Burglary and... Oops never mind...
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Cooper and Vivian sat in the back seat of the unit wondering what the hoopla was all about.
"Why can't we take our unit?" Cooper looked at Nate searching for an answer. They had worked with the FBI on delicate cases before, and this was not the protocol.
"This one is a little sensitive," Nate explained to Cooper and the looked over at Vivian, "I know you were moving this weekend, so the Bureau is going to pay to move you. They will even have an agent monitor the movers."
"I appreciate it, but I already hired movers, so it won't be necessary." Vivian looked over at Nate from her spot behind Mason.
"They insisted, they said it was the least they could do for pulling your vacation, so they will pay your movers." Nate looked over at her pressing the issue.
Vivian looked over at Cooper, who looked just as concerned as her.
"No, Nate, my movers will be fine." Vivian was now insistent.
"Alright, I'll let them know." Nate acted as if he was surprised at her insistence
Vivian and Cooper seemed to have missed it, but Nate and Mason exchanged a glance, and noted to talk later.
Vivian and Cooper gave each other the same look after the glance, wondering what that was all about.
"So, what's this case about that we would get called off of vacation before being able to take it?" Cooper looked at the two in the front focusing his attention on Nate.
Nate turned to the two in the back. "I know very little, I was told to come get you three, offer to pay for your move, and that we would be fully briefed in Statesboro."
"What do you know so far?" Vivian eyed him suspiciously, knowing he had to know more than he was letting on.
"There was a burglary at some buildings on federal property around here." Nate looked over at her and made a mental note to tone it down with Mason around them.
Vivian nodded knowing there was more to it, but she didn’t understand why Nate was treating them with kid gloves. She surmised it had something to do with their interrogation and their time in the hospital, but they would soon be privy to that same information.
The group arrived in Statesboro shortly before Ben and Lane, and headed in to prepare for the immanent briefing.
Vivian and Cooper walked over to the coffee and poured themselves a cup; a nice distraction for a private conversation.
"Is it me or are Nate and Mason getting a bit chummy?" Cooper turned his back to the group of officers and agents gathered for the briefing.
Vivian looked relieved when he finished the statement, "I didn't want to say anything, but I noticed it, too." Vivian considered what she saw in the unit. "Did you see the look they gave each other after I refused Nate's offer?"
Cooper nodded, "I know they thought we didn't see it, it was quick but it was there." Cooper turned back to look at the group, glancing around to see who was there. They saw another unit from Midway, but it was mostly agents.
Ben walked over to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup.
"What are you two love birds talking about?" Ben chuckled out as he walked up. Ben wanted to know what they were talking about after what Nate told him happened in the unit. Ben didn’t understand why Vivian refused the help, but figured it had to do with what they went through this summer.
"Word travels fast." Cooper turned to Ben with a smirk, and took a sip of his coffee.
"So what are y'all chatting about?" Ben stepped over to pour himself a cup.
"I was just saying, how I noticed how chummy Mason and Nate have become." Vivian thought she would throw him a bone. Both her and Cooper knew exactly why Ben was there. Plus, she figured she could get a little info out of Ben, unknowingly, he would add to the information she already knew.
Ben sighed out of relief but it seemed a bit put on. "I'm glad y'all noticed,too." Ben took the conversation to a remote corner. "It seems to have been going on for a few months, but when me and Lane walked over to where they were, they quit talking, like we interrupted a private conversation."
"Did you hear what they were talking about?" Cooper looked to Ben wondering if he would really tell them anything.
Vivian made a mental note to that this had been going on “for a few months”, which if she figured right would put it right at the time they started in Midway, and figured Mason had been a part of whatever it was since then.
"No, I didn't." Ben glanced back in the direction of the group and took a sip.
Vivian glanced at Cooper when Ben turned to look around. Cooper nodded, they seemed to be getting the same feeling that Ben wasn't being completely honest with them either.
"Look, I'm not going to be throwing y'all under the bus, but, just to separate the two of them, I'm going to offer to take Mason."
"Okay." Cooper nodded figuring this was somehow a devised plan.
Ben walked over to join the group, but Vivian and Cooper hung back to talk to one another.
"That was a little disconcerting." Cooper looked over at Vivian, blocking his mouth with his cup, and then taking a sip.
Vivian looked toward the group, "A convenient distraction, from him. He was trying to get information from us."
Cooper turned his back to the group again. "Yeah, I got that, too."
Vivian sighed and looked up at Cooper. "Is it because we went through what we did, or is it what it is?"
"I think, we are more observant to it because of what we went through." Cooper shook his head and looked down at the floor.
Vivian nodded as Lane walked up.
