See part 1 for disclaimers and warnings
By Greek Warrior (Joan)
Raven did oversleep but only by an hour. She skipped her workout remembering the Ambassador was probably in the gym since it was Saturday. She resisted the strong urge to sneak into Kris' room just to watch the sleeping young woman and headed for breakfast and a meeting with John.
John informed his Captain that two of the local grounds keepers had failed to show up for work this morning and an attempt was made to find them at their home addresses. But the only thing they found was that the addresses given had been false. The only information he had gathered on the party was the guest list, which consisted of Ambassadors and other dignitaries, their spouses and their aids. In total about 50 to 60 people that would begin arriving about six tonight with dinner starting about eight. He handed her a list of the people that had been invited. "There isn't anyone that should present a threat, but of course drivers can be changed without anyone asking questions. I think that old theory of servants being invisible is true."
"What about extra catering help, servers, that kind of thing?" Raven questioned.
"Lieutenant Marks didn't mention any."
"Check with Stephanie." She saw surprise flash across his face. "I know I said I was going to use my feminine wiles to grill her." She chuckled. "But I kind of avoided her yesterday and she's probably put out with me, so she might question why I want the info."
"Ok." John looked relieved. He had seen the way Kris and his boss had looked at one another yesterday at the pool and even though it was not a good idea to become involved with one's 'assignment', John first and foremost wanted his friend to be happy.
"Let me know as soon as you find out anything. I don't want YOU to have to cancel this shindig at the last minute." She grinned devilishly when he realized that being in charge meant he would have to do the dirty deed. "I want to stay in the background as long as possible, at least to almost everybody." She explained to him that Kris and the cook, Issy, knew her true purpose in being here.
Raven figured that Kris would be sleeping for a while longer, so she headed for the kitchen to see if she could scrounge a late breakfast. Issy met her at the coffeepot.
"You slept in this mornin." Issy announced loudly so the eavesdropping ears could hear. She continued in a lower voice. "I wanted to let you know that Leila, one of the maids, found an empty wine glass in your room this mornin and brought it to Mrs. Whitfield's attention."
Raven raised an eyebrow. "She's not my mother, Issy, and it's no concern of hers if or when I decide to have a glass of wine." She whispered.
"Yes'um, I'll cook you some eggs and bacon for breakfast." She said for the benefit of the still listening ears. She lowered her voice again. "I myself indulge in a sip now an again, but you hasta' not let the Mrs.'s know. It saves ya the trouble of listenin' to her complain and preach. Not that I got anythin' against the good book, my daddy, God rest his soul, was a Baptist preacher hisself."
"Thank you, Issy." Raven stated loudly. Meaning for breakfast and the warning.
"We's all been told to watch ya, they must be suspicious of ya." Issy warned her.
Raven explained why they were watching her by telling her about Parker's observations the day before. She started to ask Issy about Kris' relationship with the man, but was interrupted by Mrs. Whitfield.
"Miss Chandler, I would like to speak with you. You may bring your breakfast into the dining room." 'No doubt she overslept this morning because of her drinking last night.' She thought as she made her way out of the kitchen.
Raven accepted the plate from Issy, rolled her eyes at the retreating woman's back, which brought a chuckle from the cook and followed the ridged back through the doorway and into the adjoining room. "What did you want to discuss?" She asked even though she knew. Raven sat across the table from the older woman and picked up her fork.
Regina pursed her lips and folded her hands on the table in front of her. "Miss Chandler, I don't know what your normal habits are concerning...indulgences, but they won't be tolerated here."
Raven was trying hard not to laugh. "What, ah, indulgences would you be referring to, Mrs. Whitfield?" She wiped her mouth with her napkin to hide the smile that was creeping onto her face.
"I'm talking about alcohol, Miss Chandler. A social drink is one thing, but when you drink alone at night in your room, I have to wonder what other inappropriate things you might par-take in."
'I could tell her I wasn't alone, bet that would get her off on a tangent. Or I could tell her that it takes at least half a bottle of tequila before I even get a good buzz going, so I really don't consider one glass of wine drinking. Or I could go for broke and tell her that ravishing her daughter until she walked funny would be the most pleasurable of my many indulgences.'
Regina furrowed her brow at the wistful smile that appeared on Raven's face. "Miss Chandler?"
Raven unwillingly yanked her mind back to reality. "What? Oh, yes." She cleared her throat and bristled at having to be good. "Sorry, I didn't know you would consider that to be inappropriate behavior. Won't happen again." She said sweetly to pacify the woman.
Raven was left alone and thought she might be able to finish her breakfast in peace until Martin entered the room. 'It's just not my lucky day, is it?'
"Oh good, I found you." He sat down beside her. "I took the opportunity to plan a day of sightseeing for us. Kris will, I'm sure, have to stay in bed most of the day to recover from her ordeal yesterday. She's so fragile." He was consulting his list and missed the look that Raven gave him, which was for the best, considering he probably would have keeled over dead. "If we leave within the hour, we can see the Blue Mosque before prayers. Then a visit to Topkapi Palace, it's been restored and it's actually a museum now. You can even tour part of what was the Harem, where the women stayed." He clarified, thinking she might not be familiar with the term. "It's amazing to think that one man could actually have so many wives." He sighed. "Of course it also houses and display's the Spoonseller's Diamond, it's 86-carts." He just knew that all women loved diamonds. "Then we could see the Grand Bazaar or we could see the Basilica Cistern and the Spice Bazaar. We won't have time to do all three, since we'll need time to dress for the party." When he received no reply as to which Raven would rather see, he finally looked up from his list. He found himself very alone in the room. "Um, must have overwhelmed her. I guess I should turn down the charm just a bit." He got up and went in search of his reluctant prey.
Raven slipped out while the condescending, conceited little twit was running his mouth and raced for the stairs. Good luck was on her side this time; she made it all the way to her room without encountering anyone else. She heard the water from the shower cut off and knew Kris was up. Without her knowledge a smile formed and turned into a grin when a knock sounded and her bathroom door opened to admit a blonde head. "Morning."
"What's left of it." Kris stated, knowing she had slept later than usual. "I suppose you've had breakfast?"
"Yeah, I just finished actually." She told Kris about her talk with her mother.
Kris groaned and shook her head in reply. "Sorry about that. So, what are you up to today?" She didn't what to talk about her mother.
"You don't need to apologize for your mother and mostly hiding from your brother." She patted the bed beside her for Kris to sit and filled her in on his plans.
"Those are interesting places to see, but I could think of better company than Martin. Have you been to Istanbul before?"
"Yes, but not sightseeing. I have been on the tour of the Cistern, but only because a group was going in while I happen to be passing by and happen to need a place to hide for a little while." She saw the curiosity gleaming in green eyes. "Don't ask. Please?" She wasn't quite ready to tell Kris of all her exploits.
Raven remembered that it had been one disaster after another. There had been several teams of two operatives working together, tracking an arms dealer that had information of a large shipment of weapons that also contained several stolen crates of ground to air missiles. Her partner was just out of training and restless for action. They had been the team to spot the dealer. They were instructed to follow him until other teams could rendezvous with them. But Jimmy had drawn the dealer's attention and been shot and killed. Raven had killed the man and all but one of his 'associates' and recovered the computer disk, but had been shot in the shoulder for her trouble. She had needed a place to disappear and blended in with a tour group that had been headed into the underground chamber that had been built in the 6th century to supply water to a nearby palace complex.
Kris nodded. "Okay. So...do you want to do the tourist thing?"
"Probably wouldn't be a good idea. I told John that anyone leaving the embassy gets a double guard. And I doubt armed Marines would go over real well at the tourist attractions."
"Why don't we hide out up here and you can explain to me the need for double guards." She gave her companion a 'cat that ate the canary' smirk. Kris had realized this morning while taking her shower, that in all the explaining Raven had done, she still hadn't let on the reason that she and her team had taken up residence at the embassy. And Kris thought she had done a rather good job of trapping Raven into spending the afternoon alone with her where they could talk.
"Was wondering when you'd get around to asking that." Raven returned the smirk and added a wink, letting her young companion know that she would have to get up a lot earlier to trap the Captain.
"Wow, are we really in danger?" Kris asked after she had been told the story. She had eaten lunch and returned to Raven's room after telling her mother she was going to rest before the party tonight.
"After the visitor you almost had the other night, I'd say it was a distinct possibility." Raven misinterpreted the expression on Kris' face. "I won't...we won't let anything happen to you or your family." She knelt down in front of her companion.
"No, it's not that. Did you stop him from breaking in?" At Raven's nod, she continued. "You seem to be making a habit of saving me. I would have walked into my room and he would have been waiting there for me. I guess I thought he was after documents or something like that, I never thought that he might be after one of us." She placed her palm against Raven's cheek and gently caressed.
Raven felt a tingling sensation spreading through her body. She leaned into the warm, smooth skin of the person that seemed to tame the wild, dark energy that flowed through her veins. She tilted her head and kissed Kris' wrist. At the slight moan, voiced from her companion, she used her tongue to lightly stroke the rapidly beating pulse point.
Kris moaned when lips captured her wrist. She moved her free hand to the bowed head and ran her fingers through the midnight tresses. "I, uh, never knew that, oh my, that my wrist could, um, be so sensual." She was breathing hard.
