Sunday, March 06, 2005

To say he was uncomfortable was an understatement. While Jake had been Tamsin's partner for a long time, both of them were careful to keep their private lives private. And now here he was searching every nook and cranny in her apartment. Most of the place had the look of a professional decorating job, but there were splashes of personality here and there. A couple of romance novels on the coffee table. Bunny slippers in her bedroom closet. A huge DVD collection, mostly tv shows. Jake definitely didn't know Tamsin was a Trekkie.

"Nothing in the bedroom or bathroom," Tamsin said joining Jake in the living room.

"So, who was better, Kirk or Picard?" Jake asked teasingly.

"Kirk, of course. He was a cowboy. Made his own rules."

"Like Crossfield, huh?"

"You think that's what it is?" Tamsin asked as she sank down into the sofa. "I'm drawn to guys like that?"

"With a dad like yours, it's not surprising you'd look for the exact opposite. You've got a couple of these out of order."

"There's nothing wrong with my dad,"

"Nothing a little personality couldn't cure. I think we found Crossfield's little present." Jake handed the dvd case to Tamsin.

"A note? ‘Fairfax 25794.' What do you think? Locker at a bus station?"

"Sounds that way. Let's check it out."

"Okay. Put this dvd back the way you found it."


They split up once they reached the station and set out to find the locker number 25794. Tamsin was the first to find it. Pulling out her set of lock picks, she needed only a few seconds to gain access. She opened the door and pulled out the padded envelope. She stuffed the envelope in her jacket pocket and met up with Jake.

"I got it. Let's go."

Later, they sat in the car in a parking lot of a shopping center, staring at the envelope.

"Well, let's see what Nick left for us," Tamsin said as she opened the envelope. She pulled out a folded piece of paper and a cd. Handing the cd to Jake, she read the note.

"Midnight. Tuesday. Eiffel Tower. You'll look great in the moonlight."

"Well, at least he isn't letting a little thing like nuclear weapons get in the way of a date," Jake said dryly.

Monday, February 21, 2005

"We stay on him. He wants that because we will legitimize his ‘cover'. We'll try to catch him, but we won't because he's too good. He knows our tricks and he knows that by the book will only get you so far. When he makes his move against Crimson Sun, we'll make ours and grab all of them, Nick included."

Edwards sighed. "I know you don't see Crossfield as a criminal in the truest sense. He's broken rules to achieve his goal of justice. But it isn't our role to determine his guilt or innocence or if these are crimes or infractions. Our role is to make the world safer by bringing down terrorist groups like Crimson Sun. And by reigning in loose cannons like Nick."

"We aren't going to catch him anyway. He's holding all the cards. We might as well have plan B in place."

"Plan B - working with Nick Crossfield."

"Not working with him. Taking advantage of the opportunity he's providing us."

"Semantics." Edwards paused, thinking about all they had discussed. "You're sure he won't just lead us around in circles?"

"He'll lead us where he wants us to be. We might as well be ready for him."

Edwards weighed the pros and cons of Tamsin's argument. "Alright Garrett. Your orders are to catch Nick Crossfield. If it takes you until the Crimson Sun is brought down to do it, then we can't help that. But you damn sure better try your best. This entire operation will be reviewed by every committee and review board coming and going. If you're not at your best, then you will be dealt with."

"Yes sir. I'm going home. Nick wouldn't have just stopped by. He's probably left something there for us. Cash will be with me if you need him."

"You're quiet," Jake remarked as they drove to Tamsin's apartment.

"That's not so unusual."

"The way you're quiet is. What's wrong?"

"Nick said something last night. It's bothering me."

"What'd he say?"

"He said it's hell having feelings. Like I was at a disadvantage for feeling something."

"So it was a jab at you. You have feelings and he doesn't."

"No. It was more like he was teaching me another lesson. But it was weird. It almost seemed like he was talking about himself too."

"He was commiserating with you. You know that's an old trick to gain your trust. Once he has it he gains control over you."

They pulled up to the apartment and got out of the car. Tamsin paused before opening her front door. "Thanks for helping me keep my distance."

"That's why we have partners in this business. Let's take a look inside."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

"You had him in your kitchen and you just let him go! That is unacceptable Garrett. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kick you down to the mail room for the next five years!" Edwards railed after listening to Tamsin's report of Crossfield's visit.

"Nick intends to infiltrate Crimson Sun. Bring them down. I don't know what kind of political pressure has kept us from going after them in the past, but we have an opportunity to stop them without causing a political stir. Nick's created that opportunity by going rogue. Why can't we use him?"

"He's in possession of nuclear material. That ups the stakes. We can't let him loose."

