Best Show You Don't Know About

Best Show You Don't Know About
Leverage

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chappter 25

Here is the next chapter. Chapter 26 will not be ready for at least a couple of days. But the writing is flowing and I feel great about finishing this very soon!

CHAPTER 25

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1989


It was just past 4 in the afternoon as Aleisha answered the knock at her door. She was surprised to see Kate Thompson standing there.
“Hey,” Kate greeted her.
“Hey,“ Aleisha wrinkled her forehead at the greeting. The two sized each other up.
“May I please come in?”
Aleisha took a step back. Kate walked by her and into the front room which was just on her right. As Aleisha closed the door, Kate sat down. Aleisha walked in and stood in the center of the room. “How can I help you?”
Kate shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Again, I am sorry for this week.”
Aleisha visibly stiffened. “I wish people would stop telling me how sorry they are for screwing me over this week!”
“I’m sor-“ Kate stopped herself. “I know it has been frustrating and I can understand your feelings.”
Aleisha softened slightly but still spoke through gritted teeth, “Thank you.”
“I have been up all night trying to get in touch with Jon. I gave you a card of mine and I have not heard from you yet. Since I can’t imagine anywhere else that he might be, I decided to check with you again.”
Aleisha backed up and sat in a chair facing Kate. “I wish I had, but I have not seen him since I left his house 2 days ago.”
Kate looked directly into Aleisha’s eyes. “Are you sure?”
Aleisha wrinkled her forehead again. “What is that supposed to mean, ‘Am I sure?’ Of course I am sure! Why would I lie about that?”
“I just found out last night that it seems that Jon might have thought that there was some misunderstanding between the boss and employee relationship and I know how relationships work, and he may have stopped by and told you some things, but I really do want to apologize for everything, and I know that you are sick of hearing that, but it’s true and I never meant to lead Jon on or anything like that but I don’t know what the hell I was thinking by taking him under my wing and training him and not expecting to get a little too attached, but since I don’t really even think about that with my past and my present and my future I never even thought to protect this great young man from any sort of possible illusion or crush and he likes you so much that it pains him to be pulled away from you and I think that his feelings may have bled over onto me because I was the female that pulled him from you and I didn’t mean for that to happen and I know that I said that already but its true and I’m sorry so I just want you to know that I am laying my cards on the table here and am asking for your help.”
Aleisha searched Kate’s face for any indication of a joke. “You’re serious?”
“Yes, I am. Deadly. I need to find Jon. He is needed at work and it is very important and I need to know everything you know about where he might be.”
“You know, I have to admit, you are a strange person, Miss- Wow! I don’t know your last name!”
“Thompson. It’s Kate Thompson.”
“You are very strange, Miss Thompson. I don’t really know what to say. I don’t know where Jon is. I have known him almost our entire lives, but we never really knew each other very deeply or anything. It was more a hi there and a hey did you finish your homework from Mrs.’ Perry’s class kind of a thing. If we saw each other in the real world, it was always a ‘What did you get at the store’ kind of a thing. I don’t know him anywhere near enough.
“Kate, I promise you, he has not been here. I don’t know what kind of trouble he is in, but please believe me when I tell you that he isn’t here, he hasn’t been by to see me, and that I would tell you if he had.”
Kate sighed and looked down at her hands, which were folded in her lap. “I do. I do believe you, Miss Madsen. Thank you for your time and I didn’t mean to bother you at all. Even though I do not know where Jon is, I still think it is possible that he will be at the game tonight.” Kate looked up. “I would recommend attending. If nothing else, it will be a hell of a show.” She smiled and stood up. “Thank you again. My number on the card still works if he happens to contact you.”
Aleisha stood up as well. “I will call, if I see him or hear from him. I will also keep both of you in my prayers. Especially Jon since there may be something wrong. I can tell you are very concerned for him.” She reached her hand out. “You’re a good friend to him, Kate. Whatever happens, please watch out for him?”
“I will.”
“This has to do with Jake and the shooting at the school, doesn’t it?”
Kate was taken aback. “How-?”
“I want to be a reporter. Also, the gun in your jacket is a dead giveaway.”
Kate smiled. “I’m sorry. No one is supposed to know.”
“It’s okay. You, Jon, Stan, and even Greg were acting so weird the last few days, I knew something was up. Then, when I heard about the shooting yesterday and how concerned you were about him at the funeral, it all made sense.”
Kate was now beaming. “You are alright, Miss Madsen.” She extended her hand.
Aleisha shook it. “Be careful, okay?” After she stopped shaking Kate’s hand, Aleisha held onto it a little longer. “Where do these people normally go?”
“What people?”
“People who get freaked out on a first job. What types of places do they normally go?”
“Most go to a place where they feel safe and secure, but we already checked his home, school, friend’s houses, and now here. A lot of times, when people are freaked out, they will also go to a house of worship, but Jon wasn’t at the church for the funeral yesterday-“ Kate stopped in her tracks. “Jon isn’t religious, right?”
Aleisha shook her head. “I don’t think so. He has never been to church whenever I go but we never talk about it.”
“He’s not religious, but he needs to calm down and feel safe again, which he doesn’t feel at school or at home….” Kate looked up and grinned at Aleisha. “Thank you! You have been a big help! Trust me, go to the game! He will be there!” Kate rushed out of Aleisha’s front door, neglecting to shut it as she roared away in her Agency car.
Aleisha watched as Kate roared away. “You are so strange, Miss Kate Thompson.”


