Stephanie (slybrunette) wrote,

part three

April 01, 2009 11:19:26 AM
Callback Number: Sarah Walker (Mobile)
take the rest of the day off

April 01, 2009 11:20:56 AM
Callback Number: Morgan Grimes (Mobile)
but it’s not even noon

April 01, 2009 11:23:34 AM
Callback Number: Sarah Walker (Mobile)
trust me

Turns out dropping his gun was the right call.

Greta takes possession of it, shoving it into the waistband of her jeans while enlisting him to haul Bryce up off the ground and into the nearest available chair with an armrest that she can cuff him to. For his own good, she tells him, before depositing the key in her back pocket. She doesn’t make any such moves to restrain him or otherwise take precautions to keep him from running, putting all her faith in the belief that he values Bryce’s life and safety as much as he does his own.

She’s not wrong. She’s the exact opposite of wrong, in fact, and he resents her for it, for being able to see clear through him and for being able to do so with the kind of effortlessness that Bryce has never been quite able to manage. He’s forever making comparisons, unfair or otherwise, and he has plenty of time in which to do so while he listens to her pace near the door, phone pressed to her ear and tone too low for him to hear, checking in with whatever counts as homebase for her presumably.

If she’s not agency, then --

Then he has no idea.

He wills Bryce to wake up but it’s useless. He’s out cold, the results of a sleeper hold that overstayed it’s welcome by several seconds, and for that she had appeared at least mildly apologetic. Not that it helps him much. Bryce is going to wake up with a hell of headache, not to mention that crick in his neck from the way his head is hanging, chin pressed to chest and slumped ever so slightly to the side.

He’ll wake up though, he’ll be fine, and that wasn’t necessarily a sure thing an hour ago when they were verging on a kill or be killed situation. She runs a hand along the clean lines of the sniper rifle left out on the table after she ends the call, a curt i’ll check in later that he thinks he was meant to hear, a promise that there will be a later at all, and the movement is half-envious, half-understanding. There is a certain expectation of death that comes with this line of work; most of the time, with the solid weight of a gun at his back, it preoccupies him.

“Did you know?” She asks, taking a seat against the wall opposite him. It gives her a clear view of Bryce, of his cuffed hands and relaxed features, and he thinks that’s intentional. She wants to know the minute he comes to. “That you were being followed, I mean.”

“Yeah,” he admits.

“I thought so,” she replies, and draws her knees up to her chest. It’s startling how small, how completely harmless, she looks folded up like that, weapons concealed but no doubt within reach, a languorous quality her words. “I figured when you bypassed Vegas and hit the Mojave but, I have to say, as far as dead giveaways go this place is tops for anyone who’s read your file. Or spent ten minutes with you in a bar.”

She’s needling at something, allowing a wry smile that insists there’s a joke somewhere that he should be getting, but he comes up empty. “What?”

“Spanish variant of Stephen, means crown or king,” she parrots back to him, a conversation about etymology that he mostly remembers, and his frown deepens. “It’s crown, by the way. I looked it up. And people don’t know those things off of the top of their head unless the name means something to them.” Her mouth twists itself into something melancholy, then, “He was your father.”

She says it like a foregone conclusion, not seeking anything in the way of confirmation, not even looking to him to see if he’ll give it. It’s in his file. It’s in his words. She’s already ten steps ahead of him and waiting rather impatiently for him to catch up. He finds he resents her for that too, just a little. “Yeah, okay. I get that you think we’re having some super subtle conversation right now, with all the wink wink nudge nudge that’s going on, but I honestly have no idea where you’re going with this. I haven’t seen or spoken to my dad in about eighteen years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. If you’re looking for him, if that’s what this is about, I am the absolute last person you should be asking.”

“I know exactly where to find him,” she says.

“Then what the hell are we talking about right now?”

For a moment, she considers him like she thinks he’s trying to play her, like this is all some sort of ploy. He decides that suspicious must be her default setting and finds that sad, in his own willfully naive way. Enough so that when she nods, when her eyes soften and her shoulders relax incrementally, perhaps deliberately -- it’s crossed his mind that it might all be an act, the easy way she carries herself, the way her tone insists that they are all equals based on nothing but the conjecture that they both operate within the same world, because she made him feel at home in that bar, made him feel safe enough to play fast and loose with his common sense long before the alcohol did its job, and he has no doubt that she could do it again -- he feels relief that has nothing to do with whether or not she believes him.

It doesn’t last long.

