Eames and I worked the rapist case for three weeks.
And yes, I'd initially balked at the idea of using Eames to lure the guy, but I had to get over it.
That was what we were doing here.
That was our specialty. Undercover assignments.
And I couldn't put on the brakes just because this one only involved her.
"This is working out great. I was thinking that I needed to get into better shape anyway," she'd quipped to me after the first three days.
Dangling her in front of a rapist was not exactly my idea of things working out great, but trust me, I watched her like a hawk.
She spent more than four hours each day working the tread mill and other various machines, splitting time between the two targeted health clubs.
She made a point of getting friendly with other women who fit the description, often times walking out with them so that the team could keep an eye on them, too.
And each night, when we'd get back to the apartment, she'd collapse on the bed and I'd massage her legs and feet for her.
"Where were you when I was working Vice and walking eight hours in stilettos?" she moaned as I worked out the knots.
I didn't ask if Joe had ever rubbed her feet for her back then. I had a feeling maybe not.
So after twenty-three days of waiting on our guy to make his move, he finally did.
And we caught him, and it was due to Eames' ability to spot other potential victims, because the guy didn't come after her. He came after another woman, but she'd walked out with Eames, so the team was watching.
He was submissive during the arrest and it almost felt anti-climactic considering the amount of time we'd put into the investigation, but it was still a relief to get the man off the streets.
So it was a Thursday in early July when we finished up with Lacey, and we got word from Stahl that we didn't need to report back to work until Monday morning.
"I'm going to have to keep working out now," Eames mused as we drove through the Holland Tunnel. "Four hours a day, every day for three weeks…"
We'd driven aimlessly around the city for half an hour to make sure that we were clean before going to meet with Maas, but I hadn't seen anyone suspicious.
I felt pretty confident that everyone had gotten bored keeping an eye on us.
"I'll help keep you in shape," I promised as I reached over to run my hand over her hair.
"Four hours a day?" she teased questioningly.
"Yeah, maybe not," I admitted with a smile.
We'd been living with the video cameras in the apartment for the past three weeks.
We had met with Maas that first day and let him know about them, but he'd suggested that we leave them in place for awhile.
"It's probably the guy we're looking for," he'd suggested. "He knew that the Bureau was getting ready to downgrade their surveillance, but he needed to keep watching. He needed to know what you two know. By recording you, he thinks he'll get the heads-up when you figure him out, and maybe it'll give him enough time to cut and run."
"So we're supposed to just pretend they're not there?" Eames had asked in irritation.
"They've been listening to you for almost three months," he'd reasoned. "What will it hurt for them to have the added visual?"
"I'm just saying," he'd replied with a shrug. "Play up to it. Use it to your advantage. You can even walk him down the wrong path from time to time, let him think that you're looking at someone you're not. It'll give him a false sense of security."
But I knew what Eames was thinking.
There was a camera in the bedroom.
One night had been bad enough, but every night?
And for how long?
Of course, we couldn't tell Maas that.
Because as far as he knew, our relationship was for show.
Oh, he knew that we cared about each other. But I don't think he guessed exactly how much.
So I'd caught Eames' eye and conveyed the message.
We'll get through it.
And now, a little more than three weeks later, we were no closer to finding our guy.
But Maas had been working on getting more detailed information on the agents from the task force, so I was hopeful that since he'd been the one to call this meeting, that maybe he had something.
And he'd actually been attempting to get together with us for two weeks now, but the case had kept us too busy.
We went into a bar next to the Newport Centre Mall and found a booth near the back.
"It's been almost four months," Eames commented to me as she looked over the menu.
Maas wasn't here yet, but that was usually how it worked.
He was somewhere nearby and he'd watched us come in. Now he would wait to make sure that we hadn't been followed.
He was especially cautious about these meetings and I appreciated that because if we got made then the past four months would be for nothing.
Well, not entirely nothing.
I couldn't discount the fact that now Eames and I were together.
