Conspiracy of Swords
It was with a sense of deja vu that Alex watched Teren being loaded into an ambulance. Her mind flashed back to Philadelphia, and David being wheeled to a similar vehicle. The only difference this time was that she wouldn't be feeling Teren's strong presence to comfort her.
"Where are they taking her, Gerd?"
"To a small private hospital, just outside the city. It's where we take all our injured agents."
Rather than simply calling the police, or a regular ambulance, Gerd had called his own people. They had brought an ambulance for Teren, and a small van to remove the bodies. Two men had also taken charge of guarding the tomb. The Bundeskriminalamt would be called as soon as the scene was clean.
"I can stay at the hospital with her?"
"Either that, or you can stay at the safe house next door. It's up to you."
Alex nodded. "Alright." She took a deep breath, and tried to focus on the task at hand. Turning to the German beside her, she frowned. "The leader of a church in Munich was killed, Gerd, and we have the proof that he was engaged in neo-Nazi activities. What happens now?"
Gerd folded his arms and looked at the ground. "Well, I don't know that it will necessarily be released to the general public. It would take a great deal of convincing for them to believe this."
"You mean there will be a cover up."
"Yes." He looked up at her. "Do you have a problem with this?"
Shrugging, Alex replied, "Not really. I didn't really think we'd win this round. I just wish I could have a crack at his files. Teren and I are still missing several pieces to our puzzle, and I think they might be hiding somewhere in Eisenbein's records."
The German stroked his cheek, and raised one blonde eyebrow. "I don't see why we can't allow that. I will see what I can do." She acknowledged his response with a nod, but Gerd didn't think she really heard him. Her eyes had drifted to the place where the ambulance had disappeared into the darkness.
"She'll be alright, Alex."
Alex nodded. "Right." She closed her eyes briefly, saying a silent prayer.
"Shall we go get your car?" Gerd asked.
Several minutes later they were on a major thoroughfare, heading further from the city limits. Alex just watched as the scenery flew by.
"Gerd, why were you at the cemetery?"
He hesitated, then shrugged slightly. "When you and Teren left, I spent a little time trying to confirm what you told me. I really didn't want to believe it, but I've always trusted Teren's instincts, and her information. So, I checked, and several things didn't make sense."
"So, you went to see Odbert?"
"Yes." Gerd shook his head. "I still cannot believe he is a Nazi." After a pause, he continued. "Franz Eisenbein was at the house with Jurgen. I confronted him, and Eisenbein admitted that he respected parts of Hitler's doctrine. We left at the same time, and I was angry."
"Teren said you looked furious."
He glanced at her in shock. "How did -?"
"We were in the car, hidden just down the street. Teren was watching the front of the house with binoculars." She waited a second, then said, "We thought you'd gone there to betray us."
The thick muscles on Gerd's arms flexed as he thought about that. It disturbed him, but he couldn't blame Teren. "I suppose it did look rather bad."
He nodded. "After I left Jurgen's house, I drove around for a few hours, and found myself outside of the church. Eisenbein's car was there, along with several others. I supposed they were in a meeting or something. I sat and watched the front of the building for several minutes, and just as I was about to leave, several men came from the building and jumped in the car. Franz was among them. They pulled out of the parking lot so fast they almost ran someone over. I decided to follow. They went first to Jurgen's, where they all went inside with their weapons drawn." Gerd glanced at his passenger. "I suppose you and Teren had been there?"
"Yes. By the way, you might want to send your guys to do a cleanup there as well. There were three bodies, and one disabled guard when we left."
He shook his head. "I'm not sure what we'd find if we went there now. Eisenbein left a man at the house, and the rest of them got back into the car and tore out of the driveway. I followed, and was just creeping into the cemetery when I heard the gunfire."
"I nearly shot you."
"I'm glad you didn't."
They were silent for several minutes.
"I suppose I'd better send the team to Jurgen's." Gerd picked up his phone, and dialed. "May I ask if one of the bodies was Jurgen?" His voice had grown softer.
"Yes, he was." She reached over and put a hand on his arm. "Teren didn't kill him, Gerd. He killed himself." She felt the shock register, as he tensed. Alex sighed and leaned back. "Finish your phone call, and I'll tell you what happened."
She looked back out the window as Gerd spoke quietly.
Before going to the hospital Alex had Gerd help her to move her and Teren's belongings into a room in the safe house. The only thing she took with her was her briefcase.
Gerd led her to a side entrance, and used a key code to enter. Inside, there was a man, obviously standing guard.
