Title: Hand on the Devil
Authors: Takada Saiko and Gabrielle Day
A/N: Holy freakin' crap. We're finished writing The Farm, and I swear I will finish posting the rest this week, but this is what happens when Gabi and I end up in the same apartment. Plot bunnies devour us. It's been a blast and we're having tons of fun with this one. As much fun as the Farm has been, I think this one may top it. So I may be getting a little over-zealous here, but I'm posting the first chapter. Enjoy!
As the shot fired, sound muffled to Jai's ears by disbelief, and he watched Auggie fall, he felt the ends of his world begin to unravel. He was running, heart pounding, mind racing and none of it mattered. All of the pieces clicked into place and simultaneously scattered in his mind. He knelt by Auggie, felt the blood smear over his fingers, heard Annie screaming at him as she ran towards them. Auggie's lips moved and his breath turned to wisp against the cold air. You did this. You did this. Jai knew he was right.
Auggie shifted again for the fifth time in what had probably only five minutes. His dedication to discovering the leak had been noted, Arthur had told him, and he needed him for one more op. Being that Joan was actually in on this one he was required to stay behind the computer and swear that he would not go into the field. Because him saying so meant something. Right.
It was funny how his eyes felt tired as if they were actually doing some work while staring in the general direction of his computer screen. His fingers were tired from constant movement over the readouts and he was about to call it quits when something of interest came up.
It was a description of a photo buried in an archive and long forgotten. Originally archived due to the identification of an informant, located in the table in the far left of the photograph. Secondary review had identified former Director Henry Wilcox with unidentified female companion. Auggie frowned. He rubbed the palm of his hand before requesting the system to run a new id process. Who would possibly go on a date with Henry Wilcox?
He flipped on music while he waited, the comforting sound of Mingus filling his ears. He must have dozed off because the system confirming new id's made for people in the photograph startled him. New identification made for bar patron, third stool from the left. New identification made for waiter, forward frame in the center. New identification for unknown female companion of former Director Henry Wilcox.
It was a name that he knew well. Auggie felt every muscle tighten with the sudden realization of what this could all mean - and the private disgust with realizing just whose toothbrush he'd received instead of his own - for the CIA and their department. Apparently Henry Wilcox was more dangerous than any of them gave him credit for, and they gave him quite a bit of credit.
There was a tapping at his door and he waved to whoever might be on the other side, blacking out his screen and pulling his headset from his ears. "Yes?"
"And I thought that I was one of the only ones here this late," Jai Wilcox's smooth voice attempted to joke. He sounded as tired as Auggie felt. "Joan's asking for a report on an active search."
Auggie managed a half smile. "Yeah, you know me. Burning the midnight oil. Thanks for letting me know."
"Sure." Jai said.
Auggie heard the door start to slide close and he decided to act on an impulse, throwing his faith into his ability to have good judgment about people. Even if he didn't like Jai very much. "Hey, Jai?"
"Hang on a second, would you?" There was silence and for a second Auggie thought he'd left. He sighed. "As in would you please come in here and shut the door?"
The door slid shut and Jai sounding cautious said, "Yes?"
Auggie's fingers lingered over the keys as he thought about the best rout. Jai was not the biggest fan of his father, he knew, but it also would be a stretch to think that he would react... well. "Listen," the tech op began slowly, tasting the words as they left his mouth. "This isn't exactly protocol, but I found something that you should probably see." He pulled up to screen and motioned for Jai to come look. He heard the tap of expensive shoes on the floor and felt the presence of a tall individual next to him, peering over his shoulder. Silence followed. After several more moments in the same manner, Auggie called Jai's name to make sure that he was, indeed, still there and he hadn't missed something. "Jai? Are you breathing?" he asked.
"What is this supposed to be?" Jai asked. The cold tone in his voice made
Auggie start to tense up again. Maybe this hadn't been the best decision. "It's a picture." Auggie said, trying to make sure he didn't sound sarcastic - at least overly so. "Of Liza Hearn and your father having dinner in a restaurant in a neighborhood of Manhattan that isn't usually visited by anybody of any political importance. It isn't a recent photo." Auggie was fairly certain the temperature in the room was dropping with each word he spoke
"Would there be a reason that you're spying on my dad?" Jai asked, his words careful and deliberate.
"I wasn't," Auggie assured him and glanced in what he hoped was his direction. Eye contact - whether he could actually see or not - had always seemed to put people at ease. "I was looking for our next step in the Liza Hearn leak and this picture was buried."
"That's a dangerous accusation, Auggie."
"Look, I'm telling you because it's your dad. Regardless of the relationship or lack there of between the two of you, I thought you should know. I'm going to report my findings to Joan and Arthur and they can do with it what they feel is right. For the Agency."
"So this is how you think you're going to break back into the field, is it? Bring down the big, bad Wilcox who left his stain on the department. And I'm sure this has nothing to do with the animosity you have towards me." Jai said, stepping away and clenching his fists. "It's just a photo that like you said, isn't even recent. It doesn't mean my father had anything to do with the leak. You're grasping at straws because you're getting desperate."
