Title: Smooth Operator
Pairing: Jools Siviter/Danny Hunter
Author: Karaokegal with significant contributions from Beta-Goddess Carol.
Summary: Jools Rules!
Why it's Rare: You've seen other Spooks slash?
Rating: NC17-Seduction, kink. Wheeee
Word count: It's really long.
Takes place during episodes 4, 5 and 6 of the first series of Spooks/MI5.
A/N-Thanks to the organizers of the Rareathon because I've had more fun writing this and obsessing about Hugh as Jools than almost anything I've done since I got House/Hugh obsessed.
This one wouldn't exist without Beta-Goddess Carol.
Not as a matter of course, Jools thought as he left the presumptuous woman looking scandalized in the box while he went out for a bit of jousting with Harry and Tugboat Tom. Just that once. He’d been running an operation against a particularly nasty bunch of neo-Nazis in Vienna. Jools firmly believed that before he could ask an agent to put his or her life at risk, he had to be sure they would do anything he wanted, no matter how distasteful. In Vienna, that had meant having Rolf drop the trousers of that ridiculous paramilitary uniform and bend over the sofa for a jolly good rogering.
Once the young fascist had betrayed what he believed about himself, giving up his entire group was inevitable as soon as Jools gave the order. The operation had been a smashing success, pushing Officer Siviter one step further up the MI6 ladder.
Those were the days, he thought dryly. Cold War nostalgia left him exceedingly frigid, although it had always been amusing to watch the Americans rush about in a frenzy of superpower paranoia. It was the freedom to use agents as one wished that he missed just a bit.
That sort of thing was frowned upon nowadays, at least officially, in both services. Politically correct rubbish, of course. Anyone worth their salt in the business knew what it took to ensure absolute loyalty.
Tessa Phillips was worth more salt than those imbeciles at MI5 would ever know.
He found her smoking on a balcony during the "wake" for Peter Salter at the George. She was leaning over the railing, giving Jools the opportunity to admire the view, especially her legs. He had a vivid memory of kissing one of those elegant ankles while it rested on his shoulder.
"Thanks," she said without turning around. She must have appreciated his push for her to be "quiz master" when Salter came in.
He moved to lean beside her. They went back a long way, to a club on Carnaby Street over the dead body of a Russian spy. Tessa had been wearing a miniskirt that left no room for concealment, yet she’d had a gun in her hand with a shot fired. Jools had shot at the same time. There was no way of knowing which of them had sent Dimitri back to Mother Russia. Being a gentleman, as well as a canny operator, Jools had let the attractive MI5 officer have the credit, earning immediate gratitude, lifelong loyalty and a few good times over the years.
Eventually he had a solid source of information about goings on at Thames House that might affect his side of the bridge. The flow of information had increased when it became clear that Tessa would always be answerable to Harry Pearce and by extension Tom Quinn. That had to be intolerable.
"Shall I bring you a drink?"
"A bit of arsenic with a cyanide chaser."
"As bad as that?"
"For one of my agents."
Jools took out a cigar and lit up. Night was falling over London. He could see and hear and even smell the plebs coming out of the shops and offices and moving into the pubs and tube stations, oblivious to what was being done in the name of their security and freedom.
"One of those agents who’s so hard to see?"
Tessa shrugged eloquently as she turned to face him.
"Who’s on to you?"
"Zoe," she replied with a headshake of indignation. "It’s Harry’s fault. Sending her to meet my agent. He had no right."
She finished her cigarette and stubbed it out in a standing ashtray.
"Zoe, the righteous little Girl Guide," Jools mused.
"Not as righteous as all that. I gave her money. She took it."
"That’s a conscience bomb waiting to go off."
"I know." There was resignation in her voice, but not defeat. "At least I’ve got enough on Harry to go down swinging."
"His little Irish adventure. No good ever comes of any Englishman going over there."
They stayed on the balcony smoking in companionable silence until there was nothing to see but two smoldering points in the darkness.
"Have you chosen your next source yet?" she asked languidly.
"Hadn’t given it a thought. Any recommendations?"
"Hmm. Pity about poor Helen. She would have been perfect. A fluffy little kitten for you to play with."
"Blasted shame." Jools let some genuine anger come through in his voice. "She should never have been put in that position. Harry and Tom should have known better."
"Tom’s got his lips firmly affixed to Harry’s bum and Zoe’s just Tom with a pair of tits."
Jools smirked and narrowed his eyes at Tessa’s vulgarity. "I don’t see Harry’s African Queen here tonight."
It was Tessa’s turn to smirk. "Danny’s been dispatched to teach babies their ABCs."
"What has Mr. Hunter done to earn a turn over the master’s knee?"
"Something creative involving his credit rating."
"Too clever by half. You honestly think you can turn Danny Hunter?" She seemed amused and somewhat titillated by the idea.
"Do you honestly think I can’t?"
She shook her head, still challenging him. "Very loyal to Harry. One of the ‘brightest and best’," she imitated Harry’s precise tone.
"I’m sure he says that to all the boys."
"And girls. Danny wants to be Tom when he grows up."
"Well, we must certainly save him from that fate."
"This should be fun to watch."
"You’ll have a front row seat, my dear."
"You might need some help. And I need that drink."
"Several, no doubt. Come along. I’ve done my required bit for Harry’s ego. I’ll wave at the troops and then we’ll get some proper drinks."
Several minutes later, Jools was pouring whiskey from a cut glass bottle in the back of his limousine. He raised his glass in a silent toast and watched in admiration as Tessa knocked her drink back with aplomb. He offered a refill and she accepted, this time sipping demurely.
"So, what can you tell me about young Danny that I won’t find in those voluminous personnel files if I bother looking at them?"
Tessa stretched her legs across the length of the back seat.
"He is absolutely brilliant with computers or any of the high-tech stuff."
Jools gestured for her to stop wasting time.