"Thorsten, this is Alex, Teren's new partner. Alex, Thorsten." Alex raised her eyebrows at that introduction, but shook the guard's hand. He was an imposing figure, tall and muscular, with Nordic features.
"Have you had any word?" Gerd asked.
Thorsten shook his head. "The only thing I know is that they were taking her for a CT scan." His voice was much more heavily accented than Gerd's, but Alex had no trouble understanding. "She woke briefly, several times. Twice, she cried out your name, Alex." His smile faded, and his voice lowered, "and once, she called out for Perry."
Gerd looked at the floor. "I had forgotten."
"Forgotten what?" Alex asked, bewildered.
"This is where they brought her, after Perry was killed. She was feverish, and suffering from heavy blood loss, and infection. The surgeons had to remove one of her kidneys, and for several days she slipped in and out of a coma. I was out of the country at the time, but I have heard the stories. She was constantly screaming for Perry."
Alex felt her throat close up. Blinking rapidly, she forced the tears in her eyes to stay put, rather than roll down her cheeks. She thinks she's back there. Oh, gods . . .
I need to find her. Now. "Where is she, Thorsten?"
"They should be bringing her back in just a moment or two. Her room is --"
"I didn't ask where her room is, I asked where she is." Without raising the volume of her voice, Alex still put enough power behind it to make Thorsten's eyes go wide. He took a step back, and looked at Gerd, who gave a little half smile, and a nod.
Thorsten pointed. "Down at the end of this hall, turn left. Take the second hall to the right. I believe she's in the second scan room.
With a nod, Alex headed down the hall. Gerd scrambled to keep up with her.
There was soft buzzing in Teren's ears, that kept getting louder. Slowly, she became aware of pain in her head. It was agonizing enough to make her want to just drift back into the dark, but there was some reason that she couldn't. As the buzzing grew louder, it also got clearer, until she could pick out other sounds. What started as noise turned into words, but it was the voice saying the words, that made Teren try to listen, despite the pain.
"Teren? Come on, pal, you need to wake up now. It's okay, wake up."
Her head was pounding, but she concentrated on Alex's voice, following it. She had no idea what had happened, or why she was in so much pain, but Alex wanted her to do something, and that was enough.
Although her eyelids were heavy, Teren forced them to open. Reddish hair filled her sight, and she frowned. Alex has blonde hair. She thought at first it wasn't Alex, but there was no mistaking the green eyes peering worriedly into hers. She smiled.
"Al-ex. . ." Teren couldn't fight the pounding in her head anymore. The last thing she saw, before falling asleep, was Alex's smile, and she took it with her into the dark.
Sitting back a little, Alex breathed a sigh of relief. Teren had opened her eyes, and recognized her. It was a good sign.
Gerd had left her sitting next to Teren's bedside, and gone to a meeting with his superiors. Alex knew she and Teren were probably the topic of conversation, but couldn't muster up any concern over it. All her fears right now were focused on the long form that lay on the bed beside her. Anything else would have to wait, at least until she knew Teren was going to be okay.
The doctors had given her an excellent prognosis. The bullet had creased her scalp, creating a shallow furrow along her temple, but not entering the skull. Other than stitches, a concussion, and a really bad headache, they expected her to be fine.
Just the same, Alex wasn't leaving her side. Teren was to be awakened at least once an hour for the next eight hours, and Alex wanted to be the one Teren saw each time she awoke.
She settled into a chair next to the hospital bed, close enough to touch Teren's arm. Her briefcase was on the floor between her feet. Alex's whole body felt sore, and muscles that were normally relaxed had tightened painfully from the tension. If David was there, she reflected, he'd have sent her to bed right away. But he wasn't there.
Her old partner had been shot in the chest in Philadelphia, and her current partner, whom she was feeling more than friendship for, was unconscious from a bullet to the head. Alex was in a foreign country, where she couldn't speak the language, and was currently at the mercy of the German security organization.
On top of that, she thought, I think I'm falling in love with my partner.
The enormity of the situation came crashing down on her, and covered her face with her hands.
Gerd found her in the chair, her elbows on her knees, sobbing. Not knowing what to do, and unsure his sympathy would be welcome, he backed out slowly, trying not to give his presence away.
After all, he could wait a few more hours before telling Alex his news.
It was the movement under her hand that awakened her.
Alex opened her eyes to find that she had fallen asleep in her chair. The lights had been dimmed in Teren's room, all but the one over the head of the bed. A glance at the clock told her she'd been asleep for just over an hour, and it must have been rather deep, since whoever had come in hadn't disturbed her. Reaching up with one hand she rubbed her eyes.
