Rick sat watching as Cooper paced back and forth across the hospital room floor, favoring his right leg in the process.
“Dammit, she’s overdue.”
Rick shifted in his chair, understanding that there was nothing he could say at this moment to help his friend find comfort, but knowing that he had to say something.
Cooper and Rick turned to see Agent Roy standing in the doorway, teetering on a wobbly cane.
“I know what you plan to do, and I want to help. I can’t go,” Roy said, looking down at a body that he clearly could not yet rely on, “but I have a friend who wants to help.”
Rick turned to Cooper and smiled before saying “Who’da thunk it? Roy actually has a friend.”
Cooper’s lips twisted into a wry smile, and said “Quiet. A very serious guy is about to tell us about another serious guy who we should take seriously.”
Agent Roy’s poker face almost melted away for a second, and he said “I suppose I deserve that.”
Cooper’s smile faded and he looked Agent Roy squarely in the eye. “No. No, you don’t. You have the job you have because you’re serious, and you wouldn’t be good at it if you weren’t. The fact is that I owe you my life, and that is only because your sovereign deemed it worthy of that sacrifice, not because of anything I am or have done. It’s a thankless job, and if you’re lucky, you might live to retirement, and have a chance to have a life of your own before you die.”
Roy regarded Cooper for a long moment, then said “And that is why I’m going to remain on your detail. And why my friend is willing to help.”
Rick stood up and said “So who is this guy?”
Roy shifted on his cane and said “His name’s Denny. He’s ex-SAS. Not much on conversation, but the only person I’d want more to be on my side in a fight would be a ghurka.”
The question was on Cooper’s face before it escaped his lips. “Ex-SAS? I didn’t think anyone in the King’s service was “Ex” anything right now. I thought it was all hands on deck.”
It was Roy’s turn to laugh. “I said he was good. I didn’t say he had authority issues that make the Colonel over there look like a well-mannered school boy. Honestly, in different times, he’d be in prison, but the Crown would be wasting too many resources keeping him incarcerated. And if things ever got bleak, he’d be “doing the right thing” out of sheer self-interest.”
“And how would you happen to know this guy?” Rick asked.
“We’ve been friends since childhood. When I told him what was at stake, and he realized that this was something that I’d do for you if I could be an asset rather than a liability, he agreed to go in my place.”
Roy paused for a minute, looking at Cooper. “And any other time, he’d refuse to take you, because you’re a liability, but he knows nothing would keep you from going.”
Cooper nodded to Roy, saying nothing.
Roy said “I’m gonna send him in, and I’m going back to my room, because if I knew what you were planning, I’d have to report it to my superiors, who would report it to the Crown, and then we would all be clapped in irons to keep us from doing it.”
And with that, Agent Roy turned and slowly made his way down the hall.
A minute later, a tall man with brown hair and five o’clock shadow strolled silently into the room, and said “Colonel, Mr. Wilson? I’m Denny, and apparently, we’re going after a member of His Majesty’s Forces who has been kidnapped by our southern neighbors. Get your coats, we disappear now, before the Crown can act to stop us.”