« on: July 12, 2014, 07:12:58 pm »
This isn't too long, and I don't have any public space where I could post it (I don't do any social-networking stuff), so hopefully nobody minds too much that I'm posting it here.
The phone rang, the quick double-buzz of an external line. He picked it up without lifting his eyes from the case file. "Minneapolis PD, Homicide. Zingermann."
"Hi, Saul. It's Nikki Lau."
He let the file drop. Of course it was - that was her voice, as memorable as everything about Special Agent Nicollette Lau - but he'd never heard that note in it before. "Nikki. It's good to hear from you. I'm so very sorry about..." - the enormity of her loss stalled him for a moment - "...your team."
"Thanks." Repetition had worn the grief-edges off of her response; no doubt she'd been saying it a lot over the past few weeks. "I really appreciated your card."
He normally wouldn't ask his next question of a federal agent, but after the cases they'd worked together, he thought he might have a little leeway. "How are you holding up?"
She snorted briefly, a sound that reminded him painfully of Esther Falkner. "Holding. Some days it's still more like 'propped up,' but...the work goes on. Which is why I'm calling, actually."
"You've got a case?" That wasn't the way the liaison reporting usually ran - the Johansen case notwithstanding, poor kid - but after Villette's national-TV bombshell and the subsequent uproar, Saul could well imagine that a few things had changed in the ACTF.
"I've got a job offer."
He was sitting in the Homicide bullpen, so he swallowed the first thirty or so responses that came to mind, and defaulted to "Behind on your recruiting quota for old men?"
"You're not that old," she said tartly, with the practiced exasperation of someone who still needed binoculars to sight her fortieth birthday. "We've still got way too many empty desks here. I've pulled in a couple of experienced agents from Down the Hall, but not enough to get it done. Now that we're out in the open, I can recruit from Quantico, but I need cops with experience and authority."
"Why me?" There had to be more to it than that. The LEO community - much like the rest of the country - had been buzzing with rumor and speculation about the Anomaly; surely she could have taken her pick of volunteers.
"You know how this really works, Saul. You've seen what we do, and how, and what it can cost. I need a team that understands what they're getting into."
He swallowed. What it could cost.... Worth, Hafidha, Sol Todd, Falkner. Brady, who might - with luck - walk again. Villette. (He could see the BOLO poster from his desk, barely. The photo didn't do Chaz justice.)
He closed his eyes. Remembered Nikki marching Betty Johnson out of the church in New Gothenburg. Nikki racing through the bunker under Petrewski's decoy house. Nikki hovering outside the station washroom, unable to comfort the young woman inside. How many more of them are out there? How many are slipping through her fingers?
"What do I need to do?"
Because she was Nikki Lau, he only heard the barest hint of relief as she said "We'll need to make some phone calls...."
Her phone gave the beep-beep-beep that signaled an outside call. She deftly maneuvered her oversized coffee cup into its designated four square inches of personal space on her overpopulated desktop. "LAPD, Homicide. Nield."
"Hello, Detective. This is Special Agent Lau at the FBI. Do you have a minute?"