„We do not know it really is the same suspect.”
“The style is identical. Look here. Phrasing and writing are correct. What…you thinking of a copycat?”
Agent Sweets watched the wall on which the pictures with the letters, published on several forums on the internet, was projected. He eyed the handwriting suspiciously.
“I can’t tell you what it is. But there is something off with this one. Call it gut-feeling. I seriously don’t know,” Sweets told the other agents in the room. Agent Sherley , Chief investigator of the “Abaddon Case” ,nodded consenting to the statement. He had read every letter, every statement the terrorist Abaddon had published in the last six months.
So far the criminal mind behind Abaddon always had followed the same pattern: They had threatened an in their words “unworthy” or “sinful” human or organization, then a they gave them time to do penance and then they “punished” them in the name “of THE LORD”. The punishment always was a bit different. In two cases there had been hidden bombs, in three cases they had used poison in letters sent to the victims. The result of the attacks so far: Five victims dead, ten severely injured and financial and physiological damage to an extend that still was increasing from day to day.
It was a unbearable situation, not only because of the many victims that had not been protected in time, but also for the image of the authorities, because the press already had gotten wind of the potential behind a terrorist threatening LGTBQ people to a great extent.
With furious government personalities and the press on their heel, the FBI stood under a great pressure to solve this case as fast as possible.
They could not afford further attacks to happen, more people to get injured or murdered because of one religious and delusional fanatic.
They still were not hundred percent sure if the Abaddon was a single player in this game or if in fact an organization was behind all this. There were too many open questions about a lot of things and so everything they were doing so far was like searching for a needle in a room filled with hay with no light to their disposal. It was frustrating to no end and all agents working on this case were dearly in need for a win.
Agent Gabriel Sweets put the red Lollipop he currently was chewing on back in his mouth and scratched his chin, absorbed in thoughts. Chuck watched him without saying word. He knew that expression. It meant that a plan was forming in that head of his best agent and he had no intention to disturb him. Charlie, the technician and digital sorceress of the team also remained quiet. If anybody could form something like a plan on this, it was Gabriel. They called him “the trickster” in this department and his reputation was remarkable. Nearly every time when something in the bureau came to an halt and nobody had any idea of how to proceed, Agent Sweets presented himself as the knight in white armor, with ideas so absurd and tricky, they worked because of their sheer unpredictability.
When the Lollipop came out of his mouth with a loud plop, the rest of the team knew, that it was time to face whatever crazy idea would be presented to them.
“Well?” Chuck urged Gabriel to speak. He needed something. Anything. No matter how crazy!
“You know what the problem with all the former cases has been?”
“Not enough information to prevent the attack. A lack of intern insight. We were one step beneath that asshole every damn time, that’s what.”
“Exactly. And perhaps we should try to change that. Get an intern inside and be there, where the action is.”
Chuck thought about that. An intern could be a good thing. Someone searching inside, looking out for strange activity. Perhaps find out how the Abaddon would try to strike and prevent it from happening.
“Surely they need technicians and catering at this event. We could plant an agent into that. So we would have eyes and ears at the event without someone recognizing.”
Gabriel shook is head. Chuck looked at him wondering what the trickster had in mind.
“The “Mister Pride” competition is like any other beauty-contest. There ‘re areas where catering or technicians cannot go and it would be suspicious for our agents to do otherwise. No, we need someone to be able to access every sector of this contest and someone who can speak to the participants of the contest as well.”
“What do you suggest?” Chuck really was curious what was about to come out of Gabriel’s mouth. The smirk on the angent’s face made him groan internally. He knew THAT particular expression even better than the previous one. It meat filling out forms he didn’t know exist and explaining things to persons he’d rather would not speak to.
“Only contestants can visit every part of this contest such as the hotel, the challenge areas and the changing and training rooms. We need someone of our agent to go undercover as contestant of the “Mister Pride” Beauty contest.”
Chuck was very sure that the grin on Gabriel’s face could not get any wider. He seemed far too pleased with himself and the worst thing in all this was, that he had made an absolute reasonable suggestion. It was the only logical option to visit every place and talk to everybody on the area without being suspicious.
Chuck sighed audibly and Charlie smirked. If it had been a “Miss Pride” contest, she had already volunteered to do the job. Together with lots of hot girls, all gay or bi…what a sweet thought. But it was a “Mister” contest and unfortunately, she was in the wrong gender section for this one.
“So, Gabe, you wanna do it? “ Charlie wiggled her eyebrows suggestively at Gabriel. She knew he was someone open minded, though he never really had discussed his sexuality at the job.
