?

Log in

No account? Create an account
do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Chaos fic: God Complex 1a/13

May 31st, 2012 (06:46 am)
enthralled

feeling: enthralled

Title: God Complex

Disclaimer: I do not own Chaos.

A/N: This fic is for penless, who may have discovered Chaos love late, but some things are better late than never :) However, somehow her three word prompt made me write 90k. Therefore, I’m posting this in parts just so I can maintain my sanity while posting. The plot may be sketchy because I don’t know anything about real CIA missions, but that’s the way it is when I write :) Also, this has 13 chapters that vary in length and this one ended up being really long because apparently I needed to write exposition! Chapters should be up twice a week, Thursdays and Mondays, assuming I don’t forget!

A/N 2: Beta kindly provided by penless. Who deserves serious props for cleaning up my mess! I'm still glad this didn't disappoint!

A/N 3: This chapter is split in two because LJ really dislikes me. And large posts. But mostly me. For all parts, see the MASTER POST.

Summary: Someday Michael was going to realize that this wasn’t his little universe to control. Someday something would throw him for a loop and he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. But not this mission.



-o-

Michael was a creature of habit.

He considered this to be a matter of self-discipline, which was a critical element to success. More than that, it was essential to stay alive. Michael had learned early on that to get the job done he needed to control the elements. A successful mission was one that was thoroughly prepped, planned, and performed. He’d seen too many of his colleagues suffer in the aftermath.

It had only taken one of his own missions to run afoul before he learned that his best wasn’t good enough.

So Michael was better. He had always been vigilant – even as a child he’d been prone to organizational fits, carefully putting his schoolwork in order to ensure the maximum efficiency.

Needless to say, he didn’t have a lot of friends. But given his academic prowess he hadn’t figured he needed them. Now that he was in the CIA he saw even less need for casual friends, which had always been something that bothered Fay. Still, Michael had found acquaintances to be more trouble than they were worth, ends he couldn’t tie off in his big picture.

Now that he was divorced he didn’t even pretend. He kept his home simple and comfortable, sorting his things to create an efficient lifestyle, both personally and professionally. There wasn’t much differentiation now. Sure, he watched some sports on TV and had been known to read the latest best seller when he had the time, but the intelligence community didn’t live by any kind of normal business hours. When he got tips, when he took calls, when information came in, Michael was ready to deal with it. At home or at work, and his home was even more comfortable to work in than his desk.

Routines just made things easier. Getting up at the same time was practical. Maintaining the same order simply made sense. He had perfected by this point and he saw no need to impose change outside of the varying demands of his job.

That was the point, after all. If he created the right structure, he could easily accommodate whatever his job threw at him. Considering the myriad of dangerous and top secret missions he’d organized that was more important than most people probably realized. He didn’t want to be facing down terrorists while worrying about whether or not he had left the kitchen stove on.

As a creature of habit, such concerns were superfluous. He always turned the stove off because it was just another part of his routine.

Casey admired the efficiency but questioned the lack of personal indulgence. Billy mused that he probably had enough obsessive-compulsive tendencies to make a psychiatrist salivate. Rick had not been invited into that part of his life just yet because, well, Michael was a creature of habit and Rick was still the new guy. It had only been after Simms had disappeared that Billy had gotten the first invitation, and that had been less an invitation than a drunken escapade, the details of which Billy fortunately didn’t remember and Casey was inclined to keep more guarded that national secrets.

Yet, that ultimately was the beauty of a good routine. It made space for uncontrollable deviations without the entire system collapsing.

At least, that was Michael’s theory. And since he didn’t feel inclined to explain himself to anyone, there was no one to question him on it, especially since Billy and Casey most certainly did not count in this case. If they tried, Michael could more than easily point out that Casey’s suppressed anger and grief made him a walking time bomb and that Billy’s effusive facades were a classic case of well-entrenched denial.

And there was no need to worry about Martinez. Not yet, anyway. Michael was fairly confident that he could still leverage fear to keep the younger operative in line; if not, then the supposedly inestimable weight of team brotherhood would do its job. He had a few more years before the kid recognized that with such trust came no boundaries, even if Michael pretended otherwise.

None of this was actually the point, though. The point was that Michael got up at the same time, went on the same jog, ate the same breakfast and did his job. When he got home he took off his shoes and put on a pair of white socks, shuffling around the house while he checked all his bases: the mail, his phones, his email accounts, his news feed. If nothing piqued his concern he’d nuke something for dinner, read a book and call it a night.

