’t say a word to him. But the doctor was different, he could trust him. He
thought about the doctor words. He had a chance, he knew it, he knew what he
wanted and that was what he was going to tell the judge, but not the agent. “I’m
sick… tell the doctor to come, please.”
“Okay, you don’t want to talk,”
“It’s not that, I’m not feeling well, please call the doctor,”
“Yourself,” the agent said. “I’ll be outside here,” he continued as opening the door.
“What can I do, doctor?” he asked as soon as the doctor appeared.
“You’re tired, you need to rest,” he said.
“No, I mean, what can I do,” Danny repeated looking for the difficult upcoming
words. “ I… I… trust you,” he whispered.
The doctor smiled. “Thanks. Talk to your heart, be honest, think about what you
want, think about what you’ve done, think about what future you want for you.”
“There’s no future for me, I’m going to the correctional.” Danny said.
“Well, maybe, but look, I’ve made some calls. There’s a friend of mine who cares
about kids like you. She’s a lawyer… it’s a lie, she’s my wife, but yes, Mrs. Taylor is a
damn excellent lawyer working with kids like you. I know she’s going to help
you…”
“I… I don’t have money.” Danny blushed, confused by warm attitude.
“Forget the money, kid. Your best value is yourself, do you trust me?”
Danny nodded fearfully.
“I trust you, Danny. I trust you.”
End of flashback
“You trust me,” Danny mumbled. His mouth was still dried and as if someone was
reading his mind, he felt a wet towel on his mouth. He took the fresh sensation and
felt the comfort of it. Trying to open his eyes, he realized he was able to control his
movements and actions better. Blinking fearfully, he opened his eyes definitely.
The room was self-dark, the nurse was checking his IV and a doctor welcomed him.
The memories of his dream was still so vivid, that he felt confused by a second,
before realizing the time he was living now.
“Hello, Mr. Taylor, I’m glad to see you awake. I’m doctor Lewis taking care of you,”
“Hi, doc, what I’m doing here?”
“You were taken to the hospital with a bullet wound on your shoulder and into
surgery to remove it.”
“Oh, I… yes, I remember…” Danny frowned, trying still to make the difference
about the current moment and the one, as he was unconscious.
Danny remained silent trying to look for an explanation to his situation. “I
remember I was shot, but I don’t remember why, when…”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Taylor, it’s an effect from post traumatic stress. You will be able
to answer those questions by yourself any time soon. Uh… by the way… there’s a
couple of FBI agents outside. They want to talk to you. And… there’s some people,
your emergency contact, Jack Malone and other people waiting to know about
you.”
“Jack… my… oh, sure.”
“I guess I’m authorized to tell them. They told me you haven’t siblings related so I
had to ask you,” the doctor said.
“How long I’ve been here, doctor?”
“Oh well, about  hours,” he replied.
“And they don’t know anything yet?”
“They know the basics.”
“Can I see them?”
“Not yet…”
“But you said there were FBI agents that want to talk to me,”
“Yes, that’s investigation. They told me it’s urgent.”
“I don’t… oh… okay, I don’t like interviews, let’s finish with it the sooner the best,”
Danny frowned, trying to remember. His mind was blank. Why wasn’t he able to
remember? The last thing was… he was in the meeting room, that awful briefing
and the lights went off… yeah, the pain on his shoulder… no he was in the hospital
but… what happened before?
“Mr. Taylor, good evening, I’m special agent Francis and she’s special agent Darcey
from the FBI. I think you’re familiarized with this,” agent Francis introduced
himself and his coworker as flashing both their badges in front of Danny.
“Yeah, I am… evening? Oh, excuse me, I’m a little bit lost inside here,” Danny
replied trying to control his nerves. It wasn’t the first time he was on the other side
of the situation but had been a long time since the last one.
“I understand, well, ehm… we’re investigating what happened in Walsh and
Associated offices and want to know what you saw, what you know… whatever
information you can tell us is… relevant,” agent Francis started.
“I’m… I don’t think I’m going to be useful here. I’ve tried to remember but I don’t
know…” Danny tried hard.
“Other witnesses reported an electric failure in the building. What can you say
about it?” agent Darcey asked.
“Oh, yes, it happened all day. I remember I was working in my office and at midday,
more or less, a coworker got in trouble to get into the building due to a problem
with the Ids.”
“At midday?”
“Yeah, it was a problem all day. Then, later I got a conversation between Mr. Walsh
and another guy about the camera system and then the lights went off and on all
the time.”
“Were the lights off when you were shot?”
“Yes,”
“So, you didn’t see the assault?”
“Uhm… no… I… I heard the shooting, the light of fire and… maybe flashlights…”
“You didn’t see any moment their faces?”
“Their…? I’m… I’m sorry, I don’t remember.”
“Okay,” the agent wrote down something on his notebook.
Danny felt pretty uncomfortable of being so useless. He looked at the other agent
who seriously observed every movement of him. Danny felt he was being X-rayed.
“Tell me about your work, how long have you been in Walsh and Associated?”
“Five months, I’ve just started it.”
“Where you were working?”
“I’ve been working in the criminal law section and then I was in the civil rights…
I’m in practice… well, I was, I mean, I’ve just been promoted to a definitive job.”
“That’s it?”
“Criminal Law.”
“Your wish, I guess,”
“No, but there was a vacant and I was there.”
“What case were you working?”
“None yet, we were in a meeting to inform my coworkers about my new job when
it happened… the gunshot,” Danny frowned, trying to remember. What had
happened? “What happened to the others?”
“That’s not relevant, now. Mr. Taylor, are you in contact with the other lawyers of
Criminal Law, do you know the cases they are working on?”
“No, like I said I haven’t had time to do anything. Why don’t you ask them?”
“We’re asking you, and not only you, of course, we must check all the testimonies.”
“Okay… uhm… maybe this is important or not, I don’t really know but a coworker
received a threatening note…”
“Who?”
“Maggie Anderson, she asked me what to do, I told her to call the police…”
“Did you read the note?”
Danny nodded. “It was the typical note made as a collage. ‘Make a deal and you’re
dead’ it said or something like that. I didn’t give it so much importance, this is
Criminal Law and as Mr. Walsh said, everyday you receive this kind of things.”
“Mr. Walsh did know… anything else?”
“Is that so important? I don’t know, but I don’t think so, she was pretty scared,
didn’t want to tell anybody.”
“But she told you,”
“Because I had been an FBI agent. She wanted me to take care of it.”
“And you did?”
“No, I didn’t, I’m not an FBI agent. I told her to call the police or talk to her boss,
what she obviously did.”
“I guess she’s not a friendly person.”
“No, she isn’t.”
“Okay, that’s all for now. We’ll let an agent outside.”
“Why?”
“Just precaution.”
The agents left as a confused Danny wondered why they were doing so many
questions about his work or the work in the office, or what had happened. Sure,
there were people enough to tell them all of that. Tired and still feeling the effects
of the sedatives, Danny stopped thinking and gave up to the welcoming sleep.
The time had passed and helped him to relax. The nerves had come and gone several
times, in fact, every time the door was opened and a name had been asked. His fresh
style, humid hair and soft male cologne had been changed in a tired young man. His
perfect and plain suit had turned in something not so perfect after more than one
hour and a half of waiting. But he could swear the others looked the same, and it
wasn’t conviction what he had seen on his opponents’ faces as they left. They were the
six agents, which resumes and profiles had got the attention to the boss of the team
they had applied for. The young woman in front of him, smiled back. She looked
confident, attractive, but also keeping some distance, and looked to have more
experience than him, judging by the folders she took with her. Still he had the feeling
she had already judged him and surely she had got the wrong way. The usual
behavior he was used to, but helped him to keep his privacy intact. He hadn’t any
faith of getting the job, but if something he had learnt in his life was fighting for it.
The laughs of his skeptical best friend in Quantico, turned into a stunning one, when
he broke him the news. He was in the final round, maybe he would get the dream he
had been pursuing. Maybe, his life would start to be something like he wished.
“Mr. Daniel Taylor,” he heard as the door was opened. “It’s your turn. You’re… Ms.
Spade, right?” The blonde woman nodded. “You’re coming right after him.”
Danny rose nervously, and followed the agent through the corridors. Taking one of
the elevators, he felt as his fate was being written right there. Trying to skip the knot
on his stomach and clearing his throat, he mentally revised his profile and the
questions he had supposed to answer.
Several agents passed by them on the corridors, the movement in the th floor was
intense, the wide space with desks occupied by some agents, a white board with a red
line, a picture and notes written below, a kind of meeting table where three agents
were confronting documents, ideas caught him. Danny could process all the feelings
and all of them were good. Gosh!, he thought, I want to be part of this. A female Afro-
American woman turned to him and smiled, as the agent with him asked to sit down
and wait for a moment.
Danny smiled back to the woman. She had a kind and comfortable look, but she also
denoted confidence and resolute attitude. Her face just changed as she continued her
explanations to the group.
Distracted by them, he didn’t realize the door of the little office being opened. “Agent
Taylor,” he heard the grunted voice and almost start. Not a good beginning.
“Oh, I’m sorry, excuse me… I was just…” he mumbled.
“Come in to my office. I’m Jack Malone,” the agent ordered, turning back Danny.
He just followed him, closing the door behind.
“Get a seat, I’ve been reading your interesting resume… and your profile, agent
Taylor…” Jack started looking at him attentively.
Danny tried to remain calm but somehow he felt being analyzed and got nervous.
“How old are you, really?” again the grunted voice and questioning look.
“I’m , sir.” He replied, not understanding the ‘really’ part.
“You’ve got a degree in Law but then you applied for the NYPD and now for the FBI.
Why the change?” Jack asked.
“I… failed the B.A.R. exam and I needed a job. I got one in the NYPD but some point of
it, I preferred the FBI. A friend of mine told me about the course starting in Quantico
and thought it was a good idea.”
“I see your vocation…” Jack’s tone sounded sarcastic.
Danny frowned. “No vocation, there’s no a tradition or so, it’s… I… I like the job.”
“Why have you applied for Missing Persons?” Jack asked. Danny was pretty sure Jack
hadn’t heard his previous answer.
“I’ve heard about the work being done here and I like the idea of working this
subject.”
“Yeah sure… nothing to do with the fact you changed your name?” Jack sounded some
scornful. He didn’t believe him.
“No, nothing to do, sir. During the time I’ve been in Quantico and then working with
the FBI, I’ve been studying the chance of applying for different places and I’ve got
some information about the kind of work. I really like this one. I was… outside,
looking at those agents working… the chance of focusing that well on a person to
look for and really being able to help…”
“We can’t help all the time,” Jack said. He had just noticed something on the young
but mature man in front of him. Some kind of sensitivity and compromise he hadn’t
seen in the other four candidates he had interviewed at that moment. And he liked
what he saw.
“I figure it out, but still, I think there’s a real chance and exclusive dedication the
police can’t take care, I mean… it’s the work.”
“Yes, it’s the work and I love it. Well, agent Taylor, let’s talked about your
experience… I see you’ve been working with the NYPD…”
“Yes, there’s a report, my superior wrote for you.”
“For me? He agreed for you leaving?”
“Uhm… no really, but he understood when I explained him why I wanted to apply for
this job. He said…”
“You’re high qualified for that job,” Jack read, nodding. “Wait a second… were you the
agent talking to the boy hidden in the trunk of the bus?”
Danny blushed. “Yes, I was… I just heard him crying… I didn’t know the FBI was on its
way, so…”
“You approached him, talked to him and made him to relax. You removed his fears
and kept him safe.” Jack ended by him. “I was very impressive. Where did you learn to
work like that? I mean, I don’t think working as a police and you’re very young…”
Danny remained silent as Jack looked over his profile. Finally, when he looked up,
Danny didn’t know what to say. “I… I don’t know, it’s… easy for me.”
“Easy… that’s a talent, this is the kind of people we need here, I see why your boss
agreed. Okay, you’ll have news from us soon.” Jack rose and shook Danny’s hand.
“Mr. Taylor, Mr. Taylor, wake up, you have a visit,” he heard the nurse saying.
Danny opened his eyes, still feeling Jack’s hand on his. The dream about old
memories had been so real and made him remember his first times in the FBI.
“Good morning, Mr. Taylor, I see you’re doing very well,” she continued checking
his vitals. “The FBI is here, they want to question you. The doctor has told them to
stay no more than 5 minutes and I’m going to be watching outside, right?” she
smiled.
“They already came…” Danny protested.
She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Anyone else?” Danny asked.
The nurse shook her head. “Your friends were here the other day, when you were
in surgery. I know someone has called… They probably obeyed doctor’s words; he
said you must rest. It’s soon for all people inside making jokes. Believe me, you’d
feel sick in a sudden.”
“Probably, okay, let’s finish with the FBI.” He smirked.
“All right,” she said, opening the door.
Danny saw the agent outside talking something to the nurse and then, they got into
the room. The atmosphere changed immediately, filling in negativity.
“Agent Francis,” Danny greeted. “Where’s your partner?”
“She’s working on something else,” he replied. “I see you’re feeling good.”
“More or less, what’s the pleasure? Have you found out who did this mess?”
“Not yet, I want to ask you about a single matter…”
“What is?”
“You told us about a coworker being threatened,” the agent started.
“Yes, Maggie Anderson, has happened something to her?” Danny replied.
“That threat… was linked to a case she was working?” Francis asked, avoiding
Danny’s question.
Danny realized it and frowned. He felt the agent was hiding something. “Yes,” he
just replied.
“And, you don’t know what the case is about…”
“Why… why don’t you ask her?” Danny asked.
“I’m asking you. What do you know about it, Mr. Taylor?”
“Is that important?” Danny replied, noticing the impatience in Francis.
“Come on, Taylor, I’m just working, would you mind to answer my questions rather
than questioning me? I’ll decide if it’s important or not, you… just reply.”
“All right, she was defending an inmate… Mathew… Wilson… Gibson… yes, Mathew
Gibson. I don’t know anything else.”
“Did she tell you something you considered strange, important…?”
“A part from the fact she was scared by the note… no, I don’t know what the case
was about, actually,” Danny replied, remembering what Vivian had told him by
phone. Maybe that case was the reason he was in the Hospital. “Is Maggie
Anderson injured?” he asked.
“What?” Francis looked at him for a second. “No,… I don’t know, I’m just
investigating this… just collecting details. Okay, Taylor, that’s all by now. If you
remember anything, don’t forget us, right?”
“Sure,” Danny replied.
fff
Sweating and shaking and being held by a worried face nurse, it was the way
Danny came into reality. The vivid nightmare had let him completely down and
exhausted, and it wasn’t the first time.
Since Martin had broken him the real news about the shooting, Danny had been
completing the puzzle with the flashes reminding him what had happened. But just
opening his eyes, he didn’t really know why he was so terrified. He only had the
feeling of the scary thing but couldn’t remember anything.
“Take it easy, sir,” the nurse reassured him. “It’s over, right? I’ll give you some
sedative…”
“No!” Danny screamed. “I don’t want any sedative to make me sleep. I don’t want to
sleep.”
The nurse smiled. “You should, you must rest for your full recovery.”
“I’m fine,” Danny said stubbornly.
“Not what the doctor says,” she replied, checking the vitals and writing down on
her notebook.
Managing the pillow and helping him to get a better position, she reordered the
untidy sheets, before leaving. “Get some rest,” she said before closing the door.
Danny got alone again in that hospital room. It was a frustrating situation for him,
understanding now why nobody from work had come to visit him, understanding
that everybody knew what had happened but him. Vivian, Martin, Jack probably…
he felt like a stupid and vulnerable person they were protecting thinking wrongly
he couldn’t bear with this. Oh well, they didn’t know him, after all. They didn’t
know what he had been through his entire life. ‘What!’ he yelled at him, but he was
just trying to find the courage he wished to have. He knew there was something
else but he wasn’t able to find out what.
Wishing to take part on the events, he started to think about the previous days,
weeks at work, but he didn’t find anything rare. Everything had turned strange
that day. He hadn’t seen the signs and had played it down. Payton LaSalle had told
him about the security system, Maggie had told him about the threatening note and
Vivian had told him about confidentiality. Maybe he should have pay more
attention to it and nothing of it would have happened… or yes. Everything went so
fast.
He sighed and closed his eyes trying to find some rest, but fearfully to the
upcoming sleep… and nightmare.
‘Get down!, get down!’ he heard himself yelling at the others. He recognized the
danger in the darkness, the lights blinking off, the flashlights, the fire from the guns,
5
the gunfire on them. He tried to cover himself as he ordered his coworker beside him.
‘Get back! Get back!’ he yelled this time, as the car started moving back quickly. The
pavement was wet, the green traffic light went mixture with the red ones of the black
van in front of them and the fire from the guns, the gunfire over them. He wasn’t able
to watch anything else but wait. Reaching his hand to his gun, he found none. He
wasn’t an FBI agent anymore, he was a lawyer now, and lawyers don’t take guns at
work. He saw some body falling down on the floor, he could see the lifeless body of
some one, before hitting himself on something. The darkness came quickly and he felt
defenseless for some second before losing conscious. He didn’t know how long, but the
shooting once again, made him recover. Pulling out his gun, he got out the car and
covered by it, he started shooting. He could very well identify the killer… the
Ambassador’s security guardian, Emil Dornval. He shot down the other gunman but
his gun got blocked as the other one ran away. Turning his attention to the car and
the person inside, he looked into praying for him being okay, even though, he knew he
wouldn’t be. ‘Martin…. Martin’ he called fearfully as his friend turned to him with
blurred eyes, realizing what was going on… the blood flowing his chest, turning his
white shirt in dark red one, moved Danny to another place, the same blurred
expression welcoming the death, the dark blood over the face, the mortal hit on her
forehead and he realizing it was his fault, all his fault, he was alive and being witness
of the consequences of his acts… Yeah, it was that, the consequences of his acts… all
his fault. Martin was going to die exactly the same his parents had died, in the middle
of nowhere, in a rainy dark night… because of him distracting them, because of him
not taking care of the situation but trying to save his only ass. Trying to stop the
images from the past, Danny run on the driver door, and opening it, he held down
Martin and helped him to lie down on the floor. Not knowing what else to do, he
pulled out his cell and called the  for help. The blood was so much around and
Martin was unconscious but he could still do something. Pressing hard the wounds he
found on Martin’s lifeless body, he tried to stop the blood flowing, as the waiting for
the ambulance turned hell to him.
He felt the hands in gloves on his shoulders, taking him out of Martin, taking him out
of there. He didn’t understand why a stretcher was ready for him, they had to take
care of Martin, not him, he was okay… or he thought before feeling the burning pain
on his shoulder. Someone put an oxygen mask on him as he tried to get what was
going on, but just his body couldn’t resist anymore and he gave up at the sleeping he
was taken on his way to the hospital. Why? Why? What’s happening? Why he’s not
anymore in that road, where is Martin? He can’t remember, he only remembers a
meeting room, someone congratulating him… oh yeah, he was a lawyer, the lights,
the flashlights again… the light went off and then… the shooting… and the pain…
and… and the lights went on again… and then… and then… he started
hyperventilating, his heart was going to explode, the death was taking him there…
what was the scary thing? what happened? What?
“What!”, he yelled and trying to sit up he felt sort of resistance against. Realizing he
had been caught by a nightmare once again, he opened his eyes expecting to the
see nurse or the doctor again, but instead he found the scary caramel brilliant eyes
of Payton LaSalle.
He wanted to know what was happening by himself. Vivian wasn’t the kind of
person to ruin her career at screwing up things. He wondered why sending her to
investigate the activities of their missing person in Sacramento had caused so hard
reticence. He had no other choice but sending Martin and Vivian, he reasoned. Will
was still a rookie, Sam had little Finn. She had reminded him sending Martin the
rookie to San Diego with Danny but, what the hell, Martin was more experienced
than Will and he was the boss. There was no reason for Vivian taking things that
wrong; unless she stayed investigating Danny’s shooting. Well, she could thank
him later, when she’d realize her wrong way of act. Jack was making her a favor by
sending her away, after all.
But, still, he hadn’t visited Danny in the hospital yet, and being his emergency
contact, it would be a good chance to know the reason for the stubborn Vivian’s
behavior.
Walking through the corridor towards Danny’s room, he passed by a man who
caught his sight suspiciously. In front of Danny’s room, he turned to spot the back
of that man, not sure about his feeling of him standing just in front of that door.
Sighing, he tried to skip the paranoia Vivian’s words had brought to him and
opened the door, after knocking on softly.
“Hey,” he greeted.
“Jack!” Danny exclaimed, dropping the magazine he was reading on the night stand.
“Took your time to get in!” he continued smirking.
“What? Why do you say that?” Jack frowned, approaching him. “How are you?”
“Okay, I’m fine, I was looking you by the door’s crack; well, your feet, actually.”
Danny smiled.
“It wasn’t me,” Jack replied but regretting it immediately. So that wasn’t paranoia,
at all. Cursing himself for not going after that man, Jack took the magazine from the
nightstand. “Wow, you must be bored if you’re reading this.”
“You can’t figure out.” Danny replied.
An uncomfortable silent grew up between them for a while. There were too many
unsaid words and neither of them knew what to say.
“You scared us at hell, you know?” Jack finally said. “The news was so confusing,
we had to go to your office to know what had happened and then here in the
hospital nobody wanted to tell us anything. It was luck you named me as your
emergency contact.”
“I’m sorry, maybe I should have called,” Danny replied serious but looking at the
stunned Jack’s face he couldn’t help but bursting into laugh.
They laughed for a moment, until Danny’s shoulder protested.
“We miss you, Danny. You don’t know how much,” Jack said, tension off, words said
from the heart.
“I had to leave, Jack. There was a reason for it, you know.”
“I know, I know… and I think I didn’t play it well with you. But well, that’s past,
okay?”
Danny smiled and somehow he felt relieved. “Yeah, I hear you, Jack. You and I were
having personal problems to deal with and… guess we were both pretty pissed off.”
“Personal problems… yeah well, uhm… when are you going to leave?” Jack asked
then trying to skip the bad feeling betraying him.
Danny got it as well and got some tense. “I don’t know,” he just replied. “Doctor
says I should stay at least for a week. I’m working with rehab on my shoulder and
he’s looking for the wound being healed. There’s nobody and nothing expecting me
outside,” he trailed off.
“Danny, that’s not true,”
“Who cares?” he bitterly asked.
“I care, Vivian, Martin, Sam… we all care, and probably other people I don’t know,
your broth…” Jack stopped, as Danny got pale. He had forgotten Rafie had died.
“I’m… sorry, I didn’t want to say that. Hey, Danny I’d like things work out between
us. There’s no reason for not being like that.”
Danny remained silent for a moment. He wished not being so emotional. Rubbing a
hand over his face, he sighed.
“Danny, there is one thing I’m worried about and it’s Vivian.” Jack continued, as
Danny had said nothing.
“Viv? Is she sick?” Danny asked genuinely concern. “It’s been a while since she
doesn’t stop by and…”
“No, no,” Jack quickly replied. “It’s work, I’ve sent her to do some work with Martin
to Sacramento, but Danny, she’s… doing some private investigation about what
happened to you and I can’t stop her.”
“Private investigation? Oh well, I don’t think so, there’s an FBI team working on it,
they interviewed me a couple of times and there’s no reason for her to do
anything,” Danny replied not telling Jack what Payton had told him when she
visited him three days before.
Flashback
“I’m sorry for not stopping by before, Danny. I was so… impressed, scared, all the
time,” she excused herself.
“Don’t worry, Payton, I know how it feels,” he replied. “You were almost there, it’s
very hard to overcome it, I know, I’m… dealing with it, as well. Are you getting
some help?”
She smiled. “You caring about me?”
“Sure, I’m okay here, with doctor and beautiful nurses around. But what about
you?” he tried.
“Good point, Danny. Oh well, I’ve had a few complicated days but I’m starting to
feel better. I think I’m somehow helping you… you know what Danny? There’s
great people caring about you?”
“What do you mean?” Danny asked.
“You told me about your friend getting the interview with Mr. Walsh and now I’ve
met this agent, Vivian Johnson… she’s really trying to help you. I did some
investigation for her.”
Danny stared at her puzzled. He wasn’t able to picture Payton doing that. “She
wanted to know about the case you were going to work, the case Maggie was taken
before the… shooting. I got into the offices and took the folders from your desk. It
was scary because there was an agent with me, an eye on every single movement
of me.”
“Everybody is focusing on that case. Maggie had come to me with a threatening
note and I almost laughed on her…” Danny murmured.
“It was Maggie. Nobody cared; do you know the tale of ‘Peter and the Wolf’?”
Payton said sympathetically.
“Maggie was Peter the liar…”
“Yes and nobody has proved anything yet… at least, what I know.”
“What do you know?”
“Nothing actually, the FBI interrogated me but I couldn’t help them. I was trapped
in the elevator with the idiot of Mike Petersen,” she replied remembering his
words about the latin lover, if he knew. “But, your friend, Vivian, told me she would
keep me posted. She was very grateful for my help. Her husband was pretty kind
with me as well.”
“Her… husband?” Danny frowned, he didn’t understand anything.
“She told me to give him the folders about that case.”
Danny remained silent for a second. “Oh well, I’ll ask her what she’s doing when
she comes.”
“She loves you, Danny. She talks about you with total love, I can feel the way she
cares of you.” Payton said.
End of flashback
“She’s doing it, believe me. What can you tell me about it?”
“Do you want me to stop her?” Danny asked.
“I don’t really know what’s happening but she’s behaving… different.”
“I can’t tell you, she came to visit me and asked about but I guess it’s normal.”
“You had asked her to find out about a guy. I was with her when someone from the
NYPD called her and then she phoned you. It seemed serious and she thinks there’s
happening something there and it’s with the FBI and their cautiousness.”
Danny sighed. “If she knows something else, is up to her, Jack. I didn’t have time for
anything. I only had the name of that guy and what Vivian told me by cell. Then…
Mr. Walsh called us for that meeting.”
“What the meeting was about?” Jack asked.
“About me,” Danny replied. Jack raised an eyebrow. “He had… released me from
practice. I had got my definitive job and he was informing the rest of coworkers,
it’s the usual.”
“And… during that meeting, the shooting happened.”
“Yes, that was how I was welcomed,” Danny grimaced. “I’d never have pictured a
situation like that,”
“I figure it out. Didn’t you notice anything the previous days, weeks… anything?”
Jack asked then.
“Hey… are you interrogating me?” Danny asked. He didn’t want to speak about it
anymore, it was nonsense talking with Jack about it.
“I’m sorry, guess it’s professional habit.”
“Probably the same professional habit than Viv. Let her doing it, maybe she needs
to know.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want her to get into troubles.”
“Why?”
“Van Doren warned me about her. Well, not about her, but it’s her.”
“The same Bobby’s boss,” Danny frowned. “I… I’m lost Jack, I’ll talk to her, if this is
dangerous for her, I couldn’t live knowing she’s risking her career, her life for me.”
There was emotion in his words; ‘she loves you, Danny’ Payton had told him. And
as everyone who had ever loved him so much, they had gone… and he didn’t want
Vivian to die by him.
“I see you understand me. Well, Danny I have to leave now. I’ll tell Viv to visit you
as soon as she’s back from Sacramento, tomorrow morning, right?”
“Right,” a confused Danny replied with the feeling that Jack had only visited him to
get that compromise about Vivian.
“Okay, take care,” Jack said clumsily.
“Sure, I’ll be fine.” Danny tried a smile.
Once Jack left. Danny realized the wall between them was still there. Jack didn’t
really care about him and somehow he felt uncomfortable. The second he had seen
Jack getting into the room, he had felt the old feeling towards him, but had
vanished as Jack opened his mouth… the way he said ‘personal problems’ had
disturbed him. He wasn’t able to trust him, after all.
But he needed to talk to Vivian urgently. And it wasn’t because of Jack had told
him. It was the whole thing, what Jack had told him, what Payton had told him.
Realizing he had survived a shooting where probably nobody should, shooting
eliminating witnesses, he started to get scared of being in that hospital…
defenseless, and not remembering anything useful.
Leaving Danny’s room with the bitter feeling that he hadn’t managed well the
situation, Jack noticed the argument with a doctor near the reception. Sure it was
an FBI agent, so he approached enough to catch the conversation.
Shaking his head, the doctor was replying to the agent with a firm “No way, he’s
still on recovering, he needs antibiotics and painkillers. I won’t let him get out.”
“I can get an order,” the agent said.
Jack didn’t recognize him from the day Danny had been shot but the doctor was
his.
“Under your responsibility. You see what happened with the other man,” the
doctor said.
“How do you know what…?” the agent asked suspiciously.
“Come on, we had to send the other hospital all the reports about him. They didn’t
understand why we had agreed to let him go. You almost killed him,” the doctor
pointed a finger on the agent chest. “I won’t allow you doing the same with my
patient. If you think he’s not safe here, whatever the reason is, do what you have to
do, but Mr. Taylor won’t leave as I’m in charge of his recovering. Is that clear for
you?”
The agent had blushed in rage, he obviously didn’t want Danny to stay there, and
Jack wondered why. He deduced they were talking about Donaldson, which had
been released soon after the shooting. He seemed having healthy problems.
Uncomfortably, he thought about the man he had spotted in front of Danny’s room
and wondered. Vivian’s suspects were taking form in Jack’s mind as well.
His cell ringing, pulled him out of his thoughts and the discussion. “Sam?”
“There’s a John Doe in the morgue, Jack. They need Susan Philips to identify him.
Maybe is our missing person,” Sam informed.
“Right,” Jack said, cutting the call. It was never good news. Heading for the parking
lot, he got into his car and drove back to the FBI headquarter in Manhattan.
“I told him move on,” Sarah Connelly said. “He was very unhappy since Laura and
he broke the relationship. They had been dating for five years and he had planned
to get married at the end of the year.”
Martin nodded.
“When he told me about New York and that work he had got… it was amazing, a
great chance,” Sarah continued.
Vivian frowned. “What did he tell you?”
“Well, he even gave a party to announce it,” She stopped at Martin’s cell ringing.
“Continue, please,” Vivian told her as Martin stood up and got out of radar.
“Well, he told us about a company in New York… Merlin Inversions. They had
trusted him to intermediate as investor or something. He had got . $ in
advance to invest for his clients!”
“Did he tell you about those clients or the people who proportionate the job?”
Vivian asked, seeing Martin coming back with a serious face.
“No, he told me I should keep secret about the money and he wasn’t allowed to
give more information about the clients. It’s normal… I… heard him talking by
phone with a… Russell, Thomas I think. It was before he left to New York. Excuse
me if I don’t remember well, but I’m pretty sure.”
“Did you ever notice him nervous, or angry or something as treating with this guy
or anybody related to that job?”
“No, ever. He was anxious to go to New York and meet them.”
“All right, Mrs. Connelly, if you remember anything else, this is my card, phone at
the office and cell. Thanks so much for your help.” Vivian said with a smile.
“Your welcome. I’m willing to help and you can find him soon,” she said.
Martin and Vivian left Mrs. Connelly home. She was the fourth one confirming the
same story. But the reality of Stephen Morrison was very different, starting by the
fake name of the company he supposedly was working.
“Let’s follow the money,” Vivian said as the headed for the car.
“Yes,” Martin agreed. “Will called from NY, they are on their way to the morgue to
identify a John Doe matching with Morrison. I suggest you to have a good lunch in
that restaurant we saw on our way.”
“We?” Vivian smiled. “Your always starved stomach made you seeing a restaurant
all around here!”
“Aren’t you hungry?” Martin asked frowning.
She laughed. “Oh, yes. If we have to wait for that identification, let’s take a deserve
rest and enjoy this city.”
Discussing the terms of the case they were working as having lunch, Vivian and
Martin were now drinking a coffee. John Doe had been positively identified as
Stephen Morrison and their work ended there. It was time to go back home and
Vivian couldn’t help but think about Danny. Her face turned distracted and Martin
noticed it.
“Viv, I heard you arguing with Jack about this trip. I wonder… no, I heard you were
talking about Danny. What’s happening?” He asked directly.
Viv sighed. “I’m worried about him…” She hesitated but still she was talking to the
son of the Deputy Director of the FBI, the only one she expected to help.
“Yeah, me too. I haven’t been able to visit him after I told him what had
happened…”
“I don’t mean that, exactly.” Vivian said.
“So, then?” Martin asked in concern.
“The morning of the shooting, Danny called me asking for an information about a
guy a coworker was defending. She had received a threatening note and had
showed Danny, so he asked me. I called a friend in the NYPD I know has contacts
around. Confidential and some warning of his boss to not investigate, then the
shooting, then this guy was killed in prison, and the nervousness of the FBI in the
hospital, you saw it.”
“You’ve been investigating.” Martin said.
“Something, but Jack is trying to stop me. He told me he had received orders from
superior…”
“Van Doren?”
“Probably. But there’s more, Martin and this is delicate. I realized the reason for
the shooting, the case of this guy in prison, the threatening note… everything was
related so I asked Payton, a Danny’s coworker, to get the folders of that case. It was
the case Danny had to start working but he never read. She went to the offices to
pick up the folders from the lawyer being threatened but her desk was a mess.
Only her desk, as someone had been looking for it. But she was lucky and whoever
who looked for it, didn’t find the folders. She found them on Danny’s new desk.”
“Oh my God.”
“The good thing is that nobody can relate Danny to it, because it wasn’t Danny’s
desk yet. It was still the name of the former lawyer, Mike Rainer, who left a month
ago.”
“Did you talk to him?”
“Yes, I did, Payton told me they usually exchange information about the cases, but
Rainer didn’t know about it. The FBI had interrogated him before me, so I realized
they were looking for the same information I’ve… got.”
“The folders.”
“Yes. Payton sent me the folders, all the documents, statements, the investigation
about the guy in prison, Mathew Gibson. He’s not the important, not his case, but
what he knew. His lawyer had written down names and facts and had prepared a
complete statement to be signed by Mathew Gibson. The information would take
him out of prison.”
“A deal,”
“Yes, a deal who compromised judges, politicians, FBI intermediate agents, DEA’s…
involved in a net of corruption, drugs and money laundering to be discover.”
“That’s the threatening note… and the shooting.”
“Yes, they killed Mathew Gibson and also the lawyer, and everyone who could
know.”
“But the clients, the secretary…”
“Payton told me there were more than two clients waiting in Mr. Walsh office
when she headed for the elevators. The police only found two. My theory is that
they operated on the security system to stay unnoticed and pretended to be the
clients. They waited in the office until the light was off, and then they started
shooting all the people there, not only the lawyer they were looking for, probably
Mr. Walsh and Gibson’s lawyer, but all the rest of people there.”
“Do you have the folders?”
“Yes, I have. I know the FBI is investigating, but it must be a selected group. I don’t
think they know who is involved and who isn’t, the leaders and the… workers, you
understand?”
“You told me the lawyer working that case told Danny she had been threatened
but… didn’t she tell him about these people involved, the statement she had been
preparing… didn’t she tell Mr. Walsh either?”
“I don’t think so, it seems the lawyer was pretty arrogant and ambitious. Probably
she knew it was a great opportunity to reach some fame. I don’t think Mr. Walsh
knew, he wouldn’t give the case to Danny…” she bit her lips.
“What?”
“Danny was upset because he thought Mr. Walsh was using him to babysit Maggie
Anderson, the other lawyer, but he gave him the complete control of the case.
Danny would have realize immediately the importance of this, he would have
related the failures in the security system, the note… but he didn’t have the
chance.”
5
Martin pulled out his cell and dialed a number. Vivian knew whom he was calling
and stopped him. “Not yet, Martin. Let me go back to New York and take the
documents.”
He stopped, frowning.
“Martin, you’re the only one who knows this. Please, trust me as much I trust you.
If I was mad at Jack was because I was going to do it before he sent us to
Sacramento. I can’t do anything from here and I wanted to talk to your father.”
Vivian said serious.
“The more reason for telling my father!”
“Your father could take the wrong person to take care of him, Martin. I can’t tell
him now all the names, the documents are at home, you understand? They are
blind at knowing who they can count on now.” Vivian explained.
“Okay, Viv. I trust you. We’re wasting time here,” Martin stood up and Vivian
smiled slightly. She knew she could count on him and it was a relief not being so
alone. Still she didn’t tell him everything.
Flashback
Getting out the car, she entered and headed up for the kitchen where the voices of
her husband, Marcus, and her son, Reggie sounded like heaven. She stopped for a
moment on the stairs, listening their laughs. So good feeling at home.