"Oh, the weak spot." She made the finger-rubbing gesture for money. "Things go south and he heads for the shops. Always needs a flatmate to make the rent. First it was Helen, now it’s Zoe. Bit of a flash dresser. I think he fancies himself the ladies’ man, but you couldn’t prove it by me."
"Really." Jools raised an eyebrow. "Not even a try?"
"Come on. It’s all he can do to keep from calling me mum."
"And Harry’s daddy, isn’t he? I’m sure Danny hides under his desk when you two have a row. Just one big happy family over there. "
"With an evil uncle who looks through peepholes," she stage-whispered. "He’s not sophisticated, but he is shrewd. It won’t be a piece of cake, you know."
"But it might be just a few biscuits. I believe this is your stop."
He opened the door and watched as she entered her apartment building. Fluffy kittens, indeed. Cats with claws were far more interesting. He was wondering if he should pay a visit later, when his cell phone made itself known. Something about air traffic control.
Danny Hunter approached the London Eye feeling quite chuffed. Harry had sent him to meet an asset for information about drugs being transported on British Railway lines. Danny and Zoe had spent days staring at maps and police reports trying to pin down the source. Now they had an actual lead. Both of them had assumed that Zoe would make the contact, so it had been quite a shock when Harry handed the details to Danny instead. Zoe had tried not to look hurt and Danny had failed completely at not looking smug.
He loved Zoe, of course, usually like he’d love a bossy older sister, but this was his chance to prove he could handle people and not just gadgets.
The meeting was to take place on one of the benches near the queue for the big landmark. Danny smiled as he passed a group of musicians and wondered if they were really transplanted steel drum players from the West Indies or were Harry’s informants keeping an eye on him.
He looked at the massive structure and shook his head. So much fuss and money to build a mutant version of a ride you could find at the seaside in Blackpool. You couldn’t argue with success, though. On rare, sunny days the Eye provided a spectacular view and had proved wildly popular with tourists. It was actually making money, which was more than could be said for the Millennium Dome. The Blair government was still eating the cost of that white elephant.
So far, so good. Man on bench reading a newspaper, smoking a cigarette. Danny sat down and proceeded to follow the script. "Nice day for it."
"Isn’t it?" came a jovial voice with a cultured accent that most certainly did not belong to British Rail employee Frank Bassett of Birmingham. "If we’re lucky, the skies will open and send this rabble scurrying back to their Hiltons."
The paper came down revealing aristocratic features arranged in a smirk and bright blue eyes belonging to the man he least expected to see there.
"Bloody Hell!" he blurted, "Mr. Siviter?"
Compose yourself, he thought. Try and think. There must be a damned good reason why the head of MI6, a man he’d barely been introduced to, had intercepted the meet. This was no time to act like a prat.
"Sorry to pull a switch on you. It seems that Mr. Bassett is taking a holiday for his health."
"He was our asset," said Danny, attempting to stand up to a man whose every syllable exuded superiority.
"He’s ours now."
"What does the international bunch want with a Britrail ticket-taker?"
"Your ticket-taker has been working on Eurostar. That makes his activities our business. Let’s take a ride on that thing, shall we?"
Danny found himself working to keep up with Jools Siviter’s long-legged stride while trying to keep his mind from sliding around like a Mini Cooper on ice. He had to be able to give Harry a full report, even though anything involving MI6 gave the boss a headache.
With a mere hand wave and a flash of I.D, Jools had gotten them to the head of the queue and into a private car, oblivious or indifferent to the glares that followed.
"Isn’t this a bit juvenile?"
"At least it does something," Jools replied pointedly, "unlike that other relic of the big event. And I do find it wonderfully intimate for private conversations."
"Great," Danny said, watching Jools unbutton his topcoat revealing a pinstriped suit over a pale lavender shirt, clearly the best custom tailoring to be had in Mayfair. His tie was purple striped, no doubt silk, probably Turnbull and Asser. Nothing off the rack for the top MI6 toff.
He attempted to find a spot as far away from the other man as it was possible to get in a glass bubble that held twenty people at most.
Raindrops started hitting the glass as the compartment moved upwards, completely obliterating any chance to appreciate the view that was the ride’s raison d’être.
"We’ve had an eye on you for some time."
"You’ve been coming up through the ranks nicely. I hope they’re taking good care of you over there."
"I do all right."
"Good. Can’t have MI5 officers popping off to the private sector due to money woes."
Danny was starting to feel queasy. He wanted to blame it on the ascent. How does he know? Harry wouldn’t tell him, would he? Keep your cool. It’s some kind of test. God, he’s smooth. Probably has a barber shave every morning while I’m nicking myself with the safety.
"Don’t stand there as if you were planning an escape. Unless you’ve packed a parachute, I think you’ll be on board a while longer."
"I’m very happy at MI5, Mr. Siviter."
"And we’re very happy to have you there. I have no intention of depriving Harry of his brightest and best."
"Isn’t there supposed to be a wall of separation between the two services?"
"Yes. Just like that separation of Church and State they have in America. That works well, I’ve heard. We are the senior sister service, not Big Brother. We did have to pull Mr. Bassett, but I had him thoroughly… debriefed."
How does he make the word "debriefed" sound so obscene?
"It’s all right here."
Danny looked at the disc that Jools was holding out in lieu of an apple.
"Don’t worry. It won’t crash your system or cause lewd pictures to appear at awkward moments. It will give you information about narcotics and rail lines. Bromsgrove seems to be quite a hub of activity. Harry will be thrilled. He might even let you out of the house again. I am curious as to why State Security is troubling themselves with Scotland Yard’s business. "
"If they can ship drugs, other groups may try to use the weaknesses in railway security for their own purposes. It’s hard to get anything past the airlines anymore but it seems the railway is a bit more lax."
"Trade unions, no doubt."
Danny caught the glint of amusement. "You’re not curious about anything. You know all of this. You probably know more about what I’m supposed to be doing than I do. It’s all some bloody test, isn’t it?"
