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Secret Society Part Two

Garner pulled the car over and slid out into the misty urban night, blurred like an electronic Monet print. Black pants and a wide-collar leather coat, thigh-length. Miranda stepped towards him from the diner's vaseline-on-the-lens window, beginning a wave hello then cutting it short, an edit of regret. She was in wine-colored pants, flared from the shin, a cozy cloud-cut jacket, trying to assume a casual but intent posture.
Garner smiled warmly, a relaxing expression, and gestured her into the diner.
"I thought we were just meeting here, to go..." She held the door open for him. Garner's smile shifted into teacher-to-student amusement, slightly patronizing. Miranda checked herself from pouting.
Seated at the counter, Garner ordered a coffee.
Miranda said, "I thought we were supposed to avoid caffeine."
"Different diets for different effects," he responded and she ordered coffee for herself. "Don't take off your jacket," he added, catching her in mid-motion. "We want the appearance of concealing things."
Miranda leaned forward. "Is this fieldwork?" The quiet excitement in her voice. Garner smiled again.
"Not yet. Relax."
 She didn't know whether to believe him or not. Subtly, Miranda scanned the narrow, greasy-chic restaurant, the nostalgic posters, the fashionless patrons like bruises on the culture. Garner was looking at her, his gaze still hierarchical, and she realized she was sneering.

"Don't worry," he said. "Have patience."
She sighed, sipped her coffee.
"Okay," Garner said, relenting. "Tell me about it."
Miranda shifted on the stool, the fatigue of the young and pretty clear in the angle of her neck.
"It's just..." Eyes on her coffee. "There's so much infrastructure. It's so deep and ingrained. Like we're just counting rings in the trunk of the World Tree."
"And you want to take an axe to it?"
"Don't you?"
Garner smiled again, more friendly this time. "I like you, Miranda. Not everyone does."
She rolled her eyes, acting upset. "Aw, now why did you have to add that?" He chuckled, glancing at his watch, then to the woman behind the counter, Doris by her broad pink nametag.
Doris was moving to the small tv set, broadcasting the weather channel, that was perched near the ceiling like a security camera. She reached up and pressed a button, instigating a cascade of adverts, bursts of canned laughter, news updates, stopping on a station identification.
"Pay attention," Garner said, watching the screen. Miranda straightened, surveying the scene, saw the other customers swivel to face the tv.
The show started.
"Previously on 'Crisis'." Clips from last week's episode. Truncated scenes of the lead, a beautiful young woman, breaking into an office, discovering files on a computer. Meeting with an older man, trenchcoat and briefcase, in a park. Dialogue from the man: "So you've confirmed it, then?" From her, a tight close-up: "It's beginning." Shots of the lead running down an alley pursued by a car. Trapped, eyes wide in the headlights. A figure sliding out of the driver's seat, raising a gun. Dialogue from the shadowy figure: "We can't let you continue, Natasha. There's too much at stake." From her, obviously scared but stalwart: "Killing me won't save you. There's others like me." A gunshot. Fade to black.
"Tonight on 'Crisis'."
Miranda glanced back to the patrons, to Doris, conversation stilled, mugs on the tables, rapt. The episode began and revealed that the shadowy figure had been shot by a third person. A young and handsome man stepped out from behind the car, lowering his gun. Natasha smiled and ran forward to embrace him. "Max! I thought you were dead." Max looked into her eyes with affection and some confusion. "I was." The music came in. Opening credits.
The patrons were smiling at Max's return. Doris was nodding, pleased, eyes still on the set, commenting to a regular at the counter. "I knew he'd be back."
Garner turned back to Miranda, watching her eyes, transmitting significance.
"You know this show?" he asked, voice low.
"Of course."
"The actress, who plays Natasha. And the head writer. They're both ours." He smiled a new smile. 
Miranda's eyes widened. 
"Oh. I see."