|Title||A Good Deed|
|Disclaimer||You know the drill|
A Good Deed
"Good morning, Fawkesy."
Darien smirked at his partner as they met in the corridor leading to their Boss's office. "Good morning," he said with a laugh. "What's got you in such a good mood? Or do I even want to know?"
Bobby shrugged. "Sometimes, Darien, you just gotta step back and take a look at your life, ya know? Smell the roses, stuff like that."
Darien cocked an eyebrow. "Forgive me if I don't happen to see any roses in this place."
"You're too young to be a pessimist, Fawkes. You should leave that to old jaded guys like me."
Bobby and Darien traded almost matching smirks before Darien opened the door that led to the office of the esteemed Official.
Darien was two steps in when he realized something was wrong. It was nothing he could put his finger on exactly, but something in the room was different. Off, somehow.
The Official looked up at them with his normal placid, somewhat smug expression. "Morning, boys." His voice gave no indication that anything was wrong. "Got a job for you. And this time you get to travel."
"Ooh. Anywhere exotic?" Darien grinned as he took his usual seat in front of the desk, stretching long legs in front of him.
"Enumclaw," The Official repeated dryly. "I want you to track down a dead woman."
"Some reason you can't find her yourself? Don't tell me we're on the lookout for some decomposing stiff." Darien shifted in his chair, glancing around the office absently. He could have sworn there was something missing. He just couldn't figure out what it was.
The Official picked up a photograph and slid it across the desk towards the two men. Bobby Hobbes scooped it up and studied it before Darien could even shift to reach for it.
"This woman goes by the name Lynn Kimball. Two years ago she was supposedly killed in an explosion meant for her husband, who was to testify against some crooked government agents. The trial never went on as planned, the husband disappeared into a form of witness protection. And now we have information that says this woman may be alive and well and living in Enumclaw, Washington."
Bobby finally handed the photo to Darien, turning his attention to the Official. "Why's it so important to track this woman down?"
The Official raised an eyebrow, his gaze going cool. "Does it matter?"
Bobby sat up straighter unconsciously. "Uh. No, sir. Guess not."
Darien hid a smirk and looked down at the picture. It was black and white, and grainy, like it had been blown up from a smaller photo. The woman was looking right into the camera and smiling. She looked to be even younger than Darien, with dark hair and eyes. Fairly pretty, but nothing spectacular. And she did have a nice smile. Sweet, innocent.
Way too nice for Darien's taste, but she was a married woman -- maybe even a dead married woman -- so it didn't matter.
"So when do we leave?"
"ASAP. You've got tickets on a plane out of here this evening. You'll land in Seattle, rent a car, and get to Enumclaw." The Official met Darien's eyes seriously. "We'll send one batch of counteragent with you. It's not exactly designed for long-time storage, but the supply the Keeper gives you should last a couple of days. This is an easy assignment, gentlemen. Hopefully no invisibility required. If you have to use it, though, use it the first day."
Darien nodded solemnly. He was a joker, sure, but when it came to going insane and flying into blind, violent rages, he tended to pay attention.
"That's it. I'll expect regular reports from the two of you, and I want you back in town by the end of the week. It shouldn't even take you that long."
"That's it?" Darien sat up, handing the picture back to Hobbes, where it would be safer. "One picture and her name? What if this lady isn't in the phone book? How do we find one person in an entire city?"
"Enumclaw's small, and you're federal agents. You'll find a way."
"When's our flight?" Bobby was sitting straight up, bright-eyed and ready for work.
The Official glanced over his shoulder. "Eberts?"
There was a pause, and Darien realized that that was what was missing in the office.
"Oh." The Official turned back to his desk and started flipping through papers, searching for relevant information.
"Hang on. Where's Eberts?"
The Official grimaced. "He has the day off."
Bobby laughed. "He takes days off? I didn't think he could breathe outside this room. I figured he never went home."
"He's taking this day
off," the Official snapped back almost testily, making a mess of the papers
on his desk before finally finding the right one. "Here we are. Here's
a sheet confirming your flight. Everything you need to know's on there.
Now get to work, boys."
There was no Lynn Kimball in the Enumclaw telephone directory.
Darien shut the yellow pages with a sigh. "Well, that's as far as my strategy goes. You got any ideas?"
Bobby shrugged. "Sure. How about we cross the street and duck into that diner."
Darien stepped out of the phone booth and glanced over at the building Bobby was gesturing towards. "How's that going to help?"
"Got me, kid. I'm just hungry."