"Is it? Then I should say you’d passed."
Danny’s stomach told him they were starting the descent. He swallowed his apprehension and reached out for the disk. He stuffed it in his jacket pocket.
"You don’t mind if I mention this to Harry, do you?" asked Danny, still trying to figure out whose game he was being a pawn in or even what the game was.
"Of course not," said the older man with a shrug. "Harry and I go way back. Give him my best. And do say hello to Tom while you’re at it.”
The rest of the ride went by in silence until the compartment came into contact with the debarkation platform with a slight bump, letting Danny know he was back on solid ground. The door opened and a gust of air gave him a sudden chill. He’d been sweating and hadn’t even realized it. He watched Jools button his coat as if he had all day, in spite of the dozen or so Japanese schoolgirls who were shivering in their uniforms waiting for their turn to enter the car.
Jools waved at the girls as they brushed past him. He even said something pleasant-sounding in Japanese.
Danny made a last stand.
"Mr. Siviter. You need to know my loyalty is with my service."
"Interesting," said Jools, accepting an umbrella from the man who’d arrived to meet him. "I would have thought it was with your country."
Danny silently berated himself for getting tangled in semantics. He looked out at the driving rain just beyond the covered waiting area.
Buggering bollocks, he thought, preparing for a wet dash to the nearest taxi.
"Here, take this." Jools was offering his own tightly rolled black umbrella. "You wouldn’t want to spoil such a nice skin."
Danny hoped the reference was only to his leather jacket.
"What about you?" he asked just before realizing the man in the mac was Jools Siviter’s driver and a black sedan was waiting only steps away, closer to the Eye than any cab would ever get. Danny nodded and accepted the umbrella, despite his trepidation.
Siviter would probably walk between the raindrops as smoothly as he walked through Danny’s better judgment and skepticism.
Danny opened the umbrella and started off. He turned around, wondering if this was part of a game and the offer of a lift might be forthcoming. It wasn’t. All he got was a jaunty wave to send him on this way. This made him even more determined to tell Harry everything about the whole bizarre encounter, even though the mention of the name Jools Siviter had been known to make Harry wince and turn pink.
Only when he arrived back at Thames House and tried to close the umbrella did he find the money tucked into one of the metal ribs. He counted it and found the exact amount, including two coins taped to a fiver, that he owed his favorite electronics shop, the one that had given him a line of credit without plastic. Nobody knew about that bill. Not Harry, not Zoe. He quickly stuck the money in his pocket next to the disc.
Up at the grid, Zoe had gotten over her sulk.
"How’d it go?"
"Great," he said trying to look and sound normal. "The bloke wouldn’t shut up. Lots of intel. We’re probably going to be staking out Bromsgrove."
"That should make Harry smile."
"It’s Britrail, not Bin Laden. How much time do I have to write it up?"
"A bit, I should say. Tessa’s in there with him. There’s been shouting."
Jools hadn’t lied about the information on the disk. It contained a comprehensive rundown on the drugs being run on the rails and a spreadsheet pointing out security weaknesses throughout the system. The station master at Bromsgrove was going to wish he’d never been born.
David at Chelsea Electronics greeted the payment of Danny’s bill with a broad smile. He’d been facing the prospect of explaining the outstanding sum to his boss. He offered Danny a pair of tickets to the Chelsea/Arsenal match the next day which Danny had to turn down because of work. He never got around to telling Harry what had happened at the London Eye.
Danny fell asleep that night knowing he’d have to return the umbrella sometime.
“Do you do ambiguity, Tom?” Jools had asked at the opera.
“Not really. In the end either a thing’s a lie or it’s true,” replied Tom, the sour-faced prig.
Strictly speaking, the head of MI6 didn’t have to know what Harry Pearce had for breakfast or where Tom Quinn did his laundry, but it made him happy to be ahead of the junior service in matters where they might encroach on his sphere of influence or his budget. The Hampton Wilder/Richard Maynard/Sergei Lermov situation had upped the tension level between Thames House and Vauxhaul Cross considerably. Furthermore if his suspicions about who had eliminated Sergei were correct, he might need a new source at MI5 sooner rather than later.
“All I want is a normal life,” Danny said to Zoe a few days later, knowing he’d given up that option years ago.
The distance between his life and “normal” stretched out even further when Tom came over for drinks and a good vent. Danny really felt for Tom. He was clearly head over heels for Ellie, but everything about his job, and by extension his life, was driving her away. Danny and Zoe could only exchange worried glances after Tom left and hope he was going home to sleep rather than out to plead his case with Ellie again. Danny admired Tom more than almost anyone. If Tom couldn’t find a normal romantic situation, what hope did he have? The realization made Danny sad, which made him want to buy something.
The following day was Saturday -- a day off, if a spy could be said to have a day off. Danny decided to treat himself to an afternoon at Camden Lock Market. He could shop without spending much and be pleasantly anonymous amid the aging hippies and punks who populated both sides of the stalls. He asked Zoe to go with him, but she had plans to spend the day lying to her family.
He didn’t feel lonely until he got hungry and found a nearby chip shop. He sat at a table by himself surrounded by groups each chattering in their own patois. The hippies were the least fathomable, probably because their brains were addled by drug use. For Danny, even the occasional reefer had been left behind when he was recruited out of University. Harry had made it clear exactly how random MI5 drug testing would be and that zero tolerance meant less than zero tolerance. Alcohol tolerance, on the other hand, was practically a job requirement.
The closest pub attracted a young art school crowd. Danny nursed a pint while observing the Saturday night rituals of drinking and pretending to dance. The kids barely took notice of him and he was ten years too old to decently notice any of them. He was pulled out of his reverie when “Murder On The Dancefloor” came blasting out of the jukebox. Even the girls who didn’t have boyfriends to dance with came off their barstools, giving Danny an unrestricted view of a woman at the far end of the bar. She gave him a smile that brightened up his mood considerably and started walking towards him.
