137 Q Street
by sarAdora ~~~~~~~~~~
He needed to get home. He spent as many working hours as he could justify at Q Street and far too much of his free time there as well. She had come in at 6PM, showered, ate and went to bed. The female agent assigned to her room said she always passed out immediately. Six A.M. would come early.
He gestured the agent to leave and took her chair in the corner of the darkened room to look at her and think about what they should do next. He knew his agents were curious about his interest in the case, especially since it wasn't like him to show this kind of hands-on attention for such a long period of time. And of course, she was locked up in Q Street, a concession normally given to defectors, informers and others who could provide valuable intel to the FBI. And unlike other interrogation centers, anything was permissible on Q Street.
Quietly, he moved toward the bed. She slept in pajamas, a light blanket covering her, the room cool from the air conditioning. He thought she looked like a little girl, her long dark hair damp from the shower and curling around her face. He had unobtrusively watched her while she ate - she didn't eat much and she was definitely thinner. He imagined she didn't have much of an appetite after working outside in the sun all day. He wondered if she was ready to talk. He also wondered why he was so attracted to her. He was desperate to touch her and almost cupped her cheek, drawing back just in time. I'm a fucking idiot!
Mid-morning, they brought her into the house and talked to her as if she understood every word. Alex was certain she did.
"You can come back into the house during the day and talk to us or you can continue to work in the yard. Your choice, Ms. Labeau."
They gave her an hour to answer, then led her back outdoors. It was raining. Neysa didn't mind working in the rain. The ground had been dry for too many weeks so it would have to be a drenching downpour to turn the earth to mud.
It was a drenching downpour.
The rain got heavier as the day progressed and the temperature dropped. Neysa continued to work even though she was soaked and shivering. No one thought to bring her into the house.
Alex had left before she returned to the yard, an urgent meeting with his superior. He returned to the house after she had gone to bed and casually asked for a daily report. He wasn't surprised she hadn't talked. He was surprised, however, that she continued to work outdoors in the middle of a downpour.
"Do you bring your dog into the house if it's raining?" he asked the agent in charge.
"And your excuse for letting her stay outside?"
"No excuse, sir. I thought..."
"The problem, Agent," he snarled, "is that you *didn't* think! Do I have to tell you EVERYTHING?"
They woke him at home in the middle of the night. "I don't want to hear that she escaped while you were sleeping on your shift!" he barked.
"No, sir. Ms. Labeau is still here, and burning with a fever. Should I call a doctor or take her to the ER?"
"I'm on my way."
"Thank you for meeting me at this hour, Agent Ross," he smiled at the medical agent in his division. "I don't want to hospitalize her if I don't have to. She'd have to be in a locked ward and..."
"No explanations needed, sir. Delighted to work on a live one, for a change. I'll check her out and get right back to you."
Dr. Lana Ross looked at the woman who had stymied her partner and gave her a silent salute. Not too many people could get past Milner. "You don't look like a bank robber," she told the woman as she listened to the gurgling sounds she heard through her stethoscope. "Not that bank robbers have a particular look," she smiled. "Another big breath, please."
"Nose stuffed?" she asked.
When Neysa didn't answer, she gestured to her to cough and heard the heavy congestion. "Your lungs are pretty full. Going to give you aspirin and some antibiotics. You'll feel better in no time." She rummaged around in her medical bag, handed Neysa a big pink tablet and poured a glass of water. "Take it, Ms. Labeau. You'll feel better if you do."
Neysa was afraid to take it. She didn't know this woman. Maybe, they were going to kill her.
Lana put the tablet on the pillow, added an aspirin and left the room.
"Fever's pretty high, sir. It'll get worse before it gets better. Lots of upper respiratory congestion. She needs aspirin and antibiotics. She refused both. If she doesn't take them, she's not going to get better in a timely fashion."
"I'll handle it, thank you for coming out, Agent Ross."
He waited until Neysa fell into a restless sleep and told the agent to take a break. Holding the aspirin and the antibiotic in one hand, he lifted the sick and feverish woman until she reclined on his lap, her back to his chest. Wrapping an arm around her, he pulled her sleepy head back, pried her mouth open, and pushed the pills down her throat. She woke, gagging but swallowed when Alex's hand covered her mouth and gave her nose a quick pinch. He let her have a few sips of water.
"No," she moaned, the fever making her a little delirious.
"You'll feel better soon," he murmured softly, his warm breath caressing her neck as he ran a cold cloth over her face.
She recognized his scent and his voice and relaxed against his chest, caught in an embrace that made her feel safe. She knew she was dreaming and hoped it would last a while.
"Why?" she asked him in her dream sleep.
He wondered if she was talking in a dream or in a delirium. Not that it mattered.
"Why?" she asked again.
"Don't want you to be sick, his voice rumbled, his hand cupping her cheek, not happy with the heat it generated.
"Who are you?" she murmured, pushing against his hand, trying to open her eyes and failing.
He couldn't answer her. He wasn't sure who he was. He wasn't acting like an assistant director. He also wasn't surprised that he was comfortable holding her, her warm soft body seemed to fit his arms perfectly. He continued to hold her even after she slept, content with her on his lap, in his embrace, and reluctant to take his arms away.
He argued with his conscience.
She's a felon.
Yeah, so alleged, you've kept her here instead of locking her up where she belongs.
Time to charge her or let her go. What's it gonna be?
A few more days. When her fever's gone, when she's better, when she's back on her feet.
No, they're reasons.
You're full of shit, AD Morris. They're excuses and you know it. You're stalling.
Why have you let her take such an important place in your life?
I don't know.
She *is* a beauty.
It's more than that, isn't it?
What is it?
A feeling, a gut feeling, a...