"Understanding can overcome any situation, however mysterious or insurmountable it may appear to be." -Norman Vincent Peale
"Fi, are you about ready with that sniper rifle?" Michael asked, glancing around for one last perimeter check.
"Don't rush me, Michael. This job calls for some...delicacy." She sent a pointed glance his way as she snapped the sight onto the mounted gun with a click. "Now, just another second..." Fiona adjusted the tripod while Michael impatiently waited for the all-clear to enter the warehouse. Just as she was about to speak, their comms units crackled with static and the unmistakable voice of Sam Axe.
"Uh, guys? Maybe I've had one too many mojitos, but I think..." his voice trailed off, leaving them all hanging.
"Think what, Sam? Now's not the time to start fantasizing about Elsa, man!" That was Jesse, crankily responding from where he was wedged somewhere with a good vantage point, probably uncomfortable.
"I think...we have company. And they're..."
"They're WHAT, Sam?!" Fi cried with her usual finesse.
"They're girls. Teenage girls."
There was a long, tense moment of silence. Then, as they had all come to expect, Fi exploded first.
"Teenage girls, Sam? Teenage girls?" She whipped around to face Michael, who automatically took a step back out of experience with Fiona's legendary Irish temper. "A job this important, and you have to bring the drunk who's finally slipped into full-on HALLUCINATIONS!" On the last word, she flung her arms out, knocking over the sniper rifle, which Michael was just barely able to catch.
"Okay, okay, guys, let's calm down, all right? I mean, we definitely don't want to bring attention to ourselves..." Jesse placated. Michael wanted to agree, but unlike Jesse, he was within punching distance of Fiona's arms.
"Hey, I'm serious! I'm looking right at them, little girls! There's a blonde with a laptop on the roof, and what looks like a supermodel on a rappelling harness!" Sam insisted.
Michael took a deep breath and handed a pair of binoculars over to Fiona. She rolled her eyes, fully expecting to see...not what she ended up seeing.
"Bloody...he's right! Teenagers!" Fiona didn't know what to make of this. She cocked a hip, dropping the binoculars and squinting at the roof, where she had, without doubt, just seen what she couldn't believe she had seen. She was so lost in thought, that she didn't even see another girl land on the brittle grass behind her.
"You know...I didn't think it was gonna be this easy." The girl smirked, then inexplicably shouted, "Duchess! Peacock! South wall!" before lunging toward Fiona. She may have been surprised, but she was still Fi: she deftly caught the young girl by the wrists and slammed her into the exterior wall of the warehouse. Before Michael could protest her rough handling of a child, a tall black girl grabbed him from behind. His remonstrative words were lost to his instincts; he flipped her easily. She landed on her back, and Michael restrained her with his boot, giving himself a moment to think. Unfortunately, it didn't last long, as another figure appeared from the shadows. Before he could be attacked again, Michael pulled out his gun, aiming it at the girl he had lying on the ground.
"One step closer and I shoot her." Michael's patience had just about worn thin. He had asked his team to risk their lives, again, and the job had imploded even before it had begun. Who the hell were these kids, and what was going on? Michael had collected a lifetime of questions; it was time for some answers.
The figure raised its arms in surrender. "Easy, tiger." The figure came closer, and Michael could now see it was a woman, an adult this time (finally, Michael thought), who was armed, but her weapon was still holstered. "I'm Abigail Cameron, and I'm afraid you've got two of my students. Not to mention my niece." She jerked her chin towards Fiona, and the girl wriggling futilely against the wall. "So why don't you just let them go, and we can work this out."
"Sorry. I'm gonna need an explanation first; till then, the girls stay where they are."
Abigail squinted and leaned forward. "Are you...Michael Westen?"
Michael rolled his eyes; his notoriety had rarely helped him in the field. "Depends who's asking."
Abigail smiled. "We've been expecting you! I'm sorry, my girls got a little...exuberant." She raised an eyebrow, and Michael noticed the girl beneath his foot flush slightly in embarrassment. "The plan was to brief you before the exam began, but it looks like you've already given the girls a run for their money!" The woman smiled charmingly at him.
Fiona turned, pinning the blonde girl with her shoulder so she could face the newcomer. "Let me get this straight. You're the job." Abigail nodded, and Fiona glared at Michael. Over their earbuds, the faint sound of Jesse snickering fueled Fi's ire. Michael ignored Sam's "Hey, Mikey, what's she look like?" He stared in stony silence, at the scrawny teenage girls who had accosted them, at the woman smiling at him like an airline hostess, at Fiona's barely contained rage.
Finally, Michael broke the silence. He spoke only a single word, but in that word he managed to contain all his frustration, annoyance, and intent to commit premeditated homicide. He said: "Barry."