Hullo. What’s this?
The stunning redhead in a dark green sweater and a black sheath skirt was clearly not an art school girl. Danny guessed she was about his age, although she wore enough make-up to look older or younger depending on what she was trying to conceal.
“Is this seat taken?” she asked, with a strong accent, something Russian or Slavic. From her high cheekbones, Danny guessed Ukrainian. He didn’t have a type per se, but he’d always been attracted to exotic women.
“Not right now,” he said, gesturing toward one of the girls who left her seat when the music came on.
“We leave soon.”
“I beg your pardon?” He found her attractive, but this seemed a bit abrupt. Maybe there was a language problem.
“Someone would like to buy you a drink.”
Definitely a language problem.
“If it’s a drink you want, we’ll stay here and I’ll buy one for you. All right?”
She smiled, shaking her head. Dangling earrings shook as well. She put a hand on his shoulder. For a second, Danny thought she was going to kiss him. Instead she whispered in his ear, “Jools is outside in car.”
After rehashing his romantic problems with Ellie, Tom had launched into a full-blown rant against Jools Siviter including such choice epithets as “condescending”, “arrogant” and “duplicitous.” He’d never explained the roots of the antipathy, although they clearly ran deep. Danny experienced a rapid-fire succession of frustration, fear and resignation. He better find out what Siviter wanted as soon as possible.
“OK,” he said removing the pale hand with its red nails from his shoulder. “Let’s not keep the man waiting.”
A black stretch limousine was parked outside the pub in blatant violation of a No Parking sign. Jools Siviter stood under the streetlight, smoking a thin cigar. In the glow, Danny took note of the pinstriped suit over a pale blue shirt, with a royal blue striped tie and matching pocket silk. The shirt made the blue eyes stand out more than the last time they’d met. He didn’t consider himself in the habit of assessing other men’s clothing, but it was hard to ignore style carried off to that degree.
“Danny,” he was greeted warmly. “So glad you could join us.”
“It’s my day off,” he pointed out.
“Well then, it’s a good thing I’m not your employer.”
Cigar ashes fell on the sidewalk, inches from Danny’s Adidas.
“Are you having me followed?” Danny asked.
“I found you.”
“I’m not lost.” He was, though. Every conversation with Jools Siviter left Danny wandering in a maze of double meanings.
“Yes. I’m sure you’re having a lovely time. Now do come along.”
“Bit of a surprise for you.” He opened the car door, allowing the girl to enter first and following her, giving Danny the option to go along or not. He briefly considered walking away, but what was the use? Besides, he was curious to find out what he’d been tracked down for.
In the back of the limousine, he sat facing the mysterious redhead and the equally mysterious chief of MI6. Jools was pouring drinks out of a cut glass decanter that resided in a bar built into the car door. Danny accepted his glass knowing this was another test. He’d never been a whiskey man but he’d down this one without flinching if it killed him. He thought he did an admirable job of hiding the burning sensation as the alcohol hit his throat. It was the unexpected blossom of warmth in his stomach that caused his eyes to widen more than he would have liked.
“I’m sorry,” Jools was saying after a few words with the woman. “Apparently introductions are in order. This is Svetlana Rogovski. She’s one of our translators. She might also be a plant from GCHQ, a double agent for the Chechen rebels or an MI5 mole. Does she look familiar to you, Danny? It’s getting hard to tell who owns the pawns these days, isn’t it? You like chess?”
“Yeah, I play a bit,” said Danny, taking another careful sip.
He wanted to relax into the warm camaraderie that Jools seemed to be offering, but couldn’t risk letting his guard down. Whatever Svetlana’s official job was at MI6, she clearly had extra duties of a more personal nature for Mr. Siviter. She looked toward the tinted window, seemingly untroubled by the hand that rested on her knee just below the hemline.
Danny tried to ignore it as well, but there wasn’t much else to look at. He couldn’t keep staring at Svetlana’s figure. That would be rude. He looked over to Jools, still trying to figure out what this little show was about. He found his eyes locked. It was hard to ignore the man’s personal magnetism in such a confined space. Neither could Svetlana. The smile she gave Jools was playful as she held out her glass for another drink.
Conversation drifted from Chelsea’s current standing in the Premier League to yet a another shakeup in the Tory leadership, as if that would help. Danny kept up his end of the chat while noticing that Jools seemed to be wrapping both him and Svetlana in the same blanket of charm.
Danny played Tom’s voice in his head to shake off the spell. “That supercilious, double-crossing, manipulative son-of-a…”
“Where are we going?” he suddenly demanded, earning an indulgent smile from Jools and a wink from one of Svetlana’s heavily made-up eyes.
“All right then. Where are we?”
The windows rolled down to reveal the courtyard of Somerset House aglow with its lit fountains.
“Inland revenue? Am I having a late night audit courtesy of MI6?”
“All will be revealed,” Jools said mysteriously, reminding Danny of a schoolmaster who delights in keeping the students perpetually off-balance.
Svetlana was left behind in the car. Jools gave her hand a kiss, while Danny only managed a wave and hoped that he’d get to see her again.
Danny found himself following Jools to a door that had to be part of the original building, dating back to the Tudors. There was no visible keyhole, window or handle that Danny could see, yet something caused the door to open.
The voice of reason -- sounding a bit like Zoe -- told him to turn around, go home and tell Harry everything first thing in the morning. Harry would ring up Jools and tell him to stop harassing his officer and Danny would feel like a child who needed his dad to call off the neighborhood bully. He couldn’t do it. He told the voice of reason to sod off.
The older man led him down a dark corridor and then into a brightly lit elevator that seemed to go very fast. It all felt like something out of Ian Fleming. He had a sudden suspicion… no, it couldn’t be. The door opened and he found himself ushered into Oz, Narnia and Nirvana all rolled into one.
He was in an underground hive of labs and mini-factories. Giggling was a definite possibility.
“The international secret service has their R&D right under Somerset House? That’s mad.”