“Hi! I’m back!” she greeted.
“You know, mummy?!” Reggie was excited. “We got the highest score against
Marins High school!”
“Wow! You’re in the final now!” she joined the excitement. “That’s great!”
“Oh, yes, you had to see it. Malcolm got the best play and you know what? There
were observers from the Uni…”
“Harvard?” Viv asked.
“Yep.” Reggie replied.
Marcus worried face in spite of the excitement of Reggie made Viv remembering
the folders Payton probably gave him. But they would have time later to talk about
it. Enjoying the dinner with the news Reggie brought home, Vivian forgot the work,
Donaldson, Bobby and even Danny for a while.
But she wasn’t able to sleep on the night. In bed, she took one of the folders to get
immersed in bored law words. They were five folders to read, she left on the night
stand.
“The woman who brought me looked pretty scary,” Marcus said.
“You bet,” Vivian said as reading.
“Are you taking paper work back at home?” he asked in disbelief.
“This is not paper work, it’s about Danny.” she replied.
“Taylor?”
“Yes… let me read…”
“Why did you say her to give me?” Marcus was stunned.
“I was working and it’s important, I didn’t want this documents in her hands.”
“Are we taking a risk? I guess I should know…” Marcus’ tone sounded concern now.
Vivian raised her eyes from the papers and looked at Marcus. “Maybe… I’m
thinking…”
“Viv, I don’t think…”
“Listen to me, Marcus…”
“Okay, tell me,” Marcus knew his wife so well that he knew when something
worried her.
When Vivian finished to tell him, he only could shake his head. “This is terrible
honey, but why if the FBI is investigating are you doing this?”
“I’m not sure, I have to read this. I know someone was looking these folders… oh…
look… oh my God. What’s this?” Vivian took a stapled document typewriting in
official paper and signed by Mathew Gibson. “This is…” she whispered.
Marcus looked at her as concern as she was looking back at him.
They spent the rest of the night talking about the statement of Mathew Gibson
uncovering a corruption net involving some important and until now respectful
names from the judicial area, the FBI, DEA and possibly some people from the
financial market. They were already in danger just having that information. There
was no time to be back, she was going to do it and she would do the next morning.
Vivian realized the danger Danny was going through in that hospital, a danger she
had already suspected but now turned into even more dangerous.
“Still, Danny witnessed the killers,” Marcus conceded when she explained the
situation.
“Yes and he could related them to the corruption net, if he identifies them, but he
doesn’t remember anything,”
“Yet,” Marcus pointed in concern.
“I’m going to take him under my protection, Marcus… and I’m going to need your
help.” Vivian said vehemently.
“Your protection? Are you crazy honey? I mean, it’s very loyal from you but, what
are you going to do, bring him at home?”
“I must to put Danny under safe protection before Deputy Director Fitzgerald
receives these documents to arrest these people or start the investigation from a
solid lead. And I know this is a solid and important lead.”
“Important enough to kill,”
Vivian nodded.
“I don’t know,Viv…” Marcus hesitated.
Vivian understood, but there was no way she changed opinion. Not now she had
gone so far. “Nobody will know, not even from the office.”
“Are you going to take this guy at home for… how long? What if they don’t find all
these people?”
“They’ll find them. Believe me, it’ll be a time when Danny testimony is not that
important and his life won’t be in danger.”
“But, Taylor is in the hospital. Is he fine enough to leave?”
“I don’t know, I’m not sure, I’ll think about it later, I need to take him out of there.”
Marcus looked at his wife with an incredulous expression. He shook his head. “I’m
not going to convince you that this is a total mistake, right?”
She smiled. “Nope, I know it’s a risked situation but I’m going to help Danny. You
must understand that I can’t let it go. If something happens to him, I won’t forgive
myself… ever.”
“When…”
“Tomorrow morning. I’m going to talk to him, like a simple visit and I’ll explain him
what to do. He’ll meet you outside the hospital… maybe not in the entrance. If
there are FBI agents and they see you…”
“Okay, are you going to make him to walk for a…”
“He’s injured on his shoulder, not on his leg, he can walk,” Vivian disagreed.
“What hospital is he in?”
“Saint Andrews… why?” she continued as he stood up and took a jacket.
“I’m going to take a look around.”
“Now?” she asked in surprise but gratefully.
“Not to take him out now, just to look where I can park the car staying unnoticed,”
he explained her grabbing the keys.
“You are with me in this, aren’t you?” she asked softly.
“Sure,” he agreed, and kissing her, he left.
Vivian felt a shiver running down her spine. She didn’t know what to do next,
exactly, but she felt she was doing the right thing.
Next morning, she was in a plane with Martin on their way to Sacramento and they
had to postpone that plan… leaving Danny in an unnecessary risk.
End of flashback
“I know it’s not time for visits, but I must go to work and this is the only moment I
can stop by,” she smiled at the nurse in the reception. “I promise it’ll be short.”
“Uhm… okay, but as soon as I say get out…”
“I’ll leave, no problem. I really appreciate it, thanks.” Vivian said, heading without
delaying for Danny’s room. Her head was going to explode, trying to keep her
nerves unnoticed, but the truth was, she was worried and nervous. She wished
Danny was up to leave, she wished he understood and she hadn’t time for long
explanations.
She sighed in relief noticing there wasn’t any agent outside, and opened the door
after knocking. “Danny?” she asked softly. The room was quiet and dark. For a
second she thought there was nobody there. Her heart stopped at the feeling of the
FBI taking Danny out on custody. But then, she heard the noise of the shower in the
bathroom and sighed in relief. He was still there and taking a shower, what it was
good sign. He could leave by his own.
“Danny?” she asked aloud.
“Who is it?” she heard him asking.
“It’s me, Vivian. Take a towel before getting out!” She replied.
“Viv!”, the door was opened a little and Danny poke on it. His head was wet and
also his shoulders, the only thing she could see, apart from his genuine smile. “I’m
with you in a second, right?”
“Hurry up, nurse only let me stay short,” she said.
“I’ll talk to her later, don’t worry,!” he said, the sound of his voice mixture with the
shower noise.
Vivian smiled. He was okay. The nervousness was taking her a way she hadn’t
figured out. Where the experienced Vivian was there? She had to think and act like
an FBI agent for a moment but seeing Danny so well, made her lose some control
on it.
Next time he appeared, he was dressed in jeans and t-shirt. She looked at him
confused. “Are you leaving?” she asked.
“I think so. I’m tired of being here and…”
“Danny wait… you’re kidding, right?”
Danny smiled. “It’s been a while since you didn’t come.”
I’ve been to Sacramento. Reply to my question, please.”
“No, I’m just kidding, but I don’t have to stay dressed in those horrible hospital
clothes. Uhm… but I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I’m fine, but the doctor
is afraid I can get an infection on the wound so…” he explained her, sitting on the
bed.
She stared at him. “What do you think?” she knew he was hesitating about
something.
“I think they are expecting a breakdown to take me up to the fourth floor,” he
whispered, but in a comic tone.
“The fourth floor.”
“Crazy people,” he said vehemently.
“Oh, I see.” She grinned. “They don’t know you, not their fault. But listen, is there
anything else apart from that… fourth floor?” she asked.
“Uhm… nope. I don’t think so. Why?”
“Because I’m here to take you out.” She replied slowly.
“What?” he exclaimed.
“Listen, Danny. This is serious; you’re not safe here. Things are happening and,
believe me if I tell you they are screwing up things all the time. I don’t know why
exactly, but there are some dangerous people involved.”
“I see Jack was right,” Danny said in disbelief.
Vivian sighed. “Hopefully I have a document that will help the FBI, but by now, I
don’t have any faith on the system…”
“And?”
“The FBI wants to take you under their protection. They did with Donaldson and
want to do it with you.”
“Okay, and?”
“I’m not going to let them do it, basically because they are playing blind this game.
I’ll show it to you later, Mathew Gibson case, and you’ll understand. Danny, you
must trust me.”
“Tell me one thing, Vivian. Are you going to risk your career, your life and your
family… by doing this? Because if your answer is ‘yes’, there’s no way I’m going to
leave this place.”
“I’m not stupid, I know what I’m talking about and you don’t.”
“There are too much people taking risks by me. You, Payton…”
“Oh, Payton, she did great. She gave us the documents. Make it work out, Danny.
Come with me. This is not the result of a sudden feeling; I’ve been planning this for
the last days. Today, Martin is going to contact his father. I’m sure they will have
you in a witness protection program, but I don’t trust them.”
“Victor Fitzgerald?” Danny asked confused.
“Yes, he’s the only one I can trust right now. Oh well, and Martin, of course. He’s the
only one who knows the meaning of those documents.”
Danny rubbed a hand over his face. “Jack asked me to stop you.”
“Yes, I know he came to visit you and I know he screw it up once again.”
Flashback
Bullpen was quite. There was no trace of Sam or other agents working, but Jack’s
office was lighted on. Martin and Vivian got out the elevator and headed for the
bullpen and their desks. The flight back to New York had been troubled in
climatology and the subject they had spent talking all the time, Danny and the
documents. Taking off jacket and coat, they sat down on the conference table to
put in order the information collected in Sacramento to write their report, the
report of an ended case.
“Hey, you’re back!”
Raising their heads from the papers, Martin and Vivian met the pale and fatigued
figure of Will Colbert. Vivian smiled as Martin replied. “Hey Will, what are you
doing here? Shouldn’t you be on your way back home?”
“I’ve just finished collecting all the information of the case and my report. It’s been
a… crap…” he murmured.
“You’ll be okay,” Martin reassured the young rookie agent.
“I know, I know all the theories, Martin, but it’s not going to work out. Not today,
not now.” Will shook his head.
Martin nodded and met Viv’s eyes. They knew what’s going on… all of them had
happened it. Turning to the papers, they noticed a still unsure Will behind of them.
“I… I followed a complete wrong lead. I wasted my time, the victim’s time…”
“Let it go, Colbert,” Vivian said. “We can’t win all the time. That’s not only the
theory but also the truth. We were in Sacramento following an investigation line
that could have been wrong, as well. But it’s all pieces of a puzzle and there’s not
only one reason for a person to disappear, mostly. It’s usually the consequences of
some of them. We can’t refuse to follow any, if we did, it’s because we are wises
knowing where the lead to take us to the victim is, you understand?”
“You didn’t waste your time, Will. Think that alive or dead, we’ve found them.
Sometimes we can’t do anything else. It’s always a relief for the families to know
what happened. If they’re dead, it’s hard, but it’s always better than remaining
expectant for the rest of your life wondering what happened to them. Think about
all the people who doesn’t know about their loved siblings.” Martin explained him.
“That’s a good point,” Will reasoned.
“Hey, let us finish this and share a drink with us, okay?”
“All right,” Will agreed feeling better.
“You go, now,” Vivian said. “I’ll finish this and give it to Jack.”
“Are you sure?” Martin asked.
“Of course, I’m sure!” she smirked.
“Oh, Jack agreed to take tomorrow off, if there’s no a new case,” Will announced.
“Great!” Martin exclaimed. “Viv, I’ll make that call tomorrow morning, we’ll keep
contact, right?”
“Okay,” she replied nonchalantly.
“All right, let’s go!” Martin grabbed his jacked and bag and left the bullpen,
followed by his coworker, Will Colbert.
She kept her sight on them, until they disappeared on the corridor, before coming
back to the papers. Wishing finish the sooner the best, she tried hard focus on the
case, but feeling extremely unmotivated. Her mind was focused on the upcoming
events to take place the next morning. The opportunity Jack had conceded with
that day off, had to be well-taken to her plans, especially now that Martin was
going to call his father and she hadn’t any excuse about the documents.
Putting aside the thoughts, she finished the report, signed and stood up, heading
for Jack’s office.
“Hey, you’re back. Had a good flight?” Jack asked.
“Yeah, little troubled,” she replied handing him the report. “What are you doing
here? Aren’t you going to take the day off tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow. I was expecting you,” he replied.
Viv stared at him. “And?”
“I went to the hospital, to visit Danny.”
Raising an eyebrow she just waited.
“It happened something…”
“Is Danny okay?” Vivian asked alarmed.
“Oh, yes, he’s fine, it’s not him. But I… I spotted a conversation between Danny’s
doctor and a FBI agent I’m not sure how to deal with, and I passed a guy who had
been outside Danny’s room…”
“Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure, Danny confirmed it, when he thought it was mine, the shoes he saw
through the crack of the door…”
“Do you think he’s in danger?”
“No, I don’t think so, but maybe he’s going to be transferred under the FBI custody.
The doctor was against it. It looks the other injured lawyer was sent to another
hospital after having complications in his health. He suggested to put vigilance on
Danny’s room.”
Vivian nodded. If they had put an agent outside Danny’s room her plan was going
to present some difficulties.
“I’m sorry, Viv, I know you’re worried about him and you were mad at me by
sending you to Sacramento, especially if you wanted to stay close to him…”
Viv couldn’t help but smile maliciously. “Danny is only a friend, this is work, and
duty must be done first. Come on, Jack, you sent me there knowing what was going
on. It was clear when we talked about this. Let’s the FBI make the work, right?”
“I’m apologizing, Viv,” Jack said. “Let me a chance.”
“Right,” she conceded crossing arms. “What about Danny?”
“I told you he’s fine,” Jack said remembering the uncomfortable conversation. “I
was worried about the guy outside his room, what you had told me, what I had
gone to ask him… I started interrogating him about the case, he complained and I
excused myself… a professional habit, so he agreed that it would have been yours
as well. I… realized that he was very right. He’s been working here for years, I’m
not used to him not being part if this, yet.”
“He’s a friend and that’s why I’m worried about him,” Vivian said. She was upset by
Jack’s words and she was suspecting something else. “Why Danny told you about
my professionalism in interrogating him?”
“I told him I was worried about you doing some private investigation.”
“Of course!, you went to visit Danny to tell him about me… oh Jack, I can’t believe it.
Are you manipulating him? Do you want him to tell me to stay away so you think
I’m more vulnerable at him? Do you know what he had been through? How you can
do this to him?”
“No!, I went to visit him. I’m his emergency contact, after all, I had to!”
“Great! What if you not? Don’t you care about a friend? What’s Danny for you,
Jack?”
“I care about him. I always care, I told him I miss him, we miss and care about him,”
“But you always screw up things with him…”
Jack raised his hands and stood up. Picking up a glass and a bottle, he poured the
whiskey in. “You wanna drink?”
“No!” Viv almost yelled at him.
“I don’t… I don’t know how to deal with Danny. For a long time, since the first time
I interviewed him for being part of this team, I’ve had that feeling about him.”
“You don’t trust him after all,” Viv was furious, she couldn’t believe this argument
was happening.
“I trust,” Jack disagreed.
“You don’t… be honest, Jack.” Viv demanded.
“I’m honest, Vivian, but sometimes I don’t know how to deal with him. It’s the way
he takes my words… Look…”
“It’s the way you take his words, Jack… I guess, you misunderstand him, not at
work, but in a personal side. You never contacted like that.”
“I know, when his brother was missing I offered him my help but he went to you,
instead. He swore me he would be okay, I offered him to talk about it all the time.”
“That’s true,” Vivian agreed. “But you never let us go that far. If you don’t tell us, we
don’t tell you, that’s how it works. Danny knows you at work, and knows about you
mostly but he also knows you wouldn’t trust him your personal side.”
“I admit that,” Jack said. “But still I care about him and he has no reason for doing
what he did.”
“Again? Are you talking about the statement?” Vivian asked in surprise. “Nah, I
don’t have time for you, Jack, you selfishly prefer living in the painful side of
everything expecting compassion from us and excuses for your behavior. A very
different attitude Danny used to deal with his issues. He never let it affected him.
He hated that. And you’re very wrong, you didn’t care about him the only time he
asked for help, when his brother was lying in a hospital bed with zero hopes of
survive.”
“I didn’t know!” Jack argued.
“You didn’t listen to him, Jack. We all knew about it and supported him but you?.
You opened the doors of this office for him leaving.” Vivian confronted him.
“My fault, sure! And I told him I hadn’t played it well with him. I apologized...”
“But surely you did too late. Look Jack, I don’t want to talk about this anymore, it’s
a really boring and uncomfortable side of you,” Vivian was the only one who could
talk to him that way. She noticed Jack getting pale, but continued. “The only thing
left here is very simple. My friend and former coworker, but still my friend, is in a
hospital after being shot and dealing with the fact the people with him at the
moment of the shooting are dead. Anything I can do to help him, is never enough,
5
and there’s no way you put me away of it again. Keep your crying for yourself and
take the decisions you must thinking about the people you proclaim care about.”
Vivian rose and left the office, making a big effort to keep the door intact. She
would have hit Jack on his very face, but knew her words had had that effect. What
kind of person he had become in?
On her way back at home after two days out, she tried to focus on her family and
the compromise she was going to take them through.
End of flashback
“Danny, I need you believe in me and Martin.” Vivian tried to get him, partially
lying to him because Martin didn’t know about Danny leaving the hospital.
“Why do you say the FBI is blind and why you only can trust Deputy Director of the
FBI Victor Fitzgerald?” Danny asked.
“Because, as you’re going to read in the documents, the FBI, the NYPD, the DEA,
judges… are involved. Gibson was a part of a big corruption business involving
some governmental agencies. I know the FBI, the NYPD and the DEA are
investigating, but they don’t know the people involved yet so it’s extremely
difficult. And I’m pretty sure the shooting in your office was caused also by it.
That’s why I think they’re blind, and not only me, my contact in the NYPD I called
when you asked me about Gibson, notices the same attitude in the NYPD. We’ve got
information enough, as I told you, I didn’t take you out before because I couldn’t,
first because of your condition, second, because Jack decided to send me the other
side of the country.” Vivian didn’t want to explain but he could read the documents
and get into conclusions.
“Trying protect you,” he reasoned.
“Wrongly,” she protested.
“And, what I’m going to do?” he asked. “I’m here, as the world goes, life goes on,
useless, defenseless.”
“Come with me and you’ll have the chance of doing something. You’re a witness…”
“I don’t remember anything,” Danny said too quickly and Vivian noticed it. The
breakdown hadn’t happened yet, she remembered, and a shadow of hesitation
came to her mind.
“Danny, you’re in charge of Gibson case.”
“Nobody knew.”
“You don’t know if Walsh told anybody else. And… I don’t want to talk about this
episode, Danny, but the people who shot you, they were shooting witnesses and
they are free on the streets.”
“They want me dead. All right, that’s why the FBI is protecting me.”
“I’d say that. But the FBI doesn’t know whom they can count on and whom they
can’t. You understand now?”
Danny nodded.
“You can count on me,” she continued.
“I see but, what about you, what are you going to do with me?”
“I’ll take you home, nobody will related us, because you’re going to leave alone.”
“You mean your home…”
She nodded and smiled.
“And then?”
“Nothing, my home is very comfortable, Danny, you’ll feel fine there. It’s new and
larger with a garden on the back. You can play basketball with Reggie or Marcus,
when your shoulder is better.”
“I couldn’t be seen getting into or out of the house.”
“You won’t leave the house, the same you would stay under the FBI protection, just
that… living with us, with Marcus, Reggie and me. Nobody has to know you’re
living there.”
“Marcus… what does he think?”
“He agreed. We were going to do this before. I had talked to him the night I found
out about the documents and he left home to see where he could park the car to
pick you up when you leave.”
“Is he here?”
“Waiting… outside. Once you leave the hospital, turn to the left, pass the parking
lot, then there’s a car’s store…” Vivian explained.
Danny nodded.
“… and a coffee shop called ‘Two miles’. Get in, Marcus is waiting for you there.”
“When…”
“Now, I’m just leaving. We have one day off, so I’m going to make some errands and
I’ll be back at home. I’ll meet you there, right?”
“Now… I don’t know…”
“You know Danny, you’re okay.”
“What if there’s any problem with the wound, it’s healing well but…”
“We’ll deal with it, when it comes… if comes, right? Come on, I have to leave or the
nurse is going to take me out of here right now.”
“I… should go home to collect some clothes, my laptop.” Danny asked.
“No, it’s already at home.” Vivian replied.
“Really? Why is my choice then?” Danny protested.
“No choice.” She smirked.
“Viv, if I leave, the FBI is going to remove earth and heaven to find me. Are you sure
about this? Because I’m not.”
“We’ll have to be cautious, but I’ve never been so sure of something.”
“That’s too much,” he murmured feeling ashamed.
“This is not your fault, Danny,” She tried to encourage him, as he started pacing the
room.
“What if I trust the FBI and they take me under protection?” Danny was seriously
considering that possibility. “You would be free of this, it wouldn’t be your
problem or your family’s problem. I know it’s not my fault, Viv, but it will be if I let
you put your life and your family’s life in danger. In fact, I’m surprise you’ve ever
considered it.”
“I wouldn’t forgive myself if you go with them and you get killed…”
“But, why? I don’t understand you, Viv. We’ve done this other times and it doesn’t
have to be wrong.”
“Because they don’t know who agents could be involved in the business, Danny.
Don’t you understand? The agent watching you outside this room, could be one of
them, it would be really easy to kill you. They did before, how do you think they got
access to the prison and killed Gibson?”
“Did they kill Gibson?” he asked in surprise.
“Yes, they did.”
“I see.” Danny whispered. He frowned and paced, but didn’t take a decision.
Vivian looked at the time. She was nervous. Grabbing his arm, she stopped his
pacing. “Danny, what would you do if you were in my place?”
He remained silent for a second and then stared at her. “I’d protect you.” He replied
with a serious face.
Lazily Martin stretched out his arms and rubbed his eyes. Picking up his
wristwatch from the nightstand he focused on the time. The night had been long
with Will Colbert, who, after feeling better had found a way to cheer himself up in
the form of a disco and some flirting. If he had tiredness followed Martin out of the
office, it was Martin who had followed him to the disco, and to the flirting thing. He
had to admit he had spent a good time, but the headache and fatigue were there,
reminding him that probably Will Colbert was pretty much younger than him.
Once he took a refreshing shower, his mind started working on the matter he had
to deal with, that morning. His father. How to tell him? He would get furious with
Vivian. What would happen to Danny? Thinking about visiting him first, however
he changed into calling his father. The more difficult to do, it’s the first you must
do, he had learned. So, as opening the fridge for something to get into the
microwave for a quick breakfast, he tried a word to tell his father.
“Deputy Director Fitzgerald office,” he heard his loyal father’s secretary voice after
two tones.
“Hi Marian, it’s Martin Fitzgerald, would you…”
“Hey, Martin, it’s been long! How are you, boy?” Marian greeted. She had become
almost part of the family after twenty-five years working directly with his father.
“I’m fine, Marian. I’d like to talk to my father, is he there?”
“Of course, he’s in his office. Wait a second. Glad to hear you!”
“Thanks, me too,” Martin replied impatiently.
He didn’t have to wait so long before hearing his father usually rude voice. “What’s
going on Martin?” he asked directly.
“Hi Dad, I’ve got something for you,” Martin started.
“About?” Victor asked.
“Mr. Walsh murder.” Best way to get his father attention.
“I’ll call you in a moment.” Victor just said before hanging up.
Martin frowned but before he wondered what was going on, his cell was sounding
from an unknown number. Dad, he presumed before replying.
“Okay, Martin, what you’ve got?” Victor demanded.
“It’s a document. It’s important and I only trust you about it. Dad, I’m going to take
a flight to Washington this afternoon and…” Martin explained not wanting to go
into details.
“No, I’ll go to New York. I’ll meet you at your home at… :. We’ll have dinner
together, right? Tell your boss.”
“I have all day off, no problem with it. I’m waiting you.”
No answer. The call had died before Martin ended his words. Typical behaviors on
his father but also a contagious worry on his tone that made Martin feeling
nervous. Next call was to Vivian’s cell but it was off. Damn it! Taking the forgotten
breakfast out of the microwave, he distractedly played with the meal, thinking
about that document and wishing having them in his hands.
Danny hadn’t thought it would take so difficult to reach the ‘Two miles’ coffeeshop.
Easier had been leave the hospital, but he felt dizziness when getting into the
bar, he looked for Marcus Johnson. Hopefully, he would be expectant at his arrival.
A hand on his shoulder told him he was.
“Mr. Taylor? Danny?” he asked with a smiled.
“Yeah, hi Marcus… is… your car… nearby? I don’t think I can walk so long again.”
He said.
Marcus looked at the pale young man and wondered if Vivian was right when she
told him Danny was fine. “You look shit. Let’s get out of here. I’ll take you home.”
“Thanks,” Danny smirked.
Marcus left some coins on the counter before going out with Danny. He indicated
the black car, discreetly parked and headed for the driver door, as Danny got into
the passenger seat.
Danny felt uncomfortable with Marcus. He knew him, had met sometime but he
was just Vivian’s husband. “Vivian told me you agree with this plan of hers.”
Marcus nodded as he drove softly. “She’s worried about you. I admit I didn’t think
it was a good idea to bring you at home but she explained me everything and I
share her point of view.”
“But, you’re risking a lot with this,” Danny said.
“No the way we’re doing. Nobody has to know you’re living at home. And
moreover, it won’t take so long. I’m sure that as soon as the right people read the
documents Vivian showed me, this case will be over.” Marcus explained.
“I feel… I see you, Vivian, my coworker in the office… all doing things as I’m in a
sort of limbo.” Danny raised his hands sounding frustrated.
“You’ve been shot, Taylor. Don’t try to play the hero.”
“I don’t. I only want to know what’s going on!”
“Be patient. As soon as Vivian arrives home, she’ll let you read those documents
and you’ll be completely filled in details.”
“I can’t wait!”
Marcus smiled as he continued driving. Taking a different and longer route, just for
precaution and to be sure they weren’t followed, he finally turned on for the last
time, into the residential area where he had bought a beautiful house one year ago.
“Hey, Danny, bend down, we’re arriving.”
Danny just obeyed Marcus order, as he noticed the car stopping for a while. Then,
Marcus drove it softly into the garage and closed the automatic door. “Here we
are.”
“Where are you, at home?” Vivian asked.
“Yes, I’ve been calling you.” Martin replied.
“I’m sorry, I wanted to make some copies and had some errands. Okay, I’m on my
way to your apartment, I’ll be there in ten minutes.” She lied. Vivian didn’t want to
tell Martin she had been in the hospital. Hopefully, at this time Marcus would be on
his way at home, with Danny. He had promised call her as soon as they were in the
house and expected anxiously the call.
After leaving the hospital, she had taken the folders of Mathew Gibson case to
make a copy of them, before giving them to Martin. She wanted Danny to read
them and hopefully understand more than she had presumed. Maybe he had got
some information and, even if he wasn’t able to remember, he could be… later. It
took long to make all the copies in the FBI offices without any help so when she
realized the time without getting that call from Marcus, she couldn’t help but get
worried. However, she had seen the lost calls from Martin once she left the hospital
but hadn’t had time to call him then.
Vivian met a nervous Martin, expecting her with the door of his apartment opened.
“Hey, Viv, come in, have you got the documents?”
“Hi,” she said. “Yes, of course, have you called your father?”
“Yeah, he’s coming later. We’re meeting at : pm here. Do you want a coffee?”
“Sure,” Vivian replied following Martin to the tiny kitchen. “What did you tell him?”
“I told him I had information about Mr. Walsh murder. You know they were
friends. He was very interested, and looked pretty worried.”
“I bet. Look, these are the five folders about Gibson case. This first one is the
important, right? I haven’t read everything, it’s long and full of law terms, but this
one was enough to realize the meaning of all of this.”
Martin took the statement from the folder and started reading. “Oh, gosh,” he
murmured, recognizing some names. He continued reading for a while and then
got the document back to the folder. “I wonder how long the FBI have been
working this.”
“I don’t know, but it’s not only the FBI on it, it’s the DEA and the NYPD, at least
what I know. I think they know what kind of people is involved and the
complicated of the operation, so that’s why they are working slowly, they are a
very selected group and maybe still there’s a mole.”
“Do you think so?”
“I don’t know, but obviously someone knew about this statement and killed
everybody in time.”
“No exactly, they let Gibson gives the information to his lawyer.”
“Yes, they were wrong there, but looked for a solution pretty fast.”
“Maybe someone from the firm…”
“Maybe, the names in this statement only make reference to senior officers, but
you can imagine the people at their orders and getting some benefit, of course.”
“I can’t believe Walsh didn’t know anything,” Vivian said thoughtful.
“Do you think he would be involved?” Martin asked.
“No, I don’t thing so, he was going to give Danny the control of the case…” she
reasoned.
“Maybe the lawyer didn’t think that statement was so important…” Martin tried.
Shaking her head, Viv replied, “She knew it was important because she was making
a deal with Gibson’s information. Oh, I don’t know, I’d wish Danny knew
something.”
“He didn’t have the opportunity of reading the information, or anything about the
case. He would have realized this and talked to…”
“Who?” Vivian interrupted him. “He would have noticed the names, he would
realized he couldn’t trust anybody.”
“I was going to say ‘you’,” Martin continued.
“He asked me but it was to help a scary coworker because of the threatening note.
He had no idea about the case. She didn’t tell him. I need ask him.” Vivian
concluded. “I’m getting a headache with this.”
“Danny will understand all law terms, and maybe can explain you something. I
think, he can work on it, it’s not related directly to the shooting and it’ll make him
feel better… useful.” Martin said. “Are you going to visit him? We could go
together.” He offered.
“Sure,” Vivian replied without thinking. But then she realized Danny wouldn’t be
there, and Martin was going to know about her visiting him by the nurse. “Uhm… in
fact, I was in the hospital this early morning.”
“Really?” Martin said in surprise. “How’s he doing? Is he fine?”
“He looked pretty fine, he was taking a shower when I got into the room and got
dressed in normal clothes. I’d say he was ready to leave.” Vivian replied.
“What did he say about the documents?” he asked.
“I didn’t tell him, I don’t want him to be worry about it. He’s going to deal with an
emotional situation as soon as he leaves the hospital and tries to get back to
routine. Have you thought about it?”
Martin nodded. “Yeah, I know Danny is strong… you know, when I told him what
had happened, he pretended to be fine.”
“That’s Danny,” Vivian conceded.
“He told me it wasn’t new to him what had happened. Do you know what did he
mean?” Martin asked.
“He’s been very emotional for the last times. Rafie’s illness and death and all what
happened between them right before he died. Think about it, Martin. It’s like Rafie
had come back to his life, just to pass away.” Vivian reasoned. “And for the rest…
who knows?”
Martin nodded. “Do you know anything else?” Martin asked.
“You know I don’t. Danny is very reserved about his private life.” Vivian said.
“Yes, sometimes he’s too much reserved.” Martin shook his head.
“Nobody likes to spread their miseries, Martin. And Danny turned his back to his
past, with changing his name and closing his mouth at it. The best way to forget is
not telling the new life’s mates.” Vivian said. “Even if he feels alone, he won’t let
you know what he was or what he did.”
“He should be proud of himself, but I don’t think he is, and I don’t understand why.
I can’t get him, at all,” Martin frowned.
“You come from different places, Martin. He also feels deeply guilt about his
addictions, the damage he caused. We know a side of him, the one he wants us to
see. He has the entire story and I think the wrong things affect him deeply.”
“Like the alcoholism,”
“Like playing with juvie,”
“Like the earth engulfing everything around him,” Martin quoted Danny’s words at
the hospital.
“He probably referred his parents’ death. At eleven, your parents are everything
for you, despite of bad conditions they were living.”
“Yeah, probably. Oh well, I’ll go to the hospital later,” Martin said standing up.
“It’s okay,” Vivian agreed but actually not liking the idea. She didn’t want him to
learn about Danny leaving so soon, but didn’t find an excuse to stop Martin for
going. “I must leave, I want to share the day with Reggie. Did I tell you his team
reached the final?”
“That’s great, congrats to Reggie from me,” Martin smiled.
“Let me know what your father tells you, please,” she said.
“Sure, Viv. As soon as he leaves I’ll call you, right?” Martin agreed.
“Okay, then.”
Vivian left Martin’s apartment, with a worried feeling. Martin had the documents
to show his father, he was going to find out that Danny had left, and Danny was at
home. Checking her cell, she realized a missing call from Marcus. Heading for her
car, she dialed his number.
“Hi, it’s me. I had turned off the cell. I was with Martin,” She explained.
“It’s okay, I’m at home, everything went well, but Danny felt dizzy so he’s resting
now.” Marcus explained.
“Dizzy, how dizzy?” Vivian asked concerned.
“Viv, he’s been in the hospital and left to walk looking for me. It’s normal. He’ll be
okay.”
“Anybody around?”
“Nobody, he told me it was easy to leave and we came back home with no problem.
It’s everything okay, honey, stay cool.” Marcus replied.
“Sure,” Viv smiled. “I’m on my way back home. We’ll talk then.”
“Right,” Marcus cut the call.
The house was silent. Reggie was in school and Danny was resting in the room they
had prepared for Marcus’s mother regular visits. Marcus still wondered if they
were doing well. What if the case got complicated? What they were going to do
with Danny? He looked a good guy, but still, he had to stay unnoticed and in the
house. No mention of the wound or post-traumatic effects from the shooting. He
sighed and prayed for Vivian being right and everything going well.
His shift for work would have started in a couple of hours, but Louie Washington
had changed the shift and he didn’t really know what to do at home. Feeling
nervous, he headed for the back of the house and started working on the little
garden.
“Hi Dad,” Martin greeted his father as opening the door. Victor nodded and got
into the home. A quick glance around was enough to him to disapproval his son,
but he hadn’t come from Washington to begin another argument with Martin. He
had come to talk about his friend, Michael Walsh.
Martin could read his father’s thoughts but he didn’t even care about him. He
would have liked things were different between them but it was already
impossible and it wasn’t a subject to talk about now, but the documents on the
desk, his father had picked up and was already reading without Martin saying a
word.
“These are Mathew Gibson‘s files. He was client of…” Martin started, sitting on the
sofa, beside his father.
“I know who Mathew Gibson is,” Victor interrupted him. “Why did you call me?” he
asked and Martin could hear concern in his voice, some frustration and maybe
some sorrow.
5
“Because the person who got the files is convinced you’re the only one to trust in.”
“Who?” his father asked.
“That’s not important, dad, at the moment. I’ve been reading those files. Gibson’s
lawyer was trying a deal using Gibson’s statement and I swear you there are
people that would kill for it. I’m not sure if you know that information.”
“Did he…?” Victor started as a glimpse of bright came to his eyes.
“Yeah, I’ve read it… the statement and if he’s saying the truth, Dad, this is going to
cause a collapse,” Martin said, giving his father the specific document, ready to be
signed. “Gibson was killed before he could sign it, but he had told his lawyer
everything.”
“These documents were in Walsh and Associated offices,” Victor said thoughtful.
“Yes, all I know is that my friend, Danny Taylor was going to take care of Gibson
case the day of the shooting. But you already knew that… I wonder how you
knew… but you were fast and I’m grateful for it. I was worried about him.”
“What?” Victor frowned.
Flashback
The last time he had been with his friend, he had broken the bad news to Danny.
He wanted to see by himself how Danny was dealing with it. Opening the door of
the room he glanced in just to realize there was nobody there. “Danny?” he asked.
Nobody replied.
Confused, he went to the nurse in reception. “Mr. Taylor left this morning,” she
replied, when he asked.
“Was he alone or…?”
“I can’t tell you. My shift started after he left but he signed his release. Oh, doctor!,
“ she caught the doctor’s attention.
Martin identified the doctor that had been treated Danny approaching them.
“What’s going on, Lisa?”
“Hi, I’m Martin Fitzgerald, I’ve come to visit Danny Taylor but he’s not here. I’ve
been said he left this morning…”
“Yes,” the doctor replied. “He’s fine, the wound on his shoulder was healing well,
but there’s a risk of infections and there was a matter that I’d have liked he got
some psychological attention about. That’s why I was retaining him. I… told the FBI
agent it wasn’t a good idea, but they must have convinced him. I just hope not to
hear from him like it happened with his partner.”
“What do you mean?” Martin asked.
“He needed medical attention after the FBI took care of him.”
“I get it,” Martin said. “Well, thanks so much, doctor.”
“You’re welcome.”
Martin left the hospital and pulled out the cell on his way to his car. Dialing Viv’s
number, he wondered where the FBI would have taken Danny and if he would be
fine. “Viv? It’s Martin leaving the hospital. Danny isn’t there anymore.”
