The office was bustling with activity. It always was when he walked in some time between nine and eleven. He was never in early, that just wasn’t his style. DeKay had accepted it, and the rest of the office had followed suit. They actually liked him, mostly, even though he was a con man on a house arrest anklet. He brought results, and he always remembered everybody’s birthday. He even brought pastries—the good ones from the little artisan pastry shop two blocks down, not some dried out, over-sugared doughnuts. He wasn’t a cop, thank you very much.
“Bomer!” DeKay leaned out his office door, one of his broad, sensible ties dangling in front of his white shirt. “Get your ass in gear, we’ve got a lead!”
DeKay’s eyes were shining with excitement, the way they only did when they had a really big case. They didn't have anything exciting on the docket currently—mostly bank fraud that made Matt want to bash his head against the wall in boredom—so this was worrying. The only two open investigations that got DeKay golden retriever levels of excited were the Beagle Boy or Jensen Campbell.
Matt really hoped this was about the Beagle Boy. Even though he’d almost blown them up the last time they got close to catching up with his safe-cracking spree, that would still be preferable to another encounter with Jensen’s boyfriend. That man was a whole different level of dangerous.
Matt had wondered why Jensen would hook up with a mobster when he’d first heard about it. It just wasn’t his style. But when Padalecki had slammed Matt against the bathroom stall, he wasn’t ashamed to admit that, yeah, he could see it. And it actually explained why things between him and Jensen had never gotten serious, and not for Matt’s lack of trying. Padalecki was very attractive, of course, but he also exuded a raw, physical power that Matt had never encountered before. And to have that slam you against a wall and not kill you, but—
Startled, Matt looked up.
DeKay rolled his eyes. “I hope you’re not still daydreaming about that Van Gogh.”
“So much worse,” Matt muttered and hurried over to DeKay’s office.
DeKay had a file open on the table. Matt leaned down to skim it. It was a jewelry heist from a week ago, a local maritime museum in upstate New York had been robbed. The cops already had a suspect in custody. Busy Philipps looked tired in her mugshot.
“One of the junior agents, Thomason, was helping the local police with the case. After they apprehended Philipps, Agent Thomason brought the case to me,” DeKay said with a smile.
“And why do we care about a third-rate thief and a diamond necklace?” Matt asked.
DeKay pulled a picture out of the file. It showed a dark corridor and half a leg in the corner. “There were two people on the job,” DeKay said. “The security guard chased this guy for a few minutes before he lost him in an alley.”
Matt pointed at the mystery leg in the picture. “This guy? Wow. That picture is better than a print. No, really, finding this guy will be child’s play.”
DeKay pulled an annoyed grimace, but it didn’t last long. “Philipps is prepared to roll on her accomplice.”
“And we’re excited about that because…?”
Now DeKay grinned broadly. “It’s Jensen Campbell.”
Matt stared back at the file. “No way. Jensen’s better than that.”
“Jensen?” DeKay’s brows shot up sharply. “I thought we talked about this.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to start calling him by his last name just so you can believe I’m over him. I told you, Jensen doesn’t mean anything to me. He was a fling, nothing more. And he’s basically sleeping with the enemy now, so…”
DeKay crossed his arms over his chest.
“Look.” Matt spread out his hands. “I promised I’d help you get Jensen and I’m doing the best I can. But I told you, he’s good. One of the best in the business. And with Padalecki’s resources… I mean he doesn’t have to steal anymore, he’s doing this for fun. Because he can.” Matt’s mouth quirked into a smile. “And because he’s a fucking addict.”
DeKay perked up. “Addict? You never said—”
Matt waved him off. “Addicted to the rush, to the adrenaline. And that’s why I’m not convinced that this is him because that job does not look exciting enough to interest him. And it looks like a major screw-up. Jensen doesn’t do screw-ups.”
“Well, why don’t we talk to Ms. Philipps and find out?”
Matt held the door open for DeKay. “After you.”
He really hoped Philipps was lying because he did not want to go after Jensen and run into Padalecki again. No matter how disturbingly hot the wall-slamming had been, Matt had a feeling that Padalecki would use the gun next time. He wasn’t rumored to be a man of great patience. And the story of Heyerdahl’s untimely demise still haunted Matt, even though Heyerdahl had it coming.
Busy Philipps was a pretty blonde woman. Her file suggested that she was neck-deep in financial trouble because of her sick mother, but sitting here in the FBI’s interrogation room, she didn’t look nervous or even afraid.
“There’s something off about this,” Matt muttered to DeKay while they were watching her through the glass.
DeKay pursed his lips, then put on his poker face. “Let’s find out what.”
He walked into the room. “Ms. Philipps. I’m Special Agent DeKay, this is my partner Matt Bomer.”
“About time,” Philipps grumbled.
“So.” DeKay sat down and spread out the file in front of her. “Surveillance pictures, a security guard’s statement and, most importantly, your prints. We have you dead to rights for this robbery.”
Philipps smiled at him. “But you don’t have him.” She pointed at the picture that DeKay had shown to Matt, the one with half a leg.
“And you’re prepared to tell us who that is.”
“I already did, didn’t I?” Busy said impatiently. “That’s Jensen Campbell.”
“It’s going to be your word against his unless you have proof.”
“We talked on the phone,” Philipps said.
DeKay nodded. “A burner. We checked your phone records and we know it was in Chicago, but that’s still circumstantial evidence at best.”
Philipps didn’t look worried. “Jensen and I go way back. I’m sure there’s some evidence from years ago, in New York.”
“It would be easier if we had something concrete. Pictures, surveillance, prints.”
