Teaser:

There are two types of people that live in this world. Those that live in the light and those that live in shadow. Those that live in the light spend their lives making this world a better place for no other reason than that they believe it should be. Those that live in shadow spend their lives seeking the opposite purpose. For Lee this in an undeniable fate. This tale is the third section in an ongoing novel. This story will bring you love, hate, hope, despair, forgiveness, damnation, and redemption. It is amazing what you can endure if you remember to breathe.

Disclaimers:

Story: Original

Disclaimer 1: I am gaining absolutely nothing from this story. In fact, I have spent more hours on this than I ever thought I would, but once I started... Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer 2: I set up this story as though you could see it being performed. In the story there are a few instances where I used song lyrics to help depict a scene. I am gaining nothing from these songs and no copyright infringement is intended. I simply used them to help tell a story. As such, the wonderful performers are listed in the endnotes. Again the songs belong to their respective writers and performers and in no way belong or were made by me.

Disclaimer 3: This story will eventually have sex between two adult consenting women. Whereas this brings happy thoughts to me along with a variety of other readers, I realize that it is not for everyone. Also, it may be illegal where you live, which is lame. As such, if you are not a 18, it is illegal in your state, or you are just a hater, move on. For all my wonderful lesbian friends, the sex does not happen until later in the story. It is all about the seduction for me.

Cheers! Comments are welcome at: rem2breathe@yahoo.com

Remember to Breathe

by Freedom

Part 5

Chapter 1: It was bound to be a long evening

Turning the key to unlock her front door, Riley stepped into her home. It had been a long day. Placing her keys on the coffee table she took off her jacket and kicked her heels into the corner. Making her way to the kitchen, she opened the freezer only to find a bunch of frozen dinners there. Looking over the contents, she decided that eating a meal that tasted very much like the cardboard box it was placed in simply didn't appeal to her today. Instead she grabbed some ice and reached into the refrigerator to pull out some tea. For most people, coming home after work is the highlight of their evening. Not true for Riley. For many reasons, coming home was always the toughest. There were so many things that needed to be done. Charlie was doing well in Sydney; better than expected actually. Still, he was very new to his role and so he called frequently asking for advice. Riley was glad to help in any way she could, but sometimes it is easier to help solve a problem when you are in the thick of it. With so many hundreds of miles between them it was often difficult to get a true grasp on what the real problem was.

Then there was her Green Living duties. She loved her home. New Zealand is considered one of the greenest places in the world. It is a Kiwi's livelihood as much as their heritage. People come from all around the world to see the offerings held here. Despite this, there is always some young professional willing to make money off the land without regard to the natural resources. She was not naive though. Sometimes it is just the way of things. Some species thrive while others perish. Riley simply couldn't understand why people seemed to go out of their way to do it. What are the short term benefits? What are the long term effects? Is it really worth it? What will it cost us for future generations? Sometimes it seems that people are so worried about making quarterly goals on their financial reports that they care very little how it might cost more in the future; in many ways. Sometimes it just seems so senseless.

Leaning against the kitchen counter, Riley placed the ice in a glass and poured the tea. It was about eight thirty in the evening. Though the days had gotten longer, soon dusk would be approaching. Interesting time dusk and dawn. The way the light rays bounce off the atmosphere make this time of day difficult for humans to see. Everything looks a little blurred and more than just a little fantastical. Deciding to take in the evening air, Riley headed for her pouch swing and began rocking back and forth; her timing nearly identical to the sway of the trees.

The true reason she did not like coming home, however, was that there was not someone here waiting on her. When she was younger this scenario was almost liberating. She could come and go as she pleased without thought of asking permission. She had met people from all over the world. She would do something new and exciting every evening. But now that she was a bit older, she had come to appreciate company; especially good company.

Taking another sip from her glass, Riley's mind wandered to Lee. Hair like fire. Eyes like emeralds. Lee was tough and intelligent. She was a good businesswoman. And though hard pressed to show it, she was kind; kinder than most.

With a far off glace, Riley wiped the top of her lips. The humidity causing the moisture to stick to her skin. Leaning her head back against the swing she closed her eyes. As always, thoughts of Lee surfaced.

And when you walk do you walk to your preference, no need to answer till I take further evidence...(1)

Opening her eyes, it was not the first time Riley's mind wandered back to the playhouse. Lee's play was incredible. And that scene on stage, even though she was sitting in the back row of the theatre, she thought she was going to pass out from the shear intensity. Lee was dressed in a black laced corset, black laced underwear that curved well to her muscular frame, and thigh high black hose that were attached by garters. Four inch stilettos completed the ensemble. It had been more than a week since the play and Riley still could not shake the image. Closing her eyes once again,

Hell is round the corner where I shelter

Ism's and schisms, we're living helter skelter

If you believe or deceive

Then common sense says shouldn't receive

Let me take you down the corridors of my life...(1)

Having some experience in acting, she knew how important it was for the actress to identify with the character they were playing. The way Lee played Shoshanna during the play made it seem like the two were the very same person, the very same soul. Taking another drink from her glass to cool her overheated mind, she tried to focus. She had work. She had Green Living. She did not however, have Lee. Now Lee was off on another one of her business trips. She still refused to give any specifics on them. Lee was so odd. She goes off and comes back without ever giving any detail about her journey.

Maybe she is going to see family .

Whatever it was, Riley wondered if she would ever be let in close enough to find out. Not allowing doubt to hinder her resolve, Riley finished her drink and went inside to take a shower. With images of Lee on stage still floating through her mind, it was bound to be a long evening.

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Chapter 2: I am terribly camera shy

Feeling the breeze caress her face, Lee's mind wandered to Riley. What was she doing? More likely, what trouble was she getting into now? One thing for sure, Riley was not the type to back down. In fact, quite recently Riley had given one of the bidding contractors more than just a small piece of her mind. The memory of the incident bringing a smile to her lips.

"Come on Riley, get in the car," Anne ushered Riley towards the door.

The patience that Anne normally exerted with Lee's attitude was now being gracefully extended to Riley. For once, Lee was happy not to be the one in trouble. Entering the taxi, Lee took the seat nearest to the left, Riley the furthest to the right, and as always Anne sat towards the center of things.

"You know, I bet he never heard such foul language from such a lovely woman in all his life," Anne teased. "Surely you have learned by now how to play nicely in the sandbox."

Riley still brimming with anger from the argument looked considerately in Anne's direction.

