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Skyler reached around Addison and drew her up by the shoulders, assisting the battered agent to one of the mattresses on the floor. The Brit dropped heavily and groaned as she landed even though she did her best not to make a sound. Skyler took the opportunity to survey the damage done to the agent.
"Jesus, did they put you in a meat grinder or what?" the American said as she reviewed the various cuts, bruises and wounds.
"No," the agent replied, "It was just Agnes little welcoming party."
"If thats how she says hello, lets hope we dont have to find out how she says good-bye. Holy shit, what is this?" Skyler found the large blood stain on Addisons side.
"Its nothing, just a scratch. The bullet grazed me really. The damn thing wouldnt probably even be bleeding now if Agnes hadnt taken great joy in searching me for weapons."
"Did she find any?" the American inquired.
"What I let her find," the agent replied in a cagey tone of voice.
Skyler was already tearing up a threadbare sheet that had been left on the mattress to create makeshift dressings. "Well, Im going to take a close look at all these wounds. We dont have much, but there is clean running water and some powdered hand soap in the bathroom. I can at least try to stop the bleeding."
"I appreciate it, Skyler. Ive been trained to do it myself of course, but something tells me you probably know as much about tending to these things as I do." Addison winked at Skyler to let her know her words were only to be taken as gentle teasing.
The blonde blushed. "Yeah, I guess you know me well enough by now. I did have a few classes when I thought I might like to become a doctor. A little pre-med looks like it might come in handy right about now."
She opened Addisons shirt and took a look at the damage done by the bullet. "Its only a flesh wound, but Addison, I think it needs stitches to hold the entrance and exit wounds closed. Theres not a damn thing around here to use to do it though." She rose from the mattress and moved to the sink to dampen scraps of the fabric she had torn.
Addison appeared thoughtful. She looked Skyler up and down with an appraising eye. "How are you, Skyler? How has Agnes treated you?" The words were unspoken but Skyler knew what Addison was referring to.
"She didnt touch me, Addison. Im fine. I guess being your girlfriend had its positive aspects." The scientist returned to the woman on the mattress, settling next to her.
The agent frowned in confusion. "My girlfriend?"
Skyler dropped her eyes from Addisons questioning ones and began gently cleaning her facial cuts. "Um, yeah. I sort of realized that Brodie has a thing for you and I thought if she believed I was your girlfriend, she would wait for you to show up before she before she touched me. I guess she thought it would torture you to see her use me like that."
Addisons jaw clenched briefly before she spoke softly, "That was good thinking. Youve got the instinct for survival. Im glad you told me because now I can make a better show for Agnes while the rest of my plan takes place."
For the first time in many hours, Skyler felt a sense of hope. "What is the plan? Please tell me it has something to do with Agnes Brodie getting a can of whoop ass opened on her!"
Addison chuckled at Skylers words, and then grimaced as the split lip moved painfully. "Ill tell you what, you will be the first to know about the plan after I think it up."
The words sunk in slowly, but they finally made it into Skylers mind. "You came here without a plan? You dont know how were going to get out, do you? Why did you do that?" she asked incredulously.
This time it was Addison who dropped her eyes. She shrugged and said, "Its my job. There was something here I wanted out and nothing was going to stop me. Granted, I could only pre-plan my entrance because I didnt know what I would find once I was inside, but make no mistake, I will get us out of here. After I settle a score with one pain in the arse Irishwoman that is."
Skyler accepted Addisons word. She had no choice but to trust the agent who had tracked her down against what Skyler had assumed to be enormous odds. Something about the agents mere presence made her think Addison could actually pull it off. She went back to work on the wounds.
"How was I anyway?" the British woman asked.
Skyler thought Addison referred to her physical condition. "Well, except for the bullet wound to your side, the injuries are relatively minor. I thought your ribs might have been broken by the look of the darkening skin there, but I think now that they are probably just bruised. Did you know you actually have a boot tread mark on your skin?"
Addison raised her head. "No, I mean how was I as a lover? Certainly you had to convince Agnes that it was the case."
Skyler blushed again. She was beginning to believe Addison was doing it on purpose. "You were okay."
Addison raised an eyebrow. "Just okay? Damn, I must be slipping. Ive really only had rave reviews before this." She raised the uninjured side of her mouth in a gentle smile.
Skyler rolled her eyes. Even injured, the woman before her could engage in banter. Skyler could at least play back as thats what Addison seemed to want, rather than serious concern over her well being. She took a fresh cloth and began to gingerly work her way around the slightly oozing bullet wound in Addisons side.
"Oh, you were good, damn good if the way I described it to Brodie was the truth. I was a well-satisfied woman and you were an attentive and possessive lover. It was short, but our affair was very exciting and very hot."
"Thats more like it. I was about to think my reputation would suffer!" Addison watched as Skyler frowned at the wound in her side. "Its that bad, is it?"
"Hard to say, but Id feel much better if I could get it closed properly," Skyler replied.
Addison considered this a moment. "You look good in my jacket," she said as her eyes roamed Skylers body. "Then again I suppose after what you told Agnes that you would be used to being inside my clothes." She waited as Skyler laughed lightly at her jest. "I dont suppose she left you un-searched?"
"No, she took the pistol you gave me right away and she had a lot of fun looking for other weapons too." She shuddered as she remembered how revolting she founded Brodies barely disguised groping. The redhead had not hidden the fact that she knew there would be nothing concealed in Skylers crotch, yet she took great delight in exploring that area thoroughly. Agnes might have found her ministrations exciting in some way, Skyler found them repugnant.
Addison reached out and placed her hand on Skylers upper arm. "I see you had the pleasure of Agnes attentions. Im sorry that happened to you, Skyler. She will pay for it, I swear that to you." Addison let her eyes show the truth of that statement.
As Skyler looked into those eyes, she noticed for the first time how red-rimmed they were. The whites were irritated and bloodshot. "What happened to your eyes?"
"Smelled like mace at the time, but it might have been a combination of mace and pepper spray. It will be all right, my vision has cleared up almost completely now," the agent said off-handedly.
"Almost! As soon as I get these cuts cleaned up and figure out something to do with those holes in your side, Im going to help you over to that lab sink and flush your eyes for a while. You never know what long term problems might occur if you dont get all of that stuff out of your eyes now." Addison was amused at Skylers tone, but didnt show it. She knew this was how the American needed to feel helpful and, in her present state, Addison wasnt going to be protesting too much.
"Yes, Doctor," the agent said with mock meekness.
"Good, I wouldnt want to have to get tough with you," Skyler said with a smile. She felt responsible for every blow that Addison had suffered. If shed only done as the agent asked back on the Isle of Skye, the Brit wouldnt be in agony now. Skyler felt her own eyes sting, but it was from tears and not the noxious substance that had assaulted Addison.
The black-haired woman moved her hand up from Skylers arm and reached to touch her face briefly. Skyler felt a shiver pass through her at the very gentle touch, a reaction so unlike the one she had to Brodies hand. She closed her eyes as Addisons hand left her face and slipped down to the collar of the black jacket.
"Skyler, I need to ask you a question," the agent said in a voice barely above a whisper. Skyler opened her eyes and met the warm brown ones of the woman in front of her. Skyler felt a tug on the collar of the jacket and she was pulled slowly forward.
Skyler went with the urging and leaned toward Addison. As she came nearer, she swallowed thickly and replied, "Yes?" Addison pulled the scientist a few more inches closer to her and moved her hand around to the back of Skylers neck. Skylers eyes closed again and she tilted her head ever so slightly as her lips parted. At this range she could feel the warmth radiating from Addisons body.
In a flash, Addisons hand left Skylers neck where it had rested and moved in between them. Held between her thumb and index finger was a gleaming silver needle.
"Can you sew?"
Several corridors away, Brodie sat behind her desk in the office. In front of her stood two trembling men. The pair were the lone survivors among the guards at the front gate and they were held at gunpoint by more of Brodies soldiers.
"I realize you are fairly new to the organization, gentlemen, but incompetence simply cannot be tolerated."
The bolder of the two dared to offer an excuse. "But maam, you said we should let her get past us into the compound where you would be waiting."
Brodie slammed a fist down to the desk. "I know what I said! Do you think Im a fucking idiot? When I showed you her picture, didnt I say she was extremely dangerous?"
The men nodded quietly.
"And yet you let her practically destroy the area inside the gate and cost me the lives of eight very good men. Well, seven very good men and that useless fuck-up that was with you outside."
Brodie extracted the large knife that she had menaced Addison with earlier. "Your guilt is not in question, only your punishment is. What to do, what to do?" Agnes tapped the knife on her chin as she thought. "You know, youre lucky Im shorthanded right now until the replacements for my dead men arrive. Maybe Ill let you live after all."
The men slumped a little in relief; they knew they had been fortunate.
"No," Agnes reconsidered. "I guess I just need one of you and I dont give a good god damn which one it is." She tossed the knife up, handle first, between the men.
They grappled for it and the chance to live. Finally, the smaller of the two men planted his boot in the crotch of the larger man. As the second man doubled over, he lost his grip on the knife. The smaller man wasted no time in cutting the throat of his vulnerable foe.
"Very nice work," Agnes complimented. "You are forgiven and may return to your duties after you remove this eyesore from my presence. Have it done by the time I get back." She indicated the body on the floor.
"Yes maam, thank you maam! I wont fail you again," the victorious guard groveled.
"I know you wont," Brodie said as she rose and walked past him, heading for the door. Moving behind him, she pulled her pistol out and calmly fired a single shot into the base of his brain. He died instantly and crumpled to the ground without a word.
"Clean this shit up," she barked at her men. "I have more important fish to fry."
Skyler sat upon the mattress, legs crossed as she began poking the black thread through Addisons needle. The agent looked on, fairly amused by the comical expression Skyler held. Deep in concentration, the tip of her tongue poised above her bottom lip, eyes focused upon her task. Getting thread to stitch up Addisons wound hadnt been a problem; Skyler had simply removed some of the stitching from the inner lining of the soldiers jacket.
Sitting to the side, with one hand bracing her weight, Addison looked around the room. It was basic and obviously intended as a room of occupation. The walls were a sterile white and above them, diffused light illuminated the space perfectly. There was a sink in the corner. Its white porcelain and crisp pipes proved this room had never been used.
Addison closed her eyes. The irritation in them was getting stronger yet she resisted the urge to rub them. As soon as Skyler stitched up her side, she intended on bathing the irate area.
"Got it," Skyler declared triumphantly as she pulled the thread into the needle. She looked up at Addison. "Its probably going to be best if you take your shirt and top off. The less obstruction I have the better. Plus Ill be able to check the rest of your torso too."
"Okay, Doc, but you may have to give me a hand. Im not sure its a good idea to lift my arm so much." Addison shrugged her shoulders out of the black shirt as Skyler assisted her on the opposite side. Addison then un-tucked her dirty, bloodstained tank top and the blonde helped her in slipping it over her head. Once free of the hindrance her clothing provided, the British agent lay down upon her uninjured side.
"Is this where you offer me a shot of whiskey or a piece of wood to bite upon?"
Skyler smiled as she shuffled into position. "Sorry... but you were a tough Marine Commando type, this is one of those times when you have to act all butch and impassive. I wish I could help you more but we have nothing." Skyler positioned the needle. "Are you ready?"
"Go for it." Addison kept her body relaxed. Eyes upon Skyler, she watched as the blonde attempted to close the first wound. "Have you ever done anything like this before?" she asked, just as the blonde was about to make her first pierce through the skin.
Skyler jumped. Her eyes slid to Addison in a glare of accusation. "Does my jumpiness provide you with an answer?" She sighed, calming her nervousness. "I know how, but lets just say my practice is a little limited." She turned back to Addisons wound and proceeded to pierce her flesh with the needle. She worked precisely, attempting to make the joins as neat as possible.
With each pass of steel though her flesh Addison winced. She could feel every action, from the prick of the needlepoint, the slide as it moved through her skin and the tug as the cotton was pulled through and tied. She had to admit although it wasnt the first time she had been injured in the field, it was the first time she was without even the basics of medical supplies. Addison knew asking Brodie would be pointless. The redhead would take great pleasure in refusing. She planned on killing them anyway; this would do nothing more than provide her with added sport.