“We took over the dungeons and remodeled back in ‘55. Cold war thinking. Keep the toys safe even if we’re all blown to kingdom come. The old shelters are down here too. Care for a tour?”
Danny let his grin answer. The smile he got in return seemed genuine. No one got to the top in the spy game without a love of technology. Siviter pointed out new computer simulations and miniaturized weapons with the enthusiasm of a proud parent. For a second, Danny thought he might be able to cross over to first name basis, but the invitation never came and he couldn’t make himself say “Jools” until it did. It would be the same kind of faux pas as asking if Q was still around.
Even though it was past ten on a Saturday night, there was a skeleton crew happily buzzing away in several of the labs.
“Can’t keep them away,” Jools remarked dryly.
“Her Majesty’s service frowns on overtime. We believe in incentives.”
If Malcolm and Colin could see this.
Of course, it went without saying that he couldn’t tell anybody what he’d seen, that he’d been there or that it even existed.
“Do I need to sign something?” he asked, having been shown a whole wing devoted to virtual reality training.
“Are you saying I shouldn’t trust you?” Jools sounded shocked by the very idea.
“Why I am even here?”
“I’m sure you know.”
“It’s a bloody game,” said Danny shaking his head.
“No, this is a game,” he replied, showing Danny a device slightly smaller than the average PDA. “It’s got an update of the chess program that beat Kasparov. It’s also got the number of my direct line if you ever need to get in touch with me.”
“And why would I need to do that.”
“Can’t imagine. Help with a tricky chess problem? I believe Svetlana’s number is available there as well.”
“I can’t take any more gifts. I’ve still got the umbrella.”
“Then I’ll have to take it off your hands. Tomorrow evening after the symphony should do.”
“What symphony?” Danny was following Jools down another corridor and feeling like he was falling down a rabbit hole at the same time.
“How do you feel about Tchaikovsky? The sixth.”
They were going up stairs and more stairs. Danny struggled not to pant while dredging his memory for anything he’d ever heard about the symphony in question. “Bit of an old warhorse, but it usually comes through. The fourth movement’s practically foolproof.”
The last staircase led to a door that opened onto a side street. Danny reckoned they were over a mile from where they’d started.
“Svetlana gets weepy during the piccolo solo. Be ready at seven. You do have a suit?”
“We’re not all shopkeepers from Brixton,” he snapped. His desire to give the imperious Mr. Siviter a full-blown telling off was sidelined by anxiety as to who exactly was going to the symphony with whom.
“Three on the aisle’s a bit of a crowd,” he hinted.
“Which is why the civilized gentleman always has a box and an extra handkerchief for a sentimental young lady.”
There was a taxi cab waiting at the end of the alley to take him home. When he reached into his jacket pocket to pay the driver, he found the chess gizmo had ended up in there as well.
Zoe was watching a movie when he came in. A quick glance told him it involved Hugh Grant and that he wasn’t interested, although he did pinch a handful of her popcorn. Zoe paused the DVD.
“Tom left a message. He’d like you to pop into the office tomorrow.”
“What else is new?”
Tom was asking Danny and several of the tech guys for help designing a foolproof security system to put in a house for himself and Ellie and Maisie. Danny was tempted to say, “I know some blokes at MI6 who could lend a hand.” He resisted, knowing the very mention would give Tom an apoplexy and lead to some pointed questions.
He spent the day doing calculations and simulations for Tom’s castle in the air. When he left, he spotted Zoe working on a spreadsheet. Probably that Britrail thing. Or maybe her expense report. He told her not to work too late, but was relieved not to have to explain his command performance attire.
His cell rang at seven on the nose.
“I’m in car downstairs.”
“Just you?” he ventured.
“Me and driver.”
What am I getting into? he asked himself, only to hear a voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like Jools Siviter. Getting into? You’ve gone a long way past getting into anything. Just get in the car and enjoy the symphony.
The car was a sedan. Apparently a MI6 translator and junior MI5 officer didn’t rate the stretch on their own. Or maybe the puppet master wanted them sitting closer together.
“Where’s your boss?”
“He’s missing a treat.”
“Jools says Tchaikovsky is sentimental claptrap.”
“But you look lovely.” That earned a smile, emboldening Danny to push further. “So whose pawn are you, love?”
“Not pawn, queen,” she said with a coquettish raise of her eyebrows.
Danny had no answer to that. He concentrated on enjoying a night out. Mum and Dad would appreciate seeing him in a box at Barbican Hall, although he wasn’t sure what they would make of his date and her low-cut, clingy green dress. Maybe they’d be won over when she started crying during the second movement. Danny gallantly produced his handkerchief. She smiled gratefully, moving close enough for him to smell her perfume.
He spent the ride back to his flat wondering exactly how far Svetlana was prepared to go and why. He couldn’t shake the image of Jools Siviter’s hand sitting on her knee. Would he really pimp out his own translator? If that was true, it wouldn’t be gentlemanly, much less wise, to get involved. There was also Zoe to deal with. He did a mental rehearsal of “Hi Zoe. Just back from the symphony. This is Svetlana,” as casually as possible in case introductions were necessary.
“Anybody home?” he called into the apartment. There wasn’t, which brought Danny a moment of relief followed by a new concern. What was Zoe doing out this late? As if that weren’t enough, Svetlana started flitting about the apartment like a bored hummingbird. To settle her down, and maybe give himself some liquid courage, Danny broke out a fresh bottle of vodka. She hovered over the CDs long enough to find something to her liking. The combination of alcohol and Enya proved soothing enough for Svetlana to alight on the couch.
Danny joined her there, feeling momentarily like a teenager trying to put the moves on a date. He decided that she was on his couch for a reason and he should find out what it was. He touched her shoulder, only to find her reaching out for him, running a hand along the side of his face before pulling him in for a kiss.
