You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 27

Posted: 12 February 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Fourteen

When they’d left the briefing room, with Docherty’s enigmatic comment floating in the air, Clooney had been formally introduced to Ian Davies. The latter had been only slightly interested in the former until Docherty had casually mentioned that it was she who’d sent the package by car in the first place.

When he heard that, Davies was consumed by a fierce desire to fly Clooney up into the air as he had done with Jordan and similarly drop her. Only this time, he decided, he wouldn’t interfere with gravity’s natural processes.

Docherty could see the effort it took for Davies to control himself. He said to Davies, “the reason I’m telling you this is twofold: first off, old son, you’re going to find out sooner or later, and it’s better sooner than later, because this lady has some interesting things to tell you about how your powers work.”

Davies shot her a look of pure shock. Clooney nodded slowly.

“Secondly,” Docherty continued, “if I’m right about what’s going to happen – no, don’t ask me yet – I need you to know that no one from HMG is trying to pull a fast one on you. Whatever you hear from us will be the truth.”

Davies smiled, but said nothing.

Docherty smiled back, “Okay, not necessarily the whole truth, not all the time, but no blatant lies. And Rosemary, you’re going to hear some things tomorrow that will surprise you.”

Clooney looked incredulous. “After what I’ve been through in the past two days, you think I can still be surprised?”

Davies laughed loudly. His anger had gone as quickly as it had arrived, and the laugh was genuine. “What you’ve been through? Doctor Clooney, you don’t have any idea what it’s like to be surprised.” He took off his watch and watched it bob gently directly in front of her face for a moment before putting it back on his wrist. He looked at her, waiting for her response.

Clooney grinned at him. “OK, point taken.” She was beginning, grudgingly, to like this man.

They had been walking for several minutes and went through a door that led to an underground car park. Docherty walked over to a bay in which a blue car was parked and opened the driver’s side front door. He opened the glove box and found the gun he’d requested laying in a moulded compartment, together with a pale leather shoulder holster. He shrugged off the jacket, strapped on the holster, slid the gun into its home, and replaced his jacket over it, ignoring the wide eyes of Clooney and the ill-disguised contempt of Davies. Car keys had been next to the gun, and he picked them up, then turned to the others. “OK, get in. Davies, where are you staying tonight?”

Davies gave the address of William’s flat and was surprised when Docherty said “Lester Williams’ place? OK.” He’d memorised the addresses of all of Davies’ contacts, and then just to be safe, the addresses of anyone with whom Davies got on well within the agency. “I’m staying with you tonight, and sorry, Rosemary, but so are you.”

Docherty was a good, if fast, driver and as Clooney had previously discovered, an interesting person with whom to have a conversation. By the time they were half way to the apartment block, all three were on first name terms.

They were about five minutes from the flat when Docherty, driving marginally in excess of the posted speed limit, shot past a police vehicle and it was with a sense of disbelief that he saw blue flashing lights in the rear view mirror. For Davies, though, it was just one more ludicrous thing that had happened today. He laughed again, and suggested that they tell the police officer the truth, but one look from Docherty shut him up.

He could sort of see the point. If they told the policeman that they’d just come from Downing Street and that among the occupants of the car was an intelligence agent, an expert in mutagenic materials and the world’s first genuinely super powered being, they’d all probably spend a night in jail, on suspicion of being drunk as skunks.

Docherty pulled the car over and stepped out of the vehicle. The police car pulled in behind them and Docherty went to meet the policemen before either of them approached Clooney and Davies. As they watched Docherty showing the officers his ID, inside the blue car Clooney looked at Davies, an impish look in her eyes. “Go on, then,” she said.

“What do you mean?” asked Davies.

“You’re dying to do something, aren’t you?” she said, trying to keep a smile off of her face.

Davies grinned back at her and said nothing.

A moment later Docherty returned to the car and said to them, “It’s sorted. Let’s go.”

They drove off, Docherty expecting the police car to follow them in pulling away from the kerbside. It was with mild surprise that he noticed that the other vehicle remained stationary. But he thought no more of it as he drove out of view.

Behind him, the two policemen were wondering how the hell they were going to explain to the traffic department how all four tires had suddenly gone flat.

– o –

Once inside the apartment, Davies said that he was going to bed and promptly did so, leaving Docherty and Clooney alone in the main room. Clooney looked at the couch and offered to sleep there.

“Don’t be daft,” Docherty said. “I’ve got to stay in here because this is the only entrance and exit from the apartment; you don’t. Grab some sleep; it’ll be a busy day tomorrow.”

“I could stay here… with you,” Clooney said hesitantly.

“There’s nothing I’d rather,” said Docherty, “but not tonight, eh? Sorry, but…”

Clooney smiled at him and stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. “You’re on duty.”

“Yeah,” he replied, a crooked half smile on his face.

She smiled at him and looked at the door leading to the second bedroom. “Well, if you change your mind…” and she went to bed.