"Play nice? That man wants to raise taxes on city property in order to drive out the residents from their homes. To drive out people who have lived there all their lives and worked hard to own their homes. And for what? To commercialize the area and supply building permits for companies known not only for their hazardous working conditions but excessive pollution to the environment. Of course I can be polite, but if Lee can kick people out of the sandbox for their inability to play nice with others, surely I can kick them out for pissing in it."

Anne struggled to hold her laughter in while Lee placed her elbow on the windowsill and rested her head on the palm of her hand. She agreed with Riley. The only reason she did not put the contractor in his place is because Riley had beaten her too it.

Focusing her mind back to the task at hand, Lee glanced towards the sky. The image paling in comparison to the beauty of Riley's eyes. It was a warm day in Italy. Once again she was on a mission. This one, however, didn't involve rescuing anyone. No, this was about infiltration. Walking along the college campus, Lee spotted her target. He was tall but rather lanky. His hair reminded her of Chestnuts. And his glasses were of the minimalist sort.

Approaching him from the side, Lee tapped him on the shoulder, "Hi, I'm Sophie."

The boy sitting at a table looked up from his book. He was a university student. A smart one by the looks of it. He was studying advanced engineering.

"Hi."

"Do you mind if I sit with you?"

The boy looked incredibly nervous. Standing in front of him was a beautiful figure. Long red hair drifted down her shoulders. She wore black pants and a well fitted t-shirt. Over her shoulder was a bag carrying her books. When he didn't immediately answer, Lee tilted her head to the side.

"Right, yes, sure. I'm Ethan." he motioned for her to sit.

"Thanks."

In order to keep his attention, she sat next to him, leaving very little space left between.

"Beautiful day."

The boy nodded. Lee smiled at him while taking out some text books from her bag.

"So what are you studying?" Lee asked.

"Engineering. I am finishing my masters in about a month. You?"

Lee held the book up for him to see. "Nuclear physics." The boy looked nervous again. It was obvious that he was shy. He probably didn't talk much to girls, especially not ones as beautiful or as smart as Lee. Seeing the doubt enter his eyes, she held up another book, "And theatre. Let's see, evil scientist trying to take over the world or theatrical star. Decisions, decisions."

Laughing at the joke, "not time for both?"

"Hmm," she gave an expression as though she were thinking on the topic. "Not sure. Which do you think would be better? Become a theatre actress first so that people will like me and thus make it easier to take over the world. Or, take over the world and then people have to like me solely on principal?"

"I think the second would be easier, but how would you know you had any talent?"

Lee smiled in appreciation, "Oh I have talent. You might be surprised what I can do."

He laughed down towards the direction of his book.

"I have no doubt," he mumbled cautiously.

Finding the courage to look towards Lee again, he found her resting her chin on the palm of her hand staring back at him. A blush crept over his cheeks. Lee found it almost charming. Behind her, however, Ethan noticed a bunch of students leaving the nearest building.

Looking at his watch, "I should really get to class."

Lee nodded her head. She watched as Ethan gathered up his books. He turned in the direction of the building before pausing and turning back.

"Uh, Sophie. I was wondering. Maybe you would like to get coffee sometime?"

"Maybe." Smiling, she reached for her phone, "What's your number?"

"Five four seven, two five six three."

Dutifully Lee entered the digits into her phone. With a smile gracing his own lips, he turned towards his class again. Before he made it two steps though, Lee jumped to her feet and embraced him from behind.

"Smile," Lee said holding her phone out in front of them. Taking a picture of themselves, Lee kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear, "See you around," before ducking into the nearest crowd and out of sight.

It was not often that Lee took photos of herself. In fact, The Order forbade it. Dead people should not have pictures of themselves walking around. However, a month had passed since Lee had followed the woman from the marketplace back to Paul. It took quite a bit of effort on her part, but it seems that Paul did not follow the rules either. He had a wife, a pregnant mistress, and a son. Ethan was twenty-five years old and currently a student at the local university. She needed proof of her ability to infiltrate Paul's life. Now she had it.

"Now I can't imagine what you would be doing following that young man around, but I can assure you it will only lead to trouble."

Startled, Lee nearly jumped out of her skin. The voice behind her was so familiar, but it wasn't possible. Turning around slowly,

"Hello, Red."

"I hate it when you call me that."

Ignoring her response, "You look good."

"So do you. Especially for being dead the last ten years."

He laughed. Mimicking the boy, "I don't suppose you would like to get some coffee."

Lee tilted her head to the side while the man leaned toward her.

"I'll have to insist that you don't take my picture though. I am terribly camera shy."

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Chapter 3: It would be nice to be owed a favor by the one taking over

"What do you want Dylan?"

"Well I would love to know why you are following Paul's son around?"

"The fact that you know it is Paul's son means you know exactly what I'm doing."

"What for? A little birdie told me that you had flown the coop. Why do you need him since you are already free? That is just asking for trouble."

"My business is my own. Why are you following him around?"

"I'm not."

Lee looked towards him disbelievingly.

"I like to keep a close eye on things. I may be dead, but not stupid. That boy is insurance."

Lee's expression turned from disbelief to disapproving.

"Ah, what's with the nasty look. I'm sure you aren't making waves just for the boy's company. No, no. If I had to guess, you aren't following Ethan around for your own freedom, but someone else's. How is Samuel by the way?"

"Alive."

"And here I was hoping you had taken some of my lessons to heart, but it seems you are still that silly little idealistic girl I taught so many years ago."

"Which lesson was that? Always look after yourself and step on anyone who gets in the way?"

"Has idealism turned to cynicism? I believe I told you to look out for yourself because no one else will."

"Samuel did."

"And you left him to rot alone in The Order. Perhaps you were listening."

The glare Lee shot towards Dylan would have melted ice.

"Well as much as I have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, I will be moving on. A tip for you. Steer clear of my business or find yourself trodden upon."

Standing to leave, "Wait," he gripped her hand. The dangerous look she threw back at him made him rethink his purpose. Raising his hands slowly, "Sit down, please."

Unsure of whether to stay or go, Lee hesitantly eased herself back into her seat.

"Like I told you, I have been keeping an eye on things."

"So you've said."

"And what I've seen is a shift in power. The Order does not have near the strength it use to have. Before, no one would have dared rise up against it. The Order was like a god and all the other factions were biting at its heels hoping for the scraps. But for the past few years, that power has been increasingly dwindling while the factions grow stronger."

"And?"

"And I believe you are responsible."

"I see being dead has only seen fit to dull your senses."

"Oh, no Red. I am quite clear."

