In the Seattle FBI headquarters, it was a usual Tuesday morning. People running around the office with paperwork, some working non-stop on the computer, and others trying to down their morning cup of coffee as fast as possible.
Agent Elizabeth Romero was another story. Unlike the others, she mostly worked in the field- carrying confidence with her where ever she went. Many say she wasn't afraid of anything and when it came to expressing emotion, positive or negative; she wasn't one for it. No one but her knows the real reason as to why she can shut out her emotions so easily.
Liz was sitting at her desk, coffee in her left hand and computer mouse in the right, trying to update a couple case files that her boss Vincent had asked her to do. When it came to orders, Liz would either likely oblige or she would completely disobey. She picks her moments. As she was about to log in the last case file she had, Vincent had stopped by her desk to stop her. "Not that one Romero," He spoke. "That's your new assignment."
Agent Romero always knew the drill: open and read case files, go out into the field for evidence, and then hunt down possible suspects. It wasn't new to her. She opened the file and skimmed through it. Another kidnapping? She thought. Don't people have anything else better to do? It wasn't until Liz glanced at the victim's name that she almost stopped breathing.
CASE NO. 61898
NAME: LIAM JAMES PAYNE
HEIGHT: 5' 10"
EYE COLOR: BROWN
HAIR COLOR: BROWN
ORIGIN: WOLVERHAMPTON, WEST MIDLANDS, ENGLAND
AFFILIATION(S): ONE DIRECTION (BOY BAND)
LAST SEEN AT SPACE NEEDLE IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND SOPHIA SMITH ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2015. PAYNE WAS WEARING A GRAY T-SHIRT, NAVY BLUE HOODIE, AND FADED DENIM JEANS.
"Are you okay Romero?" Vincent had noticed the effect that Liz was having by the case file.
"I think...I think I know him." She responded. When she turned to the next page that displays the victim's picture, she burst out in tears.
"What's wrong Romero?" Vincent asked. He was starting to worry.
"Vincent," She said while wiping away her tears, "I went to school with this boy."
October 14, 2015
X Gym: SW Harbor Ln. Seattle, Washington
It was a short break from the On The Road Again tour for One Direction. As much as the boys loved to hang out together and have a laugh here and there, they each took their separate ways. They figured that they would go back home to visit their families or take a small trip before continuing the rest of the West European tour in Belfast, Northern Ireland on October 20th. Liam of course wanted to spend that small break with Sophia, the love of his life. However, he wanted to blow off some steam and the best place to do that was at the gym. X Gym in Seattle, Washington is relatively small, which was perfect for Liam to work out in since he wouldn't attract much attention.
Three consecutive hours have passed, and in those hours Liam had been working with his personal trainer, Aaron Lopez. Liam had been boxing and Aaron was his "punching bag" so to speak because he was wearing a protective suit.
"Just another two rounds Liam. Then you'll be done for the day." Aaron said.
Awesome. Almost done. He thought. He knew that if he didn't try to stay in shape during the break, he would lose motivation later on. Especially when it was somewhat mandatory.
As Liam was about to do what his trainer said, someone caught his eye. A girl with light tan skin and bright aqua green hair had walked in. She wore a black tank top with matching black athletic shorts. The girl was minding her own business, completely oblivious to Liam's stare.
"Another round of punches Liam," Aaron repeated. This time he caught his trainee gawking at a complete stranger, ready to drop his gloves and rush over there to get her number. "Ahem." Aaron cleared his throat. To his avail, nothing seemed to work until he used that one line that always seemed to pull Liam out of any trace he was in. "Liam, concentrate."
"Who's that girl, over there?" He pointed one of his boxing gloves towards the mysterious girl who was lifting hand weights.
At that point, Aaron decided to call it a day for training and resume it when the tour starts. After he left, Liam noticed that the mysterious girl in question was packing up and ready to leave. Without thinking, he ran up to her.
"Can I help you?" The aqua green haired girl asked. She seemed slightly annoyed by Liam's presence.