While attempting to close the bullets exit wound, Skyler pushed the needle into Addisons flesh a little too far. The soldier closed her eyes and released a grunt of pain.
"Fucking, bloody, bugger, bollocks, bastard, balls!"
"Oh Im sorry," Skyler gushed. "With the oozing its difficult to judge the position of the needle. I keep having to wipe the blood away." Skyler stopped for a moment to give Addison time to calm.
The soldier took a breath, blowing out through pursed lips. "No, dont stop. The sooner this is over the better. I sure would kill for a bottle of J.D. right about now though."
Skyler smiled. "Oh I dont know... going through the list of swear words you know is quite an amusing education." She paused in thought for several seconds. "Well it would be if not for what I am doing and why I have to do it."
Opening her eyes, Addison laid her arm out straight and placed her head upon the extended limb. "Sorry. I know its a bad habit but some things you just dont grow out of. Its kind of like my favouring towards Jaffa Cakes!" Addison turned her vision back towards Skyler and watched as the doctor leaned forwards and bit the cotton, severing it from the stitching. She felt the warmth of Skylers breath upon her skin. The pleasant sensation made her smile.
"And your parents didnt wash your mouth out?" Skyler grinned as she checked over the wound. "I only swore once when I was a kid. My dad heard me and said if he ever heard me use language like that again he would wash my mouth out with soap!"
Overlooking Skylers question, Addison asked, "What did you say?"
The American snorted. "Ass! Id heard my dads partner say it once when he was talking about some guy they captured and sent his ass to jail!"
"Oh yes, your dad was a police officer!"
"Uh huh." Skyler moved away from Addisons stitches and began inspecting her other wounds. She rolled Addison gently onto her back. "What about your parents, what did they do?"
"Ah well " Addison paused, finding herself in a curious predicament. She had forever averted questions about her parents. However Addison found she didnt want to lie to Skyler, it felt easier to ignore the question or divert the conversation. As she battled between conflicting thoughts her attention was captured when she felt a tug on her black combat trousers. She looked down at Skyler curiously. "I dont think I was injured down there!"
Skyler looked up into the agents eyes, surprise and embarrassment clouding her expression. She blushed and looked away. "Sorry I um I saw this tattoo on your stomach and I guess I just forgot myself as I tried to get a better look at it."
Addison lifted her head and looked down at the line of Chinese characters that went from beneath her belly button and disappeared under her trousers. They ended just above her pubic bone. The small words were written in red and outlined in black.
"What does it say?"
"Do you want to know what it really says or what I tell people it says?" Addison smirked, careful of her cut and bruised lip.
"Both," Skyler said with intrigue. "What do you tell people it says?"
The soldier tried not to smile too wide for fear of breaking the cut that had began to knit on her lip. She had given every woman she had bedded the same explanation for what the quote said. "This way to heaven," Addison stated simply.
Skyler blinked, then snorted, lowering her head as she chuckled quietly. "You dont!"
Addison shrugged and nodded.
Shaking her head, Skyler asked, "and what does it really say?"
Sobering quickly, Addison licked her upper lip. What it really said was a far more personal quote and came from Psalm 126:5. "Tears may linger at nightfall, but joy comes in the morning."
The smile on Skylers lips lightened. "That is beautiful," she said sounding almost surprised, yet her brow crinkled in a frown. "Not what I would have expected though. Its from the Bible, right?"
With a nod, Addison attempted to rise, not wanting to venture further into explanations of the reasons behind such a quote. She rolled onto her side, Skyler helping her. "Yeah well, thats why I stick to the more common explanation!" Addison rose to her feet and Skyler handed over her black shirt. It seemed natural for them to assume the white, bloodstained tank top was no longer an option for wear.
Fastening the buttons, Addison watched Skyler fill the corner sink with water. There was no hot running water so they had to make do with cold.
Skyler dipped her fingers into the water. "Time to soothe your eyes." She scowled at the chilling temperature. "I guess the best thing to do would be to cup handfuls and hold them against you."
"Hmm," Addison said and leaned forwards. She held open her right eye and took out the single brown contact lens. Instantly her vision cleared completely and she blinked a couple of times, looking down at the lens that had obviously been damaged by the assault spray. Throwing the useless eyepiece to the floor, Addison righted her position and looked to Skyler. The blonde had been watching her movements curiously and now looked at her in confusion.
"You wear contacts?" she asked.
"Contact," Addison replied. "Just the one." She stood awkwardly under Skylers open stare.
The American stepped forward and placed her hands upon Addisons shoulders, looking into her eyes. For the first time it became apparent that the dark eye was indeed very dark. Her other eye was a deep blue. "I dont "
"Just one of those things," Addison stated off handedly and moved past Skyler to the sink. "An accident caused a paralysed pupil."
"So why the contact?"
Addison dipped her hands into the water. "Its a distinguishing feature, the contact hides that. I could have gone blue as usual but I think the darker eyes add to my character!" She chuckled throatily. Cupping pockets of water in each hand, Addison placed them over her eyes. She felt an instant relief as the cool water soothed her skin. Skyler remained behind her and the ex S.A.S soldier could practically sense the unspoken questions flying around inside her mind.
Cupping more water, Addison splashed it over the rest of her face. The stitched wound on her side felt warm and she resisted the urge to splash the cool water on the throbbing bullet hole. Skyler had done all that could be done and she just had to wait it out. Addison was sure it would heal rapidly. She always had in the past.
Shaking the remaining water from her hands, Addison turned back to Skyler. The blonde handed her a torn piece of the sheet she had used to dress the soldiers wounds and Addison patted her face dry. It felt a little better to wash some of the grime off her flesh. Dropping the sheet upon the side on the sink, Addison looked up at her cellmate. She was surprised to find the blonde still gazing at her.
"What, did I miss a spot?" she joked.
Skyler smiled. "No its just going to take me a while to get used to looking at you again."
"Hmm," Addison supplied her limited smile. "That will wear off pretty quickly I am sure," she joked.
For a moment they stood in silence, staring at each other as the reality of their situation began to sink in. They were trapped together in this room for an indefinite amount of time. Addison had been formulating plans and ideas in her head, but it would take her a while longer to learn all she need to about Brodies facility and Addison hoped she had enough time to accomplish that before Brodie decided she was ready to play.
Walking over to the mattress, Addison sat down and patted the space beside her. She looked up at Skyler in expectation and the blonde got the message, taking a seat next to her.
"So tell me," Addison began. "What have you been able to determine from our hostess since she captured you?"
"Apart from the fact that I dont like her? I really, really dont like her!"
Addison smiled. "Uh huh!"
Sighing, Skyler laid her head back against the wall and thought. "There are two things that come to mind. Firstly, the fact that she called herself by a different name "
"Was it Sadie Bregon?" Addison interrupted. "Did you meet anybody called Kleein or Dr. Kleein?"
Skyler shook her head against the wall. "I never met a Dr. Kleein but she did talk to one on the phone and during that conversation she called herself Bregon, yes. Also, I managed to get out of her the reason she has been able to remain one step ahead of you for so long and she called it insider trading."
Addison sighed heavily. "We kind of figured that."
"That she has a contact within the organisation, which means we have a double agent working in my branch."
"Special Operations," Skyler said. "She told me you worked for MI-5."
"She seems to know a lot about me."
The blonde nodded. "I was confused though. You called yourself Agent Black yet you are in the Military. What exactly is your job title, if you dont mind me asking?"
"Not at all." Addison bumped her shoulder against Skyler. "That I can answer. Yes, I am an agent working for Special Operations and within that I do have a ranking, but I am also a soldier in the British Military and my ranking as such is Captain."
"Captain Black!" Skyler appeared impressed. "You look too young to be a Captain. Can I ask how old you are?"
Addison grinned. "Older than you," she replied forcing Skyler to bump a shoulder back against her.
"I figured that!"
"Im thirty-four," the soldier answered. "Any more questions?"
"I was just inquiring," Skyler defended. "You seem to know so much about me after all."
"Well believe me; I havent lived the kind of life that makes for interesting dinner conversation. In fact, its more likely to put people off their dinner."
The blonde didnt seem convinced. "I doubt its that bad. What about your childhood? We all have crazy stories about what we got up to when we were younger!"
"What about yours?" Addison diverted.
"Mine!" Skyler shook her head. "Mine is the exception. The craziest thing I did as a kid was doodle in a library book when I was lost in thought!"
"So it was you!" Addison took Skyler by the wrist. "For years there has been an outstanding warrant for the person who did that! I cant believe it. I caught the phantom library book doodler!"
Both women laughed, but their amusement was short lived as a loud voice shouted from outside their room. It was followed by several more voices and then the sound of footsteps leading away from the door echoed into the distance. Skyler felt their imprisoning walls begin to close in around her.
"Shes going to kill us isnt she?" Her hopeless tone was clearly evident.
"She wants to... she may think she is going to but she isnt."
"How can you be so confidant, Addison?" Skyler looked at her, pleading with the soldier to give her hope. Fear was beginning to take hold and it was down to Addison to release that. "Its, God knows how many people, against the two of us, and Im not exactly the soldier type."
Addison placed her arm around Skyler. "Hey, I promise you will get out of here."
"And you too!" Skyler stated adamantly.
"Ill be right there with you, that I guarantee."
Sighing, Skyler slumped into Addisons embrace. She rested her head upon the British womans shoulder. "I hope so."
Addison let her own head fall back against the wall. She closed her eyes, allowing her body a moment of complete rest. She released the aches and pains of the last few days and felt her muscles ease into submission. With Skyler in her arms, she felt good. Too good, her mind cried out in warning, but she chose to ignore it. She knew the rules... No agent was allowed to engage in any form of improper conduct of or referring to a sexual nature or form an emotional bond with the missions focussed protection. No matter how good it felt to hold them, Addisons mind added.
Pushing those thoughts away for the time being, Addison closed her eyes and laid her cheek upon Skylers head. Both women slipped into a light but much needed rest.
Skyler woke slowly. She couldnt tell how long shed been asleep, but the area visible through the skylight was dark. Even with the obstruction of the bars, a multitude of stars showed themselves and for a little while she just looked up at them in silent awe. The stars appeared like benevolent eyes, watching down and over them.
It made Skyler think back on the revelation that Addison had two different colored eyes. Well, an injury that made it appear so anyway. On another person it might have been unattractive, but it only gave the British agent a more intriguing look. The American couldnt stop wondering what it would be like to see those eyes darken with passion, the kind of passion she had led Brodie to believe she had already experienced with Addison.
The scientists head was still against Addisons shoulder. They had slid down a little in their sleep, but Addisons arm had stayed around her. Skyler felt safe and very warm. Too warm. Even accounting for the agents higher than normal body temperature, Skyler could tell she was running a fever.
As surreptitiously as possible, Skyler brought her hand up to Addisons abdomen. The agents shirt was open and the flesh exposed. The American made the move as natural as she could in order not to wake the slumbering soldier. When her hand reached its intended target, Skyler knew she was right about the temperature.
"Ive got a fever, havent I?" The agents voice startled the American and she jumped a little in Addisons arm. The brunette winced as her side was jostled.
"God, Im sorry," Skyler said. "I didnt know you were awake."
"Ive been awake for a little while now. I didnt move because you looked so comfortable. You also looked like you needed the rest." Addison purposely omitted the fact that she was comfortable too and had rested well with the blonde next to her.
"I did," Skyler agreed. "What I need more is some food. Its been a long time since I nibbled on the things you bought me in Scotland and what little Brodie did provide, she caused me to throw back up with her never-ending supply of drugs." With no food between them, Skyler felt she should change the subject and keep their minds off of it. "How are you feeling? Is there much pain?"
"A little," Addison admitted. "Its nothing I cant handle though. The good news is your stitching seems to be holding up. I cant detect any bleeding."
Ever the student, Skyler had to know the truth of Addisons words for herself. She moved her hand across the agents belly until it reached her side and she felt the dry bandages under her fingertips. A trail of gooseflesh on Addisons skin was left in the wake of her wandering touch.
"Youre right, the stitches seem fine. Now if you dont succumb from a fever, we only have Brodies little plans to deal with. She said shes going to put a bullet in both of our heads after she enjoys me in front of you." Skyler shook her head. "She must not have had enough love as a child."
