I know bad Roselle. Thanks to everyone for being patient. I'm moved and getting even closer to being organized now, with a new email address so please keep that in mind. Yes, I put in below. Also I figured y'all had waited long enough for this, so this section has not gone through the beta process. That's totally my fault remember no throwing things at my head.
Disclaimers: This is an original work of fiction. It's really not an Uber. This is my first foray on the web, so be kind if you can. Feel free to check out my website for my book October Echoes which is published by Renaissance Alliance Publishing. I'm not that good so please no copying this without my permission.
Subtext: Are you kidding? Of course there's subtext and yes there's sex involved. So if you live where two women aren't allowed that sort of thing move on and I suggest moving toward a more enlightened state. If you are not of legal age, don't force me to go to jail…just move along and wait till you're of age.
Violence: Yes, nothing too graphic or bloody. A fistfight or two and the normal 'went to war' violence. There is mention of child abuse again nothing graphic.
Feedback: Only if you feel like it. If you have something to share I would love to hear it, but if you're going to try and flame me or just feel like bashing be warned it'll just get tossed in the bin. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can check out my website: www.amanti.com/graskey.
Thanks to Carrie Carr and the gang on Carries e-group. It's their fault so yell at them, I am totally innocent. Thank you Packer for doing the beta on this scary thing. Have I mentioned that I hate, just hate editing.
I'm going to go have a celebration beer now.
This one is for my girl. I love you best.
O'Malley turned off the main road onto the secondary road keeping her eyes on both traffic and the dunes. If one had to name a set of sand dunes it made sense to keep it simple. She shook her head as a sick sort of laughter started to filter through her brain. She was tired and it was starting to affect her thinking process. She drove the circular road, winding up to almost where she'd begun. Pulling off to the shoulder she killed the engine. She didn't bother to pull the helmet off her head.
Her eyes took in the undulating mounds of sand, years of shifting winds forming them randomly. Her training kicked in almost instantly. She had a momentary flash of a far away desert and an exploding landmine. She shook her head again. It took a little while for her mind to be convinced that the danger wasn't buried in the sand. Focus you dumb ass. The little voice in her head pulled her back to the present.
O'Malley tried to imagine the place in the dark. It would be interesting navigating but with Cage's help she could manage it. Three of the dunes she immediately tossed out as possible meeting sites. They were too hard to get in and out of. Four more were ambush hazards. She wasn't about to meet Spyder with the SAW's only to get herself killed in the process. She wouldn't put it passed him to set her up. She wasn't his favorite person these days.
That left three more possibilities. They looked easy to get in and out of, they had plenty of cover away from the main road and better yet there were a few smaller dunes around them. If she needed to duck and run she could probably play hide and seek for a while. She smiled in the helmet despite the heat. Cage just might like the choices. She let out a slow breath as she it began to dawn on her that it was almost over. Very soon she would have Spyder dead to rights and this time he wouldn't be able to squirrel out of justice this time. Retribution would be better but she had promised Joan that no one would die at least by her hand.
Looking to the sky she opened her mouth to say hello to Ellen. The word stuck in her throat from the lump that formed quickly. She swallowed hard and finally removed her helmet. Ellen had always hated it when she wore a hat when talking to her. It had always made her felt like Callan was talking to her as a soldier and not a lover. She settled the helmet on the gas tank. She looked up again settling her sunglasses on her face.
"Hey Nurse. It's been a while since I talked to you and I know you're probably wanting to kick me in the ass right about now. I also know you can see everything I've been doing down here." She whispered not wanting to disrupt the peaceful silence too much. "I kinda got away from being me doing this and I'm sorry. I am trying to get back there you know. The thing is I think I've met someone who might make getting back to me a good thing. I think you'd like her. She doesn't let me get away with anything.
"I miss you Nurse. I miss you like crazy but if Maria's right then you'll understand. I wanted a lifetime with you and I'm lucky that I had you for as long as I did. I guess I should be thankful for Sean's lousy driving skills." She chuckled and wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I'm not going to say goodbye 'cause I know we'll see each other again and I'll always keep talking to you. I like talking to you even though you're kinda quiet on the answer side." O'Malley took a deep breath. "It's been hard baby, so damn hard. I had every intention of coming back home to you I want you to know that." She sniffled quickly and wiped her face with the jacket sleeve. "I kept my promise to you. I was careful. I just wanted to say it out loud." O'Malley fell silent for a long time. "I gotta go Ellen, but you'll be hearing from me again. I love you still. And if you've got any pull with you know who, could we make sure Maria has a girl?" O'Malley finished sure that Ellen would get the joke.
Quiet and in her thoughts O'Malley took off her sunglasses and replaced her helmet. Sliding the sun visor down she tucked the sunglasses back into her jacket pocket. Her fingers grazed the box hiding in the material cove. She smiled just a bit and started the bike again. There were still things that she had to get done before meeting Terri after work. With a little luck she would be on time. Blowing out a harsh breath she gunned the engine and settled back into being O'Malley as she tucked Callan away some place deep inside.
Terri watched the sun set as she stood on the back step of the bar. She felt torn and was damn tired of having to hide everything all the time. She just knew she was in the middle of a really bad movie and wished for the remote to control to just stop it. Shaking her head she tried to clear her mind. It didn't work. Her thoughts were stuck in one long obnoxious loop, playing the same story in her brain. Something in her gut told her that it was all coming to a head soon and there was nothing she could do about it. Every worst case scenario was running amok with her thoughts along with a serious dose of self-doubt. She was treading the line. She blew out a breath. Hell she was straddling the line she had lived her whole career. There were rules. Bad guys were bad guys and good guys put the bad guys in jail. Her world was off its kilter because of one woman. It would help if she knew what side the woman was on. There were moments she couldn't believe O'Malley was a criminal and then there were the others that convinced her the biker was on the other side.
It was tempting to let her head bang against the wall as she leaned her back against it. She knew from experience that it would hurt. Closing her eyes she wondered how her day had gone from good to a roller coaster of doubt. It didn't take long for her brain to remind her.
Waking up next to O'Malley earlier in the day had been more than good. She was still in that satisfied zone after a very good night. Those were rare enough but to have the source of the satisfaction still in bed was an added bonus. Normally they ran or she did but with O'Malley she didn't feel the need. She needed to have O'Malley there even with the light snore from the healing broken nose.
Terri almost smiled at the thought of the sound. At first it had caused concern then annoyance, now it was simply a part of the biker. In a way it was a comfort hearing the sound and knowing that O'Malley was just an arms length away. They had shared coffee and kisses infused with what neither was willing to admit at least not to each other but she was sure she had felt the emotions lurking under the surface.
Her undoing had been brunch at Gus's. She had just finished watching O'Malley's ass as the woman disappeared into the restroom. Shifting in her seat the well-earned soreness in certain parts of her body gave way to the thought that she could do this for a long time. Not every single night but on those nights when they both wanted something a little more. Her brain had asked the question that had rocked her perfect little world. When did this become a future?
Terri opened her eyes and suppressed a scream of frustration. How was it that she had finally found the woman she could give and take with, not be afraid to admit her frailties and fears, and the woman was a criminal? She wondered what she had done wrong in a past life and came up with no answers.
The door opening suddenly almost scared her out of her skin. Gato poked his head out the door and his expression turned to relief. He and Maria knew something was bothering their friend but they knew better than to ask. Sometimes she could be the most stubborn woman they knew. He mentally amended that to the third most stubborn woman. What Maria and O'Malley didn't know wouldn't kill them.
"You okay, Chica?" he asked in his gruff way.
"Yeah, just a lot on my mind and Digger's been trying to cop a feel since he came in. Not a good combo, you know?" she answered automatically.
"You want me to bounce him on his head?" the question was laced with a protective tone.
Terri chuckled at the thought. It was a nice offer and it was tempting. "Nah. Let's just let Maria serve him for the rest of the night."
Gato laughed hard. "I think we can do that." Digger would chew glass before ever trying to cop a feel from his more than feisty wife. He had tried it exactly once almost pulling back a stump. The expression of fear on the two hundred and fifty-pound mountain had been priceless.
