A/N: Hello. :)
I've decided to post my AU now, even though this is all I have written. Too many stories are seeping out with something similar to my storyline, and-for better lack of words-I want to put my foot firmly against that creaking door and push it. Hard.
You get me? ;D (You might not. In my exhausted state I'm just saying I want to put my foot in the door. Nothing harsh or burning about my overly-sarcastic, somewhat cryptic remark.)
If, in all honesty, this doesn't stand out from the few stories that are somewhat similar to this and I should just stop writing please let me know ahead of time. I don't want to put my original novel on hold to write this just for it to go down the toilet.
School's a bitch, too, so my updates might be a little sparse. Ima try though. :D
Yeah, updates. This is a multi-chapter story. Do your little happy dance, all my one-shot, "you need to continue this!" fans. This one's for you. ;D
Hahha, totally kidding with the sarcasm. You guys are great.
Alright, well, be honest, be brutal, but most of all, enjoy. :)
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Stiletto heels clicked subconsciously in time, right foot, left sweep. Left foot, right sweep. It was a habit after all these years. Granted, she wasn't advised to use her standard issue inside the building (for while it was well accommodated for people like her, the crowded hallways implied otherwise), but the main entrance way didn't exactly count. Not in her eyes.
...Or so the saying goes.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She didn't really mind the iconic symbol of what some people would deem her disability, not anymore. Of course, she did—once upon a time. It was only natural. But now that she was back to being herself (for the most part) she coped with it. Came to an understanding, of sorts.
She used to hate it, hurl it across the room, screaming, every time someone tried to coax her into trying it. She couldn't accept that she needed it in order to cling to what little independence she had left.
She shook her head at nothing, clearing it. That wasn't her. Some foreign being inhabiting her body, possessing her maybe, but it most definitely was not her.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
"Good morning Miss Walker."
He should've been late. Hell, any person would be if they left their home 15 minutes before their supposed arrival time with a 45-minute commute ahead of them. It wasn't hard though, not for him. Not when he knew all the uncharted back roads that allowed him to top 100 miles on his speedometer.
He couldn't resist a good adrenaline rush, it's what drew him to the Agency in the first place.
"Morning Joan," he greeted charmingly as he fell into step with his boss's wife at precisely eight o' clock. He was a 7th floor guy, so it's not like he needed to do any ass-kissing, but making the Ice Queen (as she was so frequently called around the water cooler) smile never failed to earn him brownie points with the Head Honcho.
"Morning August, I see you're here on time." She suppressed an irritated smirk, "for once."
"What are you talking about, Mrs. Campbell?" He flashed her his signature grin, noting the slight warmth that flicked across her icy eyes. Big brownie points today, he thought acerbically. And even before he reached the front door. "Punctual is my middle name."
"Your file says James, August."
"Oh, you know: semantics."
She chose not to answer him, instead picking up her pace a half-step to beat him to the door. Though always quick on his feet (it's what made him such a good field agent after all), he held it open with a deep bow, peaking up at her with a grin through his dark lashes.
She stayed silent, striding over to the palm scanner and heading off to her own department on the second floor.
"Have a good day, Joan!"
No response. He grinned and laughed to himself, admitting that he might have overdone it, if not just a bit. Oh well, he thought with a shrug as the laser scanned his hand, he could never ignore a pretty face.
It would probably help him in the long run, anyway.
"Anderson, my office!"
"I'm not late!" He called back immediately, searching for his boss's strutting figure.
"Morning Joan," she called cheerfully when the clinking of her boss's metal necklace rang out across the technical booth.
"Coffee at your ten o' clock, anything new to report?"
She took a long sip and sighed, content, before spinning in her chair. "What do we got boys?"
"Halfway cracked that new encrypted Intel, though it doesn't look like anything remotely interesting." Greg offered. From the direction of his voice it sounded like he was reading off his monitor. "Steinberg's pretty paranoid. I've found tax returns dating back to the 80's and what looks like every grocery list he ever wrote on here."
"Maybe he thought someone was going to steal the last batch of un-cracked eggs." Stu joked, making her snort, unladylike, into her cup. Joan clicked her tongue disapprovingly at the younger woman.
