Disclaimer: Uber Star Trek Voyager, JAG and X-files. No infringement intended since this is an original story. Among other things it is about same gender love between consenting adult women and if that is illegal where you are or offensive to you in any way - please hit your back button! 
Rating: Chapters vary between G - NC-17
Revised May 2, 2001

There would be no part 8 without Pol.

Back to "Finding Shelter From The Storm" - part 7


Finding Shelter From The Storm

© GB

 

Part 8.

Classical music played extremely loud over the car’s stereo.

It was enough for Laura’s ears to ache but not enough to drown out the painful beating of her heart.

She drove east, resisting the urge to floor the stolen car’s accelerator.

Biting her lip she thought about how she had managed to leave without waking an exhausted Sunny or setting off any of the alarms.

The only one that noticed her leaving was Hubert.  He had awakened as she passed him, but a pat on his head and a verbal order to go back to sleep had worked like a charm.

Temporarily disrupting the surveillance system had not been a challenge. Even though Malachai had the latest equipment, she was far too experienced to let that hinder her escape.  Using her skills and ingenuity she deactivated the system quickly and disappeared into the night.

Stealing a car had been easy. Driving away from the wonderful woman she had come to care so much about … loved … was not.

Laura moaned.

She was through running. She could no longer live with herself and she was unwilling to put other people’s lives at risk, especially Sunny’s. Sunny’s meant everything to her.

She cringed when she thought of the callous note she had left for Sunny to find. She had hastily scribbled few lines, repeatedly glancing over at the sleeping blonde, fearing that she might awake to prevent her from leaving.

The scientist forced back her tears.

She had done a lot of questionable things over the last three years.  It was time to end it, one way or another.

*****

Malachai’s staff had been busy all night.

They had transformed the black van into a dark green delivery vehicle. There were new rims and white logos on both sides.

Dawn regarded it solemnly. With the exception of Sunny, they had all wolfed down a quick breakfast and were now leaving Malachai’s warehouse.

Their host wanted to join them but Dawn had told him that he was more useful as a co-ordinator if he stayed home. He had grudgingly agreed, shooting worried glances at the quiet Sunny.

Dawn was also worried about the young blonde.

She had not said much during breakfast. Laura’s disappearance apparently had devastated her.  There was something very determined and very calculating in those ice blue eyes. Dawn didn’t like it.

“I need to make some phone calls,” Dawn said to Malachai before entering the van. “But I think it’s better to make them from a pay phone rather than run the risk that they’ll trace them to here.”

Malachai nodded and then turned to Sunny who was about to climb into the van.

“Are you all right, sweetie?” he asked carefully.

“Yes,” she answered in a numbing fashion.

Reaching out, Malachai hugged her warmly. 

“Call me if there’s anything you need,” he said pointedly.

“I will.”

Her cool, distant voice made him frown and then he let her go.

She climbed into the van.

Dawn glanced over at Joan who raised her eyebrows expressively.

“She’s like a ticking time bomb,” the brunette whispered. “I understand she’s our best bet for negotiating with Farlow when and if we catch up with her… but we’d better keep a close eye on this one. Something tells me she ‘s dangerous when provoked.”

Dawn agreed.

Overnight Sunny’s expression of childlike wonder had altered in a dramatic manner. Her beauty remained unchanged but the look in her eyes had not. There was a distance; an aloofness that had not been there while Farlow was present.

They waved at Malachai and Dawn drove out of the seemingly abandoned warehouse area.

Joan turned her head and peeked back into the van. 

“She is just sitting there,” she said quietly. “Even the dog looks miserable.”

“Call her up here,” Dawn said. “We need to know what she’s thinking.”

Joan motioned for Sunny to join them. The blonde walked up to the front and stood between the seats, holding on to the ceiling.

“At breakfast you said that Laura is going to give herself up,” Dawn said, careful to use Farlow’s latest alias.  Do you have any idea who she is planning to do this with?  Which side?

Sunny regarded them both calmly.

“She is going to turn herself into the authorities. It would be unacceptable for her act in any other manner. She despises those she believes are responsible for this.  She would never give herself willingly to them. She has been on the run from them for far too long.”

Joan raised her eyebrows.

“She has run from the Bureau just as long,” she pointed out.

Sunny smirked. It was not a happy smile. 

“She has only been running from the people who blew up her lab, killed her family and her colleagues. If she has run from the Bureau then you can be assured that somehow they are responsible for what happened as well.”

Dawn shot the blonde a look.

“She told you this?” she asked, disbelief in her voice.

Sunny shook her head. Only the slight tremor in her hands as she gripped the crossbeam in the ceiling gave her state of mind away.

“No. The fact that she broke down last night and was physically ill about it told me all needed to know. When she was gone this morning, I knew right away. She’s doing this to protect me.” 

Dawn had to agree with the blonde’s reasoning. Farlow had never tired of running before but now; since she had become attached to this girl … it was logical.

“So, D.C. is a safe assumption?” she asked. “Headquarters?”

“If that is what she seeks,” Sunny simply said and moved into the back of the van again.

