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

I know I repeat myself - but my beta reader Pol is a true pearl!

Back to "Finding Shelter From The Storm" - part 8


Finding Shelter From The Storm

© GB

 

Part 9

 

Her voice failed her.

She tried to call out, to scream a warning to the woman standing only ten yards away from her, but she couldn’t. 

Her throat worked hard, convulsing under the pressure of the air gushing from her lungs but her vocal cords would not produce a sound.

She tried frantically to find someway to get her message across to the slowly fading figure.

Then, she saw them, dark shadows, men, moving in and out of the sudden mist. The sight chilled her soul. Sensing the danger she knew she had to act.

She began to run towards the woman.

Slowly the woman turned towards her. Their eyes met.  

Suddenly, her voice broke the silence.

Screaming, she watched in horror as a bullet formed a large hole in Laura’s forehead.

Blood …the blood … Laura’s blood, was everywhere. 

*****

“Laura!!!”

Sunny rose out of her bed sobbing Laura’s name over and over. Panting for air, she felt the tears flowing down her cheeks.

The terrifying vision had left her shaken. Even the knowledge that it was only a dream did nothing to lessen the horrible loss she felt as she helplessly watched Laura die.

Pulling the blankets around her to fight the cold that she felt within, Sunny curled around the pillow she held close to her chest.  Closing her eyes she tried to gain control but it was of little use.

Hubert, sensing his owner’s distress, came and put his chin on her thigh.  

“Where is she?” Sunny asked him, trying to stifle the sobs that painfully forced their way through her throat. “Oh, where is she?”

*****

Sunny managed to sleep very little the rest of the night. Her dreams were short, erratic and confusing; not unlike the ones she had after her father’s death.

Finally giving up the thought of sleep, Sunny got up and entered the bathroom.  

She took a quick shower and then pulled her hair back into the usual austere ponytail. She regarded herself in the mirror, noticing absentmindedly how pale she was and how colourless her blue eyes had become.

She touched her own cheek and then quickly withdrew her hand.

The touch was a painful reminder of how Laura had cupped her cheek several times. Sometimes to get a point across properly and sometimes just to touch her, to caress the younger woman while regarding her with even blue-grey eyes.

Sunny bit her lip and made herself focus.

Hubert needed his morning walk.

She finished getting dressed and then went to the agents’ room and knocked on their door.

Dawn opened it.

“I have to walk Hubert,” Sunny said, not meaning to sound so harsh. She was simply trying not to break down at the sight of the tousled woman in front of her. The doctor’s colours were very close to Laura’s and the blonde ached inside as she looked at her.

Dawn regarded her closely.

“He can wait a couple of minutes,” she said seriously. “Come in.”

She held the door open and Sunny reluctantly walked in.

Joan came out of the bathroom wearing a bathrobe and Sunny felt a pang in her stomach when she noticed the look the brunette gave Dawn.

Sunny cleared her throat.

“Yes?” she said, urging them to talk, she wanted to leave the room as quickly as possible.

“We’re going down for breakfast. You can join us when you’ve walked your dog,” Dawn said firmly. “I‘ll call Valerie Jones and find out what she’s learned.”

She walked closer to Sunny and gently touched the taller woman’s arm.  

“I know you‘re worried, but I feel responsible. You’re a civilian and you could end up getting hurt if we’re not careful. Sunny, you must do as I say, when I say it. Can you promise me that?”

Sunny shrugged.

“Yes,” she said.

“Are you sure? Both Joan and I know how you feel about Laura. I don’t want you out there as a loose canon. I have to know that I can trust you. When we find Laura, and we will, I don’t want to be the one that has to tell her that we allowed you to get hurt. Do I make myself clear?”

Sunny’s shoulders slumped a little at those last words. She could very well end up being hurt if she allowed her fiercely protective feelings towards Laura to rule her head.

“Yes,” she whispered, this time looking directly at Dawn.

Dawn took both of Sunny’s hands in hers.

“Good. We need your co-operation if we’re going to pull this off.  I would have preferred not to involve you, given the choice, but since things are the way they are …”

Sunny nodded solemnly and freed her hands slowly.

“I won’t disregard your orders,” she said quietly. “See you at breakfast.”

She pivoted and almost fled the room, Hubert hot on her trail. Out in the corridor she had to lean against the wall, breathing hard to stay in control of her feelings. She couldn’t fall apart here, not yet. Not when they needed her to reach Laura, should they find her.

She patted Hubert and signalled to him to follow her to the elevator.

Some things never changed.

There were something strangely comforting and normal in walking your dog.

*****

Dawn looked at the door for a couple of seconds after it closed behind the young blonde.

“She’s a loose canon whether you like it or not,” Joan stated and wrapped her arms around the doctor from behind.

Dawn nodded grimly and then turned around in her partner’s arms.

