Amanda Waller barely raised her eyes from the files she was examining when she heard the knock on her door. She knew very well who was at her office's entrance, being able to see the corridor and most of A.R.G.U.S.'s head-quarters in the monitors she had on the wall across her desk. Besides, she was the one that summoned him to her office, and she had been following him through the cameras from the moment he received her messaged until now. She hated surprises, and that was the kind of meeting she wanted to be ready for.
She used a hidden button under her desk to unlock the door, and then used the intercom over the table to tell him:
"Come in, Doctor Elliot."
He promptly followed her instructions.
"Good morning, Director Waller", the man said with a smile.
"Please", she said, finally focusing her attention on the man in front of her, "take a seat."
"As you wish, Director."
His name was Thomas Elliot, M.D., and a genius when it came to surgical procedures and genetic modification. A year ago, she had considered the acquisition of Dr. Elliot to A.R.G.U.S.'s ranks quite an achievement, and a fundamental talent for her projects. Unfortunately, the world had a way of changing things; rarely for the best.
"Dr. Elliot", she solemnly said, "we need to talk."
His smile faltered – no surprise. She was making her best to have her features translate the seriousness of the subject.
"Something wrong, Director?"
She took a deep breath while examining Elliot's handsome face. Something wrong? Oh yeah. Very wrong.
"I'll be straightforward with you, Dr. Elliot", she declared. Then, without waiting for the man to reply to that, she proceeded. "Your services are no longer required at A.R.G.U.S.. We are officially terminating your contract…" She looked at the clock on the wall. "… three minutes ago."
There was a moment of silence as Dr. Thomas Elliot merely stared back at Waller in silence, his expression frozen in an unemotional grin.
"Dr. Elliot? Do you understand what I've just told you?"
To her surprise – and deep displeasure -, the man chuckled:
"Wait…" He shook his head from side to side, as someone that had just heard a bad joke. "Wait… Are you saying I'm fired? Is that it?"
Amanda blinked repeatedly before answering, privately concluding that Thomas Elliot's dismissal had not been a second too soon. Then:
"'Firing' is too simple to describe it, Dr. Elliot… If I was to fire you, there would be a few amenities offered… like money, or a pat on your back. Let's be clear here", she leaned over her desk, staring straight at the doctor's hazel eyes. "You're being kicked out of this facility right now. You're lucky to be leaving alive."
A slight move on his left eyebrow was all that her statement provoked on the man.
"Amanda…" His tone was now mellow and, to Waller's ears, obnoxious. "Let's keep civil, shall we? We know I'm still useful… very useful. You know I can give you, and this country, so much… you need me, Amanda. You…"
"Cut the crap, Tommy! You might be good in persuading people with that bifurcated silver-tongue of yours, but I'm too familiar with this kind of bullshit, pretty boy. Not just your too-rich, overprivileged, book-smart bullshit… your sociopath bullshit."
That caused Thomas Elliot to frown:
"Oh", he said softly, "I guess the skeleton is out of the closet."
"You bet it is, dear doctor…"
He placidly rested his interlaced hands on his lap, a cold glance as he examined Waller carefully. After few seconds, he quietly asked:
"Who told you? Dr. Light?"
"It doesn't matter."
He smiled – a sinister, cruel smile:
"Yes. I guess not."
Amanda returned the man's smile with a dejected glance and silence. Elliot kept talking:
"I assume you're going to return the boy's body to his grave."
"That's not your problem", she quickly answered.
"Well", he shrugged, "I would recommend it. If Bruce ever finds out I had his son's body removed… well, let's just say that more than a few clues points at A.R.G.U.S.." Again Dr. Elliot chuckled, a sound that was getting increasingly disturbing to Waller's ears.
"About that, Dr. Elliot…"
He showed remarkable interest in her speech, immediately focusing his attention on the Director:
"If not only your indiscretion about the removal of Damian Wayne's body from his grave, but also concerning your involvement in the incident with Henry Kyle…"
"Ah!" He smiled in pure satisfaction. "That was a job well done, wasn't it, Director?"
"If you ever, and I mean ever, say anything about your involvement in those episodes, or even suggests that A.R.G.U.S. was in any way engaged in any activity that harmed that child…"
"'If', Director Waller? If?"
"You heard me, Dr. Elliot."
"I did." He promptly agreed. "I certainly did. And I'm the first to admit that Bruce Wayne – or should I say, Batman – would be one very angry Dark Knight if he knew about the little experiment you conducted – with my assistance, admittedly – on his cute, adorable baby son." Smirking, the man nodded his head. "Oh, yes. I can only imagine what would Batman do. And how harmful for this honored, noble institution if it was suggested that you people actually hurt little children for…"
"May I remind you", Waller interrupted, "that A.R.G.U.S.'s public image is not the only one at stake?"
"What?" Now, for the first time since the conversation began, Thomas Elliot's tone was not polite and controlled. "You think I have something to lose?"
"You have everything to lose, Dr. Elliot." She took an envelope from her drawer and threw at Elliot's lap. "C'mon. Open it. It's your Christmas present."
Slowly, he opened the envelope; its contents involved a file and numerous pictures. The man ran his eyes through the documents and photographs, his face gradually changing from composed to livid. He groaned, more to himself than to Waller:
"How the hell did you…?"
"That's a pertinent and vain question, Doctor. How we get our information is the secret best kept in this country. The important thing for you", she emphasized, now allowing herself a discreet smile, "is that you must behave. Be the good boy your mother always wanted you to be, and that you always pretended so well to be."
"Call me that again, Dr. Elliot, and I will revisit my decision of letting you live."
In an uncharacteristic fit of rage, Thomas Elliot threw the envelope and its contents on the wall behind Waller. "To hell with you all…!"
The Director merely kept talking, apparently undisturbed by the doctor's scene.
"If you're done with your little demonstration, Dr. Elliot, I have business to discuss with you."
"Business?!" He stared at her in disbelief. "You fire me, threaten me, insult me, and now you want to talk about business?!"
"Welcome to a regular day in A.R.G.U.S., Dr. Elliot."
"You people are pathetic."
"We are, Dr. Elliot, what we need to be." She spoke in great graveness. "And I want to offer you a chance of being useful, despite all your many demonstrations of lack of character or moral compass."
"That is, to say the least, illogical."
"We live in a pretty illogical world, Dr. Elliot… with people flying over us and all."
"I see", he muttered, facing Waller in a distrustful expression. "And how could I be useful to you?"
"I'm glad you asked."