Disclaimer: The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Mickey pulled the pillow over his head more firmly but the frantic pounding on his front door didn't go away or lessen in volume. He dragged himself out of bed, and pulled his automatic from under the second pillow. Son of a bitch! He was going to kill the bastard at the door.
Tired, but not so tired that he was stupid, he checked the peephole first. McCall was standing there, looking pissed. Shaking his head, Mickey released the locks and opened the door. It was only when he saw McCall's quizzical stare that he realised he had forgotten to dress. Shrugging carelessly - McCall had seen him naked before - Mickey turned and walked back into the bedroom.
Mickey sat on the bed and put his gun down on the nightstand. He heard McCall close the front door and then follow him to the bedroom. "Okay, what is it this time?"
McCall leaned against the doorframe, "I need your help."
"Forget it!" Mickey snapped, "I was guaranteed two weeks down time. I got in three hours ago and I only got six hours sleep in the last seventy two." Looking around, he spotted a pair of sweatpants on the floor; he stood and pulled them on.
McCall's reply was terse, "Control is missing. He flew to England for a meeting yesterday and, as far as I can tell, he reached London and then dropped out of sight."
"It's Control, for fuck's sake - he does that Goddamn disappearing stunt all the time." Mickey knew his use of profanity would upset McCall, but he was too tired to care.
"He didn't disappear of his own volition. I called him at his hotel; the desk has no record of him ever checking in. I know the man he was supposed to be meeting, so I called him, he denied that a meeting was ever scheduled to take place. I tried contacting some people I know in the Agency, and suddenly no one will talk to me. Jason Masur has taken charge in Control's absence and his people are blocking me at every turn. Like you, he told me that Control had disappeared before and that I shouldn't worry. If anything, he was too solicitous. And now he will not return my calls!"
Abruptly, Robert walked across the room and stared out of the window, apparently calming himself. "We have an arrangement, there is a place where we can leave messages if things start to feel off. When I checked there was something there. Control told me he suspected that Jason was going to move against him and he was planning to look into it on his return from England. I think this whole trip was cooked up by Jason to take Control. I can't do anything through channels. I need your help."
Mickey sagged back onto the bed, the ache behind his eyes was getting worse. He knew McCall, in this mood there was no way to stop him. He might as well save himself the trouble and give in. "When do we leave?"
"I have booked seats on the seven o'clock flight out of JFK tonight. I've arranged for Johnny Stevens, an old friend of mine, to meet us. He is Control's opposite number in London and has started to make some checks for me. Right now, neither of us wants to make this official. The moment we do, Jason will find out we are on to him."
"Okay, I'll be ready in fifteen minutes."
"Thank you. I appreciate this."
"Just remember," Mickey growled, "you and Control owe me big time."
Mickey woke as the 747 landed in a squeal of tyres at London's Heathrow Airport. Looking out the window he saw it was a cold, grey morning. He had spent the greater part of the flight asleep, only waking once when dinner had been served. Hell he hadn’t even had the energy to think about flirting with any of the flight attendants. Feeling only slightly more human, he pulled his carry-on bag from the overhead and followed McCall out of the plane and into the terminal building.
They had cleared immigration and were waiting to collect their overnight bags, when three security men, in dark suits, intercepted them. "Mr McCall, Mr Kostmayer, will you come with us please."
Politely but firmly, the past and present Company employees were forced to accompany the security team. Their bags were taken away and they were ushered through a door marked 'No Admittance' into a small room containing a table and two chairs.
"What's going on? Why have you brought us here?" Robert demanded.
One of the men said, "Someone will be with you shortly," then he left the room. The door locked behind them with a muffled click.
"Shit, McCall, I thought you had contacted that friend of yours in British Intelligence?"
"I did, he said he would meet us here. He must have been delayed."
Hooking the leg of a chair with his foot and then pulling it towards him, Mickey flopped down "Well I hope he gets here soon, I want to get moving."
Time crawled by and Mickey occupied himself by rolling a coin over and between his fingers. Robert sat, drumming his fingers on the table, deep in thought. That suited Mickey, he really wasn't in the mood for too much talking.
Mickey heard footsteps in the hallway; he saw that McCall did too when they both turned to face the door. It flew open and a handsome, silver haired man, in his late fifties, barrelled into the room. He made straight for McCall, holding out his hand.
"McCall, it's good to see you again. You're looking fit."
Shaking hands with the new arrival, Robert replied, "You're looking well too, Johnny." Mickey eased silently to his feet; his opinion of the British agent jumped a notch or two higher when he noticed that the assumed cheerfulness never touched the man's dark eyes.
"Ah! Mr Kostmayer, pleased to meet you. We've got a file on you somewhere, you know."