"Do you mind if I take a few more minutes? I'm pulling it together but…" she trailed off.
"Hey T, take what you need. It won't get stupid for another hour. You sure you don't need anything?"
"I'll be good in a bit. Thanks Gato." She answered honestly. She just had to think things out for a minute or million.
He disappeared back into the bar without another word and the door slammed shut. Terri watched the sun burn down to the horizon. Her heart sank with it. Sometimes she felt so damned lost.
Cage slammed the back door of the SUV closed with a satisfied grim smile. Checking her watch she knew she would have to push to make time. The shipment had been delayed as the paper pushers had kittens over her arrangements. They had not been at all pleased that she had brought in an agent of the DEA and forced them into a joint operation. She snorted at the thought.
Not much had changed she realized. Everyone was playing politics and all she was trying to do was uphold the laws. Not that she was stupid enough to have blind faith in anything, she'd been hung out to dry too many times but she had to have faith in something.
She had faith in herself and faith in a certain antique honor that dictated that she keep her word. Maybe it was the stories her grandfather had told her. Quinn's never go back on their word had been her childhood mantra. She had given her word to the laws of her nation. From the corner of her eye she noticed a uniformed young officer hesitate as he walked in her direction. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Why were they so afraid of her? Cause you're a bad ass spook who can kill without a thought? Her brain supplied the sarcastic answer in the form of a question. It was entirely rhetorical and she knew it.
"You're all set to go Ma'am. The Colonel asks that you not lose his equipment."
She looked at his rank insignia. "Head or tails Lieutenant?" she asked quietly.
"Ma'am?" he looked as confused as he sounded.
"Did you pick heads or tails to get this one?"
"Actually it was rock, paper, scissors." He admitted with a wry caught smile.
"You want some advice? Next time just make a gun with your hand. It works every time and you never lose." She smiled as she took the paper work he offered. Digging the vehicle keys from her pocket she walked away from the young man who didn't look old enough to shave. "I need a serious vacation." She muttered to herself.
Once settled into her seat she pulled her cell phone and made two calls. They were both essentially the same thing. She was on her way with the shipment. Pulling down the driver's visor she stared hard at the figure of an Air Force nurse. She let her fingers brush over the face frozen forever young in time. Every time she looked at the photo she knew why O'Malley had fallen in love with the woman and each time she renewed her promise and her word.
"Put in a good one with upstairs for me, would ya? I might need it." She said and turned the key. It was going to be a long trip.
Terri slid the sweating bottle of beer to its new temporary owner and took the money for the drink including her tip. She was tired and almost headachy from the smell of smoke. It had been a busy night at the bar. Maria and Gato had been busy with problems and drunk patrons too impaired to listen to the phrase 'you're cut off'. It had been an almost wild night. She was more than happy to be off work in a little while. Some quiet time with O'Malley seemed like a very good thing.
"You look at the clock one more time and I'm gonna think you don't love me anymore." Maria teased as she pulled the receipt roll from Terri's register.
"It's not you, I promise." Terri tried to smile but failed miserably. "It's been a long day."
"T, are you okay?" Maria's voice was laced with her concern.
Terri stepped away from the bar and mostly hid her face. "I'm in love with her."
Maria blinked twice as the words sank in then a smiled crossed her lips. "Good for you."
"You really think so?" She asked in a low tone. She wanted to believe it might be a good thing.
"Yeah. I do. Why aren't you acting like this is great?" Maria noticed the lack of giddiness that should have been all over the woman's face.
"I don't know how she feels and she doesn't know all about my past. What if she finds stuff out that she doesn't like?"
"She doesn't always talk about what she's feeling. She is more about action. She's a doer not usually a talker. As for your past is it something that would make her walk away?" Maria asked with concern.
"It could be. I just don't know how to talk to her about it." Terri admitted as much as she could to her friend.
"Try starting from the beginning. That usually works best or at least that's what I've found."
Terri sighed. "And if she doesn't feel the same?"
"Then you have some decisions to make." Maria answered bluntly. "Are you happy enough for now even if she doesn't feel the same way?"
"I can't answer that. We have a lot going on right now to even think about being happy." Terri tried to deflect while being honest at the same time.
Maria nodded her head in agreement. "You're gonna have to think about it at some time Chica. When all this is over why don't you two take some time alone. Get out of this place and let it be just the two of you." Maria flashed an evil grin. "And don't spend all your time in bed huh?"
Terri had the decency to blush crimson. "We don't spend all our time in bed." She defended. "We do get out to have breakfast, or brunch sometimes."
Maria only grunted in good humor as she brushed a sympathetic hand along Terri's shoulder. "Maybe you two should try talking for a change of pace." Maria laughed and swatted Terri with the bar towel.
After a moment Terri could only join her. What she said made a certain amount of sense. Since the first time they'd slept together the emphasis was not always on talking. Sometimes she had to admit that she couldn't get enough of touching the biker. There was something sensual about the warm skin under her fingers and the sounds they both made. It wasn't a good or bad thing it just was. She'd never really had that in her life. There had been judgements and conditions, recriminations and emotional closures but with O'Malley there was only the truth as she could tell it. The truth she had not told yet was the one thing that could end everything and she knew it.
When she regained control she had to lean against the bar for support. She felt better after the laugh. With just a few sentences Maria had gotten her to accept certain things that she already knew. Cocking her head sideways she wondered where Maria had gotten her insight to the enigma that was O'Malley. A light clicked on in her head as her mind flashed to one of the faces in the background of Sean and Joan's wedding pictures. Another piece of the puzzle locked itself into place even though she had no idea what the puzzle meant.
Her trained mind knew that for some reason all of O'Malley's friends were connected to Spyder and his club. She figured that it had to something with Ellen's death but what exactly they were doing was still the mystery and she wasn't sure what she would do about it. She had yet to give George the information on the money that O'Malley had received from Boomer. Deep in thought she almost missed seeing a vaguely familiar face in the crowd. He was gone by the time she looked again. An unsettled feeling inched its way up her spine.
She spent the next hour and a half serving her customers and watching the crowd for the face. She couldn't place where she'd seen him before and it was bothering her. Terri endured good-natured teasing from her regulars. They all assumed that her distraction had something to do with a certain dark haired biker. She didn't correct them.
At nine on the dot O'Malley walked into the bar and felt the smile cross her lips as soon as her eyes settled on Terri. She couldn't help herself, it felt good to just look at her. Walking across the bar she didn't notice anything else. For the first time in a long time she felt free enough to enjoy being with someone without an overwhelming guilt. She had always been honest with the women she'd shared a bed with but the guilt was always there. Now she wasn't feeling the guilt and it felt pretty good.
The smile was still on her face as she pulled a stool out and sat quickly. Leaning her elbows on the bar she waited until Terri took notice and strolled over to her spot at the bar. She flipped the bar towel over her shoulder and leaned forward.
"Hey there good looking." O'Malley said as she leaned up and kissed Terri on the lips.
Terri pulled back after a moment of enjoyment. "Hi baby. I'm almost done here. How's the hands?" she asked as she moved to fish two bottles of beer out of the cooler.
"A little sore but they're good." O'Malley answered as she watched the caps fly off. "How's the body?"
Terri quirked a little grin. "A little sore but good."
O'Malley chuckled and took the beer that was pressed into her hand. "You look good." She said suddenly as she noticed that even after working hard there was something about Terri that glowed.
"Well…thank you." Terri didn't know what else to say. She hadn't expected the statement or compliment. "I just have to do my register and then I'm all yours." She meant it more than O'Malley would know. "Save my beer for me. I'll be back in a few."
O'Malley nodded and watched Terri pull her register drawer and walk into Maria's office. She had to smile at the way all her customers sagged a bit when the understood that it was time for her to leave. She knew they were disappointed but she didn't care. Tonight was for the two of them. She had plans for spit fire of a brunette and they did not include an audience.