Gabriel just laughed and waved at her dismissingly.
“I wish! No. I am for one…”
“Not gay?” Chuck suggested?
“What? OH, that is not the problem. I am open in any direction…pun not intended, BUT what I was going to say: I do not fit the standards.”
Chuck raised his eyebrows at that: “What standards might that be?”
It was not that Gabriel was not attractive. He and his sandy-brown hair, a feisty smirk, and certain charm. Chuck could imagine him standing on a stage, charming the audience into voting for him.
Gabriel chuckled: “I am flattered that you think I am pretty enough to go there, but I am too short and someone has to oversee the operation together with the local police department. We need someone pretty enough to get into the finals and experienced and tough enough to not panic if the chance araises to catch Abaddon or someone of their middlemen.”
“The look on your face tells me that you already have someone in mind, don’t you?”
“Chuck, Chuck, Chuck…of course I already have someone in mind. Broad shoulders,hipbones to slice meat, nice tanned skin, stubble and morning hair like a someone after a good morning fuck…deep voice, baby-blue eyes…”
To underline his description he set up a silly face with a overdramatic pouting mouth and he began to wink like a hustler, trying to charm a patron to have sex with him for 500 Dollars straight.
“Novak? Are you serious? I give you that: he is a great agent with an crazy amount of field experience, but can you imagine him in a beauty contest? Because I can’t. He’d have to speak to actual people. In a charming way. I try to imagine that…but I’m afraid that even my fantasy as an hobby-writer does not reach that far.”
“Of course I thought of that. What do you think I am? An amateur? He has to get a trainer to show him how to act at such an event. How to speak, what to talk about, how to move.”
Chuck still wasn’t able to imagine social awkward as fuck Agent Castiel Novak in between a bunch of mostly gay and more likely than not cheerful people. He could not remember to ever have seen him actually smile!
For once Charlie as well was out of fantasy for that. And she had an additional concern to bring up: “I hate to break it to you, but I agree to what Chuck said: Novak is a great agent, really, but I don’t think he brings the qualities that are required for this sort of job. And I don’t think he is gay either. Hell, I don’t know if he has sexual interest in anything at all. I’ve never heard him talking about a girl- or boyfriend or a date or anything like that.”
Gabriel continued licking his Lollipop.
“His actual sexual orientation is completely irrelevant to the job. He does not have to have sex with anybody, or flirt. He can act like a total asshole, for all it’s worth. He does not need to make friends there either. But we have at least to speak to the organizers of the event to give him a place and to guarantee that he will make it into the finals, when necessary.”
Chuck was about to cry: “But NOVAK…!”
“Quit whining, will you already? He is the best man for the job! Do you want to go yourself? I thought so! By the way: you are to old anyways. And who else is there you can trust and who looks good enough to be a authentic candidate? Hm? Zachariah? Garth? Novak is the only one with the looks and the brains to do this. And he is, despite his bad temper, a professional. If this will help to save people from being killed, he will do it.”
“You sure about that?”
“Of course, I am.”
“Then it will be your honor to tell him about his newest mission. I’m sure he will be delighted.”
Being the leader of an operation had it’s perks, Chuck thought happily. At least he could order other people to do the dirty work. Although this way he would miss the undoubted hilarious face expression of Novak, when Sweets would tell him about the new case and his role in it.
Of course this had to be difficult.
Because when ever was something easy for him?
His plan was flawless. He had thought of everything except one: Novak’s temper. And his stubbornness. And everything that was his personality in general.
“Cas….Castiel…friend: you’re the only chance we have to catch that murderer. Why would you say no to an undercover job? Huh? It is a great chance to catch a big bad guy. You like catching bad guys!”
Novak glanced at him with dangerous eyes: “If it is such a great opportunity, why don’t you do it?”
He hated to explain it again, but nonetheless did it: “Because….my dear colleague, I am big in character, but not in high. And because you’ll need me and Charlie with operation overseeing and technique in the field and to be in contact with the local police station.”
“There are other agents qualified for an undercover-operation. Why don’t you ask one of them?”
“You know damn well whey, Novak! You have the ass and the face to do it! There is nobody with the body to go there and be presented as believable candidate. I hate to break it to you: but you are the chosen one.”
Gabriel was no expert in bomb-disarming, but he realized one that was about to explode. And Novak was only seconds away to totally snap. Gabe had no idea why the agent made such a fuss about this. It was a normal job.
It couldn’t be that Novak was prude…or worse, a bigoted asshole about the event, was he? Gabriel had to know because, that actually could become a problem at some point.
