Disclaimer: Don't own. Just borrowing.
Author's Note: I was supposed to be working on a movie script yesterday and instead...this. I'm a little bit upset at myself. I'm sorry LK!
Connecting the Dots
Quinn sits in her home office, her body tense and rigid.
Outside of her door and on the street in front of her building, armed guards stand watch, and yet, she feels this sense of unease, and she's incapable of shaking it.
After all, the things she knows…they could put her under the jail for them, or worse.
Swallowing nervously, Quinn's reaches out with a shaky hand and grasps the amber-liquor filled tumbler from her desktop, knocking back the last of the drink with nary a grimace. It burns as it spills down her throat, but she welcomes the sensation, needing to feel that pain to purge – punishment for her actions and inaction when it mattered the most.
She's reaching for her quarter-full bottle of Talisker, intending on pouring another two fingers when the music starts playing – an ominous little ditty, nearly identical to Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" reverberating quietly throughout her cavernous complex.
Confused, because her own cellphone sits silently beside her drink, Quinn's ears strain to locate the origination of the sound, her eyes following as well until she can just barely make out the dull blinking light illuminating the law books on her bookshelf.
Quickly, she makes her way over to it, discovering the cellphone and the unlisted title painted across the screen's surface before she accepts the call immediately, not wanting to alert any of the guards.
"Hello," she whispers, ear pressed to the receiver.
"Well, well, well," the familiar voice drawls out and the hair on the back of Quinn's neck quivers, "Look at who I found."
"How did you-" Quinn stutters, eyes darting around nervously, "What are you- You broke into my apartment?" she finally asks, incredulous.
"You say that like you're surprised; like you don't know by now that I'm capable of many things."
Quinn gulps, her free hand idly gliding along the surface of the small bookcase while her other grips the phone tightly. "I am aware of your…capabilities," she concedes.
"Are you?" the voice questions, sounding amused, oddly enough. "I mean, I thought you were but then you went ahead and did something that I can only classify as utterly idiotic."
"I'm not sure-"
"Did you really think I wouldn't find out about Mr. Hudson and his dinner-interrupting rendezvous with you?" the person on the phone interrupts smoothly, causing Quinn's heart rate to speed up just that little bit more. "That I don't know everything."
"I-" Quinn stutters, completely caught off-guard. "I didn't think-"
The voice laughs, nearly cackling. "Of course you didn't think. You, unlike myself, are utterly inept when it comes to considering every itty, bitty little detail of any scenario because you, unlike myself, have zero capacity for being ruthless. You have too much heart. I used to admire you for it, too, but now I've come to realize that having heart is a liability."
Quinn presses the phone as close to her ear as possible, detecting something dark in the person's ominous tone.
"You know," the voice starts, seemingly switching tracks with a lighter, conversational tone of voice, "I consider myself a businessperson of sorts. I'm constantly comparing my assets and liabilities…I don't like liabilities Quinn and you've gone and made yourself one."
Quinn swallows. "What are you…what are you going to do to me?"
"I wouldn't worry about it too much – like most inevitable things, it's best to ignore them – but if you were thinking about running off and trying to get help, know this Senator Fabray: I've got eyes everywhere."
Brittany, leans her head back against the wall, trying to figure out what's most annoying about this situation.
She's being held captive by a man who has clearly lost his mind. Even if he is "protecting" them, the fact that he's spent the better part of the last hour tracing his fingers over what looks to her a bare wall is not doing him any favors in asserting his sanity. Her wrists and ankles are irritated from being cinched together for so long and her butt's tired from sitting all the time. She's cold, she's hungry, and she really is getting kind of nauseous from the overly strong smell of pine-sol this place reeks of. She can't talk to Santana – and that one's pretty high up on the list – but, even it doesn't top this latest aggravator.
"Look, the dude's freakishly strong, okay? Like the Hulk," he whispers.
"How do you know he's like the Hulk? Have you ever fought the Hulk?" she whispers back, snappily.
