Disclaimers: See Chapter
One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
Alex woke to a light tapping sound from across the room. Karen rose sleepily from the chair beside the bed and walked over, spoke quietly to the guard, then pulled the door open further to let Jack enter.
Alex watched Jack as he crossed the room. His injured arm was in a sling, and Alex noticed his face looked tired and pale. He had just come from Conner's memorial service and even though all he wanted was a very stout drink and a quiet place to think, he had promised Alex he would drop by afterwards.
Hey Jack. Alex saw the tear streaked face he tried to mask and reached her arm out towards her friend. Jack bent down allowing Alex to embrace him. He was ashamed of his weakness: even in her loss, Alex managed to draw courage and strength from deep within herself to comfort him.
Jack pulled back from the warm embrace and sat on the edge of the bed. Hey, how are you holding up?
Alex looked out the window and shrugged, I really don't know. I don't feel anything right now, except empty. You look tired, Jack. How are you? Alex looked into his eyes. They had talked a few days earlier, and Jack had told her of Conner's insistence to return to the warehouse without her vest. He had completely broken down, crying as the guilt once again consumed him. I was so concerned about getting Hernandez that I allowed her to talk me into something I would otherwise never have allowed. Alex had held him as he sobbed in her arms. Conner was a lot more to Jack than just his best detective; she had been his friend, and in a sense, like a daughter. Alex wasn't certain he would be able to recover from the loss.
I'm hanging on. We have a few leads on Seth Thomas from the other guards we brought in that night. He supposedly has a hideout down in Mexico so we're focusing all our efforts on tracing him down there. We also used Hernandez's fingerprints to make a positive ID on him. I have to hand it to Bivins, his last shot took most of Hernandez's face off. We all knew it was him, but the positive ID made me feel a lot better. Jack looked into Alex's eyes, saw nothing but an empty abyss, and wished he could make this moment easier for her. Alex had waited far too long to put an end to Hernandez. She had lost so much during this case and even knowing the man was dead wouldn't bring any happiness back into her life. Losing Feryle, and now Conner, was just too much. Jack watched as Alex wiped a single tear from her face. He walked to the window and gazed out, giving her time to regroup.
So Jack, when are you going to give me the entire story about Friday night? She had asked several times over the last couple of days, but Jack had always hesitated, telling her to focus on getting better. The excuse was wearing thin now, and she was determined to get some answers. Karen stood up and walked to the desk. Picking up her purse she turned back to Alex, I think I'll go down to the cafeteria and get a cup of coffee, give you two some time to talk.
Thanks Karen. Alex turned back to Jack, silently challenging him to try to slip away again. With a heavy sigh, Jack stood and walked to the window. Looking out into the fading light, he began detailing the events, as they had played out that night and Donald's role in the entire scheme.
Alex sat quietly and listened. So much information had been kept from her during the investigations. Information, that, had she been aware of it, would have made a difference in how she had planned and approached the raid. If Donald lived, he would certainly have a lot of explaining to do. The FBI had lost three men during the raid. Eric Quincey, David Seay and Frank Bivins. Donald and Olivia both remained in the intensive care unit barely holding their own. It would be days before either would be out of the woods, and even longer before they could be questioned and debriefed.
Jack and Alex continued talking until he noticed the fatigue in Alex's face. He said his good-byes and promised to come by the next day and give her whatever updates they had on the case. He kissed Alex lightly on the forehead and touched her cheek with a callused hand before turning and walking out the door.
For the first time since her arrival at the hospital, Alex found herself alone. She looked out through the window and thought of Conner, the happiness, although short lived, they had shared
and of the life they had promised each other. Her heart ached, and for the first time she freely let fall her tears of loss and sadness.
Karen approached the door and heard the sobbing coming from within the room. Her first instinct was to rush through the door to comfort her sister but she stopped short knowing Alex would force the tears back once again. Karen's heart broke as she heard her sister's wails and as she slowly sank to the floor beside the door, she cried her own tears of grief.
Four weeks later
Alex sat on the back deck watching the sunrise over the horizon. The high tide had recently washed the beach clean and the seagulls were gliding and dipping as they hunted for their morning meal. Most mornings Alex found herself here watching as the sun rose, sleep was once again only a distant memory for her. Between the half-empty bed and the frequent nightmares she chose instead to take several naps during the afternoon and evening, leaving the darkness of the night for her waking moments.