"Even if that were true, which it isn't. Why would I do something so incredibly foolish as to try and take down The Order?"

"I never said you were trying to take it down? Even you are not so naive as to think that by taking down The Order the world will be left in peace. No, no. There will always be someone willing to seize power. Always."

"If not that, then what purpose could this person possibly be trying to serve?"

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

"So it does."

"And if no one has power? There are so many factions that want to control the destiny of this world. What if someone decided to keep everyone in check? The Order maintained power for a good many years because of you. Their reach extended into politics, wars, and peace talks. Who gets what and how much they got was all determined by the will of The Order. Now however, the factions have seen that The Order has lost its edge. That perhaps if given the right strategy, they might find themselves a seat at the table. If they could take The Order down, they may very well find themselves at the head. Naturally The Order will feel obliged to protect itself and its interest. And with everyone so keen to attack each in a war for supremacy, it seems the world has been left to its own devices. For the most part anyway."

"And you think I am responsible for all that?"

He nods. "I have only one question. Why leave The Order just barely at the lead? Knowing everything they have done, why not give one of the factions a chance? Put The Order in its place."

"If it is true what you say, I imagine that the person you are speaking of would do so for the very reason you describe. The devil you know vs. the one you don't."

Reaching into his jacket he pulled out a manila folder.

"In case I'm right. I brought some information you might want to have a look at. Seems one of factions is trying to project its views on the world in a good old fashioned terrorist act. Care to see?"

"When did you become the Good Samaritan?"

"Bored," as he shrugged his shoulders.

"Noble. And what about looking out for yourself? Why bother yourself to help strangers?"

"It's good business. Seems to me that since you are looking to penetrate into Paul's family, it would be nice to be owed a favor by the one taking over."

Reaching across the table to the folder, Lee opened the envelope.

"I can't wait to work with you again Red."

"Stop calling me that."

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Chapter 4: You are many things Shoshanna

"So how long have you been studying this group?"

"A few weeks."

"And this is all the intel you have?" She held up the relatively small data package.

"Harder to get without the resources of The Order."

"What is it that they want?"

"The same as all these start up groups want. Simple anarchist group looking to make some quick cash and make their presence known." Sifting through the documents he pointed towards one of the men. "This is Nathan Lighter, the leader of the group. Truthfully they are no more than a bunch of common thugs who happened to get their hands on some C4."

"Why not just report it to the authorities?"

"The authorities. Are you serious? The goal is to stop a bunch of people getting killed, not to aide in their destruction."

"You said you have been following them for a few weeks. I haven't been scouting Paul's family much longer than that. There is no way you are doing this in order to bribe some favor out of me. What's the real purpose?"

"You don't believe me?"

"Was it not also one of your rules to trust no one?"

Looking towards Dylan for the answer, Lee thought she saw uncertainty in his eyes. Steeling himself against her gaze,

"I never really had any intention to stop them. The small intel package was what I gathered in order to make sure I stay out of the way. However I saw you stalking Paul's son and saw an opportunity. Things fell into place from there."

Lee studied his features. She knew there was more to it than that, but it was unlikely that she would get anymore out of him now. He knew she knew too. He had taught her how to read people, and she was one of the best. Dylan simply had to hide it until he was ready. For now his answer would do.

"Come back to my place. We'll get some food and go over the details."

Reluctantly Lee followed Dylan to his car. Despite their history, Lee was not well practiced in lending trust to others. She could only hope she was not making a mistake that would end with her bleeding out on the floor.

Entering his safe house, Lee familiarized herself with all the data in the package while he cooked a meal. It didn't take long for her to absorb the details. Years of practice with her time at The Order and Lee knew what to look for. Bringing the food in, Dylan sat across the table from Lee.

Curiosity getting the best of her, "So what have you been doing over the last ten years?"

He laughed into his food. "I'm sorry. I am not laughing at you. It's just, I still find it hard to try and carry on normal conversations. Most people complain about their boss or the amount of work they have to do. You and me, well let's just say that if I told you I would have to kill you. And then The Order would have me killed for my inability to keep silent."

"You haven't been captive in The Order for a long time."

"And you got out too. I would love to know how you managed that. Fake your death like me?"

"No. Samuel removed my tracking device, destroyed my file, and told me to run. I have been running ever since."

"Gutsy. And I am impressed that you have been able to stay ahead of them. You are the only one I know who has."

Lee nodded her head.

"I saw the footage of the mission. I saw you go in the building. I saw the building explode. The blast was not survivable and yet here you are. How did you do it?"

Dylan looked into his glass; whiskey on the rocks. Sometimes it was the only thing that could take the memories away.

"That whole mission was a screw up right from the start. You remember? You were busy with the mission in Ecuador and Eliane put a new profiler on mission protocol. It was a disaster. My team and I went in and we were set upon straight away. The gun fire was a mess. There were more of the enemy than expected. I called for backup, but the profiler was not willing to admit her mistake. You and I both know, mistakes aren't tolerated. Our mission was to bypass and intercept the biological agent. Nasty stuff, this agent. Kills everyone exposed within the first minute. We didn't even have the opportunity to set eyes on the target. Seven minutes of gunfire and my whole team was down, or so I thought. Carver made it through also. He must have thought like I did; that the entire team was down. He set a charge so that the agent would not escape the building. He reported it to the profiler just before the enemy killed him."

Lee nodded her head. She remembered reading all this in the debriefing just before the profiler was killed. Dylan was right, mistakes aren't tolerated. Disasters were dealt with quickly and efficiently.

"This gang of terrorist chose and old building. A few hundred years ago and these buildings were connected directly to the sewers underneath. I saw it on the mission parameters. When I heard Carver's call, I knew I had only a few seconds."

Turning around, he lifted up his shirt. Along the left side of his back near the kidney was a long deep gash.

"I cut out the transmitter and I fled for the sewer. I figured that when they saw my transmitter was in the building when it blew, they would assume I was killed during the mission. I have been running ever since. Death is the only way to leave The Order. Or so I thought," he lifted his glass to salute Lee. "It is certainly what they teach," he downed the last of his whisky.

Dylan was not the man she remembered so many years ago. That man was cold and calculating. He did what was needed to be done in order to survive. It was the very reason he was a success as an operative. The man sitting in front of her looked much older, tired.

"So here's the plan," he drew out the schematic. "This building is hosting a rather prestigious art gathering. The building will be full of people from wealthy businessmen, to prominent political leaders, to school children. From what I have gathered the group plans to set off two charges. One will be in the basement here," he pointed toward the schematic. "Count on it being large enough to take down the building. The other will be on the main floor hidden in the ceiling here. The artwork they are looking to steal is an original Picasso found here."

