Storm Surge

Chapter Twenty

by KatLyn

Disclaimers: See Chapter One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.

Conner watched as Alex maneuvered the Explorer through the afternoon traffic. "So, you going to tell me about this secret friend of yours?"

Alex laughed, "You should have seen your face, it was priceless."

Punching the other woman in the shoulder, Conner smirked, "Don't change the subject, spill it."

Alex reached up and rubbed the sore spot on her shoulder and smiled through her frown, "OK, OK, you don't have to get mean. It's really a long story, so for now I'll give you a summarized version."

Conner found herself being drawn into the story, as she listened to Alex recant how the two women met and of Olivia and Jennifer's relationship. Her stomach tightened into a knot when Alex spoke of Jennifer's murder, now understanding why the women seemed so close and comfortable with each other. Alex wasn't someone to bestow her trust on just anyone and the ties that bound her trust to the Olivia were much clearer now. Conner was having trouble wrapping her head around something though, and just couldn't put her finger on it. She had a strange feeling that there was some kind of inner turmoil brewing within the pilot. She shook her head to clear the thoughts and settled down to listen to the rest of Alex's story.

The ringing of Alex's cell phone startled both women and each gave a nervous laugh. Alex answered the call to hear Donald's voice. "Donald, why are you out of the hospital?"

Conner could only hear Alex's side of the conversation, but knew Donald was back at the office and hard at work.

'No, Donald, with José dead, plans have changed. What time is the Special Ops team getting in tonight?"

"OK. Meet me at my house around eight tonight. I've enlisted an old friend's help on the case and I want you to meet her."

"Yeah, I will and Donald...take it easy, OK?

Alex flipped the phone shut and turned back to Conner. "He checked himself out of the hospital and is back at the office. Damn, he's a stubborn man."

Conner smiled, but kept her thoughts to herself. Yep, Alex, and he taught you well. **************************************

They arrived at José's a little after four o'clock. Jack had posted two police officers at each exterior door, and as Alex walked towards the house, she heard Donald's voice before she saw him.

"I don't give a fuck what your orders were! This is a Federal case and I am ordering you to move your ass, now." Donald's nose was in the officers' face, as he screamed the orders.

The unaffected officer simply reached up and wiped the Donald's spittle off of his face, "Sorry sir, I have my orders."

"And just who the hell gave you the order, officer?" Donald was preparing for round two.

Alex decided to end it and save the poor officer from any more of Donalds wrath. "I did."

"Alex? Why do you have the local police guarding José's house?" Donald turned away from the officer and walked down the steps towards Alex.

"Let's just say that I don't know who I can trust anymore, Donald. I wasn't going to take the chance, so I had Jack place guards by the doors, with orders not to let anyone in or out." Alex walked by Donald and up the steps to the house. "If that's a problem for you Donald, I'm sorry, but I gave the order while you were still in the hospital."

She showed her identification to the guard who immediately stepped aside to let her enter the house. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Donald and Conner still standing on the front lawn. "Well, are you two coming in, or am I going to have to search this place by myself?"

Donald walked up the steps and into the house followed by Conner. Alex knew she had been harsh with Donald. Damn it all, the stakes were getting to high. I'm not letting friendship come in the way of doing my job.

Alex asked Conner to start with the bedroom and work her way back to the living room. As Conner made her way down the hall, Alex was left alone in the room with Donald. "Look, I'm sorry for being rough out there," she ran a hand through her already frazzled hair, "Tomorrow night is coming fast and we need a break in this case. The only thing I'm halfway sure of is the four of us - you, me, Jack, and Conner - are on the same side. I don't trust anyone else in either the police force, or the agency. I'm not taking any chances here, Donald. Too many people have already died because of this man and I'm going to put a stop to it once and for all, tomorrow night."

Donald took a long hard look at his friend and associate. He could see the evidence of the stress this case had taken on her. She no longer had that glow about her, and her eyes, well, her eyes were flat and held no emotion whatsoever. Neither agent spoke, but held each others examining look until Alex finally broke the star and moved away.