"Theres a lot of that going around," Addison said and nearly bit her lip as she let the information slip.
"So what happened when " The rest of Skylers question was cut short as they both heard a key in the doors lock. The door opened and light flooded in from the hallway. Both women squinted as their eyes worked to become accustomed to the brightness. The shapes of Brodie and Shamus were clearly outlined in the backlight. The AK-47 Shamus held was also clearly outlined.
"Oh Shamus, isnt this precious?" Brodie asked sarcastically. "Look at the lovebirds all nestled together. Its so sweet."
"Thweet," Shamus agreed. He gave what could have been a laugh, but sounded more like the low-pitched rumbling of a volcano.
"Lets get something straight here and now," Brodie said, the usual menace returning to her voice. "I dont give a fuck whether you starve or not, but my superior requests I keep you alive and unharmed for a bit longer. Just in case we need to contact Doctor Tidwell for assistance while we are setting up our own version of our work, were going to keep you alive, Skyler. The reason for you continuing to draw breath is less clear, Addison, but I have my instructions and therefore you eat." She crouched down and slid a paper tray over to the mattress. Sandwiches were piled on the tray along with two paper cups.
"Its simple fare I realize, but youll have to forgive that. You can get water from the sink. Now, if you dont want to have your cause of death listed as lead poisoning, youll not move until the door is closed and locked." She stood and moved back through the doorway.
"Agnes, I just hate to dine in the dark. How about a little light in here? Or maybe just a candle to set the mood for my woman and I?" Addison asked as she tightened her hold around Skylers shoulders and leaned over to place a soft kiss on Skylers head.
Brodies features darkened and it was all Skyler could do not to break out into laughter. She held herself in check though, afraid Brodie would take the food she so recently delivered.
"Most certainly," the Irishwoman said unexpectedly. "I can afford to be generous now. I have a thick steak waiting for me in my quarters and a willing companion waiting for me in my bed."
"A steak and a companion?" Addison asked. "Thats two unfortunate cows then!" This time Skyler did let loose a small laugh.
"You have half an hour," Brodie said sourly. She reached over to an unseen panel outside the door and light flooded the room. "Enjoy it." The door slammed shut and the key could be heard turning in the lock. Skyler wasted no time in sitting up and moving toward the sandwiches. Taking one, she passed a second to Addison and they each hungrily took a large bite.
"Holy Christ, its peanut butter!" Addison said as she forced herself to swallow.
Skyler was having the same reaction to her sandwich. "At least you can identify whats on yours. Ive got no idea what the heck this stuff is." Addison took the sandwich from her an inspected the contents.
"Marmite!" she said delightedly. "Its been forever since I had Marmite!"
"Trade?" offered Skyler.
"Deal," Addison replied. They swapped sandwiches and began eating again. After two more bites each they stopped and looked at one another.
"Water!" they said in unison.
"Ill get it," Skyler said as she moved to the sink with the paper cups. Returning, she handed one to Addison and set about finishing her first sandwich. As she did she surveyed Addisons physical damage again. The various cuts and bruises looked slightly improved. She was halted in her inspection as her gaze reached Addisons face and the unique eyes of the agent held her.
"How do I look?" Addison inquired.
Stunning? Beautiful? Delectable? Skyler ran the gamut of words through her mind. "Better," she chose. She passed Addison one of the two remaining sandwiches and started in on the other.
"No television, no music and no books," Addison observed. "What will we do for entertainment?"
Skyler had a comeback on the tip of her tongue, but left it unsaid. "Um, talk?"
Addison did a quick survey of Skylers body, but agreed. "Talking is good. So, Ive met your mum and I know your dad was a police officer. Do you have any other family?" The agent decided that asking the questions was highly preferable to answering them.
"Not really," Skyler began. "Its just us. Listen Addison, before we talk about anything else, I want to apologize to you."
The agent was puzzled. "What for?"
Skyler looked down, unable to meet Addisons eyes. "For what happened on the Isle of Skye. I I didnt listen to you. I left the room under the stairs and decided to come look for you. Thats when I ran into Brodie and made it possible for her to get away. Because of that she is free, were in here and youve been shot. Im so sorry."
"Thats water under the bridge," Addison said generously. "Lets just try and concentrate on the here and now. She reached out and lifted Skylers chin with two fingers. "I hadnt had a holiday out of the country in quite a while and I heard Israel was lovely this time of the year so you actually did me a favor."
Skyler gave a small smile. "Youre crazy, you know."
The agent shrugged her shoulders. "So Ive been told." The two women felt the bond between them forming again. Addison seemed to be about to say something more when the lights went out.
"Fifteen minutes. Agnes couldnt even tell the truth about that," Addison commented.
They sat quietly a few moments as once again their eyes adjusted to the change in light. When Addison could see clearly, she saw Skyler sitting cross-legged at the place on the mattress where she had last seen her. "Whats wrong?" the agent asked.
"Nothing," Skyler replied.
"Your mum is safe, Skyler," Addison commented, guessing at the reason for Skylers change in mood. "My boss, General Blithe, is personally seeing to her safety. When I say personally, I mean exactly that. I think theres a little spark there between them."
"Really? Thats nice to hear. Ive wanted her to find someone for a long time. Sometimes I felt like she gave up a lot of her own life trying to be both parents to me."
"Do you want to tell me about it?" Addison asked. She felt Skyler wanted to talk, but was reluctant to do so. The American stood then.
"I need to " she indicated the bathroom. "Do you want to go? I can help you over there if you like."
Addison nodded. "Maybe just some help to my feet." Skyler moved to Addisons uninjured side and used her body for leverage as the agent pulled herself to her feet.
After the agent visited the bathroom, she waited for Skyler to return. As the scientist emerged she said, "I never realized that going to the bathroom was such a visual experience. Some things just dont need to be done by feel."
"And some things do," Addison quipped. She couldnt see it, but she knew Skyler was blushing. What she could see was Skyler shiver a little.
"Cold?" Addison asked.
"Its gotten a little cool in here now. All my blood must be in my gut digesting Brodies feast," Skyler said wryly.
"Come over here and help me down. If Im going to run a fever I might as well share the warmth at least," Addison offered. Skyler assisted the Brit back to the mattress and moved next to, but not quite touching, her. "Skyler, Im warm, but Im not radiant. Move closer, I swear youre safe. Im too injured to try any funny business." Skyler scooted closer and the warmth from Addisons skin enveloped her with the same safe and comfortable feeling shed had on waking. Almost reflexively, Addison bent her arm around Skylers shoulders.
"So you were going to tell me about you and your mum," the agent prompted.
Skyler gave Addison a brief synopsis of the day her father had been killed. "It was a long time before I could stand to see a police officers uniform. It always reminded me of my dad being taken from me. I think when I was really young I wanted to be a cop like my dad, but after he died and I saw how losing him broke my moms heart, I swore Id never get involved with anyone in that field. The uncertainty would be too much. Id never know if the person I loved would be coming back home everyday."
Addison had listened to the tale in silence. Her heart went out to the young woman who had lost a man she so idolized at such an early age. "Skyler, did you ever ask your mother if she regretted marrying your father?" she asked gently.
"No, but I can tell you what her answer would be. She never regretted marrying him. No matter how short their time together, she loved him and cherished every moment."
"Theres your answer then Skyler. Its love, dont you see? Love is what makes the difference. Your mother knew everything you just said about the uncertainty of the future of a person in law enforcement, but she took the risk because she was in love. You say you never want to be involved with someone in that profession, but I think love might just change your mind."
"Maybe," Skyler said quietly, her voice thick with tears. "It hurt though, Addison, it hurt so much to lose him. It changed my life forever." She said no more as the tears came then. Skyler wept for her father and for the situation she was in now. Through it all Addison held her and gently stroked her back, whispering soothing words to the smaller woman. Eventually Skylers tears subsided, her breathing evened out and she fell into an exhausted sleep. Addison stared up through the skylight for a long time before succumbing to the need for sleep herself.
When Addison opened her eyes again a new day was well underway. That fact was clearly evident by the bright Israeli sun shining down through the skylight, hot and unrepentant. Its glare stung her eyes and she turned away from the intrusion. Addison had been aware, on waking, that Skyler was no longer beside her. She didnt have to worry about her whereabouts, however, as the closed door to the bathroom gave that away.
Before Addison fell asleep, she had pondered on Skyler and their conversation. The blonde had spoken so freely about her father and her feelings behind his death. It was an unknown concept to Addison, talking about her past in such an open manner. Not only had she never thought it the kind of information you would share with another, but shed never thought anybody would be interested in hearing it. She felt ashamed and what was more, she didnt want anybody to think she was looking for sympathy. Addisons view though, had changed drastically. When it came to Skyler, Addison found she was very willing to listen to her. She wanted to know more about her. That was a startling revelation to somebody who before had only been interested in learning a persons responses in the bedroom. When it came to Skyler, Addison wanted to know everything. Strange, she thought.
Feeling a numbness settle into her legs, Addison decided it was time to stretch her limbs. She certainly didnt want to rely on Skyler to help her stand. It was important to Addison that she recover to a point where she would be able to carry out her rapidly building plan. Destroy Project Gemini while getting Skyler and herself out alive.
Bringing up both legs, Addison braced herself on one hand. She pushed herself to her feet, surprised at how strong she really did feel. The sleep shed had over the past hours had helped immensely in aiding her body to heal. If anything, only her side still concerned her. Addison feared it might gain an infection.
As she walked a circuit of the room in an effort to stretch her legs, the door to the bathroom opened and Skyler stepped out. She could tell the blonde had used their limited facilities to freshen up a little.
"Youre feeling better?" Skyler asked.
Addison nodded. "For the most part I feel a lot better." She pulled her leg back, grabbing hold of her foot and stretching out her thigh. "How are you?" Addison asked. She referred to Skylers mental as well as her physical state.
Pushing both hands through her hair, Skyler sat down upon the mattress. She looked up to Addison and offered a lopsided, weary smile. "Im pretty much scared, tired and confused." Skyler watched Addison as the soldier continued to warm up her limbs. "I feel like there are millions of thoughts whirling around in my mind and I cant make sense of any of them. The only thing keeping me grounded is the knowledge that youre here and I know youll do everything in your power to get us both out of here."
Addison stopped her movements. She bent down in front of Skyler and tucked a lock of blonde hair behind her left ear. "You have my word, Sky." Turning, Addison sat back against the wall beside Skyler. Her side still hurt and she could feel it throbbing with persistence. Addison looked to where Skyler sat beside her. The doctor smiled softly. "What?"
Skyler shrugged. "Nothing, I just like you calling me Sky is all."
The British agent grinned in return. The way Skylers eyes sparkled when she smiled was enough to warm her heart. Addison looked away feeling suddenly self-conscious. Skyler was an extraordinary woman, she acknowledged. She was so willing to open up and express what was in her heart and mind. Was it really so simple?
Aware that Skylers focus had moved from herself, Addison looked back to her. The blonde seemed lost in her thoughts. Addison wondered what was going on behind those expressive features. She nudged Skyler with her shoulder, pulling her from contemplation.
"What are you thinking about?"
Stretching out her arms, Skyler turned to face the wall and lay down upon her back. Facing Addison she lifted both knees and placed her feet upon the floor. Skyler folded her arms across her chest and addressed the soldier. "I was thinking this morning and one thing stayed in my mind. I was wondering I mean how do you do it? How can you find it so easy to pull that trigger, to deliver that final blow of death?"
Addison looked down at Skyler. She swallowed, suddenly finding difficulty in the subconscious act. The agent was more than surprised by Skylers question; it scared her. Did people really see her as a cold-hearted killer? Able to take a life as easily as she could snap her fingers? Addison had to accept that was probably the assumption many people would initially take.
"Easy?" she asked. "You think its easy to do it?" Addison looked down at her hands resting in her lap. She pressed her fingertips together. "Its not easy, Sky, but its my job. I do it because I believe what I am doing is right. You know the first time I ever came up against Brodie I almost killed her then and there. I stopped myself, believing she would learn from her mistakes and become a better person." Addison shook her head. "Because of my foolishness and idealistic beliefs many hundreds of people have died. Innocent lives that should never have been in the line of fire but were because I let Brodie live to see another day."