“This is weird,” Joan offered. “Why would Farlow surrender to the Bureau now that she knows we suspect a mole?”

“She would if it was the only way to stop what’s going on.” Dawn frowned. “I don’t like this. There are too many unknowns; too many variables at work here.  Instead of sacrificing her freedom she may well be sacrificing her life.

“I have read the files hundreds of times,” the brunette said exasperatedly. “One thing I never could understand was why such a brilliant woman, with such tremendous future ahead of her, would suddenly sell out.”

“I’m beginning to think she didn’t. Actually I have questioned it ever since that disastrous stake out.”

“They said afterwards that they fired her. What if they hadn’t? What if she quit?”

“That could very well be true.”

*****

They drove towards the east coast.

After a while, Joan rose from her seat to go back for a diet coke. When she entered the back of the van, she stopped in her tracks, regarding the curled up blonde laying on the bunk bed, her head buried in the pillow.

“Sunny?” she said carefully and knelt next to the shivering blonde.

The girl jumped and looked up. Her eyes were red and Joan wanted to kick herself for not paying more attention.

“Are you all right?” the agent asked.

“No. I’m afraid for her. Afraid of what she might do,” Sunny said quietly.

“What do you think she’ll do?”

The blonde rolled her eyes and something sounding like half a cry, half a laugh broke free from her throat.

“Oh, she might go in there shooting at everybody, she might surrender unconditionally … and she might try to bargain with them … it doesn’t matter. She will get hurt either way,” the blonde said.

She sat up and quickly wiped her tearstained cheeks.

“She has been under a lot of pressure for a very long time,” Joan said softly. “She is also a very intelligent woman, you know that. She must have a plan.”

“She is … much more than that,” Sunny stated, seemingly much calmer now. “She is lonely, she is generous and she is very loving. You don’t know her. You may have chased her for years, made her run like a hunted animal, but you don’t know anything real about her.”

Joan nodded thoughtfully.

“I’m sure she has shown you sides of herself that Dawn and I have no clue about,” she readily agreed. “We’ve done our job and she’s made it difficult for us.

“She has had to kill to stay alive,” Sunny blurted out. There was cold anger in her voice. “Do you know what that does to a person? To know that you had to take a life, no matter how low, to ensure your own survival?”

“Yes, I do. I have killed in the line of duty.”

“She has no badge or title to hide behind.”

“Neither did I at the end of the day when I was alone with the images of what I had to do,” Joan said softly. “But I know what you mean.”

The motel owner regarded her coldly but then her shoulders slumped and she covered her eyes with a trembling hand.

“I love her,” she whispered.

Joan’s heart skipped a beat.

“I see,” she said in a low voice and let a hand carefully circle the blonde’s arm. “She cares for you too.”

“I know.”

“We’ll find her. Dawn is the best at what she does, Remember, Laura is no fool. She will make sure they don’t lure her into a trap.”

Sunny lowered her hand and burning blue eyes met velvet brown.

“You don’t understand,” Sunny said matter-of-factly. “She is setting herself up as the trap. That’s the only thing that makes sense. She is the trap, the target and the solution, all in one.”

*****

Dawn pulled the van into a rest stop along the highway looking for a pay phone.  They had travelled a sufficient distance that their current location could not be linked to Malachai.   Reaching for the purse Malachai had given her, she pulled out a roll of quarters then got out of the van and began to walk.

Dawn entered the phone booth.

Glancing over her shoulder as she put the coins in the slot, she saw Joan standing outside the van, leaning against it. No doubt the dark haired woman was keeping an eye on her, making sure she was safe.

The phone clicked twice and then a polite voice answered.

Dawn cleared her throat.

“Valerie Jones please, this is Dawn Morrison.”

“Connecting you,” said the indifferent voice.

The phone clicked again and then the voice of her former boss was there.

“Jones.”

“This is Dawn Morrison,” Dawn said bluntly, knowing that the older woman disliked any form of small talk.

“Morrison? What can I do for you?”

“I need to see you. There is something going down and I don’t know who else to trust.”

There was a brief silence and then Jones spoke again, sounding vaguely amused.

“So, despite the fact that you hate my guts, you have only me to turn to?”

Dawn rolled her eyes. She had forgotten about her former boss’ sarcastic sense of humour.

“You might say that,” she said quickly. “Look, we need to meet.  I’m on an unsecured line and there is no way for me to get to a secure phone.  I can’t go near headquarters.”

“That’s alright…do you recall an event we both attended recently?”

Dawn quickly searched her mind and recalled the last event the two of them had attended.

“Yes ma’am.  I know what you’re referring to.”

“Meet me there in…six hours.  Can you do it?

Dawn replied, “Yes.”

“Good.  We’ll talk then,” and she hung up.

Dawn checked her watch, inwardly sighing in relief over Jones’ characteristic lack of small talk.

There was no way that the phone call could be traced and even if someone had managed to monitor there conversation they had no way of knowing what event Jones was referring to.

