Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of CBS and are only used for fan related purposes.
Fire and Rain
vi. for better or worse;
Agent Hanson didn't know what else to say. Battling a cramped hand and a head buzzing with his most latest interrogation, reveling in the silence that had been lacking, he went slowly as he glanced over his notes for the countless time. He had to do something. He hadn't dismissed the witnesses yet, and it was a little disconcerting to be intruding on such a personal scene.
So what to do next?
The thing was this: it was late and he'd been working overtime ever since the FBI called him in and he first arrived in Seattle to speak with Shea Allen and her young daughter. In the aftermath that immediately followed the breaking of the Harper's Island tragedy, he and his partner had been working nonstop. He thought he might finally get more than four hours of sleep that night—until the call came in that morning that the case wasn't as closed as they first thought.
No, he was looking at the two unlikely survivors who were keeping this case cracked wide open…
He'd been on the job twenty years this January. He was a seasoned professional, known for his cool demeanor, uncomplicated personality and great skill—both behind a desk and in the field. Hanson was good at telling when he was being lied to and, while he could corroborate much of their story, he couldn't help but admit to a nagging in the back of his mind that said that perhaps the Mills girl wasn't being entirely truthful.
At the very least, she was definitely hiding something. Considering how much of her story mirrored the one told by Shea Allen—who, he decided, had told it while under the impression that she was one of a few survivors of Harper's Island and could be trusted… to a degree—he was willing to believe that most of what she said was true. Big or small, though, she was hiding something, and he didn't know what it was.
But Hanson also realized that continuing this interrogation would be like fighting a losing battle. In her state—both physically and emotionally exhausted—and with Jimmy Mance hovering over her like a protective bulldog, he was aware that Abby Mills had told him all she would. This interview had gone on long enough. He could keep them in the station overnight, stick McClellan outside of their door if he had to, but he could tell by the set of her chin and the glint in Jimmy's eyes that he could get nothing out of them just then other than a repeat of the same story and a stubborn confirmation that John Wakefield, and John Wakefield alone, was to blame.
And that would have to do—for now. They were the survivors, after all. The victims. Who knew? There was always the chance that they would remember more come morning…
Besides, when he asked Perez to take Madison Allen into the hall so that he could confirm the deaths that the FBI discovered after she had left the island, Shea Allen had looked just as haunted, just as closed off and traumatized as these two kids did. She'd only shown any emotion when he tried to take away the photo of Trish Wellington and Henry Dunn the Bureau had placed in his folder. With an ache written on her carefully composed face, she wouldn't let him have it. She wouldn't let it go, so he let her take it, pitying her in a way that wasn't entirely professional.
Hanson had been an agent for close to twenty years and he had never seen or heard of anything so horrible as what happened on that little island just off the coast of Seattle.
So, clearing his throat, he drew Abby and Jimmy's attention back to him. For better or worse, it was time to let them go.
There was a dark, dangerous look in Jimmy's eyes, and a familiar scowl back in place. It was a warning as well as a silent scolding for Hanson having broken up their moment. Abby, meanwhile, reacted differently; with a flustered glance back at the agent, she quickly reclaimed her hand, reaching for the small charm that hung around her neck. Jimmy left his empty hand to linger on the arm rest.
Together, they waited to hear what Hanson had left to say.
Jimmy just hoped the FBI agent didn't have any more probing questions left in his arsenal. He wasn't sure that he would be able to recall half of Abby's intricately detailed and entirely falsified story if Hanson asked him about it.
Luckily for them both, he didn't. But he did give one last subtle warning.
"That was some story, Miss Mills, and, on behalf of the Bureau, I'd like to offer my condolences for your losses. Both of your losses," he added, turning his dark stare on Jimmy. Too tired to be intimidated anymore, Jimmy couldn't even muster up enough energy to flinch. "We'll take everything you… you and Mrs. Allen, that is… have told us and do our best to try to bring some closure to this terrible tragedy. If there's anything else you'd like to tell me…" Hanson's voice trailed to a close there as he waved one of his large hands needlessly at the pile of notes scattered before him.
He gave them a few moments each to digest his words, to understand the levity of what he was saying and give her the chance to come clean about the one factor he was convinced she was keeping back. But Abby was stubborn and she kept her silence. There was nothing else she had to say.
Jimmy, following her lead, just waited for the FBI agent to finish this interview already.