His eyebrows raise. "Well no, but hypothetically-"
She rolls her eyes. "Then you can't say he's like the Hulk."
"Well, Mercedes, when you're speaking in hypotheticals-"
"We don't have time for hypotheticals, Sam. Do these look like hypothetical handcuffs on my wrists?"
"Oh my God, shut up," Brittany groans, rather loudly, having had enough. "You guys are more annoying than Pokes-At-The-Wall over there."
"I'm just saying," Mercedes demurs, though less adamantly than before, "Sam should step up and be a man."
"Hey Miss Equal Rights Advocate," Sam objects with a hissed whisper, "Why don't you woman up?"
"Can it, the both of you," Brittany whispers, blinking tiredly, "All of this debate is pointless, okay?" she explains, nodding towards Puck. "That guy is nuttier than a payday. Eventually, he'll slip up and then we'll make our move," she explains, letting her head fall back against the wall she's propped up against. "Until then, we wait."
Mercedes sits back with a huff, rolling her eyes, but then she leans her head against Sam's shoulder regardless.
Brittany settles back too, glad that they've finally quieted for the moment but then, after a beat or two, she sighs, loudly.
"I want some Lucky Charms."
Blaine holds the microphone out reluctantly, unsure of how he even ended up in this position.
One minute he's on a short list to interview the President about his surrogate child and the next…the next he's debating whether or not it would be appropriate to tell the man he's interviewing that flossing before going on national television isn't a bad idea.
Neither is showering.
Or a mint.
"I'm telling you man. Me and Pauline was just sitting right ova' there," Donald, the man, says, pointing at a gaggle of trees a few blocks away from the White House. "Wasn't we Pauline?"
"Mmhmm, that's right Donny," the twitchy lady standing next to him chimes.
"Standin' right therr n' I was just about t' light my...uh, cigarette," Donny coughs, looking into the camera momentarily, "and then, right when the flame was startin' to take, BOOM! It's like a fireball exploded."
"Well it was more like BA-BOOM!" Pauline corrects thoughtfully.
"Okay, there you have it folks," Blaine says, turning back to the camera and patiently ignoring the couple now waving enthusiastically behind him, "From the mouths of two eye witnesses mere blocks away from the Capital building: Boom."
Pauline jumps in the frame behind him, hand on his shoulder. "BA-BOOM!"
"Cut," Blaine says, glaring at his cameraman as the guy chuckles. "Did you catch that?" he says smartly, stepping away from his subjects and heading towards the news van.
"Ran outta tape somewhere after the first BA-BOOM," the guy smirks.
"I know you think you're funny Tanaka but trust me, you only look it," Blaine says, clamoring into the passenger seat.
"Aww, c'mon Blaine. I'm just teasin'. Pretty soon the boss'll forget about the Interview the Could've Been and you'll be back to posing with political posers," Ken explains, hulking his large frame into the driver's seat. "Until then, you and I are on filler duty."
Blaine slumps back into his seat, sulking. "Yeah," he mumbles, staring forlornly at the nation's' capital, its flags fluttering at half mast.
Finn stands in his suit, the slight tremor in his hand eased by the ballpoint pen he's clutching.
Outside this small foyer, voices are hushed yet curious, somber yet excited, and he's…he's about to crap a brick.
"We're ready whenever you are Mr. Vice-President," one of the newly-appointed service agent says. Finn can tell he's new because he's not wearing sunglasses.
They pretty much always wear sunglasses.
"I'm," Finn starts, inhaling deeply, "I'm ready." Tapping his flag pin with his pinky twice – his good luck habit – Finn steps around the darkened corridor entrance and into the fray.
"It's on!" Sugar yells, flapping into the conference room and flicking on the flat screen.
Rachel glances up from Puck's laptop, Santana huffing as she does so.
"Just let me watch the presser," Rachel says, even rolling her eyes a little, "then I'll get back to spying on government officials."
Jake chokes on his mouthful of coffee, abruptly sitting up. "Um, excuse me? What are you doing?"