Knock, knock, knock.
"Oh for the love of Zeus, I'm gonna kill who ever that is." Raven mumbled as she headed for the unsuspecting person. She waited until Kris had entered the bathroom before she opened her door. "What?" She barked out.
"Well, I love you, too." John said as he walked into the room. "I finally got the info about the party. And next time you, my friend can talk to that woman. She hates me or maybe it's just that she hates all men, I'm not sure." He stopped when he saw a blonde head poking from around the bathroom doorframe. "Hello, Kris, isn't it?"
"Yes and you must be John, nice to meet you." She said as the rest of her body entered the room. "Ah, should I leave?" She directed the question to Raven.
"Nah, you'd wheedle it out of me later anyway." She grinned at her companion then turned a more serious expression towards her Lieutenant. "So, do we rain on their parade or what?"
"Oh yeah, I think I see storm clouds gathering." He shrugged his shoulders. "What can I say, I'm a metaphoric kinda guy." He grinned sheepishly at Kris before regaining his composure and turning back towards his Captain. "Taking into account the caterers, waitpersons and drivers, there would be about fifty or so people that we haven't cleared, in and out of here this afternoon and tonight if we don't." He crossed his arms across his chest and leaned back against the wall, waiting for his Captain to make the final decision. His eyes watched Kris watching Raven. 'Oh boy, I wonder if Raven has realized the young lady has a crush the size of Texas, on her?'
Raven ran her hands through her hair and sighed. "Damn, we can't chance it." She looked up to find two sets of eyes, Kris' staring at her and John's staring at Kris. "Cancel the party, John."
John returned his gaze to his boss. "Aw shucks, I was looking forward to seeing you in that black number I was told about." He chuckled.
"Wait a minute. You're canceling the party?" Kris looked stunned.
"Have to, it's too big of a risk." Raven explained.
"Oh God! You'd better call an ambulance before you tell mother, she's gonna have a coronary." Her eyes betrayed her mirth. "Nobody's ever had the guts to try this before. Mother will have you for breakfast after she recovers." She looked at her companion.
Raven's mouth twisted into a devilish grin. "Not me, John. I'm still undercover." She laughed at the groan that came from her longtime friend. "John, call everyone together in the dining room. And remember you have the authority from the State Department and Foreign Affairs to do this if they question you."
"Lot of good that's going to do me if Mrs. Whitfield's beating me to death." He looked dramatically skyward. "Why me?"
"I'll protect you." Kris promised and patted him on the arm. Raven rolled her eyes.
Raven sobered the room by asking John if he had heard from the contact they had tried to meet with. "Uh, yeah, he turned up dead." He looked apologetically at Kris.
"Godsbedamned." Raven mumbled. "I take it that it wasn't from natural causes?" John confirmed her assessment. "I don't like this one bit. It's like somebody's always one step ahead of us. Contact the base, I want helicopters standing by to evacuate the embassy on a moments notice."
"Good as done. How much do I tell them when I cancel the party?" John knew that with the death of the informant that more-than-likely the traitor was someone in The Division.
"Anything you have to. Let's just keep me a bystander for right now." She rubbed her neck tiredly. "If there's a leak here, and they haven't discovered me, I might be able to catch them off guard."
John protested. "If it's at our end, they already know about you." This assignment was going from bad to worse. He paced while he rubbed his hand across his bald head. Raven had always teased him about that. She said it looked like he was trying to wake up his brain cells. "You want them to come after you." He voiced his guess out loud, forgetting they weren't alone and cringed when he heard Kris' stunned voice.
"What?" Kris jumped up from the chair she had been observing from. "No, you could get...hurt." She looked at Raven. "Please." She pleaded.
Raven pulled her into a hug and rested her cheek against the top of Kris' head. "I'll be okay." She moved her hands up and down the young woman's back in a soothing motion, which made Kris cling to her tighter. "Hey, you alright?" No answer. "Sagira?"
John's face showed his confused surprise at the contact from his normally stoic Captain. Then his eyes nearly bugged out at the term of endearment. Kris blushed despite her fear. "Sorry, I just...I'm a little scared that something...might happen to you." She looked up to meet a startled expression. 'I'm glad I toned that down. I really would have floored her if I had admitted that the thought of losing her terrifies me.'
Raven gazed into sincere green eyes. "John, go call everyone together. We'll be down in a minute." She heard the door softly close. "I, uh, don't know what to say." She pulled Kris back into a fierce hug. "Thank you, for caring. Other than John, Sharon and Granny, nobody's really worried about me in a long time."
'Sharon?' Kris felt a pang of jealousy. "Who are they?" She tried to casually ask.
Raven heard an odd tone in the voice and grinned. "Granny kind of adopted me when I moved into the apartment above her several years ago. She's in her, I don't know, mid-fifties. She took pity on me I guess, when she saw I ate nothing but take-out, she started cooking for me sometimes and we became friends. And Sharon is John's fiancée." She felt Kris let go of the breath she had been holding. "Come on, let's go watch your mother explode."
Kris stopped breathing, waiting for the answer. 'I know she's bound to have past lovers and probably has a current one or two. So why do I feel this way? Because I want her all to myself and I don't know if I can compete with her lovers.' She exhaled. 'At least Sharon's not competition.' "Can't cook huh?" She would save her insecurities for another time.
"I didn't say I couldn't, I just don't."
"Touchy. I'd say that means you're one step above boiling water." Kris taunted as they made their way out the door and towards the stairs.
"Hey, I can open a can with the best of 'em." She replied in mock seriousness. She lost her composure when Kris playfully bumped her with her hip on the way down the stairs. "Okay, okay, so it's not a skill I possess." Raven still couldn't believe she felt so comfortable with this young woman in such a short time. It went completely against her normal stoic attitude.
"I'm sure you have many other skills to make up for the lack of that one." Kris couldn't believe she had said that. She tried to get her blush under control as they put a little distance between their bodies before entering the dining room where most of the others were waiting.
"Ms. Whitfield, Ms. Chandler." John acknowledged the two. "We're just waiting on Mr. Lewis and we'll begin."
"I don't know what your problem is Lieutenant, but I have a party to prepare for." Regina huffed. "I don't have time to waste with your games." She stood beside the table with her hands resting on the top, leaning threateningly towards John. She was dressed in a robe and it was obvious that she was in the middle of having her hair done since half of her head held curlers.
"Sorry." Parker strolled into the room. "I had a phone call to make." Clearly by his tone, he wasn't at all concerned that everybody was waiting on him.
John's anger at the insolent aid made him forget that he was nervous. His blunt statement that there wasn't going to be a party caused a titanic uproar. 'Hell, you'd think I'd cancelled 'The X-Files'. He let it continue until all but one voice had quieted.
"I don't know who you think you are, but no soldier boy can tell me what I can and can't do." Regina's face had turned a bright scarlet color and she stamped her foot.
"Mrs. Whitfield, calm down. You're going to hyperventilate." Stephanie begged and pulled on the woman's arm, trying to get her back in her chair.
"Ambassador, you and your family are in danger." John went on to inform them of the threats and incidents that had transpired over the last few days. And was very happy to make it known to Mrs. Whitfield, that yes he did have the authority to tell her and anyone else in this building what they can and can't do. He also went on to explain exactly who they were, leaving out his Captain of course, and exactly who it was in Washington that gave them total control of the situation.
"Andrew, this is ridiculous. Everyone wants the Peace Talks to go forward." She waved her hand in John's direction. "Straighten out the 'Lieutenant' so I can get on with my preparations for tonight."
Regina Whitfield's definition of current affairs might be what the latest style in Paris is, but her husband knew his profession well and he also knew of The Division. He had done work in countries that helped support the anti-terrorist group, which meant he knew what they really were. He had continuously turned paler and paler as John had explained and now he was a ghostly white. "General Mitchell thinks we're in that much danger, Lieutenant Logan?" He used the name that John had said was one of the principles in contacting The Division. Mitchell was a close friend of the Ambassadors and was not one to panic.
"I assure you, Ambassador, that if he didn't feel that way, we would not be here." John answered the clearly upset man.
"Andrew?" Regina wasn't use to being told no.
"I'm sorry, my dear, but this is serious. We all will need to follow the orders of the Lieutenant." He stood up. "I have phone calls to make." He announced as he left with Mr. Ahmet following.
"It seems as if I also have phone calls and apologies to make. You three." She pointed to her offspring. "Have a bag to pack, according to our jailer, in case we are whisked away in the middle of the night." She walked briskly to the door. "Come Stephanie." She intoned without glancing back.
Vivian looked worried and Martin looked perturbed.
"Yes Stephanie, heel, fetch, roll over, play dead." Kris whispered as she watched the pair leave. Raven overheard and smothered the laugh before it made it's way past her lips.
"Kristen, that's not very lady like, as your mother would say." Parker reprimanded. "Come, I'll escort you to your room to pack, so that disrespectful 'person' won't have any reason to complain."
Raven saw the annoyance spread across her companion's face and she had no desire whatsoever to stop the impending rebuke. She placed her elbow on the table and rested her chin in her hand with a slight grin on her face and waited.
"You don't listen to a word I say. I just referred to Stephanie as a trained hound that heels whenever mother snaps her fingers and you, not ten seconds later, treat me the same way." She stood and glared at him with fire in her eyes. "Stuff it, Parker." She stormed off with Raven scrambling to keep up.