"I told you because I thought you'd want to know," Auggie growled, standing. He grabbed his laser cane and shined the green light out before him. "Sorry I even mentioned it." With that he left his office, heading towards Joan's.
Jai slammed the door behind him as he left moments later. He swung by his desk to grab his keys and his jacket and brushed by Auggie as he headed toward the elevator, clipping him in the shoulder.
Auggie was momentarily thrown off balance but didn't fall. "Okay, you're the one who can actually watch where they're going." Auggie snapped.
"I was." Jai replied
Jai's footsteps could be heard until they stopped by the elevator and it dinged the announcement that he was leaving. Auggie could almost feel the stress in the air as he turned towards Joan's office and rapped his knuckles against the door. After half a moment the door pulled open. "You are still here," she murmured as if she had expected him to have snuck off home.
"Of course, and I may have found something."
"Are you okay? What is it?" Joan asked, standing and crossing the room to him.
"I'm fine. It's this." he handed the print out of the picture to her.
Joan frowned at him, the slump of his shoulders and the crease between his eyebrows telling her that he was not in fact fine. She glanced down at the picture, focusing first on the party in the foreground, the young woman bent over candles on a cake. Her gaze moved to the back of the photo, noting the lone man in the booth, the lone man at the bar, and finally the couple at a table. Her frowned deepened. "Is that Henry Wilcox?" She murmured.
"Yes." Auggie said.
The girl looked familiar, but young. She studied it for half a second more before it hit her. She glanced sharply at Auggie. "That's Liza Hearne."
"Yes." Auggie said tightly.
"How old is this?"
"Taken last year, about the time that Liza started publishing her articles."
Joan sighed heavily as she moved to her desk. "This could potentially blow up after everything that's come down around us. The Director has been bringing Wilcox in as a consultant to the Agency. He thinks he'll bring about results." Auggie could almost hear her frown. "I'll get this to Arthur. Don't worry. Go home, get some sleep. You look exhausted."
"Thanks Joan." He turned to leave, but heard her voice behind him and stopped at the door.
"One more thing," she called. "How... How is Annie holding up?"
"She hides things well," Auggie murmured, and they both knew that it would be a long time before they could hope to see the old Annie back again. Auggie sighed against that thought and straightened. "Just a side note, I did tell Jai." He waited to for the explosion that he was sure would come.
"When?" Joan asked sharply.
"Just a few minutes ago." Auggie said.
"Did you think that was the wisest course of action?" she asked, leaning against her desk.
"Yes. No. I don't know." Auggie sighed and ran a hand over his face. "I thought it was...a courtesy. It is his father. I'm sorry."
Joan breathed in deeply through her nose. "We can probably rule out an element of surprise. Jai is sure to confront Henry."
"You could call him," Auggie said. "Tell him not to do it."
"Maybe it's better if he does. If he spooks Henry, he's more likely to get sloppy and make a mistake. I'll call Arthur right now." She reached out and squeezed his arm. "You did what you thought was best. We'll work from there. Now get some rest, okay?"
A tired grin crossed his face. "I'm late for happy hour at the Tavern, so I plan to sleep well after."
Joan shook her head as she watched him leave. She picked up the phone and dialed a number that she knew well. "Arthur. We have a very serious problem."
Jai found himself outside of his father's house with no real intention of being there. He looked up to the great, large door and the lavished house that he felt had to have been paid with less than honorable money and he clenched his fist. As he approached the door he glanced around to the side drive where, in the distance, he saw what looked to be a long-legged brunette climbing into a car. His father was standing there. Jai stepped forward, waving and calling out to announce his presence.
The car door quickly slammed shut, the engine revved and sped down the driveway. Jai had time enough to memorize the license plate and a whole new sick feeling twisted in his gut.
Henry stood, cool eyes appraising his son. "Jai. What do you want?" he asked. He gave Jai another second before turning and walking away, causing Jai to increase his pace to catch up.
"I need to talk to you." Jai said, watching the car until he couldn't see it anymore before looking at Henry.
"I can't imagine what you have to say that you couldn't have said over the phone. And I wish you wouldn't come up without warning. I am a...busy man, you know."
"There are some things that should be said in person. Like the fact that I'm really starting to question if that was Liza Hearn that just left your house, Dad," Jai growled out, causing his father to halt and stand very still.
"Why would that even cross your mind, son?" Henry murmured, a glare set back against his son.
Jai's mind spun. That had been Liza. His father was the leak. Auggie had been right in his find. Good heavens, his father was the leak that might potentially cause harm to the operatives in the field. To Annie. To himself. They were just pawns in Henry's game. "I can't believe you. I knew that you're selfish and power hungry, but this takes it to a whole new level."
"I'd be very careful, if I were you, son." Henry warned. "There are some problems you can live with and there are problems that you have to take care of. Why did you come here? Nothing good will come of this."
"What the hell are you thinking? You're a traitor. To your family, to your self and to your country. You know, this is the first moment I'm actually ashamed to have to share your name." Jai said. He could hear himself getting louder, on the verge of shouting.
"What brought you here, tonight?" Henry asked again. This wasn't a random visit. His son had been tipped off, and Henry wanted to know by whom.
