HE WAITED TWO MORE DAYS, spent a few nights around DC, got himself laid at the Princess Hotel. Then Kyle brought Max Siegel in from out of the cold once and for all.
It was an unbelievable thrill, driving Siegel’s newly leased BMW past the familiar guard booth and down into the Hoover Building parking garage. Every security measure in the world, and here they were, waving Mr. Most Wanted himself right into FBI headquarters.
Siegel’s ID got Kyle right up to the fifth floor. They met with him in one of the Strategic Information Operations Center (SIOC) conference rooms overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue — two reps from the Gang and Criminal Enterprise Section, one from the Directorate of Intelligence, and two assistant directors from the main and field offices in DC.
AD Patty Li seemed to be in charge of the meeting. “I know this is a stressful time, Agent Siegel, but there’s something you need to know. Your original handler, Steven Malinowski, died two days ago.”
Kyle kept up his professional composure, with just the right amount of emotion. “Oh my God. What happened to Steve?”
“Apparently he dropped dead of a heart attack in the shower at his home.”
“This is unbelievable. I was at his house yesterday. I knocked on his door.” He stopped and ran a hand over his million-dollar face — the master performer in action.
“You were right to contact us directly,” Li said. “Once you’ve made your report and received a full debriefing, I’m putting you on administrative leave —”
“No.” Kyle sat up and looked Li straight in the eye. “Excuse me, but that’s the last thing I need right now. I’m ready to go back to work.”
“You need to acclimate. Sleep in, go to a game, whatever. You’ve been someone else for years, Max. That takes a toll.”
The whole thing was like great food, great sex, and driving 120 with the headlights off all at the same time. Best of all, these Friendly But Ignorant pinheads were eating it up like free doughnuts.
“With all due respect,” he told everyone in the room, “I’d like my record to speak for itself. Give me a fitness-for-duty eval, if that’s what you need to do. Just don’t sideline me. I want to work. Trust me, it’s what I need.”
There were some open glances around the table. One of the drug-squad guys shrugged and closed the personnel file in front of him. This was Li’s call.
“I believe I’m up for SSA,” he told her, which was true. “That’s what I want.”
“Supervisory special agent? I see you haven’t lost any of your ambition.”
“I’d also like to stay right here in Washington, ultimately in the field office. I think that’s where I can do the most damage,” he said — just a touch of self-deprecation to keep them on the line.
There would be no promises today, but Kyle could tell he’d pretty much cinched it. And the field-office placement, while not strictly necessary, was a nice bit of gravy.
That facility was over in Judiciary Square, maybe a stone’s throw from the Daly Building. He and Alex could practically string up a couple of tin cans between their offices and play catch-up. How much fun would that be?
Now it was just a matter of time until they met again.