Everyone in the know was seated at the table. The Agents, the Supervisors, the Technicians, the figure heads. They all sat, in desperate silence, staring at the device on the center of the table. Naomi was growing impatient, she didn't understand why it was taking so long, Mr.Stanley should've been at work by then. She was also irritated because she was in the last place she wanted to be, she could feel Charles stare burn into the side of her face and it was unsettling. For so long he had kept her at arms length, even when she was overt about her feelings, even when he was low and and needed an ear, he never said enough, he was like a conceited onion, shedding off layer after layer of superficial insight. Now something was different, he'd shown more than platonic care, jealousy even. Slowly his concrete facade had started to crack, and now his emotions were running away with him, and he couldn't seem to stop them. Now he chose to reveal the feelings were mutual, now when for the first time, they didn't seem to be. Of course to Mr. Charles this wasn't the case. To him Naomi was being difficult, a child stuck in her ways, he hadn't meant to fall for her, in fact he hadn't, he simply stood at the edge looking down into the depths and feeling the gravity tugging at his shoulders. He knew one day he'd regret bringing her into the fold of crime fighting, it was like a looming storm, first came the bruises of physical training, then came the cynicism of orientation, slowly her innocence had wilted, till all that was left was a crisp and deft human weapon. He would have to talk to her after the mission was over, he was certain her remaining with The Eagle wasn't in her best interest, or his.
"Well, are you sure you placed the device securely?" Asked Mr. Crawford calmly, his white goatee had gone unstroked so far, he'd spent too much time at these sort of things to be perturbed, but he was like Naomi, impatient.
" Yes sir, I'm certain, this isn't the first...." Mr. Ojo started with a hint of hurt in his voice.
"I don't question your expertise Mr. Ojo, your our most trusted field agent, if you hadn't been on the Aswani case we would've put this case in your sturdy hands, in the first place, but this is an unprecedented situation, and we must be thorough, so I'll ask again, and a Yes or No answer will suffice. Did you securely place the recording device?"
The silence returned, and with it discomfort, impatience and doubt festered.
"What kind of name is Naomi Campbell anyway?." asked Jude seething with contempt.
Jesse clipped a smile, and Mr. Stanley stirred his coffee.
"I mean, if I were an undercover agent I'd pick a less unusual name." Jesse added.
"Like Jesse Ibru?" Mr. Stanley asked picking up his coffee. He waited for a reply he knew was not forthcoming then he let the bitterness slither through his lips, this was no time for jokes.
A moment passed, to Jesse an eternity.
"So, what do we do now?" asked Jude sitting up.
"Well by now they're probably wondering what became of the device they placed in my office, let's give them something to listen to shall we?"
There was a creak, then a soft thud, someone was walking into the office. Everyone leaned forward and Naomi unraveled her legs. Mr. Stanley had only been tardy after all, the little green light on the device flickered with each sound; the tapping of feet, the rolling tires of chairs, the calm breathing, the clock ticking, it was an advanced piece of technology.
"So, you've done it once again?." came Mr.Stanley's voice from the miniature speakers.
Mr. Crawford and Mr.Charles exchanged a giddy glance.
Next came a sigh and Jude's booming voice. "It had to be done Mr. Stanley, I'm sorry. "
"Its all right."
There was a long pause, and Mr. Ojo used it to wipe the sweat dancing on the tip of his nose.
"Have you heard from him yet?" Mr. Stanley asked.
"No, but I understand his predicament, I mean it's hard enough serving as a double agent, but now he's got to deal with the fact that we're under investigation, we've gotta cut him some slack."
"Charles has been good to us , his had us covered for the past 8 years ! If his keeping quiet, I guess there's a good reason." Mr.Stanley asserted retrospectively.
Mr. Crawford looked confounded at Mr.Charles who was transitioning from an agape mouth to gnashed teeth.
"Yes Da..i mean Mr.Stanley."
There was another pause, then the shifting of a chair as someone got up to leave. The door slammed and all who listened befuddled, to the device , were treated to the sounds of shuffling paper and intermittent sniffing for the next ten minutes, it seemed they would continue like this, till Mr.Ojo sprang up from his sit like a needle had pricked him and slapped his palm against the table.
"He betrayed us!"
"You will still you're tongue!" said Mr.Crawford rising like lava in a stirring volcano. Turning to Mr.Charles he added. "You better have a good explanation for this" then returned to his sit.
Mr. Charles looked around at the people he'd had the opportunity of calling colleagues, each and everyone of them looked upon him as though he was a stranger. He knew the mess he was in, he knew clearing his name would be an herculean task, but in that moment, he felt his resolve slip away from him like an early childhood memory, his tongue dried up and he swallowed his pride down a ragged throat, and with it, his eyes crumbled to the burden of guilt. He rose slowly to his feet and left them there, and he knew, with that single act he had practically confessed to a crime he did not commit.