Unsuspecting Target

Part 3

by Trigar

Disclaimer: See Part 1.

Tuesday, June 23, 1998

Kat's eyes slowly opened as an unbearable kink in her neck made itself known. "Shit!" She softly cursed as she noticed the growing rays of sunlight beginning to peek through the darkness of night. "I can't believe I let myself fall asleep." She glanced at her watch and saw the hour was 6:08am.

Slowly, she pushed herself up into a sitting position as she leaned forward and worked her fingers into her aching neck muscles. Her eyes languidly closed in bliss as her strong fingers steadily worked away the stiffness from sleeping on the sofa. 'Ugh, I forgot how uncomfortable this sofa was!'

Just as her fingers finished up their work on her neck, she slowly re-opened her eyes and got up to stretch her weary limps. A few aches and pains from the previous days accident greeted her. However, by carefully stretching her limbs, Kat was relieved to discover her aches were nothing serious and were more of a nuisance than anything.

Kat dismally glanced at the discarded items, which still lay on the floor and thought about Haley. She could only hope Rolf was able to smooth things out. Again looking at the mess on the floor and on the coffee table at the previously unnoticed spilled mug of chocolate. 'First, morning necessities and then I'll clean up this mess before Karine wakes up. I feel like shit.' Kat thought to herself as she walked around the intricately carved wooden coffee table on her way down the hallway towards the bathroom.

Long legs quickly brought Kat to her destination. Walking into the spacious bathroom, Kat noticed it had been redone since last she was here. A new washer and dryer sat in the little nook behind the bathroom door, new floor tiles and paint job on the walls. She thought the soft shell pattern in the floor tiles with matching wallpaper borders at the top of the walls suited the bathroom nicely.

Quietly, Kat made her way to the sink and noticed with approval the pastel colored finish of the countertop that surrounded the sink. A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips as the beach theme of the bathroom almost made her wish she was at the beach herself enjoying a nice, leisurely swim in the ocean. Dismissing the thoughts as frivolous and not overly practical for her current situation, she silently went about searching for her query.

From past experiences, she knew Karine was always prepared for anything, including unannounced guests who happened to be without a toothbrush. Quietly, she opened a drawer just below the sink to its right and found the item in question almost instantly. She reached into the top drawer and with a triumphant smile hauled out a toothbrush still in its packaging.

She tore the brush out of its package and reached for the toothpaste in the cabinet behind the mirror. Catching a glimpse of her disheveled appearance, Kat grimaced slightly. 'Geez, I look like shit too!' she criticized her image in the mirror seconds before pushing aside her image and hauled out the toothpaste.

As she was finishing up in the bathroom, her attention was suddenly drawn to the bathroom's entrance upon hearing a door opening. She was surprised to see Haley sleepily stumbling out of the bedroom across the hallway from the bathroom, absently scratching at the skin around the stitches on her forearm.

The long navy blue and white trimmed nightshirt Haley wore bearing the number 99 in white on the chest seemed very familiar. Slowly, realization hit her; that was her old nightshirt. The fact that Karine had kept it after all these years made Kat smile inwardly.

"Haley?" Kat asked hesitantly, not sure what kind of reaction she would get from the younger woman after last nights events.

Haley rubbed her half closed eyes and came to a stop in the doorway of the bathroom as she heard the unexpected voice. "Kat." She asked surprised. "I didn't realize someone else was using the bathroom. I'll...um, I'll just wait till you're finished here." She quickly said as she turned to leave.

"Wait. It's all yours, I'm done here." Kat said as casually as possible, though she could feel the slight tension which remained between the two of them.

"Thank you." Haley said, meeting Kat's eyes with an uncertain look, still feeling guilty for the way she acted the night before.

Kat merely nodded her head and gave a quick smile as she began walking out of the bathroom to give Haley some privacy. Just as she passed by Haley in the doorway, she suddenly stopped as she noticed Haley wasn't moving into the bathroom.

"I'm sorry." Haley suddenly announced before Kat had a chance to fully turn around to regard her.

"I'm sorry for the way I behaved last night. I had no right to blow up at you like that." Haley said as her fingers nervously played with the hem of the nightshirt.

Soft blue eyes stared into gentle green ones as Kat took in the heartfelt apology. "There's nothing to be sorry about Haley. I should have given you more time to gather yourself. What you went through these last few days would have driven most people into hysterics." Kat gave Haley a genuine smile as she tentatively placed a comforting hand on the shorter woman's shoulder. "You've been handling yourself like a real pro. And don't worry about last night, everyone needs to let it all out once in awhile."

"But I still acted like an ass. I shouldn't have taken it out on you..." Haley mumbled as she stared up into understanding eyes.

"Ssh. It's already forgotten." Came Kat's smiling answer, which seemed to ease Haley's guilty conscious somewhat.

"Thank you Kat, for everything." Haley said sincerely as both women held one another's eyes for a moment longer, silently accepting each other's words.

Taking a deep breath, Kat broke the gaze. "Well, you better get cleaned up. We have a long few days ahead of us."

Haley smiled and headed into the bathroom.

"There are some spare toothbrushes in the top drawer and the toothpaste is behind the mirror if you're interested." Kat told her.

"Thanks. I really hated the thought of having to go through a day with morning breath." Haley chuckled appreciatively.

"Go on, I'll meet you in the kitchen for some breakfast when you're ready." Kat said as she pulled the bathroom door shut and headed towards the living room and the mess she intended on picking up before Haley got out of the bathroom.

Casually walking up to the mess by the sofa, Kat bent down and retrieved the discarded handbag and knelt down on one knee in front of the disorderly items. 'Well, this'll give me a chance to thoroughly go through this stuff.' She thought to herself with optimism as she began piling the items into the large handbag one by one.

Half way through the pile of scattered items, Kat came upon the five disks she had spotted back in Haley's hotel room but never had the chance to examine them. She grabbed the five mini disks and put them aside for later so she could properly go over them once she had all this stuff picked up.

Suddenly, her alert eyes picked up something strange in the disks as she placed them on the coffee table. Four of the five disks were all silver colored and had the same brand name, except for one. The lone disk in question had a metallic blue surface color and no discernable brand name printed upon its surface.

"Hello...what do we have here?" She breathed with interest as she picked up the lone, blue disk and began to open the plastic case. "Never noticed you last time."

"Never noticed what?" Haley asked curiously as she emerged from the bathroom and walked towards Kat, who was still kneeling on the floor.

Bringing herself to her full height, Kat held up the disk in question. "Haley," Kat began with a hint of excitement in her eyes, "do you always buy the same brand of disks for your camera?"

Not understanding where this line of questioning was leading, Haley shrugged her shoulders. "Ya, pretty much. Why?"

Kat walked around the coffee table with a spring in her step as she came to stand in front of Haley. "Do you recognize this disk?" She asked, holding up the clear plastic case containing the disk for Haley to see.

Haley reached out with interest to the disk Kat held between her index finger and thumb. Holding it between her own fingers, she studied it meticulously as she tried to place it. Finally, she shook her head and handed the disk back to Kat.

"No." She stated simply as she looked into Kat's eyes. "Do you think this could be the disk?" Haley asked with a note of excitement at the surprising discovery. She had thought that all her disks were destroyed along with her luggage in the explosion. She completely forgot about the disks she had left in her handbag.

Walking away from Haley towards the laptop resting on the seat of the chair Kat said, "Only one way to find out."

Haley followed a few steps behind Kat as the taller woman picked up the laptop, placed it on a clean spot of the coffee table and sat herself down on the sofa. Intrigued, Haley carefully sat down next to Kat as she flipped open the computer and turned it on. A minute later, Windows was loaded up and Kat popped in the suspicious disk.

Three anxious clicks later; the contents of the disk appeared on the screen, though it wasn't exactly what either woman was hoping to see. "Damn." Kat whispered in frustration at the continuous stream of nonsense, which appeared on the computer screen.

Wrinkling her eyebrows in disappointment at the unexpected stream of numbers, which filled up the small computer screen, Haley stated both hers and Kat's thoughts. "It's encrypted."

"Guess we'll just have to leave this for our computer boys in Ottawa." Kat said as she reached to eject the disk from the laptop.

Quickly Haley's hand shot out and held onto Kat's hand before she could eject the disk. "Wait. Let me have a crack at it." She asked as Kat stopped and seemed to ponder Haley's request. "I use to be pretty good with this type of stuff back in university." Haley added with a small modest smile.

Kat studied the determined look in Haley's eyes at the challenge of decoding the disks secrets. If her academic records were any indication of her skills, Haley was probably more than up for the challenge and could quite possibly crack the code. Knowing that time was of the essence, she saw no harm in letting Haley have a crack at it. At least it would keep Haley preoccupied while she prepared to get them back to Canada.

"All right." Kat smiled. "You have 48 hours. See what you can do."

Kat let out a soft chuckle at seeing the huge grin suddenly spreading across Haley's face. 'This might actually turn out to be a good partnership.' Kat thought silently to herself as she went about to gather up the rest of the scattered items and wipe off the coffee table. She stole a glance at Haley who had gone to work straight away on the encryption.

The small mess was all picked up and all that was left to do was for her to wipe up the spilt chocolate on the table. However, as she began to get up and head for the kitchen, she felt a light halting hand settle on her backside.

"Is there somewhere I could hook up to the Internet?" Kat heard Haley ask in a distracted tone.

With a curiously raised eyebrow, Kat turned around to regard the owner of the gentle hand. Haley hadn't even looked up from her computer as she continued to click away on the screen using the touch pad mouse.

Only after Haley finished doing what she was doing did she look up several seconds later and realized where she had rested her hand. She only intended to hold Kat here long enough to ask her a question. That small fact couldn't keep a furious blush from quickly engulfing Haley's face in embarrassment. "Oh my god! I am so sorry Kat. I thought that was your back...I didn't know it was your, uh...well...ok, this is really embarrassing." Haley said as her hand jerked away from Kat's buttocks and tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her growing embarrassment.

A sly grin spread over Kat's face. "And here I thought you were getting fresh with me." Kat joked openly.

"Kat!" Haley exclaimed in surprise as her blush took on a brighter shade of red.

"There is a connection on the wall behind the sofa to your right." A masculine voice cut in unexpectedly.

Both Haley and Kat looked up at the voice coming from down the hallway and saw both Rolf and his wife emerging from their rooms in matching plaid robes. With huge grins on their faces, Rolf and Karine strolled past the two young women as they made their way towards the kitchen.

"Kätzchen, it is not nice to tease your friends." Rolf said with a smirk and a wink only Kat saw before he and his wife disappeared into the kitchen.

"Ist fragend hunger?" Karine asked good naturally in German from the kitchen.

"Breakfast sounds great." Kat smiled and then looked to Haley. "How about you? Butt chops or back bacon for breakfast?" She teased with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

Haley continued blushing as she leaned forward to cover her face as an uncontrollable bit of laughter began to brew. "Oh, don't make me laugh!" Haley said as she tried hard not to laugh as an unexpected jab of pain from her ribs made themselves known once again.

"I'm sorry." Kat's smile waned slightly as she quickly apologized, not intentionally meaning to cause the younger woman any pain.

"And yes, breakfast would be great." Haley added with a snicker still playing on her lips. "I'll have whatever everyone else is having, even if it is butt chops first thing in the morning."

Kat's smile reappeared on her face as she heard Rolf chuckling from the kitchen at Haley's reply. "Karine, Ich wille hilfe mit Früstück." Kat said as she shook her head with laughter as she made her way to the kitchen to help out with breakfast.

While helping Karine prepare breakfast, Kat suddenly realized something. 'It's been years since I felt comfortable enough to joke with someone like that. Damn it felt good.' She smiled. However, just as quickly, her smile faltered. 'What am I saying? Jesus, I'm acting as if we were old school buddies! Smarten up Kat. She is not your friend! Keep it professional will ya?' She scolded herself as she continued to fry up the bacon.

Rolf worked in the warm sun that day repairing a broken section of fence by the road that kept his sheep from accidentally wandering away. As he removed another one of the broken boards, he heard a car slowing down on the road behind him. Not recognizing the sound of the car as the one he loaned to Kat earlier that morning, he stopped what he was doing for the moment. Wiping his sweaty brow with his bare forearm, he curiously turned to see who it was.

"Klaus?" Rolf said outloud dubiously as he watched the white mid-sized car swing into his long driveway.

Putting his tools down in a neat pile by the fence ready for when he returned to the task later, Rolf casually walked over to the car that was now parked in his driveway. Within a few minutes, Rolf reached the pepper-haired man who had been engaged in conversation with his Karine on the side of the house in the flower garden.

"What are you doing here Klaus?" Rolf asked suspiciously.