But tonight something piqued his interest.

It was in his email, sent to one of his front accounts that he used for his network of correspondents in eastern Africa. It was one of his more active accounts, accordingly; Nigeria had been a hotbed of activity. Most of it wasn’t exactly relevant to Agency concerns, but Michael still preferred to be apprised of all terrorist activities and sectarian clashes, especially when innocent people were dying. Ignorance was not bliss for him, and even if there was nothing directly he could do he still liked to know.

Only this time, reading the email, it occurred to him there was something he could do.

The note was from a contact. The man had fed them some intel over the years, but nothing much, in exchange for a pittance of monetary compensation. The intel had been good but minimal, but this time Michael gave the note a second look.

The violence he reported was much the same – similar targets and death counts – but the exact method was of interest because the victims weren’t just killed with regular guns. These were high-grade military guns, the kind usually only seen by the army.

But the Nigerian army wasn’t involved, which meant the guns had been purchased elsewhere.

Which meant that one of the factions had a new buyer.

Which meant that something had shifted.

The effectiveness of the new weaponry was a marked improvement, because Michael knew the makes and models well. More than that, if someone had access to these guns they had access to a whole lot more. This indicated a likely escalation of violence with more damage and casualties than ever before.

All things considered, this still wasn’t necessarily an Agency concern, but something to pass along, no doubt. To be put in the coffer with the rest of the intelligence on the status of terrorist organizations around the world. But without a direct American tie…

Except Michael knew these guns. American guns.

Someone from America was supplying these weapons.

Weapons shipments got knocked off from time to time and theft was a real problem around the world, especially in high tension, remote bases. But something to this scale suggested something more sinister. It suggested that someone was siphoning off weaponry, someone on the inside. It meant there was a leak in the American military’s supply lines.

Of course, this was all just speculation based on a few notes from an old and somewhat uninteresting asset.

Michael would have to look into it.

Sighing, he pushed his glasses up his nose. So much for Tom Clancy; it was going to be all research for the night.

-o-

In the morning, Michael still woke up at the same time. He still took his morning jog. He still ate his breakfast and he still picked up Billy.

Carpooling with Billy had been something of a concession when it came to his routine. After all, the Scot was not exactly reliable in the day-to-day details. He had a tendency to be late and didn’t seem to notice when he dropped crumbs from his to-go pastry all over the front of Michael’s car.

But Michael liked saving on gas money, so he was inclined to tolerate it. Plus, before he’d insisted on driving together Billy had sometimes failed to show up until noon and had had this annoying tendency to get lost on the way to work, waylaid at coffee shops, grocery stores, and other places that Michael couldn’t quite fathom.

Sure, Billy had still always gotten the job done – better than he had any right to, considering – but knowing where the Scot was during work hours had been one less thing for Michael to worry about in the grander scheme of things.

Still, that didn’t mean Michael had to like it.

Billy, true to form, made him wait a few minutes before he came out, nursing a cup of coffee while he tried to finagle his suit jacket on one-handed. He sat down heavily in the seat, some of the hot liquid splashing onto his pants and the seats of Michael’s car.

“You’re staining the upholstery again,” Michael chided.

Billy took a greedy sip and put the cup in the center console as he pulled on his seatbelt. “You drive a ten year old Taurus, not exactly a luxury car by your own very wise admission,” Billy reminded him.

Michael glowered as he pulled the car out into traffic. “That doesn’t give you free license to abuse it,” he said contrarily.

Billy was thoroughly nonplussed as he picked up the cup again. “Do I detect an unusually foul mood from you this morning?” he asked. “Not problems with the neighbors again, I hope.”

Michael shot him a glare. “No, because they moved out ever since you and Casey stopped by to visit,” he said.

Billy took a sip, unable to hide his grin. “It is not our fault that they built their hot tub within full view of your bathroom window,” he said. “Besides, I’ve been told that what they witnessed of my fine physique would be worth money in some parts of the world.”

“I think it was Casey’s performance,” Michael said.

Billy shuddered. “Yes, I do believe that would be enough to make me move, too,” he said. He took a drink. “So if not your neighbors, then to what do I owe your less than savory mood?”

