Welcome To The Harem

An Office Romance (Part 2 of 7) by Scifinerdgrl
Summary: This is my attempt to explore what Reyes could have been thinking when she got involved with Brad Follmer. This story takes place between her arrival at the New York Field Office (after graduation from the FBI academy in 1995), and her first meeting with John Doggett in 1997.

After a moment she took her hand off his, and he responded in
kind. "I was hoping that in law enforcement I might be able to
do something about it. But what did I do for that child today?"

Tears rolled down her cheeks and Costello felt a lump rise in his

"You found him," he said in a raspy voice. "You have no idea yet
how important that is, but you will."

Reyes smiled gratefully at the burly cop. "You don't find my
experiences... odd?" she asked tentatively.

He took a moment to regain his composure, then said, "Special,
maybe, but not odd. The best cops rely on their instincts.
Usually it's really experience. But some have a special gift...
Don't apologize for that." Reyes took a deep breath and let it
out slowly, her eyes beaming at him appreciatively. He continued,
"My partner -- he's a natural, like you. When he has a hunch, I
always follow it." He looked at her sympathetically, and she
felt a little flutter in her stomach. His voice growing more
gentle, he added, "If anyone's told you to ignore your instincts,
don't believe them. The rest of us only wish we could be like

"Thank you," she said. "I needed to hear that."

"If there's anything else you need... anything at all," he said
softly. "Just let me know. You still have my number?"

She nodded. "Can I ask you a favor?" she asked.

"Sure, anything," he said eagerly.

"Do you know where I could get some self-defense training? Or
maybe karate?"

"My gym offers classes," he answered quickly. "I can get you a
guest pass if you want to check it out." As she opened her mouth
to answer, he hurriedly added, "But you'd have to go with me."

She grinned broadly. "That would be great! When?"

"I could pick you up at six-thirty. There's a seven o'clock
class you could observe... You can use the whole gym if you
want, too. Bring some work-out clothes and I'll show you

Janet watched as her boss threw open the door, and she knew
things had not gone well in Brooklyn. "Hi Brad," she said
neutrally. "How did it go?"

"Don't ask," he retorted. "It was a disaster." She nodded
understandingly and he felt the need to don a more businesslike
demeanor. "Did you reschedule my appointment with the A.D.?" he
asked, emulating Mike's efficiency as well as he could.

"It's a half-hour from now," she answered, looking up and down
his suit, noting its new stains and wrinkles. "Will that be
enough time?"

"That's fine," Brad answered. He entered his private office and
locked the door behind him. Leaning against the door he felt a
wave of panic. He had a sensitive agent to train, he'd lied to a
cop, and he had to admit to the A.D. that some files were
missing. He closed his eyes and let out a long breath. Did Mike
have days like this, he wondered.

Thirty minutes later, Brad appeared at the A.D.'s office, wearing
the spare suit he kept in his office, the smell of men's room
soap emanating from several parts of his body. The secretary
nodded for him to sit, and he reclined nonchalantly on the office
sofa, his briefcase at his feet. She was a tall, lean African-
American woman with graying hair and bright red, immaculately kept
fingernails. She busied herself at her computer as he sat silently,
mentally rehearsing what he would say to his new boss. Brad had
been the cocky, fast-track, up-and-coming fair-haired child, and
he knew it. He also knew that the agents who had once been his
equals considered him a suck-up, Mike's chosen successor.
Gaining their trust would be critical for his career. Earning
the respect of A.D. Williams was even more critical.

Suddenly the door swung open. "Agent Follmer," came the booming
voice of a tall, athletic man with red hair and freckles. Brad
snapped to attention and stood up, knocking his briefcase over.
He bent over to grab it with his left hand, holding out his right
hand to shake Williams' unextended hand. He pulled his hand back
in embarrassment as Williams said, "Come in," and turned away.

Brad rushed inside. He had only been to the A.D.'s office one
other time, his interview when Mike had announced his promotion.
It had been a pleasant interview, short and perfunctory. As his
colleagues had suspected, Williams would rubber-stamp Mike's
choice for a successor.

