Cut & Run, page 4part #1 of Cut & Run Series
Zane kept his mouth shut, eyes moving between the two men, and occasionally back to the driver, who was casually paying attention.
Ty stared at the kid and narrowed his eyes further. “Spongewhat?” he asked flatly.
Zane didn’t even try to hold back the chuckle when Morrison looked at Ty like he’d lost his mind.
“Spongewha … you’re yanking my chain, aren’t you?” Morrison said. “Henny, he’s yanking my chain. ”
“Yeah, well, that’s what you getting for waving it in his face,” the driver answered reasonably.
“What the hell is a SpongeBob?” Ty asked Zane quietly in the backseat.
Zane turned his chin, taking a moment to gauge if Ty was serious and if he’d slam Zane for answering. “It’s a cartoon character popular recently,”
he answered, voice low. He could see the driver’s eyes in the rearview mirror again, watching them. Examining them.
Ty stared at Zane incredulously for a moment and then looked away with a shake of his head.
“Perhaps you prefer Scooby Doo?” Henninger offered politely.
“More like the Dark Knight,” Zane muttered without thinking first.
Ty smirked and glanced over at the man. “Does that mean I can call you Robin from now on?” he asked with an amused glint in his eyes.
“That’s Boy Wonder to you,” Zane answered flatly, turning to look out the window as Morrison stared at them both.
“Ugh,” Ty grunted as he looked away again and propped his other foot up on the center console. “You’re too easy,” he grumbled disconsolately.
Zane barely restrained a snicker as Morrison blinked. The young agent looked at his partner. “Well, we got the right two guys,” he said grimly.
He turned to look back at the two older men suspiciously. “They told us this was your first time working together, and that you’d probably not be too fond of each other. ”
“They were right,” Ty and Zane both answered, practically in unison.
“Shut up,” Ty huffed at him.
“GENTLEMEN, so glad you made it. Special Agent in Charge George McCarty. Nice to meet you both. Let’s get on with this, shall we?” the head of the New York Field Office greeted hurriedly without giving either of them a chance to respond in kind. He dropped a few files onto the table and adjusted his tie. “I trust you’re both familiar with the case? Good, then we can get on to your arrangements and right into it. ”
Ty raised an eyebrow at the whirlwind tour and glanced at Zane. Not noticing, Zane flipped open his file where he had a list of notes and questions, waiting for McCarty to continue.
“As we all know, this case has claimed two of our own,” McCarty continued as he bent over the table and looked down at his file. “Which has made it of the highest priority. You’ll be working alongside the other leads, Special Agents Sears and Ross. They couldn’t be here this morning; they’re still in the process of interviewing the staff from the hotel where Special Agents Sanchez and Reilly were found,” he said tightly. He sighed briefly, as if the little speech were taking a lot out of him. “You’ll be given a car and a driver, if you want one. We have booked you two adjoining rooms at the Tribeca Grand. It’s within walking distance of the office here and has the highest security. All our records and resources are open to you, although I will tell you right now cooperation from your new teammates will likely be at a minimum despite my orders to work with you,” he told them candidly, making no secret of the field office’s bitter feelings toward anyone from outside being sent in to handle their cases. “Any questions?”
“You provided the contact list, right?” Zane asked.
“It’s all in the file,” McCarty answered with a nod. “Anything you need during the course of your investigation is at your disposal, including the team Special Agents Reilly and Sanchez were using. Anything else?”
“Have you found out how the killer knew where the agents were staying?” Ty asked as he turned in his seat and propped his feet up on the chair next to him.
The Special Agent in Charge turned to one of the men at his side.
“No,” Morrison answered as if obeying the silent cue. He was the shorter of the Hardy Boys, but wiry, with spiked blond hair and bright blue eyes. “We don’t believe it was an inside thing, though. We speculate he may have tailed them from one of the scenes. ”
“Is Serena Scott in town? I’d like her opinions on the crime scenes,”
Zane asked in reference to New York’s head profiler.
