Manhattan – November 2006
"But I thought you and Penny were picking up Madison and Rick?"
"I know," Mike said, "but something's...something come up. Can you and Petrelli do it?"
"Ok..." Megan said slowly. "What about the interviews?"
"You can do them too."
"Logan, has something happened?"
Mike glanced over his shoulder to where Penny was sitting on the wall, bent forwards, her head in her hands. "Yeah, but I can't tell you right now."
"Wheeler, just do it, ok?" He snapped his cell phone shut and walked back over to her. He hovered, unsure at to what he should do. He wanted to physically comfort her, was desperate to, and yet he didn't know if she would want that. "Pen…" She winced at the use of the name and kept her face covered. "Pen, I think we should go back inside."
"No," she said, removing her hands and straightening up. "No, we need to pick up Rick and Madison."
"I've asked Wheeler and Petrelli to do it."
She looked up at him, almost in disbelief. "No…we need to do it."
"You can't go anywhere right now." He crouched in front of her. "We need to talk about what you just disclosed to me." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he regretted them. He sounded like a detective trying to coax information from a victim not…not someone personally involved. "I mean…we should talk."
"There's nothing to talk about."
"Mike, please…" She got to her feet and looked at him. "I really…I really don't want to talk about it."
"Tell me what he did to you." She shook her head. "Please…tell me."
He paused, realising there was a reason why he would never have made it in SVU. There was a fine line between letting her tell him when she felt able to and demanding to know what had happened and, given how much he knew he still cared for her, he felt himself leaning towards the latter. "Please tell me that you reported it." She looked at the ground and he felt his heart sink. No wonder Miller had looked so smug. "Penny…why?"
"Because I…" she looked at him and then stopped. For a moment, she held his gaze and he could see the anguish in her eyes. Then she seemed to give herself an internal shake and hardened again. "It doesn't matter, ok. It doesn't matter. It never happened."
She started to walk in the direction of her car again and, momentarily confused, he had to hurry to catch her up. "What do you mean it never happened? Penny, he either raped you or he didn't!"
"Why don't you just yell it out so the whole city can hear you?!" she retorted acerbically.
"Penny!" Frustrated, he grabbed her arm again and turned her to face him. "Did he rape you?"
She looked at him for a long moment and he could see the wheels turning in her head. Her gaze flittered all over his face and he couldn't help but think that she had barely changed in all the years he hadn't seen her. Nothing had changed for him. Nothing. He had been a fool to think it ever would have. "No."
"I said no. He didn't rape me. Now, can we go?" She hurried away from him again towards the car and though he felt as though his insides had been turned inside out, he refrained from asking her any more about it. He knew enough about dealing with victims to give her a little leeway. They drove through the streets towards Madison's house in silence, only for him to see Megan's car parked outside when they arrived. As Penny pulled up alongside, he saw Megan and Lewis emerging from Madison's house, the former holding her by the arm.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, frowning as they approached. "You told us to come get her."
"I know," he said, "I'm sorry."
"We can take her," Penny said breezily, stepping over and taking Madison's other arm. "You guys can bring in Heston if you want."
"Rick?" Madison said, looking between them both. "I don't understand, what is going on?"
"We'll explain everything back at 1PP," Penny replied, propelling her towards the car.
"Logan, what is going on?" Megan asked, when Penny was out of earshot. "First you say you're picking them up, then you tell us to do it and now you're here…"
"I'm sorry, it's just…" he glanced back over to where Penny was pushing Madison into the back of the car. "Something…something happened. I can't…I can't tell you what it is…"
"Can you go and bring in Heston?" he ignored her. "Penny and I can take Madison back and do her interview."
"I thought you wanted me to interview her with Penny?"
Mike could feel himself growing more irritated by the moment, and yet he wasn't sure who his ire was directed more at. Megan for labouring the point, or Penny for clamming up. "Please," he said, trying to keep his temper under control. "I'll try and explain later." Before his partner could say anymore, he turned back to the car and climbed into the passenger seat.