She walked into José's office and began searching through his desk. Donald followed and began searching the file cabinet across the room. For over an hour, the house was quiet as Alex and Donald poured over the files and papers in the office, and Conner searched the bedrooms.

Alex jumped when she heard Conner call out from the other end of the house. She walked down the hall, but could not find Conner anywhere. "Where are you?"

"In here. Push the clothes apart, there's a access door near the floor."

Alex looked towards the closet, as Donald walked in the room. They walked into the cramped space, followed Conner's instructions, then bent to crawl through the small door. When Alex stood up she was frozen in place as her brain tried to take in the influx of information before her.

"Holymotherofgod," was all Donald could say when he rose.

Conner looked around the small closet-like space, "Looks like a war room," she said handing Alex a sealed envelope. "I found this pinned to the wall here," Conner said pointing to the small hole in the wall.

Alex turned the envelope in her hand, as Donald came up beside her. "Careful Alex, it could be booby-trapped. Let's have the bomb guys take a look at that envelope before you open it." Donald asked Conner to make the call for the bomb squad as he and Alex slowly walked around the small room.

The room was approximately five by five feet and the walls were covered in unfinished plywood that looked new. Alex walked to the makeshift desk and looked down into the half empty coffee cup, "He was in here this morning, the creamer in the coffee hasn't spoiled yet." She turned to the walls to look at the maps and drawings. On the north wall was an aerial map of the warehouse. Next to it was a detailed floor plan of the interior of the warehouse, showing all windows, doors, and an interior suite of offices.

Alex followed the wall around to the east wall above the desk. Pinned to the center, at eye level, was a photograph of Hernandez with a black X drawn across his face. This was the first sign to Alex, since she had entered the room, that José had been on their side. Alex glanced at the papers on the desk, careful not to disturb anything until the CSI team arrived, then moved to face the South wall. There, she found a detailed list of the people involved in the Hernandez organization. She recognized many of the names and was impressed that José had not only discovered their names, but also their rank. Hernandez ran his organization much like a military installation, with officers and soldiers, each having their place within the hierarchy.

The West wall was what Alex found the most interesting. José had managed to compile a sister list to the one on the Hernandez organization. This one detailed the Sarantos family and listed the rank and status of its members. Many of the names were new on the list and Alex smiled as she remembered the one good thing that had come from the raid. The sting had resulted in many of the high-ranking members of the family being arrested. Some of the cases were still in the process of being tried, but most were being convicted and sent off to serve their lives in a Federal Prison.

Alex scanned the list and recognized only three names. She followed the wall further down finding, to her surprise, a resume' of sorts of each one of the new Sarantos members. Way to go José, Alex thought just as a pang of guilt settled in her gut. I guess you weren't the bad guy after all.

Just as she reached her starting point, Donald came back through the small passage and handed her the envelope. "The bomb squad said it's OK."

"Thanks Donald, "Alex said as she turned away and moved toward the desk.

"Umm, I'll give you a few minutes here. Let me know when you're ready for the CSI team, OK?" Donald looked at Alex and saw the guilt and regret written on her face, "Alex, just so you know, I thought the same thing, so did some others in the agency. Why he didn't share all of this information with the rest of us we'll never know, but one things for's no ones fault he's dead. He was in the wrong place..."

Alex cut Donald's words off as she raised her hand, "I know Donald. It still doesn't make it any easier to swallow. That was supposed to be me today in that car. No matter what anyone says, I will always carry that with me."

"Well, like I said, just call when you're ready for the team," Donald bent down and crawled back through the opening. Alex could hear voices beyond the wall, but they faded away as she opened the envelope and began reading the letter José had written in his own hand for her.

Dear Alex, It is Tuesday morning, three days before the expected meeting between Hernandez and Sarantos. I know someone has been following both of us for a while, but I haven't been able to figure out who it is. I hope one of us lives long enough to put this case to bed, once and for all.

If you are reading this, then you must have found my little room. It also must mean that I am either dead or probably wish I were. If you've had time to look around, I'm sure you have seen that I have been busy the last few months while you were away. Everything should be self-explanatory.

