2007-09-03: Once is Chance

Starring:

Stan_icon.gif Felix_icon.gif

A missing Agent is handed back to the Bureau.

September 3, 2007

Once is Chance


One Federal Plaza, and then a hospital near Hartsdale

Even post 9-11, the various information agencies are grabby-handed bastards when it comes to sharing information. And that venerable Firm, the CIA, not least among them. So, when a delegation of a couple of CIA agents appears at One Federal Plaza, wearing decidedly hangdog and embarrassed expressions, it occasions remark. To the point of "Wait, what the fuck?" actually. It's not long after lunch time that Stan's immediate superior comes in to whatever minuscule basement office Stan and Fel have been sharing, and tosses a file on Stan's desk. Her expression is utterly incredulous, though there's fury and something like amusement there, too. "Crosetti, you're not going to believe this," she says, tone utterly disgusted.

Stan takes off the headphones with which he was diligently and intently trying to work out someone's thick Indonesian-accented Chinese, and says, "I probably will, I'm well known for being gullible. What's the story?"

"Look," she says, waving at the file in irritation.. "Remember your partner? The one we were expecting would be found in a dumpster in Newark, or pulled out of the Hudson minus face and hands? He's alive."

Stan doesn't seem /too/ surprised. He says, "Yeah? Missing persons was working it, keeping me out of the loop. What happened to him?"

She actually smirks, though it's rather humorless. "The CIA happened to him. Apparently some numbnuts Cold Warrior got the wires crossed in terms of a supposed mole and Ivanov spent the past three weeks in some basement in Mozambique, until they got their facts straight. We've got a couple of real spooks upstairs grovelling to the SAC."

Stan says, succinctly, "Bull /shit/." He grabs the file and opens it, reading quickly. "Bullshit! Without even notifying FCI? They're going to be paying out the ass to keep him quiet, I hope."

Now the superior's grin is positively dazzling. "Oh, yes. And they are going to owe us SO MANY favors to keep this from getting leaked to the papers." The file is in that wonderfully oblique intelligencerese, but to Stan's eye it'll be immediately apparent - rendition, in all its seedy glory.

Stan looks disgusted and tosses the file back on the desk. "Bullshit. We've been set back months because of this. I even had to blow a couple of wires to question people and it turns out to be our own guys, who never did a radio car interrogation in their careers?" He shakes his head. "Ugh. So is he going to be cleared to come back, or cashed out?"

She sighs. "I know. Talk about the epic jackassery. Cleared. They had actually nothing on him, apparently, other than that he was a foreign-born citizen with the kind of clearance that'd put him in the position to leak. It's like they put a list on a wall and threw darts, or something. War on terror, my left foot."

Stan says, "Yeah. So is he coming back, or is he rightly pissed off enough that he's going to go live in the Bahamas on his settlement money?"

"You get to go find out," she says, blithely. "He's in some hospital a little ways upstate. Take a bucar and go get the bastard."

Stan sighs, hits stop on the computer, and grabs his coat. "Why not?" he says. "So did they get his girlfriend too?"

"Girlfriend?" she says, blankly. "Last long term relationship we know of for him was San Francisco, with an SFPD detective."

Stan says, "When I was digging around, there was a woman who claimed she had his child in the old country looking for him too. Had a picture and everything."

"There's nothing in his record about that," she says, earlier vindictive glee fading somewhat. "Interesting. No, they didn't mention a woman. But if they fucked up twice on that front, I don't imagine they'd rush to tell us about it."

Stan says, "See, because she disappeared too, around the same time. Maybe she's a real terrorist. What do you think the odds are?"

"As the honorable Mr. Fleming said, once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. What was her name?" she wonders, frowning.

Stan says, "Motel records said Misha Dmitryeva. Wasn't able to tell much from what was left in the room."

"Ask him about it when you see him. If you don't like the answers he gives you, keep digging. If they've missed the real big fish, or jumped on some other innocent, I will happily help the SAC put another boot up the Firm's ass. These fuck-ups make everyone's job harder," she says, running fingers through her hair.

Stan says, "We'll take the pennies out of their loafers, boss." He adjusts his impeccable tie and collar. "See you when I get back."

«Fastforward to Hospital at Hartsdale»

It's a very battered Felix who's waiting for Stan - he's thinner than ever, with the pallor of someone who hasn't seen sunlight in a good long while, and a couple of new scars on his face. He's in ragged civilian clothes - apparently what he was abducted in. His expression is one of those perfect cop's masks that might hide anything from hilarity to killing fury.

Stan enters like he owns the place - he always does - and seats himself. "The world traveler." he greets with a big white smile, gently gripping the man's knee through his hospital PJs. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I've been repeatedly kicked down the stairs from a sixth floor walk-up," Fel replies, though this is said with a very wry half-smile rather than indignation.

Stan says, "Must be pretty tired of questions after all this time." Which is basically a question in statement form.

Felix's expression goes dry. "I would be -delighted- to answer questions I actually have answers to."

Stan says, "Did Misha find you?" Well, there's that.