"I'll chalk that up to nervousness and not hold it against you, Kristen. I realize you must be scared by all this talk." He called after them, raising his voice so he would be heard, as the two women raced up the stairs.
They made it to Kris' room before they clasped in laughter. "I guess it's better to laugh than cry." Kris said as she wiped her eyes. "It's really sad, though. Mother worries more about that stupid party than the fact that we might be in danger. Parker thinks he has a right to tell me what to say and how to act. And I think Martin's more concerned that nobody will see him escorting you tonight."
Raven became subdued as she traced the pattern on the comforter across Kris' bed. "But you're engaged, aren't you? I mean that still doesn't give him the right to boss you around, but maybe he thinks it does." Raven had conveniently forgotten Parker when she and Kris had been together. She had known that the only way to stop her escalating feeling toward the young woman was to stop her heart from beating. So she had pushed any thought of Kris and Parker being a couple, to the furthest recesses of her mind until seeing him downstairs.
'God, she thinks there's something really between Parker and me.' "Everyone assumes we're engaged because mother and father want us to be. Father likes him because Parker wants to follow in father's footsteps and be an Ambassador and mother just thinks he's a good catch. Parker wants to marry me because father wants it. Martin thinks I'm lucky to have someone interested in me at all, he thinks I'm boring. Viv thinks I 'need to sample all the delicacies that life has to offer'." Seeing the uncertain expression, she explained. "Viv finally hit puberty at seventeen, she's boy crazy and wonders why I'm not chasing anything in pants."
"Ah, I think you should take her advice." She looked Kris in the eye and grinned. "I wear pants, most of the time." She explained to a suddenly worried young woman.
Kris understood and relaxed. "Why, Ms. Chandler, are you asking me to go steady?" She asked in her best southern drawl.
"I, uh, don't know. I've never gone steady with anyone before." It was Raven's turn to be the nervous one.
They were sitting on the bed with their legs folded under them, facing each other and Kris scooted closer, so that their knees were touching. "I'll tell you what." She laced her fingers together behind Raven's neck. "Why don't we forget the chasing and go directly to the catching." It was a statement, not a question. She leaned her forehead forward until it met her companion's.
"I think I would like that very much. If you're sure that's, or I'm, what you want." Raven sat back and placed her fingers over Kris' mouth to stop her from interrupting. "Let me finish." Raven took a minute to compose her thoughts. "Even if you disregard my past and what I do for a living, your parents are not going to be happy, to say the least, about this. I want you to be sure that you're prepared to deal with the consequences if they don't accept your decision."
Kris thought about what her parent's reaction would be. "Happy? No, they wouldn't be happy." 'But would they accept it? She wasn't sure.' She removed her hands from around Raven's neck and grasped both her companion's hands. "I didn't realize how long we've been talking, it's starting to get dark. We better get packed before they call us to dinner." She stood up and pulled the older woman with her. She needed time to get her emotions and her thoughts under control before she threw herself and her problems into the Captain's very capable hands.
"You're a special person, Sagira, you mean a lot to me even though we've just met. I feel very at ease with you, like we've been friends forever." She pulled Kris into a hug. They stood in each other's arms, swaying to an unheard melody for several long minutes. Raven knew Kris needed to think seriously about how her life would change if they went forward. She also knew she would give the young woman all the time she needed and abide by whatever choice Kris made, her heart would let her do no less.
Kris sighed. "I still have to find a nickname for you." She pulled back and looked up. Her eyes began to shine and a devilish grin graced her features.
"Should I start worrying?" Raven asked with a raised eyebrow.
Kris had spotted the necklace that hung around her companion's neck. "No, nothing to be concerned about...Taz."
Both eyebrows disappeared beneath dark bangs. "Taz?"
"Well, I could call you devil but people might get the wrong idea. Besides I figure you like the character or you wouldn't wear this necklace. And I think you could probably explode into a tornado at the drop of a hat." She explained very reasonably.
"Mmph." Raven decided she like the nickname, she had certainly been called a lot worse. "Our personalities do kinda match." She gave in. "But his appetite reminds me of you." She jumped back before a backhand caught her in the stomach.
Kris waved a finger menacingly at the tall woman and was about to protest, when her appetite told her brain to contact her stomach. A loud complaint grumbled just as she opened her mouth. She blushed and started laughing. "Don't say a word, woman, not one word."
Most of dinner had been spent listening to either long periods of silences or complaints. Which had been voiced mostly by Regina, who was making sure everybody knew what a hardship it had been to personally call all of the invited guests to apologize. Of course Stephanie could have done it, that's what she was there for, but then Regina couldn't have griped about it.
The dishes had been cleared and everyone was sipping coffee or tea, when a loud crash from outside was heard, followed by yelling and a round or two of gunfire. Raven's first reaction was to head toward the commotion but caught herself before she darted for the door. A few minutes later, Sergeant Hardly entered the room. He gave the occupants of the room a goofy grin before addressing the Ambassador explaining what had happened and that Lieutenants Logan and Marks would be here shortly to discuss the issue further.
Seems that a delivery truck, probably the same one that had been parked by the embassy the night of the attempted break-in, had tried to drive through the main gate, without benefit of it being open. When that failed the occupants exchanged a few shots with the guards before fleeing.
The inhabitants of the dining room were exchanging nervous glances and comments when Logan and Marks arrived. John addressed the group. "None of the guards at the gate were hurt." That said for his Captain's peace of mind. "One perpetrator killed, the others, unfortunately escaped. They must have expected the gate to be open for the arriving party guests. And now that their chance of a simple 'operation' has gone down the drain, I think that they will be attacking in full force." He paused to let the meaning of his words sink in. "I'm not willing to take the chance of them succeeding, so I'm ordering an evacuation of all non-local personnel." Stunned silence, then the eruption he was expecting. He held his hands up and yelled for quiet. "The helicopters will be here in an hour. You will be taken to Izmir Air Station. That's all I can tell you right now. One of the MP's will remain with each of you until you leave the embassy." He locked eyes with his Captain and got her slight nod of approval.
Raven hung back so she could have a minute of private conversation with him. "Did you track down our other contact?"
"Yes, finally." He handed her a small piece of paper. "These two addresses are the most likely places to find him. You know what he looks like?" At her confirmation he continued. "I don't think it'll be hard to keep your disappearance unnoticed, except by a certain blonde."
"I'll talk to her before I go." Raven assured him. "Everything else in place?"
"Yes, a boat by the name of 'Ali's Ark' will be waiting to take you across to Yalova. The motorcycle will be waiting at the dock. It's about 200 miles to Izmir, so I'll give you about, say five hours, to get there before I start worrying." Although he was already doing that and he knew that she knew it, too.
She was about to reply when they heard the Ambassador calling for John. "Go see to him. I'll use the commotion of the helicopters to slip out of the embassy." He nodded and headed in the direction of the Ambassador's voice.
Kris was pacing in her room. She was not at all happy that Raven was not leaving with them. 'You're going out in this city, at night, alone, by yourself, with nobody to watch your back?' She had known she was babbling but she couldn't help it. Then when Raven simply answered, 'Yes', Kris had pleaded with her not to go. Raven had assured her that she would be fine, and left to change into her nighttime 'prowling' attire.
As Kris continued to pace, she noticed the shy and adoring look that was directed at her by her bodyguard. He had not been privileged to the conversation between his boss and his charge. "Sergeant Hardly," She threw a charming smile at him when he turned his big brown puppy dog eyes toward her. "I would really appreciate it if you would be kind enough to get me something to eat from the kitchen."
"Uh, I'm not supposed to leave you alone." He looked down at his shoes trying to avoid getting lost in her green eyes. Kris noticed that he was a rather ordinary looking guy, not bad looking really, except for his weak chin. She felt bad about manipulating him but she was worried about Raven.
"Oh please." She did everything but bat her eyes at him. "When I get nervous, my stomach gets upset and if I don't get something to eat...well, you get the idea."
His eyes flew open. "I, ah, yeah, get the idea. I'll be right back." There was no way he was going to be responsible for the Ambassador's daughter getting sick, especially not in the helicopter. He stopped in the open door. "What should I get?" When she said it didn't matter, he hurried down the stairs.
"Yes." Kris pumped her fist in celebration. 'Now I just need to follow Raven without her knowing it.' She heard the noisy blades beating a rhythm in the air above the building and knew the Captain would be leaving soon. She hurried downstairs and slipped out the back door. She was careful to avoid the spotlights that were flooding the courtyard.
Raven advanced along the side of the building, melding into the shadows. With all the commotion, she failed to notice the figure following behind. She exited the side gate and moved down the wall that protected the embassy from the outside world as the last helicopter lifted off the roof. She watched as it passed overhead and turned southward heading for the base. As she continued her jog eastward she felt more than saw the movement behind her. She turned the corner and waited. She had recognized her 'tail' immediately. 'Damn, Kris.' She used the few minutes waiting for the girl, to calm herself. She wasn't mad at her for following, but at herself for not realizing that Kris was just stubborn enough to follow her and for it taking this long for her to notice.
Kris saw Raven disappear around the corner of the wall and lengthened her stride. She would have screamed except for the hand that clamped over her mouth. She started to struggle until a familiar voice calmed her.