End of flashback
“Oh, oh, oh…” he exclaimed, barely listening to his son. “This is Judge Cameron. I
can’t believe it. This is a very important document, Martin. There’s a good point to
start now. I understand now why we’re having so much difficulty. We had figured
out but this is… who else know about this statement?”
“They are dead,” Martin said, “except Danny.”
“The person who gave you,” Victor said.
“No, I mean, Danny didn’t give me the documents. I’m only the messenger and I
respond by that person that well, probably knows. You can trust.”
“Martin, this is very…”
“I know Dad. I’m not that stupid.”
“Okay,” Victor took all the files and stood up. “I have to leave now, I have to inform
the Director immediately. Martin, maybe… we’re going to need some more help on
the bases, we can’t trust everybody. This is a big step but not enough. I’d like to
know I can count on you,” Victor rested a hand on Martin’s shoulder. This was new
to him. “Whatever I can do, I’ll be there Dad, but maybe you should let me know
something else.” Martin replied.
“You know the names, keep eyes and ears opened around the FBI in New York, but
don’t run to tell your boss, please. This is between you and me and only between
you and me, understood?” Victor stated.
Martin smiled ironically, “Sure, Dad.”

Vivian met Marcus on the back, cleaning the little garden. The house was in silence,
Reggie at school and Danny presumably sleeping. The door of the room they had
prepared for him was closed.
“Hey, I’m back,” she announced, approaching her husband and kissing him.
“I see, your friend is sleeping now. I didn’t know what to do so I came here,”
Marcus said. “Are you sure we’re doing the right thing?”
“Why do you ask that?” Vivian asked.
“Uff, the guy is pretty pale, what if the wound get infected or… I don’t really know,
Viv, on our way I didn’t want to tell anything but I was… seeing FBI cars all around
us…”
“But there weren’t…” Vivian confirmed in concern.
“No, I don’t think so, there’s no real reason… by now.”
“We have to talk. It’s important Danny stays unnoticed…”
“How long?”
“I don’t know yet. Martin is going to talk to his father this evening, to give him the
documents. We’ll see, I want to let Danny know about it, as well, maybe he can
understand something through those law terms.” Vivian said.
“You’re worried.”
“Yes, I am, of course, but I have the feeling I’m doing the right thing. But I’m
worried because Martin is going to visit Danny today. I wanted some more time
before he realized it. I don’t know what he’s going to think, or to do.”
“Hey!” they heard a voice behind them. Turning back, Viv met a pale Danny lean on
the door.
“Hey, what are you doing here? You should be in bed,” she asked, grateful to see
him but also concern to realize Marcus was right. He looked pale and weaker than
he was in the hospital.
“I’m fine, Viv. Just got some dizziness as leaving the hospital but I’m fine now,”
Danny replied.
“Let’s go in, we need to talk,” she said getting into the house and heading for the
living room.
Exchanging a comic look, Marcus and Danny followed her into the house. They sat
on the comfortable sofa, as Viv caught the funny game between them. “I see you
know each other pretty well, but guys this is serious, right?”
“Honey, relax, everything is going to be okay,” Marcus supported her.
Viv sighed. “Are you really okay, Danny?” she asked.
He nodded. ”I’m fine, Viv. I… want to let you know that I’m going to do my best to
make this work out well. You’re doing this for me, it’s…” Danny stopped trying to
find the words.
“This is going to be hard for you, Danny. We don’t know how long can it takes. I
want you to feel good here. This is your home, right? Feel it like that.”
“Okay,” Danny agreed looking around. “Nice home, by the way.”
“Thanks. Listen, I gave Martin the documents I talked to you about this morning
but I did a copy for us. Martin identified some names, others are obviously
important people, as I told you. But I’m lost in law definitions and all that stuff. I’d
like you take a look at it…” Viv stopped at the confused face.
“Viv, I’d like to help but if Martin gives the documents to his father, I don’t think I
have so much to do with this,” Danny explained.
“Yeah, but it was your case and I think you would be interested in knowing the
terms…”
“There’s no a case anymore. Gibson is dead, work is dead as well.” Danny
disagreed.
“Hey, I guess we should take a break,” Marcus interrupted them looking
significantly at Vivian. “Why if Viv shows you the place you’re going to live in as I
prepare something to eat before I leave to work.”
“Good idea,” Viv agreed, still confused. She had thought that Danny would be
anxious to know what had happened, but no. Instead she could read a relief face at
Marcus suggestion.
Danny followed Vivian with a pounding headache. He was fighting inner conflicts,
unexpected feelings, and the uncomfortable thought he wasn’t paying back Viv’s
efforts.
“I hope you find comfortable the room; actually, it was done thinking about
Marcus’s mom, who occasionally spends some time with us. It has its own
bathroom and you’ll find total privacy here. I’ve picked up some clothes from your
apartment, but I didn’t know what else to get. We’ll see later, I don’t know how…”
she explained quickly.
“Viv,” Danny interrupted her.
“Yeah?” she asked turning back to him. She looked pretty nervous, something
unusual on her, like she didn’t know how to deal with the situation.
“Everything is okay, right?. You’re… actually doing too much in bringing me here.
I… I’d like to collaborate with the investigation, helping to clarify what happened
but I… I don’t feel… uhm… ready and I’m really pissed of by it.”
Viv shook her head. “No, Danny, you’re right, I’m sorry I’m pressuring you; it’s
just…” she sighed, not sure if being totally honest to him or not.
The sound of her cell interrupted her. “Johnson,” she said.
“Viv? It’s Martin leaving the hospital. Danny isn’t there anymore.”
“What? How’s that? I was there this morning,” she replied, pretending surprise.
“Yeah, I’ve been talking to the doctor. He said the FBI wanted to take him out and
he thinks it’s probably what happened.”
“I see,” Vivian said not wanting to add anything else.
“I think they’re following my father orders after I talked to him this morning. They
have been fast.”
“Sure, have you asked your father?” Viv asked, glancing at a frowning Danny.
“Not yet, I’ll do later, when I meet him and give the documents. I hope Danny is
fine. The doctor told me he didn’t want to release him yet because of the
psychological evaluation,” Martin’s voice showed concern. “How did you notice
him?”
“Uhm…” Vivian didn’t know how to answer having Danny just in front of her. “I
wouldn’t be too much worried. He knows what his cards are to play and he’s
familiarized with the situation.”
“Yeah, I hope you’re right. Well, I’m leaving for a run. I need to refresh my mind,”
Martin said, looking relieved.
“Good decision, I’d wish to, as well, but I have some errands to do. It’ll help to
refresh my mind as well. Okay, keep me posted if there’s something new.”
“Sure, see you.” Martin cut the call, feeling better. Probably Viv was right, she had
visited Danny that morning so she was in better position to judge how Danny was
doing. Still he had the bitter feeling of not having visited Danny before.
Danny’s questioning look made Vivian think about an explanation but Marcus
came to save partially the situation, with dishes and beers. Vivian realized that
Danny’s stay would bring more than one change. She had absolutely forgotten
about the drink matter but sighed in relief at Danny’s quiet attitude. He surely was
used to it.
“Wow, it looks great, I’m starved!” he exclaimed, when they got into the kitchen
and saw plates and glasses on the table.
“There’s also orange juice or water if you prefer,” Vivian said, as removing the
beer.
“Yeah, thanks,” Danny agreed with a smile, “just… water, please.”
“Don’t you mind if…” she glanced at Marcus who was already enjoying his beer,
before looking back at Danny.
“No, it’s okay, Viv. It’s okay.” He said feeling embarrassed. “I… I want to thank you
for your hospitality. I’ll do my best to not disturb your life.”
“This is your home, Danny,” Marcus said firmly. “Viv told you before, we agreed to
do this, there’s no problem with you staying here the time you need, right?”
“Right, it’s just… I’m… not very used to it. You’re both amazing.” He replied.
Marcus frowned in confusion but Viv understood what Danny was referring to. She
squeezed his arm, before sitting to share the lunch.
Flashback
“Okay, boys! Pay attention one minute!” Ms. Sally clapped her hands with authority
and the five kids stopped their argument.
“Welcome your new brother. He’s Daniel Alvarez.” She squeezed his shoulder in
confirmation. The terrified boy didn’t move, he didn’t know what to do or what to
say. From the Social Services, Ms. Sally had changed from being the caring woman
with sweet smile into a cold one reading lot of incomprehensible rules for the
years old boy.
And he felt confused.
The home he had supposed to go didn’t look exactly what he had pictured. The five
belligerent boys looked at him with a clear distrust, probably the same look Danny
had, mixture with the fear he felt.
“Sit down,” she said, taking a chair and pushing one of the kids on the table.
“Dinner is ready.”
Danny obeyed silently. As soon as Ms. Sally left, one of the kids spoke, “I’m Jack,
this is Pete, Wilson, Rob and little Andy… how old are you?”
“Twelve,” Danny replied whispering.
“Good,” Jack said. Nobody opened their mouths again, as Ms. Sally brought a
horrible soup.
Danny was starved, but didn’t dare to say a word when he finished the soup and
nothing else was put on the table.
“Ring at the Social Services visit, pray for it, it’s the best day of your life here. Don’t
expect anything. We aren’t brothers but we must stay together, right?” Jack said
confidently.
“What do you mean?” Danny said, feeling better now in the room with his
‘brothers’.
“Never been in a group home?” the one named Rob asked.
Danny shook his head. “I lived with my older brother, but…”
“Yeah, he screwed up things, right?” Andy said bitterly.
Danny blushed. “No, it’s…” he didn’t know exactly how to defend Rafie. Rafie was
his brother, the one protecting him all the time. What the hell had happened and
why was he there?
“This is your home now,” Jack said. “The best you’re going to have.”
“Hungry?” Peter asked, reaching her arm under his bed. He smirked at the box that
opened and got out some apples.
“Bah, we need to do a race to the fridge!” Andy grimaced.
“I’m afraid that too,” Jack agreed. “Who is going?”
The five kids looked at Danny, who shook his head.
“Are you hungry or not?” Jack asked.
Danny nodded unsure.
“So,…”
“What I… what I have to do?”
“Just go to the fridge and take out some good food for us.” Andy explained, “staying
unnoticed, of course.”
“I’m… living here, this is my home, now, Ms. Sally said. I don’t know why I have to
hide myself from the fridge…” Danny said more asking than other thing and
wondering if his father was as bad as he had thought or was a natural matter of
adult people.
Unfortunately, he had the chance to confirm his second theory when Ms. Sally
grabbed his arm on his way back to the room from the fridge.
He would take long time in trusting people again in his life.
End of flashback
“Well Danny, today is an exceptional occasion we are all here, Marcus and me. But
you know how the FBI work is. You’re going to be alone most of the day.” Vivian
explained.
Danny nodded.
“So, at phone ringing, knockings on door… you’re not here, Danny.” Vivian said
shaking her head.
“Oh, and I can’t put up the volume and dance a cha-cha-cha,” Danny added.
Marcus laughed. “Great!”
“Danny, please,” Vivian protested.
“I’m totally serious, what if someone knock on the door, hear the music, look
through a window and voilà, who’s that guy dancing the conga?” Danny laughed as
well. “I get it, Viv, I get it. I’ll be a good boy.”
“Okay, I’d like to stay but I have to leave for work,” Marcus announced. “I’ll see
you… tomorrow, right?”
“Right, thanks Mr. Johnson.”
“Stop saying thanks, Taylor, guess we’ll have some fun here,” Marcus said, grabbing
his keys.
“Bye, honey,” Vivian said with a smile, and drawing a thanks with her lips.
Danny looked at each other trying to remember when he had witnessed such a
lovely family.
“What?” Vivian asked, once Marcus left.
“Nothing, it’s… you’re so… so… perfect,” Danny tried to find the words.
“Nah… no, we’re not. Are you going to be okay?” Vivian asked.
“Yes, I think so. Uhm… I’m a little bit tired, I’d like to rest a bit.” He said.
“Sure, I have to leave in  minutes to pick up Reggie. Usually, I can’t do it, but
when I have the chance, I love it. Of course, Reggie hates to see me at school!”
“I bet,” Danny smirked.
“You see, teenagers,”
“What does he think?” Danny asked.
“About you? I haven’t told him anything yet, but he’ll be fine about it, I’m sure.”
“Fine,” he murmured.
“What are you worried about, Danny?” Vivian asked, then. “Honestly, you can talk
to me. I know what you’ve been through, I’m used to this situation, I work on it,
you know.”
“I… I was in the hospital this morning, Viv. I’m trying to assimilate what happened,
and what my future will be. And now, I’m here in your home, living for I don’t
know how long, hiding from everybody, like under custody but not, and expecting
an assassin coming to kill me for something I don’t really know. And… I don’t really
know what to do. I can make jokes, sharing your lunch and dinner time, feeling free
of living here as I was in my own home but it’s not and waiting… for what? I… I’m
not sure if I want to remember what happened because I know there’s something
else. I… I feel it.”
“Take it easy, Danny, don’t think so much now. Just take the situation like it comes;
other people are working on knowing what happened. I’m sure Victor Fitzgerald
won’t let the chance to know who killed his friend, and that is directly related to
you. Go and rest, there’s no hurry, no pressure, right?”
“All right,” Danny said standing up. “I’m going to the bedroom, right.”
“Go,” she encouraged the unsure young man.
She picked up the plates from the table and went to the living room. She had still
5 minutes to read some pages of the intriguing novel she was reading before
leaving to pick up Reggie and she decided enjoy the exceptional leisure time she
had.
Soon, her reading was disturbed by the unidentified sound coming from the
bedroom where Danny was resting. The tears he had got keep away, were flowing
down freely, as the feelings of childhood experiences, the current fears and
uncertainty, the love and attention he was getting from real and truly friends gave
a meaning to his heartache.
And Viv left the quiet home, a silence only broken by a suffocated crying,
impossible to stop. And she understood Danny wouldn’t be able to keep his
charming mask  hours at day, she had to get used to it and he should trust her
more than ever.

“Sir, we have to meet; there’s important information and circumstances to take
care… yes, I’m in New York, on my way to the airport… yes, okay.” Victor Fitzgerald
cut the communication as he glanced at the time. Sighing, he dialed another
number. Night would be long.
Washington DC. . am
The unusual meeting leaded by the National Security’s Secretary of State, Mark
Campbell, reunited high level instances of the Security to discuss the news about a
case that had kept a reduced group of agents working for the last  months.
Victor Fitzgerald gave the copies of Mathew Gibson statement to his fellows that
read it carefully.
“This is the matter. We were looking at the south for a guns complot, when we
should look at tax heavens and financial business.” He started, looking at the
attorney-general, Andrew MacAllister, who nodded.
“Mathew Gibson,” the Director of the DEA, Luc Harris read on the statement. “He
was killed in prison for giving all these names to his lawyer…”
“Which is dead as well,” Fitzgerald pointed.
“They closed the circle,” MacAllister said.
“I guess so. There’s two people under custody, Tim Donaldson and Danny Taylor
from Walsh firm who survived, if I’m right,” Harris concluded.
“No exactly,” Fitzgerald frowned. “All the employees from Walsh and Associated
were interrogated. None of them could give us any information about this case.
Tim Donaldson is under our team custody, just for civil protection. He didn’t know
anything either, as I’ve explained you. However, there’s news about the other
lawyer, Danny Taylor. As you know, he’s a former FBI agent. Our agents have
informed us he left the hospital this morning and…”
“What!” Harris exclaimed.
“Don’t worry, the situation is under control. He’s been followed to the house of a
former coworker, an agent working for the FBI, special agent Vivian Johnson.”
“Has she been investigated?” Secretary of State, Mark Campbell asked.
“Of course, she’s nothing to do with the case, she’s just a friend. In fact, I’m pretty
sure she’s the one giving this document…” Fitzgerald replied.
“That you got by…” Campbell continued.
“She works with Fitzgerald’s son, right?” Harris ended.
5
Fitzgerald nodded. It was evident his fellows had done they work as well as he had
done his. “Yes, I guess so. My son gave me these documents and if he didn’t tell me,
I’m pretty sure it was by her. She’s being over my team since Taylor was shot.”
“We’re having so many leaks here,” Campbell said. “What our human resources are,
right now?”
“Not much, the less people involved the better. We don’t know whom we can count
on in this situation. Moreover, we’ve been following a wrong lead, judging by this
document,” Harris replied.
“How’s that?” Campbell said. “That’s inadmissible. I have to inform the President.
What do you think I’m going to tell him?”
“Sir, excuse me but it’s not inadmissible and my fellows will agree at this point. We
had access to this complot based on a leak, by casual.” Harris replied. “We could
start a very compromised and delicate investigation based on a simple suspect and
thanks to the professionalism of a experienced police of NYPD. It’s very difficult to
work like that, when the enemy is in your own team. We started thinking it was
only in the NYPD to find there was a wide net around all the statements of security.
I think you won’t have a problem in explaining that to our President.”
“Moreover, we have now a solid lead,” MacAllister continued. “This list and all the
information in these documents, open a new clear and solid lead. I think we’ll be
able to do some important detentions soon, and it will be a cascade of it. I suggest
every team works on this list and change our point of view. Sure, some of the work
we already did is valuable. No guns, but following the money and knowing better
whom we can trust.”
“Guns are still there, the money laundering is our new lead.”
“I see Gibson wasn’t important but he knew too much. Controlling judges like I’m
reading here… they must control their guys to skip they go into prison and start
talking,” Campbell said.
“The failure we were looking for. My guys and I will focus on the cases these judges
have been working on. Probably, we’ll find more than a Gibson there. I’m reading
here names I never expected to see involved in a situation like that. For God sake,
they have killed a dozen people!” Attorney-General exclaimed upset.
“Unfortunately, we can’t connect Walsh tragedy with this complot, and far from
looking cold, I think that’s another different matter. What we have here…” Harris
started.
“What do you mean?” An angry Fitzgerald asked almost yelling.
“Hey, please sirs, keep cool,” Campbell asked.
“No way, are you saying Walsh killing is unimportant, that’s what you mean? If I’m
here with all my energy is to catch and send to hell the killer of Michael Walsh!”
Fitzgerald said angrily.
“I’m not saying that Victor,” Harris tried to explain. “I know you and Walsh were
friends and I respect that, and the investigation about his murder, but what I’m
saying is that we’re reading here names of people in charge of important decisions
in the financial area, in the law world, in the FBI, in the DEA, with a wide net of
delinquents around, putting in serious danger this country, and we must stop it
first. I think we all agree at this point. Walsh was only an unfortunate obstacle on
their way, after losing Gibson.”
Fitzgerald clenched his fists but didn’t say anything. Harris was right, after all.
“When we have put under arrest this people, it’ll be easier to catch the killers of
your friend, Victor. If your witnesses are able to help in the investigation and
identify them, take for sure they will make a deal connecting with any of these
bitches.” MacAllister said.
“Okay, let’s see how we’re going to coordinate all of this,” Campbell said, not letting
Victor the chance to reply.
“Yeah, we have the names, now we need a plan to catch them all at a time.” Harris
agreed.
“You ready for the political turmoil?” MacAllister asked to Campbell.
“At the time is the less of my problems. Anybody wants coffee?” he replied,
standing up.
Harris approached Victor and whispered, “I’m sorry Victor, you know I appreciate
you and your friend...”
Victor raised a hand. “Let it go, Luc. We’re all under pressure. You’re right,
absolutely.”
“Morning,” Jack announced getting into the bullpen, file under his arm and a glass
of coffee in the hand. “What’s that?” he asked as seeing the wrapped package.
“A little gift for Danny,” Sam replied.
“I hope it’s non-perishable… gift. Van Doren has called,” he said, heading for the
whiteboard. Opening the file, he picked up the picture of a blonde woman in her
late twenties and posted on it.
“Wow,” Will exclaimed, “Is your sister, Sam?”
“No,” she replied frowning at the resemblance. “But she could be.”
“I hope it’s not a problem for you. Constance Donahue, publicist,  years old. She
had an important meeting yesterday evening to conclude a contract but she didn’t
appear. Nobody knows from her since she left the office and apparently, she never
came back her apartment in Tribeca, where she lives with the only companion of
her Irish setter. Viv’s on her way to the apartment and Martin is interviewing her
coworkers at the agency she works for, Robson and Co. Will, start a search through
credit cards and bank movements. Sam, come with me, the boyfriend is on his way
here.”
“Okay,” Will replied, sitting in front of the computer and taking the file Jack
handed him.
“Doesn’t she have any siblings?” Sam asked.
“Nope, her parents died and she has no brothers or sisters. Have you heard
anything from Danny?”
“No, I haven’t. I thought about going yesterday but I missed Finn so much, there
was a sunny day so…” Sam smiled.
“I see, I still remember when you wondered if you’d be a good mom,” Jack said
caringly.
Sam stared at him.
“What?”
“You have that face…”
“My face… I’m just… I’m happy for you, Sam,” Jack explained.
“Thanks… me too,” she agreed.
The sunny day didn’t help. Danny felt like living in a cage, but he couldn’t complain.
Staying under official custody would have been worse, without privacy and all
agents around all day.
Viv had left a note for him before leaving for work. Getting up late, he soon realized
his situation in the quiet home where he felt like an intruder. He approached the
shelves on the living room and reading the titles of some books, he finally took one
of them and sat on the sofa. But he couldn’t concentrate on the reading. Picking up
the remote, he tried to watch something on TV, but he wasn’t used to wasting time
like that. After a few minutes and finding some distraction in sport news, Danny
got to skip the pain on his shoulder but not the uncomfortable feelings he wasn’t
able to stop. He had lied to Viv, but he had no choice. Now, he was alone and knew
what the fridge contained. Temptation had been increasing for all day, and he
didn’t know how to stop it. He was in a situation where the only thought was that ‘I
had a plan, what’s this crap?’. Rafie’s old memories came to remind him how close
their feelings were to the real destruction. Rafie had a plan as well, that garage he
wanted to make his own business, his future. How different things would have
been if he would have got the loan. But it wasn’t, it looked their fate.
He had undervalued his work at the FBI and had left to become a lawyer. What a
lawyer? He wished to start his own firm. But what happened? He got a job thanks
to Martin and now he had lost it and had nothing to do by himself. Sports kept like
a remote whole of sounds and lights, as he stood up and without even realize it, he
found himself in front of the fridge, knowing the beers inside. He tried hard, his
head was pounding, his shoulder as well. Closing his eyes, he sighed deeply, but his
own breath brought memories of the forbidden tastes and disturbing feelings. He
had to do something else and he did. It took time to head for the room had become
his home and get into the bathroom. Splashing first some water over his face, then
he removed his t-shirt. The gauzes covered the wound and stitches. Carefully, he
removed it to find the reason for his pain. ‘Damn it’, he thought at the red bruises
around. Looking for some disinfectant on the closet, he found something to apply
on the wound. Tears rolled down at the burning sensation but he couldn’t let the
wound got worse.
Dizziness caught him and common sense sent him to the bed. Lying there, he got
desperate since he couldn’t stop the feelings. Getting up once again, he went to the
living room, picked up the remote but left, he glanced at the book and shook his
head. He didn’t even want to go to the kitchen and then remembered the files
about Mathew Gibson. He felt the knot on his stomach, he felt a lump on his throat
and blamed himself for it. When had he become so weak? With some little decision,
he looked for the files and sat to read them. Mathew Gibson was his case, and these
files were the reason why he was there, maybe the reason why his boss, his
colleagues had been killed.
They were five numbered folders but the last one was up on the pile. Opening it, he
found an official document from the office. A quick reading at the document, was
enough to realize why it was up on the pile. Maggie should have understood but
she didn’t tell him when asked for help with the threatening note. Would Mr.
Walsh know about it? He couldn’t believe he wasn’t but on the other hand, Mr.
Walsh would have taken the case by himself if it was the case, not giving it to him.
‘What were you after, Maggie?’ he wondered as shaking his head.
Taking the first folder, he decided to start from the beginning to understand the
whole thing. Distracted by the reading, time passed and he didn’t even realize the
door being open.

“Hey, there’s a credit card charge on shop in Newark,” Will announced.
“How much?” Martin asked.
“ $, must be some groceries, maybe?” he suggested.
“Uhm… is there any nearby motel?”
Will typed some words on the computer and exclaimed “Yep!, same building!, how
can she be that stupid?”
“She?” Sam asked raising an eyebrow, as she took her gun.
“If she’s not there, sure it’ll be someone who can tell us something,” Martin agreed,
leaving the bullpen with her.
On their way driving to Newark, Martin’s cell started ringing. “Fitzgerald.”
“I’ve got a call from a gas station reporting someone who looks Donahue with
another guy. They are sending us the security camera images, I’ll send them you as
soon as I have them,” Vivian said.
“Okay, thanks,” Martin cut the call. “Donahue wasn’t alone.”
“Maybe the one using the credit card,” Sam suggested. She looked at the time.
“Guess I’ll miss another day in visit Danny. Have you seen him?”
“Were you going to visit him today? He’s not in the hospital. I went yesterday and
the doctor told me he was released. He’s under the FBI custody.” Martin replied.
“Ouch, weird,” Sam frowned.
“Yeah,” Martin agreed. “Look, it’s there.”
Parking the car, they got into the shop. Flashing their badges to the employee,
Martin showed him a picture of Constance Donahue.
“Special agent Fitzgerald, this is special agent Spade from the FBI, have you seen
this woman?”
The employee frowned as looking at the pic and shaking his head. “Not here, but
she was with a man who was here this morning.”
“How’s that?” Sam asked.
“I’m pretty sure she was the woman waiting in the car,” the employee said,
pointing outside the shop. “He had also paid for a room in the motel,”
“Are they still there?”
“Check it by yourself,” the employee replied picking up the keys. “Follow me,”
Martin and Sam followed the man to the motel room. Martin knocked on the door
but nobody answered. They both grabbed their guns as the employee disappeared
down.
“FBI! Open the door!” Sam announced, as Martin got ready to get into.
Nobody answered, so Martin kicked down the door, and they got into the room
quickly, checking all the rooms.
“Here!” Sam yelled at finding Donahue on the bed. She had been beaten and clearly
abused, tied up to the bed and gagged. “Calm down, my name is Sam, I’m with the
FBI. We’ve been looking for you,” she said, pulling her cell and dialing .
“Hey! What are you doing here?” Vivian asked, meeting Danny and Reggie in the
living room, all books and papers spread on the table. She couldn’t help but feeling
relieve in noticing how relax and well they looked.
“Hi, mom!” Reggie exclaimed. “Danny is helping me with homework!”
“A…ha… let me see… math? I thought you were a man of law, Danny!” she smiled,
looking at the papers.
“I was an A+ student, Viv, don’t you know?” Danny replied smirking.
“Sure,” she rolled her eyes. Somehow, Danny had helped Reggie, even though
Vivian didn’t know how much Danny could do with it.
“What about you?” he asked, standing up and following her to the kitchen.
“Fine, hard work, we found the victim alive but beaten,” she replied.
“Good,” he agreed softly.
“Is Marcus at home yet?” she asked. “Ah, no, he had changed the shift,” she
remembered, as Danny shook his head in response.
“Would you mind if I prepare the dinner today?” Danny asked then.
She raise and eyebrow. “What are you suggesting?”
“Just something,” he smirked.
“Okay, are you going to surprise us? Be careful, be ready for cruel honesty.”
“I’ve been living by my own for so long, or do you think this athletic body is result
of hamburgers?” he asked comically.
“I don’t believe it!” Vivian laughed. “Oh, well, let’s see what I can offer you to
prepare,” she continued opening the fridge.
Danny kept a distance as she opened the fridge. Vivian noticed it, and realized the
beers she had removed before. “What do you want to prepare?” she asked turning
and let him to see in the fridge.
“Just pasta… uhm… this would be good, and this… ouch and… do you have capers,
garlic, onions?” he asked.
“Yeah, I must,” she replied as he left everything on the table. “It’s here!” she
announced as picking the little bottle of capers and the garlic and onions.”
“Great!” he exclaimed. “Natural garlic and onions!”
“What do you think I am?” She asked pretending being offended.
“The last time I asked for it, I only got a sort of… artificial condiment, without any
taste; useless for doing this fabulous dinner I’m going to gift my lovely friends,” he
explained, starting to cut the garlic a professional way.
“Wow, math, cook… what more surprises I must expect from you?” Vivian said.
“I thought you knew about me enough for not getting so many surprises, Viv.”
Danny replied.
“Yeah, so as I know you so well… how are you doing? Your shoulder?” she asked
then. There’s no way Danny was in such a good mood all day, less being alone part
of it.
Stopping the cut, he glanced at her. “Ah… my fault… you’re too smart for me, Viv.”
“I’m an experienced FBI agent, Danny, don’t forget that and don’t skip the
questions,” she said.
“I’m fine. I’ve been reading, watching tv, having fun with Reggie…” he started.
Viv stared at him, waiting for the real answer.
“Okay, okay, it hurts, I’ve applied something you had in the closet, I don’t think the
wound is infected but…” he continued. There was no way to lie to Viv.
“Oh my God, let me see,” she said in concern.
“It’s better now, I removed the gauzes and put a new ones, don’t worry about it.”
He said meeting her eyes. “Don’t worry, Viv. I know how to deal with it, I’ve done
before.”
“Are you a doctor, as well?” she asked pretending relax but failing.
“Nope.” He just said. “Uhm… give me those tomatoes, please” he asked.
Flashback
Entering the liquor store, as the employee had turned to pick up a bottle for a
client, Manuel hid out of security mirrors. He didn’t care about the camera; he was
a known face for the police. The store offered a lot of what they had come to take.
Grabbing two whiskey bottles, he headed for the main entrance, again, waiting his
opportunity to get out staying unnoticed. His part was done.
As the client paid and the employee kept distracted by it, his roommate did the
same. Danny had been waiting outside but watching all the movements, and had
caught what he had to do. It was their first time in that liquor store, they never
went twice to the same one. Memorable running from the police had happened
before, not the best part, but funny at the end, once they were out of the police’s
sight.
Danny spotted Manuel waiting for leaving, both watching the employee’s
movement, waiting for the opportunity. Neither of them took the client in the
equation so when this one met Manuel, he just froze.
“Run!” Danny yelled at him, as Manuel didn’t know how, but let his legs start
moving, no so fast as he wished. Scared at hell as the employee pointed him with a
gun, he continued his run to the door and being grabbed by Danny, they started
running away. Nobody expected the employee on the door, nobody expected the
shoot taking Manuel down. Turning back, Danny stared at the employee pointing
at him and yelling incoherently words to them. Some people started approaching
them, as Danny encouraged Manuel to stand up and run. The burning sensation on
his arm, made Manuel almost faint, but Danny grabbed him and the sirens of the
police did the rest, encouraging them to run the fastest their legs and the fear
allowed them.
“Let me see that,” Danny demanded, once they were in safe place.
“No, I need a hospital,” Manuel screamed.
“Don’t be stupid, if you go to the hospital, you’re already in the juvie and me with
you,”
“What!? I’ve never betrayed you, Danny,” Manuel protested, tightening his teeth.
Danny smirked. “You would, believe me, you would.” Danny disagreed, cutting a
piece of fabric with Manuel shirt. “I’m cutting the bleeding…” he said working on
Manuel’s arm diligently.
“Have you done this before?”
“No, but I’ve seen my brother doing it, it’s simple,” Danny replied, taking one of the
bottles. “Damn it!” he said, opening it. “Okay, this is going to hurt, you may be faint,
but don’t worry, it’s the best. You’ve been lucky, it’s just a graze. There’s no bullet
to remove.” Spilling the liquid on the wound, Danny couldn’t help but feeling the
comfortable smell of the whiskey taking him and the anxiety for a drink came hard
to his mind. Letting Manuel screaming the pain, he leaned his back on the wall, and
drank part of the whiskey.
End of flashback
“Danny, you don’t need to pretend with me. It’s already difficult your situation
here, to not being able to express what you feel.” Vivian encouraged him. “I…
noticed you before, when I opened the fridge.”
Danny stopped. “What about the fridge?”
“The beers, Danny please, I asked you if there was a problem. You said no, but tell
me why I don’t believe you. That’s what I don’t want from you here.” She said.
“It’s not a problem… well, it is. It’s not usually a problem, I’m used to it, I can’t ask
for everybody stopping drinking because of me.” Danny said. “Oh, this is… awful,”
he murmured.
“It’s not awful. You had a problem, long time ago, and you’ve struggled with it so
well. I understand, Danny… don’t be afraid of telling me.”
“I… I didn’t know what to do, this morning. I was alone, my mind didn’t stop
thinking and knew about the beers on the fridge. I… admit I went for it, but I…
didn’t open the fridge, I din’t Viv, I swear you.” He sounded almost desperate.
“I know you didn’t, I had removed them, but you’ve just frozen in front of it. It was
hard for you, wasn’t it?”
He nodded. “I don’t know what would it have happened when your son came in, if I
had taken a beer and…”
“But you didn’t,” Viv repeated. “Look at me Danny,” she said as meeting his bright
eyes. “Listen to me, you didn’t, you did brave, Danny. You’re strong, stronger than
you think. I trust you, and that’s why you’re here.”
“I’m here because someone screwed up my work killing  people in my office.” He
murmured.
“That’s also truth.” She agreed softly.
“I’ve been reading the files,” Danny said, and in a sudden all the anguish was over.
That was Danny, and Viv felt for him, because he wouldn’t let his pain get out of
him. “Tomatoes?” he asked.
“It was no necessary.”
“It was good. I’m surprise about what Maggie Anderson was dealing with and she
never told,” he said.
“Yes, we wondered the same. Didn’t Mr. Walsh mention to you?”
“No, I don’t think he knew about the case. I think… she was furious at me because
she had finally had to tell Mr. Walsh about the threatening note and he had given
the case to me. If he had read those names, he would have worked the case by his
own, rather than giving it to me. That was far from me babysitting Anderson.”
“What do you think?”
“Gibson was unimportant, any lawyer would put him on the streets easily, Viv.”
“But, he was going to do a deal with that statement,” Vivian commented.
“It wasn’t necessary. There wasn’t evidence enough to charge him with the
robbery. For the list of names he did, I’ve read people from the FBI, lawyers, judges
and other ones I don’t know about. He probably worked for them so they wouldn’t
be interested in him being caught. Why? Because, based on this list, Gibson is
important.”
“The information he had,” Vivian concluded.
“Yes. So, what it failed? Once he was caught, and the first line failed, call it police,
FBI… maybe DEA…” Danny continued as Vivian nodded, “it comes to judge. I know
that the preliminary trial was held under Judge Barrymore, rather than Judge
Wilson. You can read the substitution on the initial file.”
“Oh, I didn’t go so far, I just read the statement, it was so clear!” Vivian said, “I had
the hope you could help with the rest. I see you can.”
“So if you read the statement, you’ll find a Judge Wilson listed. That’s why Gibson
ended in prison.”
“Okay, it’s credible. But, why your coworker acted like that?”
“Because, I’ve come to conclusion she’s involved as well.”
“What?”
“She was involved but I think she regretted and was using Gibson’s unnecessary
statement to uncover the situation.”
“But, why didn’t tell her to Walsh?”
“Because she was so arrogant, and surely she saw a chance for being promoted.”
5
“Wow, it makes sense.”
“And she’s the responsible of the murder of eight people and there’s no way to
connect it to these corrupted people.”
“Why not? There’s the statement…”
“We can’t prove Maggie was part of them and knew what she could get from
Gibson. Gibson is also dead so there’s no way to prove he agreed that statement
that it’s not signed yet, uhm? And the attack can be circumstantial or based on
other possible case. They should investigate all and each case of Walsh offices here
in New York and maybe in Washington. There are so many potential cases to cause
an attack that it’s impossible to connect them,” Danny explained her.
“Unless, you or your coworker identifies the killers and they confess,” Vivian
concluded staring at him.
Danny nodded. “But this is only a theory, impossible to prove, since Maggie and
Gibson are dead.”
“I think it’s a very credible theory, Danny. You haven’t lost your touch on
investigations.”
Danny smiled. “But I can’t do anything but preparing this dinner for you!”
“By now, this situation is not forever, and once it’s done, you’ll find your future, I’m
sure of it.”
“God hear you, Viv… okay! This is ready! Should we wait for Marcus?” He said.
Somehow, preparing the dinner and talking about the case had helped him to feel
better. If the day had started in a really wrong way, it was finishing much better
than he’d ever had thought.
