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Little Tornadoes

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There were handshakes and smiles all around, which was more or less par for the course in Washington; why stab a man from the front when he was so much less likely to see you coming if you stabbed him in the back instead? Able'd been here, done this, and considered himself lucky to have gotten out with enough of a non-classified resume to get a normal job with steady hours.

Here's to hoping we can pull that off a second time.

Nakatomi seemed a nice enough gal, for a politician. Good reputation, too, which was the only reason they were here, instead of somewhere in Europe, hiding.

"Oh my God. I'm meeting the President."

"I cannot thank you enough for what you have done, Mr Monroe, Mr McQueen. Ms Anderson."

"Oh my God. The President knows my name."

"Easy, Grace. Deep breaths."

"Our pleasure, ma'am," McQueen said, because McQueen was a dirty liar.

"Speak for yourself." She was not a Clinton, but then, as far as he could tell, she was no Cheney or Sterne either. "Proud to serve, ma'am," he said, which was also a lie, but one he'd practiced often enough to make it sound convincing.

Nakatomi nodded pleasantly. "So, if you don't mind my asking, what are your plans for the future?"

Retirement, and this time, I'm making sure it'll stick.

"Oh, nothing definite yet," McQueen said, which was another big whopper, given that death was generally a pretty definite thing.

"As I'm sure you know, the CIA needs a new chief."

McQueen inclined his head. Able wondered if one of his wounds had opened up again, and then he wondered why McQueen always made him worry about stuff like that, and then he wondered what on Earth he was going to be doing with himself, these next months.

"Given your record ... " Nakatomi began, and it took Able a moment to realize she wasn't referring to any kind of criminal record. "Might you consider taking the job? Either of you?"

"I already have a job," McQueen said, which was the first joke he'd cracked since the beginning of this conversation. "My company doesn't run itself, I'm afraid - especially now that my assistant has ... opted for a career in a different field."

"Such a shame. She knew exactly how I liked my drinks," he'd told Able, and Able'd let him get away with that one, because he knew McQueen was a softie at heart, getting attached to folks far too quickly and easily.

"In fact, I've requested both Grace and Able to help me out - for a few weeks at least," McQueen added, and Able hoped his pokerface was still as good as it used to be, given that this was the first time he'd heard about that particular bit of idiocy.

"Ah," Nakatomi said. "I see. Well, if there's anything I can do for you, don't hesitate to ask."

"When were you planning on actually 'requesting' my and Grace's help, huh?" Able asked, once she had moved out of earshot. (They were in the White House, so not exactly private, but then, Able hadn't lived to see sixty-two by being overly paranoid about people overhearing his conversations.)

"Directly after my next visit to the hospital," McQueen replied, which was playing dirty.

"I uh really don't know anything about running a company," Grace said.

"Neither did he, when he started," Able said. He'd know about driving, of course, but not really about driving a bus, with all kinds of passengers nagging at you. That bit, he'd learned on the job.

"I took a course," McQueen said. "On-line."

Grace looked relieved. "I can do that."

Able sighed. Not like he couldn't see where this was going; it would all end in tears.

Still, before that happened, he supposed it couldn't do too much harm to waste another couple of months of his life doing a favor for the only man he'd ever called his friend.

"Just a few weeks, mind. I've got other things to do than help you out," he said, and McQueen beamed at him and slapped his shoulder, and Able thought how'd I live fifteen years without this guy? which was a dumb question any which way you looked at it, so he didn't ask it out loud. "And I'll be expecting a decent salary."

"Me too," Grace said, and McQueen beamed at both of them some more, like he didn't have a care in the world.