Textbook seduction, Danny told himself. Stop it right now. But he didn’t. He closed his eyes and let himself feel like a normal fellow kissing a beautiful woman on his couch. He held her tightly, wanting the closeness as much as the sex, although now that she was this close, he definitely wanted the sex as well.
He found a zipper at the back of her dress and undid it, wanting to feel more of her soft skin. She didn’t object, but continued kissing and pressing, as if she were trying to melt into him.
Hasn’t been vetted.
He shut off his own lingering doubt by kissing her neck. The responding moan made him realize that he was still wearing his suit and that the trousers were far too tight.
He was about to suggest a move to the bedroom when he heard the knock on the door. Svetlana pulled away immediately, meeting Danny’s gaze with a rueful smile.
They disengaged themselves. Danny took a breath to try and compose himself. He tried to talk his erection down with no success, especially when Svetlana gestured for him to re-do her zipper before he answered the door.
She knew who was at the door and so did Danny. He’d been expecting it all along, although not the appreciative once-over that Jools Siviter gave him once Danny let him in. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so disturbing if Svetlana hadn’t gotten him all hot and bothered.
He took the opportunity to take a good look at Jools wearing a classic tuxedo with his typical savoir faire. The formal clothes suited his patrician bearing. How does he find time to run MI6? He must spend all day at the tailor.
He looked at Svetlana who raised her eyebrows and gave him a knowing smile that he didn’t like or understand. Maybe she was letting him know his suit pants left no room to hide the evidence of what they’d been doing when Jools showed up.
“Dinner at the Palace?” Danny ventured, hoping to distract attention with a bit of chat.
“Not tonight, I’m afraid. Charity gala for PM’s wife’s pet cause. Cherie may be brilliant at whatever it is that she does, but she’s a crashing bore at dinner and she dances like a three-legged epileptic.”
Danny tried not to laugh out loud.
He watched some non-verbal communication between Jools and Svetlana which led to her picking up her coat and heading for the door. She made her exit a slow-moving, curvaceous production ending with a husky “Bye, Danny” that eliminated any progress he might have made towards losing his hardness, before the door closed.
“Where’d you find her? The Cold War Temptress section of Harrods?”
Jools clearly found this amusing. “She likes you. Too bad she’d never pass vetting.”
Danny’s moment of calm passed as Jools proceeded to make himself at home by loosening his tie, pouring himself a drink and most alarming of all, taking out his cigarette case. “Oh no,” said Danny wincing. “I mean, I don’t mind, but Zoe…if she smells smoke, it’s…and you know, she could be coming in any time.”
Jools smiled and put the cigarette case back in his pocket.
“We wouldn’t want to get you in dutch with your flatmate. But I don’t think you need to worry about her returning soon. I believe she’s having drinks with an old friend.”
“You’ll be wanting your umbrella then?” said Danny, trying to gain control of the situation. He’d hoped that Svetlana leaving would reduce the tension, but somehow being alone with Jools Siviter in his apartment made him even more excited, though he didn’t know why.
“I hope you’ve been taking good care of it. And vice versa.”
“I’ll go get it. “
“Let’s both go.”
Danny went to his bedroom to get the umbrella out of the closet, hyper-aware of Jools following him.
“Here it is,” he said, with a flourish that was meant to say “Take your umbrella and leave me alone.”
Jools took the umbrella and hung it on the doorknob before deliberately closing the bedroom door.
“Now where were we?” Jools asked, taking a step toward Danny, who suddenly felt powerless to move as the taller man ran a hand over the top of his head. It caused a shiver to go through his body and an involuntary gasp to escape his mouth. There was no denying it. He had a full blown hard-on and it no longer had anything to do with Svetlana.
“Yes, I thought so,” his tormenter continued casually. “I think you should sit down.” Danny tried to resist, but the hand that had been caressing his head pushed him firmly down on the bed. He’d wanted to get Svetlana into this bed and now he was sitting here with Jools Siviter’s fingers doing something to the back of his neck that caused a sharp intake of breath. Danny couldn’t help noticing the smell of a musky aftershave, mixed with tobacco. It took a second to remember that he should be fighting, rather than giving in to the intoxication.
He could stop this anytime, he told himself. There were weapons nearby. He imagined himself in the dock saying “I shot the head of the International Security Service because he was sitting on my bed trying to…” What the hell was he trying to do?
The answer soon became obvious as the fingers left his neck and both hands started undoing his formal attire. First his jacket was opened, then the tie undone and finally his black silk shirt unbuttoned enough for one hand to move in and the long fingers to find a vulnerable spot and exploit it.
He wanted to writhe against the touch, but managed to resist. However, there was no way to control his heartbeat. No doubt Jools could feel it as well.
Danny couldn’t deny how strongly his body was responding, but his mind hadn’t given up yet.
“But…” he managed to get out, even though it sounded more like a whimper.
“You were willing to consort with a foreign national of dubious loyalty, but you have qualms about your own countryman?”
“I think the operative word here is man,” he said, hoping to make a point.
“You’re not going to start with ’I’ve never,’ or ’I can’t’ or ’I won’t’. I’m sure you have, you know you can, and we both know you will.”
Danny tried to shake his head against the truth of those words, but the voice was like another hand touching him, making him feel things he didn’t want to admit.
Then the hands were moving down, opening his trousers, slipping under his briefs and sensuously stroking, squeezing, cupping until there was absolutely no doubt that Danny’s body had responded, no matter what his brain was trying to tell itself. The other man’s expression gave away nothing but amusement and perhaps appreciation as he handled Danny’s full length.
Danny felt the hands taking his own hands and moving them down to the same spot. He thought he might be sick as he realized what was happening, but he was getting harder by the second. This is not happening. Yet it clearly was. He was close enough to smell Jools’ after-dinner brandy. He could hear the mocking yet increasingly seductive voice overcoming all of his rational thoughts as it practically purred in Danny’s ear.
“I understand you’re one of the best watchers they’ve got over there. I think someone who spends so much time watching other people should find out exactly what it’s like to be watched. You might enjoy it.”