"I finished those two passports you asked for early and thought I would bring them over myself." Klaus replied with confidence as he reached into his shirt pocket and produced two Canadian passports.

"This was not what we agreed." Rolf said with scorn.

"What, no hello, how are you? Rolf, I'm hurt!" Klaus lamented with exaggeration as he replaced the passports in his shirt pocket. "Fine. I can take a hint." He announced with a pout as he stuck his hands into his pockets.

"Keep your hands where I can see them Klaus." Rolf warned with a hard look.

"Is this better?" Klaus asked as he hauled out a shiny 9mm gun, bearing its point level with Rolf's chest just as Rolf began to make a move towards the gun. "Ah, ah ah." Klaus warned, waving the index finger of his free hand at Rolf. "I wouldn't do that."

Rolf froze where he was as Klaus suddenly grabbed Karine and roughly brought her closer to him. "Come here darling. You are going to invite me into your lovely home." Klaus smiled.

Soon after breakfast, Kat had announced that she had some things to do and pick up and that she would probably be gone for most of the morning. Haley had kept herself busy all morning downloading the software from the internet that she knew she would be needing to help her crack the encoded disk. That in itself had been time consuming, but she now had everything set up and had been working steadily on the encryption. She noticed that after Karine had finished washing her bloody jeans and t-shirt that the older woman followed her husband outside with gardening tools in hand. Haley assumed that Rolf had to tend to the animals or some other farm life chore. She was all alone now in the quiet house.

Haley took a few minutes away from the computer so she could change out of the nightshirt and into her familiar clothes. On her way back to the computer, she made a stop to the kitchen to get a tall glass of water to quench her thirst in the growing heat of the day.

Glass in hand; Haley stole a casual glance at the round clock on the kitchen wall as she leaned up against the counter. 2:15 in the afternoon. 'I wonder where Kat is?' Haley thought to herself with a touch of concern. 'Could she have run into trouble? Did she just ditch me?' The frightening possibilities ran through her mind unbidden. 'Stop it Haley!' The young novelist scolded her over active imagination.

Despite herself, Haley found she was growing fond of her rescuer. No longer did she see the woman as a stranger who happened to have saved her life. Instead, she was growing to become someone Haley felt she could eventually call 'friend'.

The woman's contradicting nature both baffled Haley and intrigued her. One minute, she could be as friendly as the girl next door. The next, she was 'Rambo' with that 'tough as nails' attitude to go right along. Despite these contradictions, there was nobody Haley felt she could trust more than the woman she only knew as Kat. Very few people Haley had ever met, if any, had inspired her to place so much of her trust and confidence in them on only their say so quite like Kat did. Of course, their initial meeting was under the guise of a lie, but in no way did it hinder Haley from trusting Kat with her life. She didn't know what it was about that woman that made her trust her so explicitly.

Finally, she shook away her thoughts and decided to return her attention back to the encrypted disk currently housed in her computer's disk drive. Gulping down the rest of her cold water, Haley pushed herself away from the counter and started walking towards the living room. She barely took two steps before she heard the door creek open. Looking back behind her, Haley saw Rolf tensely walking through the kitchen door with a quiet ferocity etched upon his aging face.

"Rolf? Is something wrong?" Haley asked as she took a concerned step towards the graying man before stopping dead in her tracks.

"Ah, if it isn't the ever so popular Haley Connors...Kynak dodger extraordinaire!" An average built man in his mid-forties said exuberantly as he walked in behind Rolf and Karine holding a gun to their backs. "No please..." he continued so casually with a German accent, a huge grin plastered on his clean shaven face, "don't stop. You can save me the effort of having to walk to you." He smiled and then added as an after thought. "Nice bruise."

Haley nervously glanced at the silver 9mm gun the man held threateningly and then looked to Rolf. His intense deep blue eyes remained calm as he motioned with his eyes that she should remain calm and not move. Slowly, Haley took a tentative step backwards, once again coming up against the counter. Her hands inconspicuously felt across the surface of the counter behind her with a sense of urgency for something, anything to help their situation. Nervous eyes kept an eye on the gunman and Rolf.

"You are going to make me come and get you, aren't you?" The dangerous man sighed with exaggeration, and then turned his attention back to Rolf. "Dear Miss McGregor must have taught this young beauty the fine arts of being annoying." The man stated towards Rolf as he kicked Karine roughly past the older man, towards the living room.

"Do NOT touch my wife you son of a bitch!" Rolf roared as he spun about angrily with a threatening glare.

Without hesitation, Klaus slammed the butt of the gun unceremoniously towards Rolf's head. The sudden movement surprised Rolf as the gun connected with the side of his head sending him crashing to the floor with an audible thump. He never thought Klaus had it in him to ever take the offensive against anyone. That was one mistake he did not intend on making twice.

"Rolf!" Karine screamed once turning around and seeing her husband falling to the ground, one hand holding his aching head. She ran to her husband and threw her body over his protectively.

"Rolf, Rolf, Rolf." The gunman shook his head from side to side as he leveled his gun down towards Rolf's head. "Tsk, tsk. You always were more muscle than brain. Have you forgotten," He asked as if talking to a child, "I have the gun." He waved the gun around and aimlessly fired a bullet into the ceiling, which brought small bits of the ceiling down on his own head.

"Whoops!" The gunman chuckled as he aimed the gun back at Rolf and kicked the injured man's legs. "Now stop giving me so much trouble and get into the living room like a good boy." He lectured Rolf.

With the help of his wife, Rolf got to his feet, keeping angry eyes on Klaus as he got up.

Haley, only a few feet away from Rolf and Karine began moving with them when suddenly Klaus' voice stopped her. "And where do you think you are going beautiful?" He asked as he redirected the gun towards Haley, still wearing his confidant smile as he began walking towards her.

Haley began to open her mouth to speak, but was abruptly cut off.

"No need to speak, I can tell that you are just dying with anticipation to meet me." He laughed at his own words as he reached Haley.

With a hungry grin on his face, he ran the cold barrel of the gun slowly down the side of the young woman's face. He leaned in closer to Haley, his lips nearly touching her ear as he whispered, "Mmm, it's a shame we could not have gotten to know each other better before I have to kill you."

Haley's heart raced faster as the realization that Klaus was here to kill her came crashing home. Her hands continued to anxiously roam over the counter behind her as Klaus slid the gun further down her neck, bringing it to rest in the hallow of her throat. Suddenly, Haley felt the sharp edge of a small blade scratch across the pad of her index finger. Desperately she grasped the small, sharp knife and stole a glance to Rolf who saw what she was planning and with a barely perceived gesture, he nodded his understanding.

"Klaus is it?" Haley asked calmly, determined not to give him the benefit of seeing how scared she truly was. Without receiving an answer, only a hungry smile, she continued on in a soft, seductive voice. "Klaus," her free hand reached up and traced absent circles on his chest, "who says we can't get to know one another more...intimately?" Her hand tightened its hold around the knife handle as she steeled herself for the coming task. "You're handsome and I'm beautiful..." inwardly, Haley's stomach turned at her choice of words, "we could disappear together and..." her voice lowered lustfully as she trailed her finger down the length of his chest, tugging at the top of his pants suggestively. "...Talk about the first thing that pops up." She smiled lasciviously.

Klaus' breathing became labored as his unsatiable need for pretty women played indecent scenes through his mind. The gun slid slowly down her chest, coming to rest on the firm breasts thrust up provocatively against him, his eyes hungrily staring at his gun's resting place. He swallowed once, then twice with an audible gulp. His tongue slowly wet his lips as a smile grew steadily on his lips.

"Mmm, we could do that." He said thoughtfully as he suddenly rubbed himself unconsciously up against Haley.

For her part, Haley fought with all her being to keep from losing her breakfast. The mere thought of this man being so close to her, let alone touching her, made her stomach recoil with disgust. She fought to convince herself that she needed to divert his attention if she wanted a chance of getting out of this alive. With painstakingly slow movements, she began to bring the knife around her body.

"But, women are so easily found unlike cold, hard cash." Suddenly, the gun snapped back up to the hallow of her neck, pressing menacingly as his body moved away from hers. "Don't think I wouldn't have loved to take you up on your offer. Sorry." He smiled with true regret at what could have been as he tensed his muscles to end her life.

Haley saw the resigned look in his eyes and knew it was now or never for her to strike. Just as she saw his finger tightening against the trigger, she brought the sharp pearing knife up with lightning speed as she twisted her upper torso away from the gun.

The sound of the gun going off so near to her ears left them ringing painfully loud as the knife bit deeply into his wrist. Despite the incessant ringing, she couldn't miss the montage of colorful curses of her would-be-murderer as he dropped the gun to the floor and held his bleeding wrist in his other hand.

From the corner of her eye, Haley glimpsed a flurry of movement when suddenly she was roughly shoved aside. Haley's ribs slammed into the edge of the countertop eliciting a cry of pain from the young woman before she continued painfully down to the floor.

Behind her, she heard Rolf and Klaus grunting with exertion as they wrestled with one another, each fighting to reach the gun before the other. She turned around in time to see through tear filled eyes, Klaus laughing triumphantly as his hand stretched out and grasped the gun.

Rolf grappled his way up Klaus' body with a fierce determination in his movements as Klaus twisted around and settled the gun between the two of them. With renewed vigor, Rolf pounced onto the gun to try and divert its direction and wrestle it away. The two men thrashed about on the kitchen floor when suddenly a gunshot went off, and then another. Suddenly, everything went quiet as Rolf and Klaus stared at one another, Rolf breathing hard as he lay on top of Klaus.

A low laugh bubbled up from Klaus. "Heehee...I think...you killed me Rolf!" Klaus sputtered with a dying smile as he coughed, a slow trickle of blood spilled over his lips.

Heads suddenly turned towards the open door as Kat urgently slid into the kitchen, gun drawn.

"And now...cough, cough...the party is complete." Klaus smiled one final time towards Kat before a fit of coughing overtook him and just as suddenly stopped. His eyes remained open as death claimed his body.

Kat rushed over to Haley with deep concern seeing her on the floor holding her side with tears in her eyes as Rolf quietly rolled off of the lifeless body. "Hey," Kat started as she leaned down on one knee beside Haley, resting her gun on the floor next to her, "you ok?"

"I'm all right." Haley answered through clenched teeth, getting annoyed with the tears she couldn't keep back.

Noticing the way Haley clutched at her side with the injured ribs, Kat carefully lifted Haley's T-shirt and ran knowing fingers over the injured area. Then looking over to Rolf as he approached them and bent down, Kat said. "I don't think it's broken. Just banged up."

"Guys," Haley protested as Rolf examined her ribs to confirm Kat's assessment. "I told you I'm fine."

"Uh-huh." Both Rolf and Kat hummed at the same time.

"I cannot believe how lucky you are Haley Connors." Rolf concluded as he smiled down at Haley before leaving Kat to take care of Haley as he took care of the bloody corpse on his kitchen floor. Karine stood back in silence as she watched on.

Some time later, as Haley lay back on the sofa to rest as both Rolf and Kat had ordered her to, she found an odd calmness had settled within her. The panic and fear she was sure was to follow after yet another harrowing, near death situation never came.

Initially, she thought the high from the adrenaline rush she felt earlier was still pumping through her body and that it was what was keeping her calm and collected. But now, it's been over two hours since the incident happened and still nothing. The only real discomfort she felt was at actually having to play up to Klaus' hormonal fantasies, but still no real fear gripped her as of yet.

'Maybe it just hasn't all registered in my brain yet.' Haley surmised to herself as she rested her head against the arm of the sofa with her eyes closed. 'Or maybe I've just gotten used to being marked for death.' She snorted derisively to herself.

Before she could formulate more of a hypothesis for her unexpected calmness, she heard the kitchen door opening. Haley's tireless eyelids quickly opened as she carefully twisted her head around to stare at the two quiet figures she knew would be there.

Haley watched as Rolf and Kat entered the quaint home. Rolf walked through the entrance ahead of Kat with an expressionless look on his face and shirtless, bearing his hairy, husky torso. Only a touch of fat began to gather around the aging man's abdomen, his upper body was still very much muscled and strong looking. The young novelist was surprised to see that Rolf was still in such good shape for a man his age.

Trailing only a pace or so behind was Kat with the same unreadable look on her face as Rolf. She too was covered in dirt with small hints of speckled blood covering the front of her clothing. As Kat walked through the kitchen untucking her shirt as she went, she slowed down slightly and spared a quick glance towards Haley. With only the gentle look in her eyes, Kat asked the silent question of how Haley was feeling. She answered the unspoken question with a small smile, indicating that she was feeling fine. Kat gave her a hesitant look, seemingly trying to determine if the young woman really was fine. Finally, after several seconds, Kat seemed satisfied and gave Haley a slight nod before continuing on towards the bathroom.