Hanson nodded then, checking the expensive-looking watch he wore on his wrist. It really was late, and it was obvious that that was all he would be getting out of them tonight. He knew when to give in. Capping his pen, he slipped it inside his jacket pocket before gathering his papers up and closing his folder for the final time that night.
"I thank you for your time," he told them, once again sounding like he meant it, "and I hope that what you've told me tonight will be enough. For now, the Bureau has designated two rooms in a local hotel for you both. I'm sure you need your rest after all you've gone through, and it'll be easier to contact you if you stay in the area. We can arrange for a squad car to bring you over, if you'd like."
"No, no," Abby said hurriedly, "that won't be necessary. We can just take a taxi if it's too far to walk."
Jimmy decided he liked the way she said "we". And the idea of a hotel room—even if he had to spend the night in his alone—was the best thing he heard all day.
"Very well." Agent Hanson stood up impressively, smoothing out an imaginary wrinkle in his suit jacket before leaning over the desk, his spade of a hand extended. Without another word, he reached for Abby's hand first and shook it gently, and then Jimmy's.
It was just the sort of grip Jimmy expected from such a man. He refused to show Hanson how sore his fingers were; grinning and bearing it, he waited until his hand had been released from the man's iron hold before letting it fall to his lap. Trying slyly not to be noticed, he rubbed them gingerly until he had feeling in them again.
Abby murmured niceties to Hanson as she slowly climbed to her feet. There was a hesitance in her motions and the way she held her body that Jimmy couldn't quite place. Was she finding it hard to believe that that was it, that Hanson had swallowed her lies? Did she want to stay and maybe confess? Or did she just want to stay here with Hanson so she wasn't with Jimmy any longer?
With a sinking feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach—he could feel the tuna sandwich and the cranberry ice cocktail the gruff nurse at the Emergency Room had forced upon him just sitting there, weighing him down—Jimmy really, really, really hoped it wasn't that last one.
And then, when Abby turned to him and, with kindness and a hint of long-suppressed adoration in her dark eyes, offered him her helping hand, he was pretty sure it wasn't.
Thank goodness, he thought. She'd worried him there for a second.
He couldn't be positive about her motives, not after a gap of seven years and not yet, but it was nice to see her look at him like that. They were all each other had left—he didn't know what he would do without her now.
But, still, he couldn't mistake the pity and the remorse that lurked there, too, hidden behind the worry lines and her shaky frown. There was something about the way she leaned towards him, her hand ready to help him to his feet, that made Jimmy feel like damaged goods. He would never tell her so, but that bothered him more than anything else they had experienced since arriving in Seattle.
It took most of his energy just to shake his head, flashing Abby an apologetic smile as he pointedly refused to take her hand. He was determined to get up and out of that chair—and then out of the police station—under the strength of his own two feet. Especially with Hanson still in the room. Jimmy still had some pride.
It was just going to take him a little longer than it would have a week ago …
Jimmy was just about to finally get up from his seat, maybe stretch his ever cramping muscles, when, suddenly, there was a brisk knock at the door. Sinking even deeper into the seat instead, he felt his chest deflate like a balloon. The knock didn't sound promising; he could only imagine who could be on the other side of the closed door. And to think that they had been so close to finally getting away from the police, too…
"Excuse me," Hanson said briskly. From the way he quirked his eyebrow and glanced over his shoulder curiously at the closed door, it was easy to see that, who ever was out there, Hanson hadn't been expecting them.
He picked up the folder from the desktop, tucking it underneath his arm. Jimmy glanced at Abby as the agent turned his back on them, heading towards the door. She was chewing absently on her bottom lip, obviously still worried. He jerked his head at Hanson and, almost so slowly it was hard to tell, she nodded. She saw how careful Hanson was not to leave the folder in their reach.
She knew that he was still suspicious of them.
But what did they expect? Maybe he was almost delirious with lack of sleep—it wasn't easy to sleep when bound and gagged, tied to a pole in a dank and dark garage—and utter exhaustion, but Jimmy had managed to nearly forget just how guilty they still looked; Hanson's professional manner and interest in their story had made it easy to forget that they were the last two survivors of a weeklong massacre that left close to thirty people dead. As good a story as Abby had told, it wasn't the truth.
When he was a boy, Jimmy had had a tendency to tell tall tales, fib a little here or there. He never thought it did any harm—until his old man caught him lying about something silly and tanned his hide for being dishonest. It was a lesson he took with him ever since: don't lie, boy. You'll always get caught.