Williams' demeanor showed Brad his mental rehearsal was wasted
time. Williams already knew everything. They stared at each
other across the desk for a long, awkward moment. Finally
Williams said, "Special Agent in charge of the Crimes against
Children division... You are in charge now, Brad. I expect you
know what that means?"

"Not entirely," Brad answered. "Mike trained me well, but I'm
sure I have a lot to learn."

Williams smiled and nodded. "Yes, you have. For instance, the
special agent in charge does not go dumpster diving. Further, he
does not lie to local P.D. about who was on the scene when the
corpse of a child is discovered."

Brad raised his eyebrows and stopped breathing. He said nothing.

"Yes, I heard about that. Would you care to explain this,

"I assume you know what Agent Reyes and I were looking for?" Brad
asked. Williams nodded. "I was hoping to find those files before
anybody knew they were gone. Not for my sake, for hers. I want
her to make a good impression."

Williams pursed his lips and studied Brad's face. "And telling
the P.D. you were in that alley alone?"

"At the time, I was. I sent her home. She got sick at the
scene, and she'd fainted earlier in my office. She didn't need
the stress," Brad answered. "It's not going to be her case
anyway. It'll be local, or I'll assign it to someone else if it
comes to us. I didn't see any reason to involve her."

Williams's face showed no changes, and Brad squirmed in his seat
wondering what would happen next. Suddenly Williams bent forward
and pulled something from the knee well of his desk. Brad gulped
as he saw Williams pull it up and shove it across the desk
towards him. It was a briefcase.

"Fortunately, street criminals hate child molesters as much as we
do," Williams said. "It was turned in at the security gate this

"Thank you, sir," Brad said, not sure what else he could say.

"Don't let it happen again," Williams said sternly.

"No, of course not," Brad answered quickly.

"Have we covered the reason you made this appointment?" Williams

Although Brad could tell Williams wanted him to say "yes," he
answered, "No, sir. I'd like some advice on how to handle Agent
Reyes' training. She was at the top of her class at Quantico,

"I'm sure you'll handle it," Williams said curtly. "You know the
demands of the job. Be sure she can meet them before you send
her into any more alleys." Williams picked up a pen and pulled
some papers from a drawer. "And don't let me hear that *any* of
your people are causing trouble for the bureau."

"Yes, sir," Brad said. He stood, one briefcase in each hand, and
backed away from the A.D. "Thank you for your time."

Williams nodded once then turned his attention to the papers on
his desk.

Monica jumped at the loud, sharp, knocks at her door and looked
at her watch: 6:25 p.m. She ran to the door and flung it open.
Costello stood there, his massive chest and arms wrapped in a
brown leather jacket. Monica smiled into his smile, and said,
"Officer Costello... Hi! Just a second..."

She ran back into her apartment and grabbed her gym bag as he
stood at the door, admiring not just her body, but her grace.
"Call me Joe," he half-shouted behind her.

"Sorry," she said when she arrived at the doorway. She slung her
gym bag over her shoulder and said, "Joe. Call me Monica."

At the gym, Monica changed into her carefully chosen gear, and
emerged from the dressing room to find Joe waiting for her. He
was wearing a dark blue T-shirt, its sleeves hugging the muscles
of his upper arm, the NYPD shield over his left pect. He was
wearing gray sweat pants that were mercifully loose, Monica
thought. She never thought she'd be one to fall for muscles, but
she couldn't help notice this man's well-toned body. She felt
weak and waifish by comparison, and was starting to feel out of
her element.

"You look great," Joe said, his eyes sparkling with appreciation.

Monica blushed, then quickly said, "Oh, this?" She pulled at the
hem of her T-shirt. "It's a souvenir from my college days." She
fussed some more at the hem, then decided against telling the
truth. It was her good-luck T-shirt.

The gym was huge, and complex, with every possible piece of
equipment and several rooms. Joe showed her a few rooms then
ushered her in to a large room with mats on the floor and mirrors
on one wall. Several men dressed in loose-fitting pants and
T-shirts were practicing martial arts movements. The instructor
arrived and the students formed two lines. The instructor bowed,
and the students bowed lower in response. Monica leaned against
the wall, feeling secure in her invisibility. Joe leaned next to
her, and whispered into her ear. "It's an advanced class. They
offer all levels here."