"You cant believe that is your fault, Addison."
"It doesnt matter whether it is or not," Addison insisted. "As far as I am concerned it is all my fault. I work within the law doing a job we all believe is right. All we are trying to do is protect the innocent and stop the villains whatever it takes. It isnt easy, Skyler, but I am prepared to face the consequences when I stand in front of the big chief."
"General Blithe?" Skyler asked in confusion.
Addison smiled. "No God." She brought up one leg and balanced her wrist on her kneecap.
Silence fell between them. Skyler slid one arm under her head and stared up at the ceiling. She drifted deep into thought yet Addison could see a question was forming in the blonde doctors mind. The agent waited, wondering what was going on inside Skylers head. Addison sighed and let her head fall back against the wall. She closed her eyes and prodded her bottom lip, noting that the swelling had lessened.
"When did how old were no, it doesnt matter."
With a frown, Addison opened her eyes and looked down at Skyler. "You know you have to ask me now!"
Skyler shook her head. "No, I really shouldnt ask. It probably isnt an appropriate question."
"Oh no, those are the ones I love the most." Addison smiled. She turned around onto her side, lying in a similar position as Skyler. "What?"
"You dont have to answer."
"Out with it."
"Well I was thinking about how it must feel to take a life and I wondered how old were you when you first took a life. The first time you killed."
Addison remained silent. She rolled onto her back, looked up at the lighting. "The very first life?" she asked quietly.
Skyler nodded, then not thinking Addison could see she said, "Uh huh."
Lying beside Skyler, Addison thoughts drifted to that very incident. She remembered the precise moment she felt the splash of blood upon her face. The way her heart had drummed in fear and the cold sinking feeling as the words, "You are a killer" echoed in her mind. She had never spoken of this incident before but the desire to tell Skyler was as strong as a screaming ball of frustration; coiled and ready to explode. Something inside assured Addison it was okay to speak of this with Skyler. She felt honoured Skyler had trusted her enough to speak of her father and wanted that to be returned.
Continuing to stare up at the lights above them, Addison said, "When I was a kid, summers really were summers. You could play out in the streets day after day through the summer holidays and generally make a nuisance of yourself." Addison smiled to herself, remembering those times. "In 1976 we had this great heat wave in England. We are talking so hot that we would only venture out in the evenings when the temperature began to cool. Well apart from that one day a water pipe burst in the neighbourhood and it was like an invitation to a kids street party!"
"I remember it was late one summer afternoon. I was in my bedroom feeling too hot to even move, when my dad came into the room." Addison saw Skylers head turn to look at her. She knew it was the first time she had mentioned her parents and it seemed Skyler realised that fact as well.
"He came in holding a rifle in each hand, telling me how he had won them in a card game. Naturally I thought it was pretty cool. I saw them as new fodder for my games of Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians except these were no toys. My dad told me we were going out into the woods for some target practice. He said it was time I made him proud by honouring the family name! I knew he had been drinking, but I only thought we were going to shoot at his empty lager cans." Addison felt like laughing at her own stupidity. Even then she knew her father better than that.
"So, armed with a pocket full of shells, he took me out into the large wooded area of trees. It was a place my friends and I would play in but it was just too hot so nobody was around. Most of them were probably at home, camped out by the refrigerators. Like I said, we only ventured out in the evening when the temperature dropped that year."
Skyler remained silent, listening intently to Addisons words.
"I remember I was standing in the middle of this large wood, loaded shot gun almost two thirds my size, firmly within my grip. The sun was still high in the sky, casting shadows and causing shafts of light to shine through the treetops. I could feel sweat trickle down my brow and my tee-shirt cling to my back through the moisture."
Addison folded her arms over her chest. However warm she was painting this picture for Skyler, a cold chill passed through her spine. "I had been told not to talk. My dad said we had to remain quiet, so I did as he said. I knew better than to ignore or question his words! So there we waited in the middle of this small forest that was only there because the council wasnt allowed to cut it down and build more high rises."
"It was a protected area?" Skyler asked.
"It had been there a long time hundreds of years, I was told." Addison spoke softly, answering Skylers question though she never made eye contact. "Anyway we had been there for about half an hour when we heard this rustle. My dad was the first to see it and he pointed it out to me. It was a fox a female one, he said because of her size. As soon as he aimed that shot gun I remember begging him not to do it. I loved foxes." Addison smiled. "I was a major Basil Brush fan."
The soldiers smiled. "Basil Brush was a hand puppet on childrens television. He was this hilarious little aristocratic fox who wore a Sherlock Holmes type jacket and told really lame jokes. I remember his laugh the most. It had me in stitches all the time." Addison paused and she brought her mind back to the story. "I couldnt believe he was going to shoot that beautiful fox. She had such a deep red coat, a thick bushy tail. So innocently foraging around, looking for food. I pleaded with Dad not to shoot the fox but he said they were nothing more than a pest and it would be good for me to watch what happened to pests!"
"How on earth would that be good for you?" Skyler exploded. "How old were you?"
"I was eight." Addison returned to her memory. The more she thought about it the more it began to feel like it happened only yesterday. "He fired," she said. "He pulled the trigger and this almighty bang exploded around us. Then I heard a gut-wrenching scream as that fox was hit."
"Jesus!" Skyler moved to reach out and touch Addison but something made her stop. "He killed it!"
The soldier shook her head. "I thought he had but I followed him over to the body and hed caught it in the stomach. She was still alive whimpering in pain." Addison brushed both hands over her face and sighed heavily. "Blood it was everywhere."
"My dad just sneered at the sight and told me to leave her, that she would die soon enough. I felt this overwhelming urge to protest but I feared him too much to dare. Luckily he thought he spotted a rabbit and went off after it, leaving me alone with the fox." Swallowing, Addison finally turned to look at Skyler. She feared the blondes reaction but Skyler showed nothing but compassion and understanding.
"Ill never forget her expression, the look of absolute fear fear of me. Her body trembling and blood soaking into the ground around us. This beautiful animal she was dying a slow and painful death." Addison bit her bottom lip hard. She felt the recently knitted wound re-open. "I remember I started to cry. I honestly tried to stop myself because if my dad caught me I would be in so much trouble for being weak." The agent looked back to the ceiling. "I couldnt help it though. The fox was whimpering crying in pain it was the most awful sound. I fell to my knees trying to calm her. I didnt know what else to do. She was dying, terrified and alone. I tried stroking her, it didnt matter that I was getting blood all over me too. I just wanted to ease her suffering. To try and make her understand that it did hurt to get hit, but the pain never lasted." Addison felt her eyes cloud with tears and tried valiantly to will them away. "But that look in her eyes. I could almost feel her terror, Skyler. Her whimpers of pain the smell of blood. I kept telling her, dont cry, Ill make it better please dont cry."
Sniffing, Addison closed her eyes. Her brow dipped into a frown. "She was so beautiful Skyler. I wanted to take her home and nurse her better. I briefly wondered whether I would get away with hiding her under my bed. It was stupid, I know, but really I was just trying to push from my mind the acknowledgement of what I had to do."
"You had to kill her," Skyler said softly and Addison nodded.
"Well anyway," Addison said quickly, trying to move her tale along. "I got to my feet and took that shotgun. I placed the barrel right up to her head. I was crying so much I could hardly see her through my tears. Taking a deep breath I placed my finger on the trigger, whispering Im sorry, Im sorry. My whole body shook." Addison felt a single tear stray from her eye and roll down the side of her face. "I looked down at her one last time, seeing that same trembling expression gazing back up at me. She knew what I was going to do and I hated that fact then I think I counted to three, closed my eyes and fired. My shot rang out through the forest as her blood splattered my face and body. My ears rang with the noise but I dare not open my eyes, afraid of what I would find. Next thing I knew, however, was my dad standing beside me." Addison turned and looked back at Skyler. The blondes eyes glittered with emotion. "He patted me roughly on my back making me stumble forwards into the remains of the dead vixen. The sound of his voice was one of fucking pride as he told me Id done him proud that I was a killer and had that killer instinct. I didnt want to believe him, you know? But wiping a hand over the moisture on my face and seeing the smears of blood I thought maybe he was right."
A long silence stretched out between them. Addison began to feel self conscious in her confession, but then Skyler reached out and removed a tear from her cheek.
"He was wrong," she said softly. "Compassion made you do that, Addison, not a desire to kill." Skyler reached out once again to remove another tear that had slipped from Addisons eye but the agent stopped her. She caught her hand in a swift movement and held the appendage between them.
"Can I ask you something, Sky?"
The blonde nodded silently.
"Do you think I am a cold blooded killer?" Addison felt the doctors answer would be very important to her. When Skyler looked away, Addison thought she had received it and a sinking feeling plummeted within her stomach but then Skyler spoke.
"No, I dont. I will admit when I first met you I didnt see a difference between either you or Brodie, but now I see you at opposite ends of the spectrum. Addison you dont kill because you enjoy it you do it because youre prepared to take whatever means necessary to uphold the law and protect the innocent. It takes a lot of strength to do that. Brodie kills because she gets a kick out of it. She enjoys the power."
Addison smiled softly. She felt a rush of something towards Skyler but unsure of how to express herself she simply lifted the hand still within hers and kissed Skylers knuckles reverently. "Thank you," she whispered.
The moment was broken instantly as Addison heard approaching footsteps from beyond the door. Simultaneously, both women righted their positions and waited for their visitor to enter. The huge metal door unlocked and in walked Shamus, followed by Brodie. The redhead held another tray upon which was two plastic bowls.
"Morning," Brodie greeted insincerely. "I brought you breakfast. You may want to make it last, however, as this is all you get today." Brodie placed down the tray. "I wont apologise for the food. Its porridge and of course being the last to eat you get what none other would. Naturally its cold oh and the black bits are just pan scrapings. Thats what you get for eating the last dregs." Brodie pushed her hand into a pocket. "If you dont like the taste, try these." She dropped a handful of small paper containers around the tray, one of which fell into the bowl of cold, burnt porridge.
The Irish woman waited, her eyes moved from Addison to Skyler and back to Addison again. When nothing was said, Brodie spun on her heels and left the room. The door locked behind her.
"I think she was expecting you to say something," Skyler said as she shuffled over to the feast Brodie left them.
Addison shrugged. "Just letting her think she has us a touch demoralised."
Skyler dipped her finger with great caution into a bowl and tasted the contents. Her face contorted in disgust. "God, thats vile. At least we have sugar!" Skyler tore open one of the sachets.
"Hold on." Addison picked up another sachet and inspected the paper containers. Its name and contents were written in Hebrew. "Well I got some good and bad news."
"Huh?" Skyler looked down at the packet of white grains. "What is it?"
Shaking the sachet, Addison ripped open one corner. "The bad news is this isnt sugar. The good news on the other hand, is that its salt!"
Skyler didnt say anything for a moment. "Okay, Im stumped. Why are you so excited about the salt? Are you planning on experiencing sodium depletion or is this some mysterious British porridge ritual I havent heard of?"
"Salt, you dozy bugger!" Addison said playfully. "We can use it to treat my wound infection. I would have thought a well educated woman such as you would have known that."
"Right, salt to treat the infection. Did you learn that technique in spy school?" Skyler asked.
"Well, no, but everybody knows its a fact. I even saw it in a movie once."
The American nodded. "This movie, did it have John Wayne in it?"
"It might have," Addison admitted sheepishly.
"I thought so. Look, Addison, salt is a great thing. I wish we had some yesterday when I was sewing your wound up. I would have preferred to clean the wound with saline instead of water before I stitched it, but its a closed wound now. Saline can clean nicely, but its not a treatment for an infection. Im sorry, its just a myth."
"Damn Hollywood!" Addison growled in mock annoyance. "First I find out there really isnt a Wonder Woman and now this!"
"Reality kind of sucks, doesnt it?" Skyler asked, looking around at her place of confinement. Her countenance fell a little.
"Oh, I dont know. This reality isnt too difficult to take." Addisons sweet comment had Skyler feeling better again.
"Oh, hell, I almost forgot! I do have some good news."
"Give it to me, we could use a little about now," Addison instructed.
