Several hours later Xander was still at the apartment with Shannon and Cole. Shannon had told him everything he could have every wanted to know about Kyle Frost and his habits. She gave him the addresses and numbers of his close contacts and what she did know of his daily activities before they separated. While she told him everything, she made dinner for the night and Xander was happy to stay and eat dinner with them. He found himself growing close to the mother and son set that he had come to find information from. Cole had a wicked sense of humor that often caught Xander off guard and had an inquisitive sense of curiosity that caused him to ask multitudes of questions that Xander tried to answer successfully. Shannon had a sense of ease and comfort about her that made anyone comfortable around her. She was open with her emotions and feelings but kept them in check and didn't let them get out of control. She obviously cared deeply for Cole and the feeling was returned from the young teen. Xander could easily see the bond the two had and almost envied it. He hadn't seen his mother in ages and he vowed to do so when he finished this case and spend some time with her. Once dinner was done, Xander remained in the kitchen to help Shannon with the dishes while Cole went to watch television in the family room. Xander glanced over his shoulder at Cole and smirked to himself before turning back to washing the dishes. Shannon was standing next to him, drying the dishes and putting them in their respectful places.
"Cole is a great kid. You must be proud of him," he said softly as he rinsed off a dish and handed it to Shannon.
"I am proud of him. More and more every single day. I'm terrified of what he may have turned into if I had stayed with Kyle. Kyle is like a fierce flame; burning bright but not giving off any warmth," she said and Xander looked over at her.
"'A fierce flame; burning bright but not giving off any warmth'? Are you a poet or something?" he asked with a smile and saw her blush slightly.
"No, not a poet. I wish I was but right now I'm a waitress. Pays well but I want something better for my boy," she replied and brushed away a stray strand of hair.
"You should be a poet; or a writer."
"A writer; I dreamed of being a famous writer when I was a little kid. I wrote these pathetic little stories that I dreamed up of and put them on paper. Jesus that seems so long ago now that I think back on it," she muttered and moved around the kitchen to put away the dishes and cups.
Xander pulled out the plug and watched the water swirl down the drain before emptying. Catching the towel that Shannon threw at him, he dried his hands and tossed the towel back onto the counter to his side. He followed Shannon into the family room and looked down at Cole to see that he was asleep on the couch.
"I'd hate to wake him but he'd be more comfortable on his bed," she whispered and reached for Cole's shoulder to wake him.
Xander caught her hand and shook his head before moving her aside and gently slid his arms under Cole's body to lift him into his arms. Cole murmured a few words but didn't wake as Xander gently nudged Cole's head to rest on his shoulder. He followed Shannon down the hallway and into the small room that was obviously Cole's as she pulled back the blankets on the bed and Xander gently lowered the boy into the bed. Stepping back, he watched as Shannon rid Cole of his shoes and sweatshirt before pulling the blanket up to cover the teen. He smiled slightly when Shannon gently dropped a kiss upon Cole's head and brushed her hand against his head. When she turned away, he stepped out of the way as Shannon cracked the door closed and motioned for him to go back towards the family room. The two of them walked silently into the room as Shannon found the television remote and turned off the television before sitting on the couch. Xander followed suit as Shannon folded her legs under her and let the silence wash over them.
"What are you going to do once you get Kyle?" Shannon asked softly as Xander turned to look at her.
"I'm not exactly going after Kyle himself. I just want to get the chip; the FBI will deal with Kyle once I'm done with my mission."
"I see," she replied and stared at something on the wall above the television. "Did you really mean what you said earlier?"
"I said a lot of things earlier. Refresh my memory," Xander said jokingly.
"That I should be a writer or poet."
"Yeah, I did. Everyone should chase their dreams and at least try to be what they dream of being. You seem to have a way with words, at least when you're talking, so do some writing and send it to a publisher. You wouldn't lose anything by doing it. And later you can say that you at least tried. Taking that first step is always the hardest."
"What did you used to do before you became an NSA agent? You don't seem the type of guy that chooses a life of law enforcement; you don't even seem to be a fan of it," she asked as she looked over his visible tattoos that adorned his arms.
"Believe me, it wasn't the first thing that I wanted to be when I was growing up. I was actually into extreme sports and some stuff that could be seen as both bad and good. One of my adventures worked out great until the NSA needed a new breed of agents for a specific case. I caught their attention so they recruited me and I've been in it ever since," he said and almost cringed at the memory of the incident.
"Recruited you? I get the feeling you didn't want to be recruited."
"No, not really. It was either work with them and they clear my record or I get sent to prison. I chose to work for them; I mean come on I get to blow things up for fun. It can't get any better than that," he smirked and was rewarded with a soft chuckle from Shannon.
"So you like to blow things up?"
"Hell yeah. What guy doesn't?" he said and glanced down at his watch. "I better be going. I need to find out what I'm going to do tomorrow with the information you told me."