During the last week, she had taken several mid-night walks on the beach, often stopping to sit in the cool sand and watch the stars. She had found comfort in an old story her grandmother once told her when she had been a child. She remembered being no more than five or six, sitting on her grandmother's lap in the back yard. They would look up into the vast darkness of the sky and see the twinkling stars, and her grandmother would tell her their names. As Alex had sat watching the previous night, she chose the brightest one she could see in the darkened sky and christened it Conner.
She found herself now searching the same spot in the sky for the star, knowing that in the light of day it's twinkling light would be shining over another hemisphere--but somehow she drew comfort from just knowing it was there, somewhere. She laid her head back on the chaise lounger and was just dropping off to sleep when the shrill of the phone broke into the silence. She reached over with her good arm and looked at the caller ID noticing, once again, that it was Olivia. Alex set the phone back down on the deck and closed her eyes, trying to shut out the memory of her ex partner.
After Alex regained consciousness, Karen called Sam and told her about the shooting and Alex's condition. In less than an hour, Sam appeared in the hospital room pale and trembling. They both cried tears of sadness over losing Conner. The loss had brought the two women even closer than they had been before and Sam's daily visits were an important factor in Alex's recovery.
Sam had insisted that Alex come and stay with Kelly and her during her recovery, but Alex had held her ground determined to go back to her house after she was released from the hospital. Sam had made her usual daily visits, bringing enough food to feed a small army and they had spent many hours talking. It had been only a week ago, during a conversation about Olivia, that Sam allowed her temper to flare and in the heat of her anger had told Alex of Olivia's trip to San Diego and the resulting meeting with Feryle.
In the beginning, Alex was hurt and shocked by Feryle's betrayal. But as she thought about Olivia and her actions, she acknowledged her ex-partner was the one who deserved her disdain, not Feryle. As she sat on the deck letting the cool air flow over her body, Alex sighed and thought about their time back in Chicago. Alex was well aware of Olivia's attraction to her. Although Alex felt an attraction of her own she never reciprocated, preferring to keep their relationship as one of professional partners and friends.
However, now she realized that she should have addressed the situation with Olivia at the time, then maybe the guilt and pain Feryle lived through the last year of her life could have been avoided. Slowly she rose from the lounger, holding her shoulder as she did, and made her way back into the house. Walking into the bedroom, Alex looked at the neat attack of Conner's clothes that Sam had washed and folded. A tear crept from her eye and slid gently across her face as she eased her way into the cool, empty bed. She lay there for a long while staring at the ceiling, thinking about Conner and all they could have shared, until final drifting off into a restless sleep.
Olivia placed the phone down in its cradle and sat staring at it. She knew Alex was home from the hospital, Donald told her as much the last time she'd spoken with him on the phone. She walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a cold beer. After twisting the cap off using her shirt, Olivia walked onto the tarmac and watched as jumbo jets took off from the adjacent airport to destinations unknown to her. She momentarily thought about packing a bag, climbing in the helicopter and escaping for a while, but instinctively she knew that running would never be the answer.
Olivia sat down in the lounge chair she usually used for sunning on slow days and laid her head back, thinking about the events of the last few weeks. She had been safely tucked away during her recovery, as had been Donald and Alex. However, now that everyone was out of the hospital, she wondered if this nightmare was truly over.
Donald told her that Malcolm Hernandez was dead. Even so, Olivia knew that an organization of that size never died
and that the throne would simply be occupied by the next in line with a good possibility that their previous grudges would survive the changing of the guard. What she was having a hard time figuring out was who the new kingpin would be. Unconsciously, her hand came up to rest on the long scar along the midline of her chest and she thought about how close she had been to dying.
Olivia reflected back on her years with the FBI and all the narrow escapes she and Alex had survived. Counting in her head, she tallied up the three times she had been shot. The first by a cornered serial killer in Utah, the second by a suspect in a bank heist in Chicago, and now by Malcolm Hernandez. The first two incidents had been total surprises. This last one, however had been humiliating. She knew better than anyone what Malcolm Hernandez was capable of doing to anyone who crossed him.