Behind her, Haley heard water running in the kitchen. She stretched her neck around once again and saw Rolf washing his hands and arms under the tap. Satisfied he cleaned off the dirt and grime, Rolf stepped up behind his wife who had remained at the table appearing to be reading a magazine and drinking her black coffee. In actuality, Karine had kept as keen an eye on Rolf and Kat as did Haley. Watching everything as she was, without words being spoken, had Haley wondering if maybe this truly were just a dream.

Quietly as Rolf wrapped his strong arms about his wife's shoulders and leaned his head down to place a gentle kiss atop his wife's head, Haley heard the faint sounds of sobbing. Haley caught sight of Karine's glistening eyes just before the older woman got up and let herself be engulfed in her husband's comforting arms. The young woman respectfully averted her eyes and gave the couple some privacy.

Carefully, Haley sat herself up and stretched her arms out to retrieve the laptop on the coffee table in front of her, emitting a slight grunt at the effort. With her prize in hand, she leaned back and rested the computer on her lap as she painstakingly positioned herself upright to continue her work on the encoded disk.

Stepping into the soothing shower, Kat could feel some of her tension relaxing. She couldn't kick the thoughts from her mind that Haley nearly lost her life today because of her. If she had been there sooner maybe none of this would have happened. That maybe Klaus wouldn't have gotten so close. Instead, she had wasted her time on old contacts trying to find out more information about the Kynak. Her efforts all turned up nothing except for the uncommon knowledge that somebody wanted a certain Canadian novelist dealt with and quick.

Europe was getting far too dangerous to stay in for much longer. This latest attack on Haley only heightened the need to get the novelist back on friendly soil. Fortunately for them, Klaus had brought along with him two authentic looking passports. All they had to do now was snap a few pictures and Kat would easily fix up the rest to complete the passports.

As she stepped out of the shower and dried herself off, she slipped into a comfortable pair of her old boxer shorts and tank top she found earlier that morning in her old room across the hall. Kat ran her fingers through her wet hair, pushing the loose strands of dark locks away from her face as she continued to chastise herself mentally for not being here when Haley needed her.

'You almost blew it today McGregor.' She mentally scolded the image staring back at her from the foggy mirror. She ran a long, slender hand over the mirror and brought her visage more into focus. 'Good thing Haley is quick on her feet.' This one thought brought an unbidden smile to Kat's grim face.

Kat leaned her tall frame heavily on her strong arms, which were braced against either side of the bathroom sink. She wasn't exactly sure what to make of Haley. One minute she seems so vulnerable and delicate. The next, Haley surprises her by appearing so strong and actually being able to hold her own according to what Rolf described to her of what happened. And Kat knew that Rolf was not one for exaggerations.

At first, she thought Haley's calmness was just an outward façade that hid her true fears. But looking into her eyes earlier, she knew that wasn't so. That woman had an inner strength radiating from her like very few people Kat knew possessed. She couldn't help but feel extremely proud of the young woman as her admiration for Haley's spunkiness and courage grew.

'At the rate things are going, Haley will probably have that damn disk cracked before we reach Canadian soil!' She thought with a smile in her eyes as she made her way out of the bathroom, shaking her fingers through her wet hair one final time.

Walking out of the bathroom, Kat noticed that Rolf and Karine's bedroom door was closed as she heard the quiet sniffs of subsiding tears. 'Karine has never seen Rolf kill.' She realized with a note of sadness at the violence that Karine was forced to witness this day. 'She's strong. She just has to let it out.'

Leaving Rolf and Karine to their privacy, Kat came up alongside Haley resting a gentle hand on the smaller woman's shoulder as Kat tried to peek at Haley's progress.

"Any luck?"

Looking up at the towering woman above her, Haley shook her head 'no' and returned her attention to her computer screen. "From what I can tell, there are at least four levels of coding here to be cracked. But I think I may almost have the first level figured out." Haley said as she tapped an absent finger against her screen.

Another faint smile appeared on Kat's lips, which went unnoticed by Haley. Casually, Kat made her way between the sofa and coffee table, lowering her tall frame down onto the sturdy table. Kat's hand reached out and touched just above Haley's knee to get her attention. Haley's eyes snapped up immediately at the contact and locked eyes with Kat's approving gaze.

"You did good today." Kat praised, affording Haley a proud smile.

Momentarily stunned at the unexpected compliment, Haley could only give a shy, self-satisfied grin. "Kat, I didn't really do anything..." Haley trailed when she finally managed to find her voice.

"Nothing my ass." Kat cut in, refusing to allow Haley to belittle her bravery. "Haley, most people wouldn't have been able to remain calm enough to not wet themselves, let alone think! Why do you always play yourself down like that?"

Haley's mouth opened a couple of times to answer Kat's unexpected question, but she only managed to look like a fish out of water gasping for air. She frowned slightly as she seriously thought of the question posed to her. Finally, the answer deep down in her came out. "Because sometimes I don't feel as brave on the inside as I might look on the outside. And maybe the fact that I'm feeling no fear, no remorse kind of scares me. I don't know."

Kat studied Haley as the mixed emotions play across the young woman's face. "Haley, you did what had to be done and you know that here," Kat said tapping a finger on her own chest. "And here." A final soft finger tap indicated her head. "Haley, you are a good person. Your conscience would never allow you to do wrong."

Haley's eyes slowly lowered away from Kat's intense blue eyes, mulling over what Kat was saying. It did make sense to her. She almost always acted on what she felt was the right thing to do. Sometimes it didn't always turn out to be the best decision, but she was only human and bound to make mistakes. She knew worrying over what should have been was counter-productive.

Raising her eyes once again to meet those confident blue eyes brought a small smile to Haley's face and a slight nod of agreement. "I guess this whole situation just has me a little freaked out. I'm just glad I can talk to you Kat McGregor." Haley threw the last name in with a sly smile.

"How did you...?" a puzzled grin spread over Kat's beautiful face as Haley's smile turned into a small chuckle. "Think that's funny huh, Haley Beatrice Connors?"

Haley's face dropped as she looked at Kat's now smiling face with bewilderment. "Oh god! How did you...I never told you..." she stammered, unconsciously mimicking Kat's earlier words.

"I have many skills." Kat replied with a toothy grin.

At this small remark, Haley's face took on a comical grin as she shook her head from side to side. "Thank you Kat."

"For what?" Kat asked still wearing her smile.

"For making me laugh and making me feel safe." Came Haley's serious reply, a small smile still touching the corners of her lips.

"Enjoy it while you can, I'm usually pretty bitchy." Kat gave Haley a quick wink as she got up off of the table, rustling Haley's hair as she walked past the novelist and out the kitchen door.

Soft fingers slowly ran across the side of the hard plastic of the computer in thought as Haley chuckled to herself. Kat really was a gem underneath that tough exterior. Slowly, Haley's fingers began working at the small keyboard once again feeling better and more confident than she did earlier. Talking with Kat always seemed to do that to her.

Less than two minutes of typing later, Kat suddenly came back into the house carrying a medium sized plain plastic bag in one hand as she came to sit back down on the coffee table. "How long have you had long hair?" Kat asked mysteriously.

Looking up from her computer, Haley gave the dark-haired woman a suspicious look. "Nearly all my life...why?"

"What would you say to a new look?" Came the reply accompanied by a mischievous glint in Kat's baby blue eyes as she reached into the plastic bag and began hauling out a ton of hair supplies.

Unconsciously, Haley slowly closed her laptop as she eyed the hair products now sitting on the coffee table next to Kat's thigh. Spying the various boxes of hair colorant, combs and barber's scissors, Haley suddenly got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach as a worried look crossed her soft face. "Kat, what're you up to?"

Suddenly turning serious, Kat looked into Haley's eyes and nearly lost herself. Never before had she peered into someone's eyes and came face to face with so much emotion and honesty freely showing. "The Kynak will be looking for the Haley Connors who wears her blonde hair long, has soft green eyes and a knock out body."

Haley blushed slightly at the quick description before Kat could continue on.

"The body can stay as it is," she winked, "but we're going to have to do something about the rest of you." Leaning back slightly to eye Haley critically to see what style would suit the young woman the best and make her look less like, well, herself. Kat rubbed her chin thoughtfully as Haley eyed her doubtfully. Finally, what could only be described as a sexy grin suddenly spread across Kat's face as she envisioned the style she wanted to capture.

"What're you thinking of Kat?" Haley asked cautiously, seeing that puzzling look in Kat's eyes.

With a sly grin, Kat responded. "Short auburn hair with a set of hazel colored contact lenses to complete your new look." Kat stated as she began going through the numerous boxes of hair coloring. Finding what she wanted, she started searching for the hazel colored contact lenses.

"Wait a minute Kat," Haley started objectively. "How short is 'short'?"

Kat looked up into Haley's worried face for a second, giving her a quick, amused grin. "Short."

"How does it look?" Haley asked, her voice tinged with more than a little touch of worry.

"I couldn't have done better if I was Vidal Sassoon himself." Was Kat's smiling response as she hauled out a hand held mirror and handed it to Haley for her to inspect the new do. Kat took a step back from where Haley sat at the kitchen table, and leaned up against the counter with her arms crossed over her chest with a self-satisfied grin playing on her face.

The proffered mirror was accepted in silence. Slowly, quietly, Haley moved the mirror around her head to inspect the changes that had nearly brought on a panic attack. No longer was her hair the golden blonde she had lived with her entire life. In its stead, a soft reddish-brown now glowed back at her.

With her free hand, she nervously touched the short hair she saw reflected in the small mirror. The reality was slowly sinking in. "I can't believe I let you do this." Haley whispered in disbelief as she ran her hand up the back of her now naked neck. "My hair is so short and...and brown!"

"I know it's not what you're use to, but it was necessary. At least short hair on women is in style nowadays." Kat added, trying to lift Haley's opinion of the hair cut.

Haley stayed quiet for a moment longer, still trying to get use to her new look. For a minute, she tried to look at the hair cut objectively, as if she was seeing it on another person. She tilted her head to get a better look in the mirror and brushed her fingers through her hair once again.

"You know," Haley said thinking out loud, "it really isn't all that horrible." Realizing that in actuality, the short hair wasn't as bad as she initially thought. It definitely had that 90's stylish look to it. "But still...I'm glad my hair grows fast." She finally concluded.

Kat chuckled softly to herself at Haley's final conclusion. Having her hair long for nearly her entire life as well, Kat could sympathize with Haley's feeling of loss. She agreed that the short look on some women looked beautiful, but it just wasn't for her or Haley it would appear.

"The color can just be washed out, right?" Haley asked to make certain that she wouldn't be stuck with auburn hair for longer than necessary.

"Positive." Kat reassured her.

"Nice." Rolf suddenly whistled from the living room as he and his wife walked into the kitchen.

Startled, Haley jumped in her chair losing her grip on the mirror. She fumbled clumsily at trying to recapture the suddenly elusive mirror, making her antics appear to be a juggling act. Moving so quickly, Haley forgot about her injured ribs when suddenly a sharp pain ripped through her side making her hiss in pain, forgetting about the falling mirror. The mirror was sure to shatter against the hard floor, possibly bringing the ill-fated bearer seven years of bad luck that Haley's superstitious mind unwittingly set into her head when she was just a young girl.

With reflexes honed to near perfection, Kat saw the tumbling mirror and automatically sprang into motion. In one fluid movement, Kat launched herself from the countertop and stretched her long arms out to catch the falling object with a seemingly unnatural ease.

"Wow." Haley breathed at the unexpected catch.

"Couldn't have you stuck with seven years of bad luck." Kat said, giving Haley a lop-sided grin.

"As fast as ever Kätzchen." Rolf observed with a smile, which Kat reciprocated. "Would you two now be ready for those pictures?"

Kat grinned a little when she heard Haley's soft groan at the mention of getting her picture taken.

"Could we just kind of draw in my picture?" Haley asked hopefully. "I promise I won't tell anybody the difference."

"Sorry, no can do kiddo." Kat's grin still dominated her features. "Besides, you can keep it as a reminder not to become a brunette."

Haley didn't miss the quick wink Kat shot her way and the grinning faces all around her. Sighing good naturedly, she slowly began pushing her way out of the chair. Unexpectedly, she felt a gentle, steadying touch at her elbow.

When Haley looked up, she came face to face with fathomless blue eyes that seemed just as surprised at discovering she was unconsciously helping the young woman up.

"Thought you could use a helping hand." Kat offered with an almost indiscernible hint of modesty.