For the first time, Philipps’ confidence wavered. Her mouth twitched, almost like she was annoyed. “Yeah, well, Jensen’s good. So that leg is all you have.”
DeKay let out a sigh. “I don’t know if that’s going to be enough.”
“Look, if you put all that circumstantial evidence together, you don’t think you can make a case? With my testimony?”
DeKay folded his hands and gave her one of his deep, inquisitive stares. “You’re really prepared to swear to that?”
Philipps nodded. “In exchange for immunity.”
“Immunity?” DeKay asked incredulously. “Cooperation will get you a reduced sentence, but we’re not just going to let you walk.”
“Yes, you will,” Philipps said with the reassurance of someone who knew she had the best hand at the table. “Because this is Jensen Campbell. And you want him bad.”
DeKay raised his eyebrows.
Philipps gave him a condescending smile. “Jensen’s one of the best in the business. I know that he doesn’t do a lot of high-profile stuff anymore, but you know what he’s capable of. But that’s not even why you want him so bad. You want him because of his boyfriend. Padalecki, the king of Chicago. Locking up his boyfriend—now, the FBI must love the idea of that.”
“Immunity?” DeKay just stated flatly.
Philipps nodded. “And a spot in WITSEC. I need to start over. Because we both know that Padalecki will kill me, given the chance.”
DeKay pursed his lips. “We’re going to have to talk to the district attorney’s office about that.”
Philipps smiled. “I’ll be here waiting for you.”
DeKay rolled his eyes, then stood, motioning for Matt to follow. Outside, he leaned against the door.
“She’s way too calm about the fact that she’ll testify against Padalecki’s boyfriend and that she’ll have to go into WITSEC,” Matt said quietly. He didn’t want anyone to overhear. It was well-known in law enforcement circles that Padalecki paid handsomely for information, even from one-time informants.
“You don’t think she’ll do it.”
“No, I think she will. But I think she has ulterior motives.” Matt hated when he didn't have all the facts.
“Yeah, maybe.” DeKay pushed himself off the wall. “Her financial debt is substantial. And she might not have borrowed only from the bank. But I think she’ll give us Campbell. She’s sufficiently motivated.”
“Then how are you not more excited about this?” Matt asked. He wasn’t keen on getting Jensen, but he knew DeKay was. “Come on, I mean, they’ll give her immunity for Campbell, right?”
“That’s not the problem.”
“Then what is?”
“For starters, I don’t like having to watch you even more than I already do.”
“Why would you do that?” Matt asked, going for indignant.
DeKay just gave him an impatient look. “Jensen? I don’t care how over him you are, you like him. And I’m still not convinced you didn’t tip him off last time.”
“I swear, I didn’t! Padalecki almost shot me. Remember the bruises?”
DeKay just grumbled. “I’m just saying. Anything goes wrong here, you’re the first one I’m looking at. And I won’t hesitate to put you back behind bars.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “I swear, I will not do anything to jeopardize this. My life’s on the line here, just as much as Busy’s. Because if Padalecki thinks I screwed over his boyfriend… I mean, you did hear what he did to Heyerdahl, right?”
“Yeah, I heard. I also heard what he did to O’Leary and his men. I really hope Morgan gets a handle on him. Usually, he doesn't take so long.”
“Speaking of Morgan…”
DeKay sighed. “Morgan has made it unmistakably clear that I can’t touch Campbell without his say-so, no matter what I have on him.” DeKay fixed his piercing eyes on Matt. “And I have no intention of getting another lecture by the assistant director, not to mention jeopardizing my career.”
Matt tilted his head. “I thought you told him it was all my idea to approach Jensen in Chicago.”
“I did,” DeKay said dryly. “And then I got chewed out for not having you under control.”
Matt made a face.
“So, we talk to Morgan.” Maybe, if they just handed this off, Jensen would never know that he’d been involved. Padalecki would never know.
“Yeah.” DeKay’s face was grim.
It wasn’t hard to guess what DeKay was worried about. “You think he’s going to take this away from you.”
“Worse.” DeKay shot him a dark look. “Morgan doesn’t give a shit about Campbell, he just wants Padalecki.”
“You think he’s going to use this to get Padalecki,” Matt said slowly. “But how?”
“I don’t know. But Morgan’s a shifty guy. He’ll find a way.”
Matt shot DeKay a questioning look.
“They call him Odysseus at Quantico.”
“Wow. The FBI would be nerdy enough for Ancient Greek nicknames.”
“Do you have one too?” Matt asked with a grin. “I bet they call you Hector. Totally straightlaced.”
“They don’t call me anything because I’m not important enough.”
“You’re right; you’re much more of a Cassandra.”
DeKay just shook his head. “I’m gonna talk to Morgan.”
“Can I be Aeneas?” Matt asked.
DeKay shot him an exasperated look. “How about you try to be Fortuna for once so that Morgan lets us work this case with him?”
“Fortuna is Roman,” Matt said mulishly. “The Greek goddess of fortune is Tyche.” But DeKay was right. He’d need all the luck in the world.
Matt needed to call Willie again. If this went sideways, he’d need to leave the country before Padalecki turned him into fish food for real.
DeKay walked towards his office. “I’m gonna call Morgan. Wish me luck.”
“Luck!” Matt called after him.
He’d have to make his own phone call. The question was just whether he’d call Jensen or Willie. He didn’t want Jensen to go to jail. But if Padalecki knew there was someone out there who was prepared to put Jensen in jail… Which led him to the question of Busy Philipps. Matt was still convinced there was more to her story than she let on, but that didn’t mean that he wanted her to die.
Matt pulled out his phone and his thumb hovered over the contacts. Then he dialed. “I need advice.”