"I can't do this," Paige said to him. Mike could see the tear falling down her cheek.
"I know," he said in a sigh. "Let's see if we can talk some sense into him."
Jessie had her fingers clawed into Paige's thigh as she cried, understanding that the man who was going to take her away was at Graceland. Paige reached down to pick her up, but stopped herself.
"I-I don't think I can..."
Mike took the cue from Paige and grabbed Jessie from behind, lifting her up. The girl threw herself around him and locked her hands behind his neck. He could feel the wet tears.
"Not yet," Mike said to the little girl, hearing the anxiety in her cries. "Do you want to eat some lunch with everyone?" He tried to make the question seem routine, hoping to provide as much normalcy as he could.
Paige had picked up the duffel bag and the blanket. She was trying to wipe her face so that the others wouldn't know she had been crying too.
Mike continued to talk softly to Jessie as they walked down into the kitchen. When they got to the living room, Paige put the bag down and nodded at Briggs, letting him know that they had placed the GPS system in the bag.
She remembered that voice. She remembered him from the FBI station.
"Can you say, hi?" Mike whispered to her. If it was even possible, Jessie tightened her grip on Mike even more. She tried to lock her ankles together behind his back, but she couldn't quite reach. Her cries were still audible and Mike felt the tears dripping near his collarbone.
Paige didn't want to say hello to Clarke either. She stared at Briggs as if he was a part of the problem.
"With all due respect, sir," Mike said to Clarke, "she needs to eat something before... and that's not going to happen unless you..."
"Agent Briggs and I will be going over some of the updated files based on last night's events," Clarke said.
Briggs led his boss over to the dining room table on the opposite side of the space.
Mike could feel Jessie shaking in his arms. Her muscles were tense and Mike could hear that she was starting to talk to herself, mumbling, "no, no, no," over and over again.
Paige put her hand on the girl's back and the three of them walked into the kitchen.
There was a plate with some sandwiches on the kitchen table, along with some of the left over tacos from two days earlier.
Paige looked over at Johnny, who was standing by the stovetop. "Are you really making pancakes right now?"
"What, P?! I wanted to make her some pancakes..."
Paige could tell that Johnny was upset based on the tone of his voice.
"Do you want some pancakes?" Mike asked Jessie. He sat down on the bench that was facing away from the living room, so that Jessie wouldn't see Briggs and Clarke.
The little girl shook her head. Mike tried to get her to sit up in his lap, but she wasn't having any of it.
Jakes and Charlie joined them at the table. "She's breaking my heart," Jakes said to them. "But, we knew this was going to happen at some point, right?" He was looking for reassurance. Were they doing the right thing? Did they have another option?
Paige gave Jakes a death glare, and she opened her mouth to retaliate, but Charlie put her hand up, stopping Paige from saying something that she might regret later.
"Let's just enjoy lunch," Charlie said to them. She took a sandwich from the plate and Paige helped Mike move Jessie's legs so that she was sitting sideways on his lap.
"We need you to eat something, sweetheart," Paige said gently. "Will you eat a sandwich?"
Jessie shook her head and tried to twist back around so that her chest was up against Mike.
"What about pancakes?!" Johnny said to her. "You can't not eat pancakes," he said with a silly tone, "it's a rule!"
Jessie hesitantly picked her head up and Mike immediately turned her so that she wasn't looking across the living room at Briggs and Clarke.
Johnny brought over a stack of pancakes. "Who's that?"
Jessie looked at Johnny; he was staring right back at her with a huge smile on his face. Paige started to laugh when she realized what he had done.
"Who is that?" Johnny asked Jessie again. The girl glanced quickly at the first pancake. "Is it Charlie?" Johnny asked her. She shook her head no and pointed her finger at Mike's chest.
"It's Mike?!" Johnny asked, pretending to be surprised. "How did you know?"
Jessie looked at the pancake and then at Mike's shirt. She poked her finger three times down the front of his chest. "Buttons," she whispered.
"Did you make us all in pancake form, Johnny?" Paige asked, kind of intrigued by his craftiness.