“Your father’s dead.” She says it like she’s ripping a off bandaid, as if speed and a clinical distance between them will somehow make this easier for him to hear. “This was his last known location. It made sense that you’d end up here once I ruled out California because it’s the closest thing to a safe haven that exists for you and people tend to gravitate towards familiar places in times of crisis. I thought that if you knew someone was tailing you then you would want the home court advantage; I just didn’t know that you weren’t the one running the show.” Her gaze breaks away, briefly, to find Bryce, and he doesn’t like what she’s insinuating one bit but he also doesn’t have trouble believing it either. “I’m sorry I have to be the one to tell you that but this doesn’t work if we aren’t honest with each other.”

Of the myriad of emotions he cycles through in the heavy silence that falls over them, the one he settles on is nostalgia. Not anger or sadness, but nostalgia for the day his father left, the childhood delusion that people who left would always come back to you and the memory of the last carefree smile his sister would wear for some time. He holds onto that, putting aside the parts of him that have turned bitter with disappointment and the sting of abandonment in favor of focusing in on those last hazy memories he has of this man he never really got the chance to know all that well because they are, overwhelmingly, happy ones and he has a feeling she’s about to try and tarnish every last one of them.

He has a feeling she’s going to succeed too, can see the surveillance equipment in the bedroom and the bourbon on the mantle and find the obvious narrative without too much trouble, and it’s going to kill him to hear it verbalized but he needs to all the same.

“How...” he starts but doesn’t get any further, leaving the rest to inference, mouth dry.

“I don’t know. I’d try asking your friend when he wakes up though.” Her impatience with regards to Bryce’s unconsciousness is tempered by sympathy, the feeling or the feigning of it. He doesn’t think it really matters to him which it is. “That toy you’re hauling around is his tech.”

“And you want it?”

“Fuck no.” She spits out, without hesitation. “I’m not here for that. I just want to talk.”

A vague smile doesn’t quite make it to his eyes. “That’s what they all say.”

“If I was going to kill you, you’d be dead already.” Somehow, he doesn’t doubt that. There hasn’t been a single solitary second since she came into the picture where there was any question about who had control of the situation, restraints or no, weapons or no. She radiates the sort of confidence he can’t manage on his best day. “I want to work with you. We want to work with you.”

“We? Who is we?”

“Let’s just say an organization with a lot of resources who aren’t too keen on the games the CIA has been playing as of late.” That, at least, confirms his earlier suspicions. Not agency, but trained as such. Freelance. “I was going to wait to give my sales pitch. I hate having to repeat myself. And I figure you might need some time to -- process.”

He does, and badly at that, but not here and not in front of her. There will be time for that later. Chuck may not have learned to cut out his emotions, to keep them from affecting his judgment and his actions, but he has learned to tamp down on them, to keep his mind otherwise occupied in order to do so. He doesn’t want to think about his father, about his demise or his connections to the precious cargo they’ve been hauling around for two years now, so he asks her, “Will you at least tell me your name? Because I know it’s not Greta.”

“Just because I don’t look the part doesn’t mean anything,” she tells him. “Maybe I’m a military brat who was born on base in Heidelberg.”

“Or maybe you’re full of shit.”

“Maybe that too,” she says, and he thinks that’s all he’s going to get from her, before she takes pity on him and adds, in the most nonchalant of tones, “It’s Erika. Erika Gibbons.”

He reads it as the first sign of a willingness to trust.

He reads it correctly.

Sarah goes home to deal with the locksmith, calls Morgan’s landline to make sure he actually listened to her this time, and then promptly drops off the face of the earth for a few hours. Changes her clothes, turns off her phone, ditches her car in a parking garage a handful of blocks away from her apartment, and boards the first train she can find, switching lines amid the throng of people at Metro Center to ensure that she’s lost her tail, if he even made it that far. She does her best to make herself untraceable, hiding in plain sight along the National Mall, disappearing into a museum or two, and then heading into an eatery in Little Ethiopia around lunchtime. It gives her time to think, to connect some dots that badly need connecting, but it also has the added benefit of giving Casey time to worry over her absence. And she knows he’ll worry just like she knows Mike wasn’t following her of his own volition. It just won’t be for the reasons she’d maybe like him to.

She should’ve expected that.

At five, she retrieves her car, and at five-thirty she barges in through Casey’s unlocked front door with murder in her eyes and does everything in her power to keep from strangling Mike when sees him in Casey’s kitchen, casually picking through the slew of photos he has spread out along the table. She’s the subject of all of them. Holding the door for a woman outside of a coffee shop in Columbia Heights, getting out of her car in Baltimore and returning to it two hours later looking that much worse for the wear, hiding her eyes behind dark sunglasses while handing a check to a man in the parking lot outside of her building, walking down K Street while throwing a glance over her shoulder in the wrong direction. It stops there, the last few hours of her life undocumented while she wandered like a tourist, and there is no locksmith in the world who’s ever going to be able to make her feel safe in her own home again, not when the people in her life who are supposed to mean something keep doing this to her.

