Rossum laid his head down on his desk and ran his fingers through his hair, “Damnit!” he yelled as he hit his fist on the desk, “what the hell was I thinking?”
He took a deep breath, picked his head up and shook it a little. Mindlessly, he flipped through the pages of the file that Dr. Norms had dropped on his desk. He was scanning it with his eyes, but the information was not going past that. He kept replaying the look on Addison’s face before she stormed out of his office, no, not storm, before she calmly walked out of his office. It was like nothing he’d ever seen before. Not a hurt look, or a sad look, not even angry, but blank, like she felt absolutely nothing. That look affected him more than any look that had ever been tossed his way.
Rossum continued this way until there was a light tap on his open door which pulled him out of his trance. He glanced up and saw Alex standing in the doorway tentatively holding out a single piece of paper. Rossum shook his head and attempted to reign in his anger, “Agent Brogan, this really isn’t a good time. I have a lot of work to do.”
“I’m sorry Agent, sir, I know. I just finished this project here up and knew that it was of mighty importance to you.” He placed the paper on the desk and turned to leave, but hesitated, “Sir, if I may, I’m not certain of what you said to Addison, but I am quite sure that you don’t have all the information.”
“No offense, Agent, but she was kissing you in the middle of the Federal Bureau of Investigations after I specifically told her that it was against regulations to date another employee. I don’t know what else I need to know. I wasn’t any harder on her than I would be on anyone else.”
Agent Brogan pulled his lips in and bit them before standing up straight and squaring his shoulders, “I want to say something, but you are my boss and it’s not really my place.”
Rossum pursed his lips and tried to look disinterested, “speak if you must, Agent Brogan, but make it quick. Like I said I do have a lot of work piling up.”
“You are telling me that you’re treating Addison the same way you would treat anyone else, but that’s not completely true. I was the one she was kissing, but you haven’t reprimanded me at all. Along those same lines, you say that it’s against the rules to date co-workers, but it most definitely is not, and even if it were Addison is a freelance worker so the rules wouldn’t exactly apply to her. She is completely free to accept a date from anyone, it just so happens that today that invitation was extended from me.”
Rossum’s head perked up at that. He narrowed his gaze, “extended from you? You asked her out?”
“That’s what I’m saying. Had I known it would have caused this big of a problem I never would have done it.”
“Still, Addison acts very unprofessional at work. You are not the first agent that has been interested. You are, however, the first to go ahead and ask her on a date without approaching me first.”
“That might have something to do with the fact that they think she is your niece.” Agent Brogan shook his head, “none of this matters anyway because she turned me down. At least, she did, until you said whatever it is that you said. I suppose I should thank you for that.”
“If she denied you why did she kiss you?” Rossum was replaying the entire fight in his head, trying not to cringe at the words he aimed at her.
“She kissed me after she apologized for leading me on. Before that she was telling me how she couldn’t possibly date me because you didn’t think it was right and she would never want to do anything to make you upset because she respects you too much.”
Rossum felt like he had been punched in the gut, “and I just jumped all over her without giving her a chance to explain.”
Brogan nodded uncomfortably, “I hope you don’t think poorly of me, sir. I meant no disrespect at all.”
“We’re fine, Agent Brogan. Looks like a good job on the knife list. Would you mind sending me an email copy when you get back to your desk?”
“Thank you, sir, of course. If it’s not too bold, Agent, could I ask you what you said to Addison? The look on her face was… unreadable.”
“I said some things that I hope to hell I can take back.” Rossum picked up the phone on his desk and Agent Brogan took that as his sign to leave. Before he closed the door Rossum nodded at him to thank him.
The knot in the stoic agent’s stomach tightened with every ring until Addison’s voice finally came through, “This is Addison Grace.”
“Well, that is a different greeting; don’t tell me you changed it solely for me.”
“I assume you are calling about a case Agent Rossum?”
“Listen, Addy, I think… no, I know that I overreacted earlier. What I said… it was said in the heat of the moment and I’m very sorry.”
“Is that all, Agent?”
“Are you serious? This is how you’re going to play it? How long are you going to punish me?”
“Not punishing you, agent, I just have things to do. So, if you have no work for me to do on a specific case than I think I will be going.”
“Actually, Agent Brogan just dropped off the list of knife manufacturers, are you still looking to help out, or are you going to punish me some more?”
“Send me half of the list with the phone numbers and I’ll call them from here.”
Yet again, her voice was not mad or upset it was just indifferent, “you’re not going to come into the office? We usually do this kind of thing together.”
“Like I said, Agent Rossum, I have some things to do, so I would prefer to stay at home. Unless, of course, you are ordering me into the office?”
Rossum let out a defeated breath, “No, of course not. I’m not going to force you to do something you don’t want to do. I’ll send your half of the list to your email account. Call me when you have their customer lists compiled.”