"Bruh," Artie says, eyes transfixed to the television, "Stop asking questions. Especially ones you don't really want to know the answers to."
"Relax," Rachel says, "Government's internet security is extremely cryptic, okay? It's virtually impossible to crack."
"That…doesn't really answer my question," Jake says slowly.
"Shut up!" Santana barks, quieting the room. "Finn's on."
"Good Morning my fellow Americans. I won't mince words on this morning as I am sure you are all anxious about what has happened here. And I know there are numerous theories and rumors going around what happened as well. I'm here to clear the fog and give you, the people of this country, what you deserve: the truth."
Finn sighs, squaring his shoulders and looking directly into the camera.
"The truth is that while President Evans, the First Lady, and his mother, Mrs. Evans were seated to dinner an explosion went off in the presidential dining room. Emergency personnel were on the scene immediately and were able to rescue both Mrs. Evans and a decorated secret service woman. Unfortunately, lost in the explosion were white house cook Delano Scott, sous chef Melanie Brown, aides Dorrie Cox, Bo Warren, and Clair Jiroux."
Finn pauses again, pressing his lips together hard and swallowing hard to clear the knot in his throat.
"Also lost…my dear good friends White House Chief of Staff Mercedes Jones, First Lady Brittany Pierce-Evans, and President Samuel Evans."
Sue stares blankly at her television, her cup of coffee over-flowing as she pours sugar into it.
Kurt's hands fly to his mouth, his eyes instantly filling with tears as he stares at the small bookcase television.
Artie quickly stands and turns off the television.
Jake cuts his eyes to Santana who's just standing over Rachel, still, motionless.
"Rachel," she starts, "break the firewall…now!"
This time Jake says nothing when Rachel's fingers start clicking at the keyboard.
"If Puck were here this would probably go a lot smoother," Rachel says, talking aloud to herself like she tends to do when she's anxious. "He'd probably just click three buttons and bingo. Hacked."
"You okay, boss?" Artie asks, his eyes carefully examining Santana's whose are patently avoiding his.
"There," she says, pointing at the screen, "What's that?"
"It's a dummy access point," Rachel answers. "Systems like there use a bunch of dummy access points to throw off hackers although…hmmm…this is the first one like this I've come across…"
Sugar, Artie, and Santana all look at one another, then back to Rachel. "Click it."
Instantly, the screen clears and folder after folder pop up, each one labeled and detailed in description.
"Bingo," Rachel breathes.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
"The jig is up!" Sugar shouts, tossing her handful of papers into the air and shoving Artie between herself and the door. "Every woman for herself!"
"Who the hell is that?" Artie asks.
"I don't know," Santana says slowly, narrowing her eyes at the door as she nears it.
Jake walks up beside her, his service weapon already drawn. "Open it," he directs her, "slowly."
Santana steadies her breathing, then, without hesitation, snatches the door open, startling the woman on the other side, fist raised in the air and poised to knock again.
"Ah hell," Santana says, rolling her eyes and taking a step back.
"Senator Fabray?" Jake asks, lowering his weapon, "What are – why are you here?"
"Um," Quinn swallows, wringing her hands together, "I, um, need help and I didn't know who else to go to."
"Quinn, look, you're my client and all but I don't have time to deal with whatever non-attached bachelor you've managed to slip and fall onto. Now, if you'd please," Santana says, starting to usher her back out the door, but Quinn shrugs off her grip, turning back around.
"While I don't appreciate your insinuations, I'll let that go as I'm in no position to argue."
"Right you are," Santana says, pushing again, this time managing to get the other woman to the door even though Quinn is struggling against her, "So, if you could just-"
"I know who bombed the White House!" Quinn shouts suddenly.
Santana stops pushing. "What did you say?" she asks quietly, her eyes studying Quinn when the woman turns around again.
"Well, I'm not entirely sure who but I have information about who it could be, information that I only have because I've been working for them…" Quinn trails off as Santana starts to laugh lightly. "What…what's so funny?"
"You might want to brace yourself," Artie tells her, waiting for it.