It was very dark as Kate walked down the left side aisle at the Villa theater. The movie ‘Cousins’ was halfway through its 4 o’clock showing and there was Jon- on the front row- alone. Kate hunched over as she made her way to the center of the row and sat down right next to Jon. He jumped as she did so. “What the hell-?” he exclaimed.
Kate reached over and gave him a big hug.“My thought exactly, Jon. What the hell are you doing here?” She hugged him tighter. “We were all so worried about you! What happened?” She let go and looked him in the eyes.
“What didn’t happen?”
“Jon, what-“ Kate paused. “Are you okay? Did they hurt you?”
“No. I’m okay. I didn’t stick around long enough for them to find me.”
“We looked everywhere for you! We thought you might stop by the funeral, so we watched for you there, we stopped by your house a billion times, went to Stan and Greg’s houses, checked the school several times, went to the Agency House, I even stopped by and talked to Aleisha. She’s the one that made everything click that brought me here. How long have you been here?”
“Not long, really. I wandered yesterday because I didn’t know of a safe place. I went to that diner where you gave me the gun because I figured that if a gun could change hands there with no one noticing I would be safe and I stayed there for dinner, a midnight snack, and then I grabbed a tiny room and got a hot shower this morning. I used the money my parents left for me to pay for everything with cash. I took a bus up here this morning and was here right at 930 when they started selling tickets and this is my 3rd time through this show. I grabbed a bit of sleep the last showing as well just because I am so exhausted. I paid for 3 shows and Tamara knows me so she is letting me stay here all day for just those 3 tickets.. As you can see-“ Jon gestured to the empty theater, “this is not a blockbuster.”
“So, you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m unscathed physically. Mentally, I’m a goddamned basket case, but, I still have all of my appendages.”
Kate turned and watched the movie for a scene. She then turned back to Jon, “What happened, Jon?”
Jon’s eyes never left the screen and Kate could see the tears welling up and falling down his face as he talked.. “They killed him, Kate. They killed Moss. I could have saved him, but I was too stupid and I didn’t know any better and I was not the right person for Nicolas’ backup!” Jon’s breath started to come out haltingly as he tried to keep talking. “I screwed up and now he’s dead! I didn’t want that responsibility anymore, Kate! It’s too much. I just want to graduate, go to prom, get into college, go on dates- I don’t want to be responsible if someone dies, Kate!”
Kate wanted to be able to say something to make Jon feel better, but she knew she couldn’t. “You knew what the job was, Jon. You knew. I tried to make you understand that. We had the 2 drills, which were screwed up by some pretty stupid mistakes, but I thought that those, more than anything, would get you to understand that this is a great job, but not necessarily a fun one at all times and that, a lot of times, it would come down to life or death.”
“In my head, I knew. I understood it up here,” Jon pointed to his head. “Even seeing Jake Spencer dead in the freezer was not enough to bring it into stark relief, but…seeing Nicholas die in my arms and getting his blood on me- and not in a figurative way- that is another matter entirely!”
“It is what it is, Jon. If you want to quit, fine. I am fine with you quitting. But you can’t quit yet. You need to finish this. You need to finish this one job. It’s at your school, it may be something that identifies your school for years to come! Junior has the possibility of being a huge star! If someone is out to get him tonight and he dies or is injured or is kidnapped or is something else that I can’t think of yet and it happens on your gym’s floor- who knows what the fallout may be? You still have to attend this school. You have made an enemy out of several players and out of the coach who could make your next few months there until you graduate a real chore! Think about the big picture, Jon. If your life is in danger now, it will still be in danger in a few weeks or months if you quit the Agency and just try to assimilate to normal life! But, if you finish this, and try to get to the bottom of it, you will be a whole lot safer.”
Jon shook his head. “I wish I could believe you.”
Kate closed her eyes and shook her head this time. “Fine. If you won’t do it for me or for you, I’m going to pull the 2 cards I didn’t want to pull.”
“Chad was in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kate- that was not my fault!”
“I’m not talking about Chad.” She got up and knelt down directly in front of Jon. “Nicholas needs you. Are you really going to tell me that he died for no good reason because you refuse to go back and finish this?”
Jon stared straight into her eyes but made no motion.”And the second?”
“Stan needs you. With Nicholas gone, they will be down 2 players. If not for me, the Agency, Nicholas, or yourself, do it for Stan.”
Jon bit his tongue slightly, thinking. “Really? You pull that on me?” The tears came back. He took a deep breath. “Fine.” Jon stood up and walked toward the side exit. “Where’d you park? We’ve got a game to get to!”
Kate smiled. “That’s the Jonathan Mills that I recruited! If he could ever find out- you would make your father very proud of you!”