A smile spread across Haley's lips as she quietly accepted the helpful offer. With a hidden smile, Haley almost giggled at the slight look of the uncharacteristic look of modesty Kat had afforded her. The rare look certainly was a treat to behold. To Haley, it just made Kat seem all that much more real to her. With Kat's usually stoic stature, Haley had wondered for a time if the woman was for real of some well-designed android. She knew better now.

"All right Rolf, show me the way to immortalizing this...ugh, look." Haley said with a mock look of disgust as her eyes skeptically looked up into her bangs.

Sitting comfortably in first class seats by the window on a flight to Canada, is a lone, quiet figure. His long legs leisurely stretched out before him, under the chair ahead of him. The short-sleeved white polo shirt he's wearing exposes his well-defined forearms as his elbow rests on an armrest to support his chin. He stares out the window of the plane as it flies through wisps of cloud, engulfed in his own thoughts.

'Haley Connors has disappeared with the disk, and Kat McGregor is making sure she remains hidden. If they figure out what's on that disk everything could be destroyed. Sooner or later they will return to Canada and when they do, my men will be right there waiting for them.' The white-haired man thought with an imperceptible frown, which quickly faded away as new doors of opportunity suddenly sprang to mind. 'However, with Petrenko's plans in ruins,' he mused, 'it would be easy for me to wrench control of the Kynak right out of Viktor's hands. All I would have to do is make the defectors an offer they can't refuse and eliminate anyone who gets in my way.'

He knew there were many who were loyal to him and would do as he commanded, no questions asked. All he would need to do is get into contact with those loyal men and woman and conveniently eliminate the woman sent along with him on this mission. He knew her loyalties were with Petrenko and would not be swayed. 'Pity.' He thought as a small quirk of a smile began to play along the edges of the wiry man's lips as a vague plan began to form in his head.

Later that evening, after Rolf and Kat put the finishing touches on the two passports, Kat made her way back into the living room. There, sitting on the sofa staring intently at the small computer resting in her lap was Haley. So preoccupied with what she was doing, Haley didn't notice Kat enter the room.

She leaned up against the corner of the hallway with a grin on her face as she watched Haley unconsciously going to play with her long hair only to find that it was no longer there. Annoyed, Haley would absently scratch the stubble at the base of her neck when she seemed to be stumped with what she was working on.

"Make any break throughs?" Kat inquired casually, pushing herself from the wall.

"Hmm?" Haley hummed, her head looking up from the computer as her eyes slowly tore away from the monitor. With a sigh of frustration, Haley related her findings. "So far I've managed to break through the first level encryption. Besides that nothing. All that I can say is that whatever is on this disk must be something very important to the Kynak for it to have this much encryption."

Kat nodded her agreement as she walked closer to the sofa to take a peek at Haley's progress. "Good work. Just make sure you don't stay up too late. We have an early plane to catch tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Haley asked as her eyebrows furrowed together. "I thought we were only leaving Thursday."

"With recent events, I thought it best we leave as soon as possible. The sooner we get you back to Canada, the sooner you'll be safe." Kat answered truthfully. 'That and the fact that there will more than likely be more fools trying to get in good with the Kynak by trying to take you out.' Kat added to herself, not wanting to share the information and cause Haley to get all worked up over something they couldn't control at the moment. 'Besides,' she thought to herself, 'Haley's a smart girl. She probably all ready knows.'

Running her fingers through her uncomfortably short hair, Haley quietly nodded her agreement with a mute look of understanding. Then, with a mischievous glint in her eye, Haley tilted her head back to regard Kat. "Don't worry, I'll make sure I go to bed at a decent hour mother."

One of Kat's dark eyebrows shot up into her bangs with a questioning look as she gave Haley 'the look'. The only problem was that Haley now seemed somewhat unaffected by the look of ill repute her enemies have learned to fear. With a soft giggle, Haley returned to her work.

"I do believe I'm growing immune to your looks of intimidation!" Haley said with a touch of triumph in her voice.

Kat snorted, shaking her head as she stared down at the top of Haley's head holding back her own mounting laughter. "I'd sleep with one eye open if I were you Miss Connors. You never know when I might decide to hang up my salon scissors and pick up the electric shaver!"

With those words, Kat spun on her heels and headed down the hallway. "Sleep well tonight Haley." Kat said with a large, unseen grin on her face as she headed to the bathroom.

Haley looked up from her computer and stared at Kat's retreating back, unsure if she was serious or just joking. "Kat?" Haley called to her softly, a nervous tone touching her voice. "Kat?"

Chapter 6

Wednesday, June 24, 1998

Kat awoke early the next morning in the comfortable double bed of the Schiller's spare bedroom. She leisurely stretched out her limbs relieved not to find them full of kinks as she did from the night before on the sofa. With a pitying thought, she considered Haley's predicament on the merciless couch.

The tall, dark-haired Canadian had been more than willing to sleep on the sofa for another night if it weren't for Haley's convincing argument. The young novelist, who seemed always up for a challenge, decided to come up with a winning argument as to why Kat should have the comfortable bed in the spare room. Top on her list of arguments was the fact that no matter where she slept, her ribs were going to make it difficult for her to sleep. There was no sense in the both of them being tired and since Kat was the stronger of the two of them, Haley argued that it only made sense that Kat be well rested for both their sakes.

Despite her protests and failed attempts of denial, Kat's weary body quickly caved in to Haley's line of thinking as it rebelled and cried out to the tempting thought of a comfortable bed.

Kat remembered that she must have asked Haley about a dozen times if that was what she really wanted. With an insistent 'git' and a few lightly tossed pillows from the sofa, Haley assured Kat it was all right. "And besides," Haley pointed out, "those bags under your eyes aren't getting any smaller."

Kat snorted at this remark, but offered no retort. She knew there was no way she could have argued that point. Since this whole fiasco had started, she'd barely gotten a full night sleep and her body was beginning to feel the effects from the lack of sleep.

Finally she finished getting dressed in a short, business-like burgundy skirt with matching blazer and white blouse, Kat was ready for the coming day. Stepping into the hallway, Kat began tying back her long, dark hair into a tight braid as she made her way out to the living room to wake the slumbering novelist.

Finishing up the braid and beginning to twirl it up into a bun at the back of her head, Kat stopped at the end of the hallway as her eyes settled on Haley with a pang of guilt. Lying obviously quite uncomfortably on the sofa, was Haley with one arm and one leg each dangling over the side of the sofa. The light blanket that was draped over Haley's body was recklessly strewn about her. Half of the blanket barely covered her legs, while the rest of it lay on the floor next to the sofa.

'She probably got no rest at all last night.' Kat thought pitifully as she watched Haley's head toss slightly from side to side with a pained look on her face.


Kat stopped suddenly at the unexpected noise coming from the kitchen. Her muscles tensed reflexively and her senses suddenly became acutely aware of everything around her. However, the very next minute she heard the familiar sounds of Karine moving around in the kitchen. Letting out a slow breath, she calmly relaxed her body as she made a detour and headed for the kitchen. 'Relax.' Kat mentally told herself as she entered the kitchen.

"Ah, Guten morgen Kätzchen." Karine said in a hushed voice as she motioned for Kat to sit down to eat some toast she had just placed in the center of the kitchen table.

"Guten morgen Karine, wo ist Rolf?" Kat asked of Rolf's whereabouts as she grabbed a slice of buttered toast.

"Rolf wille auf sein bald. Jetzt aufessen!" Karine almost commanded as she pushed Kat down and placed a tall glass of orange juice in front of her and a plate of freshly sliced fruit.

Kat glanced over at Haley for a moment and decided that Haley could use the extra few minutes of sleep while she ate.

Just as Kat was finishing up the orange slices, kiwi and some cantaloupe, she heard the basement door open.

"Danke schön fur der frühstück Karine." Kat thanked the older woman as she pushed her chair away from the table to meet Rolf.

Karine accepted Kat's 'thank you' with a gentle smile. Now, Karine knew, was time for Kat and her husband to work. Quietly, Karine went about clearing Kat's plate and glass from the table and began preparing more slices of fruit for Haley before they left to catch their plane. She turned her head towards the sleeping novelist as she heard a low grunt.

With a quick glance towards her husband and the dark-haired woman she considered a daughter, she noticed they both had gone back downstairs into the basement. 'Probably to discuss some new device or other.' She thought with concern in her native language. She didn't want to know what they were talking about, especially after experiencing part of her husband's job the day before after so many years of relative peace.

Rolf's job had crashed into their home lives more than once over the many years. Perhaps more so since she had been a nurse and was very good at her job. However, her many encounters with her husband's career only made her more concerned for him and wanted to know as little as possible about his going on's.

Karine noticed Haley slowly trying to sit up with some difficulty. From past experience, the retired nurse knew cracked ribs could be painful and quickly made her way to Haley's side. Though Karine's English was very poor, the helping hand and the soft smile she offered Haley communicated her intentions well enough.

The sleepy eyes of the novelist softened in appreciation for the help. "Thank you." Haley offered, unsure of whether or not the older woman would understand.

However, with a knowing smile, Karine replied. "Bitte schön."

An hour later, Haley was finished eating her breakfast and getting dressed when she and Kat were finally ready to leave and catch their flight. Despite not knowing the Schiller's for very long, Haley already found herself missing them as Karine and Rolf each gave Kat and then herself a farewell hug. She made a silent vow to herself that if she got through this whole mess alive she would have to properly thank Rolf and Karine for their kindness and help. They put themselves in harm's way by protecting her, and Haley will never forget that kind of selfless giving.

"I can't believe we're finally going back home." Haley whispered to Kat after an anxious sigh as they walked through the gate on their way to board their airplane after a five-hour delay. The general public wasn't told what the delay was about, but Kat had found out that it was due to a faulty brake flap. One of the bolts had somehow fallen out and they were waiting for another plane to take its place. Unconsciously, Haley's hand ran through her short hair and gave Kat a questioning look.

Kat bent down closer to Haley's ear so that only she would hear her. "It'll fool them 'Janice'." She said, using Haley's assumed name. "Trust me."

Seeing Kat flash her one of those dazzling smiles filled her with renewed confidence that their charade would work. Haley took another deep breath, glanced at the open airplane door before them and then back at Kat with a more confidant smile. 'I can do this!' Haley told herself as they stepped onto the plane.

Haley forced herself to breath normally as she assumed a natural face to greet the stewardess as she took the ticket.

After looking over the ticket, the stewardess directed Haley to her seat with a courteous smile. "13c, down the aisle on your right ma'am."

"Thank you." Haley returned the smile as she retrieved her ticket and waited a moment to make sure Kat was right behind her. She pretended to adjust the large shoulder bag she carried, which also contained her laptop, as she waited. A gentle nudge at her elbow from behind spurred her back into motion.

As was habit, Haley casually glanced at the faces that were all ready seated while making her way down the aisle. For some reason, she found that by doing this, it helped relax her for the coming flight. Seeing how calm everybody seemed to be always lent her a sense of peace. 'If they weren't worried about flying, why should I be?' She continuously argued with herself.

Sitting in the third row, next to the window to her left however was not a calm face. The brunette looked up, as if sensing eyes on her, and locked her sad eyes with those of Haley's. The young novelist gasped in surprise as recognition dawned on her. The drawn, colorless face of the woman staring back at her was her sister!

Haley felt herself freeze as her chest constricted with barely contained emotions. This woman staring back at her was only a shadow of her jubilant, older sister. Haley's heart broke at the sight of her sister, knowing full well it was because of her Liz was in this broken state.

The young novelist's heart and body screamed to reach out to Liz and hold her and tell her she was all right. That she wasn't dead. She felt her body beginning to act on its own compulsion when suddenly, from behind, she felt something heavy bump into her. She stumbled several steps forward, almost losing her balance, but managed to catch herself by grasping the back of one of the seats as she fought back the pain from her ribs. Composing herself, and avoiding the casual stares thrown her way, she cast an annoyed glance behind her to see who the idiot was that was doing all the pushing.

"Sorry Janice, ah must've tripped over mah bags." Replied the dark haired woman behind her in a sophisticated Southern accent. She grabbed at her blazer, which she was carrying, just as it began sliding from her arm to the floor of the plane. She quickly snatched it up and dropped her purse in the process. "Ah can be so clumsy sometimes." She added with a look of embarrassment as she rolled her eyes and pushed a pair of black-rimmed glasses back up her nose. Finally, everything was securely back in her grasp, which brought her particularly close to Haley's ear. "Keep moving." She added in hushed tones.

Gathering up her fallen shoulder bag, Haley stole a final glance back towards her sister as Kat began a long conversation, mostly with herself about archeology and all the fabulous finds in the last few years in her rich Southern accent. None of it penetrated through to Haley as she noticed, already Liz had forgotten the stranger and focused her eyes back on her idle hands resting on her lap. A slight slap to the shoulder brought her back.