Sipping on her beer she couldn't help but feel like someone was watching her but every time she took a subtle look around there was no one obviously looking. That in itself made her nervous. She had learned a long time ago to trust her instincts, even if she couldn't identify the threat it didn't mean it wasn't there. Forcing herself to remain calm she readied for any attack that might come. She wouldn't put it past Trey or Spyder to come after either one of them. This time she would protect what was hers.
The minutes passed slowly and she was almost surprised when Terri appeared suddenly at her side, taking up her own sweating beer bottle. An impish smile was plastered on warm supple lips that O'Malley truly did enjoy playing with. Neither one said anything as they slowly finished their drinks. There was nothing to be said at the moment. There was only them and the music that filtered around them from the jukebox. Finally Terri slid her mostly empty bottle across the surface of the bar and wrapped her fingers around O'Malley's hand, leading her from the stool and out of the bar.
O'Malley pulled the Sportster to a halt and turned the key killing the engine. For a moment there was only silence, then nature resumed its usual symphony. She shoved the stand into place with a little difficulty and settled the bike. Leaning back she let herself enjoy the sensation of Terri's arms around her leather encased waist. There was something good about the subtle strength hidden under Terri's slight frame. Looking up into the night sky all she could see was miles of stars. It was one of the reasons she had driven out as far as she had. The city lights normally hid the multitude of stars from vision. It was one of the things she missed about being in El Paso. The blanket of winking light had always left her in certain small awe. Some of her best memories had been forged under the stars.
Warm hands sliding under her shirt and a chin lightly resting on her shoulder pulled her from her thoughts. Turning her head she had to smile. Terri looked so incredibly delighted as she let her eyes wander up to the heavens. There was something so innocent in her eyes belying the things the woman had lived through. O'Malley felt her heart swell unexpectedly. Instinctively she knew this was an important moment.
"God, that's beautiful." Terri whispered as she kept her eyes on the pinpoint lights in the sky.
"Yeah. Almost overwhelming sometimes ya know. I like to come out here at night just to not think." O'Malley admitted as she shifted in her seat. "You like it?"
Terri was charmed by the almost frightened question. "Definitely. Thank you sharing this with me."
"You're more than welcome." O'Malley answered as her hand squeezed Terri's right hand gently. "I just wanted to share it with you."
"Anyone ever tell you you're sweet, O'Malley?" Terri's breath tickled the bikers ear.
"Not lately," O'Malley teased. "I'm not, you know. I'm set in my ways, I'm a slob and lately I snore."
Terri chuckled. "Yeah you're all of those things but…" Terri's voice trailed off as she fought to come up with the words to describe the woman sitting in front of her. "Why did she fall in love with you?" she asked suddenly.
"What?" O'Malley wasn't sure she had heard right.
"Your girlfriend. Why did she fall in love with you? I'm sure she told you." Terri persisted even as her brain warned that she might have gone too far. She felt O'Malley settle back in the bike seat. She listened to the crickets chirp for a long time.
"She said she fell in love with me because I cried for my guys. One night she wheeled me into Sean and Quinn's room. I couldn't help it. The tears just came. I was so damn grateful to see them alive and at the same time I felt guilty 'cause I couldn't keep us from getting hit." O'Malley admitted quietly. "I think it's 'cause I made her laugh. She was with someone at the time who forgot that she was alive. I guess I made her feel special."
"You see Callan O'Malley you are sweet." Terri kissed O'Malley's ear and let her lips linger for a long moment. "Even if you hate to admit it."
O'Malley could feel Terri's smile on her skin. "How about we agree to disagree?"
"How about you agree with me just once?" Terri offered as her tongue traced a ridge of skin.
O'Malley closed her eyes with the pleasure. "I can do that." She breathed out as Terri continued to leave little wet spots on her skin. After several long moments of gentle torture O'Malley felt Terri pull away.
"I like it when you agree with me. We should have that happen more often." With that she lifted herself from the bike and walked a short distance away.
O'Malley was almost grateful for the break. She knew better than to play with fire but Terri was almost too irresistible. Instead of following right away she watched Terri walk. Almost everything inside her urged her to run but her heart told her that this time it might be okay to stay put. Without thinking about it her hand strayed to the interior pocket of her jacket. Her warm fingers nimbly fished the jewelry out of the box and touched the cool metal.
Walking silently, almost stalking she came up behind Terri and smiled like a fool. She felt Terri tense for just a moment when her leather made contact with the woman's back. She took the ends of the chain between both hands and draped the jewelry around Terri's neck. She fastened the clasp without a word. When she was finished she let the chain drop to it's natural position and kissed the spot of Terri's neck where the clasp rested.
"I'm not much on words that matter. All I've ever really known has been about doing instead of talking. This belonged to my great grandmother. She brought it over with her from Ireland when she was just a girl. It's yours."
Terri finally had the courage to lift the end of the jewelry and take a look at it. In the near dark she was able to make out the delicate knotting. It took her breath away and what it represented weakened her knees. She was barely able to keep standing.
"O'Malley," she breathed. "I can't take this. It's too much."
"No, I think it's just enough." O'Malley said with conviction in her voice. Her arms wrapped themselves around Terri's waist. "You make me want to be who I am and who I was. I know that doesn't make too much sense right now but I hope it will soon."
"Are you sure?" Terri was asking more than the obvious question and they both knew it.
"Yeah. I'm sure."
Terri felt her entire being surge. Turning quickly she launched herself at O'Malley needing to touch and kiss and give voice to the words she'd wanted to say for a while. She lost her breath when O'Malley's tongue danced with hers. It was primal and exquisitely erotic. Letting her head fall back away from O'Malley she nearly purred with pleasure. Finally she felt brave enough to give voice to her heart.
The shrill beeping of her cell phone killed the words on her lips. She thought about not answering for a moment and then her brain reminded her that she was still on duty no matter how much she might not want to be. Tugging her phone from her pocket she glanced at the caller id. In an instant her world shrank down and stopped her heart.
O'Malley noticed the change in her lover right away. Even in the dark she could see the color drain from Terri's face. There was only one thing that could elicit that sort of reaction. Only one person could reduce Terri from the spitfire to the frightened child. The phone continued to ring. The look of fear in Terri's eyes broke her heart. She reached for the phone.
"Yeah." O'Malley answered curtly. For a second there was silence. "Listen up asshole, she's with me and no matter how many times you call she's where she belongs." O'Malley didn't mind playing with a mind here and there.
"I'm looking for Terri." The voice on the other end finally answered with a slight confusion.
"Yeah well you found me instead. She's busy right now. Who are you and what do you want?" O'Malley let her old training fall into place.
"Get her on the phone she'll know who I am." The male voice on the other end remained almost charming. It was a soothing sound meant to reassure.
"I have a better idea. You leave me a message and I'll make sure it gets to her. You give Trey a message from me…back off or he'll be eating breakfast through a straw. He lost and she's mine. It doesn't matter what he thinks or wants. She likes coming to my bed and coming in my bed. If he has anything more to say to us, he can do it on his own." She ducked her head to get Terri's attention and pulled her closer.
"I think I may have the wrong number. I'm looking for Terri Barclay." He sounded very close to being confused.
"Yeah, who do you think I'm talking about?" O'Malley demanded as though he were an idiot.
"Could you describe her for me?" he asked sounding very much like a cop.
"Petite brunette…blinding smile…four little moles running down the middle of her back…great tits…" She recited from memory and heard him choke on the other end.
"This is her father." He finally snapped and shouted into the phone.
O'Malley tugged the phone away instantly. He had good lungs. "Oh, in that case daddy why don't you come down here so I can kick your ass on general principal." She offered casually.
"Who in the fuck is this? I want your name. Do you hear me?" his voice was frantic.
"I hear you and you can want all day long. Call her again or touch her again and I will make you wish you were dead. I would really like to see you try and hit someone over the age of six." O'Malley's voice took on a dangerous quiet tone. "And just for the record the only person she calls daddy anymore is me." O'Malley couldn't resist the final dig just before she cut off the phone. She wished she could have seen his face at the last statement. It didn't matter that Terri really didn't call her daddy, it was enough that he might have a coronary at the thought. She chuckled despite herself.