“I know,” she admitted, “but I think I reached her, at least to some degree. She is aware now that we need her; that she needs to focus to help Laura. This should at least make her think twice before doing something rash.”

Joan considered this.

“I hope so. I don’t like that desolate look in her eyes.”

“Neither do I,” Dawn agreed.

Joan smiled down at her partner.

“How are you feeling?”

“Oh, I feel great,” the doctor said, blushing faintly. “And you?”

“Very good, in fact,” the brunette smiled and kissed Dawn quickly.

Dawn leaned into the kiss briefly and then pulled away.

“Get dressed,” she said and reached for a hairbrush. “I’ll go downstairs and call Jones. See you at breakfast.”

Joan nodded and began to shrug out of the bathrobe.

Dawn felt her cheeks warm again and quickly turned her back to the other woman. This didn’t help much since the mirror on the wall reflected the tanned, slender body perfectly.

Dawn groaned inwardly and bit her lip. She had loved making love to Joan last night and just thinking about it aroused her and at the worst possible time too.

“See you,” she said and hastily left the room.

Joan’s soft, knowing laughter followed her out into the corridor.

She went to the elevator but then opted for the stairs instead. Taking the steps two at a time, she reached the lobby and quickly checked to see if anyone was in the area.  Spotting the clerk behind the desk see asked if she could make a call.

The clerked showed her into the office behind him.

She walked over to the phone. The clerk handed her a key and then left her, closing the door behind him.

The operator put her through and then she heard Valerie Jones’ voice.

“Morrison,” the cool, slightly husky voice said. “Good. We need to meet again. I don’t want to address this matter over the phone any more than I have to.”  

“All right,” Dawn agreed. “Tell me where.”

“Same as last time, in one hour,” Jones said briefly. “Bring the other ladies too.”  

“See you there,” Dawn said and they hung up.

She didn’t like the sound of this.  

Her former commanding officer was a no nonsense woman who never used superfluous words or said anything she didn’t mean. Dawn had worked with her on several cases and knew by the tone of her voice that the news was not good.

The thought turned her stomach and breakfast lost its’ appeal as her intuition asserted itself warning her that something was about to go down.  

She gritted her teeth and walked towards the breakfast room assured in her mind that her food would hold little taste today a hand on her shoulder made her jump and twirl.

Joan held up her hands in mock surrender but regarded her seriously.  

“Dawn? Are you okay?”

Dawn nodded.

“Yes, but this isn’t looking much better than it did yesterday. Jones’ sounded … well, very much like she did when there was a major screw up or when someone was going to get a piece of her mind.”

Joan frowned.

“Did she tell you anything?”

“No, she didn’t want to, not even over the secure line, which bothers me a lot.”

Joan frowned.

“I see.” She looked past Dawn. “Here’s Sunny and Hubert.”

Dawn had to smile.

“Hubert. What a funny name on a dog,” she whispered before turning around to nod at the blonde.

Sunny leaned down and said something to her dog. He obediently walked over to the entrance to the breakfast room and sat down.

“You told him to do that?” Joan asked incredulously.

“Yes.”

“Does he understand everything you say?”

“Yes and everything you say too,” the blonde stated calmly. “Shall we go inside?”

Dawn could see that Sunny had been crying but that she had pulled herself together. Her blue eyes now showed a steely expression, which worried the agent more than any tears.

“Yes, we need to hurry,” Dawn said amicably. “Valerie Jones is expecting us.”

They went into the breakfast room and Dawn couldn’t keep from patting Hubert on his large head when she passed him. He was really a most remarkable dog.

*****

Valerie Jones came out of her private bathroom after freshening up.

Sleeping on the couch really was for the young, she thought wryly as she smoothed her slack suit over her hips.

She thought about her brief conversation with Dawn Morrison.

The younger woman was a brilliant agent. She had shown great promise from the beginning. Valerie Jones had admired the doctor’s knack for seeing the big picture.

Morrison could puzzle together small pieces of information, apply intuition together with her experiences and expertise, and get the job done.

This made her one of the best in her field.

Jones sighed and brushed her short, stylish hair.

The information she had gathered last night and now this morning disturbed her. She needed to compare it with what Morrison and Tremayne knew.

Monroe had been good at covering up his tracks but something had happened that made him a little less careful just recently. He was up to something and from what Morrison had told her yesterday, it could have everything to do with Grace Farlow.

Jones grabbed her briefcase and then began to look for her keys. This was one of her few weaknesses and a well kept secret. Keys. She kept losing them.

Spotting them behind a lamp on a small sideboard she cursed under her breath and picked them up.

She left her office, nodding to those of her staff that were already there.

They were not very surprised to see her at that hour. She often pulled all nighters, not as many as when she was new at this position, but it was still a common sight.

