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ex gratia

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This is it. This is how it ends.

Months of searching, of late nights, of grasping at straws that only led to cold, dead ends and he’s finally here. On this day, at a cabin in the woods in Washington, a warrant in his hands for the arrest of one Jake Neville, alias Quincy Adams...this is how it ends.

“You ready?” At Flynn’s side, Wyatt levels him with a steady look as if he can sense the way his partner’s heart is racing, the way his whole body is thrumming with adrenaline. Come to think of it, it’s probably obvious.

(Wyatt is a good partner, one of the few Flynn’s had throughout his career that he really clicked with. Maybe it’s the training, or maybe it’s just the fact that they’ve both lost things no one should have to lose. Either way, he appreciates having the other man around)

“Yeah,” Flynn replies, drawing his sidearm and slapping the warrant to the door with his free hand. “Let’s go.”

This is how it ends…

Except it doesn’t.

It goes like this:

Neville runs, Flynn follows alone as Wyatt continues to search the house with the rest of the team of agents.

It goes like this:

“It wasn’t just me, you know,” Neville says, standing on the walking bridge just off the main property and aiming his gun at Flynn with an unsteady hand. “I can tell you everything you need to know about Rittenhouse. But if you arrest me, I’m a dead man. You have to protect me.”

“You killed my family,” Flynn hisses, his own aim much steadier. He doesn’t want to shoot the other man—or, well, he does, but he also wants whatever information he can get—but he’s not going to leave himself open either.

“I was just following orders,” he replies, voice tinged with panic. “Look, Rittenhouse is—you don’t understand, the man who gave the order, that was Ca—”

It goes like this:

A shot rings out and Neville falls to the ground, a bloody hole in his head. Flynn shouts, looks up to try and spot the sniper, then falls himself when more shots come.

The thing movies don’t tell you about getting shot while wearing a “bulletproof” vest is that while you won’t die, it’ll still hurt like a son of a bitch. Words like blunt force trauma echo in Flynn’s head when the first hit to his chest steals his breath and puts him on his knees. The second sends pain shooting up his side, making fractured ribs a definite possibility. The final shot to his stomach, lays him out entirely, swallowing back bile as his vision blacks out for a moment from the pain.

It goes like this:

They don’t catch the sniper. Flynn spends a few days in the hospital and his team gets reassigned. With Jake Neville dead, the file is marked closed.

That’s how it ends.

Except it doesn’t.

 

One month later…

Wyatt Logan is not a stupid man. He’s smart, hardworking, good at his job—he’s not a stupid man.

However, as he steps through the door of the coffee shop and scans until he spots a familiar face, he admits to himself that he may, on occasion, be prone to making decisions that suggest otherwise.

These decisions usually involve the influence of one Garcia Flynn.

“Did you bring it?”

Flynn doesn’t even look up as he says it, as Wyatt slides into the seat across from him, and Wyatt can’t help rolling his eyes.

Nice to see you too, buddy.

“Hey, partner, how are you?” He shoots back. “Awfully nice weather we’re having—”

“Wyatt.” Flynn does look up then, and when he takes off his sunglasses, Wyatt can see the dark circles under his eyes. “Did you bring it?”

Wyatt gives in and sets the folder he’d brought with him on the table, but he places his hand on top of it when Flynn tries to take it. Just...hold on.

“Look,” he sighs. “You know I get it. I do. But for the record, because I have to ask...are you sure you really want to go down this road?”

If it were him, if it were Jessica, there’s nothing that would hold him back. But Flynn’s his partner and he’s not going to send him down another rabbit hole just to come up with nothing yet again. It’s a vicious cycle and you have to know when to stop looking.

That’s what he did after all.

“Give me the file, Logan,” Flynn replies after a long pause. Wyatt lifts his hand and Flynn snatches the folder away.

“Neville had an apartment in San Francisco,” Wyatt fills in as Flynn flips through the contents. “Even though the case is closed I pushed to follow up with the property, just in case. We went in two weeks ago and found a wall of surveillance photos. No name, no other information about why he was keeping tabs on her, just the photos.”

“Lucy Preston,” Flynn reads off the top sheet. He glances back up at Wyatt after scanning the rest of the document. “Why would a hired gun be stalking a Stanford history professor?”

“We don’t know,” Wyatt admits. “Rufus was able to figure out her name and everything else in there from running her photos, but the Director decided that since Neville is out of the picture, there’s no reason to keep looking into it. He thinks she’s safe.”

There’s a look in Flynn’s eye that Wyatt doesn’t like at all, the kind of spark that usually means something is about to happen that he’s going to end up regretting.

“If Rittenhouse is involved, she might not be,” Flynn says.

“We don’t know that Rittenhouse is involved,” Wyatt points out, but his attempt to be a voice of reason isn’t exactly successful.

“But we don’t know they aren’t either.” Flynn closes the folder and sticks it under his arm before pushing back his chair. “Wyatt...thank you.”

“Where are you going?”

Flynn slides his glasses back on—covering his eyes transforms his look almost immediately from exhausted local to attractive tourist—and he smiles.

(It’s too bitter to be a smile really, but then, the falseness of it wouldn’t necessarily be apparent to the everyday random stranger. To Wyatt though, it definitely is)

“I’m on vacation aren’t I?”

(It’s not really a vacation. To everyone else at the agency, it’s a voluntary paid leave, but Wyatt knows that the suggestion to take some time had been put to his partner in terms that made it perfectly clear it wasn’t actually a request)

“I hear Palo Alto is lovely this time of year,” Flynn finishes.

“Garcia…” I hope you know what you’re doing.

“I’ll be fine, Wyatt. I’ll call you.”

Wyatt watches as Flynn slips out the door, his stomach sinking. It’s not that he doesn’t trust his partner. He does. He just also knows how Flynn can be.

Please don’t let us get fired for this, he thinks.

(He’s only about 40% confident that won’t happen)