Quinn's eyebrows scrunch, "Brace myself for wha-"
Quinn falls to the floor like a sack of potatoes, her hands darting up to cover her face as her rapidly filling eyes sweep up to glare at Santana.
Santana, who's standing over her, literally quivering with rage.
Sugar, apparently convinced there is no longer a threat, peers down at Quinn from over Santana's shoulder.
"You got knocked the hell out!"
Ryder shifts in bed a bit, the cheap sheets underneath him scratching uncomfortably at his skin.
If his calculations are correct, he's only been asleep for…three hours because he can hear Mrs. Edmonds broken coffeemaker gurgling from across the hall and any minute Mr. Edmonds is going to say-
"When are you going to get rid of this thing?!"
"I've tried, but you keep finding your way back in!"
Ryder jumps out of bed, one arm flailing back and flinging his blanket to the floor.
Sitting along his bedside, Puck barely blinks in response. "Easy or hard?"
"What are – what did – how did you get in here?" Ryder whisper-shrieks, scooting as far away from Puck as possible, not mindful of his appearance.
"You sleep naked?"
Ryder looks down at himself, snatching his blankets up for cover. "I get hot," he defends meekly before shaking his head slightly. "What do you wants?"
Puck smirks a little. "I need you."
"No way man. Look, I don't want anything to do with everything, I don't know nothing about something, and I have not spoken with someone or anyone. You do not need me."
"Okay. Hard it is," Puck says, standing quickly. Within seconds he has a gun drawn and is aiming it at a quivering Ryder, a stack of bills in his other hand. "I need groceries so I need you. Okay?"
"Y-yeah," Ryder stutters, "That's t-totally fine."
Kurt's still staring at the mute television, eyes still focused on the constantly rolling scroll at the bottom.
The one that still reads President Evans Killed in White House Explosion.
"Yes," Kurt croaks quietly, before clearing his throat. "Yes," he repeats, voice firmer.
The aide smiles at him kindly. "You have a call. Senator Fabray?"
"Oh. Okay. Thank you," he says, waiting for the woman to step back out of the office before taking the call.
He sighs heavily, bracing himself.
"Mrs. Jones's office," he manages in a professional tone, "This is Kurt Hummel speaking."
"Hi…Kurt," Quinn starts haltingly, "I…uh, had a difficult time tracking you down. Your office-"
"Is out of commission? Yes, I'm aware. How can I be of service Senator Fabray?"
"I need to speak with you about something, Mr. Hummel. It's really important…It's about Bobby."
Kurt raises an eyebrow. "…I'm sorry but aren't we talking now or…"
"Oh yes. Sorry. I need to speak with you in person."
Kurt sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Okay, okay fine. Where – are you in your office?"
"No, meet me at Pennsylvania and Henry."
"I'm sure I don't need to remind you of this but there's a lot going on here. I can't just–"
"It's urgent Kurt. Don't make me use your middle name Hummel. Please?"
"Okay, but I'll need an hour."
Quinn gulps, eyes darting warily from Santana's beyond pissed face and the frowning others.
"Make it sooner."
Sam twists around on the floor, shuffling his body back and forth in an attempt to loosen the plastic ties around his wrists.
"What the hell are these things made of anyway," he grunts, pulling his arms apart as far as he can before slumping in exhaustion, "Kryptonite?"
"Kryptonite would mean implying that you are Superman and I'm telling you Sam, you ain't him," Mercedes deadpans, already having given up on her quest to get free.
Sam huffs, his unkempt hair falling into his eyes a little bit. "Well, I have to try something. We can't just wait here for him to come back."
"Look, I want out of here as much as you two do," Mercedes starts, letting her legs stretch back out against the dusty floorboards, "But, the crazy dude hasn't killed us or anything. As far as I can tell, he's the only reason any of us are alive."
At Sam's confused look, Mercedes just twists her lip at him. "You think it was a coincidence that ninja guy showed up just in time for the explosion?"
Sam looks at Brittany and she merely shrugs, unsure.
