Tangerine Fairchild's License to Kill
Originally written for the Mary Sue Challenge and published on 12/11/00.
Early morning sunlight filtered through the filmy white cloth hangings that draped Tangerine Fairchild's antique four-poster bed, waking the beautiful and wealthy young woman from a night of restful sleep. Pushing aside her luxurious down comforter, Tangerine rolled out of bed and entered the lavishly appointed bathroom just off her bedroom suite. After taking a long, hot shower, washing her pale skin till it glowed creamy pink, she wrapped herself in a sinfully soft bathrobe and blow-dried her waist-length, wavy red-orange hair.
After getting dressed, Tangerine had breakfast: fresh fruit and toast with jam. She ate in her breakfast nook, looking out over the wide lawn in front of her house that stretched out into the forest beyond. Occasionally deer ventured into the meadow, sometimes approaching the house as if they knew its gentle denizen would cause them no harm. But today only a few butterflies flitted over the pansies and marigolds planted around Tangerine's front stairs.
After breakfast, Tangerine retired to her study. She had decorated it herself, though she had no formal training but an eye for color and artfully placed detail. Impressive-looking books lined the oak shelves, a leather couch sat against one wall, and natural light from the window fell over Tangerine's shoulder as she sat at her unbelievably fantastic computer, called up Wordpad, and began to type.
The phone rang.
"Tangerine Fairchild," said the low, sultry voice on the other end of the line.
"Agent Fairchild. This is Captain Simon Banks," said Simon, grateful that he had reached the one person who might possibly crack the case even his best detectives couldn't solve. "From Cascade, Washington-- we worked together several years ago on the Packard case."
"Of course I remember you," said Tangerine, making Simon flush with pleasure he knew was irrational. Currently divorced, Simon had been a married man when he'd first met the lovely Tangerine Fairchild, and so he'd never acted on his powerful attraction to the beautiful, mysterious, strong-willed supermodel who'd renounced her career in the fashion industry to devote her life to criminal profiling. "But it's not Agent any more, it's Doctor-- I'm retired from profiling, Captain," Tangerine continued. "So I don't know why you're calling me. Unless this is a personal matter?"
Her tone was inviting, playful, and for a moment the several brutal murders plaguing his city were wiped from Simon's mind. Then he shook his head. "Sorry, Doctor Fairchild, but there's some seriously disturbing killings going on in my city-- the Mayor is breathing down my neck, and I could really use your help."
Simon knew Tangerine had a good heart; with only a little more convincing, she agreed to come to Cascade immediately and begin investigating the case. All too soon he had to hang up the phone, and then he stood up, crossing around his desk to look into the bullpen. Now came the hard part: telling the lead detective on the case, Jim Ellison, and his unofficial partner, Blair Sandburg, that an outsider would be coming in to assist them.
Hopefully Jim wouldn't feel too insulted. Simon did have full confidence in his abilities, of course, but Tangerine Fairchild had always been in another class entirely. It was just a bad time, really. Up until last week, Simon could have depended (though he never would have said so) on Blair Sandburg to smooth over any disagreements or misunderstandings that might occur.
But Jim and Blair's friendship had been visibly strained, lately, and Blair himself seemed strangely withdrawn. Something was wrong, something neither Jim or Blair seemed to know how to put right by themselves. And though he was proud to count both men as his friends, Simon didn't quite know how to deal with it either. Shaking his head, Simon left his office, heading for Jim's desk.
Jim Ellison watched Tangerine Fairchild closely as she strode regally around the grimy, puddled parking lot that was their latest crime scene. She was wearing a tailored hunter-green pantsuit. Light glinted off her charming, wire-rimmed glasses, and her magnificent hair was pulled back into a ponytail that hung down almost to her waist.
He'd had to act surprised when Simon had introduced them. But he should have known, Jim thought to himself. He should have known she'd walk back into his life one day. But when she'd walked into the bullpen, it had been a shock. He hadn't put it together before that-- Simon had only said they'd be working with a Doctor Fairchild, and Tangerine had only gone by her first name as a fashion model/super spy.
