Above All, Honor
WARNING: The stories on this page are about the love between two women and may contain explicit love scenes. If you are not 21, or are offended by this type of love - do not go any further. By continuing you are consenting that you are of legal age to read further.
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"I donít want this assignment."
"You donít have a choice."
"With all due respect, sir, I am a senior agent, and I should have some say regarding my assignments."
He studied her silently. She was thinner than the last time he had seen her, and there was a new hardness in her dark eyes. She stared at him in thinly disguised challenge, the anger simmering very near the surface. The folder on his desk held her service record. It was flawless, exemplary in every way. It told the crucial facts, and none of the story. No one had ever known the whole story, and now they never would. Because she wasnít talking, and no one really wanted her to. What everyone wanted was to get on with business as usual, and it was his job to see that that happened.
"Youíve been selected by the Security committee. They think youíre the best one to head up the detail. Their decision is not negotiable."
"Itís a goddamned baby-sitting assignment. Any rookie could do it," she seethed through clenched teeth. She was skirting the edge of insubordination. She knew it, and she didnít care. There wasnít a thing anyone could do to her that could hurt her any longer. Except maybe bury her in a bullshit detail like this. She needed a field assignment -- something that would consume her energy; something that would exhaust her mind; something that would obliterate her memories.
"Is it the injury? Do they think Iím not fit for active duty?" she demanded.
"Absolutely. Iíve been released from rehab, and Iím done with the mandatory psych eval."
"Good. Iím glad to hear it. You start tomorrow. I suggest you review the available reports from the current commander before you leave for New York."
"Damn it, Stewart! You know I donít deserve this!"
"This has nothing to do with you, Agent Roberts. That will be all."
Assistant Director Stewart Carlisle watched the tall, trim agent as she turned away, stiff with rage. He had no doubt she would give her best; she always did. What he wondered was where she would put her anger.
"Booth seven is free," the firearms supervisor informed her.
She nodded, grabbing a pair of protective earmufflers as she walked through the small office to the long corridor that opened into the individual firing stations. She wore a gray tee-shirt and navy sweatpants from her two-hour workout at the gym, and the back of her shirt was still wet with sweat. The small bag she carried held her service automatic and ammunition. She looked neither right nor left as she strode rapidly toward the narrow glass enclosure.
There was a row of buttons that allowed her to set the target type and distance. She began with a medium range standard human form and fired off a clip at an easy pace, alternating between clusters in the mid-torso and head. As she rhythmically squeezed the trigger her mind slowly emptied of emotion, until all she felt was the recoil of her weapon and the measured beating of her heart. When she was no longer aware of her anger over an assignment that she perceived as an undeserved demotion, she moved the target fifty feet further away. Accuracy demanded even greater concentration, and as she began to fire in faster, tighter bursts the ever present vestiges of longing and loss began to fade. By the time she had moved the smallest target to its farthest distance, she felt absolutely nothing.
Fresh from the shower, she walked naked across the carpeted living room to the bar. The apartment was on the twenty-first floor, and the floor to ceiling windows were uncovered, exposing the night skyline of Washington, D.C. The view was breathtaking. She poured an inch of single malt scotch into a heavy crystal rock glass and leaned against the bar, staring at the city lights mingling with the stars. There had been a time when this vision had moved her with its piercing beauty. There had been many nights when she had allowed the tensions of the day to drift away into that great expanse of flickering light, feeling the world settle back into some kind of order. It was often the last thing she saw before she slipped into bed, but then she hadnít been alone.
She reached for the gray silk robe from the back of a chair as a knock sounded at the door. She had a flight to New York in five hours, and a meeting with her new team at eight a.m. She still needed to review the dossier that had been delivered by courier that evening. She didnít have much time, and she knew she wouldnít sleep.
She glanced at the clock as she crossed to the door. It was one a.m. Her visitor was punctual; she always was. She opened the door to admit a woman in her mid-thirties, casually dressed in a beige linen suit, a silk shirt open to expose the swell of her breasts, and low-heeled soft tan boots. The woman greeted her with a familiar smile, brushing her blond hair back with a long elegant hand.
"Hello. Can I get you something to drink?"
