#fridayflash: alignment

I'm trying to make these episodes stand alone, but if you want to read them as a series, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

Geoffrey sat down on the floor cross-legged and placed his hands on his knees, palms up. "I can't say I blame you," he said, glancing up at Pepper's face before focusing on her gun again. "Just so you know, at some point in the story you're going to want to look at evidence on my phone."

"Sheila, watch the entrance and listen for activity on the lower court," said Pepper. She waited until she heard Cinnamon walk a few steps and then stop. "Geoffrey, tell us about that brief."

"My task was to fake being a buyer, in order to confirm DeBussy had the data on him," said Geoffrey. "So I made up some business cards, opened some fake contact accounts to match — just phone and e-mail, a web site, nothing too much — and took appropriate security precautions for the meet. I noticed Sheila didn't have a gun on her when she came on shift. That surprised me, since my brief definitely said DeBussy would have a security force and his own weapon."

"I was issued a cocktail-length dress," whispered Cinnamon from the edge of the elevator lobby.

"But a thigh holster —"

"Bar stool," Pepper and Cinnamon hissed together.

Geoffrey frowned, confused.

"You can't hide a thigh holster when you're sitting on a bar stool, and the brief said for her to sit at the bar," said Pepper.

Geoffrey shrugged. "All right. So I texted you the green light from the cab," nodding at Pepper, "and I went home. I was taking a break before I wrote up my report and went to bed... and that's when Doug called from the communications post."

"Because I never showed up," said Pepper.

"Because Doug is an idiot," said Geoffrey. "He found out we were all working from the hotel and decided to meet you there."

Cinnamon's gasp of disbelief was audible all the way over from the upper court safety rail.

"And look," Geoffrey continued, "he already admitted he hadn't met you before, hadn't communicated the, uh, change of plans. So if you diverted because you had a tail, Ellie, that was Doug."

"I wondered why he was so easy to lose," said Pepper.

"I would have too. Anyways, after that fun phone call I knew you weren't coming in that night. I tried to trace your phone, but I guess you remembered to turn it off when you were somewhere in Mississauga? One moment you were on the map, the next you weren't."

Pepper gave a crooked smile.

"So I did some other checks, wrote up my report, sent a memo that Doug had, well, you know, and when I checked again you still weren't back on the map, so I checked Sheila and she was pretty clearly heading back to her place. That's when I decided to go out and meet you."

"And on your phone?" said Pepper.

Geoffrey held one hand up, and used the other to slowly reach into the breast pocket of suit jacket. "The brief," he said. "Let me unlock the phone and you can read it yourself." 

Pepper waited while he did the necessaries, then took the phone from him and read the document he'd loaded. When she was done thumbing through it, she holstered her gun and did some extra actions on the phone which required two hands. She nodded and handed Geoffrey back the phone. "You understand why I did this."

"Completely," said Geoffrey, taking back the phone and easing himself off the floor. "I would have done the same. It certainly doesn't make research and communications look very good, being inconsistent like that."

"Looks worse than you think," said Pepper.

Cinnamon slid away from the railing and pressed up to them. "Looks worse than both of you think," she whispered. "People are coming, and they've already covered all the exits."

To be continued...