Darien grinned and followed his partner across the street. "Hey, Hobbes? Is it just me or is this entire city made up of restaurants and strip malls?"
"Looks like it from here," Bobby answered easily. "But this is right off the highway. I'm sure people actually live in houses somewhere around here."
"Let's just hope we find this Kimball chick's house so we can get the hell out of this place."
Bobby reached the door to the diner and opened it, holding it for his partner and then following right on his tail. "What's wrong with this place? I'd have thought you'd like not having the Keeper breathing down your neck for a couple of days."
"Hey." Darien found an empty booth and took a seat. "I'll have you know the Keeper breathing down my neck makes for some of the most enjoyable times I've spent with the Agency."
"Doesn't take much to make you happy apparently."
"You're just jealous."
Bobby chuckled. "Yeah, sure. I'd kill for the chance to have one more person asking me questions and giving me shots and treating me like a lab rat." He sat back and flipped a greasy menu open. "Thanks but no thanks, pal. No woman in the world is good-looking enough for me to submit to that."
"No? I seem to remember a certain tall, blonde ex-wife of yours that--"
"Hey! No hitting below the belt, Fawkes. You don't bring up Vivian, I won't bring up that old doctor girlfriend of yours."
Darien grimaced. "Point taken."
Bobby dropped his menu with a sigh. "Back to business. How do you want to start looking for this woman? I figure we could try the police station, see if her name's on file anywhere."
The two men looked up at the smiling waitress now standing by their table.
Darien opened his mouth to answer, then shut it again.
Bobby's mouth dropped open slightly.
She looked back and forth between them, her smile fading slightly under the silent scrutiny. "Um. I'm Lynn, I'll be your waitress."
Darien and Bobby exchanged glances. Bobby shook his head in disbelief. "It can't be this easy."
"Sure it is," she replied cheerfully. "You sit down, order, I bring you food. It's really incredibly easy."
Darien looked back up at her, forcing a smile. "We need a few more minutes."
"Sure thing." She flashed a grin and left them alone.
When Darien turned back to his partner, he was grinning. "No doubt about it. That's her."
Bobby's mouth twitched in a smile. "None of the Agency's jobs are ever this easy. Something's wrong here."
"I wouldn't say that. We're done, Hobbes. He wanted us to find out if she's alive, and she is. We can pack up and go."
"Pack what? All our stuff's still in the car." Bobby chuckled suddenly. "This'll go down in the books as the shortest job we've ever been on."
Darien laughed in response. "You think we should draw it out? Hang on in a hotel for a couple of days? Spontaneous vacation doesn't sound too bad."
"Either that or we go right back home, and laugh in the fat man's face for solving this one so fast."
Darien thought about it. "You know," he said suddenly. "This really is too easy. There's got to be something about this woman we don't know."
"How do you figure?"
"The Agency has more agents than just us. I'm the fancy toy; why send the seventeen million dollar gland on something this easy?"
Bobby's smile faded and he sat back thoughtfully. "Come to think of it, the fat man wouldn't give a reason why we were even looking for her."
"So what do you think it means? Is the boss gonna send someone after her once we tell him she's alive? Is she suddenly gonna attack us or something? What's going on here?"
"You guys made up your minds yet?"
They both jerked, turning to the object of their discussion.
Darien glanced back at Bobby, a question in his eyes.
Bobby shrugged. "Uh. Two coffees for now."
"Alright. Now we're making some progress." She beamed at them before turning to head back towards the kitchen.
"So what do we do?"
Bobby frowned. "You sit here and keep an eye on her. I'm gonna call the Official and see what he says."
Bobby got up and headed for a pay phone on the wall by the door. His eyes went to the kitchen, narrowed suspiciously. She could take off through the back too easily.
"Yeah, is the boss there?"
"Agent Hobbes? Hold on one moment."
Bobby sighed and listened in as Eberts told the Official who was on the phone.
There was muted conversation between the two, and then came the familiar voice of his boss. "Agent Hobbes? Report."
"We're twenty feet away from her right now."
"You found her already?"
Bobby grinned at the surprise in his voice. "Yeah. She's making us coffee."
"What? I didn't say approach her, Hobbes."
"I know. We found her working in a restaurant. What do you want us to do?"
There was a pause. "Bring her."
"Bring her? Into California? Back to the Agency? Bring her?" Bobby turned all his attention to the phone.
"That's what I said."
"Agent Hobbes, are you questioning my order?"
"No, sir. Of course not, sir." Bobby made a face at the phone, but kept his voice professional. "I just get the feeling if we tell her we're taking her to San Diego with us, she's gonna want to know why."