She smiled and turned her head in his direction. "Thanks," she
said, her mouth only inches from his. They both quickly turned
their heads toward the class, and they watched the first several
minutes of the class.

To Monica's surprise, the instructor started the class by leading
the students in meditation. Monica breathed deeply, not
understanding most of the instructions, but feeling a sense of
centeredness coming over her. The instructor gradually brought
the students to a state of readiness for their exercises, and
Monica felt as if she, too, were ready for them. She smiled
serenely and turned toward Joe. He seemed bored, and he eagerly
said, "Seen enough?"

"No," she whispered. "I'd like to stay for a few minutes more.
Do you mind?"

"No, of course not," he whispered back. He pressed his back
against the wall. "Let me know when you're ready to go," he
whispered out of the corner of his mouth.

She relaxed against the wall and whispered, "Thank you for
bringing me here."

They stood and watched the class for another few minutes. Monica
felt a sense of belonging, yet also a sense of detachment. She
loved this feeling. As the students were reorganizing for a new
series of exercises she turned to Joe and said, "Okay, let's see
the rest of the gym."

As they walked toward a weight-lifting area, Monica said, "Thank
you for bringing me here. I think I like it already."

He smiled and said, "It's my home away from home."

She put her hand on his upper arm and tried in vain to squeeze
it. "Why am I not surprised?" she asked.

They passed through several weight-lifting areas and came to a
bank of exercise cycles, and in each area several men and women
greeted Joe enthusiastically. He introduced Monica to many of
them, and she became more comfortable as each welcomed her. Joe
seemed to be well-liked, and the smiles he elicited made her feel
lucky to be with him tonight.

After they had seen the entire gym, he showed her some basic
weight-training techniques and they worked out together. She
felt a little silly, moving the pins to the top of each bank of
weights and still struggling to lift, as Joe easily lifted stacks
of the iron bars. After trying several pieces of equipment she
sat at the end of a bench, watching Joe focus on his lifts. She
didn't understand it, but she could appreciate his dedication.
After several minutes he looked up and saw her watching him. "I
don't think this is my sport," she said meekly.

He sat up and said, "I'm sorry. Have you had enough?"

Monica thought for a moment. It was obviously part of his daily
routine to work out, and she didn't want to upset that. "I've
had enough of the weights. Do you mind if I do something else
for awhile?"

He smiled. "Not at all. I'll be here."

"I think I'll try those bicycles..." she said, briefly putting
her hand on his knee. "I don't think I could do more than twenty
minutes. Is that okay?"

He nodded, and she walked away, confidently navigating the gym as
if she were a regular. She stopped at the martial arts room and
watched the closing routine. She could feel the serenity of the
students and felt a kind of joy in this discovery. "This is my
sport," she thought.

Thirty minutes later, she was pumping the pedals of an exercise
bike, sweat flowing over her face. Her eyes were closed, and she
emptied her mind, trying to capture the serenity she'd tasted
earlier. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Having a good time?" Joe asked.

She smiled in response then stopped pedaling. "Yes, but I don't
want to overdo it." She hopped off the cycle and lost her
balance. He caught her in his strong arms and she laughed. "I
guess I've already overdone it."

"Everybody does on their first day," he reassured her. "Do you
want to come back again... build up your endurance?" he asked

"I think I want to join this gym," she answered, walking back and
forth to relax her legs. "I like it here." She stopped pacing
and looked into his face. "I like the people," she added,
feeling a little bold.

He couldn't hide his contented sigh from her. "Want to get
something to eat before I take you home?" he asked.

"Sure, but I think I need a shower first."

They went to an Italian restaurant, and Monica marveled at the
amount of food Joe could eat. She ate only half of her food, and
gave the rest to him after he had finished his. They talked
about weight training, the gym, Italian food, Brooklyn, Italian
mothers, Mexican mothers... Everything but law enforcement.

