Mistletoe and Mayhem
Disclaimer: the usual. This was begun soon after the end of the series so any resemblance to anyone or thing is purely coincidental.
A/N: It's a Christmas story. Hope you don't mind! Inspired by Clint Black's "Under the Mistletoe". I'm not a country-western fan but this song is just so darn cute!
A/N2: Thanks to Akaalias for betaing this story. Without her help, I don't know if I would have ever finished this story!
Summary: Sometimes even in the midst of mayhem unexpected things can happen especially during the holiday season.
"Did you hear about JP and Marcy?" Lucy announced to the group as she drank her coffee.
"Don't tell me!" squealed Tara.
Lucy nodded wisely. "Yup. There was a sprig hanging over the doorway in Forensics so when she took a report there…" She looked at Tara meaningfully.
"When did this happen?" the tech specialist asked breathlessly.
"Two days ago."
"And have they?
"Dinner that same night."
"So that makes how many now?" asked D. "Two? Three?"
"Four…if you count Preston and Sheryl," Tara replied.
"Just because he's from DEA doesn't mean it doesn't count," Lucy stated. "The end result is what we're counting."
"And just what are we counting, Miss Dotson?" asked Myles in his most condescending voice as he poured himself a cup.
"The number of romances that have sprung up since a mysterious sprig of mistletoe has appeared," she answered in a don't-you-know-anything tone.
"A kiss under a bit of green foliage does not constitute a romance," he pointed out.
"It does if you go out on a date," said Tara knowingly.
Myles looked at D and Jack questioningly. "Is this true?"
Both men shrugged.
"Far as we know," answered D.
"And how long has this new dating service been going on?"
"Since after the Thanksgiving weekend," Lucy answered promptly.
"A spray of mistletoe has been showing up in different offices since then," Tara supplied.
"And in each office, romance has blossomed and the sprig disappears," Lucy added.
"Only to turn up some place else!" finished Tara triumphantly. She sighed. "Isn't that just the most romantic thing you've ever heard?"
"Are you saying someone is going around putting up this piece of parasitic greenery to encourage the development of interpersonal relationships?" Myles asked in astonishment.
"Gee, Myles," said D sarcastically, "when you say it like that it makes me wonder why anyone would want to kiss anyone under the mistletoe."
Myles smirked unapologetically. "What can I say? I have a way with words." He turned to face the girls. "So, let me get this straight…the Hoover Building has its own personal Dolly Levi in the form of a mistletoe fairy?"
"Mistletoe Fairy," Jack pondered. "I like that. Sounds better than a matchmaker."
"Yes!" said Lucy and Tara simultaneously.
"So who is it?"
Glances went around the group.
"I've checked my sources but no one knows," answered Jack.
"Your sources…." Myles echoed sarcasm dripping from every word, "you actually asked?"
Jack shrugged unrepentantly. It was all in fun.
"Do we know where it goes next?" D asked.
"No one knows since it disappeared from Forensics," Lucy responded solemnly.
"You think it'll appear here?"
"Well…" Lucy and Tara focused on Jack.
"What?" asked Jack.
"The rumor is…." began Tara.
"What?" demanded Myles.
"It has to be the right couple," finished Lucy.
Eyes swiveled to Sue's empty desk and back up to Jack.
"You should seriously consider transferring to NVTC," urged Sandy Kitteridge over a cup of coffee. "Interpreters are in high demand. With your experience and talent, you could dictate where you want to work."
"But I like where I am now," Sue replied emphatically. "I like being part of this team. They're more than co-workers…they're like family."
"That's the beauty of this position," argued Sandy. "Our people are on loan to different agencies throughout the United States and in many cases, even abroad. I could just about guarantee that you can stay where you are."
"What's the catch?" asked Sue skeptically.
"What catch?" Sandy repeated innocently.
"There has to be a catch. Your offer is too good to be true and you know what they say, if it's too good to be true, it usually isn't…true, I mean."
"Well, there is one little catch."
"What is it?"
"You have to be willing to travel at a moment's notice when the need arises."
Sue looked at her companion.