She'd given him a warning look, and shaken his hand, pretending to be meeting him for the first time. Obviously Tangerine's status as a CIA spook was still not public knowledge, and so Jim played along.
He thought back to their wild and torrid affair.
Tangerine had been under deep cover, pretending to be the fashion model she surely could have legitimately become, and Jim had been running surveillance on a Russian embassy building. The attraction had been instantaneous, animalistic. The sex had been passionate, and sweaty. And also wild. Not to mention torrid. And always heightened by the thrill of danger.
And yet now, watching Tangerine kneel by the spot where two corpses had been discovered, Jim only felt a remnant of his past wild torrid lust for the woman. All his desire-- and if he was going to be honest, all his heart-- was engaged elsewhere; with his partner, Blair Sandburg, who was at the University this morning. It wasn't like Blair to skip out on a hot case, but then, he was being really weird lately.
Perhaps he'd sensed Jim's strange new feelings and was trying to distance himself. Jim didn't really have a clue. He'd have to find a moment to talk to Tangerine later, he thought. Besides being smart and strong and a great lover... she'd always been a good listener.
Jim approached Tangerine as she stood, dusting her hands off with a thoughtful look on her strong, intelligent face.
"We're looking for a left-handed white male. Probably lives alone-- someplace he owns," she said confidently. "He's very neat, perhaps obsessively so. He has a job where he works with his hands, but doesn't have to work with people-- excuse me," she said as her watch beeped. She blinked at it, then shook her head. "Crap. I gotta go. Nice seeing you, Jim. By the way, I couldn't help observing before your partner left this morning that you seemed to be having some trouble. Here's my advice-- take it slow. Let him know you care about him as a friend. Stuff like that," she said matter-of-factly, patting Jim on the shoulder as he gaped. "Good luck, right? I'll see you later."
"Hermione!" Harry Potter said as one of his best friends came dashing down the hallway at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, her black robes flying. "I missed you on the Hogwarts Express this year," he said, smiling. "It didn't seem like the beginning of school without you on the train. Did you Apparate?"
"Oh, yes, my parents just love it now that I've got my license," Hermione said. "It's so convenient to be able to just blink in and out, you know? They didn't want me to leave until the last minute. Where's Ron?" she asked, looking around for the redheaded boy who usually completed their trio.
"I... he's in the classroom already," Harry said with a shrug, glancing towards the room where Defense Against The Dark Arts had been taught for the past four years.
"Why aren't you... oh, don't tell me you two had a fight over the summer," Hermione said, and rolled her eyes. "Boys! I can't leave you alone for a minute!"
"It wasn't a fight exactly," Harry said, then sighed as Hermione grabbed the elbow of his robe and dragged him through the door.
When it became obvious that despite her best efforts, Harry and Ron wouldn't do more than make small talk with each other, Hermione gave up, directing her attention to the front of the room. "I wonder who our new teacher is going to be?"
The clack of high-heeled leather boots in the corridor outside caused everyone to fall silent before anyone could answer, and then a tall, milk-pale woman in flowing hunter-green robes swept into the classroom. She had wavy reddish-orange hair that fell to her waist, and was gathered back from her face by two gold clasps set with rubies.
"Good morning, class," said the regal, dignified-looking woman. Striking grey-green eyes complemented by silver spectacles swept over the class appraisingly. "Welcome to fifth-level Defense Against The Dark Arts; I will be your teacher this year. My name is Professor Tangerine Fairchild; you may call me Professor or Doctor Fairchild."
Ron leaned over, cupping his hand over his mouth as if to muffle a yawn, and murmured, "How do you think she does that?"
"Do what?" Harry whispered back.
"Use semi-colons when she talks out loud." Ron replied, quietly awed.
