No, that blond certainly was not Matt, and it left everyone wondering about Emily Lehman. Did she really cheat on Matt? Matt was actually the only person in the room not wondering that. Mostly because he trusted her and trusted what they had, but also because that pregnancy test was what was really on his mind. How long ago did she take that, and was that part of the reason his girlfriend was vomiting in the ladies room at that moment? That reminded him, he turned to Cheryl who was still standing beside him, not sure what to make of the scene playing out on the screen.
"I'm going to check on her," she told him, prying her eyes off the screen, and shaking her head in bewilderment. She dove out of the IA room, and made for the bathroom, winding the hallway, and pushing the door open to see Emily washing up at the sink.
"Hey, you alright?"
"No, not really." Emily dabbed her face with a paper towel.
"Stupid question, but basically what I meant is are you done throwing up?" Cheryl corrected herself.
"Yes, pretty sure there's nothing left to come up in there."
"Oh good, because there's a new video playing out."
"I probably don't really want to know, but of what?" Emily held a hand to her stomach, willing it to get itself under control.
"You having sex with a man that clearly isn't Matt." Cheryl tried to speak the words as delicately as possible.
"Yeah, he's a blond, pretty nice body, couldn't really see his face though." She tried to describe the man.
"Shit." Emily cursed, before tearing past Cheryl, running out the bathroom door.
Matt was standing rooted to the same spot, mind running in circles. Emily came running up, surprising him, eyes searching the screen.
Everyone turned to look at her, the same question in their eyes, a question that wasn't any of their business. Then the screen changed again, to a still photo of six friends parked at the bar at Sloan's. Frank was clearly weaving some story, Cheryl seemed to be disagreeing with him, Duff and Lia were flirting coyly, and Matt was parked on a bar stool, Emily standing in between his legs, leaning back against him, all six were smiling. Then closer images of the subject's faces began flashing on the screen, finishing with Matt, then Emily's. Text suddenly appeared over her face.
"I"VE FOUND YOU, I CAN FIND THEM TOO." It read, before the screen suddenly went black, and turned back to a regular computer screen. All eyes turned to Emily.
"Lia, do whatever you have to do, trace that, find where it came from." Cheryl marched from the IA room, off to try and figure out how to handle this situation.
Matt and Emily walked out after her, the two agents from the safe house program following them.
"Matt-" Emily began, but turned to the two men following them, "Can you give us a minute?"
They nodded, and clearing their throats uncomfortably, walked away from the couple.
"His name is Mike," She began, referring to the blond.
"You were with him before we were together," he stated calmly.
"Yes, about a month after we were partnered." Emily was momentarily confused, she expected him to be upset.
"That's all I need to know." Her bewilderment must have been obvious, because he spoke again, "I trust you."
The grateful look in her eyes was all Matt needed to know that he was right in trusting her. They had something special, and some video that could have been shot anytime in the past, wasn't about to destroy that. But, he did need to know one thing very badly.
"Em, are you pregnant?" Matt's heart was pounding as he asked; her answer could change his life forever, and dramatically up the stakes in this game they were forced into playing.
"No. I took that test months ago, before everybody knew about us."
"And you didn't tell me?"
"I liked what we had Matt, I didn't want to wreck it by bringing reality into the picture. It was negative, it didn't matter anyway."
"It matters to me. That would have been my baby, I should have been there for you, I want to be there for you." Matt's mind was still reeling at the idea, but he knew, frightening as the prospect was, he wanted to be there for her, negative test or positive.
"I'm sorry, but if had happened a week ago, I would have told you. It's different between us now."
"Yeah, I guess it is." He agreed, truthfully, he can't say he would have reacted the same way if she'd told him then.
"We better find Cheryl, see what she wants to do about this." Emily wasn't ready to dwell on everything quite yet. To be honest, she was really looking forward to hiding out for a week in protective custody, away from the office.
Matt nodded and followed her, as she walked away from their current position, and toward Cheryl's office. Cheryl came out the door, before they even got there.
"Good, Lia just informed me that the trace came up empty, but the computer saved a copy of his little production. I need you both to help analyze it. I understand that this is difficult for you both, say the word and I'll just send you to the safe house." She couldn't force them to view that footage again, and she wouldn't.
They looked at each other again, confirming silently that they'd stay, before turning to her. "We're okay," Matt answered for both of them. If they could survive it once, they could survive it twice.
"Okay, then let's get into the IA room." She led back to the room they'd just fled, which seemed to be leaking analysts, who were all leaving, with the exception of Lia.
