These are the promised epilogue(s) to Season 5.
Season 5 will be published on 6/28 – email with links to follow.
Thank you all, and enjoy… (cause what’s better than one cliffhanger? three, my friend. three).
The coffee shop was located on a quiet street not far from the White House, maybe five minutes by car. It was understated with a simple sign saying “Coffee”. No flashy graphics, no open hours in the window, not even an “Open” or “Closed” sign.
Mr. Douglas liked to come here for two reasons. First, unlike the 10 Ring Firing Range, this coffee shop was run by an actual former CIA intelligence agent. The woman who owned it, Patrice Roberts, knew more than a few things about secrecy and security. The windows were made of bullet-proof glass and there was rumored to be a bomb shelter built beneath the building. The rumors were true. Mr. Douglas helped Patrice build it, and on the Agency’s dime.
The second reason he liked this place is it provided he and Ingrassia a quiet location to talk without the concerns of recording devices or prying eyes. When needed, Patrice would lock the front door and disappear to the bomb shelter to give whomever was asking a bit of privacy. Plus there were three exits out the back of the restaurant, two of them hidden, so if the two agents needed to leave quickly and quietly, they had options.
But today wasn’t the best of days for Mr. Douglas.
Ingrassia sat there, looking into his cup of coffee. Mr. Douglas hadn’t touched his. He didn’t know how long this was going to be and he wanted neither twitchiness from the caffeine or the need to urinate distracting him from what might, potentially, decide his future.
“How aware were you of what Duke and the others were up to?” Ingrassia asked.
Mr. Douglas long ago decided to be as open as he could be with Ingrassia. There was little to gain by lying to him.
“More than I should have been.”
“You know how many laws you violated?” Paused. “How many oaths?”
“More than I should have,” Mr. Douglas said.
Ingrassia shook his head. “You need to be smarter than this, Neil,” he continued, looking up to the third-most powerful person in the CIA. “You want to be Deputy Director? Director? Then you need to start thinking a little more about the Agency and the laws than the results. Because one day, you’re going to be wrong. Not just doing the right thing with wrong methods, not just fudging the line between legal and illegal but everything gets smoothed over because you happened to be right.” He sipped his coffee. “You’re going to be flat out wrong. And then I’m going to have to order someone to put a bullet in your brain.” Paused. “Don’t make me do that, Neil.”
Mr. Douglas nodded, but he wasn’t convinced. He had little desire to spend his life in an office, enjoying the work he did in the field far more. However he held his tongue. For now.
“The fires and murders in Boston,” Ingrassia said, moving on. “Any ideas on them?”
Mr. Douglas sipped his coffee, sure that the serious part of the conversation was over.
“I’ve looked through everything I can,” he said, “and I can’t find anything one way or the other.”
Ingrassia nodded. “Tell me what your gut says.”
“My gut?” Mr. Douglas thought for a second, wondering exactly how to phrase his deepest fears. “I think it’s one of us.”
Ingrassia nodded, making Mr. Douglas’s stomach drop. He didn’t want to be right.
“What I don’t get,” Mr. Douglas said, deciding to pick his boss’s brain, “is how he could know about the connection between Bannister’s bike shop and Gorman’s machine shop. I’ve looked at the paperwork. The only thing connecting them is a signature that would take an expert to match up.”
“No,” Ingrassia said, “there’s a little more.” Paused. “There’s a file on Bannister,” he continued, “higher level than you have access to.”
Mr. Douglas’s eyes narrowed to slits.
“Yeah,” Ingrassia said. Sliding his coffee to the side. “Either we have a leak above your level, which should be impossible because the only person above you is Deputy Director Carlson and I…”
Mr. Douglas said nothing, waiting for his boss to fill in the blanks that he didn’t want to speak.
Ingrassia said nothing. Waiting.
Mr. Douglas’s shoulder drooped slightly, his stomach turning into a knot.
“Williams is back,” he sighed. Paused. “And he’s working with The General.”
Ingrassia nodded. The two men looked at each other. Disgraced former Deputy Director of the CIA working with a retired general who had his own private army? Too many horrible scenarios came to mind, none with good endings.
“JC Bannister is now officially an asset of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Ingrassia said, pushing his unfinished coffee across the table, “whether he likes it or not. Him and his whole team.” Paused. “And you’re running them.”
“Inside the US?”
“Wherever the threat is, Neil.” Ingrassia said. “Weapons free. No rules. Bring down Williams and bring down The General.”