She took the elevator down to the garage under the building, lost in thought as she began to walk towards her car.

Bright headlights suddenly blinded her.

Raising her free hand she shaded her eyes and squinted at the car.

She wasn’t overly concerned, merely annoyed. There were extensive surveillance cameras throughout the building, the underground garage included. She chastised herself for being so paranoid and continued to walk towards her car.

The sound of the engine gunning however made her jump.

Involuntary she leaped back as the driver slammed the car into gear. The tormented engine roared as it raced towards her.

The tall woman threw herself to the right as she felt the cold metal nudge her.

Gasping for air she ended up on the hood of a car, her briefcase flying in the air, landing close by as it hit a wall.

The car, a dark sedan, disappeared from her sight, no longer on screaming tires but at a considerable speed.

Jones flung herself from the hood.  Quickly, reaching for her briefcase, she snapped it open and grabbed her cell phone. Dialling a number she hurried towards her car.

She reached Security and told them to secure the building immediately.   She then gave a brief description of the car that had attempted to run her down moments ago.  The officer in charge assured her that it would be done immediately and that no cars had left the garage in the past five minutes.

Jones reached her car, her heart racing both from anger and the shock of the unexpected attack. Reaching into her jacket she pulled her revolver from its holster and placed it in her lap as she got behind the wheel.  She knew she had made enemies along the way but to think someone would be stupid enough to go to such lengths as attack her in this building was mind-boggling. Turning the ignition she stepped on the gas and drove in the direction that her assailant had headed.

Slamming on her brakes she spotted the car.

Someone had carelessly parked the dark sedan next to the staircase entrance.

She pulled out her cell phone and called Security.  They informed her that they were on their way to her location and had dispatched officers to cover all of the exits within the building.

Jones slowly got out of her car. Grabbing her weapon, she took it off safe and cocked it as she carefully walked towards the other vehicle not waiting for backup.

Looking inside it, she confirmed that it was empty.

Approaching steps behind her made her twirl and aim

“Drop the weapon and put your hands on your head.”

Jones slowly lowered the weapon.

“Sorry ma’am.  Couldn’t tell it was you.”

Jones glared at the officer in charge as she placed the weapon on safe. “Search the area.  Run a check on this car. I want to know whom it belongs to,” she barked at the senior officer. “I want our people to go through this thing with a fine tooth comb, prints, fibbers, the works.  I want to see the surveillance tapes of the garage and this staircase and I want it on my desk ASAP. Is that clear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said smartly and began talking into his radio as the rest of the security force spread out and others entered the stairwell.  

Valerie Jones sighed and holstered her revolver.  She would stay here until she knew what was going on.

She was going to be late for the Monument but she knew that Morrison and the other women would wait. What choice did they have?

*****

Laura pulled the documents closer to her and let her finger trace the lines.

The old drawings of the abandoned cotton mill had not been easy to find.

The older of the two clerks at the archive at city hall had patiently assisted her.

He provided her with copies of the original blueprints as well as two newer ones, from when they had renovated the factory.

Laura studied them closely. She knew she needed an edge.  She had to know more than Monroe about this place if she was going to pull it off.

She already knew that the original building had had three floors. The heavy machinery had taken up most of the first floor where many workers had spent long hours making fabrics.

She realised that some of the machinery would be gone, but assumed that there would be enough junk left to provide some cover.

The offices were located in the northern part of the building, closest to the parking lot. There was a connecting corridor that ran between the rooms of various sizes.

She compared the old drawing to the newer ones. There were differences, mostly in the basement that stretched underneath the entire building.

Laura’s eyes narrowed.

There!

She might very well be looking at her only means of getting out of this alive.  

*****

Joan stood by Dawn and watched her partner trace a name on the wall with her finger.

Martin Morrison.

Dawn had told her briefly about him on their drive to the Washington Monument and she had understood more from the soft, somewhat detached voice than anything the doctor had actually said.

  The brunette glanced over her shoulder, making sure that Sunny and her dog were waiting for them over by the same trees as yesterday.

“She is late,” Joan stated and looked at her watch.

“Yes,” Dawn nodded, “but she will be here.”

“Something could have come up.”

“I know, but we’ll wait. She has information and we need to find out about Monroe.”

There were hardly any people around at this early hour and they could talk freely. Dawn turned around and let her eyes scan the area. Only a couple of early tourists were there and none of them within earshot.

Sunny walked over to them, Hubert faithfully by her side.

“We have waited for more than half an hour now,” the tall blonde said quietly.

“I know,” Dawn said. “Unfortunately there is little else we can do but wait.”

“What if she is not coming?” Sunny asked, her tone more urgent now as she clasped her hands behind her back.

“She’ll be here,” the doctor said pointedly. “She’s just delayed. I know Jones. If she can’t be here on time it is because something’s come up.”