Unsure whether that needed an answer, Mickey gave a non-committal grunt.
Stevens turned his attention back to Robert, "I'm in a difficult position; you approached me as a friend and not through official channels, but I have done what I can unofficially. I've got one of my best people - name of Sam Brown - working on intelligence gathering for you. Sam checked the security tapes from the airport and found out who met Control. So we already have somewhere to start."
"Now then," Johnny nodded at Robert, "I've had your baggage taken to my car, and if you're ready we can be on our way." He led them outside, where a dark blue Jaguar waited.
"You've developed some taste I see Johnny." McCall said with a slight smile as they climbed into the car.
"I was always a fast learner, you know that," Stevens smiled, then hesitated a moment, "I'm sorry to harp on this, old man, but you must remember, that any help I can give has to be unofficial."
"I've explained the situation and Sam is still willing to help."
Robert spoke up, "I'm not sure that we need to involve any of your people."
"Humour me, things have changed a lot since you were based here in the seventies. Sam has the contacts to help you trace your friend."
As they drove away from the airport, Robert remembered the last time he had been in England; it must have been nearly fifteen years ago. That had been to attend his Aunt Charlotte's funeral; she had been the only one of his father's family that had still kept in touch with him.
In no time they had turned off the motorway onto smaller local roads. There were daffodils everywhere and unbidden the lines from Wordsworth went through his mind.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
It had been a long time since he had thought of that poem, yet in some ways it typified England for him.
Robert was brought out of his introspection when Stevens turned off the road and into a driveway. As he parked the car and they walked into the small hotel, Stevens began to talk. "I have taken rooms for you here. It is well located and the owners are used to our sort of people coming and going." He led them through some doors and up a flight of stairs. "You have room 214, it's a twin room. I hope that's alright. Brown is in 216." He knocked on the door to 214 and a woman, an attractive brunette, answered. She quickly moved aside to let them in.
Robert looked around, the room was large and in addition to two double beds there were a sofa and a couple of armchairs beside a low coffee table. A doorway to his left led to the bathroom he presumed.
"Would anyone like coffee or anything to eat?" The woman offered. Her voice was light and pleasant and to Robert's ear, she was without any discernible regional accent. In her late twenties or early thirties, of average height, with a slim, athletic build, Robert found her very easy on the eye.
"We had breakfast on the plane so just coffee for me." Robert turned to look at Mickey. "Do you want anything?"
"Another twelve hours sleep would be good. But, if that isn't an offer, I'll have coffee." Mickey smiled crookedly, to take the sting from his words, McCall supposed.
The woman smiled, her grey eyes full of sympathetic understanding as she picked up the phone to call room service. Robert assumed that she must have worked for Johnny for some time and dealt with a lot of active agents to understand the pressures of field work so well.
Johnny turned to walk back to the door, "Look, I've got to get back or I'll be missed. As this is all unofficial, Sam here will be your liaison with me. If you need anything let her know."
Robert knew his surprise had registered on his face when Johnny laughed and rested a hand on the woman's shoulder. "Who did you think this was?"
Feeling embarrassed and angry with himself, Robert said, "I don't really know - your secretary? I'm sorry, I shouldn't have made such an assumption. It was a stupid thing to do"
"It's my fault for not doing the introductions properly. Sam, meet Robert McCall and Michael Kostmayer." Stevens turned and headed out the door, he threw over his shoulder, "Trust her as you would me, you won't be disappointed," his voice faded into the distance.
There was stunned silence for a moment. Yes, Robert thought, Johnny Stevens hadn't changed a bit. He was still overwhelming.
Robert looked at Sam more closely. No wonder she understood about fieldwork - she was an agent herself. Today though, she was dressed in a dark coloured skirt and jacket and looked the epitome of an efficient personal assistant.
He shifted his gaze to Mickey and saw that he was trying not to smile. I bet he had worked out that she was our contact and let me blunder on anyway. Robert gave Mickey a hard stare. I wonder how the hell he knew that?
The coffee and their luggage arrived, and Sam filled cups for them all, conscious of Kostmayer watching her. In fact, she amended to herself, he was actually looking at her legs. He wasn’t that tired then!
She turned suddenly, tucking her shoulder length hair behind her ear and grinned at him, letting her look tell him that she had known exactly what he was thinking. Sam was pleased to see that, unabashed, he smiled back at her. Her feelings surprised her. She had lost count of the number of times she’d become angry with men who thought they were God’s gift to women and assumed that she would be only too grateful to leap into bed with them. This time it was different, maybe because she found him indecently attractive.