"So the bomb is a cover up to steal the artwork."

"In the underground market this piece is worth just over one hundred million. You go for the bomb in the basement and I will get the one in the ceiling. By the time the bad guys realize there plan has gone to hell, we'll be knocking them flat on their ass just in time for the police to arrive and save the day. You and I make a stealthy exit and you owe me a favor as soon as you take over for Paul."

"What is it you want?"

"Not sure yet, but I imagine it will come in handy one day."

"What makes you think I won't renege on the deal?"

"You are many things Shoshanna, but you have always kept your promises."

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Chapter 5: Time to choose

The next evening arrived quickly. Both Dylan and Lee had gotten their rest, though neither had slept too soundly. Ten years of absence is a long time in order to change one's allegiance.

Dylan was the first to arrive at the gallery. Both needed to go shopping before the premiere. Formal wear was expected for the event. As Dylan watched the crowd, he couldn't help but notice the sun in the western sky. He always marveled at this time in the evening. Dusk always made the day look fantastical. Funny the things that come to your mind. He had always wondered why Eliane had picked two such opposite teachers for Shoshanna. He was cold and calculating. It was the only way to survive in The Order, to shut off emotion. You have to do what needed to be done. To follow orders. To obey. He had given Shoshanna many harsh lessons when she failed to do so. Samuel on the other hand was much kinder. Dylan always figured it was because he thought Samuel owed Shoshanna some kind of debt. He never found out what it was? It didn't matter. It was weakness. It would get him killed one day. Now it seems it will get her killed instead. Samuel was a good operative, but he was a man of conviction. He taught Shoshanna to be the same. While living under the confines of The Order, there was no place for such things. He had sold his soul years ago. Why keep something when you know you are damned?

On the distance he saw Shoshanna step out of a taxi. She wore a floor length silver gown and white shoes with a silver tip. Her hair was done up in its regular twist, although she let a few strands loose to shape her face. She was beautiful. The sight reminded him of a similar vision ten years ago. Shoshanna was upset because she was not able to get her desired outcome. She didn't fail the mission. No, unfortunately, she just could not save the innocent at the same time. He remembered Samuel walking with her in a nearby park. They didn't notice him as he was hidden behind some bushes. Stepping within a breath of her, he brushed one of the strands of hair behind her ear.

"I could not save them. I failed."

"No Shoshanna, you didn't fail."

"They're dead."

"We all die Shoshanna. It is a matter of when and why."

"Why them?"

"Because they believed in their cause. They were willing to die for that belief. Their memory will live on in their loved ones. Their memory will live on in you."

"I can't do this anymore."

"Yes you can."

"No Samuel. I am so tired. I see them. I see them every night in my dreams."

"Do you know why you are the best? Do you know why I follow you? Have followed you all these years."

Lee eyes raised to Samuel's face.

"Because you care so much. Too much."

"All these decisions, they weigh on me. Don't they weigh on you?"

"Every day. But I go on."

"Why?"

"Simple. We make the hard decisions so that others don't have to. So that others can sleep well and hug their loved ones and believe in a cause so much they will give their lives for it. So that their loved ones will see them as heroes. So that their memories are not tortured in their sleep. Not everyone can be strong sparrow."

"And when I die. Who will remember me?"

"Are you ready?" Lee approached Dylan.

Snapping back into reality, "just like old times."

Wiping an imaginary something along his lips, "Smile then, we are at a party," she took his arm.

"After you."

Entering the gallery Lee scanned the room.

Grabbing some champagne, Dylan pulled Lee into an embrace, "over my left shoulder. Do you see him?"

"Why is it always the waiters. You think they would come up with something more original."

Dylan laughed into her ear.

"Why don't you head towards the basement. I am going upstairs. See if I can cut through the floor board to the ceiling."

Kissing her on the hand, he made his way for the stairs. She did the same. Descending down the steps, Lee headed for the boiler room. If these people wanted a show, this area would cause the most damage. Edging in the room she was surprised it was not guarded. On the other hand, it would be awkward to have guards down here when the police patrol walked by. Lee supposed the would be thieves thought they could keep an eye on the bomb in the ceiling; this must be for show.

Looking behind some cabinetry, "hello lovely." She had found the bomb.

Not more than a few minutes of working, "How's your end?"

Touching the transmitter at the back of her ear, "Oh just fine. You?"

"Well it doesn't seem too complex. Five pounds says I can disarm mine before you do yours."

"I'll be lucky if you don't blow us to bits with your manhandling."

Soft laughter echoed through the transmitter.

"You know I was the first one to teach you about bombs."

"Yes, thank heavens for Samuel. I'd have been dead many times over without him."

"You always did favor him."

"Well he's such good company," she quipped, loosening another screw.

"Two more minutes and I am finished."

"That long?"

More laughter, "Tell me something Red. Do you ever miss it?"

"Miss what?"

"The Order."

"No," she said quietly but firmly.

"Oh come on, Shoshanna. I realize things were strict, but at least it had structure."

"If by strict you mean obey or die, than yes I would say they did have an order to things."

"Not even a little? You were the best. You had purpose. You could do anything. I even heard a rumor that you were set to take over for Paul one day. Must be something to know you could have changed the world."

"I never wanted the world Dylan, only to live in it. And as for changing it. People like us should not be in charge of such things."

"That's too bad. I think you could have made a difference. For the better that is."

Putting down her tools, "All done here. You ready?"

"Just finishing, Red. I will meet you in the gallery in a moment."

Ascending the stairs, her first sight went to the painting. Dylan was standing in front of it talking to Nathan Lighter. Two thoughts occurred to her at this moment. The first was that it was odd that he had beaten her to the gallery. The second was why he was having a conversation with the mark. Before she could put too much more thought into it Dylan pointed to her,

"Police, she put a bomb in the basement!"

Stunned at the change of events was an understatement. At that moment three police aimed their weapons at her. She just had enough time to put her arms up when she saw Nathan pulled the fire alarm. Chaos in the crowd ensued. People were running everywhere and screaming. All of them were plowing towards the doors. It was just enough distraction that she was able to make a grab for the policemen.

Lee punched the first in the nose causing him to lose balance. Grabbing his gun, she hit the second at the back of his neck. He fell to the floor unconscious. The third came at her and grabbed her from behind. Head butting him in the chin, he released her. A kick to the side of the temple sent him careening towards the floor. Turning back to the first policeman, he took one look at his counterparts and turned to run with the crowd towards the doors.