“I don’t know if they will come into this conclusion,” a worried Vivian explained to
Marcus.
He had just arrived from work and got into the bed, where Vivian was reading a
book, still awake. She hadn’t been able to find relax to sleep after spending a couple
of hours after dinner listening to Danny’s explanations of the Gibson’s documents,
and Maggie Anderson’s personality.
“You talk about the FBI as they were idiots, honey,” Marcus replied. “Of course,
they have all this information, Viv, so they will know what to do. You said that
Danny didn’t work the case and, even though he could be right in his suspects,
there are other circumstances to consider.”
“Yes, but what he told me has a meaning. It’s like when you take different events
and put them together to realize it’s everything connected to a recent event that
you weren’t able to explain before.” Viv insisted. “I’d like to tell this Martin, but I
don’t know how, without causing him suspect about Danny’s real location. Maybe
Payton…”
“No, no, Viv. I don’t think it’s a good idea to involve more people. I really trust
them. I’m sure they have found a lead to make arrests and clarify this situation.
And they bet, because I don’t think Danny is able to stay longer here or under FBI
custody. He’s doing well by now, but…”
“I’m not sure. He lied to me about the beers and also his wound. I wonder if he’s
lying to me about other matters.”
“His problem, Viv!” Marcus exclaimed upset. If they had put in risk their lives and
made an effort for Danny feeling well, Marcus didn’t understand why Danny didn’t
trust them, or at least, Viv. “He should trust you, he owes you. Viv, Danny isn’t a kid
anymore. I… I supported you in taking him here because of objective reasons but I
think you overprotect him.”
Viv shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe, you don’t know what he’s been through all his
life…”
“And you? You don’t, either,” Marcus protested.
“I know enough, Marcus,”
“What’s the point? Are you going to protect every single person with a terrible
past? Come on! My entire neighborhood should be living under your protection,
then!” he insisted. “And… that wound, what did he tell you? He asked then, still
upset.
She sighed disgusted by Marcus reaction, but also evaluating his words. She had
been distracted, at work and probably at home, not with Danny, but probably with
her own family, and that was the last thing she wished to damage and the closest
she wished to be to Danny, couldn’t affect her family.
“Guess it’s kind of infected,” she replied. “He applied something on the wound, said
he knew how to do it, but I wonder if you would call Tom. He’s your best friend, I
know he’d keep the privacy.”
Marcus shook his head in disbelief, but Tom was a good option. “He’s going to ask
and we’ll have to explain him the truth. It’s a protocol matter, but yes, I had
thought about him if Danny suffered any complication.”
“Are you worried, at all?” Vivian asked smiling and relieved.
“Damn it, Vivian! I’m worried about you, about my family, your work and our own
safety. Have you thought that if Danny is found here, not only Deputy Director
would fire you, but the people looking for killing him is going to kill us as well, just
because Danny might share the information with us, the same reason they killed all
that people in the office? You understand?”
Vivian frowned, sure she had thought about it. “I thought you agreed…”
“Yes, I did but…”
“Nobody said it would be easy, Marcus. Listen, I’ll try to talk to Martin, to know
from his father how the investigation is going on. And you, call Tom, please. I don’t
even want to think about having to take Danny back at hospital.”
Marcus nodded. “Okay, damn it, I won’t be able to sleep now. I’ll prepare a coffee
and watch tv,” he said, standing up.
“Coffee?” Vivian raised an eyebrow.
“Whatever,” he replied in bad mood. “Try to sleep,” he continued softening his
tone.
“What are you doing here, man? You should be sleeping,” Marcus asked. Going
downstairs, he noticed the kitchen’s light on, and supposed he would meet Danny
there. He wondered if he had heard them.
“Bed is tired of me, I guess,” Danny smiled. “Do you want a coffee?” he asked,
standing up to fill his own mug.
“I don’t think coffee helps to sleep but it’s just what I’d wish,” Marcus agreed.
Both men sat on the table and kept an uncomfortable silence.
“I don’t know about these matters but I think it must be hard being under custody,
living in a house without being allowed to leave and waiting,” Marcus finally said.
“How long it takes this?”
Danny sighed. “You never know, you can figure approximately but I know people
that ended in the witness protection, leaving the town, getting new identity and
remaining like that for years.”
“Guess some people take it as a new chance,” Marcus reasoned.
“Yes, of course, some people screwed up so badly, that getting a new life is like a
gift. But I’m afraid they’d screw up the new one as well,” Danny smiled. “Then,
there’s the inconvenience of meeting an old friend that insist that, hey, you’re
Marcus Johnson from NY, don’t lie to me, you can’t be Johnny Smith from Memphis,
while your current wife looks at you suspiciously.”
They both laughed. “It seems you know what you’re talking about, aren’t you?”
Marcus asked.
“Sort of,” Danny replied. “But I’ve never been under this kind of custody. It’s been
two days, but it looks I’m here for weeks. I hope detentions come soon and I can
leave. No offense, I’m very comfortable here but… it’s not in my nature.”
“I understand. Uhm… Danny, I’d like to talk to you about it. As you very well
pointed, we don’t know how long it will take and it looks you’re here already for
weeks.” Marcus said turning serious.
“Any problem? Because I don’t…” Danny asked.
“Not, really, but we need to clarify some matters.”
“Okay,” Danny agreed quietly.
“I don’t really know you and probably I’m misunderstanding things, but I’ve been
discussing with Vivian the fact you don’t trust her, at all,” Marcus explained, staring
at Danny.
Danny frowned. “Why? I… I mean, do you think I don’t trust her?”
“She thinks,” Marcus corrected. “And as you can figure out, I think the matter is
pretty unfair. I also think she’s overprotecting you, but that’s not the matter. We
agreed to take you here and knew the risks… well, I’m actually realizing now the
high risk, so how’s possible you don’t trust her?”
“I… never considered the possibility of coming before Vivian went to the hospital
and explained me the situation. She didn’t let me take my choice. I asked her if she
was sure about it, and she looked very confident. I asked her if you agreed and she
told me you had been talking about it and everything was okay. Actually, some of
my personal effects were already here. I mean, I didn’t ask for this and I’m more
than willing to get back to the hospital if I notice any inconvenience. It would be
the last thing I want to happen.”
“I see you agree about Vivian overprotecting you but, replying to my question?”
Marcus asked, guessing what Danny’s point was but wanting to hear from him.
“At a certain point is in her nature being. She does with all the team. She’s the one
who always keeps her nerves intact, not letting the feelings stop her from doing
the right thing, from dig in the suspects or victims lives. She’s so useful doing it and
keeping us on tracks. I think Vivian is that kind of person you can’t hide anything
from.” Danny explained.
“I’m married with her,” Marcus smiled. “She thinks you didn’t tell her all the truth
about the beers.”
“I trust her, absolutely,” Danny replied. “But, like I told you before, I don’t want to
interfere in your lives. If you… love drink beers at lunch or watch sports on tv with
friends and beers, I can’t come to tell you not to, because you’re risking so much
and not doing things because of me. It’s my problem, not yours. I always miss a
drink, every day, it’s nothing to do with having a bad day, and I must fight against it
every single day. Sometimes is worse because of the circumstances but I can deal
with it or I call my sponsor.”
“You can’t call your sponsor now,” Marcus understood.
“I can’t, and I’m living a stressful situation, as well, for different reasons. I don’t
want you to feel uncomfortable in your own home, I must deal with it. So when
Vivian asked me, I just told her I was fine, I was able to deal with it but she
probably read the problem.”
“Okay, I can stop drinking alcohol while you’re here, there’s not a problem at all.
Don’t feel bad for it, you have too much to deal with, and there’s no way I’m adding
fuel to it. Other thing,” Marcus got for good Danny’s explanation and very glad for
having this conversation.
Danny raised an eyebrow.
“That wound. Viv says it’s hurting and probably infected.”
“I’m taking care of it, but I don’t think it’s infected.” Danny said.
“I have a friend, a close friend. He’s a doctor, I’m going to call him tomorrow
morning, just to be sure.”
Danny shook his head. “I don’t think it’s a good idea, Marcus. A wound caused by a
gun must be reported…”
“Come on! You’re not running into the emergency room at a hospital. We can
explain him. Tom is my best friend for years. I had already thought about him, if
you had any problem here.”
Danny shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, I have to admit I’d feel better if a doctor
checks the stitches.”
“Okay, then. Well, how do you feel? Because I’m feeling like I should come back to
bed or tomorrow I won’t be able to get up for work.” Marcus was being honest, the
conversation had taken them to a kind of agreement and trust.
“Yeah, sure. I’d like too but I think I’ll try with tv. You’ll probably find me on the
couch tomorrow,” Danny said, standing up.
Danny headed for the living room as Marcus went upstairs to meet Vivian deeply
asleep. He’d like to tell her about the conversation with Danny but didn’t want to
wake up her.
Taking the remote, Danny switched on the tv, keeping the volume low. On the
table, his laptop had been opened all the time as he was talking with Marcus in the
kitchen. The email he had written to Martin was still waiting to be sent. Danny
wanted to share with him his suspects and learn from his friend what Victor
Fitzgerald was doing. He missed doing something else than wait for the rest finding
what had happened, but after the conversation with Marcus, he reasoned that Viv
would be more than happy if he shared with her the investigation progress.
Deleting the message, he closed the laptop and focused on the tv, trying to forget
everything he had been thinking for the last hours and let the good sleep took him.
Three weeks later. Washington D.C.
The feeling of all the pieces taking its correct place was great, every time it
happened. In this case, it was also reassuring but at the same time very
discouraging, especially since the people to be arrested charged with important
crimes against national security, had been friends for not so long ago.
Since Deputy Director Victor Fitzgerald had left on the table the documents that
gave them the names of the main people involved, the investigation had made an
important progress. Even though some points were still left to clear before starting
with detentions, the FBI Director had agreed with his colleagues at the highest
level, in a situation under control, finally.
To Victor Fitzgerald and also some of his veteran colleagues, it had meant getting
back to the field and now, more than ever, he felt with enough energy to lead that
other investigation to clarify one of his best friend’s death, Michael Walsh.
With his friend in mind, he got into his boss, the Director of the FBI, office.
“Victor, come on in and seat,” the Director greeted in a cordial tone as results of
years of work together.
Victor shook the offered hand and sat down, noticing the attention the Director
had on a folder on the desk, and running a hope, he couldn’t help but ask,
“Anything new about Walsh?”
The Director shook his head. “Victor, I know you appreciate your friend, but you’re
not being clear here.”
“What do you mean?” Victor asked.
“I have something for you,” the Director said, not replying Victor’s question. “Mark
Whitfield. He’s a lawyer working for the FBI in New York.” Victor took the folder
his boss was handing to him and opened it. He found the detailed report of the
lawyer, and some information related to the investigation. Reading it quickly, Mark
Whitfield had acted in more than % of trials celebrated with other involved
judge and had unauthorized some actuations against people who now figured as
suspects.
“What’s this about?” he asked, finally.
“As you can see, his work doesn’t look to be the consistent it should be. It doesn’t
look a coincidence, but there are no direct evidences against him. We need
someone in New York who watches him and let us what we need. Who we have
there?”
“Right now… Lewis, but he’s working on Andrew Coleman and then there’s our
team watching on…”
“Isn’t your son working in New York?” the Director interrupted him.
Victor sighed. “Yes. In fact, I told him about the possibility of helping in this
investigation. As you must know, sir, he was the one giving us the documents that
helped to this investigation so good.”
“Great, talk to him. I need him to become Withfield’s back. We need that
information as soon as possible. It’s just a matter of weeks, maybe days, Victor.
Then, you’ll have full time to look your friend’s assassins. But not before, is it
clear?”
“Yes, sir, but it’s obvious it’s related. The information started in that office.”
“Yes, of course, they were working the defense of that guy… Wilson…”
“Gibson, Mathew Gibson,” Victor rectified. “I’ve been thinking about this matter. I
don’t understand why Walsh didn’t see the importance of this statement. More, I
don’t think he read it, ever. The lawyer, Maggie Anderson, wanted to use that
statement to get a positive deal to her client…”
“Victor,” the Director tried to stop him.
“No, no, listen… After reading all the cases of this investigation, the normal thing
would have been that, once they lost Gibson because the change of judge, they
should give him a lawyer of their circle, to be sure that Gibson kept his mouth shut.
I think this lawyer was involved.”
“But she didn’t look to be doing the more convenient for them.”
“Maybe she lied to Gibson, to get all the information he knew and advising him not
to talk. Moreover she would be sure about what he knew… or maybe she changed
her mind and betrayed her people.”
“Or maybe your friend Walsh was involved, Victor. I’m sorry to tell this, but that
lawyer is not more than an employee of Walsh and Associated…”
“How intermediate jobs are we finding in this investigation? Why she can’t be one
of them? I know… I knew very well Michael, I know he was a loyal man. It’s not
only because he was my friend, I know his work, you can see it by yourself…”
“Come Victor, don’t be naïve…”
“There’s two people who survived the attack. I’m sure they are able to identify the
killers, they know what was happening in that office.”
“Yes,” the Director said staring at him. “In fact, there’s a simple explanation for the
attack, Victor, but I’m not sure you want to hear.”
“I’m listening,” Victor said.
“I have some testimonies from the people who worked in Walsh and Associated,
including Timothy Donaldson’s who say they hearing a discussion between Maggie
Anderson and Danny Taylor the day of the shooting.”
Victor frowned expectant.
“Danny Taylor… I’ve been reading his profile. He worked with the FBI for more
than  years and then he left to work in Walsh and Associated. And his
background… I don’t even know how this guy got a job in the FBI. You’ve got it?”
“I hear you.” Victor replied.
“On his statement, another lawyer, Michael Petersen says that Danny Taylor was
doing his practice period when unexpectedly Walsh promoted him to the criminal
law to attend what he defined as a delicate matter, which is the case where this
important statement was going to be used as a deal.”
“Why to kill them, then?” Victor asked.
“They were eliminating witnesses.”
“But, if you say that Walsh was involved, they wouldn’t have killed him.”
“Confusion of the moment? The truth is they killed everybody but Taylor who only
got a ‘safe’ bullet on the shoulder. Don’t tell you anything that?”
Victor didn’t reply but started to understand what the Director’s point of view. He
was surprised that he had the information so clear and was also upset for not
being informed about that.
“All of this has been confirmed by other colleagues. Victor, Taylor and also Walsh
are involved in these uncomfortable matters. I know, I also have friends involved
in it. But, if you want to listen to me, you agree that my theory is pretty clear, right?
I’m sorry, Victor but I’m going to take this case to the last consequences. And
you’re going to do the same, right?”
“You don’t know Michael,” Victor said.
“You’re not being professional, Victor and it’s nonsense. When this is finished, I’ll
focus my career for the Senate, as I’ve told you, and you should better act cold and
with professionalism if you want to get my job. You’re my first and logical option.
Don’t screw up. Walsh was a jerk, as much as Taylor is.”
Victor felt the blood boiling inside of him, but he also started seeing the
opportunity. If Walsh was involved, thing he had admit it has sense, he wouldn’t
lose his chance. Still…
“Why are we watching Taylor, then?”
“Let him stay in that agent’s home. We have a team watching the house  hours at
day. He’s your evidence for Walsh murder, connects and closes that case, as well…
if you’re still interested on it.”
“So you think that maybe Walsh is innocent.”
“I’m not saying that, but I’m taking all the options here.”
Fitzgerald nodded. “What about the other witness, Donaldson?”
“I’m sorry. Donaldson won’t be able to help. He died a week ago.”
“What? When were you going to tell me?” Fitzgerald shouted. “When were you
going to tell me all of this?”
“Calm down, Victor. I’m telling you know. You haven’t been listening to me for the
last weeks. I’ve noticed it. I’m telling you know, so relax, and remember this job is
waiting for you, if you know to play well your cards.”
Victor remained silent for a second. “Okay,” he said finally. “I understand,
absolutely. You’ll have the information about Mark Whitfield as soon as possible.”
“Good.”
Fitzgerald left the office, visibly upset but he knew his boss was right. Damn it! He
couldn’t believe the suspects over Walsh and even though he didn’t want to believe
it, he couldn’t help but hesitate.
New York, FBI headquarters.
The team was working a complicated and sensible case. A  years old boy was
missing and five days had already passed since he left home to meet some friends,
but only two since his parents had reported his disappearance.
“It’s not the first time he leaves,” his father explained. “He’s doing this for some
months now and he always came back.”
“He was very disappointed because we didn’t let him go to a camp next summer. So
every time the subject was up, we had an argument,” the mother said.
“And he left,” Jack concluded.
“Yes, we thought it would be the same, but it’s not.”
“When did he start with this attitude of leaving?. You said he’s doing for some
months. I assume it’s a new attitude. I mean, when he started leaving, had he met
someone new, any new friends, any problems at school, any other matter?” Sam
asked.
“Clay’s a good guy, but he never forgot his roots. We adopted Clay and Raymond
four years ago. Raymon was a little kid but Clay didn’t get it well. He usually comes
back to the place where he used to live. That’s where I think he goes.”
“You think, didn’t you ask him about it?” Sam asked.
“We tried, but it’s difficult. It’s complicated to make him trust. He’s been alone
most of his life, going from foster homes to foster homes, with lots of problems. We
already knew this when we decided bringing him with us.” His father said.
“We actually had been looking for Raymond, but it wasn’t in our heart to separate
the brothers,” the mother explained.
“Look, Viv. This is the list I’ve got from social services. Clay’s been living in six
different foster homes before being adopted, for a period of one and a half years.
Too hard for a  old years boy…” Martin said reading the document.
“I don’t think he’s back to any of those homes,” Will commented.
5
“No, unless he wants to leaves now and know someone who can help him.” Viv
said.
“Yeah, but… you know, these kids thinks… different. They have a different concept
of surveillance and…” Will started.
Viv stared at him. “What do you mean, Will?”
“I… I don’t think he’s really missing. Look, he’s been through this foster home thing
and now he left. Maybe he only wants to live the life by himself.”
“He’s , Will. I can’t get my son living the life by himself. His parents look lovely
and caring people.”
“That’s exactly what I mean, they don’t need people to survive. The affect is not
appreciated; they don’t need it. Young people so many times betrayed don’t trust
anybody.”
“It’s true they have difficulties to trust people but they appreciate the affect. In fact,
I think they appreciate things we never get to see,” Vivian said in a tone that made
Martin frown. Was she thinking the same he was?
“We need Danny here,” Martin muttered.
“Yeah, he would know where to find,” Vivian said.
“What? Why? Don’t you think I’m able to do my job?” Will exclaimed visible upset.
“It’s not that, Will. You don’t know Danny, you won’t understand. He deals with
these kinds of cases a very different way any of us would do, any of us,” Martin
explained.
“Okay,” Will said thoughtful, as reading a document from the Social Services. “Hey
guys, what’s this?”
Will handed Viv and Martin the folder. Both agents exchange a look of worried. The
case started sounding too much familiar.
“Mr. and Mrs. Harrison. Do you know or have ever heard the name of Joseph
Martin?” Jack asked.
“No,” Mr. Harrison replied quickly as his wife shook her head. “Who is he?” she
asked.
“According to the social services documents about Clay, Joseph Martin is the older
son of Clay’s mother.”
“Oh my God… I didn’t have an idea… Do you think Clay could be with him?” the
mother exclaimed hopeful.
“Clay never told you about him. Do you think he did know him?” the father asked.
“I don’t think so. I think he would have mentioned it… anytime. But maybe… he
was so private, agent Malone,” Mrs. Harrison replied.
Jack was going to ask when Will poke his head on the room. “Jack, would you
mind…?”
“Excuse me,” Jack said and rose quickly.
Sam stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Harrison. She had the feeling they had got a good
lead, but didn’t want to give hopes to the Harrisons until they were sure.
“We’ve checked Clay’s laptop. He’s been in contact with a nicknamed ‘joema’ for
the last weeks. We’ve found this message with an address right the day of his
disappearance.”
“’Joema… Joe Martin… good work, Will. Take Martin with you and check the place.
Maybe you’ve found him.” Jack said.
“Great,” Will replied, going back to the bullpen. Pointing Martin, they headed for
the elevators, as Will updated his partner. “You see? I’m not Taylor and know to
solve a case as well. Shouldn’t we call the police for some backup?”
“We’re going just to check the place. We’ll take that decision if necessary,” Martin
said, refusing to reply his comment about Danny. Obviously, Will didn’t know him.
“Agent Fitzgerald?” someone asked on his back.
Martin turned, as Will held on the elevator’s door. “Yes.”
“This is for you,” the agent said, giving him an envelope. Martin glanced at it, as he
signed the paper, just to realize it came from Washington. His instinct told him it
was about the investigation his father was working on.
“Did you need to send an agent?” Martin asked.
The envelope contained just a note with an address and hour to meet his father.
“I’m in the middle of a case, dad. I can’t leave so easy, just hope it’s important.”
“It is. We need an exhaustive investigation on this man. There’s nobody here now
available to do it so we’ve thought about you.”
“We?”
“The Director, if you want. Martin, I asked you if you would do it and you said yes, I
remind you.”
“Of course, what’s your interest? Has the Director promised you something?”
Martin asked ironically, “Oh well, what I have to do?” he continued not wanting to
start a discussion. He didn’t like the feeling of being used by his father, but maybe
that wasn’t the point.
“Cover his back  hours until you find what his game is. We have suspects, we
need the evidence, right?”
“Okay,” Martin frowned. “How’s the investigation going?”
“The documents you gave me are very useful, I’d say, definitive.”
“So, you’re close to know who killed Mr. Walsh…”
“Not yet.” Victor looked clearly disappointed, what surprised Martin.
“But I thought everything was related…”
“It’s not that simple, Martin.” Victor hesitated in telling Martin the Director
suspects over Walsh and Taylor. “We need a positive identification of the killers
and you know there’s only one person who can do it.”
“Two people, Dad.”
“Donaldson is dead. We only have Taylor.”
A shiver ran down Martin’s spine. “Dad, can I ask you something?”
“Of course, but don’t promise I can reply your question.”
“How’s Danny dealing with it? I mean, it’s too long under custody and all this
responsibility… I know he didn’t remember anything.”
Victor looked at his son in disbelief. How Martin could lie to him and still looking in
his eyes? “Why don’t you tell me, Martin?” he asked sharply. “I’d like to know, I’d
like to talk to him but by now, my hands are tied on it. But it would be very
valuable to learn what your former partner knows.”
Martin got the angriness on his father by surprise. He didn’t understand anything.
“I can’t tell you, dad. I’m asking you about him. He’s… under custody… isn’t he?” he
asked realizing something. The fear got him at the possibility.
His father didn’t reply, but stared at him. Victor realized then that Martin was
telling the truth, Martin didn’t know that Danny Taylor was living at agent
Johnson’s home.
“Where’s Danny, Dad?”
“I can’t tell you, don’t think I don’t trust you,” Victor decided to keep the secret.
“But he’s being watched and somehow, under custody.”
“No, no, no… you asked me to tell you. Why should I know about him? What are
you hidden from me, Dad?”
Victor realized his mistake and tried find a good response. “I was only checking on
you. I’m sorry, I had to do it.”
Martin got the reply. That was his father. Shaking his head in disbelief. “Okay, you’ll
have your damn report about this guy. You better pray for nothing happens to
Danny, or I’ll make you responsible of it.”
Victor didn’t replied, clenching his fist and tensing his face. Sometimes he had to
unfairly pay for the secrets he had to keep. But Victor Fitzgerald didn’t want Martin
to be involved in the investigation more than necessary. And if Taylor was
involved, he didn’t want to read the name of his son on any report.
“Where are you?” Martin heard the angry voice of Sam.
He had checked his cell after the uncomfortable meeting with his father, and five
calls were missing.
“I’m sorry, a personal matter to attend,” he replied.
“Great. We’ve got Joseph Martin. He admits to meet Clay. The kid asked him for
money. Connelly thinks he was going to take a bus to Trenton. He gave us an
address. Are you coming?”
“Sure,” Martin replied, picking paper and pen.
As soon as he came back to his work, Martin stopped thinking about his father, that
other investigation, Danny and that lawyer he had to investigate and it wasn’t until
late in the night, once he got into his home, exhausted, when he considered the
work he had been asked to do and the strange conversation about Danny.
“We missed you at work!” Vivian announced aloud, as she headed for the back of
the house, where Danny was playing basket.
“Really?” he asked in surprise, as trying a last shot. Sweating with his hair in a
mess, Danny stopped, leaning his hands on the thighs and getting his breath back
to normal.
Vivian grinned. “Playing the finals?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah, do you wanna try?” he suggested, playing with the ball in front of her.
Dribbling past her, he tried a shot. “Yay! Got it!, Good, let’s go for a drink, I’m
thirsty and curious… What’s that you missed me?”
They both entered the house and headed for the kitchen. Danny opened the fridge
and got the bottle of orange juice, taking a generous swallow.
“Is that good for your shoulder?” Vivian asked, as he made a movement with his
arm and grimaced.
“The doctor told me it was okay, I was up to make some exercise…”
“Yes, I know but isn’t this too much?” She asked again.
Danny smiled. “Hey, I’m okay, I just need doing something. Come on, what’s that?
Last case has kept you in the office for so long.”
“Yeah, it’s been difficult. We found the kid, but I don’t get it well. Oh he’s , a
teenager in search of identity and all that jazz, but still… I mean, he has lovely
family, parents who really love him, you could breath it.”
“What happened?” Danny asked.
“He and his brother were adopted four years ago,” Vivian explained, and caught
immediately the frowning gesture of Danny. “Uhm… do you want me to go on?”
“Yes, please,” he replied softly, leaning his elbows on the table and staring
attentively at her.
“Well, this isn’t important, but they had gone for the little brother but didn’t want
to separate them, so they adopted the two of them. Clay, our missing boy, was nine
years old and had a record of bad experiences in foster homes for about one year
and a half,” she explained.
Danny nodded. “Why were they into the system?”
“System? Oh well, the system, yeah,” Viv got surprised at the word Danny used
with such a familiarity, not because she didn’t know about him, but she didn’t
actually had felt it like that. “The father was involved in drugs and ended in prison.
The mother had mental incapacity to take care of them and is in a mental
institution. The kids kept on foster homes, but the situation got definitive and they
were given for adoption.”
“Hard childhood,” Danny conceded.
“Yes, that’s why I don’t understand why Clay wanted to leave. He had planned this
for weeks, joining other friends from the foster home…”
“Friends from the foster home?” Danny asked incredulous.
“Yeah, why?”
“Nobody makes friends on a foster home.”
“Is it that bad? Don’t you remember that woman, Rosie. She was loved by her kids.
They were like family.”
“I remember, but also remember the kid telling me she wasn’t like most of them.
Viv, the system doesn’t work well all the times, it depends on the people. Most of
foster homes only care about the money they receive by guarding the kids.”
Vivian didn’t know what to say. She had learned about that and still found it
terrible. Her heart clenched when Danny continued. “You would have been a good
foster mother.”
She looked at him not able to say a word.
“So what happened then?” Danny asked.
“Oh, yes, what happened. Well, we learned about an older brother. Clay’s mother
had another son, Joseph Martin. The adoptive parents didn’t know about him, but
digging into it, we found him, and we learned that Clay had contacted him.
However, he only asked for money to take a bus to Trenton.”
“I don’t think they only contacted for money. Probably they knew each other.
Nobody goes to an unknown guy to ask for money even being your older brother.”
“At first, his brother didn’t tell us anything but later he confessed that Clay’s father
was in a prison in Trenton.”
“Of course,” Danny said, as he knew the answer from the beginning.
“You see why we missed you? You did the correct questions. We didn’t realize
about the biological parents until two days had passed. We hadn’t any faith on
finding him. His parents had reported the disappearance too late and then the
investigation got wrong several times.”
“Oh well, Viv, I don’t have the pressure of the case. I know the kid is safe now…”
“No, just because of the pressure you’d have gone for it even earlier. It’s a different
way of think… someone told us, and maybe he was right.”
“Someone?”
“Will Colbert, the agent who replaced you,” she clarified at seeing the questioning
look. “But I don’t get it yet. I can understand the biological attraction you can miss
if things go wrong but having such a lovely and caring family…”
“Maybe they weren’t that lovely, Viv. My better times at foster homes were always
the day we received the social services visit. That day, everything was caring,
smiles, good meal, good clothes. We looked a real family. Right they left home,
everything turned wrong again, not only with the foster parents but also among us,
among the kids. Everyone had personal demons to deal with,” he explained.
She noticed Danny was talking but also he felt uncomfortable. She tried to change
the conversation. “Will is jealous of you, you know? We’re talking about your
expertise touch all the time, missing your theories and he feels he can’t compete
with you.”
“Poor guy, give him some trust, tell him that when I was rookie I screwed up things
all the time, tell him to talk Jack about me, and the jealousy will be over. Tell him,
when I got into Spaulding’s home to take the photograph album and the judge
denied the warrant order. Tell him about Martin getting scared at hell by me in the
house, pretending not hearing to get out of there, tell him about Ryan and the
bomb or how I wanted to kill the guy who betrayed Rafie…” he said.
“All of us have some story to tell, Danny,” She said, remembering how she had lied,
covering Martin’s statement at shooting at a handcuffed man.
“Sure,” he agreed thoughtful. “I… I also had lovely parents once,” he added some
seconds later.
Viv smiled. “I bet you loved your parents.”
“You know, Viv, staying here with you and your family is… I don’t think you
understand, it’s… I really feel I lost a good chance, a really good one. I badly
screwed things, I know but being here and all this situation I’m living makes me
think, evaluate everything.”
“Maybe, you’ve been too long here at home, not doing anything, all the time to
think,” she agreed squeezing his arm. She tried hard to keep the calm as the
emotion grew up from her stomach to her eyes in form of tears. Danny’s brilliant
eyes trying the same, didn’t help, of course. “You probably are overreacting,
Danny.”
He shook his head. “No, I know what I say. I spent most of my life denying the facts.
My father abused on us, on Rafie and me, he abused on my mom and she always
lied to me, trying to keep my innocence intact. Somehow she got it, for a while, but
it also confused me about what was right, what was wrong. I only had Rafie, I
always had Rafie, in spite of him leaving and me feeling abandoned by him. I
turned back to my parents and I turned back to Rafie, depending on the
circumstances but it was always a wrong thing.”
“That’s why you concluded Clay went back to his father.”
“It happens, I don’t know why, maybe it’s a matter of identity. When I realized I
was a bad kid, a bad person, I knew it was in me, in my family. Everywhere I looked
around, I only saw wrong things. So I thought I belonged there, it was my right
place.”
“But you loved your parents.”
“I didn’t mean my biological parents, I loved them but not that way. I felt guilty by
killing them for a long time and there are bitter and confusing feelings about them.
Have I told you why I changed my surname?”
“You wanted a fresh start, you told me. Danny, you didn’t kill your parents, you
know that. It was an accident, you were only a kid…”
“It took me  years to realize that and being able to tell. After my parents died I
felt I had no right of even breathing. Everything that happened to me, was a
punishment and I agreed with it. Rafie’s turmoil life was my fault and when he
involved me, I thought it was our fate… sometimes I think like that now. I’m always
that one single step back to be what I was, what I should actually be…”
“No, Danny, you’re not seeing all what you have got, don’t speak like that. I know
you pretty well,” Vivian said.
“Rafie used to take me with him to fish but he also involved me in some of his
business. Once he screwed up and they came for me as well. Rafie was beaten so
hard I thought he was dead and I was stabbed. I had left without authorization the
foster home I was living, and got into real trouble. At the hospital, there was a man,
a doctor who spoke to me and helped me. His wife was a lawyer, specialized in
cases like mine. Great part of what I’ve got is thanks to them. They were like you
and Marcus, I could trust them and they took care of me.”
Vivian didn’t move, just listening to him, his sight lost in some old memories, like
she wasn’t there, actually.
“But I betrayed their trust, I didn’t know I had a problem with drinking, I was only
fourteen, fifteen years and nothing could happen to me. I needed to drink to stay
cool and brave for everything. One day, I had a bad reaction, and…” Danny stopped,
unsure of telling that, scared of what he was remembering.
“Danny, that’s past, you’re safe now, and you’re a different person now.” Viv said.
“They had a beautiful house… I saw the fear on their eyes; they were scared of me,
like they didn’t know me. I saw the eyes and I identified the feeling so well, the
same feeling I felt toward my father, when he came back home drunk.”
“What did you do?”
“I destroyed everything in that home, I broke windows, I threw things against the
wall or against other things, I… destroyed everything in matter of seconds, just by
seeing their disapproval look. I knew I had failed the people who had loved me so
much and had given me an identity. I couldn’t live under the same roof anymore, so
I… left to New York, where I knew Rafie was living. Rafie, who almost had killed me
by taking me into his business… I didn’t know why I did, I know I broke the heart
of that people.”
“I assume you took their surname.”
“Yes, doctor Taylor told me once that I had all my life to take the right decision. I
was just a teenager. He told me something like doing the right thing and learning
from my bad experiences. So when I turned eighteen, I asked for that fresh start. I
thought that changing my surname into the one of the good people I had knew, was
like a symbolic gesture and also the promise I did to myself for not screwing up
their name. I didn’t get it at all.”
“Do you keep contact with them?” Vivian asked.
“No,” Danny shook his head. “You know Viv, it was so painful, I felt very ashamed, I
knew what I had done to them, I can still see their looks, Viv and it was my entire
fault. I just left, came to NY. A week later, the police found me and took me into a
group home. The Taylors hadn’t adopted me and they didn’t want me back with
them. I understood, I would have refused in case they had asked for me. I know I
broke their hearts.”
“Don’t you think they’d like to know you took their surname? The great person you
have become and the hard effort you’ve done to leave away all that mess?” Vivian
said. “If I were them, I’d like to know.”
Danny shook his head and remained silent. Nervously biting his nails, he looked
lost in fight with some of his demons. Vivian looked at him with compassion,
knowing that he wouldn’t like that look, but he wasn’t even there at the moment,
he didn’t see her at all. Squeezing his arm, she reassured him. “Calm down,
everything is gonna be all right,” she said softly. Exceptionally, Danny had opened
his heart and she had accessed to him a little more and sure, more than anybody
ever did. She considered it as a gift, a gift of trust.
“I bet,” he murmured. “But by now, I don’t see how. I’ve lost my job and I don’t
think I can get a new one any time soon. There’s no way I come back to the FBI,
Jack won’t like to see me around again…”
“That’s not true, Danny,” Vivian disagreed.
“Oh yes, I played badly my cards with him. I don’t know what I was thinking about
confronting him…”
“You didn’t, he was going directly into the dark alley. Danny, I also confronted him.
And Sam did as well, later.”
“Yes, but he loves Sam, and you are ‘Vivian Johnson’. I’m just… I’m nobody.”
“Ha!” Viv exclaimed. “You’re completely wrong there, Danny, absolutely!”
“I’m the one who left.”
“Because you were pursuing a dream and you had a serious compromise with your
brother, not because of Jack.”
“It helped.”
“Yes, it helped, Jack screwed up things with you and helped you to move on!.
Danny, I don’t know why I’m having this conversation with you!”
“Are you angry?” he asked in surprise at her tone.
“Of course, I am. You’re saying nonsense. Don’t be so… damn it, living in four walls
is getting your mind!”
Danny smiled. Seeing Viv’s explosion came to cut the bad memories he had
brought up, the bad feelings about himself, always there; a matter he had to fight
daily in the privacy of his home, right before leaving for work, praying for a good
day and keeping the good guy he pretended to be, and he actually was.
“I’m sorry,” he agreed. “It must be, I’ll try to be a good guy.”
“I bet, I have so many things to do but listening to a crybaby!” she said standing up.
“Yeah, you’re right, as usual. I’m better going to make my mind works with some
law.”
“Are you working on something?”
“I’m trying to follow the case I was working on before… before the attack. I had
most of the docs in my laptop. I don’t know what my colleague, Payton LaSalle is
doing, I’ve emailed her some times but I haven’t got a reply. Well, it was an email
for work, not personal and…”
“She looks a nice person.” Vivian said.
“Yeah, she is. I think we would have been a great team and she worked the field I
wanted to, but…” Danny agreed.
“You miss your work.”
“I miss being back to my life. Last year I was an FBI agent and I’d never had said I
would be living this situation, my brother dying and me… dancing… this twist.”
