"I hate police stations," Amy muttered to her companion as they stood in the elevator.
"And you think I like them any better?" Face asked dryly, arching an eyebrow.
Amy rolled her eyes. "And whose idea was it to come in person, hmm?"
Face smiled and took her arm as the elevator doors opened. "You know if this could be done otherwise, we would have," he reminded her quietly. "Hannibal deserves the best."
Amy sighed and bit back the reply she would have made about foolish old men who'd never learned when to quit. Instead, she took a deep breath and composed herself, aware that the stakes for playing the game were high. For a moment, she found herself asking why they were doing this the hard way. Then she remembered: the team was retired, and all of them had gone legit. They needed the police – not just for Hannibal, but for everyone else involved.
Beside her, Face waited, sensing her hesitation. At her nod, he pulled open the door to Major Crimes and led her unerringly towards the desk of the man they'd come to see.
Deep into trying to connect the disparate pieces of what was shaping up to be an elaborate money-laundering scheme involving a number of apparently unrelated businesses, Jim didn't pay much attention to the comings and goings-on in the bull pen. He wanted to solve this case before Blair showed up, fresh with renewed enthusiasm for being an official police consultant after spending the afternoon teaching anthropology to students who needed a social sciences credit. If Jim solved the puzzle, then Blair would be less likely to drag him through the entire West End neighborhood trying to find more clues – and Jim really, really didn't think he could find anything more today than he had on Friday when he'd been handed the case.
"Excuse me, Lieutenant Ellison?" a woman's voice interrupted.
Startled, Jim looked up from the file folder. Standing before him was a brunette with long, wavy hair and a girl-next-door look to her, if the girl next door had grown up into a strikingly attractive middle-aged woman. Her style of dress indicated a middle-class background. She looked vaguely familiar. She was accompanied by a well-dressed older man who looked a few years older than her. Something about him made Jim's instincts sit up and take notice, and he knew it wasn't anything he could name.
"Something I can help you with?" Jim asked, closing the file and picking up a notepad and pen.
"I'm Amy Allen," the woman introduced herself, "and this is my brother Richard. Our uncle raised us and he's —" she choked back a sob "—not well, but I really don't think his condition's being helped by the place he's in."
"He's in an assisted living facility," Richard added, patting his sister reassuringly. "North Pointe Gardens."
Jim eyed the pair. His senses told him not everything was as it seemed, yet there was enough of a ring of truth that he was willing, for the moment, to see where this story led. "If you're concerned about his care, then why haven't you been able to address his situation with the administrators of the facility?"
"We've tried," Amy said indignantly. "They just say the same thing: they're working on it, but we don't know what we're talking about. I think they're conducting illegal tests. Hannibal's not stupid."
Amy shot him a wry smile, but her pulse jumped. "Family nickname," she excused herself, but something about the way her companion tensed made Jim think she'd used the wrong name…or maybe the right one. "He was an officer in the military; his name's John Roberts. I know you probably don't think one old guy in a nursing home's important, but…" She pulled out a disk from her purse and handed it to Jim. "You might find this interesting."
Taking possession of the disk, Jim automatically checked it to see if it was anything other than a standard, black, 3.5" floppy. As far as he could tell, it wasn't; it didn't even have a label. "And what will I find if I was to view this?"
Amy rose to her feet. "Proof."
"If I was to check into this," Jim began carefully, "how would I get in touch with you?"
From the inner pocket of his suit jacket, Richard produced a silver business card case and withdrew a card, passing it over to Jim. The card was professional stock, identifying Richard to be part of something called Enterprises, Inc. An email address and local phone number were listed, but no other information. "You can reach us via that number," Richard offered. "It's our little company."
"Thanks," Jim said politely, not liking the other man. The guy was just a little too slick, a little too composed, and Jim knew from his years of experience as a cop that Richard — if that was his real name — was an operator. Deliberately, Jim picked a card out from the stack he kept in a desk drawer and handed it to Amy rather than Richard. "I can't promise you anything," Jim said honestly, directing his gaze at her, "but give me a few days. If you haven't heard from me in a week, give me a call."
