Alexander looked unamused. “Walter, you bought a lot of credit with last year, but—” he began, before Walter shook his head and sighed.
“She doesn’t work alone, she never works alone. I don’t care if she rolled some FBI agent for his badge, she has at least a couple of people with her. I guarantee it.” Walter’s eyes didn’t move off of Ashland as he spoke to his boss, and his tone continued to be in a far more commanding tone then he ever would have normally used with the man who was his superior and friend.
He could tell Alexander was watching him, weighing the current situation versus his trust for Walter. After a moment he gave a nod, and looked over to where Ashland stood waiting without worry or care. “Agent Ashland, if you could call in whatever other men you have with you, I would appreciate it.”
Ashland considered for a moment, sucking on her teeth—a habit Walter knew meant she was thinking. After a moment of consideration she shrugged and nodded. She tilted her head slightly to apparently speak in to her shirt collar, but Walter knew that she preferred to keep her microphone there and she was obviously relaying orders to her team. Once that was done she leaned against on of the building’s pillars, hands folded casually in the classic bodyguard posture—one hand grasping the other by the wrist.
Less than thirty seconds after she spoke, two men came in through the door that looked like they had responded to a casting call for physical opposites. The first one couldn’t have been more than five-foot seven, but was so broad of shoulder he almost seemed like he was wider than he was tall. He moved with an unexpected lightness, and he had buzz-cut short hair on caramel colored skin. The second one was three or four inches taller than Walter and had pale skin and dirty blond hair. Walter didn’t recognize the second newcomer, but both he and Ryan started at the sight of the first one
“Sergeant Major, it’s been a while,” Walter offered in a tone of adopted neutrality. The man was wearing a suit that had to have been custom tailored to fit his shoulders, and he gave a grin when to Walter and Ryan. Ryan didn’t take the tone of neutrality, but strode out to embrace the wide man in a hug.
“Taito, you bastard, what are you doing with this psychopath? And you got a promotion?” Ryan asked in delight. They went through the standard man-hug ritual (handshake to hug, two slaps on the back, and then out), before stepping back. Ashland only scowled slightly at being called a psychopath.
“You know how it is, brother. You do the good work, and you do it with the people you’ve got to do it with,” the wide man responded. He gave a nod to Walter. “Playing it cool, Major?” He offered with a wry grin, and a little finger salute.
“Anyone spending sufficient time with Ashland is somewhat suspect, Taito,” Walter offered, but give him a slight smile. “Who’s your friend.”
Ashland took that as an invitation to rejoin the conversation, walking forward. “Gavin Neill, formerly a Captain with the Air Force 21st Special Tactics Squadron,” she introduced the tall blond man. “Captain Neill had a distinguished career before joining the Bureau and my team,” she explained.
The three of them began walking toward the conference room Alexander had indicated. The Marshal didn’t stop them, but did turn to look at Walter with a raised eyebrow. “Well you were right. I take it you know the Sergeant Major from your army days, Walt?”
Walter and Ryan both nodded. “Sergeant Major Taito Hernandez was one of the best men and best Special Forces operators I ever met. He was a Ranger, a Green Beret sergeant, and later spent a lot of his career in Delta,” Walter explained. “He taught Ryan and I a lot when we were puppies.” At the use of that phrase, Taito gave a wolfish grin that carried him in to the conference room, along with Ashland and Neill.
Alexander paused at the door, considering both Walter and Ryan for a moment. He rested a hand on the dark wood of the conference room doorway, rubbing at the weathered room with what seemed like an equally weathered ebony finger. “You both had a much more…interesting career than any record I could get to would indicate, I take it.” He spoke it less as a question than as a statement, and one he didn’t particular expect an answer to. When neither Walter nor Ryan confirmed, he shook his head. “And now somehow it’s all rolling up in my town. Just…keep me informed of anything that could get all of us killed, if you would be so kind?”
“We’ll do our best,” Walter offered with a shake of his head. “With Ashland in town, it could be up in the air. But we’ll do our best,” he offered, looking over to Ryan. “Come on, let’s go see what kind of shit show she’s brought this time.”
“As if she’d tell us the truth,” Ryan offered cheerily as he walked in to the conference room. Walter couldn’t stop himself from sighing, but he also couldn’t disagree with the sentiment. As the rest of the involved Border PD team filed in, including Morgan and Tania, he shared a meaningful look with Morgan. After she entered he let out a deep sigh and entered, closing the door behind him.