That alone was monumental, but I wasn't going to stop there.
I wanted the person who'd sold out Ross, too.
"I'll be curious to see what he found on Beemer," I said.
We were sitting on the same side of the booth so that the opposite side was free for Maas.
And even though we had to be on our best behavior in front of him, it didn't keep me from pressing my leg up against hers.
I mean, the booth was small, right?
And I'm a big guy.
And really, after four months of posing as a couple they surely had to expect that the mannerisms would carry over, even when we weren't pretending.
"Me, too," she agreed vehemently. "Is it wrong that I hope it's him? I mean, that guy is such a jerk. I would love nothing more than to cut him off at the knees."
"Settle down, honey," I said softly as I nudged her with my shoulder. "He's going down either way."
Because Maas had been so ticked off to hear about what had happened that day in the stairwell, that he'd taken pictures of her wrists. And he'd taken her statement. He said that after our investigation was complete, he was going to file formal charges against him for assault.
I knew there was a reason why I liked the man.
After several minutes, the waitress came by to take our order and I was starting to wonder if maybe we had been followed. It didn't usually take Maas this long to show up.
I looked up in surprise to see Moran sitting down across from us.
"Eames," he added with a nod.
"What's going on?" I asked quickly. "Is everything okay?"
"It's fine. I just volunteered to take the meeting. I wanted to hear first hand how things are going."
Eames and I glanced at each other and I found myself easing away from her slightly.
It was one thing to push the envelope in front of Maas, but Moran? He held the fate of our return to the department in his hands.
And I wasn't going to screw anything up for Eames.
She'd risked everything for me.
"This was actually Maas' meeting," Eames told him. "He was looking into a few agents that were on the task force."
"I brought the information," he said with a nod, although he made no move to produce anything. "But first I wanted to check on you two. It's been four months. And I understand that you've been under nearly constant surveillance. That has to be tough."
I was stunned speechless.
Moran was concerned for our well-being?
That surprised me, and more than just a little.
I mean, despite my previous misgivings, I wanted to believe that he was a decent enough guy.
He and I had butted heads on more than one occasion but for the most part, I felt that he was honest and hard-working.
After that undercover I'd done a few years back, he'd stuck to his word. He'd given me back my badge, even though I'd suspected at the time that he'd wished for a different outcome.
And I'd always thought that he was a real stickler for the rules, but considering our current situation, I guess that maybe he was more concerned about doing the right thing than following the book.
"We're fine," Eames replied vaguely. I felt her leg tense against mine and I realized that we were probably still sitting too close.
"Yes sir," I said. "Fine."
"Because if you're not…if this is too much…"
He trailed off for a second, and then he looked pointedly at Eames.
"We can pull you out," he continued. "Goren's in. There's no reason why he can't work it alone if you're not comfortable with the…current state of affairs."
So that was it. Moran was worried about her virtue.
Maas must have told him about the excessive surveillance.
"I'm not quitting this case," she told him firmly. "We've made the best of our situation."
"Are you sure?" he asked her, now ignoring me altogether.
And maybe I should've been offended by this whole line of questioning, but I wasn't.
Actually, it felt good to see that he wanted to protect her.
And it made me hopeful that we would, in fact, be welcomed back to the NYPD once this was over.
I mean, that had been the idea, but obviously there was nothing in writing.
We only had his word.
At Eames insistence to stay on the case, Moran finally looked back to me.
"Surely it's difficult to maintain your boundaries under that type of scrutiny," he said as he eyeballed me.
"We're fine," Eames said again. "I appreciate your concern, Chief, but really, the whole assignment is going well."
"Eames just brought down a serial rapist," I told him proudly.
"And we broke up a baby-brokering operation," she added.
"Well, let's not lose sight of the goal," he said.
"Of course not," I agreed. "We have reason to believe that our guy is one of the seven that Maas was looking into for us. Those seven were involved in the task force on the Hassan case. And they all would've known about Ross' status as an undercover. Any one of them could've blown the whistle to Hassan, but what we're hoping to find is some kind of money trail."
