Teasers & Deleted Scenes
J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington D.C., November 2009
"And that," SSA Stanley Murchison said, "is Down the Hall."
Arthur Tan blinked. Of course it was. Here was the hall, and there was the end of it, and here at this end were his own bad self and Murchison, in charge this very morning of giving him his orientation to the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Murchison, whose sense of humor had been reviewed by critics in counterterrorism as "suspect", "juvenile", and, in one thrilling rave at Tan's going-away party, "nonexistent". Tan kept his face blank. Waited, but Murchison didn't so much as crack a smile.
"He means the Anomalous Crimes Task Force," said someone at the cluster of desks behind them: tall, thinning light brown hair, suit clean and sharp but not as new as all that. He turned in his desk chair and waved one big, careful hand, "Hi. Pete Pauley." He gestured to the stocky black woman talking seriously into the phone at the desk behind him. "You've met Lisa."
"I have," Tan flashed her a smile; Dr. Lisa Marshall had sat in on his interview. She smiled back and nestled the receiver deeper between her ear and shoulder. He broke out of Murchison's orbit, shook Pauley's hand. "Arthur Tan."
"Right, you're the new Cam."
"Damn, I hope so," he said, and Pauley chuckled. Cam Siddiqi had pretty much hit the FBI version of the Powerball: right off maternity leave to field agent, senior, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"Yeah, she said she'd send us postcards."
"They'll all be crime scenes," Marshall said, hand over the receiver.
It was the kind of seniority that ten years in the BAU could give you. He'd told Padma that when the job posting came up: Think about it as a really, really slow ticket to Hawaii. She'd squinched her eyebrows up in that way that said Arthur, I am not happy, but in the end, all she'd asked for was to have that promise notarized.
Pauley pulled a face. "So, you were anti-terrorism?"
"Yeah, Bomb School. Home of the engineering geeks." Tan bit back a wince immediately. Back at the home of the engineering geeks, things could be pretty laid back. Other units of the FBI did not have senses of humor of which they were aware.
And yeah, here came Murchison, shuffling behind him. "We still have to get your IT clearances set up." He nodded: hearing it loud and clear. Playtime over. Didn't want the new hire to get overstimulated before snacktime.
Pauley spun his chair a little and smiled. "Well, you can go down there if you like. The ACTF's still a BAU unit."
Something passed between the two for a minute, and then Murchison sighed. "C'mon," he said, and led the way down the narrow, businesslike hall. Tan could have sworn Pauley was grinning.
The Anomalous Crimes Task Force began between the twin pillars of a pair of institutional washrooms, his and hers, and curled past an office, around a short corner to a cramped bullpen. Arthur Tan poked his head through the door in the Bureau-approved tactical manner--presenting minimal target while achieving wide view of the room--and inspected the layout: standard Fibbie grey with a clutch of desks huddling together at the center for warmth. Two private offices lined the right wall, both darkened and with shut doors. Whatever the Anomalous Crimes Task Force was, it wasn't home to callers.
One of the doors to the left opened, and a balding white man squinted out from a room rich with photocopier glow. "Murchison. Did you bring me a picnic?"
Murchison lifted an eyebrow, cleared his throat. "SSA Solomon Todd, this is SA Arthur Tan. He's starting today with the BAU. I'm giving him the tour."
Todd's handshake was firm and dry and encumbered by about fifteen file folders. And either he was naturally raccoon-eyed, or he hadn't had much sleep this week. "Well. Welcome to the unit."
"Thanks," Tan said, and scoped the empty desks again. Nothing to suggest what this spinoff unit might contain, although there were a few things hinting at who populated it: a brightly-colored plastic logic puzzle here, a blurry photo of someone clinging to a rock wall there. "What kind of cases do you do here?"
And that, bar none, was a face so straight it'd been cut with a laser alignment tool. "Anomalous crimes. Does what it says on the tin," Todd said. "I'm sure your introductory briefing will cover it, and I wouldn't want to step on anyone's toes."
Entirely suspect, that. And from the way Murchison shifted his weight, Tan was pretty sure that Solomon Todd liked nothing better than stepping on people's toes, and that Murchison was feeling the psychic weight of his shoe depressing as they spoke. He liked to think he was reasonably adept at the whole office politics thing. And this was definitely office politics.
"So," Murchison said, "we're expected down at IT."
"Nice to meet you," Todd said, and drifted back into the copy room.
One thing at a time, compadre, Arthur Tan told himself as SSA Murchison led him out of that cramped cubbyhole of a workspace, back into the buzz and light and activity of the BAU bullpen. Learn the job. Hell, learn to keep a lid on that mouth of yours.
"Any questions?" Murchison asked as they gained his new desk, his scrubbed-down, blank, fresh desk. And that had to be Murchison's sense of humor coming out.
"No sir," Tan said, and straightened his tie.