"Kris, it's me." Raven held her companion off the ground until a heel connected with her shin. "Shit." She hissed as she dropped the girl back to stand on her on feet. She bent down and rubbed her tender leg.
"Raven, you scared me half to death." She took deep breaths, trying to slow her rapidly beating heart. "Oh god, sorry." She said when she saw the tall woman hunched over rubbing her leg. Then it dawned on her that she had been caught. "I can explain." She offered as Raven straightened up and glared menacingly at her. "I was worried about you. I thought you might get hurt. I know you can take care of yourself but I wanted to help." She thought about how nice a helicopter ride sounded about right now. She was almost in tears.
"Shh." Raven pulled her in against her body and gently held her. "I'm not mad at you. I just want you to be safe, that's all." She had to decide what to do, take the young woman with her while she tried to track down their contact or head for the boat immediately. She decided that Kris was more important than what she might find out even if she could track the guy down. "Come on, we've got a boat to catch." She brushed a kiss across the bent head.
"We're leaving? What about the information you wanted?" She tilted her head up but kept her arms firmly circled around Raven's waist.
"Change of plans. You matter more to me than the info I might possibly get from him. So, we're outta here." She headed them south toward the Karakoy Pier.
"We're not headed towards the docks, are we?" Kris hesitantly asked.
"Yeah, a boat ride is quicker than going around. Why? Please tell me you don't get seasick."
"No, not on a big boat or the ferries." Kris explained. "If it's a small one, Taz, you better hope the waters calm."
Raven sent a silent request to Poseidon for a nice smooth crossing. Raven scanned their path when the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and her eyes darted to the darkened doorways and alleys they passed. She knew they were being followed but with all the civilians around she couldn't react until she had pinpointed their adversaries. She pulled her companion closer and picked up her pace. She turned her head and noticed a shadowy figure that accelerated his walk also.
Kris felt the tension practically radiating from the body next to her. "What is it? What's wrong?" She tightened the grip of her right hand in Raven's left and leaned closer into her companion's body, seeking the comfort and security the tall solid frame provided.
"We're being followed." She tilted her head slightly, listening. "No matter what happens, I want you to do as I say, when I say it. If I tell you to run, you run." She looked down into suddenly fearful green eyes. "No arguments this time, okay?" She gave Kris directions to the pier and what to tell the Captain of the boat in case they became separated.
"What about you? I don't want to leave you. Please, don't make me." She pleaded.
"I'll be alright." She tried to reassure her companion. "I've got on a bullet proof vest." She hoped that might comfort Kris' panic. It didn't, Kris tightened her grip.
"Please, don't leave me." She whispered and clutched Raven's hand so tightly that she almost cut off the blood supply.
"Okay, Sagira." She wished she could take the girl in her arms and hold her, but now was not the time. "What do you say we make a break for it?" 'Now I wish I'd taken the time to have her put on my vest. I'll never forgive myself if anything happens to her.'
They continued to swiftly walk southward. Kris moved slightly away from Raven's side, but kept her death grip on the woman's hand. "I thought we were running?" She questioned as they continued their walk.
"We're about to." Raven answered. They had left the area that contained the embassies and were now passing storefronts. The road to her right had become more congested with automotive traffic, just as the sidewalk had become crowded with pedestrians. She had been hoping to lose the tail in the more populated area, but they were proving to be adequate followers. She was now just hoping they wouldn't try anything with this many people around while she was waiting for an opportunity to make a run for the boat. They had been walking towards the flow of traffic on a one-way street when Raven saw the chance she had been waiting for. "You see the bunch of cars heading for us?" Kris nodded. "We're going to wait until the last second and cross in front of them, so our pursuers can't follow us. Don't worry, I'm not going to let you get run over." She squeezed her companion's hand once to reassure her.
"I trust you." Kris said matter-of-factly, like it was an everyday occurrence that she put her life in the Captain's hands.
Raven almost stopped walking at the simple admission. She would have to wonder about where that came from later. "Ready." She waited until the last possible second. "Go." She put her arm around Kris' waist to help pull her quickly across the road. They made it to the other side just before the stream of traffic made it impossible for their pursuers to follow. She turned them down an alley that would take them to a workers entrance to the pier to avoid customs, the man on the gate had been bribed earlier. They were halfway to the end of the alley when she felt a presence behind her. She knew there had to have been at least one following on this side of the road, but she had not been able to pick him out of the crowd. She pushed Kris behind a stack of crates before she turned and drew her gun. She felt the impact of the slugs hit her vest just as she fired her own weapon. She saw the man hit the pavement of the alley as her body impacted with the wall behind her.
John prayed all the way to the base. His gut told him that the girl had followed Raven even before he and Hardly had searched the embassy. He was thankful that he was on the last helicopter, at least it would delay telling Whitfield and his wife. He would have to send out teams to try and locate her if it happened that she wasn't with Raven, but he would find that out when his Captain radioed in from the boat. And if lady luck were with him, that call wouldn't be long after they landed. After they touched down he made his way to the large recreation building where his charges were being guarded.
"Lieutenant Logan, where's my daughter?" Andrew Whitfield's voice bellowed over the mumbling of the other inhabitants that very quickly became quiet. The Ambassador marched toward the reluctant leader and stretched his short stature trying to look him in the eye.
John inwardly cringed. "Ambassador, I'm sure she's fine. She eluded the guard assigned to her and left the embassy."
"Well, what kind of idiot let's an innocent girl get away from him?" The irate father yelled.
"He shouldn't have had to worry about her trying to get away. He wasn't supposed to tie her down, just protect her." John raised his voice also.
"Oh God!" Kris felt like she was moving in slow motion. "Wake up, please." She captured Raven's face in her hands and caressed tan cheeks with her thumbs until blue eyes opened. "Where are you hurt?" Kris panicked looking for traces of blood. Raven was hurt and it was up to her to take care of her companion. "Raven?" She called again and waited for the unfocused eyes to zero in on hers.
Raven looked up at the soft lips that were inches from hers. She started closing the distance before the realization of where they were stopped her. "If I tell you later will you kiss it and make it better?" She chuckled at the startled expression. "Ow!" She rubbed her head where it had connected with brick wall behind her. "Come on, help me up and let's get outta here before we end up with an audience."
"You're okay?" Kris wasn't convinced even though she helped her friend up.
Raven rapped her knuckles against her chest. "Vest." She explained the clunking sound and found her arms full of a relieved blonde.
"Lieutenant?" Sergeant Hardly ran up and held out a headset to him. "It's the Captain."
John grabbed the thing and jammed it over his head and against his ears. "Logan." He informed the mike.
Raven had been debating on how much to make him sweat before she admitted to Kris being with her. "How are things on that end?"
He knew it would go easier if he just came clean and told her that they had lost the girl. "Uh, we, or that is to say I, seem to be missing someone." He was wondering if Sharon would mind if he retired, as he waited to see what would be left of his butt after it was chewed.
"Really? That someone wouldn't happen to be a short, feisty blonde, would it?"
John relaxed when he heard the voice in the background. "Short? I told you before I'd have to hurt ya if you ever called me short." John grinned and turned to the Ambassador and his wife. "Your daughter is with the Captain and she's okay."
"John, we're on the boat now and we'll be there in about four or five hours. Make sure everything's ready to go, I want to leave when we get there."
"We'll be ready." Raven signed off before he could ask her anything else. He handed the headset back to the Sergeant and faced the group of people. He advised them to eat the meal that was being provided to them and try to get some rest. He was heading towards the door when Andrew and Regina Whitfield stopped him.
"I've been informed by my wife that Miss Chandler, Kristen's companion, is also missing."
"She's with your daughter, Ambassador." He wasn't about to enlighten them to the fact that his Captain was their daughter's companion. 'If they can't put two and two together I'll let Raven deal with it when she gets here. Serves her right for making me admit I'd lost her before telling me the girl was with her.' "Anything else I can do for you?" He tried to keep his voice neutral.
"Yes." Andrew replied, not bothering to keep the arrogance from his voice. "Tell your Captain that I want to see him, as soon as he gets here." He tried to look down his nose at the man facing him. Not an easy task when the other person is almost a foot taller. "That will be all." He dismissed the man.
John rolled his eyes as he walked away. 'I've got to be sure that I'm here when he finds out who the Captain is.' He chuckled all the way to the command center. 'He obviously doesn't have a clue.'
"You really think I'm feisty?" Kris asked rather shyly.
Raven wondered what happened to the playful young woman from a minute ago. "Yes I do." She placed her fingers under her companion's chin and raised the lowered head. "I think that you've got a good heart, you're kind, you're trusting, that you look for the good in almost everyone and that you're very beautiful. I also don't think that you're short, just vertically challenged." Raven grinned.
Kris didn't know what to say to all the incredible compliments she was receiving. She looked into sincere blue eyes as the flattery continued. She blushed and looked down when she was called beautiful and it took a minute for what Raven said next to register. She jerked her head up to see a playful grin spread across her companion's face. She tried to look stern as she responded. "Yep, I'm definitely gonna hav'ta hurt ya for that." But couldn't keep the matching grin from her face as she pulled Raven close. Well, as close as one could when both were wearing unyielding bulletproof vests.
