Shadow Unit

Case Files

Teasers & Deleted Scenes

J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington, D.C. June 2007

Brady returned from his second coffee pilgrimage of the morning and saw Daphne Worth putting a framed 5x7 prominently on her desk, with the air of one who wanted it to be commented on. "Pretty lady," Brady said. "Who is she?"

Worth grinned at him, and he knew bravado when he saw it. "Guess."

Chaz spun his chair around. She obligingly angled the picture so he could see it. "Sister."

"Chaz honey," said Hafidha, leaning hip-shot against the divider, "you are not even trying. Daph and that lady are sisters about the same way I'm the long lost twin of Josephine Baker."

"But Hafidha," Brady said, "you are the long lost twin of Josephine Baker."

"You gonna pay good money to see my fan dance?"

"Try again," Worth said, eyes bright. She was almost bouncing in her chair, nervous but brazening it out. Brady'd given her an out, a distraction, and she'd refused it. Interesting.

"College roommate? Childhood friend?"

Hafidha rolled her eyes and said, drawling the syllables out for maximum effect, "Girlfriend? As in, significant other?"

"Bing bing bing bing bing!" Worth said. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!"

She was scared, but she wasn't backing down, as if she could make this go well through sheer force of personality, committed to telling the truth with her whole heart. Worth sought the truth like a grail knight. Brady supposed he shouldn't be surprised she would wear its favor on her sleeve in personal matters as much as in her work. He felt a little hollow. You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Hafidha must either have known already or have guessed almost at once. She didn't miss a beat. "What do I win?"

"What do you want?"

"As the long lost twin of Josephine Baker, I want a smooch."

"Is this sexual harrassment in the workplace?"

"Only if you feel harrassed, Peaches," Hafidha said. Worth laughed a delighted overbubbling laugh, got up, and gave Hafidha a smacking kiss on the cheek.

"No PDA in the bullpen," Reyes said from his office door.

Chaz was still processing. "You're a lesbian?"

"Bisexual." Worth's grin widened and she leaned over Chaz, curling her fingers into claws. "No one is safe from my predatory ways!"

Chaz, after a moment's puzzled and genuine alarm, shrank back in his chair, crying, "Aunty Em! Aunty Em!" in a remarkably good Judy Garland impression.

Hafidha said, "Your Aunty Em won't save you now, boy. Ain't you heard? We aren't in Kansas anymore."

Reyes made an I-give-up face and went back into his office, closing the door behind him.

And Brady, finally, began to laugh.

Next week on Shadow Unit:

"Chicago," Reyes said, "has a serial killer who is beating his victims to death with, so far as Dr. Frost can tell me, his bare hands. And he's doing it with a single blow."

"That's not necessarily a manifestation," Chaz objected. "Certain areas of the body, particularly the neck and skull, are surprisingly fragile, and a well-placed blow can--"

Kill a man before he knows you're there, Brady thought, but mercifully Reyes was already answering: "Bits of the third victim's ribcage were embedded in the wall behind her."


He went and got a lemon out of the fridge in the back, said a quick Hail Mary, and cut it, holding it with the thumb and two fingers of his left hand that worked, using the knife with the right. The slices came out okay--a little uneven, but not so's you'd notice--and he stuck all but one in the Rubbermaid container marked LEMON and went back out to give the FBI guy his water.

And the FBI guy, damn him, sat there and hoovered up the peanuts and noticed all the times when he would've used his left hand and couldn't. "Must've been a pretty nasty injury," he said. "How long ago did you say it was?"

"Dexterity" - by Sarah Monette