He couldn't imagine what would happen if they got caught lying about this. And for what? To protect Shea and Madison? To protect Henry?
Or, Jimmy realized all of a sudden, was it all to protect Abby? Not from the repercussions of her actions—that was the textbook definition of self-defense—but to protect her from the gruesome truth?
There was nothing else he could do. Craning his head to see who was at the door just as Hanson reached for the knob, Jimmy clenched his jaw as tightly as he could without shocks of pain shooting through his face. He would keep his thoughts to himself and he would do what he could to make the world believe the lie.
And he would do it for Abby.
Hanson called out before he'd even swung the door inward. "Yes?" His voice was gruff but it changed immediately when he saw the pretty face of his partner. "Perez. It's you."
"I wasn't sure if you would still be busy with the survivors."
The survivors. Jimmy didn't like the sound of that and, if either of the agents had been able to see the face he pulled when Perez referred to him and Abby as such, they would've been surprised that he could manage such a sneer with the cuts and bruises blossoming all over his features.
The survivors. Was that how the pair of them would be forever remembered?
He sure as hell hoped not.
"I just finished the interview," Hanson informed Perez. "I was going to call down for the hotel information and let them go. Why? Was there something you needed?"
"I was going through some of the evidence gathered at the scene. A few pieces had been cleared and sent out already but… " Perez stopped there, obviously thinking better about what she was going to say before continuing, "… there are some things left that we can show to the survivors. Maybe they would like to claim them? The Bureau called in the okay once they arrived at the station."
Hanson nodded, then opened the door wider so that Perez was visible. She was the same agent that met them at the elevator and brought them to meet Hanson. She nodded in greeting at Abby, who was still standing, and Jimmy, who felt like standing up was the last thing he wanted to do.
Abby took a step towards her. Forget looking hesitant—as tired as she was and as drained, she managed to muster a fierce, yet confused, expression as she asked, "You have something of mine? Here?"
Perez nodded again. "If you'll follow me…"
This time Abby didn't even reach for Jimmy. Her eyes locked on the back of Agent Perez's head, she started to follow her without even a second glance back at him.
Jimmy, knew better by now than to be slightly offended by her actions; instead, he was mostly curious to see what sort of evidence the FBI had collected when they visited the island, tapped his last reserves of energy and, with barely more than a grimace, got himself on his feet. In an attempt to hide the pain—the last thing he wanted to do was go back to the hospital for more observation—he let out a small chuckle. He brushed his shaggy hair out of his face, nodded at Hanson and quickly hobbled after the two women.
They were faster than he would've given them credit for. By the time he squeezed past Hanson's bulk in the doorway, he was just in time to watch the back of Abby's dark head as she turned the corner at the end of the hall.
He found them down another corridor. Abby had her arms crossed over her chest; it was almost as if she was hugging herself, keeping herself together. The agent, meanwhile, was leaning over to unlock the door in front of her. It was a plain white door with a plain white sheet of paper taped to it. Black letters were dashed across the sheet but Jimmy was too far to make out what they said. By the time he was closer, Perez opened the door and gestured for Abby to step inside.
But she didn't follow Abby in. Keeping the door open with her back up against it, Perez waited for Jimmy to limp stubbornly in after Abby before going in last herself.
The room wasn't any smaller than the one he and Abby had just spent the last few hours in but it sure seemed like it. Boxes were pile up everywhere, in every corner. Some were opened, some closed but all of them were carefully numbered with the same number. The Harper's Island tragedy case number, Jimmy figured.
Off to the side, though, in the center of the floor, there were two luggage cases sitting there, marked with tags. One of them, a large black case a little newer looking than the other, had the white label of its tag turned down; Jimmy couldn't make out the name on it. But the second, shabbier and a little older, was clearly marked with two words: Abby Mills.
Abby reached for it but, before she was too close, she stopped. She let her hand fall at her side, looking over her shoulder at the agent. "That's my luggage?"
"It was gathered during the first sweep. The FBI found most of the luggage… personal effects and such of the members of the wedding party… grouped together in one of the abandoned rooms of that inn. They brought them back to the station to try to figure out some of the identities of the victims and maybe find some sort of clue. Most of the luggage was sent out yesterday, sent to the survivor's families but…"
Abby understood what she was saying. "Not everyone has a family, do they?"
Agent Perez, despite the icy demeanor she displayed when she came to collect them at the elevator, managed to look slightly abashed. "No."