"You okay?" O'Malley asked as she looked at the top of Terri's head. It took a moment for the woman to lift her head from O'Malley's chest.
"You remember when I said you were sweet?" Terri asked quietly in a neutral voice.
"Yeah." O'Malley answered managing to keep her fear hidden.
"I was so wrong. That was damn cold and I loved every minute of it." Terri lifted her head and let O'Malley see the grateful expression on her face. "Thank you. And if you don't mind, I'd rather call you something more fitting for a knight in leather armor."
O'Malley couldn't help the playful smile on her lips. "How many damsel rescue points is that one worth?"
Cage pulled her SUV into O'Malley's driveway and let out a long slow breath. She was completely wiped out. The drive had been an exercise in nerves as she tried to maintain her schedule and not get caught speeding by the cops. A small smile quirked on her lips as she thought about the conversation she would have had to have if the toys in the back had been discovered. The smile died instantly at the thought of having to explain that one to her boss.
She crawled out of the truck and set the alarm system. It wouldn't do to have the damn things stolen right from under her nose. The four beeps made her feel slightly better. Actually it wasn't the beeps but the protection system she had installed in her vehicle. Anyone touching the SUV would get one very nasty surprise. The thought almost put the smile back on her face. She walked up the porch steps her feet feeling like cemented weights.
The door swung open before she had a chance to ring the bell and O'Malley stepped back to let her in the house. An ice-cold beer was pressed into her hand before she crossed the threshold and she took the first sip before the door was closed. It felt better than it should have.
"You look like hell Cage." O'Malley offered in her good-natured way.
"Thanks so much." Cage shot back as she sank onto the couch letting out a low groan. "Remind me not to do this anytime soon, okay?"
"Well after tomorrow we won't ever have to do this again." O'Malley noted out loud and wandered back towards the kitchen. "You hungry?"
"There better be a steak in that kitchen somewhere." Cage grunted as she pulled her shoes off and wiggled her toes.
"Count on it. I grilled some up just after you called." She promised and pulled open the oven door. "I guess I'm gonna have to wait on you."
"Definitely. I don't think I have the energy to move." Cage admitted as she lifted her beer and took a sip.
"No energy to move but yet she still drinks like a champ." O'Malley teased as she pulled three plates down from the cupboard and started dishing up dinner for the two of them.
"You know, when I'm feeling better I can kick your ass." Cage purred easily.
O'Malley released a mock shiver. "Keep in mind that I'm holding your dinner here."
"Okay, I take it back. Where's Terri?" She retracted and changed the subject as she leaned back allowing her body to start the relaxation process.
O'Malley let the mashed potatoes plop onto the plate. "She's still at work but she should be here pretty soon." She picked up the plate and grabbed the silverware as she made her way to Cage. She set the plate down on the coffee table. "Enjoy." She turned back to the kitchen to grab her own plate and a fresh beer.
Cage dug in and groaned her delight. The steak was grilled to perfection and she suddenly remembered that her last meal had been a greasy breakfast at a truck stop some three hundred miles ago. She was halfway through her meal when she finally noticed O'Malley staring at her.
"What?" she managed not to choke on the question.
"Did you even taste that?" O'Malley teased.
"Yes, it's very good. Now that I've stroked your ego can I finish?" She was still hungry and most of her friends were bright enough not to mess with her when that happened.
"By all means." O'Malley laughed and turned back to her own dinner at a more leisurely pace.
That settled they ate dinner in silence. When she was done Cage felt good enough to pick up the empty plates and walk them to the sink. She reached into the fridge and pulled out two more beers. She was actually feeling almost human.
"Thanks O'Malley. I feel much better." She said as she set the beers on the coffee table and sat back down.
"No problem Cage. You look like you could use some sleep. You wanna crash now or wait?"
"I can wait. I'd like to go over what you found at the dunes before your girl gets home." Cage answered cautiously.
O'Malley caught the tone of Cage's voice and let it go as she pulled out the hand drawn map that she'd made earlier in the day. "I narrowed the choices down to three. We can take a look at them after you wake up. We've got two roads that lead in and out. From those we have eight walking paths that have been grooved out by traffic." She let her fingers trace out the spots she spoke of. "These three dunes here are looking like the best choice. Easy to get in and out of and they have some smaller dunes that we can hide and seek with if we need to."
Cage looked at the map through tired burning eyes. Nodding her head she had to admit that O'Malley still had the touch. "Looks good. I can give you the yes or no after we take a peek. I say we go with your plan unless I see something I don't like. When do you want to call your boy?" "Right after you say yes or no. You pick the time. I'm sure he'll show up with the cash. He wants business finished with me and his guns." O'Malley answered easily. "You sure you want to do this without back up?"
Cage nodded and tucked away a twinge of guilt. "Yeah, I think he wants the guns more than he wants to take you out. Besides, I'll be loaded for bear and I'm sure you won't go in without something tucked under your arm." She smiled knowing that her friend wouldn't walk into any situation without firepower.
"Good girl. You have been listening to me." O'Malley smiled leaning back to take a sip of her beer.
"Yeah I do that sometimes. And you look different. You gonna tell me why or just make me guess?" Cage asked casually. She'd been trying to figure out what seemed different about her friend. She thought she knew but wanted to make sure.
"Let's just say that sometimes…I listen to you too." O'Malley tried to keep the smile off her face but failed miserably. She knew when Cage figured it out. Her face lit up with something close to joy.
"I'll be damned. You let her inside didn't you?" Cage bounced around the couch like a kid who'd eaten too much sugar. "Callan's got a girlfriend." She repeated the singsong sentence until even she was sure it was obnoxious. Finally she stopped and looked at O'Malley's pained expression. "Got carried away. I can't wait to tell Joan."
"Oh hell, she probably already knows. Might have seen it in a dream or something." O'Malley teased. "I gotta tell you Cage, it feels really good, you know?"
"I'm sure it does." Cage answered with something close to envy in her voice. "I was always jealous of what you and Ellen had and now I get to be jealous all over again." Her words were light but the tightness around her eyes gave away the seriousness of the statement.
"One of these days my friend you're going to meet the one." O'Malley promised with conviction.
"I'll let you think so. Haven't met the 'one' yet, so I reserve the right to skepticism." Cage answered as she slammed back the rest of her beer. She didn't miss O'Malley's expression. "Don't even say it Callan. I'm not the perfect catch and for right now I'll settle for having as much fun as I can. If it happens it happens but I'm not going to be tripping over myself to find the perfect guy."
"Well when you do just let the rest of us in on the secret okay?" O'Malley requested as she let the conversation go. Picking up the beer bottles she heard the sound of her truck pulling into the driveway. "Oh yes, the 'little woman' is home."
"She was kidding on the phone about the toys, right?" Cage asked completely serious.
"Why should I answer that?" O'Malley answered with a question and an evil grin.
"Because if you don't I'll tell her you just called her the 'little woman'." Cage didn't hesitate to use blackmail. She watched the quick look of panic on her friend's face.
"She was kidding." O'Malley admitted. "You're not gonna tell her, are you?"
"Chicken." Cage shot back and didn't answer. It would be fun to see O'Malley squirm for a little bit.
From the moment Terri walked in O'Malley seemed like the person that Cage used to know. She was the old Callan, courteous and sarcastic, attentive and teasing at the same time. It was almost like stepping back in time for Cage. When she caught sight of the necklace around Terri's throat she knew without a doubt that her friend had fallen hard and it felt good to know that O'Malley had a chance at being happy again.
She spent the next hour catching up on news with the both of them and almost fell over when she received the news of Maria's pregnancy. It seemed like this was the night for good things to happen to her friends. Finally the drive caught up with her and she had to admit to the two women that she was exhausted.
The bed set in the guestroom wasn't usually the most comfortable thing but on this night it felt like heaven to her. Sleep was long in coming though. Each time she closed her eyes all she could see was the road rushing up at her. Beyond the door she could hear the murmuring of two quiet voices. She couldn't make out the words but she was sure it would be one of those conversations that she hated being a part of. Rolling over she pulled the blanket with her trying to will her mind to shut up so that she could get some sleep. Tomorrow was going to be an incredibly long day.