"Well, Ive done a little more rummaging around here and its not quite as bare as I thought at first."
"Really? Did Brodie leave a traditional English breakfast with all the trimmings lying around by any chance?" the Brit asked.
"I wish! No, but there was something I couldnt figure out and it was bothering me. I thought about it when we were rinsing your eyes yesterday, but forgot about it because other things interested me more then." Skyler indicated Addisons unusual eye color. "In every lab there is a sink or some area that is designated for decontamination in case of a spill or accident. Brodie wouldnt give a damn about it, but the scientists working in an area like this would and I found it!"
"You did? Where?"
"Well the hose was curled up behind the toilet tank where it is connected to the water supply. Add that to the fact that youve got a small drain in one corner of the bathroom and youve got a decontamination room!" Skyler exclaimed.
"Thats terribly interesting, Skyler, but Im not quite able to see why youre so excited."
"Because, Super Stinky Spy, yesterday you were sweaty and dirty and dashing, but youve had overnight to ripen. This morning you just need a shower."
As much as Addison enjoyed the thought of rinsing the residual perspiration and filth from her body, she homed in on the other aspect of Skylers comment first. "So, you think Im dashing, eh?"
Skyler rolled her eyes. "Oh God, I forgot that monumental ego of yours." Skyler fluttered her eyelashes coquettishly. "Oh yes, Agent Black, I think youre dashing and brave and dangerously sexy. Does that make you happy?" she asked sarcastically.
Addison puffed up just a bit. "I have heard it before, but its nice to know I still have it! Now, if youll excuse me, I am off to the bath. Have this place spotless by the time I return if you please and by the way, I wont be breakfasting." She glanced down in disdain at the bowls Brodie had brought. "Im afraid Ive started on a low crap diet!" With that, she disappeared into the bathroom.
Skyler laughed but had to agree with the sentiment about the porridge that was now looking more and more like concrete.
Addisons head popped out from the bathroom door. "You know, its too bad we dont have a bar soap in here instead of the powdered stuff. We could use it to soap the floor by the door and when Agnes came in here next time, she might just slip up and let us catch her off guard."
Skyler almost laughed. "Nah, that will never work. Shes way too clever for that."
Addison looked thoughtful a moment. "Youre probably right," she said and ducked back inside.
Skyler saw Addison in her minds eye, slowly stripping off her garments. A big part of her wanted to go into the bathroom, catch the agent removing her clothing and look at the revealed form. Addisons body was firm and strong and Skyler wanted to know what it would be like to feel that body respond to her with ardor. To see those amazing eyes darken with passion. To
Skylers lustful daydream was interrupted by a shriek from the bathroom. The American tossed the images from her mind and raced to Addisons assistance. As she pulled open the bathroom door, Skyler saw that her daydreams were a pale comparison to the actual sight of a very naked British agent.
Addison stood there with the water spraying away from her. She was obviously at ease with her completely exposed body. Skyler ran through her extensive list of adjectives again to describe the solid, beautiful and slightly battle-worn body. She settled on the word "devastating".
"Oh my God, that was bleeding cold! Why couldnt they decontaminate with warm water?" the agent asked as she shivered a little. Noticing Skyler staring at her, she grew concerned. "Are you okay, Skyler? I didnt scare you, did I?"
"No, no," Skyler said hastily as she backed slowly from the bathroom. "Dont worry about it. Youre good. Youre very good." She blushed as she closed the door. Dropping her forehead to the door, she drew in a shaky breath. She could hear Addison humming in the shower and knew she would need a cold one next.
"God-damn it, Im in charge here and I say how they are treated!" Agnes screamed into the phone. She had been annoyed by the unexpected phone call from her superior. Dr. Kleein had spies everywhere and it seemed had received reports on Brodies handling of her two prisoners.
The Irishwoman listened to the voice on the other end of the line and then spoke. "Well, maybe if you shared a little of your plan with me Id understand. Why do I have to keep Addison Black alive?" She sat down behind the desk as she heard what she had previously only guessed at. She let out a whistle between her teeth.
"Okay, I see your plan and I have to admit I like it. The destruction, in any form, of Addison Black is more than welcome."
Instructions were received and acknowledged. "And what about Skyler Tidwell? I should inform you that I think shes the weak link in Addisons armor. Theyre lovers, Im sure of it. We can use that to our advantage and to Addisons great dismay." The redhead smiled as her observations were welcomed by her contact.
"Oh, one last thing," Brodie said into the phone. "Our work here is proceeding at a remarkable pace. Our scientists report that we are well ahead of schedule and I believe we will be able to put the plan into action very soon. Completing this project and the downfall of Addison Black, has there ever been a sweeter combination?"
The voice on the phone effectively ended the conversation and the connection was broken. Brodie sat a moment as she formulated her plans. A decision being made, she picked up the phone again and tapped in an extension. "Infirmary? Send Dr. Richardson to see our guests in Lab Three. I want them checked over carefully. Oh, tell him to arrange some food for them as well." There was a brief pause. "Of course with the usual precautions, stupid! If Addison Black so much as gets a toothpick to use against me, I will use your skin to wallpaper my office." She smiled, knowing the threat was not an idle one. "Good, get it done."
Brodie hung up the phone and thought about her two prisoners. Well, Addison, I guess for you there are a few things worse than death.
General Blithe and Marlene Tidwell returned to his office. Miss Bakersfield was sorting reports and files in the outer office as they entered.
"Oh, General, Ive completed arrangements for Professor Tidwell to have accommodations in the most secure wing of our facility and have arranged around the clock protection," Miss Bakersfield informed him.
"Right on top of the situation as always, Antonia, but this time it isnt necessary. Professor Tidwell will be staying at my home. Please arrange for surveillance outside my house, but I will be seeing to her safety personally this time."
Marlene looked surprised, but Antonia merely took the change of plans in stride. "Certainly, General, I will take care of it immediately. What time would you like your car to arrive, sir?"
"Half an hour should do it. I would like to have Marlene get some rest as soon as possible. Shes had quite the time of it recently."
Miss Bakersfield nodded. "I understand, sir. Everything will be ready when you are prepared to leave."
Marlene spoke then. "General, I appreciate your offer, but it isnt necessary for you to go out of your way like this. I dont want to impose on you."
"Its no imposition, its a pleasure. My guest room hasnt had such a lovely occupant in a long time. We will have a secure line there and I will be kept up to date on the situation with Skyler. Please say youll accept my hospitality," the General said in his most persuasive manner.
Marlene smiled at the man. "Youre very kind and I accept with gratitude." Marlene turned to the assistant. "Thank you also, Miss Bakersfield. I know you arranged for the medical check-up and the change of clothes and so much more."
Antonia blushed a little. "Im just doing my job, maam. If I may say something to you?"
"I know youre worried about your daughter," Antonia said, her voice softened with sympathy. "I daresay I would be also if I were in your position, but if there is one thing I know no, one thing we all know here is that Addison Black is the very best there is. She can do things that would seem nearly impossible for another agent to accomplish. Around here, that skill is known as Blacks Magic so try to keep your hopes up and believe in that."
"Magician or miracle worker, I have no choice but to believe in her," Marlene said. The General took the Americans arm and guided her into his private office as the phone rang at Miss Bakersfields desk.
The phone in the inner office buzzed and the crisply efficient voice of Miss Bakersfield was back. "Line three, General. Secure line, routed through the satellite and the Tel Aviv office. Agent Yamburg of Mossad calling and will speak with only you."
"Very well, Antonia," the general replied. He looked at Marlene and picked up the phone.
Opening slowly, Addison peeked around the door from their makeshift bathroom. Locating Skyler she grinned and emerged from the partitioned room, fully dressed. Standing to attention, Addison saluted the doctor.
"Decontamination complete, maam. Sweaty odours neutralised." She lifted her arm above her head and sniffed her armpit. Addison frowned. "Almost completely!" Allowing her arm to fall back to her side, the soldier swooned as a feeling of dizziness overtook her senses. She lowered her head, and adjusted her position to lean against the wall. Addison knew the bullet wound on her side had become infected and was beginning to affect her body. She wasnt going to let Skyler know how ill she was beginning to feel. Addison needed to keep her sprits high for the blonde. Although the soldier was formulating a plan, the notion of how well she would feel when that plan was put into action crossed her mind several times.
Looking back to Skyler, Addison smirked as she cleared her senses. "I didnt think I would smell that bad after a shower!"
Skyler narrowed her eyes in suspicion but then shrugged. "Imagine what it was like for me before you were decontaminated!"
"So that was why you came into the room while I was naked. You wanted to see whether I really was getting clean. And here was I thinking you were out to catch an eyeful!"
Her jaw dropping, Skyler shook her head. "I heard a shriek. Not that I would have expected such a sound to come from a tough ex-marine!" She placed her hands on her hips.
"Pure exaggeration." Addison shook her head. "Besides, that sure as hell wasnt concern I saw in your eyes!" Her own eyes scanned the ceiling in thought. "In fact, if I remember correctly, your eyes did linger in certain areas lower than my face for a couple of moments."
"You are incorrigible!"
"I try my best." Addisons Cheshire cat grin gave away her playful banter.
Skyler scowled and folded her arms. A witty comeback died on her lips as the door to their room was unlocked. She moved a step backwards and Addison turned, standing two steps in front of Skyler in a protective stance. She waited silently, their humour of moments before, all but done, as the door opened.
Three people stood in the doorway, Brodie, Shamus and a second man neither woman was previously familiar with. By the way he was dressed, Addison was correct in her assumption that he was a medical doctor. The traditional gentlemans suit and semi-circular glasses, from which he peered over, reminded Addison of her own childhood G.P.
"Two visits in as many hours," the agent remarked. "Why, arent we the lucky ones? I never realised how much you cared, Agnes."
Brodie ignored Addisons comment and stepped into the room. "If she so much as takes one step towards me, Shamus, shoot out her knee cap. In fact... shoot both of them We might as well take advantage of Doctor Richardsons presence while here, eh?"
Aiming his AK-47 lower, Shamus grinned and Skyler gasped. Addison held up her hands in a gesture of compliance. Now was not the time to anger Brodie, and if Addison was to admit it to herself, she really had no inclination to at that point. Her plan wasnt ready, plus the infection caused by the gunshot wound was taking its toll on her body. The soldier just hoped her body would be able to fight it quickly.
"Now, if I were you, Agent Black, I would behave. I dont bring my own personal doctor to treat all my guests."
Though remaining outwardly cool, Addison was surprised by that comment. A number of questions rose in her mind. Not only, why would Brodie enlist the aid of a doctor to check up on her, but also, what was the point considering her intention was to kill them both. What was Brodies plan now? What had changed, and what was possibly more important if the Dr Kleein was Brodies superior, what did he want? Externally, however, Addisons questions were a little different.
"Personal Doctor!" She turned to Dr. Richardson. "So when did you lose your licence to practice?"
"Shamus!" Brodie called. "Warm up that trigger finger."
Addison carried on regardless. "Unless hold it I refuse to be treated by a Veterinarian. That may be adequate for Agnes but I "
"One more word, Black, and its bye-bye kneecap!"
The soldier remained silent. She folded her arms across her chest and looked back at the doctor, her brow arched in expectation.
Realising that was his cue, Dr. Richardson adjusted the spectacles on the tip of his nose, ran a hand through his receding, grey hair and stepped forward.
"I was told you were shot in the side. How severe was that? I would like to take a look at it, please."
Addison considered Dr. Richardsons request for just a moment. "Sure," she said and began unfastening the buttons on her shirt. "We well Skyler, did the best she could in stitching it together. There does seem to be an infection forming though." Releasing her last button, Addison slipped the shirt from her shoulders. "I do have a fever rising in me." The soldier looked over to see Brodie smiling haughtily.
Dr. Richardson removed the covering Skyler had placed over Addisons wound. The area was extremely red and angry. He placed his fingers around her wound and felt the heat. Remarking only in a string of hums, Dr. Richardson placed his hand upon Addisons forehead. He took a thermometer out of his breast pocket, and shook it. Addison opened her mouth and the doctor placed it under her tongue. He then commenced a general inspection of the soldiers remaining injuries.