"That depends," the blond replied as she slipped her jacket off and laid it carefully across the back of a couch that faced the windows. "Are you in the mood for talking tonight?"
"I donít have much time."
"Then Iíll have that drink another time," her guest replied softly. "Sit down in front of the windows."
The woman in grey dimmed the lights as she moved around to the sofa as directed. The room was in near darkness except for the shadows etched in the moonlight. She sipped her scotch and watched the stars revolve around her. She had been here before, but not quite like this. She was barely aware of the gentle tug that loosened the belt at her waist, or the soft parting of the silk that covered her. At the first light touch of fingers against her skin, she shivered involuntarily. Eventually the strokes along her taut abdomen and up the insides of her thighs became firmer, more insistent, demanding her attention. She arched toward the woman kneeling before her in the dark, tightening almost painfully as warm lips encircled her. Slow practiced caresses of a velvet smooth tongue swept the images from her consciousness, eclipsing thought with near painful pleasure. A groan escaped her as she dropped her head back against the couch, allowing the slowly building pressure to take her outside herself, beyond thought, past memory. The pounding of her heart grew loud in her ears as her breath came in short gasps, almost sobs. She struggled to contain the exquisite, piercing throbbing in her clit, and failed. When the explosion began, ripping at her control, she slipped one hand into the soft blond hair, moaning deep in her throat. Trembling, helpless, for a few moments she was mercifully unaware.
She walked the blonde to the door, handing her a sealed envelope that rested on the table just inside the foyer.
"Iíll be away for a while. I donít know how long."
"Will I see you again?"
"I donít know."
The blonde studied the tall dark-haired stranger she had met countless times in the dark hours of the night - in this room, in elegant hotel suites - in rooms that might be anywhere, or nowhere at all. She knew virtually nothing of the other woman's life, except what she gleaned from the confessions of her body. She knew the hard, lean muscles and the angry red scar on her thigh. She knew the soft, sensitive places that left her gasping when touched. She wondered whose name she called when she came into the silence. She had never tried to find out, and she did not want to know now. Strangely, it was something else she wanted altogether. She wanted to leave something of herself.
Breaking every rule, the blonde said softly, "My name is Claire."
"Claire," the dark-eyed stranger whispered, the expression in her intense gaze unfathomable. She kissed her for the first time, a brief tender meeting of lips that spoke a greeting, or perhaps a good-bye. Then, breaking every rule, she said, "My name is Cameron."
When the door closed, leaving them to their own separate lives, the lingering memory of that kiss was all that remained between them.
At six a.m. United States Secret Service Agent Cameron Roberts boarded a small jet bound for New York City. She wore her ID badge clipped to the pocket of her dark blue gabardine suit. She carried an overnight bag with a change of clothes, and her computer. The rest of her belongings would follow on a separate flight, and would be delivered to her new apartment in the Gramercy Park Hotel later that day by some member of her team. After four hours of deep sleep, undisturbed by dreams, she felt fresh and ready to work. That she didnít like her assignment was now a moot point. She had a job to do, and that was all that mattered.
The flight was only partially full. It was Saturday morning, and only a few government employees were traveling. She took a seat across the aisle from a burly blond man with a badge that displayed FBI in bold letters. She saw him study her own badge as she sat down. Female agents were no longer rare, but she still drew attention. She was used to it.
"Investigative division?" he questioned as the plane taxied down the runway.
She nearly said 'yes', then stopped herself quickly. With a shake of her head, she replied, "Protective."
"Anybody important?" he asked curiously.
"Arenít they all?"
He couldnít tell if she was joking, so he stifled a laugh. And they said FBI agents were humorless!
She opened a laptop computer, subtly angling the screen away from him. He took the hint and opened a newspaper as she entered her password.
She entered the link to the USSS personnel division and brought up the bios on her new team. Nothing out of the ordinary. Four men and four women in addition to herself, all with more than five years experience in the field. All college educated, as were almost all agents except the rare few who came through military channels or some other unusual route. All had advanced emergency medical training, as had she, and all were expert marksman. Two of the men and one woman were married; there was one Hispanic and two black agents. She fixed a name to each face and exited the site.