Docherty looked at the closed bedroom door for a long time before he sighed, then smiled. Moments later, his face became serious again and he walked around the apartment, checking the windows, the electric sockets, anything really to keep himself busy. His eyes lit up as he saw a small elegantly carved chess set and he placed it on the small coffee table, laying the semi-automatic next to it. OK, he thought, it’s been a while. Several hours later, Docherty was on his sixth cup of coffee and his third attempt to actually win a game as opposed to the stalemates so far when he heard steps outside the front door. He grabbed his gun and stood flattened against the wall to the side of the door, with his gun outstretched.

As the key was inserted into the lock, he saw Davies coming out of his room, a questioning look on his face. “What’s up?” Davies asked in a normal tone of voice. “I heard something…” Docherty shouldn’t have been surprised, but he was.

“Shh…” Docherty whispered and motioned to Davies to get out of view, but a second later the door opened.

Williams walked into the room and stopped in mild surprise as he saw Davies in a bathrobe, and then in shock as he felt a gun against his face. To give him due credit, all he said was “The company you’re keeping these days, Ian, eh?”

– o –

As they walked into Downing Street that afternoon, Davies was tired. That he shared that tiredness with his companions didn’t help in any way. A yawn made him wonder whether his powers required more rest than he’d needed previously. But, when he recalled how little sleep he’d had over the past few days, and balanced it against what he’d recently been through, he realised that it was purely what it appeared to be: he was unreasonably overtired. He was also irritable, something that a policeman at Number Ten had discovered when he stopped them in the corridor on a spot check and asked for identification, despite them having been through the same procedure less than five minutes earlier.

In a fit of annoyance, Davies looked at the man and the police officer suddenly found himself six feet off the ground. Docherty turned to Davies. “Put him down, Ian. Gently,” he said, a touch of irritation colouring his words as well, but the firmness of authority was unmistakeably there.

Davies did just that and smiled an apology at the officer.

Docherty sighed; he was also tired, but pleased with how the day had gone so far. After Docherty had explained to his boss, earlier, his suggestion, backed up by Clooney and by Davies’ former employers, an enormous amount of activity had taken place in the ensuing hours. Downing Street had been informed that instead of four people meeting the Prime Minister, it would be seven. Docherty thanked his lucky stars that one of the directors of Doncaster and Monkton was an ex-intelligence man, since that meant that both Williams and Monkton had been vetted previously, when Patt had joined the agency; matters progressed much quicker.

Jez Docherty had to admit, looking around the room, that if, forty-eight hours earlier, he’d have been told that he’d be working with them all, he would have either laughed, or simply resigned his commission. He leaned against the wall, desperately wanting a cigarette, but knowing he was unable to have one, and let his eyes rest upon them each.

To his mild surprise, he’d grown to like Ian Davies over the past day, although he wouldn’t admit to feeling any guilt at all about trying to blow his head clean off his shoulders immediately before meeting him. That was different; that was when he was acting under instructions to protect the nation.

He wasn’t blind to Davies’ faults. Docherty thought that Davies was unforgivably naïve about matters in general and the state of the world in particular. He’d given him a pop quiz on current affairs just after dawn and had noted that Davies had been pleasantly surprised to score four out of ten. Docherty was genuinely disappointed that the man fate had chosen to be the most powerful being on the planet hadn’t scored at least eight. On the other hand, Davies was pleasant, had a fast wit and seemed to feel a genuine obligation to use his powers responsibly. But not, he had made clear, at the whim of government. It had led to their only raised voice argument, only a few hours earlier.

The argument had been useful though, Docherty thought; it had shown that even when angry, Davies’ first reaction was not always to use his powers. The ‘not always’, as opposed to ‘never’, worried Docherty more than he’d admit.

Docherty’s eyes moved on to Clooney. Ah, he thought, and moved on. He wasn’t quite ready to deal with his feelings about her yet.

Next, he looked at his Head of Section, a man who Docherty had come to respect even more in the past few days, than previously. How he had dealt with all of what he usually had on his desk and this at the same time shook Docherty. Up until this week, he’d always wondered whether he could rise through the ranks to take on such a job. Now he was only sure that even if he could do it, he wasn’t convinced he wanted such a role.

Docherty considered the three men from Doncaster and Monkton; once he’d listened to their suggestions, he had sought and received permission to bring them along. He knew that opposites often attracted, as much in business as in personal lives, but he would never have put the three of them together in any form of business. Well, not unless he wanted the business to catastrophically fail. But incredibly, as the financial statements and reputation of the firm confirmed, the agency went from strength to strength. It was only now, watching them together, that he realised why. Despite their obvious professional respect for each other, the truth became equally plain, once you looked for it: they actually disliked each other personally. Not wholly, not completely, but enough. And the ‘agreeable tension’, as Davies had described it when Docherty mentioned this to him, seemed to work well.

His eyes moved back to Clooney. Nope, he decided, he still didn’t want to think about her. He was saved from having to do so as an impeccably dressed man in his late forties knocked on the glass door and entered the room without waiting for a reply.

“Doctor Clooney? Gentlemen? The Prime Minister will see you now.”

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

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