"I'm not saying he's the most trustworthy guy in the world, but, as far as I can tell, he isn't necessarily the biggest threat to us," Mercedes explains.
"I think he works for Santana, actually," Brittany offers, cocking her head, "Or…he's related to her? He wasn't really clear."
Sam and Mercedes both stare at her. "What?!"
Before Brittany can answer, the familiar crank of a large lock being manipulated sounds throughout the space and very shortly after, Puck's shadow looms over the three of them.
Only, this time, he's not alone. Someone's quivering just in front of him, a pillowcase draped over their head.
Puck snatches the case off.
"Ow, man. I have- I have hair you know?" Ryder says, rubbing at the now stinging spot on the crown of his head. He shifts the paper bag full of groceries in his arms before finally looking around.
Ryder drops the bag.
Puck, back to staring at the wall, doesn't even turn around when he speaks. "Hard pass."
"President Evans, Mrs. President Evans," Ryder barely says, struggling to find air. "Oh my – everybody thinks you guys are…and Mrs. Jones. Am I…should I like bow or something?"
"Please don't," Mercedes says.
"What's in the bag?" Brittany asks.
Kurt walks into the low-lit restaurant, just as Quinn had instructed him too.
It was hell making it out of that White House ridiculousness but Kurt's a lot craftier than he looks, and, it doesn't hurt that being the White House press secretary means living in the press longue.
His alibi is airtight.
The patrons inside the diner pay him no mind, all wearing somber expressions as their eyes stay fixed to the small, tube television mounted in the diner's corner.
Kurt averts his gaze when Vice President Hudson starts to speak.
He can't see or hear that again.
Gratefully enough, he's barely adjusted to his surroundings when a woman's frantic waving catches his eye.
Lowering his D&G sunglasses, Kurt can't help but grin wryly as he approaches her.
"Channeling our inner unabomber are we?" he says sardonically, looking over her attire.
Quinn peers up at him from behind thick black sunglasses, her mop of blonde hair barely visible beneath a hulking – though pink – hoodie.
"Do you really think using the word bomb is wise to do right now?"
"Good point," Kurt says, sliding into the booth with a sobered expression. "What did you want to talk to me abo-wha-"
Kurt cuts himself short when four people suddenly slide into their booth, two on Quinn's side and two on his own.
"Santana?" he asks, recognizing her face out of the lot instantly as she sits across from him, "What the hell is going on?"
"We need your help, Kurt," Santana says, casually looking over a diner menu.
"I'm going to order some curly fries," Sugar says, seated to the right of Kurt, "Anybody else want anything?"
Artie, to her right, puts his hands over her own and lowers the menu, shaking his head at her silently.
"Help with what?" Kurt asks, confused.
"The Senator here," Santana says, jerking her head to the in Quinn's direction, "has gotten herself into some deep shit. And, honestly, for right now, the less you know the better."
"Then what am I here for?"
"We need your access," Santana explains.
"Access to what?" Kurt asks and Santana merely widens her eyes a little, silently imploring him to catch up. "No way."
"Are you insane, Santana," Kurt hisses, leaning across the table toward her. "The White House has exploded, the President is dead and you want me to-"
"It's the only way we can get to the bottom of this Kurt," Santana cuts him off, her tone authoritative. "Now, you and I know, that with the security in place there, there's no way this could've been pulled off without inside help. My associate here," she says, nodding at Rachel, "she's found me the breadcrumbs, I just need you to get me into the witch's house."
"Santana," Kurt shakes his head, "You know there is no way I can get you into the White House right now. They're barely letting people out." He looks to Quinn. "How did you get out?"
"Cramps," Quinn deadpans.
"Look, I don't need to physically get in," Santana explains, rolling her eyes at Quinn a little. "Where is it, Rachel?"
Rachel smoothly places a notebook onto the table, an ink pen clipped onto its cover. She slides it over to Kurt.
Kurt stares at it. "What, do you want me to collect autographs?"