"Agent Hobbes, if you can't handle the curiosity of a small-town waitress enough to make up something, than I'm putting my faith in the wrong man."
Just like the boss, to offer his vague compliments and making him feel stupid, all in the same sentence.
He chose to let it slide. "Are we supposed to consider her dangerous, sir? Are we arresting the woman?"
"Negative, Hobbes. Just get her over here. I'll reserve you a flight this afternoon. Good job, Hobbes."
Bobby opened his mouth to reply, but there was a metallic click, and the Official was gone.
He frowned, hanging up the phone and muttering a few choice words about need-to-know as he turned and strolled back to the table.
Lynn Kimball was standing there, chatting with Darien. He slid past her into his seat, grabbing the mug of coffee.
"Darien here was just telling me you boys are from California."
Bobby shot a glare at his partner.
Darien just shrugged with a grin. "Don't worry about Bobby. He's antisocial."
"Oh?" She turned smiling eyes to Hobbes. "Maybe he just needs some caffeine. Drink up, Bobby."
Bobby hesitated. "Your name Lynn Kimball?"
Her smile dropped off, and she studied him. "Do I know you?"
Bobby glanced at Darien briefly, telling him silently to play along. "Miss Kimball, we're federal agents. We're here to--"
"Oh, God." She blanched, a hand going to the table in front of her to support herself.
Darien was up immediately. "Hey, you okay? Sit down." He steered her to his side of the booth and let her sit.
She dropped onto the chair numbly, looking at Bobby in horror. "This…this is about Michael, isn't it?"
"Uh," Bobby replied intelligently.
"I told you two years ago -- I didn't see anything. I didn't see anyone I could identify, and I'm sorry." She shook her head, her eyes dropping to the table. "If there was any way…I know they're still out there, whoever…killed him. But I just can't help you."
Darien sat down beside her, frowning over at Bobby.
Bobby studied her. She seemed sincerely distressed. But the Official hadn't given him a clue what this was about, so he had no idea what to say to her. "Listen, Ms. Kimball, we just want to ask you a few questions." That was safe, wasn't it?
She shook her head, pained. "I told you, I can't help you. It's been two years, and I couldn't even help you back then."
"I'm afraid you don't have much choice in the matter." Bobby kept his voice non-threatening, but the words themselves made her flinch.
"I can't…" She trailed off, and breathed in shakily. "Alright. Ask. Just don't be surprised if you don't get anything out of it."
"Actually, you're going to have to come with us."
She met his eyes, then nodded. "I should have known. Let me go see if the manager will let me take my lunch early."
Bobby almost sighed. Nothing like being the bearer of bad news. "I'm sorry, you don't understand. You're going to have to come with us back to San Diego."
"San Diego? What's in San Diego? The FBI has a field office a few miles down the highway, right?"
"We're not FBI," Darien answered before Bobby could.
Bobby almost snapped
a glare at his partner. "I'm sorry, Miss Kimball. We can take you by your
house to pick up some clothes, but we have a plane to catch this afternoon."
The plane trip was tense, but that was nothing Bobby hadn't expected. He himself stayed quiet, but Darien spent the entire trip trying to make conversation with their reluctant guest.
"We really are sorry about this, Miss…can I call you Lynn?"
She just shrugged, her eyes distant.
Darien frowned, puzzled over this entire mission and certain he wouldn't be getting any answers. "Okay. Lynn. But it won't be that bad, I promise. We'll…uh, we'll do whatever it is we have to do, and get you home as soon as possible."
She glanced at him then. "What exactly is the point of all this, Agent Fawkes? I've told you the truth -- I didn't see anything. Michael's dead, the people who killed him are free, and nothing is going to change that."
Darien fell silent.
She turned back to stare ahead of her again with a sigh.
Darien studied her profile, then sat back thoughtfully. He was going to make sure the Official made this quick. This poor woman was obviously upset, and if this was really about bringing up her husband's murder two years ago, she was bound to become even more upset.
"I'm sorry about your husband," he said finally.
She snapped her eyes over at him, but they softened in sadness as she saw the sincerity in his face. "Thank you," she said softly. "So am I."
"You don't know?"
"Uh." Darien swallowed. "We weren't very well briefed before they sent us out for you," he said truthfully.
She looked at him for another moment, searching his eyes for something. She must have seen whatever it was she was looking for, because she nodded slightly. "He was killed. Our house…they sent a bomb to our house."
He nodded for her to keep going.
