‘No, no, no. The FBI CANNOT have this one.’ Karen was yelling into the phone.
‘Cheryl, listen to me. I know you know LAPD. And I know you are aware that this is MY fucking city. There is going to be a civil war breaking out if I am not able to let my people do what they need to-’
Karen snapped her mouth closed as she was apparently cut off by whoever was on the other end of the line.
And Charlie guessed it must have been someone pretty powerful if they could make Karen shut up and listen.
It took all of five minutes before Dani and Charlie were called into Karen’s office.
‘Listen, FBI Crisis Negotiations Unit is coming in to take over this operation.’ Charlie didn’t miss her biting tone as she paced behind her desk.
Dani raised her eyebrow, and looked over at Charlie.
‘Their head honcho is ex-LAPD. Same with her primary negotiator. That is the ONLY reason I’m letting them have this, okay? You do whatever they need you to do. Keep your eye on them. This operation cannot go wrong. Got it?’ Karen dismissed them both with a wave of her hand.
The office was abuzz with activity in no time. FBI were swarming in, most of them carrying cases. And huge guns.
Charlie leaned back in his seat, watching as all the different people quickly took over LAPD. He felt like a kid who just got stuck in the backseat for playing too much with the radio dials. He looked over and could practically see smoke coming out of Reese’s ears.
A woman who kept craning her neck around as if she wanted to take in everything all at once introduced herself as Emily Lehman. Charlie wanted to tell her there was no way she could see everything; that seeing was only half the battle anyway. Plus, she was probably giving herself neck cramps. But he just pointed in the direction of the mother and the daughter waiting by the cell phone and let Emily get to work.
Charlie was about to take a seat again, but then a dark haired man with way too much honesty etched into his face to be in the FBI came practically galloping in, the fly-aways of his hair bouncing up and down against his forehead.
Charlie stepped right in front of him.
‘Your partner is with the mother and the daughter. In there.’ Charlie pointed.
‘Thanks, man. I’m Matt Flannery, FBI CNU.’ Matt stuck out his hand. Charlie took it.
‘Charlie Crews, homicide detective, LAPD. You seem to be dressed way too casually to be FBI.’
‘Well, there are perks in the CNU.’ Matt smiled. Charlie let go of his hand. If he had held on to Matt too long to be strictly casual, Matt didn’t act like he noticed. Charlie tipped his head and Matt headed off to find Emily.
The second the cell phone vibrated in his hand, he flipped it open. He nodded at Emily and Cheryl, and then said hello.
‘Who the fuck is this?’
‘Hi, Jeffery. This is Matt.’
‘You a fucking cop?’
‘Technically FBI. Listen, I know you have an issue with Amir-’
‘He’s a fucking A-Rab and I want his goddamned money. I’d say Amir is the one with the issue right now.’
‘Okay, well we don’t have his money. But maybe we could talk about how to get you that money.’
‘I don’t want to talk. You figure out what I want or I’m killing Amir.’
The line went dead.
‘Fuck.’ Matt ran his fingers through his hair and looked up.
Charlie Crews was staring at him intently. It was kind of unnerving, really.
Cheryl hadn’t been kidding about LAPD being mad that their operation had gotten usurped.
The tough looking chick who had been introduced as Reese walked up and said something to Crews, and then he was gone.
Matt wondered what Charlie had seen while he was staring. Because there was no way Matt Flannery was that interesting to look at.
Matt’s personal cell phone started to ring. He stared at it for a minute, not recognizing the number. He dismissed the idea that Jeffery could have possibly gotten his number. And then he flipped it open.
‘Matt, it’s Charlie. Jeffery killed one of his crime buddies and dumped him on the side of the road. It ain’t Amir. This case just got weirder.’
‘Wait, Charlie Crews? How’d you get his number?’
‘I think there are more important things to worry about here, Flannery.’
The line went dead.
Matt blinked a couple times, his eyebrows about to breach the top of his head in surprise.
This was the first time Matt Flannery saved a phone number after the person on the other end had hung up on him.
Charlie was back at the station, listening, when Jeffery Farmer called again.
‘Hey, Jeffery. This is Matt.’
‘I need the goddamned money, Matt.’
‘Now, Jeff, I can’t do that. But we do have the information you want so that you can get it.’
‘Good. When are you going to hand that shit over?’
‘As soon as possible. Just tell me where, Jeff. Tell me where and we’ll get it there. As long as you give us Amir.’
‘Okay fine. Rosebowl parking lot, 45 minutes.’
The line went dead.
‘He doesn’t want the money.’ Emily said.
‘He came up with a location too quickly, too automatically.’ Matt nodded.
The pair of them started rifling through files and tearing apart the office.
Charlie crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe.
‘Look at the level 10 spreadsheets again, McCallister.’
‘I already-’ McCallister started to say.
‘Just do it.’ Charlie cut him off with a glare.
It took all of 30 seconds for McCallister to call over Emily and Matt and show them the ‘MAF’ column.
‘Mary Anne Farmer.’ Emily recognized the initials.
‘Amir was running Mary Anne’s money operations. Jeffery wants his mother’s money.’ Matt speculated out loud.
‘Or he wanted the one thing Mary Anne gave Amir but not him. Love.’ Charlie said from his place in the doorframe.
Matt looked from Emily to Charlie and back to Emily. It started to click.
