Shadow Unit

Case Files

Teasers & Deleted Scenes

Woodbridge, VA, December 2009

When Brady comes back with the pizza, Lau is gunning her way through a sea of blue uniforms, mowing down cops left and right. The controller's sticky in her hands and the console music sets her ears ringing; it's almost a relief when a pixel-animated nightstick spins stars across Brady's television and gives her an excuse to toss the controller on the rug.

She snags a piece of the cheese and mushroom side off the glass and steel coffee table and rolls on her back on Brady's thick rug, staring up at the point of the slice while she contemplates her most effective approach to The Bite.

"Probably grounds for dismissal," she says, stretching her neck out.

"What, Feds playing GBH?" He grins, already halfway down his second piece of the pepperoni side, and reaches for his beer. "Catharsis. Even the ancient Greeks recognized a need for it."

"Catharsis?" she mocks. She props herself on one elbow to eat. Over Brady's halfhearted protests, she kicks her feet up on the couch like a teenaged girl on the telephone. "Who told you about that?"

"Purification," Brady says. "Purging, cleansing, clarification. It's one of the basic principles of theatre. You go and experience an awful thing, and you are thereby renewed. Cleansed of negative emotions. How the hell else do you explain Shakespeare's tragedies? People sure don't perform him for the cheerful endings."

"Maybe it's the doublets?" Lau offers helpfully. While Brady's been talking, she's been chewing, and she intercepts his hand as he reaches for her side. "Don't make me stab you with a plastic fork."

"Would you find that cathartic?"

"Only if it made you drop the pizza."

She claims her slice, and they slouch for a while in companionable silence, listening to each other chew. Finally, Brady rinses his mouth with beer, swallows, and says, oh-so-casually, "So do you want to meet Gray tomorrow? If you're not doing anything?"

Nikki sits up, and whatever flip and teasing thing she was about to say about introducing the boyfriend to the Work Spouse dies aborning. Brady's leaning forward on the edge of his seat, nearly vibrating with tension. The offhand sound of his voice was nothing but acting, and they both know it.

She swallows whatever's in her mouth, buying a moment. "I'd love to," she says. "Where do you want to do this?"

"I'll buy dinner," he says, sitting back in transparent relief. "All you have to do is dress nice."

"Great," Nikki says. "Vet my wardrobe, why don't you? What is this, Queer Eye For The FBI?"

She fills with warmth as he bursts out laughing, but not before he throws the napkin at her.