"I needed the truth. I got it. End of story." Jai turned to leave.
"Something having to do with Arthur Campbell, I'm sure," Henry said easily, his voice sounding very casual as he spoke. "I hear from a very reliable source that Arthur's been making use of a certain computer specialist. I still can't believe some of the things these hackers can turn up through the internet." He watched his son's face carefully, and if he had not been on of the best he never would have seen the twinge of acknowledgement that quirked Jai's expression. "Keep something in mind, Jai. We do share the same name. The CIA finds people guilty by association and relation, you know."
"Lucky for me you do a damn fine job of not being found guilty for anything. Just dirty for everything. And unlike you, I may still have time to redeem my mistakes." Jai returned evenly. "You've gone too far this time. You're finished. It's only a matter of time." Jai turned to leave.
"Where are you going?"
"To make an apology." Jai said shortly.
Henry Wilcox watched his son walk away, eying him carefully. A smile perked his lips as the black car sped away and he pulled his cell from his pocket and dialed. "Yes. I'd like to call in that favor, if you'd please."
"Allen's Tavern, please," Auggie directed the cab driver when he was picked up just down from Langley. His fingers moved easily, finding the numbers to a cell that he knew well. "Annie? Yeah, sorry I'm so late. I'll be there in a few. Just caught a cab from work." He smiled as she told him that Conrad, Stu, and several of the others had beaten him there already and he had to hurry to catch up with them on beers. And then she asked if Jai would be coming too.
"No." Auggie said. "He had better things to do." Like kick puppies and run into blind people. He added in his head. He promised he'd be there soon and hung up.
The cab driver slowed to a stop. "Hey, there seems to be a traffic accident up ahead and they're detouring everyone around. You want to get out here? It's only one block up and round the corner."
Auggie sighed. It just wasn't his day. "Yeah. Thanks." He handed cash forward and got out of the car, unfolding his cane. He headed towards the whooping sound of the siren and hoped the wreck wasn't too bad. His cell phone rang and he stopped to fish it out of his pocket.
Jai cut through the back alley, headed towards Allen's. It was freezing, an early cold snap that had caught most of the city unaware. He shoved his hands in his pockets and huffed out a breath. He glanced up and saw Auggie standing at the end of the Alley. Surprised, Jai called out to him. Maybe he could apologize before they got to Allen's and could just have a drink like normal people.
Auggie half turned at the sound of his name. The shot rang out. A split second later, Auggie collapsed and Jai was running.
Auggie had heard the sound of this name and turned on instinct, opening himself up more than he'd ever have known. It'd sounded like Jai and that within itself had surprised him. It had all blurred together for him with the gunshot and the sudden numbness that spread across his torso. He suddenly felt heavy and he felt his knees give way. When had he landed?
Auggie blinked rapidly against the darkness and found himself mentally cursing a bomb from years before that caused him to not be able to see if his attacker was coming or not. A sudden spasm of pain hit him and he choked against it. Was that Annie's voice he heard? It couldn't be. She was around the corner with the rest of their group enjoying a few drinks. Waiting on him.
He felt hands against him and surprisingly heard Jai's voice. The impossible clicked in his mind amongst the pain.
"Auggie! Auggie," Jai caught the side of Auggie's face with his hand as the tech agent's head lolled. Jai ripped his jacket off and pressed it against the wound which was blossoming with blood.
Annie had left the group and come around to wait for Auggie. She'd heard the shot, a feeling a dread spreading through her and she didn't know why. No one else had reacted, chalking the sound up to a car backfiring. She walked around the corner in time to see Jai kneel by Auggie who was laying on the ground, dark liquid pooling beneath him.
"Easy, Auggie," Jai murmured, pressing his coat against the wound. "Take it easy."
"Jai?" the tech op choked out, his voice sounding very off for the fact that the elder man was leaned over trying to staunch the flow of blood.
"Yeah. Listen Auggie, you were shot. You've got to lie still."
Auggie did his best to pull away from him, his mind racing. He'd heard his voice from the other end of the alley and then the shot. He knew Jai had been angry, but he would have never suspected such a violent reaction. He heard the accusation leave his lips, sounding distant to his ears.
Jai let up on the pressure, shocked.
"What?" Jai looked up to see Annie standing over them, white as a ghost. "Jai..?"
"Annie..." Jai said. You did this. You did this. It echoed in his ears, in the cold, in her eyes. "Annie...I..."
"What did you do?" Annie gasped. "What did you do?" her voice had risen to a cry, drawing the attention of the people around.
Jai looked, saw people on their cell phones, camera phones out, and he saw a couple of the police from the wreck headed in their direction. Annie had knelt and gave Jai a vicious shove away from Auggie. She cradled Auggie's face, calling to him softly. His eyes had shut; his body stilled save the short rise and fall of him still breathing. Jai stood, blood on his hands and knew exactly what his father had done. He started backing away. "Annie, please...I wouldn't. Never this." She looked up, tears spilling down her face, only to see Jai turn and run.
A/N: Dun dun dun! So starts the really fun story. Please review!