Mr. Dark 5

By: Lauren Landish

"What's that?" Sophie asked, curious. I hadn't filled her in on this, but I figured we had time to discuss it later.

"Another layer to our corporation," I said simply. "Before the final steps of our plan, Marcus Smiley and Sophie Warbird make a very public departure from the city, supposedly to look at more investments overseas. We come back into the city discreetly, and take down Lynch and the Confederation. In the meantime, our local investments are put into a corporate trust, with the manager and president of Smiley Investments here in town being Tabitha Williams."

Tabby thought about it for a moment, eating the rest of her breakfast. "If you two do that, are you going to disappear again afterwards? Permanently?"

I shook my head. "Marcus Smiley and Sophie Warbird might, but there's a set of backup identities I prepared for us. It might be a bit quieter, less purple hair and flamboyant fashions, but we wouldn't disappear forever."

"More plastic surgery?" Sophie asked.

I shook my head. "No, I don't think it'll be needed. But even if we are recognized, we can still go back to the Smiley and Warbird identities. It'll just be a more low-key version." I turned my attention to Tabby. "So what do you think?"

"Hmmm," she said, pretending to consider the option even though I could read the truth in her eyes. "Good salary package?"

"I was thinking a percentage of all profits, and a low end guaranteed package," I said, "I'll trust you to draw up the contracts and stuff like that. But you'll also get a nice benefits package as well. I was thinking housing, a car, and of course other things if you can think of them."

"Can I play with your guys' guns too?" Tabby asked, grinning. "I know you have an arsenal or two around this city."

"We have four," I replied, "and no. You'll know where they are, but you don't want the heat that some of that stuff would bring down on you if the ATF ever really searched them."

"What sort of heat?" Tabby asked, smirking. The smile faded as she saw the look on my face. "No, seriously, what kind of heat?"

"Minimum of fifteen years, Federal prison," I replied. "Maximum, if they ever tie in some of those weapons to the stuff they've been used for? Life."

Tabby gulped and nodded. "Well, I've already been involved in one shootout with you guys, I guess I might as well accept it. So by keeping me out, they can see I never used them, and I'd just be able to play dumb."

"Pretty much. So, what do you think?"

Tabby looked at Sophie, then over at me. "When you're ready, I'm ready. Just give me a few weeks warning to put in my resignation at the office."

I nodded, and finished off breakfast. "Deal. Draw up the paperwork, this plan of ours isn't going to take long."

After breakfast, Tabby took a shower while Sophie and I washed up. "Sorry I didn't tell you about my plan for Tabby," I said as I used a soapy sponge on the frying pan I'd used for making my gravy. "I was going to talk to you about it today, but after finding you two last night, I didn't want to wait."

Sophie, who was drying off the plates, shook her head and kissed me on the cheek. "No, I totally understand. The only thing I would have done differently is give Tabby the option to come with us, but if you want to come back, well, that's okay too."

"She means a lot to you, doesn't she?" I said, finishing the pan and setting it to dry on the hook on the rack.

"She's like a sister to me,” Sophie said softly, in a tone that told me she cared for Tabby deeply, although it wasn’t something I didn’t already know. She's the second most important person in my life."

"Then she's the second most important person in mine too," I said simply. "If you want, we can talk to her about all three of us leaving, but if she can get by for three or four months without us again, we'll be back. Besides, if things go right, there's another reason I'll want to be back in town by then."

"Oh, what's that?" Sophie asked, putting her towel away.

I put my hand on her belly, smiling. "If things go right, Tabby can become an aunt."

* * *

William Henry Harrison High School was one of the oldest, most prestigious private high schools our entire part of the country. Graduates routinely were admitted into Ivy League universities, and sported a performing arts program that was so strong it routinely was compared to New York's LaGuardia High School. In fact, the school counted five Grammy winners among its alumni.

Getting on the grounds wasn't too hard, actually. The school used janitors that were outside contractors, one that despite claims to the contrary, used a lot of day laborers. It was pretty easy to use a bit of special effects makeup to add a scar to my cheek, some temporary hair color to turn my hair a two tone brown and blonde, and fake a contract with the day labor company that dispatched the janitors.

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