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Archive for September, 2016

26

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.

“Mr. Wilson?”

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.”

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25

Lise came to slowly, and marveled at how the pain in her head started softly, and came to creep out over her entire body.  As her vision drifted slowly into focus, and she came to fully hear sounds again, she realized that her arms and legs were bound, and she was lying on her side on a very cold slab of concrete.  The pain in her head started to radiate in waves, and she could see daylight, of a sort, drifting in through filthy windows overhead, illuminating the dust in the air.  Her mouth and throat were dry, and she suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge to cough.

From behind her, Teresa croaked “You’re finally awake.  For all the good it will do you.”

“Where are we?” Lise choked.

“A safehouse, somewhere near the border.”  Teresa said.

Lise thought she heard something…resigned…in Teresa’s voice.

“What are they going to do with us?”  Lise asked, trying to keep her voice level.

Teresa sighed.  “Well, they’re working on a way to get us across the border undetected.  When they do, I’ll face a summary hearing, and a firing squad.  They’ll use you as bait to get Cooper, then probably kill you in front of him, before executing him in away that will leave no doubt that he is well and truly dead this time.”

Although it was close to what Lise expected to hear, she still felt the sting of the description of the fate that likely awaited them both south of the border.  As she held her breath in, Teresa continued “Thankfully, Cooper is still in the hospital, so they won’t succeed in using you as bait.”

Lise tried not to shift too much upon hearing this declaration, but Teresa picked right up on her discomfort.

“No…” she rasped.  “He can’t…”

Lise sighed, and said “He would.  Rick knows he couldn’t stop him.  He was already getting up and getting around before I left.  And Agent Roy was trying to get out of bed too.”

“Damn him.  Damn him to Hell.  What is he thinking?” Teresa asked.

Lise realized that up until this moment, she never truly understood “It’s Complicated” as a relationship status.

“Still, the King will stop him.  His intelligence people have to know what he is doing.”

Lise frowned, and was glad that her back was to Teresa.  “I’m pretty sure that he and Rick have probably  figured out a way to bypass the intelligence groups.”

Teresa laughed softly, then harder.  When she regained her composure, she said “Well, if anyone knows how to get by without intelligence, it’s Rick and Cooper.”

The two women stopped talking, and listened to the wind blow through the gaps in the building’s aging walls.

Finally, as the light outside started to fade, Teresa said “Alright.  I guess we have t think of a way to prevent those two from getting killed.  I’m sure that is something we can both agree is important, Major.  I suspect that we can agree on that, even if it means we lose our own lives in the process.”

Lise rolled over on the cold concrete to look Teresa in the eye, and to assure herself that the two really were in agreement.  She was not disappointed.

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24

Lise looked over her shoulder one more time, shivering involuntarily in the cold night.

The instructions that Teresa had sent brought her to this broken down loading dock at an hour where even the drunks were sleeping it off.  She had followed a circuitous route, trying not to capture anyone’s attention.  As near as she could tell, she succeeded.  She stepped up to the dilapidated door, and knocked softly.  The door opened slightly, but she could only see darkness inside.  She heard Teresa rasp “Get in here,” so she stepped forward and let out a slight gasp as the door slammed behind her.

“I didn’t think you’d come.” Teresa said, her form obscured by darkness.

“Well, the consensus was that it is a trap.”  Lise replied softly.

A low chuckle drifted from Teresa’s darkened form.  “I’m sure he didn’t want you to come.”

Lise replied  “Actually, Colonel Gearheart was the one who tried to talk me out of it.  He left me with the distinct impression that if something happened to me, he would make the life of the person responsible short, hot, and very unpleasant.”

“Rick.” Teresa spat.  I never understood why he and Cooper are such good friends.  And if it weren’t for him, Evan might…”  Her voice trailed off in the darkness.

Lise didn’t know what to say, but she was fairly certain that anything she might say would be wrong, so she opted to let Teresa talk.

“I’m sure I must seem like quite a bitch to you, Major.  Maybe I am.  I’ve come to think that I never really appreciated my husband.  I know I never understood his kind of power, at least not until I came to see how it has endured.  I guess I would have never been satisfied with him, because it was bound to make him a magnet for all the wrong kinds of attention, and it did.  But I loved my sons…I STILL love my remaining son, but I never had the closeness with them they had with Cooper.”

Lise listened, feeling not quite surprised at these admissions, but wondering why Teresa had chosen to confide in her.

“And I would like to get something straight, Major.  I don’t like you.  I probably never will.  But I like how happy Cooper is with you.  I’ve been watching you all for a month or so now, and you are clearly a good thing for him.  Just because I left him, it doesn’t mean that I hate him, and I really am glad to see the two of you together.”

Teresa paused, and even in the dark room, Lise could see her tilt her head upward.  Lise thought she could hear the tiniest noises crossing the ceiling above them.

“Dammit!  You were followed!” Teresa hissed.  Before Lise could respond, the door crashed in and chaos, disguised as flashes, smoke, and pain followed.

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