"This, Mr. Hummel, is the latest in technology," Rachel says, picking up the writing tool. "To the untrained eye, it's just your average ink pen, but…press this button right here and…"
The tip of the pen retracts, releasing one black, microscopic bead. It rolls around for a second and stops, clinking against the prong of Kurt's fork. "What is it?"
"That's a NOVA bead," Rachel says, eyes large but then she realizes no one is nearly as impressed as she is. "It's basically the world's smallest super computer. This pen has four others inside. I just need to get a couple of these bad boys near the mainframe and tu casa blanca es mi casa blanca."
"Trust me, Kurt," Santana says, "There's something afoul going on up there and I don't trust anyone in the White House to handle it. This is the only way. Now, will you help us?"
Kurt presses his lips together, shakily picking up the pen. "What exactly do you need me to do?"
Brittany's happily munching away on her box of Lucky Charms.
She's only got the one arm free. Actually, she, Mercedes, and Sam are all tethered to separate corners of the room now because Sam took an inadvertent swipe at Puck when they guy offered him some Doritos.
In all fairness, it was the gross Chipotle Cheddar kind but still. Any chances they may have had to team up and take him on have been trimmed dramatically.
But, hey, at least she's still got her magically delicious cereal.
Ryder, handcuffed and hogtied, sits slumped against a wall, midway between Sam and Mercedes.
Puck, slowly chewing on a Pay Day candy bar, nods at the Styrofoam bowl of untouched noodles sitting in front of Mercedes. "You should eat."
"You should bite me," Mercedes fires back, darkly.
"You guys are the worst captives ever," Puck grumbles, rolling his eyes. "I'm just saying. I don't know when I'll be able to get food for us again so you should eat."
"How is my kid?" Sam barks at him, kicking out his leg in anger. "My mother? What the hell is happening outside of this musty ass closet of a room? You're insane if you think I can eat while I'm sitting here, literally, in the dark."
"Do you work for Santana?" Mercedes finally asks. Puck's eyes flash wildly. "Because Brittany said-"
"What did Brittany say?" Puck interrupts.
All eyes shift over to the blonde who gulps down a mouthful of marshmallows before responding. "It's just…you called her boss when you brought her here and I saw you at her offices that time and I just…well, I'm hoping you're a good guy."
Puck blinks, his right eye twitching just slightly and though he's looking at Brittany, it doesn't seem as if he's seeing her. "I am…I'm trying to stay good but…" he brings a finger to his head and pokes at his temple, "there's some not so good things floating around up here."
The captives in the room all shared nervous, cautious glances.
"If you work for Santana," Brittany starts slowly, keeping her voice quiet, "then you are a good guy."
Puck blinks again, his pupils dilating and fixing on Brittany. At first, it's quiet for a long, uncomfortable moment and then-
"Bobby is staying with Kurt, at least for now. Mrs. Evans is in the hospital, in stable condition. She doesn't remember much about the accident, though. Vice President Hudson is who has been speaking to the public. As far as anyone knows, you all perished in the explosion. It's only a matter of time before forensic evidence confirms otherwise. I'm hoping that by that time, I'll have a bead on whoever is responsible, but babysitting the three –" Puck looks over at Ryder, "four of you, is complicating matters. I don't want to risk putting anybody else in danger but, I need help. And yes, I do work for Santana Lopez, although, none of this was her idea."
Mercedes and Brittany look at one another, gob-smacked, while Sam just stares hard at Puck, calculating.
"It had to have been an inside job," he finally says, jabbing his plastic spoon into his bowlful of noodles violently. "Someone with knowledge of how things work within and around the White House."
Puck nods slowly. "That's what I'm thinking."
"And someone with financial means as well," Mercedes adds. "Unfortunately, the almighty dollar has been proven to break allegiances."
"Maybe someone with ties outside of the country," Brittany suggests, biting her lip. "I mean, God bless America and all that but we're not the most popular country anymore. We have our enemies."
Ryder clears his throat. "Don't forget asshole," he says, sitting up a little more.
"Um, excuse me?" Mercedes raises an eyebrow at him.