"Mhmm," he replied. He gave Mike his pancake and then showed Jessie the next one. She glanced at it and then pointed to Jakes.
"Right again," Johnny said laughing. "Gotta love the dreads..."
"I am not eating myself," Jakes said.
"Why you gotta be like that, Jakes?" Johnny said, making him take the pancake anyway.
Jessie pointed at Johnny when she saw the next pancake. He had made the pancake-man have little dark horizontal stripes on its arms.
"Smartypants is three for three," Charlie said, smiling at Jessie. They all noticed that she had stopped crying. She had even sat up a little bit taller to play the game with Johnny.
Jessie read the letters that were on the chest of the next "pancake person" and pointed at Paige.
"Thank you, Johnny," Paige said to him, taking her own pancake to eat.
"Do you know who that is?" Johnny asked her. Jessie nodded, but didn't turn to look at him. "Is it Paul?" Johnny asked. She nodded once more and Johnny put it to the side. "We'll let him have it later, ok?"
"Charlie," Jessie said sweetly when they got to the next pancake. "Mmmm," Charlie said, biting into it. "Thank you."
Jessie smiled when she saw that there was one more pancake left on the plate. It was a little bit smaller and had curly hair.
"Who's that?" Johnny asked her. He sat down with them at the table. Jessie reached out to take her pancake. "Me," she said softly.
Paige put some syrup on the plate and handed her a fork. She twisted open one of the vitamin drinks for her to have as well.
Mike helped Jessie with the pancake and they were relieved to see her eat the whole thing.
Paige put the drink in her hand and she took some big sips.
When they had finished with the hodgepodge of food on the table, Briggs and Clarke joined them in the kitchen. Briggs didn't want to look like a "bad guy", and let Clarke do the talking.
"I'm sorry that we let you stay here," he said to Jessie. She was already tucked back in Mike's embrace with her hands clenched around pieces of his shirt.
"No," Johnny said to him, almost offended by his words. "This place was the best thing to happen to her, and now you're going to ruin everything that we've-"
"Johnny, stop it," Briggs said, cutting him off. "It was always going to be temporary."
"Look," Charlie said to Clarke, "it's just that this is not a good way for her to transition..."
Clarke ignored her comment and continued to talk at the little girl. "I need for you to come with me now. Maybe we can arrange a visit in a few days," he suggested.
"What happens if she talks about Graceland?" Paige asked him, trying to prolong their separation.
"This is a non-affiliated family. They won't have any interest in finding out more about this house or why it exists. They have been briefed on the fact that she has been in the care of agents who found her after a bust."
"I want to see their file, the interview transcripts, everything," Paige said sternly.
"I assure you that they have been cleared," Ms. Arkin. "In fact, they've cared for domestic abuse victims in the past."
"And the security on the place?" Johnny asked.
"It's in the suburbs..." Clarke said.
"What if someone tries to take-"
"Not now, Johnny," Briggs said, cutting him off again.
"Her safety has been our priority throughout the follow-up of this case... which is why she was brought here. But, it seems as though even federal agents couldn't follow the rules of acting as a safe house, so..."
"This is NOT on us," Charlie said. She stood up from the table and got in the man's face. Jessie's cries were growing louder. "YOU are the one causing more emotional damage by moving her placement-"
"Graceland is NOT for children," Clarke said firmly.
Charlie took a breath and crossed her arms. "Well, good luck in seven months then, because I guess I'll be resigning!"
There was a unanimous gasp from the room.
"Agent DeMarco," Clarke continued, "we will discuss your personal matters at another time."
Clarke looked down at his watch. "We really need to be going."
He didn't even try to take Jessie from Mike's arms. "What?" Paige said to him, "You really think she is just going to walk out of this house with you?"
"No," he said, "Warren will put her in the car." Clarke grabbed some of the files and Mike slowly stood up with Jessie latched onto him. The girl must have thought that Mike was giving her up, because she tried to throw herself over to Paige.
