Murder By Design

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Chapter 7

January 19, 1996

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

SA Leone and SA Jackson had come up with their plan of attack on the flight up from D.C. - business class, thankfully without any screaming children sitting behind them this time.

The coordinates led them to Strawberry Square - Ryan joked that it was like Times Square’s illegitimate midget child - in the middle of downtown Harrisburg.

The middle of the square had a fairly open layout, and was surrounded by office buildings, shopping centers, and more on all four sides. The agents were trying to be as conspicuous as possible - that way they would stick out more, make it easier for the UnSub to know who they were. In order to make it easier, they had dressed as stereotypical G-men - dark coloured suits and ties with white dress shirts, dark shoes, sunglasses, and the spiral cords of their earpieces obvious and on display.

Therefore, when they were contacted by their UnSub, they weren’t all that surprised. The method used to contact them, though - now that was a surprise.

If Ryan hadn’t stopped to drool over the display of pies in the window of a diner - and if Leone hadn’t stopped to yell at him - they might have ended up in the ER. As it was, RJ already had a thin line cut across his bicep from the rock that had come flying out of nowhere, shattering the cafe’s window.

As Jackson dealt with the irritable owner of the diner - a stout, older woman whose nametag read ‘LOIS’ - Leone was carefully looking through the shattered glass, searching for the rock. There was no way that their UnSub had gone to all this trouble to get them here, only to kill them with a rock, of all things.

After a minute or so, he located it, but then had to stop and call RJ over.

“Keep the scene secured.” Leone instructed. “I’m going to see if the kitchen can spare some gloves.”

Of course, the chef didn’t respond too kindly to Leone’s presence.

He came stomping over, waving a butcher knife in the air.

“Oi, what you doin’ back here?” he yelled, towering over Leone - the man was easily six foot seven, and built.

Leone flashed his badge, saying, “Special Agent Robert Leone, FBI.”

“I don’t give a monkey’s uncle who you are!” the chef snapped. “But you better get your ass outta my kitchen faster than a greased monkey on a sliding board.”

“Look, all I need is a pair of gloves.” Leone said, trying not to lose his patience. “That’s all I need, and then I’ll be out of your hair.”

The chef’s entire demeanor changed then, becoming more friendly and accommodating. “Oh, if that’s all you need.” he said, pulling a pair of latex gloves out of a box and throwing them at the agent. Then his expression turned stony again, and he growled. “Now get out of my kitchen.”

Leone did as the man wielding the large knife asked, but couldn’t help but give a sarcastic remark as he left.

“Thank you for your cooperation.”

Leone was still chuckling at the rather creative profanity that the chef had hurled at him when he got back to where Jackson was waiting for him.

“What’s so funny?” the other man asked, but Leone just shook his head.

“I’ll tell you later.” Leone said, pulling the gloves on with a snap. “Finally got away from the owner?’ he asked, squatting down next to his partner.

Jackson snorted. “Barely, and with no help from you. That woman was trying to sink her teeth into me.”

Leone looked back at the woman - who was most likely old enough to be his mother - before looking back at his partner. “She must be going senile. Why else would she want to do that?”

He let RJ react to that as he continued to try and spot the rock again. Once found, he carefully pulled it from the surrounding glass shards.

“RJ.” Leone said, pulling his partner’s attention away from his protests about Leone’s earlier comment, and back to the task at hand - not the rock, but the piece of paper attached to the rock with a rubber band.

Leone carefully unwrapped the paper from the rock and placed both rubber band and rock in evidence bags before unfolding the paper. Inside was a short typed note.

Took you long enough,

-Pandora

P.S.

To find what you seek, take 4,216 steps up the road of growth.

“And this ‘Pandora’ guy has left us another damn riddle.” Jackson grumbled.

Leone was scowling as well as he sealed the note in another evidence bag.

“Don’t get me started.” he warned, before nodding at the rest of the window wreckage. “Come on, we need to get the scene taped off before CSI gets here.”

Jackson nodded, heading to the kitchens. “Hang on, I’ll be right there. Just let me grab a pair of gloves.” he said, pushing through the double doors.

Leone was so engrossed in trying to get the scene cleared of civilians and figuring out the latest riddle that he didn’t even realize what the other man had said until he heard crashing and yells coming from the kitchen.

He had to work to hide his smile as RJ came running out of the kitchens, the doors swinging open until they crashed into the walls and giving him a view of that chef hurling things in RJ’s direction - both food and profanity in equal measure.

As Jackson walked back over to join him, Leone noticed the man’s bare hands.

“Where are the gloves?” he asked, but RJ just snorted.

“As soon as I went through the damn doors, that frackin’ nutcase came after me!” Jackson said, before seeing the look on Leone’s face. The two had been partners for as long as they had been in the Bureau, so about six years now, and had been friends in the Academy as well. So Ryan Jackson knew every single one of Robert Leone’s tells by this point.

“Oh, hell.” the fair haired man said, looking down at his partner. “What did you do to piss him off?”

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If Special Agents Leone and Jackson had thought to look around, they would have seen that their attacker - also known as their mysterious advocate Pandora.

“Tick, tock, goes the clock, boys.” they said under their breath. They carefully stored their tools back into the bag that they belonged in, before checking to make sure no one would see them and climbing down from their hiding spot.

As they walked down the street, they sang softly under their breath.

“There are no strings on me.”

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