You march down Specter's hallways until you reach the last office door..
Unsure if you're making the right decision, you tentatively lift a fist and rap twice.. Not too loud, but not softly either.. Just enough to make you seem confident.. Even though you aren't..
You just have a feeling.. A niggling sensation in the back of your mind and a heaviness in your stomach that you haven't been able to shake since Elijah's phone call.. In the past, whenever you got that feeling, it meant something was off, it meant something was happening that you were missing..
Hunter Paxton's deep voice drifts from the other side of the door.. "Come in.."
You turn the knob and enter, not realising you're holding your breath as you do.. What if Jackson is right about Paxton and he makes everything worse?
He peers up at you from behind his desk, an almost surprised, yet delighted look on his handsome face when he sees you.. "Devereux! What can I do for you?" He motions to the chair opposite him with a causal grin and you move toward it, feeling a little more at ease..
You don't know why you let Jackson get in your head about Paxton, but your instincts aren't usually wrong and you're beginning to remember why you liked Hunter so much, just from being around him..
You drop into the seat, smoothing the front of the adorable lemon-yellow pencil skirt you wear, coupled with a crisp white linen button down and candy pink pumps.. "I just wanted to talk to you.. About something.. Kind of personal.."
He arches a thick blond brow with a wicked smile as he drops the pen he was holding and leans back, settling in to listen.. "Uh, do tell?"
You chuckle before letting out a long sigh, you definitely wish you were here for a more lighthearted conversation.. But you aren't.. "Nothing like that.."
The smile falls from your face and so does his.. He leans forward, clasping his hands together in front of him.. "Are you in trouble Devereux? Because I can--"
There is a genuine concern in his voice that gives you a little hope that he might just respond well to what you're about to say..
You shake your head before he can finish his sentence and he stops short, eyes questioning.. "I'm not.. At least not yet.. But I have a feeling that Mikki De'lucca is.. There's an inquiry going on back at the FBI that I'm going to have to testify in.. And if they are summoning me, they'll definitely be after Mikki too..."
He frowns.. The De'lucca name is renowned in the city for everything mafia related and he's probably not trolled for you to be dropping a case involving such a complicated case in his lap.. But you have no choice.. You can't go to Jackson with this.. He has already bubble wrapped every aspect of your job description, you would be driven mad if he were to do the same with your outside life.. "De'lucca.. The mobster's daughter? She's still in the city?"
Everyone knows Mikki De'lucca disowned her family when she married law enforcement officer, Charles Everett.. She was extremely public about it, and as a socialite personality in the city, the tabloids had been only too interested in the whole thing.. That is until she and her new husband moved to DC and the media soon forgot all about her..
"Yeah.. She moved back here a couple years ago.. DC wasn't kind to her the wake of Charlie's disappearance.. They accused her of being involved.. Of still having ties to the mafia.. Listen.. You have to put somebody on her.. Because she's in danger.. And the FBI sure as shit isn't going to look out for her.." You swallow nervously, knowing its a big ask for him to involve himself..
He watches you carefully for a moment, like he's weighing his options before he speaks.. You know that Mikki is innocent.. You were so certain of it you had staked your career on it.. You had believed her, and now, you need somebody to believe you.. "Why are you coming to me with this? Why not West?.. Or Ford?" He eyes you suspiciously and you hold up your hands to convey you're an open book..
You look directly into his eyes as you lay down some vague honesty.. "You know why Hunter.. This is not a Spectre problem.. This is my problem.. Do you want me on Delta Force or not?"
He grins again this time like a shark and you know you've struck gold, you found what he wants.. "You know that I do, Devereux.."
You had suspected as much, which is honestly rather flattering.. It feels good to be recognised as good at what you do.. "Well, then prove to me I can trust you, Paxton.."
He nods slowly.. Thoughtfully.. "So.. I help you with your little mafia problem.. Then you agree to transfer to Delta?"
You nod.. A small price to pay to know that an innocent woman will be safe.. "Something like that.."
He extends a hand and you stand up, reaching across the desk to take his firm grip.. The handshake of a man who sees you as equal.. Maybe even a friend.. "Just for the record Ellerie.. I would have helped you.. Either way.."
You smile.. "I know.." You smile confidently, turning to leave..
"But this way works out better for me.. I'll have Knox check it out right away and will keep you posted.." You throw him one last grateful smile before slipping out the door, and bumping right into the chest of your team-mate, West's second in command, Patrick O'connor..
The Irish giant steadies you by your shoulders and chuckles merrily as your eyes go over his shoulder to see Jackson standing behind him.. That familiar scowl on his face at the sight of you leaving Paxton's office.. Immediately you are awashed with guilt, you drop your eyes to the navy blue carpeted floor.. "Whoa, El! Where're you headin' in such a hurry?!" Patrick teases in his sing-song Irish accent.. The friendliest member of the Alpha team guys by a mile has to be O'connor..
He's also an absolute shit-stirrer who is always joking about something and right now, you get the sense that Ford isn't in the mood to laugh.. So you opt for the safe response.. The polite one.. "Sorry, Patrick.. I didn't see you there.." A ridiculous thing to say because Patrick is almost as tall as Jackson, and his build is just as imposing..
He must think you're either stupid or blind to have not seen him in the narrow hallway..
"No harm, no foul, El.. We were jus' heading to lunch, you comin'?" Your eyes flick between Patricks warm open gaze to Jackson's glacial glare..
"Umm.. I--" You do want to go with them, Patrick is a really nice guy and his fiancé Yevie is the sweetest person you've ever met.. Your friendship with them means more to you than you fear they realise..
Patrick senses the tension and turns to Jackson, thumping him on the back and shaking him from his brooding.. "She should join us, rite Ford?"
You almost laugh at the forced comradery as Jackson re-sets his face to a neutral expression and nods.. If it weren't for the sadness you see deep in his eyes, you'd think he was completely indifferent.. "Yeah.. You should, Ellerie.." He sounds almost wounded when he speaks your name..
You look between them again, feeling caught between a rock and hard place.. "Oh.. Well.. That would actually be really nice.. Okay.."