“You’re correct as usual, Morrison,” a serene voice said behind them, making Joan pivot and reaching inside her pocket.

“Ms Jones,” she blurted out, angry with herself for letting her guard down and allowing herself to be surprised.  

“Oh, don’t take it too hard, agent Tremayne,” Jones drawled. “I have surprised agents with far more experience than you.”

The brunette resisted the urge to roll her eyes and just nodded.

Dawn looked at her former commanding officer.  

“I’m guessing that something came up,” she said. “Did it have anything to do with Farlow?”

“I’m not sure,” replied Jones glancing over her shoulder. “But we better get out of here. I don’t think I was followed but I wasn’t t expecting what happened this morning either.”

They decided to use the van and drove to a shopping mall with a large open parking lot.

Valerie Jones had only raised her eyebrows a little over the well-equipped van, regarding the surveillance equipment and the weapons arsenal it provided.

“Impressive,” was all she said.  

Joan regarded her and noticed that her coat was not as immaculate as yesterday, nor was her slacks. Something had been going on this morning all right.

Dawn parked the van in the middle of the crowded parking lot. 

Backing the van slowly into the parking space, Dawn could easily make a speedy exit if necessary, but the various makes and models of vehicles surrounding the mall provided them with the needed anonymity.

Reaching for the ignition, Dawn turned off the engine. She rose from the driver’s seat and moved to the rear of the van. Jones, who had ridden in the passenger’s seat, followed her lead.

Joining Sunny and Joan, the two women pulled out two small stools, apparently meant for the surveillance team to use in front of the narrow desk at the far side of the van. Sunny and Joan remained sitting on the lower bunk bed.

Jones let her gaze travel between the three women looking back at her.

“First let me brief you on what happened just a little while ago,” she said matter-of-factly.

She described the incident in the garage earlier.

Joan felt shivers down her spine. If they had picked up on Jones’ involvement already and had acted on it so soon, what were the chances of getting to Farlow first?

 “I had the surveillance tapes on my desk within twenty minutes but the man in the car was careful not to show his face. He was dressed in a plain dark suit; he had short, dark hair and was of average height and weight. There was no way any of us could distinguish between him and most of the staff working in the building. He could have been standing next to me in the corridor and I wouldn’t have been able to identify him,” said Jones pressing her lips together tightly.  Only her professionalism prevented her from using a few harsher, more descriptive words.

Joan could see how agitated the older woman was by these events.

Dawn regarded her former boss carefully.

“Were you injured?” she asked.

This caught Jones off guard a little but then she shook her head.

“Only my pride,” she smirked. “I don’t look good draped over a hood these days.”

Joan smiled inwardly. The lady was tough with a sense of humour that she could relate to. Somehow she could hear Dawn saying the same thing.

“Is this connected with Farlow?” Joan asked.

“I can’t be sure,” Jones said. “But the timing is a bit too convenient, too coincidental wouldn’t you say?  I can’t dismiss the possibility.”

Dawn nodded.

“I agree. When we talked this morning you said you had some more information but you didn’t want to give it over the phone, not even over a secure line. Can you share it now?”

“I wasn’t as concerned with the line as I was with being overheard at the office. Since you pointed me in the direction of Monroe, I did a little investigation of my own I looked at his actions and his files concerning, Farlow. I was able to cross-reference quite a lot of material using the computer last night and some more this morning. Although my findings are only preliminary, I can tell you I’ve discovered several inconsistencies”

“Such as?” Dawn asked.

“Where his earlier reports reflect meticulous attention to detail, his later reports are only rudimentary, vague, at times almost deliberately misleading, but never quite to the point of being blatant.  However, in the past few weeks even that trend has changed.

“How?”

“He’s not covering his tracks as well as he has in the past. He’s getting sloppy, almost rushed in his work. I find this to be very disconcerting.”

“Do you think he’s on the take?”

“Possibly, but as I pointed out, there isn’t enough evidence to accuse him of anything…at least not yet. There are enough signs to suggest that someone has gotten to him though.”

“How?”

“Money, payoffs, blackmail … who knows, but you can see when he began to deliberately manipulate the investigation. The signs are subtle but they’re there.” 

“Is there any indication that he is aware of our relationship with Farlow?”

“No, but I can see where he intentionally sent the two of you on some wild goose chases. By the way, where are the two of you supposed to be right now?”

“He thinks that we are off visiting a relative, Aunt Bertha to be exact,” Joan grinned. “That mean he’s not aware of our actions over the past few days… I like that.”

Dawn regarded her calmly.

“So, if Monroe thinks that Farlow is on her own and that we are taking time off … “ Her voice trailed off.

Joan could see the wheels turning inside her partner’s head as she puzzled together the pieces.