He walked her to her door and she felt light on her feet as she
said, "I had a great time. I can't wait to go back to the

"I'm glad," he said, his eyes starting to glow. "I can't wait to
see *you* again."

She smiled giddily but said nothing. He leaned forward and
kissed her on the lips, gently and briefly. He pulled back to
study her reaction. She blushed and smiled, and said quickly,
"Me too." She turned the key in her lock and hurriedly entered
her apartment. On the other side of the door she sighed, and she
heard him pause before walking back through the hallway.

An Office Romance, by Scifinerdgrl Part 3

The next morning Monica bounded up the subway steps and walked
briskly to the front door of the FBI's building. Janet stood
outside, smoking a cigarette and chatting with two other women.
She motioned for Reyes to join them and Monica eagerly obliged.

Janet introduced her to the other women, both secretaries, and
they chatted pleasantly about the weather for a few minutes.
Janet stomped on her cigarette and said, "You seem to be in a
good mood. You're feeling better?"

"Better than better," Monica confided. "I've met somebody."

The three women quizzed her on every detail of her evening. They
were all older than Monica, and married. They seemed to enjoy
hearing about Joe as much as she enjoyed talking about him.
Suddenly the faces of the other three women lost their
conspiratorial enthusiasm, and they focused their eyes over
Reyes' shoulders.

"What?" Reyes asked. She turned around to see Brad Follmer
taking his final few steps in their direction.

"Janet, Mary, Stella," he nodded to each woman in turn. "Agent

"Agent Follmer," Monica stuttered. "Good morning."

"Feeling better?" he asked, the tone of his voice indicating some
displeasure, but Monica had no idea what had caused it.

"Yes, I feel fine," she said, keeping her voice cheerful. "I just
needed a little time off, I guess."

"Good," Brad answered. "Come to my office in an hour. We need
to talk." He wheeled around and walked quickly to the front

"Don't worry, honey," Janet assured her. "It's good news." The
older woman winked at Monica, and Monica sighed.

"Thanks. I sure hope so," Monica said resolutely. "I'd better
review those cases before... just in case... Nice meeting you,"
she nodded to Mary and Stella.

Monica spent her free hour reviewing the flagged cases Brad had
assigned to her, and by the time she locked her door she had
memorized the most important details.

When she arrived at Follmer's office, his door was closed and
Janet sat at her desk reading The Post. She looked up and said,
"Monica! You're a few minutes early." She took in Monica's
worried expression, then added, "Relax! Everything is fine."

Monica sat down, trying to relax as instructed, but finding her
body stiffen as she anticipated a stern lecture, or even worse,
looks of pity and concern from Follmer. By the time the door
opened she was almost hyperventilating.

"Come in, Monica," Brad said sternly. Janet winked at Monica and
mouthed "It's okay" as Monica walked past her desk.

"Have a seat, Agent Reyes," Follmer said, much more formal in his
demeanor than he had been the day before.

Monica obeyed, choosing the chair that seemed pushed a little to
the side, facing at Brad's chair less directly. He sat down and
stared at her for a moment, until she had to look away. "You had
a difficult day yesterday," he started. She nodded and found the
courage to look him in the eye. "So let's start fresh today,
okay?" he said, his eyebrows raised in anticipation of her

Her lips turned up slightly. "Okay," she said, grabbing at the
comfort he offered.

Follmer reached into the knee well of his desk and pulled up her
briefcase. He slid it across his desk and said, "We got lucky
this time. Bad guys like child abusers as much as we do."

Monica grabbed at her briefcase as if reuniting with an old
friend, and immediately opened it. As she reached for the files
she felt a wave of warmth and nausea, but fought to suppress it.
She shut the case again and stared at it, willing it to stop
sending its evil to her.

"Is there something wrong, Agent," Brad said in an unsympathetic

"No," Monica said hurriedly, and put the briefcase on the floor.

"Good," Brad said, closing the topic of Monica's condition. "I
want to talk to you about those files. Why were you taking them

"I read the cases you flagged, and I wanted to read more cases.
So I chose these," Monica asserted.

