(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
(This chapter is dedicated
to Deb vii, who joined Peacemonger on my beta-reading team.
I feel priviledged to have two such fine people editing my work. Thanks for helping, Deb. Hugs to both you and Peacemonger.)
The flight to London was only half full. Teren was grateful because it meant she could stretch out her long frame without worrying about inconveniencing anyone else. Alex was happy about it, too, but for a different reason. Less people meant that she could spread out the file that Teren had given her.
The papers weren't really in any kind of logical order. Teren readily admitted that she had never been very good at organizing papers.
"That's why I'm not a secretary," she said.
"Yeah, right." Alex rolled her eyes.
Teren settled into a seat one row behind Alex. In minutes she had settled into a light sleep. Alex almost envied her -- she wasn't sure she wanted to sleep.
Instead, she focused on the papers. Using the extra space she separated them into diagrams and text, then separated the text pile into subject matter.
She found the diagrams interesting. They traced connections from group to group, and from individual to individual. Many of the team's suspicions were confirmed, as she followed the lines between their top suspects. Martin Richmond, Jacob Dawkins, and John Treville were all represented.
The only one missing was C.J.
The text files turned out to be in-depth reports detailing connections between the religious right and the far right. As Teren had told her, Ernst Remer was one of the people mentioned, and Alex began her reading with him.
Remer's former position as a bodyguard to Hitler had secured him status as an icon to all neo-nazi groups, especially, it seemed, in Germany and the United States. He had only traveled to the U.S. once, but had received frequent visits from American Robert Werner. Werner had arranged Remer's single American visit, playing host and tour guide while escorting Remer from rally to rally, where young neo-nazis listened with rapt attention to Remer's speeches.
Werner had also publicly proclaimed his position as North American point man for the Odessa network, which had assisted many Nazis in their flight from justice. Werner claimed he had personally given aid to as many as a hundred nazis since becoming a part of the network in 1963.
One of the things that caught Alex's eye was that Werner's trips to Germany did not end with Remer's death. Instead, he began visiting not only known Nazi strongholds, but also several enclaves of Fundamentalist Christians. Interestingly, he had visited a group in Munich, calledSt. Luther's Evangelical Church, at the same time as Steven Radcliffe and John Treville, just seven months earlier.
The current leader of the group in Munich was Franz Eisenbein. He had taken the reins of leadership three years previously after the founder, Jurgen von Odbert, had retired. Odbert had led the group for almost thirty years. It was noted that no record of Odbert existed from before 1950, when he was 32 years old.
During his tenure as leader of St. Luther Evangelicals Odbert had been invited to the United States to speak at a California church. The invitation had been made by Jacob Dawkins, leader of the Religious Families Association. At that time the RFA was still based in San Diego. It wasn't until 1991, when California declared that religious organizations could be taxed, that Dawkins and company left the west coast for the Colorado mountains, where there was no tax.
Once set up in their Colorado offices, the RFA had spawned a new group called the Colorado Values Guardians. The Guardians had become a political group, pushing for Christian values in the laws of Colorado. They viewed homosexuals as abominations, and claimed that affirmative action was wrong. Their political activities had resulted in battles over hate-crime laws, and "special rights' for homosexuals. The Guardians, whose original office was in the RFA building, had organized seminars across the state. Using churches as their focal point, the seminars instructed people on how to battle against the "special rights" that the Guardians, and the RFA, claimed homosexuals wanted. The skinheads of Colorado tried to show up at several of these meetings, but were publicly rebuffed by the participants and the seminar leaders. However, privately, the Guardians had held separate training sessions for the skinheads, allowing them to take part in the seminars without causing the Guardians a public relations problem.
Alex had always been aware that there was some kind of connection between the far right and the religious right, but these papers spelled out in detail the "back door" relationship that existed. Donations seemed to go back and forth between hate groups and fundamentalist groups. Attorneys that worked for Christian right wing organizations would show up to bail out and defend right wingers who had been accused of hate crimes. One of the most interesting areas of assistance, Alex noted, was that members of far right wing groups would show up at leftist rallies to harass the crowd. The Christian right would show up as well, but they would bring cameras, and wait until someone from the left took a swing at someone from the right. Then they would film the fight, making sure to properly edit the tape.
Disgusted by many of the facts revealed in these papers, Alex skimmed through the rest of them, looking for more information on their suspects. There wasn't much, so she took notes on everything she found, then typed them into her computer.
When she was finished, she pulled the papers back together, and stuck them into the file folder, this time in some semblance of order. Then she turned off her computer, and leaned back.
