Disclosure, Part 1

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 15 February 1999)

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   Marcus looked up at his daughter, who was walking towards the door with her
coat on. As it was past midnight on a school night, he was a little surprised.
   Or rather, he should have been a little surprised, but he wasn't. He knew
where she was going, after all.
   "Honey, it's late."
   "Dad-" Beth pleaded. It was her we don't need to discuss this plea.
   "I can't let you go alone. Mom would have an even bigger fit than she'll have
that I let you go. Hold on. I have to put my goddamned gun on."	
   "Why don't you get one of your cigars, too ?" Beth said, walking over to
Marcus and put her arms around his waist. "I love it when you smoke cigars.
And don't give that bullshit about going to bed smelling like a cigar. Mom
knew you smoked when she married you."
   "Her opinion about smoking has changed," he said sourly. But after he slipped
his gun into the holster under his arm, he did walk over to the humidor and
took not one, but two cigars out. He slipped his cutter into his pocket and
they walked out, arm in arm. As soon as the apartment door closed behind them,
Beth pulled a pack of Virginia Slims 120s out and lit one. She took a long
pull on the cigarette and looked up at him, smiling.
   `I wish she wouldn't do that,' he thought to himself as she blew smoke in his
face. He felt a mild stirring which brought the most profound sense of guilt.
This was his sixteen year old daughter after all, not some random woman he was
scoping during lunch.
   "Can I cut your cigar, Dad ? Please ?"
   He considered saying no.
   Wendi used to cut his cigars for him, back when they were dating and in the
early years of their marriage. God, that woman was so sexy with a cigar in her
   She used to also light them for him- and enjoy doing it.
   A lot had changed. A fucking lot had changed.
   But he never said no to Beth, which was why she had nice clothes and her own
car, a private phone, a new computer-
   And it was why she was a smoker. Or rather that was part of it. That and some
help from his sister Cloe and his niece Samantha.
   He handed her the cigar and the cutter and she snipped the end as they walked
out the front door. The night watchman nodded at Mr. Jacobs as he held the
door open.
   It was nippy out. Not bad for February, and goddamned perfect for smoking,
but still cold.
   His daughter slipped the cutter into her own pocket and then placed the cigar
in his mouth. She had to reach considerably to do it because she was short
like her mother. More than once Wendi had said that the reason her daughter
had stopped growing was because her father had given her permission to start
smoking and it had stunted her growth. Never mind that Wendi's side of the
family had no one over 5'6" in it or that Beth had completed her growth cycle.
Or that she smoked less than half a pack of cigarettes a day.
   "What are you thinking about, Dad ?" Beth asked, seeing his dark look.
   "I'm wondering if you finished your studying before deciding to go out and
smoke a cigarette."
   As he puffed on the cigar, she drew on the cigarette and exhaled directly
towards him again, making him squeamish.
   "Dad, how many consecutive marking periods have I been on the honour roll ?"
   "All of them, sweetie."
"So then, you are worried about my grades because ?"
"I'm not, sweet one."
Beth drew on the cigarette and it flared in the night air. The smoke which
poured from her nostrils was-
He willed himself to stop thinking that.
"It's Mom, isn't it ?"
"What do you mean ?" he asked. As if.
"I mean that you and Mom don't get along. I know some of it is because you let
me smoke, but that's not the real problem, is it ?"
"A lot of it has to do with work. She and I- well, we don't see eye to eye. We
never have. It amases me- ah, I shouldn't even say this."
He drew on his cigar and his daughter took a long hit on her cigarette. They
exhaled together and her arm tightened around his waist- as always careful to
keep it well below his gun.
"Dad, you know you can talk to me."
"Sometimes I don't know how it is we ever got together, honey."
   Beth finished her cigarette and stopped to light another. She was so
beautiful with that long cigarette perched between her lips, drawing the first
smoke from it deep into her young lungs.
   "Then why not do the right thing." She paused to exhale. "Get a divorce. I
love Mom and I love you, but I hate the two of you together."
   The FBI agent in Marcus tried not to take the comment below face value and
   "You just want your mom to move out because you know I'd let you smoke in the
   "No, Dad. As much as I like the thought of the two of us living together as
true smokers, that's not my motivation here. Not at all."
   "Then what is it ?"
   "it's watching two adults angrily co-exist side by side that- it wears on me.
God, if I didn't smoke I'd be a basket case. At least smoking calms me down. I
get so agitated. When was the last time the two of you had sex ?"
   Marcus exhaled a small puff of bluish cigar smoke to avoid choking on it. 
   "Beth !"
   "Honestly, I think I'll have sex before you two do again."
   "We try sometimes-"
   "Dad, sex isn't supposed to be hard."
   "Well, it is sometimes. Very hard. Adults, well-"
   Just then his cell phone chirped, saving him telling her how close he'd been
to suggesting the divorce on several recent occasions. 
   "Marcus ?"
   It was SAIC Martin. "Listen, I just got a call from an AD Arose, an old
friend of mine. He's asked, and I've granted, that you be temporarily
reassigned. He has an agent coming in to airport in about an hour. Amy
Pondress. You're to pick her up, take her to her motel, and report to her in
the morning. I won't be overseeing the case- in fact, I don't know what it is.
But I'd like to know what the hell is going on."
   "What do mean, Larry."
   "I mean, five minutes after I got off the phone with Arose, I got a call from
someone working through the Office of Risk Management. Wendi's being
reassigned to the ORM office here temporarily and they'll be moving her to San
Francisco at the end of the month. I guess she's known for the better part of
the day, but she didn't tell me and I got a call wondering where the hell her
release paperwork, which I didn't know jack shit about, was. Did she mention
this to you ?"
   Marcus smiled. "No, chief."
   "I hate it when you call me chief. I might just have to start calling you
Marky Mark again."
   This was too much at one time. Way too much. So Marcus did what he always did
in these sorts of surreal moments. He concentrated on the part he could deal
   "What airline, what flight ?"
   "Transcoach. Flight B17. Don't be late. I hear this Pondress woman is
   "Connected ?"
   "She's got a patron somewhere high up. And she's dangerous. Last year- well,
there was talk she was responsible for having some scumbag double-murderer
killed. Couldn't prove the connection, but somebody tried. She's got half a
dozen citations and four serious demerits in her file. Kinda like yours. The
point is, watch your back."
   "I thought you said this Arose was a friend-"
   "Carter ? Oh, I love the guy- in a guy sort of way. But I don't trust the
bastard. Get going, okay ?"
   "Anything else ?"
   Marcus and Larry were old friends and still drinking buddies, and Larry knew
all about his friend's martial problems.
   "Yeah, piss in your wife's ear about her transfer once for me. I've got half
a mind to not do the goddamned paperwork. Those guys in ORM are-"
   "I know, Larry. Look, get some sleep. I'll swing by before I pick Pondress up
in the morning and pretend I forgot that you're not overseeing the
investigation, okay ?"
   "What's up, Dad ?"
   "Looks like me, for at least another few hours."
   He knew he should take Beth home and force her to go to bed, but he didn't
have the heart. If he took her to the airport, she'd have another two or the
hours to smoke and-
   And they would both like that.
   "Honey, would you to go to the airport with me ? I have to pick up an agent
who's flying in-"
   "Now ?"
   "Will you let me smoke in the car ?"
   "Not the CV. But we could take your car-"