"The truth, Monica," Brad said immediately.

Despite Joe's assurances, she didn't feel comfortable telling
Brad about her experiences. She hesitated, looking down.

"Well...?" he demanded.

"It's a long story. It's more than just reading cases," she
started. He nodded encouragingly. She continued, "I'm intrigued
by these unsolved cases. And... I felt something special about
them." She watched his face carefully, and noticing his dubious
expression, added, "I have a kind of sense... of evil, of evil
things, evil people... I know it sounds crazy, but I thought if
I could focus on these I might develop an image of what

"You mean a psychic image," Brad said incredulously. She nodded,
and he responded by running his hand through his hair.
"Monica..." He paused, groping for words and at the same time
trying to rid himself of the condescending tone he heard in his
voice. "Monica," he said more compassionately. "That's not how
the FBI works. If that's what you were expecting to do here..."

"No, that's not it!" Monica began to panic. "I want to do
investigative work. It's what I've trained for, what I've looked
forward to... And evil... It's really not that common. I mean,
people do evil things, but sometimes they are good themselves. I
don't sense it often..." He seemed relieved, but she continued,
"But when I do sense it, I'm right. I know it. And I can't
ignore it."

Brad sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Okay," he challenged
her. "The playground abduction. What do you sense from that?"

Monica opened her briefcase and thumbed through the files. She
pulled out one folder and put it in her lap. She opened it and
rested her hands on it, one hand over the picture of the child,
the other over the typed report. The heat of the image seared
into her fingertips, but she breathed deeply, the serenity she'd
found in the martial arts class rising from some unknown source
and giving her more distance from the feeling. She closed her
eyes and saw a playground, children playing basketball, another
child looking on. She exhaled, her breath pushing the heat away
from the image. A cold wind blew across her face, and she saw
the child pull up the hood of his sweatshirt and turn toward her.
She felt herself sliding backward as the child walked toward her,
then she saw a car door open. The child leaned toward it and
something pulled him in. The door slammed and she could see his
face pressed against the window as it drove off. She could make
out his words as he mouthed "Help me..." Her mind's eye followed
the car as it drove down a divided boulevard, then wound through
traffic and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. She suddenly felt
nauseous, and instinctively closed the folder and threw it on the

"Well," Brad said skeptically. "Sense anything?"

"The boy was pulled into a car -- a dark green four-door. A big
car... It drove along a divided road, with trees growing in the
median... It crossed the Brooklyn Bridge.... I'm sorry, that's
all I saw."

"Most of that was in the report. Try another one."

She pulled another folder from her briefcase and repeated her
procedure. "This child went to the emergency room for an ear
infection... she's in the waiting room, crying, playing with a
toy... a teddy bear, I think... her mother is talking to a
nurse... a man with a moustache, dark hair, very short... he's
watching the child... someone rushes in with blood all over his
shirt... everybody's attention is on him..."

"Okay, that's enough," Brad interrupted. "ALL of that was in the
report. The witnesses described that entire scene."

"But I haven't read it," Monica said innocently. "The report was
stolen before I had a chance to..."

"Monica," Brad said, not attempting to mask his annoyance. "We
have fake psychics offering us their services all the time. We
don't need someone in the division pulling this crap."

Monica struggled to maintain her composure, but couldn't help
raising her voice. "I can prove it to you. Pick a file at
random -- one that I haven't read..."

"Monica, I want to believe you, but you have to admit..." he
tried to calm her.

"Please, let me prove it to you. In the conference room. I
won't sense something in every file, but I'll sense something
there. I'm sure of it. It's how I knew that baby was in the

Brad stared at her intently. "What?"

"I sensed there was something there. At first I thought it was
the files, but it just kept getting stronger..." Her eyes
pleaded with him, even as her voice rose in anger. "You don't
believe me? What do I have to do to make you believe me?"

"Okay," he said, standing up. "Let's go to the conference room."