“Then it looks like I’ll be talking to you later.”
“Wait, Addison, don’t feel bad if it takes you a while to get them to agree. It’s your first time. Just remember to tell them that you’re with the FBI and if anyone gives you too much trouble direct them to me.” Rossum knew he was bating her, but he just wanted to get a rise out of her.
“Thank you, Agent.”
A groan of frustration escaped his throat, “Come on Addison! Aren’t you dying to berate me? Tell me that you can take care of yourself? That you don’t need me to clean up your messes? Anything?”
“I’m just looking to start my work.”
“Alright, I’m sending it over now.”
“Thank you, goodbye Agent.”
The line went dead and Rossum just looked straight ahead with his mouth hanging open. He finally set the receiver down and took a look at the list on his desk and tipped in the latter half of it into an email addressed to Addison. After he was done that, he started on his own list.
A pounding headache was about all that had developed from five phone calls and half of the morning. He pinched the bridge of his nose and hung his head while he spoke with his seventh lawyer of the day, “yes, I understand your privacy issues Ms. Hastings, but this is a murder investigation.”
“Mr. Rossum, our clients pay a lot of money for our products. I don’t think they would appreciate us flaunting their purchases around like we are Costco or something. We have developed a relationship with our clients and they expect a certain amount of privacy from us.”
“I know where you’re coming from, but I can promise you, we will treat this list with the utmost care and security.”
“And I’m sure you will, but I’m sorry, I simply cannot release that list to you.”
Rossum ground his teeth together in frustration, “Listen lady, I am looking for a serial killer, so please excuse me if I don’t give a shit about customer’s privacy. Now, you tell whatever department is in charge to send me that damn list or so help me god I will go on air for every news station and tell them that we suspect someone at the corporate level of some wrong doing and I will sick every section of the FBI on you so fast it will make your head spin. So, are you going to email me that list, or am I going to start calling news stations?”
There was a silent pause, “I will call our records department, but it’s going to take a while.”
“That’s fine. Thank you for your cooperation.” He hung up before he could say anything more. Once he did, he realized a message had been left on his voicemail 20 minutes before. “I was on the phone with that woman for far too long,” he said out loud as he pressed his password into the keypad.
“Hello, Agent Rossum. I’m sure you’re working on your list so you can just call me back when you get a chance. Bye.”
He laughed and hit the call back number. He was immediately surprised when it started to ring and was not a busy signal.
“This is Addison Grace.”
“Come on Addison, I know you know it’s me.”
“I assume you are calling me back.”
“Yes, I am, and I think I know why you’re calling. I know getting anything out of these people is like trying to get blood from a stone. How are you doing?”
“I’m done.” She said blankly.
“Oh, I know it’s difficult, but it’s really important. You can’t give up. I’m almost finished my list, then I can help you with yours.” Rossum tried not to sound patronizing, but he had to admit he was relieved that she needed him.
“No, you misunderstood. I don’t need you to finish my list because I already finished it. Do you want me to send all the lists directly to your email, or should I send it to someone else?”
“Is that a joke?” Rossum was stunned. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “You’re saying you got through your entire list, no, not only that, but got all of the records from them complete enough that you are ready to send it to me. How is that even possible?”
“Not complete enough, they are just complete. And I’m not sure how it’s possible, I asked they delivered. Maybe I got the easier section of the list.”
“Wow, you really are mad at me. You’re not even gloating.”
“I don’t feel angry at all actually. So, where am I sending this information, unless you want me to start screening the purchasers?”
“How would you even –you know what, this is probably one of those things I don’t want to know.” When she didn’t answer, Rossum cleared his throat, “You can send it over to me and I will delegate it to our techie people to search for anyone with a criminal record.”
“Alright, the file is on the way. Call me if I can be of any more assistance today. Although I can’t work tonight, I have other plans.”
“Ah, yes, plans.” Rossum clicked on the new email that arrived in his inbox from Addison, “Well, I can’t think of anything else for you to do, but Addy, I really want you to talk to me, yell at me, anything. I know what happened and I feel absolutely awful about how I reacted. I just need you to tell me what I can do to get rid of robot Addison and bring back funny, smart Addison.”
“As far as I know I’m still the same amount of funny and smart, yelling at you will do nothing except strain my voice and I’m not really interested in doing that.” Rossum heard Addison’s light sigh on the other end of the line and the faint sound of ice cubes clinking against a glass. A few more seconds of silence went by before Addison finally spoke, “Okay… well I’m going to hang up now. Sorry you’re having trouble with your half of the list.”
“Thank you for your concern. I guess have a nice night.”