"We'll be a step behind him. He wants us there for back-up."

"We can't align ourselves with a man whose stolen nuclear mat-"

"We wouldn't be aligning ourselves. We would be letting him lead us to Crimson Sun. Then, we could get them all, Nick included. It seems pointless to pull him out when he could do so much to help us."

"We can't let the nuclear material fall into the hands of a known terrorist organization. Garrett, I know this is personal for you -"

"Not personal! You assigned me to this task because I know him. Well, I know he wouldn't freely turn over the uranium if he didn't have a plan. He wouldn't allow Crimson Sun to become nuclear capable. He may be reckless. He may break every rule. But he's achieved every mission objective he's ever been given. That's not the behavior of a traitor."

Edwards stopped his pacing around his office and stared hard at Tamsin, considering their entire conversation. After what seemed like ages, he let out a sigh. "What do you suggest we do?"

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tamsin let herself into her apartment and immediately sensed something was different. She pulled her gun and begun to sweep the rooms. Her heart skipped a beat when she entered the kitchen and found Nick Crossfield at the business end of her gun.

"Decided to make this easy on me? Turn yourself in?" She asked brazenly.

Nick smiled slowly. "I never should have trained you their way."

"Is that the only thing you regret?"

"At the moment, I'd say it's near the top of the list. How much do you know?"

"We know about Carter Davis. If you're hoping to even the score - "

"I'm not hoping. I'm doing what needs to be done." Nick took a couple steps back and leaned against the counter.

"And what's that?"

"I'd figured you'd be smart enough to know. You know, I knew you'd turn out this good."

Tamsin ignored the compliment. "Why are you here, Nick? Do you think I'll just let you go?"

"Yes. If you want the Crimson Sun, you need me out there. And I need you a half-step behind me."

"No one's wanted the Crimson Sun since they appeared on the world scene."

"No. They haven't," Nick said knowingly. "But once they get nuclear material, the rules will change."

Tamsin lowered her gun in frustration. "Nick, I don't think you'll get out of this. One way or another, your life's over."

"There's more to this than you know. Don't worry. I don't plan to stand trial. Or die for my country any time soon."

"Unfortunately, you don't know what our plans are," Tamsin countered.

"That's simple. You plan to stop me. You're probably the only one who could. C'mon Tamsin. Let me go. I'll give you the Crimson Sun on a platter."

"You're giving them nuclear material. I can't let you -"

"I've got it covered. The less you know about the details the better. You just need to trust me."

"Even if I would, the Agency wouldn't." Tamsin was trying hard to understand what Nick was doing there and why. It didn't make any sense at the moment, but she knew there had to be some reason behind it.

Nick made a move toward the open kitchen window. "It's hell having feelings, isn't it?" he said softly. "I wish it could be different, but I can't stop and I won't bring you into this with me. I trust you Tamsin. I trust you to be exactly who you are. You need to do the same for me." And with that, Nick slid out the window.

Tamsin watched him go and then pulled a chair out from her kitchen table. She sank down into it and tossed the gun onto the table.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

"You mean to tell me that you had freed yourself from the handcuffs before Crossfield left the lab?" Edwards asked Tamsin.

Tamsin looked around the conference room table to her father, Edwards and Cash. "Yes. I was out of the cuffs by the time Nick came out with the material. But we had no back up and a bomb that was sent to go off in just a few very short minutes. There was no way we could afford another altercation with Nick and defuse the bomb. A choice had to be made, and I made it."

"Cash, you should have entered the lab when you first lost contact with Garrett."

"No sir. Cash's job was to cover that entrance. It was because he did his job that we were able to prevent the bomb from exploding."

"Thanks, Garrett," Cash said under his breath.

"Blame and finger-pointing is a waste of time," Tamsin's father said shortly. "Tamsin, based on your assessment of the incident, what do you suggest our next move should be?"

"We haven't found anything by investigating Crossfield. So, why don't we find out why he would be interested in the Crimson Sun?"

"Could he have told you that to throw you off his trail?" John asked.

"We don't have any other leads to follow up on. And besides, the Crimson Sun is the biggest terrorist network out there right now. It won't hurt to check up on them."

"All right," Edwards said grudgingly. "Check in with the analysts. See what they have on them."

"I don't know Garrett, maybe he was trying to throw you off," Cash suggested as he pulled another cd out of the PC. "Four days of research and nothing linking Crossfield to the Crimson Sun. Edwards won't pursue this line much longer."