“Are you homophobe or something? Is that the reason why you want to refuse to do your damn job?” Gabriel’s voice had gotten an angry note. He could to tolerate a lot of shit. Everyone should live his life after their own gusto, but intolerance was something he didn’t like at all. So far he hadn’t expected Novak to be an asshole. A grumpy antisocial, maybe. A grim hermit, of fucking course. But bigoted? Not really.
Novak at least had the decency to appear abashed by the thought. He looked at Gabriel with is eyebrows lifted: “ I am not a homophobic person, Agent Sweets. I simply feel uncomfortable to place myself between contestants of a beauty challenge that is all about physical appearance and standards of an industry I have not the slightest clue about. How can you expect me to act credible under said circumstances?”
Novak had a point. The only valid one. But he was the only card in their deck, to play against Abaddon. Gabriel knew the order for Novak to go on that mission was already in the making, so it was not that he really had the chance to refuse, but he would be useless if he did it against his own will. He would not able to perform correctly. Gabriel knew that facing it was no option in this. He had to get Novak into the mission out of his own free will.
“Listen, Novak, I know what you mean. It is superficial and stupid and it is maybe even a bit silly, but that are actual people out there and they’re in danger to be killed. I cannot fill out any more reports for body-parts I found on a crime scene this year. I simply can’t. We have to catch this asshole and show him what justice really means. And it is sure as hell not what they’re doing to people who life a life they don’t approve. Are you on board with me about that?”
The lines in Novak’s face had gotten smoother while Gabriel had spoken. Gabe knew that Cas would not be able to disagree with him on that.
“Of course. It’s just…”
“Cas. Really. I have thought about this. I went through our personal date files up and down the last hour. I really tried to find several people fitting all the criteria we need for this job. But there are none. You’re the only one who will not raise suspicion. Abaddon must know that we will have an eye on this event and that we’ll talk to the people there. They will wait for that. But besides that…we need someone inside to really have a look into all this. Find the person who will carry the punishment inside. It is a television and internet phenomenon. Lot of people will watch this on TV and online. It is the perfect opportunity for Abaddon to give a real big show of what he wants to tell people. We cannot let him have that.”
Castiel had gone quiet and had begun to fidget with his fingers on his desk. Gabriel could see that he had caught him. He knew he would. Castiel Novak was in this job because he wanted to help people. Because he WAS the job with every fiber of his very being. He identified with it like nobody else Gabriel knew. He would give his best, of that Gabriel was sure.
“Say I would accept the job…how am I supposed to prepare? Watching beauty-contest videos and hope for the best?”
“Actually no. I thought that you might be in need of some assistance. Even the professionals have trainers to prepare and attend them during the contest. “
Saying that earned Gabriel a more than skeptical look from Castiel.
“There are actually trainers for this sort of thing?”
Oh dear. This would be long four weeks. Gabriel was not sure is patience would suffice for this sort of task.
“There are and I already found you someone who will fit perfectly. He was winner is some majorly important contests but for unknown reasons stopped doing them. But my research showed, that he was a pro at this “sort of thing” and he should be the perfect man for the job.”
“Don’t say you already contacted him..!”
“And of course, because we only have four weeks to make a queen out of you, I already contacted him.”
Castiel looked like he wanted to facepalm himself like some cartoon character but simply refused to show how utterly unhappy he was with all of this.
On Novaks Computer screen appeared a little eMail symbol. He raised his eyebrows and read the origin. It was an order from the headquarter with his assignment to the investigation team of Agent Sherley.
“I did not really have a choice in this,” Castiel asked sourly when he looked back at Gabriel.
“Not really. But I am happy you made the right choice anyway, “Gabriel grinned.
“I wish I could be so enthusiastic about this like you. If that ends in a disaster I will come for you and you will hear my “I told you so”.”
“But you’ll try your best?”
Castiel stood up and stared the other agent in the eye. That was something Novak was famous for. His stare. Rumor had it, that he could stare a whole in a wall if he set his mind to it. Gabriel had not doubt that this was absolutely true. He never wished to be at the wrong end of this stare when Novak actually was angry. Or had any other strong emotion.
A lesser man could melt under that.
With that deep, serious voice of his he told Gabriel: “Of course I will do my best. I always give all I have on the mission. You know that.”
Gabriel lowered his hand on the other man’s shoulder.
“I know. And because of that, beside of your face and, let’s face it, impudently attractive shaped body, you’re the best man for this. If anybody can impress them and make them open up because they think you’re one of them, it is you. Besides: convincing them that you’re a diva should be easy for you.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”