"So, how do you want to play this?" Penny said, as they stood watching Madison through the one-way glass.
Mike looked at her. "How do you mean?"
"Well, good cop, bad cop? Give her everything upfront? Give her nothing? What's your suggestion for how we conduct the interview?" She looked at him as though it was the most obvious question ever asked. "She hasn't asked for an attorney…"
"She will," he said, "the moment we begin asking her any questions. I'm surprised Manchero hasn't been down here already."
"No doubt he'll turn up as soon as he realises she's here," Penny said. "Maybe we should just take a softly-softly approach and see if she decides to give us anything. She looks nervous enough. She could crack."
He looked at her again. "Penny…maybe you should let Megan and I take this one."
She met his gaze. "Why?"
"Why…?" he shook his head. "After what you said earlier…"
"Nothing happened Mike."
"I don't believe you. When you were yelling at me that there was no way you would have willingly slept with Miller, you were telling the truth. I know you. I could see it." He felt anger rise inside him again and he tried to keep it focused on the right person. "You can turn around and deny it now all you want…"
"I am just trying to do my job here…"
"I think it's pretty obvious that the task force has no business being on this case. There's no human trafficking element here and you know that." She said nothing. "Yes, it's all a bit weird what's gone on in the background but, getting down to business, this is an abduction and a murder and here at Major Case, we're pretty good at those." He paused. "You said yourself that Miller wanted you on Madison from the moment you started working for him. There has to be some reason for that."
Penny looked down at the floor. "There is a reason."
"So, what is it?"
"It's because he knows."
She took a breath and met his gaze. "He knows about Emily."
The mere mention of her name made Mike feel as though he had been punched in the gut. He felt physically winded and his chest tightened uncomfortably. He never spoke her name, never wanted to. It felt as though, if he just didn't say it, didn't think it, then it couldn't hurt. Couldn't take him to the dark place. Hearing her say it so easily, especially after all these years…
God…no…I don't want to think about this…I don't want to think about her…
He knew it would be so easy to walk away, to shut down like he always had, but there was something…cold…insidious about the way Penny had said it that made him want to know more, for the first time in a long time. "I don't…I don't understand…"
"He knows about Emily," she repeated. "He knows that we lost her and…and he's using my grief as her mother to wrap me into this case…wrap me into him…" she looked through the glass at Madison again. "I guess I only just realised. It's amazing how blind you can be when you try to block things out."
"How does he know?"
"I told him."
"Why…why would you…?"
"Because I'm able to talk about her rather than pretending that she never existed," she looked at him again, her eyes filled with pain. "And because he was my Captain. Because I thought he was a nice guy…" she trailed off and swallowed hard. "He had already figured out some of my vulnerabilities. I guess I just gave him even more ammunition when I told him about her. I think he thought I would feel some sort of comfort from him."
Mike held his breath. She was poised to tell him, he could sense it, and he didn't want to say or do anything that might make her change her mind. Despite his own fears surrounding Emily, he wanted to know, needed to know what had happened, if only so he could justify pummelling Miller into the ground. Just as he thought she was about to continue, however, the door opened and Megan came in.
"There you guys are," she said, a note of accusation in her tone. "We brought Heston in. He's cooling his heels in the other room. And Dean Manchero is here with a lawyer for Madison."
"What did I tell you?" Penny said, turning away from the glass, her manner once more business-like. "I guess we'd better see if she's any better at taking legal advice than Joey was."
Before he could say anything, she swept out of the room and he stood there, redundantly watching her leave, his chest still tight from her earlier revelation.
Megan stepped towards him. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine," he said, finding his voice.
"You don't look it."
"I said I'm fine, Wheeler, ok?!" He knew he was snapping at the wrong person, knew it was in no way her fault and yet he felt as though he needed to vent at someone. "We'll interview Madison and see what she gives us."
"Logan, what's going on?" Megan put her hand on his arm as he made to move past her and he wished he could tell her. She was an understanding person, a good, decent person. She would counsel him, she would help him and yet…he knew he couldn't breach the little confidence Penny had put him in him. How could he?
