Shadow Unit

Case Files

Teasers & Deleted Scenes

J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington D.C., October 2010

Chaz, the e-mail says. So how do you know if a boy likes you?

Chaz Villette bangs his head lightly on his desk once, then again and again.

Daphne Worth looks up on the third hit and eases a hand between his high forehead and the crumb-spattered laminate board. "Platypus?"

There's a hesitation in her voice. He looks up. She's actually worried. He cuts it out tout de suite and leans back in his chair, making the wheels squeak; puts on a smile so she knows that nobody died. "I'm ruined. Mom's eldest is asking me for boy advice."

"Oh man," Daphne says, and removes her hand from between him and a slow-cooked concussion. "So if you don't show up to work next week, we ask Mom where the body is?"

"You'd never find it," he says, and stares at the screen. The letters blur after a few seconds. It's evening already and aside from the office being most of the way empty, that means the green, energy-saving, blisteringly bright institutional light fixtures are working at full force. "I should have stuck to sending her recipes."

"I dunno," Daphne says, and circles the desk, tugging her own chair behind her. "Better she's asking you than Yahoo Answers. Or Dr. Phil."

Chaz snorts. "Or Duke."

"Or Dad."

"'UNSUB shows signs of sweaty palms, dilated pupils, and varies between avoidance and pursuit of his target,'" Chaz intones, and laughs, one sharp chuckle before it's not funny anymore. He gives a quick glance over his shoulder, making sure again that Reyes's door is still shut. Chaz wouldn't put it past him to have bugged the entire office on the off chance of catching stray impressions on government time. "What do I tell her?"

Daphne shrugs and flops into her chair. "I don't know. What do I know from teenage boys?" She waggles her eyebrows like Groucho Marx. It doesn't cheer him up.

"You're a profiler."

"Doesn't matter," she says, and opens his second drawer to rummage briefly. She comes up with a Clif Bar, tosses it to him, claims one for herself. "The evidence is already contaminated. If she likes the guy, she's only seeing what she wants to see anyway. Teenage girls are like that."

Chaz tears open the wrapper precisely. "Yeah," he says. "Grown men are like that."

Daphne nods. "So what're you going to tell her?"

"I dunno. Take witness statements? Victimology on previous girlfriends? Get your friendly neighborhood beta to lurk outside your high school like a child predator and profile him?"

Worth raises an eyebrow. It doesn't go down. She keeps looking at him.

"What?" he says.

"I think that's the first time you've ever joked about that," she replies, mildly.

Chaz fights the urge to duck his head, to look at the autopsy reports scattered on his desk or the e-mail waiting patiently on his screen. Of course he didn't mean profile, and of course she knew it. The best camo in the world, spots or shed coats or army-issue gear, fails with someone who's already got your scent.

"Guess so," he says through a throat that's inexplicably dry.

She pats him on the shoulder when she gets up, just glancingly, and then drags her chair back around the nest of desks to her own little perch. Leaving him with the e-mail.

He doesn't leave it too long; Chaz remembers being fifteen, and how minutes took hours back then. Especially when there was a girl involved.

So ask him, he types, and hits send.