As soon as they had boarded the boat, Raven had launched into a conversation with the boat's Captain in Turkish, no less. Kris stood by, only understanding a word or two that she had picked up from the embassy staff, before Raven pulled her below deck. "What was that all about? It sounded like an argument and you never told me you could speak Turkish." She stood by while her companion opened compartment after compartment. "What other languages can you speak?"
"He was upset that there was two of us, he was only expecting one. They tend to get nervous if things don't go as planned." She moved to another crate. "And I speak enough of the language to get by." She seemed to find what she was looking for. "Here, let's see if this will fit you." She held it up to judge. "Take off your jacket." While Kris complied, Raven answered her last question. "A little Italian, some Spanish and German, a little more Arabic and Greek, and a smidgen of Russian. It comes in handy in this line of work if you can speak a little of the language of the place you're being sent." She placed the vest over the young woman's shoulders and had to catch her before she collapsed.
"These things are heavy." She said as she bounced up and down trying to get use to the extra weight.
"They're not that heavy, you just weren't expecting it." She adjusted a strap. "This one is not as large as mine, but it's still a little big for you. See if you can move around in it."
Kris did as asked. "You know, out of all those languages, the one other than English that I speak you don't." Raven raised her eyebrow in question. "French." Kris answered. "I wanted to learn Spanish, but the tutor we had a the time only knew French. And mother thought it more appropriate that I learn a romantic language. They had made their back on deck and were sitting in the bow of the boat, talking.
"Hugging isn't easy with these on." Raven griped and kissed the forehead that was level with her lips. "Come on, Sagira, we're about to dock."
"Okay, Taz, but you owe me a hug when we get out of these." She reluctantly released her.
Raven waited until the boat moved away from the empty dock. Still in a crouch she moved them towards a chain-link fence that bordered the piers. About twenty yards down from where they started, she stopped them and pulled aside a section of fence that had been cut and motioned Kris through. After several minutes of moving from shadow to shadow, Raven stopped them again, this time in front of a sleek blue motorcycle. "Ever ridden one before?"
"That?" Kris pointed to the bike. "No. Mother said they were too dangerous. And this one looks like it'd be really, really fast." She couldn't keep an excited grin off her face.
"She was right, they can be. And this one is fast." Raven zipped up the black leather jacket that she had confiscated from the boat for Kris to wear. She placed the helmet she had also swiped from the boat, much to the Captain's irritation until she promised that he would be compensated for the items, on the girl's head and secured the strap. She raised the visor. "We'll be going pretty fast, so I want you to keep your head down behind my back if it bothers you. And I want you to put your arms around my waist and hold on tight, okay?" Kris nodded. "Oh, one more thing. On the turns I need you to lean with me and the bike, don't fight it."
"Lean into them, got it." She looked thoughtful. "Holding you might be a hardship though."
"Smartass." Raven closed the visor with an audible snap. Then proceeded to attire herself in the same fashion as her companion. She showed Kris where the footrests were and settled in front of the girl. She turned the key and grinned from ear to ear as the 1200cc engine roared to life. This bike had been customized for her after she complained that with the throttle on the right, she would have to shoot left-handed. Not that she couldn't, but she had better aim with her right hand. So, out of the complaint came this, 1999 model Triumph Trophy pacific blue in color, as she requested.
The 99's hadn't even been delivered to the dealers when she had taken her first ride, which had been on a closed test track. She had pushed the bike to near 200 mph on a smooth straight away and had been hard-pressed not to jump for joy. She instead returned to the waiting onlookers and simply said, "It'll do."
About an hour and a half into the ride, Kris patted Raven on her side and the Captain pulled over. "You alright?"
"I uh, gotta go." She said apologetically and shrugged her shoulders.
Raven turned her attention to the area beside the road. "Pick a bush." She said when she turned her head back to Kris. "It's not like they're in short supply."
She raised her visor and the similar one on her companion's helmet to see if Raven was pulling her leg. "You've got to be kidding." She stated hopefully. When a raised eyebrow was her only answer she swallowed audibly. "No way, there's scorpions and snakes and lizards out there." She shivered.
Raven threw her leg over the front of the bike and held her hand out for Kris to take. "Come on, Sagira, I'll chase all the creepy crawly's away."
They were about thirty minutes away from the base when Raven stopped the bike in the middle of the road and looked behind them. "Oh shit!" The Captain complained. "I should have known better than to think this would be simple."
"What? What is it?" All Kris saw were lights headed in their direction. After all it was a road, even if it had been deserted for the past three hours. Then she noticed them spread out. It wasn't normal cars coming down the road, they were coming cross-country and heading at an angle to get in front and cut them off. "Oh." She shuttered when she comprehended the situation.
"Kris, I want you sitting in front of me." She said in a 'don't argue with me' voice.
"Why? I can't hold on up there." But she was already in motion.
"Yes you can." Raven showed her where to put her hands so they wouldn't get burned or interfere with her controlling the bike. She pulled Kris' hips back against her tightly "If they start shooting at us, I don't want your back exposed." She explained. "Lean forward and stay as low as you can." She had the bike speeding down the road as fast as she could and still control it on the curves. She kept one eye on the road and one on their pursuers. 'Hades take me, we're not gonna make it unless this gods be damned road straightens out.' She used her right hand to partially unzip her jacket so she could reach her guns. She also released the strap that was holding the Vz.58 assault rifle securely in place beside her leg.
"Lieutenant Logan." One of the airmen assigned to the base yelled. "They're on their way in, but they're being followed."
"How far out are they?" John started for the door; he didn't want the other's to hear anymore.
"About ten miles. You can get a good view from the roof of this building, there's not time to get to the tower."
He reversed his direction and took the stairs two at a time. He knew the embassy personnel who had been startled out of their sleep when the airman had yelled were following him, but didn't take time to stop them. He heard the gunfire before he spotted the bike. He also noticed two choppers with air to ground missiles starting their engines and knew that they wouldn't get off the ground in time to prevent the chasers from catching the chasees, it was up to Raven to beat them to the base. The main gate was open and waiting.
"I don't see them." Regina complained. "All I see is a cloud of dust."
"There." Parker pointed.
"Oh my God." Andrew groaned when he also noticed the speeding motorcycle.
Raven saw the straight road that they needed if they were going to have a chance at out running their pursuers. She grasped the handlebars with both hands to hold the bike steady and opened the throttle all the way. As they picked up speed she wondered if the Ancient Greeks had a god she could pray to for a good smooth road, because if she hit a bump or a hole at this speed there wouldn't be anything left of them for the terrorists to capture.
Kris opened her eyes when she felt the speed increase and wished she hadn't when she saw what used to be landscape become a complete blur. She quickly shut them again. Then she heard the shooting and was suddenly very grateful than Raven had made her get in front. 'She probably has this kind of thing happen to her all the time.' Her respect for the woman went up by leaps and bounds as each minute passed.
Raven was extremely tired of being shot at by the one vehicle that had managed to take a better angle than the others and almost catch them. It was positioned off the road to the left and a little behind the bike. She knew that it would be a lucky shot if one managed to hit her because of the rough surface the vehicle had to deal with, but it was still possible and if it happened she wouldn't be the only one that paid the consequences. She grabbed the rifle and steadied it by resting it across the left arm. She then slowed the bike down long enough for their pursuers to come up beside them. She held the trigger down and hoped she hit the driver or something vital that would stop them before the magazine ran out.
"Come on, you can make it." John mumbled over and over again. He felt as helpless as he did on the last mission when Raven had been captured. Everybody on the roof held their breath when the bike slowed down. All eyes moved as one as the car they thought would overtake the motorcycle started flipping end over end before it exploded in a ball of fire. John let go of the air he had trapped in his lungs as the bike regained its speed. He knew that they would now make it to the base as the helicopters lifted off to turn back the others that still followed.
Raven had slowed down before entering the base. She headed in the direction of a hanger that she was being waved toward. She shut off the bike and had to help Kris pry her fingers loose and sit up. "Are you okay?" She asked as she removed the helmet from her companion's head.
"Yeah, I think so." She responded shakily. She was about to thank Raven for saving her again, but turned instead to the commotion of a multitude of people trying to get through the door into the hanger all at the same time. It reminded her of the old Keystone Cops silent movies and their slapstick kind of comedy.
They all managed to gain entrance without killing each other and gathered around the bike. "Kris, you scared us to death when you weren't on the helicopter. Thank God you're safe." Vivian broke the silence.
"What do you mean by running off like that." It wasn't a question. "You're grounded for the rest of your life, young lady." Regina Whitfield scolded her eldest daughter.
The Ambassador stood next to the still helmeted figure. "Well, Captain, I can't say much for the men under your command, they could use a little more training I believe. But I'd like to thank you for saving my headstrong daughter." He dug himself in deeper as Raven loosened her chinstrap. "She just needs a husband to keep her in line, if you know what I mean?" He chuckled until he saw the long black hair fall from under the helmet as it was lifted off and the cold as ice blue eyes greet him.
"No, Ambassador, I'm afraid that I don't know what you mean." She pinned him with her stare.
"Miss Chandler." He backed up a step or two, slightly embarrassed. "Lieutenant." He shouted. "You told me that my daughter was with your Captain."
"Yes I did." John didn't offer anymore and turned his attention to a person walking towards them.