"Are you listening ta me Janice?" Kat asked with exasperation, still using her Southern accent.

"Uh, sure Melinda. I heard every word you said." Haley answered dully with a forced smile.

"Good. Oh, here are our seats." Kat said in character as she put her purse and blazer in the storage compartment above their seats and quickly took her seat to let the other passengers behind them pass.

'Melinda' quickly resumed her story of the fabulous find of the remains of a young Inca sacrifice found high in the Andes as she took her aisle seat. Under normal circumstances, Haley would have found this tale quite fascinating. However, her mind was
elsewhere and Haley found it hard to look interested, even if the story was just to keep up Kat's character appearance. So, Haley did her best to look intrigued and keep in character herself.

Slowly, Melinda's story of the young Inca girl was drowned out by the rising hum of the engines as it warmed up for take-off. Reaching their peek, the constant whining of the engines masked Kat and Haley's conversation.

"What the hell were you thinking of back there?" Kat demanded in a forced whisper, all the while keeping up the façade of pleasantness.

"I-I don't know...I guess seeing Liz kind of threw me off for second. I'm sorry." Haley stammered.

"Well you could have blown it for us right there, damnit!" Scolded Kat as she inconspicuously glanced around to make sure no one was listening to them.

Feeling the sting of Kat's harsh tone, Haley suddenly felt very conscience-stricken as all words of apology left her.

Noticing the sudden down trodden look, Kat amended her tone. "Haley, next time, please keep your mind here, with me. Ok?" She said more gently.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." Haley stopped as she lowered her eyes to stare at her hands as they fidgeted in her lap.

"Don't be sorry, just learn from your mistakes." Kat said with a touch of softness in her voice as she placed a reassuring hand on Haley's shoulder.

"I will." Haley nodded with a small smile, which Kat returned.

Thursday, June 25, 1998, 2:10am

After a three-hour stop over in Frankfurt, Germany, Haley and Kat finally arrived in the early morning darkness of Toronto. Haley let out an inconspicuous sigh of relief when the plane touched down without incident. Kat seemed not to notice. Instead, she led the young novelist through the large terminal at a casual pace, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. Haley knew it was the contrary. 'That woman has the eyes of a hawk. Nothing escapes her.' Haley thought with a sense of security as they gathered their things and headed out of the airport and into the parking lot.

"Um, Melinda, where are we going?" Haley asked curiously.

"Patience my dear." Kat smiled, still using her character's accent as she playfully slapped Haley's shoulder, her eyes discreetly taking in their surroundings.

Haley let herself be lead through the rows of cars all of different makes, sizes, shapes and colors until finally she was lead to a silver Dodge Intrepid. Without asking any questions, Haley simply watched in silence as Kat took another quick glance around and then bent down in front of the car. She reached a hand under the flaring at the bottom of the car and slid her hand along its underside. After a second or so of fishing her hand around, she retracted her hand with a satisfied look on her face. With a grin and a quick wink, Kat flashed the car keys in front of Haley.

"Now, to get you somewhere safe."

Finally back on the road, under the early morning streetlights, Haley had to ask. "Where are we going?"

"I'm going to have to leave you for a little while, so I'm taking you to one of our safe houses for safe keeping." Kat answered without looking at her.

"Shouldn't I stay with you? I mean, I can't think of anyplace safer than being with you." Haley said, trying to keep her misgivings out of her voice about being separated from Kat.

"Don't worry Haley," Kat said, turning her head to regard Haley as they stopped at a red light. "You'll be safe. I'm going to get some information on those encryption codes from the very people who made them. Then, I'll be back for you and we'll be back in business."

"Why don't we just give the disk to one of CSIS's agents to crack?" Haley inquired as the car started rolling once again through the wet glistening streets.

"Because whoever was leaking information to the Kynak to begin with may get his or her hands on that disk and that I won't allow." Kat stated firmly.

Haley nodded a silent agreement with Kat's sensible plans. After reviewing everything over in her mind for a little bit, one persistent thought jumped to the front of her mind making Haley uneasy. "Kat, what if this same informant also knows about CSIS's safe houses? For all we know, they could be waiting for us."

"Don't worry. I thought about that all ready. Where I'm bringing you isn't one of CSIS's normal safe houses. It has no connection with CSIS except me, and that's well hidden." Kat explained without hesitation.

"You've thought of everything haven't you?" Replied Haley feeling somewhat less anxious than a few minutes earlier.

"I hope so." Came Kat's serious answer. "I warn you though, the place is, um, a little unconventional."

"What do you mean 'unconventional'?" Haley inquired skeptically.

"Hold that thought. I gotta find someplace to stop and change out of these clothes. I'd stick out like a sore thumb there."

After a quick stop at a small gas station, Kat changed out of the stuffy clothes she wore on their flight over, opting for comfort now. Her nylons and skirt were replaced for a worn pair of comfortable blue jeans. The blouse and jacket were tossed, while a tight fitting black t-shirt took its place. A pair of comfortable loafer's now adorned her feet as her long silky hair now flowed freely about her shoulders. Now she could go where she needed to go.

They drove for another few minutes before Haley turned worried eyes to Kat. "Where are you taking me?" Haley asked as she eyed the surrounding buildings. Everywhere she looked there were pornography stores, strip joints and other such places.

Kat had a faint grin on her face. "Trust me." Was all she offered as an explanation as she turned onto a side street and brought the car to a stop at the side entrance of a brick building with a small neon sign hanging over the top of the door that read 'Tops'.

"Let's go." Kat told Haley as she opened her door and started towards the door. She stopped for a moment when she noticed Haley had not even opened her door. Had this been another time and place, she might have laughed out loud at the shocked expression on Haley's face. But this wasn't a night on the town or any other such event. This was business.

Within two long strides, Kat was next to the car opening the passenger side door. "Come on, we don't have time for this." She said as she reached in and gently hauled Haley out of the car. With Haley now standing next to her, Kat reached into the car one more time and hauled out the novelist's laptop case and handed it to Haley. "Keep this with you. Don't let it out of your sight." Kat turned back towards the dull steel door and rapped on it three times then waited. "Just follow my lead." Kat whispered to Haley seconds before a small slit in the door flew open.

"Who sent you?" A deep voice rumbled from the other side of the door.

"Mother sent me." Kat said simply.

The small slit suddenly slammed shut.

They waited a moment before Haley finally nudged Kat. "Is he going to let us..." Haley's sentence drifted off as they heard a bolt sliding from its place, quickly followed by the slow squeak of the heavy door being eased open.

Haley looked into the darkness beyond the doorway questioningly for a second before falling into step behind the tall confident woman. She quickly looked around the small room she found herself in. It was a very plain, very dark box Haley thought. Nothing distinguishing stood out except for the sounds of muffled music drifting to her ears. Suddenly, she was brought to an abrupt halt as a huge muscled forearm shot out in front of her nose, blocking her way.

"Stand back." The tall black man ordered as he gently pushed Haley back away from Kat.

"You know the drill Kat." The large man stated.

The only thing Kat did to acknowledge that she 'knew the drill' was that she held her arms out to her side at shoulder height and widened her stance. The big man quickly and efficiently frisked the well-toned body from head to toe and gave her a curt nod. Kat lowered her arms and resumed a normal stance as she reached out for Haley to give her the laptop case.

"Who's she Kat?" The tall black man asked with a nod of his baldhead as he stood towering over the smaller woman with his huge arms crossed over his chest.

"She's with me Zeus." Kat said in low tones. "She's clean."

He took a step closer to Haley. "Well?" He questioned her with a hint of annoyance as he stood in front of her.

Haley shot Kat an uncertain look as she watched the towering man stand in front of her impatiently with his massive arms hanging at his side. A barely perceptible nod came from Kat. Haley held her head high and imitated the stance Kat had used only a few moments earlier.

Just as she watched the big man frisk Kat only moments before, he now did the same to her. She felt the embarrassing heat rise in her face as she felt the man's huge hands quickly brush over her breasts as they started down her sides. He worked his way to her legs, patting each one thoroughly bringing his hands embarrassingly close to her crotch. She swallowed hard at the intrusion and sent a quick glance towards Kat. Kat's eyes remained steely and almost unreadable, but she caught the slightest movement of the dark head, which indicated that she remain calm.

Before she knew it, he was done. Zeus walked back over to Kat and pointed a bulky finger out cautiously at the laptop case she now carried. Haley also noticed that the dark hand furthest from her simultaneously reached back behind him to the small of his back.

She tried to see what he was reaching for without looking too obvious but could barely see anything under the black light of the small room. Her thoughts however, suggested to her that he was most likely reaching for a gun. The younger woman wasn't sure if Kat had caught the movement or not. It was more than likely that Kat had seen the movement and obviously wasn't worried. Haley's body still tensed in anticipation just incase.

"Open it." Zeus commanded in his deep voice.

Without protest, Kat did as the taller man ordered and opened the case.

Suddenly the hand behind his back came back around with something in it. Haley jumped slightly as the brightness of a flashlight suddenly turned on and lit up the contents of the case. He glanced over at Haley for a brief second and then returned his attention to the case.

After a few moments of examining the case, the large man finally gave a grunt of satisfaction and reached his arm past Kat. A crack of light suddenly formed the outline of a doorway and grew as Zeus opened the hidden door further and ushered the two women through into the noisy room.

Haley shuffled closer to Kat as the muffled music heard earlier suddenly burst to life with the opening of the door. A thriving nightclub met their eyes as they walked into the dimly lit club.

"Stay close to me." Kat said bending down to Haley's ear level to be heard over the din of exotic music and the whistles and catcalls coming from the patrons of the full club. Haley quickly nodded her understanding as they pushed their way through the crowd to the bar.

On their way to the bar, Haley's curious eyes wandered down over the balcony they were on to take in the scene below them. Her eyes went wide at the scene which greeted her. From what she could see of the dimly lit club, it was decorated almost entirely in brass, bronze and chrome. There was a large chrome diamond plated stage with very provocative women in various stages of unclothing danced for the pleasure of both their male and female patrons.

Each woman made their way down the runways of glass with flashing lights shining up from under them. All three runways merged onto the main stage where three brass poles waited for them. The three poles, all equally spaced, extended up from the stage to the high ceiling of the club. Haley gasped in awe as she watched one of the women grab the middle pole, climbed up with the agility of a cat and spun around the pole, her feet never touching the ground. Suddenly she thrust her legs up into the air and wrapped them around the pole as her hands let go. Her legs held her in place while she dangled upside down, moving her body in ways Haley never would have dreamt of. The other two women closed in on the inverted woman and began dancing sensually around her.

Haley's hand shot out and grabbed Kat's black t-shirt. "You're hiding me in a strip club!" Haley whispered hoarsely when she had Kat's attention.

"Trust me." Kat repeated evenly as she motioned Haley forward towards some vacant stools at the bar.

Kat took a seat on the black velvety cushioned seat and signaled the bartender over. With an air of mystery, Kat leaned over to the middle-aged bartender and began saying something in hushed tones. Well, as hushed as the crowded club would allow. No sooner had Haley took her seat next to the raven-haired woman did unwanted offers start.

"Hi there beautiful." One blond haired man with fair skin and a flashy smile said as he slid himself in close to Haley. Uncomfortably close. His devilish grin screamed out his intentions as his hand slowly snaked up her thigh. Haley backed away from the offensive hand, her back bumping into Kat's side. Just as she was about to tell the young man 'hands off', she heard another voice behind her pipe in.

"Back off." Haley heard the protective voice say. "She's with me." She felt an arm drape protectively over her shoulder as she felt Kat's body lean in closer to hers. Haley quickly threw the man's hand off of her thigh.

Not backing off, the man's eyes lit up with hopeful desire as he eyed the two women appreciatively. "Not a problem." He smiled lasciviously. "The more the merrier."

Kat's voice narrowed dangerously impatient. "Not interested." She spoke purposely as she led Haley off of the stools and away from the young man. She kept her arm around Haley as they made their way through the crowd with the persistent man still on their tail.

"Don't turn your back on me when I'm talking to you." The man called out to them sounding annoyed as he grabbed Kat's shoulder and spun her around.

Kat relaxed her grip on Haley as she let herself be spun around. With a practiced ease, the painful elbow she delivered to the annoying man's gut looked like nothing more than an accidental slip from being spun around so quickly. She watched with satisfaction as he doubled over onto the floor.

"Oh I'm sorry. Did you say something?" Kat asked looking down at the man as he struggled to his feet.

"I said, you clumsy bitch," he gasped, "...not to turn your back on me!" He hissed over the loud crowd as he worked his way back to his feet despite the occasional snicker directed his way.