Sighing, Addison gazed around the room. Her eyes landed on Brodie and she noticed the redheads stare... or more importantly, what that stare was fixed upon. Feeling somewhat amused, Addison looked down at her breasts and back to Brodie. She waited for the Irish womans sight to move higher and when it did, Addison winked, wiggled her eyebrows and smiled broadly around the thermometer sticking out of her mouth.
Brodie flushed, appearing momentarily flustered. She turned away, gained her composure and looked back at Addison. "So," she asked. "What is the verdict, Doctor?"
Dr. Richardson took the thermometer from Addisons mouth. "She has a fever, just like I suspected when you informed me of her injuries." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, brown plastic container. "These are a strong antibiotic; I would like you to take one three times a day, preferably with food." He handed the bottle to Addison who inspected its label cautiously.
"With all intents of offence, Agnes, why should I trust you with this? You want me dead, not that you will ever succeed, but you really think I will willingly take pills offered to me by an employee of yours? The guys probably as bent as you are." Addison began to put her shirt back on but Brodie snatched it from her hands.
"I would adore more than anything to see you endure a long and painful death, Black. I have many pleasant daydreams of ways in which I could take your life. The only reason you are alive right now is because my superior has better plans for you. Dont push me, Black. However much I am looking forward to your demise, your head on a platter would be just as satisfying and worth it." Brodie looked to Skyler who had been standing silently behind Addison. "She on the other hand is expendable. When I am sure I will have no more need of her, you may watch her die!"
Addison looked to Skyler. She saw the alarm and fear in her eyes and tried to offer her a silent message of assurance. She wouldnt rile Brodie just yet. She decided to continue with her compliance.
"So has your doctor finished yet? I do so despise this tedious talk."
Brodie smiled with an air of self-righteousness. She looked back to Dr. Richardson. "Will she live?" she asked, inclining her head towards Addison.
Dr. Richardson swallowed. He seemed uncomfortable by the threatening speech being tossed back and forth. Adjusting his spectacles once again and peering over the golden frames he looked Addison up and down. "Yes, but I was curious as to the gloves you are wearing, Agent Black. It seems youre using them as a protective covering. I can see several cuts upon your fingers."
"Oh thats okay, Doc." Addison slipped off the finger-less, leather gloves and showed her palms to the Doctor. "They are healing fine."
"Hmm." Doctor Richardson took the soldiers hands to closer inspect her palms. "Yes they are healing nicely. Clean cuts," he remarked. "Are you up to date with your tetanus injection?"
"Were these cuts the result of glass shards?"
"Well they dont seem to show any signs of infection." He dropped her hands and as Addison replaced her gloves Dr. Richardson looked towards Skyler. "And what about you, Miss?"
"Skyler," the blonde supplied, speaking for the first time.
"Her well-being is of no concern, Doctor."
"Excuse me?" Brodie asked. "Are you questioning me, Dr. Richardson?"
The greying man shook his head. "Of course not, maam, but I am a doctor. It is my natural inclination to "
"Your natural inclination is to follow my orders. There are plenty of other doctors I can put on my payroll. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, Miss Brodie."
Addison cast her gaze around the occupants of the room. "Well this is nice. I almost feel like one of the family. All we need now is for one of us to throw the first punch!"
"Shut the fuck up, Black," Brodie snapped. "Were finished in here. Lets go I have many more important things to be doing." Walking towards the door, Brodie stopped when Addison called her. "What is it, Black?"
"My shirt," the agent replied.
Looking down to the black garment in her hand, Brodie shook her head. "No Ill keep it. A little memento to tide me over until I really do have your head on a platter."
"It gets cold in here at night," Skyler said.
"This isnt the Hilton, Miss Tidwell. Why would cold desert nights be of any interest to me?" Delivering one final, malicious smile, Brodie closed and locked the door.
Addison turned to Skyler in silence. She smiled. "Believe it or not but I actually knew somebody worse than her!"
Releasing an anguished sigh, Skyler slumped against the wall. She pursed her lips, holding back a trembling lip. "Ive never had anybody want to kill me before, Addison. It scares me. What if she "
"But you cant "
"Yes I can."
Skyler gazed at Addison. However much she wanted to believe her, fear overrode her instincts. Not only did Brodie intend to kill her but also she was looking forward to it and taunted that fact in front of them both. That certainty didnt fill the American with ease.
Skyler was pulled from her thoughts by a warm palm cupping the side of her face. Addison gazed deep into her eyes. Her other hand brushed stray locks from her brow. The agent licked her lips as she wondered how to ease Skylers fears. She could see Skyler was waiting for her to do or say something but not knowing how best to convey her assurance, Addison pulled Skyler into a hug. She closed her eyes as she felt Skylers arms wrap around her back. Warm hands seeped soothing warmth into her flesh and it was only then that the soldier realised she was still topless. She took a deep breath before speaking.
"There probably isnt anything I can do or say that will stop these fears from surfacing but every time they do just remember that I swear with everything I am I will get you out of here alive." Addison paused as she considered her plan. "No matter what I do or say when Brodie is around it is important that you remember that, Sky." The agent felt Skyler nod against her. Pulling back, Addison looked at her. "You okay?"
"I will be," Skyler said. "As soon as we get out of this place."
Addison forced a pout, dropping her bottom lip. "What, you are not happy with my company?" She smiled playfully. "Anything I can do to " Addison wiggled her eyebrows, "lighten your mood?"
Skyler looked down at Addisons unclothed torso. "Well this is quite an experience."
Casting her eyes in Skylers direction, Addison tried to hold back her smile. She pursed her lips together but the sides of her mouth still managed to quirk into a tiny grin. She looked back at Skyler. "That doesnt sound like a complaint!" Addisons smile turned into one of bemusement as Skylers eyes remained upon her chest. Placing two fingers under the blondes chin she said, "Ive never had to tell a woman that my eyes are a little higher than that!"
Skyler blushed but laughed. "Well it is the most decent view in the place!"
"What?" Addison asked. "Did you find my third nipple?"
"Where?" Skyler looked back to Addisons chest and searched the area in question. Several bruises and old scars marred her flesh. "I dont " Skyler frowned. "You just tricked me. Admit it you actually like me um "
Addison chuckled and ran a hand through Skylers hair. "Checking me out?" She shook her head in amusement. "Are you feeling okay?"
Both women took a step away from each other and Addison looked around the room for her discarded white tank top. Apart from the blood-stained tear and dust covering it, it was still moderately wearable. Addison slipped it over her head and tucked it into her trousers.
"What do you think?" The agent gave a mini twirl. "Bruce Willis, Die Hard, or what?"
"Very macho!" Skyler responded. Shaking her head she sat down upon the mattress and bolstered her back against the wall.
Addison sat down beside her as a feeling of comfort eased over them. Skyler sighed and closed her eyes. "You know we are very close to Egypt now. Do you think we could go for a visit when we get out of here?"
"You and me?"
Skyler shrugged. "I could be your official tour guide."
"As tempting as that sounds especially being able to fulfil a childhood dream, I doubt General Blithe would be happy if you and I scampered off to the land of the Pharaohs when I am supposed to bring you home safe and sound."
Opening her eyes, Skyler peered over at Addison. "Some other time?"
Addison arched her eyebrows. "Seriously?"
The soldier nodded with a genuine smile. "I might take you up on that!" Addison crossed her legs and leaned back against the wall. She looked up through the skylight to the clear blue sky. The black outline of a soaring bird glided overhead. Addison watched it disappear out of view and then looked away. Sliding her tongue over her front teeth, she began to wonder what the situation was like outside of Brodies compound. She wondered what Alon had told General Blithe and more importantly, what his reaction had been. After his explosion over Skylers second abduction, the soldier hoped he would remain confident in her judgement.
"Can I ask you something?" Skyler inquired out of the blue.
"Sure." Addison turned to face the Doctor.
"Earlier, when Brodie was here, you mentioned something about it being like a family experience and you were waiting for somebody to throw the first punch." Skylers head fell to the side as she studied Addison closely. "What did you mean by that? I pretty much understand that you were afraid of your dad when you were younger but " The blonde paused as she wondered how to phrase her words. "Did he raise a hand to you on a regular basis?"
The room fell silent. Addison looked down to the mattress they were seated upon. She traced her fingers around the ugly floral design.
"I suppose you could say that."
"And what about your mom, what did she do or say about it?"
"Join in if she felt so inclined." Addison chuckled but she wasnt joking.
"Are you saying ?"
"Look " The agent interrupted. "It is no big deal. It was a long time ago; those things dont upset me anymore." Addison looked back at Skyler. "Really. As they say, its water under the bridge. Besides, I wasnt an epitome of the model daughter myself."
Silence stretched out between the women again. Skyler twisted in her position to face Addison. "Was it your mom or dad?"
Skyler pointed to Addisons injured eye. "Which one of them did it?"
Addison couldnt help but smile. "Did anybody ever tell you, youre quite an astute woman?"
"Sometimes." The blonde seemed nervous as she asked, "So what happened? If you dont mind talking about it."
The truth was that Addison had always avoided talking about it. For a long time, the memory of how it had happened had been more painful than anything she had experienced since. As a child, spiteful acts of cruelty are often a lot harder to understand. Though it was a sore point in Addisons life, she didnt harbour any doubts about telling Skyler.
"I dont mind," the soldier said softly. "There really isnt much to say. I was six years old. It was Christmas Eve. Being a typical kid I was excited. I couldnt wait until morning and so a little after midnight I went out to see whether Santa Clause had been."
Skyler frowned, completely unsure at that point of where Addison was heading. "Uh huh?"
"Anyway My bedroom was opposite the living room, so I snuck out of my door and crossed the hallway. There was a street lamp directly outside our front room window so it was always brightly lit in there whether it was day or night. The living room was small and symmetrically square. My dad had painted the walls a ghastly mauve colour. It was faded with age and stained with years of cigarette smoke. There was never really much in the room furniture wise, two sofas, a glass coffee table, television and fake Umbrella plant in the corner. At Christmas my dad would put our imitation tree in the other corner of the room. So basically it was opposite the door and I could see it from my bedroom. Glass ornaments and stringy tinsel upon the tree glittered in the lamplight. I remember walking into the living room and looking under the artificial branches. There was a small pile of gifts there and two of them were for me." Addison rolled her eyes. "I was so excited. I couldnt resist peeking you know give it a little shake and feel around the edges."
"I did the same," Skyler admitted. "Most children do I expect."
Smiling ironically, Addison sighed. "Yeah but unluckily for me, I got caught. Both my mum and dad came into the room. My mum went crazy. She started yelling at me, going on about being a sneak and untrustworthy. She said she was going to show me exactly what happens to people who are caught peeking.
Skylers expression paled. "What did she do?"
"Well " Addison pictured the event in her mind as clear as it was yesterday. "Mum told my dad to lift me up. She came over to me with a darning needle and told me that people who were caught peeking had their eyes gouged out with hot needles."
"She didnt mean to," Addison said. "I know she didnt mean to really but the combination of her yelling, my struggling to get away from my fathers grasp Well lets just say I was stabbed in the eye. My mums face was the picture of shock. I think she had just wanted to scare me but it went too far. I was taken to the hospital and they made up some bullshit story about me falling into a Christmas decoration. Anyway " Addison pointed to her darkened eye. "The damage was a paralysed pupil."
"My god," Skyler muttered. "Thats just how did why I cant "
"Its no big deal."
Skyler was incredulous. "No bid deal?"
"My parents were kids when they had me. I was the only reason they got accommodation, through a government housing project. I grew up in a dodgy estate. Dont get me wrong; Im not making excuses for them not at all. They were two very selfish individuals who spent all their money on cigarettes and alcohol. Neither of them worked; they lived on handouts from the government. They werent bothered about what I did, so by the time I was thirteen I was well into my life of crime." Addison looked away from Skyler for a brief moment. When she looked back she smiled sheepishly. "At one time I was quite the bad egg."
Addison pondered her answer. "Well I started off with petty theft shops, things like that. Moved on to stealing from cars and then I was stealing cars and using them to ram raid shops. I sold what I stole and made more money than I ever would have being on the dole or in some minimal wage job." Addison would have had the decency to appear regretful for her actions but the comical expression of surprise upon Skylers face amused her.
"But youre how you were never caught?"