“Monroe might suspect that someone’s contacted you,” Dawn continued, her eyes narrowing as she looked at Jones. “He may think that Farlow’s trying to strike a deal with more than one agent. Going to you would be going over his head and if what we believe about him is true; he would take strong measures to prevent that.”

Jones nodded in agreement.

“So, if he thinks Farlow is trying to cover her bases, this might explain why he’s getting careless. Monroe’s trying to move fast and he doesn’t have the time to cover his tracks. This puts Farlow in an even more danger. He’s becoming desperate.”

Joan glanced over at Sunny, who kept her steady blue gaze at Jones, absorbing every word.

“Sunny, what did Laura tell you that made you think she was innocent?” Joan asked abruptly.

The blonde turned towards the brunette and cocked her head.

“She said that she’d never stolen anything from the government and that she was not responsible for the explosion. Laura also claimed that she was hunted by the ones responsible because she had everything they were after with her all along.”

Jones and Dawn exchanged a look.

“She still remembers it all,” Dawn said, rubbing her forehead.

The older woman nodded and seemed to come to the same conclusion.

In her mind, Joan skimmed the thick folder they had had on Farlow. Then she saw it too.

“She’s got a photographic memory,” she sighed, slumping back against the wall behind her.

Sunny regarded them solemnly.

“You knew this?” Sunny asked, a tone of silent danger in her voice. “You knew she had a photographic memory and you never realised that that was the reason she had to run?”

Jones reached into her briefcase and pulled out a folder. To Joan’s surprise, the older woman moved and sat down next to Sunny on the bunk bed.

Opening the folder she pointed at the first document.

“Here, Ms Stewart,” she said. “Look at this and try to understand that before yesterday, nobody at the Bureau except agents Morrison and Tremayne had any doubts what so ever regarding Farlow’s guilt.”

Joan recognised the document in front of Sunny.

It was the same document that had been published in several newspapers, as well as on the Internet, when Farlow had made the list of the Bureau’s ten most wanted. It listed her known aliases and whereabouts. The paper also showed several pictures as well as detailed drawings of her, made by one of the Bureau’s forensic artists.  

Sunny regarded the pictures and read the document carefully. Then she examined the pictures again.

“This doesn’t look like her,” she said and pointed at the two earlier ones. “The two beneath them are more like her but not quite.”

Joan found it significant that Sunny didn’t seem to be in the least curious. The blonde had never asked about what it was Laura was supposed to have stolen. She simply didn’t seem to care; apparently all she wanted was the woman she loved back.

“Farlow now has auburn hair. Well, at least she did when we saw her last,” Joan offered. “She has also lost about thirty pounds or so over the years.”

Jones listened but kept her eyes locked on Sunny.

“So, since you know a side of her that we don’t and you’re aware of the threats,” she said slowly, “what do you think her plan of action is now?”

Sunny let a finger trace the last picture of Laura’s face before directing her pale, blue eyes at the older woman.

“She wants to end it. I’m afraid that she might think the only way to do so is to sacrifice herself. She is tired of running and … after bringing me along; she has been suffering from mood swings. She’s been adamant to keep me safe from the beginning and when she realised that she might not be able to do that … that is when she left.”

“In your opinion; has she contacted Monroe?”

“Yes.”

Jones rose and rubbed her neck.

“That leaves us little choice,” she said. “We don’t know how far into the organisation this reaches. We’ll have to monitor Monroe.”

Dawn regarded her seriously.

“We better not wait,” she said. “If Monroe is getting desperate … this could go down faster than we think.”

*****

Laura moved over to the short, chubby man sitting in the corner of the bar.

She had called him an hour ago, hoping that he would remember Rita Harris, the dark haired, intense woman he had met two years ago.

She had used that alias for three months when she worked as the right hand woman for his employer, a low profile but powerful financial shark. She had created a reputation for herself as being ruthless and with an itchy trigger finger.

This had worked as a warning to most people she had come into contact with. They had stayed on her good side or out of her way.

Laura casually sank down on a rickety wooden chair across from the man.

“Gordon,” she nodded solemnly. “It’s been a while.”

The man stared at her, not recognising her at first, but then his eyes widened.  

“Rita,” he inhaled. “Damn, you have changed. I didn’t recognise you.”

Laura cut him off with an abrupt gesture.

“As I said, it’s been a while. I don’t have time to catch up on old times. Can you deliver the stuff I need or not?”

Gordon blinked.

“You know, it wasn’t easy but I managed to get almost all of it …”

“Don’t give me that,” Laura hissed impatiently. “Either you have it or you don’t. I don’t have time for this shit.”

The stocky man sighed and rubbed his hands on his trousers.

“All right, all right,” he muttered. “I can deliver. It’ll set me back quite a bit …”

“You’ll get your money,” Laura interrupted. “I need the stuff now.”

The man rolled his eyes.