"Did who find me? No one found me. The guys who had me were apprised of their error and sheepishly sent me back here, to the best of my knowledge," Fel says, looking blank at the name.

Stan says, "Misha. Mariska. You remember her, don't you?" That smile. "From back in the old country. She came around looking for you just when you went off the grid."

He gets the inward turned look of someone groping through dim memory, before he shakes his head. "No. The name's somewhat familiar, but….I'm not coming up with a face."

Stan says, gracefully, "She disappeared only a few days after you did. You never saw her over there in Malawi?" Wait…Malawi or Mozambique?

Another shake of the head. "Malawi? Is that where they took me? No. I don't think I saw a figure I could identify as female in all that time. Mostly faces in masks, when I could see anyone at all."

Stan says, "Could have been…" He adds: "So you're telling me you never, you /never/ had a romance with a woman named Mariska, who goes by Misha, in Russia."

"I'm saying it's highly unlikely," Fel replies, brow furrowed. "I left Russia when I was eleven. I've only been back twice, since. Once when I was twenty one, once when I was NYPD. About seven years ago - post 9-11 glad-handing with the FBI, the NYPD, and the FSB. Mostly a lot of tourism, photo ops, and hot air.."

Stan replies, "I met a woman, who said that seven years ago, she and you had a love affair, and she was looking for you because it had resulted in a child." with utter calmness.

And Fel goes completely still at that, staring at Stan. "Wait, what? When? I…..it is possible," he says, finally. The timeline does have him there at the date Mariska claims.

Stan, like a good interrogator, immediately changes the subject, "Will you be coming back to work, or have you had enough of federal projects for a while?"

"Back up, Crosetti. What's the story with this woman?" he demands, keeping his voice low.

Stan says, "Story? Well, when I was looking around for you, I came across her looking for you too. She said she had a child by you, showed me a picture, gave me the basics, and when I turned up at her motel room to question her more, she'd disappeared too. Only about three days after you did."

"A picture of what? Did you see this kid?" he says, wearing an expression of utter disbelief. "And you don't know where she is now?"

Stan says, "A picture of the child." He says, "Nope. That's what disappeared means. That's why I was asking you about her."

"I honestly don't know what to say," Felix says, finally. "I didn't meet this woman before I was taken, nor did I see her while I was gone. This story about the child - it's possible, I don't deny. But extremely dubious. I'd have to demand blood tests of her and the kid. She'd left the child in Russia? Was it a boy or a girl?"

Stan says, "A girl." He ignores the rest of the questions and says, "Well…rest up now. If you remember anything…well, you have them with their pants down. Now's the time to kick them if you're ever going to do it."

He still has that 'hit in the face with a live herring' look. Of all the places and times to find out you are a parent. "Jesus Christ. Yeah," he says, wonderingly. "To answer your previous question - if they'll have me, and they don't consider me blown to hell and back. I understand they sent someone over to One Federal to start kissing rings and grovelling. The SAC must be hugging himself with joy over what he's now owed."

Stan says, "I can't say your career has a lot of legs after this, though. I assume you're going to sue them for everything they've got."

"It depends on what I'm offered to keep quiet," he says, utterly matter of fact. "Money….it's nice. But we both know it's the job for me. Can you imagine the collective embarrassment for both the Bureau and the CIA if I start singing to the Times? None of this was my fault and I won't be hung out to dry to save the career of some pencil-pusher at Langley."

Stan chuckles, stands and crosses to the window, looking out. "You have to do what's in your own best interests," he muses. "I probably would do the same thing. But if I was smart? I'd take the money."

Fel eyes him. "And do what, then? Move to California and spend the rest of my life surfing? It may be that money is all I'll get. But if thirteen years of work is gonna be flushed away because some spook can't spell…." He just shakes his head. "I want my job back. I want my life back. I don't want to be swept under the carpet."

Stan says, "My wife and daughter are in Phoenix, waiting for me to finish chasing whatever shadow I'm chasing." with a sort of regal grace. He does not push this line to its conclusion. "See you back in the city." he says.

"What is parenthood like?" he says, in an apparent non sequitur, watching Stan, curiously.

Stan says, "You know in a horror movie when everyone's walking around doing normal things but the camera's jittery and the music is trilling and you just know someone's about to jump out and murder everyone? That's pretty much what it feels like all the time."
Stan is grinning when he says it though.

He can't help but roll his eyes. "You bastard. Man. Now I gotta find this woman, gotta resolve this," he says, pulling himself up. "A daughter."

Stan says, "She looked cute. I don't think you'll have to look far. If they got you in bracelets for no reason, and she disappeared three days later, stands to reason the same people popped her."

"Well, I'll just have to turn them upside down shake them until she falls out of their pockets," he says, wryly.

Stan says, "That's the spirit." amiably enough, but he is still much more reserved with his partner than he was before. That's how it goes when someone is off the grid.

And has been lying through his teeth in his debrief. Fel limps for the door - apparently the worst of the damage is hidden under the clothes.

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