"Every accommodation would be made to locate the closest interpreter but sometimes, it's just not possible. That's when you have to travel."
"I don't know, Sandy," Sue responded. "Like I said, I like where I am."
"I'm not asking you to decide this very moment. Just think about it, will you?"
"All right," Sue agreed reluctantly. "I'll think about it but I'm not promising anything."
"That's fine with me," said Sandy pleased she was able to get that much out of her tablemate. She glanced at her watch. "It's been great talking to you but I have another appointment in twenty minutes. I gotta go." She gathered her purse and briefcase. "Think about it."
"I will. Merry Christmas, Sandy."
"Merry Christmas, Sue. Talk to you later." She threaded her way through the half empty coffee shop.
Sue thoughtfully took a sip of her hot chocolate. Maybe if she had transferred to another agency two years ago, Jack would have finally come out and admitted his feelings for her. There had been that one occasion where they'd kissed…really kissed on an undercover assignment. She'd been almost certain he was going to suggest taking the next step in their relationship but he never had. And he wouldn't, she realized. He was looking for something she couldn't offer him—the perfect relationship. So she had moved on.
She was ready for a relationship…a real one where two people cared enough about each other to make that certain commitment to one another….loved each other enough to weather its ups and downs, too. It had been a possibility with David but their timing had been wrong—he was ready and she wasn't so they had parted still friends. The last time they'd talked, he was seeing a landscape architect and very happy.
She sighed. Maybe one day she'd meet that someone special.
Fingers tapped rapidly on her table. She looked up.
"Why the big sigh?"
"Bobby! What are you doing here?" exclaimed Sue.
"Came in for a cup of coffee," he explained. "It's cold out there!" He gestured to the empty seat across from here. "Expecting someone?"
"No," she responded. "Make yourself comfortable."
"Let me put in my order."
Sue's eyes followed her co-worker as he walked over to the counter. She could see the female help brighten and smile that I'm-interested-in-you smile. She couldn't blame the woman. Bobby was good-looking and exuded charm. However, unlike his best friend, he ignored the flirtatious signals of females. That wasn't his style. When Bobby was interested in a woman, he let her know. There was no guessing.
"What brings you here, Miss Thomas?" asked Bobby conversationally as he slid onto the vacant seat.
"I met someone."
"Anyone I know or is it a secret admirer?"
"No secret. It was Sandy Kitteridge."
He frowned. "Sandy Kitteridge. That name sounds familiar."
"She's with the NVTC."
Alarm bells began sounding in his mind.
"That translation agency?" Bobby asked sharply. Was it another job offer?
"Uh-huh." Sue wondered what caused the change in his expression.
"Was it a job offer?" he asked slowly.
"It was." She did not elaborate.
"Are you taking it?"
Bobby hadn't realized he'd been holding his breath until she gave her answer. He reached over and squeezed her hand.
"I'm glad," he smiled in relief. "The team wouldn't be the same without you and Levi."
"You're sweet to say that."
"It's nice to be appreciated," she said returning his warm smile. Bobby was one of the reasons why she'd decided to turn down the New York position and now this one. Her teammates were more than friends…they were family.
"And what brings you here?" she asked making conversation.
"Same reason…well, not really the same," he corrected himself. "There was no job offer. I had a meeting with an informant."
He shrugged. Rumors of something happening around Christmas time had been shared but the information was too vague at the moment to act upon. He would have to do more digging.
"You never know."
The Mistletoe Fairy had visited the Hoover Building once again this time in Personnel. Another budding romance had sprouted and the mysterious sprig of greenery had disappeared. Since that time, there had been no sightings of the elusive mistletoe in over a week. Speculation had run rampant at its non-appearance that perhaps all the potential pairings had been exhausted.
"I know it's silly to feel like this," began Tara, "but I'm feeling a little less in the holiday spirit since the Mistletoe Fairy seems to have finished her matchmaking."
"Her?" questioned D.
"Puh-lease," Lucy said sarcastically, "do you really think a guy wants to be known as the Mistletoe Fairy?"
The men in the office looked at her.
"Anyway, I totally agree with Tara," said Lucy. "The sparkle of the holidays has been dimmed."