Mike stands, and more importantly Mike knows because he does so with his hands held out in front of him, palms out, a placating gesture that she looks away from dismissively. Soldiers follow orders and he owes her nothing.

“Hey now, don’t shoot the messenger,” he tells her, and keeps the table between them.

She thinks about how much Casey hates dirty floors, about just what he would do to her if she shot someone on this one, in his kitchen, and smiles the wistful way you do when you’ve known someone for long enough to become not just familiar but fond of their quirks. It’s brief. It fades before he can notice it. He doesn’t know her that way. “Where is he?”

Casey’s footfalls on the stairs become apparent then but only because he wants them to. She listens to them come to a stop in the doorway, following the pointed gaze Mike gives to the space behind her, and Casey doesn’t hesitate when he says, “Go take a walk.”

Mike follows the order.

She doesn’t wait for the front door to close before she turns on him.

“I thought we’d gotten over this, I really did,” she says, angry as she’s ever been, hurt as she’s ever been; she wore those dark glasses on the train as it raced through tunnels, no sun to speak of, and if there was a reason for it then there was a reason but there are no photos of that. “But that’s not how it works for you, is it? You just don’t bother to trust anyone anymore.”

He grits his teeth. His hands are fists and his gun is no doubt on his person, but this isn’t that kind of fight. That kind of fight would be easier. “The same could be said for you, Walker.”

“No. You don’t get to turn this around on me. You were the one who had me followed. You were the one who invaded my privacy. I did nothing to you.”

“That’s an interesting interpretation of the facts.”

“And you would know.”

He takes one step forward and she takes two back. Too fast. The equivalent of a flinch and it makes him frown in a way that illustrates quite clearly how little he understands the situation. He’s blocking her only exit and there are no more spare rooms for her to slip inside of late at night, no questions asked.

The locks have been changed.

“How long have you been working with Carina?”

Her brows furrow. That’s not how she would describe it. She deflects with, “How long have you had someone following me around?”

“About a day.”

“Bullshit,” she snaps.

He doesn’t react the way she expects him to. Doesn’t cave, doesn’t act smug, doesn’t do anything except hold firm to that claim. “I’m not the one who’s playing games here.”

“Really? Cause, as I’ve been recently informed, I’ve had a guy on me twenty-four seven for about a month now. Know anything about that?” Blank stare. Confusion creeping in at the corners. Her voice starts to lose that note of confidence. “There’s no one else it could be, Casey. You and I both know that.” But even as she says it, she knows she’s wrong. Even as she says it, she’s got another name in mind. “Why were you even following me in the first place?”

“Does it matter?”

“It does to me.”

He doesn’t seem to want to answer her, seems to be actively searching for a way around it before it sets in that she’s not going to back down, not on this, and he makes his peace with it. “You show up here with no explanation and then go running off on errands you can’t tell me about. Personally, that sets off a few alarms for me. So I had someone pull the security footage from your building and it turns out the same son of a bitch who won’t stop calling you decided to pay you a visit last night. Annoying but harmless, sure, but it got me thinking about just what the hell he could’ve said or done to make you flee your own apartment in the middle of the night.” His expression hardens and it’s a struggle for her to continue to hold his gaze with him looking at her like that. “In my position, what would you have done?”

She can see it now, the way every inch of his posture sings betrayal even as the lines of his face are trying to tell a different story. Betrayal does not come without trust and trust does not come without some degree of openness, of putting yourself out there, something he tries his very hard to avoid. They’re together more than they’re apart now, and for all the time that she’s spent dealing with the ramifications of that for herself she’s never really stopped to consider the effect that it’s had on him.

Trust, she had expected. It comes naturally with time, as the reassuring weight at your back stops being your gun and starts being someone else’s eyes on you. This protective streak, however, and the idea that willfully withholding personal information is now regarded as a bad thing by a man who once told her to have a private life on her own time, far away from him, is both laughable and a little sad.

Sad because she’s certain it’s fleeting.

“I don’t need protecting,” she says.

“You don’t need to tell me that,” he replies but, apparently, she does.

When he steps forward, she steps back, but this time it’s to pull a chair out from underneath the table, to sit down and look at him like she’s waiting for him to do the same. “We need to talk,” she explains but he doesn’t move and she sighs, heavily. Shoves the photos to the side, out of her line of sight, getting fingerprints all over their glossy surface and not quite caring. Her elbow rests atop a smudge of red marker where someone has circled the license plate on the truck belonging to the locksmith.