"I don't know," said Harry, then glanced down at his book, sudden joy rising within him. Ron was speaking to him again!
Instantly he decided that he liked Professor Fairchild better than any Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher they'd ever had.
After a fascinating introductory lecture that completely won over every student, surprising them all when the bell rang to end their time together, Professor Fairchild asked Harry to stay after class.
"Harry, I don't suppose anyone's ever mentioned me," she said warmly, "but I was very good friends with your mother, Lily, before she passed away. You have her eyes."
"Thank you," was all that Harry could think of to say, but the new Professor only nodded.
"Friendship, Harry, is a very important thing," she said sincerely. "A lot of people tend to-- excuse me," she said as high-pitched trill emanated from a pocket of her robe.
Harry blinked as she fished a cellphone out of one of her deep pockets. He'd never seen a witch or a wizard who carried a cellphone before. Professor Fairchild just smiled. "Sometimes Muggle technology can be a bit more convenient than magic. Hello?" she said, then raised a finger and moved a few steps away from Harry.
"Oh, hello, Knight Kenobi! No, no, of course I have time to talk. Just-- just speak up a little, I don't think our connection is very good... You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get cellphone service to Coruscant," she said, laughing, "the roaming fees alone will kill you... Oh-- sorry-- hang on, Obi-Wan, I've got a beep... Hello?" There was a pause, and then Harry's eyes widened further as Professor Fairchild switched to fluent Japanese. "Ah, ohayo gozaimas, Hiroyuke-san!" she said, and then Harry totally lost the flow of conversation.
"Fukui-san!!" Ota gasped.
"Yes, Ota?" Fukui said.
"Since our Iron Chef's main entree unexpectedly caught fire he's been desperately trying to recoup!" Ota said quickly. "With less than fifteen minutes left to prepare a stunning dish, we see him now on his cellphone-- who could be be calling for advice?"
"I don't know, Ota," Fukui mused. "We'll have to wait and see..."
"Yeah, yeah-- right, and then you add the carrots on top," Tangerine coached. "No! Wait! Diced, not grated! Yes, that's it, you've got it... Will you be all right now, Hiroyuke-san?" Tangerine asked. "Really? You're sure? All right then, I'll talk to you later. No, no need to thank me, just let me know how the battle goes. Bye!"
With a sigh, she pressed the 'end' button and clicked her cellphone shut, then winced. "Aw, crap, I just hung up on Obi-Wan." She glanced over at Harry guiltily, then realized that luckily, she'd still been speaking in Japanese. She switched back to English apologetically. "So. Harry. Um... What was I saying?"
"Something about friendship." Harry said.
"Right! Good! You're a sharp kid, Potter," Tangerine said. "Yes. The bonds of friendship--"
Her cellphone rang again.
"Ooh," said Tangerine, "excuse me just one second... Hello? Oh, Detective Kowalski, hey. Did my record label send you that advance copy of my CD? Oh, they did, great. Did you like it... oh, that's so sweet. Oh, well, I hardly think I'm in Tori Amos' league. Oh, Ray, stop, I mean it," Tangerine said, blushing slightly. "It's just a demo... Look, did you listen to track four like I told you to? Oh, you did," she said knowingly. "Well, yes, I certainly was inspired by some real people that I know, and I think you know who I meant, too... Uh-huh? Well, then, what's the problem?"
Tangerine brought a hand up to her mouth and clicked one perfectly manicured fingernail against her teeth as she listened, nodding and making affirming noises occasionally. "Well, Ray, I think you should tell him what you just told me. Yes, I do. Look-- you know what might help? I have this beach house on the west coast and I'd love to fly you and the Constable up there, you know, as sort of thanks for helping me break that smuggling ring. No, you did too help," she said insistently. "No, I'm not just being modest, I really couldn't have done it without you-- look, I think it'd be nice for you two to get away and just talk, you know? Anytime's fine, I never really use it. E-mail me, okay? Hey, great. Talk to you later."