"I'm just saying," Ryder shrugs, "Most bad guys are assholes."
"Ryder," Puck says.
"Yeah?" Ryder asks.
Santana turns away from the dry erase board and looks over the group of people assembled before her, and then she notices Jake.
"What is your problem?"
Jake, arms stubbornly folded across his chest, "I don't appreciate being told to wait in the car like a toddler."
"Get over it. You stand out like a sore thumb, okay? Plus, you've got to be on someone's radar seeing as how you've been booted from service for an indefinite amount of time," Santana explains, dismissively as best. "I don't have time for your feelings. That goes for all of you, so keep them to yourselves, am I clear?"
Artie, Sugar, Quinn, and Rachel nod immediately. Jake begrudgingly follows suit.
"Okay then," Santana says, uncapping a dry erase marker and shutting off the main light in the room. The dry erase board behind her glows with invisible marker and Santana's thankful the lights are off.
"Ebitt, the Hamilton, Fogo…" Sugar reads, squinting her eyes. "Are those restaurants?"
Santana clears her throat, trying not to let her mind slip back to the millions of lists she'd compiled trying to plan the perfect first date for her and Brittany. "Um, let me erase those," she says quickly, wiping the board clean frantically.
When she turns back around, Rachel and Artie are looking at her carefully, but she presses on, ignoring their concern. "Let's start with the facts."
"Fact," Artie states, "the presidency is the most coveted job in D. C. Leader of the free world has one hell of a nice ring to it. I'd say all of congress looks good for this." He turns to Quinn with a shrug, "Sorry, Senator Fabray."
"Also fact, most politicians are pussies and couldn't pull something like this off if they tried," Sugar contends. "Case in point, Senator Fabray."
"Hey!" Quinn bristles.
"Asperger's," Sugar whispers.
"What about Judge Sylvester?" Artie speaks up again. "I still say she looks good for this."
"Sue's nuts but she's not this nuts," Santana says.
"I don't think Sue's been involved for quite some time, though, she is who first recommended I get in touch with this person," Quinn supplies.
"We'll asterisk Sue, then," Santana says, underlining her name. "We'll pick through her digital records and if anything looks fishy, she jumps to the top of the list."
"Okay, motive won't get us anywhere fast," Sugar says. "How about means?"
"Well, I for one contend that whoever is behind this had to have had a substantial amount of fiscal resources," Rachel starts. "The explosion itself and the sophistication of the device suggests manufacturing process that would have been close to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Compound that with the fact that this was covert, precise, and neatly carried out without so much as a murmur of anticipation means that this person paid mightily to have their tracks covered."
"Rachel's right," Santana says, scribbling dollar signs on the board. "Whoever is behind this has to have major bank. Why don't you look at the financial records of the major political players? Dig deep, Rachel. Like, overseas accounts deep."
"On it," Rachel says, traipsing off to the computer room.
"All that's left is opportunity," Jake says, looking at the notes on Santana's board. "And honestly, with everything you've just said, only one person seems to be checking all the boxes for me."
Jake stands up, joining Santana near the board and asking for the marker silently. He scribbles for a moment and when he steps away, Sugar's jaw drops.
"No way," she says.
"No," Quinn says, shaking her head vehemently. "You're wrong. That's his best friend."
"Yeah Jake," Santana starts uneasily, though her mind is already working to put the pieces together, "I don't know…"
"Look," Jake starts, looking at them all, "It all adds up. He's got access so there's your opportunity. He's oil money so we know he has the means. And, and this is truly telling, he's currently acting President. What more motive do you need."
Quinn falls back against her chair, aghast. "That's just…it's insane."
"I'm telling you," Jake says, capping the marker with finality, "our best suspect is Vice President Finn Hudson."
Santana steps into the quiet apartment with labored footsteps.
She immediately kicks off her heels and sinks down into the plush carpet lining the hallway.
Today has been one hell of a day.