The commander of the US Squadron that made the base it's home, stood in silence for several minutes glaring at the assembled mass. His eyes came to rest on Raven who raised an eyebrow at him. The others were beginning to get nervous with this bear of a man staring at them. "Damn, girl, you sure know how to make an entrance." He smiled and pulled her into a hug that would have collapsed her lungs if she hadn't had the vest on.
He had been one of Raven and John's instructors when they had gone through their two years of training. It had also been her team that pulled a group of civilians out of a dangerous situation in South America that his son happened to be one of. "Come on, Cuddles, put me down." She had hung that nickname on him because of his fondness for hugging people that he cared about.
He placed her back on her feet. "You are the only one that I let get away with calling me that, Captain." He turned serious. "You had us worried for a minute back there."
"I had myself worried, too." She admitted. "But I promised my friend over there, that I wouldn't let anything happen to her." She inclined her head towards Kris. They talked while The Division's C-17 was pulled from the hanger.
Kris had managed to tell John about the incident in the alley and that she wasn't sure if Raven had been hurt or not. So when she finished her conversation with the commander, they cornered her. "Where were you hit?" John knew from first hand experience that even though you were wearing a bulletproof vest, the impact could still break bones.
"I'm fine." Raven protested to deaf ears. "Oh, alright." She removed her jacket and pointed to her right ribcage.
John leaned down and extracted the two slugs that were still embedded in the vest. "He got off two shots?" He questioned, then glanced at the probable reason, Kris. 'She would have made sure the girl was out of the way first.' "Let's get this thing off and see if you're just bruised or if a rib is broken."
Kris took the two flattened slugs from John as he started taking the vest off his Captain. The result of what would have happened to Raven if she hadn't been wearing the vest hit her hard. 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.' She said a prayer to who ever was responsible for making sure the Captain was protected.
Raven held up the hem of her tank top in order for John to examine her side. A large bruise had started to darken her skin as he prodded and poke her ribs. "Ow! Not so hard." She noticed that they were being watched but no one ventured very close. "Did headquarters know that Kris and I were on our own?" She lowered her voice so that only John and Kris heard.
"Yes, Simmons radioed in right after we landed." He followed her possible line of thought. "You don't think that's why you had company, do you? You could have just been followed."
"No." Raven shook her head. "I would have picked it up and besides, there were better places to catch us than right before the base." She explained. "There's nothing we can do about it from here, so let's keep it to ourselves. But tell Simmons no more messages."
"It's just a bad bruise." He announced as he stood up. "But your ribs probably should be wrapped."
"I can do it, if you've got an ace bandage." Kris offered as she looked from Raven to John and back.
"We have a good stock of first aid supplies on hand and as soon as the planes secured you can get on board." John responded.
All three stiffened when Andrew and Regina advanced in their direction. "Captain Chandler." He said with contempt dripping from his voice. "I must protest." He made it obvious that he was looking her over from top to bottom. "I will NOT take orders from a woman who thinks she can do a MAN's job." He stood in front of her with his fists on his hips. His wife was standing beside him with a smug grin on her face.
Raven straightened her back, taking full advantage of the difference in their height. "Your protest will be noted, Ambassador." She kept her voice even and calm. "But you, your family and staff are my responsibility and until we reach Washington, I'm afraid we're stuck with each other. So I suggest you make the best of it, sit back and enjoy the ride." She turned with the intention of walking away, but his voice stop her.
"No, MISS Chandler, I won't." Andrew Whitfield had never had to deal with very many strong women in his life and most of those just turned a deaf ear because if was easier than dealing with the man and his out dated attitudes.
Raven slowly turned around to face him. She had dealt with people trying to bully her most of her life and this guy was an amateur. She ignored his title as he had hers. Not that she really cared less about them, but she returned the insult. "Mr. Whitfield." She had moved to stand about a foot in front of him and looked down. She resembled a predator looking at its next meal. "You will get on that plane or I'll pick you up and put you on it." She had her hands clasped behind her back and remained outwardly calm, but her voice rumbled dangerously low in her chest. "Do I make myself clear?"
Kris stared in awe as Raven transformed from the friend that she had comforted two nights ago into a hardened, battle trained warrior that she had a tiny glimpse of on the boat and a little longer glimpse of on the bike. The warrior, as Kris was beginning to think of her, stood proud and confident. Kris wished that she had a fraction of that self-assurance. 'Maybe if I did I could have taken control of my life sooner.' Her attention was drawn back to the minor conflict when she heard her mother's voice.
"You can't threaten the Ambassador that way." Regina said with a fair amount of hostility.
The Captain smiled but there was nothing friendly about it. She noticed out of the corner of her eye, one of her men signaling that the plane was ready. "I strongly suggest that you get on the plane, Ambassador, before I carry out my 'threat' in front of your staff and your family." This time when she turned, she did walk away. She motioned for Kris to follow her on board.
Kris was enjoying the bewildered looks that followed the Captain as she headed up the ramp and into the plane and had to jog to catch up. "That was a first." She said when she was even with Raven. "I've never seen anyone order him around before."
Raven grabbed a first aid kit and walked several more steps before coming to a sudden halt. She turned to her companion. "I wasn't ordering you to follow me in here." She was worried that Kris might have been frightened by the way she intimidated her father. "I mean I would never just order you around like that unless your safety depended on it."
Kris was again amazed at the way Raven could go from a fearless warrior to a very insecure woman. She saw an almost frightened look on her friend's face. 'She thinks I'm scared of her. That I'll run away from her.' She reached out and laced her fingers through her companions. "I know that." She blushed. "That intimidation thing you did was actually kind of sexy. In fact," Kris figured she might as well finish totally embarrassing herself. "I bet you look very hot in a uniform."
It was Raven's turn to blush. "Uh, we don't have a uniform, unless you count dull grey or drab green fatigues." 'If just thinking about a uniform does that to her maybe I should push for dress blues or something.' Raven opened the door to the small compartment that she used as an office and sleeping quarters. She smiled, bowed and motioned for the young woman to precede her.
The plane was one of two C-17's The Division had. It was a four-engine monster that was designed as a cargo plane for the military. Part of the large cargo area had been sectioned off and used as sleeping compartments for the crew and any passengers that might be on board. It also had a fairly comfortable seating area for two-dozen people, a small galley, two toilets, communications and navigational areas behind the cockpit and as John had mentioned earlier, a small first aid center.
Kris placed the kit on the desk. "Take off your shirt." She instructed her patient as she removed the bandage from its protective cellophane wrapping and didn't hear Raven come up behind her.
"Is that a proposition, Ms Whitfield?" She wrapped her arms loosely around Kris' waist. Raven didn't want her companion thinking she was pressuring her into anything.
Kris turned around and placed her arms around Raven's neck. "It is if you want it to be." She answered shyly but sincerely.
That caught Raven off guard. She had only been playing with Kris, not trying to inflame the desire that was speeding through her body and that she now saw smoldering in the green eyes. She lowered her head slowly as Kris rose up to meet her. They both hesitated a second, expecting the usual interruption. When it didn't come, they both continued their motion, closing the distance between them. They both watched hypnotized as tongues darted out to moisten suddenly dry lips. Eyes closed as mouths met in a brief delicate kiss. Heads tilted in opposite directions as lips met again. A moan from her companion was all that was needed to drive the last rational thought from Raven's mind. She drove her tongue into the slight opening left by the escaping erotic sound. She knew she had lost all control when she blindly backed Kris against the wall.
Kris heard the moan and was mortified that something that sounded so lustful came from her. But when Raven's tongue entered her mouth, she didn't care. She moved her arms to circle Raven's waist and slipped them under her shirt to caress bare skin. When she felt the wall behind her back, she opened her stance slightly to accommodate Raven's body between her legs. She grabbed two handfuls of Raven's backside and pulled the woman roughly into her. "Please." She begged as their mouths parted for much needed air.
Raven's hands rested on Kris' thighs as she thrust her hips against the young woman pinned to the wall, before rational thought returned. She took deep breaths, trying to calm the passion that raced through her body. "Kris, I want you, desperately, but not like this. I want our first time to be special, not with you pushed up against the wall." She straightened up and pulled her companion to her. She ran her hands soothingly up and down Kris' back and kissed the top of her head. "Is that okay?" Kris nodded her head. "Are you okay?"
"I, uh, yeah, I'm good." She looked up into blue eyes. "I'm sorry, that's never happened to me. I've never felt like that before. I was completely out of control."
"I'm the one that needs to apologize, I know better. I just sorta lost it when we kissed. I've never felt like that after one kiss, either." Raven replied honestly. No one had ever gotten to her like this young woman had and she wasn't so sure it was a good thing, but she knew she couldn't stop it and if the truth were known, she didn't want to.
They held each other a few minutes longer before Kris pulled back. "Come on, my warrior, I need to take care of your ribs."
Raven raised both eyebrows in surprise. "Warrior? Where did that come from?"
"That's what you reminded me of when you faced down my parents. And besides, a soldier is a kind of warrior." She reasoned as she began wrapping the bandage around her companion.
With their extra-curricular activities they didn't have time to change clothes before having to join the others in the seating area before take-off. They heard the raised voices before they entered the cabin. Kris just shook her head when she heard her mother's voice and then Parker's, complaining. Raven pinched the bridge of her nose. With the desire she felt for Kris still coursing though her veins and the irritation of dealing with these people combined with a possible traitor somewhere in The Division and lack of sleep, she was developing one Hades of a headache.