Entering the protected password, she brought up the encrypted file she had downloaded last night.
Field Report, Fri 12/26, 21:30
Submitted by USSS Agent in Charge Daniel Ryan
Subject: Blair Jane Powell
Residence: 310 Gramercy Park, PH
New York City, 10021
Phone: (212) 295-0566
Marital Status: Single
Education: Washington Friends High School, Wash. D.C.
Paris Institute of Fine Arts
Business address: NA
Business Agent: Diane Bleeker
Code Name: Egret
Physical Description: WF, 5í8", 120 lbs.
Hair: Blonde, Eyes: Blue.
Distinguishing marks: 2 cm scar right eyebrow, 3cm tattoo
right posterior shoulder ( purple and blue labyris)
Medical Conditions: None
Significant relationships: (SEE ATTACHED REPORTS)
Romantic: Current - unverified
Last known - classified, FYEO file
Summary: Standard twenty-four hour rotating shift surveillance.
Subject schedule fluid, frequently unverifiable. Communication link: Team commander
only per subject request. On-person com links refused.
The file was bare bones minimum, and Cam wondered what her predecessor wasnít willing to commit to hard copy. Sheíd find out soon enough. He was meeting her at the airport for a debriefing.
She sipped her coffee and slipped the thin folder that held the Eyes Only report on Egretís last known lover from her briefcase. She read it carefully, her expression betraying nothing. According to this, until eighteen months ago, the Presidentís daughter had been having an affair with the wife of the French Ambassador. For obvious reasons, the relationship had been kept under deep cover, although rumors had floated in the security community for years about the sexual leanings of Blair Powell. Part of Camís job was to see that those rumors remained just that. Her job would be doubly hard if the subject refused to cooperate.
She wondered briefly if her appointment as commander of the security detail assigned to Ms. Powell hadnít been due to her own sexual preferences. It wasnít a matter of record, of course, but no one really believed that any one in the governmentís employ had any secrets. She had been careful, but certainly not paranoid, about her personal life. After the events of a year ago, she doubted there was much her superiors didnít know. Speculation was futile, and pointless. She knew for certain she didnít care.
She fed the file recounting the details of Blair Powellís love life into the shredder at the front of the plane as she exited.
"Sorry to transition on the run," Daniel Ryan remarked as they settled into a booth in the airport cafeteria. "I have to catch the next flight out."
"No problem," Cam replied neutrally.
"Mac Phillips, who will basically be your aide, has the apartment building plans, evac routes, and hospital info ready to review with you as soon as you arrive. Your NYPD liason is Lieutenant Marcia Landers; sheís Hostage Rescue. She usually interfaces with the police patrol division commander, Lieutenant Chuck Thayer, if Egret is travelling to some public function. Both good people. Otherwise, we cover her internally."
"Uh huh," Cam said casually. Everything he was telling her could have easily been relayed by anyone on the team. She was waiting for him to get to the point of this private meeting.
He watched her watching him. Her rep was that she was a real straight arrow, by-the-book agent. Sheíd have to be to get this post. She certainly looked the part. Her short dark hair was perfectly trimmed, neat around her ears, collar length in back; her suit was without a wrinkle, and perfectly tailored to her tight, trim build; she didnít display a hint of nerves, or anything else - assessing him with intense, piercing gray eyes. Her bio said sheíd been in the investigative unit for twelve years. Why sheíd been reassigned to the protective division was anybodyís guess. Beyond that scant information, she was a cipher. He couldnít find anyone who had inside knowledge about her, and no one had heard even a whisper that she was anything other than an obsessively dedicated agent. He met her gaze and made a decision.
"Can we talk off the record here?"
"Go ahead," Cam responded.
"Every day for the last six months I woke up wondering who I had pissed off to get this assignment," he said with a shake of his head. "Egret is practically impossible to protect because she doesnít want us around. Sheís had eleven years of practice misleading us, evading us, and generally humiliating us when it comes to surveillance. Sheís like Jeckyl and Hyde. At public functions, sheís fine - cooperative, even friendly. Privately, she does everything she can to make our job hell. She refuses to discuss her schedule with anyone except the team commander. Congratulations. Then she changes plans without telling anyone. We almost never have time to adjust vehicle placement or equipment, so we have to shadow her on foot, which in New York City is a nightmare. She absolutely refuses to wear a microphone or any other tracking device, even on direct instruction from the President." He handed her two photographs. "Then thereís this."