She didn't want to go to sleep, even though she was tired. Instead, she let her mind wander, trying to follow the connections in her mind.
Okay, so, it looks like Kittredge really isn't that important in the short scheme of things. After this is over, I'm going to take a microscope to them, but at the moment, it doesn't look like more than a way of showing the connections. What do we know? We know that John Treville, Jacob Dawkins, Kyle Brogan, Derek White, and someone named C.J. planned the executions of the left wingers, hoping to blame the murders on some far out group. We also know that Treville was involved, in Europe, with drug dealers and gun runners -- Teren saw him there.
This group hired George Mather and Darryl Wilford to carry out the executions, but decided to kill Mather-- why?
Wait a minute, Brogan said Mather had been trying to sell something. I wonder if that's the reason? But if so, what was he trying to sell?
Okay, let's ignore that. We know that the money that financed this operation came from an account in Switzerland, which is owned by Richmond and Treville. The money in that account came from another Swiss bank account, which we know nothing about -- which is why we're going to Zurich.
We know that Derek White is missing, Kyle Brogan is dead, and possibly someone from the FBI office is involved.
Now, what can we prove?
Her mind went blank. There really wasn't any hard proof of anything. They had White and Brogan's fingerprints on a goblet, and the record of Treville sending another one to Halloran out in Colorado. They had an idea that these goblets, and other items, had been sent to Treville from Switzerland -- which was another good reason for their trip. But other than these few things, there was not physical proof of anything, much less a murder conspiracy.
Well, at least we have Janet Brogan. Her testimony proves that the men knew each other, and they hired Mather and Wilford for something -- though she didn't know what. I wish Teren could testify about Treville's part in her partner's death, but I doubt the agency would let her. We'll just have to find a way to get him.
But who the hell is C.J.?
With that question in her mind, Alex finally succumbed, and drifted off into sleep.
Teren awoke to a darkened cabin. She was leaning back in her seat on the plane, her long legs kicked out as far as possible. She knew exactly where she was, and a glance at her watch told her they were barely two hours into their trip. As she looked around, she wondered just what had awakened her.
After a moment she realized there were soft whimpers coming from the row in front of her. The seat that Alex was in seemed to be moving, and Teren could see, in the space between the seats, that Alex's shoulder was twitching under her blanket.
Quietly, she moved up to Alex's row, slipping into the seat next to the blonde agent. From this angle she could see the lines that creased Alex's brow, and the way her closed eyes darted back and forth behind their lids.
Teren was no stranger to nightmares, and for a moment images from her own bad dreams flashed through her mind. Shaking her head, she pushed the visions away and reached for Alex's hand.
The younger woman continued to twitch and tried to pull away from Teren's touch.
"Alex, wake up." Teren gently touched her friend's shoulder, then jerked it away as Alex surged forward, her green eyes wide and staring. Alex gasped as she fought her way to consciousness. Without thinking, Teren put an arm around Alex's shoulders and pulled the blonde towards her. Alex curled her hands in Teren's shirt and clung to her.
"It's alright, Alex." Teren turned to face her companion, and fully embraced her. "It's okay. It's just a nightmare. Let it go, Alex."
Alex cried quietly, the only sound her hiccups as she fought to get her breathing under control. Slowly the horror from her dream passed over her. Teren held the crying woman, stroking a hand up and down her back, and whispering in her ear.
A stewardess approached, looking concerned. Teren quietly asked for a cup of hot chocolate for her friend. After another moment Alex pushed herself away from Teren, and sat up. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve, and tried to smile.
"Hot chocolate, huh? You learn fast, Teren."
Teren gave her a half grin. "I try." She put a hand on Alex's shoulder. "You okay?"
Alex nodded, still wiping her eyes. "Yeah. No problem."
Teren frowned. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, sorry. Didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't," Teren lied. "I wasn't really sleeping, just resting my eyes."
Alex looked up at her friend. Teren's blue gaze was caught in Alex's green one.
"You're such a bad liar, Mylos."
Teren's response was a sheepish grin. "Yeah, well, you're not any better, Reis."
Alex's half-hearted grin faded away. Teren slipped an arm back around her.
"No kidding, Alex. If you need to talk about it, I'll listen."
Her first instinct was to shrug off Teren's arm, but Alex couldn't do it. She found her body unconsciously leaning toward the dark woman, craving the feel of those arms about her.
"It's just a dream," Alex said. "A stupid dream. I'll get over it."