"Have you found anything to suggest who from the department might be involved?"
"No, but I'm curious," Eames said. "Did anyone ever question Goren's firing? Or my quitting?"
"There was some initial grumbling," he admitted. "But since then, the only person I've heard from is Nichols. You don't think it's him, do you? I mean, a large part of his complaints was that we let Hassan go. He wouldn't care about that if he was working with him, would he? Unless maybe that was just for show."
"No," I said, shaking my head. "Nichols isn't dirty. But the fact that no one asked, that's a good thing. That means that no one on that end is suspicious."
"Maas said that you wanted the phone records for every extension at 1PP," Moran said questioningly. "For the entire month surrounding Ross' murder. Do you have any idea of the amount of paper it would take to print out something like that?"
"I'm guessing quite a bit," I agreed. "But someone there made contact with someone at the Bureau."
"Were you able to get them?" Eames asked as she skeptically glanced over Moran.
He hadn't brought anything with him. No briefcase or bag, and he wasn't wearing a jacket.
This was going to end up being a wasted meeting.
"I did," he said.
To my surprise, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a data stick.
"Everything you requested is on there," he said. "The financials on the agents and the phone records."
He hesitated for a minute as he looked cautiously around the room. I really hoped that we hadn't been followed because he wasn't very good at attempting to blend.
He may as well have been wearing his full dress uniform considering how much his mannerisms screamed cop.
He finally slid the data stick across the table to me.
"Are you going to be able to work on this while you're under surveillance? Or do you want me to see about finding you a clean place to work?"
"We've considered doing a sweep on Eames' place and maybe spending some time over there," I told him. "But to be honest, the Bureau keeps pretty close tabs on us. If we're not home when they think we should be, it seems to raise a flag."
"Why? What business is it of theirs what agents do on their own time?"
Very good question, Chief.
I wondered if he caught the irony of that, considering the department rule against fraternization.
But I didn't bring it up. I wanted to stay on his good side.
"The party line is that it's for our own safety. As undercover agents, we are at a greater risk than most," Eames explained. "But in answer to your question, yes, we'll be fine to work on it at home. We've learned where the blind spots are."
Yes, we had.
In addition to the bathroom, there was also a short section of hallway and a corner in both the dining room and the bedroom.
"Very well then," Moran said as he got up from the table. "Keep up the good work and be careful, okay?"
"Yes sir," I replied.
"And Eames…if you change your mind, you let me know."
"Of course," she said. "But I won't."
He left us alone as the waitress brought our food.
"He is really worried about you," I commented once we were alone.
"Do you think he knows?"
"That we're not pretending anymore? I don't know. I don't think so," I replied honestly.
He'd seemed too nervous about the meeting. He didn't appear to be analyzing our body language at all.
She nodded thoughtfully.
"I should call my dad from a payphone before we go back," she remarked. "It's been awhile."
She'd told him that she was going deep undercover, so it wasn't like he expected to hear from her on any kind of regular basis, but she did try to call every three or four weeks.
Although she seemed sad to talk about him tonight.
"What is it?"
"Oh, nothing. It's…tomorrow is his birthday. And I guess I'm just feeling a little bit sentimental."
"You know, Moran was right. We can pull you out of this. You can go back to the department and work it from that end, and…"
"Bobby," she interrupted. "We're in this together. I'm not bailing on you now."
"I know, but…"
She turned toward me and ran her hand over my cheek. I was sporting a fairly heavy beard at the moment, which she'd said that she liked, and she took a moment to smooth her fingers over it.
Then she kissed me firmly.
"No more talk of me quitting. We do this together, okay? Unless you…"
She trailed off and looked at me questioningly.
As if there was any doubt as to whether or not I wanted her with me.
"Definitely together," I agreed.
"Okay, good. That's settled," she said with a smile. "Now let's eat and then we can go home and see what's on that data stick."