Shaking her head the soldier brought one leg up and placed her chin upon her knee. She began to open the antibiotics Dr. Richardson had given her. "I was never caught. I loved the thrill of the chase but I always escaped capture. It was a talent." Addison popped the tablet into her mouth and swallowed it whole.
"Well if you dont mind me asking " Skyler readjusted her own position and sat back against the wall. "What changed? How did you turn from rebelling against the law to actually being part of it?"
"Well that is a long story but Ill tell you if youre interested?"
The blonde doctor nodded. "Im interested."
"Okay." Addisons mind drifted as she remembered the night in question.
It was Halloween night, a celebration that brought children out onto the streets and teenagers to party in outrageous costumes. For Addison and her friends it was a prime opportunity to case vacant households, find an abundance of cars and basically make money. Armed with nothing more than a list of items she had been asked to obtain, Addison took to the streets. Night had already fallen, turning out to be a beautifully clear yet cold evening. Stars twinkled in the sky above and a chilling wind blustered through the streets. Lightened by rows of orange street lamps, small groups of children dashed about from house to house dressed in home made costumes.
Dressed in her trademark black jeans, jacket, gloves and baseball cap Addison and two friends began stalking the streets. Being of the fairly average stature of five foot six Addison had often been mistaken for a teenager herself. Her slight build gave her the agility of movement and that in turn gave her great body strength. To many acquaintances, Addison was known as The Magician due to her ability to get in and out of awkward spaces, enter places unseen and continually escape capture from the police. Still on this typical night Addison was unsuspecting of the events that would change her forever.
With two friends, James and Robbie, by her side, Addison walked the outskirts of Saffron City. They were heading into the city centre and to do this they had to pass by a small estate of bungalows, single story dwellings for the elderly. Neither James nor Robbie was taking much notice of their surroundings but Addison was. Something in the corner of her eye caught her attention. A dark figure moving around the side of one of the bungalows sparked her interest. Curious as to what it was Addison informed her two friends that she would catch up with them later and they shrugged an offhanded acknowledgement. Rolling her eyes Addison turned in the direction of the bungalows.
Walking through the centre of the road to avoid the direct beam of street lamps she approached the small dwelling. Addison turned her black baseball cap backwards and then pushed gloved hands into her pockets. The air began to turn even colder and her breath billowed past her lips in thick vapours. Her footsteps were the only sound that echoed down the lonely road. It was a cul-de-sac meaning there was no traffic using the road at that time of the evening. Approaching the bungalow, Addison stepped up on the curb and onto a grassy verge. The uncut blades of grass whispered silently over her boots as she quietly walked around to the back of the small home. Walking down a narrow side entry, darkness surrounded her; Addison brushed her gloved hand along the wall as she neared the back door. She found the glass panel smashed and the door open. A dull light reached out through the blackness of the house and a harsh voice alerted Addison to an unwanted presence.
Never having entered such a building before, Addison relied on basic sense alone to guide her into the dull living space. She walked into the kitchen, the scent of cooked food and hum of a fridge freezer being an easy give away to her destination. Concentrating on the shaft of light Addison crept silently into a small living room and over to a white door standing ajar. It was the bedroom and through a gap between the door and its frame Addison was able to see into the lamp lit room and the frightening scene ahead of her. A youth of no more than twenty years and dressed in colours similar to her own stood over a cowering elderly woman who sat helplessly in her bed. He held her short white hair in one hand while holding a wooden handled kitchen knife to her throat with the other. The knifes silver blade shone in the lamplight causing a flicker of reflection to glint over Addisons face, yet she remained unseen.
Completely unexpected, Addison was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. Anger, regret, an overwhelming feeling of disgust although not towards the young man holding the knife to the womans throat but towards herself. Looking into the womans eyes and seeing the fear and helplessness within gave her an insight into what those who she had stolen from must have felt. It didnt matter that she had never harmed a living being; the fact remained that the feeling of violation would still have been there. The expression on the elderly ladys face immediately forged an unforgettable imprint into her mind and she felt sickened to her stomach.
Addisons self-berating was brought to a halt when she was jostled back to reality by a harsh voice.
"Tell me where your cash is or I swear I will stick this in your neck."
Feeling anger, towards herself as much as the youth, Addison charged into the bedroom, surprising the unsuspecting teen as she shoved his body against the wall. Rapidly she drove her knee into his stomach, forcing him to double over in pain. He howled as the wind was driven from his body. Addison then held onto the back of his head by his hair and thrust her knee again only this time into the youths face. A loud crunch rose from the impact as his nose crushed against his face and he fell unconsciously to the floor. Blood poured freely onto the frightened womans carpet. Addison found herself apologising repeatedly; not for the mess she had created but for every act she had ever committed. The image of horror and violation brought home how she must have made her own victims feel. Guilt landed squarely upon her shoulders. Realising she needed to take action, Addison called the appropriate emergency services and waited, with the woman whom she learned was called Betty, for them to arrive. When the first sound of sirens filtered to her ears Addison quietly slipped away never to be seen again.
Addison ran the entire way home, her vision blurred by tears. The disgust she felt towards herself caused her heart to ache for all those whom she had hurt. Years of stealing, of becoming everything that she hated about the neighbourhood in which she lived flooded her mind. By the time she returned home Addison fell against the wall of her block of flats and cried. She felt as worthless as both her mother and father stated she was. It took a long time for her tears to cease and it was only when her father appeared outside and kicked her thigh roughly that she managed to be torn from her self-loathing.
Scratching a stubble covered chin, the scrawny man looked down upon his daughter. Overgrown brown hair fell into his glazed eyes and the scent of cigarette smoke clung to his clothes. "We have been waiting for you to get back to go shop for us." Martin Black said. "Get me forty fags and a bottle of gin or vodka, whatever is the cheapest."
Addison nodded silently as she rose to her feet and headed back into the darkness towards the all-night store.
"And bring me back all my change." He shouted before disappearing into the housing block.
The day after, news stories covered the local papers and television stations about an unknown hero who had rescued a woman from being burgled and possibly more, in her own home. Pledges for this unknown woman to come forward ensued as high gratitude was promised. Addison barely acknowledged it, knowing she deserved no such accolade. She shut herself away from the rest of the world around her as she contemplated her life and her worth in this world. After much consideration Addison came to one decision, that as repayment she would serve her country and its people by joining a branch of its armed forces.
On her twenty first birthday, as Addisons father handed her a half drunk bottle of Jack Daniels she made her announcement that she intended to join the Royal Marines. It was initially met with little interest but for the first time in her life, Addison felt she was about to do something worthwhile. Little did she know it was a decision that would change her life in the most unexpected of ways.
"And that was that," Addison said. "My family and friends saw my joining the Marines as selling out. I was disowned after that."
"Have you seen or spoken to any of them since?"
Addison shook her head. "Nope. I could find out whether they are still alive. Sometimes I feel the urge to do it but I dont. I cant really see the point."
"Maybe for your own peace of mind?"
Skyler thought over the soldiers words. "Im sorry, Addison."
"Sorry? Im not. Look, this is the way I see it. I dont regret one moment of my life or what happened. Doing that would only leave me wallowing in self-pity and self-disgust. Everything that happened led me to where I am today. We choose what we want out of life, Sky. Im doing my damdest to make my life worth living and if everything led to this moment, right here, stuck in this room with you well then it isnt so bad."
Skyler smiled and looked away coyly.
"Besides, I find the way you talk in your sleep quite amusing."
"What?" Skylers head snapped back up. "I dont talk in my sleep!"
"Oh yes you do and I must say, I never knew you were into that type of thing!"
"What type of thing?" Now Skyler was confused.
"You know," Addison leaned closer and lowered her voice. "The old whips and chains," she tried not to laugh but she could already see Skyler knew she was jesting.
"Im not into that, you " The blonde leaned forwards and tickled Addisons uninjured side.
"Hey, injured soldier here!"
"Take that back," Skyler said. "Take back what you said or Ill Ill Ill tell everybody what a big softie you really are!"
Addison laughed. "Nobody would believe you."
"Yeah? Well Ill tell them how you slept with your arm around me. You hugged me and comforted me when I was upset and how wonderfully sensitive you are! That ought to blow the big bad reputation!"
"Oh okay," Addison conceded. "You are not into S and M and you dont talk in your sleep."
"Thank you." Skyler smiled.
"Youre welcome." Addison was silent for several seconds. "But you do snore!"
"Right, thats it." Skyler pounced on the snickering soldier. "Your ass is mine!"
General Mark Blithe studied the files on the desk before him. His brow furrowed in concentration as he tried to put together the pieces of the puzzle that would lead him to the traitor. Unfortunately, he didnt have many pieces of which to work.
Across the room, on the plush leather couch, Marlene sat and read a large, leather-bound journal with her Project Gemini notes. It had been retrieved from her apartment by MI-5 agents to allow her to put her considerable intellect to work instead of worry.
It had been five days since Addison had allowed herself to be captured in Israel, only one day less than Skyler had been gone, and the silence from the missing women was wearing on them all. Mark glanced over to Marlene who chose that moment to look up from her reading. Their eyes met in mutual compassion then returned to their respective activities.
Mark Blithe was a traditional British gentleman. Although he felt a powerful attraction to the American woman in his office, he would never act on it while Marlene was in distress.
When Addison brings Skyler back, perhaps then I will speak to her about pursuing a more personal relationship, he thought. He let a fantasy of what that relationship might entail pass through his mind. Mark didnt realize a smile had formed on his face until Marlene spoke.
"Penny for your thoughts, Mark," she said. The general uncharacteristically blushed and was momentarily flustered at having been caught woolgathering. He stammered out a reply.
"I suppose I was just thinking that if this were a different time and different circumstances, maybe we " He was unable to finish the sentence.
Marlene looked at him sympathetically. "I know what you mean. I think if it hadnt been for you, I might not have survived the last few days. Youve been a tower of strength for me, never letting me despair or give up hope. Ive felt so comfortable with you and so appreciative of all the kindness youve shown me." Mark raised his hand to deny any special treatment, but Marlene stopped him.
"No, dont. Youll never be able to convince me that the way youve treated me is just routine or some international protocol. Face it, youre a good man, Mark Blithe, and I was hoping that once this whole thing is behind us, maybe youd like to see me in a setting where we wouldnt need armed guards nearby." She smiled at him in an encouraging way.
"Id like that very much," he said simply.
"Good then. Well, I better get back to." Marlene indicated the journal in her lap.
"Of course, of course," Mark said quickly and attempted to mask his pleasure as the American returned to her notes. The pair worked in companionable silence for a while until Marlene released a sharp cry.
"Damn it! I cant believe I made such a stupid mistake!" She looked over to the general who rose from his desk in concern. "Oh Mark, I can only blame it on my exhaustion and worry about Skyler!"
General Blithe moved to sit beside her and placed an arm around the shoulders of the obviously distraught woman. "What is it, Marlene? Whats the matter?"
She closed her eyes briefly as she composed her reply. Re-opening her eyes, she drew in a deep breath. "When I said it would take three weeks or so for someone to duplicate our work, I was calculating that at the same rate of speed we were going, but Mark, that was an error. As we progressed with the harmful side of the project, we worked on the remedy if you will, at the same time. If an enemy has no interest in working on stopping the bio-terror aspects of the bacilli and only wanted to produce the harmful agents, it wouldnt take nearly that much time." The anguish in her voice matched the look on her face.
Reality dawned on Mark Blithe. "How much time would they need for the synthesis of just the destructive bacilli?" he asked.
Marlenes face became grim. "A week, maybe less."
Mark nodded, but said nothing. Whatever youre going to do Addison, do it soon.
"Youre looking very well, Antonia. Its been a long time," Quinton said as he perched on her desk in General Blithes outer office.
"Too long, Agent Zimmerman. You really need to get down to London more often. Weve missed you since your posting to Scotland."
"Well, I had a few days holiday coming and I thought I would come back down here to see all my old friends, including you," the blonde agent replied. "We had some good times in the old days before you were wounded, didnt we? You cut a wide swath in the service as I recall."
Miss Bakersfield blushed. "Well, that was a long time ago. Things change and now Im happy right here. I dont see as much action now, of any kind, but it feels like Im in the center of things here."
