Special Guest Star:
Date: June 4th, 2010 (and flashbacks)
So much for the circle of trust.
"Don't Hold Your Breath"
Two Years Ago — March, 2008
Some miles from the larger (relatively speaking) city of Cheyenne lies the quiet town — barely that — of Echo. And nestled in Echo is a small house that has been there for as long as anyone can remember. It looks the part of the old standby it is, homey and full of antiquated things: antique wooden tables and chairs (all of which have a certain old Western feel), colorful afghan blankets that have seen too much (or just enough) use, any many smiling photographs in mismatched frames. A young blonde girl, smiling adults. And Maggie, with an aging old lady with long grey hair.
A boxy wood-framed TV from decades prior is on in the corner, but the volume's off; the only sound that drifts in is a slow song from an unseen radio. Search Continues For Missing Cheyenne Woman Alanna Rosa Avery the words on the news station scroll past. Husband Walsh Avery Reaches Out For Information
It's evening and the little living room — cluttered, by all those things, but in a cozy, organized mess — is filled with a cozy yellow light from the lamps. In this soft light, Maggie looks up at Sam with a little smile. Her arms, bare save for the sleeves of a red t-shirt, are draped up over his shoulders and they stand in the middle of the room, off-duty as much as they ever are — a dancing pose but Maggie is too concerned with moving. It's sweet, and fond, that smile she gives Sam, though there's a far, far, faraway look in her eyes.
The smile returned to Maggie is equally sweet and fond. He's at ease here, in this place. His eyes are soft, reflective of something quietly profound. His arms easily wrap around her waist, but he's not shuffling either, he's admiring in a quiet earnest of sorts. He leans forward, his lips just shy of her ear. "You are so beautiful," he whispers quietly before planting a soft kiss on her temple and leaning away to take her in once again, never moving his arms, always holding her close.
"Baby, I need your loooovin~" he sings softly, drinking in the moment and then he catches something. That distance haunts him a little. "Mags… you okay?" His eyebrows furrow with slight concern as he glances at the television, causing his expression to sour just a little.
Sam — his singing and his concern — draws Maggie out of her faraway look, in part; she drifts in and out of distraction, but her fond smile stays put, broadening even, happy to be there. "Yeah," she answers half-sincerely. She loosely locks her hands together behind his neck, taking some comfort in getting closer. She doesn't even notice what's on the TV until she realizes Sam's glance; she watches, for a second, and decides that issue is best left at work. "I was thinking about my grandmother," she explains quietly. "I'm just worried about her. I might take tomorrow off too. To stay with her. It's bad timing, with the Avery case, but…"
"There's other cops around," Sam interjects thoughtfully. It's not demanding or pushy, in fact, it's sincere. "I know you've taken the lead, but family is important. Everyone will understand. And I can oversee operations if it makes you feel better." His own grin broadens and then turns mischievous, "Or… do you not trust my policing skills enough?" He winks. "Yeah, maybe you should hand it over to Kowalski…"
Worried though Maggie is, distracted though her mind seems to want to keep her, Sam keeps bringing her back. She gives a silly little laugh, indulging the joke. "I don't know, Kowalski is pretty good," she says with a widening smile. "Of course I do. You're great." She studies him between a few slow blinks, sincere. Her smile evens out, flattens into something more serious, but it stays in her eyes. "Thank you, Sam." It takes a lot for Maggie to step back from a case.
Maggie's grandmother's lilac-colored rotary phone takes that moment to ring.
She leans her head against Sam and looks to the old clock on the wall. This late, no one would be calling her grandmother, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the station knew where Detectives Powers and Wright are tonight. Small station. Maggie unlocks a hand, moves it to one of Sam's. "… Starting now?"
Sam's smile softens again. "Honestly. Just take care of yourself and your grandma. It's important you do." As she leans against him, he gently rests his chin on the crown of her head, completely enveloping her in the embrace. This is the way life is supposed to be. Everything feels right with the world and nothing could possibly go wrong. It's moments like these he lives for.