Kat took a step closer to the man, which brought her body within inches of the man's body. The man was easily her height and of a slightly larger build. He glowered at Kat as he daringly grabbed her upper arm in a forceful grip. Kat calmly looked at the intruding hand and then leveled a steely, cold blue gaze on the man.

"Now you listen to me." She said in a low growl as her hand suddenly shot out from nowhere and locked onto the man's genitals with a grip that made the mans face turn white. "You have very poor manners. When a girl says 'not interested', she means 'not interested'. Ya got that?" She said evenly, her vice-like grip leading the man away on his tiptoes. "Do yourself a favor, be smart and leave." Kat's hands gave the flesh in her grip another warning squeeze to emphasize her point.

Even in the dimly lit area, Kat could make out the man's face turning varying shades of red as his eyes rolled back in his head as he nodded his understanding vigorously.

"Good." Kat finished as she pushed him away and returned to Haley.

"Come on, Gino is waiting." Was all Kat said as she replaced her protective arm around Haley and led her to a black door.

Blocking everybody's way through the door stood a well-dressed Italian. The clean-shaven, dark-haired man watched as Kat and Haley approached him from the crowd. He watched them dubiously until he finally recognized Kat. With a neutral face, he gave Kat a slight nod of his head as he stepped to the side of the door and permitted the two women through the door that led to his boss's office upstairs.

Without a word, Kat led Haley up the very plain looking, brightly lit stairway, which stood out in sharp contrast to the elaborately decorated club, almost made Haley laugh. 'They must have been trying to save money.' She mused to herself moments before they reached the top of the stairs and were ushered through the door by another, well dressed man. However, upon entering the office, her earlier thoughts about them trying to save money flew out the window.

Quietly, Haley descended the three marble steps to the main office floor, which was also completely covered in expensive marble. Haley tried very hard to keep her jaw from dropping to the floor as she took in her surroundings. In the corners of the large room were large, intricately carved white marble pillars. Against the far wall opposite her, stood a beautiful private bar with dozens of bottles on the wall behind the counter. A large rack above the bar held the kind of wine, champagne and other such glasses that usually made you nervous to walk around in a store because they were so expensive.

In the middle of the room was an overly large glass oval coffee table with a large black leather couch and chairs surrounding it comfortably. Sitting at the table were four suited men all with dark hair except one with peppered colored hair whom all glanced up at them with suspicious eyes as they entered. Haley's eyes quickly glanced to her right, away from the intimidating men's looks and noticed a grandiose picture window overlooking the entire club. Its shady smoky coloring probably meant that it was a one-way window; they could see out, but nobody could see in.

Haley quickly snapped out of her stupor as a very lean, very handsome man sitting behind an oversized desk off to her left made his way towards them.

"Kat, it has been too long old friend! How have you been?" The well-dressed man asked exuberantly with a touch of an Italian accent.

"As well as can be expected. And you Gino?" Kat responded with a smile as she motioned for Haley to take a seat in one of the two cushiony chairs in front of the desk as Gino clasped Kat's upper arms and kissed her once on each cheek in greeting.

"Good, good. And who is your little friend?" He asked as they parted, motioning for Kat to take a seat next to the young blond woman as he seated himself on the corner of the desk made of expensive Birds Eye Maple wood.

Kat graciously accepted the proffered seat, placing the small case on the floor next to the cushiony leather chair before sitting down leisurely, crossing her long legs smoothly.

"Gino, this is my friend Haley Connors." Kat introduced and then turned to Haley and indicated to Gino. "Haley, this is Gino Rosetti, an old friend of mine from way back."

With a suaveness seen mostly in movies, Gino swept himself over to Haley, bent low and gently took her hand into his as he brought his lips down and gently kissed her soft hands. "I am pleased to meet you Haley Connors." He said with a disarming smile.

Then returning to sit on the edge of his desk, he returned his attention to Kat. "And what is it that I can do for you Kat? Your infrequent visits are rarely for pleasure, which is a shame I might add." He said giving Kat a flirtatious smile.

"Maybe another time." She smiled quickly before adopting her business face. "Actually Gino, I need to ask you a favor."

"Name it my friend." He replied without hesitation.

"We have some trouble on our tails and I need a safe place to hide Haley for a short time."

Gino's dark brows furrowed in concern as he studied Kat's stoic face and then to Haley's. "You know I will do whatever I can. My men and I are at your disposal."

"Thanks Gino. I knew I could count on you. I'm sorry I can't stay longer, but there are still some things I have to take care of." Kat stood up from her seat and shook Gino's hand and held it firmly and lowered her voice seriously. "Under no circumstances is anybody to know about Haley being here. No one comes to see her except me, and no one leaves with her except me. Understood?"

"Kat..." Gino drawled with a barely noticeable note of insult. "You know me better than that."

"I know Gino, but I just had to make that clear." She said, resuming her normal tone. "Everything should be relatively quiet anyway. Well, that is if she doesn't talk your ear off." She said with a wink towards Haley who protested the remark with a defiant look, which quickly turned into a shy smile.

"Ah, a lovely lady who can keep up her end of the conversation as we enjoy a relaxing drink!" Gino smirked with a playful look in his eyes, which Kat didn't miss.

"And Gino," Kat said as she gently grabbed his chin with her fingers and turned his attention back to her. "You behave yourself or you deal with me." Her smile did little to hide the warning tone in her voice.

"Kat, I was only trying to make her feel comfortable!" He protested with an innocent look.

"Uh-huh." Kat said disbelievingly. "Behave." She bent down, grabbed the laptop case and whispered a reassurance to Haley. "Don't worry, he's really a good person. He just likes to joke a lot with good looking women."

"But what if..." Haley trailed off as Kat broke in with a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"I'll be back before you know it." Kat replied confidently, bolstering Haley's spirits.

With a slight nod of her head, Haley relaxed. "You be careful."

With a knowing smile, Kat straightened and was escorted to the door by Gino.

"Maybe after this is done, I could interest you in a drink or maybe a night on the town?" Gino asked hopefully.

Kat simply looked at him with a lop-sided grin and shook her head 'no'.

"How about a nightcap?" He added with a sly grin.

"In your dreams." She smirked as she opened the door to leave.

"Admit it Kat, you can't resist me for much longer." He added with a wink and a smile.

Kat simply shook her head as she made her way down the stairs.

It was just past 4am by the time Kat got in contact with Samuel Quesnel for outside access codes into CSIS's systems, which changed almost daily due to the nature of the high security programs. After leaving Haley at 'Tops', she arranged and picked up the necessary codes at the drop off point and was on her way to do some work at home.

After finally arriving at her high-rise apartment building, Kat trudged on into the elevators and punched the 12th floor button. Rubbing her tired eyes, Kat opened her door and walked into an empty living room. The bag she carried with her from the airport was dropped unceremoniously on the floor at the door as she walked across the tiled floor to the single piece of furniture in her living room: her computer desk.

Stifling a yawn, she slumped lazily onto the well-used seat of the tall back chair at her computer. A small smile found its way to her lips as she heard the familiar squeak of the chair as it adjusted to the new weight. 'I really should buy a new chair.' She thought to herself as she relaxed in the comfortable chair that once belonged to her father before he passed away. Another yawn reminded her that the sleep she got the night before was barely enough for her tired body and mind and she could just hear Haley's chastising voice in her head. 'You're no good to anybody without sleep, now git!'

"I'll get some sleep when I get the addresses of the defectors." Kat said out loud to her empty apartment.

She looked over her computer desk and saw that all of her state-of-the-art computer system and accessories were as she left them. She reached over to the tower and was about to turn it on when a thought hit her. 'The Kynak know I'm involved, which means they might also know where I live.'

"Stupid!" Kat spat out loud as she hauled her hand away from the 'on' button. "The whole damn placed could have been rigged and me blown to pieces! Jesus Kat, you're losing it."

Kat pushed herself out of her chair and began searching her small apartment meticulously for any traps, bugs and anything else that shouldn't be there. Thankfully, after a little over an hour of searching and tearing things apart, she came up with nothing unusual. That could be due in part to the fact that every few months or so she makes it a point to find a new apartment. This way, it makes it a little more difficult for anyone to pinpoint her home and set traps. Thus, the sparse furnishings, the less she has to move, the better it is for her. Just the necessities.

She resumed her seat at the computer and turned it on. Once her computer was up and running, she immediately hooked up to CSIS's computer systems and entered all the necessary passwords given to her by the head of CSIS himself; Samuel Quesnel.

His faith in her was so much so, that he gave Kat almost unlimited access to whatever it was she needed. All she had to do was ask. And ask she did, she just couldn't bring herself to trust anybody else with the job.

Typing in all the pertinent information, Kat was rewarded with a complete profile on the defectors, including a current photograph along with their current whereabouts. "Bingo." Within a short span of time, Kat had studied their profiles and pictures over and over again until they were all committed to memory before signing off. First thing in the morning, she was going to be paying Mohammad Kirandeep a little visit.

'Time for some shut eye.' She told herself as she dragged her feet up the stairs to her bedroom, which overlooked her living room and kitchen. By the time she reached the top of the stairs she managed to kick off her shoes and was already stripped down to her bra and panties. Her bed was such an inviting sight that she simply let herself fall into the cozy sheets. She forced her brain to 'keep the noise down' while she grabbed a couple of hours of shuteye.

Morning had arrived much too early for Kat who had only managed to sleep a little over three hours. By the time nine o'clock rolled around, she was already up and on her way with the disk and laptop to Oshawa, which was about an hours drive North East from Toronto. She'd been to the city a few times in the past and so didn't have to waste very much time searching for the quaint little subdivision she was looking for.

Driving up to the small brick house she knew Mohammad was being kept in under the watchful eyes of CSIS agents, she suddenly slowed her car as she saw someone emerging from the front door.

She squinted into the morning sunlight to get a good look at the dark figure walking out of the house when he suddenly looked to his left and right suspiciously. Kat was starting to see more details as she brought her car to a halt in the shade of a house and watched. She saw his lithe form cockily strut across the lawn as his short, white hair stuck in her mind as an image hit her. "What the hell...Seth?" She whispered in disbelief as she watched her supposedly dead friend casually stop and tie his shoelace very much alive and well.

Without missing a beat, she quickly re-adjusted her gun holster at the small of her back and cautiously stepped out of the car. She brought herself to her full height and stood behind the car door momentarily, long enough for Seth to knowingly turn and notice her.

"Kat..." He drawled with a pleasant smile. "...Long time no see, hmm?" Seth slowly continued walking towards the street, purposefully keeping his dark eyes on Kat.

With an uneasy look, Kat slowly mirrored his movements and made her way towards him as her muscles tensed for any surprises. "What's going on Seth?" She asked with a neutral look. "Thought you were suppose to be dead." She added almost casually.

"Can't slip anything past you huh?" He sneered as a black Sedan suddenly pulled up to the curb in front of Seth with a small screech as it came to a stop.

Quickly, Kat reached back and hauled out her gun as she sprinted towards Seth who was just slipping into the Sedan. She was closing the distance between them, but not fast enough.

The dark skinned man even paused as he stood partway in the car. "Sorry Kat can't chat. I've got a hot date with a certain blond or should I say brunette now." He taunted as he jumped into the car.

"Seth!" Kat yelled after him as the Sedan lurched into motion with another squeal and headed straight for her.

The determined woman stood her ground on the deserted street as the Sedan all too quickly raced for her. She managed to fire off two direct shots to the windshield, which its apparent bulletproof glass deflected harmlessly. Seeing her shots weren't doing any good, she managed to leap away from harm as the car narrowly missed her. She ignored the quick jabbing pain in her shoulder as it hit the pavement in her roll. Spinning back around, she tried to catch a license plate number to no avail.

"Son of a bitch!" She slammed her fist down hard against the road as she cursed her rotten luck upon noticing that the car's plates had been removed. Her head shook with noticeable disgust as she stared off after the departed Sedan and then a sudden dread filled her being. 'Could he really have Haley?' Came the question, which she all ready knew the answer to. "Shit!" She cursed again. 'The only ones who knew about Tops were Marcus and...' She felt her heart sink. "No." Came the soft word of denial.

Hurriedly, Kat picked herself up off of the street and started to turn towards her car when she glanced back at the brick house she had seen Seth leaving. She was torn between running to Haley's rescue and checking out the house. 'They're probably already dead.' She reasoned with herself, already knowing what she had to do.

Setting her jaw, she quickly ran to the house and pushed open the unlocked door. The smell of blood reached her sensitive nose just as she expected. The living room was off to her immediate right, which became her first stop.