"What are y'all talking about over here?" Lane grabbed a cup off of the table.
"Just wondering what they canceled our vacation for." Cooper shrugged and continued nursing his cup of coffee.
"Yeah, it must be pretty serious." Lane nodded and poured the coffee.
The agent in charge then called everyone to their seats. He began to explain several National Parks buildings were broken into in the area. By all outward appearances, it seemed to be Eco-terrorists by the evidence left at the scene.
The officers were sworn in as temporary federal agents and divided among the agents.
"Viv, Coop, Lane, you're with me, and we're off to South Carolina. Ben, Mason and Agent Justin Phillips are going to handle a different one East of Savannah." Nate waved them over.
"Where are we headed in South Carolina?" Cooper glanced over at Nate on the way to the unit.
"Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge," Nate said as they reached the unit.
"I have to admit, it's going to be fun to leave the state." Vivian looked at the men with a grin.
The trip was quiet for a while when Nate spoke up. "I hear you two are an item now?"
Vivian and Cooper smiled at each other.
"Yeah, we are."
"Now, to get you two married off," Nate spoke as if he were thinking of a way to do it.
"Nate!" Vivian hit the back of the seat and laughed.
The four laughed the whole way to Pinckney Island.
Before they knew it the hour and a half drive was over and they were turning on to the property.
"ID," the officer at the gate greeted them. Nate showed his credentials and the officer responded, "All the way to the back."
Nate drove them through the wooded island to the back of the property. They came upon a building in a clearing. It had trees that were planted and growing near the entrance, but it wasn’t the trees that were indigenous to the island. The building was small but long, and didn’t look like it was of any particular importance. Vivian could see two agents standing outside, obviously protecting the integrity of the scene. Nate pulled across the gravel area near the entrance, under the trees, and they all climbed out with their gear. Vivian went to the back of the unit and grabbed the crime scene kit.
They greeted the Agent at the front of the building and he let them in. It was obvious the building had been ransacked from the moment they entered. Several words had been spray painted on the walls, and items were in general disarray. Vivian looked up to see “Free The Caged” and the anarchy symbol on the wall directly across from the main entrance. She glanced further into the building to see the walls and desks with random spray paint lines.
All four pulled on gloves and Vivian began to open paper bags for them all to deposit evidence should it be necessary. Cooper and Nate began walking slowly through the building taking photos of everything from different angles. Vivian set up a few dozen bags and pulled her own camera out. Lane began to look for things to fingerprint. The four meticulously went step by step cataloging everything, and documenting with photos and notes. This was a tedious practice that took hours.
Vivian walked passed the men who were busy, and made her way to an office about 20 feet past them. She took several pictures of the door, which was off the frame, and had obviously been forcibly removed. She looked closer at the door frame, and could see it had been heavily reinforced. She took several pictures, and stepped passed it to the office. She took many more pictures as she made her way to the desk. She could see it had been forcibly opened, and the bottom drawer was empty. She continued looking through the office, and soon discovered something in the corner near a book case. She called Cooper on his cell phone and asked him to join her.
He soon walked in the office and looked at her laying on the floor. "What you got?"
"Look at this book case." She gazed under the book case. "It sits ever-so-slightly off of the floor."
Cooper joined her on the floor, and he, too, could see how it wasn't resting on the floor.
They both stood up and Vivian pulled on the book case, which swung open.
“You have got to be shitting me,” Vivian sighed in disgust as looked at the hidden, vault like door, now off it’s hinges.
"What do y'all have here?" Lane stepped over from the doorway of the office. He looked at what they staring at.
"That’s what we are still trying to figure out," Cooper told him as they examined the doorway the intruders had already breached.
The two squatted down to look at how the suspects entered the room.
"Liquid nitrogen?" Vivian was confused as she inspected the metal shards that appeared to have broken on impact of some blunt object.
"It has to be." Cooper looked at the evidence as Lane stepped over. "Look at how the metal shattered."
Vivian stood up and walked to the doorway, and Lane took her place to have a look.
"Nate," Vivian called him over and walked back to the doorway.
"What is it?" Nate walked into the room to see them over by the, now open, book case door.
"Why in the hell does the National Parks Service have an office with a hidden reinforced door to a secret room?" Vivian waited for an answer as Cooper stood up to hear the excuses.
Vivian walked over to the desk where the kit was, and retrieved the items she needed to collect the evidence from the doorway.
"I don't know." Nate was just as confused, and he, too, stepped over to look at the doorway.
"You're FBI," Cooper offered angrily. "And have a clearance, they need to tell you what this place is, 'cause this shit ain't the Parks Service."
"Can we enter that room?" Vivian glared at him equally angry.