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chapter 24

Stay tuned! Another chapter coming tomorrow!

CHAPTER 24

Kate screeched to a halt in the Mills driveway. She kept the car running as she got out of the car, walked up to the front door and hollered Jon’s name. Jiggling the handle, Kate could not get in the front door. She marched out to the Mills family mailbox, stopping the car and pulling her keys from the ignition on her way, and grabbed the hidden magnetic key box. She quickly opened the box and tossed the two separate pieces aside. She used to key to enter the front door.
“Good job! Finally learning to lock your door, huh?” Kate paused and listened to the house. The heat was on, but there was no discernable movement. “Jon? Jon? Are you here?” She closed the door and slowly unholstered her gun.
The gun pointed down the stairwell first then up the split level entry stairwell as she took a few steps up the stairs.
“Jon? You okay? Are you here?”
As Kate came to the top of the stairs, she scanned the front room and the kitchen. She walked through the front room looking for any signs of any disturbance or struggle- anything out of place- torn fabric, a tipped over table, anything. But, the house looked normal. It looked as she remembered it when they left this morning.
Kate slowly walked through the entire house, gun drawn, just in case, poking under beds, peeking in closets, but coming up with nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing seemed to have been moved or touched. After a tour of the house and finding nothing out of the ordinary, Kate holstered her gun.
Her second search of the house was less concerned with people jumping out of concealed spaces and more concerned with finding any trace of Jon.
She went back to the front door and knelt down. Searching for any minute blood drops, she could not find anything.
Kate went back to Jon’s room and opened his closet door to search for his gym bag/ gun hiding place. She reached on top of the shelf inside the closet and felt around, she pushed aside the shirts and pants to look deep inside the closet and on the floor. Nothing.
After doing a quick tossing of the house, she turned up nothing.
Kate sighed heavily, “Dammit, Jon!”