He stirs at the sound of the phone and nods just a little. Padding to the phone, he agrees, "Starting now." He takes a deep breath before drawing it to his ear, "Detective Wright speaking…" and then, after making himself feel silly he grins, "I mean. Sam speaking— "
Maggie can't help but show some of her curiosity as Sam answers the phone. She has a vested interest, after all, in what the station might be calling for; and besides that, it's more or less her house. Watching him, she wanders to the couch beside the phone and curls into the corner; she's settling in, too, to the idea of Sam taking some of her workload for her. It's hard for her but if she's okay with anyone helping her out— it’d be Sam.
She picks up a book off the end table. If by some chance Sam has to go, she'll need another distraction. It's a worn copy of a book, "Out of the Deep I Cry" across the title cover. Though Maggie's attention is on Sam, she eases the book open and plucks the bookmark from the middle point. An orange post-it, it reads Enjoy — Walsh. Her attention drifts past Sam, thoughtfully, to the muted TV where the news reporter still speaks on the case of the missing woman.
Docks - New York City
No one who steps foot here is having a good night.
It's a strange panorama — almost surreal. A good deal morbid. Mostly strange. Something happened tonight by the warehouse shoddily marked 23, by the docks, and pier, and dark water, creating the kind of sight crime scene investigators would have a heyday trying to piece together.
Here lies the prone body of Detective Jimmy O'Meara. Blood has pooled all around him from a bullet to the neck and another to the shoulder, and his phone's been dropped on top of him. Blood stains have spread — and since stopped spreading — beneath him. There's more, in unusual, messy patterns; not just from the dead man, but something — someone — that has come and gone. Too much blood. Its scent mingles with that of the water and the striking note of alcohol.
Not far from the scene of this apparent crime, Maggie shifts with a soft clink of metal, leaning ahead to rest her muscles in one of the more forgiving of the limited positions she's locked to. Literally, she's locked — to a table that contains money, drugs … and her. A pair of handcuffs force her to more or less hug the leg of the table as she sits against the corner. She grips, for dear life, a phone that is almost as bloody as her hands.
She's seen better days: her clothes are streaked with the same blood that can be found everywhere (including a palm-print on the table beside her) and her hair is a wild mess in front of her face, obscuring whatever expression has had time to form. It's too quiet.
A single car pulls up to the scene. It's not fancy. In fact, it's the polar opposite of fancy— an El Camino. In a way, it's a wonder the darned thing even works. The car stops just shy of the warehouse and the door creaks open. Slowly, a heavy foot lands on the pavement.
The door is shut and Sam Wright trudges towards the body and his pseudo-partner. His expression borders on grim. He expects to find a body here based on an order he'd given. Perhaps one he regrets. Perhaps. He doesn't bother looking at the body, instead his gaze turns to Maggie.
His lips press together into a thin line as he crosses his arms over his chest; his eyes, however, are indiscernible underneath a pair of dark sunglasses. "Powers," he murmurs like they'd just run into each other in the office.
Maggie is more watchful than she looks, barely seeming alive otherwise, she's so still when the El Camino rolls up by the warehouse. When head lifts, her eyes are already on the exact track to look straight at Sam between strands of chaotic blonde. Her face is somewhat unreadable at first, and not only because it's half-obscured — she tosses her head in an attempt to move her hair. It works, partly, and her wide eyes are still as indiscernible as Sam's and she's not even wearing sunglasses at night.
The thick black letters of note resting dejectedly against the briefcase upon the table become more readable.
She did it.