You were right you know. I did want your job. Not because I thought you were bad at yours, but because I thought I could do it better. You allowed your emotions to get between your brain and the case. You were more interested in protecting your family and friends, than finding Hernandez. I guess I was lucky in that respect. I have no family, and I don't waste my time On friends.

I guess now this all falls back into your lap. Use the information before you, and make it work this time Alex. Whoever has to die will die, just get the bastard, you probably won't get another chance.

Take care Alex, and good luck. I hope that I won't see you on this side of Hell anytime soon. José

Alex stood motionless as she read the letter again. Was José right? Of course he was. Too many people have died because of me. Alex looked around the room one more time, before bending and crawling back through the small door. Faces turned and eyes stared as she stood. Alex didn't speak to anyone, simply handed the letter to Donald and walked out the door.

Conner watched Alex leave and as she was turning to follow her, she felt Donald's hand on her arm.

"Give her a minute, okay?" He then led Conner to the corner of the room and held the letter so that they could both read José's last words.

"Son of a bitch," Conner growled when she finished reading. "How cold he say things like that to her. Of course she would protect her family and friends, who wouldn't?"

Donald just shook his head. "Conner, you would have had to know José to understand him. He was really a good guy deep down. He knew attacking Alex's integrity like this would give her the determination to do what had to be done to bring this to an end." Donald placed a hand on Conner's shoulder. "My wife tells me I'm not very observant when it comes to...ummm personal issues. Go to Alex, and get her out of here. As soon as the CSI team is finished, I'll load all this up and see you at the house around eight, OK?"

Conner stood there dumbfounded. She hadn't expected this from Donald, "Sure, OK.. Umm, well, I guess I'll see you at the house then." Conner turned and walked out of the room.

Donald watched the officer leave and silently prayed that this time, Alex would get lucky and not only get her man, but keep her lady in the process. **************************************

Alex was staring out the window and didn't seem to notice as Conner climbed in the Explorer. Conner didn't know what to say, but knew the silence was deafening. "Alex, I read the note. You are a good agent. Don't let that letter get to you."

Alex turned towards Conner, tears streaming down her face. "He's right. I was too busy with my own emotions to do my job well, and look at how many people are dead. I should have just killed them myself."

Conner grabbed Alex's arm, probably harder than she should have, but wanted to make sure Alex got her point. "You didn't kill those people Alex! Hernandez or Sarantos killed them," Conner's voice grew louder and more passionate as she continued, "As far as protecting your family and friends, well if you hadn't, then you obviously wouldn't be the person I've...fallen in love with." Conner's voice cracked as she finished her sentence in a whisper. The words shocked her as much as they did Alex and they sat quietly in the car as they both absorbed the last few words of Conner's commentary.

Conner reached for the door handle, "Ahh, slide over here and let me drive."

Alex slid to the other side of the truck, as Conner moved around to take her place in the drivers' seat. She started the engine and moved slowly through the neighborhood. She was grateful for the distraction when her cell phone rang.


"Yeah...OK...sure. No, we didn't think that was a good idea. We're meeting at Alex's tonight at eight...Yeah, I'm on my way now and I'll fax over the directions when we get there. OK, Captain...Bye." Conner hit the end button and dropped the phone to the seat. "That was the Captain." They have the preliminary report back on your car. He's going to come to your house tonight and said he would fill us all in on everything then.

Still staring out the window, Alex only nodded her head. They drove the rest of the way to Alex's, both lost in their own thoughts. Conner pulled into the drive, swinging Olivia's Explorer around to the backside of the house to park near the garage. She turned off the engine and was reaching for the door handle when she felt Alex's hand on her arm.

"Did you mean what you said back there?" Alex's head was still turned toward the window, her eyes staring out at nothing in particular.

"Of course I did, Alex. There is no way you are responsible for Feryle's death or José's. You're the best agent they have here! Don't let José and his jealous words make you believe otherwise." Alex remained silent, which frustrated Conner, making her want to take Alex by the shoulders and shake her in an attempt to get through to her. "Do you remember what you said to me, just last night, about staying focused on the next few days and not the past?"

Conner looked at Alex, but the other woman just continued to look the other way. "Well I do, and you need to take your own advice. There was no way you could have predicted Feryle or José's murder.