She recalled Malcolm's face as being hard and cold, showing no emotion as she watched him squeeze the trigger. She knew it was a miracle she was alive, even more so that she was sitting here in the sun only four weeks later. I let my fucking guard down for just a minute, and now I'll never be able to show my face again around the Bureau. I'll never be able to live down getting shot point-blank in the chest with my gun holstered. Once again, she felt the pressing need to speak with Alex and headed back to the office. She dialed the number she had memorized and waited as the phone rang several times. She listened to Alex's low sultry voice for a moment after the answering machine picked up, then replaced the receiver one more time. Growling, she snapped a pencil in half and threw the jagged pieces across the room, then jerked up from her chair and headed to the door. Well, Alex, if I just show up on your doorstep, you'll have to talk with me.
Olivia dropped into the black sports car and sped out of the parking lot. She was driving along I-95 when she happened to glance over and notice the receiver sitting in the passenger floorboard. Smiling to herself, she pushed the accelerator a little harder and continued her journey.
Donald sat staring at the computer monitor. He could hear Catherine moving around the kitchen as she prepared dinner. He read over the words on the screen then printed the document. After tri-folding the letter, he slid it into a plain white envelope and stood from behind the desk.
Walking into the kitchen, he crept behind Catherine and placed a gentle kiss on her neck. I finally finished it. I'll be back soon, okay?
Catherine looked deeply into her husbands eyes, Are you sure this is what you want to do, Donald?
Nodding his head, a sad smile crossed his lips: It's the only thing I can do Catherine, the only right thing to do.
Pulling Donald into her arms and placing a light kiss on his lips she whispered, I'm behind you one hundred percent, whatever you decide to do. Looking away she added, Donald, I do think it's time you took care of the other matter as well, it's not fair to you or Alex to keep going this way.
I know, I just need to make sure Seth is out of the picture first. I promise you, it will be soon. Donald pulled away, picked up his keys, and walked out the door.
Catherine turned back to her dinner preparation and was deep in thought when she heard the piercing scream. Dropping the knife on the counter, she ran through the door, heart racing, then stopped short as she took in the sight before her.
Alex woke with a start and sat straight up in the bed. She took a deep cleansing breath as she wiped the sweat from her face then threw the covers back and pulled herself up, heading to the bathroom. Splashing cool water over her face, she recalled the dream that had plagued her peace and rest for weeks.
The vision unfolding within the dream was surreal as she watched, as if within another body, as Conner leapt across the warehouse. Alex massaged her side still feeling the impact of Conner's body against hers as their bodies collided. She watched as they crashed to the floor and heard her own voice cry out as she saw the bright red spot expand across Conner's shirt. She could see the paramedics kneel beside her lover
and Donald as he pulled her away. It was when the paramedics shook their heads that she always awoke, drenched in sweat and gasping for air.
She dried her face with a towel then headed back down the hall to the kitchen, knowing sleep would be impossible. Alex set the coffeepot to brew and walked into her office. Sitting down behind the desk, she flipped the switch and waited as the computer booted.
Connecting to her office computer, Alex pulled up the latest reports added to the database, reading each one carefully and pondering what Seth's next move might be. She was startled as the loud knocking on the front door echoed through the house. Easing out of her chair, Alex looked through the front window to see who was pounding on the door. Seeing Olivia's car in the driveway she eased away from the window and crept down the hallway to the foyer. Leaning against the cool wall, she listened to Olivia yelling through the door.
Alex, I know you're in there. Please, open the door. We need to talk.
Squeezing her eyes shut Alex, once again, felt the anger surging through her body. Standing there she listened as Olivia continued her pleas, then tore herself away from the door and walked back down the hallway into the bedroom, where, she sat on the side of the bed until Olivia finally gave up and drove away. Alex fell back on the bed exhausted from the unexpected intrusion and fell into another disturbing dream.
The room was cold and impersonal, the furniture obviously mass-produced. From her viewpoint in the corner of the room, Alex watched as the two naked forms on the bed moved in unison, their cries of passion sending chills throughout her body. Olivia reached down and entered the woman beneath her, and Alex heard the fevered cries as the other woman's orgasm exploded throughout her body. The only features of the other woman Alex could see were her hands as she raked her nails down Olivia's back immediately causing long red welts in their path.
