As she promised to Liz, Susan arrived at Brian’s apartment building around 8:15 in the morning. She rang his buzzer and he answered a minute later. “Hey, what’s up? Come on up,” and the door buzzed and unlocked. She walked in and made her way up to his apartment, where she found the door open. She walked in and closed it. Brian heard this and peeked out of the bedroom, wearing a towel around his waist. His hair was still wet from a shower. “Hey, you’re out and about early. Want some coffee?”
She replied, “Um, oh sorry, sure if you have some.”
He walked out and into the kitchen. “Of course, I do.” He grabbed a mug and poured her a cup. “What brings you out to Brooklyn so early?”
“Well, so I need to talk to you,” she replied.
“Oh,” he turned just as he was about to head back into the bedroom. “What’s up?”
She took a sip of the coffee and said, “Well, so what did you do last night?”
“Oh, not much,” he said. “I had dinner at the deli around the corner and then I worked on my project. Sam couldn’t meet me for dinner, so I just grabbed a quick bite.”
“So you worked on your car?” she asked.
“Yeah, and I took a photo of it for you,” he said and walked over to the desk to get his phone. He unlocked the phone and found the photo, and handed the phone to Susan. “See, it needs a lot of work.”
“Oh, wow,” she nodded. “It really does.” She handed the phone back to Brian and he put it back on the desk. She walked around and sat on the sofa. “So, where do you keep it?”
“It’s in a warehouse a few miles from here,” he said, walking into the bedroom. “I found a really good deal on one, where I could store it and work on it.”
“So, you were in Brooklyn all night,” she asked. She could hear him opening drawers and saw him laying out clothes on his bed.
“Yeah, think so,” he said. “Why do you ask?”
“Well,” she said with a pause, “did you see the news last night or today?”
“No, I haven’t even turned on my computer today,” he said, “and I rarely use the TV. What’s going on?” She saw him in the bedroom, now combing his hair.
“There was an incident, downtown,” she said. “It ended when the guy jumped off a building onto a helicopter and then jumped from the helicopter and flew through the streets wearing a winged suit. It was pretty incredible.”
“Wow, sounds incredible,” Brian said, still digging around in drawers.
“Yes, it was,” she replied. “Turns out the guy had just purchased a nuclear device from an undercover detective. According to Liz, it is likely going to turn into a domestic terrorist case.”
“A what?” Brian asked, kind of muffled. As he walked by, Susan could see that he was brushing his teeth. She also noticed that he was no longer wearing the towel.
“Da, Domestic terrorism,” she stuttered, a bit distracted. “The most interesting thing is that the phone number used to make the sale was the same number I used to track you to the storage center.”
She could hear water running, then it stopped and then Brian replied: “Oh yeah, that’s strange.”
“Yes, it is,” she replied. “It’s too much of a coincidence. Brian, was it you?”
Brian walked by again. She could see him, still naked, reach into his closet and grab a hand towel. He turned around, wiping his face with it, looking at her from across the bedroom. “Yes,” he replied.
Susan was speechless, partly because she was staring at a naked man and partly because she couldn’t believe what she just heard. She was struck by his physical appearance. She didn’t notice it when he was wearing the towel. But now that he was fully nude, facing her, she was struck by just how ordinary he looked. He wasn’t extremely muscular, despite his incredible strength and athletic ability. And he had no remarkable features. He looked like an ordinary guy, a nice guy, like a million other guys who never stand out. She kind of expected more, but at the same time, wasn’t disappointed.
She finally caught herself and regained composure. “Why? Why would you do this? What could you possibly want with a nuclear device?”
He walked slowly toward her. “I just can’t tell you,” he said. “Not now. There is too much at stake. It’s something that I’ve worked so hard for and it means so much to me.”
“But this is serious,” she said. “And put something on, because I’m having a hard time focusing on just how serious this is,” she added.
“I’m sorry,” Brian said. “I forgot about American sensibilities,” he said as he turned and walked over to the bed. He picked up his underwear and put them on. “And, as I said yesterday, I’m really sorry that you’re involved in any of this.” He picked up his jeans and put them on.
“Brian, this is so messed up,” she replied. “Liz is furious and now fears for her job if anyone finds out that she has connected you to both events and hasn’t brought you in. And my job’s on the line for the same reasons. Liz and I are now withholding information about a ‘person of interest’ involved in a possible domestic terrorist situation.”
Brian picked up his shirt and put on. He walked toward her again and said “I can assure you that I’m not planning any kind of terroristic threat. The device isn’t even really dangerous. It’s a power source, not a bomb.”
“But what do you need it for?” she asked. “Everyone is freaked out about this. The whole world is talking about this. I’m really nervous. And Liz is really pissed. She wanted your address so that she could drag you in for questioning, but I managed to talk her down.”
“Thanks,” said Brian. “If the police get involved, it will be a major setback for me. I didn’t know I was buying it from an undercover cop. I planned for this to go much more smoothly, but I know now that I had bad information on my contact.”
“Well, the police are involved,” she said. “This is not going away. Liz is going to have to make the connection known.”
Brian sat down on the other end of the sofa. “Then maybe it’s time that I go away. Again,” he said, looking away, sadly. “I can’t risk your career or Liz’s. It’s just not fair for you guys.”
“So, what is it for?” she asked again. “Why do you need a nuclear power source?”
“I can’t tell you,” he said. “I’m sorry. The more you know, the more you have to risk. Just know that it’s important to me, and no one will get hurt. And I tried every other way to get this. But a regular person can’t buy nuclear material. If there was another way, I would have taken it.”
“Listen,” he continued, “let’s sit down and talk with Liz, so we can figure out a way for you to get out of this mess, and the two of you can get back to your lives, and sanity. Then, I’ll slowly fade away.”
“No,” she said, grabbing his hand. “I don’t want you to leave. We’ll figure this out together so you don’t have to leave.”
He didn’t have the heart to tell her that he will be leaving, one day, anyway. But for now, he wanted to make sure no harm came to her or her friend, physically or otherwise.
“We can talk about it,” he said. “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”
She leaned over an hugged him. “I don’t want you to go,” she whispered. As the hug ended, she leaned in again and kissed him, and he kissed her back. It lasted for a few moments. Then she leaned back and said, “I should go. I have to get to the office. I’ll speak to Liz, and let’s meet at my place around four.” She stood up and adjusted her shirt a bit. Then walked toward the door.
Brian stood up and followed her. “That should be fine,” he said. “Please be careful and let me know if anything comes up before then.”
Susan walked out and Brian closed the door.