Conner looked at Alex again and still saw no emotion from the other woman. Feeling her anger boil to the surface, she reached over the seat, grabbed Alex's shoulder and forcefully turned her until they were facing, "I can tell you one thing though, Alex, if you keep worrying about what could have been, you'll be no use to any of us on this case. You might as well go in the house, crawl in the bed and feel sorry for yourself. I'm sorry, but I don't have the time to do that with you. I've got a murderer to catch tomorrow night, with or without your help." Conner slammed the door as she stormed from the truck and unconsciously headed for the beach. She didn't slow down until she was on the Oceanside of the dunes. She sat down and held her face in her hands, as the tears surfaced and overflowed onto her cheeks. Damn you, José. The last fucking thing you do in life is hand Alex a double edge sword. Give her the answers we've been searching for and the rip her apart until she doesn't have the strength or confidence to use the information. Well, fuck you José, you can burn in your hell.

Conner didn't know how long she had sat in the sand. Her first thought of the world, outside her mind, was the touch she felt on her shoulder. She reached up and placed her hand on top of Alex's.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

"No, Conner, you were right. I have no business looking back at things that can't be changed. I, we need to stay focused. I'm sorry I wasted so much time this afternoon feeling sorry for myself," Alex sat sown behind Conner and pulled the other woman into her arms, "You scared me when you left the truck. I thought you we're leaving...please don't leave me, not now." Alex's voice was desperate as she pleaded with Conner.

"I'm not leaving you, Alex Montgomery." Her voice was strong and reassuring to Alex. Conner then turned her head back to steal a kiss and snicker, "Even if I wanted to, I don't have a car." Alex snorted and pinched Conner on the arm, "You are so damn bad, Conner Harris. Remind me to ask the bomb squad to keep your car locked down for the next few weeks, until I can get you back in line."

Conner turned in Alex's arms and pushed her back into the sand, "Get me back in line? If I remember correctly, I'm the one who just snatched your ass back in line, Agent Montgomery," While Conner had Alex pinned in the sand she decided to take advantage of the situation, To hell with the tourists, she thought, and bent to capture her lovers lips with her own.

After a few moments of heated bliss, Conner sat back and reached out her hand to Alex, "Come on. Let's go get ready for the pow-wow." Alex took the hand offered her and together they walked into the house. **************************************

Alex grabbed a beer and started dinner after she sent Conner off to shower and change. She sat on the back deck, listening to the music flowing through the sound system, as she reflected on Conner's words to her outside of José's house earlier in the afternoon. I wonder if she even realized that she said she had fallen in love with me, she thought. Taking a long pull from her beer, she lay her head back on the cushion of the lounger and closed her eyes. She felt Conner's presence only an instant she felt her lips softly brush against her own.

"Umm, you taste like beer, got another one?" Alex reached down beside her chair and pulled another cold bottle from the bucket, and handed it to Conner, "Yep, here you go. Just what the Doc ordered after the day we've had."

"It has been a hell of a day. What time is it?" Conner asked.

"Almost seven. Olivia should be here soon." Alex jumped as Conner shot out of her chair, "Jesus, Alex I forgot to fax the directions to your house to the Captain."

"Conner, I..."

"Damn, where's a pen. God, he's gonna be pissed." Conner ran back into the house and started pulling drawers open until she found what she was looking for.

"Conner, I..." Alex leaned against the sliding door watching her lover panic.

"Damn, how could I be so stupid?" Conner was frantically drawing lines and scribbling road names on the paper. After a few moments she looked up at Alex with a wild look in her eyes, "Where's your fax machine?"

It started as a chuckle, then grew to a full blown snorting laugh as Alex held her stomach, "You should see your face, Conner. It's priceless."

"Damn Alex, the fax machine. Where the hell is it?" Conner threw up her arms in disgust.

"It' the" Alex was trying to catch her breath, as she watched Conner almost fly out of the kitchen and down the hall to the office.

Alex followed along behind, and entered the office just as Conner was about to push the send button, "He already has the directions, dear."

