TITLE: Plausible Deniability

AUTHOR: LittleRedDog

LENGTH: 1,727 words

SUMMARY: Plausible deniability. Despite sounding like something to avoid stepping in at a dog park, everybody wants it – even Jake Foley.

AUTHOR NOTES: I expanded the storyline and rewrote some of it to fall more in line with further research into NSA/CSS operations. The actual chain of command and job titles at SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) and IA (Information Assurance) are different so I stuck as close to canon as possible.

Be warned, it's a little dark. It was meant to explore some of the questions and possibilities raised in several of the fine J 2.0 stories already posted.

Re-edited 9-10-2008

The Ebenezer quote is from Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, Copyright 1905.

DISCLAIMER: Jake 2.0 All rights belong to someone else. I'm just playing make-believe.

Excerpted from:

THE SPY WHO REALLY LIKED ME

Written by: Mark Wilder

WARNER: Jake Foley is another matter. Did you see the way he stood up to us? That's a soldier.

SKERRIT: You like him?

WARNER: Oh, my God, I hate and fear him, but a man like that, bent to your will, could accomplish anything.

SKERRIT: I don't believe he's bent to anyone's will.

WARNER: No, that's the problem. One I intend to rectify.

Thick, sandy hair, reflecting soft flaxen highlights. Straight nose sprinkled over with freckles. Brilliant blue eyes. Lips molded in a porpoise smile. A physical aura that attracted female and male alike. Even bathed in the cold blue radiance of the computer monitor the young man was handsome to the edge of beauty.

The attention of the young man, and of the tall woman standing tensely over his shoulder, was riveted on that computer monitor. The action displayed there was being sent through a remote video-conferencing camera.

Dressed in medical scrubs and caps, a woman and two men were moving equipment around a man restrained on a reclining gurney. The medical team's movements hinted that they were aware of the camera, even in deference to it. One of the men stepped away, revealing that he had been adjusting a thin metal apparatus that hooked under the subject's eyelids, preventing them from closing over the eyeball. A blue colored bite block was secured between the confined man's jaws; his hand nearest the camera rocked fitfully in its wrist strap, fingers splayed, making pushing motions, meeting only empty air.

"Hmm..." the young man purred. "Tied down and gagged, just the way I like them."

His companion's hand rested lightly on his shoulder. She turned her hand. The tip of a tapered, polished thumbnail traced the hairline up behind his ear, increasing pressure until he flinched.

"Kidding, kidding." He ducked, turning a teasing little-boy-caught-doing-mischief expression up to her.

"No, you're not." She rebuked him with a thin, indulgent smile. She was well aware that, fed by his wealth--a wealth so secured that, as yet, even the best government agents hadn't found it all--his proclivities ran to self-indulgence and that how he took his pleasure wasn't limited by socially tolerated mores, by sexual orientation, or even same species as far as she knew.

"You are hoping this is a success, Kevin?" She moved a caressing fingertip along the thin, rough scar that started at the point of his jaw and stopped just short of the corner of his mouth; the only thing that marred the impelling physical perfection of the man. "You wouldn't be holding a grudge? That must be difficult to look at every morning when you shave."

"Executive Director Warner, I've worked very hard for this moment. I want Agent Jake Foley alive and working for the NSA..." he leaned into her touch, as would a cat asking to be stroked, "…for a long, long time."

Through lowered lashes he had an excellent view of the lacy fabric embracing the rounded forms that rose and fell under her thin camisole as she breathed. He'd have to thank Leon for cranking up the air conditioning when she was here. Maybe he would remind him he wasn't erasing his web page history from the cellblock's computer. Do everyone a favor. How was it even possible to find boring porn sites, anyway?

He knew the team in the med lab prepping Foley was anticipating seizures, doubling emergency protocols, covering all the bases, covering all their establishment butts. The test rats had seized. Well, what could they expect? How could you write comprehensive programming for rodents? The wisecrack was just to get a rise out of her, just to see if he could.

