It was a strange feeling to be asked to report to your own office.
Ryan stopped walking, turned to the windows on his left, stared at his reflection, and adjusted his suit. There was no reason to believe that his meeting with Crawford was going to go badly, but there was no harm in presenting himself well.
He adjusted his tie, his mind flicking to the few times he’d tidied Stef’s uniform. It had been an almost unconscious movement, a need to tidy a messy young woman, but the action had also been paternal – like adjusting Alexander’s school uniform.
Stef had been an abnormality, a blip in what had become a very dull life.
The twin punches of guilt and grief weren’t as bad as they had been the day before, or the day before that.
Emotional stability. A function of blue. The ability to get up and keep going, to do whatever Duty demanded, without being destroyed by emotions. It worked – and it worked well, even if it came with the subtle horror of knowing agents were never truly in control of their own emotions.
The blue had helped him through deaths before, it would help him through death again.
Ryan expelled a long breath through his nose, then walked quickly to his office.
He knocked on his office door – something he had never done before – and was called in by Crawford.
He entered, and closed the door behind him. Crawford stood behind his desk, on hand on the back of the leather chair, staring down at the street. Jane sat on the couch, a china cup of tea on the coffee table in front of her.
Ryan squared his shoulders. ‘Are you ready for me, sir?’
Crawford turned to him, and smiled. ‘Come in, Agent, please sit.’
Ryan didn’t let his surprise show – agents from central tended to refer to universally refer to him as “Director”, showing respect to the rank, even if it was an interim one. Agents who eschewed calling him “Director” were usually people who had known Reynolds. He stored the fact for later, in case it became relevant.
He sat, and gave Crawford an attentive look as the Enforcer settled himself into the comfortable leather chair.
‘Jane has been keeping me apprised,’ Crawford said, and lifted a hand to indicate the other agent. ‘So I don’t think there’s much that needs to be said to close this out. That being said, formalities need to be followed.’ Crawford folded his hands. ‘Is there anything you wish to add to the record of evidence you’ve established with Agent Jane?’
‘And you are happy with the record of evidence provided?’
Crawford stared at Ryan for a long moment, then drummed his fingers on the desk. ‘For your age and background, Ryan, you have surprisingly few faults.’
Ryan tried to keep his face neutral. ‘Th-thank you sir?’
Crawford touched the desk and some paperwork appeared. ‘I’m ready to sign this off, after I ask you one more question.’
The Enforcer grabbed the edge of Ryan’s monitor, and swivelled it, turning the image towards him.
Ryan stared, on the monitor was a feed from one of the holding areas. There was a prisoner in the corner of one of the cells – someone in civilians clothing, wearing-
No. It was impossible.
Ryan felt his heart seize.
Crawford stood and leaned towards him. ‘Are you sure you’ve got nothing to add, Agent?’
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