Conner's head flew up to meet Alex's, the question clearly in her eyes. "While you were in the shower." Alex started laughing again, "Faxed it myself," Alex started backing away when she saw the look in her lover's eyes.

Conner caught up with Alex in a few steps and pushed her playfully against the wall. "You mean to tell me," Conner bit Alex's neck, "that you stood there and let me panic," she bit the other side of Alex's neck, "when you knew the entire time, she bit Alex's chin, "that he already had the directions?"

"Ummm...yeah...yep...and uh huh. That would be correct." Alex gave Conner a sheepish smile, wrapped her arms around her neck, and then kissed her quickly on the lips.

Conner reached up and gently took hold of Alex's arms and in one quick move pinned them to the wall above her head, while sliding her leg firmly between Alex's. "You will pay dearly for that one, lover." Conner bent her head to take Alex's bottom lip between her own. She bit gently and pried Alex's lips apart with her insistent tongue. Before either realized it, their passion surged out of control as Alex's hips started rocking against Conner's thigh. Conner released Alex's hands, reaching for and pulling the shirt from the waistband of her pants. After tugging the shirt over her head, Conner quickly unhooked Alex's bra and bent to capture a hard nipple between her teeth.

"Ohmygod, Conner." Alex grabbed the back of Conner's head and pulled her closer. With her free hand, she reached out and found Conner's breast and the hard nipple that begged to be touched. Alex heard the quick intake of breath and felt Conner's wet lips suck harder on her nipple. She could feel Conner unhooking the zipper of her pants, felt a shiver as she heard the zipper being lowered, and a surge of heat as she felt Conner's hands pushing the pants off her hips. Conner stood and captured Alex's mouth in a possessive kiss, as she pulled her hand around and dove it into the wetness between Alex's legs, searching, until she found the hard shaft, already pulsing with desire.

"Ohhhh, god yes." Alex threw her head back as Conner stroked her and trailed long wet kisses down her neck, until once again finding the hard dark nipple. Alex thrust her hips to meet Conner's eager hand and felt her legs begin to shake as all of her body's energy converged inside the small hard shaft beneath Conner's fingers. Ding Dong.

"Let her wait." Conner growled as she continued to stroke Alex.

"ohgod, Conner." Alex hips were bucking, trying to force her over the edge.

Ding Dong, Ding Dong

Alex reached down and pulled Conner's hand away. Breathing heavily, she looked into her eyes, "Fuck, I can't baby."

Both women were breathing hard, and they were both bathed in a sheen of sweat. Conner put her forehead against Alex's, and nodded, "OK, OK." Taking a few more deep breaths, she stood and tucked her shirt back in her pants, "I'll...uhh...just go...get the door."

Alex smiled and lay her head back against the wall, trying to catch her breath, as Conner walked down the hall to the front foyer.

Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong

"I'm coming, I'm coming." Conner growled, as she headed towards the door.

Alex couldn't help but snicker as she slipped down the hall and into the bedroom. You wish you were, Conner Harris. Hell, I know I wish I had, Alex thought as she stepped into the cold shower.

Conner pulled the door open to greet Olivia, "Sorry, Come in."

"Damn, I was about to break the door down. What took you so long?" It was then Olivia noticed Conner's damp, flushed face. She raised her hands and laughed, "Oh Jesus, never mind. I should have known"

To Olivia's amusement, Conner blushed a deep red. She shook her head as she walked deeper into the house and sat down on the sofa. "I need a cold beer," looking up at Conner, she snickered, "and by the looks of you, I think you need something cold to, huh?"

Conner swallowed hard, and headed to the kitchen, "Umm yeah, I'll be right back." Olivia smiled and shook her head. Damn, and she's a cute one too.

Conner returned with their beers, and sat in the chair across from Olivia. "Alex will be right out, she's taking a quick shower."

Olivia took a long pull from her beer, her only reply being a single raised brow.

They sat they in the silence for a few moments, "So, how long have you known Alex?"

"Not long," Conner was beginning to sweat under the watchful eye of Alex's old friend.

"Did you know Feryle?" Olivia continued with her questions. She had already found out most of the answers in the few hours since the pair had left her office, but wanted to see how much Conner was willing to share.

