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Any Way the Wind Blows

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"This guy says he's literally mayhem personified?" Rick said, staring wide-eyed at the guy Esposito and Ryan were taking to interrogation. "I'm starting to believe it."

"Starting to?" Kate eyed the corpse of her shattered mug on her desk and swore under her breath. Somehow, her coffee cup had exploded, covering important files with coffee and making an already annoying Monday worse. "Go get me some paper towels."

Over the years, Kate Beckett had developed a sixth sense for when a case was going to go down the tubes in inconvenient, messy ways. She had Rick to thank for perfecting that skill. But even before he went from a favorite author to a major pain in her ass, she'd become an expert at wielding her mental Bullshit Detector.

She didn't need a perfect BS Detector to know that this Monday and this case were going to be ugly. Already, her car had somehow been totaled by falling tree limbs when it hadn't been anywhere near a tree. Ryan and Esposito were both soaking wet after a freak thunderstorm in the break room. The toilets were backed up. The bodies in the morgue had to be transferred elsewhere thanks to a catastrophic failure of the refrigeration system. Some kind of miniature black hole had opened up inside the elevator and ate one of her favorite pairs of pumps right off her feet.

And now her coffee was gone.

God, she wished her instincts had been wrong. Or that she'd listened when Rick suggested playing hooky that morning. Instead of plucking the shards of her cup from a pool of coffee on her desk, she could've been lounging around in her pajamas, eating a late breakfast and doing other fun things. But, no, she hadn't done that, had she?

She groaned to herself. It wasn't even noon.

Rick came back with a thick stack of brown paper towels and a disgusted look on his face. "I think I'm gonna go home," he said, "this place reeks."

"Lucky you," she grumbled, words muffled by another boom of thunder from the break room, and she yanked the towels from his hand. She was stuck here, with no coffee and a murder she still needed to solve, and Mayhem was somehow at the center of it all. Maybe. She didn't have any proof, and Mayhem had an alibi, but if she felt a little more willing to risk gambling with someone as destructive as him around, she'd bet on it.

She still had to interview the guy, whether she believed he was guilty or not. Letting out a huff, Kate got up from her seat and stormed off toward interrogation, dragging Esposito in with her. He could probably get something out of a guy like Mayhem.

But question after question yielded no results. "I do have a tendency to end up wherever there's chaos," Mayhem said. "And a murder scene is definitely chaotic." He shrugged. "It's not my fault. I didn't pick 'mayhem' as my special ability or anything. It just happened."

"So you're saying the destruction isn't intentional?" she asked. It sounded like the total crock she suspected it was.

Mayhem made a face. "Eh, some of it is definitely intentional. Turns out being able to cause trouble just by snapping your fingers pays very well, Detective. This stuff today? Nah. Why would anyone mess up a police station when they're a murder suspect?"

Esposito snorted, and exchanged a look with Kate.

"I know all of this looks really, really bad," Mayhem said, "but I had no reason to kill Mr. Smith. Guy was my people's favorite."

"And you?" Esposito challenged. "What did you think of him?"

"I don't get to know my people's people outside of work," Mayhem said. "I avoid them. The boss doesn't like it when I cause the wrong kind of mayhem. I'm telling you, I really was just doing my job, and ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time. So, personally? I've got no opinion on the guy."

Mayhem leaned back in his seat, and the lights went out. Kate waited quietly for backup lights to come on. They didn't.

"What the hell?" Esposito said. "Did you do that?"


Kate sighed. "And if your bosses told you to kill someone—"

"They wouldn't," Mayhem said, firmly.

"—would you? If they did?"

"Look, detectives," Mayhem said, "hiring me—mayhem personified—as a hitman? Would probably be a really, really bad idea. Probably one of the worst ideas ever, even. Who knows what would happen if I tried to kill someone? I sure don't, and I don't want to find out. And why kill someone when you're trying to get money out of them, anyway—that never has made any sense to me.

"But I'm not your killer, no," Mayhem continued. "And, if I'm not mistaken, you don't have enough on me to keep me here, do you?"

Kate sighed heavily, and she rubbed her temples. "No, we don't," she said, sagging with defeat. "So if you can find the door in the dark, you're free to go, Mr. Mayhem."

"Uh, it's just 'Mayhem.'" She heard him get up from his chair. "Not 'Mr. Mayhem.' Only got one name, and since you're probably never going to see me again—"

"Whoa, hey," Esposito said. "You need to stay in town."

"—figured you might as well get it right. And that's not my call." Kate could almost hear Mayhem's grin in his voice. "Who knows where I'll be next time my bosses snap their fingers? But I'll try to stick around. Love New York. It's a great place for mayhem."

Mayhem headed toward the door, but paused instead of opening it. "Oh, and if you want an idea of who to look into next," he said, "you should go check out that girl who works for Progressive—Flo's her name, I think. She's too perky to be in this business. Something weird's gotta be going on there."

"We'll keep that—" Kate began. Then, someone snapped their fingers, and the lights flared back to life. And Mayhem was gone. Weakly, she finished her sentence with, "—in mind."

Speechless, she and Esposito stared at the empty space where Mayhem should have been, both of them silent, their mouths gaping. The guy had just vanished. What the hell?

"Well, that was weird," Esposito said—one of the biggest understatements she'd ever heard. "Where'd he go?"

All Kate could do was shake her head. "I have no idea."

Another awkward silence settled between them, as they both tried to wrap their brains around things. Literal personification of mayhem. Capable of causing all kinds of bizarre destruction. And probably not their killer. This case sucked.

"Guess we need to go check out this 'Flo' person now," Esposito said, "don't we?"

Kate nodded absently. What other choice did they have? "I guess we do."

As soon as she got a new pair of shoes.