"Um. Not to be weird or anything, but have we met? You look...familiar."
"Is this some kind of pick up line that I'm not aware of?" She raised an eyebrow.
"No! Not at all!" Liam couldn't help but fluster a little and look away.
"Wait a minute."
Liam turned his gaze back into her direction. "Hmm?"
"Liam? Liam Payne?"
"Yes?" Liam seemed hopeful of being able to figure out who this familiar figure is. Okay, he began thinking. She has a light tan, brown eyes...but her hair doesn't-Oh my God. He had to do a double take. "Liz? Liz Romero?"
"The one and only." She grinned. "It's been a while, Liam. How long? Like five years?"
"Yeah, it has been long. What have you been up to? Obviously you don't need to ask me the same."
"Well, I've been working as an FBI agent." Liam was surprised at how his childhood friend was able to get a job like that.
"Whoa, that's a cool job!"
"Thanks." Liz grabbed her black duffle bag. "Anyways, what have you been up to?"
"You're kidding, right? Of course you know I went to audition for X-Factor and became a part of One Direction."
"One Direction? What the fuck is that?" Liz could see how she made Liam slightly upset, almost as if she had broken his heart. She knew she had been kidding of course, but it had been so long without seeing Liam that she forgot how sensitive he can get. "Dude, I'm kidding." She playfully hit his arm.
"Very funny Romero," He smiles, "So where you off to?"
"I was going to go grab lunch. Want to join me? We obviously have a lot of catching up to do."
The two old friends decided to pick up some Panda Express on the way to Liz's home. Liam would have said no, especially because he had a girlfriend. However, he couldn't pass up the opportunity of catching up with his old childhood friend. After all, he was curious about what exactly she did for a living.
They talked for hours. Not only about Liz's job, but it ranged from the funniest memories to whatever came to mind.
"No way," Liz says while almost choking on her fried rice. "They put glue in your cap?!"
"Yeah they did. In hindsight, I should have expected Louis and Zayn would pull such a stunt."
"Speaking of, do you still talk to him?"
"What Louie? He's an occasional pain in the arse, but yeah I do-"
"No, I meant Zayn. Do you still keep in touch?" Liam put down his takeout box.
"Well, not exa-" Liam's explanation was cut short when his phone buzzed on Liz's coffee table. "Sorry," He got up from the couch and grabbed his phone. "I have to take this." He went to answer the call in the kitchen.
After the call ended, Liam returned to the living room with a look of disappointment. "Sorry Liz, I have to go pick up Sophia at the airport. We can hang out another time, yeah?" He gathered his things and headed straight to the front door.
"Wait!" Liz couldn't help but blurt out.
"Yeah?" He turned around.
Strange enough, Liam had forgotten to give his old friend his number so they could stay in touch. His only excuse for missing that major detail was because of Sophia. She was his top priority at the moment. After the exchange of numbers, Liam left in his car and vanished. Never to see Liz Romero again.
Or so he thought.
November 17, 2015
"Liam James Payne. Twenty-two years old. Originally from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. He's a part of One Direction, a British boy band. Payne was last seen at the Space Needle with his girlfriend Sophia Smith on November 1st. Do we have any leads to this?" Vincent said. Obviously, Liz knew very well who Liam James Payne was. It was just mandatory to go over the victim's profile out loud.
Vincent's team was a small bunch. It consisted of Elizabeth Romero, who could probably lead the team herself, if it wasn't for the short time she spent working for the FBI. Three years to be exact.
Then there's Tania Joyll, a woman who was even more mysterious than Liz could ever be. She had a rough life. Abused as a child, grew up in foster care, bullied in school. Well, according to her file. After being a navy lieutenant for five years, she was offered a job here in Seattle to be a part of the FBI Special Unit.
"Boss, I got a question." Oh, I forgot one. Lincoln Ross. He was in his early 30's but he was still a stud: 6'3", five o'clock shadow, his short ash brown hair up in a quiff. He was the troublemaker in the group. He often pushed Vincent's buttons, reaching the limit from time to time.