She hung up, then turned to Harry and squinted at him through her glasses. "Umm..."
"Friendship," Harry prompted.
"Right!" she said, pointing at him. "Harry, basically what I want to say is this." There was a quiet beeping noise. "Dammit." Tangerine fished her pager out of her pocket and checked the short message. "I gotta get this. Could be nothing, could mean trouble for the entire galaxy. But you get my point, right?" she said, putting both hands on his shoulders and gazing meaningfully into his eyes.
"Um, sure, Professor Fairchild."
"Cool," said Tangerine. She pulled off her glasses and tucked them into her pocket, then lifted her wand and Apparated, disappearing into thin air.
Obi-Wan felt much better after a long talk with with the incredibly wise and powerful Jedi Master Tanja-Ren Farchild.
The orange-golden-haired Tanja-Ren had been an old friend of Qui-Gon's when they were both Padawans, and when Qui-Gon had been near-fatally injured during the battle with the Sith warrior Darth Maul, it had been Master Tanja-Ren's fantastically advanced Jedi healing abilities that had saved his life. Now Obi-Wan was a knight, and Qui-Gon was training the boy, Anakin Skywalker, and although he knew that a Jedi must master his fears, Obi-Wan had been feeling very insecure lately.
Getting a comforting hug from Master Tanja-Ren, who practically radiated wisdom and serenity, helped. "Now, Obi-Wan, about your relationship with Qui-Gon. I've known the man for years, and the thing is, he hates change. He's very good at accepting it, at dealing with it; as a Jedi, he has to be. But that doesn't mean he has to like it. So this is what you have to do-- hang on just a second," she said, and reached for her cellphone. "Hello? Hello? Jim, is that you? Have you talked to Blair yet? Look, you have to speak up, this connection is really awful." She growled in frustration, then put her fingers lightly over the mouthpiece and spoke to Obi-Wan again.
"You have to be forceful!" she told the young Knight. "You have to let him know that this is what you want, what you both want, and this is what's gonna happen, dammit!" Tangerine's eyes went wide as she heard a sudden click from her cellphone. "Hello? Hello? Jim? Oh damn... That's not good..."
She checked her watch, then stood up, still cringing slightly. "Right, um, Obi, um... Just go with what you feel. Yeah. Whatever. Let me know how it all turns out. I gotta jet."
It was early evening in L.A., and so when Tangerine appeared outside the old mission-style hotel that currently served as the headquarters for Angel Investigations, Inc., she took a moment to change clothes, using her wand to transmogrify her green robes into a chic green silk blouse, black leather miniskirt, black stockings and green high heels. She wound her hair into a stylish topknot, stashed her wand in her handbag, and pulled out a pair of sunglasses, slipping them on before she walked into the lobby.
Tangerine's eyes widened as she took in the scene that lay before her eyes, and she rushed to the side of the afflicted girl behind the counter. "Oh, Cordy-- why didn't you call me earlier!?"
"Well, I thought it would fade, you know, after I washed it a few times..." Cordelia said, grimacing as she glanced into her hand mirror, toying with her newly darkened hair. She glanced up at Tangerine with hope. "You were, like, a fashion maven before you retired to do the crime thing-- the anti-crime thing, I mean. I just thought maybe you could--"
"Oh honey," Tangerine said sympathetically. "Of course I can help."
Appearing again on the sidewalk outside the apartment, Tangerine stood and thought for a while, then pulled out her Palm Pilot to check her appointments. A vampire in the bushes thought about lunging at her, then decided not to, noting the aura of danger and power that surrounded the mysterious woman. "Hogwarts, check, makeover, check," Tangerine mused, scrolling down. "Oh crap-- I'm late for catching the serial killer."
It was a rainy night in Cascade; Tangerine was soon soaked to the skin. Her blouse clung in all the right places and her hair stuck to her face fetchingly as she dashed through the alley towards the sounds of men yelling and gunfire. A tall, wild-eyed man with what looked like Jim Ellison's gun clutched in his left hand dashed around the corner, then skidded to a halt and pointed the gun at Tangerine.
