Ibrahim pressed himself against the car that shielded him. Even from this vantage point several blocks away, it was obvious. Vehicles of all kinds, marked and unmarked, were parked in the middle of the street. Their safe house was no longer safe. An ambulance stood waiting at the curb, and a stretcher was being carried from the house. The police captain had been rescued.
Joseph was being led away by police officers. Ibrahim cursed. Of course, it would have been Joseph. As Armand had always said, the boy was a worthless fool. What had he been doing here, anyway? He wasn't supposed to arrive until early afternoon. How had he single-handedly managed to bring all this down around their heads? Only Joseph could be so stupid. He deserved to die a painful death, his family cursed through all time.
The futility of the situation hit Ibrahim full force. They must salvage what they could. He turned and walked briskly in the opposite direction, abandoning his vehicle, ducking between the houses and over fences at the earliest opportunity. He stayed out of sight, trying to put distance between himself and the concentration of police.
How could they have come so far, only to have it collapse? As soon as he felt he'd gone a safe distance, he called on the cell phone they had reserved for absolute emergencies.
"What is wrong?"
"The police are at the house."
"Are you safe?"
"Yes. They have Joseph."
"I should have killed him with my own hands."
"He can tell them very little. He's never been to the warehouse. We could proceed."
"Guantanamo, my friend. Life in a chain link cage? No. We have lost the element of surprise. We can begin again, somewhere else."
"I will bring our alternate papers. We will be out of the country before the hunt is up. We will fight another day..."
"Here he is – the one and only!" Jeremy said, opening the door for his father. To the sound of applause, Danny Ross returned to his home for the first time in a week. Most of the detectives from Major Case were gathered, enjoying their first time off since being called on alert.
Ross settled into his favorite chair with a sigh. "Thanks, everyone. It's good to be home. Is that pizza I smell?" He held up his heavily bandaged hands, still healing from the painful sessions with his captors. "Now how am I supposed to eat?"
"Got it covered," Eames answered. "You get pizza hors d'oeuvres." Ross gave a shout of laughter when he saw the plate full of bite size pizza chunks, each stabbed with a fluffy ended toothpick.
"Come on, guys," Mike said, bringing more boxes of pizza and plates. "Time to eat. Tonight we celebrate."
"Hey," said Bobby between bites, "I want the full recap. We've all been too busy to get the whole story."
"What we think, or what we know?" Sergeant Powell interjected.
Bobby sighed. "Not that the Feds are going to tell us anything. They're pretty sure the explosives for Philadelphia were stored in that house. They found trace residue in the basement. The captain just happened to walk into the scene as they were transferring the materials to the cars used to drive the devices to Philadelphia."
Alex continued, "We traced the rented house where the captain was held back to Armand Fischer, a German national, and a major importer here in the city. Prints from his office matched the note Ross pocketed and his passport application. By the time we figured it out, he was long gone. He's probably out of the country, setting up shop somewhere else. All of his bank accounts, U.S. and European, were cleaned out by the time the Homeland Security got onto them. We're talking millions."
"That's a scary thought," Wheeler said. "What about the kid? The one with the captain's ID case?"
Goren snorted. "Never got the chance to interrogate him. Disappeared into federal custody. Feds took him right out of our holding cell without as much as a conversation. Forget anything like paperwork." Ross threw him a warning look. "Oh, yeah. I forgot. We're not supposed to talk about that. Us lowly members of the NYPD being such potential security risks, and borderline incompetent. All I can say is, I hope he enjoys the visiting hours in Cuba."
"So all we know is that the guys with the brains evaporated?" Logan asked. "Damn."
"Fischer's not the one I'm worried about," said Powell. "I looked over the stuff we recovered from the warehouse and linked to Fischer. Those bombs were art – malevolent art. Whoever built that stuff – and I don't think it was Fischer – is a genius. If we don't catch them, we'll see his work again. They had sketches, detailed plans." Powell stopped for a moment, clearly troubled. "I don't understand these people. They were going to blow up a mosque, a Muslim school. People of their own faith."
"And then murder Ross after taping his so-called confession. Get everyone at each other's throats. Violence begets violence," Eames said softly. "Throw the spark and stand back to watch the flame. Turn the state of New York into the Palestinian territories."
An uneasy silence filled the room. Eames finally broke the silence, trying to lighten the mood. "Wait a minute. You," she said, pointing an accusing finger at Jeremy. "Goren cuffed you into the truck. How did you get out?"
The room went dead quiet. Jeremy had gone red faced with shame. Ross started to snicker, then roared with laughter. "That's a family joke. Jeremy learned how to pick a pair of cuffs when he was about nine." He flashed an amused grin at Goren. "Sorry, Goren. You've gotta be a little more careful when you cuff a cop's kid. He was probably out of them before you walked half a block."
Jeremy shrugged, still looking guilty. "Sorry. I've had a nail in my wallet for years."
"I must be getting old," Goren said, disgusted and laughing at the same time.
"Enough of this terrorist talk," Powell interrupted. "This is a celebration. I propose a toast," he said, raising his glass. "Here's to having everyone safe and sound."
As he raised his glass, Goren leaned close to Eames and whispered, "Safe? I wonder."
Eames nodded, but lifted her glass all the same. For tonight, only this moment mattered.