Jack Malone sat back in his office chair and pressed the heels of his hands against the headache throbbing in his temples. His eyes were watering. He'd been staring at paperwork for six hours. Office requisitions, because the "office manager" was out on maternity leave. The FBI hadn't seen fit to replace her temporarily.
Jack groaned and stared out the glass wall of his office. The rest of the floor was dark, closed down for the night. The gold halogen lights on the polished black floor mimicked the shadowy city beyond the bullpen. Jack had long ago thought the use of the halogen lights only part of the decoration scheme. Now, under the florescent lights in his office, Jack knew it was for a much kinder purpose.
Jack took off the reading glasses and pushed to his feet, stretching. He felt his bad hip creek, felt the phantom pain of a bullet wound on his right side. Come to think of it, that was where the nail had been too. He flexed his right hand as he stepped around the desk and stepped out into the deserted hall. Clean, pristine. Not littered with glass as it had once been after a suspect took Malone's gun and shot up the place.
Ya know, it's not just the wounds that are creaking these days, Jack thought. It was his whole body. He was getting old. His daughters were in high school, his wife was dating and planning to remarry and he was...well.
Jack found himself staring out one of the floor-to-ceiling windows in the bullpen, his hip leaning against Agent Samantha Spade's desk. He glanced down at the handful of photos of Finn and smirked.
Cute kid. Thankfully Finn looked more like his mother than his father. Jack's eye strayed from the pictures and he noticed that the top drawer of Sam's desk was half a centimeter open.
All the desks had locks, the material in them being of a top secret nature. All the locks were to be secured any time the agent was away from their desk for more than thirty minutes. The drawer was definitely unlocked, and what should have only required a few ounces of pressure, didn't budge the drawer. Sam wasn't the type to allow any part of her life to fall out of order. In fact Jack had begun to feel sorry for the kid Finn would become, growing up solely parented by Ms. Spade.
Whatever was stopping this drawer from closing, Sam hadn't put it there.
A tiny thrill of adrenaline blasted through Jack's aging veins. Pulling his hand away from the silver handle Jack slid Sam's chair a few inches to the side and sank to one knee. He passed his hand gently over the underside of the drawer feeling for wires. Anything that, innocently pulling, pushing, or bumping the drawer might set off.
When he found nothing Jack pulled the chair out and sat on the ergonomic seat. He grabbed the letter opener that he had gifted Sam with and carefully slipped it between the slight crack between desk and drawer. Using the weakest pressure Jack slid the opener along the crack, waiting for a wire to snag on it. Waiting for the tug of a magnet. Waiting for the click of a pressure switch.
Was this a very stupid idea, Jack asked himself as the beads of sweat defied the central air of the building? Yes. Monumentally. Bomb squad guys should be doing this. But...Jack paused, took a breath, straightened his spine a little, then skirted the lock in the center of the drawer and continued his slow pace. But...calling the guys in for a stuck lock?
Jack shook his head, bared his teeth and chuckled through the last of the brief adrenaline spike, then pulled the slender blade free of the crack. No tugs. No magnets. No clicks.
Paranoid much, Jack? His hands were shaking slightly when he gripped the bottom of the drawer and yanked. The lock screeched and the drawer popped open, the tiny metal flange now warped beyond use. On top of the pens, stapler, case file folders and gum packet was a photograph. Probably an 8x11, professional black and white glossy. The type every hopeful newbie to New York has tucked into their duffle bag.
It didn't belong there.
Jack stared at it a moment then glanced to the phone. This would be the time to call, to at least alert somebody that something bad might be going down. Jack leaned forward in the chair, heard it creak slightly under his weight, then he heard the click.
It sounded like a snap. Not a twig snapping on a nature walk but a finger snapping at the height of a mob movie. The kind of click that most human beings instinctively cringe at.
Jack winced and waited, frozen. "Gawd, " he groaned, "...this is gonna hurt."
Careful not to move his feet or his hips, Jack reached for the phone, lengthening his shoulder, his arm, elbow, fingers, gaining every possible inch that he could until his pointer and middle finger closed around the coiled cord of the receiver. His cell was on his desk in his office. A stupid place for it to be, but he'd hardly expected to sit down on a chair potentially rigged to explode.
His mind, now keyed up on twice the adrenaline as before, asked briefly if the phone could be rigged too, before he decided it didn't matter and yanked, with only the muscles in his forearm. The cord stretched then yielded, and the receiver toppled into his hand. He couldn't reach the numeral buttons with his fingertips, but maybe with the receiver...
His lower back was just beginning to complain about the strain of the position he'd been forced into with the drawer open most of the way and the chair pushed back to accommodate. There was a drop of sweat heading down the long slope of his nose.
Who was he going to call? Sam didn't have FBI bomb squad on her speed dial. Worse yet she didn't have her own cell on speed dial either. Of the least help was an old movie theme that came to mind and Jack wiped his sweating brow on his sleeve as the voices in his head chimed, "Ghostbusters!"
When he glanced up again his eyes focused on the top most speed dial button. Sam's house phone.
Gritting his teeth Jack hit the outside line button with the tip of the hard plastic receiver, then groaned and stretched until he could hit the thin, rectangular button that said, "house". There was a barely audible hum, then a click, then the rolling throb of the line ringing through.
Jack waited, trying not to shift his thighs or his torso. He glanced at his own dim reflection in the window and wondered what time it was. He waited, stiff, until the answering machine picked up. Per FBI suggested protocol there was an automated voice on the other line asking him to leave a message. Then a beep. For a second Jack was speechless.
What was he going to say. "Sam, I broke your desk and I'm about to get blown up by your chair. Come help?"
He'd really expected her to pick up. Would this be his only chance to leave a message with the world before he was nothing more than organic matter splattered around the room? And further in deeper recesses of his mind, he was still wondering if he wasn't over reacting...
Then he glanced down at the face down glossy that his chest hovered over. It didn't belong there, he reminded himself. It didn't belong and neither did that click. And this was Sam's desk, not his. This was meant for Sam.
"Sam..." Jack said, finally, his mind catching up to the lapse after the "beep". "If you get this, call the bomb squad. Send 'em to our offices."
Jack realized, after the second impatient "beep" sounded, that he didn't have the reach to make a second phone call. He couldn't depress the wedge at the top most point of the phone. Sam had been his one phone call and, despite his best hopes, it'd been a dud. The thought settled into his body adding weight to the strain on his back. It irritated, niggled and pestered at the cautionary calm that years at this job had instilled. He was getting mad.
Mad about the son of a bitch that had seen fit to pick on his agent, mad at the circumstances that had led to his being the unintended victim of this...whatever it was...mad that all this discomfort could be for nothing, and that that wasn't the worst scenario.
The back of the photo was glaring in his periphery. Bracing against the desk, Jack peered under the edge of the photo before he flipped it. The face was vaguely familiar. He remembered that the light gray eyes were actually green. The mass of wavy hair was auburn. She was the subject of the first case that Sam worked on after joining Jack's unit. And she was Sam's first failure.