"No, actually, I didn't. However, through Alex, and a few mutual friends, I feel like I have a pretty good idea who she was." Olivia was impressed with the answer Conner gave. Honest, yet not too revealing.

She stood and walked to the fireplace and looked at each picture on the mantle. Not seeing any photos of the woman sitting before her she pried a little deeper, "Do you live here with Alex?"

Conner smiled, "No. I have my own place." She didn't appreciate the interrogation, but also didn't want to cause any hard feelings between them either.

Olivia walked back towards the sofa, looking down the hall as she crossed the room, and sat down on the sofa, "So, how is Alex really doing? Is she ready for tomorrow night?"

Conner was about to let Olivia know she had had enough of the inquisition when she heard Alex walk into the room, "I'm doing fine Olivia, and yes, thanks to Conner, I'm more than ready for tomorrow night."

Olivia looked a little shocked to hear Alex's voice behind her. "Well, you haven't lost your touch at sneaking up on people, I see."

"There's a lot of things I'm finding out I haven't lost my touch at," Alex said as she quickly glanced at Conner.

Conner turned a new shade of red, Alex had yet to see, "I...ummm...think I'll go check on dinner. You two need anything?"

"I'm fine," Olivia smirked, "but it looks like you could use some cold water."

Alex snorted, and swatted Olivia on the arm. Conner gave Alex an evil look and headed off to the kitchen for some peace.

She was stirring the spaghetti sauce when she felt a pair of warm arms circle her waist, then warm wet lips nip her earlobe. "Humph, don't some in here playing nice now. I see who's side you're on."

"Come on baby, I'll make it up to you later," Alex purred in her ear.

Conner gasped as she felt Alex reach up and pinch her nipple, "Oh, I already have plans for you tonight, my dear."

"Where did you leave the twenty questions lady?"

"Play nice. She's doing the sweep of the house. With everything that's been happening, I want to make sure no ones come in a bugged the place."

The doorbell rang again and Alex pulled away, but not before she gave Conner's nipple one last pinch. Conner stood there trying to regain her composure when Jack strolled in the room.

"Harris, you're looking all domestic tonight. Trying to learn more tricks for your undercover persona?"

"Not you too. Geez, is this beat up on Conner night at the Montgomery house?" Conner smiled and shook her head. "You want a beer, or something? I think Alex has some scotch if you'd prefer that," Conner leaned in the refrigerator and pulled out a beer for herself.

Sitting down at the kitchen table, Jack leaned back and blew out a long breath, "Yeah, a scotch, neat, would be good."

Jack didn't miss the fact that Conner was familiar with the layout of Alex's kitchen as she opened the over head cabinet and pulled out the bottle of scotch. He liked Conner on a deeper level than just being her Captain. He liked her as a person as well and didn't want to see her hurt or disappointed, "So, how are you and Alex getting along?"

Conner's hand paused for just an instant over the glass when Jack asked his question, "Fine, sir. I like working with her. She's teaching me a lot."

Jack stood up and walked to stand beside Conner. She handed him the scotch and then turned back to drop the spaghetti noodles into the boiling water as he followed her over and leaned against the wall, "You know Conner, the part of this job I hate the worst are things like tomorrow night. Seeing friends and colleagues walk into a dangerous situation can sometimes make an officer second think their actions," Jack noticed Conner hesitate as she stirred the sauce. "One thing I've always had to do to keep from losing it during those times, is to remember that everyone there knows what they are walking into. Everyone knows the danger. A good officer has to keep their emotions intact and not let it get in the way of the mission," Jack reached over and stopped Conner's hand, "Can you handle that, Conner?

Conner's head shot up, and met Jack's eyes, "I...I don't know what you mean, Captain? Of...of course I can."

"Conner, don't bullshit me with the Captain stuff right now, okay? I'm talking to you as a friend right now," Glancing at the door he continued, "I've seen the way you two look at each other, Conner," Jack snorted, "I may be old, Harris, but I'm definitely not blind. OK?"

Conner smiled, and looked down into the pot of bubbling liquid, "Is it that obvious?"

"Probably only to those of us who know both of you well."