“I know better than to ask what you’re up to, Rita,” he said, lowering his voice. “You’ll have more than enough to blow up a small country.”

The scientist regarded him without emotions.

“Don’t exaggerate. Where is it?”

He motioned towards the door.

“In my car. What did you think? That I would bring it in here?”

Laura got up.  

“Let’s go,” she said.

Gordon shrugged and rose, his short, chubby figure displaying an unexpected agility.

They walked through the almost empty bar and into the deserted alley outside. There was a dirty, grey Volvo station wagon parked half a block away.

Laura carefully kept her hand loosely on her gun in her pocket as they approached the car.

Gordon opened the trunk and pulled out a red sports bag. Holding on to it he looked at Laura.

“Rita, I know it’s none of my business …”

“Correct. It’s not,” the auburn haired woman stated firmly and reached for the bag.

Gordon held on to it, apparently not ready to hand over the supplies.

“You could always be trusted, back then,” he said grumpily, “and I hope you don’t plan to blow me now. I want my money.”

“You’ll have it,” Laura said. “I always keep my word.”

He regarded her and then shrugged, handing over the bag.

“It’ll be both our heads if you don’t,” he stated. “The boss is under a lot of pressure these days. He’s particular about what goes where and to whom. He’ll know that I sold some stuff and he’ll want to know whom I sold it to and for how much. Don’t make me regret this. I’ll be the least of your troubles if you do. You’ll have him coming down on you.”

Laura knew he was right. She had already arranged for a money transfer via another old contact the next day. If everything went well, she would be around to make sure Gordon got his money. If not … there wasn’t much she could do about it.

Shouldering the sports bag she nodded briskly to the man in front of her.

“Thanks,” she said and turned around to walk away.

“Rita?”

She glanced over her shoulder.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing? You don’t want to be around when that stuff goes off,” Gordon said, frowning.

Laura smiled crookedly.

“Oh, I know exactly what I’m doing,” she said wryly. “I’m finally living up to my reputation and as for being around? I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

*****

Sunny clutched at the paper still in her hand.

She was looking at the different faces of Laura Carter, or Grace Farlow as her real name was.

Sunny briefly closed her eyes. She couldn’t think of Laura as Grace no matter how she tried.

To her she would always be Laura. She had moaned, whispered and cried that name when they made love. She would form that name soundlessly or in a desperate cry like this morning, every time she woke up. The name Grace Farlow represented someone else; someone from another time and place.

The blonde inhaled deeply and tried to ignore the feeling of nausea that was welling inside of her. Swallowing hard, she forced herself to not show anything in front of the other three women riding in the van with her.

They were on their way to start following this Monroe guy, hoping that he would lead them to Laura. She hated him with everything in her being, for all he had done, both to Laura and to Dawn and Joan.  

The desire to take personal vengeance was almost palatable. Only once before could she remember having such a desires that was the time Jared had rescued her from the attack at the motel.

It was frustrating not being able to do more than wait. She knew she had to trust the other women. They were the professionals in this, but the fear and the anger inside her wanted to drown out all reason.

Sunny glanced over at the older woman sitting next to her on the bunk bed.

Valerie Jones had an aura of authority that reminded her of her father. He had died eighteen months ago and it felt oddly comforting to recognise some of his qualities in this woman.

Jones looked up as if she had felt her gaze.

“Are you all right?” she asked, frowning.

Sunny nodded.

“Yes,” she managed.

“You’re very pale,” Jones insisted, regarding her firmly.

The blonde bit her lip and averted her eyes, fearing that the other woman would spot her inner turmoil. They would not hesitate to exclude her from this operation, should they suspect that her self-control was failing.

Jones reached out and cupped her chin.

Surprised, Sunny flinched and looked at her.

“Tell me,” the older woman said softly. “Tell me about Laura. Not the things we talked about earlier but the personal things.”

“Why would you want to know that?” Sunny whispered huskily, feeling her throat go dry.

“We have at least fifteen minutes to kill before we reach headquarters,” Jones said with a crooked smile. “I think you need something to focus on. From the way you look I can only judge that it would be a complete waste of time trying to talk about anything or anybody else … Let’s talk about your Laura. Tell me how you felt when you saw her for the first time.”

There was a new softness in the other woman’s eyes, making Sunny believe that Dawn’s former superior officer would actually be interested in what she had to say.

“I had been walking Hubert. It was windy and raining and I had to dry him off,” she began quietly. “The door chime rang and when I came out to the desk, there she was. She was wet and tired … just another guest. Simply someone seeking shelter from the storm, I thought. Then she looked at me and gave her name, or what I thought was her name and some how I knew even then. I knew she would become special to me; that she would mean something.”

Valerie Jones regarded her evenly.

“Go on,” she said softly.

