I had never been in such a rush to get home. Of course traffic was against me so I had to run most of the way. It took me about twenty minutes before I walked through the door of my apartment, sweat dripping off my body.
"You've been keeping secrets from me!" I shouted at Bob who swam around in his little bowl, not going inside his sea castle. "You're on her side? Is this because of the football thing? I thought you were my friend, Bob."
Angrily, I slipped my hand into his bowl and pulled up his castle. Now on closer inspection, I could see something in there. Something plastic. A sandwich bag?
I pulled it out. It was wet, but only on the outside, because on the inside...
"Fuck," I breathed and opened the bag, letting the little black USB dump into the palm of my hand. It had been here all along.
'I left it with someone whom I am certain will keep it safe and sound.'
"Sonofafish!" I turned to Bob and glared at him. "You're in a lot of trouble, young man."
Bob swam down to his rocks, poked his nose against them, probably wondering where his sea castle went.
"You're grounded," I told him, sitting down on my couch next to him, studying the USB. "So very grounded..."
So what now? I had the USB. I should bring it back into the CIA, but... Zac's warning rang in my head.
'There could be a mole inside the CIA.'
Damn it. What was I supposed to do? I'd never thought beyond retrieving the USB, because well... I had trusted the CIA up until now to handle that end of the case, but if there was a mole there, a spy, like Zac said...
Of course the mole could be Zac. The cleverest way of taking the scent off yourself was by rubbing it on someone else. Zac was smart enough to pull that off, but he was also my friend. And I trusted him. More than I trusted Bob right now.
But all that could wait for now. I had one other big question in my head; Why did Lauren finally give it to me? If she gave it up to me barely a week after telling me how that would never happen, could that mean...
"No," I said to myself, clutching the USB. "She is not dead. She's not. She's too stubborn to die."
That was a quality we shared. If she had unfinished business, she wouldn't die. And this USB... this was her business and it was very unfinished.
And so are you, that voice in my head said. She left it with you and not someone else. She trusts you.
"Damn it," I whispered and looked at the USB. Something had to be way off if she trusted me right now. Maybe she got ambushed. Or maybe she knew she would, that's why she had left it here with me and then told me via that surveillance camera. It was perfect, really; Nobody would think that 'BOB' would stand for the pet name of a CIA agent's goldfish.
And that right there was why I trusted Bob.
"Okay, you've been grounded for long enough now," I said, carefully slipping his little sea castle back where it belonged. "I'm not saying you're forgiven for helping her, I just understand that you had no other choice. She was in danger and she needed to hide it somewhere safe. And as safety goes, you're a little golden Pentagon with gills."
Bob happily swam into his sea castle for first time in weeks, then swam out on the other side, only to repeat the whole thing.
I sighed and turned back to glaring at the USB I finally now had in my hands after weeks of hunting it. My fingers were itching to plug it in and see what was on there – had been ever since she told me it was above my paygrade. What the hell could it be?