Long Shadows – Chapter One
"All sins cast long shadows." – Irish proverb
The grey drizzle of the afternoon had faded to a cool, clear Boston night. A series of seafood restaurants along the street had left their doors open, letting their savory scents pour into the street and dissipate like smoke. It was late enough that most restaurant patrons had left, and the street was mostly empty. A taxi pulled up along the curb in front of a darkened pub, and a young woman with dark curls climbed out. As the taxi sped away, she removed the scarf at her throat and glanced up. The pub's sign, still glinting with a wet sheen from the earlier rain, read "The Black Shamrock".
Tucking her scarf into her pocket, Emily Prentiss pushed open the door. She was immediately engulfed by the familiar smell of Guinness and cigarettes. The wailing of a guitar was being pumped through the speakers. She looked around, brown eyes darting furtively across the room. Few patrons, mostly along the bar. Two exits: the door she'd just entered from, and a second down the hall by the restrooms. The middle-aged bartender had a gun tucked into his pants; he looked like he could grudgingly, but skillfully, put it to use.
Emily had her own Glock tucked into her jacket, but she still jumped slightly when she felt a hand fall on her shoulder. "Jack," she sighed, her heart rate returning to normal, "don't sneak up on me like that."
The man grinned, revealing stained teeth. "Sorry, Lauren," he said, shaking his greasy hair out of his eyes. His Irish accent was faded, diluted by the sharp vowels of Boston. "My contact's running a little late, but he'll be along soon. Why don't you find a seat?"
She nodded. "You'll bring him over when he comes?"
He tipped his chin towards a small corner table under a stained glass window. "So I will."
Emily left him at the bar and took a seat at the table, facing the door. She pulled a pack of cigarettes from her pocket and slipped one between her teeth. She lit it and took a drag, trying to calm her nerves, and let the smoke curl from between her lips. Sean McAllister's voice echoed in her head over the din of the pub. 'Don't push it until you've made a connection, but use your instincts. Remember, Lauren doesn't know who he is, so bring up Valhalla as soon as you can. We'll have a man at the bar; if anything goes badly wrong, get the hell out of there.'
She realized she'd been biting her fingernail, and quickly replaced it with her cigarette. She took a mental note of the irony of replacing a bad habit with an unhealthy one, but the sight of Jack Fahey sitting at the bar reminded her why she'd lit up to begin with. Emily forced herself to remain calm. She'd been prepped on the intel they already had on Ian Doyle, limited as it was, and she knew the details of her cover identity as instinctively as she knew her own life. Assuming Doyle bought her cover, she would be fine.
Emily looked over at the bar again and almost choked on her cigarette. Fahey had left his seat and was greeting someone at the door. She focused her gaze on the ashtray, unwilling to look up at the man she knew was now following Fahey over to her table. She had seen his face a hundred times before, in case files and dossiers and grainy photographs. She knew his crimes and his aliases; she had studied every piece of intelligence they had on him. All that was left to learn was his profile: piecing together his behaviour, his background, and his motives so that they could end the violence and bloodshed he was spreading across the world.
She stubbed out her cigarette. She had to move eventually, and almost without her control, she found herself standing. Emily's eyes went to Fahey, unable to look at Doyle in the flesh just yet.
"Lauren Reynolds," Fahey said, by way of introduction. "This is the guy I told you about."
Emily held her hand out across the table and finally looked at Doyle. "He told me everything but a name," she added, a smile coming to her lips. Inside, she wanted to scream. Ian Doyle was standing in front of her: a man whose hands were stained with the blood of thousands, a man who could kill her without a second thought if she slipped up.
"Ian Doyle," he replied, taking her hand and fixing his blue-green gaze on her. His accent was much thicker than Fahey's. "Pleasure." He had one eyebrow slightly cocked, as though laughing at some private joke. Emily tipped her head and his smile widened, tugging at one corner of his lips. With a jolt, she realized that he was actually attracted to her. The thought sickened her, but she had known what she was getting herself into when she accepted the assignment. A few months of flirting and touching were a small price to pay for the information it would yield.
So Emily shut off her instincts and tucked all her existing knowledge of Doyle into a locked corner of her brain. He was an arms dealer, yes, but that only meant that he was someone she wanted to do business with. He was attractive, with his fiercely bright eyes and teasing smirk. His voice was low, and he spoke in that lilting Northern Irish accent that she'd always found a little sexy. The fact that his voice had condemned innocent people to die had to become irrelevant.
Doyle was still watching her with that wolf-grin across his mouth. Fahey, sensing he was no longer wanted, quickly said, "I love being the man. Bringing people together." He clapped Doyle on the shoulder. "Have fun, kids."
Fun. Emily would have laughed, had she not been concentrating on matching Doyle's provocative stare with one of her own. He was clearly intrigued by her, and she felt her stomach turn. She desperately wished she hadn't put out her last cigarette so hastily; there was nothing to distract her now.
"Jack told me you were Provisional IRA," she said, trying to ease the tense silence.
Doyle gave a short laugh and lifted his drink, pausing before taking a sip. "Used to be. Then the peace accord happened. Now I've got to look for work like everybody else."