After they tracked down the bank that Jeffery was going to attempt to make the transfers at, tactical headed out with a guy named Frank leading the charge. Emily got the phone number of the bank, and handed the piece of paper to Matt.
Reese headed out the door, Charlie on her heels. Matt wasn’t too far behind them.
‘Matt, we are going to the same place. How about a ride?’
‘Okay, fine. I have to talk anyway.’ He waved his cell phone in the air before he started dialing. Reese looked from Charlie to Matt to Charlie. Matt jumped in the passenger seat, and Charlie shut the door for him.
Reese put her hand on her hip and glared at Charlie, her lips pursed.
‘Not a word, Reese. Not a word.’ Charlie walked around the car, refusing to look at her.
Reese rolled her eyes and got in the backseat.
Jeffery was getting handcuffed by Reese outside the bank and Amir and Mary Anne were sitting in the back of an SUV squad car waiting to be driven back to headquarters for a debriefing.
‘How did you do that?’ Charlie asked as he walked up to Matt, who was sitting down on the sidewalk.
‘Extensive training sessions.’ Matt replied, looking up at Charlie and shading his eyes with his hand.
‘You just talked that guy out of killing two people.’ Charlie said with amazement, taking a seat beside him.
‘Ya well, you guys were going to let a kid talk to a crazed killer with an Oedipus complex. Now I couldn’t let that happen, could I?’ Matt smirked, looking at Reese loading Jeffery into a squad car.
‘We would have had to kill him, you know. Jeffery, I mean.’ Charlie said, still staring at Matt.
‘Sometimes I wonder if it’s better if they were dead. Now they just have to go on living, and people have to put a trial together. And then he has to go to prison. And waste a lot of peoples’ time.’ Matt spoke in a rush of breath. After he finished, he looked up at Charlie, surprised that he had admitted that much to an almost stranger. A famous spent-12-years-in-prison type stranger.
‘But if there was no life left to live then he’d already be dead.’ Charlie said, smiling.
Matt’s eyebrows shot up, and he started to laugh.
‘That was pretty good. And it felt pretty true.’ Matt elbowed Charlie, and Charlie started to laugh too.
‘I think your eyes are pretty.’ Charlie said, all traces of laughter gone from his eyes.
Matt choked on his laugh, sputtering out something indiscernible.
Charlie didn’t skip a beat.
‘So you and Emily, you two a thing?’ Charlie asked, gesturing over to where Emily was talking to Karen.
‘Uh, I guess you could call it that.’ Matt managed to say. Now that Charlie had brought up eyes, he couldn’t stop staring at Charlie’s.
‘But sometimes you probably need a break from certain things, am I right?’
Matt opened and closed his mouth, barely remembering how to breathe.
Charlie’s eyes were really fucking mesmerizing, now that he was staring into them.
‘Call me.’ Charlie said. He clapped Matt on the back, letting his hand slide down a little too low for a little too long. Matt shivered and then Charlie smiled. With a nod, he was gone.
Matt tried to wait longer.
He really did.
But he called Charlie exactly 4 days and 19 hours after they had parted ways. The long weekend he got after completing his last case was almost over, anyway. And his LA motel room was starting to feel way too small.
‘Hey, Charlie. It’s Matt.’
‘Are you with the FBI, Matt?’
Matt’s eyebrow shot up, and he couldn’t figure out how to answer that.
‘Because I’m thinking about taking hostages. You have any advice?’
And then Matt understood. He smirked, plopping down on the edge of the bed.
‘Oh, really? Well my first piece of advice would be - don’t. And if you are even thinking about it, you better let a trained crisis negotiator talk you out of it. Face to face would probably make this more effective.’
‘Interesting proposition. What if I feel skiddish?’
‘I think I know a few good techniques for making you feel a little more… calm. You can trust me.’ Matt said the last part in almost a whisper. His tone had changed from playful to serious, and he hoped Charlie had detected his truthfulness.
‘Okay, Flannery. You’ve convinced me. Come outside and I’ll go quietly.’ Matt laughed, but he opened his motel room door to see Charlie leaning against his car.
‘Where you stalking me?’ Matt asked, slipping his phone into his pocket and crossing his arms. There was a smile threatening to spread across his face.
‘Of course not.’ Charlie scoffed, taking a step forward.
Matt stepped forward to meet him.
‘So, can I kiss you now?’ Charlie asked without waiting for an answer. He wrapped his arms around Matt’s waist, pulling their bodies flush together. He leaned down and kissed the corner of Matt’s mouth, and then the other corner.
Matt was kind of panicking. They were in the middle of a fucking parking lot and anyone could see them but all Matt could think about was how nice Charlie smelled. And how bright his freckles were. He couldn’t even move his arms and touch. Even though he wanted too.
‘Mmm.’ Charlie hummed before he went in for a real kiss. Matt recovered after a heartbeat and kissed back. Their lips fit smoothly together, and Matt moaned into Charlie’s mouth. Matt could feel Charlie smiling. And then he felt Charlie pulling away.
‘Good thing you saved my number.’ Charlie said, his body fitted snuggly against Matt’s. Matt suddenly felt light as air. All his limbs tingled and he wondered if Charlie could feel it too.
‘Ya, good thing.’ Matt mumbled in response.
Charlie kissed him again.