Jack sat in the stiff chair, thinly veiled as an easy chair, and focused on the laptop sitting on a rolling tray in front of him. The lines of text contained by pre-made fields were beginning to blur. He'd filled out these forms so many times in the last months. Why they couldn't simply purchase a year's supply of paper, ink and staples he didn't know. He'd grumbled about it so many times that people were starting to avoid him. In fact the only person that didn't leave the room when he started to whine about his temporary position as office manager for the fourth floor, was John Macy.
That was because John Macy was unconscious. He had been for the past two weeks.
Jack glanced over to the still pale body, lifeless limbs, chest rising and falling with the click and wheeze of life support. He wasn't completely brain dead. The neurosurgeon connected with Macy's case indicated there had been electrical activity going on. The man's heart was beating on its own. The point of the ventilator was to take some of the pressure off Macy's heart and lungs and increase the amount of oxygen getting to the brain. The slightest interruption in that oxygen flow could mean instant death.
Jack wanted Macy alive. Officially and unofficially. To that end he'd worked himself into the rotation of babysitters assigned to watching Macy, who, while he was alive, was technically under arrest. He was being charged with a slew of things that only began with the attack on Jack, his premeditated, if fake, attempt to harm Agent Samantha Spade, illegal entry, and seizure of sealed files.
Given his new hatred of the stuff, Jack was willing to consider Macy's use of fondant as a substitute for C4, as misuse of a controlled substance. But then he would have to arrest every bakery owner in New York City. Jack turned back to the blinking cursor and the field asking for the model number of the 500 boxes of steel staples he was preparing to purchase.
He was once again going to the psychiatrist. He'd been told that he had been through a traumatic event, that his behavior following that event had brought his stability into question, and that he was to refrain from entering the field until the psychiatrist declared him fit for duty. He supposed, in perfect hindsight, that sneaking his name into the rotation at St. Vincent's would in the end further prove his need for psychological help. But he would leave that to Dr. Bryson to figure out.
With one finger Jack tapped in the number that he had memorized against his will. "Be glad you were never a secretary, Mr. Macy." Jack grumbled and moved on to the next line.
The body across the way didn't respond. He didn't blink or moan or sigh.
It took Jack twenty minutes to finish the catch up work he had brought with him. Then he did what he had been doing from the first day.
He sat back in the chair, stretched his healing leg out in front of him, made sure his elbow wasn't resting against anything and stared at the thin case file on John Macy.
Adult male, 42, job listing showed as actor. There were grainy stills included in the folder, pictures that tech had taken of the various characters he had played in the vlog Jack's team had found. Laid side by side, face up, were color photos of John Macy as Sam Spade, and as Jack Malone.
Disturbingly, the likenesses were uncanny.
He'd seen the videos, as much of them as he could stand to watch before he wanted to crack the screen in half.
"You're a talented actor, Mr. Macy." He mumbled, reading through entire paragraphs that by now he had memorized. "Mannerisms, hair and makeup...it's not terribly flattering, but impressive."
Jack felt something familiar building up in his chest. Like hot air in a balloon preparing to launch. It was the feeling he always had when he had settled on a line of questioning that would get what he wanted out of suspect. He realized with a start that he was preparing to interrogate John Macy, a living corpse.
Jack closed his eyes and rubbed at his forehead, frustrated, until his headache for the night had blossomed into full blown migraine.
Why are you doing this? He'd asked himself that question everyday since the incident. He knew that it would be the question his team would ask, Dr. Bryson, his boss. He didn't know the answer.
Once, years ago, he had been injured, nay tortured, by a woman seeking information from him. Before he had had the chance to arrest or interrogate the woman officially she'd been killed. But he hadn't visited Cynthia Neuworth's body in the morgue. In fact he'd felt absolute closure the day she was put to rest and her son went to trial.
Why did he not feel it now?
Why did he feel like he'd snapped the moment he decided to simply walk away from his captor? It'd been a bold move, but neither then nor now did he feel he'd made a mistake. He'd just had enough.
Lurking beneath the self doubt were his memories of his father. Watching his dad go from an elderly man with dignity and pride to a six-year-old boy hiding in a closet, terrified. Was this the start? Was this where his own spiral into dementia began? Was he overthinking this?
"What do you think, Mr. Macy. Am I goin' crazy?"
"Talking to a sleeping guy isn't exactly a sign of crazy...I mean, the doctor's say it might wake him up."
Jack blinked and looked to the doorway surprised to see a teen girl standing there. Jeans and a t-shirt, monogrammed bookbag off one shoulder, school cardigan, single braid. Hazel eyes, reddish brown hair. Fourteen, maybe fifteen. Young enough to still admit to being scared. Old enough to become a woman that will never be scared again. This was Celia Macy, John Macy's daughter.
Jack lifted the corner of his mouth a little, vacating the solitary visitor's chair in the room. He'd never met Celia, but he'd been told that she visited her father from time to time. The time now was nearly midnight.
"I doubt that what I was talking about will encourage him to wake up. Isn't it a little late for you to be here?"
Celia had studied Jack in much the same way as he had her, noting the limp, the way he held his elbow stiffly by his side. Pale complexion, rumpled suit, no-nonsense haircut.
"I haven't met you before," she said finally, eyeing the chair but not moving toward it yet, "I'm Celia."
Jack nodded and thrust out his hand after a beat. "I'm Jack."
Celia shook, her handshake somewhere in the middle between dead fish and making a statement. "I couldn't sleep, and tomorrow's a holiday. Mom said I could come over."
"You're mother lets you ride the subway just before midnight?"
"I took a cab." Celia said, her voice and face finally betraying some of the obstinance and attitude Jack expected out of a kid her age.
"I know the cabby, he always drives me. Mom asks for him specifically."
Celia held his gaze boldly for a few more seconds before she glanced away and finally took the vacant seat. Jack collected the case file, set it on the rolling tray and wheeled the whole thing away. He saved his work before snapping the laptop closed.
When there was nothing left to do but stand and stare, Jack thought for a moment then glanced out the open door at the folding chair in the hall. "I can sit outside if you'd like to be alone."
Celia, gazing at her father without expression, shrugged one shoulder but said nothing. Typical teenager. Somehow it brought him comfort. The first time he'd been forced to see Dr. Bryon, she had suggested that he felt more comfortable in an environment of opposition. She might have been right.
Jack took a few minutes to pack the laptop and case files into his briefcase then quietly turned to leave the room.
"The machines are kinda creepy, y'know so, if you wanted to stay..." Celia didn't look at him but her request was plain. Jack heard plenty of his youngest reflected in the tone of voice.
"You want a soda?"
Another shrug. Jack, being the type of father who could translate teen apathy, left his briefcase tucked just inside the door and pulled the folding chair into the room before he ducked down the hall for a soda and a coffee.