Touching the transmitter at the back of her ear, "You didn't honestly think I was going to go willingly with the police."

"Just looking for a head start, that's all."

"You should have made for the door, not the roof."

"You know big crowds, they are always in the way. The helicopter on the roof will be faster."

"A helicopter huh?"

Just then a bullet whizzed by her ear. Taking cover behind a table she shot back, she continued her conversation with Dylan.

"You know, I don't remember a helicopter being in the data package you gave me. I do believe you left some things out. You're not playing fair Dylan."

Popping her head above the table, she took a quick shot at the gunman. He took two to the shoulder and lay flat on his back. Walking over to him she kicked the gun out of his reach and then punched him hard across the jaw line. Last thing she needed was someone at her back.

Laughing into the com, "Fair. I didn't know you were a comedian."

"You'd be surprised what I can do," she whispered as she made her way towards the stairwell.

"Oh I have no doubt."

Poking her head around the corner, she had just enough time to dart behind the wall as two more shots were fired at her.

"So Dylan. All this is about some cash huh. Seems like easier ways to make some money than by making an enemy of me."

"Well, I always did want to beat the best. If only once."

She laughed, "And you honestly believe that day is today?"

"Guess we'll see."

She watched as the gunman stepped out to take a shot. Instantly, she put one in his knee. He fell to the floor bleeding. Taking aim at her again, she put another into his arm. Once again, as she approached the assailant she knocked him into unconsciousness before carefully continuing her ascent up the steps.

"So all that talk about changing the world. Just to soften me up?"

"Change? Is that possible in this world? Is it possible for people like us?"

"All you have to do is stop."

"I can't do that."

"You won't be doing anything at all if you are dead."

"You sounded very much like Eliane just then."

Reaching the top of the steps, "Play nice, very soon I will be pointing a gun at you."

Taking aim, she put two in the lock that was sealing the door. Unfortunately, the only way to get to Dylan was through this door. She didn't like the option of dashing across the top of the building, especially when she didn't know where Dylan was while at the same time he had a clear shot at her. A good shot too. Taking courage, she kicked the door open and immediately rolled towards the ground. The first few bullets grazed her midsection, but she made it to her feet and dashed behind some metal holdings. Looking around, she didn't see a helicopter.

"I take it your flight was cancelled."

"Never was a helicopter. The bad guys have to die in the explosion. Otherwise the police would chase them. Hard to have fun spending a hundred million dollars when you have the IRS digging into your personal accounts. I'm sure you understand."

Poking her head around her metal sanctuary, she watched Nathan climb over and down the fire escape. When Dylan made for the latter, she took two shots to ward him off. Ducking behind his own sanctuary, he shot back.

Dylan's choice of words was interesting. He said he wanted to spend a hundred million.

"A hundred million? You don't plan to share the money?"

"That's what I like about you Red, you're always believing the best in people. Always believing that people can be more than what they are. Rule number one Shoshanna. Do you remember my lessons?"

Playing along, "Look after yourself."

"And why was this number one Red. Why must you look after yourself?" he took a step closer to the fire escape only to have Lee shoot another one near his head.

"Because no one else will."

"Good. I am glad all was not lost on you," he said wiping his brow. If he didn't know better, he would have thought he felt the bullet graze him. Lee was always a good shot.

"And rule number two?"

"As much as I am loving our little chat, you need to put the painting down and walk towards me."

"Can't do that Red."

"And I can't let you go."

"Seems we are at an impasse then."

"Oh no, see if I wait here long enough, someone will come forcing you to play your hand. In which case, you and I both know that you will lose."

"You seem rather cocky. What if they come for you?"

"They never look to shoot the woman first. They will go for you."

"I guess we will just have to wait then." Pausing for a moment and looking out into the darkness, "Do you remember rule number two?"

He was up to something. She knew that he was. What was he waiting for? He was caught. Unsure of what hand he was about to play, she continued his game.

"Attachments are the root of one's destruction."

He nodded, "You should be quite familiar with this one. You're family was murdered because of this rule."

His reply angered her. Just as the rage was creeping in her veins, he continued very calmly.

"And why can't we have attachments Shoshanna?"

"Enough games Dylan."

"Humor me Red."

Taking a deep breath she whispered, "what wouldn't someone do to save the ones they love."

"Nothing that you have is yours. Nothing that you hold dear to you cannot be taken away in the very same breath. Whether it be by fate, chance, circumstance, or The Order, everything you hold dear can be lost."

"So we should hold on to nothing? Strive for nothing. If there is nothing to strive for, then how can we possibly achieve anything?"

"I'm sure the founder of The Order said the very same words. Do you think such an organization was founded solely for the purpose of power? Is it not interesting that some missions are in place to save the weak?"

"Not the majority."

"Yes, but what if the founder started his reign to end the terrorism? If you conquer everything, than no one can oppose you. Could you not then enforce peace?"

"Exact terror on others as a method to bring peace? There is an inherent flaw in that argument. You become the very beast you tried to abolish. Is it not better to lead by example? Lead peacefully?"

"You and I know that there will always be someone trying to control others. Always."

Dylan was right. She knew this to be true.

"So what's the answer then?

Looking towards his watch, he ignored the question, "You are running out of time Shoshanna." Stepping out into the open, he raised his hands in the air. Dropping his gun, "You have to make the choice."

Looking around for a trap, she saw none. Cautiously she stepped from behind her hiding place only to point her weapon at him.

"Put the painting down, and walk this way."

"Now isn't that interesting. Seems you may not be the silly idealist girl I left back at The Order. She would not be so quick to pull a gun on an unarmed man. I seem to remember a young woman who blanched at the idea of murder. Don't tell me my lessons are finally starting to rub off on you?"

"I'm not going to kill you, I'm just tired of chasing."

"I'm afraid you are in for a bit of a dilemma then. You see, I was the one to make the bombs that were in the building. I also never diffused my own. Didn't you find it odd that I was in the gallery before you made it back up."

"You're bluffing."

"Are you sure? It is your choice. You could chase me down and catch me, but all the nice police men and women who are no doubt swarming this building looking for the bomb will die."

"You're lying."

"Have I ever lied to you Red?"

"Would you really kill a building full of people for money?"

"One hundred million dollars is a lot of money Shoshanna. It is a start to a new life. A good life. I have seen many people kill for far less."

"I could just kill you and then stop the bomb."