She says, “I’m not working with Carina but I am using her, it just hadn’t payed off until now. She’s been using one of her DEA moles to track my movements, for whatever reason. He said someone’s been following me for a few weeks now, ever since the incident in the parking garage.” Casey looks away from her. “He showed me footage from that too, by the way. You know all that stuff they said didn’t exist? Turns out it does. Took his hacker friend ten minutes to get inside their systems and find it again. And you know what the most interesting part of that was? Watching our new dead guy Agent Hudson drop you to the ground with a lead pipe to the back of the head. How you only ended up with a concussion I’ll never know but, then, everyone’s always said you were hard-headed.”

She says, “Are you just going to stand there the entire time we do this?”

He sits and she rewards him with the folder she left Baltimore with, the one she deposited on the kitchen counter when she arrived. Carina’s notes, written more like riddles in the margins, are still there, left in just like everything else, and this was always the plan, she was always going to lay it all out for him and he was always going to let curiosity override his frustration. It’s the aftermath that’s problematic for them.

“I don’t know exactly what all of this means yet,” she tells him. “But what I do know is that Stephen Bartowski spent most of the late 80s creating some sort of memory manipulation device gone wrong, and now the CIA’s got people working on a modern day adaptation of it. They’re calling it Project Orion. Carina had hinted at it before but most of the information on it is a few levels higher than my security clearance will take me and when I tried to dig around -- well, let’s just say Shaw made his reasons for visiting quite clear last night.”

Casey keeps his eyes trained on the document in front of him when he says, not asks, “He threatened you.”

“Basically,” she replies, doing her best to sound indifferent to it, even if she’s obviously not, even if he’s already called her out on that fact. His further silence on the matter is pointed and she’s gentler than before when she adds, “That doesn’t make it okay, you know. What you did.”

He turns the page like he didn’t hear her, won’t admit to anything approaching wrongdoing, and she doesn’t know that she even expected otherwise from him. “What does any of this have to do with Hudson?”

“I’m not sure yet. Carina’s contact said he didn’t notice anyone tailing me until a few days after they attacked you and he didn’t see anyone today either, although I guess it’s possible that having Mike there spooked them. I don’t see why, though.”

“So what’s changed since yesterday?”

“Hudson’s dead.”

“He’s been dead for days.”

She opens her mouth around an explanation she senses is right around the corner, something that sounds a little more believable than maybe we just didn’t see him, but it never materializes. There is one obvious difference between yesterday and today, and being that it’s also the elephant in the room it’s truly impressive that she manages to avoid it entirely when she offers, lamely, “I didn’t go to work today.”

It might be the dumbest answer she could’ve given, and he might let it hang there in the air between them for a beat, long enough to make her cringe internally, but he doesn’t call her on it, instead choosing to take it for the cop out that it is and move on. It’s strange, the way this morning was strange when he asked in earnest if everything was okay; he gave her just enough rope to hang herself with then and she’d done a spectacular job of it, but there’s no point in trying the same trick again. He’s giving her a break. For whatever reason. “But you think they’re connected?”

“I’m not ruling it out,” she says, after a moment. “It makes sense, though, to take us both out at the same time. Cuts down on the chances of retribution.” He turns his head to look at her then, questioningly, and they aren’t sitting that far apart, next to each other at the table instead of across from each other like normal, close enough that when she leans forward to point out a line of text here, a photo there, their arms and hands and shoulders brush, close enough that when he turns it narrows the already limited gap between them. He doesn’t mean anything by it but they both notice it and after that it doesn’t really matter what he meant. After that there’s just her holding his gaze and thinking about the implications of what she just said and how close he is and where she ran and how much she used to hate him and everything he stood for with every fiber of her being. How much she doesn’t now and how much she wishes she could take all of it back, everything that got them here.

And then it’s just gone.

He breaks away and she breathes in deep.

“Or it could just be a coincidence,” she amends, voice even, because she is a goddamn spy and if she didn’t know how to put her emotions on the backburner then she wouldn’t still be alive nearly a decade after jumping into this business.

Casey nods.

He’s got a few years on her yet.

It takes them until the California border before they can have an actual adult conversation, and then only just barely.

The first misguided attempt goes as follows:

“You want to run me through what happened while I was out?”

“I don’t know. Do you want to run me through what happened to you as a child that made you think it was okay to drag me to the place where my father died, my father who you were basically working for this entire time, and not tell me?”

Bryce goes lead foot on the gas. Chuck resumes looking out the window.

It devolves from there.