The smiley face ending the note lends no such cheer to Maggie. Her mouth starts to move but no sound comes out; a movement at her throat further indicates some manner of greeting that stops before it begins. There's a faint splattering of blood there, too, as it happens. Eventually: "Sam," she manages stiffly, quieter than her normal, still soft, speaking voice. She pulls against the cuffs. "There's a key on my belt," she says, instructionally, though she sounds notably unsure about that. "If not … well, I hope you brought yours." There's happens to be a pocketknife (even bloodier than everything else on her person) on the ground by her boot, evidence of some unsuccessful but valiant attempt to get out all by her lonesome.
The sunglasses are removed slowly, and Sam literally stares at Maggie. The expression is undeniable. Silently it speaks, You're kidding, right? He hasn't received a friendly reception from her and he certainly hasn't given one to her. Rolling his eyes he inches forward and awkwardly squats beside her to reach inside her belt. "I somehow get the feeling mine won't work in this." The feeling. Because that's what it is. A feeling. Not the knowledge that he is carrying around handcuffs issued by an entirely different agency.
"Quite the bind you find yourself in." Beat. "Memory serves me correctly I was always opposed to handcuffs." His expression is neutral, his lips quirk downwards, but the slightest glimmer of mischief glints in his eye as he baits her. There's always time for that; even amongst business.
"So. You gonna ask?"
The key is indeed there, hooked to the back of her belt where her handcuffs used to be. "Are you?" Maggie turns the simple question around in her calm voice, skirting a meaningful look around the scene that's sprung up in disaster all around. A hitch occurs as soon as she looks back up at Sam, however, her eyes bearing zero of the same mischief as his. There's another move of her mouth, jaw even working for an instant. She looks down with uncharacteristic suddenness. "So what are you."
There's some measure of relief as he finds the key, seen only in a small curling of his lips, yet he pauses before he actually unlocks the binds. Once again he stares at Maggie. All-out stares at Maggie. This is a moment his own supervisor had felt inevitable considering the pair's past; he didn't think Sam could keep his mouth shut. Wright swallows hard and, steely-eyed, stares at the ground. He could lie. Deny. But then, she'd know anyways, a fact his supervisor had also been afraid of. "I'm the FBI agent who tracked gang activity to your police department long before anyone knew it was there. I'm the one who took an ill-advised assignment undercover in the NYPD despite personal protests to the contrary. AND I'm the one coordinating efforts between local cops and the Feds."
"I could always tell when you were lying. I knew you were lying about why you were here, Sam," Maggie states factually, yet … true as they are, the facts aren't cold and hard; there's no edge to her voice. It's soft with something that sounds very vaguely like disappointment. "I just didn't realize why."
Her head stays down until that moment, when she looks up with a frown tugging the sides of her mouth. A shift of shoulders expresses Maggie's impatience (mild, all things considered) with still being handcuffed, but her eyes steady on Sam. "O'Meara… he'd been working with one of the gangs. The Irish." She speaks, now, with a sort of impersonal confidence. Sam is watched closely as she clearly determining what, exactly, he was aware of. Maggie has a lot of blanks to fill, but she learns fast. "I was trying to get more evidence… I didn't go to you because…"
"O'Meara," Sam virtually hisses through clenched teeth. "Of course, O'Meara." He shakes his head as he finally places the key into the lock. The audible click releases the mechanism and soon enough he's holding her handcuffs, and then handing them back to her.
"And I'm not surprised you didn't tell me," his lips curl into a rather forced sadistic smile that disappears as he glances at the body— the man he'd decided should die. After swallowing hard, Sam clears his throat. "Two wounds?" he eyes Maggie skeptically for a moment before coldly whistling at O'Meara's lifeless body and reaching into a pocket for his pack of cigarettes. More than anything he needs one right about now.
Two Years Ago — March, 2008
With a familiar click Walsh is in handcuffs. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law," Sam's lips frown involuntarily as he utters the words he's said many times before. "You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one the court will appoint one for you— " As Sam finishes reading the alleged murderer his rights, he virtually throws the other man in the backseat of the police car. Angrily, he steps to the front door and ushers himself in; Detective Wright is downright angry.