"Read the history of Tiffany's," suggested Myles. "That should put some sparkle back into your life."
Lucy made a face. "Ha-ha."
"You're welcome," he said smugly. "I thought you'd appreciate that."
She rolled her eyes.
"There's a few days before Christmas," D said calmly. "Maybe she's taking a break."
"That's not much time left," said Tara dubiously.
"Sure there is," he assured her, "if it's the right pair."
"Isn't the whole thing about this mistletoe thing is that the couple don't realize they are a couple until that kiss under the mistletoe?" asked Jack.
"Well, yeah," said Tara. "That's the neat part of the whole thing. Somehow, whoever this Mistletoe Fairy is, has the ability to miraculously pair people together."
"It's like she knows who should be together."
"Which is kind of spooky when you think about it," Jack stated.
"That means someone has been watching us pretty closely to know us that well."
"We work for the FBI," said Lucy. "We're trained to be observant."
"If anyone is interested," began Myles.
"I'm not," broke in Lucy.
He glared at her. "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted. I find it 'spooky' that we're spending so much time discussing the matter to begin with!"
"C'mon, Myles," said D, "don't you want to know if there's a secret soul mate out there for you? Someone that you may already know?"
"I won't need a piece of shrubbery to help me find the woman of my dreams," Myles replied. "I'll know here," he said pointing to his eyes, "here," then to his heart, and "here," finally pointing to his head.
"Why, Myles!" remarked Tara in astonishment. "I didn't know you could be so romantic!"
"There are many hidden layers to Myles Leland III," he said complacently. "The right woman will be patient enough to delve through all of them."
The next day the bullpen was abuzz with chatter.
"What's up?" remarked Myles as he entered the office.
"Look above you," instructed Jack.
"What? My halo slipped?"
"Oh!" He spotted the famed sprig. "When did this happen?"
"I was the first one here at 6:42 and it was already here," said Tara as she looked around the room. "You know what this means, don't you?"
"Yeah," said Lucy thoughtfully her eyes landing on Jack.
He fidgeted under her gaze.
"Where's Sue?" asked Tara following Lucy's line of vision.
"She had to meet an informant," Lucy replied. "She'll be in a bit."
"In the meantime, is anyone going to kiss me?" inquired Myles.
"Why?" asked D.
"What if I'm the person this mistletoe was intended for?" he pointed out reasonably. "How will I know unless there's someone to kiss? So I repeat, is anyone go—argh!"
"Say what, Myles?" grinned a mischievous Bobby as he backed away. "Am I your soul mate?"
"You, Bobby Manning, are my worst nightmare!" Myles glared as he rubbed his cheek with his handkerchief. He stomped to his desk muttering under his breath.
Smirks dotted the faces of the rest of the office as they settled down to their tasks at hand. Bobby waggled his eyebrows as he passed the women on the way to his desk.
"Couldn't resist," he admitted as he hung up his jacket. "Myles gave the perfect cue."
He'd been about to enter the office when he heard Myles' request. It had seemed the perfect opportunity to make an entrance and pull a prank on the bloke at the same time. It had worked…beautifully.
As he settled himself into his chair, his grin faded as he glanced at Sue's empty desk. Since the day she had shared about the latest job offer, he'd been thinking a lot about her…how the office wouldn't seem the same without her…how he would miss her…how much he would miss her. He found himself stealing peeks at her more often than usual wondering what she was thinking…wondering if she had second thoughts about her decision…wondering if she was wondering should she take it to be with Jack if that's what she wanted.
Funny, he never thought she and Jack belonged together. It came as quite a shock when Myles had mentioned the possibility several months ago. Jack had never talked about it and he never saw that special connection…that spark when two people were meant for each other.
He sighed. He'd thought he had that connection with Darcy but he'd been wrong, wrong, wrong. Her career had been more important than them. It had hurt but he'd learned dwelling on the things you couldn't change didn't change a thing. Life had gone on. Perhaps one day he'd find that certain someone. He was ready.
"Jack," said Lucy as she hung up the phone, "Jerry said to remind you the meeting is in fifteen minutes. Don't be late."