Kate next pulled into the neighborhood which was already lined with cars. She slowed down slightly to avoid hitting the pedestrians lining the street as they headed for the building nestled deep in the neighborhood. As she reached the church parking lot, she pulled in, motioning a large group to cross in front of her, scanning the faces for anyone she knew.
After the crowd passed, she pulled in and parked next to the hearse. Kate rummaged around through her glove compartment (which contained no gloves) and pulled out a cardboard sign which read ‘Clergy’, tossed it on her dashboard and entered the church.
Jake Spencer was either very popular or many people wanted to be next to his now-famous corpse. Being on the basketball team soon to be playing Junior and then being killed in a way that had the public wondering about the reasons behind it had created a swarm of interest in this teenager.
Jake’s family, none of whom Kate had ever met, had cordoned off the front of the church for official family and friends of the family. Another section of seating was screened off for classmates and work associates. The very back of the room had no chairs and was the equivalent of general admission. Kate scanned each area and looked for Jon. While looking, she noticed Bender in the middle section so, scan completed, she subtly flashed a badge to gain admittance to the center section. She sidled up next to her boss.
“Have you seen him?” she asked Walter.
“Not yet. I saw Stan and Greg come in a little while ago, but I lost them in the crowd. I assume they’ll be up front somewhere.”
“Did it look like they knew anything?”
“Regarding Nick’s death or Jon’s disappearance? There was nothing indicating that they did. They were as happy as they could be at a funeral service.”
“Shit. Keep your eyes open. I’m going back out in the fray!” Kate walked to the hallway surrounding the chapel and overflow seating section. She hugged the inside wall and slowly made her way around the building.
As she walked by an outside door, she saw Aleisha Madsen walk in. Kate turned around and followed her for a moment. Aleisha didn’t say anything as she walked down the hallway. Kate got behind her and waited until they were in front of an open classroom door. When they were, Kate grabbed her by the elbow and guided her into the room.
“Hey!” Aleisha hissed.
Kate shut the door behind them and put her finger to her lips. “Shh! It’s okay. It’s just me.”
Aleisha was noticeably perturbed. “Who the hell are you exactly, anyway?”
Kate put her arms out in front of her, palms facing Aleisha. “Hold on, please. I know it’s been weird the last few days and I apologize. I know you want to blame me for everything and I also know that it probably looks very strange when seen from the outside, but, let me assure you, everything is okay.”
“That was a whole lot of words which said absolutely nothing.”
“You’re right and I apologize. I just need you to trust me and know that we want the same thing.”
Aleisha stood back and folded her arms across her chest.” To date Jon? If so, back off, I’ve been here a lot longer than you have!”
Kate was taken aback herself. “No! I mean, no, I don’t want to date Jon. He’s a great guy and all, but, no! What I meant was that we both want what is best for him and for him to be safe.”
“Why wouldn’t he be safe?”
“Huh?”
“Why wouldn’t Jon be safe?”
Kate hadn’t caught her poor choice of words until now. Now, she would have to backpedal. “I just meant that we want what’s best for him. And safe because who knows who killed Jake Spencer and who knows who could be next?” Kate waited a moment to see if Aleisha would object. Aleisha didn’t object and didn’t open her mouth, but her stance lessened ever so slightly. Kate took this as an opening. “Just this week, Jon got a job. It’s on a probationary period and he asked that no one know about it in case he was not kept on, so I tried to respect his wishes. My name is Kate and I am his new boss. He told me that he was coming here and, since we both knew Jake, I wanted to make sure that he was okay, you know, emotionally…and stuff.”
Aleisha managed a small smirk. “He is a bit of a goof and could be having a hard time with this.”
Kate knew she had won her over. “Yes, he can be, but that’s why we hired him in the first place.” Kate smiled warmly. “Have you seen him today? Was he going to meet you here?”
Aleisha shook her head.” I haven’t seen him or talked to him today. The last time I saw him was when you kicked me out of his house-“ she glared at Kate.
Way to stand up for yourself, Kate thought, swelling in pride for Aleisha, however, please retract the claws just a little. “I was wrong about that and for that I apologize. I am truly sorry for the way things have gone this week, but I promise you that it has nothing to do with you and just the timing of everything. Jon would kill me for saying this, but he really likes you and is quite upset at me and this job for getting between you two this week, but, after Saturday, I promise that I will give him a few days off.”
Aleisha nodded.
“So, you haven’t seen or talked to him? At all? Since then?”
Aleisha just shook her head. “I wish I had, but no. I was hoping to see him at school today before we came here. Now, I’m hoping to see him here.”
Kate nodded. “Me too.” Kate handed Aleisha a card. “Here is my number. This is for an answering service that I have. If you do happen to see him or talk to him, please call and let me know. It’s very important.” Aleisha looked at the card in her hand and, without looking back at Kate, nodded. Kate opened the door. “Thank you, Aleisha. And again, I am sorry about this week.”
Aleisha walked out into the hallway and joined the throngs. Kate slumped against the wall. “Oh, boy.” She took a few moments, drew a deep breath