“My mood is fine,” Michael said, far too aware of how terse he sounded. He could probably hide it better, but with Billy it didn’t matter much anyway.

“You’re a right bastard and a horrible liar when it comes to this morning commute,” Billy gauged knowingly. He sat back in his seat, brow furrowed thoughtfully. “No, if I didn’t know better, I’d wager that you managed to find yourself a mission.”

It wasn’t a surprising deduction. Despite his obvious efforts to appear oblivious, Billy had one of the sharpest minds Michael had ever known. He was quick with conclusions and easily cut through pretenses to understand the heart of things. This was what allowed him to charm people so easily: he could sense what they wanted even when they didn’t know they wanted it. His ability to discern the unconscious whims of others was a powerful asset in the field.

It was slightly less convenient when it came to a friend. But since Michael’s friends were few and far between, he figured beggars really couldn’t be choosers in this case.

Still, that didn’t mean that Michael was about to admit to anything. He’d been working for the CIA long enough to know the power of a staunch denial.

Settling back easily in the seat, Michael shrugged as nonchalantly as he could. “Maybe,” he said.

Billy turned on him, eyes bright. He lifted one hand, pointing at Michael knowingly. “No, no,” he said. “I know that look. That look of unadulterated contentment at the notion of putting a plan in motion.” He nodded in satisfaction. “You, Michael Dorset, have found us a mission.”

Michael was good under pressure, but he found the Scot’s enthusiasm difficult to resist. “I might have a case,” Michael relented, “assuming I can get approval.”

That was the caveat, and although Michael said it like it mattered the ODS had never been exactly strict on doing this by the book. Approval, in Michael’s mind, was a nice safety net but by no means his top priority.

But things were harder than they used to be at the Agency. Higgins was on them; getting a mission, especially one that had the potential to go belly up real fast, approved under these circumstances was probably smart.

“Ah,” Billy said, nodding while looking out the windshield. “From the lovely Fay, no doubt. Now your reticence makes perfect sense.”

Michael sighed, eyes on the road as he navigated through the morning traffic. “So that’s why I only might have a case,” he confirmed.

“Ah,” Billy said, taking a long drink and making a face. “You know, this was far easier before your paranoid ways drove her to divorce.”

Michael glared, giving the Scot a deadly look. “No, this was easier when you were still a respected member of the British Secret Service but we know how well that turned out.”

Billy feigned hurt, his blue eyes radiating in an all too effective hangdog expression. “That hurts, Michael.”

Smirking, Michael kept his eyes on the road. “The truth often does.”

It wasn’t an uncommon repartee. Billy’s deportation was a touchy topic; so was Michael’s divorce. But they shared a common bond that went deeper than that, and they had bled and cried together, so a few rough jokes at each other’s expense was all par for the course. After all, they didn’t have to use sentimentality to show each other they cared; sometimes, a well timed joked said it all the same.

The act was comfortable, familiar. And incredibly well honed.

Billy was almost pouting. “You really are insufferable in the early stages of mission formation, aren’t you?”

Michael assumed an air of indifference. “Maybe I’m just insufferable around you,” he suggested pointedly.

Billy scoffed. “Now I know that to be entirely false,” he said, turning wide, earnest blue eyes to Michael with undue affectation. “You love me.”

Lesser men and nearly all women would have caved. Many had, and Michael had seen it more than once. Billy had this way about him that Michael only resisted from years of over exposure and a detailed look at his MI6 file. “You’re delusional,” he said with confidence.

Billy’s grin was impish. “You’re not nearly as good at lying as you think you are,” he said. “That’s why you leave the finesse in the field for more talented operatives.”

Michael took a turn carefully but scowled at Billy out of the corner of his eye. “You better watch it or I’ll send you in to pitch this to Fay,” he threatened.

It was an apt threat. Billy held up his hands, coffee sloshing dangerously. “I relent quite readily,” he said. “I’d rather take a verbal trouncing than have to face down the cynical wrath of your ex-wife.”

This was, of course, the point of Michael’s threat. Somehow, it still made him feel defensive. “It’s not so bad,” he said.

Billy shifted, jiggling his knees restlessly as Michael stopped at a red light. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but do we need to relive the details of your failed marriage?” he asked, and this time the incredulity was reasonable by Michael’s estimation.

