Johnny surveyed the living room when he stepped into the house. He could tell that it hadn't been lived-in in a while. There was an old couch, two folding chairs and a scratched-up coffee table on a stained carpet. He didn't see any signs of Jessie.
"I'm glad you could make it, Johnny," Barone said to him. He sat on the couch and Johnny sat in one of the folding chairs across from him. "You remember Alec from the club, yes?"
Johnny nodded over at the other man. "Oh, yeah, what's good?"
Alec looked at Johnny, but didn't say anything to him. He stood up against the wall with her arms folded across his chest, watching.
"So," Barone said to him, patting his hands on his knees, "I have a problem. I have lost my job, and now I need to make some new friends."
Johnny smiled at him. "Yeah, well, why do you think I'm here?"
"How much were you going to buy from Carlito?" he asked Johnny.
Johnny squinted his eyes at the man. "A dozen bricks."
Barone chuckled and pointed over at Alec. "So you have $200,000 - just stuffed into your pockets?" he asked Johnny with a comical tone.
The two men continued their laughter, trying to belittle Johnny.
Johnny crossed his leg and folded his arms. "Yo, I wasn't gonna buy it all at once! I got 50,000 on me." Johnny took 2 wads of cash, one from each front pocket, and waved it up at the men before restoring it to his pockets.
"So how did you get to return home last night?" Barone asked him.
Johnny felt as though he was being interrogated.
Something didn't feel right.
"I texted you before about it."
"Well, it's just that - I hadn't actually made the buy yet. They couldn't tie me to the rest of Carlito's op so, besides me being with him last night, I had nothing to do with it. Well, that and 'cause I didn't know about the girls."
Johnny was hoping to gauge a reaction on the man's face, but Barone didn't give anything away.
"I don't know what you're referring to..." Barone said robotically.
Johnny nodded and looked around the room some more.
"Just make the deal already, Johnny!" Paige was still in the front seat of the car, ear piece being held firmly against her head. She was trying to imagine the scene that was unfolding in the house.
"Are they close Paige?" Briggs asked her. He, Jakes, and Mike were ready to do the bust. They each wore bulletproof vests and carried their handhelds. Charlie had gone back into the car to sit with Paige.
"They would be - if Johnny had the balls to just throw the money on the table! Ugh!"
"Are you ok? You seem nervous," Barone said.
"Oh, uh, yeah, it's just that I've never been to this part of town before."
Barone smirked at him. "Do you want something to relax? Usually my buyers want a product sample."
Johnny watched as Barone took out a brick from under the table and sliced it open a few inches with his key.
"Oh, no that's not my thing. I sell, but I don't use." Johnny winced at his own phrasing, afraid that he sounded too formal.
"He still seems nervous," Alec said from the other side of the room.
Johnny was hoping that Paige hadn't had a heart attack yet. He figured she was listening in on the conversation.
"You became uh, 'friends', with Carlito very quickly, and then all of a sudden 'poof'," Barone said. "Carlito is gone."
Johnny knew he needed to save himself. "No, man, look the way I see it, Carlito said your house got busted a few days ago. They've been watching you long before I came around."
Barone squinted at him. "So you aren't a cop? No... FBI man?"
Paige jumped out of the front seat of the car on a mission to go in the house. "He knows," she shouted when she felt arms wrap around her torso. "He knows!"
Mike kept Paige steady while Briggs stood in front of her. He squatted slightly so that they were at eye-level. "Knows what, Paige? Who knows?"
Paige instinctively fought against Mike and Briggs. "Barone asked Johnny if he was FBI."
"And then what happened?" Briggs asked her, placing his hands on her shoulders.
"I-I don't know."
"It's ok, Paul," Charlie said. She had put the earpiece on in the car. "Johnny's still under."
"You say you are not an agent." Barone spoke almost sadistically.
Johnny shook his head and tried his best to look offended.
"We will see," Barone said. "Jessie! I want to introduce you to someone."
Johnny held his breath. He heard a door open and little footsteps.
"Oh yeah, man," Johnny said quickly, "congrats on getting your daughter back."
Johnny thought he might get sick right there in the living room. Jessie wouldn't look at him; she kept her head down as she shuffled over to her father.
"Yes," Barone said, "she was, returned, to us today." He picked her up and she didn't fight him. "Where she belongs," he added.
"Kids need a strong father-figure in their lives," Johnny said, trying to change the subject and win him over.
"Look at this man," Barone instructed. "His name is Johnny. Did you see him while you were on your... little adventure?"
Jessie kept her head down. Barone moved her so that she was looking out to Johnny. His hands were around the girl's ribs; he held her away from his body, out towards Johnny.
"Did you see him?!" Barone asked again.
"It's nice to meet you," Johnny said to her calmly. "What's your name?"
Jessie snapped her head up at him. Seeing the expression on her face, Johnny felt his stomach churning once more. He knew that Barone had just shouted the name a few moments ago, but he wanted to give the little girl clues about how to act.
Jessie shook her head slightly. Johnny could tell that Barone was getting angry. He shook Jessie in his hands and screamed at her. "DID YOU SEE HIM?!"
Johnny did everything in his power to force a smile at her. He wanted to grab her and hold her close. She was a few feet away from him, but it may as well have been miles.
"Paul!" Charlie yelled.