   They were pulling out of the garage when he called Wendi.
   "The airport ? Now ?" She-
   She was lying. He could always tell when she asked an indignant question like
that. He could hear in her voice that she knew very well exactly what he was
doing. She acted surprised and she wasn't. What was that about ?
   ORM. Those damn spooks monitored everything and the worst thought took root
in his mind.
   "Wendi, you and I have to talk in the morning."
   He closed the call and started dialing immediately.
   Beth pulled the lighter out and lit her cigarette, then rolled down the
window. "Dad, who are you calling ? You know, some people sleep at night."
   "Just drive," he said, unusually curt.
   Beth drew on her cigarette and blew the smoke out the window. God, she loved
smoking in the car. It made driving at half past midnight worthwhile.
   "Jill ?"
   "Jesus, Marcus. Even lawyers sleep, you know."
   "Well, I hope they eat, too. I need to see you."
   There was the sound of an attractive blonde lighting a cigarette. He and Jill
were old friends, way back from grade school. They'd been at Duke together
too, her working on her law degree while he did a specialised masters in
behavioural pysch. They'd ended up living outside of Baltimore, just a few
blocks apart, and did lunch once or twice a month. But she knew this was
   "What the hell is going on, Marky Mark ?"
   "Don't call me that. Not tonight."
   "You're not going to ask me to sue somebody, are you ?"
   "I hope not. Lunch. Salvador's."
   "You bring the cigars, I'll buy the wine. It's a date."
   "Just once, you could say `Okay, it's a date.'"
   "You can have any man in Baltimore, silly."
   "I want a man outside of Baltimore."
"Careful what you wish for, Vix."
   He cut the connection again.
   "Was that Aunt Jill ?"
   "Yes." He didn't elaborate. Instead, he fished his cutter out of Beth's
pocket, cut the tip of his other cigar and lit it.
   "Are you "
   "Don't go there, hon. Not tonight."

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