"I thought it best to limit the eyes in here," Cheryl informed them, seeing their questioning looks. The only people left in the room were the six friends, Temple and Binder, whose objectivity would be badly needed.
"Okay Lia, start the video playing." Lia smacked a few keys and the grainy black and white sex tape was back on the screen. Lia doubled the typical speed, quickly arriving at the more graphic sex tape.
"Stop there," Emily instructed, surprising everyone. Had she already had enough?
Lia stopped it, feeling distinctly uncomfortable studying her friends having sex.
"He's making a statement with the two tapes, he's saying 'I'm worse.' I thought the tape by Jensen was bad, was humiliating, he'll remove all the stops and make it unbearable." She tried her best to be objective, to be the trained psychologist she was, not a woman staring at a very private moment, feeling violated beyond anything in her life.
"Right, makes sense, he wants to destroy you. Do you think there's significance to the clip he chose?" Cheryl played along, deciding to let Emily do this whatever way she needed to.
"Definitely, he's been watching me a long time. He knew that would be an important moment for us, special to me, so he ruined it. I won't think about that moment for what it was, I'll think about the madman that broadcast it to the world."
"It's also about control and power," Matt added. "He wants to expose Emily, take away her power, and he's doing it by showing off her private life."
Cheryl nodded, "keep playing Lia."
They cycled through the first set of stills until Temple stopped them. "This one's easy, with all these shots, taken all over the place, he's clearly telling her that he's everywhere she is. He's following her all the time, every place she goes. He wants her to start looking over her shoulder."
"Any significance to the specific shots?"
"No, it's more to them as a whole, because they're so generalized to her everyday life, he's telling her he's omnipresent and encompassing."
"Alright, let's move on. Shower scene."
"Similar purpose to the sex tapes, and the last few stills with the pregnancy test. These are private things that nobody else is supposed to see me do, he's showing them to the world. He's trying to expose me, as Matt said earlier. And, if you want to go more basic, all of my coworkers seeing me naked is pretty humiliating." Emily used 'me' and 'I', but may as well have been saying Bob; this wasn't personal, this was just an analysis. At least that is what she kept chanting in her head.
When she got stares at the mention of the pregnancy test, it became clear that her front wasn't going to work unless she cleared the air. Releasing the lip she'd captured between her teeth, and inhaling slowly, she offered them what they were looking for, "I'm not pregnant, I didn't cheat on Matt, the footage is old."
Realizing they were staring, the people in the room went back to staring at the footage.
"Ok, second round of stills, what are we thinking?" Cheryl tried to get them back on task.
"It's a literal take on a figure of speech, he wants to get under her skin," Matt commented, watching the images go by.
"Yeah, I agree. My apartment as skin, he's inside."
"Same with my house, doesn't matter where she goes, he'll get inside. Likewise, it doesn't matter what she does, he's already under her skin, already in her head, she'll never shake him off."
"They're also older than the earlier photos and footage. Same with the test and the last sex tape. The test was a year ago, last July…"
"So that means you would have been with Matt, not the blond?" Lia blurted the question.
"Yeah, for about a month and a half at that point. I slept with Mike, the man in the tape, the previous November, in 2005."
"So this creep has been watching you for almost two years?" Frank shifted uncomfortably, eager to pound the mystery man into the stone floor of HRT's basement.
"Yeah, that's exactly what he's saying, he's seen everything I've done for almost two years…oh jesus." Emily came to a sudden realization, earning the full attention of the tense men and women in the room.
"What? What's wrong?" Cheryl demanded, nervously.
"He was using Stan, this whole time, he knew exactly what he was doing." Emily stared at the image on the screen, not really seeing it, lost in her epiphany.
Her coworkers looked lost, until Matt seemed to catch on, always in tune to his partner's thoughts. "Shit, he was planning to do something."
Emily nodded, the slightest start to a grin on her face. They were figuring him out, they would catch him, and this nightmare would end.
"You want to fill the rest of us in?" Frank asked.
"Stan was his cover and his scapegoat. He didn't make himself known until Stan starting popping up, which he knew because he was watching me. He knew anything he did would fall on Stan, because he's the face I saw, he's the one we labeled as a stalker. This guy, he was going to do something and knew that we'd all assume it was Stan."
"But then Stan got caught, and Emily pretty much told this guy to go to hell, so he had to change his plans. She hurt him, made it pretty clear he never had a chance with her, so he gets angry, and wants to hurt her back. But, he was planning something even before now, and we never would have caught him, we never even would have thought to look…damn it." Matt ran a hand through his hair, increasingly upset knowing how close he came to losing Emily.
