John Howle read the update on the case that had consumed most of his career. He wasn’t supposed to have it. Not since he’d been forced off the taskforce dedicated to dismantling the Pantheon. It wasn’t going to stop him from keeping tabs on their struggle against the powerful organization.
Howle’s intense reading was interrupted by an unpleasant buzz on his office phone. Right, the job he’d been given by people trying to pressure him to retire. He hit the speaker button while stowing the file in the safe on the bottom of his drawer. “Go for Howle.”
“Sir, we have a situation.” McDaniels tensely informed him.
“I’ll be right there.” Howle was out of the room in an instant, ignoring the twinge in his side as he moved. McDaniels was a capable young man, the worry in his voice was concerning.
When Howle arrived less than ten seconds later the large base of security was buzzing with controlled chaos. Hands flew over keyboard, choices spoke in hushed but urgent tones into phones, and the cause of it all was framed on the large screen mounted on the other side of the room. It displayed a large black car and the mug shot of an unpleasant looking white man.
“The car was red flagged. It’s been idling there for ten minutes.” McDaniels began to brief his boss without prompting. He fell into step with Howle who was looking at the screen. “Stolen plates, and facial recognition ID-ed the driver as Erik Koenig, former drag racer, current gun for hire. We’ve notified the police, and-”
“Have them fall back.” Howle ordered. The man on the phone with the police instantly relayed his message. Howle set his jaw. Koenig was the wheelman, not the gunman. The gunman must be behind the tinted windows of the backseat. This was sloppy and Koenig was a local hire. That suggested either limited resources or a local matter. “Inform our men that there is likely an armed gunman, probably more skilled than Koenig.” Howle said, causing someone to begin speaking into a radio. “Is there anyone local who might be considered a target arriving today? Politicians, judges, hell even pastors, is there anyone who stands out?”
“The DA is supposed to be giving an introduction for a visiting dignitary.” Jessica Jane reported, her hands moving across the keyboard faster than Howle could unlock his phone.
“Check to see if the DA has any open cases against Koenig’s previous employers.” McDaniels ordered. Howle frowned. He recognized the street this was on. They were directly across the street from Joan’s Joe, which was frankly the best coffee shop in town.
“This might be a long shot, but someone get on the phone to Joan’s.” Howle commanded. “If the DA is like every other layer I’ve met he’ll like his coffee as black as his soul.” Howle got a few strained laughs out of that. One of the newer members called the coffee shop.
“Sir, the DA is starting proceedings against some drug runners that Koenig has had previous dealings with.” Jessica Jane reported. “And his twitter is following Joan’s Joe.”
“Sir, Joan’s isn’t answering.” The man on the phone reported.
“Not surprising, it’s the morning rush.” Howle muttered, then nodded at McDaniels. “Put our people on standby, they need to be ready to move fast.” His order caused a new flurry of activity. They would stop and listen to him if he gave another order, but for now Howle was able to contemplate his next move. He narrowed his eyes at the screen. There didn’t seem to be a way to end this without shots fired. Not unless they could prevent the target from walking down the street. Howle hesitated, then he took out his cell phone. He had one wildcard in his hand.
“How did you get this number?” The voice on the other end could have been joking, but there was an edge of steel underneath it that Howle felt sure that only he and others like him could hear.
“Sally gave it to me. She’s under the impression we are friends.” Howle stated. “There’s a black car across the street from Joan’s. It’s been idling for a while. There is reason to believe that it is individuals who are targeting the DA.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Felicity, someone who Howle was certain was more than a barista, asked.
“I need you to keep him from leaving.” Howle said, half answering her question and half ignoring it. In all honesty, Howle didn’t know how much he could trust her. She wasn’t looking for information, but she was without a doubt tainted with the shadows that he had spent so much of his life weaving in and out of. Felicity was an enigma, but he thought that if she could help him, she would... or she’d at least consider it.
“I’m not at work yet.” Felicity said. “I’m driving. I shouldn’t even be on the phone right no-” There were various cries of shock around the room as a dilapidated green car sped around the corner and swerved right into the waiting hitmen’s vehicle. “Oh, you are kidding me!” Felicity snapped through the phone. “Howle, I’ve got to go, I just got in an accident.” Howle could almost hear her tear her seatbelt off. “You are so paying for the repairs.” Felicity hung up on him before he could say another word.
On the screen, the woman stumbled out of the car, all apologies and concern. Koenig tried to brush her off, but Felicity was most insistent. She went back into the car to get her insurance information, motioning for them to wait. The black car drove off. No doubt waiting another day to make their attempt on the DA. Laughter and clapping began to spread through out the room.
“We aren’t done yet.” Howle barked. “Someone tell the police what just happened. See if they can pick them up for fleeing the scene of an accident. Gives them probable cause to search the car.” A now grinning agent began to speak into the phone. “McDaniels, send a team over to Joan’s to escort the DA safely into the building. I’m sure he can make his own security arrangements from here.” McDaniels nodded, stepped away to use his radio. “Jess,” Jessica Jane looked up. “Whatever you hacked to get information on the DA, make sure there’s no trace.” Jessica Jane reddened slightly.
“You say that like I’m not careful.” She muttered. She didn’t like how he called attention to how she got information. Though she had to admit that it was nice that he made it clear just how much she contributed. At least the other agents stopped trying to send her on the coffee run.
Howle glanced up at the screen. Felicity had pulled her car to the side of the road and was inspecting the damage with an air of resignation. He might not know what Felicity had been or what she was doing now, but he was glad to have the wildcard in his hand. It could be explained away, but it more or less confirm his suspicions about her. She knew that it would and she’d done it anyway. As reluctant as he was to admit it. Sally might be right. He and Felicity were probably friends after all.
He had no idea that she was in a semi-retirement of her own.
Okay, I really enjoy Howle and Felicity. Unlike Felicity, who was born In the Shadows, Howle has been in and out of them as an agent of certain three letter agencies. But they understand each other in ways that the others don't, and, even though Howle doesn't realize it, he really helps Felicity with her homesickness.
Sally is really the only one who seems to recognize this. She legitimately considers John Howle to be Felicity Doran's best friend, though if you asked her she probably couldn't tell you why.