"Nothing," he replied, "Nothing at all."
"I have nothing to say," Madison said, "other than I want you to find my daughter."
"Come on," Penny snorted, "we know she's not your daughter."
"You have a DNA test to prove this?" her lawyer asked.
"We don't need one because we have Joey. He sat in here and told us the whole story, Madison. About how he had a fling with your cousin Laurie, got her pregnant and then sold the baby to you in order to pay off his drug debt to Henry Booker."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Madison said, folding her arms across her chest. "My daughter is missing, my nanny has been murdered and you're more interested in some stupid story that Joey told you?"
"We thought you and Joey were love's young dream," Mike said. "Why would he tell us a story like that if it wasn't true."
"Because he's a crackhead! Jesus, isn't it obvious?"
"But what does he have to gain from it?"
"How would I know?" She wiped her eyes. "I just want my daughter back home!"
"You love Maya-Rose, don't you?" Penny asked softly.
"Of course I do, she's my daughter!"
"There's nothing quite like the love a mother has for her child. It's…all consuming. Like, you would do anything to protect that little life." Madison stared at her. "It's a powerful emotion, Madison. Not one that a woman can just turn on and off."
"I don't know…"
"Laurie couldn't handle it, could she? She thought she could, but she wasn't able to fight it. She wasn't able to watch you raise Maya-Rose as your own and cast her aside."
"She wasn't cast aside, she was…!" Madison stopped as her lawyer touched her arm.
"Laurie has Maya-Rose, doesn't she?" Mike asked. "Where would she take her?"
"She doesn't have her. My daughter has been abducted by some crazy person!"
"Alright," the lawyer said, "I think we've answered enough of your questions. My client is clearly distraught by the abduction of her child…"
"Is she?" Penny asked.
"Yes, now if there's nothing else…" they got to their feet.
"It really wouldn't look good for your pop princess image if people found out about this little scam, would it?" Penny said thoughtfully. "I mean, all those parents who let their kids buy your albums and look up to you…"
"Are you threatening me?" Madison asked.
"No, it's just an observation."
"You find my baby," she said, leaning over the table. "Or I will sue all of you, especially you!" With that, she and the lawyer swept out of the room, slamming the door behind them.
"She knows Laurie has the baby," Penny said. "She doesn't want to tell us because, as I suggested, it would ruin her image if she admitted to the agreement they had."
"So you're convinced that Joey's telling the truth? That the baby is his and Laurie's?"
Penny met his gaze, "If she really was her mother, Madison would be more concerned about finding her than what the truth might do to her career." She got to her feet. "We should talk to Heston. If he was the one who helped Laurie get the baby out of the city, it's just as likely that he was the one who killed Paola."
"He's not going to cop to that."
"Maybe not, but there's no harm in turning the screws a little…" Penny trailed off as the door to the interrogation room opened and Ross appeared. Behind him, leaning against the far wall, was Miller.
Mike felt a ball of hot anger start in his stomach at the sight of the man and his fists involuntarily clenched at his sides. Punching the little prick would be a hundred times more satisfying than punching Crossley had been and he wouldn't care if he spent the rest of his life on Staten Island. He glanced at Penny and saw that her face had gone white.
"Sorry to interrupt," Ross continued, "but there's been a development."
"What kind of development?" Penny asked.
"You're off the case," Miller said, before Ross could reply. "Effective immediately."
"The Chief of Detectives has come to the conclusion that the evidence no longer warrants involvement form the task force," Ross said. "The human trafficking angle is shaky at best and he feels resources would be better spent with Major Case taking the investigation back and treating it as an abduction and murder. I know we're all grateful for the work you and Detective Petrelli have done, Detective Fletcher. No doubt your Lieutenant has something juicier for you to get your teeth into now."
"I'm sure I can find something for her," Miller said.
No way. No way do you get her back.
"Captain…" Mike stepped forward, "Penny's a good detective and she knows this case inside out. Surely it would be of benefit to have her continue to work on it?" Ross looked at him. "She could be seconded until it's over, kind of like I was when I first got here."