"Yeah, but it may help if you tell someone about it."
Alex couldn't resist tweaking her friend. "You're right. I'll ask the stewardess if she's got a minute."
Teren didn't laugh, but she didn't pull away either.
"If she doesn't, you know I'm available, right?" The smile she got from Alex made her throat close up.
Unconsciously, Teren reached up with her free hand and touched Alex's cheek. They leaned toward each other, and Alex's eyes closed in anticipation.
Teren pulled back at the approach of the stewardess.
"Here we go, some hot chocolate." The woman crouched down, letting Alex take the cup with a smile. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little bad dream. Long flights don't agree with me."
The stewardess nodded, but her eyes were on Teren. "I understand. Took me a few months before I could get used to the overseas flights. And I've been flying for years." She placed her hand on Teren's knee and smiled at her. "Can I get anything, or do anything for you?"
"No, thanks, I'm fine. Can you tell us how long until we land?"
"I think we're still about three hours out. Shall I check for you?"
"No, that's alright. Can you just make sure you wake us at least a half hour before we land? I think we're gonna try and get some more sleep."
"No problem, I'll make sure you're up on time." The stewardess smiled once more at Teren and winked before she left.
Teren turned toward Alex and found a frown on her face.
"Is there something wrong?"
"Nothing." Alex sipped her cocoa, but the frown didn't change.
"Come on, Alex. You look like you just bit into a lemon. What's the problem?"
Alex couldn't look at her. "She was flirting with you."
Teren stared at the younger woman. "She was not."
"She was too. When she smiled it was always at you, and she touched your leg."
"So she smiled and she put her hand on my knee. So what?"
"So she was flirting with you."
Teren leaned back and sighed. "Who cares?" She cocked her head. "What's wrong, Alex? Are you jealous?"
Alex stared out the window into the darkness. She sipped her chocolate, but didn't answer Teren's question.
Teren smiled in amazement. "You are, aren't you?"
The smile stretched into a grin, and Teren reached over to her smaller companion. She gave a gentle tug on Alex's shoulders, pulling her back until she was leaning against Teren's body. Alex snuggled up to Teren, and handed her the empty cup.
"What am I supposed to do with this?"
"Well, you could call the stewardess back to take it. After all, it would give her another chance to wink at you."
Teren chuckled. "I've got a better idea." She pulled the air sickness bag out of the seat flap in front of them, and used it to dispose of the paper cup.
"What, you didn't want to get fawned over?"
Teren put two fingers under Alex's chin and raised her head so that their gazes met.
"I've never liked being fawned over. It's too fake." She gently kissed Alex's lips. "I prefer the direct approach. Got it?"
Then she snuggled closer to Teren and sighed. Teren pulled the blanket up over both of them, and made sure Alex was comfortably settled on her shoulder. She kissed the blonde woman's head, and closed her eyes.
A moment later, Alex took hold of Teren's hand under the blanket. Teren smiled as she drifted back to sleep.
They landed in London on schedule, and Teren led them to their next gate for the flight to Zurich. She had to lead them, because Alex was still rubbing her eyes and trying to wake up.
With Alex drinking a cup of hot tea, and still looking like a zombie, Teren set up the computer and plugged into her cellular. She checked their email, noting that there was little extra information from Ken. Only the fact that she was now wanted in the state of Pennsylvania, and Alex had been named as a renegade by the Bureau.
"That was fast," she muttered to herself. "Normally an agent has two weeks to clear their name. Alex got less than three days."
That bothered her, and she shook her head in frustration. If they couldn't figure out the connection to the FBI, it would still be difficult to get Alex's career back. The Agency would protect her, but not Alex. Teren could only hope they were on the right track.
"Teren?" Alex's voice was low and held a note of jetlag.
"There's a file on the desktop of the computer. It's called 'notesT.' It contains all the stuff I pulled out of those files last night. Not the diagrams, but the text stuff."
"Can I look?"
Teren opened the file, and began reading. Alex had done a good job of organizing the sheets that Teren had gotten from Stu. Her notes were easy to follow and they answered a few minor questions Teren had been wondering about.
She noticed a name near the end of the file. "Hey, Alex?"
"Are you sure this name's right? von Odbert?"
"Yeah. First name Jurgen, I believe."
Teren frowned and reached for her own briefcase. "Son of a bitch." She pulled out the CIA printouts, and scanned them, looking for the name.
"I was right. Jurgen von Odbert has a bank account in Germany, and there have been several deposits into it from the Treville account."
