Teasers & Deleted Scenes
J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington D.C., October 2010
"Come in," Stephen Reyes said. "Sit down."
Chaz Villette wanted to linger in the office doorway, one hand hooked around the frame, as if he could keep himself mostly outside the office. But Reyes made a scooping gesture with his left hand that included the semantic content shut the door, and so Chaz stepped inside and shut it with a solid, latching click. He crossed the gray carpet and settled in the more comfortable of the chairs facing the desk, taking a moment to glance around and take in everything: the books, the sleek black leather and steel of everything on the desk, the marksmanship awards along one wall, the framed portrait of Stephen Reyes' mother.
"I've been thinking about our conversation in Seattle," Reyes said without preamble--unless this was his soft open, which might be the case. His hands were laid flat on the desk, his expression sincere, uncalculated. Chaz would bet he'd spent half an hour working out just the right effect.
He let the pause go on until Chaz had to fill it. "Any conclusions?"
"Yes," Reyes said. He pulled a quad-ruled pad out of a drawer and squared it on the blotter in front of him. Chaz could see the front page was a list, in blue ink, in Reyes' draftsmanlike left-handed printing. He pushed it across the blotter to Chaz with his fingertips. Chaz reached out to recieve it. He turned it, and frowned.
"Three gammas, a pedophile, and a paranoid schizophrenic beta?" But something tickled at the edge of Chaz's consciousness. Guy Nadon was a gamma that Chaz and half the team had sought in rural Vermont, while Todd and Lau were running down Henry Clark in Minnesota. Two cold-weather gammas, in a bitter January. "What's Nadon doing on this list? We talked about the others in Seattle?"
"Ever had a dream about Danville?"
Chaz laid the pad down on the desk and rubbed his hands together. Remembering cold so intense he could feel it creep along his bones. Remembering the dizzy flush of fever, and the hard circles his brain had chased itself in, around and around and around until suddenly the pattern came clear.
"I dream about most of them," he said. "I don't always sleep so well."
"Mostly," Reyes said, "I dream about Mitchell."
It was an admission, a confession. Offered vulnerability. Chaz accepted it stoically, as Reyes would want. "You're curious about Nadon because Daphne's in-laws live one town over."
"And because he'd moved there recently, after years living--and killing--undetectably, on the road. And because he got active--and unavoidable--exactly when we had no choice but to go after Clark."
Slowly, left-handed, Chaz added Clark's name to the list. "Simmons led you to Nadon. Because I dreamed him, and because he was right here, close to home. An ex-cop, an FBI cadet. As if somebody were testing us."
"Hope Mitchell thought somebody was controlling her actions."
"Paranoid schizophrenics usually do." But Chaz felt his fingers constrict brutally tight on the pen he held.
"Your brain," Reyes said, "is the best pattern-recognition tool we have. And it thinks there's something going on here."
"Hafidha," Chaz said.
He had to nerve himself to continue.
Reyes stepped in for him, a kindness. "Hafidha thought somebody arranged Erik's death. That there was some kind of plot behind it."
"Gammas are subject to obsessive ideation," Chaz said.
Carefully, Chaz wrote "Erik Holt" at the bottom of the list. He stared at it. He slipped his fingers inside his collar to ease the tightness that made his breath sting. He looked up. His eyes met Reyes'. Reyes did not look down.
Chaz said, "You're positing Moriarity. That's some pretty high-order speculation."
"Somebody sent Mitchell after Peretti. After me. I think it's possible--I offer the hypothesis--that somebody is fucking with us," Reyes said. "Gunning for us. And yes, I have had an FMRI done." His fingers tapped out a rock and roll rhythm on the blotter. Irritatedly, he stopped it.
"I assumed," Chaz said. He touched the list. He ran his finger down it.
John Doe alias Henry Clark
He looked at Reyes, impeccable behind his impeccable desk. Reyes was rubbing his hands together as if they hurt. Bad interview tactic. Chaz said, "I dreamed of the Relative, too."
"You want him on the list?"
"He choked me," Chaz said, curious how plainly it came out. "He was the worst thing I could think of. It could have been just a nightmare. It could all"--he waited until he had Reyes' eye--"just be nightmares." Gammas are subject to obsessive ideation.
"All of it," Reyes said. "Except for whoever got to Hope Mitchell. And whoever killed Viv Paliotta. And whoever killed Joshua Lynch."
"Ah," Chaz said. "Hard evidence. Consistent signature."
"Three is a serial killer," Reyes said. "We don't know what happened to Mitchell's biological father."
"He'd be old," Chaz said. "For a gamma."
Reyes didn't so much nod, Chaz thought, as not-move in such a way as to suggest exhausted resignation.
"Tell the team?" Chaz asked. His fingers tapped the list. "One of these people isn't dead."
"Keep it to yourself for now," Reyes said. "If Moriarty exists...it would appear that he or she has a line inside this team. Or at least a pretty good observational post. And our only advantage is that he doesn't know we're looking for him."
"I have a rapport with Clark," Reyes said. "No luck so far."
Chaz gritted his teeth. "I could try the mirror."
"You could," Reyes said. "What do you think you'd get out of him?"
"Cold." Chaz rubbed his arms, despite his undershirt and sweater. "More cold. A hole in the snow with dead men inside it. But I've been wrong before."
"Try it," Reyes said. He waved to the door. He looked down at the notepad Chaz had laid on the edge of his desk. "But keep it quiet."
Chaz nodded. He stood. He moved away. He opened the door and fixed a neutral expression onto his face as he emerged into the bullpen.
He became a conspirator.