As the shabby door to the small room fell shut and she was finally left alone, Jo released her breath. The harsh gaze that had tainted the brunette's face did not soften for one second, though, as she sank down on the old, dusty couch and eyed the messy room: the shreds of dirty aluminum foil and used needles, smoked cigarettes (mostly joints) and half-empty bottles of several types of hard liquor, of which not a single one was unopened.
She took in a sharp breath through her nostrils and ripped her gaze away from the scene, leaned her head back and allowed her tired, unusually listless eyes to fall shut if only for one brief moment, Jo's other senses heightened for now. She was left alone rarely, and she suspected the fact that they had begun, lately, to give her more such moments alone now, meant that she had somehow proven to be trustworthy enough to those she was undercover with -- and that was essentially a good sign for her investigation.
To the non-perceptive onlooker, Josephine Danville seemed rested and even at ease, but to anyone who looked more closely, to people who knew her, it was clear that she was not at all at ease. The discomfort was visible in her tight, taut expression, the way she clenched her jaw together prepared to snap if needed, which she had to do to survive in this kind of climate. One moment with her guard down now, and it could be the end.
She had known that this would be a hard job, known not to underestimate just how tough it would be. It wasn't that she regretted her choice per se, to volunteer for this, but she thought of her children very often, and that made it harder. "Sanchez is off to score some more from a local dealer. I can tell he doesn't have enough faith in me to let me come yet," Jo spoke in a low tone before she released the small headset that put her in touch with the lab and dropped her hand. She shook her head slightly to let her long hair fall over her ear again so that the device was no longer noticeable.
This opportunity, or so she had seen it at first, had come only two days into Ellie's summer holidays. It had been Mac's suggestion for someone to go undercover hours after the former FBI employee had dropped her adopted daughter at JFK to go to soccer camp with some girl friends for the next five weeks. Ellie would stay with her brother and his fiancée for the rest of the holidays, in Virginia. The decision for one of his own team to go undercover had been Mac's only solution for a breakthrough in a case that had been on the table for a few weeks without any progress. The discovery of a fourth victim had pushed him to take this risk.
A few girls between twenty and twenty-seven had been found, raped and strangled, not in that order per se, in Hell's Kitchen, about two months prior to the day Jo slipped undercover. Whereas there wasn't any proof at all that they had been killed by one person, there were enough similarities for all of them to assume it. Their only lead had been a long, grey hair on the sleeve of one girl's vest, and that hair had been tied to a man convicted for drug crimes in 2004 and released merely eight months prior to the first victim's death. Alejandro Lizarro had apparently disappeared, though, and all they had on him was information on the drug cartel he had been associated with back then and suspicions that he would, very likely, be back in their circles.
Jo had stated that a trained professional was the best option, and she had suggested she go herself. She argued her case very and noted that she had been the first investigator on the case and was as familiar as could be with the evidence, yet she hadn't been there when the felon was first convicted in 2004, which kept the detective's true identity unknown to the drug cartel.
Mac and the rest of the team had countered that she had a family, had children, and that she might not be the logical choice to go, but she had stated that it was what she wanted to do for the case, that she would be okay and that she had just wanted to get down and dirty -- and had for a while. That was not essentially untrue, but such feelings had grown since Mac had returned to work. There was a strange distance between both of them now that she had desperately tried to close, but she hadn't managed to do so.
She had felt the need to get away from the lab for a while. After all, desk duty was not why she had joined the Feds back then to begin with either. If things ended badly, she had to, quite grudgingly, admit that both Tyler and Ellie were old enough to take care of themselves if needed. Nevertheless, she wasn't that far over the hill yet that age caused her more disadvantages than 'advantages' -- or brought her any more danger than she would be in normally, given the position she was in. Instead, Jo's age made her more experienced in life, with people in particular, which was a plus when undercover.
Of course, it was impossible not to be a part of any of the things that happened in a tenement of squatters, at least without raised suspicions -- or worse -- so she had smoked and continued to smoke on a daily basis, when surrounded by the people she needed to stay in favor with. Anyone younger might have succumbed under the urges and pressures. All day, she was confronted with, as well as surrounded by, men who tried to get it on with her, who didn't give up on a chance at what they saw as a 'free pussy', and it was a challenge to refuse their advances but stay in favor, to say no yet remain 'vulnerable' still. Jo Danville could deal -- for now.
Summary: Detective Josephine Danville needed to take a step back from the man she didn't recognize anymore. She didn't believe that reconnection was at all possible, but was it? JAC.