An eye catching splattering of blood on the wall behind the sofa met her eyes, but there was no body. She walked further into the living room and noticed a pool of blood soaked into the lush beige carpets with a trail of thick red blood leading away from it. She followed the trail of blood with her eyes as they led to the adjoining kitchen. Cautiously, with her gun still drawn, she made her way into the kitchen.

Walking through the archway that separated the two rooms, she suddenly knew what happened to the bodies. There, sitting at the kitchen table were three men. The two who each sat at the ends of the table were unknown to her, she assumed they were CSIS's men. The third however, she recognized as the man she had come in search of, sporting a new hole in his head.

"You sick bastard." She spat with hatred as she looked at Seth's handiwork. All three men sat slumped at the kitchen table with an empty plate in front of them, an unopened bottle of beer in their hands and a lit cigarette in their mouths. All except Mohammad who had taken a nose-dive into his plate.

There was nothing more she could do here. Her thoughts centered solely on Haley now. She thought only of how to get Haley out of this mess. Thoughts of any guilt on her part were quickly pushed out of her mind as she quickly rushed out of the house.

She made sure to leave the house exactly as she found it. When she closed the door she made sure not to touch the door handle swinging it shut with her foot instead.

'If that son of a bitch so much as harms a hair on her head I'll...' Her face began to redden. '...I'll make him wish he had stayed dead.' She thought dangerously as she jumped into her car and sped off back to Toronto for Haley.

Well on her way speeding down the busy highway, Kat grabbed her cell phone and alerted the proper authorities to the scene she had just left.

By the time Kat pulled up to Tops it was just past noon. She dashed out of the car with her gun in hand, not even bothering to close her door as she ran up to the club's side door. She knocked once and then twice receiving no answer. 'There's always somebody here.' Impatiently, she began to pound on the door when she felt a sudden give to the door. Eyeing the door suspiciously, Kat quickly holstered her gun and took a step back.

With a determined look, she kicked the door with a powerful leg and watched as it eased open enough for her to squeeze through. She pushed on the door as she forced her way through and noticed an opposing force against the door fighting with her. With a powerful heave, she threw the door open wider letting in the sunlight of the mid-morning sun.

With the sunlight shining partially in, Kat noticed legs crumpled up behind the door. Slowly she moved the door aside to get a better look at the body and wasn't overly surprised to see that it was Zeus. She bent down and retrieved the flashlight she knew Zeus always carried in his back pocket.

She flashed the light on his face and saw a single bullet shot to the head. She checked the muscles in his neck and jaw and found them already fully stiffened. Looking over the rest of his body, she noted that much of the larger muscles had grown rather stiff as well. Rigor mortis still hadn't fully set in she noticed. 'Everything must have went down about eight hours ago.' She observed with a growing sense of dread. 'Not long after I left.'

Quickly she stood back up and rushed through the hidden door that led into the club. The atmosphere in the club was completely different from the loud, dark nightclub she and Haley had initially entered. All the lights on the bar floor were lit, everything was quiet and peaceful. Not a soul roamed through the empty club. This bothered Kat more than she would admit as she quickly rushed over to the stairs going up to Gino's office.

Kat noticed the pool of congealing blood peeking out from around the corner of the bar before she saw the dead guard. With a renewed sense of urgency, Kat quickly but carefully avoided stepping in the blood and ran up the stairs.

A waterfall trail of blood marked the stairs as Kat ascended them. She barely spared it and the prone body at the top of the stairs a glance as she threw open the office door. The solid door slammed against the wall with a loud crash and then went silent. Kat took in the broken state of the office as her nose crinkled disagreeably with the scene.

The bottles behind the bar were all shattered. Blood and bodies were strewn all over the room giving the guise of a slaughterhouse. Her eyes frantically searched the room for Haley. She saw the four men guards at the coffee table from the night before all sprawled out on the ground at awkward angles, two of them with their guns not far from their dead hands.

She walked down the three stairs into the main office and ignored everybody else as she went straight for the dark-haired man sitting at the large desk. She knew immediately that Gino was dead by the long dagger sticking out of his chest with a note up near the hilt to avoid being soaked beyond comprehension.

With a sense of sorrow, Kat reached out and tore the blood stained paper from his chest. "Oh Gino...I'm so sorry." She whispered softly, pained that she had brought him into all of this. But there was no time to grieve for her dead friend while there was still a chance that Haley was alive. She concentrated her attention to the piece of paper.

We each have something the other wants.
If you wish for your friend to continue her days among the living,
you'll come alone to Centre Island for a walk before it gets too chilly.
And remember, we don't want another Cindy O'Hearn incident do we?

She hauled out a lighter in her pocket and brought a flame to life. Slowly, she put it to one end of the paper and held it for a moment as she watched the paper blacken and burn. The mesmerizing effects of the flame brought back an old memory of the needless death of an innocent.

"Did you bring what we asked for?" A tall man of slight build asked impatiently with a heavy Irish accent cradling a Canadian FN rifle in his arms.

"Here's the money." Kat answered in a cool tone, hearing her own voice echo in the abandoned manor as she felt the eyes of the hidden IRA on her as she handed a brief case to a sandy haired woman.

Despite being in this hornet's nest alone, Kat felt confident she could negotiate the safe release of the IRA's Canadian and British hostages they kidnapped from the Canadian embassy and come out alive herself. With only the movement of her eyes, she counted at least 2 hidden men on the balcony above her and 4 in front of her guarding the three hostages. 'I can take them easily.' She thought as her mind already mapped out a strategy.

"What the fuck are you playing at here?!" The tall man yelled furiously as he threw the money to the ground, his face and torso suddenly covered in blue paint.

Before her shocked mind could register a response, gunfire quickly erupted from behind her as one of the IRA fell to the ground dead. Kat instinctively went for her gun behind her back but remembered with frustration that she came without a gun as per the meeting agreement. With a bullet whizzing past her head, Kat made a frantic dive for the floor behind some old crates that would provide her some protection.

"Those sons a bitches!" She cursed vehemently as she saw British soldiers busting into the building leading with their guns.

With wild blood pumping through her veins, Kat urgently ran towards the hostages, keeping behind the crates, knowing their time was almost up. Frantic yells and gunfire continued to fill the air as Kat came upon a twitching, bloody body. She grabbed the mini Uzi from the dying hands and roared into action only ten feet away from the hostages who were screaming and crouching in fear for their lives.

She fired off a quick burst filling one of the radicals full of steel as she continued her way towards the hostages who were now clear of guards. A bullet from behind bit painfully into her leg as she crumpled to the ground in front of the terrified hostages. From the corner of her eye she saw the tall IRA group leader stagger into view aiming his gun towards the hostages.

"NO!" She cried out with an enraged yell as she twisted around and fired off her gun at the leader on her way down. Her shoulder smashed hard into the wooden floor as she watched with satisfaction as the leader fell to the ground himself, her shot finding its mark. Unfortunately, the sound of another body thumping loudly against the floor brought her attention back around to the hostages.

Kat saw a jumble of dark brown hair lying on the floor with a pool of blood quickly surrounding it. Then the gunfire came to an unearthly quietness. Kat whirled her head around angrily as she saw the green fatigues of soldiers quietly stepping out into the open yelling 'clear'.

"You stupid sons a bitches!" She cried out in fiery rage as she hobbled painfully to her feet.

"Ma'am, you did your job, now let us do..." the strong British soldier said as he called someone forward to attend to her wounds.

"Fuck you!" She spat, pushing away any help forcefully. "I had the situation under control until your fucken little marker was planted without my knowledge! And because of your fuck up, an innocent woman is dead!"

"Please ma'am, calm down..." the British soldier said, his own voice rising as he physically tried to calm the raging woman.

Kat's fist lashed out at the unsuspecting soldier knocking him flat on his ass as she skipped a few paces to keep her balance. It didn't take long before some of the other soldiers attempted to intervene. Two others ended up finding themselves on the floor next to the first man, while several others had finally managed to subdue the furious woman.

Not long after, Kat discovered the name of the murdered hostage to be Cindy O'Hearn, an administrative assistant at the Canadian embassy. She died because the British had a prominent politician visiting at the time and happened to be one of those abducted from the embassy. Kat's stomach turned in disgust knowing full well unofficially the other two women were probably considered expendable so long as their politician came out alive and well. She couldn't help but feel personally responsible for Cindy O'Hearns death. She should have seen such an attempt was going to be made. Had she realized this would happen, she knew she could have at least tried to avert the tragedy.

The letter was now completely burned and lay in ashes in the glass ashtray on the bloody desk. 'No tricks.' Was Seth's warning to Kat by reminding her of the dead woman from her past.

"No tricks." She whispered solemnly out loud.

Before leaving for the meeting place, Kat had one stop to make.

The ferry trip to Centre Island was relatively uneventful. The cries of a young baby being cradled in her father's arms pierced the air. Rambunctious children ran past her and all over the deck with their mothers screaming after them, finally catching them and scolding the children to 'be good'. A younger couple sat by themselves quietly arguing, while a young girl had her index finger digging up through her nose as she wiped her findings on a passing by old woman. None of these things escaped her attention as she stood observantly against the ships railings looking expectantly through the crowd. Of course, the people she was looking for were nowhere to be seen.

Kat's eyes fell to her watch and then looked up at the sky, which still held the blueness of the beautiful day as it slowly began to wane. Unconsciously, she fingered the laptop case, which also contained the disk that would save Haley's life.

Within no time at all the ferry pulled up into dock and the passengers all disembarked. Some made their way into the tourist center, while others chose their destination and started on their way. Kat chose the walking trail, which was unusually bare, and made her way down it with a purposeful stride all the while eyeing her surroundings and the sky.

Kat walked down the worn trail for nearly fifteen minutes. Had this been under different circumstances, she would have enjoyed the walk under the canopy of trees and fields. The sudden chirping of a bird in a nearby poplar tree distracted her as it drew her eyes to it for a split moment. The small brown bird chirped again as she walked by the tree it was nested in and then went quiet. No sooner had she returned her gaze to the road ahead, did she hear a noise further up the trail behind a stand of trees. Her gut told her it was Seth.

Outwardly, Kat appeared calm and collected while the fire of seething rage coursing through her body burned just below the surface. Dangerously close. She continued walking until she was about ten feet away from the area where she had heard the noise. "Show yourself." She said with a neutral voice, seemingly to no one in particular.

"As sharp as ever I see." A man said as he stepped out from behind the trees and bushes. "Guess that's why I've always liked you." Seth said with a slight grin.

Kat looked around and noticed that nobody else accompanied him. Not any of his men nor the young novelist who had begun to grow on her more than she cared to admit. A quick glance around told her that they were alone as the sun began its descent.

"So," Seth began confidently as he anxiously rubbed his hands together. "Let's see what little treats you have for me."

"Not so fast." Kat said holding her ground. "Where's Haley?"

"Ah yes, your little friend." Seth hesitated somewhat as he scratched his brow in thought. "You see I did keep my word, she is alive. But you have to understand I couldn't risk you coming after me once we've made the trade, so I had to come up with an alternate plan."

Kat's eyes drew together tightly as she glared dangerously at Seth's grinning face. The corner of her mouth twitched as she growled at him. "What did you do?" She demanded angrily, trying very hard to keep her cool.

"You know, I really out-did myself this time Kat." Seth grinned self-appreciatively as he glanced down at his watch. "In about twenty minutes, you'll be able to find your friend all over the island." He watched with satisfaction as Kat's eyes registered alarm. "Of course, it's not terribly original but I do so love fireworks this time of year."

Kat took several threateningly steps closer to Seth before he stopped her with a wave of his hand. "Now now, let's not be too rash. You rough me up and you'll never find her alive. Not to mention all those tourists that will more than likely be around."

Her movements suddenly stopped.

"You know, every mission we were ever on things just had to be done your way. Well this time, you're going to do things my way. Won't that be a nice change?"

"Get on with it." Kat snarled.

"Show me the disk." Seth's face turned unnaturally stern as he motioned with his outstretched hand for her to hand it over. "Come on. The faster we do this, the more time you have to save your friend."

Kat looked at him with a barely perceptible look of suspicion.

"Don't try to call my bluff. You know me better than that." He had read her faint expression correctly. After working with Kat for nearly eight years, he was able to read some of her body language and expressions.

Kat tossed the laptop case at him. "It's in there."

"I trust it's not a fake." Seth asked seriously as he carefully unzipped the canvas case.

"Check for yourself." She said impatiently.

Keeping one eye on Kat and one on his work was one thing Kat had taught him: never trust anyone. He threw the carrying case aside as he balanced the small computer in his hands. Glancing up at Kat periodically, he could tell she was getting fidgety and anxious. This made him smile as he popped the small disk into the driver and brought its contents up on the screen.