“She went out the next day, on some business, looking absolutely confident when she left. When she returned that evening … She was bleeding from a gunshot wound. It was bad. Not life threatening, but bad enough. She was alone in the parking lot and if Hubert hadn’t heard her …”

She choked on her words and had to swallow hard.

“Was that when she sustained the wound in her side?” Jones asked.

Sunny nodded.

“Yes. I cleaned and dressed it. I used my connections and got antibiotics for her. I tried to protect her … “ Her voce trailed off.

“And then you left together?”

“No, that was the next evening. We left in Vincent’s car. I was driving and Laura slept with her head on my lap. She was still very weak. The only reason that she let me come with her was that she thought I’d be safer away from the motel since I had been attacked the same day. Now I realise that she was probably just trying to get me to Jared all along.”

Sunny’s voice lost its colour as she quieted, biting her lip.

Jones shook her head slowly.

“You know, you shouldn’t see that as rejection,” Jones said softly.

Sunny bit her lip.

“I can see that you do, at least to some degree but try to look at it from another perspective.  If Laura had been indifferent to you in any way, she wouldn’t have done all she did to keep you safe. She would have used you, like she has used other in the past, to stay ahead of anyone following her, including the Bureau. She wouldn’t have risked everything to keep you safe. Do you understand the difference?” the older woman asked seriously.

“I think so.”

“This is an extremely intelligent woman we are talking about. She has kept the Bureau and everyone else at bay for years. God knows how many times she has had to move on and leaving people behind.”

“Too many times,” Sunny said darkly.

“Yes. Then she came across you and apparently falls head over heels in love. Still she gave you up. She wasn’t lying to you. She was doing what she thought best. Sunny, this is the first time she has deliberately confronted anyone who is hunting her.”

Jones looked at her pointedly.

“What worries us is that she has chosen to confront Monroe even though she knows he is most likely a traitor,” she continued. “She must have a plan and I’ll be blunt; there is every possibility that this could turn very ugly.  My gut feeling is that she’s prepared to sacrifice herself literally if that’s what it takes to accomplish her objectives. What do you think?”

Sunny paled.

“You mean, she would allow herself to get caught?”  

“No, what I mean is that she might let herself get killed if that’s the only way she could take out her enemies. We’ll do everything in our power to prevent it, that’s why we need you. We need to see her through your eyes, in order to not lose sight of who she has become. This is why you must think of her, help us and not let your feelings cloud your judgement.”

Setting her jaw and squaring her shoulders, Sunny nodded solemnly.

“I’ll do it,” she said, making it a vow. “What ever happens, I’ll be there and I’ll do what ever is necessary.”

The other woman winced, not looking reassured at all.

*****

Joan parked the van a block from the Bureau’s headquarters.

Dawn was sitting on a stool at the narrow desk, adjusting the monitors. Inconspicuous cameras on the outside of the van were directed at the large building a little further down the street.

“Nice of them to leave us all these toys,” Joan said wryly as she came back to join her partner.

Dawn smiled crookedly.

“Very useful,” she agreed.

She glanced over her shoulder, not sure what had passed between Sunny and her former boss as they were driving. She had found the two women looking at each other and the air thick with unspoken words.

“Are you all right, Sunny?” the doctor now asked.

Sunny turned her head and looked at her.

“Yes,” she answered politely.

Dawn groaned inwardly at the passive voice. She didn’t know Sunny very well, but she knew that tone in her voice didn’t bode well.

“Woo … we’re in luck,” Joan interrupted and started to flick several switches.

The outside cameras zoomed in on a man dressed in a dark overcoat talking to two other men as they walked out the front door.

Dawn’s hands flew over switches and knobs, making the speakers come alive with a static noise that soon turned into mumbling words. Some words filtered through, turning into chopped sentences.

“ … Sooner than we expected … lost her … tonight … “

“ … why … this other woman … reward?”

“ … friend … Farlow … before tonight.”

“Tonight? It’s too early. We have to set … to be sure.”

“We … have one shot at this. We can’t screw this up. Somehow this has moved higher up. Valerie Jones … acting as if …”

“Shit! That bitch always … in everything!”

Dawn looked over at Jones who smirked and nodded, looking oddly pleased.

“You want us to … it all?”

“No, I have to be there in person. The old … mill … south of Alex- … -mac.”

Then there were only static and as the two men wearing suits went to a car in the parking lot, the man in the overcoat walked back inside the building.

“Shall we follow them?” Joan asked hesitatingly.

“No,” Jones and Dawn said simultaneously.

“I think Farlow has a deal with Monroe and she has most likely demanded that he’d be there personally. She wouldn’t deal with anyone else,” Dawn concluded.

She glanced at Sunny, flinching at the naked hatred that flickered over the blondes narrow features as she kept her gaze locked on the monitor showing the closing door of the building.