“We’ve not brought her in on this one. Yet,” Henninger answered.
Out of the truck, Zane could see the young agent was tall and lanky, and his short haircut couldn’t restrain the dark curls that had to be natural. “Did you want to meet with her personally?” he asked with an indiscernible look at Ty.
“Absolutely,” Zane answered firmly. “Her insight is invaluable, and some things just don’t translate from paper. ”
“We’ll arrange the meeting ASAP,” the man assured him, looking again at Ty almost questioningly.
Zane glanced at Ty to see if he had anything to add. His new partner was kicked back in his chair and staring up at the ceiling idly, a slight curl of distaste on his lip.
“We won’t need the driver. Thank you, sir,” Zane said as he closed his file and stood.
“You need anything else, you just go through Agents Henninger or Morrison, here,” McCarty said with a gesture of his thumb over his shoulder at no one in particular. “They’ll get you anything you need,” he assured them as the Hardy Boys nodded.
There was a discreet knock on the boardroom door, and McCarty straightened up and called out a curt “Enter!”
The receptionist stuck her head through the door. “Sir, the Assistant Director on line four for you and Special Agents Grady and Garrett. He says it’s urgent. ”
“Thank you, Denise,” McCarty grunted, and she withdrew silently.
McCarty watched the door until it clicked closed, and then he leaned forward and pressed a button on one of the units in the middle of the large boardroom table. “Richard,” he greeted.
“Good morning, George,” Dick Burns’ voice said clearly over the speakerphone. “I trust Grady and Garrett are there and already causing problems?”
“You always did take the safe bet,” McCarty responded wryly. “I must repeat my disapproval of this little operation, Richard. I just don’t believe one of my staff here is responsible for this madness. ”
“I understand how difficult your position is, George,” Burns responded easily. “But unfortunately, Director Radshaw and I disagree. ”
Behind McCarty, Henninger and Morrison both shifted uneasily and shared an indiscernible glance. Ty cocked his head, frowning slightly at the speakerphone. He wasn’t liking the sound of this conversation, but he thought maybe he understood why they were here now. His sharp hazel eyes traveled up to observe McCarty curiously as the two men spoke over the phone.
McCarty sighed and looked up at Ty and Zane with narrowed eyes.
“They look slightly confused, Dick,” he told Burns with a hint of amusement.
“Gentlemen,” Burns said loudly over the phone. “I do apologize for not filling you in more completely while you were here, but the finer points were still being ironed out. ”
“Finer points?” Zane asked, a bit peevish at being left out of the loop.
Ty rubbed his nose and squeezed his eyes closed. “Why do you always do this to me?” he asked plaintively.
“Because I dislike you quite a lot,” Burns told him in amusement.
“You will be working the Tri-State case,” he went on without waiting for a response. “You will appear, to the members of the New York team, to be inexperienced, inept, and lackadaisical. If you happen to stumble across any leads, then good for you. ”
Ty glanced over at Zane and smirked, restraining himself from c
“On the periphery, and more importantly to your own assignment, you will be concentrating not on the serial murders, but on the deaths of Special Agents Reilly and Sanchez. ”
“Because you suspect an inside job?” Zane inquired quietly.
“Precisely. We believe if we can uncover how the killer got to them, we’ll have him. ”
“And our parameters for operating?” Ty asked eagerly as he sat forward, closer to the speakerphone.
“Don’t kill each other,” Burns ordered with a smile in his voice. “Any future questions, you come directly to me. George is to be left out of the loop on the off chance he needs to deny knowledge of your operations,” he added.
Ty and Zane both looked up at McCarty. The man did not look pleased, but it was obvious that he’d already had words with Burns regarding the plan.
“That will be all, gentlemen. Good luck,” Burns told them. “George, give my love to your girls,” he added before the line went dead.
McCarty looked at the two agents sitting across from him and snorted. “Anything else?” he asked them with a raised eyebrow.