Natalie & Jeremy had come to Jake’s funeral in observer mode- no camera, no recording device, just to observe. They sat near the front of the third section and Natalie’s eyes kept darting back and forth.
“Where are you, Mr. Page?”

Kate slipped back into the main room and waited for the funeral to start.
Bender grabbed her by the elbow. “Are you sure that this is the best place for you to be right now, Kate? We have now lost two agents, we don’t need a third.”
“The killer may show up here, Walter. This is a great place to be! Besides, it is my job to keep Jon safe, and that’s what I mean to do! He was planning on being here, so, if he shows up, I will make sure that he is taken care of! “
“Please make sure that you take care of yourself, too, Kate,” Bender warned as he moved closer to the front.
The funeral started about 15 minutes later and it was a packed house! Kate kept her eyes open for anything that seemed out of place. Between the sobbing family members who lost a young family member too soon, the hysterically crying high school girls, who, Kate noted, would cry hysterically at anything, and the people who just wanted to be at the funeral to gaze because it was on the news, nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
It was interesting, Kate thought, that no one from the Cottonwood team seems to be here.
Coach Malone gave a talk in which he described Jake Spencer as “a one of a kind talent who is already missed very day- whether it is for practice games or team building activities (like going to strip clubs, Kate thought), and Jake will be severely missed at the game tomorrow”. Malone explained that every team member would be wearing a black armband in Jake’s memory.
Kate continued to watch the doors carefully. No Jon.
Jake’s mother got up and told a story of how Jake would always have some new idea that the family would have to take part in. Jake would call up his 2 older brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and immediate family members and he would keep track of birth months and days, the colors of cars that they all owned, the percent of family members who had gone to college- they couldn’t keep the dry erase marker out of Jake’s hands. Jake was also, according to his mother, “the only one who could actually tell how I was feeling at any given time- he was my rock and my mood stabilizer”.
Kate continually watched the doors. She saw Walter making the rounds, very slowly and carefully as he would pass by the open doors. Every once in a while, he would stop and lock eyes with Kate and shake his head. Still no Jon.
About halfway through Jake’s mother’s talk, Kate spotted Stand and Greg near the front. She excused herself from her area and went to sit next to them. Kate made her way up the aisle and, luckily, Stan was sitting right next to the aisle. Kate buried her face in her hands as though she were crying, stepped into the row and pushed Stan’s leg aside. Stan looked up, amazed at how this newcomer could be so brash during the funeral. Seeing it was Kate, he motioned to Greg who moved down a bit to make room for Kate on the row, squishing all who were already seated there.
“Kate?” Stan hissed, barely above a whisper, “what the hell are you doing?”
“Jon’s missing, Stan. Have you seen him?”
“Can’t this wait?”
“No, it can’t. It really can’t. Jon-“
Stan put up his finger. “This is a goddamned funeral, Kate. It can wait until the fat lady sings. You can drive with us to the cemetery and we can chat then.”
Kate continued looking for Jon at the doors and exits until the funeral was over.

