Author's Note: So, this story is turning out to be so much fun! Thanks to those of you who have read so far. Please leave reviews; I'd really like to have a look at how to improve what's here so far, and the best way for me to do that is to get feedback from you.
LadyGraceC: Thanks! I'm glad you like itChapter 2
When the door opened the next day, Carrie sat up, her back ramrod straight, and watched Mark Kaimon come in and sit down across from her. They were both silent as he situated himself, carefully pulling out a pile of papers and that blasted pencil. The papers he set on the table in front of her. The pencil went straight to his mouth.
"Do you have to do that?" she asked, irritated.
"Chew on the damn pencil. Is it really necessary?"
He shrugged. "I don't notice I do it."
"Is that one of your quirks or one of Mr. Kaimon's?"
"Mine," he said. "Does it bother you?"
"No," she lied. "Just curious."
He smirked, clearly knowing that it did, in fact, bother her, but he tapped his fingers on the paperwork in front of her. "All that is needed to get you out of here is your signature there."
She frowned and skimmed the page briefly. He was telling the truth, she saw, but this didn't make any sense. "Don't I have to go before a judge or something? Or convince someone to drop charges or whatever?" It couldn't really be this easy.
He nodded. "Normally. I've managed to pull a few strings."
"Great!" she said, smiling and leaning forward. She held out her hands, one open palm up. "Can I have a pen?"
He sat back, intentionally moving himself away from her. "Not yet."
She rolled her eyes and slumped back in her chair again. "Let me guess. I have to agree to this run first, don't I?"
He smiled, a spark in his eyes. "You've got it right, Carrie. What do you say?"
She studied him for a few moments, and he seemed content to just sit there across from her and wait. Her foot was tapping so vigorously that it was shaking her upper body, and she chewed her lip as she thought about what she was about to do.
"Say I do agree," she said at last. "What is it I'd be getting, and where from?"
"Does that mean you agree?"
She shook her head, her light brown ponytail tapping her cheek with the movement. "I won't agree until I know what I'd be getting into. I never go in blind."
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, clearly reminding himself to be patient. "I can't just tell you what and where this artifact is unless I know you'll get it. I don't share information for nothing."
She leaned forward and tapped the paper. "You already got me this. Just get me out of here. I'll even pay you."
He chuckled, amused. "What would I do with your money? I'm a demon. Your pathetic human currency means nothing to me. No, I need more than that from you."
"And if I don't agree, what are you going to do with those papers?"
He shrugged. "Burn them. What's more important is that I'll make sure your case takes a while to get to court. And I'll make sure you don't receive bail. And I'll make sure your sister's testimony about the two of you working together gets submitted as evidence. You'll be up on so many charges of theft you'll be in the system for the rest of your life. On the other hand, if you agree, you'll be free as a bird by the end of the day."
She sighed and slumped back in her chair. "I'm sorry, but I can't accept your terms until I have at least some idea of what I'd be getting myself into."
He studied her closely for a moment, still chewing on that damned pencil, before he set it down and leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner. "I'll tell you this much. The device I need is in an area protected from demons. Only a non-possessed human can enter the facility. Does that give you some idea of what you're looking at?"
That was … intriguing, she thought. She sat silently as she weighed the pros and cons of taking the run and getting out of here. Pro: she would get out. Con: a place with security like that was going to be incredibly dangerous. Pro: it would be a great adrenaline rush.
"All right," she said at last, letting out a puff of air with the consent.
The demon grinned, picking the pencil up once more. "I knew you'd see things my way." He reached into his suit and pulled out a pen. "Sign on this line," he said, pointing to the page, "and I'll arrange everything else. Your sister will have this processed quickly, and the officer standing guard outside of this room will bring you your things and point you toward the bathroom." A business card followed the pen and he set it on the table in front of her as well. "Meet me at my office at three o'clock."
She stared at him, shocked. "You're actually just going to trust that I'll show up."
He nodded. "You'll be there. Because if you're not, I will have to come after you myself, and neither of us really want that. You especially."
She grabbed the pen and decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. If he didn't feel the need to watch her every move, she was perfectly happy to have some time to herself. Of course, if he were watching her every move, he would watch her change, and she couldn't say she really minded the thought.
Dammit, Carrie. Snap out of it, she scolded herself, scribbling her name across the paper.
