OPR is like this giant sucking black hole – Moz


"It's me."

Shit.

"Fowler, what the hell do you want?" You growl over the phone.

"Caffrey's tracking anklet."

You look around carefully to make sure nobody's listening, and even though you don't think anybody is, you still bend over and cup your cell with both hands. You whisper angrily, "Not again. The last time was the last time. I'm done."

"Now, now, Deputy Quillian, you know that's not how it works." You hate how condescending he sounds. "Do you really want the information we have about your baby brother to make its way to the Atlantic City PD?" And now he sounds smug. Goddamn prick.

You take a deep breath and try to quell your anger. "We had a deal, Fowler."

"Yes, Deputy, we have a deal. You do a us few favors from the U.S. Marshal's office, and we keep quiet about what we know. Your little brother doesn't go to prison for the rest of his life. Everybody wins."

"You can't hold this over my head forever." You really hate the pleading tone that has entered your voice.

"No, not forever. I told you before, when I'm off the hook, you're off the hook. Not a moment sooner. When this is done, you get all the evidence against your brother and we never see each other again." He makes it sound so reasonable. But nothing about this is reasonable.

You strike back. "Yeah? And how did you get ensnared, Fowler? A youthful indiscretion? A wild weekend in Vegas? You force yourself on some poor sweet naive teenager?"

Now it was his turn to growl. "That's none of your business. This isn't about me, this is about you. Do you want to keep your brother out of jail or not?"

"Yes, yes, all right?" You practically shout. Asshole.

"Fine." You can hear him take a deep breath to gather himself. When he starts talking again, he's back to the fake sincere tone of voice from earlier. "Now that we have that all cleared up, what I'm going to need you to do is to disable Caffrey's tracker, without anybody being the wiser."

"What? How the hell do you expect me to do that?" Disabling the tracker was easy. Nobody being the wiser was fucking impossible.

"The same way you did it before."

You shake your head decisively. "No, no, that was different. All I had to do was doctor the database after the fact. How the hell do you expect me to fake live data?"

"I'm sure you'll figure it out." The smugness was back. "I need this by tomorrow. Call me when it's done. Or by next week pictures of your dear sweet baby brother standing naked over the dead whore will be splashed all over the Atlantic City newspapers."

"Fuck you, Fowler!" You yell as loudly as you dare.

"Now is that any way for a lady to talk, Meaghan?" He asks mildly. It makes you want to reach through the phone and strangle the bastard. Unfortunately, you have to settle for hanging up on him.

As you sit back at your desk, you can't help but think about your brothers Kieran and Ian. You were almost like a mother to them after your own dear mother died. You were the only daughter, and the oldest, with your little brothers much younger than you. Kieran was always a good boy. Ian however was another matter. If is wasn't this, it would have been something else. Everybody in the family always thought he'd end up in jail one way or another. You'd hoped that by joining the Marshal's service, you'd be able to prevent that. But you never in a million years thought things would end up like this.

Sigh. Enough of that. Just do the job, Meaghan.

You use your access code to get into the detention tracking system. You access the disable subcomponent. You know it is easy to disable the trackers – hell, you do it all the time. Every time a tracking anklet is removed, and the alarm goes off, you (or one of your colleagues) has to disable it (temporarily) to shut it up, before it is reset and redeployed. It is a simple matter of sending a signal to the tracker. And looking at Caffrey's data, you see it is an almost weekly occurrence for him. The only problem you see is that it is logged every time the signal is sent. Well, you know there has to be a way around that. There always is. After doing some digging, you figure out that if you send the signal by hand, it will bypass the log. Bingo.

Okay, now, you've got one more (impossible) problem. Disabling the tracker will cause the data stream to end. Even if you silence the alarms, you know someone is bound to notice the lack of data sooner or later (and you're betting on sooner). Okay, okay, okay, what to do. Well, you see that if you hack it here, and hack it there, you can get it stuck in a loop, displaying the same data over and over again. Well, you figure that might do for a while.

You wait, and watch, and bide your time until everything is right. It is late. You are the only one left in the office. Caffrey's tracking data shows he is at home. It is evening. Nobody would question if Caffrey's data shows him at home for the next twelve hours. Now is the time to act. You set up your loop. You send the disable signal. You see that the data stream ends, disablement complete. You start up the loop. Everything looks good. For now. You know that come morning, and Caffrey shows up at work or whatever, you're in big trouble. Time to call Fowler.

"Quillian, this better be good news. You better be calling to tell me it is done."

"Yes and no."

You can hear him sigh in exasperation. "What do you mean, 'yes and no'?"

"Caffrey's tracker is disabled. I've set up a loop to show the same tracking data over and over."

"Great work –"

You interrupt before he can go off on a self-satisfied rant. "Not that great. The loop shows him at home. That won't work for long. What happens tomorrow morning when he shows up at work and his tracking data doesn't match? Not to mention that somebody is bound to notice that the light on the anklet is off, or that the anklet is gone altogether if Caffrey removes it."

"Hmmm. I think I have a solution. His handler, Burke, is going to get suspended tomorrow." You decide you don't want to know how in the world Fowler would know something like that. "It would not raise eyebrows if Caffrey were to be put on house arrest for the duration. That's perfect. Then your loop showing him at home would be spot-on."

You're not so sure. "Yeah, but only for the length of the house arrest. What happens after that?"

"By that time, everything will be over, I hope. If things go well, Operation Mentor will be finished in a few days, long before the end of the house arrest. You and I will both be out from under. It will be finished."

You have to work to keep yourself from getting too excited, from getting your hopes up. You'll believe it when you see it. But first things first. "Okay, great, so once you set up the house arrest –"

Fowler interrupts you, "I want you to set it up."

Your stomach clenches. "What? Me? Why?"

"Just do it. Burke's boss Hughes would be the one to talk to. Quillian, make sure you get this done. If I have to do it, trust me, you won't like it."

"Fine. I'll get it done."

"I knew you would."

The prick, doesn't want to get his hands dirty, you bet. Leave you hanging out to dry if this whole thing goes south. Well, you know there's nothing to be done but to do it and hope for the best.

The next day when the notice comes in that Burke has been suspended, you know it is time to act. You take a deep breath and gird yourself to place the call.

"Agent Reese Hughes? This is Deputy Meaghan Quillian from the Electronic Monitoring Compliance Unit."

"Yes, Ma'am? What can I do for you?"

"We've been informed that Neal Caffrey's primary handler, Agent Peter Burke, has been suspended for two weeks. Is this correct?"

"Yes, that's right. Is there a problem?"

Steady, girl. "Well, sir, in cases like this, we recommend that the detainee be placed under house arrest for the duration. We find that in these situations, they have a tendency to act out."

You hold your breath as he hmm's for a few seconds, thinking it over. Come on, come on. "Yes, you're probably right, Deputy. Caffrey is a handful when Agent Burke isn't around to keep an eye on him."

You sigh with relief. "Very good, sir. If you could let me know his home address and the size of the radius you would like and who the primary contact should be in Agent Burke's absence, I can set that up for you."

"That would be Agent Clinton Jones. Here, I'll transfer you. He can also get you that information you need."

"Thank you, sir."

Yes. As you wait for Agent Jones, you plan out what all you need to do to set this up, and what you're going to say to Fowler. You smile smugly to yourself thinking about how finally there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully in a few days you'll get the evidence against Ian and be out from under the thumb of Fowler. You hope never to set eyes on that bastard again.