As the funeral patrons filed out of the large chapel, Mustache found his way to Malone’s side.
“It’s done, “Mustache told him.

Stan slammed the door to the car. “What the hell is so important that you decided to squish an entire row of unsuspecting funeral goers and try to talk to me while the deceased’s mother was talking?”
“Moss is dead and Jon is missing.”
The car was silent. Greg was the first to speak. “Holy shit.”
“What do you know about it, you guys?”
“Am I a suspect?” Stan asked.
“I didn’t mean to imply that.”
“Not saying that you did. Just asking the question.”
“No. No suspect. Not yet anyways.” Kate flashed a quick smile as she tilted her head backwards, indicating that Stan could start driving. “Moss was dead. In the locker room showers. The Agency has a group over there right now taking care of the scene. All the blood seemed to come from Moss. There was nothing to indicate that there were two deaths. Besides, why kill them both and only take Jon? It doesn’t make sense. I think Jon is alive and hiding out somewhere. I saw some wet footprints leading out of the locker room. Although I have no proof, I think they were Jon’s. Stan, Greg, please. If you know anything, you have to tell me.”
They were about halfway back in the funeral convoy pack. The cemetery was not far and Stan kept his eyes on the road.
“I don’t know,” Greg said. “I assume you checked his house?”
“Of course I checked his house. I thought he’d show up here, so I’ve been watching.”
“Did he stay at school? Maybe even leave and then go back to school?” Stan asked.
“There were no shell casings at all and I doubt that he would have thought enough to pick up his casings. If he didn’t do battle the first time, he wouldn’t go back just a few minutes later with the chance of meeting up with the gunman again. I can guarantee he’s not there.”
“What about at the Agency offices?” Stan offered.
“We have guards and they haven’t reported seeing him. Would he go by your houses?”
Stan and Greg looked at each other. “Jon is not the most- what shall we say?- outwardly social guy. He is not the friend who comes to your place and likes to go out. He would much rather stay in his own little place and be in his cocoon.”
“If that’s how he is, then Jon has come a long way out of his shell this week, then. What would cause him to do that?”
Stan and Greg exchanged glances again. Greg asked, “You really don’t know?”
Kate was taken aback. “No. No, I don’t.”
“He has a big puppy dog crush on you. He likes you, Kate. He likes you.”
Kate was speechless. “But, but what about Aleisha?”
“Aleisha has been around all of our lives. There is a connection there that will never go away. She’s the girl next door. But you-“
Stan jumped in, “You are the promise of big things. You are the one who is the mystery to him. Trust me, Kate, he still really wants to be with Aleisha. But, he would also be perfectly fine to have you on his arm at the Prom come May.”
“Guys, I’m 28- over 10 years older than Jon! Does he really think that something can come of this?”
They reached the cemetery and Stan parked the car. “He doesn’t think anything, Kate. He is like a little puppy dog this week and you have spurred him on. Yes, Jon has an attitude, and yes he has spark and fire, and yes he is smart as a tack, and I bet you that I could go down the list and name you every reason that you recruited him, but the main reason that he has done all of this this past week? It’s you. You asked him to and he obliged. Do you have any idea how many times that I have asked him to play basketball with me? The number is astronomical!”
Kate thought back to 2 nights ago when she kissed Jon. “Oh, shit. I’m the reason that he’s in this much trouble?”
Greg shook his head. “No. he’s the reason. He didn’t have to say yes. He never had to say yes. He could have said no and turned you and your boss out on your ears, but, that’s not Jon, either. He did it because it felt like what was right and, it didn’t hurt that this gorgeous woman was pushing him along. Be honest, Kate. Do you really not know the effect that you have on guys?”
Kate stared at the dashboard and refused to look at either Stan or Greg. “I guess not. I haven’t really thought about that for such a long time. Until the other night-“
Greg’s eyebrows shot up. “The other night?”
Kate closed her eyes tightly- she had said too much. “I, um- nothing happened. Trust me, nothing happened. Jon was a gentleman. I, um- goddammit! I screwed up and I got too close to him and I guess I let him get to close to me. Sometimes I forget-.. Shit! Dammit!” Kate locked eyes with Stan. “We’ve got to find him. I fucked up and I know that now and we have to make sure that he is okay. This whole Junior bullshit can go to hell! I’m sorry, Stan, but it means nothing anymore. The important thing is finding Jon and not losing another Agent over this.” Kate grabbed Stan’s keys and started the car again.
Stan grabbed Kate’s hand, gently but firmly, taking her hand off of the keys, pushing her hands back to the passenger’s side and then held up his hands.
“It’s okay, Kate. We will. I promise. But, again, please, we are at a funeral. Let us go to the graveside service and then we will come back to the car and I will drive all over the city, even to Vegas if we have to, to find Jon. But give us another 20 minutes, please. Jake was a friend, and he deserves respect.”
Kate did not move a muscle for several seconds as she processed the last few days. “Okay. Okay, Stan.” She turned and got out of the car. Greg and Stan followed her and got out and locked their doors behind them. As they came around, she grabbed each of them by the shoulders, faced them, and leaned in and gave each of them a kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for being such good friends to him and me. But, remember, the kisses don’t mean a goddamn thing!” She smiled. “Thank you.”
As they walked to the graveside, she reflexively reached back and touched her gun.