"We'll, now he won't get close enough," Cheryl offered, sensing his concern. "Soon as we're done here, those agents will take you to get some clothes, and then off to a safe house."
"What about the rest of you? He made it pretty clear that he'll go after you four also." Even in the midst of her personal hell, Emily was worried for her friends.
"I'll put agents on us around the clock." She looked toward Lia and Duff, "Do I need to put two agents on each of you, or will one suffice?"
Lia looked nervously at Duff, she certainly didn't want to be alone anytime soon. Duff caught this easily, and turned to Cheryl, "One set will be enough."
"What about this Mike guy, he was on the tape too?" Frank wondered.
"I don't think we have to worry, I wouldn't know where to find him, so I doubt this guy will."
"So, can we establish a profile on him?" Cheryl wanted to get that done, so she could send Matt and Emily off.
"Obviously a sociopath," Temple offered.
"Yeah, his parents were probably distant. I'd say he didn't talk much at school, but he watched, spent a lot of time watching his classmates." Emily commented.
"He's probably shy, not good with the girls."
"No. Not shy, a loner. He's deliberately alone, purposely distant from people, doesn't like them, consider most of them beneath him."
They were all watching the gears turn in Emily's head, as she did what she was best at, when suddenly everything went dark. The lights shut off, every alarm in the building started screaming, and the sprinklers exploded. They could barely see each other in the dark, until the emergency lights kicked on, giving the room a sinister look. It was unbelievably loud, and they were getting soaked, as they all shuffled out of the room to see agents running out of the CNU to the nearest exit at the end of the hall.
They followed, Matt pressed close to Emily, knowing this undoubtedly had something to do with their mystery stalker, and Duff with an arm around Lia, protecting the analyst, who looked terrified. It was easier to see with the sunlight from outside lighting their way, and they were at the fire escape in no time. There was a small line as the agents from the CNU began pouring down the rackety emergency stairs.
Matt tore down the steps, holding Emily's hand firmly in his, refusing to let her go for a moment. Once at the bottom, the small group gathered again, trying to stay together in the huge throng of federal agents and other Bureau personnel that fled the building. Nobody knew what was going; there was no smoke, so there was no fire. There were also no city police, SWAT, HRT, or bomb squad rushing into the building armed to the gills, so there was no bomb scare or terrorist threat.
"Cheryl! Cheryl!" Her boss yelled to her, as he worked his way through the crowd.
"The hell is going on here, Cheryl?" He demanded.
She was taken aback, "I don't know sir, I'm just as confused as you are."
"Security told me the issue originated from the CNU, so you care to explain?"
"Oh shit, he's in the building," Matt breathed, uncomfortable with the idea that the guy could have gotten that close to Emily without them knowing.
"Who's in the building?"
"He's referring to Agent Lehman's stalker, the same person that froze the computers earlier." She gestured to Emily.
"You, you're the same one that made the news last month, with that little boy right?" He eyed her.
"Yes sir, Oliver Marsh was the young boy."
"Yeah…so tell me, what exactly is it about you that pisses people off?" He looked pissed himself, as if he blamed her for the disaster striking the Bureau today.
Emily was stunned by the question, and just looked at him, unable to comprehend a response.
"Sir, that's not really fair-" Cheryl started to defend her, but was cut off.
"Look around you Cheryl, this isn't fair." He shook his head at them, and walked off.
"That sucked," Emily blurted, still stunned by his question. Matt allowed the hand that had been in hers to find her back, and he rubbed it, trying to comfort her.
Everyone remained standing around, looking at each other as if the person next to them would somehow know more information. Nobody had a clue, not even the people in charge, that became painfully obvious when the LAPD's bomb squad and a dozen firefighters showed up at the same time, accompanied by the newly mobilized HRT. Duff and Frank were leading their men toward the usually unimposing building with no idea what they were going to find.
Suddenly a hand grabbed Emily, and began to pull her away from Matt, who snaked his arm around her when he felt her moving. Matt and Emily looked in the direction of the hand to see a man looking intently at Emily. He had a mop of light brown hair that on a younger man could pass as a tribute to Kurt Cobain's style, but on the this man pushing fifty, it was simply disturbing. His hazel eyes were lit up like a Christmas tree, shining on Emily. His lips were too full for a man, bee-stung and the small mustache only made them appear bigger.
Suddenly, he yanked out a black device, and pressed it against Matt's hand, releasing Emily for only that moment, and shocking the couple. They stumbled apart, and before anyone had the time to react to the situation, he cranked up the amps, and lunged at Matt, hitting him again. Matt's body shook violently, as Emily regained her senses and threw herself at the mustached man, pushing him and his taser away from Matt. His body stopped shaking, and he dropped to the ground like dead weight.