A few months earlier Dawn had attended ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial. Dawn had lost her uncle during the war and she had come to the Wall in remembrance of him. She was surprised when she spotted Jones there as well.  After the ceremony they had spoken briefly, come to find out Jones had lost her brother during the Tet Offensive in 68.   

Dawn nodded her head.  Clever of Jones to come up with that so fast … it would be the perfect spot to rendezvous.  

The doctor walked back to Joan.

“She’s agreed to meet,” Dawn said wearily, feeling a bout of fatigue hit as she relaxed a little, knowing that she wasn’t alone in being in charge of this operation much longer.

Joan regarded her cautiously.

“Good,” she said.

Dawn said and circled the van to get to the passenger’s seat.

She climbed in and sank down into the seat, fastening her seatbelt.

A cold moist feeling on her hand made her jump. Glancing down she looked into the velvet eyes of Hubert who licked her hand and then pressed his head against her arm.

“He likes you,” Sunny said calmly, coming up from the back of the van.

“He does?” Dawn asked, surprised.

“Yes. He knows you are tired and he’s trying to console you,” the blonde stated and patted her dog on his head.

Dawn looked at the dog again. Oddly enough, his large head on her arm was somewhat reassuring.

“Nice dog,” she mumbled and patted him.

Hubert whimpered a little and seemed to know what he was saying. This brought a smile to Dawn’s lips and she shook her head slowly. He was a very special animal.

Joan pulled out of the parking lot and began driving towards Washington.

“Did you say anything to her?” she asked Dawn.

“No, just that we had to meet,” Dawn said.

“Can she be trusted?” Sunny asked.

“As far as I know,” Dawn said. “She left our department just prior to Laura’s case and has never been associated with it to my knowledge.”

She had butted heads with Valerie Jones on several occasions when the older woman had been her commanding officer.

The tall woman was stunning, in her late fifties and possessed a brilliant analytical mind. She also was outspoken, almost rude, and expected everybody she worked with to give his or her job everything.

She had little understanding for human weaknesses, although she played everyone in her presence, by using their weaknesses against them.

Dawn on more than one occasion had to stepped in to prevent some younger agent from strangling their boss. She recognised the comments Jones made for the thought provoking little seeds they were.

The younger agents who were not as seasoned as Dawn, often let their commanding officer get to them.

Even if Dawn sometimes questioned Jones’ methods she couldn’t disregard the fact that the woman got the job done and she had felt completely safe in knowing that if she had concerns, Jones would be the first one to listen and to back her up against other branches within the Bureau.

Dawn looked at Sunny.

Sunny nodded, but didn’t look entirely convinced. Dawn didn’t blame her; she was still in a very emotional state, although she tried to hide it.

The doctor had overheard Sunny and Joan talking earlier and knew about the overwhelming feelings of loss that the blonde was harbouring.

“How is your head?” Joan asked, breaking Dawn’s train of thoughts.

“Oh, it’s fine,” Dawn said, absentmindedly rubbing her bruised forehead. “No headache or anything.”

“Good,” Joan said, looking pleased. “If we are going to persuade Jones to help us, you better be at your best. She doesn’t know me and she has no reason to listen to Sunny.”

“You know, I think she will.” Dawn said, feeling a little amazed as she recognised the truth in what she said. “She may despise small talk and pleasantries but she always listens.”

“Like someone I know then?” Joan grinned.

Dawn frowned but then chuckled quietly. “Yes, I suppose so. But I’m nowhere near her league.”

Joan rolled her eyes. “Really?”

*****

Laura ordered a third cup of black coffee.

Sitting with a good view of all the exits she sipped her coffee, looking very relaxed, one hand in her lap and leaning against the backrest.

The diner was a run down place and most of the customers seemed to be regulars. They called the guy behind the counter and the two waitresses by first names and acted like they were very familiar.

The scientist had never been to the diner before but she had passed it many times on her way to work long ago. The location was good and the three doors leading in to the diner was sufficient for her to feel confident.

Should she need to get out, even by using force, there were several choices. She had played the scenarios in her head ever since she came inside, thirty-five minutes ago.

She studied the people around her.

There were two men just across from her, both looking like construction workers. A mother and her two children were at her left and three teenagers two booths behind her were laughing and apparently cutting school.

She had chosen a booth with aisles on booth sides, knowing that she couldn’t allow herself to get cornered.

Laura sipped her coffee again, feeling her stomach turning over slightly from the massive dose of caffeine. She had forgone a sandwich, too wound up to even considering eating something.

She had taken the first step. There was no turning back now.

She had called the Bureau. 

They had put Monroe on and Laura had done her best to disguise her characteristic husky voice, telling him she had information regarding Grace Farlow.

His obvious interest had made her smirk joylessly. She had given him the name of the diner and told him to come alone. Of course he wouldn’t do that.

She was well aware that he would have backup somewhere.

She was convinced that Monroe was one of the agents involved. He had lied to Morrison.

Dawn had never done anything for Laura to distrust her, but Monroe was a different matter. Laura was sure he was a traitor but there were probably more than one.

A man in a long, dark overcoat came in and looked around. His gaze lingered on her and then moved on, studying the woman with the children and some other women to his right.

