Chapter 6: Interventions
4th January 2012, 17:22 p.m.
Lauren tossed her pen over the desk. For half an hour, she had tried to concentrate on the case, tried to make a plan about her further course of action, but it had been totally useless. As she had applied to the FBI, she had sworn herself to leave the familiar business of the police behind. She had sworn not to start any private relationships at work. All she had wanted was to get her job done, without any complications.
But complications seemed to love her, as it just had been proven an hour ago. She sighed and shook her head. His sister. His god damn sister. Why did you avoid phone calls from your sister? And why didn't their father want them to meet?
Was this some kind of family war, or was there more behind it? Something that could bother his work? Something that could bother hers?
A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts.
"Yes", she said. No more trouble, please. I've had enough for today.
Her body relaxed as Charlie came in.
"Hey, you're still here?" he asked, his lips curling into a youthful grin.
The man took the other chair and sat down. "Still trying to crack the case?"
"No, not really", Lauren replied, then looked at him and hesitated. She could ask Charlie about it, of course. He was his best friend. But if she asked now she would take a full step into private matters and she wanted to avoid this. Needed to avoid this. On the other hand, if there was really something going on that could endanger the work; she might have no other choice. While her reason was still writing a list of arguments and counterarguments, her lips already formed the question:
"What is going on with Jayden and his sister?"
There, it was out. No chance to back off now. She wondered slightly how soon she would regret this.
For a second, Charlie just stared at her. "How do you know about Jamie?"
"I just met her. An hour ago."
"Here", Lauren said quietly.
"Here? You mean like… here? Inside the FBI?"
"Well, if you want to know the exact location: in Jayden's office. She came in just as we finished a little argument."
"Where is she now?" Charlie asked.
"She's taken her brother out for dinner. By the way, I thought she was his wife."
"No, she's his younger sister…"
"Yes, I got that, now."
"And he agreed to have dinner with her?"
"Well, apparently, she has her way to persuade people."
"She's stubborn as a mule, that's for sure. It's genetic", Charlie said absent-minded.
"Listen, I don't want to mingle in this and I don't want to know the whole story. All I want to know is whether there's something I should know that could affect the work", Lauren explained.
Charlie raised her eyes to her. Oh yes, sweetheart, there's certainly one thing you should know and it's about glasses and blue powder, he thought. Only that I can't tell you.
"That depends", he said.
"On how you want this cooperation to go on."
Lauren looked at him. "I don't understand."
"Alright. Hm, how do I put this? Yeah. What is going on between the two of them will not endanger the case, or his work, or your work. But if I tell you about it – after you've sworn on the Bible, or the Koran or on "Shades of Grey" by E.L. James that you won't say a single word to him – you might understand why he acts like he acts and by that, your cooperation might become a little less… rocky."
"Our cooperation isn't rocky."
"Yes, it is. You just said something about an argument."
"Oh, come on. That was nothing", Lauren said.
"Yeah, it was nothing. And that's the point. You're arguing about nothing, while you work on a case that I would state on highly dangerous. I'm not saying you need to love each other. But I think a little more trust and a little more… diplomacy would minimize the time and resources you're wasting by accusing each other of being arrogant pricks. You're both grown-ups, you should be able to work together even if you don't want to spend your free-time with each other."
Lauren thought about his words and slowly nodded your head. "You're probably right. I just… I just don't want to… get too close."
Charlie raised an eyebrow. "To Jayden? Don't worry. It took a year until I was close to him and believe me, in this case, 90-60-90 isn't helping."
"90-60-90? Check your glasses", Lauren said with a small hint of amusement.
Charlie nudged her from aside. "Now tell me, Cleopatra, shall I invite you for a drink and shed some light into all this?"
"Alright, Mister Edison. Enlighten me."
Acqua al 2,
4th January 2012, 17:40 p.m.
If there was one thing Jamie would die for, it was pizza. Her serious addiction to it was the only reason she attended the fitness center twice a week, so she wouldn't end up round as a ball. As her brother had taken her to this pizzeria, she had thought it was a good sign. But now, as they sat in front of each other in disturbing silence, she dismissed the thought. The waiter came over and she ordered a glass of water, together with a pizza, while he only ordered a coffee.
"Aren't you hungry?" she asked.
"I'm going to eat at home", he replied and leant back in his chair, avoiding her gaze.
"Right", Jamie said with a sigh and started to unfold the napkin, only to fold it again.
"I collected the press articles about the Origami killer case", she said as she laid the napkin aside.
He raised an eyebrow, but didn't reply.
"I wanted to tell you, on phone, but well, you didn't pick up."
"Yeah. Should have been an indication I don't want to speak to you. But you didn't get it, did you?" he said with held back anger.