"Just double-checking to make sure I have everything," he replied shuffling papers into a file. He flipped through the sheets then tapped the edges to make a neat stack. "Ready." He looked up at Lucy. "Anybody calls, take a message."
"Yeah?" He pivoted and continued to walk backwards towards the door.
"You said to remind you to pick up a file from Robin on your way back from that meeting."
"Thanks, Lucy," he replied gratefully. "Almost for—oops!"
The rest of the sentence was lost the moment he collided with someone in the doorway.
"Sorry!" he apologized his hands automatically reaching out to steady the other person. "Sue! I'm really sorry. That'll teach me to look where I'm going. You all right?"
"I'm fine," she smiled, "just a little surprised."
"Oh, Ja-a-c-k!" sang out Myles.
"Oh!" Sue echoed as she tracked Jack's shifting focus. "The Mistletoe Fairy paid us a visit?"
Jack nodded as attention was riveted on the pair under the mistletoe. The thought that they must be the reason the little piece of greenery appeared ran through the minds of everyone in the office—everyone except one.
"Does this mean I have to kiss you?" she said lightly.
"You don't have to," remarked Jack self-consciously.
With a smile, she leaned forward and kissed him quickly. "Merry Christmas, Jack."
"Uh…Merry Christmas, Sue," responded Jack startled at her action. "You didn't have to," he repeated.
"And break tradition?"
"There's something to be said for tradition," he admitted. "That was…nice."
"Just nice?" she teased. It was interesting to see Jack become rattled.
"Um…." He didn't know what to say. "I…have a meeting. I gotta go."
"Don't let me keep you. I'll see you later."
"Yeah…later." He looked at her quizzically for a moment then left. He really had to be at that meeting on time but would he be able to concentrate?
"Good morning!" said Sue cheerfully as she headed towards her desk.
Lucy and Tara shared a look then simultaneously approached their teammate.
"Well?" demanded Lucy.
"Well what?" asked Sue calmly as she put her purse away
"How did you feel when you kissed him?" Tara queried. "Did your toes curl?"
"Spine tingle?" Lucy added. "Thought processes stop?"
"Fine, no, no, and no."
"Excuse me?" asked the two women.
"I said fine, n…," Sue responded.
"No! No! No!" exclaimed Lucy.
"That's right," said Sue her eyes twinkling with mirth, "that's what I said—no, no and no."
"That's not what we meant!"
"No," Lucy replied a tad bit exasperated, "we meant didn't you feel anything special when you kissed Jack?"
"Special like what?"
"This is where the spine-tingling, toe curling and time stopped bits come in," Tara clarified."
"It was…nice," Sue said matter-of-factly.
"Nothing more?" asked a disappointed Tara.
Lucy's shoulders slumped. "Well, if that's the best you can do…."
"Sorry to disappoint you but that's about as descriptive as I can get."
The kiss had been nice but her toes certainly did not curl nor did her spine tingle. It was like kissing…a friend….a good friend but nonetheless, a friend. That mistletoe wasn't meant for her, she decided as she accessed her email.
"Guess they weren't the pair then," commented D.
Myles scanned the office. "I don't see too many more possibilities."
"I was so sure," Lucy murmured to Tara, "that it would be those two."
"Me, too," agreed Tara. "Then who…." The two women continued to quietly discuss possibilities.
Bobby sauntered into the quiet bullpen. Myles and Sue were busy at their desks while Tara was intently listening to yet another tape. He rapped on Sue's desk as he walked past his reward a fleeting smile.
"Where's everyone else?"
"Lunch," she said succinctly.
"Lucy's bringing something back for Tara and me. Did you want something? I can call her," she offered.
"I had a bite. Thanks anyway." With a smile, he headed for his desk.
"No lunch today, Myles?"
"I have a late luncheon date. Unlike some people, I don't have to skip an occasional meal to control my cholesterol level."
Bobby grimaced. "Mine's just fine," he said shortly. Exercise and watching his diet had accomplished that.
"Did you hear that Jack and Sue kissed under the mistletoe?" Myles asked conversationally when his teammate took off his coat.