Her hand was still draped over Teren's arm, and the movement that awakened her was repeated, along with a soft whimper. Alex was instantly up, and peering anxiously into the face of her partner and friend.
The arm flexed again, and the eyelids fluttered. Then they lifted, and she saw the blue she was looking for.
"Hey, pal." She stroked the bangs off of Teren's forehead. "Can you talk to me? Huh?"
Teren's eyes closed, then reopened. She wrinkled her nose, and whispered, "Hospital?"
"Yeah. Gerd brought us here. You're safe, Ter."
"Gerd?" There was a little fear in the question.
"It's okay. Gerd didn't betray you. He followed Eisenbein to the cemetery, and helped us out."
Alex didn't know if Teren was really hearing her or understanding what she said, but she thought there was a softening in the blue eyes.
"You got shot, across your right temple. The doctors say it's not critical, but you'll have a bad headache."
That got a tiny smile. "Headache."
"You can go back to sleep, Ter. I'll be right here, I promise."
Teren let her eyes close, once, then twice. Alex thought she was asleep again.
She had to strain to catch the whispered reply.
Alex's eyes filled again with tears, as Teren's breathing evened out. After a moment, she leaned forward, and gently kissed Teren's cheek. Please be okay.
"Sleep well, love."
"How is she?"
Alex looked up from her reading to find Gerd in front of her. He appeared to have showered and changed, and he was carrying a thermos, and a paper bag.
"Better, I think. I haven't had any problem waking her. She says my name, and makes eye contact, then goes back to sleep."
"That's good. I always knew she had a hard head." He grinned. "Now I have proof."
They shared a smile, and Gerd pulled a second chair up.
"I brought you something to drink, and some pastries. I figured you hadn't gotten anything to eat yet, and it's almost morning."
"Thanks, Gerd. I appreciate that."
Alex watched as the German poured liquid from the thermos into a cup.
"No. Chocolate. I remembered that you said you didn't like coffee."
She smiled at him, and gratefully took the cup. "Thank you. That's very sweet of you, Gerd."
There was just a touch of red on his face, providing a counterpoint to his blonde hair. He shrugged. "It's no bother." He unrolled the paper bag as Alex sipped her drink. After moving the papers off her lap and into her open briefcase, Alex accepted a pastry wrapped in a napkin. Together, she and Gerd ate breakfast, making small talk as they did.
Gerd was pouring her a second cup of chocolate when Alex decided it was time to get serious.
"So, care to tell me what happened in your meeting earlier?" She took the cup and waited for him to look at her. "I mean, it was about Teren and me, right?"
"Well, more about the incident, really. They wanted to know what happened, and why I was in the cemetery when I'd been given orders to stay out of the case."
"What did you tell them?"
"That, because I was a member of the church, and knew both your suspects, I felt I had a duty to either confirm or disprove your suspicions. When I discovered they were accurate, I involved myself due to personal reasons, and did not request or use agency assistance, until after the incident was over."
Alex nodded, and took a sip from her beverage. "Did they buy it?"
She got a wry grin from Gerd. "Only partly. They accepted that I had personal reasons for being involved, and agreed I was right to call in a clean up team."
"But -- they said that by showing up and taking part in the shoot out, I disobeyed orders, and I'll be suspended, without pay, for the next week."
His grin widened. "Don't be. They're counting it as vacation time, and assigned me to help you and Teren with whatever you need, until you leave the country."
Alex simply stared at him, her cup halfway to her lips. After a moment she put it back down. "Are you saying we're out of trouble? At least for the moment?"
He nodded at her.
"No more disguises? No more dodging bad guys and having to look over our shoulders?"
"No. You're under our protection, now. Both of you."
Half of the tension drained out of her, and she almost dropped her cup. "Damn, that's nice to hear."
"To say the least." She put a hand to her head. "Jeez, it's been less than a week since my partner got shot." Gerd looked at her in confusion. "This is Saturday morning, right Gerd?"
"Yes. What partner, Teren?"
"No. My FBI partner, David Wu."
Gerd's eyes went wide. "FBI? I thought you were CIA." She shook her head. "But we were told you were under their protection."
Nodding, Alex took a deep breath. "Yeah, that's what Teren said, after she talked to her boss yesterday. They've decided to extend Agency protection to me."
"Because I was blamed for the shoot out in which two agents were killed, and two injured. We also lost a suspect in that shooting."
Gerd shook his head. "I don't understand. What kind of case involves both the FBI and the CIA?"
"A very complicated one." Alex sighed again, and leaned forward. "It'll be a while before I have to wake Teren again, so I might as well tell you the story."