"Oh yes, I did get it. I just didn't accept it", she replied and looked at him. "Did you ever think about picking up?"
He avoided her gaze.
"Damn it, Norman, I'm your sister. What was your plan? Never speak to me again? Never?"
"I would have only needed more time!" he said defensively.
"More time? It's been two years!"
Norman shook his head slightly. He wished he wouldn't have given in to this. It was a complete waste of time.
"Alright, listen", Jamie said and took a deep breath. "You can loathe me, if you want. And ignore me. For the rest of your life, if you feel like it. Punish me, if you must. Hurt me. It's okay, I will survive it. But tell me, did you think about Sam, for one second? Because you're punishing him as well, for my faults. And that's not fair. He misses you. He asks me when you will visit again every week. He even asked me whether you don't like him anymore. I tried to tell him you're busy, I tried to tell him it wasn't his fault, but he doesn't believe me anymore. But I can't tell him the truth because he is only ten years old and wouldn't understand."
For a second, their eyes met. Then he turned his head again.
"Okay", Jamie said. "Okay." And she rose. "I'm sorry I bolted into your office. I thought, if we could talk, there might be some way you'd forgive me. But obviously, I was wrong." She paused a second and blinked. "I wished you could understand that I never meant to hurt you. I was just so scared and so worried about you, I couldn't think of handling the situation in any other way. I hoped you would at least agree to… talk to your nephew again, because he loves you so much. And I love you so much…" She paused again. "It was stupid. Forgive me. Or don't. Do whatever you want." And she walked out of the restaurant just in the moment as the pizza arrived.
4th January 2012, 18:03 p.m.
Charlie couldn't remember ever having been in the bar that early, but then again, he had never taken a woman with him, as well. As he led Lauren to the table in the corner, he could feel the stares of the already present guests and a slight grin crept on his lips. Well, this would surely push his reputation a little bit more to the good side.
As soon as they sat down, Rick was at the table.
"Evening, Charlie", he said and his eyes fell on Lauren's features. "And who is this bewitching lady?"
Lauren raised an eyebrow in amusement.
"Rick, this is Lauren, a friend of mine. Lauren, this is Rick."
"Nice to meet you", Lauren said politely.
"The pleasure is all mine", Rick replied with a generous smile. "What do you want to drink?"
"Water, please", Lauren said.
"One beer, like always", Charlie said.
Rick nodded and went to the bar, while Charlie looked at her. "Water?"
"I don't drink", she explained.
"Now, don't tell me you had an alcohol problem in your youth", he joked.
"Didn't we all?" she replied with a smile.
Rick arrived with their drinks and another smile for Lauren.
The woman took a sip of her glass. "So, you call me a friend now? You're rather quick."
"I have to. I mean, I wouldn't give out information of a friend to a colleague, would I?"
"Actually, I'm really surprised you tell them to me."
"I wouldn't, if I wasn't a hundred percent sure you'd keep your mouth shut."
"Believe me, I'm not going to say anything. As I already told you, I'm not too eager to get too close to anybody."
"Well, I guess I'm the exception."
Lauren looked at him and for a second, melancholia shone in her eyes. "You remind me of a friend of mine. Back… at home."
He raised an eyebrow. "You're from New York?"
She nodded her head and fixed her eyes on the glass.
"So, you worked at the NYPD?"
"Yes, I did."
"Why did you leave?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "Something personal."
Charlie looked at her and decided not to ask further. She seemed uncomfortable talking about it.
Give it time, he thought. You just met her.
"So, what about Jamie Jayden? I must admit, she was pretty impressing", Lauren said.
"Oh yes, she is."
"She doesn't seem to have much in common with her brother. I mean, she seems… more vivid."
"Yeah, Jamie is the emotional one of the two. She was a bit of a wild child at high school, but she got her act together as her son was born. She was only sixteen. Her father was out of his mind."
"Wow. Understandable. My uncle would have locked me in the cellar if I had been pregnant with sixteen."
"As far as I heard, it was actually the best that could happen to her. Made her reasonable. She used to come to Washington rather regular before… the event. She keeps the family together. Well, she tries."
"What happened between them?" Lauren asked.
Charlie sighed. "About two years ago, Jayden was going through a little bit of a… rough time. As it got worse, I called Jamie and asked her to visit him. I thought she would be able to reason him. But she couldn't. She called me afterwards. She was very worried, just like I was, but we didn't know what to do. So, Jamie decided to tell the whole matter to their father. And then, everything went down the tube."
"Why?" Lauren asked.
"Well, Norman's relationship to his father was always… rocky. He's a hot shot inside the CIA. But don't tell anyone, or I'll probably get shot."
"CIA?" Lauren asked and swallowed hard. CIA. Fuck. Could this get any worse?