Paige started to cry as she took the girl in her arms. The woman kissed Jessie's cheek and walked away from the kitchen, whispering into her ear. "Listen to me. We have a little computer in your bag. We will find you. We will make sure you're safe. Remember to play pretend." Paige took a breath. "We love you."
All of the agents walked with Paige into the living room. Jessie was hoping that they were going back upstairs, but started to panic when she felt them stop by the door. "I will see you so soon," Paige said to her confidently, giving her a final bear hug. Mike took Jessie from Paige's arms and held her close.
"No way," Johnny said to them as Mike turned towards the door. "I get a hug too."
Despite the tears and sniffling, Johnny took her from Mike with ease. "I promise that we will go surfing again, ok?" She nodded into his shoulder.
"...And m-mallows?" she asked through her cries.
Johnny had to fight to stop a tear from falling down his cheek. "Anything you want," he said to her. He kissed the top of her head and gave her a final squeeze. "You know who else loves hugs?" Johnny asked her. She didn't respond, but Johnny continued anyway. "Jakes really loves hugs."
Jakes took a breath, but let a smile creep across his face. "Oh, come here," he said reaching his hands out. Jessie let him hold her and she hugged him goodbye. "She gives better hugs than you, Johnny."
Jakes looked down at her. "Stay smart; you're going to be just fine."
"My turn," Charlie said, pulling her away from Jakes.
"Listen," she said to the girl. Jessie was still sniffling and letting the tears fall freely down her face. "I'm really sorry that you only got to stay here for a little while. I'm sorry..." Charlie's voice broke and Jessie looked up at the women. The little girl placed her palm on Charlie's cheek, as if to tell her that it wasn't her fault. Charlie kissed her forehead and hugged her once more.
Jessie was comforted by the security she felt in Briggs' arms when he finally took her from Charlie. He rubbed her back and said his goodbyes as Clarke opened the front door.
Clarke was holding her duffel bag and Johnny handed Briggs the blanket.
Briggs placed the blanket under Jessie's arm and she cuddled into it instantly. Jessie didn't start to scream until she realized that they were outside.
Paige instinctively ran towards the door, but Mike threw his arm around her waist and reeled her back. "I-I can't," she said crying. She laid her head down on Mike's shoulder and he held on to her with all of his strength. He coerced her into going upstairs, but she refused, leading them back to the kitchen.
Outside, Briggs was having a very difficult time trying to get her buckled into the car. She was screaming and coughing, kicking at him and crying all at the same time. It was heart-wrenching for him, making him feel like the villain.
He heard her gasp for air through her sobs and he knew that he couldn't just leave her screaming in the back of the car.
"I'll come too," he said. "I'm coming with you; I'm coming too," he repeated. He got into the car and she climbed up onto his lap, eager for his big arms to secure her once more. He wrapped the blanket around her and held onto her. He could feel her shaking against his chest as Clarke backed out of the driveway.
It was Jakes who saw Briggs get into the car. "He went with her," Jakes announced to them. He walked into the kitchen and sat back down at the table.
"So we need to be there with a car before they leave the foster house?" Paige asked. "Clarke will make Briggs come back with him, and no one will be outside to watch."
"And Briggs can just call-in the address to us," Mike added.
They paused for a few seconds before the elephant in the room finally made its appearance.
"WAIT," Johnny said, throwing his hands up at Charlie, "are you really pregnant?!"
"Guilty," she said, looking down at her feet.
"Do you know-?" Johnny asked.
She glared at him. "It's Paul's. He's known for a few days."
"So you guys are moving...?" Johnny asked, trying to understand.
"Well, I was hoping not, but I guess maybe we will have to." She was starting to clear the table. Mike was still comforting Paige, who had seemed to finally let the emotion detach itself from her job.
They helped Charlie clean up the room, but turned to face her when they heard her gasp. "What?" Mike asked her.
"Look..." she said, "it was in the pile from yesterday afternoon."
Charlie was holding up a picture that Jessie had drawn. Across the top it said: "My New Family" and underneath were seven stick-figures.
Paige closed her eyes for a moment and took a breath. "We're getting her back."