Authors Note: Again, thank you to all my loyal readers. And Scarlett Burns. This is the set up chapter for the sequel. Enjoy
"Thank you for being here today, Officer Sands." The older man said settling into his chair behind the table. Sands tapped the ashes off his cigarette, but neither of the men who'd entered said a word about his smoking in the debrief room(which was against the rules).
"Well, I really didn't have much a choice, now did I?" Sands replied, leaning back in his chair.
"Now now, Officer Sands. There's no need for hard feelings." The man said. "Who has hard feelings? I just get framed for Dupre's shit and have to rescue my daughter all in the space of a week. I wouldn't necessarily call it HARD feelings." Sands responded.
The older man chuckled softly and looked at the man at his side. "That'll be all Foley, I wont need you from here."
Tim Foley looked at Steven Doddson. "Are you sure, sir?"
Doddson smiled grimly. "Possitive. This isn't the first chat I've had with Officer Sands." Doddson motioned for the door, but even behind the amused tone, Foley could hear the stern tone and could see the direct order in the man's grey eyes.
With out a word, he got up and left the room, pulling the door shut behind him. Doddson leaned forward and shut off the play button on the tape recorder. Sands raised an eye brow as he heard this. "Jeff, this is all off record." Doddson said, leaning on the table, his arms folded it on his scared top.
"Well, that should make things interesting." Sands retorted.
Doddson chuckled again. "There's no need to interrogate you on the Culican operation. I have the details from Officer Darcy. And there's no need to reprimand you for your actions concerning Dupre. I would have done the same if had been my daughter. But I brought you here this morning because you deserved an explanation of all of this."
"Your damn fucking right I deserved an explanation! I deserve a lot more, but who am I to make demands!" Sands snapped bitterly. "Let's get something straight, Doddson, I don't like you. I don't like what you've done, to me, or to my wife."
Doddson smiled grimly, even though Sands could not see this. "Your wife," He repeated. "Officer Cerise Stone, or should I say Sands now... She's a good woman, a good agent."
"She's the best woman," Sands replied. "But we didn't come here to talk about her." Sands leaned forward, tapping his ashes off again. "So let's get down to business, boss." There was a sarcastic tone to the last word.
Doddson sighed. "Let me began by saying I am, very truly sorry for what happened in Culican..."
Sands held up the hand holding the cigarette. "I don't wanna hear it, and I don't need your false pity."
Doddson shook his head. "Jeff, it's not false." He sighed. "Your history with me goes back to your days in the Farm, where we both know I was one of your professors."
"Yeah you were always trying to flunk me." Sands grumbled, but there was a trace of a grin.
"You were a young man there, an insolent and arrogant young man, you still are," Doddson said with a nod. "But even then I could see your potential. And I'll let you in on a secret. Even then, I liked you. I knew you had the right stuff to be the best. No, not ONE of the best, but the best. And you've become the best. You've broken every rule in the book to do so, but you're the best." Doddson stood, taking Sands' pack of cigarettes off the table and taking on out, lighting it.
Sands on the other hand, was frozen in his seat, unsure how to reply to this revelation. Here, one of the three directors of operations, a man with vast amounts of power was confessing that Sands was the best. Something he'd striven for years to achieve, to hears these words from a superior and now that he was hearing them, he was floored.
Doddson took a long drag of his cigarette, looking at Sands through the grey smoke. "You're shocked to hear me admit that, aren't you, Jeff?"
Sands regained his composer quickly, kept his face neutral and leaned back in his chair, propping his feet up on the table. "Not really," He lied. "I just wanted to hear you say it." He said, grinning sarcastically. Doddson chuckled, moving around the room. Sands cocked his head to the side, listening to the man's movements.
"All right Sands, here it is, all cards on the table. I want, I NEED you on my side. I don't know if Darcy has explained this to you or not, but there's a war brewing in the very midst of this organization. Much more then a simple power struggle. Someone is looking to bring the CIA to it's knees. To destroy EVERYTHING we have worked for since this federation started. And there are a few of us, who are fighting to keep what we know, what we've worked for, from being destroyed." Doddson came back over to the table and sat down. Suddenly, he was a very tired man. He rubbed his temple with his free hand and tapped his ashes off his cigarette with his other.
"You were trained to be a killer, by Tom Carmichael and a few others. You were trained to do your job as no other agent could. And you've lived up to and beyond those expectations. Now the white hats, the good guys, the few of us who are fighting to keep the CIA intact, need you on our side." Sands didn't reply for a long moment, when he finally did, he took his boots off the table and leaned forward.
"What the fuck has the company ever done for me, and if you say kept me alive, I'm walking straight out that fucking door and never looking back." He said with fire.
Doddson nodded. "And I wouldn't stop you. But others will. In that head of yours is the secrets to so many dangerous and consequential information. Most, I know you don't realize at the moment. Most of this was locked away, hidden by a way of mind erase. Not my choice. I didn't want that."
"You think I bloody well did?" Sands snapped. He wasn't going to hid his temper and he didn't give a fuck what Doddson thought if he didn't.
"No, you didn't. But they did it anyway. And I can't give you the keys to this knowledge. You'll have to uncover it on your own."
"Oh, that's just fucking lovely." Sands growled, getting up from the table and moving around the room.
Doddson watched him now. "What I can give you, Jeff, is my promise, my solemn swear, that as long as you work for me, for those who are trying to save this Company, this country, this WORLD, that you will never have to worry about safety, the safety of your wife and the safety of your daughter when it comes down to it."