"Come here!" the serial killer shouted, obviously thinking that a hostage might help him through this crisis.
"Okay," said Tangerine, her eyes wide with mock alarm. She stepped closer, shivering, then leaped at the man and kicked the gun out of his hand. It landed several feet away, and Tangerine circled quickly to block the killer's instinctive move towards it, her hands raised in a kung fu action pose. "I'm warning you," she said, "these are deadly weapons."
"I'll take my chances," he said, starting towards her, and then Jim stepped up from behind him, pressing his extra gun against the base of the serial killer's skull.
"Freeze," said Jim icily. He had a pretty vicious-looking black eye, the rain had plastered his hair to the side of his head, and he looked generally unhappy.
Tangerine called for backup while Jim cuffed the killer and read him his rights. Then she went to pick up Jim's gun from the puddle where it had landed, handing it to him as officers arrived on the scene and bundled the killer into the back seat of a police car.
"Gee," she said, motioning to his black eye, "he got you pretty good there."
Jim glared at her. "Greene's not the one who punched me in the face."
"He's not? Then who, um... Oh." Tangerine grimaced at Jim looked at her meaningfully. "Right. The phone thing, with the, advice, um. So sorry about that, Jim. Just a little mixup. Really. Sorry."
He glared at her for a moment more, then shrugged fatalistically. They began to walk in the rain back towards Jim's truck. "Um. Look," Tangerine said, pushing a wet lock of hair out of her face. "I have this fabulously appointed very romantic beach house that I'm not going to be using this weekend... Hmm? Hmm?" she said, nudging Jim with her elbow.
"Ow. Ow..." Jim flinched, and Tangerine pulled her elbow back again. "Yeah, well, thanks but no thanks."
"It has two bedrooms," Tangerine said, glancing up at Jim's impassive face. "One has a four-poster bed, and the other one, um-- bats got into it! Very unexpectedly! Big, ugly bats! With the... grr... and the..." she fumbled as Jim stopped walking and stared down at her.
"I promise you it never fails," Tangerine said. "And, well, look at it this way, things could hardly be worse," she said as they reached Jim's truck. Jim narrowed his eyes, wincing as he tried to squint his swollen right eye. "Ah," Tangerine laughed nervously. "Anyway, just drop me a note and I'll e-mail you all the details."
Jim nodded, then glanced over at his truck. "You need a ride someplace?"
"No, I'll be fine," said Tangerine. "I'm going home, it's been a long day." And, she added, but only to herself, I have to get up in the morning and find someplace that sells bats.
After going home, taking a long, warm shower, and having dinner, Tangerine curled up in her comfy office chair to check her e-mail. The two newest messages in her inbox were from Ray Kowalski and Jim Ellison, both gratefully accepting her generous offer of beach house vacation space. Both on the same weekend.
"Oh crap." Tangerine clicked back to the first message in the slight hope that it might say something different. It didn't. She clicked forward to the second message. It too was stubborn and stayed exactly the same.
"Crap!" said Tangerine, and then she pondered the situation for a moment.
Four gorgeous men.
One small, romantic private beach house.
One large, antique four-poster bed, remarkably like the one in Tangerine's own bedroom...
She quickly logged on to her network server and checked the tiny, unobtrusive video cameras that she'd planted in every room of the beach house and also under the eaves of the porch, overlooking the beach. They were all working perfectly.
Sighing happily, Tangerine set them all to begin recording when their motion sensors were tripped. There were definitely some perks to being a an ex-super spy, she thought.
She put her computer in energy-saving mode, turned off her pager, turned off her cellphone, and left her Palm Pilot on the desk. Pulling on peach-colored silk pajamas, Tangerine went to bed, confident in her role as a force for good in the universe, and looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Livia
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