Ten Minutes Later
The police car pulls up at the police station and roughly, ruggedly, Sam yanks Walsh out of the backseat, pushing him into the police station to be held in the pen until he can be transferred to a proper prison.
The prisoner is quickly yielded over to several other officers as a mountain of paperwork is thrust to Detective Wright who is virtually shaking with rage, an odd thing considering he got the bad guy. But there's more to it than that. His face is paled. His eyes are bloodshot. And his lips curl into an angry kind of snarl; his coworkers are avoiding him right now, mostly because he found the body only hours before the arrest.
A woman they knew.
A woman they all knew.
And no one has dared ask the question.
There's certainly question in the eyes of one person who watches the perp march through the station the most intently.
The brightest blues around the station stare at the handful of officers who jostle the seemingly so benign — to her — hardware store owner off in handcuffs. He stares back and his eyes are cold. Maggie has a very sick moment of realization and brings her hands up to her face, covering most of it, fingers steepling over her nose.
Her gaze tracks to that of Sam — very angry Sam — and she heads toward him from her spot at the door, where she had been tucked, watching, out of the way. She's off-duty. There's not much in her wardrobe to mark the difference. Her red t-shirt is as red as the long coat she threw on to fight the late winter chill; it'll be spring soon. Her hair is in the same loose, wispy ponytail of long hair it was when she was at home. She's supposed to be at home. She was.
"You're— " Hands fall away. "You're sure?"
Sam has now buried his face in his hands. Pushing his temper into check after this case is beyond difficult, particularly considering… "Beyond sure. I'm not in the habit of throwing innocent men into prison. No, prison is reserved for the sons of bitches who dare beat their wives to death to the point where the body is unrecognizable save for a single tattoo, and leave them exposed for God knows what purpose." His tone is gruff, it lacks that softness he generally reserves for his fiance whom he genuinely adores. "There is no shadow of a doubt."
His hands drop back to his side as he leans against the countertop of the front reception desk. His eyes narrow into tiny nearly indiscernible slits. "Do you recall a conversation we had a few weeks back about someone you knew who had a cabin deep within the woods…?" His features harden as he stiffens further.
Blindsided, this is one of the rare moments where every little thing going through Maggie's head — and you better believe there are a lot of them right now — shows completely on her face. Her eyes are widened by surprise and flooded with horror, sparkling uncomfortably with something that looks an awful lot like guilt. She stands very still in front of the reception desk. "What?" she questions, a high, breathy, barely there sound as her brows rise far into her forehead. Her question has been answered before she even asks it, though. "Oh… My God. Oh my God I was there— " She steps backwards away from her fiancé. "But he was so… how did I not know— " Long fingers come up to clamp up over her mouth.
Sam blinks; he's desperately trying to contain himself. He twitches several times over. Running a hand through his hair he shakes his head, "AND I've had to recuse myself from the case because you withheld evidence! It's suspect if I continue…" His eyes clamp shut as he runs his hands through his hair again, "Why didn't you tell me everything?! Why didn't I know this was his house!" He's no longer leaning against the counter, now he's pacing— his steps heavy and angry instead of breezy and light.
Maggie steps as though to follow Sam's pacing steps, but doesn't go anywhere at all, after a moment's hesitation. "Withheld— " she starts with an incredulity that puts a hurt tremor to her voice, speaking around her fingers. Her hands move in front of her and hover in some desperate half-formed gesture before she does go toward Sam, casting a too-glimmering glance to the rest of the small police station, not wanting to make a scene. Where Sam's voice is angry, hers is soft, though emotional, and she tries — tries being the key word — to be reassuring. "It's not as if I meant to, Sam, I didn't know I was withholding evidence…" She reaches for his arm and steps back; can we go somewhere else to talk about this? "I thought … you were wrong, I thought anyone who suspected … him was wrong, I didn't think to … check the cabin. You know— you know me, I always check … I check everything and this was my case… first, it was … mine and I didn't see…"
"You don't know— you don't know!" Sam runs another hand through his hair. "If we'd have been there days earlier, she'd be alive! She WAS a missing person! Maggie, I knew her… I knew her… I saw her broken body caked in her own blood!" He blinks back angry tears, powerless tears. Cops don't cry. Especially not male cops; tough guys who could've been on the wrong side of the law if they'd made one or different decisions. Violent men come out on either side.