Quinton nodded and flashed a grin. "You cant get more in the center of things than working for General Blithe I suppose, and thats really why Im here."
"What do you mean?" Antonia asked as she leaned back in her chair, revealing a shapely pair of legs.
"To tell you the truth, Ive been concerned about a mutual acquaintance of ours."
"Addison Black?" she inquired.
"Of course," he responded. "There are a lot of rumors about her. MI-5 isnt that big an operation that we dont hear things, even up north. I heard she was off to the Middle East and still on the mission that brought her to Scotland."
"Quinton, you know I cant discuss another agents activities," Antonia said, glancing at the door to the generals office.
"Oh, come on, Antonia, for old times sake. Im worried about our girl."
"Maybe you should be. I heard there were a few problems up on the Isle of Skye," she said pointedly.
Quinton shook his head sadly. "I received a report about the problems with the weapon I issued to her. Ive got no idea what went wrong there, the equipment checked out fine when I had it. Just one of those damned unlucky things," Zimmerman observed. "Thats why I came here now. I desperately want to keep tabs on her and make sure she comes through this assignment in one piece." His boyish grin was made even more earnest now.
Antonia vacillated a moment, then in a lowered voice she said, "Israel."
Quintons eyes opened wide. "Its true then. Has there been any communication from her?"
Antonia bit her lip. "Just a signal from the bio-chip, but we know a few things more than that. Weve had a report from someone on the scene."
"What kind of report? Who?" he asked with barely disguised interest.
"All I know is a Mossad agent notified General Blithe about Addisons whereabouts four days ago. You know about Skyler Tidwell?" He nodded. "Well, shes been taken inside the compound where they think Miss Tidwell is being held."
"Taken, eh?" Quinton said, rubbing his chin. "Thats very unusual for Addison; shes not an easy woman to defeat. I wonder what her game is?"
"Shes the best, Quinton, we all know that, but what can she possibly do? Shes just one woman. She may be good, but the word was that she is unarmed and probably injured. What can she do if shes in that type of situation? Im very frightened for her!" Miss Bakersfields voice broke and she appeared to have difficulty maintaining her composure.
Agent Zimmerman appeared thoughtful and placed a solicitous hand on her shoulder. "Addison is very resourceful. Dont count her out. Even I could think of a few things I might do in her place."
"You could?" A note of hope returned to Miss Bakersfields voice. "What would you do? What will she do?" she asked anxiously.
Quinton held out his hand. "Come on, Ill buy you lunch and well talk more about this."
Antonia regarded the hand. "All right, youre on." She took her purse from the bottom drawer in her desk and the pair left together.
Addison stretched her muscles and felt satisfaction that, for almost the first time, it seemed she had no pain with full movement. The bullet wound in her side, the gashes on her hands and the various abrasions and lacerations were all healing well. As she prepared for a run through of a few basic calisthenics, she glanced over at Skyler. It appeared Skyler was also feeling the effects of the confinement as she was working on a series of movements.
"What are you doing there?" Addison asked.
"Yoga, nothing really advanced," the blonde replied. Its just a few simple poses I learned as a Physical Education elective course."
The agent laughed. "Right, a few simple positions. You look like a bloody pretzel!"
The American laughed and shifted into a fluid series of sun salutes. "Are you calling me twisted?"
"If the shoe fits, wear it," Addison bantered back. "Ill take a few rounds of kickboxing over that stuff anytime." With perfect precision she executed several lightening quick jabs into the air in front of her, followed by a roundhouse kick.
"No doubt about it, youre getting better really quickly." Skyler felt the truth of the words, as Addison had needed her assistance less and less each day. Not noticing the scientist's dismay, Addison continued her vigorous workout. Skyler made slow sweeping movements that left her facing the door of their room. That reminded her of a question she had wanted to ask the agent for some time.
"Addison, I think Ive gotten to know you pretty well over the last few days, but something has been bugging me and well, Im just going to ask you straight out." The agent raised her eyebrows in question.
"What happened to Shamus thumb?"
Addison regarded her seriously for such a long time that Skyler was convinced she had offended the woman. Just at that moment though, the agent moved to the sink and splashed cold water onto her face.
Turning to the blonde, Addison asked, "What brought this on?" Before the American could respond, Addison raised her hand. "No, wait, let me hazard a guess. Brodie told you something?"
Skyler shrugged. "Well, yeah. She said you took it as a trophy."
"She would!" Addison scoffed. "As youve probably noted, Shamus isnt the sharpest knife in the drawer. Hes useful to Brodies operation the way that muscle is to all illicit organizations."
The blonde nodded as she glanced at the door. "I can see that."
"I think I could forgive the simpleton for that, but its his annoying personal habits that caused the loss of that thumb."
Skyler leaned against the wall opposite from the sink and waited for the story.
"Shamus wasnt always Brodies hired help. Before she scraped him off the bottom of the barrel he was a security guard at a very exclusive girls school. MI-5 had been tracking a particularly nasty international child pornography ring and had discovered, via a very secret computer program, that much of the source material was arising from that school. Because of the international aspects to the case, I was dispatched to end that problem. I went in undercover as a gymnastics teacher and it wasnt difficult to find the source of all the problems."
The agent used the hem of her shirt to mop her brow and face before she continued. "Shamus was using his pass keys to get into the girls dormitory rooms, showers and any other place he could think of to install cameras that would catch the girls in a state of undress. I disabled one of his cameras in the girls showers and then scheduled an extra gymnastics practice for that same day. I knew he would rise to my bait and I wasnt disappointed."
Skyler felt her flesh begin to crawl at the thought of the hulking Shamus spying on the young girls and selling their pictures for profit. "What happened?" she asked.
Addison shrugged. "I found his shower camera in a ventilation register and loosened it enough to block the view of the camera. I knew when the culprit showed up to repair the apparatus that I would have him. Shamus was just pulling the register back into place from the boiler room next door when I gave it a kick from the other side. It crushed his thumb and lacerated the artery in it. The doctors had to amputate, as it wasnt salvageable. The only sore point in the whole thing for me was that it wasnt the bastards todger that needed amputating!"
Skyler was curious about one point. "Why isnt he in jail if you caught him red-handed? No pun intended, of course."
The agent smiled a little at that. "Thats where I left him, but the posh school decided they didnt want the bad publicity and agreed not to press charges against him if he purged the Internet of the material and agreed never to speak of it to anybody. Through some bollocking red tape procedures the case against him fell and he was freed. I never did find out who put him up to that job, he certainly couldnt have carried it off alone."
Addison returned to her physical activities, now moving into a series of chops and kicks. Her body responded efficiently as she practiced her martial arts manoeuvres. "Shamus is a pervert and not the main problem, but I know who is and soon Ill be able to do whats needed doing for some time. Im going to see Agnes Brodie dead." A flurry of kicks, punches and chops followed that statement and when she was finished, Addison stood panting with a grim look on her face.
"God, this thing with Brodie is really personal, isnt it? This goes way beyond her kidnapping me and my mother, doesnt it?" Addison said nothing, but dropped to the mattress that Skyler had moved to while watching Addison move like an apocalyptic dervish.
"You might as well tell me, you know," the American prompted. "Ill just keep bugging you until you talk." Addison had learned firsthand how persistent Skyler could be in prying secrets from the normally taciturn agent, although if the agent were to admit it, she felt a sense of relief having someone to share things with.
"Fine, before you give me a headache by whining about it, Ill tell you." Addison looked away from the blonde as she spoke. "My designation in Special Operations is SO2. I was one of the first agents recruited, but there was one before me. James Easton was a mate of mine. We ran together in the Royal Marines and the Special Air Service as well. He was like a brother to me, concerned and protective even though I could probably kick his arse half the time." She gave a wry smile and continued. "When he was recruited to Special Ops, he recommended me. General Blithe was interested in recruiting me but Jimmy confirmed what the general thought."
"About three years ago, Jimmy was sent on a mission to Marrakech. There was a rumor of Turkish opium being funnelled through there and the profits being used to finance terrorist groups. This was the first time the name Agnes Brodie had popped up on the Special Ops radar. It should have been a routine infiltrate and sabotage mission, but something went very wrong. We had no word from Jimmy for over two weeks and then his body was discovered in the desert. Hed been tortured in unimaginable ways and shot in the back of the head execution-style. It wasnt until sometime later we found out Brodie did it. By then she and I had tangled and I had let her off easy. I should have killed her the first time we met," Addison bitterly spat out.
Skyler had listened to the gruesome tale in silence, but could keep quiet no longer.
"Addison, thats horrible but Im thinking in your trade it would be one of the hazards. Im sure Jimmy understood the risks and "
"No!" Addison interrupted. "You dont understand. Just before that mission I came down with a case of chickenpox. Just imagine, a big, bad agent of Her Majestys government being felled by a childhood illness. Dont you see? The assignment to Marrakech was supposed to be mine. Jimmy went in my place!"
Skyler realized the horrible guilt and anger Addison had been forced to deal with for years and her heart went out to her. She looked into the agents eyes, now misted with unshed tears.
"You werent responsible for that, do you hear me? That wasnt your fault. Dont you realize the entire world isnt on your shoulders? You cant save everybody." She pulled the agent to her in a comforting hug. Addison initially resisted the intimacy, but then gave into it and allowed herself to be held.
Not looking into Skylers eyes, the Brit was able to say, "Jimmy even visited me in hospital before he left. He laughed at my spots and brought me the ugliest puppy from his dogs litter as a get well present. He was the best friend you could ask for and all I could do for him was stand by his wife and daughter as they buried him." She squeezed her eyes shut tightly and used every bit of her considerable will to rein in her emotions. The agent pulled back from Skylers embrace.
"What Agnes did to Jimmy is not what signed her death warrant though."
Her statement confused the American. "What was then?"
Addison looked directly at Skyler. "She took you." The dark haired woman brought her hand up to Skylers cheek.
Any reply Skyler might have made to that statement was curtailed by the sound of the door being pulled open from the outside. Shamus bulk filled the doorway and his tiny eyes darted back and forth looking for any perceived signs of danger as he leveled his AK-47 at the two women on the mattress. A moment passed before he stepped aside and allowed Brodie to enter the room.
"I hate to break up this little party but I thought Id personally bring you your lunch today. The soup is cream of asparagus, Addison. I hear asparagus is supposed to be an aphrodisiac," she said as she leered at the agent.
Addison rolled her eyes. "You know, seeing you bring me lunch is enough to put me off forever!"
"From eating?" Skyler asked, unknowingly playing the straight man.
"From women!" Addison replied. Skyler chuckled as Brodie fumed.
"I should thrash you for that, but it would be a pity to have to waste my valuable time on it for now," the Irishwoman menaced.
The agent just laughed. "Just like you thrashed me in Scotland, right? Dont try to impress me, Agnes; I go for the brainy types like Skyler here." She turned to the American. "Agnes fell out of her pram and onto her head as a mere child. I think thats what has led to her lower than average intelligence and subsequent life of crime." She regarded Brodie again. "Isnt that how you started? Were you a not so bright child smuggling sweets in her nappy?"
Skyler knew she shouldnt irritate Brodie, but she couldnt help but laugh at Addisons needling of the redhead.
Brodies jaw worked and her complexion darkened. "Fuck you, Addison! Your little blonde bitch isnt the only smart one here, not by a long shot. You think the doctor and her mother are so smart? Ive done something neither one could do. Ive completed Project Gemini."
Addison and Skyler werent laughing now as they gave their complete attention to what Brodie was saying.
"I drove them around the clock and the people in the lab completed the job I gave them. Late last night they synthesized the bacillus. I actually held a sample in my own hands this morning." The American and Brit remained silent, as they understood the gravity of the situation.
"No comeback for that little bit of news, Addison? Im so shocked!" Brodie laughed as she swept out of the room. Shamus glared at them before slamming the door shut.
Skyler looked to the agent. "My God, Addison. What are we going to do now? Project Gemini in Brodies hands? This has catastrophe written all over it."
Addison glared at the closed door. "Its much earlier than I anticipated, but I have no choice." She turned to look at Skyler. "Ill have to put my plan into action now."
End of Part Five
This story is complete and the next part will be posted within the next 5-7 days.
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