Part Three: Going Within
Chapter Completed: August 20, 2008
Chapter Notes: Title taken from the book by Shirley Maclaine
Part Three: Going Within
Anderea let out a sigh.
It was strange trying to fit one of Byers' suit jackets over her feminine frame. "Makes me wish I hadn't cut off all my hair in Phoenix," she ran her fingers through the blonde bob that had replaced the long wavy locks she used to wear. A cut she regretted the moment Byers first saw her.
"You did what you needed to," Byers replied, choosing the right tie to match her disguise. "Just like Langly did what he needed to," he gently prodded, offering a midnight blue tie – the closest thing he had to black.
"John, please," she turned to face him, "not another 'what Ree did' discussion. Okay?" She took the offered scrap of silk and laid it under her shirt collar. "He did what he did, and here we are now," she offered him a smile; the kind that claimed everything was fine, but never really reached her eyes.
"I was just --"
"Being his friend, I know," she fumbled with her tie, unable to master the task.
He covered her hands with his, stilling them and forcing her to look at him, "And yours."
She dropped her hands and he smiled, expertly tying a Windsor knot around her neck.
"Thank you John," she smiled back at him, this time actual contentment colouring her face. She was so thankful to have them back in her life. It had been a long stretch of months when their little rag-tag group had been separated by this search, and just after the threat that they had been severed permanently.
"Hey, how's our little MIB doing?" Frohike poked his head into the small room, designated by a less than fashionable hanging curtain.
Anderea held her arms out to he side, allowing her uncle to inspect the getup: She wore Byers' suit jacket and tie, paired with her own dress shirt and black skirt they all hoped would pass as part of the suit. Seeing the black stilettos on her feet, Frohike figured they were something else Yves had left behind.
She smoothed her hands over her hair again in a nervous habit, trying to maintain the harsh edge of the cut, "But I wish I still had my hair."
Frohike ran his hand over his own head, chuckling, "Yeah, me too darlin'. But let's get you set up with some surveillance."
"There's no way this'll work," Fletcher declared once Anderea stepped out into the main room, "Have you seen the women that work in our department? She looks too good, no one will buy it."
"Than you'll have to sell it," Anderea challenged, clipping an ID badge to her shirt. It proclaimed her to be Agent Jane Daut-Porier, in from an undisclosed field office.
"And Ms. Daut-Porier is now in the system," Langly announced, leaning back from the computer. They had set up a personal history – Langly had insisted she be a widow, as if it fulfilled some personal vendetta, or proved some point he had been desperate to make.
"Fewer loose ends," Byers eventually agreed, and so the story was set.
"Even your director has a memo buried on his hard drive about her arrival," Langly told Fletcher; his pride was obvious at infiltrating the secret service, again. One would think the government would learn from past experiences.
"Why so elaborate? You guys rusty?" the agent scoffed at the dog and pony show they were giving.
"Once I get the sample, I'm going to need a lab – and I imagine the government has a pretty good on right here," Anderea replied smugly. "I've got to make myself look at home there."
"No one will question it," Frohike insisted, "but we've still got to get our girl wired up." He took hold of Anderea and pulled her over toward the computer terminal set up next to a worktable, littered with pieces of wire and plastic.
Fletcher watched with detached amusement as two of the gunmen worked to hide an arrangement of surveillance devices on her person: a wireless transmitter disguised as her necklace pendant, a video camera on her tie clip and a voice recorder under her shirt, clinging to her bra.
Quite obviously was Langly standing back from the action, removed from the whole experience; carefully not paying the same attention to the process as Fletcher was.
"Things seem a little cold between them," Fletcher commented, pointing out the space between Anderea and Langly as they stood, pointedly, opposite each other, ignoring each other. Tensely, with their back to the other.
Jimmy shrugged, "They went on a break."
"How very Ross and Rachel of them," Fletcher quipped, getting a confused head tilt from Jimmy. "Friends. Really big deal in the nineties. I'll be there for you," he scrambled to put the pieces together for the other man, but gave up rolling his eyes. "So, she finally wised up and ditched the geek, huh?"
Jimmy gave a sad, soulful shake of his head; "Langly broke it off with her. Not too long after we buried that other girl too."
"Hmm," Fletcher watched them fiddle and fawn over Anderea, "Interesting."
"Things have been weird around ever since," Jimmy kept his wounded puppy expression.
"No matter how much we expect it, things never stay the same," absentmindedly Fletcher's fingers moved to the ring finger of his left hand, finding it naked. He balled his fists and looked back at the group, "Let's get this going."
"I heard about things going south between you and the hippie," Fletcher pulled his black car to a stop in front of his – his wife's – house. "I know now frustrating that can be, and if you ever need…" his hand twitched in the direction of her knee.
Anderea kept her gaze steady out the front windshield, her voice was firm, "You lay one finger on me, and I'll break it off your body."
"That's just what I mean," instead he put his hand on the door handle, "You're way too tense." He slipped out of the car and waited for Anderea to follow suit.
A moment later she had fallen in step with him, doing her best Dana Scully impression in a pair of heels.