He sure is dressed for the part, Laura thought maliciously.

She recognised him from photos she had studied a couple of years ago.

There had been several new articles written about her. Monroe had made an official statement, which disclosed nothing really, and his picture had been in all the major papers.

It had been a clever move, Laura had thought at the time. It established him as the good guy, the man dedicated to his duty and her as the formidable traitor to her country.

Laura regarded Monroe with cold eyes.

He was a tall, burly man with a receding hairline. He dressed impeccably and there was certain callousness about him; his pale blue eyes and blonde eyelashes adding to that impression.

When his eyes toured the diner again and connected with hers, Laura nodded briefly and a crooked smile graced her lips. 

She wore the baseball cap pulled down just above her eyebrows and no makeup. In her lap, inside a fold of her jacket, her hand was loosely wrapped around her cocked gun.

Grace Farlow had been blonde, had worn expensive makeup, weighed at least thirty pounds more and looked much younger. She had had a casual, arrogant way of carrying herself, a certain blasé attitude that was long gone now.

Laura regarded Monroe as he started walking towards her. His eyes narrowed and she knew he was trying to judge if she was the right one and if she was armed. She was confident that he would not recognise her.

He stopped at her booth and she gestured towards the opposite seat with her free hand.

“Please join me,” she said amicably.

He sat down and adjusted his coat. This made Laura smirk again, which she hastily concealed by lowering her head.

“So … you have information for me,” Monroe said. 

Laura kept an eye on the exits and the door behind the counter, leading to the back entrance.

“I do,” she answered.

“Go on,” he urged, leaning back and studying her carefully.

Laura regarded him silently for a while and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“I need reassurances,” she said matter-of-factly. “I will tell you how you can find Farlow, if you guarantee that the people behind the detonation in the lab and in the warehouse where those agent’s were killed, don’t get their hands on her.”

This should spark his interest, she thought.

“What if I told you that we know exactly where Farlow is?” Monroe said, a half smile on his lips. “Where is your bargaining going to take you then?”

It was all she could do to not laugh out loud.

“I would say you’re lying,” she replied calmly. “You have no clue where she is.”

Monroe cocked his head.

“Let’s just assume that you’re right,” he offered. “What would your suggestion entail?”

“You meet Farlow on neutral ground, a place she chooses and she calls the shots. You don’t bring the entire department, just a few agents that you trust. She is likely to run again if you don’t follow her rules.”

The man frowned and slowly shook his head. 

“I don’t have the authority to make deals like this,” he said. “I will have to check with my superiors.”

“No. There are ways you can circumvent that. I don’t care how you do it. You just sit by the phone and let her call you.”

She watched him frown again, tempted by her offer but apparently reluctant to admit that they didn’t have Farlow.

“How do you know Farlow?” he asked, probably just stalling.

Laura scanned the diner and the doors. A careful look outside reassured her, there was nobody within sight as far as she could see.

“I have known her for some time,” Laura said casually. “She’s an old friend.”

“Why would you turn her in? Is it the reward?”

Laura knew there was a huge reward on her head. She shook her head.

“No, it’s not the money,” she said truthfully but offered no other explanation

Monroe blinked.

“Grace Farlow wants to give herself up?” he frowned, disbelief in his voice.

“As I said, under certain conditions,” Laura said.

The man across from her rubbed his neck, looking doubtful.

“So I guess you have a plan how this should be done?” he asked, his eyes nailing her.

She didn’t even flinch, just smiled the crooked smile again and for some reason it seemed to make him nervous.

“I do,” she said. “You await instructions on where to go. I will be there and then I will take you to Farlow. If you screw this up, bring a full arsenal of agents or something equally stupid … Farlow disappears and all her knowledge with her.”

Monroe closed his eyes in exasperation.

“But I can’t do this without any sort of guarantee that you really know where Farlow is.”

“You just have to trust me. I don’t need you. You however, need me to set this up since you obviously have no clue where she is.”

Monroe glared at her.

“I need time to prepare,” he said. “I might need several days.”

“You have until tomorrow morning. If you’re not ready then, Farlow’s gone.”

Tiny beads of sweat pearled on his high forehead. He shifted in his seat again, making Laura wonder if he was aware of this nervous habit, it was very telling.

Laura glanced out of the window.

There were suddenly two men standing across the street, apparently browsing through some books on sale outside a bookstore. The one to the left was covering his right ear with his hand from time to time.

Laura rose from the vinyl seat.

“It’s been nice,” she said politely but disregarded the hand Monroe extended. “I have to go now,” she stated and moved quietly and with the ease.  

Disappearing behind the counter after a few words to the owner, she glanced over her shoulder, not seeing the men anymore. Monroe was staring at her.

She entered the back room and stuck out her head out the door. As she didn’t see anybody there she moved quickly around the corner and was gone.

*****

It was early evening in Washington DC. Street lamps cast a soft light over the petite woman standing alone in front of the massive wall.

Dawn regarded the names engraved into the Washington monument.