"Kill a simple thief."

"You are not a simple thief. You have killed many people."

Dropping his hands to his sides he stepped towards her, "So have you."

Looking around, she was not sure what to do, how much time she had.

"I have a better offer," he extended his hand in her direction. "You could come with me. One hundred million dollars is a lot of cash. We could split it. You wish to keep your ideals. I imagine fifty million could go a long way to easing your conscience. How much good could you do with that much money? Come with me."

"And these people? What about them?"

"Faces in the crowd. Numbers on a page. You don't know any of them. Rule number one Shoshanna. Do you remember my rules?"

Slowly Dylan started backing towards the fire exit.

Gripping her gun tightly, "I said stop."

"Time to choose. Catch me or stop the bomb. What's it gonna be Shoshanna. You can't have it both ways, unless you intend to kill me. I'd say you have just under two minutes to decide."

Taking a step towards him, "No matter where you hide, I will find you."

"I would expect nothing less Red."

Shoving her gun in the back of her pants she made a mad dash for the bomb. Dylan headed down the fire escape in good time. Taking the steps two at a time, she had to subdue two policemen. She had no time for this. Making her way towards the center of the gallery, she took one of the guns and shot a circular hole in the ceiling allowing the bomb to drop down. Catching it in mid air, she laid it on the floor. She had to hurry. Opening the outer case, she looked towards the timer. Only fifteen seconds remained. Knowing she didn't have enough time to disarm the bomb, she did the only thing she could think of. She picked up the bomb and ran for the roof top. If nothing else, she could minimize the casualties. Five seconds remained as she neared the top of the steps. Three seconds as she reached the roof. She could not throw the bomb over the side. What of all the innocents that scurried out of the building standing placidly below? Instead she threw the contraption to the other side of the roof top as she used her last two seconds to dive behind her metal sanctuary. Closing her eyes, she waited for the inevitable. Then, nothing. There was no explosion.

Suddenly her transmitter starting working again, "You know, I think you were right about Samuel. He was the better engineer. Wiring can be tricky on a bomb."

Standing, she walked toward the ledge of the roof and looked over. Dylan was staring up at her from across the street.

"Two minutes forty-five seconds. That is how long it took you to diffuse the twin bomb in the basement. Two minutes and forty five seconds. You should be dead now."

He was right. She knew he was.

"Seems you still adhere more prominently to Samuel's lessons than mine own. Only a silly idealistic woman would run into a building that was about to explode knowing full well there was nothing she could do to stop it. See you soon Red."

Within the blink of an eye he disappeared. Coming closer to the ledge, she heard the loud stomping of the police heading up the steps. Looking toward the fire escape, she had only one choice. She had to run.

As dawn appeared on the horizon, she found herself back at Dylan's safe house. She knew he would not be there. He was as professional as she was. Still she made the effort.

Walking into the kitchen she was surprised to see another manila envelope laying on the counter. At first she was suspicious. If he had wanted to kill her though, the bomb would have been enough. And yet it didn't go off. Like he said, he didn't diffuse it. He simply never armed it.

Opening the envelope, she found a data package similar to the first one she received with a note attached to the front.

Red,

Don't feel bad about the painting. I assure you I will take good care of it. As a consolation prize, I thought I would give you a chance to catch me. I realize trusting me may be out of the question, but know that this information is real. Your choice.

D

The information contained within the package was concerning an up and coming terrorist group. She first remembered reading about this group during her time at The Order. They were no real threat then. Now it seems they were making quite audacious moves. When she profiled them all those years ago, she knew that the leaders if given opportunity would find a way to send a rather discerning message to the world. One of fear. Reading the first few sentences in the package and she knew there was trouble. Turning the page, she was greeted by a picture of the leader shaking hands with a well known arms dealer. One that specialized in high yield weapons. When she flipped the picture over, Lee saw notes written in Dylan's handwriting; coordinates, date, and time. Emptying out the rest of the contents of the envelope, a phone dropped out. She had no idea what Dylan was up to. It was one thing to be a thief, it was another to deal with terrorists. What was his game? What was the profit in this? Knowing that she would have no answers to her questions unless she ran after him, she had one thought.

"Time to choose," she whispered.

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Chapter 6: A man of conviction

Looking towards the sun setting, she found herself standing in front of San Siro. San Siro is the largest stadium in Italy centered in the city of Milan. The stadium itself could hold over eighty thousand people. A sense of dread swept through her. An explosion here would be devastating.

Suddenly, the phone Dylan left for her vibrated. He had sent her a text message.

"And your choice."

She messaged back, "I'm here."

Another message was sent to her phone telling her to walk towards the box office and pick up an envelope. She did as she was instructed. Inside the envelope were three things. A ticket admitting her entrance, a transmitter, and a key. Sticking the transmitter to her ear.

"Glad you could make it Red."

"Well I wish I could say I am happy to be here. What exactly do you want?"

"Still sore?"

"Get to the point Dylan."

"Come on, Red, don't be a poor loser."

"Last time I played in one of your charades I ended up being the fool. What are you up to Dylan?"

"Straight to business then. Head down the northwest corner. You will reach an elevator. The key is the override that will take you to the basement. To your left will be a door leading to the underside of the stadium. I will be waiting."

"Why am I here Dylan?"

There was no answer. Lee was at a decided disadvantage. She couldn't tell if this was another of Dylan's games or something real. On her way towards the elevator, Lee looked through the windows. She had just enough time to watch the sun set behind the buildings along the horizon. Dusk had come. Bringing her mind back to focus, she entered the elevator and made for the basement. On the small chance that this was not another of Dylan's ploys, she had to see it through. Only time will tell the ending to this journey.

The basement of the stadium was laid out differently than an ordinary basement. In order to hold the weight of the structure, metal beams and supports dug deep within the ground to keep the structure from collapsing. Scaffolding was everywhere. It would be difficult in deed to find any bombs down here. It would also be difficult to find Dylan who at this moment was nowhere in sight.

"Dylan?" she called out.

"Up here."

Stepping out from behind some beams, he waved down toward Lee.

"Don't be shy, come on."

Looking towards the nearest scaffold, Lee began to climb. Dylan watched her progress behind him as he managed to stay just out of her reach.

"Pretty quick for an old man."

"Not really. You see, you're still that pretty little girl from back in the day. You have some sick sense of misguided loyalty to me," as he continued to climb. "I never did quite understand Eliane for her decision. Why on earth did she have two trainers for you that were so opposite in scale. Good old Samuel with his sensitive approach and me with my short temper and quick hand. Tell me, how many lessons did you receive at my order and still you let me stay ahead of you. You could have caught me at least three times now, and each time you let me stay ahead. That is not how I trained you," he peaked his head out to look towards Lee.

