From ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu Sun Oct 27 21:37:001996
Summary: In order to utilize the information on the DAT tape, Krycek forms
an uneasy alliance with a private investigator who walks both sides of theline.

DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Wish he was. TD Frohike is. No guts, no glory.

Rated PG for language. Author's Notes follow. Comments to
ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu

A Courtship of Inconvenience Part 1/1
by Colleen C. Bailey

*********
For a private detective, she didn't seem to do much detecting. After two
weeks of dedicated surveillance, that was the sum total of his thoughts
regarding her. She palled around with a few questionable characters,
occasionally ate lunch with minor government officials, spent her afternoons
in the Library of Congress stacks, and spent her evenings in a small office
on the lower edge of the city. No stake-outs, no court dates, no *clients*
as far as he could tell. What was she waiting for?

T. Dylan Frohike, 5'8", 145 pounds, gray eyes, dark brown hair, 32years
old, divorced, no children. Prescription glasses, occasionally wore
contacts. She favored double-breasted suits. With pants, never skirts.
She carried a Walther PPK in a shoulder rig, left-handed. She drove a
rented Escort. She lifted weights at a local gym, but wasn't a member, paid
by the day. She wore a size 10 pants but a size 14 jacket, and both needed
tailoring to accommodate her stocky, muscular build. She took medication
for a minor thyroid condition common in women, and no other prescriptions.
She didn't date, she didn't drink, she didn't smoke. She had one family
member in town that she never visited. Her home address was in L.A. - what
was she doing here?

He thought back over the past weeks, back to the day she had imposed herself
on his life. She knew too much, and that was his greatest fear. Trust
no-one was a great catchphrase, but it was also a way of life. If you
wanted to live, that was. So, he had taken it upon himself to learn more
about this mysterious figure who had made a veiled offer at the bedsideof a
dying man.

Alex Krycek settled more deeply into his booth, the leather of his jacket
creaking against the vinyl upholstery. Her credentials were more impressive
than her personal life. He had finally gotten that information, and he
shuffled through the papers on the table again, pondering. BA from
UNM-Albuquerque in Cultural Anthropology. He checked her transcript again,
saw her grades, and whistled silently in appreciation. Two years of
graduate work at MIT in neural networks. He peeked at her Social Security
file, and snorted. So *that's* what the T stands for. Poor kid. Three
years in the Army, classified duties - even *his* contacts couldn't cut
through that red tape.

And now, her own legitimate business based on the West Coast doing
investigations, setting up surveillance gear for home contracts, and ...he
searched for the next page, stared down at it, skimming for the words he
sought. And smiled. Now, he thought, now it begins to make sense.

Frohike sighed and picked at her chicken sandwich, knowing he was watching
even if she couldn't see him. If he really was the hot shit her contacts
claimed he was, he'd be watching. And, if he didn't make his move soon,she
was going to have to leave for L.A., the opportunity lost. Of course, he
might follow her there, but she wanted more assurance that he would takethe
bait she had offered. It was time to make another overture.

She pulled out one of her cards and thought. Suppressing a grin, she wrote
a few words. Dropping a few bills on the table, she rose and quickly walked
out. As she pulled her coat on, she let the card fall as if by accident,
and swept out the door.

He saw it drop out of the corner of his eye. He had to jump to track her,
trying not to knock down the waitress who was clearing his plate. He duga
twenty out of his wallet and left it, not caring that the huge tip might
cause the girl to remember him. Waiting for his subject to stroll out of
sight, he quickly stooped to scoop up the card and followed her out,
glancing down at it as he walked.

The front of the card matched the one she had given him in the hospital."T.
Dylan Frohike" with three phone numbers and an Internet address. "Bonded
Protection - Discreet Investigations - High-Tech Surveillance". Andalong
the bottom, in smaller print, "Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur inillis".
He had seen this before. He turned it over.

On the back of the card, a single line, printed in a neat hand:

"da'ada'ni'gi'i' = merchandise".

He stopped dead in his tracks, staring at her rapidly-retreating back, not
noticing the angry grumbles from the lunch-time crowd on the sidewalk who
were forced to divert around him. She really did know about the tape,
perhaps knew more than he himself did. And if she knew, he had to ensure
her silence. The Smith & Wesson 659 pressed warmly against the smallof his
back as he turned to walk to his car. One way or the other.

*********
The office building was nondescript, perched on the edge of the Beltwayin a
cluster of similarly boring structures. Not even interesting enough to be
called ugly. She parked underneath. He parked on a side street and walked
over.

He had analyzed all the different ways he might approach her. None was
optimal; some were downright suicidal. But in the end, and especially with
this nudge she had given him at lunch, he decided to play cool. She knew
about him. She knew he was tailing her. Well then, she'll be expecting me.

He took the stairs to her floor and paused at the water fountain to catch
his breath. He could see her door from here, with the same advertisementas
on her card. He leaned briefly against the wall, feeling the heavy metal
press against his spine, knowing the magazine was full and there was a round
in the chamber. Taking a deep breath and smoothing his hair, he pushed off
from the cool surface and walked to her door.