A few keystrokes later, he smiled and closed the computer. "Fifteen minutes left Kat. What're you doing here chatting with me? Thought you wanted to get her away from that bomb in the amusement parks generator room."

"I'll find you." Was Kat's promise as she wasted no more time with Seth and began running down the trail towards the amusement park.

As she ran down the dirt trail, Kat was thankful she had worn her sneakers this day because it was going to be close. It took her fifteen minutes just to reach this point walking. To get to the amusement park was at least another fifteen-minute walk away. She was going to have to push herself hard if she wanted to get to Haley on time. 'This is not open for debate.' She thought to herself with determination as she forced her legs to pump faster. 'You will get there on time!'

All her concentration was centered on Haley. Her anger towards Seth for his betrayal was converted into energy. Seeing Haley alive and joking around with her once again fueled her strength. She will not let her friend down.

The giant Ferris wheel came into view and thankfully there were not a lot of people around as the sun began its descent. She spared a quick glance at the time and saw that she had only four minutes remaining. A new spurt of energy burst through her energized body to close the gap as quickly as possible.

Dodging a handful of remaining people she frantically searched for the building. She spied a security officer walking the streets and grabbed him roughly by the front of his uniform. "Where's the generator station?" She panted slightly.

"Now listen here miss..." The young man started before being shaken vigorously by the desperate woman.

"There's a bomb there. So if you don't me what I want to know, we're all going to blow sky high!" She hissed dangerously.

The man looked at her with a stunned expression. "WHERE?" She yelled impatiently.

"T-two buildings down this street to your left. It'll be the small building behind." He stammered clumsily as she pushed her way past him before he finished his sentence.

"Get the remaining people out of here!" She yelled over her shoulder, not slowing down noticing that she had only three minutes left.

She reached the small building and turned the knob with no luck. It was locked. Cursing her lack of foresight, she ran back to the security officer who was passing near her area, hustling a younger couple away. Again, Kat's hand shot out and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. "The key!" She demanded with an outstretched hand.

He searched with shaky hands over his key belt with a terrified look in his brown eyes.

"The key now god damnit!"

"H-here..." He stammered as he handed her his whole key belt holding up the proper key.

Wasting no more time, she sped back down the hallway, and punched in the key frantically. It worked. She burst through the door and found herself in the main generator room for the amusement park. Off to her left, in a corner, she saw Haley tied and gagged with duct tape at the base of an electrical console, struggling to free herself. There, next to her, sat the bomb.

Faster than humanly possible, Kat was at Haley's side reaching for the bomb as the numbers slowly ticked by...3...2...1.

"NO!" Kat yelled as she threw herself over Haley as the timer reached zero.

The seconds ticked by silently as both Haley and Kat thought their hearts were ready to burst from their chests. Nothing happened. Kat cracked open a cautious eye as she tried to calm her ragged breath. Slowly she lifted her head and looked around them. Everything was still intact. They were both alive. Cautiously she dared a look at the bomb, its timer continually flashing four zeros.

Wiping away sweat from her forehead and face, Kat carefully checked all the connections to the bomb and soon discovered it had been a dud all along. Too tired to be pissed off, she simply turned it over and found a small note on the bottom.

Consider all my past debts to you paid in full.

Kat knew this message was from Seth.

Suddenly, her attention was brought back to the writhing, whimpering form beside her. Haley's nostrils flared as they tried to compensate for the deep gasping breaths that had overtaken her during her moment of extreme stress as her mouth was covered with duct tape.

"This might hurt." Kat said softly as she lifted a corner of the duct tape and tore it free of Haley's mouth with a quick zip sound.

"Ow!" Haley couldn't keep from saying at the sudden stinging sensation, her hand shooting out to rub over the area the tape covered.

Rubbing her mouth, Haley's eyes were automatically drawn to Kat's azure eyes. The wild, panicked look in the young woman's green eyes soon quieted as they held onto Kat's, whose eyes alone seemed to lend strength to the novelist. No words were exchanged, just a knowing look.

Kat suddenly felt very tired as her body began to slump down to the floor next to Haley as a tear trickled down the novelist's cheek.

Strong arms suddenly hugged Haley to her and held her tightly, her hand stroking Haley's short hair reassuringly. Everything was going to be all right now.

Several weeks after everything in Haley's life began returning to normal, Kat made another one of her frequent stops to visit her and make sure her friend was doing well. Haley was still kept in hiding until such time that they felt she was safe from all the threats from the Kynak. This time however, Kat kept Haley at her apartment under her watchful eye. Here, Haley learned that Kat had made a copy of the disk she gave to Seth and used it to ultimately bring about the downfall of the Kynak.

Through locations, contacts, members and sellers that were all found on the disk, CSIS was able to effectively eliminate the threat of the Kynak through a joint effort with other government agencies. There was only one snag...Viktor Petrenko remained at large. His whereabouts were unknown.

With most of the threats of the Kynak out of the way, Haley was free to resume her normal life. A joyous reunion with her family and friends ensued. Her muse returned to her setting her on the path of a best seller. But still something was missing in her life. Her life seemed dull. She ended up doing something that had never crossed her mind before all of this happened. She signed up with CSIS.

While Haley recuperated from her injuries, Kat had made a passing suggestion about how CSIS could use more good agents and that Haley herself had great potential. That had gotten the ball rolling.

Since then, she was accepted into CSIS's training program and passed with honors. A recommendation came down from the big guns high up in the chain of command urging Haley on into their special training in the field. Again, she passed with flying colors. And then the most surprising thing happened. She met her new partner: Katherine McGregor.

Haley later found out that Kat had refused to be partnered in the past but now readily accepted her new partner with a smile. She had to admit, with Kat's brawn and skills coupled with Haley's technical mind and quick wit, they were meant to be together. With Kat by her side, she felt they could do anything. Two short missions later, they proved it.

Her friends and family knew little of her secret 'spy' life with CSIS if they knew anything at all. But whether or not they knew, they all agreed that there was a new Haley Connors among them. Sure all the old traits and characteristics were there, but a new confidence and strength were also silently present.

With the setting of the sun on Mexico City, a lone figure secretly snuck into a grungy, rat hole of an apartment unnoticed by anyone who cared to look. Despite the bulkiness of the intruder's body, he moved like a jungle cat on the prowl, his footfalls making not a single sound.

The uncomfortably small, dark apartment was bare save for a single torn sofa against the wall. A quick look around the cramped interior turned up no living creature except for some cockroaches scurrying about. Good. Just as the intruder hoped.

He sat himself on the sofa brandishing a 9mm with a silencer on the end and waited. It had taken the large man several months to track down Seth Kasselman and this time, he wasn't getting away. He patiently waited.

Barely an hour passed by before he heard the knob of the door turning. With patience honed to near perfection through past experiences, the man waited for his prey to come to him.

A sliver of light from the hallway barely penetrated into the windowless room as Seth walked into his apartment. With eyes that had already adjusted to the lightless room, the stranger watched as Seth closed the door and reached for the light switch. It flicked once, then twice without producing any light. And then the stranger spoke.

"I told you I'd find you." He said in a low, emotionless voice.

Seth froze and gulped nervously. "Viktor?"

A single bullet to the head and it was all over before Seth had time to react. Viktor Petrenko stood up from the sofa and walked over to the motionless body on the floor by the door. He looked down at it with no emotion as he aimed his gun once again and fired four more silent shots into Seth's head before walking out as stealthily as he entered.


Saturday July 1, 2000 --Present day

After the book signing was through around 4 o'clock that afternoon, Haley ended up leaving the bookstore with James as he drove her home.

"What a great day huh Hal?" James breathed enthusiastically as the warm wind swept through the convertible. "They were puddy in your hands!"

Haley rolled her eyes and let out a soft laugh. "James, I don't write for control over people you know." She smiled.

"Oh come on Hal, let me have some fun will ya." He laughed as he shot her a mischievous smile.

"You leave my fans alone you rat." She laughed again.

They continued their joking banter as they drove through the crazy streets of downtown Toronto getting stuck in traffic jams more often than not. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, James pulled up to a luxurious towering apartment complex.

"Thanks James." Haley said as she grabbed her gym bag and got out of the sports car.

"You take care of yourself kiddo! Remember, supper at my place next Sunday."

Haley cringed playfully. "Barbara isn't cooking is she."?

"I'm gonna tell her you said that!"

"Bye James." She waved with a grin as she turned to leave.

"Later Hal." He called back as he put the car in gear and left.

"Hello Ricky. How are you today?" Haley asked the Latino doorman as she walked past him.

"Just fine Ms. Connors." The middle aged man answered, tipping his hat to her. "How was the book signing?"

"Exhausting!" She smiled. "But I loved every minute of it."

Stepping into the air-conditioned lobby, she felt refreshed as she experienced the heat of the day melting away from her heated skin. 'A long cold shower is what I need.' She thought to herself as she stepped into the elevator and slid a card through to access the upper most levels of the apartment complex to her loft apartment. The elevator quickly rose through the floors without interruption as another thought hit her. 'No no, a dip in the pool would be better.' She sighed as she could almost feel the cool water gliding over her body.

Finally the elevator came to a stop on her floor. She stepped out into the small room before she entered her apartment. Making her way to her door, she always noted how the gentle colors of the small room always seemed so relaxing, bringing a faint smile to her lips as she slipped her key into the keyhole.

Stepping into her apartment and closing the solid door behind her, she let out a loud sigh as she dropped her bag at the door and leaned her back up against the door. Her eyes closed for a moment listening to the quietness of her apartment. Since her training with CSIS finished a year ago and her new book hitting the best sellers list with a bang, she hasn't had a quiet moment to herself in a long time. However, a small smile found its way to her lips as she thought of how drastically her life has changed since meeting Kat McGregor.

'Funny how life throws you its little twists' Haley thought to herself as she blew her bangs out of her eyes before heading into the kitchen.

She crossed the hardwood floor of the living room to ceramic tiled floors of the kitchen. Lazily she opened the chrome refrigerator door and picked at its contents, nothing quite appeasing to her. Some cardboard containers containing left over stir-fried rice, some spareribs and chow mein from the local Chinese restaurant sat in her fridge. Some vegetables growing soft and ready to spoil sat in their containers, while a bag of milk sat by itself on the bottom of the fridge.

'Probably spoiled.' She thought to herself with a grimace.

Before another thought entered her mind, she felt, rather than heard a presence coming up behind her. She straightened back up normally and closed the door when suddenly a flurry of movement sprang into action. Haley knew it was coming, but couldn't match the amazing speed of her attacker as she was grabbed from behind and a hand covered her eyes.

"Guess who slow poke." Came Kat's playful voice. Even though she teased Haley, she was impressed at how alert Haley had become. Kat knew she wasn't losing her touch, but that she and Haley seemed to be so in tuned with one another that they could almost feel what the other was going to do.

"Damn, you're still faster!" Haley said smiling as she shook her head. "You know, I am going to get you when you least expect it and you won't even see it coming." Haley promised with an impish look in her eye.

"Promises, promises." Kat said with a twinkle in her eye as she playfully pushed Haley aside and went through the refrigerator.

Haley stood back with a smug look on her face as she made her way out of the kitchen to fall onto her plush sofa in the living room with a relaxing sigh. "Anything you find in there will probably have to be killed again." She called out jokingly as Kat just finished closing the fridge door in disgust.

"For someone who's always hungry, your refrigerator sure is bare." Then, with a sly grin, Kat added. "You must have cleaned it out at breakfast time."

Haley made a comical face at Kat's remark. "If you must know, I haven't done groceries in a while."

"I see that." Kat remarked as she made her way into the living room and planted herself down on the lazy boy across the coffee table from Haley. "You know, this sure is a comfortable chair but something is missing."

"Like what?" Haley asked giving Kat a suspicious look.

"I don't know. A beach surrounded by crystal blue waters and a boat to ride the waves maybe." Kat casually said as she suddenly flipped the recliner back all the way and sprawled out on her back as though she were sunbathing. Haley couldn't hold back a sudden burst of laughter that escaped.

"What? You don't like that idea? You better get use to it, Director Quesnel is sending us on a very special mission."

"Oh really?" Haley asked skeptically with a growing grin, wondering what Kat was up to.

"Ya, we're supposed to go to the Caribbean and pose as tourists on vacation. Think you can handle an assignment like that?" Kat asked with a semi-serious face.

"Handle that? I don't know Kat. You know what kind of trouble I ended up in the last time I took a vacation!" Haley chuckled.

A huge grin suddenly broke out on Kat's face. "Ya, but you met me." She winked. "Besides, you have no choice. Our tickets are already bought and we're set to leave next Monday."


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