Amy smiled, looking relieved. "Thanks. I was afraid if we just called you wouldn't believe us."
Richard touched her arm. "Come on, Amy, we've taken up enough of the lieutenant's time." He met Jim's suspicious gaze without flinching. "I hope to hear from you soon." Not waiting for any further parting comments, he gently turned Amy towards the door.
Jim watched them go, automatically extending his hearing to eavesdrop on them, but they said nothing more than any two siblings who'd laid their cards on the table to the police and were hoping for results. Still, Jim was convinced they'd lied to him about something.
Curiosity had him inserting the disk into the drive on his computer. An hour and a half later, Blair's touch on his back made him jump.
"God, Jim, I didn't think I could do that to you! What's so interesting?"
Grimly, Jim said, "Trouble. Come on, Simon needs to hear this."
The black van was far more anonymous than its predecessor, thanks to its lack of a distinctive red stripe, but on the inside, it had been similarly customized with hidden weapons storage and its technology updated to include a police band scanner as well as a newer CB receiver. Parked in an unattended pay lot two blocks from the central precinct, B.A. did his best to ignore the antics of his companion.
It wasn't easy.
Knowing Murdock deliberately goaded him sometimes didn't help, either. BA sighed. Decades of shared living had only made BA hyperaware that the only consensus the doctors had ever had was that Murdock was prone to 'periods of sanity'. Right now, Murdock wasn't experiencing one of those periods; he was amusing himself by conducting a sock puppet interpretation of a wizard movie.
Checking the binoculars again, BA saw that Face and Amy were exiting the precinct. Relieved, BA put the binoculars into the mesh pocket behind the front passenger seat and turned on the engine. "They're coming," he warned Murdock.
"The wizard arrives in a flash of white light," Murdock announced dramatically.
"Shut up, fool," BA growled.
"The wizard will not be silenced! He is the Champion of All that Is Good and —"
BA snagged one of the socks. "I said shut up," he growled, "before I stuff this sock in your mouth."
"And the evil Death Eater is swallowed up in a sudden burst of fire!" Murdock announced, then when BA leaned threateningly towards him, abruptly fell silent.
It didn't take long for Amy and Face to arrive. Pulling open the sliding door, Amy sat beside Murdock on the bench seat immediately behind the front seats, while Face climbed in the front passenger seat.
"You think the cop's gonna bite?" BA asked.
"He's the best in the city," Face said reassuringly. "You got the tracking device on his truck installed?"
"Piece of cake," BA assured him. "No thanks to the fool there."
Not surprised by the comment, Face let it pass. "Anyone see you?"
"The guardians of the castle have eyes everywhere," Murdock declared. "But we slipped past with our magic powers and no one saw."
"Magic?" Face pressed, worried.
BA shook his head. "No magic, LT. We just followed the plan."
Face breathed a relieved sigh as Murdock injected indignantly, "Was too magic! It would be more magic if we just rescue Hannibal."
"We've been over this before, Murdock," Face told him. "We like it here. We have a nice house here. Nobody is looking for the A-Team here."
BA snorted. "Never stopped us in LA."
"We didn't have anything to lose in LA," Face said sharply. "Or did you forget we had a deal? Do the words 'terms of parole' mean anything to you?"
Grumpily, BA admitted, "I didn't forget. But we know how to get Hannibal out."
"You want to lose your freedom, go right on ahead," Face told him, shrugging as if he didn't care one way or the other. "Let the other people in that place suffer."
BA held Face's gaze a moment before looking away. "Where's that place you wanted to eat dinner at?" he asked instead.
"And the wizard takes center stage again!" Murdock announced, directing his sock-covered right hand at Amy as Face gave BA directions.
Amy smiled briefly at Murdock but turned towards the front of the van as she worriedly asked, "If we go to the restaurant, we can still pick up the signal from the transmitter?"
"I boosted the signal range to a mile," BA told her.
Face flashed a smile. "See, nothing to worry about. Now, Murdock, don't you think the wizard needs to sleep?"