"What seems to be the problem now?" She didn't raise her voice but nonetheless captured everyone's attention as she stood just inside the entranceway to the seating area.
Kris had entered first and moved into the room resembled a lounge that you might find at an expensive hotel. And the seats looked more like leather executive chairs that you would find in a boardroom than in a plane. They were arranged into groups of two with a small table in-between. She saw her sister sitting with Issy and headed towards them.
Raven saw that Simmons was the one under attack, not John. 'He must have escaped to the cockpit. Wish I'd thought of it first.' She saw the haggard look on the poor man's face and addressed the two troublemakers. "Well?" She noticed the Ambassador sitting by himself, quietly staring out the window and wondered if she should be worried about it. But now she didn't have time to wonder if he'd given in or was he plotting something.
"We aren't even being told where it is that you're TAKING us." Parker made it clear that he was against the entire evacuation.
"This whole thing is absurd." Regina continued. "You come to us under false pretenses, take advantage of our hospitality and put God only knows what kind of...ideas into my daughter's head. Parker was right, you're one of 'those' women." She stared at the muscular arms that were folded across the Captain's chest and particularly at the tattoo that surrounded her right biceps. She had had a Greek Key design done after she had finished her training; it was done in a deep rich purple color and was about a half inch in height.
Kris had taken a deep breath to give her mother a piece of her mind, but hesitated when she felt her sister's hand on her arm. "Let Ms...Captain Chandler handle it. It'll only make mother more irrational if you jump to the Captain's defense." Vivian reasoned.
"You know she's right, child." Issy added and Kris held her tongue.
Raven raised an eyebrow and chuckled at the older woman's righteous attitude before she turned to Parker. "Mr. Lewis, you've not been told because we've just received clearance for our destination." She addressed the entire room. "We will land at the NATO Base which is also a US Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland to refuel and re-supply. From there our final destination is Bolling Air Force Base just south of Washington, DC. We should be landing in Washington by tomorrow morning barring any unforeseen delays."
When there weren't any questions or comments directed at her, Raven turned her attention back to Regina. "First of all, Mrs. Whitfield, the false pretense was necessary because of you and your husband's attitude towards women in any authoritative position. Although I'm not sure why that doesn't apply to you, because you sure as hell like to boss people around. Secondly, hospitality doesn't enter into it. I wasn't a guest and you definitely weren't friendly." Raven was surprised that the woman had kept her mouth shut. "And if you mean that I workout and that I'm in a position to give orders and have men follow them, then yes, I'm one of 'those' women. And as far as Kris is concerned, I'm not aware of putting any ideas into her head. She has a mind of her own and can make decisions for herself with out any help from me." She paused and debated, then added. "You don't have to like me Mrs. Whitfield, this isn't a popularity contest. Which is a good thing, because I'm damn sure neither of us would win."
Regina Whitfield closed her mouth with a snap. She was completely taken aback; she had never been talked to in that manner before and was at a complete loss. Her entire repartee of scolding remarks seemed to have left her.
John walked in and was immediately aware of the fact that the tension in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife. He looked from his Captain to the woman she was staring down and cleared his throat. "We've, uh, received clearance and are ready to taxi and take-off if everyone will take a seat and buckle-up."
Raven acknowledged her lieutenant, took a seat and closed her eyes. She would let Kris decide if she wanted to associate with her after Raven's verbal thrashing of the young woman's mother. 'Idiot, you couldn't hold your tongue, oh no, you had to put her in her place. Well Raven, I hope you're happy. You've pretty much made Kris have to go against her mother in order to have anything to do with you.' She berated herself. Her headache was getting worse, she was exhausted and she was quickly becoming rather pissed off at the world.
"Hey." Kris sat in the chair next to Raven. "That was quite an accomplishment." She elaborated when she received a confused expression. "I've never seen her speechless before." Kris was aware of the fact that showing her allegiance to Raven would cause all kinds of problems later but she also knew that this was the first step for her to take control of her life. "You okay? You look tired." She saw the drawn features on her companion's face.
Raven opened her eyes and saw the look of genuine concern floating in the normally bright green eyes that now were somewhat dull. "I am." A simple statement from most people, but from the stoic Captain it was a breakthrough of her tough exterior. The image that she presented to her colleagues and to the world in general, was a self-sufficient, don't need anybody, individual. Not that she wasn't self-sufficient, she definitely was. But she did admit at least to herself, that after meeting the young woman sitting beside her, she most assuredly needed Kris in her life. "You don't look that bright eyed and bushy tailed either, my friend." She squeezed Kris' hand that was rubbing her forearm. "It's just been a very long and extremely grueling night."
'She called me her friend.' Kris smiled and a little of the twinkle reappeared in her eyes. She was very aware of the fact, even in the short time she had known Raven, that friend was more than just a word to the complicated woman. "I can understand the 'bright eyes' part of that saying, but the 'bushy tail'? I'm personally very glad that I don't have one. I'm sure you will be too." She tried to stay completely serious but the corner of her mouth turned up at the raised eyebrows and grin from her companion.
'Well, well. She can be playful at a time like this.' Raven didn't try to keep the grin from forming on her face. She felt the plane gain speed and lift off as she leaned in close to Kris' ear and whispered huskily. "I'm sure I will be, too. But tell me, are there any...bushy...places that I should be made aware of?" A blinking red light attached to the phone on the forward bulkhead interrupted her before she could continue which was a good thing considering they had an audience.
'Oh my God.' Kris was trying to control her breathing and her desire. She could feel the heat rising from point's south, upward across her neck and face. She could also feel the moisture collecting on her underpants and crossed her legs. 'I'm certainly glad I didn't have time to change into clean clothes.'
The Captain hung the phone up and turned. "The pilot says we should have a smooth flight until we start our decent into Keflavik, then it might get a little bumpy. If you're hungry, there are sandwiches, fruit, cereal and a couple of different hot meals the base provided. If you want to rest there are small rooms with cots where you can lay down or you can stay here. The flight deck and the cargo area are the only places that are off limits on the plane." She announced. "Our ETA is about six hours."
Several people started moving around and a few headed towards the food. Vivian squatted down beside her sister. "You ok?" She asked puzzled. "You look a little flushed."
Kris cleared her throat. "Uh, yeah. I'm fine."
"You hungry? I was going to grab a sandwich or something. You want to join me?" Viv looked a little spooked still.
Kris and her sister had grown apart over the last few years. Ever since Kris had finished her schooling, they had spent less time together since Vivian was still with the tutor a good portion of the day. But when they had been younger, especially when they stayed with their grandparents, they had been inseparable. Strange since Vivian and Martin were twins and twins in most instances seemed to be connected to one another. But this wasn't the case, Vivian and Martin barely tolerated each other. Kris had often wondered if she and Viv might have been found on the doorstep, since neither one of them seemed to share their parent's personalities. "Yeah, I could eat. Let me tell Raven."
They looked over their choices and Kris grabbed a turkey on sourdough, an apple and a can of Pepsi while Viv took pastrami on rye, two chocolate chip cookies, a bottle of iced tea and one of water as well. They sat down at a small table in a room just off the galley. "This has, um, been different." Vivian took a swallow of her drink.
Kris chewed a bite of sandwich and swallowed. "Yes, it has." She wasn't sure if Vivian was upset or just trying to fill the silence.
"That cute Sergeant Hardly is headed this way. I think he has a crush on you." Viv grinned at her sister's 'why me' expression.
"You think he's cute?" Kris asked as she wrinkled her nose.
Viv waggled her hand back and forth. "In a hound dog sort of way, yeah." She responded in a whisper. "And he seems like he's a decent kinda guy."
"Sergeant Hardly, I guess I should apologize for tricking you. I hope you didn't get into too much trouble." Kris said sincerely.
"Don't you worry about that, ma'am. I'll forget all about it if you call me Herman." He looked at her with an expression that was a cross between goofy and endearing.
'Oh boy!' Kris wondered if this day could get any worse. 'Scratch that, I don't want to know.' She didn't want to be mean to the poor man, but on the other hand she didn't want to encourage him either. "Ah, Herman, thanks for not holding it against me."
Vivian was aware of the fact that Kris was squirming and decided to have some fun. She figured they'd had a really horrible day and she was entitled. "Herman, why don't you sit down and join us. I'm sure you have a few stories you could tell us. After all a big brave soldier like yourself must have some heroic tales to tell." She didn't dare look at her sister; she knew she would lose it if she did. It took all of her control not to break down at the puffed-up look of importance the Sergeant was emanating.
"Hardly." A voice rang out behind him.
He jumped to attention, knocking his chair over in the process. "Yes, Captain."
"Lieutenant Logan is looking for you." She waited until he had scurried off before she unceremoniously collapsed into the righted chair. "Hey." She addressed the other two table occupants.
"Hey." Kris responded. "You should eat something, in fact I'll go get it. What'cha want?" She was going to make sure Raven got something to eat and then got some sleep.
"Ham and cheese if we've got it and a bottle of water, please ma'am." She leaned forward, placing her forearms on the table.