"Yeah, Donald referred to it earlier today too." Conner took the pasta off the stove and walked over to the sink to drain the noodles. Setting the pot in the sink, she turned back to Jack, "Officer Harris, asking Captain Peterson...Do you have any doubts that I can handle this?"

Jack walked over and placed his hand on Conner's shoulder, "Captain Peterson doesn't doubt you at all. I just want to make sure Officer Harris doesn't doubt herself."

"Geez, If you weren't such a big lug, I'd hug you."

"Well, this big lug just happens to like getting hugs from their favorite friends," Jack smiled down at Conner, then reached out and enfolded her in a bear hug.

"Hey, no hugging in my kitchen unless I get one too, " Alex smiled at the intimate moment between Conner and Jack, but couldn't help but tease.

Jack pulled back, then lifted Conner's chin, "Remember what I said, okay?" Turning and walking by Alex, he patted her on top of the head, "As for you. You'll get yours tomorrow night when we go out celebrating," and then he left them alone in the kitchen.

"Well, that looked like was an intense conversation?" Alex said as she moved to the sink to finish the noodles.

"Yeah, It was. Remind me and I'll tell you about it later."

"I will."

Alex finished pouring up the sauce and asked Conner to get out the plates and glasses. Soon everyone was gathered around the table eating, and discussing the plans for the next night. The Special Ops team was expected in during the night and Donald had arranged for them to be placed in several different hotels around the city. Donald filled them in on the specialties of each member and Alex was impressed with his resourcefulness.

"I'm impressed Donald. You've put together a good team and with Olivia, Conner and I leading the pack, I'd say we have the best chance we've ever had to bring these guys in."

"Well, their all yours, Alex. I've set up a meeting place for tomorrow morning at eleven. I'll give each of you a call around nine to tell you where to go," Donald held up his hands to fend off any objections, "I think we can all appreciate the need for secrecy here. Too many people have found out too many things in the past and it's just a precaution."

Everyone around the table became quiet as Donald's words registered. This was the countdown they had all been waiting and hoping for. Now that it was here, everyone began hoping they were ready.

Conner and Alex quickly cleared the table while Donald, Jack and Olivia went into the den to get acquainted. Several times, they heard Donald laugh and yell something indecipherable to Alex. She just shook her head, "Olivia is probably in there telling them about all my worst moments with the agency."

Conner dropped the towel as she headed to the door, "This, I gotta hear," and then felt Alex's hand grab her arm.

"Not a chance! You want to know something, ask me, I'll tell you the true version, not Olivia's.

"You really trust her don't you?" Conner picked up the towel and began wiping off the counter.

"With my life. We've pulled each other out of quite a few tight spots along the way." Alex smiled sadly as she put the last glass in the cabinet, "Why? Don't you trust her?"

Conner looked uncomfortable, "No, it's not that," she shrugged her shoulders, "I don't know, she just seemed very inquisitive in there tonight, while you were taking a shower."

"Yeah, I know. I heard it all," Alex smiled, and kissed Conner on the cheek, "They don't call me 'The Shadow' for nothing, you know." Alex crossed her arms over her stomach and leaned back against the counter, "Seriously though, I think she was just being protective. Except for when Feryle died, she's seen me at my most darkest times and has always taken on the 'Mom' role in our friendship. She is a good person Conner. You can trust her, I promise."

Alex and Conner rejoined the rest of the group in the living room. Donald had already pulled out the maps the CSI team had removed from José's war room, and spread them on the coffee table. He then passed each of them a folder containing the lists and other notes taken off the wall. To Alex's surprise, he had also included a copy of the note José had written to Alex.

Alex had just opened her folder when she heard Olivia start to growl, "You mean to tell me this guy was an agent? He sounds like he should be in fourth grade. What an asshole."

Conner smiled to herself when she heard Olivia's ranting. Maybe she's not half bad after all, she thought.

"Come on, Olivia. He had a right to his opinion and he did do a hell of a lot better than I ever did compiling information on this group," Alex spread her hands out over the pile of folders and maps. She noticed everyone in the group had stopped to stare at her and she smiled, "However, no one, and I mean no one, is better than 'The Shadow', and tonight, thanks to Conner, 'The Shadow' came home.