When they were seated, Sam started the briefing. "We've got a positive ID on the driver who picked up Control. His name is Fred Starr." She stopped for a moment to organise her thoughts. She’d been responsible for intelligence briefings a lot in the past but she was finding Kostmayer’s intense scrutiny, disturbing. With an effort she kept her voice steady, "The strange thing is that Starr isn't connected with any of the intelligence communities. He works for a man called George Walker, and has done for years. Walker's a crook and he's never been involved in anything to do with counterintelligence. Probably because it has never paid enough."
"What else can you tell us about Walker?" Robert enquired.
Sam sat back into her chair, "He's been involved in organised crime since he was a teenager. He married into one of the big families in the East End and has been pretty successful. He's a mean bastard and has a reputation for taking revenge if he's crossed. He runs a nightclub that he uses as a drop-off point for his drug deals. There are a number of rooms upstairs where the girls can entertain his friends."
"Can we talk to him?"
"I thought we could pay him a visit at his club this evening. Getting into his office isn't going to be easy but I've an idea how we can do it." Sam finished her coffee, "I've asked around and Walker has been in the market for some heavy muscle over the past couple of weeks."
"Guards you think?" Kostmayer suggested
"Probably. One of our other sections has come up with something - I'm not sure if it connected at all – but I think you need to know it all the same." Sam took a deep breath; they weren't going to like this next piece of information at all. "This comes from inside the Russian embassy. There is a rumour that a senior Agency figure is going to defect. The Russians are getting ready to welcome him with open arms."
"What? Control would never defect!" Robert burst out.
"Calm down, McCall." Mickey reassured him, "I know that."
Sam watched them , "Whoever has taken your friend could be trying to start an auction to sell him to the highest bidder. The information Control carries in his head would be worth a fortune to the right people."
Robert hit the table with his clenched fist, "More than anyone can imagine." He stood and began to pace, "I still think Jason's behind this scheme."
"Who's Jason?" Sam remembered the name vaguely.
Mickey snickered, "He's the little shit that most likely arranged this whole scam. He's Control's second in command, but he'd replace him in a second, if he could."
She nodded and thought to herself, we have a few like that here as well.
McCall stopped pacing and stared into space. "Control thought Jason was up to something, he left me a message to that effect." He looked at Sam. "Tell me, is there any way that we can check if Jason is in the country?"
Sam frowned, concentrating, "If he's not using his own name or a diplomatic passport it will be difficult. We don't have visual recognition equipment everywhere yet and besides there are too many ways into the country; but I can try. Do you have a picture or any information?"
Robert walked over to his carry-on bag and, after a brief search, pulled out a slim folder. "Will this help?"
Sam took the file and flicked through it, noticing the pictures and a few pieces of information. She decided that she could at least start a search for this Jason.
She handed Robert a key, "I've got you a car. It's outside - the blue Audi. I'll get the search for Jason started and then I’ll try to get some more information on Walker's driver, Starr. Maybe Starr has an ex-wife or girlfriend I can talk to."
"Careful, we don't want to alert them."
Sam didn't take offence at Robert's remark, "It's okay; I pass really well for a nosy civil servant. I will say I am checking up on him for maintenance payments." At Mickey's puzzled expression she offered, "You would call it alimony."
Thinking again about Walker's club, she glanced at Mickey - there was definitely something about him that appealed to her more basic instincts - he was unshaven and dressed casually, but it would be fun to know how he'd look cleaned up. "Just a thought, do you have anything smart to wear with you?"
Mickey appeared more than mildly annoyed. "No! I barely had time to pack clean underwear." He caught Sam's eye and looked at Robert, frowned and shook his head in disgust.
Sam laughed, these two were old friends and the history between them would be interesting to explore. She also wondered about Kostmayer’s attitude towards women agents. So far he’d not said anything to make her think he looked on women as being less accomplished agents. She didn’t think she could stand it if he was stupidly chauvinistic.
She explained to them both. "Walker's club may be a dive and his clientele mainly young but they only let in people dressed smartly, that means no jeans. The only sensible way in, is probably going to be for Mickey and I to mingle with the customers."
Robert interrupted, "It's alright, we can go shopping this afternoon."
"You paying, McCall?" Mickey's face broke out in such a hopeful look that Sam couldn't help but smile.
"Of course, Mr Kostmayer - I usually do."
Sam walked over to the closet and lifted out a heavy suitcase. "There's just one more thing..." She pulled the suitcase onto the table and opened the lid.
Knowing that the men wouldn't have been able to bring weapons with them, she had brought some things to the hotel. The look of bliss on Kostmayer's face when he saw the contents of the case made her laugh out loud. "I take it you approve, Mr Kostmayer?"