5
“Do you regret?”
“Walsh and Associated wasn’t what I had expected. I don’t think I would stay there
for so long. Maybe I was used to work with a great team, real friends like you and
Martin. I haven’t found that anywhere, it’s what I miss the most.”
“You’ve taken a good decision, Danny. You’re a lawyer and guess you could do a
great work in the Court. You’re all the stubborn you need to spread your
convictions and get the best for your client and you’re a pretty clever and honest to
get it. On the other hand, it’s also a world of vibes and politics where the client and
the justice is not always the main subject.”
“Yes, that’s the part I don’t like, obviously.” Danny remained thoughtful. “Payton
suggested me to work with a foundation helping families in social trouble, kids
with problems and so.”
“Wow, she got you.”
“Somehow, but it’s too… too close, I’m afraid I would stay trapped on the same
world for the rest of my life, so then, why I came to NY, changed my name, stop
drinking, keep away from my brother for so long and didn’t want to look back
anymore?”
“It wouldn’t be your problem and you would understand the kids very well.” Viv
disagreed. “I’ve seen you working with us. Nobody but you is able to understand a
scared kid, see deep in his heart and get his trust. That’s a work you’d do very
well.”
“Well, I better won’t think about my future. Like I told Marcus, I could end in that
protection program, changing my name again and living in… Alaska?”
“I don’t picture you living in Alaska, you better go to live under the sun of
California!” Vivian laughed.
“Oh yeah, with some beautiful girl enjoying Venice…” Danny smirked.
“Exactly! Well, go, I have some things to do before Marcus and Reggie come back.”
Four days later
“You should really consider the job I’m offering you, Martin. It’s a good chance,
being close to your family, being close to real opportunities to improve your
position.” Victor said.
They had met in a restaurant near of Federal Square. What it looked like a casual
lunch father-son, was actually an important exchange of information.
Martin shook his head. “I told you very clear long time ago. I don’t want any favor
from you,”
“Don’t be stupid. Working with Malone won’t help you anymore. Think for a
moment I’m not your father!”
“If you weren’t my father you wouldn’t make that offer… dad. I need doing it by my
own.” Martin said upset. “And I don’t want to have this conversation with you
again. I’m not going to be the son of the Deputy Director Fitzgerald, talking about
work, of course.” He didn’t want to be rude, he could have gone far with the
discussion, a discussion they had had other times in their lives. Martin had missed
his father before, as he was paid the best schools, best education, but only that. His
father wasn’t interested in him, actually, not even in Martin getting a better job, as
if he could complain about the current one. Martin was sure that his father only
wanted to spread his success as the next FBI Director, having a strong legacy in his
son, his success, as well, as any other job or operation. If he only had known about
his addiction and the people who was helping him with it… but Martin knew that
his father would never hear that. It wasn’t what Martin wanted and in fact, it made
him furious about his father.
Unfair thought, however, Victor concluded. Victor knew what Martin was thinking
about. Partially, he could be right but he was mostly wrong. Every father wants the
best for his son, why not? He was in the best position to give Martin a solid career
in the FBI. He had his family in mind with every step he took, every decision, every
advice, but Martin always had taken the advice from other people but him. Why?
He was pretty pissed off by it, he never understood his son, less when it looked
that Martin cared Jack Malone’s words than his. Nobody was perfect in the world,
but he was his father and he loved him, as much as Marta, his mother, loved him
and missed him.
“Your mother asks for you. You missed the last Thanksgiving.”
“I had a work to do. Every body at the office had and missed that day. Guess you
understand,” Martin replied coldly, remembering the times thanksgiving was a
matter of a social event, a new opportunity to promote his career in the FBI or the
politics.
“Martin, I’m sure I’ve done mistakes, but I don’t think your mother deserves your
behavior. We’re a family. Your sisters don’t have any problem with us, why you?
What happened with you? You weren’t like this before.”
“I’ve changed. I love you dad, but I have my own life. That’s what you and mom
don’t understand, right? You… try to impose your wishes for me, when I have my
own. I don’t want to go to Washington to work an important job in the FBI who will
improve my career. I love my work in Missing Persons Unit. That’s important to
me. Why don’t you just agree with the fact I’m happy…”
“Oh, yeah, you’re happy.” Victor interrupted him in disbelief.
“Yes, I am… mostly, and I’d be happier if you and mom could understand it and
don’t look at me as I was the silly boy scout who doesn’t know how to manage his
life and if you showed some respect to my friends and my social life, that it’s not
the same one as yours, but I respect, totally.”
“Speaking of friends and respect. I guess it was a close friend of the family who
helped a friend of yours, right? What your friend thought about it, Martin? Because
what I’m offering you, I think it’s pretty similar to what you did,” Victor said slowly.
Martin, caught off guard, didn’t know what to say at that moment. He remembered
when Danny got furious with him, maybe having the same reaction he was having
with his father. But… no, there was a lot more on it. Before he could open his
mouth, his father continued.
“And now we have a problem with it, Martin. Listen to me. We must work together,
leave arguments apart if you want to save your friend and I want to save my
friend’s honor, since he’s dead. Do you know what I’m talking about?” Victor
almost whispered.
Martin frowned. “No exactly.”
“Oh yes, you know. I’m sure Michael is not involved in this crap. Are you sure
Taylor isn’t it?”
“What?!” Martin felt the blood boiling inside of him. “How you dare…?”
“I don’t, the Director and more people who are investigating different people who
could be involved in this big and unfortunate case. Like the man I asked you to
investigate. What did you get?”
“I can’t believe it.” Martin murmured, getting out the folder from his bag.
“I know it’s hard. When the Director told me about it, I almost exploded, but he told
me that friends of him are also involved, people with excellent careers on the FBI,
judges we have been working closely. But I’m sure, because I knew him very well,
that Michael was not involved, and I’m going to proof it.”
“Did they get solid proof against him or Danny?” Martin asked fearfully, as handing
the folder about Whitfield, the lawyer his father asked him to investigate.
“Unfortunately, it’s a theory, but I must admit there’s a point of credibility.”
“So you hesitate…”
“Yes, if I take only the facts, but no, it can’t be.”
“I’m sure that Danny is not involved on it, absolutely, dad.”
“I need to talk to him, but the Director asked me not to do it by now.” Victor said.
“Let’s see what you’ve got.” He continued, reading carefully the report Martin had
done.
The headache was growing inside him, and Martin was sure the reason wasn’t the
wine. He never had thought Danny was involved. That was so absurd, but he also
knew how the high-level estate worked, and he would be blind if Danny’s profile
wouldn’t cause any suspect at all. He hated himself for considering it, he knew so
well Danny. Suddenly, his stomach had closed and refused to get anything Martin
tried to eat. Leaving the cutlery on the plate, he asked. “How are you treating him?”
“Okay, I see this is interesting, obviously they are taking more precautions now,
but you’ve done a good work,” Victor said, not listening Martin’s question and
closing satisfactorily the folder. “What did you say?” he asked realizing Martin had
said something.
“Danny, how are you treating him?” Martin asked again.
“What can I tell you, son? It’s not what I would like, but somehow it’s working.”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t know anything, do you? Uhm… I see your coworker is fearful even of
you.”
Martin felt a knot on his stomach.
“Okay, Martin, I’ll be honest with you. I’m not actually in charge of Taylor. When
Taylor and Donaldson were in the hospital we considered the possibility of putting
them under custody. We did with Donaldson but his injuries were worse and he
finally went back to a hospital. Unfortunately, he didn’t get over the complications
and died. He suffered of septicemia, his condition was worse than your friend.”
“But, you kept Danny in the hospital,” Martin asked.
“Yes, we were considering putting him under custody when Donaldson’s condition
worsened and we had to take him back to a hospital. Even Taylor being much
better than him, there was another problem. One of the agents working in custody
appeared on our list and suddenly we didn’t know who was involved and who
wasn’t. Technically, we could put Taylor under custody just to kill him. And we
know they wouldn’t stop. That was the situation before you gave us Gibson’s
statement.”
“I understand, but… where’s Danny?”
“We were late. Someone took advantage and took him out of the hospital. Your
coworker, agent Vivian Johnson.”
“What?” Martin was breathless.
“Yes, I could fire her. In fact, when this is over, it’s the first thing I’m going to do.”
“No…”
“Yes.”
“I… I know there’s a reason for it, dad. Vivian… she gave me Gibson’s statement.”
Martin knew that he had to tell him. Vivian was not going to be fired, even though,
he was deeply disappointed toward her at the moment.
Victor smiled. “I was pretty sure it was her. We’ve been watching her. She was
considered suspect in first moment, at showing a special interest in the case, so
we’ve been following her. We’re watching her house, day and night, as long as
Danny Taylor is living n there.”
Martin shook his head in disbelief. “Stupid,” he murmured.
“Yes, stupid. But I’m willing to consider some extenuating circumstance, depending
on the result of this investigation.” Victor said. “I must admit that when we found
Taylor had gone from the hospital, my first thought was Malone, but, oh surprise,
competent and straight agent Johnson did.”
“Danny and Jack had some problems lately and Danny trusts so much Vivian. I’m
not surprise at all,” Martin sighed. “Why the Director suspects on Danny and
Walsh?” he asked then. He was furious with Vivian, but he would deal with it later.
Victor explained Martin what the Director had told him. Martin just agreed at the
evidence, even knowing it wasn’t the right one and coincided with his father they
had to work together on this and prove their innocence. “Danny must know
something. I’m going to talk to Vivian. He didn’t remember all the attack but he
must have information about the people in the case, the reactions, he surely has
got into a conclusion. I know him, I’m sure he wonders what happened and why.”
“Yes, I can’t do it, but you can. Talk to your coworker, it won’t be easy but Taylor
must know and he has to play his cards.” Victor said.
“She’ll know the house is watched.” Martin said.
“If she’s protecting Danny, she’ll be happy he’s being protected twice. However,
she’s going to learn she’s in trouble. But that was her decision. If she helps, her
problem may be reevaluated. But if Taylor is guilty, she’ll be accomplice of a
conspirator. You can tell her that.”
“Okay, I’ll do. I’ll tell you as soon as she talks with Danny or give me some useful
information.” Martin agreed thoughtful. “Uhm… dad, I’m sure Danny has nothing to
5
do with it, probably as sure as you are with Mr. Walsh. I think Danny should know
what the Gibson’s document contain…”
“Do you think Johnson just gave you such an important document without keeping
a copy for her?” Victor asked. “I don’t know if she has showed it to him, I guess so,
but I’m sure she has a copy.”
“Yeah, you’re right. But in case she hasn’t…”
“I’ll let you a copy, but talk to him first. I’m not going to screw up an investigation
that stupidly.”
Martin frowned, staring at his father in confusion, trying a different interpretation
from the one coming to his mind. He decided giving up and following the game. If
his father was right, he had to trust him to take Danny out of the dogs’ radar.
Earlier that morning.
“What are you doing?” Vivian appeared on the living room, where Danny had spent
the night and now was working something on the laptop.
“Morning, Viv. Just trying to concentrate,” He smirked.
At approaching him, she noticed the game on the computer. “Uhm… mahjong to
concentrate, isn’t too early to start working? Have you have breakfast?” Vivian
asked.
“Not yet… I got up with some feeling in my head and I was trying to find out what it
was. Mahjong helps,” Danny replied standing up.
“I didn’t ever see you playing mahjong at the office…” Vivian observed incredulous.
“Payton told me. It works for her, so I tried and it really helps. You get to build a
story with these little pieces and somehow the subject you’re working on appears
on the game. It’s… it’s curious.” Danny said. “Some coffee?” he suggested.
“Sure, but I’m in hurry,” She agreed.
“Did the boss call?” Danny asked.
“Nope, but you don’t figure out the paperwork I left on my desk.”
“The boring part. Maybe some previous mahjong would help.” Danny smiled.
“What were you trying to play with? What’s your subject?” She asked, as picked the
bottle of orange juice from the fridge as Danny managed the coffee machine.
5
“Something about an attack on a lawyer’s firm office,” he replied with no emotion
in his voice.
Vivian didn’t know what to say. She had expected a reaction, any day, but not that
plain reply at all. “What do you mean?” she asked expecting another better
explanation to that attitude.
“It’s this kind of feeling boiling inside of me constantly. Something happened and
it’s too long since I don’t remember. I… I have flashes about it…”
“You didn’t talk to me about this before, what’s that feeling about?” Vivian said in
concern.
“It’s nothing, actually, Viv.”
“No, you’re wrong, we could work some questioning…”
“I’ve already questioned myself.” Danny smirked. “Like I was a suspect, a witness…
I was in the FBI interview room with myself,” he comically, rolled up his sleeves
and pulled that cold and intimidator face.
Viv rolled her eyes. “Was that your game with the mahjong?” She asked.
“No, I was reliving that day at the office, in my desk, with Payton, the arguments
with Maggie Anderson and Walsh, the meeting, trying to put a face to everybody
there…”
“The people in the waiting room with Mr. Walsh’s secretary…” Vivian said,
remembering Payton’s statement.
“Yeah, things like that… Oh, moreover I’m working on that case I was working
when we suffered the attack, and mahjong also helps to figure out how things
happened and make the right questions,” he explained. “Hey, Reggie, morning.
Ready to thrash the Panters?” he greeted noticing Vivian’s son getting into the
kitchen.
“Morning,” he replied. “Yeah, I bet you we’ll win.”
“Five bucks?” Danny asked.
“Done!” the boy smiled.
“Of course, but take your lunch and…” Vivian started.
“Oh, mom, I’m going to prepare a project with Jason. I wonder if I could stay at his
home.”
“Reggie, your father has double shift today and I don’t know if I can pick you up, it
depends on the work. Can’t you both meet any other day?”
5
Reggie pulled a face and sighed. “Yeah, but we’re already late. I had agreed to go to
his home.”
“That’s right, but you had to count on your family as well, Reggie.”
“I can get back alone. It’s just two subways from here and…”
“I don’t…” Vivian started, somehow feeling uncomfortable to have this discussion
having Danny, who hadn’t said a word. “Okay, but promise me you’ll be back at six
thirty.”
“Mom!” Reggie protested.
“No, promise me or you won’t go.” She said firmly.
“Okay,” he said upset, dropping the cereals on the plate.
Vivian would like to talk to Danny about that feeling, but the opportunity was over
as soon as they finished the breakfast and she and Reggie left home, one for work,
the other one for school. Neither of them noticed the black car, near the corner of
the house. Inside, an agent with a micro transmitted the last positions. Taking a
comfortable position on the seat, if that was possible, the agent took the bag from
the back seat and opening it, offered some cereals to his coworker, who had came
in some minutes ago with hot coffee for both.
Vivian drove toward Manhattan, through the usual traffic jam, as her mind kept
still thinking about that mahjong thing and Danny’s attitude. Knowing him so well,
Vivian didn’t want him to remember that feeling he wanted to find out being alone
at home. Kidding and pretending no problems was a clear signal that something
was going wrong.
“Are you done?” Jack asked.
“Yes, uhm… I need a favor. My father is in the city and has called me for lunch. It
won’t take more than an hour and since we aren’t working on any new case…”
Martin started.
“Of course, I don’t think there’s a problem if your excuse is meeting the Deputy
Director Fitzgerald,” Jack replied.
Martin didn’t know how to get that. Somehow, Jack’s behavior at work had
changed for good, but trust had been affected. They weren’t able to talk freely and
he felt that the only one who kept that attitude in the office was Vivian. He didn’t
know Will Colbert enough and missed Danny terribly.
“I’ll ask him about Danny, if you’re interested in…”
5
“Oh, yes, of course, if he tells something about him, it’ll be good sharing with the
rest of us,” Jack said and seeing Martin frowning a staying there, he continued. “Go,
go…”
“Is there anything I should know?” Martin asked feeling uncomfortable with the
situation.
“No,” Jack replied, his attention on a paper he, apparently, was reading.
“All right,” Martin said quietly and suspiciously.
Leaving Jack’s office, he headed for his desk and picked up his jacket. On his bag, he
kept the report about Mark Withfield, a work he had been doing with difficulty,
since it should have done without interfering on his usual work at the missing
persons unite. Martin thought that maybe Jack had realized something, even
though he was pretty sure, his boss had nothing to complain about.
“Are you leaving?” Sam asked.
“Yes, my father is in the city and we’re going to have lunch together,” he replied.
Sam smiled as noticing Martin gesture. “Exciting. Oh, Martin, I wonder how Danny
is doing. Would your father give you such precious information?” she asked.
“Of course he knows, but I’m not sure that he’s going to tell me about him or the
investigation,” he replied glancing at Vivian. She nodded, worried. She was anxious
to have news about the investigation, to signal the date Danny could leave her
home and restart his own life. She, so Martin thought, had got for a quick
resolution, after giving Gibson’s reports to Victor Fitzgerald, but it didn’t look like
that and they hadn’t any clue about what was going on. On the other hand, she
didn’t want Martin to ask his father about Danny, even though, her hopes, were,
based on confidentiality that Victor would refuse to tell Martin anything about
Danny, a thing he didn’t know at all.
The bad feeling went on with her since the moment Martin left the office and was
confirmed when she noticed his angry face going back the bullpen, after that lunch.
At Vivian’s home, Danny had turned the living room into his particular office. All
the documents printed from his laptop were spread on the table and Danny had
spent several days working on it. Now, the highlights paragraphs, some details to
consider during the trail, witnesses to interview and the information they could get
from them and to use in benefit of their client had been written together in five
pages of a resume. Danny didn’t know if it would be useful, but at least, it was
useful for him to keep busy and his mind working. Basketball on the back of the
house was good, but he mostly spent time at home. Time was passing and the lack
5
of news about the investigation was getting him very nervous. He had started to
think that Vivian had taken a bad decision in bringing him at her home, but he had
agreed with her that Gibson’s statement should have been clear enough to make
some quick movement and give him the change to leave. Remembering the reason
why he was under this special custody, Danny opened the game he had been using
during the night, the same Vivian’s got him that morning. The increasing
nightmares during the night were approaching him to that feeling he wanted to
learn but he felt so scared. Realizing his hands shaking, Danny stood up nervously
and went to the kitchen. A cage. Vivian and her family were very nice and made
him feel comfortable in his home, but still, the seconds looked like minutes, the
minutes like hours, the hours like days. He felt he was missing years of his life, just
standing there, waiting for other’s decisions and acts. Opening the fridge, he took a
bottle of lemonade, realizing the lack of beers. No beers anymore in that house. He
smiled bitterly, and shook his head. No, something was wrong there.
Coming back to the living room, he stared at the papers spread on the table, his
computer waiting. Picking up the resume, he re read it once again, before sitting in
front of the laptop and opening the email.
From: dtaylor@walshlawyers.com
To: plasalle@walshlawyers.com
Subject: Work
Dear Payton,
How are you doing? The last time I saw you, was in the hospital and it’s been a
while from then. I can’t tell you anything really important about me but I want you
to know that I’m fine. I wonder how you’re doing. I know you had friends in the
office, probably more than me and it’s a tragedy what happened. I also hope the
cold manners of the FBI didn’t disturb you and they let you already alone.
Interviews never are a good thing, I know. It’s lot of time making suspects or just
witnesses having a hard and bad time, just trying to find clues, the true, but you
must think, and you surely know, the reason is only one: get the guilty people and
take him behind the bars.
I’m writing to the only address I know from the office but I don’t know if it’s
working for you. I’m sorry for taking this way, but it’s the only one I can use by
now. I hope you have found another firm to work with, you’re a hell of good lawyer
and you know I love the section you devote your time to.
Speaking of, I’ve been working on our last case using the information I had in my
computer. Seeing the similarities with Aldrich vs Aldrich, I consider you should
check it deeper because I know you can take important conclusions from it. The
55
‘but’ in our case is the Judge. I remember Matheson from my work in the FBI and
he’s hard to work with, especially in this matter.
In the attached document, I’ve written my conclusions and the basics to start
working. I can’t do anything else from here, but I hope somehow I help.
I miss our exchange of theories; I hope we can restart the work together anytime
soon.
Regards,
Danny Taylor.
‘Sent it’ he said aloud, and not wanting to think about it, with the feeling of being at
work, he clicked on the mahjong game… once again.
It took four matches to get a complete game. At that moment, he had been at Court,
figuring out his defense for that case in front of Judge Matheson, discussing
strategies with Payton at the office and exposing his work in the meeting room
with Michael Walsh listening to him attentively. That was the moment. Danny
closed tight his eyes, and took a deep breath as he left his mind traveled to that
meeting room with neon lights. Clicking bird with bird he eliminated a couple of
pieces from mahjong, as the lights stayed failing. Next couple was a whole three
bamboos and the room was dark. Clicking on a new piece of the game, it was
illuminated and the light simulated the three flashlights. The noise of the match
with another similar piece vanishing brought the shoots to the scene and two of
the killers into the office. Being aware of what was real and what wasn’t, he
frowned at the realization they had risked a lot in not using silencers but didn’t
want to stop in that thought. It wasn’t what he was looking for. He saw the lights
pointing his coworkers, and he saw them falling down. When the light got him
blind, he knew it was his turn. It had happened so quick that he was still
processing the first shot in that room. He didn’t feel the screams, because they
didn’t even have time to realize what was going on, but him. He had yelled at them,
just seeing the first shots outside the room, where Mr. Walsh’s secretary and the
clients were waiting. He didn’t remember them, at all. The burning sensation came
with the failed game. He fell down as he tried to protect himself. He saw Donaldson
moving on the floor but finally losing consciousness. Danny didn’t know if he was
dead or alive, but noticed the flashlights approaching them, approaching him.
Blinded by the light pointing him, he heard the keys on the main door, the voices of
Reggie Johnson and someone else getting into the home. Wait!. As soon as the
scary moment, the moment he had been waiting for, was finally coming to him, the
dangerous feeling turned in something very different and confused. Danny focused
on the screen of the computer, his heart racing, reading the ‘no more moves’ and
trying to come his breath into normal. Processing quickly the new information he
realized his surroundings and the fact he should go back to his room. Hearing the
5
boys approaching the living room, he barely had time to collect the papers on the
table and get out of there.
Cursing his bad luck, Danny didn’t have any other option but stay in his room. His
laptop had been left on the table with the game open, but also the email. Listening
to the boys outside, he learned they were watching tv, and the sound of cans being
open told him they would stay for a while.
Sighing, he lay on the bed, thinking about the point he had reached on his memory,
but unable to continue. Still, the emotions of fear and anguish had remained with
him. Closing his eyes, he tried and knew he had seen them. But how, the room was
dark, he wondered; he was sure that something happened in that moment Reggie
came back home. And that was the feeling he was so scared and wanted to find out.
Danny understood the boys had agreed to stay at Reggie’s home, since Vivian had
asked him to stay at :. It would be a long day, and he was starved.
Resting her hands on the wheel, Vivian tried to stop the anxiety before getting into
the house. She didn’t want Danny to see her like that but she had to explain him
what had happened earlier in the office and didn’t expect him to understand. The
last thing she need was having another argument, this time with Danny, but she
had asked for trust, she hadn’t any reason to distrust Martin or Danny and she had
lied to them, she had betrayed their trust, totally. Rubbing a hand over her face, she
shook her head, she had to accept her mistake. Still she didn’t regret what she did,
and it was confirmed by Victor Fitzgerald as revealing one of the agents working
for the custody had been included in the suspects list. What she couldn’t believe
was that Danny, as well as his boss, were one step from being included in that list.
She knew the theory of the Director of the FBI was pretty solid, but it wasn’t true.
Danny’s profile, with a trouble youth, his problems with Jack evidenced before Van
Doren and Olczyk, his departure from the FBI… didn’t help, but it was mostly
circumstantial. However, she knew people which circumstantial evidence had sent
them into troubles.
Getting out the car, Vivian went upstairs. The voices she heard, made her think
about the good friendship growing up between Reggie and Danny. Instinctively,
she looked at her watch. Reggie was a good kid, her little boy and of course, he was
at home at the time she had asked him to. Even being an adolescent, she felt lucky
by the son she and Marcus had run. But as she went on approaching the living
room, she started noticing something wrong, something she confirmed as soon as
saw her son. She started opening her mouth, but didn’t know what to say, actually,
so she tried the usual, “Hey, what are you doing boys?”
“Good evening, Mrs. Johnson,” a smiling Jason greeted her.
5
“Hi, mom. We came to finish the project and we’re playing a basket ball game.”
Reggie said not looking at his mom, concentrated on the screen of the TV with the
remote of the games console on his hands.
“I see,” she agreed, trying to stay calm. “When are you going to leave, Jason?” she
asked, not caring if it sounded as an invitation to leave.
“I’m actually waiting for my father, he’ll arrive in… ten minutes.” Jason said.
“Jason’s parents weren’t at home when we left school, so we decided to come here.
Like you had asked me to stay soon and we needed more time to finish the
project…” Reggie explained.
“Okay,” Viv couldn’t help but say. “Have you finished that project?”
“Yes, of course, it’s very cool, do you want to see it?” Reggie asked.
“No!,” she replied in a tone that made Reggie startling. He stared at his mom and
frowned noticing her expression. It was when he realized about Danny.
“Where’s…?” he started.
“We’ll talk later,” her mom cut him sharply.
She couldn’t believe it. The day couldn’t have gone worse and she still had to talk
to Danny, not before having a chat with Reggie. Sitting down on the kitchen, she
leaned her elbows on the table and her chin on the hands. The analgesic she had
taking in the office, didn’t make its effect. Tears reached her eyes, as she felt
miserable and confused. She didn’t understand what was happening to her. It
wasn’t in her personality, nothing of this. She didn’t regret what she had done, but
why she didn’t trust Martin and Danny? That was the thought hitting her heart.
When Reggie realized about Danny, a matter he had totally forgot, he knew the
punishment he was going to receive, right after Jason left. He said goodbye to his
friend and carefully closed the door. Coming back to the living room, he tidied the
games and his scholar bag, noticing the papers beside the still open laptop.
Collecting the plates and empty cans, he headed for the kitchen, where he knew his
mom waited. His surprise was finding a crying weak woman, instead the furious
mom. Moved by the circumstances, he didn’t even think the reason could have
been the work, but just him.
“I’m… I’m sorry, mom. I… I didn’t realize Danny… I haven’t seen him all day…”
“How long have you been here?” she asked, rubbing her face, feeling tired and sad.
“I don’t know, guess we came after school, well after going Jason’s home and
learning his parents were out… I don’t know, maybe at one thirty…”
5
“And you haven’t seen him all day… Oh my God, Reggie, how’s possible? Where’s
your responsibility on this?”
“My responsibility? It’s not, it’s yours and dad. You didn’t count on me for this, and
I think I’ve done pretty well by now. I admit my mistake but don’t take things like
I’ve screwed up things. I’m telling excuses to my friends everyday for not coming. I
just… I just was used to him here and I forgot the rule. I am sorry, very sorry, mom,
but don’t think you must cry and feel that miserable by me!” Reggie said, not
knowing where his words had come from.
“I’m not crying for this, Reggie, but you’ve made Danny to stay in his room all day.
He’s already feeling trapped here to put more pressure on him. Go there and
excuse yourself to him, not to me.”
“Mom…”
“Do it, and then go to your room, you know you’ll keep in next weekend,” she said.
“But mom, there’s a…”
“Nope, you’ll learn from this. Now, go and talk to him,” she demanded.
“All right,” he murmured heading for Danny’s room.
She saw him knocking and heard Danny’s voice. How to delete this day from the
calendar, she wondered as approaching them. Just Reggie was leaving, she got into
the room.
“I’m sorry, Danny. Have you eat anything? You must be starved,” she said as he
shook his head.
“Don’t be so hard at him, Viv,” he smiled. “He’s a good kid.”
Standing up, both headed for the kitchen.
“I know, but he knows the rules. I’m very disgusted; he’ll keep in the next week, so
he’ll learn what it means.”
“Come on Viv, he only came with a friend…”
“No, Danny.”
The way she cut him, made him freeze. It was then, when he noticed her face.
“What’s going on, Viv?” he asked in concern.
“We must talk,” she said. “Take a seat.”
“Are you going to interview me?” he asked smirking.
“No, I have to tell you something important.”
5
“Okay, let’s talk.”
“Martin met his father today,” she started quickly.
“Great, any news about the investigation?” he asked.
“Yes… and not.”
“Yes and not? That’s nothing!” he exclaimed.
“Danny, I’m afraid I haven’t been honest with you… and Martin. I’ll understand if
you don’t want anything with me…”
Danny frowned. “You’re scaring me…”
“It wasn’t my intention, actually. Well, it was in first place, but I must admit I had
the chance of telling you later and I didn’t. Martin feels an idiot and I understand,
but it’s not the point,” she explained.
“What’s the matter?” Danny asked not helping but smirking at Martin feeling an
idiot.
“This is serious,” Vivian replied noticing his gesture. “And my entire fault. Martin
didn’t know you were with me here. I lied to him and I lied to you making you
believe he knew.”
Danny remained silent, confused, remembering the times they had talked about it,
as Martin knew it, the times he had asked Vivian why Martin didn’t come to talk to
him. He shook his head, guessed what Martin had felt.
“Did Martin tell you anything important about the investigation concerning me?
And please, be honest, don’t forget the little things.” He couldn’t help but sound
upset.
“I’ll tell you first why I did…” Vivian started.
“Don’t care, you don’t trust me, or Martin. It’s obvious. I don’t get it, but that’s it.”
Danny said in a relax tone, as Vivian knew that something had been broken in him.
“I’m so sorry, Danny, but I want to explain. I know you’ll understand…”
“Did Martin understand? I guess he didn’t. You’re implying you lied in distrust as
demanding trust from me… I did, I gave you everything about me and you still kept
lying… this is not you. Is Jack’s?”
“Come on, Danny, no of course, nobody knows. Let me explain, like I did with
Martin.”
“Great, the less I deserve. I listen,” he said crossing his arms and staring at her. No
emotion was expressed in those dark eyes, not even a flash of humanity on them,
and Vivian did know Danny had been hurt and was protecting himself from her.
Her heart clenched in pain. At least, Martin had showed rage and angriness, but
couldn’t read what Danny was thinking, even though, she figured out.
She sighed. “I got involved in the investigation by my own, progressively. Since the
moment you called me…”
“Oh, it’s my fault… I knew I shouldn’t. I remember I hesitated in calling you... but it
was because then, I trust you and I missed you. I shouldn’t.” Danny interrupted her,
disappointing on his voice.
“If you let me explain…”
“Sure, explain yourself,” Danny agreed, encouraging her as raising his hands. He
wasn’t giving her any chance, she could read that easily, but she had to try, the
same she did with Martin.
“All right. You had called me with that threatening note and I called a friend from
NYPD. From the beginning, he noticed that something was wrong, because he was
asked to stop making questions. He, still, kept an eye on it and got some strange
information, like matching events, the murder of Mathew Gibson and the
nervousness of the DEA, as well as the NYPD and also the FBI. I noticed that
because Jack warned me; he had received a call from Van Doren. It was something
important, and I was there.”
“But, that was after the shooting.”
“I thought you were dead, Danny. I can’t stop thinking that all that people died but
you.”
“There’s another person who survived.”
“No, Tim Donaldson died some weeks ago from a septicemia,” she broke the news
at Danny.
He frowned but didn’t say anything.
“From the evidences on the investigation,” she continued, “the nervousness
around, and some extra information, Bobby and I learned they were working on a
difficult investigation. We learned that Gibson was involved by the document
Payton got for me, but at that moment, I only acted by instinct, because of our
conversation, and the case Maggie Anderson was working on.”
“You remember well the names,” Danny said. And once again since she started to
explain, his words sounded plain, not really looking interested on it.
Even it hurt, Vivian continued.
“I had that document, that people dead, you in the hospital with those agents in
custody who refused to talk to us and watched us suspiciously and all the
evidences. I gave Martin the documents because I only trust him and I knew his
father would know what to do. I thought it would be a matter of hours, we’ve
talked about this.” she finished, trying to get his attention.
Danny just nodded.
“I had some discussions with Jack, he tried to stop me. In fact, he sent me to
Sacramento and I’m pretty sure the reason was keeping me away from you and
that investigation. But I had suspects, Gibson had been killed, Donaldson left the
hospital under custody, and that secrecy around the case. I had decided to take you
out when I talked to Martin. I admit I wasn’t sure if he would tell his father about
this, he was going to insist to put you under official custody and I didn’t want to
happen. That’s why I didn’t tell him.”
“But you told me he knew.”
“Because I wanted to take you out, I had to convince you…”
“Lying to me,”
“Partially, I was going to tell Martin, but then…”
“It’s the little ball of snow growing up. Okay, that’s it? It’s okay, I understand. And
now what? What do you want from me? My… compassion? My pardon?”
“I want you to stop looking at me like that or I’m going to start crying.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help,” Danny replied. “You took advantage of my vulnerability,
took my personal effects here, talked to Marcus and decided about my life. You
didn’t trust my opinion, you didn’t even want to listen to me. And now, I can’t have
a serious argument with you because you’ve taken care of me, putting in risk your
life, your career and… I don’t know what to think about you, now. This is not the
Viv I know.”
“I’m… I’m sorry, Danny, it’s everything I can say. And… I trust you, you know that,
but I was desperate. I had that information you hadn’t…”
“You could tell me…”
“You were in the hospital. All your coworkers had been killed and you had
miraculously survived, I didn’t want to bring you more stressful news. Danny… I… I
pictured you dead and it’s an unbearable feeling, it was like my son had died.”
“Don’t…” Danny cut her, closing his eyes.
“Yes, I had to do everything to protect you. I had the feeling I was going to lose you
until the day I brought you in here, with me. And I don’t want to have that feeling
again. I can’t let you take that risk.”
Danny frowned and for the first time, his look expressed something. It was
disappointing but also concern.
“Vivian, I’m going to leave this house. And you’re going to visit Dr. Harris. I think
you have a problem and I can’t help you with it. You can’t keep me here for the rest
of my life…”
“It’s not what I’m saying,” she protested.
“It’s what you’re doing.” He said quietly.
Confused by his words, Vivian thought about what he was saying. Maybe she had
overreacted, exactly what Marcus had warned her.
“You always cared of me and Martin. But that was in the work. I’m not an FBI
agent anymore, I can take care of me pretty well, Viv,” he continued.
“You were dead, you were dead since we heard the news on tv until we could
confirmed you weren’t…” she said with trembling voice, needing to let the fears
goes free. “They told us you were critic!”
“But I’m not, and it’s nothing to do with me. Vivian, you have a great job, an
amazing family. What I’m doing here?” there was compassion on his voice, not
angriness anymore.
“Aren’t you angry with me?” she asked.
“Yes I am,” Danny took her hands. She looked so vulnerable that she didn’t seem as
Vivian and Danny hated to see her like that, “but I can’t.”
Flashback
“Aren’t you angry with me?” she asked.
“Yes, I am.” He said leaning his head on her body, trying to find the comfort of the
sound of her heart. “But I love you,” he whispered as the tears rolled down his face.
“It’s my fault, I should be brave and leave with you and your brother and…”
“You always say that,” he murmured, not wanting to hear her lies once again. It
wasn’t the first time, and sure not the last one.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered with a trembling voice as she caressed his red cheek. It
had been one single but hard slap this time, when Danny tried to stop his father
from beating his mom, just to find his mother excusing his father attitude, once
again.
Danny didn’t understand why she excused him, but as Rafie had told him, it was a
matter between adults and he had nothing to do with it. Instead of keeping his
advice, Danny had tried to separate them, had yelled at them, but he was just a
little boy. The brave little boy didn’t understand why his mom didn’t defend him
and was disappointed and angry with her… but she was his mom, all the safe
universe for a  years old kid.
End of flashback
“Don’t leave, please don’t leave,” Vivian asked.
Danny shook his head and preferred not to answer. “What about the
investigation?” he asked instead, and the tone of his voice had came back to the
one before the uncomfortable revelations.
“They have been working in the global case. The documents we gave him caused an
important step forward on the investigation. They are working on it but detentions
won’t start yet.”
“Surely, they want to make it at once.” Danny understood.
“Yes,” she agreed. “But then, there’s the matter of Walsh. They… haven’t found a
valid connection. They need you to testify, to identify the killers.”
“I know… I’m… I’m working on it,” Danny said, realizing there was something else.
“They… also think that maybe it’s no necessary that connection. They think you
and Walsh could also be involved.”