His expression hardens further. "I wasn't looking where I needed to! I didn't know! He… UGH! I KNEW IT. I KNEW IT ALL ALONG. I never trusted him— " He didn't notice the hand, he's in too much turmoil; everything is rising to the surface.
Something just seems to break in Maggie; whether it was Sam's intensity, or the realization, on his words, that she's made a serious mistake, an oversight that may have cost someone their life, guilt… she just looks so sadly on Sam in instant. Maggie wasn't holding much back before, face alight with every horrible emotion, but now whatever is left of her composure is taken from her.
"I know," she admits in a mangled version of her voice, which becomes faster, higher, wavering off its normal quiet track like she's crying — no tears fall, however much they make her eyes glimmer. "You have to believe that I didn't mean to— I knew her too. I wasn't hiding anything on purpose, it's not like I wanted this to happen!" A wide, painfully sincere gaze searches the other detective, brows raised high in hopes that he'll at least believe that. "I never told you, that the cabin was his, be— cause… I knew that you hated him and— " Swallowing, Maggie cuts herself off and tightens her grip on Sam's arm, trying again to pull him back. Away. Somewhere. "I made a— a mistake…"
Sam pulls away from Maggie as his features harden even more. "I… need…" Something. "…to work." He manages to maintain that stoicism now that he's found it. "Yes. I need to work." He runs his hands through his hair once again as he backs up towards the offices. "We can… we can… discuss it… another time." Or whenever Sam can get the image of Alanna Walsh's body out of his head. Disappointment is written in his eyes as he turns on his heel to face the wall— away from the rest of the station. As he manages to look away a single tear of frustration is caught with the back of his pointer finger before he disappears down a currently empty hallway.
"Sam…" Maggie's head tilts to one side helplessly as he goes back to work, drifting out of her grasp, her hands come together beneath her chin. Any other day, she might have worked too — throw herself into it; focus. Today that's not the case. She spends some time staring in the direction Sam left — past a few nosy stares of co-workers, friends of them both — before she turns on her heel. She makes herself walk very composedly out of the station, though her expression is anything but. She makes it all the way outside to the nighttime parking lot on evenly paced steps before she leans over the silvery roof of her in-need-of-repair relic of the 70s car, her mouth pulled tight to the sides in grief, and breaks down.
* * *
"I didn't know if you'd believe me," Maggie tells Sam evenly as she eases her wrists out of the pose they'd been locked into by the cuffs. "Of course I didn't know you were … FBI." A questioning look goes to Sam unbidden, wondering over the when, whys and hows of his turn from one job to the other. Stretching her arms out in front of her for a moment, she gets up to her full height. "Two wounds," she confirms dully. "He turned his gun on … Miles … Miles was here." Remembering the note, it's glanced to briefly before her gaze lands solidly on Sam's. "But I suppose you know something about that."
"More about Miles than you," Sam says coolly as he stares at the body. "And more about what he's doing." He wrinkles his nose as he squats down beside the body to inspect O'Meara from a distance. "You'd do well to forget what you know about Miles. His— and your — safety depend on it." His eyes narrow before he tilts his head at her. "So. More questions? Or are you satisfied with being relatively in the dark?"
Does she look satisfied? The answer is a vehement no: Maggie is staring Sam down with an intensity that says just that. "Our safety. I doubt that very much, Sam. You know the saying 'what you don't can't hurt you' — I think we're both aware that's not true." She strides closer to the body, though she notably only looks down as far as the crouching … FBI agent. "I know what he's doing." And by the sound of it, she doesn't exactly approve. "Why don't we skip the part where you think there is any way I'm not going to want in on this, and figure out what we have to do."
