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“Got it.”

Rapp looked at Hakim and asked, “What’s his endgame?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Are you holding back on me?”

“No. I would have never thought he’d paint himself into a corner like this.”

Rapp looked at all the police, the camera crews, and the spectators.

Lewis seemed to be reading his mind and said, “He’s created a stage for himself. You provoked him,” Lewis said to Hakim, “by telling him you would tell the world that he was a coward. He’s so narcissistic that his reputation means everything to him. He can’t bear the thought of people saying those things about him, so he’s going to make sure no one ever doubts his bravery.”

“But he kidnapped a fifteen-year-old girl,” Hakim said.

Lewis pointed at Nash, who was talking to the police. “That’s who he’s after. You said it yourself . . . that he flew into a rage during the press conference after the medal ceremony. He thinks that he will kill an American hero on this grand stage and that he will be revered and celebrated by millions of Muslims the world over.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Rapp turned and walked over to where Nash was talking to all the police brass. Fortunately, Art Harris was approaching the same point from the opposite side of the circle. Nash was already arguing with the two officers in charge.

“I’m not going to say it again. That’s my daughter in there. He wants me. When he calls, I’m going in, and she’s coming out. It’s as simple as that.”

Harris was wearing his FBI tactical vest. He introduced himself to the two on-scene commanders and told them that the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team was inbound from Quantico. “And no one,” he said to the group, “is doing anything until they get here. Federal property,” he said as he pointed to the statue of Lincoln, “and they kidnapped her in Virginia and brought her into the District. It’s the FBI’s jurisdiction.”

“I don’t give a shit whose jurisdiction it is. That’s my daughter in there. When he calls back I’m going in. And I don’t want HRT fucking this thing up.”

“Mike, I understand your situation here, but you’re not in charge.”

“Fuck you, Art.” Nash pointed at the building and screamed, “That’s my daughter in there! Shannon! You’ve known her since she was a little kid. What would you do if that was Shelly? Would you trust HRT, or would you go in there and trade your life for your daughter’s?”

Rapp heard Coleman’s voice come over his earpiece and stepped away from the group. “Say again.”

“Max thinks he has a fix on the sniper. Says he’s due north of your position. Constitution and Twenty-third.”

Rapp stepped out from behind the command vehicle and looked north. The building’s roof was in plain view above the trees. Rapp’s eyes swept left. There was nothing. He moved them right along the tree line. The buildings on this part of Constitution Avenue occupied entire city blocks. The next block had a peaked roof, but the next block after that housed the Federal Reserve. It was a big, flat-roofed monster. “Slick,” Rapp said, using Wicker’s nickname.

“Yeah, Mitch.”

“Get over to the Federal Reserve and settle in at the southwest corner of the roof. Let me know when you have this guy in your sights.”

“Mitch, what do you want me to do?” Coleman asked.

“Drop him off and make sure he gets in. I don’t care if you have to shoot your way in. Can Max jam these signals if I need him to?”

It took a moment while Coleman relayed the question. “He says no problem, but he wants to know if you want him to block all signals or just these two.”

“For now just these two, but let me think about that. Hurry up and get Slick on that roof!”

“We’re already in front of the building and there’s a guard out front.”

“Show him your DHS creds and call me if you have a problem. I’ve got Art here.”

As Rapp turned to go back to the group he heard some choppers coming in. He craned his head skyward as three Blackhawks came in and landed a few hundred yards away, just south of the Reflecting Pool.

“That’s HRT,” Harris announced, as Rapp walked up to the group.

Harris gave him a nervous looked and mouthed the words, Do something!

Nash was now arguing with one of the on-site commanders. Rapp listened for a good ten seconds and then stepped in. He looked at the two on-site commanders and asked, “Does he have any other hostages?” As Rapp finished asking the question, Wicker’s voice came over the net telling him he was in the building and on the way to the roof.

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