"What is it Ross?" Vincent knew that he shouldn't trust Lincoln, but then again, he never knew when Lincoln was willing to joke around during cases.
"Ahem. What the hell are they doing here?" He was referring to the two standing by Liz.
"Dear lord Ross. It's not even noon yet and I have a headache." He walked away from the presentation on the monitor and yelled out, "Joyll! Explain to this dumb ass who our guests are! I'm getting an aspirin."
Tania let out a sigh. Liz was so lucky that she hasn't put up with this for seven years. "Listen Link. Those two," She pointed to the man and woman by Liz. "Are Agents Thomas Parks and Jackie Hill. They're from the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom. You know, where Liz used to work?"
"Oh!" Lincoln said, remembering their British team member that arrived three years back. "Still don't know why they're here. Yes, the victim's from the UK, but why are they here if Liz is British?"
Liz tried to hide her embarrassment. She worked with someone who was older than her, yet she dabbled into logic more than Lincoln ever did. "Jesus Christ Lincoln! How bloody stupid are you?!" Thomas blurted out. He was a little on edge. He came to Seattle with Jackie at the middle of the night and he was fed up with working with an idiot like Lincoln.
"What did you call me you fucking Brit?!" Perhaps it's too late to offer some coffee. Liz thought to herself. Tension was high in the room. It was no surprise that people from two different agencies would not be able to get along.
"ENOUGH!" Vincent yelled as he walked back. Vincent was completely tired of Lincoln's shenanigans, but he could never really have the heart to fire him. After all, Lincoln was one of the best agents at the FBI. Not to mention, Vincent's step son. "Look. It's been a rough morning and not all of you can get along," He looked directly at Thomas and Lincoln. "But remember that there is a teen heartthrob from the United Kingdom that went missing on American soil. That's why the FBI and NCA have to work together. Do I make myself clear?" Everyone in the group nodded in agreement. "Good. Now get me a lead on this investigation!"
"Already got something Vincent." Liz grabbed the remote an diverted everyone's attention to the monitor. "Since we are dealing with the kidnapping of an international pop star, we're keeping this on the down low. No one, not even the press should find out, got it? Payne was last seen on November 1st in the Space Needle. Anyone know the details of what went on?"
For the first time since she arrived, Jackie spoke. "I have something." She receives the remote from Liz. "At 7:45 PM on the day of Payne's disappearance, 911 received a call from his phone but it wasn't him." She pulled up a picture of His girlfriend. "Sophia Smith was the one who reported him missing."
"Damn. She's quite the looker." Lincoln said, almost drooling over her picture. He wasn't wrong though. Sophia is pretty attractive. Liz was a tad jealous. She had never felt jealous of her friend when he got attention from other girls, but Sophia was different. Big blue eyes, minuscule nose, high cheek bones, long raw umber colored hair.
Tania was having enough of Lincoln's shit. She smacked him in the back of his head. "Focus."
"Okay! God damn you're such a buzzkill." One could only wonder if Lincoln Ross was already going through a midlife crisis.
"Anyways, like I was saying," Jackie grabbed everyone's attention. "We contacted Smith so we can bring her in and ask questions, but Modest!, One Direction's management, contacted us earlier this week asking us to not release any information about Payne's kidnapping to the media. We can interrogate Smith, but only in the presence of an attorney and a Modest! representative."
"I went ahead and called the security at the Space Needle for the surveillance tapes," Thomas says. "It might take a day or two because the footage we need is from a week ago."
"What do you mean a day or two?! We need them now Tom!" At this point, Liz couldn't hide her emotions any longer. She is a little too involved with the case, considering that she knows Liam. No one wanted to say it before, but the two NCA agents and Vincent's team thought it was time for Romero to sit this one out. Being emotionally unstable wasn't going to help this case at all. "I'm, I'm sorry." She put her head in her hands.
It wasn't the first time she broke down like this. Well, she never broke down in front of her former NCA buddies. There was another time and place, where Liz couldn't help but...
Sorry if it was short. More on the way soon.