Ross paused and, for a moment, Mike thought he was seriously considering the idea.
"I'm sorry Logan," Miller pushed himself away from the wall and stepped into the doorway before the other man could reply. "I'm afraid I can't spare her. We've got a lot on our plate at the task force and she's needed elsewhere." He smiled at him and Mike realised he had never hated anyone as much as he hated Pete Miller.
Penny turned to him again and he waited for her to retaliate, for her to fight fire with fire the way he knew she was capable of. "Well…I guess this is it." He stared at her. "I'll leave you all my notes and things, just in case you could use any of them and…and I hope you find Maya-Rose safe and well."
Mike shook his head in disbelief. "That's it?"
"That's it. Thank you for your hospitality, Captain." Penny moved past Ross and Miller and made her way over to where her coat lay on a vacant desk. For a moment, Mike watched her go and then followed her. "Please Mike," she said in a low voice when he caught up to her, "Please don't make a scene."
"A scene? You're leaving here with him and you don't want me to make a fucking scene?!"
"I'm not leaving with him, I'm going back to my regular job."
She gasped as he grabbed hold of her arm and forced her to face him, not caring what everyone else in the room might think. "You're not leaving here until you tell me the truth about what happened, all of it!"
"Mike, you're hurting me…"
"All of it!" he shook her for emphasis. "Everything that happened and everything he did!"
"Logan!" Ross came up behind them and Mike instantly released her. "Is there some sort of problem here?"
"No," Penny said automatically.
"Yeah," Mike said, "yeah there is and it's him!" He pointed to where Miller was standing, a faux look of bemusement on his face. "You think you're so clever, don't you? You think that nobody can touch you because you're a Lieutenant on a task force?"
"I know what you did!"
He stopped and turned back to where Penny was looking at him, her face still ashen, her hands trembling slightly. "Please don't."
"If you still feel anything for me, please don't."
He stood, rooted to the spot, as she put on her jacket, offered murmured thanks to Megan, who looked completely stunned, and then turned to walk towards the elevator, Petrelli and Miller behind.
If I still feel anything for you…Jesus Christ, why do you think I'm doing this?
Ross stepped towards him, "Mike…"
No, no I'm not letting you go like this…
Ignoring his captain, Mike hurried after the hastily retreating group, catching up with them as Miller pressed the call button. "Penny…"
"Leave it Mike, please," she replied wearily.
"Tell me what happened, and we can fix it, ok? We can fix it!"
"No, we can't!" she rounded on him. "We can't fix it! You can't fix it!"
"No, Penny, wait!" he grabbed her arm as she made to turn away again. "We can talk. We can talk about all of it, any of it, please…please let me help you with this! Please!"
"Let her go Logan," Miller said.
"Screw you," he replied. "It's not too late, Pen. It's never too late to report something like this!"
"Move away from her Detective," Miller said warningly, stepping between them. "I think Penny's made it clear how she feels."
"Oh really?" he squared up to the other man. "You think she's made it clear, huh? How about I make it clear exactly how I feel about you! I could knock you out right here."
"Uh…" Petrelli stuttered, "maybe…maybe…"
"You try anything with me, and I'll have you up on charges," Miller pointed at Mike. "You think Staten Island was bad? I'll find somewhere for you to go where nobody would ever find you."
"You raping son-of-a-bitch…!" Mike swung for him, but his aim was thwarted by someone grabbing him from behind and pulling him backwards.
"Logan!" Ross yelled in his face as he slammed back against the far wall. "That is enough!"
Miller buttoned up his jacket and stepped into the elevator car. "I hope you enjoyed your brief stint back in the big city, Detective, because you're finished as far as the NYPD is concerned."
"If rapists like you are in charge, then I'm glad," he shot back, watching as first Petrelli then Penny followed their boss into the car.
I'm losing her...
"I'm sorry," she said, tears streaking her face as the doors slid closed. "I'm so sorry."