"Yes. I don't think he was too happy his son decided for the competitor. Though probably, he didn't mind. After their mother died, their father put all his effort in his work. Jamie's pregnancy finally opened his eyes, but I guess by that time, it was already too late for him to build up a normal relationship with his son. He had missed two many graduations and overlooked too many achievements. Or maybe, he had just taken them as granted.
And as Jamie told him about the trouble his son had gotten in, he chose a very dramatic way to interfere, without even talking to Norman or anything like that. And of course, Norman blamed his sister for what happened. He said she had betrayed him and basically told her to fuck off. Jamie was devastated, of course, but well, as I already said: stubbornness is in their genes. Her showing up here is probably her last try to make things up."
"So that's the reason he doesn't trust anybody. Because his sister betrayed him once", Lauren said.
"Well, I think he's always been a mistrusting person. He's the kind of guy who rather read books than went to a party in high school."
"Hey, I read books in high school, as well. But I don't mistrust everybody."
"Yeah, but I bet you've never been a loner in high school. I mean, you're adorable. Even if you had been a Star Trek fan, the boys would have still tried to get in your pants."
"One or two", Lauren admitted.
"See. It's not like he isn't a nice guy, only you need a lot of time and patience to discover that his arrogance is actually a self-defense mechanism, built to chase away the people who only want to take advantage of him."
"Yeah, only that it chases away everyone. If he'd act a little bit more human, there wouldn't be half so many agents chattering about him."
"I know that, as well. But go and try to tell him", Charlie said and sighed.
"So, you want to tell me to be a little more patient?"
"Yes. And ignore some of his comments. I know it's hard, but hey, if I can manage this, you can do, as well. I think it would really optimize your work."
Lauren sat silent for some seconds, then said: "Well, I guess I can…. tame my temper a little bit more."
Charlie smiled at her, his eyes bright. "That would be great."
Acqua al 2,
4th January 2012, 18:02 p.m.
Norman stared at the steaming pizza in front of him, the last reminder of Jamie's visit. She probably hadn't eaten anything today. Jamie had never been able to eat when she was nervous and she certainly had been. Suddenly, he felt remorse. He was still angry at her, yes, but she had come to Washington, though she knew their father would be disappointed and angry if he found out. And she had left Sam at home, something she hated to do. He remembered the time when he had just started working for the FBI. She had been the only one who visited him, the only one who had been proud when he had solved a case. Basically, she had always been the only one who really cared about him, after their mother had died. She had helped him to decide for his studies and for a college, though she had been sad she hadn't had the opportunity to choose one, as well, after Sam's birth. She had never been mean to him, or laughed about him, though she had been a famous kid in high school and he had been a nerd. Even in her wild days, she had spent some weekends at home with him and had watched a documentary, though she usually had fallen asleep after half an hour.
And then she had made one mistake – a terrible one, for him, alright, but just one – and he had cast her off without a second thought. It had been easy, as long as he hadn't seen her. Easy to act like she didn't even exist. Easy to forget all the good things she had done and just remember the one failure.
He called the waiter and paid, asking him to put the pizza in a box so he could take it with him. Then he rushed out of the pizzeria.
4th January 2012, 18:11 p.m.
Jamie's heels clacked on the sidewalk as she hurried down the street. The cold wind made her eyes watery. Well, maybe not only the wind. She wiped over them quickly, angrily and lifted her collar higher. God, she was so stupid. Thinking a trip to Washington would change anything. She should have stayed at home. Everything had been in vain. The story she had so carefully made up for her father. Finding a babysitter for Sam. Everything just in vain.
She just increased her speed, as she could hear someone call her name. For a second, she wanted to turn, but she was too angry, too disappointed to stop now. Besides, the tears were now running down her cheeks and she would not show him she was crying. She would not let him have this satisfaction as well. She crossed the street, without really looking out for the cars. Someone beeped at her and she just raised her middle finger, still walking on. She had just reached the intersection down the street, as her arm was grabbed and she made a compulsory turn, looking right into her brother's green eyes.
She tried to free herself from his grip, eventually succeeding. "I thought you wanted me to leave. Why do you follow me up?" she asked angrily, wiping her eyes again.
"I thought you were hungry", he said and held the pizza box out at her. She stared at it, then back at him and before she knew what she was doing, she threw her arms around him.
Her fist met his chest rather hard as she said: "I hate you, you know that?"
"Yeah", he said, resting his left hand carefully between her shoulder blades, the right still busy to keep the pizza box from falling down to the ground. She gripped his coat tightly and buried her head at his shoulder.
"I tried to keep dad from sending you to that hospital. I really tried. But he didn't listen to me."
"I know", he said quietly.
Finally, she stepped back and looked at the pizza box. "Is there some place we can sit down? I'm really starving."
"There's a park five minutes from here. Though I bet the benches will be rather cold."