After a few long moments, the two naked and sweating bodies stilled, the only sounds being heavy rasping breaths coming from the satisfied lovers. Olivia slowly pulled out of her lover and Alex heard a longing moan escape from the unseen woman beneath Olivia. She watched as the fingers that had so recently ravaged Olivia's back now gently made their way up her body and into her soft, dark hair. The woman pulled Olivia into a passionate kiss that was only broken as their need for air overtook them. She listened as the woman whispered softly into Olivia's ear, 'I love you' then began kissing her once again. The kiss continued for long moments until Olivia finally broke it and rolled onto her side, revealing the woman beneath her.
Olivia released a boisterous laugh as Alex's eyes fell on the woman beside her. Feryle laughed as she turned into her lover's arms, tucking her face into the crook of Olivia's neck. When she once again turned towards Alex, it was Conner's face now laughing with Olivia. Alex felt herself swirling in the powerful vortex as the scene continued. One moment it was Feryle's face she saw, the next Conner's. Finally, it was Alex's own cries of pain that broke her free of the horrible dream. As her heart pounded in her heaving chest, the tears began their long untethered assault upon her face.
Donald placed his gun, badge, and the envelope on the desk in front of him. Picking up the envelope, Assistant Director Albertson slowly opened it and read the letter of resignation Donald had prepared earlier in the day.
His eyes met Donald's and in a low growl, he ordered his Agent to sit. Just what the hell is this supposed to be Fairfax, some kind of escape for you?
Donald sat in the chair opposite his superior and shook his head, No, Robert, it's not an escape. Donald ran his hand over his face. Just accept it for what it is and let's get on with it, alright?
Albertson looked down at the letter in his hand and then back at Donald, I'll not accept this until the case is officially closed. One thing I have known about you your entire career, Donald, is that you're not a quitter. And I refuse to let you start now. He dropped the letter in his pending box then turned back to Donald, You want to resign, fine. Then get your ass out there and find Seth Thomas for me. Then, if you still want to throw you entire career away, I'll start the paperwork.
Donald's eyes flashed anger as he looked at his boss and friend, I can go over your head you know.
Albertson met the infuriated stare with one of his own, Yes, you could, but you won't. Now get this mess off my desk and get to work.
Donald held Albertson's eyes for a moment then, taking a long slow breath, rose and reclaimed his gun and badge before walking out the door.
AD Robert Albertson sat and watched his Agent and friend leave the office. Donald had made some serious mistakes on this case, it was true, but he refused to believe that Donald had lost the talent and passion required to be an effective Agent. He took the envelope out of his pending box and reread the letter of resignation before placing it back in the envelope. He rose, walked to the credenza across the room, and watched the letter turn into confetti as it passed through the shredder.
Driving a short distance away from the house and turning down a deserted beach access road, Olivia parked the car facing the main road and shut off the engine. Reaching over and pulling the receiver from the floorboard, she flipped the power switch on and listened as she cycled through the frequencies for each of the bugs she previously had placed in the house. Olivia didn't hear any sound from the speakers until switching to the frequency for the bug in the bedroom. Alex's gasping sobs filled the car and Olivia felt her chest tighten as she listened to the woman's ravaged cries.
Olivia sat for almost an hour listening to her ex partner and friend cry. The sobs slowly faded until she heard only soft whimpers. She was about to turn the receiver off when Alex's voice echoed through the car. 'You'll pay, Olivia. One day I'll make sure you pay for trying to take Feryle away from me. One day, you'll pay for Feryle and Conner both.' Olivia felt a wrenching chill run up her spine as the sound of Alex's voice cascaded into her ears. Even though she couldn't see her face, Olivia recognized the voice of 'The Shadow'.
Donald drove along I-95 with no destination in mind. The fresh air blowing through the window always seemed to clear his head. After driving for half an hour and looking around, he realized he was only a few miles from Alex's. Pulling the phone from his pocket, he punched in the numbers and waited.
Answering on the fourth ring, Donald could hear the fatigue and pain in Alex's voice. Hey kiddo, I was in the neighborhood and was wondering if you are up for a little company?
A sad smile crossed Alex's face, Donald, you're never accidentally in my neighborhood, but yes, come on over.
Exiting onto the JTB Expressway, Donald pushed the gas pedal a little harder as he sped towards Alex's. He knew there was a lot of explaining to do, however he was finding it very difficult to decide when, where, and how to begin. Pulling into the driveway, he took a deep breath. As he was walking up the steps of the front porch, the door swung open as Alex stood back to let him enter. Donald eased into the foyer then stood there awkwardly looking at Alex.
