The report was titled A Review of the FBI’s Handling and Oversight of Agent Aristotle Grove.
I looked up at Thomas. “What did you do?”
Val closed the door and approached my desk. “Grove is downstairs. Will they arrest him today?”
“I thought you took care of this,” I said, closing the file and pushing it forward.
“Took care of it?” Thomas said, his eyebrows shooting toward his hairline.
I leaned forward, keeping my voice low. “I told you Grove was feeding you bad intel. You sat on it too long.”
“I was compiling evidence against him. That was part of the reason I brought you here. Val was in on it, too.”
I looked to my friend, who stared at the file as if it were on fire.
She was biting her lip. “I didn’t have to speak Japanese to know he was full of shit,” she said. “Wait—are you the language specialist he brought in on this?”
Val nodded, but she seemed uncomfortable that she hadn’t sniffed that one out.
Sawyer blew in, straightening his tie just as the door closed behind him. “I came as soon as I heard. What can I do?” he asked.
Sawyer seemed disappointed. “Seriously? Again? He is my least favorite target. You know if we took a black light Grove’s bedroom room, every inch would be glowing.”
I stood, pressing my fists down on my desk. “Would someone mind explaining what the hell everyone is talking about?”
“We have to be extremely careful with how we proceed,” Thomas said. “Travis could be in real trouble if this isn’t seamless.”
Val sat in the club chair, defeated. “When Maddox transferred to HQ in Washington before he was promoted to ASAC, he caught a lead on one of Benny’s goons from an agent working in HQ’s Asian Criminal Enterprise Unit.”
I looked to Thomas, dubious. “You caught a lead on one of your Italian mob bosses in Vegas from the Asian Crime Unit in Washington?”
Thomas shrugged. “I’d call it luck, but I’ve worked on this case day and night since it landed on my desk. There isn’t a fingerprint I haven’t checked or a backlog I haven’t accessed.”
Val sighed, impatient. “You can call it bad luck. The goon was a kid. His name was David Kenji. Travis beat him unconscious one night in Vegas to protect Abby.”
“That’s not in Travis’s file,” I said, looking to Thomas.
He looked away, allowing Val to continue.
Val nodded. “That was intentionally kept out, so it wouldn’t throw up any red flags for Grove. He can’t know anything about Travis. If he passes on the plan to any Yakuza, Travis is no longer an asset to the Bureau.”
“Why would Grove pass on info about Travis’s recruitment to any Yakuza?” I asked.
Val sat forward. “David is the son of Yoshio Tarou’s sister.”
“Tarou, as in the second-in-command of Goto-gumi in Japan?” I said, in disbelief.
Goto-gumi was one of the oldest syndicates of the original Yakuza Japanese gang. Tarou was a prominent boss, leading Goto-gumi since the 1970s. Tarou didn’t just intimidate his enemies. He was creative with his executions, leaving their mutilated bodies for all to see.
Val nodded. “Tarou’s sister lived with him until she died when David was fourteen.”
I nodded. “Okay, so you’re telling me Travis is also a target of Yakuza?”
I frowned. “I’m not hearing why there’s a goddamn Inspector General’s report on my desk.”
“Tarou is bad news, Liis,” Thomas said. “Grove has been passing him information via the Yakuza he’s interviewed here, and more recently, he’s been speaking to Tarou directly. That’s why we’ve had no traction on their criminal activity despite all the interviews. They’ve been one step ahead.”
“So, we let the IG arrest Grove. Who cares?” I asked.
Thomas’s face fell. “It gets worse. David died a couple of months ago. He was beaten unconscious during a fight, and no one has seen him since.”
“Does Tarou think it was Travis?” I asked.
“Keep in mind,” Sawyer chimed in, “David’s run-in with Travis was over a year ago, and to their knowledge, Travis hasn’t been to Vegas since.”
“The fights were run by the mob,” Val said. “Benny pitted David against someone out for blood. Uncle Tarou blamed Benny and sent several of his guys over to the States to get an explanation from Benny. The fighter who killed David was found all over the desert—well, not all of him. We have reason to believe the men Tarou sent over are part of this Yakuza nest we’ve been interviewing.”
I frowned, still confused. “Why was the nephew of Tarou doing low-level goon work for Benny?”
“The mother,” Val said simply as if I should have known. “When his mother died, David blamed Tarou. There was a fight. David left and came to the States. He gravitated toward what he knew and ended up with Benny.”
Val looked up to Thomas and then back at me. “We were waiting to pull the trigger on Grove because we knew he was playing both sides, but now that we’ve cracked the connection with Benny, we don’t know what intel from our case he’s turned over to them.”
“Shit,” I said. “How much does he know?”
Thomas took a step toward me. “Like I said, I’ve been suspicious of him for a while. Sawyer has been keeping track of his activities.”
Sawyer crossed his arms. “Daily activities—what he eats, where he sleeps. I know what gives him indigestion, what soap he uses, and what porn sites he jacks off to.”
Sawyer continued, “Maddox kept Grove in the dark about the Vegas case for the most part, but when the cases began to intertwine, Grove became interested…and so did Tarou. Benny is smoothing things over with Tarou, and with these guys, money can turn enemies into friends. The fights are big money. Benny wants a champion, and Travis is a sure thing.”
Val sat back in the chair. “We can control what Grove learns at the Bureau, but if Benny or Tarou mention Travis Maddox to Grove, it’s all over. He’ll make the connection.”
Thomas nodded. “The case. All of it. We’ll have to turn in what we’ve got and wrap it up without Travis or Abby.”
“And Travis will no longer be an asset to the Bureau. He’ll go to prison.”
The weight of my words seemed to bear down on Thomas, and he used the bookshelf for support.
I looked at the file lying askew halfway between Val and me. “The Inspector General just blew us out of the water.”
Sawyer shook his head. “Grove doesn’t know yet. We need to get on the phone, delay his arrest, and drag this out just a little longer.”