Slipping In Through the Backdoor
Kasie kept in touch with Michael, although they never saw each other again after that first meeting that Mac set up for her. Notes and cryptic voicemails would suffice. Until she received a voicemail with a date, time, and place. She knew it was Michael because he signed it as he always did and didn’t include the tag that let her know to actually stay away.
Curiosity piqued, she got permission from Oz, Willow, and Buffy to visit, provided she came back at a certain time and didn’t do anything like lift a few things from unsuspecting pockets. Her fingers twitched when she walked behind a woman with her purse wide open, but after clenching her fingers, Kasie stuffed her hands in her pockets and quickly walked past the woman.
The coffee shop Michael wanted to meet in was busy, mostly due to the cold weather prompting shoppers and tourists to retreat for hot beverages. He was seated in a booth in the back. He smiled when he spotted her and waved her over. There was a cup next to his on the table and she smiled back. Of course, he would remember what she liked.
Just as Kasie came up on the booth, she slowed down. There were three cups on the table and someone seated in the seat across from Michael. Because of the angle she had entered, she hadn’t seen the other occupant, but now that she was finally stopped in front of it, she didn’t try to hide the glare.
“What is she
doing here?” Kasie asked with a bite. Her fists tightened in her pockets. If there was a single person that she would contemplate using violence against, it was Jordan James.
The other woman was a thief they all knew back when they were in their teens, or well, when she was in her teens and Michael and Jordan were in their twenties. She hadn’t seen Jordan in over a decade. Last time she had, the woman was trying to kill Michael. Now, she was his wife.
Her red hair was darker than what she remembered and her face was narrower, but she looked the same, right down to the smug smile. Although she really had Jordan to thank for her name. She was the one who always called Kasie a ‘nutcase’ back before she adopted the alias.
“Beth, you remember Jaime, right?”
Kasie rolled her eyes. She forgot that they had their own new aliases now. Matthew and Jaime Jones. “I remember that she had a gun pointed at you the last time I saw her.”
“It was just business,” Jaime said, her grin widening. When Kasie sat next to Michael, her eyes narrowed, but she didn’t say anything else. “Which is all this is, by the way, so don’t get comfortable.”
Kasie was going to boast about her self-control to Oz when she got back, because she absolutely did not kick Jaime in the leg for that comment. She wished she had let Mac come with her.
“Business?” she asked Michael, ignoring Jaime for the moment. “Thanks for the coffee, by the way.”
“You’re welcome. And the business is that we were contacted about a job. A big one. It requires three people to pull it off. The payout is the nicest we’ve done in a while. You in?”
Kasie tried to keep her expression neutral, but she was horrible at it. The only way she ever won at poker was when she managed to steal cards. “I need more information. I’ve got a lot more to lose than you do.”
Jaime snorted at that, but Kasie ignored her. She did. Her foot twitched though.
Michael gave Jaime a look, but didn’t say anything. “The target is the British Museum.”
Kasie laughed so hard she snorted. “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”
Michael frowned at her. “Why not?”
“Because it’s thief-proof. You can’t steal anything from it.”
Jaime’s eyebrow rose. “Oh really? Have to tried it? And failed?”
Kasie tried to mimic the bitchy looks she had seen on the younger slayers. “Because I designed the security for it.”
That wiped the smug grin off her face. She and Michael both looked shocked. “Wait, you designed it
“For the most recent exhibits, yeah, and I suggested an overhaul for the perimeter as well.” Kasie looked between them. They were doing that weird talking with their faces things that she and Mac were starting to get good at. Now she knew why the other slayers and sometimes Oz were a bit put out when they did that. “What?”
Jaime cleared her throat. “We thought you simply were on some of the security rotations.”
“I am, but...” Kasie trailed off, realizing the implications from that statement. She felt like had been kicked to the chest, because the loss of air was strangely similar. “You already cased the museum.”