"First off, David and I were part of a task force that was looking into these murders . . ."
A short time later, the doctor came in to check Teren. Gerd convinced Alex to move their discussion into the room next door, after the physician said he would talk with them when he was finished.
Alex was tempted to stretch out on the bed, but chose a chair instead. Gerd brought in a chair from Teren's room, and listened to the rest of Alex's story of how she and Teren had gotten from Philadelphia, to Zurich, and then on to Munich.
When she finished, she leaned back waiting for a reaction. It wasn't long in coming.
"What was that?"
"Fucking damn mess."
Gerd stood up and began pacing. Alex sat, thinking about Teren, and home, and wondering how David was doing.
The doctor came in a moment later.
"Yes? How is she?"
"Agent Mylos is going to be fine. She's gonna have one hell of a headache, but all neurological functions seem normal, and there doesn't appear to be any swelling in the brain. When I woke her, she was alert and responsive. I want to keep her here for a little while longer, watch her reactions for another day or so. But I don't see any problems."
"That's great news, Doc. Thanks."
"No problem." He chuckled. "She was alert enough to tell me I should check your arm -- something about stitches that might need to come out?"
Rolling her sleeve up, Alex blushed. In all the turmoil, she'd forgotten her own small injury.
"What stitches?" asked Gerd.
"These," she replied, pointing to the white bandage wrapped around her upper forearm.
"Bullet grazed me in the Philadelphia fight. Not a big deal." The doctor pulled over Gerd's chair and sat down to examine her arm.
He looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "Who put these in?"
"Teren. We couldn't stay at the hospital, so she grabbed a couple suture kits and stitched me up in a hotel bathroom."
"What did she use for anesthetic?"
"She didn't ." Alex shrugged. "I had a glass of wine, but that's all."
Gerd raised an eyebrow at that.
"Well, she did a very good job. I think we should leave them in one more day, but it looks like the wound is healing well. Has there been any swelling, or tenderness?"
"It was swollen the day after, but it went away. If I forget, and knock it against something, it hurts."
"Normal, on both counts," he nodded. "I'm hoping to be able to release Agent Mylos tomorrow. Before I do, remind me, and I'll remove the stitches."
"Great." She eased the bandage back over it. "I appreciate your help, Doc."
He smiled. "That's nice to hear -- unusual, though. Normally, I just patch them up, with no thanks. Then they go out and mess up my work."
"Hey," Gerd said, "that's not true."
The doctor glanced at him. "Which part?"
"We do say thanks."
Alex chuckled, and the doctor grinned. He gave them a little wave, and left.
"You do that very well," Gerd said.
"Put people at ease, and make them smile." He proved it with a grin. "No wonder you and Teren make such a good team. You're the ultimate -- how do the Americans put it? -- good cop, bad cop."
She just shook her head.
"So, Alex, don't you think you should get a nap, and maybe a shower? Teren's going to be asleep most of the day."
"I don't know that I want to leave her, yet."
Gerd sat back down, and took her hand. "She's fine, Alex. You heard what the doctor said."
"Yeah, but -- "
"No, no arguing. Teren's fine, and if she thinks I'm not taking care of you, she'll rip my balls off." That got Alex to laugh. "So, we're agreed? Good." He waved an arm at her. "Come on, I'll walk you back over to the house."
"Let me stop in and see Teren once more."
He tilted his head, considering. "Alright. But just for a moment."
Teren was still partially awake, and when she saw Alex, she smiled.
"Hey, you. How're you feelin'?"
"Like I got shot in the head."
"Wonder why." Alex brushed the bangs off Teren's forehead. "Listen, you gonna be okay if I go take a nap? Gerd here is worried."
The blonde German stepped closer to the bed, where Teren could see him. "Hello."
"I'm sorry, Gerd."
"I thought --"
Gerd held up his hand. "No. After what happened with Perry, and what I told you in that office, I'm not surprised you didn't trust me." He shrugged and put his hands in his pockets. "I'm just glad I was able to help." He smiled at her, and stepped back.
Alex leaned in. "He thinks if he doesn't take care of me, you'll rip off his testicles."
"I will," Teren deadpanned.
Alex laughed, and dropped a kiss on one pale cheek."I'll see you later this afternoon, okay?"
"Yeah. Get some rest."
Alex waited until Teren closed her eyes, and her breathing became deep, and steady. Then she kissed her cheek once more, and whispered into a soft ear.
"Love you, Teren. Sleep well."
Gerd was waiting for her at the door, and she smiled at him, glancing back once before leaving.
Continued in Chapter 33
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