January 1994 Revisited
A Pink Dormouse Production
Sands pushed his hands deeper into the pockets of the borrowed - and he was planning on giving it back - jacket, while simultaneously trying to shrug its collar higher around his ears. He was less than impressed with the weather, and very much of the opinion that he should get back inside sooner rather than later. But first he was going to complete the task in hand and find breakfast. The Tim Horton's he had passed had been closed - as had a couple of non-chain coffee shops - so his choice seemed to be limited to McDonalds or nothing.
Waiting in line he decided that, once this posting was over, he was going to have serious Words (and that definitely merited a capital letter) with whoever it was that had come up with this assignment. So they had wanted him out of the way? Fine - he was too good for most of them anyhow. But it would hardly have busted anyone's balls to actually send him somewhere warm, now would it? Somewhere where the temperature did not stay below freezing for weeks on end, and where there was no ice to cause him to total one of his mark's beloved classic cars.
But then last night had been one bad idea after another...
"There you go," Dariel had said, throwing a small rectangle of intricately folded paper over to Sands. Who caught it, turned it over in his fingers and started to tease out a folded-under corner with his nail.
"So what's this then?" Sands asked, trying to maintain the balance between sounding too knowledgeable for his role, and acting too dumb to get any higher in the organisation than his current position. Which was mostly in the boss's bedroom, when he really wanted to be in the boardroom.
"Pink champagne - from Amsterdam, via Edinburgh. You said you liked speed when you were in England. This is very much better; or so I am told."
"I said that I did it once or twice - not quite the same thing." And that, although true, had been a stalling tactic - to maintain his cover as a two-bit hustler, while not actually snorting coke on Agency time.
"No need to take it now, if you would prefer not. But keep it for later," Dariel gave Sands an appraising - and possessive - look-over, "I have to go out for some hours. Will you be able to amuse yourself until I return?"
"Sure, whatever." Sands turned his attention back to the TV and began to flick through the movies currently showing. "D'you want me to wait up for you?"
"Perhaps." Dariel smiled. "If I am not back by midnight, assume that I shall be away until tomorrow. I shall, of course, make it up to you."
Sands smirked to himself as he heard the door close behind him. Playing toyboy to some pretentious gangster had a few - actually quite a lot of - advantages over other postings he could think of, but he really needed to start finding out some solid facts, before the folks back home noticed how much bullshit went into making up his reports.
With Dariel out of the way, Sands was able to help himself to the contents of both locked filing cabinets - finding little he did not know already - then he flicked through the desk diary in hope of finding details of meetings he had not managed to tag along to. No luck there either, although the block capital 'MARIANNE'S BIRTHDAY' on one page intrigued him more than a little. The name sounded familiar, but then he had been introduced to a myriad of people over New Year and since, so he went back through the files and found a series of receipts for 'Safe Drop Deliveries'. The courier for most had been one M. Dickenson - the same last name as Dariel. Odd, since his mark was neither the marrying-type, nor had he mentioned having any family this side of the Atlantic.
Sands did a little more searching and turned up an address, which he memorised for later. There was little worth watching on TV so he amused himself with alternately hacking files on Dariel's computer and playing Tetris.
Five before midnight and still no sign of his sugar-daddy - mark, Sands quickly corrected himself - which meant that he was stuck here by himself for the night. No decent movies showing - still - no one he could really call on this late, save for those who considered midnight early and would be in a club somewhere until much later. But, of course, he had free admission and an automatic queue-jump to any and all of Dariel's clubs. And none of the door or bar staff would be likely to go tell the boss man if his new companion turned up alone and left in company. Not if their palms were well greased.
He could try a little of the speed, saving the rest to submit for analysis with his next report, then call someone up to fetch him a car out of the garage and do a little recreational prowling by himself. If he was clever about it - and he generally was - he could even combine fun with a little more background searching on his mark. No, the evening was not going to be wasted by anyone's standards.
With hindsight, Sands thought as he headed back to Marianne's apartment, what he should have done was get one of Dariel's staff to drive him to a club. Then the Bearcat would have stayed in one piece - or at least got damaged through no way that could be blamed on him - and he might have actually got laid.
Instead he had woken up on an unfamiliar couch in far less luxurious surroundings than he had gotten used to over the past month or so. Although he had met Marianne - and she seemed to be a useful contact, assuming that she considered being bought breakfast an adequate apology for the night before. Then he could just figure out what he was going to tell Dariel about the car - and see if he could get a repeat invite to Marianne's place. Because the more she saw him around, the more she was likely to tell him about whatever she knew about how his mark's organisation actually worked.
Yeah, it had been far from a wasted night.
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