“What? Come on Viv!”
“Calm down, Danny. I know, we know they are wrong. Victor Fitzgerald was a close
friend with Walsh and he’s not letting things like that, but you…”
“Of course, me.” Danny said sharply. His cold and dark eyes stared at Vivian with a
flash of sadness. “I can’t believe what you’re implying.” She shook his head in
disbelief. “And sure, with me being missing for the FBI, the suspects are clear
against me. Sure they read my profile, my past, my family… they dig deep into my
life and got into wrong conclusions… why that sounds me so familiar?” he said
bitterly.
“You... are not missing for the FBI, at all.”
“What? Who knows I’m here?” Danny asked in confusion.
“I thought nobody.” Vivian replied.
Flashback
Getting into the bullpen, Martin headed for his desk, left the bag and took off the
jacket. “Great!” he exclaimed.
Colbert and Sam looked at him waiting for more, but Martin didn’t say a word.
Sam approached him. “Are you okay?”
“No… yes, yeah, I’m fine, it’s just…” Martin excused himself.
“Did you father tell you something about Danny or he kept the secrets for him?”
she asked.
“We had an interesting chat, but I… he… doesn’t know about Danny,” he replied
staring at Vivian.
“Did he tell you something about the investigation?” Will asked.
“They are working on it. It takes time,” Martin replied looking he didn’t want to
talk at all.
Sam realized it, and even though she wanted to ask, she stopped. Instead, she
suggested a coffee. “Paperwork is almost done, and there’s no a new case yet. What
about a break? Some coffee? I have my lunch at the break room.”
“I second that,” Will said, standing up quickly.
“Not me, thanks,” Martin refused. “I’ve had enough in the restaurant,” he continued
trying a smile.
“Vivian?” Will asked.
“No thanks, I want to finish this.” She replied even though it would have been a
good moment for relax. But she knew that Martin would want to talk to her.
In fact, as soon as Will and Sam left, Martin turned to Viv. She swallowed hard at
the sight of him. She was used to it from other people but never from Martin.
Somehow, something was broken in her heart, and surely in his.
“How many times have we talked about how Danny was doing, Viv?” he asked
coldly.
“Martin, I can explain…” she started.
“I know, I know all the story, what you did, how you did, why you did. The day I
went to the hospital to visit him and found out he was over… you let me go, you…
didn’t tell me he was with you. Why? The times we’ve been talking about him, why
5
didn’t you tell me he was with you? And the most important, how was he dealing
with the consequences from the attack?”
“It was everything so confuse at that moment, Martin. I didn’t know who trust…” it
was useless deny the facts. Somehow Martin guessed Danny was with her.
“Are you talking about me?” he said sharply.
“No, I’m talking in general, Martin. I trust you, I gave you those important
documents, but I didn’t know if you would agree with me in taking Danny out the
hospital with me.”
“You should have tried to explain. I thought we were friends,” he said, shaking his
head.
“We are…”
“No anymore.” He said and turned to his computer.
“Aren’t you going to ask me about Danny? Aren’t you going to let me explain?” she
asked. “It’s not fair what you’re doing, Martin.”
“Don’t tell me about what it’s fair, Vivian. And yes, I have some questions for you,
important questions for the investigation. And you know what? I don’t want to do
it, but you took Danny, so he hasn’t had the opportunity to defend himself from
what’s going on…”
“What do you mean?” she asked alarmed but supposing the theory.
“Do you need a longer explanation? Because by your face, I guess you already
know. Take carefully the matters, Viv. You could have under custody a corrupted
lawyer, ex FBI agent.” Martin said.
It was too much information. A pissed off Martin wouldn’t listen to her, but they
had to talk and the bullpen was not the right place. She had to try. “Let’s go a quiet
place to talk about this, Martin. Please.” She ordered.
But he didn’t move.
“Martin, this isn’t about me or about you. That’s another matter I’d like to solve as
well, but at this moment, Danny is the most important.”
“I agree,” he said, standing up. “Let’s go, maybe an interview room would be the
appropriate place for this, but I don’t want the conversation to reach people who
shouldn’t listen to it.”
Vivian nodded and left the bullpen with Martin.
End of flashback
“He told me what his father had explained him. Victor told him I had been watched
from the very first moment I started questioning.”
“Did they think you were a suspect?” Danny asked.
“I don’t think so, but I was interfering in the investigation, so they followed my
steps and well, they have been watching the house, know you’re here.”
“If Victor Fitzgerald knows I’m here, why doesn’t he come to talk to me?”
“He has orders not to, that’s why Martin asked me to ask you.”
“Why not? Because I’m a suspect?”
“They aren’t sure. You and Walsh would be the connection. Walsh is dead, so it’s up
to you and you’re perfectly watched. So they prefer to work on the other big leads
they have to, and make those detentions first.”
“I’m unofficially under arrest, let’s say,” Danny said ironically, pointing his hands to
be handcuffed by Vivian.
She put her hands on his. “You won’t see this.”
“So, to them, you’re protecting a corrupted lawyer,” Danny smirked. “Great, I’m
improving in getting a new degree.”
“Danny, how are you able to make a joke with this?”
“I’m not, Vivian. I’m furious, but it’s not the first time it happens. I’m used to work
in proving the others are wrong about me… all the time. You know that, don’t you?”
She nodded.
“I only care about what’s important to me. I don’t care about the rest of people. I’m
not going to fight this. Evidences will speak aloud; I’m not going to get out
justifying my entire life to people who never cared. If I remember, and I’ll do, the
faces of the people who shot us, I’ll be there waiting for them to ask. But I’m not
going to give them anything if they think they can accuse me just reading a profile.
No way.”
“I understand… I told Martin your theory about Maggie Anderson. He found it very
interesting and will tell his father. In this matter, they are working together, same
interest.”
“I’m lucky, I guess.” Danny smirked. “Hey, I’m terribly starved, Viv. I haven’t eaten
anything.”
“I’m very sorry, I hope Reggie learns from keeping him in the next weekend.”
Danny was going to tell something but remained quiet. Viv noticed but failed in
guessing what. He just smiled and put on the table everything he found already
done, to eat.
“Share with me?” he asked.
“Sure,” she replied and smiled wondering if her bad day was over.
: am was an insane time to attend a call, but if her cell, resting on the
nightstand, sounded at that time, it only means one thing: work.
Before the second tone ended ringing, Vivian had already stretched out her hand
and, she tried her best voice. “Yeah” she barely whispered, sounding terribly
rough.
“Viv, it’s Martin. We have a case,” she heard a similar rough voice at the other side
of the line.
‘Great’, she thought as took a shower, trying to get awake all her senses. She had
barely got to sleep unable to stop both Martin and Danny faces, and words of
disappointing, but feeling that, after all, things hadn’t gone so wrong. ‘Great,’ she
repeated herself, she would know how Martin was going to respond right an hour
later meeting him in their missing person’s home. It worried her but she was also
hopefully expectant. She realized now, the big tension she had carried on for the
last months.
Carefully, to not wake up Marcus, she left the bedroom and headed for the main
door of the house. Everything was in calm. She hoped Danny had got some sleep,
even though the hanging suspect over him and her confession had affected him for
sure.
It was done, she hadn’t the magic wand to make things change but she was aware
of the effort she had to do to get back the trust she had betrayed from them.
Getting out of the car on her destination, she saw Martin talking to a policeman, as
forensic team got in and out of the house. She frowned at the activity. What had
happened there? Approaching Martin, she made a gesture as a hello and kept
listening to him.
“What we’ve got?” she asked Martin as soon as he finished.
“We’ve got a call from Mr. Palmer, a broker on Wall Street, reporting his wife is
missing. He barely remembers anything, was in bed sleeping and noticed
something on his mouth that made him lose consciousness. When he recovered, he
found his wife was missing. There’s evidence of fight, we’ve found some blood to
send the lab for identification…”
“Wait,” Viv frowned. “Are you telling me he was under drugs but not her? That’s
nonsense.”
“We’re still theorizing, the security box is opened and empty. They could take her
to say them the combination to open it, for instance. She’s more vulnerable to it
than him.”
“But they didn’t get what they were looking for…”
“Apparently not, Mr. Palmer says he actually didn’t use the security box, it came
with the home. The technicians are on their way, to install all the stuff, pretty sure
they’ll call for ransom.”
“It looks that.”
“Jack, Sam and Will are investigating other leads, so we must stay here expecting
news.”
“Right, have you talked to Mr. Palmer?” Viv asked.
“Barely, the basics, he’s still under the drug effect and just mumbles incoherently.”
“Uhm… what about the alarm system?”
“Disconnected.” Martin replied.
Vivian and Martin got into the house and headed for the main bedroom. The little
lamp on the nightstand on Mrs. Palmer side, was on the floor and the drawer
opened as she had tried to pick up something. What? Viv looked inside but didn’t
see anything interesting. Some trace of blood on the carpet and on the way to a
next room and the security box, indicated that someone had been injured,
probably Mrs. Palmer but maybe she had got something from the drawer and had
caused a bleeding wound to the attackers.
All evidences and details were collected by the FBI agents and also registered in
their memories. Not having anything else to do there, Vivian and Martin headed for
the living room where Mr. Palmer was being attended. The phone was already
being manipulated to trace any possible call from the kidnappers.
Stretching out his arm, Marcus rolled over him to embrace his wife, to find a cold
empty sheet and something on it. Sort of alarmed and disoriented by the time it
could be, he switched on the light to find a little paper on the pillow. ‘Left for work,
love you, V.’ He sighed and looked at the time. Lazily, he got up and headed for the
kitchen, his entire body protesting from the double shift at work he did the
previous day. Reggie was already there, having a breakfast before going to school.
“Hi dad? Where’s mom?” he greeted.
“Work,” his father replied sleepily, opening the fridge for water. “What’s that?” he
pointed at the big folder his son had on the scholar bag.
“It’s… the project I was doing with Jason,” Reggie replied, expecting another
argument, this time with his father. But he soon realized Marcus didn’t know
anything.
“Impressive,” Marcus agreed, taking a look to it. “Well, I’m back on bed, I’m really
tired today. Hard day yesterday.”
“Don’t forget the game at :.”
“Of course I won’t,” his father replied.
“Okay, I’m leaving, it’s getting late. Bye.” Reggie picked his bag and folder and left,
still with sandwich on his mouth.
Marcus shook his head, finished with the water and headed again to his room. The
house was in calm. Danny’s room remained closed; surely the guy had a good
sleep, finally. He had noticed him sometimes working on his laptop at high hours in
the night.
Danny’s laptop was actually in the bag Vivian had used to take Danny’s personal
effects from his little apartment in Queens to her house. Opened on the bed, Danny
waited for all Johnson’s family was sleeping. Not sure about Vivian, he moved
carefully, taking out the clothes from the cabinet and keeping them carefully on the
bag. Checking he had some useful documents, like his credit card and passport, he
started forming an idea of what to do now. His experience at the Missing Persons
Unit told him that he would be found at any time, but he’d do his best to delay that
moment. Aware of the consequences of running away would mean not only for Viv,
but also the FBI if he was considered as a suspect, Danny still was convinced he
was doing the right thing. Looking around, he sighed and left the house.
Knowing the FBI watching the house, however, he was confident about relaxing
the work during the night, but as soon as he turned the street, identified the car.
Turning back, he stepped quickly in the other direction. ‘Easy,’ he thought, as his
heart raced by the excitement and also because he wasn’t trained. Too much time
in the house was causing him some dizziness.
“Sandwich? Newspaper?” the air hostess asked.
“Yeah, sure,” he replied. “Thanks.”
Glancing at the watch, he realized they would be landing in a couple of hours. The
little turbulences had made him get pale a few times, and dizziness had come
again. Still, he tried to stay unnoticed, so he barely moved on his seat. His seat was
so much pretending, he had actually got the chance in the airport, where a family
man left his ticket and boarding card on a table, away from his sight to attend his
son. Cursing at the bad feeling, he picked up the documents and now he was
comfortably sitting in the place where that man should be. He didn’t even want to
think about that furious man in the airport, looking for his card, and talking with a
hostess and security, but it was already late for him.
He wondered if Vivian would already know he had left. Trying to avoid feelings and
questions in his mind, Danny tried to relax. He’d be time to think about what to do
next.
“Where you were?” I’ve been calling you all day!” he exclaimed, desperate, when
finally Vivian got the call.
“What happens Marcus?” Vivian asked in surprise. Marcus’s attitude was not the
usual. He knew she was working, so something wrong had happened. Her first
thought went for Reggie, but the second one caused her a shiver.
“Danny, it’s not here. He’s gone!” he exclaimed.
“What?” she asked a way that made Martin frowns and catches on the
conversation.
“He’s not here, the room is empty, no clothes, no personal effects… not him. Viv,
he’s gone. What’s happening?” he asked.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this.” She replied pretending confidence, but actually
frightening for seconds. What he had done?
Turning to Martin, she was going to explain but his face told her he already knew.
Running the data base, she immediately started searching for him...
“He used his credit card two blocks from your house, Vivian,” Martin said. “By the
money he got out from the machine, I’d say he’s not going to use it for a while. He’s
definitely running away and doesn’t want to be found.”
“What else?”
“Nothing… home?” he tried.
Vivian shook her head. “I don’t think so… he’s leaving for good.”
“We should try,” he disagreed.
“We can’t, we’re in the middle of a case Martin.”
“Did you talk to him?” Martin asked as Vivian nodded before he finished the
question.
“Okay, calm down, we’ll find him.” He replied.
“No if he doesn’t want to. He was so disappointed… oh, no, it’s all my fault,” she
rubbed a hand on her face.
Getting into the bullpen, Jack realized the worry of his coworkers and somehow
understood it wasn’t about the case. “What’s going on?” he asked, suspiciously.
“Danny is gone,” Vivian replied without even think.
“Viv,” Martin warned, but it was too late.
Before anybody else could say a word, Viv’s cell started ringing again. She read
‘Marcus’ calling and frowned. “What happens now?” she murmured. “Hello?”
“He left a note, I hadn’t seen it. He apologizes and thanks…” Marcus started.
“Any useful?” Viv cut him.
“No… not really, he says I’ll be fine, don’t worry, don’t look for me.”
“Of course,” she replied shaking her head.
“We won’t find him,” Martin concluded.
“Is anybody willing to explain me what’s going on here?” Jack asked desperate.
“Danny was living with me, and now he’s gone,” Vivian just said.
“He’s a potential witness in Walsh murder case, the only one, but he’s also a
suspect.”
“A suspect,” Jack exclaimed in disbelief.
“Yes, and his behavior on running away, doesn’t help him. I talked to him last night
and explained what the situation was. He was furious and told me he wouldn’t go
through that again. He wouldn’t fight against his past. I had to figure out what he
was implying, in fact, he told me he would leave but I didn’t think, right now!”
“So you finally did it, in spite of my warning. Vivian, what were you thinking?” Jack
asked.
“You would have done the same, Jack. I would, as well.” Martin said. “My father told
me that Viv probably, saved Danny’s life.”
Vivian raised an eyebrow, she didn’t expect that support, but felt relieved. She
knew that she wasn’t alone. Danny either.
Will had remained silent, looking at his coworkers talking in concern, not wanting
to interfere, noticing they weren’t able to get the easy conclusion he had seen so
easily.
“Hey guys,” he interrupted them. “I don’t know Danny as well as you know him but
I think you won’t find him,” he noticed the furious faces, but continued, “not now. I
mean, I think you must wait. He’s fine, nothing has happened to him actually, he’ll
contact you. Let him alone.”
“What if the killers find him before?” Vivian asked upset.
“Nah, that’s not possible. You know him better than anyone else, we work missing
persons. They won’t find him, and he knows that.”
“Vivian’s house is watched. They could have seen him leaving. Maybe he’s now in
an interview room answering uncomfortable questions.”
It wasn’t an interview room, but Danny didn’t feel it more comfortable. But it was
the only thing he could allow himself with the money he had got out. Old feelings
from his first months after leaving the protection of social services came to his
mind as he looked around the cold room, just a cabinet and old bed and nightstand
mostly affected by woodworm, white wall and a window heading an alley and the
other building. ‘Where’s the sun of Los Angeles?’ he wondered.
Sighing, he fished on his pocket and picked up the money, enough for one week of
stay. He should move quickly in finding a work if he had to survive the most time
possible. ‘For what?’ Actually, he was angry at the world, at the unfair suspect that
his past would come after him, whatever he did to put it aside, he was angry at
Vivian for distrust, but also grateful for her help. But the mixture feelings of
angriness and grateful also brought him feelings he didn’t want to remember… also
from his past.
Dropping his bag on the floor, he didn’t care about the clothes in, and lay on the
bed, enjoying the silence and quiet place, trying to stop his thoughts, trying to stop
the headache, trying to stop the anxiety. Thanks to the fatigue, he was overcome by
a trouble sleep, but sleep after all.
“Don’t tell I didn’t warn you! Go and don’t come back!” a furious man was yelling at
a guy who raised a finger in a contemptuous way.
Crossing the street, Danny was walking toward the café he had spotted just a block
from what he had already started calling ‘home’, when he caught that scene. The
man closed violently the door, and put a note on the window, beside the ‘Opened’
one. ‘Help wanted’. Danny frowned, what kind of work would be? He had already
worked on a bar before and he needed the money.
Hesitating a little, he entered and headed for the counter, where the man was
preparing some coffees.
“Hey,” he greeted.
“What can I do for you?” the man asked.
“A coffee would be great,” Danny replied. “I’ve just seen the note on the window.
I’m looking for a job.”
The man stopped briefly and glanced at him. “An actor?” he asked.
“What? No, no… I’m…”
“No an actor, uh? Okay, the job’s yours.” The man said, leaving a mug of coffee in
front of him. “Drink your coffee, I’ll tell you what to do.”
The coffee was totally over, after nine heavy boxes of groceries being moved
behind the counter. Sweating and exhausted, he left the last box on the floor and
turned to find a smirking young woman staring at him. “Tom told me you’re the
new one,” she said, still reading him. “Aren’t you an actor?” she asked.
Danny frowned. “No, why? Should I?”
“In fact, you’re too old to ask for this job, and you have the… you fit it, let’s say.”
“I only need a job,” He just said.
“Okay, no questions, I’m Lucy,” she said offering a hand.
“Danny, why do you and Tom think I’m an actor?” he replied shaking it.
“No it’s not that, last guy here is… was… oh well, let’s say ‘is’” she said with a comic
gesture, “pretended to see in every client a potential producer and started well
acting well giving them a resume…”
“Really?” Danny smiled.
“Yeah, Tom warned to fire him if he did again.”
“And he did.”
“Yes, I actually think that something is not working well on his mind.”
“I thought it was a cliché. You know the actors always working as waiters.”
“Ah, it’s true. Do you know Andy Mercer?” she asked. Danny nodded. “He worked
here,” she continued.
“Good, so I have a chance to become an actor, after all!” he smirked.
“Who’s going to become an actor?” someone asked a deep but soft voice, and
totally confident, Danny thought.
“Hi Val!” Lucy greeted the tanned, brunette woman on her thirties. “Tom fired Alan
‘superstar’.”
Val smirked and stared at Danny. “And you, what kind of superstar are?”
“He’s not!” Lucy replied before Danny could say a word. Grinning, she left to the
back.
Danny smiled. “I’m Danny.”
“Valeria, everybody calls me Val here. Were you outside waiting for the job or
what?”
“In fact, I was coming in to drink a coffee when that Alan was fired. I just found the
job.”
“I see. Okay, I’m the boss here, but we’re family, right? Don’t screw up and you’ll
get the best job in the world staying with us.” She said and still stared at him.
Danny had the feeling she wanted to say something else but instead she turned.
“Clients are waiting,” she announced.
He frowned.
“Taking the order means pen and one of these little notebooks, say hello, and ask
what they want, always with a smile. Don’t be so close, but express interest in
offering the best possible menu if they ask.”
“I don’t know what the best menu is.”
“Don’t worry, at this time, everybody ask for coffee and toasts.” She smiled. “Go!”
Danny felt ashamed, not because he would be able to do it, he was, but feeling
observed by that Valeria.
“It’s a simple question, Danny,” she insisted softening it with a smile, but firmly.
“I’m the boss here, and I must know who is working for me, and no one of my
employees is going to screw it up, right?”
5
Danny frowned. A week had passed and he had the feeling he was doing okay. But,
obviously the question Valeria had made was logical. He never thought she would
check his social security number, the one he had showed her, the one once had
matched with Danny… Alvarez.
“I haven’t lied to you, Valeria and you can trust me, it’s what I can say.” He replied.
“It’s not enough for me. Look, I’m not an idiot. You’re doing well here. Tom has a
good eye for these things and Lucy is also happy with you around, especially since
you told her you came from New York. I don’t get her love for that city yet, but
that’s it. Okay, you come for a coffee, get a job, don’t have a car, live just two blocks
of here and barely enjoy a social life. That’s okay, it’s your life. But, do you know
what?”
Danny raised an eyebrow. He would have like to tell her that it was only
circumstantial but he remained quiet.
“I see you hesitating when clients ask for a beer, I see you frightening in front of
the beer machine, and making excuses so Tom or Lucy fill the glasses,” Valerie was
now talking slowly. “That’s familiar to me, and explains some matters about you.”
“I’m… listening.” Danny said, knowing he would be fired next.
“My older brother, Hugo, occasionally came to help me. And I saw the same
attitude and look. I hadn’t got it until the day his wife came across that door and
yelled at me if I was crazy, if that was the way I was helping her husband. I was
puzzled, he hadn’t told me anything yet because he felt very ashamed. It was the
day I learned about his alcoholism, the lost of his job and the meetings at the AA.
No offense, but I wonder if my brother and you are dealing with the same issue.”
“You go direct to the matter.” Danny said after a moment of silence.
“Yes, maybe, but I don’t want to regret later.” She replied, looking into his eyes.
He knew she had already the answer, but probably wanted to hear it from him. He
had lived that situation before in the past, but maybe it was the first time he didn’t
see disappointment. She was forcing him to say the true, just that he couldn’t tell
her all the truth.
“Okay, I’m an alcoholic in recovering. I’ve been sober for…  years, 5 months and
 days,” he said looking at her.
“Congratulations,” she smiled slightly.
“I… I’ve been living through a complicate personal issue for the last months, lost
my job, came to L.A. with an undefined plan… Like you said, I came for a coffee and
got a job. Serving drinks shouldn’t be a problem at all, but I guess…” he didn’t know
how to tell without really telling too much. Somehow, he realized Valeria was
important to him.
“You’ve been living through a complicate personal issue, lost your job, came to L.A.
with an undefined plan,” Valeria repeated. “Don’t worry, Danny, I understand but
why are you using a fake document?”
“Maybe there’s a mistake, it’s not a fake document, but I haven’t used it for a long
time. Uhm… do you want a coffee?” he suddenly asked.
They were alone, in the coffee shop, once the day had gone, Tom and Lucy had
gone, and Danny was sweeping the local and Valeria checking the accounts. At a
moment, Valeria had taken a chair from one table and had asked Danny to do the
same.
He never thought the question coming next. “You gave me a fake social security
number and now I want to know the truth about you.”
“Later,” she said. “I’m curious to know the whole story.”
“Damn it, you don’t give up!” he smirked. “You’d be a good…” he stopped in time
when realized what he was going to say.
“I’ll make the coffee,” she said standing up. “You speak, I’m listening,” she added.
Danny realized she had stood up to make more comfortable the conversation and
silently was grateful. For a moment, he started to feel really well with her.
“When… when I stopped drinking, I also stopped doing other things I’m not proud
of, so I asked for a change,” he said, observing her movements. She continued
quietly preparing the coffee… and listening. “I changed my name, as well as my
social security number and all that jazz. Legally, of course.”
“Did it work out?” she asked frowning. And then Danny remembered Vivian’s same
reaction, and thinking about her, he felt the lump on his throat.
“Sometimes,” he replied.
“But, why are you using it again?” she asked, then.
“At this moment, I need… some relax, time to think what to do next. It’s been a
troubled situation…”
“You lost your job.”
“Yes, well, actually the firm I was working with was closed so…”
“The crisis,” she said. “Oh, so you weren’t fired, after all. That’s good to know.
What’s your job?”
“Why do you want to know everything about me?” he asked instead making her
blushing for the first time.
“I’m sorry,” she replied.
“Do you know what?” Danny asked. Maybe because of his lately lonely life, maybe
because it was in his nature, Danny realized the change. “Go with me for a walk,
and I’ll tell you about me.”
“Are you asking for a date, Alvarez?”
“Maybe,” he smirked.
“Great,” she said, turning to pick up the keys. “Let’s go, so.”
“I know you’ll break my heart any day soon,” she murmured, her lips touching his.
“I won’t, I promise,” he replied seriously, as gently swept a lock away her face.
“Don’t say that, you still keep secrets away from me. But don’t worry, I’m enjoying
the meantime.” She rolled away from him and got up.
The warm summer day had invited for a beach time. Three months had passed
since Danny had burst in her life, and she wasn’t able to think about passing the
rest of it without him. Actually, she blamed herself for feeling like that. Five years
ago, she had promised herself that nobody else would hurt her again and had
decided to take the control of her life with no intromissions, but Danny… he was so
sensitive, so funny, so attractive. It wasn’t his fault if she felt their relationship had
the word ‘end’ already written, it wasn’t his fault if she was so good in learning
body language to realize something was worrying him for the last three days and
the fact he had avoided her eyes for a second as replying her.
Danny sat and stared at the gracious figure of Valeria, stepping into the sea, playing
with the cold water of the ocean reaching her feet, making them to bury in the
sand. He didn’t see the tears forming in her eyes; she didn’t see him clenching his
fists at his trouble heart. He loved her, actually she was the most important thing
ever happened in his life. He knew he wanted to stay with her for the rest of his life
but now… how? He had been honest with her about his alcoholism and they had
learned that shared lot of common interests, but he didn’t tell her why he was
there.
Still useless for the investigation, Danny had found in Valeria, the bar, and his new
friends a new family. Not wanting to forget Vivian, Martin, his former life, he had to
admit, he wished this one to work out. He wanted to pretend his life in L.A. was his,
in capitals letters.
But now, he felt he had to force himself to remember, to make that call he knew
someday he should make… and maybe break Valeria’s heart.
Skipping the bad feelings he stood up and followed Valeria’s step to the sea, pulling
her legs under the surface and sealing the love and the anxiety with a kiss.
Vivian headed for her desk, with a mug of smoking coffee. Switching on the
computer, she checked her email in search of one single message. Shaking her
head, she tried in the database for checking missing persons. Same result she got
every day, since the day Danny had left.
Sighing, she drank a sip of coffee thoughtful. She had the hope that today would be
different. Surely Danny had to watch the news and learn about the detentions. The
case had been closed and, as they had supposed, being a big scandal that was
making shake the politicians.
Sam noticed her absentminded expression and felt sorry for her. Vivian hadn’t
been the same strong and confident person since Danny had left and her career
had gone through a complicate situation, but had found the support of all her
coworkers, and also the Deputy Director Victor Fitzgerald when the results of the
investigation made her way to proceed valid. Sure, Fitzgerald had another reason
to support her; he needed Danny’s statement identifying the killers of his friend,
Michael Walsh.
Maggie Anderson’s implications on the case had been clarified but the identity of
the people who killed her beside the other people from Walsh and Associated was
still unsolved. That’s why Victor had called his son this morning.
Martin frowned at the early calling, and still sleepy, he reached his cell to his ear.
The voice of his father woke him up in a sudden. Thirty minutes later, he was
outside the coffee shop where they usually met, as a casual father-son meeting.
However, this time was a surprise for Martin, who thought his father would be
very busy in Washington. Only one thing could mean and Martin couldn’t help but
think hopefully about Danny. He, like Viv, had checked on him daily, getting no
results.
When he arrived at the office, one hour later, nobody asked him why he was late,
but looked at him with a certain hope. He shook his head. “There’s nothing, this
boy doesn’t want to be found, at all.”
“He’s taking a stupid risk,” Jack said upset.
“If we aren’t able to find him, I doubt the killers will.” Will reasoned.
“There’s no reason he’s alone without getting help, knowing the case is over, and
things being easier now.” Martin disagreed.
“But he said he would just wait for them to ask. He wasn’t going to testify if they
suspected on him by his past.” Vivian said, remembering Danny’s words.
They started a discussion, once again, other than this time, like it had happened
since the news had reach the tv, it was more intense.
Van Doren stayed at the door of the bullpen, frowning at the team exposing
theories and smiled satisfactorily. Maybe they hadn’t noticed it, but the caring by
their former coworker had got to make of them a close team again, with a truly
boss in charge.
However, work is work. “Agent Malone,” she interrupted, waving the folder in her
hand.
A new case that kept them busy for the following days.
“We should be looking for him,” Vivian said, attaching the seat belt.
“He’s not missing, Vivian.” Jack replied. “How are you doing with Dr. Harris?” he
asked knowing that she wasn’t doing well.
“Better,” she replied.
“But…”
“I was sure he would call as soon as the detentions were public.”
“Maybe he doesn’t know,” Jack reasoned.
Vivian looked at him incredulous, but didn’t say a word.
Jack was also worried. He couldn’t help but feeling that affect by his former agent.
Since his disappearance, they had been looking for him, talking about him, bringing
old stories and all the feelings came back and made them feel like a team, again.
“It’s curious,” he said aloud, and Vivian knew what he was thinking. “He’ll be okay,
Viv. He’s our Danny boy, right?”
“Yeah, our Danny boy is alone for a long time…”
“I wouldn’t put my two cents on it,” he said. “He’ll contact you. I’m sure, he’ll find
the way.”
“Find the way?” she exclaimed. “The only thing he has to do is calling!”
“Too easy. He told you, he wouldn’t come to say what he knows, but I’m sure the
same he knows how to stay unnoticed, he’ll know how to be found.”
“That’s okay, but only if the killers don’t find him first,” she agreed in concern.
“Yep,” Jack agreed, as he drove the car softly to the parking lot of their destination.
Getting out of the car, both agents headed for the store where their missing person
had been reported to work two years ago.
“Morning, I’m special agent Malone, she’s special agent Johnson,” Jack announced,
flashing his badge.
The employee of the computers repair store looked carefully both badges, before
asking, “What can I do for you?”
“We need some information about a woman who worked here, Laureen McCarthy.”
The young woman frowned. “I don’t know any Laureen McCarthy, but I work here
since last February… Donny!” she yelled.
A young afroamerican man in his thirties soon appeared from the back of the store,
with the rests of a computer tower. Leaving the box on the counter, he looked at
the badges.
“They ask for Laureen McCarthy.” The woman informed him.
“I don’t know any Laureen.” He shook his head.
“How long have you been working here?” Vivian asked.
“I’m the owner. I never had a Laureen working here. Why are you asking?”
Vivian and Jack exchanged a look. Something was wrong, their information was
pretty clear. Then, Jack had an idea and showed the man a picture of their missing
person. “Do you know her?”
“Yeah,” he replied nodding. “She’s Marcie, she worked here a couple years ago.”
“Marcie… okay. Why she left, any problems?” Jack asked.
“No, she left following a guy she got mad at, not a good guy if you want my
opinion.” Donny smirked.
“Did you know him?” Jack asked.
“Of course, Brian Diconte. I fired him, he was making business with my material,
and he was involved in drugs.” Donny replied.
“Do you know where we can find him?” Viv asked then.
“It’s been a while since I don’t see him. In fact, guess I don’t see him since Marcie
left. Maybe the went away.”
“You said he was working with you. Do you have any address?” Jack asked.
“Of course, let me see, wait a second.”
Donny disappeared on the back as the other employee looked at them suspiciously.
A moment later, he came back with a book. “It’s here,” he said, pointing a finger on
the address. Vivian wrote down on her notebook the address.
“Just a curiosity. Why did you say you don’t know Laureen McCarthy?” Jack said.
“I don’t know her.” Donny said looking confident. He was saying the truth.
“All right, uhm… would you mind giving us the information about Marcie…?” he
started asking.
“Marcie Plimpton, yes of course, her address, her social security number… I still
have her contract. I keep everything,” Donny said.
“Thanks so much, Donny. You’ve been help.” Jack said.
“You’re welcome, I hope you find that woman.” He agreed.
“So Laureen McCarthy and Marcie Plimpton are the same person. What if she’s
using her other name?” Vivian asked, pulling her cell and calling to the office.
“Will, start tracing a Marcie Plimpton, social security number….” She asked.
“Okay, Viv, got it… who’s Marcie Plimpton?” Will asked.
“Don’t ask know and look for it. We’re on our way back to the office.”
“So, what you have found?” Vivian asked at Will’s exclamation.
“Marcie Plimpton… our missing person, she changed her name the last year into
Laureen McCarthy… legally.” Will announced triumphant.
“And?” Vivian asked, she had already learned when Will had more information.
“I’ve traced both names and curiously our missing person has been playing two
identities.”
“She’s using her two identities, how?”
“It looks you can do it in certain circumstances. I supposed Marcie’s account
movements had been closed but, running the database, I found this…” he pointed
to his screen.
“Marcie get out $ from a cash dispenser and there’s a charge from a motel a
block from the cash dispenser… just two and half hours ago.” He said.
“Let’s go,” Jack ordered and the three of them left the bullpen.
On their way, they called Martin and Sam who were investigating another lead.
“I don’t like to work hard to find a missing person who is a drug dealer,” Will
protested.
Martin smiled. “She wasn’t, it was her boyfriend.”
“Don’t care, she’s going to jail as well.” He said still grumbling.
“It’s curious she used her former name. I didn’t know they could do it.” Sam
commented.
“It’s not the usual, guess that when you change your name is because something
has been wrong, but she took her former name to screw up things. Why she did?
Surely to not be found.” Will said.
“But, she didn’t count on you,” Sam said, smiling. “Okay, guys, I’m going back home.
It’s late and I haven’t seen Finn for years.”
“Oh, years” Will exclaimed, rolling eyes.
Vivian smiled as a goodbye as Sam left. She knew very well the feeling. Turning,
she spotted a frowning Martin. “What happens?” she asked.
“Danny,” he said slowly and looked at her looking for a confirmation. She took just
a second to realize what Martin had said.
Exciting by the possibility, Martin typed his friend’s name on the computer…
‘Daniel Alvarez’ and with decision pushed enter.
Nothing appeared for a while, just the white intermittent line on a black
background. Finally, a complete report about Danny Alvarez showed up on the
screen. Feeling he was invading Danny’s privacy, Martin didn’t read the report, but
went directly to the last entries, just to find nothing for years. Shaking head, he
clenched his fists in disappointment, “He should have called.”
“What are you doing?” a sleepy Valeria asked as Danny lifted the sheet and looked
for something.
“I’m gonna have a shower,” he replied. “Ah, got it!” he exclaimed, reaching his
shorts. He dressed in them and got up, heading for the bathroom. Valeria enjoyed
his perfect body and smiled at his messed hair. She was staring at him when the
sound of the water running told her he was already in the shower.
Smiling lazily, she turned to his place in the bed and buried her face on his pillow,
taking all his fragrance and trying to keep it close. “I got a shot,” he had simply
replied when she, rubbing a finger around the mark on his shoulder asked. ‘A
recent one’ she didn’t add. Another secret from his recent past. “I was stabbed,” he
had smirked at her sight to his stomach. That wasn’t that recent at all, and didn’t
know why, it didn’t worry at her. Oh well, she knew why… he had turned very
tense at the shoulder shot, but not at the stomach one. Sighing, she cursed herself.
‘Damn Val, don’t ask for problems, be just happy’. But it didn’t work out well.
“I’m starved,” Danny announced from the bathroom.
“I’m not, I’m sleepy.” She protested, still trying to control the feeling.
“Okay, don’t tell I didn’t tell you when you smell my dinner”.
“It’s not dinner, Danny, it’s . pm. And tomorrow is Monday!. Do you know
what it means?”
“Of course, it means lots of sleepy people asking for their daily doses of caffeine…
like us. What Val? You can go later.”
“I don’t want to. I like to respect the work, that’s how it works out fine, right?”
“Sure, oh well, I’m pretty awake, I’ll grab something and play a game on my laptop.
Is it okay?”
“No, it’s not, come with me… please. I need to feel your heart and your warming
body.”
“Am I your teddy bear?” he asked smirking but leaning beside her.