Having the attention of every FBI agent in Los Angeles, he held the taser a millimeter from Emily's head, making them aware of his threat. Emily stared at Matt's body in horror, now still in her captor's grip. Cheryl bent to take Matt's pulse, and after a few seconds, looked up at Emily and nodded. Relief flooded through her body, but she was still worried what that much electricity could have done to him.
"All of you lot, back the hell up and drop those guns if you don't want to see me fry the young lady's brains," he announced, his grip on Emily going from her wrist, to an arm wrapped around her throat.
Cheryl motioned everyone back, and they all tossed their guns down and held up empty hands as the madman turned a circle checking. Lia juggled her phone with shaking hands, dialing 911, fear racing through her veins.
"Okay, you have our attention now. I'm sure you know who I am, so I won't bother with introductions, but I do need to ask about your plans with Emily." Cheryl spoke slowly and calmly, something she wasn't feeling just then.
"Yes, Cheryl, I do know you. Emily and I are going to walk out of here, and I'm not going to reveal my plans with her, but you should know that you won't ever be seeing her again."
Emily's skin crawled at the familiar smooth, easy tone of his voice. She'd die willingly if she never had to hear his voice again.
"You know I can't let you do that…can you give me something to call you?"
He thought for a moment, "you can call me Cheryl." Using her own name would surely unnerve her and make things that much more difficult.
"Okay Cheryl, why such an interest in Emily?" She over-ennuciated her name, annoyed with him.
"Quite simple really. I'm in love with her."
"Yeah? Well, she's in love too, but not with you. She's in love with the man you just nearly killed." Keep calm, make him see reality, try to appeal to his intelligence, he'll be offended by accusations that he's delusional.
"Nearly? Damn, I was going for all the way. Taser guns just aren't what they used to be these days."
"Do you really think she could love you after what you did to him?" She questioned the madman as the paramedics finally arrived and took care of Matt.
"I know she doesn't love me, but she deserves better than him." He said it with such honesty and intensity, it almost seemed as if he did love Emily.
"So then what could you possibly hope to gain from dragging her away with you?"
"I don't plan on trying to make her love me. I'm not stupid, I know you can't force someone to do that. But, I have to feel her, even just once. I have to hold her in my arms, like he does, just one night."
"And what happens after that one night?" Cheryl struggled to keep her voice even, to keep from looking into Emily's eyes and seeing the revulsion and desperation present in them.
"What do you think SAC Carrera?" He mimicked an army cadet's tone.
"I think…I think she stops breathing."
He gave her a half-smile, "at least you're not in denial." He went to open his mouth, but didn't have time to comment any further as something cold and metal was pressed up against his head.
"Don't move a muscle, I will shoot you," Lia spoke the words with conviction she didn't feel, fear radiating through her whole body.
"Why Miss Mathers, you are the last person I'd expect to pick up a gun," he said it almost with glee.
Emily had been directing her with her eyes for the last few minutes, and Cheryl watched Lia creep behind the man with a gun she'd picked up, encouraging her further.
"That's why I did it, now drop the taser and let her go." Lia struggled to keep her hands from shaking, and caught a pair of familiar eyes in the distance. HRT had shuffled back out of the building with the firefighters and bomb experts, and Duff stood watching her, surprise in his eyes at first, but then he nodded at her.
"I don't think so dear, you are going to have to shoot me." His voice still had a disturbingly jovial tone to it.
Lia looked alarmed at Cheryl, she couldn't do that, she couldn't shoot somebody. She shot at the firing range with Duff before, but she could never kill someone. She didn't know what to do now; he was calling her bluff.
"It's okay Lia," Cheryl tried to ease her, walking closer.
"Stop there Cheryl, or you get to watch Emily drool in her oatmeal for the next couple decades," he threatened, adjusting the taser for show. He was right, a shock to the head could do severe damage to her brain function, much quicker than a shock to the body could kill her.
Emily closed her eyes, scared to death for the first time in a long while. The hand at her side began to quiver, and she flexed it and tried to shake it out to no avail. Lia saw this, and swallowed, conviction suddenly driving her forward. The crowd had begun dispersing as soon as they saw Lia with the gun, giving her a clear shot; the bullet would fly and hit the neighboring building.
Lia chambered a round, and flicked the safety switch off, hands sweating profusely. "One last time," she breathed, "drop the taser."
His response was to giggle, "I didn't think you had it in you, and I still don't."
Lia swallowed the lump in her throat, gave one last glance at Duff, who nodded his support, and squeezed the trigger.