She must have seen the genuine sympathy in his eyes. "We…we were going out to dinner that night. We had reservations and everything. Michael…he got home before I did. I was running a little late from work, and…by the time I got there, the fire trucks were outside putting out the flames." She sniffed softly. "I actually got to see them bringing out the stretcher, once everything was put out. He…they had him covered, and he looked…smaller. The police officer told me that when people…burn…they can curl up and…I don't know. Melt. Sometimes grown men can be buried in a child's coffin." Her voice wavered slightly, but she drew in a deep breath and got herself under control.
Darien could see the pain all over her, as if this had happened yesterday and not two years ago. "You haven't remarried?"
She shook her head firmly. "I have a husband. I promised to be faithful until my death. And I will."
Darien's eyes widened in surprise. That sounded like a very lonely way to live life. And no wonder she didn't want to dredge all this out again, relive the explosion and answer more questions.
He frowned, glancing at Bobby.
Bobby was staring straight ahead. He was in the aisle seat, on her other side, and by all appearances didn't seem to be listening.
"He must have been some guy," Darien said finally, his voice wistful. Or else Lynn was just some woman, staying faithful to a memory in this day and age. A quick glance down showed him that she was still wearing a ring on the right finger.
Made him wonder why none of the women in his life thought he was worth being faithful to while he was still alive.
"He was," she replied, her frown transforming to a smile instantly. "He was wonderful. Funny, smart. We…" She trailed off, laughing. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be talking about this. You're just doing your job here, you don't want to hear me go on about my husband."
Bobby glanced over at that. "No. It's kinda nice, actually."
Darien met his eyes for a brief moment before Bobby turned back to stare at the seat in front of him. Darien realized Bobby was probably thinking the same thing he was -- maybe wondering about Vivian, and why she hadn't been nearly as loyal to him.
He was regretting taking this assignment. As easy as it was, and as nice as it was not to be getting shot at or endangered, this still sucked, big time. Darien had a soft heart -- he knew that. It was his biggest weakness. At least, according to his old mentor Liz. Still, he couldn't help it. He couldn't help getting angry at the Official for being so secretive about this assignment, and for dragging this woman's past back up and throwing it in her face.
All he knew was that
this had better end up being worth it. They better have caught the guys
who killed her husband or something, otherwise he was going to have a few
choice words with the Official.
"Miss Kimball, I'm the Official. I'd like to have a few words with you."
She raised her eyebrows and moved into the seat he gestured towards. "I came all the way from Washington to have a few words?"
He actually smiled slightly. "Not quite." He picked up his phone and pressed three numbers. "Would you come up here, please?" he spoke into the receiver, then hung up. Turning back to Lynn, he opened his mouth to keep talking.
"Uh, boss? Should we…?"
"No. Stick around. This might interest you."
Bobby nodded and melted back against the wall beside his partner.
Darien was tense, waiting to interrupt in a flash if the Official started giving her the third degree.
He liked Lynn Kimball. He liked that she was handling this so well, and that she was obviously still so in love with a dead man. It was a refreshing change from the kinds of people he usually met on the jobs this place gave him.
"I have to tell you a few things, Miss Kimball. It's going to be hard for you to hear, but you have to take my word for it." The Official waited for her nod before continuing. "The FBI agents in charge of protecting your husband seem to have made a very big mistake."
She gave an ironic smile. "Well, they didn't protect him. That was a mistake, I'd say."
"I'd agree," he said easily. "But in this case it goes beyond simple incompetence. You see, when your house was blown up, they got suspicious. They started thinking that maybe you were in league with the men who were trying to silence your husband."
Her eyes grew wider. "They…they think I had something to do with his death?"
"They thought you made the attempt, yes. You were late coming home that night for no obvious reason, and the FBI are a very suspicious breed. You were taken out of the list of people to trust, and so they made a deal with you as fast as possible to get you out of town and away from you husband."
She blinked. "My husband was dead," she replied after a moment.
The Official nodded. "That's the same thing they told him about you."
From his spot against the wall and out of the way, Darien's eyes grew suddenly. That was right! The Official had told them before they left that her husband was in some sort of witness protection. In the confusion of not being briefed, he'd completely forgotten!
She sat frozen in her chair. "What are you…"
"Your husband never testified. The men who blew up your house did get away, along with all the money they had been funneling from the IRS. He was given an option, and he decided to change locations, getting a different job with the government rather than go into protective custody."
She was shaking her head as he talked. "No. No, he's…Michael's dead."
There was a light knock on the door.
The Official grinned. "Come in."
Darien glanced over, his heart racing in empathy for the woman they'd dragged from Washington.