"Sorry," she murmured.
"Anything else? Maybe something we can actually use?"
"Well, his GPS logs everywhere he goes." She tried, reading the information through her keyboard. "It looks like he goes to the same grocery store every other Sunday, the same dry cleaner twice a month on Tuesdays, and he eats at a small mom n' pop diner on the 17th."
"Are there any disruptions in his schedule?" Joan asked, leaning over her shoulder.
"Not in the last couple of months, no. The last change was on a Wednesday two months ago, when he drove an hour out to the tri-state mall."
"Has he done that before?"
She searched through the pages of data for a silent moment, "it happens every two months. Has been for the last year and a half on the same day, around the same time. The next meeting should be tomorrow."
"Good job, Walker." She said, squeezing her shoulder. "Grab another coffee on me."
"Thanks Joan!" She called after the firm clack of the older woman's retreating heels. "Up for some more code cracking, boys?"
"Only you know how to make that sound exciting, Annie." Stu said, chuckling.
"It's all part of my charm."
"How would you feel of taking on a side mission?" Arthur asked the younger man perched lazily on the side of the couch across the room. He snorted, rolling his eyes and crossed his arms.
"You mean, next to my other two side-ops? Oh, and somewhere between the time I'm working on my sleeper?"
He sighed, annoyed, and rubbed his temples. For a moment he searched through a few papers on his desk before looking back up at him. "Yes," he said shortly, refusing to play the young Agent's game. "That's exactly what I mean."
August shrugged, smothering the exciting tremors that always came with a new mission. He loved them dearly, but revealing that childish antic to his boss probably wasn't the best of ideas.
"Sure, I'm up for it. What d'ya got?"
"The DPD requested an agent to follow an assassin they've been tracking. Tomorrow seems like the only time he'll be in an overly public area where we can survey him without being spotted—"
"The second floor, boss?" He blurted, insulted. To send him five floors below must be some kind of joke. "Are you kidding me?"
"It's only for a day, Anderson. They need the best. Steinberg's extremely paranoid, and he knows how to kill—"
"I don't care if he can kill with his pinky finger, why me?"
Arthur pierced him with his tired, stern gaze silently. It took him a moment, but he finally found the high compliment his boss had paid him. "Oh," he said, letting a slow smile split his face. Ignoring the uncomfortable warmth that settled itself on the back of his neck, he cleared his throat. "So, why is this assassin important to us?"
"He's supposedly been in contact with Raul Gorecki. The file says that he's known him since childhood; meeting him in the camps they were both brought up in. They trained together."
He nodded once, understanding the bond between the two assassins: like brothers, and probably the ones that liked each other.
"Gorecki recently killed an American diplomat in his own home, along with his wife and son."
Okay, August thought. His ass was toast, that was easy enough to understand.
"What do you want me to do?" He asked, standing up to approach Arthur's desk as he held out a file.
"Tail them. Figure out why they're meeting, if it's really Gorecki Steinberg is meeting. What are they planning, may it be a nuke attack or a dinner party. I want to know what's going on."
"So you don't want me to bring in Steinberg?"
"God, no. That man's worse than a schizophrenic. Just figure out who he's meeting, what they're saying, and any other suspicious activity that might be going on. I want to be able to see and hear what you do, so perfect recall is necessary."
He headed towards the door, immersed in the file when he heard "I want you to report to Joan in twenty. She'll take you to meet Miss Walker and get everything in order for tomorrow."
"The blind chick?" He asked incredulously, stopping short. Arthur barely repressed his glare. "Sorry," he said quickly. "She's just such an oxymoron, I always thought she was some type of legend the lower floors made up to look cool."
"She is a legend," he corrected. "Now get down there."
Why couldn't they send one of the DPD agents? She asked herself angrily as she put the needed sugar and cream into her second coffee. There was nothing wrong with them. More importantly, they already knew how she worked, and she trusted them. They trusted her.
Now some idiot was coming in, and not just any idiot—a seventh floor idiot. They were going to mess everything up in seconds.
The mission would probably be completed perfectly, she offered the intruding hotshot, but that didn't mean it wasn't going to be hell getting there.