The man screamed and grabbed his ear, dropping the taser and releasing Emily, blood pouring from where his ear used to be. Had she been farther away, only god know what Lia would have hit, but that close it's hard to miss, even when your target is an ear.
Emily stumbled away, ears ringing and legs barely working, the ordeal having long since turned them to jello. A dozen agents scrambled all at once to grab their handcuffs and slap them on the bleeding man. Another dozen ran over to Emily, eager to see if their colleague was alright. A third dozen rushed to a very stunned Lia, who held the gun steady another moment before dropping it, her own legs making it difficult to stand. Duff made his way over, pushing through the crowd surrounding her, and enveloping her in a comforting hug. Cheryl attempted to direct the chaos, and demanded paramedics, many paramedics.
By the end of business the Bureau was allowed to have it's building back, though they didn't actually bother keeping anybody around. After the chaotic, frightening events of the day, they sent everyone home, at that point they didn't have a building anyway. Their only instructions were that anybody with trouble dealing see one of the Bureau's shrinks. Everybody had left gladly, cars pouring from the underground parking garage eager to leave that day behind them.
Six of the Bureau's personnel weren't home though, they were camped out in a hospital room, the sixth of them having finally woken from his electricity-induced sleep. Vincent Riesden, a courier for FBI-LA, had already been transferred to the nearest federal prison to await trial, his ear gone forever, but his head sewed up and no longer bleeding. After the paramedics checked out Emily and Lia, and saw that both were fine physically, they released them, warning Emily that if anything felt wrong over the next few days, she should see her doctor.
The group had piled into one of the black SUVs that HRT was so fond of, and Frank drove to the hospital, lights flashing, sirens blaring, and pissed off LA drivers honking. They nearly had an issue with the nurse until four of them whipped out their badges, proof that they would get what they wanted, regardless if anyone wanted to give it to them or not. Then again, the stressed expressions gracing all their faces was enough to make anyone back away and let them have anything they wanted.
Matt woke up about an hour after they got there, eyes immediately searching for Emily, terrified her psychotic attacker grabbed her. The hospital was keeping him overnight, but told them he'd be fine.
"You shot his ear off?" Matt asked Lia incredulously, after they'd filled him in.
She only shrugged, she didn't really feel like talking about it, still very shaken from the experience. Duff had had an arm around her since he's found her in the throng of people at the Bureau building.
"So, you're feeling okay?" Cheryl asked Matt, not totally convinced after she saw his body dancing involuntarily at the end of that taser.
"Yeah, they said it was enough to knock me out, but not kill me." Matt yawned, he had just woken up, but after the last few days, he was beyond exhausted.
Frank followed with his own enormous yawn, "don't do that Flannery, it's catching."
Matt chortled, watching as the yawn spread through the room, ending with Duff."
"So I think that's as good a sign as any, time we all get home and get to bed." Cheryl announced.
"Amen," Frank grunted, yawning again.
"I don't want to see anybody in the office tomorrow, and you three," she gestured to Lia, Emily, and Matt, "I don't want to see for, at the very least, two days. And, don't grumble, you have to pay a visit to one of the Bureau's therapists when you're ready to come back."
There was a round of nods and grumbling; they knew it was coming, just hoped it wouldn't be.
"You playing taxicab Frank?" Duff asked, they'd all come together.
"As long as you don't mind trying to catch a cab in the morning."
Duff shrugged, "we'll take Lia's car tomorrow."
"Cheryl?" Frank asked.
"You can drop me back at the Bureau, I hate trying to get a cab in the morning."
"Emily, you hanging out here?" He figured she would be, who would want to go home alone after that?
She nodded, not moving from the chair next to Matt's bed, she wouldn't want to be alone for a while.
"Right, get better Flannery!" Frank shouted as he led the small group out and off to get a good night's sleep.
"Hey, you were quiet," Matt commented, glad to be alone with her.
She didn't answer, but he could see the front she set up beginning to fall, her eyes telling him everything he needed to know, her tears an answer to his question. He lifted the sheet up from the bed, gesturing for her to join him. She didn't even bother to think about it, just kicked her shoes off, and crawled under the covers with him. This had been too much for her, especially after the previous month with Tobin Jensen. There would be a lot of nightmares, she'd look over her shoulder regularly, be very weary of strangers, and have a considerable amount of awkwardness with her coworkers. This wasn't something she could bounce back from, it would stay with her forever. But, Vincent Riesden hadn't destroyed her as he set out to; she was still alive, and had everything that was important to her.
An end to this one as I promised. If only I could get the other two to go this quick. Anyway, thank all for reading, and the reviews were very greatly appreciated!