He always pushed. If he could push someone past mere words, threats, to the point of striking him; the actual physical act of crossing that personal boundary, then he had them, knew their weakness. Their emotions betrayed them all. Greed turned to envy, and envy turned to anger, and anger…anger could be turned to anything he wanted. Everybody was greedy for something.

Mark Benton, that sad little closet queen. A shrink worth his pretensions should have known to check his fantasies at the door. He'd worked the NSA's psychologist simply because he was bored with his prison routine. Until he'd realized that, through Doctor Benton, he had access to the entire NSA personnel's psychological evaluation files.

So easy to fulfill a heart's desire when it was known. He could make that happen. A flirtation, a no-strings-fully-funded research grant, a reassignment to field agent status, a coveted appointment, revenge on an ex-husband…if people insisted on being low-hanging fruit how could anyone blame a man for picking it? His eyes were drawn back to the monitor screen, fascinated, enjoying the mildly exciting tingle he felt as he watched.

She considered the man, body hunched in rapt attention to the screen. She'd seen men gaze at the televisions in sports bars in that same way. Possessed by the brutal entertainment; voyeurs and ersatz participants.

At every turn she wondered about the events that had put them on the same side. He, a sociopath who happened to be a brilliant software engineer. She, a director of national security for one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Kevin Gerald Flynn a.k.a., "DuMont". Odd, the timing that brought him to the agency's attention, more unfortunately for him, to Agent Foley's attention. This one had been caught with his hand in a federal cookie jar, the Fifth Federal Reserve Bank to be exact. He'd contrived to hijack and crash a corporate jet. Plotted an elaborate plan to escape incarceration. Nearly got away with crippling and stealing one of their research application projects; Agent Foley. And in every case Agent Jake Foley was the reason DuMont's wanton lifestyle was to be severely curtailed for many, many years. Convincing him to apply his talents to help the agency solve a problem hadn't been all that difficult, and if he needed to consider it a little payback, that didn't bother her.

For her, Jake Foley was an imminent disaster. A twist of fate and suddenly some boy scoutish computer support tech embodies a half billion dollars of her country's leading edge nanite technology. The human-molecular computer synergy had produced some impressive abilities; with the capacity for more to develop. That the asset would be used had never been in question. The NSA had agreed to utilize it by making Foley an agent, but what good was an asset if it couldn't be controlled? How long would it be before Foley's "conscience" put an operation in real peril? How could she trust her country's safety to a man whose attitude to his superiors was, in her opinion, insubordinate?

She believed that everything happened for a reason--could the answer to her problem be so simple a thing? Their mutual hatred of the man shown on the computer camera?

DuMont spoke and it startled her to find that she had been running her fingers gently through his hair.

"When they download my entire program into him he'll be perfectly tame. He'll follow his orders without question. Any orders." He glanced up again, watching her, shrewdness barely concealed, "I even slipped in a subroutine… . A gift, just for you." The small smile, so clever.

"What are you talking about?"

"Just thinking. When the nights get long…and I'm so far away. Haven't you ever wondered?" He nodded slightly toward the monitor. "I mean, the enhanced strength, the stamina, the healing; how the nanites would affect that in a certain area? And we both know you are a woman with…vigorous...needs."

"You're disgusting!"

He rolled his shoulders, a noncommittal gesture, looked back at the screen. The restrained man's hand movements had slowed. Only a lethargic curling of the fingers now.

"DuMont, I'll bet the serpent in the garden was you." Her voice was harsh.

He turned wide blue eyes at her, hurt evident. "Haven't I done everything you asked? The electromagnetic pulse wiped out his memories. The nanites will build the new neural paths and keep the old ones blocked. You've got your super agent. I've kept my promise. Now keep yours."

She had an overpowering urge to kick him, knock him right out of that chair. Wouldn't do any good. He'd whimper, apologize, and beg her to stay with him. If she did...the tears would dry as if they'd never been. He was duplicitous and treacherous. But you used the assets you had, to do the job that needed to be done.