Briggs thought Charlie was about to tell him to go in the house, but she just shook her head with ominous eyes.
Paige saw Charlie's change in expression and tried once more to run at the house. Mike and Jakes held her back, reminding her that going in there would ruin the case, and potentially harm Jessie.
"Just get in the car, Paige," Mike said soothingly. He ran his hand up and down her arm. "Go sit with Charlie; nothing bad will happen to Jessie."
She turned in his arms and rested her head on his chest. "But something bad has already happened..." Her voice trembled as she spoke.
Briggs turned towards them, having just spoke with Charlie. "Jessie is there with them. Barone wants her to ID Johnny," he explained.
"Look," Johnny said, putting his hands up. "I'm not in the business of scaring little kids. I've never met her before."
"Just get on with it already!" Alec said.
Johnny pulled the money back out of his pockets and placed it down on the table.
Barone put Jessie down and bent over to get pick up the money. In the few seconds that he was looking away, Johnny motioned at Jessie with his head for her to leave. Johnny held his breath as the little girl backed out of the room.
"So, we got a deal?" Johnny asked, hoping his nerves hadn't creeped into his voice.
Barone unrolled the money, investigating it. He slid the brick of coke across the table to Johnny.
Johnny put out his hand; he and Barone shook. "We'll have to do this again sometime," Johnny said clearly.
Within seconds, Briggs had kicked in the front door. He, Mike and Jakes stormed into the house.
"You set me up?!" Johnny screamed at Barone. He reached out with his fist and slammed a punch into Barone's jaw.
The man fell backwards and Johnny could feel his arms being forcibly held behind his own back. He was being shoved down onto his knees. Mike was reading him his rights.
Johnny watched Briggs roll Barone over to cuff him. Jakes already had Alec in handcuffs as well.
Johnny knew he needed a reason to be separated from the other two men, so he kicked back into Mike's shin. Mike yelped in pain and twisted Johnny's arm in revenge. "Take them outside," Mike said to Briggs and Jakes. "I need a minute with this one to teach him a lesson." Mike spoke through gritted teeth.
He and Johnny waited patiently for Briggs and Jakes to escort the men out of the house. When the door had shut behind them, Johnny jumped up to his feet and ran out of the room; Mike was right behind him.
"Jessie?" Mike asked sweetly. "It's ok now. It's Mike and Johnny."
Johnny rested his hand on a doorknob in the hallway and slowly opened the door. Mike and Johnny sighed in unison when they saw Jessie huddled in the corner. Mike pushed passed Johnny and kneeled in front of the girl. "Hey," Mike said to her, trying to gauge how upset she was.
"You did so good," Johnny said, stepping into the closet behind Mike.
Jessie wouldn't look at either of them. "We're not pretending anymore, Jessie," Mike said calmly. He took out his badge and placed it gently on her hand. Jessie studied it before looking up at him. Her eyes were watery.
"Hi," Mike said, finally getting her attention. "Do you want to come back home with us?"
Mike put his hands out and Jessie leaned into him, letting her head fall onto his shoulder. Mike stood up with her and walked out of the small space, but Jessie whimpered in protest. "They're gone," Mike whispered to her. "They're gone... Do you want to go see Paige?"
Jessie nodded into his shoulder and wrapped her legs around him. Her hands gripped the straps on his vest.
Johnny double checked to be sure that the men had left with Jakes in the squad car. He reached out to open the door, but Paige, Charlie, and Briggs forced their way back in. Paige's eyes were searching the room and she held her breath when she spotted Jessie cradled in Mike's arms.
Paige couldn't prevent the tears that came flooding. "I'm so sorry," she said to Jessie. "I'm so sorry we couldn't save you sooner."
Upon hearing Paige's voice, Jessie twisted her head around to look for her. Paige put her hands on the girl's sides and tugged at her a bit to see how she would react. Jessie welcomed her and threw herself at Paige. The woman could feel her shaking, but she was surprised to notice that the little girl wasn't crying.
"You were amazing," Paige said, rocking her back and forth. Paige remembered how the praise had calmed Jessie down when she was in the ambulance the night before.
Mike had his arm wrapped around Paige's back, comforting her.
"We were outside the whole time. We followed you here and we never left you," Paige told her.
Jessie moved her hand down to her pocket, sliding the small GPS tracker out. She clenched it in her fist. Briggs noticed what the girl had done and carefully unwrapped Jessie's fingers from around the small object. He held it up and tilted his head at Paige and Mike.
"You kept it on you?" Mike asked her softly. He knew that the GPS had not aided them in finding her, but he was in awe of the role she played in the bust.
Jessie nodded into Paige's chest. The agents smiled.
"You were always going to find a way to get her, weren't you?" Briggs asked Paige.
Paige nodded confidently.
Briggs took a breath and sighed. "We'll make it work," he said to himself. Charlie reached out and took his hand.
"Jessie?" Briggs asked. "Do you want to come back to Graceland and live with us?"
Jessie looked up at him and immediately started to cry. Paige held onto her more tightly and kissed the top of her head.
"Are you ready to go home?" Paige asked her. The little girl's cries grew louder and Paige could feel the wet tears on her neck. She looked up to Mike and saw the joy in his eyes. He leaned down and kissed Paige delicately.
Johnny looked over at the table and then back to girl. "And somebody just made $20,000..."