He removed his hands, stood up and walked to the wall opposite the bed.
“You’re just going to stand there?” Danny felt himself about to explode with frustration. He’d been expecting that the older man might try to shag him, but this…He wanted the hands back. He wanted Jools to touch him again.
“Why should I compromise myself, when I can stand here and watch you compromise yourself?” he said bluntly. “Please proceed. Who or what you think about is your business.”
Tom was right. Jools Siviter was a high-handed, arrogant, dangerous bastard. Danny was endangering his career, his honor, his faith in himself, but he couldn’t stop. Jools had played him brilliantly. Now he needed to finish what those hands had started. If he didn’t get off soon, he was going to die. He bit his lower lip. It wasn’t just getting off. It was Jools.
“I’ll need some... “
“I’m sure you have it in the usual spot.”
Danny took a second to get the lotion from his night table. He lay back on the bed and pushed down his trousers and underwear feeling the softness of the blanket under his arse. He wanted to pretend it wasn’t happening, but everything was too real. The cool lotion on his hand. His hand on his prick, moving up and down. The man looking at him with his smug smile and those unbelievable blue eyes as he appeared to barely touch himself through his trousers. Danny couldn’t look at him anymore.
“I don’t remember saying you could shut your eyes.”
Danny forced them open as long as he could, gasping with the effort. The sight of the other man watching him, as though he could read every thought, made him feel like his whole body was on fire. His eyes wouldn’t cooperate anymore. He squeezed them closed and grasped himself tightly, speeding up the stroke until he heard himself groan. His whole body was a mass of tension, needing to come, begging, pushing him to keep going. Even as his body was trying to get off, his mind was still fighting so it felt like the pleasure was being forcibly wrenched from him until everything stopped and he cried out because his whole body was giving itself to that one moment of release and he’d completely surrendered to it. He was coming in front of the head of MI6 and he could see him even with his eyes closed.
When he recovered his breath and a bit of composure Danny looked up and saw Jools Siviter standing at the foot of the bed, undoing the trousers of his tuxedo while looking down at Danny with the same enigmatic smirk. There was no question what was expected of him or that he was going to do it. The part that scared him was how much he wanted to.
He found himself entranced with the silk boxers over the unexpected size beneath. He liked the feeling of the material under his hands.
“We can go shopping for knickers later. Get on with it.”
Most men with their trousers around their ankles and another man reaching into their boxers wouldn’t be so dignified and so in control of the situation. Danny was impressed and somewhat intimidated by what he was facing. Siviter was right, there had been men before. Another peccadillo that the service frowned on for security reasons. He let his lips and tongue explore tentatively and found the hands at the back of his head, insisting that he take it all in. He tilted his head back to accommodate the length and started a slow, steady rhythm, remembering what had worked in the past and what he liked. None of his preferences seemed to be of interest. The hands wanted deeper and faster and more and now. He looked up and saw that sweat was beading on that elegant upper lip, the only sign that his work was having any effect whatsoever, until the hands started digging deeper into his skin and he felt the balls getting tighter in his hands. There was a barely perceptible “Ahhhhhhhhh” and a low throaty growl followed by the sensation of fluid in his mouth. The hands stayed at the back of his head until he’d swallowed everything and looked up for some sign of approval.
Within seconds, Jools was reassembling his sartorial perfection. Danny felt drained and full of self-loathing. He pulled up his pants so that he wouldn’t be the only one exposed, although it was far too late for that. He hadn’t expected kisses or cuddles but watching Jools zip up without so much as a “well done” stung more than he would have thought.
He watched numbly as Jools lit up a cigarette and started texting into his cell phone.
Danny had to re-assert his loyalty to his own service before Mr. Siviter was out the front door with his umbrella and part of Danny’s soul.
“This doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you anything.”
“Of course not.”
The message Jools sent said, “Release the suspect.”
Poor Danny, he thought, leaving the apartment. The young man had clearly enjoyed the encounter, although he’d been left with a large case of dark disturbing doubts. He’d have fun explaining the smell of smoke to Zoe, who would be returning shortly.
“Drinks with an old friend” had been Jools’ way of not telling Danny that he’d dispatched Tessa to intercept Zoe with his strictest orders to do whatever it took to keep her away until he advised otherwise. He had no doubt that Tessa would be extremely creative in that regard. The idea of the Girl Guide being introduced to her own dark side had provided a pleasant counterpoint to the show Danny put on for his benefit.
Quite a successful evening, he thought, getting into the car. Convincing Mrs. Blair he was actually listening to her and consolidating a source inside MI5.
Now it was just a matter of time.
Zoe didn’t seem inclined to question his activities when she arrived home. She didn’t even mention the residual smell of smoke or the air freshener that Danny had frantically sprayed to cover it. She looked somewhat shell shocked and gave Danny a distracted “hello” before disappearing into her bedroom. She must have a few too many drinks with whoever that old friend was.
The next morning, Tom briefed them on the details of the Britrail operation. Danny was being dispatched to Barnstaple, another hot spot for the contraband that was being moved on the rail lines.
Perfect, Danny thought. A few days away from London. A chance to forget what had happened.
He hadn’t counted on the sheer mind-numbing boredom of this particular observation post. In the face of tedium, it was a nearly constant struggle to keep his mind off that night in his flat and the chain of events that had led up to it.
Nights alone in his room at the Cedars Inn, were the worst. He tried to distract himself with the chess game, but of course that had come from Jools and had his number lodged within.
Danny had never thought that being watched would be so erotic. He told himself it was the kink itself and not the watcher that had made the difference, but the memories of that seductive voice and those incredibly nimble fingers wouldn’t leave him alone either. Inevitably, he’d find himself aroused and desperately wanking, which left him spent, but not necessarily relieved, because when he closed his eyes, he saw Jools Siviter’s face, specifically the sweat on his upper lip.