Alex closed the door and turned towards Donald, noticing his discomfort. Come here, you. Opening her arms and pulling Donald into a warm embrace, she kissed him on the cheek. How are you feeling?
Returning the embrace, Donald released a pent up breath. He knew he had made many mistakes in the case and wasn't quite sure how Alex would respond to him after she had a chance to think things through. I'm doing good. How about you?
Pulling away and looking at Donald, Alex shrugged, I
I don't really know. One minute I'm fine, the next
well not so good. Taking Donald's hand, Alex pulled him towards the kitchen. Let's sit on the deck and have a beer.
After the day I've had, a beer sounds good.
Alex pulled two beers from the refrigerator then opening the sliding glass door, led Donald onto the deck. They sat for a few minutes watching the beachcombers and letting the beer do it's magic. Donald was the first to break the silence. Alex, I know I made a lot of mistakes on this
Alex interrupted Donald before he could finish. Donald, we all make mistakes. You did what you thought was best under the circumstances. On some things you weren't given a choice, I know that. I also know that you would never intentionally put me, or Conner, in harm's way. Feeling tears brim her eyes, Alex self-consciously looked away.
Donald let Alex regain her composure before leaning over and taking her hands in his. I love you, Alex. It kills me to see you this way. What can I do to make it better?
A single tear streaked down Alex's face as she looked back at Donald. I wish it were that easy Donald, but it's not humanly possible for me to have what I need.
Donald kneeled in front of Alex and pulled her into his arms. Alex, anything is
His words were cut short as his pager beeped. Looking at the display then back at Alex, he stood and headed for the door. I need to use your phone for a second. I'll be right back.
Alex used the time Donald was talking on the phone to compose herself. She took a long pull on the beer, emptying the bottle then set it beside her on the deck. Standing up, she headed to the kitchen for another, just as Donald finished his phone call. Observing the excited look on Donald's face, she couldn't help but ask, Looks like that was good news. Anything I should know about.
In two steps, Donald was beside Alex and giving her a warm embrace, Sure is, that was AD Albertson. Seth Thomas was just apprehended down in Mexico.
Alex could feel her pulse quicken at the news. All she wanted was five minutes alone in a room with Seth Thomas, then the FBI could have him. Five minutes to dole out her revenge for Conner's death.
Donald broke into her thoughts, Sorry, but I need to be going. Robert wants me to go down there myself and bring him back.
Raising her brows in a silent question, Alex smiled when he took the hint and asked her to come along. Okay, Donald, I'll meet you at the airport in two hours.
Donald smiled and heading for the door, yelled back over his shoulder. Don't forget to leave your 'Shadow' at home Alex. We need to play this one by the book, alright.
Smirking, Alex followed along behind Donald. Party pooper. Okay, I'll be good. Alex shut the door as Donald left and stood in the empty foyer contemplating the sudden turn of events. After a moment she shook her head and walked to the bedroom.
She quickly packed a bag and headed out the door. Driving down I-95 towards the airport, Alex remembered that Sam was coming over for dinner. Picking up her cell phone, she punched in the number of her best friend. Sam answered on the second ring. Hey Sam. Look, I'm not going to be able to make dinner tonight. I have to go out of town unexpectedly. I'll call you when I get back okay?
Sam's voice revealed the surge of panic she suddenly felt, Whoa, wait a minute. Where are you going?
Alex couldn't help but grin. Donald just got word that Seth Thomas has been apprehended in Mexico, and we're going down there to bring him back.
Damn, Alex, can't you let someone else do this? Your arm is still in a cast for god's sake. Sam was pleading now.
Alex took a deep breath before she spoke, Sam, honey, we'll be fine. It's a simple prisoner transfer.
That's exactly my point, Alex. Let someone else go, stay here, please.
I can't Sam. This...this is the last thing I can do for Conner. I'm bringing her murderer home. Alex's voiced cracked as she spoke, I'm going to make sure he gets what he deserves, Sam. He won't get away with killing Conner. Her voice grew strong and dark, One way or another, he will pay.
Sam accepted defeat, realizing she would never be able to persuade Alex to stay. Just be careful, and call me the minute you get back.