Still, Michael had to smirk because Billy had a lot on him – this was true – but Michael had more in return. Trust could be earned at the Agency, but a little blackmail was usually pretty handy, too. “Only if you want to relive the details of your failed MI6 career,” he offered with not-so-gentle openness.

Below the belt? Possibly.

Effective? Definitely.

After all, it would never be said that Michael hadn’t earned his place as fearless leader of the right bastards. Because he most certainly had and, this morning, even Billy would agree.

-o-

When they finally got to work, Michael was in a good mood. Frustrating as it was, Billy was actually right about him. He was insufferable in the early stages of planning a mission. He was obsessed and focused, unnaturally attuned to details. This made him difficult to be around, and he’d been known to ignore people and snap at commonplace distractions. He barely stopped to eat until the planning was complete; he was simply too focused to be hungry.

This made Casey weary. The older operative appreciated focus but he believed in a certain amount of indulgence in his daily routine. Billy found it altogether unworkable, his carefree attitude completely at odds with Michael’s intensity. Rick was still too new to get in the way, which was fine with Michael.

The thing was that Michael liked it that way. It was invigorating, enlivening. He didn’t consider himself an adrenaline junkie, but there was no way he could deny the rush of making a plan come together.

Hell, it even made him okay with quoting 80s TV icons without irony in application to his own life.

Not even his team could begrudge him that.

Of course, not even his team could sit idly by while he attacked his research, which was why he was not surprised to look up for the first time in the mid morning and find himself alone.

Vaguely, he remembered an incident with paper airplanes, a few threats of violence, and something about coffee. Beyond that, though, things were a bit hazy and, he decided, really pretty irrelevant. There was always an inherent risk when Billy and Casey were let out in the halls of the CIA with nothing much to preoccupy them, but he had to hope that Rick’s status as a nervous newbie would help keep them in check.

Knowing Billy and Casey, though, it was likely to have the opposite effect, especially if Casey believed that baptism by fire was a good means of further acclimating Martinez to their less than conventional ways. And Billy – well, Billy would be as good as Billy could be until his muse came up with something.

Which meant Michael was better off not thinking about his team for the moment and focusing on the problem at hand.

It wasn’t exactly a problem, though. He didn’t like to conceive missions based on problems. He preferred to gauge them as possibilities, opportunities even. They all had the potential to divert disaster and peril, strengthening national security and otherwise promoting world accord.

In this case, arms dealing.

Not an uncommon target for the CIA, because sure, guns didn’t kill people, people do, but the fact was that weapons made it a whole lot easier. Noting the uptick in violence and weaponry suggested a few notable things. First, it was a sign of increased organization; an inherent upping of the stakes that was worth taking stock of. Sectarian violence throughout the world was something of an inevitability but the more power any single cell amassed, the greater the risk that their ambitions would extend beyond their small scale foes.

The cell in question hadn’t seemed likely for this kind of upgrade. After scrolling through some chatter in a few documents he’d rounded up, Michael came to see that there had been a shifting of leadership following an assassination within the organization. The newest leader, Mueng Sunday, had the typical backstory from what Michael could glean from Agency records. His file was no more or less impressive than most people in his station.

Except, he had a sister. And the sister was married. To a former Marine.

Wendell Vaughan had served a stint in Iraq after being stationed in Africa, where he met his wife. He was honorably discharged a short time later, marrying and settling in his wife’s hometown in Nigeria.

Coincidence, perhaps.

Except Michael didn’t really believe in coincidence.

Some digging on Vaughan hadn’t been overly informative. He was adept at what he did and there had never been much else to note. He’d seen some combat but there was no notation of problems. There also was no note of any exceptional commitment either.

What was noted, however, was that he was a munitions expert. He had extensive knowledge of the weaponry, especially the ones used in the recent attacks in Nigeria.

Again, possibly a coincidence, but the more coincidental it seemed, the less likely Michael was to believe it.

No, in his mind he was painting a different story.

Wendell Vaughan was an average guy with average goals and average temptations. Maybe he fell in love with his wife first; maybe he fell in love with an opportunity. Michael wasn’t sure, but it didn’t actually matter a lot. The fact was he married a woman with ties to violence and then his wife’s family started moving up in the ranks, thanks largely to weaponry Vaughan had extensive knowledge of and likely access to.

Except he’d been discharged. Which meant that Vaughan wasn’t working alone.