Her uncle’s name was there, together with so many others. She let her finger trace the letters of his name, like she always did.

She had loved him as a little girl. Where as her father had always been correct, cold even, his younger brother, Martin, had played with her and made her laugh.

She also knew that unlike her father, he would have approved of her career choices, had he lived.

Listed as MIA when Dawn was only seven years old, she had never forgotten him or the place he held in her heart. She had waited for years for him to return Vietnam, long before all the grownups around her had given up and accepted his death.

She had been in her teens before coming to terms with the facts.

“Agent Morrison.”

Dawn pivoted and faced the tall, attractive woman she had worked under for so many years, before Monroe took over.

“Ms Jones,” Dawn greeted her politely, shaking her hand. “It’s good to see you.”

Valerie Jones was dressed in a grey slack suit with a dark blue coat over it. She was wearing gold earrings and a thin gold chain, looking elegant and together as always.

“If you really think so, I guess the problem is bad,” the older woman stated dryly. “Shall we walk a little?”

Dawn nodded.

“Yes. My partner is over there by the trees,” she motioned with her hand.

“Take my arm,” Jones said to Dawn’s surprise. “We’re just family members visiting the monument, okay?”

Dawn took Jones’ arm and they walked over to Joan and Sunny. 

Joan’s eyebrows almost left her face when she saw them approach walking arm in arm. Dawn glared at her, willing the brunette to keep her mouth shut. Joan rolled her eyes a little. They were all alone, standing next to a bench under the leafless trees.

“Agent Joan Tremayne, this is my former commanding officer, Valerie Jones,” Dawn introduced quietly. “This is Sunshine Stewart, she and Grace Farlow saved our lives.”

Valerie Jones was not a woman easily taken aback, but the solemn statement made her eyes widen a little.

“Grace Farlow? As in the Grace Farlow?” she asked.

Dawn nodded.

“I don’t know how informed you are about the case,” she said. “Joan and I have worked on it since day one and yesterday we were seconds away from being taken out by some goons. Grace Farlow and Sunny, Ms Stewart, came to our rescue. Some time during the night, Farlow disappeared from where we had taken shelter and we now fear that she is going to do something drastic.”

“You better brief me on everything,” Jones said decisively. “Especially about why you have to go over the heads of your commanding officers.”

She motioned them to start walking and once they were in a more remote part with nobody in sight, did she stop and sit down on a bench. She glanced the huge dog trotting up to her. 

“This must be yours?” she asked Sunny.

The blonde nodded. She then leaned down and mumbled something to her dog.

Hubert walked up to Jones and put his head on her lap. Gazing up at her he seemed to search for something and then his tail began to wag, very slowly at first and then with more enthusiasm.

Jones smiled wryly and patted him. “Cute.”

Dawn sat down next to the older woman. She took a deep breath and briefed Jones of all the events leading up to them being here, hoping to make it apparent why they required her help.

She finished it by stating firmly that the only thing they had to go by right now, was Sunny’s firm belief that Farlow was trying to end it, one way or another.

Jones turned to Sunny.

“So, Farlow is important to you?” she asked bluntly.

Dawn cringed at the inconsiderate way the older woman put it but Sunny regarded Jones gravely and nodded.

“Does she feel the same way?” Jones continued.

“Yes, I believe so.”

“She has never tired of running before,” the older woman said, her eyes narrowing and nailing the blonde.

“She has never had a reason to trust anyone before,” Sunny said, her voice low and resonant, a tone of danger lurking in it somewhere. “She has been hunted and blamed for the deaths of people she worked with and people she loved. Laura is very tired and she’s going to do something. It’s your job to stop her, to help her.

Dawn looked at Sunny. The blonde was emotional but there was also a very cold distance when she spoke. She was not overwhelmed or intimidated by Jones and Dawn thought she could see a tiny smile playing on the older woman’s lips.

Jones rose from the bench.

“Do you have a place to stay tonight?” she asked. “I have to go into the office and check on some things.”

“No, we need an address,” Dawn said calmly.

Jones nodded and reaching into her pocket she pulled out a small piece of paper and a pen. She scribbled something on it and then gave it to the doctor.

“Here. Just say I sent you. It’s one of our safe houses. There is a secure line and a fax machine in the office and pay phones in the lobby.

Dawn read the address.

“Thank you,” she said. “I appreciate this.”

Jones smiled enigmatically.

“I’m sure you do,” she said dryly, “but hat else would I do since you were always my favourite.”

With that she turned around and started walking away from them.

Joan stared at the flushed Dawn.

“What did she mean by that?” she asked incredulously. “Her favourite?”

Dawn closed her eyes briefly, not wanting to go into a discussion about it.

“I have no idea,” she said and dragged a tired hand through her hair. “I think we better get to this address now.”

Joan grinned.

“Okay, but don’t think I’m going to let this one go.”

Dawn groaned inwardly. Joan was like a terrier with a bone sometimes.

*****

The hotel was modest and very small.

The man behind the counter was in his late sixties and only nodded in agreement when Dawn mentioned Valerie Jones. He gave them two keys and they didn’t have to sign anything.