"Hey boss, get anything for me?" Greg asked as she walked through the door to her office. She could tell by the playful tone in his voice that he might've been doing something along the lines of waggling his eyebrows.
"Besides a reality check? Just the usual." She replied, setting the black coffee down at his desk and hip-checking his chair. She listened to his laughter as she made her way back to her seat.
"Hey, the newbie's here!" Stu said excitedly, the creaking of his chair telling her he rose to get a better look.
"I hardly doubt any one of Arthur's agents would like being called a newbie, Stu. If anything, we're the newbies."
"Not on this floor," Greg commented, making her feel the slightest bit better. "He has to learn our ways, because I sure as hell am not turning everything upside down for him."
"So it's a him?" She asked, her interest peaked.
"Oh my God..." Stu murmured, sitting back in his chair slowly. "I thought he was just a legend..."
"What, what's going on?"
"It's most definitely a him," Greg said quietly. He sounded like he'd been knocked off his feet. "It's the him."
"Who, Jai?" She asked uncertainly. "What would Agency royalty want with an op like this? It won't get him any—"
Instantly she felt a glare consume her features, promising to rip her boys a new one once Joan and whomever the him was left. They knew to warn her when people were heading their way. There had been one too many awkward conversations interrupted by an outside element that simply had no idea what they were talking about.
I can feel you looking at me weird, she wanted to say every time they would be disturbed, but we tech geeks have our own language. It's not for your normal, social-butterfly ears to hear.
Yeah, they'd be having a serious talk later.
"I don't usually like being compared to my one and only competition," the newbie (as Greg so rightfully dubbed him) was saying, snapping her out of her revere. "But for a pretty thing like you, I think I'll make an exception."
Annie snorted at him, something she ungracefully had the habit of doing for as long as she could remember. Not even two minutes of standing in her office and he was already hitting on her.
"Just this once, though."
Annie stilled her shaking head, cocking it in the direction of his strong, gravelly voice. There was the agent every person in this building had inside of them, right there. She could even hear strong traces of the seventh floor in his voice, maybe a little bit of something else, too. Narcissism, overconfidence? Pride? Oh.
All of the above, she finally decided.
"I've heard about you," she said conversationally, all too aware of the smile teasing her lips as she spun in her chair.
"Likewise, Miss Walker." He said, leaning against her desk. "You're something of a fairytale up on the seventh floor."
"Funny, I haven't gotten my happily ever after yet."
He let out a short breath, she heard it; halting their short banter. "What can I do for you today?" She asked through her smug smile.
"He's already been debriefed, Annie. I was showing him around the department before started preparing him for tomorrow. You'll be his handler for this mission."
As if she didn't already know that.
"We'll be back," Joan said, squeezing Annie's hand meaningfully before silently departing.
"Mr. Anderson?" Annie called after the hard, distinctive sound of combat boots hitting the marble. They stopped. "You're a bit of a mystery down here, too."
The footsteps faded and she took a deep breath, and just like that it seemed the "play" button was suddenly hit.
Stu and Greg, for a lack of better words, gushed. "How did you know it was him?" Stu asked, astonished. Annie shrugged, fiddling with something on her computer.
"His voice," she said after a moment.
"What do you mean?" Greg asked, swiveling up next to her.
"Well, he obviously sounded pompous enough to be from the seventh floor, but there was that thing, right on the edge that gave him away."
"So, you know who he is?" Stu asked apprehensively from somewhere behind her.
Hazy images from her newbie field days—before all this blindness mumbo jumbo—flashed in her mind's eye. Dark brown hair cropped short and businesslike, equally warm dark eyes that concealed only too much, and that heart-stopping grin that could make any heart melt. He had smiled at her once, on her first day, from the second floor balcony overlooking the front entrance, but then he had simply turned his head and walked away.
That had been a long time ago, a time she doubted he remembered. It was a teenage girl moment of heart stuttering hormones, anyway. Nothing to get too worked up over.
"The elusive right hand man to the director of the Clandestine Service Department? The one that does all his dirty work he swears he knows nothing about? Yeah, I know who he is." She sighed.
"The real question though, boys, is why is he here?"
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, except maybe the plot line. Dunno, it could've been done before.