"Really? Great. I suppose you're going to want to go to Germany now?"
"Maybe. This might be another key."
"Wonderful," Alex said in a lifeless voice.
Teren peered up at her. "Are you okay?"
"Fine. Yeah. It just kind of hit me that I'm on the run, and I may not be able to go home. But I'm fine. Yep. Just great. Yep, yep, yep."
Alex leaned her head back on the seat. Teren shut down the computer, and closed it. She slid it back into its case, and locked the briefcase. She placed it next to her own, which she also closed and locked, and then she sat down in the seat next to Alex.
"Excuse me." Alex looked up as Teren spoke. "I'm looking for a friend of mine. She looks a lot like you, but when I saw her last she was smiling."
"Funny. Really funny."
Teren stretched an arm across the back of the seat. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Nothing. I think I'm just feeling the jetlag."
The darker woman bit her lip. "Are you sure that's it?"
"Yeah. I'll be fine. David knows --" Alex stopped herself, her eyes closing in pain. "Let me get some more caffeine, and I'll be fine."
Teren nodded. "You know there's a Coke machine in a side corridor."
"Are the sodas cold? I'd heard that Europeans aren't big on cold drinks."
"They've gotten used to us Yankees and our odd ways. I'm sure the machine is cold."
Alex stood. "Great. Where did you say it was?"
Teren pointed. "Back that way, then turn down that small hall near the restrooms."
Alex walked away, and Teren sighed. She ran a hand through her hair, and then rubbed her cheeks.
It was going to take a while, she knew. She and Alex had been tossed together without warning, and it had happened at a time when Alex had a huge emotional load on her. Teren was still trying to relearn how to relate to people, and she recognized that at times she was probably less than supportive. She wanted to be. But she didn't know how.
Both of them had lost their partners. Teren didn't think either of them was ready for a new one. Yet, neither of them had a choice. It was either work together or risk losing everything.
It didn't help that they were attracted to each other. This case was going to be hard enough, and adding in the strained emotions because of the ambush just made everything worse. And when you threw sex into the mix . . .
Alex interrupted Teren's musings by dropping into the seat next to her. She held out a can of Coke to the dark haired woman.
"Thought you might want one."
They were silent for a of couple minutes. Alex cleared her throat a few times, but didn't say anything. Finally, she turned to Teren.
"I'm sorry. I tend to be a bitch when I get this tired."
"No problem. I'll just try to remember to get more caffeine into you."
They gave each other a half smile, then stood as their flight was announced.
"You ready?" Teren asked.
"Sure. Let's get this over with." Alex picked up her jacket and her briefcase. "Did I ever tell you that I hate flying?"
Teren stopped and looked at her. "No, you didn't. Do you really?"
"Well, no, flying itself isn't so bad," Alex said. Teren waited, her eyebrow raised. "It's the take offs and landings that I hate ."
Teren shook her head. "Come on, then. Let's get this next take off over with."
"My feeling exactly."
The plane had just pushed back from the gate when Alex thought of something.
"I can't speak French."
Teren glanced at her. "That's too bad."
"Don't they speak French in Switzerland?"
"In some places. Zurich is much more of a German town, though."
"I can't speak German either."
Teren grinned. "Guess that means I get to order dinner, right?"
"Can you speak German?"
"And French. And Spanish."
Alex glared at her. "Yes, but can you speak Yiddish or read Hebrew?"
Teren shook her head. "No. But I also know Greek and a little Latin."
"Does the CIA require that you know Greek?"
"No, I picked that one up from my father."
"But the Agency did require that I learn French, German and Spanish."
"And the Latin?"
Teren shrugged. "Something different in high school."
Alex nodded and looked out the window. They were on the runway.
"I could teach you French or German, if you wanted."
Alex nodded again. "Okay. And I'll teach you Hebrew. Deal?"
The plane lifted from the ground and Alex's grip on Teren's hand tightened.
The sky in Zurich was clear, but it was icy cold and there was a chill wind in the air. Alex shivered as she followed Teren to their rental car. Already she was wishing she could speak German, as Teren and the car rental agent had had a conversation that she thought was much longer than necessary. It didn't help that the agent was a young woman with bright blue eyes and perfect skin, or that she had been smiling at Teren.
Alex shook her head. Disgusting, she thought. What is up with this jealousy crap?
She was brought out of her thoughts by Teren abruptly stopping. Alex almost walked into her.
"No problem. Hand me your bag."
They loaded the suitcases into the trunk of the BMW, and Teren got behind the wheel.
