"Just say it, Briggs."
Paige was in the passenger seat of his truck, which had been parked outside of the Sylmar bus station for the past thirty minutes. Their small talk conversations hadn't displaced the awkward tension between the two of them.
"How long?" Briggs asked her.
"How long what?"
"Warren," he said.
She snapped her head at him. "How long is Warren!?" She gasped playfully and did her best to look outraged by his question.
"You know what I meant..."
She thought about how she wanted to answer him. "We got together a few days after he got back from DC," she said.
Briggs nodded and wrinkled his eyebrows. "Not during all of the Caza and Jangles stuff last year?" he said with some suspicion.
Briggs gave her a look as if he doubted her answer, but their attention shifted to the terminal as bus number 118 pulled into the station.
A tall skinny girl with dark hair had just stepped off the bus. She was wearing one of the pink backpacks that Jakes had seen in the video footage.
"I'm calling him," Briggs said. He looked down at his phone to find Mike in his contacts.
"Hey, Mike... The bus just got here so expect it in about twenty minutes.... Yeah, there was a tinker bell on board. Paige and I are waiting for her transp—." Briggs had turned his head to look at Paige, but the agent was no longer seated next to him.
"Shit, Paige!" Briggs slammed his hand on the dashboard.
"Wh-what happened to Paige?" Mike asked.
"She jumped out of the truck, Mike. She went after the tinker bell."
Mike hesitated. "Your priority is to follow the tinker bell," he said sharply.
Briggs was not surprised by his order, but knew that if he left Paige behind, she would raise hell.
"She'll make it back in time," Briggs said to him. "I'll call you when I see movement."
He hung up the phone and threw it down on the seat. He crossed his arms and stared out through the windshield, waiting for someone to accompany the tinker bell out of the building.
Jessie and Charlie were up on the bed. The agent had her computer in her lap and there were papers scattered around the two of them.
Charlie noticed that Jessie was having trouble keeping her eyes open. "What time did you get up this morning?"
Jessie didn't answer her.
"Do you want to take a nap?"
The little girl shook her head back and forth, but a yawn crept out of her mouth.
"Ok..." Charlie said, not believing her. "Why don't you just lay down then?"
Jessie nodded and slowly put her head down on the pillow behind her. Charlie lifted the comforter up a bit so that the girl could tuck her feet under it.
She went back to entering data on her laptop, but every time she glanced over at Jessie, she noticed that the girl was fighting harder and harder to keep her eyes open.
Charlie smiled at her and shut her computer. "Will you take a nap if I take one too?"
Jessie nodded and reached her hand out to Charlie. The woman moved some of the papers off the bed and pulled the comforter back more so that she could slide under it.
She propped herself up on her side so that she was facing the girl. Charlie was taken aback when Jessie grabbed onto a piece of her t-shirt. "You can sleep," Charlie said to her. "I'm right here." She ran her hand over Jessie's forehead a few times before letting her own head hit the pillow.
"Come on, Paige..." Briggs mumbled to himself. He was still sitting in the truck. Bus 118 had pulled out a few minutes ago, but he wasn't sure how the tinker bell was going to be moved to the next location.
He went to call Charlie to see how she was doing, but dropped the phone when he saw Paige running over to him. He stretched out his right arm to push open the door, and she climbed into the truck.
"She's from the Ukraine," Paige said. "She thinks she's going to work at a restaurant. Passport was a fake, but one of the best I've ever seen. She had a ticket to get on that bus. I told her we would follow her and meet up with her at the next station."
Briggs started the truck back up and circled around the parking lot so that they could get a better view. After a few minutes of waiting, Paige finally saw the girl walk over to the other bus. She could tell that the girl was anxious, but she boarded the bus with the backpack.
When it pulled out of the bus station, Briggs and Paige safely tailed it out on the highway into a more rural part of California.
"Do you want to call Mike?" Briggs asked her. He could tell that Paige was still riding a small adrenaline rush.
She went to grab her phone, but then stopped herself. "Not yet," she said.
"Are you thinking he's not going to like your plan?" Briggs asked her. "Or do you just not want to talk to him..."
"I don't know, Paul... both, I guess."
Charlie shot her eyes open when she heard her cell phone buzzing. She reached behind her to grab it out of her back pocket. It was Clarke.
She saw that Jessie wasn't holding on to her anymore, so she made her way off the bed and stepped out into the hall.
"Hello, assistant director," she said, trying to sound more alert.
"Agent DeMarco," he said, "I was just calling to get an update. Agent Briggs informed me earlier that you would be the one staying back today."
"Yeah, I'm at the house," she said. "The girl is doing well. She played a big role in helping us connect the pieces of this case."
"Well, that's the other reason I'm calling. Because you are making major decisions and calling in TAC teams based on the opinion of a five-year old, the agency would like to have her questioned by someone who is not acting as a caretaker."
Charlie peeked through the door at Jessie, who was still sound asleep. She thought about how much time and support it had taken to get her to feel safe and open up about the case.
"When?" Charlie asked.
"Uhh, I don't think that's a good idea..."
"We will keep her separate from the suspects who are still in interrogation."
"If anyone in that building could recognize her, I—" she stopped herself. "Sir, I am not bringing her down there."
"Well, what do you propose then? I can't send someone to you."
"Well," she said, matching his tone, "you are going to have to trust her intel."
He took a breath. "I will go talk to the senior director again and see what I can do."
"Thank you, sir." She heard movement on the bed and opened the door a little more to see if Jessie was ok.
"I will call you back shortly," Clarke said.
"Thanks again," she said quickly. "Bye." She hung up the phone and immediately recognized that Jessie was distressed. She went over to her to wake her up.
It didn't take long for Jessie's eyes to pop open and for her to latch onto Charlie.
Charlie sat back up on the bed and pulled Jessie onto her lap. The girl immediately laid her head up against Charlie's chest.
"Can you tell me more about what makes you scared when you sleep?" Charlie kissed the top of her head and held her tightly.
"Closet," Jessie whispered to her.
Charlie considered her answer for a second before asking her another question.
"Like the closet where the FBI found you two nights ago?"
Jessie nodded into Charlie's chest. "Katia told me to hide in it when the bad stuff would happen..."
"Ho-how long were you in there?" Charlie ran her hand through the girl's hair. A part of her was hoping that Jessie didn't respond.
"A long time."
"Did you go in there when the FBI came?"
She nodded again. "They were really mad..."
Charlie tried to keep the emotion out of her voice. "When the house got quiet though, and they left, did you ever come out?"
Jessie shook her head, and Charlie couldn't stop the tear from sliding down her cheek.
"In your dreams... are you stuck in the closet?"
Jessie's hold on Charlie was tense. "Th-they're tr-trying to g-get in."