O'Malley heard the guest room door close softly and with one look at Terri she knew the conversation was probably not going to be a good one. With out a word Terri started picking up after the impromptu party. O'Malley leaned against the door jam and waited. She did not feel like running headlong into an argument. After the third cup was slammed into the sink she was forced to move. She stepped behind Terri and wrapped her arms around her lover.
"Stop. If you're mad at me don't take it out on the dishes."
"I want to go with you tomorrow." Terri blurted out what was on her mind.
O'Malley released a sigh. "I know that but it's not gonna happen. I can't do this and worry about taking care of you." She said in a low tone.
"I am not the damsel we play with in bed O'Malley. You can't protect me." Terri answered bluntly stopping short of admitting what she did for a living. The words almost crossed her lips.
"Maybe I'm protecting myself," O'Malley whispered. "If Spyder were to get his hands on you and hurt you it would cut my heart out. I don't want anything to happen to you." She finished laying her forehead on Terri's back. "I lost one girlfriend I don't want to lose another one."
"What would she say if you told her what you've told me?"
O'Malley chuckled. "About the same thing but with more colorful language. I don't think you're weak by any means baby. I just don't know if I could be that strong. Please understand."
"I want to but it's hard." Terri admitted looking down at the floor. She didn't want O'Malley to see the fear in her eyes.
O'Malley halted what the situation was doing to Terri. "I just found you baby, I'm not gonna screw that up by doing something stupid." She promised as her arms wrapped tighter around Terri's body.
"You better not O'Malley. I've gotten used to you being around and I like the feeling." Terri heard her voice crack.
"We're going to deliver the guns and get the cash. That's all. I'll be home before you know I'm gone."
"You're a terrible liar O'Malley." Terri chuckled. "I'll know that you're gone."
"You know what I mean." O'Malley whispered and held on for dear life. "I want to get this over with and then come home to hold you this close."
Terri turned in O'Malley's arms so that she could gaze into blue eyes. "That makes two of us." She smiled shyly. "I'm not going to stop worrying just for the record okay?"
"I can live with that." O'Malley said as she lay a gentle kiss on Terri's forehead.
"I will remind you of that from time to time." Terri smiled and snuggled deep in the biker's arms. "Can't we just stay like this for the next, I don't know, decade?"
"I kinda like the sound of that. Might be a rough decade…I'm a little on the fucked up side. I know what you mean to me but I'm not sure I remember how to show you." O'Malley admitted her fear in a husky whisper.
"I have time O'Malley." Terri promised as much as she could. "I'll do the dishes tomorrow. I'm gonna take a shower."
The sudden change of topic made O'Malley dizzy. She blinked muttering her agreement. She let Terri out of her arms reluctantly and received a kiss on the cheek in return. Shaking her head she watched the brunette disappear into the bedroom. Shrugging her shoulders she fished a beer from the fridge as the door closed. She was sure that admitting that she was flawed had sparked some difficult thoughts in Terri's mind. Who are you kidding? You want her around and you don't even know if you can make it work? Her doubts surfaced hard and smacked her in the back of the head. She twisted off the cap savagely. She did the only thing she could and paced the floor as she started on her beer.
Terri stepped out of the shower and dried off quickly. She knew she'd confused O'Malley but she couldn't find a better way to make the sudden thought real at the time. Her lips curved up in an almost evil smile as she slipped into the teddy determined to make this night a most memorable one. She wanted to give O'Malley something to come home to, a reason to not take any stupid chances.
Almost anything could go wrong tomorrow but for tonight there would just be them. Just the thought of dressing this way for her lover was exciting. She wanted to be O'Malley's best fantasy tonight. She wanted this for the both of them. She couldn't recall the last time she wanted someone so badly so often. There were moments that she worried about always feeling the need to touch her lover or have O'Malley touch her. There were other moments when she gloried in the feeling but worried that she might not be enough. At the moment the soft satiny feeling of the teddy made her feel just sexy enough. In the past she might have felt foolish or clumsy but O'Malley had a way of reaching in and bringing out in her what she didn't think she could do. Brushing her hand through her hair she looked in the mirror and decided that she looked damned good. The smile that crossed her lips was genuine.
Terri opened the bedroom door after being surprised to not find O'Malley already in bed. She spied her lover sitting on the couch in dim lights, eyes closed and a beer bottle between her legs. From the crinkled eyebrows she knew O'Malley was thinking too much again. She softly walked to the edge of the couch. She watched her lover's eyes twitch and knew that her presence had been discovered.
"What are you still doing out here?" Terri asked softly her fingers cutting through O'Malley's dark hair.
"I wasn't sure you wanted me in the bedroom." O'Malley sighed out loud tired of the not knowing and doubt. "You left kind of quick."
"I didn't mean to scare you honey. I just had a sudden thought and I had to take care of it. Open your eyes for me." She almost pleaded not sure if O'Malley would. Finally blue eyes opened and went wide. "This was my sudden thought."
O'Malley had to swallow to speak. "I like the way you think." She said and was grateful she didn't trip over her words. "You look amazing." Her voice was honest. Her eyes took in the sight of Terri in nothing but the Teddy. She was skin and satin, angelic and sultry, she was everything O'Malley wanted at the moment. As Terri inched closer to sit in her lap, straddling, she felt her body respond quicker than usual. Whether it was the Teddy or the knowledge that tomorrow was fast approaching she didn't know nor did she care.
Terri settled herself in O'Malley's lap and slid closer after removing the beer bottle from its cocoon. She took a sip of beer and sat it on the floor. Pressing her own body close to O'Malley's she took momentary control. Her hands slid up the biker's stomach to her ribs and over breasts that became very interested with what was going on. She could feel O'Malley's eyes on her every move.
"Tonight I want to be your best fantasy. I want you to be my best fantasy. All this," she drew her hand away from O'Malley and slid it down her own body. "Is yours. Tell me baby, do you want it?" she whispered and wiggled her hips against her lover.
O'Malley groaned at the sweet pressure. Her hands finally moved and tangled themselves in Terri's hair. "Yes." She breathed. Pulling Terri closer her lips found their warm and willing target. She smiled around the kiss and couldn't resist the urge to lick Terri's lips. She was rewarded with a low moan so she repeated the action. She didn't know why but that sweet sound made her heart quicken and her body responded.
Her fingers teased Terri's body through the material that covered her skin. It was sensual and sexual at the same time. Each woman for her own reasons loved the feeling. They forgot everything but themselves for a little while.
Terri rolled over in bed and came into contact with solid warm body. She knew before her eyes opened that her lover was already awake. The fingers that trailed across her shoulder were a dead giveaway. Her internal smile never surfaced as her brain reminded her what day this was. She pulled herself closer wanting nothing more than to just crawl inside O'Malley's skin and stay there. Finally she opened her eyes to find O'Malley staring at her.
"Hi gorgeous." O'Malley whispered with a ghost of a smile her fingers never stilling.
"You are deluded if you think that about me in the morning." Terri argued even as her hands touched naked skin.
"I'm allowed. I did drive over a landmine once." O'Malley teased and settled a soft kiss on her lover's neck. "Mmm, you taste good."
"You said that last night," Terri chuckled as she tried to move to check the time. O'Malley wouldn't release her hold. "What time is it?"
"A little after three." The biker admitted around the butterfly kisses. "Cage and I have already been out. The meet is set."
Terri stiffened slightly. "You didn't wake me up?"
"I tried baby, but someone was zonked out hard. I think I wore you out last night." O'Malley explained with a grin.
"Sounding a little proud there, aren't you?" Terri asked as she rolled on top of her biker.
"Oh yeah." The smug look resurfaced.
Terri would have laughed if not for the rush of desire that coursed through her body. She should have been sated for the next month after their activities that had lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Instead she wanted more and she definitely wanted more now. Without a word she ducked her head and her lips latched on to O'Malley's right nipple suddenly.
Any protest or comment that O'Malley had was overridden by the short circuit that cut off her brainwaves. The sucking sensation went right to her clit and she was quickly drenched. If she had any complaints, her body vetoed them. In no time she was one quivering mass of want. Her body arched into Terri, letting her know without words that she was giving herself up.