“No, sir,” Zane answered with a shake of his head.
McCarty merely nodded. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting with the mayor. ” He grunted unhappily and swept out of the office, leaving Morrison and Henninger behind.
Ty sat twirling his pen idly, unmoving as he looked at the two younger men in amusement. “How’d you get stuck with this shit?” he asked them finally.
“We’re just errand boys, sir,” Henninger answered in a low voice, a hint of amusement in his dark eyes as he looked at Ty.
Ty grinned crookedly and nodded. “So are we,” he responded wryly.
Henninger fought hard not to smile.
Zane glanced at the two agents and back to Ty. “Any miraculous sparks of insight, Grady?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Ty answered as he stood and removed his suit jacket. He yanked off his tie and threw it onto the table. “I need to find me a Batgirl,” he drawled thoughtfully.
“I’m sure the bat signal’s upstairs,” Zane answered absently as he paged through the folder, checking to see if there were materials he wanted to request. Morrison and Henninger exchanged dubious looks.
“You have way too many of these comments stored up,” Ty told Zane disapprovingly. He turned to Morrison and Henninger and gave them a sweeping gesture of his hand. “Take us to the Bat Cave!” he ordered with a straight face.
Morrison’s jaw dropped as he stared at Ty, obviously thinking he was insane. His partner looked at him and rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Mark,” he muttered. “He’s still yanking your chain. ” The two younger agents led the way out, muttering to each other.
“You know it’s more likely they’re taking us to Wayne Manor,” Zane said as they followed along, both to make his point and to get a jab in at Ty while he could. “Hide in plain sight and spare no expense account. ” Sad, but true. It was a good thing they weren’t supposed to be completely undercover, or they’d already be spoiled.
“That doesn’t even make any sense. Shut it, Sidekick,” Ty muttered to him.
Zane allowed himself a small smile before he remembered how much he actively disliked this man.
“You two want breakfast before the hotel?” Morrison asked. He seemed to be the talker of the matched set.
“The Bat Cave isn’t the hotel,” Ty protested in annoyance with a few snaps of his fingers. “Get on board the metaphor, kiddies. ”
“Where the hell is the Bat Cave, then?” Henninger asked with a long-suffering sigh.
“The lab, man. Take us down to the lab,” Ty ordered in exasperation.
Zane glanced over the Hardy Boys, struck again by how young they seemed. Surely, they’d seen some version of Batman. This was making him feel old.
“Well, how the hell are we supposed to know that? You old guys saw all that original crap. The new stuff’s a lot better, and the Bat Cave is not a lab,” Morrison blustered.
Zane blinked. Old guys? He glanced to Ty, wondering what sort of fireworks that little comment would set off.
“Do I look like I saw the original anything, SpongeBob?” Ty asked with a smirk and a point to his own chest. “What are you doing reading comics anyway? When I was your age I was in the Gulf, man,” he continued.
“The Gulf of what?” Morrison responded, a blank look in his eyes.
“The Persian Gulf,” Zane answered sharply, not at all amused. He noticed Henninger closing his eyes in exasperation and shaking his head.
Ty didn’t know whether to be more shocked at Morrison’s idiocy or at Zane’s sudden apparent support. He just stared at Morrison for a minute, all joking aside, then glanced at Zane, who met his eyes for a moment, and sighed. “Kids these days,” he muttered as he stepped between the two younger agents and punched the button on the elevator.
The elevator ride was a short one, and when the car jerked to a stop Henninger led the way out. “The team has been a little scattered since the deaths of Special Agents Reilly and Sanchez,” he said quietly as they walked down the hall. “We all knew them. I’m afraid we’re not really organized right now. ”
“Has the team had any off time?” Ty asked.
Henninger glanced at him defensively as if expecting a jeer. “No,” he answered curtly as he opened the door to the main laboratory.
“Give it to them while we get ourselves acquainted with the case,” Ty ordered.