Lee reached for her ankle and pulled out a weapon. She fired a shot that zoomed past his neck.

"I didn't teach you to miss either. Tell me, did all Samuel's hugs aide you at the end of the day. A lashing from me and a hug from him. Brilliant that Eliane, giving you that small sliver of hope. I suppose she wanted you to hate me."

"I don't hate you."

"Why not? You should. Hurry up Shoshanna, it's nearly time."

He continues to climb deeper in the facility.

"Tell me, do you still dream of becoming a bee charmer as you did when you were a little girl? What does a bee charmer do when she is not mucking around in dark shadows?"

"I keep busy," as she heaved herself up the wall.

"You know, you still haven't learned that lesson I was trying to teach you all those years ago. I bet you still go around trying to save the day, right? My silly little girl spends all her free trying to be the good guy when she was trained to be the bad one. Love is a weakness little girl. I thought you would have figured that out by now."

Lee continues on frustrated.

"You were trained as a replacement for Paul, his successor and you threw it all away for what? To live a simple life? To chase after bees and sell honey on the roadside like your mother?"

"You would rather me be a thief. Or worse, a murderer. Kill thousands of innocent people."

Taking a breath, Lee was making it harder for him to keep ahead. She was closing in. Nearing his destination he began to slow down allowing her advantage.

"You see the thing is Shoshanna, you have me all wrong."

Lee thought she heard resignation in his voice. An odd thing for a man like him. Climbing over the last beam she stood on a platform. Dylan stood at the far end just in front of a wooden door. He was faced away from her, hands gripping the railings on either side of him.

"You mean it isn't your intention to blow up a bunch of people?"

Looking over the edge of the railing, "You know, I thought it would always be my life that would have killed her. That my past would have caught up with me and taken her away."

Not understanding the turn in conversation, "Dylan?"

Turning to face her, "You see I needed you here. It would have taken too much time to get you to trust me, so I made you distrust me. Easier when it is all said in done. I knew you would save the gallery. I tried not to make it particularly difficult."

Shoshanna takes a step towards him.

"You know, this platform is not looking particularly stable, maybe you shouldn't come any closer," he pulled his own weapon from behind his back.

"Dylan, what are you doing?"

Lee was unnerved. Looking at him now, she saw regret in his eyes. Such a feeling was never good for people like them, especially when backed into a corner.

"Her name was Jacqueline Debonair. My supposed death at The Order nearly ten years ago left me free to roam the world. I met her a year after I left. A small town on the outside of Venice. She was as beautiful as the stars, but I just knew so many things. I knew that my past would catch up with me. I knew I would never be good enough for her. I am a murderer, a thief, and a liar. She could never possibly understand. And so I pushed her away. Just like I have always taught you. Love is weakness. It will get you killed. Just think about what people have done for loved ones, what you have forced others to do."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because up until a year ago I knew I was right. Up until one year ago and she told me that she loved me. I thought it strange that she would do so after so many years. Strange that she would confess then. I of course told her that we could never be more than friends. She smiled at me, smiled and nodded."

Lee looked on towards Dylan, a memory of the same smile and nod that Riley gave her in her office so many months ago when she had said the same thing. She stared into her past just as he was staring into his own.

Regaining his composure, "I can't tell you how many times she said my past didn't matter," he chuckled to himself. "I have spent the last ten years as an English tutor for underprivileged children. A lifetime of wrongs and that is the best I could come up with. And she, she always looked at me as though I was a good man. When she looked at me, I felt like I was a good man. And then one morning, I came to take her out for breakfast. I knocked and knocked and she never answered the door. Finally I let myself in and found her lying on the couch, a letter on the table."

He opened his jacket pocket and pulled out a worn envelope. Tossing it at her he continued,

"You see I needed two people for this job. Someone crazy like me, and a silly little girl who never understood that the underdog in life rarely ever wins. It is why it is such a prize when they do." He motioned to the door behind him. "Behind these doors is a nuclear weapon."

Shoshanna's eyes widened.

"Unfortunately, these men had a backup plan. If they couldn't take out the city, they were sure as hell going to take out the stadium. So you see my dearest, I need you to save the day while I take care of our problem down here."

"And why not do it together? The nuclear bomb first then the others."

"It's the damndest thing. Apparently we have about twenty men behind this door ready and willing to become martyrs. You can see how getting to the bomb could be difficult. And hey, I need you to go stop the other three."

He reached into another pocket and pulled out a schematic.

"I have marked where they are. Don't waste energy trying to beat up the bad guys as graciously as possible. We are under a time constraint. And while you're at it, don't let yourself get knocked around. Samuel gave the hugs, not me."

"Dylan, don't do this, there has to be another way."

"Maybe if we had a month to plan. As we don't this is the way it has to be."

"Dylan!"

Turning back towards the door, "See you soon," as he smashed through the door and towards his fate.

Lee heard the sounds of muffled gun shots and made for the door.

Before she got within ten feet she heard Dylan call out, "Go Shoshanna, now!"

Uncertainty claimed her for a moment. If the other three bombs went off while she was helping him it would all be for naught. Time to choose. Looking down at the schematic in her hand her com set started up again.

"Quit standing their Red and get a move on!"

Taking action, she read the schematics and was off in a hurry. Pulling the fire alarm she needed to get as many people out of here as possible. She knew it would bring alarm to the terrorist, but she imagined that Dylan knew she would do that anyway. Rushing off to the first place, she came upon two men running into the stadium rather than out with the rest. Following them she was led to the bomb. Caught unawares, she took them out. The device itself was not very complicated, but it was efficient. There was enough C4 to take town this building twice over in this device alone. There were now three, it was a bit of over kill.

"How's it going Red."

"I hate that name."

"Yea well, where are you?"

"I am headed to my second mark. From the look of this timer I would say you have about ten minutes."

"Ten minutes to stop a nuclear bomb and three incendiary devices with enough C4 to level a building. I thought this was going to be tough."

Coming upon the second device were another two terrorist.

"Hold that thought," she went in.

Back inside the room, Dylan was tightening his belt around his upper thigh. He had been shot three times. Once in his leg, once in his upper right shoulder, then again in his stomach. Leaning against the nuclear warhead, "Take your time", he whispered while reaching into his jacket pocket for a screwdriver. Opening the case, "Son of a bitch."