Tom showed up on the ninth day to advise him that the stakeouts at other stations, including the notorious Bromsgrove, indicated that a major cache was going to be moved through the Barnstaple station the next day. Danny tried not to let Tom know how glad he was that this miserable assignment was nearly over. He needn’t have bothered. Tom was focused on the operation, although he did mention in passing that he’d found the perfect place for his own piece of secure heaven. He wanted to Danny to start working on it as soon as he got back to London.
Throwing himself into that project took Danny’s mind off his personal nightmare, reminding him of something he was actually good at. When Tom reported that Ellie and Maisie would actually be moving in, it was a personal victory for Danny and the security team.
And then Patrick McCann walked into a safe house and all hell broke loose. He found himself participating in a deception against his boss without being sure it was the right thing to do.
After the Sexton B attack had been thwarted, he invited Zoe out for a celebratory drink only to have her collapse in tears and tell him about Tessa. She couldn’t keep the secret anymore. She’d gone to Harry. She didn’t know exactly what had happened, but she knew that Tessa had been paged to reception and hadn’t been seen since. Using the computer, Danny was able to ascertain that Tessa’s security clearances had been revoked. He called reception and found out that she’d been removed from the building and taken to safe house seven. How have the mighty fallen, he thought.
“Don’t cry, Zoe. You did the right thing. You’ll probably get a raise out of this.”
“I know,” she kept sobbing.”It’s just…I told you. She was everything I wanted to be. She was in the field when most of the women in MI5 were in the typing pool. “
“She was bent, Zoe. She used you.”
“You don’t know, Danny...”
“Do I want to?” he asked, suddenly remembering how Zoe hadn’t met his eyes when she arrived home after ‘drinks with an old friend’ on a certain night.
“No. You don’t,” she said, finally pulling herself together.
“If you need to tell me something, you can always…”
“I know. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” She squared her shoulders and threw her wadded up tissue in the waste paper basket. “It’s like the weight of the world off my shoulders. I think we should go for that drink.”
“You go ahead. I’ll be along in a minute. I need to check on something.”
He kept his eyes on the computer until he was sure she’d cleared the pod doors and waited fifteen minutes before making his own exit. He walked a block away from Thames House before pulling out his phone and dialing the number. He’d already memorized it, while promising himself he would never call. He wouldn’t tell about what they’d done to Harry. That would be betrayal.
It’s not about talking to him. It’s just that someone needs to know about this outside of the service. Danny had seen a very dark side to Harry today and worried that whatever was happening in safe house seven might be more than the sacking and jail time that Tessa deserved.
He heard the number click through several different transmitters until the familiar voice came on and Danny tried to control a sudden jump in his heart rate.
“Mr. Siviter, it’s Danny Hunter.”
“Danny, what an unexpected pleasure. Don’t tell me you’ve beaten the chess program already. Looking for an upgrade?”
“I need to tell you about something that happened today. One of our officers, Tessa Philips, was sacked.”
“One of Harry’s cost-cutting measures?”
“She was taken away. Kept in a safe house. I’m a bit worried.”
“What on earth did she do? Take home paper clips?”
Danny found himself whispering even though he knew it was a safe line.
“She was running phantom agents. Harry found out.”
“Well. That is quite serious. I think we should meet so you won’t have to skulk around like some kind of dodgy informer. Why don’t you meet me at the Regents Club for a drink in about half an hour and you can tell me all about it.”
“We’ll be meeting for a drink, Danny, not planning a coup. It’s a private club. Just come downstairs and we’ll have all the privacy in the world. I hear there was some excitement at Broad Street Station today. Maybe we can discuss that as well.”
The connection was broken, leaving Danny with a sick feeling. Broad Street Station. He was going to tell Jools Siviter what he and Tom and Zoe had done to Harry. There was no turning back. He hoped it would be worth it. He’d better call Zoe and tell her to start without him. He was definitely going to be late.
Jools closed his cell phone. His eyes hadn’t left Tessa’s the whole time he’d been talking to Danny. It had taken her all of three hours to talk her way past her keepers and out of the safe house and another to show up at Vauxhall Cross indignant, but none the worse for wear. He’d offered her brandy and time to calm down.
“It appears there’s been a spot of bother at MI5 today. Someone’s been very naughty and Harry’s on the warpath.”
“Must be those bad children who played tricks on him today."
Jools refilled Tessa’s glass. He’d have a word with the DG in the morning. He could keep her out of jail, but Tessa’s time with the service was over. Still, he knew Tessa. She’d land on her feet and come back to fight another day. Zoe, Tom and Harry shouldn’t sleep too soundly.
“Something about phantom agents, but I’m sure he’ll tell me about all the scheming that goes on in that wasp’s nest.”
Tessa lifted her glass in a tribute to Jools. He accepted it with a nod.
“What are you going to do that poor boy?” she asked with mock concern
“Nothing he doesn’t want.”
“But does he know what he wants?”
“Does anybody?” Jools replied. “Do you have any immediate plans? Besides tossing darts at a picture of Harry, I mean.”
“A bit of travel, I think. I hear Massachusetts is lovely this time of year.” Jools doubted she was planning a sight-seeing tour. If Richard Maynard thought he’d made a clean getaway, he might be in for a nasty shock. Perhaps it was just as well he’d never confronted Tessa about what had happened to Sergei Lermov.
He saw Tessa out, after wishing her Bon Voyage, then called Svetlana.
“I want you to be available every night this week.”
“You need me to work?”
“After a fashion. I suspect you’ll be hearing from Danny Hunter. He’s going to need a bit of straightening out.”
There was a pause.
“Because you will have him tied up with knots?”
Jools shook his head. Svetlana’s grasp of idiom was a definite weakness in her translation skills. She probably meant “tied up in knots” although her version made for interesting possibilities.
“Why do you think he will call me?”
“Because he’ll have nowhere else to go.”
This way to the sequel : http://karaokegal.livejournal.com/27556.html