He grinned and stood, pocketing the pen once more and heading toward the door. "I will see you at three o'clock, Miss Hughe," he said, then left the room.
After a few muttered words in the hallway, an officer came in the room and unlocked her cuffs before handing her a pile of clothes and her backpack, hopefully with everything intact. "Turn right out of here. The bathroom is down the hall," he said, his voice brusque, and she didn't hesitate to leave.
She pulled her phone out of the bag first, before even thinking about changing. She didn't have any calls, which depressed her far more than it should have, and it was just after one. That left almost two hours for her to sort things out before meeting with this mystery demon.
Changing quickly, she mapped out a gameplan, most of which involved finding food pronto. She pulled Mr. Kaimon's card out of her pocket, where she'd put it as soon as she had jeans on without thinking, and took a look at the address. Elm Street. She was pretty sure she knew where that was, but not one hundred percent. There were too many other tree names in this city.
When she headed for the front door, she was distinctly aware of her sister's unhappy looks, but she decided not to pay her any mind. There was a brief wave of hurt, though. Sure, she'd never been good at maintaining good relationships with anyone, but Ellie seemed to really hate her now. It had been what, two years ago that they'd been working together? Those had been some of the most dangerous – and most exciting – heists of her life, and she would go back in a heartbeat given the chance.
Ellie wouldn't though. She wasn't sure what had happened to make her sister go so cold on her, but it just wasn't normal to be arrested by family.
Well, there was nothing she could do about it now.
The fresh air outside of the building was surprisingly refreshing, especially given the area. The outskirts of Indianapolis wasn't exactly the most exciting place, especially not when you grew up there. And not much had really changed. Sure, the smaller shops in the area had changed hands a few times, but the facades were all the same, and she would always know her way around.
She pulled out her phone and called Eric. The phone rang five times before he finally answered, panting.
"What were you up to?" she asked, waggling her eyebrows even though he couldn't see her.
"Nothing nearly as fun and interesting as you're thinking," he said dryly. "Believe it or not, I was in the bathroom."
She pouted. "That's not very interesting," she said, trying to sound cute and failing miserably.
"So I take it we now have a job?"
She nodded. "Yeah. I'm meeting with the demon in a couple hours. I'll have details for you then."
"Great," he said sarcastically. "Just what I need, huh?"
"Whatever," she said, rolling her eyes. "I'll call you when I'm done. Right now I'm starving. Talk to ya later, kay?"
"Sure. And Carrie?"
"It's nice to know you made it out all right. Don't get caught again."
She grinned. "Not if I can avoid it."
She ended up grabbing a quick bite to eat at Wendy's and scoping out the nearby internet café for a computer she could use. Luckily she found one available pretty quickly, and she logged onto a guest account to get online. First a foremost: where was Elm Street?
Google took far too long to load, and she was about to give up when the map finally loaded and pointed her in the right direction: north. It wasn't too far, but it was about a thirty minute walk, and she probably needed to get going pretty quickly if she was going to be on time. That wasn't a particularly high priority for her, but she really didn't want to know what this demon would do if he thought she'd stood him up.
When she walked in the front door, the secretary behind the desk took disapproving one look at her dirty clothes and dismissed her as unimportant. "Mr. Kaimon is in the third room on the left," she said, looking at the paper on her desk. "He's expecting you."
So she walked down the short hall and opened the door labeled "Mark Kaimon" in professional lettering, and she didn't bother to knock before she did. He had dragged her here; she didn't need to be polite about it.
He looked up from what he was doing and smiled pleasantly at her. He really did have a great smile. "Carrie," he said, gesturing for her to sit down. "Come in."
She stood in the doorway and crossed her arms as she leaned against the side. He shrugged and began talking anyway. "I must admit, I am a bit surprised you really did show up. I half expected you to make me hunt you down. I almost wish you had."
"I'm here," she snapped. "Now tell me what I need to know."
He frowned. "Sit down, Carrie. And close the door. This is a private conversation."
She wanted to be contrary. She wanted to stay standing in that door just because he'd told her not to. But even more important, she wanted to get the fuck out of there. Sighing, she stepped into the room and closed the door before seating herself in one of the chairs across from him.
He smiled and nodded, the triumphant look on his face telling her he thought he'd won something. She would have to prove him wrong at some point. She wasn't some thing to play around with. She was a damn good thief.