Alex ended the call as she neared the airport. Okay Sam, I'll call as soon as I get back, promise. Oh, and can you do me a favor? Call Karen and let her know I'm with Donald. She went to Cedar Cove yesterday to see the family, and I don't want her to worry.
Sam smirked knowing Alex was asking her to call so she wouldn't have to face another confrontation. Yeah, I'll call her, you coward. Be safe.
Alex growled through her chuckle, Yeah, yeah, I'm a coward, but you love me anyway. Thanks, Sam, see you soon. Closing the phone and tossing it back in her bag, Alex veered up the exit for the airport.
Donald arrived home to find Catherine asleep on the sofa. Bending down and placing a light kiss on her lips, he woke her. Hey, sexy woman.
Wrapping her arms around Donald she pulled him down into her arms, she gently nipped him on the neck and murmured, Hmmm, hey you. Wanna snuggle.
Feeling his heart beat faster, Donald pulled away and sat beside Catherine. As much as I would like to, I can't. AD Albertson paged me a little while ago. They caught Seth Thomas down in Mexico, and Alex and I are leaving in a couple of hours to go bring him back.
Catherine's face darkened as she glared at her husband, Donald, can't someone
Yes, I'm sure someone else could, Catherine, Donald said, cutting off his wife's protests. However, I need this chance to show Alex that I'm not such a fuck-up. I want to do this, Catherine. We both know how important it is to get him back here safely.
Catherine sighed, Okay, you're right, as usual. Just promise me you'll both be careful.
Glancing down the hallway, Donald turned back to Catherine, How's she doing?
She came in a few minutes ago and went directly to her room. She's sleeping now, I think. Catherine looked back at Donald, She doesn't think Alex will ever forgive her for this.
Nodding his head, Donald leaned down and planted a long kiss on Catherine's lips. Alex has been through a lot lately. She'll get it all sorted out in time. Mark my words, she'll forgive her.
Catherine helped Donald pack and saw him to his car, then walked slowly back into the house. Looking out the kitchen window lost in her thoughts, Catherine was startled when she heard the voice behind her.
Where's Donald off to?
Spinning around Catherine grabbed her chest, Damn, you scared me. He
he and Alex are leaving for Mexico. Seth Thomas has been caught. They're going down to bring him back.
Alex arrived at the airport before Donald. She went into the charter office to make sure everything was okay and running on time. The FBI had sent a plane down to take them to Mexico, and Alex gazed out the window to the tarmac watching as a crew checked and refueled it. She thought back over her conversation with Sam, You're right, Sammy, I am a coward. Alex knew she couldn't face calling her sister and telling her she was once again on the case. She was lost in her thoughts when Donald walked up behind her.
You okay, Alex?
Alex jumped and turned to glare at Donald. Well, I was until you scared the hell out of me. We ready to go?
Trying to force back the smile that threatened to break across his face Donald put his hand on Alex's back and led her outside. Everything's ready, let's get this show on the road.
They boarded the plane and waited until they were cleared for take off. Alex looked out the window as the landscape disappeared below her wondering what lay ahead of them. She finally reclined her seat and fell into a restless sleep as the plane flew over the Gulf of Mexico towards Acapulco.
Blue smoke curled from the cigarette and drifted out the window as the man sat in the parking lot and watched the take off. He sat watching until the plane was completely out of sight before throwing the butt on the ground and starting the motor. Slowly, he pulled the truck into the long term parking garage and parked at the far end of a crowded lane. Pulling himself from the truck, he grabbed a single duffel bag from the back and quickly made his way to the Delta ticket counter where he purchased a one-way ticket to Acapulco, Mexico.
He hurried through the terminal, knowing the plane would be leaving in less than fifteen minutes. He knew he couldn't take a chance on missing this flight. He arrived at the gate just as the attendant was about to close the door, and was breathless as he dropped down into his seat. Pulling a folder from his duffel bag, he opened it and began thumbing through the pages. Once satisfied that everything was going as planned, he closed the folder, returning it to his bag, and lay his head back for a much-needed nap. A smile crossed his lips as he thought about what the next few hours would bring. Finally you are within my grasp, 'Shadow'.
Part Twenty-Eight of Storm Surge
fiction index | xena
homepage | what's new |