But it was only Eberts. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
Lynn looked back, and startled eyes met the gaze of the Official's right-hand man.
There was dead silence for a minute. She rose from her chair slowly, her face pale.
Darien frowned, glancing back. Yeah, it was still just Eberts.
"Michael?" Her voice was a whisper.
And it was Eberts who answered, looking equally stunned. "Lynn?"
Darien's mouth dropped open, and he looked back at the Official.
The man was grinning inanely, sitting back and watching the scene with a smug air.
Eberts came in a few steps, his eyes going to his boss. "I don't…" He looked back at the woman in front of him. "Lynn? Is that you?"
She swallowed, her eyes shining with moisture. "They told me you were killed."
"They told me the same…" There was more emotion on the lackey's face than Darien could even have imagined he'd see. He swallowed, almost stumbling a few more steps into the office.
"Oh my God," she seemed frozen in place, two wet tracks going down her face when she blinked.
Darien glanced at Bobby, seeing a surprised look on his partner that must have matched Darien's own expression.
All at once, Lynn seemed to snap into action, rushing the short distance between them and throwing herself at Eberts.
The papers he was carrying flew all over the floor as he grabbed her hard, squeezing her in a tight hug. "Oh my God," he repeated her words in a whisper. "Oh my God, oh my God."
Darien's mouth twitched up in a smile, unable to avoid responding to the emotions in the reunion. His surprise at the sudden revelation that Eberts was an actual person, with a past and a first name and everything, was fading fast.
"Eberts." The Official's voice rang out sharply.
Eberts was slow to respond for once, pulling back and looking down at his wife's face with a growing happiness lighting his eyes, before looking past her to the Official.
"I'll give you tomorrow off, but Friday you be here nice and early."
Eberts grinned. An actual, wide, happy grin. "Yes, sir."
Darien almost laughed. The lackey looked like a different person. It wasn't a bad thing.
"Miss Kimball," the Official continued. "I've made arrangements to fly you back to Washington tomorrow night."
She glanced back at him, surprised, before turning a questioning gaze back at Eberts.
It was Eberts who spoke. "With all due respect, sir…no."
She grinned, launching herself into his arms again.
He folded her up against him, the sheer surprised delight on his face not fading even as his eyes stayed on his boss.
The Official gazed back impassively. "It's a round-trip ticket. I imagine your wife has an entire life in Washington she needs to pack up."
"Oh. Yes. I'd imagine so." Eberts drew back and looked down at her. When he spoke, it was directed at the Official. "Perhaps you'd let me go with her, sir."
"I'm sure she can handle it."
"I'm sure she can, but I'm not letting her out of my sight. Never mind, I'll arrange my own ticket." He wiped at a wetness in his eyes, practically beaming.
The Official heaved a sigh, but Darien could see the twinkle in his eye and knew he was enjoying this entire situation. "Oh, fine. By all means, go with her. But that's it. You'll be lucky if you get another off day this year."
Eberts nodded his agreement, unable to tear his eyes from the face of his wife.
Darien turned his eyes to the woman he had decided he liked so much, and he saw the beam on her face that made her other bright smiles look dim in comparison. Who'd have thought? The kind of loyalty she had, the love on her face…inspired by Eberts.
The thought made him chuckle. He could tell just by the last few minutes that there was a side to Eberts he'd never seen, but it was still a funny thought.
The Official broke into his thoughts. "Alright, get out of here, both of you."
The emotional couple didn't need to be asked twice. Arms all around each other, they left the office for the relative privacy of the hallway outside.
Darien let his laughter out full-force once they were gone. "So that was the job, huh? You sent us all that way so you could surprise Eberts."
"You're not going soft on us, are you, boss?" Bobby's amusement was plain.
The Official, for once, didn't answer back with an order or some sarcastic comment. He just shrugged. "What can I say? I like the kid, and when I found out a few days ago what the FBI did to him and his wife, I figured someone should go back and make it right." The softness in his eyes faded. "Have you got something to say about that, Agent Hobbes?"
"Me? Oh, no, sir. Nothing at all."
Darien just shook his head with a wide grin.
"Good. Get out of my office."
They obeyed quickly, still chuckling as the door shut behind them.
The Official sat back at his desk, heaving a sigh. He let his smile show again now that he was alone.
There was something to this good deed stuff, surprisingly enough. He felt pretty damned good, bringing those two together.
But, going soft? Not in a million years.
Still…he couldn't help wondering if maybe Claire had a long lost brother that he could try to hunt down.