She studied the shots side be side. The first was a standard publicity picture, a close up of Blair Powell at the opening of the Reagan Library earlier that year. As usual, she looked poised and confidant. Her blonde hair was swept back from her face, held with a silver clasp at the base of her neck. Her makeup was understated and flawless, serving only to accentuate the natural elegance of her sculpted face and clear, smooth skin. Her designer dress highlighted her sleek form, complimenting both her athleticism and her subtle softness. She was, in a word, beautiful.
The second photo was a candid taken when the subject was unaware. It was grainy, suggesting it had been taken from a unit with a telephoto lens. The details, however, were clear. The woman in the photo wore tight faded jeans and a white cotton tank top. Her breasts, firm and well-shaped, were clearly evident beneath the thin material and unencumbered by a brassiere. The clothes displayed her long legs, sleek torso, and toned limbs with brazen explicitness. Her collar length blonde hair hung free around her face, mildly curly, looking as if she had simply run her hands through it in lieu of a comb. She wore no make-up, and didnít look like she needed any. She exuded an energy that was palpable even in the poor photo. She projected the sensuality of a jungle cat, and looked about as dangerous. She bore almost no resemblance to the contained, refined woman in the first shot.
Cam handed him the photographs silently. It was his show.
"No one in the general public recognizes her like that, and sometimes it even takes us a minute or two. In that time, she can disappear in the crowd, walk into a restaurant unnoticed, get into a cab without a fuss. Thatís why itís so easy for her to lose us. No one points a finger at her, or runs after her trying to get an autograph."
"But you and your operatives still know what she looks like," Cam pointed out. "You can find her." That was obvious, and she wondered when he would get to the real issue.
He nodded agreement. "Sure we can. Most of the time. The problem is, we also need to protect her privacy, as well as her reputation." He ignored the slight lift in Camís eyebrow at that line of bullshit. Blair Powell had no privacy. They both knew it was the Presidentís image they needed to keep untarnished. Any scandal regarding his daughter reflected on his parenting skills, and ultimately on his character.
Blowing out a breath, he cut to the chase. "Sheís a lesbian. In certain situations, if we call attention to her, thatís going to get out. She knows it, and she uses it."
"She frequents some of the gay bars. Itís hard for me to put agents in there, even when theyíre undercover. I never know when sheís going to duck into one. Plus, I donít exactly want to announce to everyone there that Blair Powell just walked in. She picks up women - women we have absolutely no way of identifying in the moment. We have no way to know where they might go, no way to put agents in place in advance. We are constantly running in second place hoping to God she doesnít get herself into trouble before we can get there."
"Is she promiscuous?" Cam asked evenly.
"She does better with women than I ever did," he remarked in frustration. "She doesnít have a steady girlfriend. I wish to hell she did. Then maybe we could keep track of her. She doesnít exactly sleep around, but she doesnít go long without sex either."
"What are you trying to tell me here, Agent Ryan?" Cameron asked, tired of skirting the edges of the issue. "In addition to the fact that we have an uncooperative, high profile subject with a very problematic lifestyle?"
"Sheís an angry animal in a cage, and youíre the new zookeeper. Sheís been trying to escape for years, and when she does, someone is going to get hurt."
Cameron inclined her head in agreement. Blair Powell had lived with constant surveillance since her father had been elected Vice President for two terms, and governor of New York before that. Now that he was a newly seated President, she had at least three more years of even closer monitoring. She was a prisoner in all but name, and Cameron doubted anyone could tolerate that for long. The political pressure to hide her sexuality must make it even worse. If she had the luxury of empathizing with the First Daughter, she would have felt deeply for her predicament. But Blair Powellís happiness was not her responsibility, and she couldnít waste time or objectivity worrying about it.
"Some one may indeed get hurt," she responded. "I intend to see that itís not her."
Continue to Part 2
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