"I hope you have a plan," he cast her a glance before ringing the doorbell he installed – four hours on a hot Sunday afternoon, thank you very much – and waited.
"I thought I'd let you wing it," she gave him a teasing smile before the door opened.
A man, who could have been in his mid-forties, stood there; proud and dignified as if he had more of a reason to be there than the man who actually bought, and owned, the house. He looked them over as if examining every last inch of them.
"Morris, I though we all agreed it would be easier if you announced your little visits."
Fletcher slathered on a shit-eating grin, "No doc, I think it was you and Johan who came to that conclusion. Besides, we're here to speak with Chris."
The aforementioned doctor turned his attention back to Anderea. His eyes moved over her in a clinical manner, inspecting her for frailties and other signs of weakness.
She fought to maintain a steady stare, but faltered, dropping her eyes to the ground. She felt uncomfortably exposed under the scrutiny. It was as if the man could see something about her that she desperately wanted to hide.
He turned back to Fletcher, "I'll see if she'll come down. I can't guarantee that she'll want to of course." He closed the door, not bothering to ask them inside to wait. Or even to wait at all.
"I don't like him," Anderea let loose the shudder she was fighting to keep under control.
"Imagine how I feel," Fletcher gritted his teeth, "He's sleeping with my wife."
She offered him a sympathetic smile, and was about to embark some platitude of comfort when the door swung open again.
"Dad?" Chris stood there; seemingly annoyed about being summoned away from whatever else she had been doing, but also obviously curious about why. "Dr. Reily said you were here."
A little light lit in Fletcher's face, but he quickly buried it in his usual façade. "We needed to speak with you," he motioned toward the woman on his left, as if she had just materialised.
Anderea smiled, "Agent Jane Daut-Porier," offering her hand for the girl to shake.
Chris looked her up and down, then turned back to her father, "About what?"
Anderea deflated: maybe she wouldn't be able to pull this off. If she couldn't get past Fletcher's daughter, what chance did she have against actual agents, in an actual government complex?
Feltcher, on the other hand, smiled. He knew his daughter, and knew she wasn't going to make this easy. She never did. "Agent Daut-Porier is here looking into those vaccines some of you girls were given," for the first time in his life, the easiest lie was the truth.
"Why?" Chris knotted her brows, "Dr. Reily said it was fine. In fact, he insisted I get the damn thing."
Fletcher twitched at the mention of the man his wife was sleeping with in regards to his daughter's health. As if it was any of that man's business. As if he had any right.
Anderea's interest perked up, "He insisted you get the HPV vaccine from here?"
"Yeah," the girl shrugged, "hurt like a bitch too." She raised her shirtsleeve to reveal a pink and purple circular bruise. "Said this discoloration was normal too…" for the first time she looked up at Anderea like she had any kind of authority, or value, as the woman inspected the spot. "Is it? Normal I mean?"
The blonde, pseudo-agent carefully pressed the skin around the injection site; it was hot to the touch, but otherwise seemed normal. But this was her best chance to get what she wanted from the girl. She looked up to meet her eyes, "I'm gonna need a blood sample."
Chris jerked away, "Why?"
"We want to make sure we're giving the very best to our future," Anderea lied, feeling the arrogance of her father course through her veins like never before, "A bad batch of the vaccine was released, and we want to make sure our girls didn't get it."
The younger watched the older woman with the same narrowed eyes as her father, but didn't see anything that displeased her. "Alright," she slowly agreed, clearly still not one hundred percent sure about the need for such a test, "You gonna stab me here, or what?"
"Oh no," Anderea let her façade slip with a smile, "We'll have to take you down to the complex."
For a moment, she was sure this was going to be easy.
"Awe," Chris turned bitterly to her father, "take your daughter to work day. I think I've out-grown any interest in that." Visibly, Fletcher twitched at the sharpness of her words, "Besides, I'm sure I've got more important, college related things to do."
"Like finally picking a major?" for a moment, Morris Fletcher looked human – just a man, arguing with his daughter.
"Dr. Reily says I shouldn't rush into anything," Chris snipped back.
"Of course he did, he's not paying for it," he raged at the house, as though if he tried hard enough, he could bring it all down with mere will.
"That's all it is to you: Money!"
Anderea saw her moment slipping by. She was about to lose her chance for proof to a family scuffle. "We could come up with an agreement. A financial agreement."
Chris' eyes lit up; Fletcher threw his hands up in frustration.
"That is, of course," Anderea spoke up, "after you've completed your end of the deal."
The girl mulled it over for am moment, then nodded. "I'll just go grab my stuff so we can get this over with." She nodded toward the house before ducking inside.
Fletcher just stared at Anderea.
"What do you plan on paying my daughter?"
"I won't have to," she announced with a confidence she wasn't sure about, "once she hears about what's going on, she won't worry about being paid."
"After all," she straightened her suit jacket, "I was right about you." She offered him a smug, little smile.
The front window blinds shifted back into position, with the slightest flutter. Dr. Philip Reily slipped back into the house.