"Edwards isn't pursuing anything. In case you haven't noticed, we're doing all the work. And just because we haven't found anything yet, doesn't mean there's nothing to find. There has to be a connection between one of their activities and Crossfield. He wouldn't go rogue unless it was personal. For all we know, Nick could be doing this because someone he once knew crossed paths with the Crimson Sun."

"It couldn't be that simple."

"If it was any more complicated, there'd be a bigger trail to follow. Bank and phone records, camera feeds picking up meetings. Something."

"You really believe he isn't just selling out?"

"Of course he could be selling us out. But if we don't know what precipitated it, then we don't have his weak spot. We have to know him better than he does if we expect to find him and bring him in."

"Well we haven't found anything so far. I'm beginning to think this is a waste of time."

"He's gathering up nuclear material to hand over to terrorists. Unless you have a better idea, this is the only option we've got."

Two days later, they found something. "So, we have a hotel bombing in Indonesia. This woman dies in the attack. Marilyn Davis, wife of Carter Davis. She was four months pregnant. Carter Davis is the son of Franklin Davis, who in 1984, ran into a burning building and saved the life of Nick Crossfield's grandmother. The grandmother lived, Davis didn't. The gesture brought Carter and Crossfield together. Fast forward to two months ago. Carter Davis is found three days after the bombing shot dead. In his pocket was a piece of paper detailing the time and place of a meet. And a name - Gustav Forget." Tamsin paused in front of the big screen. She and Cash had called a meeting with Edwards and Garrett once they had found the link.

"Forget. The Crimson Sun connection," Edwards mused.

"Yes. It looks like Crossfield may be trying to infiltrate the organization on his own in an attempt to possibly find the one responsible for Davis's death," John Garrett theorized.

"Or he's trying to bring down the who organization," Tamsin offered.

"Try to stay in the real world, Garrett. One man can't bring down a terror network that large," Edwards responded.

"One man could lead us to them though," Tamsin countered. "And with us catching Crossfield, we'll get the whole network."

"Forest for the trees," Cash murmured.

"Okay, so now we have the why. Now we need to find him."

"If Forget was Davis's man, then Crossfield would probably try to get in through him," John suggested.

"Indonesia then," Tamsin agreed. "We'll start looking."

"So it was what you thought. Someone he knew crossed paths with the Crimson Sun," Cash said as he and Tamsin left the briefing.

"Are you saying something else with those words?" Tamsin asked suspiciously.

"What? You mean am I asking why is it that you hit the nail on the head? Maybe I'm suggesting that you knew what was going on before this all started? Maybe you're Crossfield's contact in the agency? No. I'm not saying any of that. I actually give you credit for knowing how the man would think. What I am asking is this: Where are we on this? Are we working with him to take down the Crimson Sun? Or is he still the bad guy?"

"We have our orders."

"Yeah, but we both know how many different ways orders can be interpreted."

Tamsin sighed. "If Nick's good enough, it won't matter if we're working with him or against him. We'll do what we need to and he'll succeed in spite of it. His success will be ours."

"You always manage to tow the company line," Cash said with a smile. "Do you know how frustrating that is?"

"Jake, do you think it's easy for me to accept that our target is someone who trained me? Mentored me? Do you think I haven't worked out every possible scenario we're likely to run into? Bottom line, after everything is said and done, is that we have to bring Nick in to answer to the charges. And now we have to do what we can to either minimize his impact on the Crimson Sun, as in retrieving the nuclear material Nick stole before he buys his way into the organization with it, or we have to bring down the Crimson Sun. Let me ask you something. Crimson Sun has been a global threat for fifteen years. Why do you think no concerted effort has been made against them in all that time?"

Cash looked at Tamsin curiously. "Never figured you for conspiracy theories, Tam."

"Never close your mind to any option. No matter how unlikely. There's something to be said for Nick working alone."

"Yeah, one man can get in easier when he's got the cover of the CIA chasing him."

"That's the obvious interpretation. There are others. And you need to keep your mind open to any or all of them."

"I hate it when you turn all teacher on me. I have been in the game for a while now. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were a little nervous."

"Then it's a good thing you know better," Tamsin replied shortly.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Are you in position?" Jake asked through the transmitter.

"Yeah. The second night in this lab waiting on him. Nick had better show tonight."

"Don't get too cranky. They want him in one piece."

"Very funny," Tamsin whispered back dryly.