"I wasn't told any different." Nate pulled out his phone as Lane listened to the heated conversation.
"It looks like they used liquid nitrogen to break the door off the hinges." Vivian raised her eye brows as she watched Nate and pointed to the door. "Which means whoever broke in here knew exactly what this place is, and came prepared."
Nate glanced at Lane and then looked at the hidden door, wondering why he wasn’t told of all this.
"Let me make a call." Nate walked out of the room as he put the phone to his ear.
Cooper walked to the doorway and watched Nate walk outside. He then directed his question to Lane, "Did you know anything?"
Lane looked at him shocked. "No, why would I know?"
"It seems like everyone is in the loop but us lately," Vivian snapped as she finished getting everything she needed out of the kit.
"What are you talking about?" Lane was taken aback by their comments, but still knowing their comments were coming from their experiences.
Cooper sighed in disgust and started to say something.
"It's nothing Lane." Vivian moved over to the doorway to collect the evidence cutting off Cooper’s conversation. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you, I'm just tired."
"Don't sweat it Viv." Lane was still confused as he watched her squat down to finish her job. "But their has to be something to what you just said." Lane knew her, too, well, and right now Vivian hated it.
"No, I'm just tired and my temper is short." Vivian tried to dismiss the statement as she finished collecting the metal shards. She shot several more pictures of the door and door frame, figuring all this was going to be confiscated in a short while.
Cooper looked at his watch. "We've been here for four hours already. We're all tired, hungry and need a smoke."
"That is a fantastic idea." Vivian finished sealing the evidence envelope containing the doorway debris.
Cooper and Vivian walked together to the front of the building, deposited their gloves in a particular evidence bag, and stepped outside. Vivian lit a cigarette as they stepped out and handed the pack and the lighter to Cooper.
Vivian noticed Nate standing about a hundred yards away, wondering who he was talking to, and still wondering why she didn’t have an answer on what this place is.
"The manager of the building is on his way," Nate informed the two, and knew they were pissed by the expressions on their faces. "And a crime scene unit from the bureau is on the way to process the rest of the building. They just arrived in Savannah."
"Why didn't they do that to begin with?" Cooper was incredulous at the thought of the world of shit they could have gotten into again.
"Which also means we can't enter the last room," Vivian snapped again, the anger written on her face.
"No, you can't," Nate agreed with a shake of the head. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."
Vivian and Cooper sighed in disgust. Vivian walked away shaking her head, and tossed her cigarette into a puddle on the side of the building, "I'm going to go collect our equipment."
"I have to go with you," Nate explained to the two knowing he was about to incur the wrath of Vivian.
"Are you serious?" Vivian stopped and turned to him, now disgusted.
Nate nodded and braced for the inevitable. "I wouldn't have come had I known."
Cooper tossed his cigarette and the three walked in to collect their belongings.
Vivian and Cooper quickly collected their equipment, and walked out to the unit to put it in the back. Vivian was seething and Nate could see it, everyone could see it.
The four stood outside near the unit talking, about what had just happened. The pair still angry that it never crossed someone’s mind that they couldn’t, or shouldn’t, enter the building.
"I'm sorry guys," Nate apologized again knowing why they were angry. "I wouldn't have come had I known."
"How did it not cross someone's mind that we might not be allowed to enter it?" Cooper questioned Nate as the sun, now fully risen, warmed them.
"They didn't report it properly." Nate was just as exasperated.
“It was just a mistake somewhere down the line,” Lane offered a defense for Nate.
“It’s bullshit!” Vivian was furious and added, “the building manager should have been called from the beginning, hell, someone somewhere should have told the FBI what the hell this place is.” Vivian stepped away, and even Cooper knew to leave her alone for a little while.
Lane knew she was still hurting, and let her calm down for a minute before he stepped over. Cooper grabbed his arm, and Lane immediately shoved it off, “I know you guys are close, but I’ve been her friend a lot longer than you.”
Cooper was taken aback by how Lane stood up for Vivian, and rebuffed his attempt to get between them.
Lane glared at Cooper, and stepped over to where Vivian was. “Viv, I know what you’re going through, but this fuck up was somewhere down the line.”
Vivian leaned over the hood of their unit. “I know Lane,” she answered, buthe could see she was shaking. “It’s just still a little raw.”
Lane nodded and patted her back as she turned to lean on the SUV.
Vivian knew the guys would never have any ill intent toward her or Cooper, but since her beat down she can’t help but feel paranoid. The idea that everyone was against her, or trying to “get” her, was not a stranger to her, but she hated it. She and Lane went back a long way, and Nate was her buddy. It was completely irrational, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something up with them.