This was harder to pinpoint and Michael had to make more than a few calls before he found someone who remembered Vaughan enough to comment. Seemed like Vaughan had kept to himself, just having a few close friends. Mostly a guy named Gregory Jenkins.

Jenkins, Michael discovered, was still active in the Marines. Mostly in charge of munitions, handling shipments for one of the units based in North Africa. Unlike Vaughan, Jenkins had a few reports against him. Nothing too serious but enough to show him to be a guy with questionable morals. He wasn’t serving his country for the honor in it, but for the stability. The big guns and the lack of other opportunities in life probably had something to do with it, too.

The strange thing was that Jenkins’ CO suggested the man had had a recent improvement in attitude and behavior. He was surprisingly dedicated.

This made sense, Michael figured, if he was starting to funnel off part of the shipments. He was bound to be happier making money on the side and he was bound to be vigilant if he was doing something illegal.

This was all speculation, but pretty good speculation. All he needed was an in. To this end, Michael really had three options. He could start at the most accessible point, which was with the newly armed terrorists. It would be the easiest place to start, especially if the implications regarding Vaughan were faulty.

However, getting involved that far down the line would ensure that the mission would only be reconnaissance in nature, and worse, it could possibly tip off Vaughan and Jenkins, therefore proving irrelevant.

Going to Jenkins, on the other hand, wouldn't exactly be easy or even possible. That fell under a different jurisdiction entirely and Michael wasn't opposed to crossing a few jurisdictional lines, but messing with the American military was low on his list of things to do. Besides, while going to Jenkins would plug the proverbial hole in the dam it would have limited impact on the terrorist organizations he was supplying. He probably didn't even know all the ins and outs of where the munitions he siphoned went, making him the top of the food chain but not the best link at dismantling worldwide terrorism.

Which meant that Vaughan was their best best. The middle man had access to supply and distribution. Nabbing him would be the maximum benefit.

Sitting back, Michael took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He rolled his neck and took a few deep breaths. He had a goal in sight, but now he needed a way to get there. He could sit there and plan it out himself, but he'd found that the best execution came from joint cooperation. Which meant that it was time to bring in the team.

-o-

It wasn't hard to find them. Rick was reading files in the break room; Casey was in the gym. Billy was in a supply closet, rearranging the paper clips and staplers.

It was harder to get them to come back. Rick seemed wary. He was an excitable operative with good intentions to save the world, but after six months on the ODS he had perhaps learned that missions borne from Michael's so-called fevered brain were somewhat less than normal.

Casey was exasperated at the notion, but it was more affectation than genuine feeling. Casey was exasperated with life overall, but he liked missions. He especially liked Michael's missions for the unique challenges they often presented.

Billy acknowledged the value of missions but he was hard pressed to leave his office supplies. He agreed to come but bartered with Michael to let him bring two staplers and a paper cutter back for his troubles.

By the time he had them corralled around the table in their office Michael had to remind himself that, contrary to appearances, his team was really the best the CIA had to offer. If not, they were still the best Michael had so beggars couldn't be choosers. Especially in times of economic uncertainty and worldwide instability.

Still, their response was less than encouraging.

"So you want to take us to Africa and make friends with a likely US traitor supplying illegal arms to combatant groups?" Casey asked.

Rick looked back through the makeshift pile Michael had xeroxed. "He looks like he's pretty well established," Rick said. "Getting an in will be hard."

"And Africa's so hot this time of year," Billy said contrarily.

Michael eyed them each with something just shy of disdain. He didn't really hate them -- this was part of their process -- but sometimes Michael understood why Higgins sometimes vied to cut their jobs. They were pains in the ass.

"It'll get hotter if we don't cut the supply line," Michael said.

"And generally subverting terrorism is in our job description," Casey relented.

Billy sighed. "Fine," he muttered. He lifted a finger in warning. "But when you all pit out your clothing don't come crying to me, because my only sympathy will be a staunch I-told-you-so."

"But we still need an in," Rick pointed out.

"Which is where our meeting really starts," Michael said. "Ideas?"

"We could pose as buyers," Casey said. "I think the best covers are the simplest ones."

"But it could tip him off," Rick said. "I mean, he's new to this, right?"

"And newly minted criminals do tend to be a bit more jumpy about their illicit ways," Billy agreed.

"That leaves supplying," Casey said.