Mickey grinned a lopsided smile at Sam. "Anyone who brings me a bag full of these kinds of treats can call me Mickey."
Sam hummed to herself as she drove back towards the hotel. She had spent most of the afternoon talking to her contacts and chasing her tail, but somehow, she didn't mind. She'd been on sick leave for the last three weeks and had been driving everyone in the department crazy with her moping around when Johnny had taken her to one side and mentioned his old friend Robert McCall and his problem. Nearly fully recovered from an injury picked up on a covert assignment in the Gulf, she’d jumped at the chance to work with the almost legendary Robert McCall.
Meeting his partner, Mickey Kostmayer, had been the icing on the cake as far as she was concerned. There was something about him that she found very attractive. For most of the day she had found herself imagining what it would be like to go to bed with him. It could be because it had been six months since she had slept with anyone and was feeling randy but she had found the way he looked at her very exciting…
In the past, she’d chosen her lovers with care. It had never crossed her mind to do anything with anyone from inside – even though she’d had lots of offers. She didn’t trust any of them and she had turned them all down. She had no intention of allowing herself to become the subject of locker room gossip. It was much safer to keep aloof and ignore their suggestions that she was gay.
Sam arrived back at the hotel around six and, after dropping her coat in her room, went to room 214, a little perturbed at just how eagerly she was looking forward to seeing Kostmayer again.
He opened the door and she saw recognition in his eyes. Without comment he stood aside to let her in. she walked into the room and McCall looked up from the armchair where he was sitting, reading the paper.
"Ah, Sam. Any news?"
"Some." She suddenly felt famished, "I'm starving - I haven't eaten all day. Can we make plans over dinner?"
Mickey flashed a know-all grin at McCall and Sam guessed that he had been making noises about dinner as well. It pleased her that she and Mickey were on the same wavelength about some things. Her stomach leapt up into her mouth with the thought that there might be other, more personal, things that they agreed about too.
Sam dropped her mascara onto the dressing table and pulled at the tight fitting, black bra again. God! It was the most uncomfortable thing she had worn in weeks and that included body armour. But it seemed to be having the intended effect on her breasts. If they were pushed any higher or any closer together they would meet around her nose and suffocate her
Looking again in the mirror, she shook her head, she never wore this much makeup usually, but one of the first lessons she had learned in her two years with ‘the Det’ in Ulster was to dress to fit in with the surroundings.
It would be very easy to dress like a pro but that wasn’t the effect she wanted. Just what effect and who it was for kept gnawing at her. She’d done her research and knew exactly what Walker's club was like and what went on there as it got later. That she had been the one to suggest that she and Mickey go in as a couple and use the ruse of wanting to get 'up close and personal' as a way to get into the private part of the club, bothered her a little. She was confused by her feelings - this sort of ploy was something she had used many times in the past - but she had never had such a feeling of anticipation before. Appalled by the unprofessional nature of her daydreams, Sam told herself to concentrate and decide what to wear.
In the end she settled on a short black skirt, a tight fitting, but not too low cut, short sleeved black top and sheer black tights. High heeled black shoes and a short black leather jacket completed the outfit.
She checked her hair one more time, pulling a few more strands free to hang around her face and dabbed on some perfume - well it couldn't hurt - and looked at her watch. It was nine-thirty. Time to go. Slipping the baby sized automatic into the special pocket in the lining of the jacket she left the room.
By nine thirty-two, they were ready to leave. Robert smiled to himself as he watched Mickey fidget, first with the collar of his shirt, then with the automatic he had selected from the weapons Sam had provided. Finally happy, he tucked it into the back of his waistband, pulling his leather jacket down before checking in a mirror that the gun was hidden.
There was a knock at the door and Mickey answered it, stepping back at once to let the caller into the room. Robert had to look twice before he recognised the woman standing there.
Robert glanced over at Mickey and could read the same comment in his mind. For a moment Robert wondered if Sam was carrying a weapon. In that outfit there was no where to hide anything. The only weapons she could possibly be armed with were the ones nature had given her.
She had noticed his look and said, "This club is a dive and like this I won't be noticed."
Robert shook his head, "Looking like that, I am positive every man in the place will notice you," he said as gallantly as he could. Surprised by Mickey’s silence, he would have expected him to make some comment, he turned and saw that Mickey wasn’t really listening. He was staring at Sam – something she was more than happy to do in return, it seemed.
Sam was the first one to break the impasse when she laughed, "Wait and see. Anyway, I'll have Mickey there to protect my virtue."
But who is going to protect you from him? Conscious of the sexual tension in the room, Robert couldn’t stop the thought rushing into his mind.
Recovering first, Robert said, "Yes of course," he tried to smother his smile, "Shall we go?"