"Harold, forgive me, but I find it a bit suspicious that your task force was able to capture her so easily, when we've had the U.S. Marshals, ATF, and Interpol all looking for her. I can't help but feel like we're about to get played like a trumpet at Mardi Gras." Panabaker had arrived to the Post Office that morning full of spit and vinegar. The idea that they had Elizabeth Keen in custody was both a relief and a concern. She didn't know where to begin with Keen. First, she needed to hear what Keen had to say.
"I realize this situation won't be easy, but frankly, I'm glad we were the ones to capture her quietly."
"I'm not in the mood for games. If Keen is here to play some sort of angle for immunity I cannot honestly think of one thing she could say to me to get me there. She has played fast and loose with her good graces and the Justice Department has had enough." Panabaker exited Cooper's office and began her walk – or march – to the box.
Panabaker's mood softened, however, when she saw Liz Keen sitting on the floor of the box. She seemed smaller, less formidable, sitting there like that. As the code was entered and the box door slowly swung open, Liz Keen moved to stand. A guard handcuffed her and brought her out to a chair closer to the waiting Panabaker.
"Miss Keen, I'm sorry we are sitting here under these circumstances," Panabaker said. "The charges against you are serious. While I have no doubt Harold is keeping some of your crimes off the books, there are enough here to put you away for the rest of your life. Are you aware of what you are up against?"
Keen nodded in agreement.
"I just want to know…was it worth it? Did you get the answers you were looking for? You've ruined your career, your life, you can't be with your daughter again, everything you've worked for has crumbled under the weight of the choices you've made in the last few months. Are you at peace with the path you've gone down?" Panabaker waited.
"Before I tell you everything," Elizabeth said, "I'll need my lawyer."
Panabaker took a deep breath. She was half expecting that, and also a little relieved that maybe a lawyer could talk their way out of some of the mess Keen was in, but it meant a delay in the proceedings. She gave a curt nod and stood to leave.
"Cynthia," Keen said as the Justice official who would help her negotiate her freedom turned to leave. Panabaker turned abruptly at the sound of her first name.
"I have learned a lot these past few months, and I know you are a trusted and fair woman. The American people are lucky to have you as a civil servant. I have no doubt you will treat me fairly, and I intend to do everything I can to make your job of making a deal with me an easy one," Keen said.
Panabaker was a bit stunned by the kind words coming from Keen. Also, a little intrigued by the idea of Keen making her job an easy one – no one ever seemed to make her job easy.
"Miss Keen, that sounds like a tough row to hoe, but I'll take you up on the offer anyway," Panabaker smiled as she left to get to work on her questions and summoning Liz Keen's lawyer. "I hope this Skip Hadley ate his Wheaties, 'cause it's going to be a loooong day." Her words loudly echoing through the cavernous room.
Meanwhile, Ressler's apartment was incredibly noisy for 7:00 am. He was used to maneuvering through his morning routine quietly. How can one small person make so much noise so early in the day? The television was on, with cartoon voices and songs playing. Agnes was playing with her new toys and talking to them. His mother was in the kitchen making toast for Agnes and unsuccessfully trying to make coffee in his coffee maker, water was spitting and sputtering off the hot surface as steam billowed out. Agnes jumped up and asked a hundred questions – about what was happening to the coffee maker, the plan for the day, and all sorts of other very random questions that Ressler struggled to answer before coffee.
He was anxious to get to work and check on Liz, so he didn't linger for breakfast. Coffee to go, a kiss on the cheek for his mother and head pat for Agnes, then he was out the door. He noticed right away the quiet of the hallway as he walked to his car. And while it was welcome, he was acutely aware that for the first time, he felt that he was leaving something behind. There was a pull there, something to bring him back home at the end of the day. It complicated life, but it wasn't unwelcome. How Liz did this job, with that pull toward home every day, he didn't know. But he was starting to understand it. A bit of guilt creeped in – she was a single mom doing the job they did, and while she seemed to juggle it all, he was now realizing that he should have helped more, been there more. He previously assumed her stoicism meant he should leave her to deal with the day-to-day challenges alone. He was quickly realizing he was wrong. Despite any expected objections that she didn't need help, or concerns he was overstepping his bounds, he should have helped out more anyway. He couldn't help but wonder if things would be different today if he had.