"You think we could try to tempt him away from Jenkins?" Rick asked.

“Not likely,” Michael said.

“No,” Billy said in due agreement. “To be properly engendered we need to partner with him in his criminal pursuits.” Billy gestured widely. “Offer him a service to ease his burden.”

Michael’s mind lighted on this possibility immediately. “He has secured shipment from the source to his location,” he remembered.

“So what if we can provide improved movement from his location to the various other outlets?” Casey said.

Michael nodded, the loose ends starting to tie together in his mind. “Chances are he’s using local carriers, which makes him nervous,” he said. “If we can come in as Americans – brothers in arms, of sorts – we may have our in.”

He went over it again, hashing out the details. There were risks involved, of course, and they’d need to forge ironclad covers, probably with military backgrounds, which wouldn’t be easy. They’d have to get some military backing for the go ahead, which meant more red tape that Michael disliked, but if they could pull a few favors they wouldn’t need to read the military in necessarily.

Michael could retain control, and they could still determine the extent of Vaughan’s operation and just how Jenkins was managing to steal from the United States military.

His team was watching him. Looking at them, Michael nodded. “So do you think we have a mission?”

Rick looked at Casey, who shrugged. Billy sighed. “You already bloody knew you had one when you picked me up for work this morning,” he said. He held his hand out to the door. “Now all that’s left is Fay.”

Michael grimaced a little.

“She’ll say yes,” Rick said. “It’s too important a mission.”

“Spoken like a truly naïve operative,” Casey snorted. He pushed up and moved back to his desk. “Let us know how badly she flays you when you come back.”

Billy shrugged. “Or just keep your face with that unyielding expression of tortured hope you always have after talking to her so we know that things went pretty much as suspected,” he said.

Michael glared but didn’t disagree as he gathered his files back up. “Thank you all for that vote of confidence,” he said.

Rick blinked at him. Casey smirked. Billy lifted his fingers to salute as he spun in his chair.

Michael rolled his eyes and figured it was time to jump out of the frying pan and right into the fire.

-o-

Fire was an apt metaphor for his relationship with Fay but he still always found her office cold. Probably because she made a clear effort to shut him out of her life. She liked to think he just didn’t understand how divorce worked, but the contrary was true. Michael was too aware of how it worked; he just refused to accept it.

He loved Fay, and he didn’t make his commitments lightly. When they said until death do they part Michael had taken it seriously, even if it meant enduring her cold shoulders. He simply counted his so-called blessings that he got to be close to her at all.

Plus, she liked it. She would never admit to it but it was true, and Michael took more than some pleasure in that.

More than that, it often worked in his favor. Not that he used her soft spot for him to his own benefit. That would just be proving Fay’s statement of divorce as justified, which wasn’t even remotely possible.

Still, facts were facts.

So when he sat down across from Fay, smiling broadly at her, he simply leveraged the facts to his advantage and attempted to look as much like an over-eager puppy as it was possible for a grown man.

She returned his enthusiasm with a dubious look. “What do you want?” she asked.

“Seeing you isn’t enough?” he asked coyly.

She lifted her eyebrows. “It may be enough for a restraining order,” she mused.

“Ah,” Michael said. “I love it when you talk rough with me.”

She sighed. “Did you have a point, Michael?” she asked. “Or are you just here to remind me why marrying you was a mistake?”

That one stung a little, so Michael tossed the file on her desk. It was rough but it was better than most of the files he threw her way. “I need approval.”

Cautiously, she eyed it. “Is this one that I’m going to have to stick my neck out for you?”

He shook his head. “It’s entirely legitimate,” he said. “A bit high risk but I think you’ll find it well worthwhile.”

Curiosity colored her expression as she picked up the file and opened it. “Sectarian violence in Africa,” she said. “And here I thought you’d mellow in your old age.”

He smiled back at her. “Keep reading; it gets better.”

She flipped through, inclining her head. “Gun smugglers,” she said, a bit surprised. “From the military.”

“To supply possible terrorist acts against citizens,” Michael concluded, more than somewhat proud. “It’s a complete trifecta – a slam dunk.”

Fay closed the file and looked at him. “Definitely sounds like a case,” she agreed.

Michael dared to let his heart skip a beat.

Her smile turned wry. “For the United States Military.”

Michael’s heart crashed to his stomach. Sinking back in his chair, he groaned, shaking his head.