They walked the two stairs to their floor.

Sunny accepted the key to one of the rooms in silence. Just as she let Hubert inside and was going to enter herself, Joan grabbed her arm gently.

“Hey, wait. I know this is hard on you and if you need anything, even if it’s just to talk, knock on our door, okay?” she said pointedly.

Sunny looked gravely at the agents but then nodded, a faint smile gracing her full lips.

“I will. Thank you,” she said and then walked into her room.

Dawn had opened their door and walked inside.

“This is becoming ridiculous,” Joan heard her mutter as she stepped inside after her partner.

“What is …” Joan interrupted herself as she faced a queen size bed. “Oh, that.”

Dawn smiled crookedly and shrugged off her jacket.  “I need a shower,” she said and disappeared into the bathroom.

Joan looked at the door closing behind her partner. Dawn was really becoming more comfortable with sharing a bed with her. After all, in light of everything they had been through lately, this was the more pleasant part.

She pulled the cover off the bed and turned down the blankets. This was not the kind of hotel that put chocolates on the pillows, but they would be comfortable and safe.

The brunette kicked off her boots and pulled off her torn trench coat. Malachai had generously handed out some of his wife’s clothes to her and Dawn. Dawn was the same size as Mary but Joan was not, being at least half a foot taller. She had accepted a sweater and underwear, but kept the coat and her torn jeans.

She undressed and put on the blue robe hanging on the wall next to the bed.

Dawn entered, wrapped in a towel, her hair dripping, making the skin on her shoulders glisten. 

Joan regarded her, feeling a surge of emotions unfolding inside. The smaller woman was so beautiful. Her skin was very white and hair was a dark auburn from being wet. The towel hardly covered her curvaceous body.

“I’ll take a shower too,” Joan said quickly, a bit embarrassed by the direction her thought had taken.

Dawn nodded, rubbing her wet hair with a smaller towel.

Joan showered quickly, making a face the large mirror over the sink at the bruises on her body from yesterday. She dried her short hair and then put the robe back on.

She left the bathroom and then stopped in her tracks as she took in the sight of her partner standing naked, drying herself off.

Hearing the door opening had Dawn pivot so fast she almost fell. Her mouth was half open as she stared at her partner.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Joan said, not really knowing why.

“No, no, that’s okay,” Dawn said breathlessly, as she held the towel in her hand and slowly covered herself up. “That was a quick shower, that’s all.”

The brunette couldn’t take her eyes off the soft, white curves of Dawn’s body. Her eyes moved slowly over the redhead, not realising that she was staring until she noticed her partner’s cheeks turning faintly red.

“Joan?” Dawn said enquiringly.

Joan tore her eyes off the other woman and walked to her side of the bed.

She sat down and inhaled deeply.

Dawn came around the bed and sat down next to her. She looked genuinely concerned.

“Joanie, what’s wrong?” she asked cautiously.

“Nothing. Really, it’s nothing.”

“I can see that it’s definitely something,” Dawn stated gently, putting her right arm around Joan’s waist.

Joan couldn’t help shivering and the doctor frowned.

“There’s something wrong,” she insisted quietly, “talk to me.”

The brunette sighed and tipped her head back. She wanted desperately to get her soaring feelings under control. They scared her, enticed her to no end.

“I just … well, when I walked in here and you were standing there … looking so beautiful … I just … Sorry.”

Her cropped sentences apparently made perfect sense to Dawn. The other woman pulled her close, taking Joan into her arms and rocking her gently.

Joan threw her arms around her partner. She hugged her close and breathed in the soft scent of soap and shampoo.

“Oh, Joanie,” Dawn whispered against the brunette’s cheek. “It’s okay. Really, it’s fine. There’s nothing to be sorry about. I don’t mind … in fact … I’m glad.”

Joan shuddered and pulled the smaller woman closer.

“I do think you’re beautiful,” she whispered.

“I know. You told me,” Dawn whispered back, kissing the cheek closest to her. “You make me believe it.”

Joan turned her head and captured the full, red lips of her partner. Brushing against them slowly with her own, over and over, she relished in their softness, their moisture. Dawn sighed against her mouth and by doing so parted her lips a little.

Joan nibbled softly at the doctor’s lower lip, tugging gently at it with her teeth and then she let her tongue enter the warm, moist mouth trembling against hers.

“Mm …” Dawn moaned into the kiss, deepening it immediately.

They kissed each other over and over, hardly taking the time to breathe.

At first the kisses were slow and tentative as each woman explored the other’s mouth but soon the kisses became more demanding as their passion for each other grew and their bodies demanded more.    

Dawn gently pushed at Joan’s shoulders, making the other woman lie down on the bed. Lying next to her, the redhead continued to kiss her as she gently reached beneath the blue robe to touch the skin she’d craved.

Joan responded by reaching out and pulling away Dawn’s towel. With a groan, she pulled her near.  “You are so beautiful Dawn…So beautiful.”

As her lips met Joan’s, Dawn’s hand searched and found the belt of the blue robe and untied the knot. Pushing the robe open she exposed the full breasts of her partner.

