XIII. More January
Ant smiled and held out his hands slowly to show he meant no harm. “That’s impressive,” he conceded. “I did not expect to have this conversation until much later. No, I did not kill your mom that night.”
“But you were there,” Cooper said slowly. “That was you I saw running up the stairs.”
“Yes, that was me. I was there. But I was trying to save her, save you both,” Ant said slowly. “But regrettably I arrived too late.”
Cooper sat on the bed processing this information. All this time he never questioned the official report that it had been a home invasion that had gone terribly wrong. But somewhere deep inside he knew something didn’t add up. He just never wanted to do the math because it wouldn’t bring her back. So, he always lived in kind of a dream world not really accepting reality just living on the outskirts as it were so that he wouldn’t have to face the facts. But now the facts had found him and he had no choice but to follow through until the end. “You know who did, don’t you?”
“Again, this is a conversation I wasn’t going to have until much later,” Ant said quickly. “Yes, Cooper…”
Cooper’s head came up with the familiarity.
“I know who killed your mom. I have been chasing him for many, many years.”
“Is he the man you want me to help bring in?”
“Not yet. First, we have to prove you can. The man who killed your mom has been doing this for many years. We need an expert to find him. We need you to become an expert first.”
Al shifted. She had no idea the level of involvement that Ant expected from Cooper. She felt the equivalent of being punched in the gut. Anger was beginning to surface.
“I didn’t tell you,” Ant said noticing the tension that was coming from Al’s side of the room “because I needed to make sure this would work first.”
“This is a personal vendetta?” Al asked keeping her emotions in check.
“This is a work assignment,” Ant reassured. “But truly, we are bringing in a civilian to help us here. We had to make sure he was on board first.”
“If you want me to help you find the murderer who killed my mother then I say,” Cooper said slowly, “count me in. Let’s get started right now.”
“Alright,” Ant said. “Let’s get to the base and fill you in on the terrorist we are tracking.”
“No,” Cooper said. “I need answers about my mom first.”
“If we track down the Sheik first, we will be able to proceed with your mom’s case. We have to prove you can do this.”
Cooper thought about it. Al remained quiet. She would give Ant an earful when they were alone about the merits of partners and not keeping trusted allies in the dark.
“Why was my family on your radar to begin with?” Cooper asked and Al turned to Ant waiting for an answer. She had no knowledge that the Baldwin family should be in the crosshairs of anyone dangerous.
“Your uncle, your mom’s brother, hid something in your house. Something dangerous. Something certain people were willing to kill for. And they did.”
“Did she know that?” Cooper asked looking down at the floor.
“No, I don’t think she did.” Ant replied.
“What was it?”
“It was a pill. Called the Samson Pill. It was supposed to genetically modify the person who swallowed it and give them special abilities.”
Cooper now had a name for what had happened to him. But decided it was best to keep certain details to himself for the time being. “Did they find it?”
“No, no, they did not,” Ant played the game but was fairly certain he knew the fate of the pill. “Neither did our team who came in after. It’s as if the pill…”
“Vanished?” Cooper asked finishing the story.
“If it even existed,” Al said. “The Samson Pill has been a myth since before my time in the academy. I don’t think it even exists. I mean, c’mon, that’s the stuff of comic book stories, right?”
“Right.” Cooper said looking at Ant.
“Right.” Ant answered holding Cooper’s stare.
“Right,” Al said and walked to the door. “Are we getting out of here or not?”