Stan pulled the car in front of the Agency house right as the clock ticked 6:30. Kate had the door open before the car had come to a complete stop. Greg and Stan hopped out of the car and had to run to catch up with Kate by the time she reached the door. Kate used several keys to enter the house.
Just inside the door, a large man stood and was obviously prepared to take down an intruder if necessary. Kate strode past him. “Hey, Rocco, these guys are cool.”
Greg whispered to Stan. “Great, his name is Rocco!”
He nodded slightly. “Ms. Thompson. You okay?”
Kate had reached the elevator door, which had opened. She stepped in, as did Greg and Stan, and turned around to face Rocco as the doors closed. “Not even in the slightest.”

Walter had brought 2 more chairs in his office, making a total of 5. Chad Peterson, in a full shoulder sling, had joined Walter, Kate, Greg, and Stan. Kate was pacing in the small space.
“We looked everywhere, Walter. We went back to his house five times, we checked the school three, went to Stan and Greg’s houses twice each, drove by Aleisha’s house every time we left someplace else- he is nowhere!”
“I called the hospitals and airport and bus and train station- he is not listed under his name anywhere at any of those places and no one reports seeing him at any of those places and we have canvassed the area for him,” Chad added.
Walter gave his update. “I have had plain clothes officers from Earl Stanley’s crew keeping an eye on Coach Malone and there is no sign of any contact between him and Jon and nothing in his behavior to think that he knows where Jon is.”
“So, what do we do now?” Greg asked.
Walter sat heavily in his chair. ”There is not much we can do. We’re screwed. Jon has disappeared. We don’t even know if he is alive. There has been no communication from him at all. At this point, we have to just assume that he is dead and search for a body.”
Kate started shaking her head but didn’t say a word.
Walter looked at Stan and Greg. “I am going to need you two to return to your normal lives. Obviously, keep an eye out for Jon. Stop by his house a time or two. Stan, I will need you to talk to Malone and let him know that Jon got called away and will not be able to attend the game. Gauge his reaction and see if you can pick up anything. Based on his reaction, we may be able to at least know if Jon is alive or dead. Chad, I need you to take a team and actually go to the hospitals and directly speak to the admissions doctors and nurses. Find all of the John Does in the area and visually verify that they are not Jon. Kate- I need you to stay out tonight and just drive. See if you can find him randomly. I will grab a team and we will go after Cottonwood’s players, including Junior, and see if we can find anything strange about their behaviors. I’ll make sure Sgt Stanley is checking riverbeds and abandoned buildings with any recent disturbances reported in the areas.
The game starts tomorrow night at 7. We will keep searching until 4 or so, then, if we still can’t find anything, we load up in the gym- meet there about 4:30. There will be plenty of camera crews setting up, we should be able to blend in.. Something will be going down tomorrow night and we have to be on hand to stop it, no matter what it is.