Emily tried to convince herself that his voice sent shivers down her spine, but all she felt was a ripple of terror. She pushed it aside and said in a low voice, "Except… 'Ian'. That's a Protestant name, isn't it? Not a lot of Protestants in the IRA." When his grin widened, she continued, "Or is that how you proved you were a good fighter? Defending your mother for giving you that name?"
Doyle seemed to be studying her, that smirk still glued to his face. She laughed softly to quell the shame she felt at playing so coquettish. How Doyle had gotten involve with the IRA was, in fact, a mystery to Interpol and the CIA. Just another hole in his backstory that Emily was attempting to fill through half-lidded glances and seductive smiles.
When Doyle spoke again, it was with the same tone of intrigued flirtation. "And what is it you do, Lauren?"
The cover name caught Emily off-guard, but she recovered within a moment and replied, "Right now, I'm trying to get into business with a former IRA captain. He's gone freelance; you might have heard of him." She lifted her head and met Doyle's stare straight on. "Valhalla."
For the first time since their meeting, Doyle's eyes left Emily's. He seemed lost in memory, his gaze wandering without focus across the wall behind her. He took another drink and quietly said, "Yeah, I might know him."
Fearful that he might become suspicious, Emily boldly changed tactics. "Well, since this is sensitive…" She leaned forward, her lips parted. When she spoke again, it was in French. "It might be better to discuss this privately." She prayed she hadn't gone too far, too fast. Sean McAllister's Scottish brogue intruded on her thoughts again. 'He'll be attracted to you. Use that. Do whatever you have to do.'
Doyle straightened in his seat. His eyes glittered as he replied in French, "You're just full of surprises, aren't you?"
She laughed, biting her lip, and willed herself to want this man. "You have no idea."
Emily clutched her coffee cup and forced herself to count to sixty in her head. Her other hand held her gun under the table, still fixed on the empty chair across from her. When the minute was up, a few glances around the little park confirmed that Ian Doyle was out of sight and earshot. She let out a slow breath. She knew he wasn't bluffing about surveilling the rest of the team. His words had rattled her; for the first time in years, she found herself craving a cigarette.
She tried to clear her head and think logically. Garcia and Morgan, Rossi and Seaver, Reid, and Hotch. With that level of detail, Doyle had at least three or four men in D.C. with him. Maybe they could track them, find out if they were old associates that she would remember from the old days. She would have to call Tsia and Clyde and warn them.
But surely Doyle knew about their involvement, if he'd been watching her. Emily let go of her coffee and ran her fingers through her hair. No one around her was safe. She thought of Hotch, dragging exhausted feet into Jack's bedroom to kiss his sleeping son goodnight. She thought of Haley's sister Jessica, making up the couch so that Hotch could spend the night and be there when Jack awoke.
She froze, her fingers trembling on her gun. The rest of the team could defend themselves if Doyle tried anything, but Jessica and Jack were vulnerable. Hotch might be able to protect them, but he'd have no warning. Doyle had been thorough in his surveillance, and he surely knew about Emily and Hotch's relationship. What if he decided to send her a warning, throw her off her game? He was getting revenge for Declan—what if he chose to do so by going after Jack?
Emily reached into her purse. She wished she had a disposable cell phone, although it likely didn't matter at this point. She dialed '2' and prayed silently to any god who might be listening.
"Em?" came the sleep-slurred voice of Aaron Hotchner. "Is everything all right?"
She realized she had no idea what to say. She couldn't simply ask if everyone was ok without explaining the situation, and that was not an option.
"Emily?" His voice was stronger now, more alert. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she replied coolly. "Just—are you okay?"
She could almost hear him raising his eyebrows. "Uh, yeah. Why?"
"Jack and Jessica, they're okay, too?"
There was a long pause, presumably while he moved around the house. "We're all fine," he finally answered. "What is this about?"
Emily bit her lip and exhaled heavily. "Um… I just—there's this… man, from my past, and he's threatening me." She quickly added, "He's watching the team. And I'm sure he knows about us." When there was no reply, she began to panic. "Aaron?"
"Where are you?"
"I'm fine, I've got it under control. You don't need to be involved." Emily stood up from her table and tossed her coffee cup in the trash.
"Someone's threatening my girlfriend and my family, Emily. I think I'm involved."
She began pacing back and forth. "Aaron, I can't tell you what's going on," she pleaded, "but I promise you, I'm working on it. I honestly can't tell you any more than that."
"Where are you?" he asked again.
"Aaron, don't, please. It's too dangerous for you to leave Jack and Jessie." She could never forgive herself if he came to help her and lost his son in the process.
"They'll be ok. This man is threatening you, so I'm a more likely target than anyone else. He has nothing to gain by attacking my family." She heard the zipper of his jacket over the phone. "Emily, please, where are you?"
"I'm fine," she repeated. "I'm going to a hotel for the night."
His voice was dangerously low. "Emily Prentiss. Tell me where you are. Right. Now."
She swallowed hard and looked around. Seeing no one else, she returned to her chair and rested her forehead against the cool metal of the gun. "Dupont Circle. The little park, at one of the tables. But—"
"I'm coming. Stay where you are." He hung up.