The nice thing about yet another long stretch of silence in a series of them is that he actually has new information to process and it’s much better to do so inside of his head instead of arguing it out in a small confined space. The melancholy version of himself who had suffered in silence yesterday has disappeared in favor of the aggravated thoroughly-fucked-over version who’s doing all sorts of backtalking and just generally acting like a moody teenager. It’s not unfamiliar to him, except unlike last time with the bars and the strange women, he’s actually a rebel with a cause.

At no point in the first hour do the words i’m sorry ever come close to crossing Bryce’s lips and, frankly, Chuck doesn’t know if that’s because he isn’t or because he’s oblivious, but until they do Chuck isn’t really interested in anything he has to say.

By the time they hit the border, he’s forcing himself to actively and outwardly radiate anger even though it’s mostly subsided in the face of time and all of that silence. Which is not to say that he’s not still angry, because he is, but the ‘fly into a rage and yell until you’re hoarse’ burning anger has worked it’s way out of his system, giving way to the quiet analytic kind that settles in your gut and makes you question everything that’s been said and done to, by, and for you over the past few years.

If Bryce’s motivations were questionable, if the reasons he gave Chuck to pick up and run weren’t entirely accurate, then this may all be for naught. And it’s not just two years of his life that could’ve been better spent toiling away at the CIA, it’s the rest of his life. It’s everything. The only thing waiting for him on the other side of this is an underground cell in the middle of nowhere, and he knew that then, buried it somewhere in the recesses of his mind to deal with at a later date, but that was before his dad was the one developing the big bad tech and that was before Bryce called his dad’s death trap of a cabin his safe house and jesus christ who does that to a person.

So they drive and they hit the border and Bryce seems to come around to the idea that an apology might be necessary because he pulls off onto the shoulder along I-15 and turns off the ignition. For a minute, there’s nothing but dead air and Chuck watches him out of the corner of his eye, the way his hands drop and flatten against his legs as he takes a deep breath and says, “I didn’t know for sure, until today. We used to primarily communicate via dead drops every few weeks. He was reclusive. Didn’t like to be seen in public, used aliases if he had to be. Didn’t like to talk a lot either. I could tell he was highly intelligent but he was...scattered. It made him hard to work with. He thought the CIA was after him, not that I could ever confirm it, and I knew that even if they weren’t, even if it were just a big misunderstanding, they would’ve thrown him in some institution somewhere and I -- “

He pauses, trails off mid-sentence, and has to shake it off in order to regain his place. Couldn’t be responsible for that, is what Chuck thinks he means. Is what Chuck chooses to believe he means. “The last thing he sent me were the schematics to the data vault at DNI. He wanted me to break in and steal the Intersect, said that there were people out there who wanted to use it and that it was imperative that they be prevented from doing so. I thought it was too risky but when he missed the next drop, and the one after that...I guess I’d hoped that he’d moved onto someone else.”

But he hadn’t. He doesn’t much like to think about the state of the cabin they’d left behind or the cracked laptop screen on the bed. There hadn’t been any blood or bullet holes to speak of but there had been police tape and, presumably, a body from the definite way Greta -- Erika -- had proclaimed him dead, though not one she’d seen. She didn’t know how he died. Neither, apparently, does Bryce, and it’s not like there’s anyone else he can ask so what he’s left with is the worst endings his imagination can conjure up, and this: “I have to tell Ellie our father’s dead and I don’t even know how or why.”

Bryce shifts a little, hesitates, and then reaches a hand out. It lands somewhere on Chuck’s arm and for someone who not forty-eight hours ago was doing a great impression of a contact-starved, slightly obsessed individual when it came to Bryce, he barely notices. “I’m sorry, Chuck. About all of this. About not telling you. I thought it would be worse for you if I did.”

They may be the magic words but they don’t make him melt like he thought they would. They don’t fix everything. He’s still pissed at Bryce for not telling him, for defending that action in the name of protecting him, and his dad is still dead. Bryce’s hand is warm on his arm and he sighs and then he twists out of his grip. To say that it throws him is putting it mildly. “I need some time.”

“Alright,” Bryce says, and merges them seamlessly into traffic.

Burbank is three hours out by this point.

Time is, as they say, fleeting.

April 01, 2009 02:23:18 PM
Callback Number: Erika (Mobile)
they’re cooperating

April 01, 2009 02:24:50 PM
Callback Number: 555-702-8181
nice work

April 01, 2009 02:28:03 PM
Callback Number: 555-702-8181
west wants to talk to you when you get in

Sarah goes home.

Sarah --

Echo Park at sunset still looks the same as it did the day he left.

Enough so that when he steps out of the car, when he sucks in a breath and listens for the sound of the fountain running in the courtyard of the complex that he called home for longer than he likes to think about, he gets caught up in a wave of nostalgia that refuses to let go until it’s drowned everything else out.