Everyone sat speechless as Alex spoke. No one really knew what to say and Alex saw the uncomfortable looks on all of their faces. Alex rubbed her hands together and smiled, "Come on guys, let's get to work here."

They spent the nest two hours looking over the maps and planning their approach. Conner suggested they move 'The Shady Lady' into the river, and use her as a means to get close to the dock and as a method of escape if things went wrong. Everyone agreed the idea was a good one, with only one comment from Jack, not to expect any rental fees for her use, which got a round of laughter from the group.

Conner got up to call and ask Benny to motor the boat to a nearby marina the next morning. As she walked into the kitchen, leaving the rest of the group to their discussion, she saw a movement outside the sliding door. She eased over to the phone, opened the phone book as a ruse and pretended to look up a number while punching the buttons on the handset. She heard Alex's cell phone ring in the other room and was glad she had guessed correctly.

"Montgomery," She could hear Alex through the handset, as well as through the doorway.

"It's me. Don't talk, just listen. I'm in the kitchen and there is someone out back. Take Olivia with you and go out the front door, split up and come around. Tell Jack to give you ten seconds and then give me the go ahead to go out the back door," Conner was smiling, and to whoever was outside, it would appear that she was having a nice chat with a friend.

"Got it. We're on our way," Alex flipped her phone shut and quickly filled the others in as she moved to the door. She grabbed her Sig from the front closet and was in the process of passing her back up to Olivia, when she saw the woman pull her own weapon from her shoulder holster.

Alex raised a brow to show her surprise. Olivia only shrugged, "I always go prepared, Alex. You know that."

The women quietly slipped out the front door, Olivia taking the right, Alex the left, as Jack and Donald sat helpless in the living room, their egos bruised, but their brains acknowledging they were too damn old for the run and gun games anymore. Jack waited the prescribed ten seconds then gave Conner her go ahead.

Alex moved against the side of the house, staying in the shadows. She peeped around the corner as she reached the back and saw a movement off the far end of the deck. She knelt down, using the shadows to her advantage as she crawled closer. She was about 15 feet from the rear side of the deck when she rose up and got the perp in her sights, just as Conner came through the sliding glass door and took a dive off the other end. Alex heard a thud, followed by a deep groan, as she shot to her feet and began running. Just as she reached the far corner Alex heard another thud, followed by a weak moan and footsteps running away from the house. As she rounded the corner, she saw Conner lying on the ground and her heart lurched. Olivia came running from the other end of the house and Alex pointed her in the direction of the footsteps, as she bent to tend to Conner.

Blood had already saturated the sleeve of her shirt. Alex quickly stripped away the cloth, made a makeshift tourniquet, then tied it above the open wound. She helped Conner to her feet and led her to the deck, into a chair."Are you okay?" Alex's eyes ran over Conner's body looking for more injuries, but found none.

"Yeah, I'm okay. I almost had him, damn it. He had a knife and got me before I knew it. I'm sorry Alex, I blew this one."

Donald and Jack had heard the commotion outside and ran out onto the deck. Seeing that Conner was fine, Donald asked about Olivia.

"She took off after the perp. He headed out into the dunes, so I don't think she'll get lucky enough to find him out there."

Alex turned back to Conner, "Come on. Let's get this wound seen to."

Olivia lay in the shadows of the dunes, watching as the four went inside and closed the door. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, punched in the numbers from memory and waited until the call was picked up on the other end.

"Yeah, let me talk to him!" she barked into the phone. "I don't give a flying fuck what he's doing, put him on! Now!" She waited until she heard the familiar voice, "Just what the fuck do you think you're doing Malcolm?...I don't give a rats ass about your concerns! You want me, then you have to trust me. Otherwise, you can go fuck yourself," she listened as Malcolm responded." Just call your cowboys off, or I'm out of here, got it...good."

She slammed the phone shut, shoving it back into her pocket, before taking off down the beach in a hard run. When she had gone about half a mile, she turned back and continued her all-out sprint back to the house.


Continue to Part 21

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