Having unarmed the second device she called in, "Dylan I am headed for the third device. How's your end."

"Oh I'm fine, had to take a bit of a detour I'm afraid. Hurry up on that third device, huh. Running out of time we are."

"A detour. That doesn't sound good. You don't need help from an overzealous idealistic girl do you."

"Oh no, I think I have it."

"Coming up on three, see you in a minute."

"See you soon," Dylan gasped. His chest was heavy from the wound and he felt light headed because of the blood loss. Looking over the first device that Lee disarmed, he cut off a piece of the C4 before heading back to the nuclear weapon.

Lee was located the other side of the stadium and had disarmed the last of her list.

"Ok old man. I have finished my task list. How is yours going? Don't tell me you are stuck."

"Me, just who taught you how to disarm nuclear weapons to begin with."

"Well, it's been awhile, you being dead and all for the last ten years. I doubt very many underprivileged school children needed such lessons."

Dylan laughed softly into his com set.

"Cancer."

"What?"

"Jacqueline, she died of cancer."

The entire mission had been unnerving for her. Dylan was not the type to share. It scared her how much he had revealed to her in the last half hour.

"I am headed your way."

"I don't think that is such a good idea."

Ignoring him, "And why is that?" She continued in his direction.

"Oh because the trigger had a failsafe on it which would take at least twenty minutes to bypass. Unfortunately the timer on this piece is counting down to about two minutes."

Lee picked up the pace.

"Don't worry your pretty little head girl, I've got a plan."

"Well I would love to hear it," she called at sprinting pace.

"Oh, I got some C4 from the first device you disabled."

"You are going to blow up the bomb?" she stopped dead in her tracks.

"Seemed like a good idea at the time."

Making the mental calculations in her head.

"I don't suppose you have a remote trigger."

"Damn. You know, I think I left that in my other pants pocket," he said sarcastically.

"Dylan?"

"Don't worry about me Red. Looks like I get to be the hero this time. I don't suppose you would be kind enough to make sure the rest of the people get out of this building safely? Oh, and don't worry about the painting. You will find that I mailed it back to the owners this afternoon. They should have it by the end of business tomorrow."

Distraught, "Why not me?"

"Excuse me?"

"Rule number one. Always look after yourself. Why didn't you send me to the nuclear bomb while you disarmed the other devices."

Chuckling, "funniest thing," he attached the C4 to the metal plate on the device. Sticking in the fuse he reached for the timer on the warhead. It should have enough electrical stimulate to set off the C4. "Somewhere in those ten years of being her friend, I changed. I knew what that smile she gave me was now. She knew all along. I was everything I thought I never could be. Something she saw me becoming every day."

"And that was?"

"A good man. Silly and idealistic. But good nonetheless."

He looked at the detonator. Thirty seconds left.

"It's about that time."

"Dylan?!"

"Do me a favor Red. I hate to admit it, but I think Samuel had the right idea. He has always been a good man, a man of conviction. When you find him again, tell him I said so."

Attaching the wire from the detonator to the C4, Lee had not the time for any more words. She heard a loud boom and felt the earth move beneath her feet. Chaos all around her, and all she felt was a stillness inside herself; stillness and a void.

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Chapter 7: Jacqueline

It was a long train ride from Denmark to Spain. Lee always took a roundabout way home; never to be followed, never to be found.

Reaching inside her pocket she took out the worn envelope that Dylan had thrown at her prior to his decent into what would become his death chamber. Opening the letter,

My dearest Dylan,

I have written this letter a hundred times and a hundred times I was unable to give it to you. You must think I am cowardly for never having the courage to tell you about my condition. Forgive my love. Every moment I spent with you, every second I was in your company was one I kept well guarded in my memories and in my heart. You must wonder the reason? Know that it was not in spite that I did not tell you. Quite the opposite really. I knew that if I did, you would go against your conscience. I did not want your love out of pity or empathy. I wanted it as it always was; carried deep within you and protected and you always protected me. I do not know what it was that kept you just out of reach, but I want you to know that I have never loved so deeply as I have loved you. I have never laughed harder with anyone, been frightened, exhilarated, exhausted, alleviated, sad, joyful, broken, and saved as I have felt with you. And so I take you with me my love, and I stay with you as I always have; in your thoughts and in your heart. I have only one wish left for you. I do not know what your past is and I don't care. Forgive yourself my love. I would only feel sad if you did not one day realize what I have seen all along. You are a good man my Dylan.

I love you now, I love you always,

Jacqueline

Underneath her writing were watermarks that must have been tears when she wrote them. Flipping the letter over she found an addendum in Dylan's handwriting.

Red,

I have spent my whole life in fear that my past would catch up with me. Now that it has, know this. I have but one regret. I never fully lived. I have no doubt that one day a woman such as yourself will find yourself in a position that is similar to my own. And as always I have some advice. Take everything into account. Take your past, your future, your mistakes, your achievements, your fears, your hope, the dreams you have, and the ones you are too frightened to even think of. Take your shame and honor alike. Then ask yourself this. Would you give it all up for a moment with that person. Throw out all your fears and doubts and but live a breath in their love. And it is so simple you see. There is a reason that our methods work so well. What wouldn't you do to save the ones you love? Would you let them save you in return? Would you even give them the choice? It is like Samuel always said, death comes to us all Red. It is a matter of when and why.

Twenty-two hours and fourteen minutes; the time it took for Lee to reach her destination. Interestingly it was not her flat she stood in front of at this moment. Not a warm shower to wash away her grievances or a cozy bed to find herself in. Instead she found herself standing in front of an ever too familiar house with dusk approaching at her back. Gathering her courage, Lee knocked on the door.

Answering, "Lee. Hey, what's going on?" Riley wrapped her sweater around her torso.

Riley's expression held a little worry in it. Realizing that she hadn't been to bed in about thirty six hours, it was no wonder that Riley held such an expression. She could imagine she looked disheveled at best.

"I'm sorry, I should have called first."

"No, no it's fine. You want to come in?"

Lee smiled at the invitation. Feeling a bit awkward and unsure of herself she stumbled over an acceptance. Thinking this is what Riley must have felt when she woke up in her apartment all those months ago, all she could think to ask was,

"Are you hungry?"

Riley chuckled, "Sure."

Stepping over the threshold, Lee had but one thought.

What wouldn't you do for the ones you love?

End of Part 5

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Endnotes

(1) "Hell is around the Corner" by Tricky

TBC

 

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