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The name on the door plate said Elliot Sanders.
“Come in.” Santoya Petrakis opened the door. The office walls were bare, no longer a toned down blue but taupe, and the desk had been moved to the left, so that she had to turn to see it. The door shut with a scream like a shocked spectator.
“Agent Kramer had yet to oil that.”
“So I noticed. Sit down, Pet.” She stood. He looked up at her and put down his pen. She silently swore she would hit him if he smiled. He didn’t. “Sit. I mean it.”
“I’m not your dog.”
Leaning back in his chair, he sighed. The paperwork on his desk was printed in small font…almost illegibly small, but he didn’t seem to notice when she glanced down to read it. The seal was black—classified. Then he did smile.
“No, that’s right. You’re Kramer’s dog. I’m sorry; I forgot. Please. Take a chair, because I just want to talk to you, Petrakis.”
Reluctantly, she took a chair and sat. It was only because she might be here a while, she thought, and her leg still ached…the irony of this was almost too much; there was a splinter of bine still floating unattached in her leg, but she decided she could rise above it. “That’s Agent Petrakis to you.”
“Hostile, hostile.” He went back to working on the file, as though she wasn’t there. “This is yours,” he said after a while. “I thought you might want to be here.”
“Why? Do you it would surprise me?”
“I think it would surprise you if I approved it.” Of all the things she had been prepared for…that wasn’t it. She tried to conceal this in her face—he glanced up quickly. “I was right.”
“Then you’ll live another day, Sanders.”
“That’s Elliot,” he said, “to you.”
“Those days are over.”
She stood up, knocking the chair back. “I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it!” He raised his hands but she was halfway out the door. Her face was a living stone.
“I’m keeping you on, but I’m Supervisory Agent here; you’ll have to show some respect,” he called after her. Her receding back was ridged, spine ramrod straight beneath the uniform she wore every day. “You can’t quit!”
She didn’t hear the last part; he said it softly. A moment later Agent Stoker Reining came in. His face was blank, and somehow dour, as usual. “What was that all about?”
“She’s not taking it well.”
“You think so?”
The Agent shrugged, the faintest of sneers in his face. “It’s like you said; she was Kramer’s dog.”
“Mm. And you?”
“In order for the force to run smoothly, one cannot let one’s emotions to get in the way of his job, sir.”
Sanders smiled. “We’ll have to change her opinion, then, won’t we?”
“Thank you, Agent Reining. Was there something you needed?”
“I came to inquire about my reapplication form, sir.”
“There shouldn’t be any trouble, Agent.”
“Thank you sir.” he turned to leave. He was a big man—where Petrakis was thin, short, and straight, Reining would have towered if he didn’t slouch.
“Oh and Stoker.”
“I will, sir.”
Sanders let him go, watching the muscles in his neck, which was coated with short bristles of black hair that extended from his crew cut, ripple just slightly.
In the hallway, outside Sanders’s line of vision, Santoya Petrakis had stopped and was leaning against a wall.
“Is there really hist—”
“Yes,” she snapped, “but not of that kind.”
“No wonder you were p*ssed. I heard he had a sense of humor.” Blish grinned. Petrakis looked up just long enough to make him stop grinning.
“Do we have an assignment?”
“No, but Sanders wants everyone in the meeting room in ten minutes.”
“Of course he does, and of course you would know.”
“Hey, you need to get over this; Kramer’s dead—”
Before she knew what she was doing, Santoya had him by the throat against the wall. She wanted to scream something—he didn’t know, though; he hadn’t been in Dawson when it happened, and if she told him what she knew he would only get her killed for it, and probably himself as well. Shaking, she pulled her arm back. There were purple marks on Agent Blish’s throat; he was shaking as well, but for entirely different reasons.
“Hey, what the h*ll, Santoya—”
“Sorry, it’s just…it’s been a rough day.” She smiled—or faked a smile badly—and walked away.
“Hey, I understand—h*ll, it’s been a rough week; reckon it’s been a rough life; why don’t we stop and get a drink later—”
Outside she couldn’t here Blish babbling. She all but ran the last few feet to the door, and going out, decided to keep walking…keep walking...
“God, what am I going to do?”
Nothing. You’re going to do nothing.
“No, I’m going to…I’m going to…”
You need to get over this; Kramer’s dead…
She didn’t know, she realized. She didn’t know.