Terri groaned at O'Malley's surrender. It was so unlike the woman to give up control but she wasn't going to waste her opportunity. She kissed her way to O'Malley's left breast as her hands slid down tightly coiled muscles and between opened thighs. Her fingers found a well spring and she slowly teased her lover ignoring O'Malley's pleas. She watched O'Malley's head fall back deep in the pillow and finally eased two fingers slowly inside. She knew the liquid heat pouring from her lover was all for and because of her.
O'Malley's surprised breath was not enough to keep her from going slow. She wanted to make love this time. She fluttered her fingers time and time again, letting her lover slide close only to ease off. She wanted to make this feeling last as long as O'Malley could stand it. Her free hand mapped the contours of the body under hers. Gasps and moans were her guide and she used them to her advantage.
Terri slithered her way up her lover's body not stilling her fingers. O'Malley's eyes opened and Terri was able to see what O'Malley had not yet said out loud. She kissed her gently and felt strong arms wrap themselves around her back, holding her as close as possible. They rocked slowly together eyes locked, kissing until finally she felt the familiar tremors start around her fingers. She waited until the last possible second to kiss O'Malley once more. This time she did not pull away and O'Malley gasped her pleasure around the kiss.
As slowly as she had entered she slipped out and wrapped herself around her still recovering girlfriend. She could feel the strong beating heart as she kissed her way across O'Malley's chest. She smiled against salty skin as she regained her own breath.
Cage quirked an eyebrow when Terri emerged from the bedroom dressed in jeans and a loose fitting shirt that looked too big on her frame. From the look on the woman's face it had been a satisfying morning. The sounds that had emerged from behind the bedroom door were hard to mistake. She couldn't blame either of them though. She would have been making those sounds if anyone had been with her. A part of her knew they were connecting in the most basic way known to humans. She'd seen it many times before in the hours before a potential fight.
Cage wrestled with all the comments that skittered through her brain. Any one of them would do to cause a monster blush but for once she decided that she would say nothing. There was something entirely too sweet in Terri's face.
"There's coffee made." Cage said without giving anything away.
Terri's expression was classic. It was one of those looks that said she was waiting for the punch line. When the punch line didn't come she was just short of confused. Chalking it up to Cage being nice for a change she walked into the kitchen and poured three cups of the strong looking brew. She picked up one mug and carried it to the bedroom only to emerge again a minute or two later. She walked back into the kitchen.
"This one's gonna go either way isn't it?" Terri asked as she handed Cage a cup. She sat on the couch not too far away from the O'Malley's friend.
Cage nodded absently. "Yeah. He might decide to be an asshole or he might just do business and leave it at that." She admitted quietly and brought the cup to her lips.
"Don't let anything happen to her." Terri's words were even as she managed to keep her fear hidden at least on the surface.
"Terri all I can promise is my best." Cage answered taking a sip.
Terri sat back in her mulling over her words. She couldn't put her finger on why the answer made her a little nervous. She could usually tell when she wasn't being told the entire truth or when people were hedging. She got the idea that Cage was hedging. Why Cage would hedge escaped her but she also knew that she'd only seen one side of the woman sitting next to her. There was no way to know what she was really thinking.
Both women shifted their gaze when the bedroom door opened and O'Malley walked out of the bedroom in leather pants and a tight blue T-shirt, coffee cup in hand. The relaxed expression did not reach her eyes. The tension lines gave away the apprehension of the coming day. O'Malley bypassed her favorite chair to deposit a light kiss on Terri's mouth.
"It's gonna be fine baby. You about ready Cage?" She asked without looking away from Terri's hazel eyes.
"Yeah. I got the stuff ready." Cage answered as she set her cup down on the coffee table.
"Why don't you two just call them guns?" Terri asked, sarcasm leaking out around the edges.
O'Malley sighed. "Force of habit Ter. I just have to gear up and I'll be ready."
Terri tried to ignore the matter of fact way her lover spoke. She couldn't do it. Instead she watched O'Malley pick the Sig out from its usual hiding place and strip it down. It struck her that she had done the same thing in the past just before going in for a bust. This time was harder. At least then she was an active participant not just an observer.
Once the weapon was checked and reloaded O'Malley caught the shoulder holster rig that Cage tossed to her. Her eyes avoided Terri's as she slipped into the leather straps and adjusted the holster until it was comfortable. The metal snap closing sounded extremely final to everyone in the room. With a subtle signal from O'Malley, Cage eased her way out of the room.
Terri didn't miss the obvious. She pushed herself out of her seat and walked to the coat rack. Her fingers closed on O'Malley's leather jacket. She stood immobile for a moment her mind toying with every scenario good and bad. She heard the sound of boots on the hardwood floor and was not surprised when O'Malley's arms closed around her. The brush of lips on her ear made her shiver.
"I'll be here when you get back from work." O'Malley's voice held something of a promise. "We still have a lot to learn about each other Terri Barclay. I plan on learning all I can."
Terri closed her eyes. "That makes two of us but don't make any promises O'Malley. Let's just take it as it comes. But so help me if anything happens to you I'm going to be pissed." There was no teasing or joke in her voice.
O'Malley's eyebrows rose slightly. "I know. I'll be back soon." O'Malley answered quietly and leaned in for one more nuzzle.
After a long moment O'Malley pulled away reluctantly. She had things to get done and she knew that nothing would happen if she kept standing there but a large part of her didn't want to leave. Drawing in a deep breath she turned and walked out the front door, down the porch and pulled the passenger door of Cage's truck open.
"You okay?" Cage asked as her friend buckled up.
"Turn this thing over and let's get this done." O'Malley said instead. She kept her eyes away from the widow where she knew Terri would be standing and watching.
Cage nodded her head started the truck and pulled out of the driveway knowing better than to argue with O'Malley when her voice turned cold. She knew instinctively that O'Malley was distancing herself from what she considered important. She was becoming who she needed to be in order to get the job done even if she didn't like who that was. To some degree they all did it when faced with a fight. It was the only way they knew in order to fight as hard as they might have to. She understood that it was hard to lose when you didn't care if you lived or died. Glancing at O'Malley she knew the woman did at the moment care. She wouldn't care by the time they showed up to the dunes. It was just O'Malley's way.
Terri glanced at the clock on the wall again relieved that she only had five minutes to go. It seemed to be becoming a habit with her and she was sure that Maria had noticed. The bar was jumping busy and the night had been a bartender's nightmare. She was sure that if one more non-regular asked her out she was going to have to hurt someone or destroy Maria's furniture.
She almost cried out in joy when her relief showed up and she was able to pull her cash drawer out of the register. The regulars gave her a wide berth recognizing the look on her face. They figured that she and O'Malley had gotten into a spat. They felt for the biker. The look on Terri's face did not bode for a good night.
She counted out her bank in the office having to check her math three times. Her brains were scattered all over the place. She sighed and heard the office door open. Turning she expected to find her boss standing there not two men and one woman in military uniforms with side arms. Maria trailed behind them using language Terri was sure a mother to be wasn't supposed to use.
"Terri Barclay?" One of the soldiers asked in that no nonsense voice cops use.
She continued playing her role. "Who's asking?" She asked with suspicion in her voice.
"Lieutenant Henderson military intelligence. I will ask you one more time ma'am. Are you Terri Barclay?"
Terri shrugged. "Never heard of her." She muttered as she picked up her stack of tips.
The Lieutenant shook his head. "Sure and I bet you don't know Callan O'Malley either." There was a measure of disbelief in his tone.
"Look GI Joe…I'm not who you think I am."
He pulled a photo from his pocket tossing it on the desk. Terri's eyes gave nothing away as she recognized the photo. She and O'Malley had been walking around the mall. The photo showed them smiling as they played with ice cream cones. She almost smiled at the fun they'd had that day. Her gaze wandered back up to the soldier.
"Terri Barclay consider yourself in custody." He stated without any sort of feeling. "You are suspected of aiding and abetting a gun running ring involving stolen military weapons."