“Yep,” she said putting her arms around him and kissing him softly. She increased
the kissing as she felt him turning tense again. She loved that, she loved his
cologne, his natural perfume, his breath… everything.
“I’m not sure…” he tried but she put a finger on his lips and ordered him to shut up.
Rolling over herself, she stretched her arm to find the empty and cold side of the
bed, where Danny should be. In her nightmare, it was exactly the same what was
happening. Danny is gone, she thought, both in the nightmare and the reality. Her
heart sank and she opened her eyes. She noticed the light outside the bedroom and
carefully she got up.
On her feet, she left the bedroom and approached him, still unnoticed. She didn’t
tell him anything; just watching what he was doing.
Focused on the screen of the laptop, Danny was fighting an inner battle, very
different to what Val was able to infer.
Looking at his back, Valeria only could see him staring a computer game, but didn’t
see his eyes, closed. Only some minutes later, she realized he wasn’t doing
anything at all, but staring at that screen and the fear got her. She quickly
approached him and rested a hand on his shoulder. Turning, she could see the
panic face of her boyfriend, the tears rolling down his face in complete shock.
“Danny!” she demanded a response taking his face in her hands. “What happened
to you? Oh, my god!” she exclaimed at his shocking expression. “What happened to
you?” she repeated, and looking at the computer, she slapped it, closing it violently.
Apparently, the noise caused a horrific effect on Danny, who covered his face with
his hands as he screamed totally frightened.
She put her arms around him and let his head resting on her shoulder, as she tried
to calm down him. His pulse was accelerated, the same his heart and she noticed
him sweating and trembling. He was getting cold.
“Come on Danny, let’s go to the bed, you’ll be better if you lay. Please, come on.”
She asked, but barely got a response from him.
Pulling together all the strength she could, Val forced Danny to stand up and go to
the bed. Quickly, she headed for the bathroom, coming back with a wet towel to
cover his forehead. Not knowing what else to do, she looked at him questioning as
she felt his hand squeezing hers. “I’m not going anywhere, Danny, but calm down,
please, calm down, there’s no danger here, you’re safe at home,” She said.
Something terrible had happened to him with that computer, and as soon as he
looked to be calmer and asleep, she got up, covered him with a blanket and got out
the room.
Sitting in front of the computer, and fearfully, she opened it, finding just what it
looked a computer game. Reading the instructions, she only found it funny and
started playing it. She was soon lost in the game, lost in her thoughts, memories of
her childhood, the stories her father liked to tell her about how he had gone
through part of Europe and the Atlantic from Romania, looking for a better future
and how on his way he had found the most beautiful woman in the world, Valeria
García-Montelongo, a Spanish woman, both running away from the tyranny of
dictatorships, she could smell the taste of the meals her mom prepared, her
fragrance, the rough chin of his three days unshaved beard of her father, the
laughs, little Hugo causing them problems just with  years… old memories she
thought she had forgotten came into her mind in a flash, like they were happening
at that moment.
5
Unable to say how long she had been there, Valeria stared at the ‘well done’ result
as the volcano exploded. The game was over, but she was shaking. Closing the
laptop, she stood up and came back to the room where Danny was still sleeping,
apparently peacefully.
“He’s a liar!” Lucy exclaimed. “He promised to take me to New York, and now he
has the tickets, he says he wants to break with me. I don’t get it! Why is he making
me grow up expectations just to let me here like I’m all washed up!”
Sobbing, she leaned her head on Tom’s big chest, trying to find some comfort. He
just shook his head and rolled his eyes, at watching Valeria getting into the bar.
Looking at her closely, Tom noticed the dark bags under her eyes and questioned
her with his lips.
“It’s nothing, bad night, that’s all. What happens, Lucy?” she asked.
“Jimmy is leaving for New York without our lovely Lucy. I’m telling her it’s not
worth to be so sad, we’re the best family she can take,” Tom replied.
“Of course, Lucy. And I can tell you… Jimmy didn’t deserve you, you’re much better
person than him and you deserve a better guy. You won’t see it now, but believe
me, it’s true.” She said, glancing at the time. They only had 5 minutes to make
Lucy calm down and ready to work. She would have sent her back home, but surely
she wouldn’t feel better, and she needed Lucy in the bar.
That thought made her think about Danny, whom she had left at home, presumably
resting. She wished he would be there with her… maybe later. As reading her
mind, Tom asked, “Where’s Danny?”
“He got a cold,” she lied.
“I see,” he murmured but didn’t say a word. Val’s tired face and Danny having a
cold only could mean one single thing.
“It’s not what you mean, Tom. Please,” She said, asking for not questions.
He raised his hands and left, shaking his head.
Val sat down beside Lucy and put her arm around her. “Are you feeling better?”
“Yeah,” a sobbing Lucy replied.
“I need you % today, honey. I’ve got Danny down as well, you understand?” she
asked softly. “I promise you, we’ll get drank tonight and forget everything about
Jimmy. Come on, Lucy, look yourself on the mirror, you’re a beautiful girl.”
“Not now,” she muttered smiling slightly.
“Hey, that’s a smile what I’m seeing. And look, Danny says that he prefers L.A. to
New York. He won’t leave this place… ever.” She said. “So, I don’t think you’re
missing anything important there.”
“I had made so many plans, Val…”
“I know honey, but just forget it, think about your family here, your friends, your
time, your life… and you’ll get someone who really love you, and if you don’t, you
always have a family with Tom, me, Danny…”
“I know you’re trying to help, Val, but I… I… just... can’t…”
“Shhhhh, Lucy, calm down.” Val cursed herself, she needed Lucy, she was
exhausted after the bad night she had spent at home with Danny and she didn’t
find herself to attend the business only having Tom. But Lucy was obviously down
and she wouldn’t be able to help. “Hey, Lucy, go to the back and take a rest. I’ll
attend the tables and when you feel better, can get up and do whatever you feel
you can do, right?”
The young woman nodded grateful, and tried a little smile. “Thanks Val.”
“Come on, go,” Val said, standing up.
The hard part of the morning was already over when Danny showed up. Tom’s bad
mood turned completely at seeing him, and pointed directly the boxes of groceries
to put on their correct place. Valeria made her best to attend alone all the tables, as
Tom took care of the counter. Once Danny finished his worked, he approached
Tom. “Where’s Lucy?”
“She broke with Jimmy… crying on the back. Val sent her to rest and calm down,”
Tom said.
“Oh… her travel to New York,” he said thoughtful.
“Three coffees, toasts and marmalade!” Val ordered.
“Done,” Tom replied.
“You better, stop talking and help me,” she demanded, looking at Danny.
Danny tried a smiled as grateful for all her support during the last night, and
immediately took his notebook.
They spent working most of the day, and barely had a chance to talk, with Tom and
later a watery Lucy trying to look for an explanation to what had happened to her
dreams. Valeria was desperate but also relieved of noticing Danny doing well his
work, no trace of what had happened the last night on him.
“Let’s go for a walk, it’s a nice night,” Danny asked.
“Okay,” Valeria agreed, turning the key that closed the local. “Where do you want
to go?”
“Beach,” he just replied.
Grabbing his protective arm, she smiled and left the soft breeze cleared her
headache. He had promised to tell her the entire story and the beach was the best
place he could figure out for it. Afraid of her reaction, he felt uncomfortable with
the relaxing gesture of letting him take the reins.
Danny picked up the phone and with trembling hand dialed the familiar number,
but after two tones he hung up. Closing his eyes, he tried to calm down and forget
the headache. He felt the eyes of Valeria on him, as she attended some clients. They
had agreed to do this, he knew he was already late in doing it, but he didn’t know
what to say and felt it was too hard and, somehow, surreal, like it was nothing to
do with him. But it was, of course.
Flashback
“I told you I lost my job,” he started, staring at the sea.
Valeria nodded nervously as her fingers played with the soft sand.
“I worked in a lawyer firm in Manhattan. I had been working for five months when
the boss called us for a briefing,” he continued and looked at her now.
“So you’re a lawyer… you don’t make the profile, after all,” she said smiling softly.
“I can tell you why I became a lawyer and what I wished to do, but… it’s not what
I’m going to tell you.” Danny explained, not sure if she was upset or not.
“Right, continue,” she asked, serious.
Her gesture disturbed Danny, he didn’t know if he was doing the right thing, if he
was destroying their relationship as telling her that or what she was thinking. “Val,
please, I…”
“Danny, remember what happened last night. Please no more secrets, right?” she
asked.
“Okay. So, during that briefing the office was attacked, a gunfire who killed all of
them, my boss, my coworkers in that office, my boss’ secretary and two clients… at
least.”
“And you…” Val said in a whisper, rubbing his back as she caught the broken voice
on him. She had figure out something terrible but couldn’t figure out how she
would felt in a situation like that. At that moment, she thought Danny was a strong
person but also pretending a happy life in L.A., a life that wasn’t his, at all. At that
moment, Val realized she was going to lose him.
“I… I survived. I got a shot on my shoulder. A friend of mine took me out of the
hospital to her home where I lived for months until I left to come here. I was,
somehow under her protection because the gunfire resulted to be linked to a major
complot involving the judges, lawyers, police, FBI, CIA… and she was an FBI agent.”
“The news we watched the other day,” Val concluded, understanding what the
matter had showed up now.
Danny nodded. “Somehow, at a point of the investigation, I was considered as a
suspect, by the circumstances. But it’s not truth, Val. They never asked me, they
were working that investigation, a difficult matter since they didn’t know who and
who wasn’t involved.”
“But, you left, doesn’t it make you more suspect?” Val asked. “I’m sorry but I don’t
understand.”
“I had been an FBI agent, then a lawyer, I was going to defend a guy linked with
this net, I was shot, but I didn’t die and…”, he smirked sadly.
She raised an eyebrow and understood. “They read your profile, your change of
name, your past. I can get it.”
“I was also interfering in the life of my friend’s family and also putting her in a
dangerous situation. I wasn’t able to deal with it, so I left and you know the rest of
the story.”
“They don’t know where you are, that’s why you never used a credit card and gave
me your other social security number,” she reasoned.
“Yes, I’m sorry Val, I didn’t want to lie to you but I was scared and I wasn’t lying
when I told you I needed time to think. Moreover, I think the less you know the
more you’re safe.”
“Why do you say that?” she asked in concern.
“I should be under protection, Valeria. Wherever I stay, it’s… it’s dangerous.”
“Your friend must be very worried about you. You should call.”
“If I do, I’m sure they would like to put me under protection, go back to New York,
tell them what I saw, testify… it would be a long time there…”
“But… they must be looking for you!” Val exclaimed alarmed.
“Probably, but I’ve taken all possible precautions. At the FBI, I worked missing
persons and I know how to do it. Using my old social security number was a risk,
but I had the hope they wouldn’t look for me using that information. It looks it
worked out.”
“That’s your life,” she said thoughtful. “Danny, you have to go back, testify and
continue with your life, there. You can’t live like this. Take this situation just as… a
meantime,” she continued as remembering her own feelings about their
relationship.
“Maybe at first time Val, but it’s not how I feel now. This is not a meantime, it’s my
life. I didn’t expect it was going to be like that but it happened. I met you, I love you,
I won’t leave.”
“Tell me how…” there were tears on her face.
“Trust me. I’ll solve this, I know how to do it, now.” He said.
“Last night…” she started.
“Last night.” He stopped and wrapped himself as the breeze was suddenly colder
but Val could see him trembling by the memories. “I identified one of the killers, I
remembered the entire situation that it had remained blank in my mind.”
“You were playing…”
“I use that game to concentrate; I wasn’t playing at all, but looking for that blank
space in my mind. I had almost got it, as I was living in my friend’s home but
something happened and I was distracted. I hadn’t tried it again, until yesterday. I
was so happy here with you, I didn’t need to do it…”
“But you watched the news and you knew you had to.” Val concluded.
“Yeah,… Val…” Danny held her face in his hands forcing her to look into his eyes.
Tears rolled down her cheeks and Danny blamed himself for the suffering he was
causing her. “Val, I will come back.” He kissed her softly, tasting the salt of the
tears. She kissed him back desperately, as it was the last time.
“You were so scared,” she said, breaking the kiss. “What did you see? What did you
remember?”
Danny shook his head uncomfortably. “I… I’ll tell them, you don’t have to hear it.”
“But, how I’m going to help you?” she asked.
“You don’t have to do anything, just… being there, like I’m going to be here for
you.”
“Make that call. Make that call Danny, go to New York…” she said.
“I’ll be back, honey, I promise you.” He said. “Don’t cry anymore, please, don’t cry;
there is no reason for it, trust me,” he kissed her. “I’ll be back and you won’t realize
I ever left. Let’s go back home, now.”
Nodding, she got up, as he did, and interlacing their hands, they walked through
the beach, and lost on their own thoughts, came back to the kind apartment Danny
shared most of the days with Valeria.
End of flashback
Sighing, he tried again, just hanging up without saying a word. “I can’t,” he
murmured, cursing himself.
“Danny,” Valeria called him. “Just do it,” she encouraged him, as handing an order
to Tom.
“Johnson,” Vivian said for the third time, frowning at the phone. “Who is it?” she
repeated. Shaking her head, she hung up, upset. “I don’t have time for jokes now,”
she said going back to her papers.
“What did they say?” Sam asked.
“Nothing! It was just… noise, from a bar or something,” she replied, as looked at the
phone angrily when it started sounding again.
“Johnson!” she exclaimed in bad mood.
“Agent Johnson? It’s special agent Magurn. You had asked for some information
about Vargas’s case,” she heard.
“Oh, all right, I’m sorry agent. Yes, what you’ve got?” she asked making a comic
gesture.
Sam grinned and rolled her eyes.
“What’s that fun?” Martin asked entering the bullpen and catching his coworkers
expressions.
“Someone was calling Viv, but didn’t say anything and finally she answered angrily
to find the agent she had called before to ask some information. You can figure out
him startling,” she explained.
“Oh yeah,” he said, handing her a mug of coffee. “Your cold coffee,”
“Oh thanks,” she replied feeling frustrated. “I miss Finn these sunny days with no
real work…” she continued.
“This,” Martin said waving one of the folders on his desk, “is real work, Sam.”
“Yeah, the one we weren’t said in Quantico.” She sighed.
“Exactly,” he agreed.
That morning was being especially bored, no work, but lots of paperwork to do
and a sunny day of summer outside, to make it worse.
“Okay, bye.” Viv finished writing down the information and turned to her friends,
laughing. “I should make an apology to that poor guy, you had to hear his voice, he
thought I was going to kill him by the phone.”
“What happened?” Martin asked.
“My phone rang three times, two of them I didn’t even got the call and the third
one, I got it but nobody say a hello!. Then, agent… Magurn’s turn!” Vivian
explained.
“Weird, poor guy. I wonder who would call three times to say nothing!” Jack said
joining the conversation.
They were going to continue the fun, but remained silent for a second. “I’m
thinking the same you are thinking, right?” Sam asked slowly.
“I can’t believe this is Danny calling.” Viv agreed.
“Any chance of tracing the call?” Jack asked.
“Doubt it, it was too fast, but we can try,” Viv said heading quickly to ask the
technicians that specific work.
Martin rubbed a hand over his face, nervously. Turning to his computer, he typed
Danny’s financial records and cell number in search of any clue.
“Maybe he watched the news. Maybe he’s trying to contact us but why not?” she
continued, fearfully.
“Do you think he could be in danger?” Will asked.
“I don’t know,” she murmured.
“Maybe he’s just scared,” Jack suggested.
“Scared! Danny? No way,” Sam disagreed.
“Don’t forget the post traumatic effects the gunfire caused on him. Vivian told us he
never showed any.” Jack explained her.
She nodded.
“And he didn’t remember part of the attack. Maybe he’s remembering now, maybe
watching the news, he filled the blanks,” Martin conceded. “Hey, there’s something
here. I’ve got a charge on his credit card,” he said in excitement.
“He wants to be found,” Jack agreed, the three of them focused on the screen.
Vivian got into the bullpen to find them just looking at the screen, and frozen. “Any
news?”
“He used his credit card… it’s a bar in Los Angeles.” Martin announced.
“The call, the third one, it looks to be made from a bar,” Vivian said.
“No more movements of his credit card?” Sam asked.
“No,” Martin replied scanning the information.
“I think it’s him,” Jack said. “He called, he used his credit card for the first time, but
he’s still cautious… he’s calling, he wants our help.”
A weird silence followed Jack’s comment. Finally, the moment they had been
looking for, had come.
“We must be cautious,” Jack said then. “I don’t think Danny wants to contact
anyone else, not the killers that surely are looking for him, or other FBI agents.
“Martin, you better stop your father from sending the dogs in L.A. I’m sure he’s
getting this information as well, and he’ll go for an arrest.”
“My father knows that Danny is innocent,” Martin replied upset but unsure.
“Your father may know that, but his way of act will be to send the FBI to that bar
and arrest him, and you know that.” Jack pressured.
“They would only have a credit card charge to look for,” Will said. “They don’t
know about the calls, but us, and you only know what it means, I… I mean, I think
we have some advantage here.”
“Danny would run away if he notices something wrong,” Vivian said in concern. “If
he can’t talk to us… oh my god, he must be having a terrible time.”
“We don’t know that, Viv,” Jack tried to encourage her. “He can feel ashamed for
running away from you, maybe doesn’t know what to say. You know him, right?”
Vivian nodded not very convinced.
“Should we work this like a missing person case?” Will asked.
“No, ever. Nobody but us must know about Danny at this moment.” Jack ordered
seriously. “But, Martin, call your father and prevent him.”
“Okay,” he agreed. Dialing a number, he just waited a second before listening to his
father at the other side of the line. “Dad? It’s Martin, I’ve got a lead on Danny
Taylor. Yeah… Uhm… I know, ... yes. I don’t think it’s a good idea, dad. Don’t forget
that if he’s consider a suspect, Mr. Walsh is already a guilty one… I’m not telling…”
Martin’s coworkers noticed soon the tension between the father and the son.
Vivian looked at Jack in concern, as she rested a hand on Martin’s tense shoulder.
“I think he has a reason for it, and he’ll explain it, clearly, but let me go. I’ll come
back with him, dad. Your agents in L.A. won’t get anything from him but running
away… because I know him! He’s my friend and I know him! You’ve trusted me
until now to help you, just do it back!”
“I can’t, Val, I’m sorry, I can’t,” he was on the verge of nerves.
Valeria had never seen him like that but in the last  hours, and she didn’t know
what to do. It was like he was another person. “What can I do for you both now?
Lucy crying on the back and you… Danny, there’s a way to put the end to all of this
and it’s making that call. I know it’s hard…”
“I heard her voice and I… just couldn’t articulate a word,” he shook his head. “This
is not me, Val, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll find a way. Do you want me to call?”
“No!” he protested. “I’ll do, I’ll do.” He said looking fearfully at the phone. “I’ll do.”
Valeria stared at him and shook her head. She felt sorry for him but there wasn’t
another thing he could do. He had to contact them. She was aware that she was
pushing him away from her for nobody knew how long but her guts told her it
would be the only way to move on for him, whatever ‘moving on’ meant.
“Valeria, check this credit card,” Tom said, handing a credit card from a client to
her, and pulling her out of her thoughts.
“Is it not valid?” she asked.
“I don’t know, I’m making coffees while all of you are busy with other issues!” he
protested.
She turned to Danny. “Honey, wait a second, right? I’ll be with you right now. Think
about this, you must contact them.”
He nodded as his sight followed Valeria making the payment with the credit card.
The credit card, he was sure they were checking it. With a smirk, he headed for the
back of the bar. Lucy had fallen asleep on the couch, the poor girl’s heart was
broken and troubled and Danny could notice it, even if she was sleeping. ‘Bad
dreams’, he thought as covering her with a blanket.
Fishing in the pocket of his jacket, he got out his wallet. Getting out his credit card,
he came back to the counter and made a payment with it.
“What are you doing?” Tom asked. “That’s Val’s business, not yours.” He added
suspiciously.
“I’m making a call,” he replied confidently.
Fears were taking Martin as he approached to the address they got as the place
Danny’s credit card had been used. Just one time, and it was a bar in L.A. Unsure if
he would find Danny with such a simple clue, he thought, what if someone found
the credit card and it’s using it? What would Danny be doing in L.A.? He had taken
a FBI jet with the hope of finding his friend but now he was aware of the
importance of it. If this clue got him to nothing, when were they going to find
Danny?
‘No, he wants to be found, he called Vivian. I’m sure he does’, Martin encouraged
himself, as realizing he was in front of the bar. Adjusting his tie, he crossed quickly
the street and got into the local. ‘Nice place’ he would say if he wouldn’t be so
concern about the reason of being there. Heading for the counter, he showed his
badge to the big man behind it. “Martin Fitzgerald, FBI. I’m looking for this man,
have you seen him?” he asked directly, at the time he put a picture of Danny in
front of his eyes.
Tom stared at him, not at the picture, for a second. He already knew the man in the
picture, even though he had to admit he looked different. Sure, this FBI agent
looked also different from the one who had entered a couple of hours before.
Flashback
“Okay Val. This is what we’ve got, right?. The calls I did won’t be traced, they were
too short for it. But I’m sure, they will relate them to the credit card charge, right?
And the credit card will lead them to the bar.” Danny explained her.
“How do you know it’s going to happen like that?”
“Because I know them very well, and I worked with them for years.” He smiled.
“Believe me, it works out like that.”
“But that other people looking for you…”
5
“There’s two kind of people looking for me, the bad guys, and the good guys but
not the right ones, okay? The ‘yes’ is only for good and right people, this is
important.”
Valeria looked at him in concern. She could do it and surely Tom, but she hesitated
about Lucy. “It’s only a credit card charge, you don’t need to be regular, I don’t
need to know you, I get it. But I don’t know how Lucy or Tom would do.”
“They have to do it.” He said firmly. “I’m… so sorry Val…”
“It’s not your fault, Danny.”
“It is. I should have talked to Vivian and not being a coward,” he protested looking
pissed off.
“You’re under lot of stress, honey.” She rubbed his back, supporting him.
“No, I’m not,” he frowned.
“Yes, maybe you don’t realize it, but you are…” she continued. “I wonder… how I’m
going to recognize your friends?”
“They’ll flash their badges and usually say their names. If not, you ask.” He smirked.
“Still, a description of a picture would be useful,” she said. “Danny, I don’t want to
screw up, I need to be sure the person I’ll guide to you is the right one. I couldn’t
bear if I made a mistake on it and you die.”
“That isn’t going to happen. I don’t have pictures but I can try with descriptions,”
Danny agreed. “I’m pretty sure Vivian or Martin, maybe both of them, will come.”
End of flashback.
“I’m… not sure,” Tom replied finally.
Martin looked at him. “Would you mind look at the picture more attentively,
please?” he insisted.
Tom, thoughtful, looked at the picture trying to identify the agent with one of
Valeria’s descriptions.
Lucy approached him, with a tray full of empty cups and orders. She had noticed
the new agent and felt relieved of Tom taking care of the situation.
“Maybe…” Tom finally replied.
“He used his credit card yesterday morning in this local.” Martin insisted.
Tom shrugged his shoulders.
“Do you want a coffee?” Lucy asked with a smile. She had observed the different
attitude of this agent. He looked almost desperate and not willing to leave.
“Yeah, sure. Have you seen this man? He could have been here yesterday, ” Martin
asked, showing the picture to her.
“Who’s asking?” she asked.
“I’m sorry, I’m special agent Martin Fitzgerald with the FBI,” he replied.
Lucy glanced at Tom as he was an idiot. “I wasn’t here yesterday, but I’ll ask to my
boss. Tom, would you mind to prepare a coffee to him?” she ordered and left.
Once she was out of Martin sight, let her heart start racing as she headed for the
back of the bar, where Valeria was working trying to put in order her papers. “I’ve
never been good with it,” she said at all the papers spread on the desk.
“You’re nervous,” Lucy said. “Val, there’s a man outside. I think it’s one of the
agents… the right one.”
“Did he say a name?” Val asked.
“Yes, he flashed his badge at the name of Martin Fitzgerald… and he matches with
the description and oh… he’s awesome, has an amazing blue eyes, has that New
York accent…”
“Lucy!” Valeria stopped her, laughing nervously. “Did he ask by Danny?”
“Oh yes, of course. Tom told him… nothing but I told him to wait for my boss,” She
replied.
“Right.” Valeria said nervously. “Okay, I… I don’t know how long it’ll take this. Lucy,
please, call that friend of yours… Susan, right? And take care of this.” She
continued, as the nervous grew up in her.
“I’ll do, no problem. Val, everything is going to be okay, right?” she tried to
encourage her. She was so happy that Valeria had finally got someone to love and
Danny was so great.
“Sure,” Valeria muttered and left to meet Martin, leaving Lucy with the doubt of
seeing a tear rolling down her face.
“Take care of this,” she repeated as pulling out her cell to call Susan. She knew the
day would be long, realizing later that probably they wouldn’t see Danny again and
she hadn’t had the chance to say goodbye.
“Hi, I’m Valeria Ciumak, I’m the owner of this coffee shop,” she said stretching a
hand that Martin shook back. “I’ve been said you’re with the FBI making some
questions. What can I do for you?” she asked without looking into his eyes. Sure,
Lucy was right, she could see the deep sea on those serene blue eyes.
“I’m Martin Fitzgerald,” he repeated for third time. “I’m looking for this man.
Maybe he’s a regular customer; he made a credit card charge yesterday morning
here.”
Valeria took the picture. Danny looked different in that picture, dressed in suit and
tie; he looked an authentic FBI agent. Smiling, she handed back the picture to him.
“Let’s get out of here,” she asked.
Martin frowned, but followed the woman who already was opening the door of the
bar and not looking back started walking on the street. “Hey! Wait!” he called,
leaving a coin on the counter and following her.
“It’s not sure stay talking there in,” she just said without stopping her walk, when
he joined her, and he knew he had found him. His heart clenched as his mind
started forming questions. Before he could open his mouth, she continued. “I’ll take
you with him, right?” She suddenly stopped and pulling out a key, she opened the
door of a car. “Get in,” she asked, as heading for the driver seat.
Valeria realized she was being pretty rude, but the nerves had taken her and she
didn’t know another way to pretend she was cool. But Martin was a trained FBI
agent and also realized it. He also realized another thing and couldn’t help but
smile. She caught it and relaxed a bit. “I’m sorry,” She said. “I’m not used to do this
every day.”
“I bet,” Martin replied. “Don’t worry, I’m a friend.”
“Of course you are, you wouldn’t be here if not. There’s other people asking for
him, you know?” she said. She thought it would important to him to know.
“Another FBI agent came this morning, before you, asking for him.”
“What did you tell him?”
“I told him that maybe he had been in the bar, but I didn’t remember well and sure
he wasn’t a regular.” Valeria replied. “Just what Danny told me to say.”
“Smart guy,” Martin conceded.
“Yes, he is,” she agreed.
They drove for about  minutes before she stopped the car in front of a whole of
nice apartments of a residential area. Cutting the engine, she sighed. “Listen, Danny
has told me most of what happened and he’s pretending being okay, I guess. I…
know him for three months and I can’t tell for sure, but since the breakdown… he’s
not the same.”
“We expected a breakdown,” Martin said. “Don’t worry, I can deal with it.”
“You don’t understand, you won’t find any sign of it,” she tried to explain.
Martin smiled. “That’s Danny. What happened?”
“I found him on the living room, he had been having nightmares for a couple of
days. I didn’t know why,” she explained. “He was in shock after remembering
something. He told he had filled the blanks and saw a killer. That’s when he
decided to call you for help. Agent Fitzgerald, I know Danny doesn’t want to leave,
he doesn’t want to testify but he needs to move on and accepts his responsibility.”
“That’s why he called us.” Martin said feeling uncomfortable, pissed off, as
portraying bad news and a fate Valeria and Danny didn’t want to live. “Are you…”
“I love him, yes. But we have talked about this and we’ll handle the consequences.
But I’m sure when it’s over, it will be good for him. He won’t be free until he does,
and he knows that. What I mean is…” she stopped trying to find the words. “He…
he only wants you to be here, you or the agent who took him to her house. I’m not
sure if he would be ready to deal with the cold side of the FBI, pressuring him to
talk in a cold interview room… you understand?”
“Of course, I’m glad you tell me this.” Martin smiled. “Where is he?”
“Number .” She said. “I’ll wait, right here.”
He frowned. “Mrs. Ciumak, I’m sorry but… it’s probably that when I get out that
home, I’ll do with Danny and he’s going to be escorted to an FBI car.”
Valeria looked at him stunned. “Have you heard any of my words?” she asked
finding the blue eyes coldest than ever.
Martin felt miserable for doing this to her but. “You must understand the risk
you’re taking. Maybe it looks a cold and weird thing, but I promise it’s not. I’m the
one with him, all the time… Did he tell you we’re friends?”
“He only trust you,” Valeria admitted.
“So do you, please. Now, take your car and go back to the bar and continue working
as usual.”
“I’d like to tell him…” she started with brilliant eyes, realizing she wouldn’t see him
anymore.
Martin shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “Look, there’s one thing we can
do, right? Come with me, talk to him and then… leave. It’s all what I can do. I’m…
I’m very sorry for looking the cold FBI agent, but I have my reasons here, and I
swear you, Danny is the most important to me, and I’m going to protect him… with
my life. Is this all right with you?”
“Yes,” she muttered, getting out of the car. Martin followed Valeria, who noticed
the agent scanning the zone.
“Since the moment Danny contacted you, he hasn’t left the apartment,” she told
him.
“He did well,” Martin agreed. “Even if we had advantage, all precautions are not
enough.”
Valeria opened the door, trying to calm down her nerves.
“Nice place,” Martin admired, feeling glad that Danny had found a good place to
live. He wondered how his friend did it.
“Danny!” Valeria called, not getting a response. “Danny, where are you?” she asked
going upstairs, followed by Martin.
“Hey, Danny,” she said spotting him in the bedroom collecting his personal effects
from the nightstand. His bag was open on the bed. She approached him and rested
a hand on his back, causing him turn with a start. “Hey,” she said, indicating him to
remove the earphones.
“What are you doing here?” he asked in surprise, and then he saw Martin at the
door. He frowned, “Hey,” he said not understanding, and looked back at Valeria,
which eyes were full in tears. Danny got the matter in a second. “I… I didn’t know…
I didn’t know it would be so…”, he muttered, hugging her. “Don’t cry, honey, don’t
cry… Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” he whispered in her ear, as she let the
tears rolled down her face.
“I… I’ll wait downstairs,” Martin said to nobody, feeling extremely pissed off. He
went down to the entrance and pulled out his cell.
“Val, please, don’t cry… you did well, you did well, okay? Everything is gonna be
okay.” Danny said removing the tears from Val’s face and looking into her eyes.
She stared at him, reading his soul in his eyes, the fear he felt, and the turmoil his
life had become and felt so sorry for him. “Danny, this is not going to be what we
had thought. They are going to take you back to New York, right now.”
“I know,” he said, hopeless.
“I… I have to leave. Your friend didn’t want to let me in, but I insisted so… but I
have to leave. Danny, promise me you’re going to be brave, don’t give up, right.
Think about your future once this is over. Just think about it and let them do their
job, okay?” she said, as leaned on his chest, she felt the beat of his heart increasing.
“I’m so sorry, Val. I shouldn’t…” Danny started, feeling miserable.
“Shut up,” she ordered, putting a finger on his lips. “I love you too.”
He tried a smiled, and kissed her.
Closing the bag, he looked around once more time. Too many times he was doing
this lately in his life. He shook his head in disbelief, as put his arm around Val’s
waist. Interlacing their fingers, they exchanged a look of complicity and left the
room.
Martin closed the cell, as soon as he saw them approaching. ‘He called,’ he had to
reminded himself to not feel worse than he actually felt. Danny noticed his
troubled friend. Resting a hand on his shoulder, he just said. “Don’t worry, it’s not
your fault.”
“How are you, bro?” Martin asked, shaking hands.
“Fine, given the circumstances,” Danny replied, a little nervous, “You know, I never
liked airplanes.”
Martin looked at him and saw the entire pretending thing Valeria had told him.
“Great,” he said softly. “Well, there’s an FBI car on its way. As soon as they arrive,
we’ll leave.”
“I’m ready.” Danny agreed.
“I’m… I’m leaving,” Valeria announced, trying to stay calm but failing partially.
“I’ll be fine, Val.” Danny said, putting his arm around her shoulders and heading for
the door with her.
“I know you will. Okay, I’m better leaving, I don’t want to make another scene,” she
said, opening the door. “Come back soon,” she whispered.
“I’ll do my best. I love you Val.” Danny said.
“Me too.” She smiled sadly and turned.
He stared at her as she left, not looking back and he guessed the tears on her eyes.
Shaking his head, he closed the door.
“I’m… I’m sorry man,” Martin said.
“I called,” Danny muttered, sitting on the couch.
“Yes, you did. I’ve come the faster I could,” Martin explained.
“Yeah… I didn’t think you would come so soon,” Danny said, looking upset.
“Come on, Danny, you know how it works, right?”
“Of course, Martin. I’m sorry, it’s not me, right? I’m… I’m glad you’ve come instead
of sending any agent to arrest me or…”
“Nobody is going to arrest you, Danny.” Martin said resting a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m coming to protect you. There are people outside that would be more than
happy if you were dead and I’m not going to let them do it, right?”
“Yeah, I know, I know. It’s just that Viv told me some things.”
“It’s been a while from then, don’t you think?” Martin made him to reason. “I guess
how you felt, but that’s over, right?”
Danny looked at him. “I’ll never get it, Martin… I’ll never get it.”
That’s not true, Danny. Hey, don’t give up, where’s the stubborn, strong friend who
got everything he pursued with convincement?”
“I don’t know,” Danny said, with a trembling voice that made him curse silently.
“Are you sure you want to go through this?” Martin asked in concern.
“Have I any other choice?” Danny asked, smirking, the break down over.
“No, really.” Martin agreed. “Hey, here’s the car. Are you ready?” he asked standing
up.
Danny took his bag and standing up, he replied. “Sure, let’s go.”
The vigilance had been settled as soon as Martin had confirmed Danny’s location in
L.A., so when Martin opened the door of the apartment, he just found a kind of FBI
office in there. Remembering what Valeria had told him, he couldn’t help but
hesitate if he was doing the right thing and not betraying his friend.
Flashing his badge to the agent inside, he entered, followed by Danny.
“Wow,” he said softly.
“Hello, I’m special agent Patrice MacDonald, in charge of your custody, Mr. Taylor,”
a brunette, caramel cold eyes woman approached them.
“Sure,” Danny smirked, looking around. “This is going to be funny,” he muttered.
“It’s not the nice apartment of L.A., but you will be safe here,” Martin said. “Excuse
me, I have some calls to do,” he said heading to another agent in the apartment.
Danny followed his steps before agent MacDonald interrupted him. “I expect you
won’t be here so long, but you must know you’ll have some privacy,” she said,
opening a door to a room.
“My cell!” Danny exclaimed getting into the room. “Bed, cabinet, nightstand, lamp,
all sweet decorated,”
Patrice smiled at the irony. “I’m glad you take things like this, Mr. Taylor.”
“Excuse me… uhm… Patrice may I talk to you for a second? It’s just a moment.”
Martin asked, poking his head through the door.
The familiarity at the work he was doing there, told Danny he had been working on
this for a while. The implications of Martin in this case, the different way he looked
to work from what he knew, the distance he took from him, since they left Valeria’s
apartment in L.A. made him to think that there was something else behind it.
The words Washington, interrogations and Fitzgerald coming to his ear from that
conversation between Martin and that agent, made him getting nervous. She
pointed another room in the apartment, and Martin nodded. Opening the door, he
looked inside, and closing it again, explained something to MacDonald. At that
point, both of them looked at Danny, who just got down his head and turned to
his… room.
“Let me talk to him, this is not going to be easy. I must be here.” Martin explained
MacDonald.
“This is not your business, agent Fitzgerald. We take care of him and the situation.”
She said.
“You don’t understand, he’s under lot of stress and post traumatic situation, I know
he can lose control and I swear you don’t want to see it. Let me talk to him, explain
to him what’s going on, or you won’t get anything.”
“It’s not up to me getting anything, agent Fitzgerald. My responsibility here is
custody, and you don’t have to stay here.”
“Maybe you want to discuss this with Deputy Director Fitzgerald,” Martin said in
threatening tone.