Tamsin had taken up position in the lab while Jake was in a closet outside in the hall watching a little LCD monitor with a split screen showing the entire hall and both entrances. The logical assumption was that Crossfield would come through the door but there was an air duct in the lab he could use. They were covering as much as two people could. Tamsin sat under a desk waiting for the second night in a row for Nick to show up. She wanted to get the initial meeting over with, anxiously wondering how it would go. He couldn't be expected to surrender, but she didn't know if he would actually hurt her to escape either. If the consequences were bad enough, Tamsin figured she could battle Jake, but was doubtful she could inflict much damage. She - her thoughts were interrupted by a new sound in the lab, the sound of the duct plate coming off the wall. Tamsin waited until she heard both feet hit the floor. Then she crawled out from under the desk, hoping there would be enough light from the adjacent control room to see the perpetrator. Swiftly she got into position and ordered, "Hands in the air where I can see them!"

The intruder began to assume the position, but Tamsin saw the slight shift of weight and was ready when he spun around and fired a gun in her direction. She ducked and noted the gun bore a silencer. She peeked out and tried to locate him, forcing herself to listen for any movement, even his breathing. She picked up a faint rustling to her left, but the noise didn't seem loud enough to come from a man. Knowing the layout of the lab, Tamsin slowly circled around so she'd have access to the secured lab that housed the nuclear material. Seeing a movement in the shadows heading in the same direction assured her she had chosen right. Cover the only way in and he'll come to you, she thought.

Readying herself, Tamsin stood again. "That's far enough." With her gun trained on him, Tamsin was still unprepared for it - that first sight of her first mentor. The updated pictures of Nick Crossfield in the dossier didn't do him justice. He was still a ruggedly handsome man. And the pictures missed the cagey intelligence emanating from his dark, piercing eyes. She took a deep breath. "Drop the gun and kick it over here."

"They sent you after me? The agency's learning some new tricks."

"You gave them reason to. And you still haven't dropped the gun."

"I don't suppose you'd be interested in my side of things." Nick said conversationally, as if it was just any other day.

"On the contrary. I'm more than interested. And as soon as I get you back to headquarters, you can tell me all about it." Tamsin tried to steady herself, hoping Nick didn't see how nervous she was. It was one thing to know the mission parameters, but another thing to actually be there holding Nick at gunpoint.

"You know I can't let that happen."

"And you know I have my orders."

Nick's eyes glanced around the room quickly and landed back onto Tamsin. "I'm sorry Tamsin. I have to finish this. I'll try not to kill you in the process."

Nick made a motion with his gun hand, distracting Tamsin long enough to whip out the little flashlight device. He closed his eyes and clicked the device, emitting a blinding pulse which disoriented Tamsin. He lunged toward her, taking her down to the ground. Although she tried to fight back, Nick was able to wrench the gun from her hand and pulled the earpiece from her head.

"Why?" She demanded, still seeing spots. "Why did you have to do this?"

Nick rolled her over and handcuffed her hands behind her back."Forest for the trees, Tamsin."

"They're going to hang you by those trees. There's always another way."

"Do you honestly think I can just walk in and say, ‘Hello loyal members of the Crimson Sun. Give me you leader' and everything will be fine?"

"Crimson Su-?"

Nick pulled her up and sat her against the wall. Then he sat a device about three feet in front of her and started pushing buttons and flipping switches. "I hope you have a good team with you. I doubt you'll be able to get out of those handcuffs and disarm this in the 10 minutes I'm giving you."

"Ten minutes? Your setting a bomb? Are you insane? There's nuclear material in here!"

Nick chuckled softly. "Then you'll be a little too busy to follow me, won't you."

Nick left her and gained access to the storage facility. A few minutes later he returned to see Tamsin still sitting in the same spot, watching the clock count down.

"You're in the big leagues now Tamsin. You're going to have to step up to the plate."

"If you want to make the game more sporting, leave by the door, not the air duct. I'm a team of two. Only two."

Nick paused and studied her for a moment. Could they really only have sent Tamsin and her partner on this operation? Tamsin always played by the book, so ordinarily she wouldn't disclose the size of her team, but the way she kept staring at the bomb, Nick had to wonder if fear wasn't dictating her moves now. That thought plucked at something deep in his gut. Usually, he could divorce himself from his feelings easily, but there had always been something about Tamsin Garrett that brought out the humanity in him. It was a smart move for the agency, sending Tamsin after him. He couldn't treat her the way he would any other adversary. He would have to change his own tactics for the next time they met.

"Fine. Good luck Tamsin." Nick barged out the door and headed down the hall. Jake had lost contact with Tamsin early on but that didn't worry him. The fact that she wasn't following Crossfield did. Jake left his post and entered the lab, gun drawn. He found Tamsin dissecting a device that looked suspiciously like a bomb.

"What the hell happened?" Jake asked moving to join her on the floor.

"What does it look like? Help me defuse this."