Terri's mind blanked out the Miranda warning. There were very few people who knew what O'Malley did for a living. Maria's eyes questioned her and she shook her head in a very subtle manner. Whether or not Maria knew she didn't care, she was not about to give her friend up. Not wanting to cause a scene in Maria's bar she allowed herself to be handcuffed and lead out the back door to a waiting unmarked car. The government plates were the only give away.
"Where are you taking her?" Maria demanded harshly. Terri almost laughed. Only Maria would dare to question a military officer with a weapon.
"This is a military matter ma'am." The lieutenant answered tersely.
"You better listen up butter bar…I did twelve years and finished out a captain in the Air Force. I happen to know military regulations so you better start talking before your CO gets a fast phone call." Maria's voice reverted back to her command tone. When the lieutenant failed to answer she nailed the female MP with a withering glare.
"The subject will be taken to the civilian authorities until we can arrange movement." The MP answered. She ignored the stare from the officer. "I will not be busted back down to specialist, Sir. Not for intelligence. I do not break military regs, Sir." The female MP turned her attention back to Terri. "In the car ma'am and what your head."
Once Terri was in the car the female MP buckled her in and slid in beside her. It took only a couple more minutes for the others to follow suit. She watched Maria's worried face as the car pulled out of the parking lot. The only bright side that she could see was that her cover would be safe when she was booked. She half listened to the chatter between the two soldiers in the front seat. She stiffened when they referred to a bust arranged by an undercover intelligence officer.
"So one of your junior spook wannabe's is gonna bust this whole thing open?" the MP driving scoffed.
"Don't kid yourself. She's one of the best and has been for a very long time." The lieutenant boasted as though it mattered.
"You hear that Sarge? A smart spook." The driver laughed.
"Shut up Archer and just drive." It definitely sounded like an order. The laughter and conversation up front died out fast. The female MP shook her head. Spooks, for all the training and preaching about operational security sure did like to talk.
Cage pulled the four-wheel drive knob and waited for a moment before she continued forward. Hearing the hubs lock automatically she grinned as they rolled through the sand. She glanced at O'Malley and was surprised to see the momentary flicker of fear. She almost kicked herself. She should have known that this location at night might trigger some unpleasant memories.
"You okay O'Malley?" she asked quietly as she maneuvered the rolls and dips.
"Yeah. Let's just get there and get this over with. Payback's been too long in the making." It was hard to mistake the cold edge of hate in her voice.
"Hey, just remember. He goes to jail the morgue." Cage said.
"I remember." O'Malley turned her face to her friend. "I can't promise it won't happen but I'll remember." O'Malley's smile was casually chilling then she turned away to look out the window.
Cage kept her comments to herself but her mind turned over and over. Right now she was sure that she was making the right decision. O'Malley was definitely going to be pissed off at her and she would be mostly justified but if it kept the woman from committing murder she was willing to piss her off.
"What the hell is that?" Cage asked slowing down and killing her lights.
Ahead of them it was obvious that another vehicle was sitting in their meeting place. O'Malley quickly opened the glove box and pulled out the small set of binoculars. It took her a second to focus and she could make out Trey and another man she didn't know by name but by face. He had four men surrounding him with weapons.
"Looks like Trey is pulling his deal right now." O'Malley muttered. She couldn't believe that he picked the very same night. To the right of the deal going down she noticed movement at the crest of the dune. "Got another player coming in."
"Gimme the glasses." Cage demanded quietly and took the binoculars. "Guess the surgery didn't take." She muttered and refocused the view. "Shit, looks like Boomer. What the hell is he doing here?" she asked without expecting an answer. "You feel like screwing up Trey's little party?"
O'Malley thought about the question for all of two seconds. "Why not. It'll give us some pull with Spyder."
With practiced ease they left the truck quietly and each silently checked their weapons without really needing to, it was just habit. They walked around the dune checking constantly behind them just in case this was some elaborate trap. Both women listened hard as they sneaked up into position. They heard Boomer interrupt whatever deal was going on.
Cage stepped out into the open seemingly oblivious to the weapons that swung in her direction. She heard the small snapping sound that signaled to her that O'Malley was going to play hide and seek around the dunes until she could get into position behind the armed group.
"Evening boys." Cage purred with a smile. "Interesting time to show up here."
"Same thing we were thinking." Boomer announced as he leaned against Trey's SUV. "Trey are you fucking up again?" His voice was in no way sympathetic.
"Who's we?" To his credit Trey's voice did not waiver even though he was quaking.
"We includes me." Spyder muttered as he stepped around a dune. He looked at Cjerzoki. "Anton you know that I own the trade in this town."
The dealer smiled easily. "I sell to whoever has the cash. He's got the cash. I pay you enough of a cut to make sure that happens Spyder." Cjerzoki reminded the biker leader. "Gentlemen you can lower your guns." He ordered. His men did as ordered.
Spyder walked up to Trey eyeing him warily. "How many keys Anton?"
"Where does a fucking weasel like you get the green for that much white? I know you ain't rich. You live in that shit hole and you don't have shit for money since you lost Terri." Spyder's voice hardened.
"Fuck you." Trey stripped off his colors. "I ain't part of your fuck ups anymore. I don't answer to you anymore."
Spyder laughed and suddenly backhanded Trey watching the man bounce against the grill of the SUV.
"That had to hurt." Cage muttered out loud without sympathy.
"Looks like it." Boomer agreed.
"Anton this deal is over. You can leave the white as your apology." The biker leader ordered without taking his eyes off the figure on the ground.
Anton and his men stiffened instantly. "That's not how it works Spyder. He made this deal."
"And he's a dead man." Spyder promised gravely.
"What makes you think you aren't?" The drug dealer returned hotly.
"Because I'm standing behind you and your boys, Anton." O'Malley announced calmly as she stepped into view. Her Sig was pointed at the drug dealer. "I don't care about your little deal with that fuck head over there but you are cutting into my time with Spyder. Besides if you kill him, I don't get my money. I can't let that happen."
Boomer smiled as all the players in this little game were now accounted for. "Hey Spyder why don't we all just chill for a minute." He spoke his wired signal out loud.
"I'm cool. I just want what's mine. You can understand that Anton, can't you?" Spyder smiled and looked almost like a normal human being.
Cjerzoki said nothing contemplating his few choices. Chancing a look behind him he knew that Boomer and the woman standing close to him were armed. They had him and his men in a crossfire. With a small flick of his hand his men lowered their weapons a second time.
"You do know that this will jeopardize our working relationship." He said in defeat. He could find other clubs to sell his drugs to but few had the kind of money Spyder did.
"DEA everyone drop your weapons and get your hands in the air." A loud booming voice cut into the conversation as shadowy figures in DEA windbreakers filtered over and around the dunes weapons drawn and aimed.
Cjerzoki's men dropped their weapons and lifted their hands in the air uncertainly. Spyder bolted in one direction as Cage motioned for O'Malley. O'Malley reached Cage as Boomer tackled his assignment hard. Cage pulled her military badge and flicked it open in front of O'Malley.
"Military intelligence. You are under arrest O'Malley." Cage announced officially and watched the realization of betrayal cross the woman's eyes. "Drop the weapon."
O'Malley stood still for a moment then let the semi automatic pistol fall to the sand. As soon as Cage's eyes followed the weapon O'Malley lunged and made contact with the woman she assumed was her friend. She planted her shoulder into Cage's chest and drove her back ward. Cage hit the ground and let her momentum help her flip over and back onto her feet. O'Malley hadn't anticipated the move still moving forward when Cage's fist caught her on the chin.
Rage kept her from going down. She drove her knee into Cage's midsection and grabbing her shoulders spun her away and back towards Trey's vehicle. She advanced cautiously this time knowing that Cage was indeed well trained. She didn't expect Cage to stomp on her foot and felt the fist to her stomach that ripped her breath away. As soon as Cage's fingers tightened in her hair she knew what was going to happen.
