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."

"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."

"Yeah."

"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."


7 Comments:

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As you can probably suspect, I doubt I will be meeting the 50,000 word goal by the end of November. But, it will be a success if I can just keep posting.

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