Monica picked up her briefcase and was at the door before he was.
In the conference room, Monica stood defiantly, her hands on her
hips, looking him directly into his eyes. "Pull out a file. Any
file." She wasn't completely sure this would work, but she
needed for him to believe her.

He pulled a picture from the wall and handed it to her. "Try
this," he ordered.

Monica took the picture in one hand, and laid her other hand over
the top. "This child is dead," she started. "Her step-father
killed her, and he threw her body from a boat..." She sniffed.
"A fishing boat, I think."

Brad looked at her in disbelief. "This is Catherine Cahill.
Cathy's step-father is the prime suspect... We've never been
able to prove anything. He tried to implicate her natural

Monica walked to the wall near Brad, and placed her hand over the
picture of a boy. "Nothing. I don't sense a thing here..."

"Davon Smith, he disappeared from a beach house on Long Island.
He'd been missing for several hours before his parents noticed.
He may have drowned, but we never found a body."

Monica placed her hand on another picture and instantly felt
heat. She pulled her hand away. "Something horrible happened to
her. I don't know if I can..." She pushed her hand close to the
picture, feeling heat rising from it as if from a flame. "Very,
very bad..." She pulled her hand away and looked at Brad.

He shrugged his shoulders. "Disappeared without a trace. Her
name is Keisha Campbell. She was one of my first cases, and I
think about her a lot. You can't tell me more?"

Reaching out tentatively, Monica steeled herself against the
heat, but needed to pull back. "I'm sorry," she said, tears
coming to her eyes. "Can I try her file instead?"

Brad went to the file drawer, and to her file, in a matter of
seconds. Monica looked at the well-worn folder and then at
Follmer's face. "I want to believe you can do this, Monica," he
said. "Please try."

She sat down and put the file in front of her. This was easier.
She felt less heat, her legs were sturdier... "She's dead,"
Monica started. "She's been dead a long time... She was
stabbed... Cut up..." She looked up at Brad, tears moistening
her eyes. "Her body was put through a meat grinder."

Brad looked at her in horror. "Can you see who did it?"

Closing her eyes, she forced her mind to look around, to look
away from the child. "It looks like a butcher shop... Meat...
A man is doing this... He's strong... he has gray hair, but he
isn't old... He has a tattoo on his forearm... No, both

Brad grabbed the folder and flipped through the pages. He laid
it on the table. "Is that the guy?" he demanded, nodding toward
the picture looking up at her.

She gasped and looked from the picture to his face. "Yes," she
said, as amazed as he.

He turned and sprinted out the door and down the hallway. Monica
followed the sound of his footsteps. She found him standing at
the elevators, pounding the call button. "Damn him, damn him,
damn him..." he muttered to himself. He didn't notice her
approaching, and when the elevator door opened, he didn't notice
her slip in behind him.

In the elevator, Monica tugged at Brad's elbow. He whirled
around, surprised to see her. "Agent Follmer," she said. "Mind
if I come with you?"

He thought for a moment, and decided her psychic ability overrode
her inexperience at the FBI. "Sure," he answered. "But let me
do the talking." She nodded.

They drove in silence, Brad's lips curled inward as he navigated
the busy streets of lower Manhattan, passed through a long
tunnel, and emerged on a highway in Brooklyn. Monica sighed and
rested her head against the window, trying to establish where she
was, looking for landmarks. They left the highway and drove onto
a divided road, then to a residential street lined with large
two-storey houses that contrasted with the pre-war brick
buildings of the main streets. "Where are we?" Monica asked.

"Flatbush," Brad answered. His eyes remained focused ahead, as
if seeing his destination while he was driving. He turned onto a
main street and parked next to a fire hydrant. He pulled his FBI
placard from the glove box and threw it onto the dashboard.
Monica could barely keep up as he strode to the front door of a
butcher shop.

He approached the middle-aged woman behind the counter and
flashed his badge. "Where is he?"

She nervously glanced toward the back of the shop, and Brad raced
to the doorway. Monica followed behind, and the woman followed

"What is it?" the woman cried out. "What's wrong?"

Monica turned around and put her hands on the woman's shoulders.
"Is he your husband?" Monica asked. The woman nodded. "We need
to question him about a case."