Stan, I will need you on the court. Watch for anything that seems off, Greg, I will want you in the stands, by Kate, to be an extra pair of eyes for her. Chad, I want you patrolling the hallways and I will be walking the gym. We will just do the best we can.”
“Sir?” Greg raised his hand, “Do we need to be deputized or anything?”
Walter scowled. “You’re not going to be given a weapon. Just keep your eyes open.”
“Where does this put us on the team?” Stan asked. “Do we get another agent? We’re down by two players now with no Jon and no Nick.”
“By the rulebooks, you can’t get another substitute player this late. You’ll just have to be down 2 players.”
The feeling in the room was heavy.
“When do we call his parents?” Greg asked.
“We don’t. If he isn’t found by Monday morning, we will put out a missing person report and we’ll call his parents then, but they will never know about us.” Walter replied.
“We let him down,” Kate finally spoke.
Walter nodded silently.
“No, you didn’t let him down. He has had a blast this week. He may be all angsty and shit, but he has had a blast of a week!” Greg said. “In a way, he let you down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that the guns and stress and basketball and physical activity and death probably had something to do with his little meltdown but you can’t blame yourselves. He had to jump into a situation before he was ready. This is what happens. But, trust me, if there was anyone who could handle it with as much aplomb as he did, it was Jon. No one else would have come close.”
“We had such high hopes for him,” Walter muttered.
Kate sat up. Then, very specifically, she turned and looked at Greg. “What do you know, Greg?”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you know? It sounds like you know that Jon is alive!”
“I wouldn’t say that I know, exactly….”
Walter and Chad sat up straighter in their chairs.
“What the hell do you know, Greg?” Kate asked again.
Greg looked from one person to another. “Nothing! Honestly! I just know Jon. If he was dead, he would have made sure that they splattered his brain all over the school walls! If we can’t find him, that means that they can’t either- whoever they are.”
Stan smiled. “He’s right, you know.”
“Yes, he is,” Kate smirked. “Let’s go and keep looking!”
Walter nodded. “Got it! Stan, I need you to be our point man out there tomorrow, so I need you to be rested and ready for the game. Please get some rest, you know that Jon would want you to beat this son of a bitch! So, do a round or two of searches and then go to bed. Greg, can you stay up and keep searching?”
“Will do!”
Walter threw him a set of keys. “Take one of the Agency cars.”
“I got my own! Stan, can you take me to pick up my car?” He threw the keys back to Bender.
“Actually, Greg,” Kate piped up, “I’ll take you to pick up your car since mine is still at the church and then I can use the Agency car and pick mine up later.” Kate opened her hands. Walter obliged and tossed the keys right back to her. She caught them and went to the door, stopping just before opening it.
“For Jon,” she said silently.
“For Jon,” the others repeated as they walked out of the office.