"We?" Beat. "Really, Powers?" Her own name is said sourly against his tongue. "There hasn't been a we in a very long time. Not even in the police partner sense, obviously, else you would've told me 'bout the leak long time ago. 'Ell. I don't even work for the same people. Even if workin' towards the same goal." His lips purse as he reaches into his pocket and extracts a pen which he uses to prod the body. Just a little. "What's goin' on is big. Bigger than most realize. I've been followin' this case for years."
"You're the one coordinating the efforts between the local cops and the feds," Maggie states, more or less quoting him back from earlier. She goes on boldly, pretty much at her wit's end for the night. It has been, after all, quite a night. "Well surprise. I'm the local cop and you're the fed and, maybe, I haven't been working this case as long as you have, but this gang, it has killed people. It is my case too."
Maggie steps beside Sam, staring down. Her voice is heated, now, but even, confident throughout the anger that's been rising on and off to the surface. Now is an 'on' moment. "And this— " A hand swipes the air at the gruesome scene. "It makes me involved. My partner being taken and put undercover makes me involved. Almost having him die because of this mess, that makes me involved. Following O'Meara in the first place made me involved. I don't want to be part of any cover-up that has to be made, here — that O'Meara cut and ran with the goods, whatever it is you supposedly have to say — and I will keep quiet if that's what your people want, but I'm not going to forget." And she really doesn't want to be here on anymore, a fact which has the detective turning on her heel and striding away from Sam.
He stands. "No one took your partner. He was a willing participant if memory serves me correctly. And this? THIS was his idea. I wanted to bring in the mole. Why? Because that's the kind of cop I am." Sam presses his palm to his forehead as Maggie strides away, "If you leak anything to anyone, I will know!" He pauses and then adds to her retreating figure, "What am I saying?! You've got an uncanny talent at keeping evidence, facts, and general information to yourself!"
Murmuring something indiscernible once again he reaches into his pocket and flips up his phone. "It's Wright calling." Pause. "No. It's not— " he frowns. "I have a loose end. Powers— " his speech stops as he listens intently. "Yeah. I understand that this does put us in— " Pause. "Well I didn't tell her." His jaw tightens. "Yeah. Whatever. Wright out."
Maggie doesn't look back — good thing, too, because then Sam might get a glimpse of her reluctance about leaving the mess behind her. As she strides quickly along the side of the warehouse, 23, that she snuck past before everything went quite so awry, her features harden even for her own benefit. She fights against softer things and the urge to reply; she has a response to every single line Sam said — about the mole, about the case, about everything that really happened here — but she …
… keeps it to herself.
She eventually finds her way back to the rental car she parked some distance away in the dark. As it unlocks with a touch from the keychain in her coat pocket, Maggie presses the one hand out of her pocket into the frame of the car above the driver's side door; her fingers are stained almost as red as the vehicle's shining paintjob. She squeezes her eyes shut, overwhelmed, every feature pulled tight. She hits the car forcefully with the palm of her hand before hauling the door open and just falling in.
Sam dials a number into his phone. "Hey. It's Wright." He looks around the pier and towards the warehouse. "Look. Our asset he offed the mole like I said— " He clamps his eyes shut in mild annoyance at the chatter on the other end. "Long story short I need a clean-up. And a team to investigate… well crawl down their throats and claim fuckin' jurisdiction. We're the fuckin' FBI." His lips purse as he nods at the person on the other end. "Get it done! How am I supposed to run an operation when you're all sittin' on your duffs like daisies— ! MOVE IT." Beat. "Wright out." He hangs up the phone and now returns it to his pocket.
"It's gonna be a long night. And there's little hope it'll be better tomorrow…"