Previously:“You know what my life with Paul was like. I can't go through anything like that again, neither can the children. I think I still love you, but I think you'd better move back into your old apartment until this is over.”
*“We got a DNA match through Interpol. Her body was found in the Seine a couple of weeks after Dexter’s European vacation, and dead about the right length of time. Her blood matches one of the slides in Dexter’s apartment. I guess he didn’t have a boat in Paris, couldn’t get rid of the body properly.”
*“We can’t have you involved in any case we’re working on, or any case Dexter ever worked on, until this is completely cleared up, and that could take years. And I don’t think you should count on getting work anywhere in Florida, we think some of the victims are from well outside the Metro area. I’ve got some contacts on the west coast; that might be your best option. Let me make a few calls, see if I can set up some interviews.”
*“Tomorrow Vance is going to instruct you to hand everything over to me, and take your posse back to Dodge. Then we’ll bring in a full task force, reopen the Bay Harbor case officially, and find more evidence to nail the son of a bitch.”
*I could only see part of the file label, upside-down; something Michaels. It didn’t mean anything to me, but it was obviously more important than my little fracas. I left with the uniform, and decided to do a little research once I was home.
It was late when I got home and I was tired, and on reflection I had some doubts about the wisdom of working from home, so I ended up heading for bed. The next day was Saturday; Rita had agreed to let me come over and see the kids. I was followed as I drove there, I’m not quite sure by whom, but I had nothing to hide and didn’t try to shake my tail.
The visit went about as well as you might expect; Aster and Cody had a lot of questions, and I couldn’t give them many answers. I told them the reason I was staying in the apartment was top secret, and that the CIA was involved, and I think I convinced Cody; I’m pretty sure Aster didn’t buy it, which was a shame since that part of it was actually true. Harrison had another tooth through, and I told him he was a big boy; he belched at me and started to whine, and I changed his diaper, which seemed to cheer him up a little though he still wasn’t entirely happy. Rita and I didn’t talk much, and I think all of the kids picked up on that.
As the kids were eating lunch and I was getting ready to go Rita handed me a folded note; on the outside it read ‘Dex;’ inside ‘Call me between 4 and 4, don’t use your own phone!!’ and gave a number I didn’t know. It wasn’t signed, but the writing was Deb’s. Rita murmured “It came in the mail inside a flyer for Disneyland.”
“Just keep me and the kids out of it.” She went back into the kitchen, and I saw myself out.
I had a few hours to kill before calling Deb, so I decided to finally do my research. I suspected that by now my apartment cable was bugged, but fortunately my laptop was in the car, and Miami has no shortage of places with free WiFi. I found a Starbucks that wasn’t too busy, got myself a large latte, and sat where nobody could look over my shoulder. I ran a malware scan to check for keyboard loggers, chose browser options that would delete cookies and files as soon as I closed the browser window, and went into Miami Metro via an anonymous proxy in Bulgaria, using the ID of Sergeant Joseph Novik, one of several imaginary friends I’d invented over the years. I wasn’t sure what I’d do if they ever started to check IP addresses for remote log-ins, but it hadn’t happened yet.
I couldn’t get into the forensics database; Masuka had actually changed the password, showing a lack of trust I found a little annoying. Entering ‘Morgan’ into the personnel database didn’t get me much either - my record was flagged as on ‘administrative leave’ without any other comment, Deb’s said the same. I looked for myself in ongoing investigations, found a file reference, but that was password-protected, and my first two attempts to get in didn’t work. I knew that a third would raise a flag with the systems people, so I left it at that. Ditto files on the Bay Harbor Butcher, Doakes, Trinity, etc.
After that I went looking for people called Michaels, fortunately not an especially common name. Eight files, but six of them were old minor offences, not the sort of thing Batista would lose sleep over; that left me with Annette Michaels, who appeared to be a routine date rape victim, and Frank Michaels, who was being paroled after twenty years in the state pen, and looked very interesting indeed.
Michaels was a habitual criminal, aged sixty-one, who’d spent more than half his life behind bars. He’d been jointly responsible for the death of a jewellery store clerk and a customer during a robbery in the early nineties, and killed all three of his partners in a fight over money after they fled the crime scene. The evidence against him was overwhelming, but a young cop named Batista had fumbled the ball and some of it had been ruled inadmissible; he’d ended up sentenced to twenty to life, not the lethal injection he richly deserved. Despite this he apparently held grudges; informers said that he’d vowed to kill Angel, and thrown a temper tantrum when he heard that he’d been promoted. He’d punched out another con and spent a month in solitary. There wasn’t quite enough evidence of his plans to deny him parole, though it had been close. He was going to be released on Monday, and I had a feeling that I might want to keep an eye on him.