"That little girl?" the woman asked anxiously. Monica looked
grimly back at her. "We told the police -- we only saw her once
or twice. We don't know where she went."

"Stay here," Monica ordered, and the woman stayed where she was,
as Monica raced to catch up with Brad.

She found him in a workroom, the workroom of her vision. Brad
grabbed the man by the neck and pushed him up against the wall.
"Why did you do it, you bastard!" he shouted.

The man's face reddened instantly, but he managed to croak, "Do
what? I didn't do nothing!"

Brad pulled the man away from the wall, then slammed him against
it again. "What did you do with her body?"

"Agent Follmer!" Monica shouted. Brad seemed not to hear her.
She ran up behind him and shouted again, "Agent Follmer!" The
man's eye's started to bulge out, and Monica could hear him
gasping for air.

Monica took a few backward steps and pulled out her gun. She
trained it on Brad and shouted, "Brad, let him go or I'll shoot."

Brad noticed the man's eyes looking over his shoulder, and he
turned around. The sight of Monica's resolute expression made
Brad remember himself, and he let go of the man. In the distance
they could hear his wife yelling "He's killing him, he's killing

Brad and Monica stared at each other for a moment as the butcher
slid sideways against the wall, edging toward the doorway.
Monica turned and pointed her gun toward him. "You too," she
said authoritatively. "Don't move." The man raised his hands,
the redness fading from his face, leaving him blanched and
wide-eyed. Monica faced Brad and said, "Okay, ask him what you
want," she ordered.

Brad was stunned by her reaction, and he looked from her to his
suspect. He walked slowly and deliberately toward the butcher,
and put his hands into his pants pockets, as if to restrain
himself. In a low, controlled voice, he said, "You remember
Keisha Campbell?"

The man looked puzzled. "Who?" he said, with deliberate

"Seven years old? Missing for two years? Lived on the sixth
floor," Brad's eyes looked upward as if to indicate the apartment
building above the shop.

"Oh, yes. Very sad. What about it?" the butcher said, looking a
little relieved.

Brad paused, a little confused by the suspect's reaction. His
silence was filled with the sound of footsteps and the voice of
the butcher's wife saying, "In the back..."

Monica kept her gun pointed toward the butcher but readied
herself to aim for the doorway. A massive shadow grew on the
floor in front of the doorway, until a man's silhouette arrived.
From the doorway they heard a voice say, "Monica?"

"Joe?" Monica answered, subconsciously allowing her gun to follow
the direction of her eyes.

"What's going on here?" Joe asked, his hand on his holster.

"We're questioning a suspect," Brad interjected. "Brad Follmer,
we met yesterday..." Brad said in a saccharine tone, his hand
extended for a handshake.

"Oh, yes," Joe responded, looking from Reyes' gun to Brad' face.

"Agent Reyes," Brad took the hint. "Put away your gun." Monica
did as she was told, but kept a wary eye on the butcher. Brad
continued, "We are investigating a cold case. This man was a
witness then, but..."

Monica only half-listened as Brad filed Joe in on the details of
the crime. She started to think about the crime, her vision, the
meat grinder... She wandered to the side of the workshop then
back to where she had been standing. Joe listened as Brad
detailed the reasons why a beat cop needn't be on the scene, but
he trained his eye on Monica's movements.

Monica sensed something, something different from her vision. Was
it being in that place that made it different? she wondered. Or
was something else wrong here. She followed her sense as if
following an odor, and felt herself feeling warmer and warmer as
she walked further toward the back of the shop. She came to a
metal door, and felt the handle. It was hot, as if the room on
the other side were on fire. She slowly opened the door, and when
it was opened an inch she could tell there was no fire. She
walked in to the dark room, light from the doorway casting her
shadow ahead of her. She felt heat under her feet, even as a cold
draft cooled her cheeks. Stopping in the middle of the room, she
closed her eyes and calmed her mind. Her heartbeat, which had
been racing since pulling her gun on Brad, started to slow. She
breathed deeply and let her body balance itself over her feet.
Slowly, she felt the heat less, and started to develop a vision,
different from the earlier vision.