When neither of them denied it, Michael looking slightly embarrassed, she inhaled and was ready to yell at them, but announcing they were all thieves wouldn’t really be smart. So she tried to angry-whisper. “You already cased the museum, saw me, and decided that I could help you break in. Are you kidding me
“Beth,” Michael said, giving her what Mac said was a puppy dog eyes expression, “we didn’t want you involved at all, but this will help us and you’ll get your cut. A fair cut, I promise.”
“I don’t want your money!” she snapped. And stopped, shocked at herself. Michael and Jaime looked shocked as well. There was never a time when she hadn’t wanted money for any reason. But now that she was at the council, she never really had a need for it. She could still access her accounts, but hadn’t done so in a long time.
“It’s not just about the money, Beth. These people, they’re serious. And no one is going to get hurt, okay?”
Kasie shook her head. “Serious people? That’s what you’re going with? I did two jobs for Armand Janvier and refused a third. You can’t get more serious than refusing a psychotic serial killer who likes to use acid on his victims.”
Michael made a frustrated noise at the back of his throat. “Please, Beth? We’ll just do this without your help, but I would like having you on the team. And we’re only going after one item but we’ve been told to take different items to cover our tracks for a while. We can even return the items the buyer doesn’t want.”
When Jaime tried to protest, Michael silenced her with a glare and she slumped in her seat. Clearly, Jaime was planning on keeping some of the items and didn’t want to part with some of them. But the offer was helping win her over.
“What’s the item? I’m not saying yes. I just want to know the item.”
“A few swords from the newest exhibit. That’s it.”
Kasie snorted again. “Even if I didn’t help, you wouldn’t get it. That exhibit is locked down tight. The glass can’t be cut into or removed by any means except by someone keyed into the protective wards. Even the cases are fixed to the ground. Blocks of C4 or a gallon of thermite couldn’t get through. Even then, when the cases are opened, the exact time of the opening is recorded. The slayers on rotation are told to immediately lock down the exhibits if a case is opened during hours. So someone from the security office, plus all the slayers on rotation, would come for you. I trained them on what to do if someone should try to steal anything from that exhibit. It’s impossible.”
Jaime swore and leaned her head back to thump softly against the back of the booth. “We’ll have to tell him no.”
Michael sighed. “Is there no way we could get you to help? It’s just a couple of swords, Beth. We’ve been guaranteed that no one will get hurt. The person who contacted us even promised to give us a distraction. We’re going to have to try
. If we don’t, who knows what could happen to us. We don’t know the person or organization who contacted us, but if we don’t at least try....” He mimicked his wife and leaned back into the cushions of the booth. “Please? For me, Bethy?”
Kasie bit her lip. This was Michael
. He saved her life. A lot. He took her in when her foster parents didn’t want her. He made sure she survived. It was just a few swords. They would return the other objects. No one would get hurt.
Her head was starting to hurt. She leaned her elbows on the table top and gripped her hair tight in her hands, trying to relieve the pressure. What the hell was she doing? Michael needed her help but she was supposed to protect the items. But she was starting to get that itch again, the one where her hands would take what wasn’t hers even if her mind didn’t even process it.
And then there was the fact that she had planned for this. When she created the system, she also created a loophole she could use in the future. At the time, she did it for kicks, not thinking she would ever need it. It involved physical weaknesses in the building itself and a few faulty rigs in some of the cases that would go off in the days before a heist to create a proof of malfunction, so she wouldn’t get in trouble.
“I built a backdoor,” she said in a low voice, her mind made up.
When she looked up, Jaime looked hopeful. Michael sat up and turned to face her completely in the booth.
“I built a backdoor,” she repeated, “when I created the system. It’s a failsafe, but it’ll take awhile to start. For it to work, I need to know exactly what your contact wants and what he has for a distraction.”
Michael gave her a relieved smile. “You’re the best, Beth.”
She told herself that this was going to be the last time. Kasie didn’t even care if she was lying.