I also had a feeling I was being watched, and I shut the browser window and looked up to see Gibbs coming towards me from the counter, with the largest-sized cup in his hand. For once he seemed to be on his own. He said “Mind if I join you?” and sat down without waiting for a reply.
“Agent Gibbs… How can I help you?”
“The FBI is taking over this case, and my team’s headed back to Washington this afternoon. I wondered if you’d answer a question before I leave, off the record, no witnesses” – He opened his jacket – “and in case you were wondering, no wires.”
“What sort of question?”
“Did Lila Tournay kill Sergeant Doakes?”
“Lila?” I was surprised – I don’t think anyone else has ever put the pieces together like that. I think I gaped at him.
“It’s the one thing I couldn’t understand about this case; the Bay Harbor Butcher punished killers, and on the whole I’ve got no quarrel with that. Hell, I’ve thought about doing it myself now and again. But Doakes wasn’t a killer; he seems to have been an honest cop. Something didn’t add up. Then I thought of Lila and realised it had to be her.”
“Doakes was the Butcher,” I said. “I think the explosion was just a freak accident.”
Gibbs shook his head. “My guess, Doakes was on your trail and found that shack, and Lila caught up with him there and didn’t want him arresting her boyfriend. She had a record for arson. I’m guessing you weren’t appreciative enough; it was a couple of days after that she tried to burn you and your kids alive, then fled the country.”
“That’s a hell of a theory.”
“Okay, let’s simplify the question. Did you kill James Doakes?”
“That’s all I wanted to know.” He drank some coffee, and added “Good luck with the FBI. You’re going to need it.”
“Maybe they’ll start looking for the real killer.”
“Why bother? We’ve already found him.” He drank a little more coffee and stood, saying “I’d better go - I’ve got a plane to catch.”
“Have a safe flight.”
“It will be, we’re flying Navy. By the way… the French police are looking for Lila, it’ll be interesting to compare your stories.”
“Of that I have no doubt.”
Gibbs went out, and I heaved a sigh of relief. Let them look for Lila – she was safely beyond their reach, presumably somewhere in the North Sea by now. I checked the time – coming up to three. It was time to find somewhere a little more private and get ready to call Debra.Intercontinental Hotel, Miami
“How did it go, boss?” asked McGee.
“I think it worked.”
“There was some action while you were out. Someone accessed the Michaels file, and several of the others we have flagged.”
“Get any ID?”
“One of the fakes I found when I checked Metro’s servers. I can’t prove it was Morgan, they came in through a proxy site in Bulgaria…” He saw Gibb’s expression and finished “...but you really don’t need the technical details.”
“What time did he finish?”
“The last hit was at two twenty-five when the file was opened, the connection closed at two twenty-seven. The way that site works, it would have disconnected automatically after a couple of minutes if there was no action, but that wouldn’t stop him reading the file if it was already open.”
“He was reading something on a laptop when I met him, about two thirty-five. Shut down when he saw me.”
“Sounds like he took the bait,” said DiNozzo. “But it’s a long shot. What if he thinks it’s a trap?”
“Ducky says he’ll think Kort’s job offer was the trap,” said McGee. “He’ll figure out that he would have had to take a lie detector test if he’d gone for it. After that, Lila Tournay would be our fall-back position, the next best way to catch him.”
“If he thinks we’re relying on Tournay to build a more solid case,” said Ziva, “won’t he soon learn that the gendarmes have her body, and think we plan to charge him with her murder?”
“It wouldn’t be enough,” said Tony. “They wouldn’t let the French extradite him without the blood evidence, and that’s tainted. He’d know that.”
“Well, standing here yacking about it won’t get him caught,” said Gibbs. “We need to head back to Washington if this is going to work. Gear up.” He went into his room, and came back three minutes later with his bag, already packed.
McGee put the last computer into its padded case, wiped down the whiteboard they’d been using to track the case, and said “Ready, boss. Tony’s getting the car, Ziva’s taking the key-cards down to reception; she’s already checked us out.”
“Good. Let’s get out of here, and hope that nobody fumbles the ball.”To Be Continued