Dejectedly, Rossum hung up the phone and asked Agent Brogan to call the rest of the companies left on his list. Instead, he got up and paced around his office trying to figure a way out of his predicament, but nothing was popping into his head. To the best of his knowledge he had never seen Addison go back once she made up her mind about something. In this case, she wasn’t even making irrational, emotional decisions, her head seemed clear and that clear head was telling her that Rossum was no longer a friend, she couldn’t trust him, they were now only associates, not even partners, he had made that perfectly clear.
“I can’t do this all day.” Rossum said to himself. He looked at his watch and picked up the file off his desk. He tried to keep his face stern and emotionless as he knocked on Dr. Norms’ office door.
“Agent Rossum, I was about to call you. I was coming to drop off the file, but I seemed to have misplaced it.”
“What are you talking about? I have the file right here, you gave it to me early this morning.”
“I don’t believe I did. I went over the report late last night, but by the time I was finished you were gone. Then, when I got here this morning the file wasn’t on my desk. I just called down to get another copy when you showed up.”
Rossum shrugged his shoulders, “I guess someone found it on your desk and decided to deliver it to me themselves.”
“Yes, I suppose that is possible. I did write your name on the front. I guess I should have checked with you before I sent for another copy.” He nodded towards the file in Rossum’s hand, “Since you brought that here I’m supposing that you have some questions for me?”
“In a way, yes. I was wondering if I got the knives together from a few of the different companies, would you be able to set up some sort of experiment so we can compare the wounds?”
Norms looked exasperated, “Agent Rossum, I think you’ve been watching a little bit too much CSI. Even if I could convince the federal government to fund such an experiment, which, I can assure you, would be a miracle, it would be difficult to distinguish between the knives. The test may be beneficial if we were uncertain of what the victims were stabbed with, but we know it was a knife and even if you are correct about it being from one of these higher end companies which looks like you might be, many of their knives have the same width, the same density. What I’m saying is that it would be almost impossible to distinguish between any of them.”
“Well, I guess you have no problem raining on my parade.”
“There is something I can do with the knives, however. We can test the composite of the knives and attempt to match it with some of the particulates left in the wounds.”
“Okay, so it would still be beneficial to get the samples.” Rossum trailed off and racked his brain for how to rope Addison into helping with this part of the investigation even though she wasn’t actually needed.
He realized the room had been silent for a while and Magnus was looking around uncomfortably, “Um, Agent Rossum, is there something the matter?”
“Why would you ask that?”
“Because you are standing in my office staring into space and you came here for an inquiry that easily could have been done over the phone. On top of that your body language shows that you are angry and upset about something while your silence tells me there is some situation pulling your attention. Now, I would usually assume that the situation pulling your attention is a case, but when that is the case you aren’t usually quiet, you barge in here asking all sorts of questions, more to yourself than me, but I’ve never seen you this… contemplative. This all leads me back to my original question.”
“Those are some interesting observations you have there doc and there is something on my mind, but it’s nothing to worry about.”
“Is it something to do with Addison.”
Rossum knew his face did nothing to hide his surprise, “how on earth did you get there?”
“You two have been practically inseparable since she started working here. I haven’t seen you without her for quite some time. Now, she is not here and you’re distracted, it’s a natural assumption. I’m sorry if you feel like I am overstepping, but I think you came here for a reason.”
Rossum’s jaw tensed as he shook his head, “have you ever said something that you can’t take back and it ruined something good?”
“What did you say? I’m sure if you give it time Addison will get over it. She’s very good at laughing things off, it’s actually quite remarkable.” Magus motioned to the chair across from his desk as he settled into his own.
“I don’t think it was as much what I said, but the situation in which I said it. I didn’t even let her explain.”
“And now she’s angry with you?”
Rossum sucked air in through his teeth, “no, if she were angry I could deal with it. I could bug her until she laughed, or yelled at me, or anything, but as it is she is just emotionless. She is a walking, talking robot that looks like my partner. She’s not ignoring me, not getting mad at me, she is calm and doing her job.”
“And this is a problem?”
“Yes, the whole reason Addison is special is because she’s Addison. She’s inappropriate and she flirts and she laughs and that’s how she gets things done. It’s admirable. And that is who I need, not this soulless, emotionless robot that I have now, and I don’t know how to get her back.”
Rossum stared at Magnus who was looking more and more uncomfortable, “I understand that this is the point where I am supposed to offer some advice and an encouraging word, but I’m not really the person people come to with their social issues. I can read body language, but I have no idea what to do with the information I gain from them. I was that socially awkward kid in school. The best advice I could possibly hope to give you would be give it some time and hope that she can recreate the bond that you severed when you said whatever it is that you said.” Magnus scrunched up his nose to readjust his glasses, “did that help you in any way whatsoever?”
“Maybe it just helped to talk about it. I’ll get through this, maybe you’re right, time, that’s what I need.”