The stress of it is all getting to her, and, though she knows the truth, nothing gets her stomach twisting more than the fact that, had Puck not intervened, the words flashing across every screen, headlining every newspaper, and coming from everyone's lips would be true.
It's that knowledge that weighs heavily on her, that and the fact that she's not okay, even in this apartment – whereabouts known to Puck and Puck alone.
She's not okay because Brittany's not okay and, for the moment, there's not a damn thing Santana can do about that.
Her team is about four stories above her, all in various states of near-delirium and flat out exhaustion. They'd worked every angle imaginable and still, Jake's solution seems to be the most sound, the most realistic, the most obvious.
That's why Santana knows he's wrong.
With a sigh, Santana finds her way to the bathroom and turns on the tap for the tub, letting it fill quickly with the hottest water she can manage.
The pickings are slim for this hide-away hole so there's nothing really to clean up with except for a bar of mild soap but Santana's grateful to be able to rinse away some of the yuck of today, if only for a moment.
In the process of slipping off her clothes, Santana's startled by an abrupt ringing, but her muted cellphone lies haphazardly on the back lid of the toilet.
This ringing is coming from elsewhere.
Instantly rankled, Santana slips her shirt back over her shoulders, reaching for her cellphone and the loaded-22 she made sure to retrieve from the locked cabinet drawer of her desk. "Who's there?" she calls out, forgetting momentarily that Puck informed her to never make known her present location.
Calling out into darkened, quiet area, is the easiest way to get caught Santana.
The ringing continues as Santana nears the dusty couch, draped in a gray and fraying duvet. The slightest flash of light shines from the cushioned surface and without thinking, Santana grabs it, flipping the phone open.
"Puck?" she asks, breathlessly.
Santana's whole demeanor shifts, her shoulders losing their tense set as she slumps onto the back of the couch. "Brittany," she whispers, tears coming to her eyes instantly.
"Yeah. It's me."
"How are you-"
"Puck called. He got tired of answering my questions, I think."
"Is this safe?"
"He's scrambling the signal or something. I don't know. How are you?"
"How am I? How are you? You're the person I'm worried about."
"Oh, honey I'm fine. I'm fine. Puck is…he's doing the best he can."
"We're going to figure this out, Britt. We're going to find out who did this and then you can come home. And we can…we can be together Brittany. No more waiting. No more games. Screw Sam."
"I want that more than anything, San. But I want you safe too. You have to promise me you won't get into this stuff. The things Puck has found out, well, they're pretty crazy and dangerous."
"I don't care, Britt. Let me fix this, for you. For us."
"I don't want you to be my hero, Santana. I just want you to be mine. And that can't happen if you're hurt or…or worse."
Santana sighs, biting her lip. The mixture of emotions running through her is unreal. She feels helpless and angry and brave, but, more than that she feels love…unyielding love.
"Promise me you won't play the hero, Santana. Can you? Promise?" Brittany's voice quietly asks across the line.
"I…I promise," Santana gulps, looking straight ahead into the darkness.
"Good," Brittany breathes out, sighing in relief. "That's good. Now, can I tell you about how much cereal I ate today, because it's kind of ridiculous."
"Go ahead, sweetheart," Santana says, letting her weight settle more comfortably against the couch.
It's only after a minute or two of chatting with Brittany that she finally uncrosses her fingers.
Madison, even after discovering the fa-reaking President, doesn't get any of the cool jobs.
Abby, some girl who's only been on staff for about a month gets to scrub in on the autopsy, but Madison?
What does Madison get to do?
And not even the actual teeth either.
She flips the small card against the table, annoyed even more when it slaps against the metal surface.
"Unbelievable," she mutters, "You find the president and they put you on grunt work. I mean, comparing dental records?!"
She snatches up the small brown envelope labeled XLVI and lets the plaques inside slide onto her work table.
"Like any dolt with more than two brain cells can't match-"
Madison cuts herself off, her eyebrows nearly disappearing into her hairline.
She holds the placards up against the backlight board, the one labeled specimen 24B just under the other but even without close examination she can see it clear as day.
These two x-rays are not the same.