"Say what?" He had just settled himself at his desk.
"Jack and Sue were under the mistletoe and kissed," Myles repeated patiently.
Bobby shot a glance in Sue's direction. "And?"
"Are you asking me what happened next?"
"Yes, you twit!"
"Temper, temper," said Myles waggling a finger at his teammate. He enjoyed tormenting Bobby from time to time. "Be nice."
"Myles!" hissed Bobby.
"All right, all right, keep your shirt on," placated Myles. He leaned forward and said confidentially. "I don't know what kind of reaction occurred in the other offices but let me just say that Jack was definitely affected."
Myles leaned back. "I may be mistaken but Thomas seemed decidedly…"
Bobby braced himself.
Bobby was taken aback. "She didn't like the kiss?"
"I didn't say she didn't like the kiss."
"What did she say then?"
"That it was nice."
Bobby turned to observe Sue. As though she could feel his eyes on her, she looked up and flashed a smile at him before returning to her computer.
She didn't look like she'd found her soul mate. Perhaps that Mistletoe Fairy made a mistake this time, he thought as he turned to check his email. Wrong pair, wrong office.
Interested eyes observed the reaction of Bobby to the announcement of the first kiss under the mistletoe in their office. Maybe I'm not so far off after all, the observer mused. Just a week for that little green sprig to work its magic.
The sound of footsteps in the stairwell made Bobby look up.
"I've been looking for you," said Sue.
"Come to join me in my private office?" joked Bobby half-heartedly.
"If you don't mind some company."
"Have a seat," he gestured to a step. "Needed to get away for a bit of a think," he admitted as she settled herself next to him.
"Oh! Then I should leave you alone," she commented as she motioned to leave.
"No," he said quickly reaching for her wrist, "stay."
She sat back down.
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"You looked as though you had something on your mind."
"Was it that obvious?" he asked wryly. The frustration he forgot momentarily came flooding back.
"You want to talk about it?"
Bobby took a moment as he considered her offer. It might help.
"You remember that meeting I had with an informant last week? The same day you met with that woman from NVTC."
"Yeah," she acknowledged. "What about it?"
He shrugged. "I've been checking on her story since then. A rumor here…a rumor there. Nothing concrete." He looked into her eyes.
"Nothing concrete but you're still worried."
"What if…what if this one is that one time I let a piece of information slip through my fingers and something happens?"
"Do you think that's the case here?"
"That's it! I don't know." He ran fingers through his hair. "None of the others can corroborate such a threat."
"This person has given me useful bits of information but this is the first time she's given me something like this."
"Do you trust her?"
'That's the million dollar question, isn't it?" There was a moment of silence as he pondered her words. "Ever since 9/11 it's been every intelligence agent's worst nightmare that we may miss that one clue…that one detail that could lead to another such catastrophe," he said seriously. "Do I want to be the agent responsible for that?"
"I think," Sue said slowly, "I think every single one of us lives with that same fear."
"So what do we do?"
"The best we can."
He mulled over her simple words of advice for a few seconds then smiled warmly as he reached for her hand. "I said it before and I'll say it again…the team wouldn't be the same without you."
"So, how can I help?"
His cell went off. "Hold that thought."
Instantly, his demeanor changed. He looked at Sue as the caller spoke.
"Be there in half an hour. Thanks, Julia."
She looked at him with a question in her eyes.
"That informant we were just discussing?"
"She has details this time. Come with, Miss Thomas?"
In answer, she immediately stood up and held out her hand to pull him up. "What're we waiting for?" she smiled.
Bobby and Sue hurried into the bullpen to grab their things.
"What's up?" asked Jack looking up from the surveillance tape he'd been examining with Tara.
"Meeting with an informant," announced Bobby as they gathered their coats. "Be back in a bit." His hand on the small of her back, he ushered Sue out.
"They were in a hurry," Jack commented.
"Must be important," Tara remarked.
"You think it could be a terrorist threat?" asked Lucy.
"Could be," agreed D. "You know how the threats amp up during the holiday season."