When JC first saw the inside of Joan’s apartment after she moved to Boston, he was surprised for a half-second. It wasn’t the cold, post-modern, negative space emptiness he expected. It was warm, mahogany and honey-toned woods, exposed brick, art everywhere; paintings, photos, small sculptures, bookshelves filled to overflowing.
His surprise was gone as he quickly realized the apartment was Joan’s safe space. It was her place of comfort, where she could let her guard down, leave the violence and death of her daily life and chosen profession and revel in the person she truly was, the woman she most wanted to be.
When thinking about it that way, the place was a perfect match for her. When JC thought of relaxing on a Friday night or sleeping in on a Sunday morning, there pretty much was no better place than Joan’s apartment.
That was part of the reason he loved to stay over whenever possible and make breakfast for her. That and the fact that the woman still sleeping in the bedroom was hands down the most beautiful, intelligent, exciting, intoxicating woman he’d ever seen, met or imagined.
Joan’s arms wrapped around his waist, taking him by surprise. She could move as silently as a gentle breeze on the wooden plank flooring of this apartment. She lay her head against the broad expanse of his upper back and shoulders. Stayed there for a minute as he continued cooking the eggs. The pancakes were already finished as were the hash browns and bacon. They were cooling on the table. The eggs, however, were the one thing that Joan liked to eat hot, so he always cooked them last.
She let go of him, moving for the refrigerator. Orange juice and ice water, JC said to himself. Oddly enough, she kept the syrup in the refrigerator as well. “Ants,” she said with a shrug the first time he asked. And as many times as he’d purposely left it out to let it warm up to room temperature the next time he was over, she always put it back in the refrigerator.
“You ready?” he asked as the eggs were finished and she was sitting at the table.
“Been waitin’ for like, twenty minutes,” she said, the smile clear in her voice.
She yawned and stretched as he brought the eggs to the table. God, she’s amazing, he said, her t-shirt hiding everything it should and nothing it shouldn’t.
As he sat, he winced. His back, injured when a burning wooden beam fell and pinned him to the ground in an ammo depot fire in Kandahar, required regular stretching and periodic physical therapy to stay loose and pain free. He’d been falling down on the job with both and the time it took to stand up and cook breakfast had tightened the muscles more than he realized.
Joan glanced at him, then went back to her breakfast. A minute later, around a mouthful of still steaming eggs, she said, “I’ll do the dishes, you stretch out that war wound.”
“It’s fine,” JC said with a shake of his head.
“I wasn’t asking,” Joan said, biting off a piece of crisp bacon. “I need you one hundred percent.”
“For what?” JC asked with a sly grin.
“For cleaning up my house, scullery maid,” she said.
“If I’m the scullery maid, shouldn’t I be the one-”
“Just shut up, eat, and stretch your back when you’re done.”
JC smiled. Sighed. A good woman and a good morning. Went back to breakfast and the problem his mind had been mulling over for the past week or two.
Herb Daniels’s phone was tapped. That much was clear. Maybe it was just the calls intercepted, maybe some listening device – Duke would know better than he what the right terminology was these days. But regardless of the way it was done, every time JC spoke with the man and updated him on what was happening or where they were going, someone showed up who shouldn’t be there.
How can you use it to your advantage? he thought, shelving the idea for later. The bigger question he had was who.
It wasn’t The General. Hints JC had dropped to Daniels that would have caused The General to reach out to him had not resulted in any contact.
Maybe it really was Secretary Grey. But the man had been dead for at least a week. And the unease in the back of JC’s mind hadn’t diminished.
Tell her, his inner voice said as he lay down to stretch and Joan began clearing the table. She needs to know.
“Did you hear what Grey said to me in the back of the limousine,” JC asked, pulling his right knee to his chest slowly, letting the muscles in his lower back and butt lengthen and relax.
“I dunno,” Joan said, rinsing syrup and oil from the plates, then putting them in the dishwasher. She stopped, turned to JC and made the sound of bubbles in water, imitating the sound of someone drowning. Chuckled and then continued with the dishes.
JC switched legs, pulling his left knee to his chest this time.
“No,” he said. “Grey told me someone else was working with them, with him and The General.”
“Who?” she said absently.
“Deputy Director Ted Williams,” JC said, rolling over to face the floor and push himself into a yoga position.
The sound of a crash behind him made him pop back over, searching for the source of the danger. Joan stood there, looking at him, disbelieving. Her face quickly hardened. She shut off the water, stepped over the broken plate and moved to the bedroom, pulling off her t-shirt and heading for her closet.
“Move now,” she said. “Stretch later.”