"My dad was the only family I had left," Abby mumbled under her breath.
Jimmy, knowing exactly how she felt—even if he couldn't imagine to what degree she felt the pain, fresh and traumatic as it was—moved closer to her and, before she could react, he slipped his right arm around her shoulder. Abby, grateful for the contact, leaned back into him, dropping her gaze from the suitcase to the floor.
"We'll have it sent down to the hotel," Perez announced brusquely. It was easy to see that something Abby said had struck a nerve with the normally cool agent.
Abby didn't look up just yet as she agreed, "If it'll be no trouble…"
"No trouble at all, I assure you," answered Perez. Unless he was mistaking it, she seemed almost relieved that Abby had accepted her not-so-subtle hint to change the subject. She sounded much more personable now. "The evidence has been cleared but the sign out process can be… pretty lengthy. Unless you need something now…?"
"Oh, no. I'll be fine. I… we," Abby amended, glancing over her shoulder to look at Jimmy, "just want to go to sleep. I went without anything in there for days. I don't need it now."
Agent Perez hesitated before asking, "Did you want to look inside? Nothing was really marked and the evidence boys just assumed it belonged where it was."
A strange expression flashed across Abby's face. Jimmy, who was watching her intently, saw it and felt his heart almost break. He'd hoped she would never have cause to look that way again—but she did. He didn't understand it, but there was no denying the fear she wore. It was as if she was afraid of what could be inside her suitcase.
"No… no, that's fine. I'd rather wait until tomorrow, if it's all the same."
"That'll be fine."
And, with that, Perez opened the door behind them. She stepped aside to let Jimmy and Abby slip back into the hall, gesturing for them to wait while she locked the door again. Then, without another word, she took her place in the lead, bringing them back through the halls.
When she arrived at the elevators, Jimmy half-expected to find that officer Bailey waiting to bring them down. Him, or Agent Hanson, even. But it was Agent Perez who pressed the down button before following Abby and Jimmy into the enclosed space.
"My partner will have all your information waiting for you downstairs," she informed them, nonchalantly checking the slim watch on her wrist.
Stealing a glance in her direction, Jimmy saw that she looked just as tired as he felt. And he wondered just how much work the FBI partners had done on this case—or how much work was left to do.
Nothing else was said while the elevator continued in its descent.
They hit the ground floor with a slight jerk and the steel doors opened widely. Unprepared for the jolt, Jimmy stumbled over the threshold while Abby lingered behind him. But she didn't follow him out. Just as he stepped out into the somewhat calmer lobby of the police station, he heard Abby make a small exclaim of surprise that caught his attention, and that of Agent Perez.
"I just remembered. My wallet… was my wallet in my suitcase?"
Perez shot out one of her fingers, pressing the button on the elevator panel that kept the doors open. "It's a possibility," she told Abby, "but I can't say that I know for sure. Did you want to go back up and check?"
"Could we? I don't want to be a bother but… I'd feel better if I at least had my ID or something like that on me."
A confused, concerned expression found its way to the FBI agent's face. Her eyebrows knit together as her brow furrowed. "Hanson told you that the Bureau would be paying for your stay, didn't he?"
"I know, but still…"
"I understand." Perez nodded. "Here, I'll take you back up."
Jimmy had been watching the short conversation with an interested eye and a cocked ear. When Perez relented to allow Abby back upstairs, he immediately took a step towards the still-open door. It wouldn't stay open for long and, as much as he didn't want to stay in the police station any longer, he wasn't about to let Abby upstairs without him.
It was only when Abby held up her hand—Perez reached for the elevator's "open" a second time—and gave a gentle shake of her head that he stopped dead in his tracks.
"It's okay, Jimmy. I'll go up with the agent. You stay here."
He opened his mouth to argue but, as Agent Hanson had discovered earlier, sometimes there was just no arguing with Abby Mills.
Jimmy nodded. "Whenever you're ready." I'll be right here waiting...
"I'll be right back," she promised him as Perez operated the elevator, letting the doors close. "Don't go anywhere."
Desperate to rest his feet now that he didn't have to pretend for Abby, he waited until he heard the ding of the elevator before it headed back up. He hobbled over to a decorative planter rested conveniently a few steps away and, exhaling loud enough to draw the attention of a nearby vandal, sat back down.
Don't go anywhere, she said. Well, he didn't have to be told twice.