A child, about nine years old, a girl... with black hair, light
skin, freckles, light blue eyes.. playing with dolls... Barbie
and Ken?... No, G.I. Joe, and ... a little girl doll. G.I. Joe is
putting his hands under the smaller doll's dress, and... Monica
was horrified by the next part of her vision and shook it off.
She opened her eyes, and gradually felt the heat return to her
feet, then her legs... Voices from a distance were calling her.
"Monica... Monica....'

"Monica..." Joe said as he put his hand on her shoulder. She
seemed not to recognize him at first. "Monica? Are you okay? What
are you doing in the freezer?"

Suddenly the light went on, and Monica could see the carcasses of
frozen animals suspended from hooks. Brad stood in the doorway, a
look of annoyance on his face. Monica could tell that he was
talking to her, but she felt as if time had slowed down. She
looked from Brad to Joe, then to the floor. She knelt down and
pulled at a loose flap of linoleum, exposing a large
stainless-steel box, the body of a dark-haired, freckle-faced
little girl curled up inside, frozen solid.

Brad approached and leaned over the opening. "Maureen Cahill,"
he said matter-of-factly, and pulled his cellphone from his
pocket. He nodded in the direction of Monica and Joe. Joe
nodded back, and grabbed Monica by the hand. They raced back to
the shop, Monica gaining in consciousness as she ran.

Joe let go of Monica's hand and leapt onto the butcher's back.
His left arm around the man's neck, he said, "You have the right
to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney..." as his
right hand worked his handcuffs.

"What?" the man cried out. His wife ran towards them, her arm
stretched toward Joe's arm. Monica instinctively intercepted the
arm and pulled her back, sharply.

The older woman's eyes filled with tears and in a gurgling voice
she said, "What are you people doing? He didn't do nothing...
Leave him alone... He's a good man.." Monica continued pulling
the woman, walking her backwards toward the front of the shop.
She was still holding the struggling woman when she saw Brad come
from the back.

Brad ran to Joe and said, "I'll take over from here. You and
your partner start securing the crime scene..." Joe nodded and
walked briskly to the front door. Monica and Brad stared at each
other silently. Monica studied Brad's demeanor. He was panting
slightly, but he seemed to be in complete control of himself.
She couldn't believe it was the same man she'd aimed her gun at

Brad turned to the butcher and said, "How many? How many have
there been..." He added with sarcasm, "MISter Jeffries?"

Jeffries' eyes were half closed, and he looked coldly at Brad.
"Talk to my lawyer," was all he said.

After the crime scene had been secured, and the victim had been
removed, Brad showed Monica to a counter top and took out a small
notebook. "Here," he started. "Before you leave, be sure to
take down the details you'll need in case you're questioned..."
He recited the basic facts of the case as Monica dutifully wrote
everything in tiny, precise handwriting.

She was mid-sentence when Brad stopped talking. She looked up
and saw Joe looming over her on the opposite side from Brad. She
smiled broadly, exhaling loudly through her nostrils. Brad
couldn't help notice the gleam in her eyes, and he didn't like

"We're just about done here," Joe said, almost sadly.

"It was good to see you again," Monica answered, her eyes telling
him the same things they'd told Brad.

"I don't think you need a self-defense course, Monica..." Joe

"I'm interested... Really! And I definitely want to join the

"I'm going again tonight," Joe said a little more softly, as if
trying to keep Brad from listening. Brad stood by, showing a
carefully measured expression of displeasure. Joe continued,
"Want me to pick you up?" Monica nodded. "Same time?"

She nodded again and smiled. "This time I want to try out the
whirlpool afterward, if you don't mind eating a little later."

Joe swallowed uncomfortably, the image of Monica in a bathing
suit draining the moisture from his throat. "That's good. We
can do that..."

Monica set down her pen and reached for his hand. "See you
then," she said, squeezing his hand gently. His hand was so
strong she wasn't sure she'd really squeezed it, then she felt a
very gentle pressure from his hand. "See you then," he answered.