Joan felt her nipples pebble instantly, aching for the other woman’s touch.

Dawn pulled back to see what she had uncovered.  The sight of Joan’s body before her stole her breath away. Looking at Joan their eyes locked. 

“Oh, god, Joanie, you’re so beautiful,” Dawn sighed and let a soft finger trace the curve of Joan’s left breast.

The brunette felt the touch like a small fire and inhaled audibly, biting down on her lower lip.

Dawn’s finger circled the nipple over and over, pinched it a little and then did the same thing to its right twin.

Joan moaned and arched into the touch. She had never felt such intense arousal before, she could hardly and breath. Gasping she felt Dawn put both hands to use, pinching and caressing her nipples over and over.  

The doctor then leaned down to kiss her again, making Joan moan into her mouth as she suckled her tongue in long, slow movements.

Dawn then placed a blazing trail of kisses down Joan’s throat and further down her chest. Reaching her breasts, the redhead stopped and without hesitation took the right nipple into her mouth, devouring it.

Joan cried out, arching again under the sweet torment, gasping Dawn’s name throatily.

“Yes, oh yes, Dawn … Dawn,” she mumbled feverishly.

She laced her fingers through Dawn’s hair, pulled the hot mouth closer, making the other woman take more of her breast in her eager mouth. Dawn suckled her harder.  It was heavenly.  

Dawn pulled back a little only to switch to the other breast. She launched at it, devoured it as eagerly as she had the previous one, making her partner cry out again. 

“Yes! Oh, yes … oh, Dawn …” Joan sobbed, pulling her closer again. 

Dawn heard her and seemed to double her efforts to give the woman in her arms pleasure. She nibbled at her, tugged at the nipple with her teeth and then soothed it with her tongue.

Then she began a new trail of open mouth kisses down the slender body of her partner.

Joan gasped as she felt Dawn slide down her body, planting hot kisses all over her stomach, tasting her skin and making delicious little noises as she did so.

“I love to taste you,” Dawn mumbled as she moved down, past the dark triangle at the apex of Joan’s thighs. She gently parted the quivering thighs beneath her and then looked up at the flushed, incoherent brunette.

“Will you let me make love to you, Joanie?” she asked softly.

Joan could only stare at her.

“I want you so much,” Dawn said and smiled softly.

Joan nodded, feeling both scared and more excited than she had in a long time.

Dawn smiled again and then settled on her knees between her partners shivering legs. Pushing them further apart she gazed down at the other woman.

“You’re beautiful,” she breathed.

Joan sighed and let her legs open up more, allowing Dawn to look at her, to touch her.

The doctor let a hand slide down her partner’s swollen folds and Joan could not hold back a moan, moving her hips into the touch.

“Yes,” Dawn said huskily. “That’s it … does that feel good, Joanie?”

The brunette nodded, not able to take her eyes of the woman kneeling between her thighs.

“How about this?” Dawn asked and parted the folds gently, finding the little aching nubbin there, caressing it with two fingers.

Joan arched and moaned again. “Yes, yes … oh, touch me, Dawn,” she managed between gasps.

The slender fingers touched her over and over, circling her nubbin until tremors travelled up and down her spine, originating from her groin. Joan whimpered and bit her knuckles on her left hand, trying not to cry out.

When she was almost there, Dawn leaned down and let her mouth eagerly engulf the hard ridge of nerves and suckle it. She carefully pressed two fingers inside the brunette, pushing them all the way in.

Joan cried out and convulsed. She felt herself leave the bed and float in nothingness with Dawn, aching all over before shattering into a million pieces for those precious seconds her body was craving for.

“Oh … oh … oh …” she moaned, her body jerking repeatedly under Dawn’s greedy mouth and insistent fingers.

As Joan descended and landed back into the bed, the doctor removed her hand slowly, shifted and stretched out along her side. There she pulled her partner close, hugging her.

“Darling, I’m here,” she said. “It’s okay …”

Joan felt tears and beads of sweat run down her temples and into her damp hair. Shaking with emotions and feeling utterly vulnerable she clung to Dawn, the only real and solid being close to her right now.

“Oh, Dawn,” she sighed. “Hold me.”

Dawn wrapped her arms around her, pulling her even closer. “I have you,” she said softly. “I’m not letting go.”

Those words were more comforting to the brunette than the other woman possibly could imagine. Joan needed to hear them as much as she needed to breathe.

“I love you, Joan,” Dawn whispered into her ear.

Joan’s heart swelled and then the words were there, easy to say, meaning every syllable.

“I love you too, Dawn.”

*****

The doctor stiffened and her breath caught in her throat.

Afraid that she had misheard the woman in her arms, she pulled back a little and regarded her carefully.

“Joan?” she asked.

“I do. I think I must have loved you for a long time,” Joan said, still out of breath. 

Dawn felt her heart stop and then start to race.

“Oh, Joanie,” she sighed, pressing her lips on the top of Joan’s head. “I love you, I know I do … but are you sure? It’s not just because I just … we just …”

Furious with herself for sounding so insecure and blushing, her voice trailed off.