"No! Oh really! Then what do you call what Dupre did!" Sands fired back.
Doddson sighed. "We knew, that Dupre was a traitor. But when it came down to it, we knew only one man could stop him. And that was the very man he tried to frame, you." Sands leaned against the wall, drawing on his cigarette. "I never said it would be easy. Agents from the other side will try to stop us. They will try to destroy you, your family, and everything you've worked for. But damn it man! You are THE best assassin we have! You are far greater then Tom Carmichael. Far greater then Alan Gray, Harvey Falcon, then Kain, Mcloud, Garden, all of them!" Sands heard the names of the assassins that came before him and swallowed.
"Why me?" He asked finally, coming back over to the table.
"Because you wanted it most. Because you strove to be the best for all these years. Because when all is said and done, your loyalties still lie where it counts."
"And if I walk out that door?" Sands asked, gesturing to the door behind him.
Doddson sighed. "Then they will follow. They won't let you be in peace. To them, you are a dangerous weapon with the knowledge you have in your head."
"And to you?" Sands demanded, his hands on the table in front of Doddson and he leaned forward, his face inches from Doddson. "What am I to you! A tool? A weapon!"
Doddson remained cool. "You are the most valuable man I have, in or out of the field."
Sands ripped his sunglasses from his face, giving Doddson a clear view of the empty black eye sockets. Doddson still remained calm.
"And when it's cost me my goddamned sight! Where were you then! Where was my protection!" Doddson didn't answer for a moment. Sands' had shot out, grasping Doddson around the throat and he wrenched the man from the chair, shoving him hard into the wall. "Well! Where were you then!" He spit, holding the man against the wall.
"I was struggling to prevent worse from happening." Doddson managed to get out.
Sands let him go, letting the man drop to the floor. "This," He gestured. "Is the price I've paid for all your fucking secrecy!"
"Because there was a mole in the Mexico operation!" Doddson replied. "Do not for get, Sands, that your own wife was put in danger."
"That," Sands pointed a finger, "Has not slipped my mind, and leave Cerise out of this, fucker."
"To late for that." Doddson replied. "She's as important to this as you are. Damn it, Sands! Can't you understand! If I could turn back the clock and prevent what happened from happening I would! I fucking would! But I can't and neither can you! But what you can do, is continue to help me fight!" Doddson exclaimed. "If not for me, if not for the Company, then do it for your daughter, because if you don't, then there will be many more kidnappers at your door, wanting to use that little girl as bait to bring you down!"
Sands ran both his hands through his hair as he paced. Doddson was right. The two choices he was left with, only made it harder. On the one hand, he could continue to work for Doddson and put his life on the line over and over again. On the other, he could walk out that door, walk out of the CIA and TRY and disappear, but Doddson was right, TRY was all he could do because the other side would find him, over and over again, no matter where he went and that put Cerise and Lily in danger far more then it would if he continued to work for the CIA. And still, there were all the answers he needed, to the questions that Dupre had brought him. And he was determined to find out what those answers were, even if it killed him.
Finally he stopped moving around the room and turned to Doddson, having calmed down. "What do you want me to do?" He asked him.
Doddson sighed in relief. "I want you to take a few weeks off, be with your family. Do not worry about safety, you'll be protected by some of my best. But in a few weeks time, I'll come to you. I'll probably have you go back to Mexico for a short time and clear out that mess. I want you to put a team together, your choices, who you can trust, those who are loyal to YOU, not the company. From there, we'll all work to uncover the other moles and double agents. We'll weed them out one at a time. You'll be my front man. Is that agreeable?"
Sands stood there for a long moment. "And Cerise?"
"All that I, that we ask for Cerise is that she OCCASIONALLY assist you in your work. We wont ask her to do any operations on her own. She'll stay by your side."
"And my daughter?"
Doddson cocked his head to the side, raising an eyebrow. "I'm sure between you and the others, she'll be well protected." Doddson answered.
"And my past transgressions?" Sadns questioned. Doddson chuckled again.
"They stay between you and me, and the agents they involved. How's that?"
Sands remained silent for a long moment, then replied. "We have an accord."
Cerise looked up from playing with Lily on the bench out side the debriefing room. Sands came out of the room, smoking a fresh cigarette and a rather satisfied look on his face. He came over to them, following the sound of Lily's laughter.
"Well?" Cerise asked, standing, holding Lily in her arms.
"I'm still employed by the CIA." Sands answered with a shrug. Then he leaned forward, whispering low enough for her to hear as he heard some one go by. "More importantly, I'm employed by Doddson."
Cerise took this in, then asked. "And the operation in Culican and Dupre?"
Sands shrugged. "It's all filed away, nothing more. Let's go home. I've got two weeks off." He gave her a sly grin. Cerise laughed softly. Lily wrapped her arms around Sands' neck and Sands took her from Cerise, wrapping one arm around Cerise's waist and they headed for the door.
"Of course you know this means we'll never have a normal marriage..." Sands said as they got into the elevator.
"Do you think I'm ashamed to be married to a spy?" Cerise asked looking at him.
"I didn't think so."
Cerise laughed softly again and leaned over, kissing him lightly. "I love you Sheldon Jeffrey Sands."
"I love you too, Cerise." He replied as the doors closed. "At least I still get to annoy the hell out of Iokie and Darcy."
Now Cerise really laughed. "Later, let's go home Cowboy."