Bryce leans out the driver’s side window, intent. “You going to be alright?”

He tries out the word no but it never makes it past his lips. Waits for the car door to swing open but that doesn’t happen either, so he asks, “Aren’t you coming?”

“Something tells me that you’re better off handling this one on your own,” Bryce offers. His knuckles graze Chuck’s arm, at the elbow, and Chuck is still all about wanting time to think things through but he doesn’t move out of reach. “I’ll just be right out here, if you need me.”

It’s absurd, really, that there’s even a question as to whether or not he can handle a conversation with the sister who practically raised him, that Bryce says if you need me and means if you need a getaway car, that Chuck is even entertaining the idea of getting turned away at the door. It’s absurd but it’s a valid concern, much as he doesn’t want it to be. He has no clue what she knows. The CIA may have been through here or they may not have been. They might still be here, parked in the florist van down the street or doing drive-bys in a town car, waiting for him to get stupid or lazy or just plain homesick. He understands the risks involved. But they wouldn’t be here if there were any other options.

It’s been two years.

Two years is too long a time for nothing to have changed.

He mulls that over in the moments before he raises a hand to knock on Ellie’s door, after he’s searched for and located the spare key hidden in the soil of a potted plant, after he’s left Bryce sitting at the curb in the car they stole back in Missouri and done a quick scan of the area to make sure he’s alone, at least visibly. It’s more about piece of mind than anything else, something to do, something to tell himself while he tries to breathe, in and out, too quick and shaky like the rhythm of his fist as it raps against hardwood.

“Just a minute,” Ellie’s voice chimes.

In the background, there is the rustling of papers.

Chuck’s heart hangs somewhere in the vicinity of his throat and he wants nothing more than to run back to the car, to flee, but the knob turns and the door swings open and then --

There’s nowhere left to run.

His sister, looking a little thinner and a lot more tired than when he last saw her, stands aghast before him, hand on the doorframe for balance, eyes wide, seconds before she folds him into the longest hug of his life.

From: Morgan Grimes
To: Sarah Walker
Date: Thurs, Apr 02, 2009 at 04:06 PM
(no subject)

Hey, did you ever find out what that guy from Homeland Security wanted?

From: Sarah Walker
To: Morgan Grimes
Date: Thurs, Apr 02, 2009 at 04:13 PM
(no subject)


From: Morgan Grimes
To: Sarah Walker
Date: Thurs, Apr 02, 2009 at 04:15 PM
(no subject)

Is everything okay?

From: Sarah Walker
To: Morgan Grimes
Date: Thurs, Apr 02, 2009 at 04:20 PM
(no subject)


April 03, 2009 07:30:06 AM
Callback Number: Sarah Walker (Mobile)
this is ridiculous even for you

April 03, 2009 09:00:12 AM
Callback Number: Sarah Walker (Mobile)
we’re being called out on a mission. it would be nice to know if i’m going to have some backup.

April 03, 2009 02:55:19 PM
Callback Number: Sarah Walker (Mobile)
guess not

April 05, 2009 11:14:20 AM
Callback Number: Sarah Walker (Mobile)
it’s been four days. i’m worried. call me back.

April 05, 2009 11:16:50 AM
Callback Number: Sarah Walker (Mobile)

From: Tom Warner
To: Morgan Grimes
Date: Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 08:00 AM
Subject: Favor

Consider this your lucky day.

Sending a buxom blonde your way in twenty.

From: Morgan Grimes
To: Tom Warner
Date: Mon, Apr 06, 2009 at 08:04 AM
Subject: Favor

Dude, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

April 08, 2009 09:45:16 AM
Callback Number: Alex McHugh (Mobile)
so dad’s not coming to dinner but apparently mike is. i haven’t been able to reach him for a week. do you have any idea what’s going on?

April 08, 2009 09:47:25 AM
Callback Number: Morgan Grimes (Mobile)
you have no idea how much i wish i did

Mike is called to testify at a closed hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Wednesday afternoon after she nearly throws him out of Casey’s kitchen.

Morgan tells her this on a Thursday, a week after Casey stops showing up to work and the morning after the weekly dinner at Alex’s that he didn’t attend. He sent Mike in his place instead, which is how Morgan comes to know about his time spent on the Hill talking through events that happened while in theater and also how Sarah comes to decide that the situation is concerning enough to walk down to the fifth floor and have them set up a teleconference with Director Graham.

He informs her that Casey is at the Pentagon for the remainder of the week, that he can’t give specifics because inter-agency cooperation only goes so far, and she goes back to their office no more reassured than when she left it.