"There is a device I would like you to acquire for me," he said, shuffling through a small pile of papers and pulling out a picture, which he slid across the desk to her. It was of a small capsule … pendant? It looked like it could have been worn as one, but it was clear that that wasn't its intended purpose.
"What is it?" she asked, frowning as she studied it. It was like nothing she had ever seen before.
"That doesn't matter. What is important is that you get it for me."
She shrugged, willing to let that go. She retrieved things without knowing what they were or what they were for before. She wasn't going to let her curiosity get the best of her. This would be a quick run: in and out and done. And this wasn't going to take any longer than it had to.
"No complaint?" he asked, surprised.
"Why should I complain? I don't need to know what it is to get it."
He nodded. "Good. The Department of Magical Sciences currently has it."
Her eyes widened. "The Department of Magical Sciences?" she asked. "Seriously?" The DMS had been formed shortly after the discovery of the first few demonic possessions. They were basically there to regulate the possession of humans, if that made any sense at all. Supposedly they were working on creating a legal system that could handle such enormous changes and pushing new bills through the Congress doors. They were also researching various ways to deal with demons, curses, and other magical things as they came about.
Basically, they didn't really have any idea what they were doing, but they were going to be a pain in the ass to infiltrate.
He cleared his throat. "I was told you were the best for the job. Was my informant mistaken?"
She shook her head. "No, they were right. But that doesn't mean I have to like the idea of breaking into a heavily protected government area. What kind of time frame are we looking at?"
"I need that device as soon as physically possible. I know of another thief who has his eyes set on it, and he's got a head start on you. I expect your best effort for this job."
She rolled her eyes. "I wouldn't dream of shirking you on what you've paid for," she grumbled, knowing full well that she should be performing at her worst for all this was worth. She sighed. "What else can you tell me about this object?"
"I will not tell you any more than you need to know. The nature of –"
"No," she said, cutting him off. "If you want this delivered quickly, I need to know what I'm looking for. Its physical appearance isn't enough. Who has it? Where is it? What the government people calling it? Do they even know what it is? Now, I can probably find all of those answers if I do enough digging, but it might take far longer than you are willing to wait for me to do so. So start talking, or you can twiddle your thumbs while someone else breaks in and steals it."
He was quiet for a moment while he stared at her, clearly trying to gauge what to say. He must have decided she was right, because he took a deep breath and began talking. "The humans don't have any idea what it is, and I would prefer to keep it that way. They call it Device 36. The building where it was being stored last I heard was located here," he said, pulling out another piece of paper. "I could tell you a bit about the people who work there, but your own information would probably be more helpful."
She took the paper and frowned. "You had this sitting there the entire time and you weren't going to give it to me?"
He shrugged. "There was no reason to give you more information than you asked for, and I'm never underprepared for a meeting. So yes."
"Who is this other guy who wants it?"
"That you don't need to know."
She frowned. "But if I know who it is I might be able to guess what they'll do to get it. Thieves know other thieves, you know."
"You don't need to know who it is. You just need to move faster than them. Is there anything else you think you need to know?"
She shook her head. "Will you still be in Mr. Kaimon when I finish? I don't know how to get ahold of you."
"I'll find you when the time is right. Have no worries there. If that's all, I'd like to get back to what I was doing. It simply wouldn't do to have Mark fall behind on his paperwork." He picked the pencil up again, and watched as her eyes followed it. That really was going to bother her if she had to put up with it much longer.
"You said you would tell me your name if I did this for you."
He nodded. "And you have yet to do this for me. When I get the device, I will tell you my name. You're dismissed."
Basil adjusted his tie and stared up at the building. It wasn't a particularly intimidating building, but simply knowing what was inside made him more nervous than ever before. This was definitely the biggest risk he'd taken yet, for so many reasons. If the demons found out what he was up to, he was ruined.
That's why he needed this, he reminded himself, walking up to the building. And he'd impersonated scientists before. The trick was to weird everyone out enough that they didn't want to ask questions of you. And to start off acting casual enough that they don't expect you to use big, fancy, technical terms. Then just pretend to know what everyone else is talking about, and magic happened.
He walked right up to the informational window and knocked on the glass like he was someone important. "I'm here to see Sally Sanders," he said, flashing his fake ID. "We have an appointment."