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One of the things about first drafts is realising that a bit belongs somewhere else in the story. This should really go before part 3, mostly because I changed that bit to night time after I started it, and partly because the last line of this feeds into it quite well.
This is another info-dumpy piece as well, with possibly more Irwin lore than I’ve put in all the previous Rain & Bullets stories combined. Again, later drafts will probably prune this and feed relevant information out in smaller chunks elsewhere.
Miles’s partner in climb was called Fouzia. Fearless as she had been tackling obstacles in the gym, she became shy and self conscious when introduced to a new adult. Her father shook Peter’s hand and commented that most of the other boys didn’t like to climb with a girl, which made Miles a true gentleman. Miles’s grin was so wide his head might explode.
Irwin watched the exchange in glances up from his phone. He had done some background digging the night before, but Peter had added extra details and background. A few more names went into a spreadsheet, to be run through the many open source intelligence sites Irwin had access to, and crawled for across social media. The boring work of spycraft, and hopfully this little favour for his old boss would stay that way
His work for MI6 had primarily been data analysis, working with information gleaned by others or skimmed from the dark corners of the web. The one time Irwin had gone out in the field for MI6, he had ended up on the wrong end of a knife. It was mostly luck that meant he was alive to feel the ache of the sliced muscle in his shoulder when the nights got cold. It had been the optional training he had taken with ex-SAS men that meant his attacker was dead.
A simple sting operation in Berlin had turned into a double cross. Irwin’s survival, and the work he did from his hospital bed digging into the corruption in German intelligence, had earned him an early retirement, enemies, and a very rare dispensation to carry a firearm in the United Kingdom. It was harder to carry the Glock discreetly in warmer weather, so he was channeling Bond, and had a Walther in a holster inside his trouser waistband. It looked like he had a large and clumsy wallet and could be uncomfortable when he sat for too long. He had stopped carrying even that smaller gun, until the message from The Jedi dragged up old memories and trauma.
He had seen more action and danger since leaving the service than he had whilst in it. Almost every time, it had started with a call from Jeremy Simpson- known as ‘Jed The Jedi’ for his unnerving ability to judge the motivations and emotions of others. The pair of them had made a vow some time ago that they would use their skills to help those the intelligence services and, increasingly, the Police, didn’t seem to care about. Then they had forgotten about it when opportunities to play Robin Hood hadn’t popped up. This job fit the rough outline of their proposed crusade, but was primarily a family thing for the Jedi.
The brief was simple. Do an assessment of the risk, if any, that Peter’s estranged wife and her transphobic grandstanding presented to him and Miles. Then tighten security and teach father and son any appropriate tradecraft. That latter part should be almost too easy. What eleven year old boy wouldn’t want to play at spy?
Pete exchanged phone numbers with Fouzia’s father, Hamid, and there was talk of play dates, the other events put on by the gym, and rock climbing in a repurposed church. When Hamid and Fouzia left, Peter guided his son to the table. “This is Irwin.” he said. “He’s going to help us get settled in.”
“How?” Miles asked, sizing up the stranger.
“I know all the best value furniture shops. But I specialise in security, so I’ll be working on the burglar alarms.” Both statements were true, though Irwin had not intended to volunteer as a personal shopper.
“And making sure Mum doesn’t find us?”
“But it’s true, isn’t it? I heard what she said about me. I heard what her friends were calling you.” Miles had grasped his father’s wrist, his stance protective, bristling with anger a child shouldn’t have to feel toward a parent.
Before the silence became uncomfortable, Irwin admitted, “I can help with that, yes. I have some experience.”
“Good.” Miles couldn’t maintain the anger much longer. “Are you a Policeman, then?”
“No, but I know some Police.” Irwin’s main Police contact didn’t hate him, but was never happy about the trouble he tended to bring whenever he called her.
“A bodyguard? I know, you’re a spy.”
Irwin simply smiled. Miles grinned back. Now he knew a spy, and the excitement about that could lessen the worries about his situation.
“Right. Time to get you home. I bet you’re starving.” Peter announced.
“Can we have noodles? I really want noodles the way you do them with chicken and an egg.”
“I think we have the ingredients in.”
“Are you coming for tea Mister Irwin?” Miles asked.
“Not today. But I’ll be visiting soon. I’ve got to find out some information, and I’ve ordered some security bits and pieces.”
They went their separate ways at the main door. Peter and Miles lived within walking distance. Irwin had parked his car around the side of the building. He scanned the area, from force of habit, but nothing registered as suspicious. With luck, this would be how everything stayed.