By Friday morning there’s been a coup somewhere in West Africa, a military action against the government, and the United States has nothing official to say on the matter, which is telling in and of itself. Sarah remembers that Casey spent time retrieving nukes in Turkey and causing coups in Lebanon before landing this job and stops mentally preparing to drop everything and move back to Langley at a moment’s notice.

Sarah runs through the sketchier parts of Rock Creek Park and goes to work late, shuts herself back in their office and makes an attempt at sorting through all the stuff that’s been left for him in his absence only to feel heat emanating from the computer on his desk, a sure sign that he’s been there within the last hour. She still fills out his weapons discharge forms from the warehouse raid last week and she’s in the process of filing it with her own when there’s a cursory knock on the door followed by the click clack of heels as it opens.

The blonde woman who enters has a PDA in her hand, a stack of folders cradled in the crook of her arm, and a pen placed haphazardly and likely forgotten behind her ear. She stands there, typing away, for a count of five, and then jumps right in.

“Sorry, hi, I’m Ginger. The new receptionist. I don’t know if you know about that, I don’t think there was a memo about it and Mr. Grimes has been mostly handling it after HR passed it off to him. Is it Mr or Agent? He never really told me and it seemed impolite to ask.” The woman pauses for a breath and a sip of the coffee she’s also carrying. Sarah doesn’t know how she managed to get the door open in the first place much less knock. “Anyways, I would’ve introduced myself sooner but I was told you were pretty busy this week with your partner gone and all so I was going to hold off on that, except Mr. Dixon just called -- I think he’s the head of security -- and he said he needs you down in the...” she squints down at the PDA, like she’s not sure she’s reading it right, then continues “meatpacking district? I’m assuming he doesn’t mean the one in New York?”

It takes Sarah’s brain an extra fifteen seconds after she’s done speaking to catch up with all of that. Then, “No, definitely not the one in New York.” Ginger appears to make a note of that, also in the PDA. “Did he say why?”

“No, just that it was urgent.” Her gaze settles on the contents of Sarah’s desk. “You know I can fax that stuff for you. It’s kind of my job now. I’m heading to the copy room now anyways. My predecessor left a lot to be desired in terms of administrative upkeep and I know Mr. Grimes has been trying to mitigate the damage but that doesn’t really seem to be his strong suit.”

“You can just call him Morgan.” Sarah interjects. “He’s an analyst, not an agent, and he’s not really -- “ she tries to find a way to explain that he’s more an overgrown child than an adult who demands that much formality and inherent respect but, since there’s no nice way of saying it she goes with, “It sounds weird otherwise.”

“Got it. Anything else you need, Agent -- “


“And on the off chance your partner makes an appearance I should call him -- “

“I would strongly advise against John.”

“Noted,” she replies. The device in her hand charms urgently but she ignores it for the time being, asks instead, “One last thing before I let you go: what is the meatpacking district exactly?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Sarah says, rising to her feet and grabbing her ID off of the desk, along with her keys, “but it’s classified.”

It’s not, of course, because people, especially not the chief of security, don’t talk about classified material over unsecure lines. But she likes Ginger enough, thinks it’ll be nice having someone around to manage the chaos, and there’s no telling what her reaction would be upon finding out that it’s a rather crude nickname coined for the twin buildings on the outskirts of campus that house both the interrogation rooms and the assets that tend to spend a great deal of time in them. Beckman once referred to it as Information Services, which is just benign enough to be said in public without raising a few eyebrows. In reality, it’s a giant holding cell and the NSA’s been authorized to use those so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that caused such a stir in the media for years, the same as the CIA. It’s not her favorite place to be.

Casey’s always liked it, though, so she isn’t wholly surprised when she’s directed down to Interrogation Room B by the nondescript man working the front desk only to find him standing in the gallery. It’s the first time she’s seen him in over a week, the first time she’s seen him since they fought in his kitchen, and when she opens her mouth to greet him she finds she doesn’t have anything to say. He turns his head to look at her, briefly, and she can vaguely make out some bruising along his jawline. She wants to ask but she doesn’t. The room is dark, the only light in the room seeping in through the two-way glass, and she doesn’t trust her own eyes these days.

There’s a man handcuffed to a chair behind that two-way glass as well as the light and she thinks that probably takes precedence over sorting out the damage done to their partnership, so she shifts her focus to that instead. “Your turn or mine?”

“Dixon said they want it handled delicately,” he replies. “Don’t think that’s in my job description.”

Or in your nature, she thinks bitterly. It’s only half a lie. “You don’t need to stick around then. I’m sure the Pentagon misses their golden boy and all, so if you just give me his file I won’t take up any more of your precious time.”

The absence of a glare is somehow worse than the expectation of one. It’s the indifference that kills her. “There isn’t one.”

“Excuse me?”

