Disclaimer: I do not own Now and Again or The Invisible Man.
Note: This story takes place a couple of days after "The Eggman Cometh".
Darien and Hobbes were sitting in front of the official's desk, arms folded. "So you don't even know what our mission is," said Darien skeptically.
"It's highly classified," offered Eberts, who was standing in his usual position next to the official.
"Right," said Hobbes, unconvinced.
"I got word from my esteemed colleague and dear friend, Dr. Theodore Morris, that he needed the Agency's help. That's all you need to know," the official told the agents.
"That's all you know," Hobbes grumbled.
The official ignored him. "You boys are leaving for New York City tomorrow morning. Claire is going with you. Morris will brief you on the details when you get there."
"You can't send us around the country at the drop of a hat. I might have had plans with my family," protested Hobbes.
"You don't have a family," the official countered.
"Not that will still speak to him, anyway," Darien muttered, just loud enough for Hobbes to hear that he was saying something, but not exactly what it was.
Hobbes glared at Darien, then turned back to the official. "With my friends, then."
"You don't have any friends, either," said the official.
"Did you hear that, Fawkes?" Hobbes asked Darien.
Darien shrugged. "He's right. You don't."
Hobbes sighed in disgust. "I demand a raise."
"We'll talk about it when you get back. Eberts..." the official trailed off and gestured to his weasel-like aide, who promptly went to the door and opened it. "Good day, gentlemen," said the official, and the two agents got up to leave.
* * * *
The next day
When Hobbes, Claire, and Darien got off the plane in New York, they were greeted by a tall and rather formidable-looking black man. "Hello, I'm Dr. Morris," he said. "You're from the Agency."
"Yeah. I'm Bobby Hobbes. This is my partner, Darien Fawkes, and this is Claire."
Before Morris could say anything in response, Darien cut in. "Would you like to tell us why we're here, exactly?"
"All in good time, Agent Fawkes, all in good time. If you'll follow me, I have a limo waiting outside."
The three agents walked behind Morris in silence through the terminal and outside to the limousine. They all got in and the limo drove off.
* * * *
Lisa shivered, but whether from fear or from being cold even she didn't know. She certainly had reason for both, as she, her daughter Heather, and the mysterious tax man Mr. Wiseman had been running from government agents for the last--- how long had it been? she wasn't sure anymore--- and the wind chill was at a near-record low for spring. They had spent the last few nights sleeping in abandoned buildings just like this one. Well, she and Heather had, anyway. Mr. Newman hadn't slept at all that she knew of. But it sure looked like he needed to. His handsome face was marred by bags under his eyes that came from staying awake for days straight.
"Why are they after us?" Lisa asked Mr. Newman for what felt like (and probably was) the millionth time.
"I can't tell you without putting you in more danger than you already are," he replied.
"Is this whole thing about my husband, Mr. Newman? I need an answer from you this time."
"I can't tell you anything other than if Morris gets his hands on you, he'll kill you. And me, and Heather. He thinks you know a lot more than you do."
"Then why don't you tell her what he thinks she knows? It couldn't hurt if he wants to kill us anyway," Heather interrupted.
Mr. Newman shook his head. "There's a chance that he'll try to question you first, and if you don't know anything he might let you go free."
"You're not with the IRS, are you?" said Heather. "I mean I know my mom fudges on her taxes a little bit, but not bad enough for the IRS to be trying to kill us."
"Heather!" Lisa admonished her.
"No, I'm not with the IRS, and neither is Dr. Morris. We're part of a secret government project," said Mr. Newman. "Well, he is. I'm not anymore, I guess."
"And what project would that be?" asked Lisa.
"I can't tell you."
"Does it have something to do with my husband's death?"
"Can't tell you that, either."
"Mr. Newman, if I'm going to die, I would like to die knowing what really happened to Michael. If you know, please tell me. Please." She looked at Newman imploringly.
"Your husband didn't die instantly when he was hit by the train. They took him to Dr. Morris' lab when he was still alive."
"Why?" asked Lisa. "Why would they do something like that?"
"I can't tell you," said Mr. Newman. "I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I really can't." He glanced out the window of the abandoned warehouse. "We'd better stay quiet. I know Morris has agents everywhere and he's probably pulling all the strings he's got to get the CIA and the FBI to help him out."
* * * *
Back at Michael's apartment, Morris was speaking to Claire, Darien, and Hobbes. "I have enlisted the service of your Agency," he began, "to help me find a... shall we say, former government employee... named Michael Newman. He knows a certain government secret which is known to only a handful of top-level officials. We fear that he has told this secret to a civilian, Mrs. Lisa Wiseman, and her daughter, Heather. It is imperative that these three individuals be captured and brought into my custody. Alive, preferably, but by no means necessary."
"With all due respect, Dr. Morris," said Claire, "why do you need our help? If this is only a simple manhunt, I'm sure the FBI or something would have sufficed. We're only three agents."
"Exactly. I don't want to get a large number of people in on this and call attention to it. Besides, Mr. Newman is a man of almost superhuman strength. I fear he can only be apprehended if caught completely by surprise. And I've heard that your Agent Fawkes is an expert at sneaking up on people without being seen."
"Have you?" It was really more of a statement than a question, but either way Darien looked deliberately confrontational.
Morris shot Darien's look right back at him and continued. "Three days ago, Newman escaped from this very apartment, knocking out several guards as he did so, and ran to the Wisemans' house. He and they left the house together and have subsequently disappeared without a trace."
"Can I ask you a question?" asked Darien. He waited a few moments for Morris' approval, but, not receiving it, asked his question anyway. "Why are you holding people prisoner in apartments?"
"That, Agent Fawkes, is classified." Morris, well over six feet, looked down disdainfully at the tall, dark-haired man.
"What my partner means is, why was Newman here?" Hobbes smiled brightly at Dr. Morris.
Morris smiled back even brighter. "That's classified," he said with a sickeningly pleasant grin.
"How are we supposed to find them if you won't tell us anything?" inquired Darien. "You wouldn't happen to have planted some sort of tracking device, would you?"
"No," Morris snapped. Then, more calmly, "No, we didn't. I have pictures of the three of them right here." He opened the manila folder he was holding, extracted several photographs, and passed them to the agents.
Claire looked at the first photo. "This is only a girl," she said in surprise.
"Yeah," chimed Hobbes. "What is she? Eighteen? Nineteen?"
"Sixteen," said Morris.
Claire frowned. "You can't be serious. A sixteen-year-old girl can hardly be a threat to national security."
"The girl isn't, but what she knows is. Now if you won't help me, and without any more questions, you can leave right now. And I assure you that my old friend Charlie Borden will hear about it."
"Is that a threat?" asked Hobbes. "Fawkes, I think he's threatening us."
"Know what, I think he is," Darien said.
"You're right. I am. Do I need to carry it out?" Morris narrowed his eyebrows.
to be continued...