"Wouldn't it be nice if one day Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men was a reality and not just a saying on a Christmas card?" Tara sighed. "And not just for a day either."
"That would be more than nice," Myles replied, "that would be truly miraculous."
"However," broke in Jack, "but it won't happen in our lifetime."
"And not in my kids' lifetime either," said a regretful D.
Bobby and Sue flanked a slender woman in a sheltered spot out of the wind and cold.
"Those men, they came in again," began the informant. "They spoke only in Farsi, except to order."
"You understand Farsi?" an interested Sue asked the red-headed woman.
"What did you hear?"
"Something about striking in a perfect place…a day of great religious importance…many important people…the perfect target."
"Did they say exactly what they were planning?"
"I heard the word 'bomb'."
"Heads up!" announced Bobby as he strode into the bullpen.
"What's up?" D asked.
"Received a tip on a potential attack by a possible terrorist cell possibly scheduled for Christmas or the Eve perhaps targeting a church."
"Well, that's nice and vague," Tara remarked.
"Well, your rumor, or tip, goes to the end of the line after the dozen or so other 'tips' we've received about possible attacks during the holidays," Myles pointed out dryly.
"And they all have to be investigated," D reminded.
"Any concrete leads? That could push yours to the front of the line," pointed out Jack. "A name…address…anything?"
"Two names, no addresses but, we may have their faces on tape," he responded holding up a cassette.
"Go to the head of the line!"
"What's the back story?" D asked.
In a few short sentences Bobby filled them in. Just as he finished, Sue entered the office with the informant.
"This is Julia," Bobby introduced. "She's going to help us identify the possible suspects."
"If you're ready….," said Tara.
Sue brought Julia over to Tara's desk and the women began their task.
"I'll start checking to see if anyone's heard about a possible attack on a church," Jack offered, "to corroborate your source's information."
"I'll help," said Myles.
"The faces of two of the men were caught on tape," began Tara.
"That's it. The restaurant has security cameras facing only the entrance and the cashier," she explained. Two barely recognizable faces were flashed on the screen.
"Can you sharpen the pictures?"
"Sorry, The tape has been used multiple times hence the graininess of the pictures. Unlike those tv shows, computers can digitally enhance photos only so much. However, Julia also gave us two names—Hakkim and Peter. She is fairly certain the man on the right is Hakkim."
"It could be any of the other three and we don't know if it's a first or last name."
"So we don't know the name of the man in the other photo?"
"I hope there's some good news here."
"There is. Julia is also fairly sure the men in question are either college students or live in the area so I ran both photos through the INS database and the universities within the DC area. Because we did have a name to work with we were able to narrow the search to these three faces." She pressed a key a photos appeared on the screen.
"Hakkim Ashraf, Hakkim Bhatti and Hakkim El-Rashad." The team could see the resemblance among the three men.
"We've only started the background checks." Lucy stepped up. "What we did find out is Hakkim Ashraf is a medical student at George Washington. Hakkim Bhatti is a financial adviser. He married an American about three years ago and is the father of a two year old boy."
"Hakkim number three?"
"Hakkim El-Rashad is a graduate student at George Mason. I did find something interesting about him. Guess what his major is?" She scanned the faces before her. "No takers?"
"I'm thinking dance would be wishful thinking," Myles responded sardonically.
"It would. Want to try again?"
"Try chemical engineering."
"Say what?" asked an astonished Bobby.
"Chemical engineering!" exclaimed Myles. "Now that sheds a different light on your rumor, Koala Boy. I think perhaps the nebulous probability of a terrorist attack has now become a more tangible possibility."
"Not good," D said shaking his head, "not good at all."
"I'm running the other photo through the databases but without a name it's gonna take some time."
"In the meantime, we need to gather more information on all three Hakkims," Bobby reminded everyone. "Sue and I will focus on El-Rashad since he seems to have the most likely background but we can't entirely rule out the other two."
"Myles and I will check out the other two," offered Jack.
"Lucy, check credit card usage, cell phone…."
"I know the drill," she interrupted heading for her desk.
"I'll lend a hand as soon as I get back from the meeting upstairs," promised D.
"Okay, people, let's go!"