“But you knew that,” she concluded. “That’s why you’re here with your tail between your legs, like you want something from me.”

Michael didn’t bother denying it. “If you send us in, we can take down the operation at the source and the network.”

“Jurisdictional lines are pretty clear,” Fay said.

Michael shook his head, sitting up again and scooting closer to her desk. “And if you give this one to the military they’ll clamp it down too quickly and we’ll lose the leads on the network that’s being supplied.”

“Cut off the head of the snake,” Fay said with a shrug.

“Normally, I’d agree with you,” he said. “But not in this case.”

Her look in return was withering.

He opted to try the sincere approach. “We can save more lives doing it our way,” he said. “And you know I have friends in high places; you know I can get the backing for this.”

She shook her head, clearly reluctant. “Michael…”

“Please,” he said, doing his best to implore her now.

Her eyes narrowed. “You just don’t like the idea of someone else taking your mission,” she said.

Truth was sometimes indisputable but he also knew that it also wasn’t always relevant. “Just read the file,” he said. “And let me know.”

She didn’t want to say yes. The ex-wife in her wanted to send him packing. But he was right, and Fay hadn’t trusted him in their marriage vows but she’d always trusted him in the field.

She held out for a long moment before she sighed. “Fine,” she said, shaking her head in frustration.

Michael brightened. “Thank you.”

Pursing her lips, she squared her shoulders. “It’s not for you,” she reminded him.

“Whatever you say,” he said.

She rolled her eyes in exasperation and Michael left with a smile on his face before she could change her mind.

-o-

Walking back into the ODS office was never as reassuring as Michael figured it should be. He knew they were the best and brightest the CIA had to offer – and he was quite fond of that first line of defense phrase in their mission statement – but still, seeing his team hardly instilled much confidence.

Casey looked the part well enough, he supposed, sitting there primly at his computer clicking away. He always had a grave expression; some would even call it focused. Too many wayward visitors had mistakenly thought Casey might be open to discussion, but one undesired word in the older man’s direction had always elicited such ire that few people ever chose to return. Michael might object, but he didn’t really care for visitors either. Still, all of this would be more impressive if Michael didn’t know for a fact Casey was chasing endless links around the internet which probably had no relevance to, well, anything.

Billy made it harder, still. The only way the Scot managed to keep his desk in some state of order was to effectively do no work. Michael would never admit that, of course, not with Higgins still gunning for their jobs, but it was true. Billy talked his way out of most paperwork and foisted the rest off on others. What little he retained for himself was covered with doodles and lines from poems Michael didn’t recognize. But considering that any paper on Billy’s desk is destined to become lost or otherwise destroyed, Michael tended to believe that minimizing the amount of paperwork that went his way was preferable.

Rick, for his part, actually worked, which was, of course, the most disconcerting fact of them all. He sat there at his desk, diligently going over his paperwork, scrutinizing online sources and print materials in equal turns. He would pause to straighten the memorabilia on his desk, looking every bit the part of a trained and true CIA operative. Which made him by far the weakest link.

And yet, this was his team. He trusted them with his life. The fact that they didn’t look the part was really their best defense, although really, sometimes Michael wondered.

Casey looked up at him dolefully. “Back so soon?”

Billy spun in his chair, tossing his newspaper crossword on his desk. “Good news, then?”

Rick looked up from his work with curious eyes.

Michael snorted and made his way back to his desk. “She’s looking into it.”

Casey rolled his eyes and went back to his computer.

Billy grinned. “So we will see if the Dorset brand of paranoid charm still works its wonders,” he crooned.

“She’ll say yes,” Michael said with as much confidence as he could muster.

Rick looked doubtful. “And why are you so sure?”

“He’s not,” Casey said without looking away from his computer.

“Because Michael has the strange and alluring quality of quintessential certitude, which is mysteriously impossible to resist regardless of age, race, sex or would-be marital status,” Billy rejoined.

Michael smiled. “She’ll say yes,” he said again with even more certainty than before.

NEXT

Comments

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: May 31st, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
Pensive


I certainly would pay money for that bathroom view of Billy!

Love Michael's routines and thoughts in this *G*

LOL at Billy and his office supplies...

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)
billy earnest

The neighbors were foolish to leave, IMO :) But I may be biased.

Thanks!

2 Read Comments