Joan raised herself on her elbow and regarded her partner with tenderness.

“I love you. No, I don’t say it just because you just made love to me and sent me to the heaven and back again.”

She recuperates quickly, Dawn thought dryly.

She felt giddy for the apparent sincerity in the other woman’s words.

“So …” the doctor said slowly, “we are in love with each other.”

Joan looked down at her, her eyes suddenly gleaming with happiness.

“I guess we are,” she grinned and placed a soft kiss on the other woman’s full lips.

Dawn returned the kiss and then pulled Joan close, settling her on her shoulder.

“I’m glad,” she said gently. “Very glad.”

“So am I,” the brunette said. “But …”

“But, what?”

“You? You made such wonderful love to me. What about you?”

Dawn smiled and caressed Joan’s back.

“I still think we should take it slow,” she said. “I’m fine. You allowed me to make love to you and that’s all I ask for right now. I honestly hadn’t planned for it to happen tonight. I guess I was just so relieved to have handed over some of the responsibility and … “

“You let your guard down?”

Dawn smiled crookedly.

“I guess. That and the fact that a certain brunette was watching me with such desire in her eyes earlier …”

Joan laughed. 

“I did, huh?”

“Yes, you did? Do you deny it?”

“No. You’re gorgeous.”

Dawn nuzzled the soft skin on Joan’s cheek and then lied down again.

“So are you.”

Joan glanced up at her.

“Are you sure? I mean … that you want to wait?" 

The doctor smiled softly.

“Yes. I don’t want to jeopardise this. You need more time and frankly, so do I.”

The brunette nodded a little uncertainly.

“Just hold me,” she said in a low voice.

Dawn pulled the blankets up around them, making a warm and safe nest in the centre of the bed.

“Oh, don’t worry, I won’t let go.”

*****

Valerie Jones hung up her phone and remained in her office, slumped back in her chair.

She had just received the worst possible news from one of her most trusted subordinates and she was going to have to break it Dawn Morrison in a matter of hours.

Jones had spent half the night in her office, forgoing a previous commitment in order to see how much truth there was behind Morrison’s suspicions.

After several hours of making quiet inquiries, reviewing the files on the Farlow case, going over the After Action Report on stake out that had resulted in the loss of two of their own, Jones was beginning to see a pattern emerge. 

In her line of work there were no such things as coincidences, the fact that this case seemed to be loaded with them spoke volumes.  Someone from within was deliberately manipulating the situation in a most subtle manner. The fact that this had not surfaced earlier said as much about the perpetrators as it did about the Bureau.

The problem now was that all though there were indicators present, sufficient evidence of wrong doing itself was not.

Jones rubbed her throbbing temples. What really infuriated her was Monroe.  Behind each event the caught her attention stood that man. Most people would view his actions, as that of a conscientious senior supervisor. Having served in the job, Jones had a different perspective and the incongruities she uncovered had her silently cursing Monroe. 

What really infuriated her was the fact that  it appeared that Munroe was up to something new. This latest phone call confirmed it. There was no mistake, something was going down and she her instincts told her that it was about to turn ugly.

Knowing that driving home for just a couple of hours would be a total waste of time, she decided to just take a short nap on the leather couch. Pulling the soft blanket over her she thought about Grace Farlow.

She had never doubted that woman’s guilt nor had she felt any sympathy towards her.

That is … until now.

*****

Laura crossed the busy street.

A small, trendy jeep honked at her as it missed her by inches. She didn’t pay it much attention, heading for the pay phone across the street.

She reached it and gave a middle-aged man approaching the phone a discouraging glare. He stopped in his tracks, allowing her to use it before him.

The hour was late but she knew he would still be there plotting, planning.   Lifting the phone Laura deposited her coins, dialled a number from memory and then Monroe was on the other end.

“Do we have a deal?” Laura asked harshly, not bothering to introduce herself.

“Yes,” Monroe answered, “if you take us to Farlow.” 

Laura closed her eyes in relief. This was far from over but now she  initiate the next phase of her plan.

“You know the old industrial area south of Alexandria along the Potomac? The abandoned old cotton mill?

“I think I know which one you’re referring to.”

“Good. I’ll be there and so will Farlow. Tomorrow  night.”

She heard him start to object and fury entered her voice.

“Quit stalling and don’t even bother trying to trace this call. Do you know it or not?” she hissed vehemently.

“I’ll find it.”

“Be there.”

She hung up on him, her stomach clenching at the thought of what could go down this evening.

Laura was almost numb from lack of sleep. She was staying at a cheap motel.   Every time she tried to rest her thoughts constantly returned to Sunny.

The scientist had tortured herself with the image of the beloved face and the memories of holding that luscious body close to hers, tasting those full lips.

An insistent nudge on her shoulder almost rendered the patient man behind her an elbow into his midsection. Mumbling an apology he took a step back and let her pass.

Laura walked briskly down the pavement, wanting to get back to her motel to get ready for what she knew could be the end of her run.

In fact it might be the end of everything.

*****
Continued in part 9
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