*********
His knock was answered by a muffled "it's open," and he movedquickly,
stepping in and immediately pushing the door closed behind his back. He
left his hand flat on it as he faced her, ready to draw his weapon if necessary.

The room was familiar; he'd broken in twice in the past two weeks and taken
a thorough look around. Two doors to the left (bathroom, back office), a
couch to the right, no windows, blah artwork, a desk at the back. She was
sitting behind this, on the phone when he entered. Glanced up, gesturedat
the couch, and continued her conversation. She had balls, he liked that.

"Yes, I got your files. Very thorough work, but I expected nothingless."
She smiled suddenly, and her worry wrinkles eased into laugh lines. "You
charmer, you. Look, Byers, I have to go, someone's here for an appointment.
Yeah, same to you. Say hi to the boys for me. Thanks again." She hungup
and eased her chair back, one elbow on the desk and one on the armrest as
she swiveled around towards him. She moved slowly, keeping her hands in
sight at all times. Balls and brains. He liked that a lot.

"I see you got my message."

And direct. He responded in kind. "You know who I am."

She smiled humorlessly. "I know *what* you are. Like I said in the
hospital, I did my homework. Have you done yours?" She waited.

He did not disappoint her. "You have something I need."

She stared at him, then chuckled. His face fell slightly, and she erupted
into a full-throated laugh. "Listen to us! God, we sound like a fucking
Bogart movie." She sat forward, hands clasped between her knees. "Look,
let's cut the crap. You have an extremely valuable source of data that you
can't use because it's encrypted. You've checked out my background, you
know that I can decrypt those files. Damned straight I have something you
need! And I plan on making you pay through the nose for it. Now quit
beating around the bush and let's get down to business."

He rubbed his upper lip, considering. He didn't know quite how to respond
to such a direct statement. But what she said was true. And she hadn't
ratted on him yet, when it would have been so easy for her to do so.

"How did you find out...."

"About the tape?" She smiled again, looked down at her hands."I have a
lot of contacts in Washington. A lot of....unusual contacts. A few months
ago, I was presented with a single screen print for analysis. Very few
people know I speak Navajo, Krycek, and even fewer know about the tape.It
was a big risk for them to do so, but they trusted me. Unfortunately,"and
she crossed her legs, frowning, "by the time I was able to get backto them,
things had gotten out of hand and my sources had gone to ground. I had lost
my connection to the tape."

Her eyes narrowed as she focused on him. "One page, Krycek, and I learned
more about our government than I ever wanted to know. I mean," andshe
rubbed the bridge of her nose, "I'm no Pollyanna, I knew a lot already,more
than the average citizen, but shit, the stuff on that page..." Shepaled
and looked down, lost in thought.

He was fascinated. This was one tough cookie, and the information she'd
seen had her cringing like a schoolgirl in a biker bar. If he'd been unsure
before, he was convinced now. One way or another, he had to find out what
was on that tape. Oh, the havoc he could wreak on his old boss... the
leverage he would have... the money he could make. His skin tingled with
goosebumps, and he rubbed his arms crosswise, smiling grimly.

She brushed her hands on her knees, breaking the mood. "So, I did alittle
checking around, got my feet wet, broke a few rules, lost a lot of moneyin
a poker game, and came up with a name. Your name."

She leaned forward, capturing his gaze with hers and holding it. "I'llbet
you've hit that tape with every commercial decoder on the market. And
probably some sources I don't want to know about." Her breath caught,and
she flushed. "If it had worked, you would have killed me by now forknowing
too much." She paused, waiting for his reaction.

He just grinned. It never reached his eyes.

She suppressed a shudder and continued. "I've got code-talker experience,
but not much. It took two days for me to decode a single page of that
stuff, but I did it." She leaned back and crossed her arms tight against
her chest. "They buried that information deeper than a body, and I'mthe
only shovel you've got."

Her eyes were clear as he stared into their gray depths. Could he trust
her? Absolutely not. Could he work with her? Given certain precautions,a
fair amount of judicious follow-up, and the occasional outright lie, yes,he
could work with her. He smiled. "Let's deal."

END A Courtship of Inconvenience Part 1/1

*********
Author's Notes:

I don't know Navajo. I'm just winging it. The word I used for
"merchandise" (da'ada'niagi'i') actually means "breakfast".I hate not
having a copy of 'Anasazi' to look these things up...

I'm also not familiar with Washington DC. Therefore, people "in theknow"
about our nation's capitol will probably wonder what the hell I'm talking
about. Well, I don't know either, so don't bother looking for consistency.

These stories are my way of fleshing out the Krycek mythos. With Krycek
resurfacing in an upcoming 4th season episode, this thread of stories may
soon go the way of the Sabre-Tooth Tiger, so enjoy them while you can! And
let me know that you do!

Colleen C. Bailey
"You can't aim to kill when you're laughing"
ccbailey@facstaff.wisc.edu