“Pretty boy doesn’t come with an instruction manual,” he clarifies. “Guess you’ll have to wing this one.”

He isn’t the type to hold out on her just for the fun of it, at least not with something like this, which means she really is walking into an interrogation blind, and isn’t that just great. Isn’t that just the icing on the cake. “Then what exactly do they want me to handle?”

Casey shrugs, offers no answers or suggestions in lieu of them, and when she leaves the room she slams the door behind her, pissed off beyond belief. The blame doesn’t lay entirely on him but he’s as good a target as any and she has to pause outside to collect herself before she lets herself into interrogation proper.

The man sitting at the table does not look up. His head hangs a little to the right and she thinks momentarily that he’s asleep before she crosses the room and gets a better look. His eyes are open, though rather lifeless, and his breathing quickens noticeably the closer she gets to him, suggesting he’s fully aware of her presence. His bottom lip is split, blood dried at the corner, and a long white scar runs up his right forearm where the sleeve has been rolled up. She thinks they used to do a better job of cleaning them up before and then she sits down across from him, leaving his hands bound.

There’s a microphone embedded in the table that she doesn’t turn off and the cameras hum when the swerve and bend to fix on her, on them. She tries not to let that bother her, keeps her voice even while she starts with the obvious. “Do you know why you’re here?”

His mouth twitches before he swallows his words and sets his jaw. It looks like it hurts to do so and her inclination towards anger fades a little in the face of that.

“Yeah,” she admits, trying a different tactic. “I don’t know either, but maybe if you tell me we can clear things up.” His silence is deafening. She glances back at the glass behind her, as if for guidance, but finds none. “How about we start with your name?”

Again, that twitch. He blinks and the tension in his shoulders gives a little, not relaxing but not holding himself as straight, as still, as before. She wonders when the last time he ate was; his face is too gaunt, his bruises too stark under fluorescent lighting. He doesn’t look like any criminal she’s ever seen but, after awhile, they all start to look the same, beaten and broken down.

She steeples her fingers and crosses her legs and almost loses the sound of his voice to the scrape of her chair.

He says, “Devon.”

He says, “My name is Devon.”

No last name given. His eyes never raise to meet hers but she can tell they’re cornflower blue just like that shirt he’s wearing once was, before the blood and the sweat and the time spent in a glorified cage. However long that was. “Okay, Devon. That’s a good start. Do you know where you are?”

There’s no answer this time, so she begins to interpret the silence as an answer itself. No, he doesn’t know where he is. No, he doesn’t know why he’s here. He knows his name, though, no need to check for memory loss but she does the stupid thing and asks just in case, “Do you know what year it is?”

“2008,” he answers, with some degree of uncertainty, and he’s right to because last she checked she tossed that calendar out some months ago. He must find her eyes while she’s not looking because he hastily corrects himself. “I don’t know.”

“Are you having trouble remembering things?” He’s silent, for a long while, and then shakes his head slowly. “But you don’t remember what year it is?”

“They play with time,” he says, like it’s the natural answer, like it’s the only answer, and the knot in her stomach grows as she comes to understand what he means. Environmental manipulation, light control, sleep schedule adjustment, all hallmarks of the CIA’s more unsavory methods of information gathering. He still thinks it’s 2008 because that’s the last time he saw the date. He doesn’t know where he is because they tend to keep people like that underground, moving them periodically with little warning. There’s a whole mess of black sites spread out across at least four continents, not counting the floating prisons and the naval base sitting in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Of course he doesn’t know where he is.

She crosses her arms, feeling colder than she did during her pre-dawn run through the park this morning. Someone knocks against the glass, signaling her to come around to the gallery. Probably Casey. She should go but she’s rooted to the spot. “They?”

“You,” he replies, solemnly.

“No,” she insists. “Not me.”

She reacts with the same certainty, the same fervor, as she did when Morgan drew the obvious conclusions about Orion’s origins. Never mind that she once spent two days in Bucharest breaking every single bone in a man’s hands just to get the information that she wanted. He had deserved that. She had known what he had done to deserve that kind of treatment. She can draw a line there and tell herself that she was on the right side of it but this is somehow unfathomable, something she could never be a part of.

Impassioned as she may sound, he doesn’t believe her. That much is evident. She thinks about undoing his restraints, no key handy but the lockpicking skills to make up for it, but decides against it when her phone chimes at her side. Across from her, he tenses, and she chances a glance at the screen for just long enough that her breath catches in her throat.

April 10, 2009 09:06 AM
Callback Number: John Casey (Mobile)
Bartowski’s sister’s live-in boyfriend. Missing person as of six months ago.

Tags: verse: chuck: unleashed
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