Jake and Tamsin worked in silence until the timer stopped marking time and the device was deactivated. They had only a minute, thirty left, but for the two of them, that was time to spare. They had been in tighter spots before.

"Can't wait for the debrief for this one, Tam. Edwards will just love this." Jake said sarcastically.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Less than two hours later, Jake and Tamsin were on a plane heading for South Africa. Jake had learned more about his partner in the last few hours than he had in the five years they had worked together. True, he knew she was twenty-seven, five years younger than him, but this was the first he'd heard about some experimental program for college kids. It did explain a little about Tamsin's relationship with her father. Jake had seen the distance between the two and figured it had something to do with John's failed marriage to Tamsin's mother, but Jake began to realize it probably had more to do with the fact that Tamsin had been in the business for most of her adult life. John probably didn't know any other way to relate to his adult daughter.

Glancing over at Tamsin, Jake noticed she seemed all business as she went over the intel on Nick Crossfield. He thought about Tamsin's attitude toward her former mentor. How influenced had she been by the older, more accomplished agent? For his part, Jake had only glanced through some of the material. He didn't need to get inside the head of his prey at this stage of the game. He obtained what he needed from the dossier, that Crossfield was a loose cannon on good days and an insubordinate nutjob on bad ones who always managed to get the job done and stay out of hot water with the top brass. Simply put, where Crossfield was concerned, you needed to expect the worst and then top it with something better. Jake's something better was being the outsider - a different take on the good cop, bad cop tactic, with Tamsin being the good cop, i.e. Crossfield's connection, and Jake assuming the role of party crasher and conscience.

Tamsin sighed in frustration and ran a hand through her long red hair. "This is getting me nowhere."

"You always do this. You research every little stray fact and figure of the assignment and then end up winging it. So, forget the research. Tell me about Crossfield."

"You read his file."

"The file won't let me see him through your eyes. Tell me about you and him."

"There is no me and him," Tamsin replied. "He's older than me. When I first met him, he seemed a whole lifetime older. That first day, he was so confident. So smart. And cold."


"Detached. Unemotional. He seemed to be the epitome of what an agent should be." She paused a second. "Does that sound like my father? It sounded a lot like my father. Anyway, I did have a bit of a crush on him back then. But he was too much an agent, too deep to keep the crush from getting in the way. I know it sounds stupid, but a part of him scared me."

"Because he was the first tangible proof you had of the gruesome aspect of the business. Crossfield was your wake-up call."

"I guess so. I wasn't even an agent then. Just a sophomore in college, taking part in the program because Dad asked me to. He was in charge of it and since it was experimental, the people Dad had to answer to wanted to try it out on the children of Agency employees. That way if there were any problems, they could be easily contained and managed. The program itself was divided into three parts. The first was the not so serious summer camp kind of thing. It started out with thirty participants and only ten continued on to phase two, beginning training. It was every day even during school, so only two made it to level three, the more intensive training. The program lasted an entire year, but by the time phase three came around, Nick had been reassigned. The two of us who were left began shadowing real agents and were given real work to do. Langley decided the program wasn't worth the effort and shut it down."

"Crossfield's reports about you aren't included here."

"No. They weren't inappropriate, but I think Dad didn't want you learning anything that would compromise our relationship. Nick apparently had an insight about me that was more in depth than it should have been for the amount of time we spent together."

"Meaning what? That he figured you took part in the program because you wanted to make your father proud or at least make him notice you? Or that it might have something to do with your parents' divorce?"

"Something like that. I'm not going into detail about my feelings for my father. Anyway, the program was astounding for someone like me. I soaked up everything like a sponge. I was so good at it that Nick would teach me more than the others. Test me with scenarios. Even today there are times that I think back to something he might have said to decide my actions."

"You call him by his first name." Jake pointed out.

"Toward the middle of phase two, it just started slipping out and he never corrected me." Tamsin paused thoughtfully. "I can see him doing this Jake. Turning his back on us. He used to say that the mission objective was always the forest and bureaucracy was the trees."

"And he meant what by that?"

"That sometimes regulations get in the way of justice."

"That's why you wanted to review his assignments. You wanted to see if he could have been motivated to do something on his own."


"What happened to the other person who completed the program?"

"He's with the NSA now."

"Do, you think he could have passed on some intel to Crossfield?"

"I don't know. Maybe we'll find out when we get to Nick."

"Are you going to be ok? You can do this?"

"Edwards believes that because of the program, I've somehow got Nick's number. But, to tell you the truth, I worry that Nick might just have mine."

"Well, you've got something Crossfield doesn't. Me. I'll keep you straight."

Tamsin smiled and suppressed a laugh. "We'll see about that."