Disclaimer: Better Days, and its characters, is the sole intellectual property of Jay Naylor.
Chapter One: the Phone Call
RIINNG! RIINNG! RIINNG!
"Aaawh! Aah, Waaah!"
Fisk Black was many things; son, brother, husband, war veteran, trained killer responsible for the deaths of hundreds. But the only thing he was at the moment was a sleep-deprived father. How did his mom do it by herself? Beside him, his wife Elizabeth was waking up as well.
Fisk glanced at the clock, then at her, "I'll get the phone, you take the kitten." All he got was a yawn in response. He took that as an okay and got up and went to the door.
Unfortunately, not even his military training could save him from any husbands' worse enemy: the dreaded stubbed toe.
"Argh, damn it!"
He was wide awake after that. He reached the kitchen, picked the phone up, and asked who was calling at, 6:30? Oh.
"Hey Fisk it's me, Ryan. We need to talk." Ryan was once his best friend when they were teens, until his father started having an affair with Fisk's mom. After that Ryan had to move away with his mother. Years later they met again at "The Company", with Ryan as his superior. Although, since Ryan's dad married Fisk's mom, they were technically stepbrothers, even though they didn't feel like it.
"He sounds excited, something must be up." Fisk thought to himself. "What's up, how are you?" He replied.
"I am fine, just got over a cold. How is the family?"
"We're fine, still getting used to the new sleep schedule, but we think it's worth it so far."
Ryan took a couple of seconds to respond. "That isn't like him, he always knows what to say and when. What's going on?"
"Wow, a year of parenthood and you're still getting used to it? Remind me never to have kids. How is your new job going, by the way?" At Fisks' silence he got the idea. "Didn't work out, huh?"
Fisk thought about his idea to open a self-defense school, and its results. "Let's just say that I got a bit too much into the sparring. Thankfully, no one suffered any permanent damage." He could tell that Ryan was trying to stifle his laughter on the other end of the phone, so Fisk decided to force the issue. "Listen, Ryan, I know you didn't call just to talk about how we each are doing, so cut to the chase.
Ryan seemed to have expected this, and prepared accordingly. "Right, sorry, I just wanted to find out how you were before I brought this up. I would like your help with something at the company."
"I thought as much." Fisk thought to himself before responding, "I thought I made myself clear when I left. The kind of work I did is not something I want to do forever, especially now that I have a kid. I am sorry, but you will have to find someone else."
He started to put the phone up when he heard Ryan yell something. Putting it back to his ear, Fisk hesitantly asked "What was that?"
"I said that I don't need you for any missions. There is a new agent coming in and I would like you to come in for a week or two and show him the ropes. Tracking, investigating, blending in; all the typical spookery stuff you had to learn. You won't be doing anything dangerous or life-threatening at all."
Fisk was puzzled, to say the least. "Don't you have any active agents who could do it? They can't all be on missions."
"Fisk, first of all, stop being so modest and view the situation objectively. You were the best agent this company as ever seen, with the second highest number of completed missions. Anyone would kill to be mentored by you. Secondly, I have a very strong feeling that you will want to meet this particular person in, err, person. He certainly wants to meet you."
Fisk knew he should hang up, because he was actually beginning to consider what Ryan was saying. Sighing softly, he asked, "Promise nothing I could die during?"
"I promise, you won't even leave the country."
By this time, the baby had been calmed down, and Elizabeth had come into the room and started on breakfast. Fisk sighed yet again, and said, "Listen, let me ask my wife for her opinion, okay? I'll call back in a bit with my answer." And before his stepbrother could respond, he hung up.
Turning around, he walked to the other side of the kitchen, where his wife was making eggs, and hugged her from behind. "Good morning dear. How was Janie?"
"Everything was fine. I guess she was just woken up by the phone, because she went right back to sleep once I calmed her down."
As Fisk got the coffee ready for them, he continued the unspoken change in topic. "Speaking of the phone, how much of that did you hear?"
She waited until they were both seated before she answered. "Enough to know what you're thinking. I think that you should go." At his startled expression she continued. "I mean, it might be nice for you to see Ryan again. You didn't exactly part on the best of terms, remember? And besides, aren't you the least bit curious about who it is he wants you to train? It could be someone we know."
Fisk still wanted to put up a fight however. "But are you sure you will be able to handle things around here by yourself? And what about my search for a job?"
She suddenly gave him a "will you stop being an idiot and listen to your wife?" look, and said slowly, as if speaking to a slow person, "Honey, I grew up with five younger siblings, I think I can handle things here for a couple of weeks. And about the job search, you know you can always take over at your stepdad's job.
"I don't know, it just seems like a step back to me. I want to live life how I want to, not as a, well…"
"A shadow of your father? Fisk, whatever you do I am sure he would be proud of you."
Fisk didn't say anything for the rest of the meal. As soon he was done eating he stood up, put his dishes in the sink, and picked up the phone. He dialed the number and waited until it was picked up on the other end
"Fisk? Have you made your decision?"
Fisk glanced at his daughters' bedroom once, silently saying goodbye, than replied "I'm in."