Cage bounced O'Malley's head off the hood of the SUV and watched the woman slide from the hood a trail of blood following her. She sucked in several harsh breaths. Looking around quickly she saw that the DEA and Boomer had everyone else in control. It did her heart good to see Spyder eating sand for a change, Boomer's knee digging into his back as the drug cop read his rights. Without one shred of satisfaction she pulled O'Malley's arms behind her back and cuffed her.
Leaning against the SUV she caught her breath and watched the mopping up. Boomer walked over and settled next to her. Pulling out a cigarette he lit it slowly.
"She's gonna be pissed when she wakes up." He said dryly.
"Yeah. Think I broke her nose again." Cage admitted in agreement.
"Don't let Terri know that. She just might kill you."
"You're just full of good news aren't you?" Cage almost laughed. "It was better this way. I gotta get her to the emergency room. See you later?"
"I think I've got paperwork till the Second Coming but give me a call on my cell. I might be able to cut free for some food later if you're up to it."
"Why do I think this is gonna be a long night?" Cage asked without really needing an answer.
"It's gonna get worse before it gets better." Boomer predicted with a frown.
"Tell me about it."
Terri watched as the parade continued. In the last several hours since George confirmed her status she had seen the results of the multi jurisdictional effort. She recognized five city leaders, at least ten police officers and several prominent citizens who were marched in and booked. Each time the booking door opened she held her breath expecting to see her girlfriend. So far she had been disappointed.
George handed over a Styrofoam cup filled with hot coffee and sank down next to her. For a while neither one said a word. Finally George had to gather his courage as he leaned forward and touched her knee. She turned to face him.
"The army boys just reported that they're pulling out with one prisoner in tow."
Terri's heart seized. "Who?"
"No word and no word on where they're going." He had to admit. Sometimes he hated his job. Right now he could only sit and watch his best undercover officer stew in fear and something else he couldn't identify. That there was something going on between Terri and O'Malley was obvious but if she wasn't talking he didn't feel it was his place to ask.
Terri leaned back in her chair. "I'm going to O'Malley's. If you need me call me."
"I can't let you do that. Not everyone's been rounded up. We have a safe house set up. I'll get one of the officers take you."
Terri nodded her head. "I'm not gonna find out where they took her am I?"
"I don't know Terri. The army, they do things their own way." He had to answer honestly.
Terri readjusted the light jacket that accompanied her dress for the millionth time. In the room full of police brass and dignitaries she felt like an outsider. If she had to smile and shake one more hand she was convinced that she was going to scream. Part of her decided that if sitting through the dog and pony show was a part of a job well done she would have rather failed. It only confirmed that she was just a cop and would never be one of those big brass officers who could play politics.
It had been a long and difficult five months. Most of Spyder's boys turned state's evidence, Trey kept his mouth shut however and was probably not having a great time in jail since his status as a cop had come out early in the media frenzy. The DEA had taken a major black eye in the state for not moving on Spyder when the videotape was aired. Hank had rolled over hard on his former boss and both of them were getting used to spending life in the same prison. Terri had been spared having to testify since they had other evidence but she had heard nothing on O'Malley. Every question and every inquiry had been stopped cold.
George sat next to her and handed off one more mixed drink. She was pushing her limit and they both knew it. Neither cop cared though and instead just watched important people fall all over themselves. They passed the time between dinner and the award presentation by making snide comments to each other, just out of earshot of anyone whom might matter. Occasionally they would have to interrupt the running dialog to smile or pose for an official picture. Snickering together they missed most of the presentation.
Terri's attention was grabbed when she noticed a figure in full US Army dress blues come forward to accept the special award for undercover work. She blinked twice and could not for a second believe that Sean was standing on the podium.
"He cleans up pretty good huh?" Joan's voice sounded just to her left.
"So, how's Cage?" Terri couldn't help the cutting edge to her voice. She saw the wounded expression for just a second before Joan covered it up.
"Cage is Cage. We don't know where she is right now. How are you?" Joan asked in all sincerity. "We tried to get a hold of you but you were 'unavailable' as they put it." Joan said as she sat down next to Terri. "Before you judge you should hear it all." Joan pointed to the podium.
Terri turned her head to watch if not truly listen. She had to admit that Sean did look good in his dark blue uniform with its gold trim. The four rows of ribbons seemed to give him an importance as did the chevrons and rockers on his sleeves.
"Several years ago there was an Air Force officer who stopped by to visit an old friend. On her way out of town she picked up a hitchhiker, a woman running for her life. They both died that night, the result of being run off the road at Moody's Gap. Those of us who knew her, who loved her and whom she healed knew we couldn't just sit back and do nothing. We had rumors and smoke to go on. It took two of our best to find out the rest of the truth." Sean paused to take a sip of his water.
"Captain Cage Quinn of Military Intelligence couldn't be here tonight, but rest assured that she was an integral part of taking down the former gang leader known as Spyder Williams. It was her information that led us to know he was buying stolen military weapons. We have plenty of weapons in the army," Sean smiled that little boy smile. The action brought forth the desired laughter.
"All we needed was one individual who was stupid enough to go undercover for an undetermined amount of time. Fortunately she had been dropped on her head enough times to not know exactly what we had in mind." The little boy smile gave way to evil Sean. "Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce the woman who made justice possible. Sergeant First Class C. G. O'Malley."
Sean stepped away from the mike and had to wait for a moment until Callan emerged in her dress blues. A nearly stoic look was plastered on her face. A collective gasp came from the gathered crowd. They had known her as a free lance biker, a womanizer, and a hard drinker that pissed everyone off. Slowly it started. From somewhere in the back of the room someone started to applaud. It was picked up as it sank in what O'Malley had given up to finally bring Spyder to justice.
When the applause died down O'Malley cleared her voice. "Ellen Rivers was an angel to a lot of us. One night in February of 2001 we ran over a land mine planted by Iraqi forces. We were hurt and she helped heal our wounds and our souls." O'Malley looked at Sean with a weak smile.
"When she died we couldn't rest without making it right. Her killers have been brought to justice and anything we suffered was small in comparison to that achievement. I would just like to thank Terri Barclay for her efforts in the investigation. If she had not led us to vital information we would never have broken this case. In Special investigator Barclay you have someone who cares more for the people than for herself. Both you and she should be proud of that. Thank you." O'Malley finished and turned away from the microphone.
Terri sank down in her chair more than stunned. For months she pictured the worst possible things had happened to O'Malley. It was more than stunning to have the woman here in person singing her praises looking entirely too good. Terri didn't hear the applause meant for her nor did she see Joan leave her seat. She moved only when a warm hand touched her shoulder. Instinctively she knew who owned the hand.
"What do you say we get out of here?" O'Malley asked gently. "I can explain almost everything then."
"Why not explain right here?" Terri asked with an edge.
"Because that would take more than a week." O'Malley smiled gently. "Besides I have the keys to Cage's cabin."
"I thought the worst had happened to you." Terri said bluntly.
"It did. Cage kicked my ass and broke my nose again." O'Malley tried honest humor and knew that she crashed and burned. "I can explain if you'll let me, but I won't beg you to listen."
Terri watched O'Malley for a long time. Finally she took a breath. "What's that ribbon mean?" she pointed to one of the military awards.
O'Malley looked down. "That one is the Purple Heart."
"And that one?" Terri asked.
"That one is the Silver Star." O'Malley answered.
"What do you get that for?"
"Not staying home when you should have." O'Malley teased. "I should have called you Terri but part of me was scared to death."
"Because I didn't know if it was real and I want this to be real." O'Malley admitted quietly staring at her hands.
"Only one way to find out O'Malley."
"And that is?" The soldier asked.
"What's your middle name?" Terri asked in all seriousness.
"I'll tell you if you have dinner with me." O'Malley promised.
Terri smiled. "I have to warn you Callan O'Malley I'm an expensive date."
"I think I can cover it. You know I would kiss you right now but I think your fellow officers would have a heart attack."
Terri snorted. "What about your people?"
"Them? I retired last week. This monkey suit is to make all the brass happy."
Terri smiled and leaned in close. "That makes me very happy." She said as she pressed her lips gently against O'Malley's. For the first time in months she felt like she was home.
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