She smirked. “I never figured out you used your influence, agent Fitzgerald. Okay,
come in, but it’s not my responsibility if you screw it up, right?”
“Sure,” he said and headed for Danny’s room to find him glancing through a book.
“Hey, Danny, I have to leave but I’d like to talk to you about what’s going on, right?”
he said.
Danny turned smiling and showed him the book.
“ reasons to love New York,” Martin read.
“Tell me it’s false,” Danny told him, reading a card Lucy had left to him. “Poor girl.
Maybe we should have taken her with us.”
“I don’t think it was a good idea, Danny,” Martin said.
“I only was kidding, Martin,” Danny said turning serious.
“Of course, I’m sorry. Uhm…”
“I see you were very familiarized with this.” Danny said.
“Somehow, I’ve been in contact with it. I… I wanted to stay here with you, right?”
“I can take care of myself, Martin, don’t worry. I know why I’m here so, what’s
going on?”
Martin didn’t know how to read his friend. He went from relax to nervous, to
polite, to scared, to a cold person in seconds and he wasn’t able to follow him and
adapt his words and attitude to him.
Closing the door, Martin thought that urged to be honest with Danny, before he
turned hostile to him, just because of a stressful matter. Just noticing Danny’s face
at him closing the door, made him to think he had to do it now. “Danny, stop
pretending the fairy tale with me, okay? It hurts. I’m Martin, your friend and I’m
here because I’m your friend, and nothing else. I’m not one of those agents outside.
They don’t know you, but you’re not helping me. Tomorrow will be a difficult day,
a weird one and I don’t want any surprise here, right?”
“I’m… fine, Martin, I understand why I’m here, I didn’t expect a sweet hotel or…”
“Stop that!” Martin yelled, causing someone knocked on the door.
“What’s going on?” someone asked.
“Nothing, everything’s fine,” Martin replied in bad mood.
“You… you better go, Martin, I’ll be fine.” Danny said frowning.
“You don’t have idea,” Martin shook his head.
“You’re scaring me, man.” Danny said but he didn’t look any scared, but pretty
pissed off.
“Okay, I guess this is not what you had in mind. Tomorrow morning two agents
from Washington specialized in this case, are going to come in. There’s a room
ready to interrogate you, the time they need to know everything about the gunfire,
everything from you, right?”
Danny nodded, starting to understand the matter. “I’m not so victim… I’m still a
potential suspect… oh my god,” he concluded and Danny’s mask was over. He sat
on the bed and covered his face with his hands, trying to stop the increasing
headache.
“I don’t have anything to do with this, Danny,” Martin said sitting beside him.
“Of course, you don’t,” Danny looked at him and the pain overwhelmed Martin as
well.
“I’m… I’m not going to let you down, Danny. I… feel responsible for contact you
with that office and…”
“No, no, it was a good thing, a good work,” Danny said.
“Don’t lie to me, please.” Martin asked.
“You couldn’t know, it was a great opportunity, I’m not a kid, Martin. But this is…
this is going to be worse than a OPR investigation, isn’t it? I’m always mad at this
kind of things, you know, it’s… I think I’m not going to tell the right thing and it’s
going to be misunderstood.”
“You just, tell them the truth,” Martin encouraged him. “My father is coming as
well. Being a selfish matter for him, that it’s defending the honor of Mr. Walsh, he’s
interested in what you have to say. Look, when the suspect grew over Mr. Walsh,
he got furious and denied it; they also pointed you so I made my father understand
that if you were guilty, Mr. Walsh was guilty as well. I… by you, had told them the
statements who helped to solve the complot that, at a point, involved Mr. Walsh
offices.”
“It wasn’t me, it was Viv.” Danny said.
“Okay, it was Viv. Danny, let me help you, right?”
“Does your father want me to confirm the innocence of Walsh?” Danny asked.
“Yes, basically.”
I can’t do it, I was pretty out of his radar and…”
“Do you think he was involved?” Martin asked.
“No, I don’t think so, he wouldn’t have trust Maggie Anderson that case, unless he
overvalue her loyalty. I thought he used me to make a fool on her but I’m not sure,
at all. It’s not sense he gave me that information, if he knew it. It would have been
stupid. I would have realized immediately what was going on.”
5
“And he was killed.” Martin reasoned.
“But Maggie was, as well, and all those other people,” Danny said rubbing a
trembling hand on his face.
“Hey, calm down, Danny. Just focus on the case, right?... If you want, I mean… do
you want to do this now… here… with me?”
“No really,” Danny shook his head. “Why are they doing it like this? I don’t get it. I
can give you a description of the guy and that’s all. Your work, let me alone, right?”
“The complot has caused a turmoil in the FBI. Everybody is very nervous. This
case… they’ve been working this case being leaded from Washington. Remember
the statement was found in your office. They only want to be sure there’s no new
mistakes, that’s all.”
“I told Val I would be back soon,”
“And you will, I’m sorry, I know you didn’t want this, but…”
“What if they don’t believe me and think I’m guilty?”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“Why not? Tell me a good reason, Martin,” Danny asked almost desperately.
“My father won’t let them do it. It’s all what I can tell you. Danny, I’m sorry but you
must be brave, be clear in your explanations. Those guys who entered the office to
kill all of you, they will proof you didn’t have anything to do with it, right? Just give
them that information, don’t think about any other thing.”
“Okay,” Danny said.
“Great, listen, I’d stay here with you but…”
“You have to leave,” Danny agreed. “It’s okay, I think I can deal with these people.
It’s no problem, it’s the easy part, I guess.”
“Yeah, I’ll be here tomorrow before the interviews, right?”
“For what? No, please, I’d prefer to deal with this alone. Now that you told me
what’s going on, I think I’ll be ready for it.”
Martin nodded.
“But, be sure to stay here when they go out.” Danny continued.
“Of course, I’ll be here.” Martin said.
“Say hello to Viv, Jack and Sam, and excuse me for not visiting them.”
“It’s done,” Martin said, standing up.
“When can we see him?” Sam asked.
“I don’t know. I guess the idea is keeping him under custody so…” Martin replied.
“How is he doing?” Vivian asked.
“Uhm… I don’t know, I don’t think he’s fine but… considering the situation…”
“He called, he’s assuming his responsibility and he’ll kick the ass of those agents,”
Jack said.
“That’s not the matter, Jack,” Martin said.
“What’s the matter, then? Is not enough all this circus? I agree he needs protection,
but he could tell whatever he knows in L.A. or here, in an office and not having that
people from Washington and…”
“He’s still a suspect.” Martin interrupted him.
The news left them speechless.
“That’s not possible, Martin,” Vivian said.
“Do you want me to tell you the theory again, Viv?” Martin said. “We must admit
that Danny’s move, running away, wasn’t a good idea, don’t care the reasons why
he did.”
“I can’t believe it. After all what he’s been through…”
“And what has he been through, Vivian?” Martin asked coldly.
“What do you mean?” she asked confused.
“That’s the questions they are going to ask!” Martin replied.
“Okay, let’s stay cool,” Jack tried to calm them. “Martin, I don’t get it, you’ve been
collaborating in this investigation. The people who was arrested… 5,  people,
have any of them mentioned the name of Danny?”
“No, they didn’t mention him, that’s good. But they didn’t mention the names of the
killers and nobody look to know who ordered the attack. This case of Walsh has
been left aside, as not part of the main investigation but now, they want to catch
them... my father in special.”
“Your father doesn’t believe Danny is involved,” Vivian said.
“No, that’s why he’s coming. He’s actually a guarantee for Danny.” Martin agreed.
“I don’t know how I would react if the Deputy Director of the FBI and two
aggressive agents from Washington came to interview me, knowing that I could be
considered as accomplice of a multiple murder,” Sam said in concern.
“I wanted Dr. Harris to talk to him, previously. But I had to fight hard to stay there
today. Danny is not ready for it, at least it wasn’t, but I tried to encourage him, I
explained him what was going on and what I recommended him to do,” Martin
explained.
“Lisa is a good psychologist, but I don’t think she could help him. You’re his best
friend, the only one who could help him.” Jack said.
Martin smiled. “Guess I have a strong rival.”
“I told I wouldn’t put my two cents on him being alone,” Jack said, understanding
Martin’s words.
“I have to admit that she liked me the second I spotted her. She’s very… familiar,
that kind of person you know and it’s like you always knew her. Danny spent all
the travel back talking about her. Guess our boy is really in love,” he said.
“His life has changed so fast. I have still in my mind the day he told me that Rafie
was dying, the promise he did to him and now… this. Oh my god, this must to be
solved.” Vivian said.
“Yes, and it will be.” Martin confirmed.
“Come on, Taylor, eat something, you’ll need it later.” MacDonald said, noticing his
untouched plate.
“No, I can’t, I…”
“That’s the nervous,” Wilson, other of the agents, said. “But try something before
they come.”
Danny shook his head and looked at the time. “No, I… want this to be over. That’s
all.”
“By having some breakfast is not going to be over before,” MacDonald insisted.
Danny grimaced.
“Okay, yourself,” she said, giving a bite to her sandwich.
Wilson rolled his eyes in disbelief. Taking a bottle of water, he handed it to Danny.
“Take this with you. And try to eat a sandwich, at least. They won’t come until
., you have still fifteen minutes to eat. Think about it. It’s only a test of
questions and answers. If you don’t know the answer, just say ‘I don’t know’. But if
you know, be generous in explanations.”
“It looks like you’ve been through this,” Danny said.
“Oh well, sort of.” He started. “Excuse me,” he added, as they heard a knock on the
door.
Danny got tense just seeing Deputy Director Fitzgerald being followed by four
other people, one of them, portraying some media paraphernalia. He went directly
to the interview room without saying a hello.
Standing up, Danny shook the hand Fitzgerald had stretched out to him. “Are you
ready?” he just asked.
Danny tried to read something on his eyes but it was totally impossible. He wasn’t
ready, he was frightening, but got to say something like “Yes, sir.”
“Okay, let’s go then, I don’t have all day to do this,” he said, indicating the interview
room.
Danny got into that room to see the agent who had entered previously, working a
video camera pointing the only chair on one side of the desk. On the other side, two
agents to make the interrogation, sat down, and opened the folders on the desk.
Fitzgerald remained still observing the entire scene, and the other one took a seat
next to the desk.
“Take a seat, please,” one of the agents told Danny, who had remained just trying to
control his nerves.
Trying a reply, he found he had no voice and remembered the bottle of water
Wilson had given him some minutes ago.
At the signal of the camera rolling, one of the agents started. “I’m special agent
Keyes, and this is special agent Weber interrogating Mr. Danny Taylor about the
murder happened in Walsh and Associates offices last December, . In the room,
it’s also special agent Rivera, attorney Thomas and Deputy Director of the FBI,
Victor Fitzgerald.”
“Mr. Danny Taylor, it’s been a while since I wanted to talk to you, but you’ve been
avoiding this meeting in the meantime.” Agent Weber started. “You know, during
the investigation of this complicate case, you’ve been part of it, always in dark
questioning side of it. You went from a victim, to suspect, to a victim again but then
you… you disappeared. What do you guess I should think about your behavior? Oh,
don’t reply that. I’ve become an expert on you, I know everything about you and
when I say everything, I mean… everything, right?”
Danny didn’t reply. He hadn’t to.
“Mr. Taylor, I want to know if you’re still useful in this investigation. I’ve been
reading your statements when you were in the hospital, but you didn’t give us
anything really important. Any change from then and why?” Agent Keyes went
directly to the matter.
“No, I… I…”
“I remind you. You reported a electric failure for all day in the building affecting to
security.”
“Yes, my coworker told me she had had problems with her ID card and then I
heard a conversation between Mr. Walsh and another colleague about the security
cameras or so, I don’t remember well.”
“Any time in the day, the lights went off?”
“No, well yes… during the briefing.”
“What was that about? Was a regular briefing or something unexpected?”
“There were regular briefings but that was different.”
“You also reported something about a threatening note headed to a lawyer called
Maggie Anderson. How did you know?”
“She came into my office to talk to me about it. She looked pretty scared.”
“What did you do?”
“I recommended her to talk to the police or Mr. Walsh.”
“Did she do?”
“I know she talked to Mr. Walsh.”
“And, what did you do, Mr. Taylor?” Weber suddenly asked.
Danny realized that Weber was going to play the bad guy, trying to catch him.
“I called a friend who works in the FBI. She knows people in the police and thought
she could give some information about the case Ms. Anderson was working on and
the threatening note mentioned.”
“What did you get?”
“Nothing, it was classified.”
“And then?”
“And then? Oh… nothing, I did nothing. I…” Danny frowned trying to remember.
“You and Mrs. Anderson were colleagues, worked together?”
“No at that time. I was doing my practice period with Payton LaSalle in family
section. Anderson worked Criminal law.”
“So, why she came to talk to you? You’re not in her section, you’re in practice
period, so you’re pretty new in office…”
“She knew I was a former FBI agent. That’s why.”
“Only that?”
“Yes.”
“So, she went with that note about that case to talk to Walsh.”
“Yes, later Walsh called me into his office. He assigned me that case to work, I’m
sure to make a fool on Anderson.”
“And… what about the note?”
“He laughed at it,” Danny replied.
“Had you complete your practice period?”
“No, I…”
“So it was totally irregular that Walsh gave you a case to work, right?”
“Yes, sir, I was surprised… and also disappointed.”
“Why?”
“I didn’t want to work on Criminal Law.”
“Sweet coincidence,” Weber murmured ironically.
Danny glanced at Fitzgerald who remained unexpressive.
“Would you mind to explain us what happened with the gunfire? I know this is a
delicate matter so take the time you need, Mr. Taylor,” Agent Keyes asked.
“Thanks.” Danny replied. “When… when I left Mr. Walsh office, after he assigned
me that case and my definitive job in Criminal Law, I headed for my office to collect
my things and talk to Mrs. LaSalle. Then I met Mrs. Anderson who was obviously
upset. After a sort of instructions about the Criminal Law section and how to act a
as lawyer there, she gave me the folders of the case and I… I left... no, I’m sorry,
then it was when we were called to the meeting. Yes, I went to my new office and
left the folders.”
“So, Mr. Walsh didn’t give you the documents of that case.”
“No, he hadn’t them. It was all up to Anderson. She was very… very special, very
distrust with everybody.”
“Walsh included?”
“I guess so, I think she wanted all the glory for her.” Danny replied, knowing that
this information was very important.
“Interesting,” Weber said, frowning.
Danny guessed a slight smiling on Victor’s face.
“Did you ever read anything about the case?”
“No there in the office.” Danny replied.
“Later?”
“Yeah, later.” Danny saw Weber writing down something.
“Okay, so you were called to the meeting room, went to your office, left the folders
and…”
“Joined the other lawyers in the office at that moment in the meeting room.”
“What the meeting was about?”
“About me. Payton LaSalle was having an argument with Mr. Walsh at the moment
I entered the room. She was pretty upset, trying to convince him that it was a
mistake. I think there was a matter of rivalry with Anderson, but it’s just an
appreciation.”
“To go to the meeting room, you had to go through Mr. Walsh’s secretary office,
right?”
“Yes.”
“Do you remember who was there?”
“Oh… Mr. Walsh’s secretary and… some clients, I guess.”
“Two, three…?” Keyes pressured.
“Uhm… no, I guess they were more, maybe six, but I’m not sure, at all.”
“Okay, let’s go back to the meeting room. Payton LaSalle was having an argument
with Mr. Walsh. What happened next?” Keyes asked.
“Mr. Walsh explained that I was going to join to the Criminal Law section and take
care of a case.”
“How did they react?”
“Not good. Someone told about my practice period, other one about they needing
more people in financial area. Someone made reference at my past as FBI agent.”
“And you were in the middle of it when the gunfire started.”
“Uhm… no, no. At a moment Payton LaSalle left the office, being followed by
another lawyer, I don’t remember who?”
“Michael Petersen?”
“I… don’t know, I don’t remember who was, I’m sorry.”
“So, since Mrs. LaSalle had a reason to leave, she was upset with the decision…”
agent Weber started looking at Danny who nodded, “you don’t remember who
followed her outside the meeting room… I mean, it must be someone who didn’t
show a different reaction from the other lawyers.”
“I don’t remember anyone else but Payton, discussing with Walsh.”
“So he hadn’t a real reason to leave the meeting.” Weber concluded.
“I don’t know, if he was upset, or had a case to work or…”
Weber exchanged a look with Keyes, who nodded.
Weber stood up and opening the door, he said something to another agent outside.
Then he came back to his seat. “Well, Mr. Taylor, let’s continue.”
“Uhm… I… don’t remember, guess Mr. Walsh continued talking, the others as well, I
remember I didn’t feel very happy with the situation, when the lights started
failing and went off definitely. Someone cursed on it, but then I realized something
wrong.”
“What happened?” Keyes asked. “Take your time, Mr. Taylor, I know this is difficult
for you but we need all the details you can remember.”
“Something happened in the office of Mr. Walsh’s secretary. I saw the lights of
flashlights and then heard the shooting I identified immediately. As soon as it
happened I noticed two flashlights heading for the meeting room. I yelled at them
but… we didn’t even had time to react.”
“There went right to the meeting room.”
“Yes. We didn’t see anything but the flashlights, and some seconds of when we
were… spotted,” Danny suddenly got silence and closed his eyes.
“Did they shoot indiscriminately or went for someone in particular?” Keyes asked.
Danny shook his head. “They went for… everyone on that room. They focused and
shot, quickly. One of them remained on the door, I heard the other one outside, as
the third one approached us to confirm our death… I guess.”
“Actually, we only have three people in form of flashlights entering the office,
shooting you all down. That’s not help, Mr. Taylor.” Keyes said upset.
“But you’re alive.” Fitzgerald said from the back of the room.
“Yes, I am,” Danny muttered.
“How can you explain that?” Weber asked.
“Light went back. The guy had illuminated my body, pointing my head with his
gung when the light went back.”
“And he… just ran away?”
“No, he pulled the trigger, one, two, three… I don’t remember how many times. The
gun… got jammed, or he had not more… bullets.” Danny explained.
“Impressive,” Keyes said. “How are you doing with it?”
“I… just remembered this part of the story some days ago. I… don’t know how I’m
doing it, actually I… I don’t know.” Danny replied, his hands were trembling and
there were tears in his eyes but he didn’t notice any of it.
“He’s in shock,” Keyes whispered to his coworker.
“We need a description Pete,” Weber pressured.
“We’re finishing, Mr. Taylor. Uhm… do you have a description of those men?”
“One of them,” Danny replied almost in a whisper.
“Do you think if I bring one of our expert on sketches, we can get something?”
“Sure.”
“Good, take a rest now. We’ll do later. Thanks so much for your collaboration, Mr.
Taylor, it’s been great help.” Keyes said, knowing that Weber disagreed with him.
Fitzgerald nodded as the agents left the room. The other agent disconnected the
camera and also left. Danny remained sat down, unable to move.
“Do you really think that Michael didn’t know anything?” he asked.
“I don’t think so, sir.” Danny replied. “But I didn’t know him, he wasn’t my friend.”
Fitzgerald nodded. “You’ve been through lot of stress, Taylor and you’ve done
great. Let’s see if we can finish the work. I promise you, I’ll do my best to catch that
people, even if we only have the description of one of them.”
Victor left the room, and presumably the house, so when Danny left, there was no
trace of him, Weber and Keyes.
“Thanks,” he said to Wilson, pointing the water.
“How it was?”
“I don’t know, guess well but I… do you mind if I call someone?”
“You can’t, I’m sorry.”
“We’ve got a match on the database with your description,” Martin told Danny.
Our guys are on their way to arrest him. Let’s see what he can tell us. If we’re luck,
you’ll be free very soon. “How do you feel?”
Two days had passed since the interrogations and it was the first time Danny had
got good news. “I thought it would be useless.” He replied.
“Why?, you did very well. You impressed even my father, and I can tell you he’s
been present in hard interrogations.” Martin encouraged him.
Worried about him, Martin had noticed the changed in his friend, as soon as the
interview was ended and he could stay with him. From then, he had tried to
convince him to talk to Dr. Harris, but Danny had kept stubborn at it. Martin knew
that the matter wasn’t over yet, and he wasn’t sure of Danny dealing well with the
situation.
“I just… Martin, I’m sorry, I don’t want to talk about it, right? I just want… I just
want to forget it.”
“Not yet, bro.” Martin rested a hand on Danny’s shoulder. “I need you keep strong.”
“For what?”
“We need a positive identification,” he said softly.
“Oh no… I… Martin, I…”
“I know you can’t Danny, we have some time. Maybe you’d like to talk to someone
else, someone who can help you to confront this.”
5
“Dr. Harris?” Danny shook his head. “There’s no way she can help. Have you ever
heard the sound of a jammed gun over you? I wish I had never remembered what
happened, Martin. It’s like a nightmare where I’m not sure if I’m alive or dead, if
I’m in a bed hospital figuring out this story, if it’s an echo of my upcoming life but
never happened, it’s… I’m dead, am… am I?”
Martin just opened his mouth, stunned. “Do you remember Los Angeles?” he finally
asked. Danny nodded, tears rolling down his face. “Valeria?” he nodded. Martin
rested both hands on Danny’s shoulders. “Then you’re alive, and you’re fighting
this for her, for your life with her in Los Angeles, do you remember that? Come on,
boy, let it get out, let it get out, right?” He didn’t know anything else to say, but it
looked it had worked out.
He let Danny rested his head on him and cried all the pain and stress he had
carried with him for too long.
“Payton!”, he greeted her in surprise. “I didn’t know you were going to come.”
“Danny, how are you? It’s been so long… I’m here to see if I can recognize some of
the clients in Mr. Walsh’s office. They say that the killers were sitting there, as
waiting for an appointment. I can’t believe I was so… close.” She said, almost
ashamed.
“I see you okay, Payton. We’ll see we can do. Are you working any place?”
“Yes, I’m working with Mike Rainer. He was a former employee on Walsh and
Associated. He established by himself and offered a job to me. It’s a nice place.
What about you?”
“Me? Oh, I… I’m going to live in Los Angeles.” He just said.
She smiled. “You will need a new license to work in Los Angeles.”
“I don’t… I haven’t thought about it yet.” He replied.
Danny saw the attorney from the interview entering the corridor, beside Keyes
and another agent he didn’t know. They approached them. “Hello, well, Mr. Taylor
you know how this works out, Mrs. LaSalle, eight people is going to be in front of
you. They can’t see you. Look at them carefully, take all the time you need, and tell
us if you recognize someone. Same to you, Mr. Taylor. But please don’t tell until I
ask, right?”
They both agreed, as the eight people entered in the space behind the mirror.
Danny looked at them attentively, but he didn’t recognize them. He had barely seen
them, not even when he had passed through Walsh’s secretary office. But Payton’s
eyes were fixed on one of them. Danny looked at him, but nothing came to his
mind, not as it had happened when he clearly recognized the man who had shot
him.
“Mr. Taylor, can I talk to you for a moment?” agent Keyes asked, as the other agent
went to talk to Payton.
“Of course, sir.” Danny replied, going with Keyes.
“Guess we have a positive identification.” Keyes told him, as soon as they were in a
quiet room. “You said they were three attackers, right?”
Danny nodded. “Haven’t you caught the third one?”
“Yes, he’s there, behind the mirror, but it looks Mrs. LaSalle didn’t recognize him.
However, we have solid proof and the confession of your man. Surely, this one will
do the same, so you’re out of danger at the moment. I wanted you to know that.”
“Thanks so much. So can I leave my particular jail?” Danny asked.
“Yes, I see you don’t have any special interest in this case.” Keyes said.
“Is that an inconvenience?” Danny asked suspiciously.
“No, of course, and I totally understand your reasons. You know, the man who
ordered the attacks, we’ve got a name.” Keyes said looking into Danny’s eyes. “He
worked in Walsh and Associated, environmental area and was pretty pissed off by
having you around. You broke all the control he had in the office and you didn’t
even realize it.”
“I never worked that area,” Danny said confused.
“Michael Petersen, the man who left the meeting room with Payton LaSalle. The
man who shot you gave his name. He was part of the big complot, beside Maggie
Anderson. Two lawyers in the same firm, and the owner didn’t know anything?”
“Are you telling me that Walsh was involved in the complot?”
“I think he was, but I also think he agreed with Anderson in giving up and using
Gibson statement to uncover all the mess.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I don’t know what role you played there. I know you got the
recommendation of Fitzgerald, so… I just wonder.”
“No, that’s not exactly like that. Martin is my friend, he knew I had passed the
B.A.R. exam and knew Mr. Walsh. He only made a call to give me a chance. That’s
all.”
“Martin Fitzgerald has been working closely to his father in this case.”
“Because, at first time, nobody knew who was involved and who wasn’t and
needed loyal people working on it. Martin gave…”
“The Gibson’s statement… that Payton LaSalle took out conveniently but illegally
from your desk, Mr. Taylor.”
“This is everything wrong, agent Keyes. I admit, things happened like that, but it’s
not what it looks.”
“Sure, the case is over, so we don’t have anything to be worried about, or think
about, right? I hope you have a good flight back to L.A., Mr. Taylor.” Keyes said
standing up.
“Yeah, thanks,” Danny replied.
Walking back to the corridor where he had met Payton, Danny kept thinking about
Keyes’s words, and feeling the uncomfortable presentment that the case had been
close in false. Remembering Fitzgerald asking him about Michael Walsh, Danny
realized that the Deputy Director had also his doubts on it, and realized how close
he had been of being considered part of it. Keeping the lie about Walsh was the
best way of not complicate the situation of other people, Fitzgerald included and of
course, him.
Opening the door, he got into the familiar place where at that time of the day, the
still sleepy people got their doses of caffeine, with some toasts before heading for
their works. He smelled the coffee feeling like at home, realizing he was at home.
For the first time in his life, he felt a place like his, a definitive one. Heading for the
counter, he got surprised of not spotting Tom around or Lucy, but another young
woman.
“Hey,” he greeted. “Where are Tom and Lucy?” he asked.
“Are you regular? Coffee? Toasts?” she asked. “Oh, Tom is on the back, getting in
some package, and Lucy is… oh yeah, look she’s there attending those clients.” She
said pointing at her.
Danny looked at where the woman was pointing at when Lucy caught the signal.
She almost missed the tray, as seeing him. “I’m sorry,” she excused herself
nervously and ran towards him, throwing her arms around his neck. “Oh my god,
oh my god, you’re back, you’re back!” she exclaimed and kissed him on his lips.
“Wow,” Danny exclaimed, “let me get out and I’ll repeat the scene.”
Lucy, pretty ashamed by the forwardness, however was overwhelmed by the
emotion. “I thought we would never see you again. I’m so happy, oh my God,
Danny, this is a dream.”
“Yeah, you shouldn’t be surprise, Lucy, I promised I would come back, this is my
home and you’re my family,” he hugged her. “Uhm… I got you book, and I can tell
you, it’s totally false, Lucy. New York is horrible, you didn’t miss anything, right?”
She smiled looking at him with admiration, “You’re lying, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not. Uhm… where’s Val?”
“She went out for the bank, she must be back in minutes. Oh, I’m so happy Danny.
Oh, I have to attend the clients now, I’m sorry… oh my!” she exclaimed once again.
“Hey, Danny!, aha! Just in time, come here to help me boy!” Tom asked.
Danny hugged the big man. “Let me take a rest, please, I’m just coming from the
airport.”
“I was kidding boy. Glad to see you again! I admit I didn’t think I would see your
ass over here again, but see you make your promises real.”
“Of course, I don’t forget you gave me a chance here.”
“You’re not an actor, right?”
“Right, I’m not an actor, I’m just Danny.”
“Yeah, I don’t want to be here when Val comes in.”
“I’m coming, got the loan, I don’t know how but I convinced the bank we’re
solvent,” Valeria said, as reading the letters, not taking care about her
surroundings. “What were you talking abo…” she started asking Tom, but then she
raised her head just to meet him. The letters dropped from her hands, the bag
dropped from her shoulder but she didn’t care. Lucy quickly collected everything
as she grinned, stunning her, stunning Val.
“Danny, you’re back… you’re back! Oh honey, you’re back! When… how… Oh my
god,” she hugged him and kissed him.
“Hey, hey!” he protested. “Come on, we’re in public!”
“I don’t care!” Valeria said quickly before kissing him again.
The clients looked at them with a mixture of curiosity and fun, some of them
shaking their head in disbelief.
“You should,” Lucy said, noticing these last ones.
“Oh, my god. When did you come?” Valeria asked, still hugging him.
“I’m coming right from the airport, I’ve missed you so much, Val.” Danny said
smiling. He was happy, he was happier than he ever had thought he would be. And
the emotion got him.
“You didn’t even call me, I would have go to meet you,” she said.
“I wanted to surprise you,” he said. “Actually I knew I could get back yesterday
evening, so, I only had time to get the ticket and say goodbye to my friends there in
New York.”
“Do you want to go home?” she asked then.
“Sure, it would be great having a shower, let the bag, get a rest… I’m tired.”
“Let’s go then,” Val said, as Tom threw her the keys. “Take the day off,” he said.
She smiled gratefully and left with Danny as Lucy and Tom couldn’t help but keep
the grin for the rest of the day. Danny was back, Valeria had came back to smile,
they had got the loan… what else could they wish?
“Tell me, how was everything?” Valeria asked in concern. The happiness gave way
to the real matter and Valeria had spent all these weeks wondering how Danny
was doing in New York.
“It’s been… great, Val. Great because it’s over for me and you,” he said putting his
arms around her waist and kissing her.
She smiled. “You’re not replying my question, Taylor.”
“I don’t want to reply more questions.” He said, and she read the sadness on his
look and couldn’t help but think he was still pretending.
“Okay, but you know I’m here to talk if you want to,” she agreed, “but tell me you’re
not pretending being fine when it’s not, please.”
“I’m not pretending, I’m just tired, Val. I’m not… don’t look at me like that. Hey, I’m
fine. I only want to be with you, I know you’re the only one who can help me.
Valeria, I love you and you can’t understand the meaning this has for me.”
“But you’re not good, Danny and if you don’t tell me what this is about, I will let
you down, and I don’t want to.”
“You won’t let me down. Just stay with me when it happens and everything is going
to be fine. There’s not another way. Trust me.”
“Okay,” she agreed. “How was your meeting with your friends back in New York?”
“Great, even though I couldn’t see them until the case was almost over. They took
me to one of those cold apartments with agents all over around, interrogated me
and didn’t let me go until they had something for sure. But then, I met them and
everything went okay. They wanted me to stay, but of course, I said no.”
Flashback
“Nervous?” Martin asked as the elevator headed up to the th floor.
“No way, after all I’ve been through, this is just a happy meeting,” Danny smirked.
“Danny…” Martin warned him, knowing he was pretending.
“I’m not going to cry, right? Okay, you got me, but I’m not going to cry like a baby.”
Danny said.
“Of course, but don’t expect the others do the same, especially Viv. They don’t
know anything about this, so you expect any thing.”
“Shut up, Martin.” Danny said as Martin grinned knowing his friend was nervous.
The elevator stopped and let another agent entered, so their conversation was
over until they reached their destination.
“Let’s get out,” Martin said.
The familiar corridor, the windows made Danny stopped for a moment, not only
trying to control his nerves but also the old memories of the years he passed
working there. The agents, running with worried expressions, or exciting, or
discussing, or just taking a mug of coffee brought him a life he had loved for so
long, a life he was going to leave definitely.
Martin smiled as he opened the glass door of the bullpen where his coworkers
were working. Great, all of them, except Jack were there. But Jack had seen Danny
and had got out of his office and headed for him. “Danny!” he exclaimed, and the
others raised their head in stupefaction.
Jack hugged Danny in what it looked a strange reaction, especially coming from
Jack, but they were so happy and relieved to see his former coworker and noticed
he was fine, that nobody said a word. Danny headed for where Viv had frozen and
hugged her in a warm embrace, for minutes, as he noticed her crying on his chest.
He just waited for her to calm down. Sure, Vivian wouldn’t like the others seeing
her crying like a baby, even though it was totally reasonable. Sam also started
crying at the emotional scene, and Martin had to clear his throat a couple of times.
“Damn it, Danny, you made all cry,” he finally said, as Danny just removed the tears
from Viv’s face. “Calm down,” he whisper. “Everything is okay,” he said.
Then he hugged Sam as well and shook Will’s hand that just observed the scene
with incredulity. “I’ll never cause this on them, you’re a celebrity here, I guess,” he
said in disgusted, made them all laugh nervously.
“Good point!” Danny said. “I like the rookie.”
“How the dogs have treated you?” Jack asked.
Danny grimaced. “Not well, not well, the apartment was a mess, so cold and small
with all those agents around,”
“But I guess you got a friend there,” Martin objected.
“Well, if you can tell, that Wilson who gave me a bottle of water before the
interview… sorry, interrogation.” Danny smirked.
“Martin told us it was pretty hard but you did well.” Vivian said. She was worried
about him at that point.
“Yes, it looks I did well because all the bad guys are behind the bars now.”
“And you’re free to go,” Sam said.
“By the way, what’s that about you coming back to L.A.? You aren’t serious, are
you?” Vivian asked.
“I am, Viv. I have to admit I hadn’t planned anything of this but I… I found…
someone there.”
“Oh, no…”
“You will like her, isn’t true Martin?” he asked.
Martin nodded. “She’s amazing.” He agreed.
“I’ll come back to L.A. as soon as I finish the paperwork here. I have to collect the
rest of my things and say a couple of goodbyes before leaving.”
“What are you going to do with your career? I guess you must take he B.A.R. in
California.”
“No, well, there’s kind of validating exam or so, I’m not so sure, I haven’t asked. I… I
don’t know what I’m going to do. Actually, I only want to go and then I have some
things to work…”
“Are you going to work in the bar?” Martin asked.
“I don’t know, maybe,” Danny replied.
“Don’t do that, Danny, you made a great effort to pass the B.A.R. exam here, don’t
give up that possibility.”
“I don’t know, let’s see, I have to talk with Val about it and… let’s see.”
“Val, that’s her name…” Vivian smirked.
“Valeria.” Danny said.
“Let me tell you one thing. Valeria won’t let you get down, Danny. So you better go
to prepare your access and get a good work as a lawyer.” Martin said.
Danny looked at him with a strange expression they got. “What happened in Walsh
and Associated doesn’t have to be repeated, Danny. Don’t take it as an experience
because it wasn’t, at all.” Jack said. “Maybe you could try in the FBI there in L.A.
Working there as a consultant, knowing the job…”
Martin was going to tell something about his father helping, Victor was very
impressed by Danny, he had never thought he was so brave, but remembered what
had happened the last time and shut up in time.
“I’ll consider that, it’s not a bad idea, Jack. And maybe some day in a future, I’ll try
again about the… Taylor and associated.” Danny smiled, drawing the title on the
air.
All of them burst in laughter and Martin glanced at the time. “Hey, Danny, I know
you’d love to stay but we’re in a hurry if you want to take that flight.”
“Yeah, okay. I hope to see you in L.A. any time soon. Don’t forget pass by home if
you go for a work, for vacation, whatever, please.” He said. “Viv, go on like this,
you’re fantastic, you know that. What I told you being in your home was totally
true. I take those weeks in my heart.” He hugged her.
“Sam, don’t forget to send me some pics of Finn, I don’t want to miss my nephew
growing up,” he said hugging her as well.
Feeling ashamed by so emotional gesture she never knew how to manage, Sam just
said, “of course I’ll do.”
“Jack…” he started.
“Oh, let it go, Danny, let it go, I’m very sorry, I was an authentic jerk at you, I admit
that, but I always appreciated you, and still appreciate you.”
“Thanks, I also love you,” Danny said, and they both burst into laughs.
“Danny, you don’t have to tell me anything else. Let’s go to the airport!” Martin
demanded.
“Of course, Martin.” Danny shook Will’s hand. “Good luck, guy, you’re working with
the best team ever. Believe me, and take care of it, when Jack turns a jerk again.”
“Let’s go, see you guys!”, he said, as Martin grabbed him by the arm.
End of flashback
“Beautiful”, Valeria said with a smile. “What are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know, this is all new for me, Val. What to do?”
“That work in the FBI sounds good, you could try, don’t you think?”
“What about the bar?”
“Are you kidding? The bar is mine. I’ll let you… two days to rest and think, then
take a decision because you’re fired from the bar.”
“What!”
“But not from home,” she said maliciously before kissing him.
End