"What's going to happen now?" she asked as she stood up with him and they walked into the kitchen to retrieve Xander's gun and darts.
"Well I'll try and get close to Frost and see if I can find out where he keeps the chip. I'll get the chip and any other information I can get and then give the chip to my boss and the information to the FBI. They'll take him down from there on," he said and pulled on his jacket.
"I know I probably shouldn't ask this of you Xander. But if something happens to me or if Kyle tried to come after Cole and me; can I count on you to help us? Nothing like jumping in front of a bullet for us or anything, but witness protection. Kyle is a powerful man and has connections everywhere. I fear he may come after Cole and me if he finds out that I sent you to him with everything I know."
Xander looked at Shannon and saw the faint hint of fear in her eyes at the though of what her ex-husband might do to her son. He knew he wasn't in any place to promise witness protection but he assumed that Gibbons was in a position to do so. He only didn't know if Gibbons would do it if he asked if of him.
"I can't promise anything Shannon but I can do this. If you have any fears that Frost may be coming after you and Cole then you can stay at my place downtown. It's a small loft that NSA agents use if they're in this city; it's not very lavish but it's a place to stay where no one knows about it. I'll talk to my boss about witness protection and see what he says; he's a pretty understanding guy," Xander assured and paused for a moment while he thought about Gibbons. "Correct that; he'll understand you, not me. He doesn't like me very much; he had me shot twice."
"Poor baby," she replied sarcastically and smiled.
"Yeah, yeah; your sarcasm is not appreciated. I'll come by tomorrow some time and we can finish talking."
"I'll be here any time after four o'clock."
Xander nodded and opened the front door to let himself out and into the darkened hallway of the apartment complex. Walking down the steps and out of the building, he turned to the left and started down the street. His car was parked a few blocks away and the walk gave him some valuable time to think over everything Shannon told him about her ex-husband. He seemed to have his hand in every big cash pot in the city; drugs, prostitution, cars, girls, valuable artifacts and paintings; the list seemed to go on and on. Xander just had to figure out which one would be the quickest and easiest way to get close to Frost without attracting attention. Pulling out his cell phone, he prepared a message to himself to remind him when he talked to Gibbons the next day. Gibbons could get a hold of anything he asked for and hopefully he could get a few things to help Xander a bit. Seeing his car up the street, he pulled out the remote and unlocked the doors before slipping in behind the steering wheel and starting up the car. Driving towards the loft that he occupied, he made a mental note to call Gibbons in the morning when he woke up.
"How is your mission going X?"
"It's going fine so far seeing how it's only the second day and I haven't left the loft yet. Yesterday I met with Shannon Frost and her son Cole at their apartment. Shannon provided me with a lot of information and I need to ask you some things about it," he said and rubbed a hand over his bald head.
"Go ahead, I'm listening."
"She's worried that Frost is going to come after her son and her, and she wants to know if we can do witness protection for them. I didn't say anything because I don't know and I figured that you would know," he said and paced the room slightly in front of the small screen.
"Are they in a dangerous position?"
"Once I start to get to work, they will be. The information she gave me is the kind that only a very close one would know. This Frost guy has his paws in everything illegal in this town and probably has several informants at his disposal. Once he finds out everything, he might guess that it was his ex and have some of his people go to finish the job even if he's in the FBI lockup. Shannon told me that his reach is far and wide and doesn't let anything stand in his way of what he wants or needs to do."
"Does he have his hands into the political circle?"
"He has about two hands in there and is stirring up some things. It's not a democracy over here in Los Angeles anymore. He isn't making a big shift in things, it's slight but everyone knows who's doing it even if they don't speak up."
"This could prove to be troublesome if he's tied to the political sector. Do you think we should put the ex-wife and son in protective custody and do witness protection?"
"I would wait till after the trial, if there is going to be one. They could be good witnesses and then put them in witness protection. I offered them the opportunity to stay in the flat here with me till everything calms down. No one knows where it is except NSA personnel and they would be safer here then at their apartment. I think it's logical," Xander said as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Good thinking X. Keep a close eye on them and make sure nothing happens to them over the next few days or however long you are there. Anything else?"
"Yeah, I need a way to get into Frost's circle of friends. He is into stolen artifacts and paintings; anything you could do to help me out a bit here?"
"Give me a day or two and I'll send you a special package," Gibbons muttered as Xander nodded.
"Good, I love getting packages from you. They always blow up and make big craters whenever I use them. I need false papers for whatever you have me doing or being and a good outline so I can act the part."
"I've been doing this much longer than you Xander; I don't need your reminders to help me do my job," Gibbons growled and Xander laughed.
"I'm just watching out for you Gibbs; you are getting a bit old."
"I can still take you on X."
Xander laughed and shut down the video screen as he picked out a few things from his suitcase. Picking up his coffee cup, he collected his shower things and headed for the shower to clean up before going to Shannon's.