"I don't care. Let's go", she said and linked arms with him.
As they had reached the park, Jamie walked over to the first bench, pulled her coat down and took seat. He gave her the pizza box, but kept standing.
"Don't you want to sit down?" she asked and took the first slice of pizza out.
He shook his head. "No. I'll leave the pleasure of cystitis to you."
She grinned slightly. "I thought FBI agents are immune to any kind of diseases."
"I'd rather not push my luck."
He watched her while she ate her pizza with clear delight.
She really looks exactly like mom. The same hair color, the same hazel eyes. The same smile.
Norman had always assumed that their father had cared more for her because she was the spitting image of his beloved wife. If there was one good thing he could say about him, it was that he had been truly devoted to her. Just as Norman. While his father had been nothing but a random appearing shadow in his youth, his mom had always been there for him. He had spent his childhood days sitting in the kitchen when she cooked, reading a book, or watching her iron the clothes. She had always been smiling. Even as the cancer had eaten its way through her body and her eyes had been filled with pain, she had still smiled at him and had told him everything would be alright. Of course, it hadn't been alright.
Jamie finished the last slice of pizza and wiped her mouth with the napkin.
"So, how is Sam?" he asked.
"Good. He's doing well. At the moment, he is crazy after magic tricks", she said with a smile.
"You should take him to Las Vegas for a magic show."
"I think he is a little bit too young for Las Vegas. Besides, I doubt his girlfriend would like the idea."
Norman stared at her. "His girlfriend?"
"Oh yes. A cute, blonde girl called Leah. This week, he came to me, totally excited, and told me they held hands in school."
"Wow. Don't you think it's too early for things like that?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "As long as he's only holding hands, I'm fine with it." She eyed him. "What about you? What's your current marital status?"
"Me? I'm free as a bird", he replied, in an attempt of joking.
"Really? And I thought you couldn't handle all your admirers after the Origami Killer case."
"I've got a lot of work to do."
"Well, then work less. You're not getting any younger."
He frowned at her. "Don't tell me you got someone."
"Hey, I've got a ten year old child. That's a KO criterion for most men. What about that woman?"
He raised an eyebrow in irritation. "Which woman?"
"The one from your work. The one you told to fuck off."
"Wait- you mean Lauren?"
Amusement lit in Jamie's eyes. "Well, she's obviously a woman. A very beautiful one."
"Maybe. But first, she's not my type. Second, I work with her. Third – she hates me."
"No, she doesn't", she said casually.
Norman looked at her. "Don't tell me you talked to her."
"Relax. I just burrowed a cigarette from her. We didn't talk about you. Still, I think she seemed rather nice. Why did you argue with her?"
"It was nothing", he said evadingly.
"So, she did nothing to anger you, but you still argued with her?"
He sighed. "Something like that. We had a rather… bad start."
"Well, maybe you should try to make it up. I mean, you need to work with her, don't you? Wouldn't it be easier to work together if you at least got along?"
"Yeah. Maybe", he gave in.
"Probably I should really… apologize to her for today."
"Great. Buy her some flowers. Or chocolate. No, cancel the chocolate. Maybe she's concerned about her weight."
"I'm not going to buy her flowers. She'll think I want to date her or something like that."
Jamie shrugged her shoulders. "Well, you could do a lot worse than dating her, I think."
He shot her a glance and she grinned slightly. She threw the pizza box into the garbage can, then her expression went serious.
"And, except from your usual arguments, how's your work going?"
"Okay. Though the case I got is a real nightmare. Nothing but dead ends."
Jamie nodded her head and went silent.
"Nothing", she replied, but her expression showed different.
"I'm clean. In case this is what you want to ask."
She raised her head and he could see the relief in her eyes.
Oh Norman, you're such a liar.
"I'm glad. I was really worried I would… lose you to this stuff. And I can't lose you, too. Losing mom… was enough."
He just nodded her head, not saying anything.
Jamie looked at her watch. "Oh shit, is it really that late?" She jumped off the bench. "I have to hurry. The last train back home leaves in half an hour."
And she searched her purse for her phone.
"What are you doing?" he asked as she dialed the number.
"I'm calling a taxi."
"I can drive you."
"Thanks, but I don't think I've got enough time to head back to the pizzeria first."
He waited till she put the phone back in her purse and accompanied her out of the park to the street. As the taxi drove over, she embraced him a last time. "You'll call me now, will you?" she whispered.
"Yeah. I promise", he said.
Jamie let go off him and smiled, then got into the taxi.
He watched it drive down the street and sighed. Suddenly, he realized how much he had missed her the whole time.
A/N: Ow, how peaceful it is in Washington D.C. But don't worry, this is not going to last. After all, there's someone we need to get rid off, don't you agree?