"Do you know where you're going?" Alex asked. "Wait, let me guess. You've been here before, right?"
Teren started the car. "Well, as a matter of fact, I have. Perry and I met with several people here."
"Anything you can tell me about?"
"You're no fun."
"So, where are we staying?"
Teren glanced into the rear view mirror and switched lanes. "The Hilton Airport. It's close by, and has an excellent restaurant."
Alex's stomach chose that moment to growl. She turned red and covered her face. Teren laughed.
"I knew airline food wasn't going to keep you satisfied."
Alex dropped her hand from her face. "You should talk, Miss I'd-like-another-bag-of-peanuts-please."
"Oh, come on, those things are so tiny you could inhale them."
"You should know, you inhaled yours, mine, the one that woman in the strange purple shirt gave you, and you even thought of asking for a fourth."
"Yeah, well, at least I didn't fall asleep in the restroom."
Alex turned bright red, and glared. "You said you wouldn't bring that up."
"I won't. When there're other people around."
Alex continued to glare. "You are such a brat."
"Yep. Be happy, at least I didn't ask that nice stewardess in London for a set of pilot's wings."
Alex rolled her eyes. Teren turned into the hotel parking lot.
"Don't they have valet parking?"
"Nope. Not many places in Europe do. Doesn't matter, really. I wouldn't use it even if they did."
Teren shook her head. "Rule number one: Never use valet parking. If you need to make a quick exit, you won't have time to wait for your car."
Alex nodded. "That makes sense. What's rule number two?"
"Make sure chatty blondes get their own rooms."
Teren had actually gotten them a suite, with two bedrooms. They were on the third floor, with a view of the parking lot.
Alex spent a few minutes unpacking, then joined Teren in the front room.
"What's the plan for the rest of today?"
Teren was thumbing through a phone book.
"First, lunch. Then a nap. I'm not over the jet lag, and I know you're not. We won't be much good if we're so tired we can't think straight."
Teren didn't look up at first, but the silence made her glance around for Alex. The blonde woman was at the window looking down, and Teren could tell there was a sadness, and a guilty look in her eyes.
The dark woman sighed and put the directory down. She moved to stand behind Alex, placing her hands on her friend's shoulders. "Still feeling guilty, Alex?"
Alex took a deep breath, holding it for several seconds before letting it out. "I was so tired that night. David and I didn't get in 'til past one in the morning, and we had an early meeting. I was about to crash when Rick called to say Brogan wanted to talk. I tried to wake up, but I --" she stopped. "Maybe if I had insisted on waiting --"
Teren turned Alex around, keeping a firm hold on her upper arms. "You listen to me, Alex. You were not, and are not, to blame for David's injury. It wouldn't have mattered if you had waited, or if you had been more awake, or if you had insisted on a different location. Whatever you decided to do, the ambush would have happened, regardless."
"But -- but I should-"
"No, Alex. You couldn't have changed a thing. Not one thing. And you want to know why?"
"Because it was a set up from start to finish. Someone who was in on your plan tipped off the shooters, and no matter what you did, that wasn't going to change." Teren sighed and let go of Alex. She ran a hand through her shortened hair. "It's the only thing that makes sense. There are just too many coincidences for it to be anything else."
Alex dropped her chin to her chest. "I don't want to believe you."
"You want to keep blaming yourself?"
"No. I don't want to believe that a cop, or a fellow agent switched sides."
Teren nodded and turned away. "I know the feeling."
The pain in Teren's voice brought Alex out of her daze. "Teren?"
"You offered to listen if I needed to talk, right?"
"Yes," Teren said as she turned back to her friend.
"That goes both ways, you know."
The two of them stared at each other for a moment, then both nodded.
Teren sat back down on the couch and waved a hand at her blonde companion. "Come on. I need to find a number, and you need to decide what to order for lunch."
"I thought you were ordering because I can't read the menu?" Alex folded a leg beneath her as she joined Teren on the sofa.
"That's tonight. But the hotel is used to having foreign, especially American, guests, so they have pictures on the menu, and they all correspond to a number. Usually, whoever's taking room service orders knows at least a little English, so if you just give them the number you want, you shouldn't have a problem."
"Cool. Why can't I do that tonight?"
"Because I'd like to eat at a real restaurant. And their menu won't have pictures." Teren grinned at her. "Which means I could order anything for you, and you wouldn't know what it was."
The grin got wider.
Alex frowned. "Suddenly I don't feel like going out tonight."
Continues in Chapter Twenty-four
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