Vivian watched her sister disappear through the door. "Captain Chandler, is it?" She turned to the older woman. "Kris seems to like you. Our parents seem to dislike you. That could cause problems for my sister and I don't want to see her hurt." She looked into blue eyes that held many different emotions. From worry to sadness, pain to what might have been a little bit of fear. But Viv noticed the expression soften into tenderness and turned to see what caused the change. She watched Kris walk back to the table and place the food in front of the Captain.
"I brought you an orange." She put it in Raven's hand. "Eat it." She commanded. "It's good for you, full of vitamin C." She looked at the uneasy body language of her tablemates. "What?"
Raven took a bite of sandwich and swallowed before answering. "Vivian is concerned about you siding with me over your parents." She rushed on before the ire she saw building in the young woman's body, exploded. "Sagira, she doesn't want to see you get hurt and neither do I." Raven had to stop herself from reaching out to comfort her upset companion.
The endearment and sentiment soothed the savage beast, somewhat. Kris took a calming breath. "Viv, I know you mean well, but I'm an adult and I'm not going to let them dictate the way I live my life. Not anymore." She looked down at the table and drew patterns in the condensation left by her can of Pepsi. "I couldn't be happy being Parker's showpiece, you know that. I don't love him, I love...my writing." Her mouth stumbled over what her heart wanted to say but she wasn't sure if her sister could handle her being in love with the Captain. 'Or is it that I'm scared that I can't handle her not being able to handle it?' She questioned her own insecurities.
Vivian watched the non-interaction between the two women, which was just as telling as if they had comforted one another. Raven tensing her muscles to stop her arm from reaching out to hold Kris' hand that rested on the table not far from hers. And the looking down by Kris to hide the look of total adoration in her eyes every time she glanced at the Captain. Viv wasn't going to broach the subject of love for them. Viv also wasn't going to tell her sister that she had figured out that Kris was probably gay. She had often wondered about that ever since the lack of interest shown by Kris, not just in Parker but in all boys in general. She leaned over the table to capture her sister's full attention. "I know. And I think you should follow your...heart. Hopefully father and mother will understand that Parker's not the one for you, but if they don't, it's their loss. Don't give in, Kris." She patted her sister's hand and turned to the Captain. "What did you call her?"
Lighter conversation followed while Raven finished her sandwich and ate her orange under the watchful eye of her companion. They stayed together at the table passing some of the boring hours that usually made a long flight seem longer.
They returned to the lounge area to strap themselves in when the telltale sign of ears closing up meant the plane's decent into Iceland had started. They had been spared the withering looks of Regina Whitfield and the seething comments of Parker since neither had been seen after takeoff. And were still pleasantly missing. The Ambassador seemed to be in a world of his own. He had reclaimed his seat after taking advantage of the services offered by swallowing a quick meal.
"How long are we going to be here?" Kris asked while the plane taxied from the runway towards one of the hangers.
"An hour tops." Raven answered. "Just long enough to file a flight plan, restock supplies and refuel. Why don't you go try to get some sleep? It's going to be a long night, at least what's left of it and a very long day tomorrow if you don't." She had to stop her traitorous hands from reaching out to caress Kris' cheek.
"I think I will, I'm beat." She cleared her throat and looked down. "Can we...ah...I mean...will you join me?" She blushed. 'Why am I so shy after what we almost did several hours ago?' She questioned herself. "Just to hold each other, I mean." She clarified. "You said you wanted...it...to be special and all." She turned redder when she realized what she'd said. 'Oh God, I can't even call it making love or sleeping together, I had to say 'it'.' She fought down her embarrassment and turned her attention to her companion when she realized Raven was speaking.
Raven wondered why Kris was so embarrassed. She knew that there were some people that couldn't talk about sex. Oh they could do the kinkiest things in bed, but ask them to talk about it later and they'd faint dead away. Or could it be that she was just inexperienced? And if she was, was it because of being with another woman or was it being with anyone? 'I'll have to find out later, now is not the time or place.' "Yes." She answered and smiled. "I have to talk to the base commander first, but I'll join you after."
Kris leaned over the small window and watched the tall woman walk along the tarmac towards the car that was headed her way. The wind whipped the heavy arctic jacket the Captain was wearing, around her body. "What am I going to do with you, Taz?" Kris mumbled. "It must be freezing out there and you don't even zip your coat up." She sighed and made her way to Raven's cabin.
Captain Chandler and Lieutenant Logan spent most of the time they were on the ground in the base's communications center receiving instructions and relating the details of what had happened, to Colonel Albright. Raven did tell him about the possible infiltration at the embassy by the two supposed groundskeepers, but didn't mention that she thought that they might have a leak at headquarters.
She entered her cabin to find Kris asleep in her bunk and a smile quickly spread across her face. She briefly wondered how long it had been since she had smiled this readily and this much. She gently sat down on the edge of the bed and brushed the blonde hair away from the peaceful face and discovered sleepy green eyes trying to open. "Shh, go back to sleep, Sagira. I didn't mean to wake you."
Kris propped up on one elbow. "Not until you join me." She brushed her lips across the palm of Raven's hand that she had placed on Kris' cheek.
"I should get cleaned up." Raven really didn't want to do anything but crawl into bed, hold and be held by Kris.
"Come on, Taz, we can take a long hot shower tomorrow." Kris said sleepily. She blushed when she realized what she had suggested.
Raven chuckled. "But I'm too tired so move over." She climbed in bed after she changed into a clean t-shirt and pair of boxers.
Kris held up the cover so Raven could get underneath. They snuggled up together, wrapping arms around each other and legs adjusting to find comfortable positions. They held one another in silence, listening to and feeling the slow and steady inhale and exhale of each other's breath. Both women had been nervously considering the direction their lives were headed. Both knew that they wanted the other one to be a major part of their life, but were afraid that the other may not be quite as serious. Kris tilted her head back and looked up at her companion who was also still awake. "Can I ask you something?"
"You have to ask me that after all I've told you? What else could I possibly keep from you?" Raven grinned.
Kris saw her companion's blue eyes sparkle with playfulness from the small lamp that Raven had left on for Kris so she wouldn't have to get up in a strange place in the dark. "What's going to happen, with us, when we get home?" She hated to turn serious but not knowing was driving her crazy. "I know Seattle is a long way from Washington DC, but I don't want to lose you."
Raven wiped a lone tear away that had run down from the pleading green eyes that were begging her to make everything okay. She decided to be honest with the young woman that had gotten so far into her battered and dark soul, that Raven feared what she would do if she ever lost her. "Kris, I don't want to lose you either." She kissed the forehead that her cheek was resting against. "Colonel Albright told us tonight, that we would be continuing to head up the security for you and your family, until the government relieves us. That'll take a couple of days at least." She took a deep breath. "I don't know how you want to handle your family or how much you want to tell them, but be assured that I need you in my life, Kris. I don't know how to make any relationship last, much less a long distance one, but I want to try."
"What do you mean by long distance?" She was afraid that Raven didn't want her to come to Seattle.
"Well, with me working in Seattle and you working in DC, I call that long distance." She explained to her very confused looking companion.
It suddenly dawned on Kris that Raven must assume Kris had wanted to be involved in the political world and wanted to work in DC. "No, I never wanted to work in politics. Just because I wrote my father's speeches they assumed that was what I would do until I was married. No, definitely don't want to do that, I hate politics."
"Really?" Raven felt better. "So tell me, what does a speech writer that hates politics want to do?" She felt arms tighten around her waist.
'Spend the rest of my life loving you.' Kris grinned. 'Maybe I'd better not dump that on her just yet.' "I want to write science fiction or maybe fantasy fiction or possibly mysteries. My parents don't know this but I've sold some short stories to magazines. My grandparents keep and invest the money I've made for me."
"Have you, ah, ever had the desire to see Seattle." Raven was a little nervous about asking Kris to move that far away from home to live with someone she hardly knew. "Maybe come for a visit and see if you might like living there?"
"Not until I met you. Now I would live anywhere as long as you were there too." She swallowed hard. She was unsure of what Raven was really asking her and she didn't want to make a fool of herself, but she had to know. "Raven, are you asking me to live with you?"
"Please think about it before you answer." Raven rushed ahead. "I know this is sudden and if you want to get separate apartments or what ever, it's okay. I just want you close to me."
"I don't need to think and I don't want separate anything." She saw relief and happiness settle on her companion's features. She tightened her arms around the strong body and laid her head on the Captain's shoulder. She sighed in contentment. 'Haven't you figured it out by now, Taz? I love you and I'm not letting you get away.' Kris wished she had the courage to voice that out-loud.
Raven let go of the breath she was holding and sucked another one in deeply. "Thank the gods for that. Because the only way you could get rid of me now, is to drop me from the plane." The joy she felt in her heart flowed throughout her entire being. "Oh, in case you haven't figured it out either, Sagira, I don't want separate anything's either." They kissed, but didn't let it get out of hand like earlier. It was a kiss to confirm the love they felt, but couldn't yet admit to each other. Not one to ignite passion, and although they found it hard to break apart, they did. "Goodnight, Kris."
Kris brushed the backs of her fingers down Raven's cheek, then snuggled back down into Raven's arms. "Goodnight, my warrior." Sleep came surprisingly easy for both women, considering the gauntlet of emotions that they had run in the last twenty-four hours and the uncertainty of what would happen in their future.End Part Two----Continued in Part Three