“Sunny?” she said pointedly.

The blonde tore her eyes off the monitor and turned her head slowly towards Dawn. Her blue eyes were pale and emotionless. There was no sign of the rage that were present just a moment ago.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Have you and Laura ever talked about DC? Has she ever mentioned any buildings, anything that might give us a lead to where she might be setting this meeting up?”

“No. We never talked about this city,” the blonde answered.

Joan had played the tape back and was listening intently.

Dawn waited and tried to not drum her fingers on the desk.

Her partner pulled her headset off and regarded them all with a frown.

“She must be somewhere along the Potomac, somewhere in the industrial area,” she said grimly. “He said something sounding like old mill, Alexandria and Potomac, I’m certain about it. We have to find if there are any old mills there.”

The doctor nodded and looked over at Jones.

“This means we have to split up.”

Jones agreed. “Yes. You and Tremayne stay on Monroe’s tail. I will take cab back to the monument and get my car. I’ll research the records at city hall. You can reach me on my cell phone if you need to. Once everything’s in motion, they won’t bother with tracing calls.”

She turned to Sunny.

“I can use your help.”

Sunny glanced at the monitor but then rose from the bunk bed.

“Okay,” she said quietly and then turned to her dog. “Hubert, you stay here.”

Dawn’s eyebrows almost left her face as the dog actually seemed to nod.

“Good thinking,” Joan said. “He is a bit conspicuous to bring into city hall.”

After checking the monitors again, Jones opened the passenger door and jumped out. Sunny followed her quickly and the two women disappeared into a cross street. Dawn watched Jones raising her hand to stop a cab before losing sight of them.

She glanced over at Joan.

The brunette reached out and touched her partner’s cheek.

“I hate waiting,” she said softly.

“I know,” Dawn nodded. “Stake outs were never your strong side. Not enough action.”

“No, that’s not what I mean. I hate waiting.”

Dawn frowned not understanding at first. Then she figured it out and inhaled audibly.

“Oh.”

“Yes,” Joan said and pivoted on her stool, reaching for the closest monitor, adjusting it. “That’s what I mean.”

*****

Laura entered the old abandoned cotton mill.

The lock had not been much of a challenge and she only had to push the door open a little bit to slip though.

Inside, many years of collected dust whirled up as she moved along the wall. She regarded the floor. There were no footprints in the dust and she was confident that nobody had been there in a long time.

She pulled out the strip map she had made and checked it quickly. Pleased that she had entered through the door she had intended, she put it back in her bag and moved on.

There were plenty of old pieces of machinery left from the days when this had been a thriving business.

They were large and dusty, most of them covered with rust.

She walked around the large hall, paced in and out around the machinery, making sure her footprints were everywhere. This would make it less obvious to Monroe once he and his goons arrived.

Laura regarded the eight large pillars she had chosen.

They were made of cast iron and supported the ceiling, about twenty-five feet up.

Opening the sports bag, Laura pulled out two packages, one large and one smaller. She rolled out large one, revealing eight grey lengths of what looked like children’s modelling clay. They were about three feet long and as thick as her thumb.

The smaller package contained eight small technical devices and one larger, which also boasted a small antenna.

Laura regarded it all and then briefly closed her eyes.

There had been times when she had hardly ever heard of things like these. She had been an expert in her field of science but explosives had not been part of her world.

Chastising herself for becoming distracted, she got up after picking up the first length.  

She had asked Gordon for C4, a plastic explosive that was easy to handle and also very potent. She walked over to the closest pillar and wrapped the length around it in a circle. She flattened it carefully against the surface and was pleased to see how well it blended in with the old pillar.

Then she attached the small detonator, operated by remote control, to the circle of C4. Pressing it deeply inside the grey matter, it would be hard to detect unless you knew where to look.

Laura repeated the whole thing with the other seven pillars she had chosen, making sure she altered the level where she attached the C4. There could be no margin for errors.

When she was done, Laura grabbed her bag and walked across the hall to a remote corner.

Sitting down on an old wooden box she pulled out another package from her bag. Unfolding a large sandwich, a sub with ham and cheese, she began to eat, needing the energy. She still had to force the food down her dry throat, her stomach on the verge of nausea.

The scientist swallowed down the last of the sandwich with some coke.

The irony of her choice of food had not escaped her. This ‘killer sub’ had not been as good as the one Sunny offered her guests at River Meadow, but it was still bittersweet.

She allowed herself to think of the woman she loved for a moment. She was fairly sure that Monroe and who ever he would bring would not appear before dark.

“Sunny,” she whispered almost soundlessly, only to taste the name.

The pain erupting inside her chest threw her and she let her head fall forward as she forced back the tears. There had been no warning, no premonition or omen that she would fall … no, crash into love like she had.

She smirked.

Who was she kidding? There could have been a dozen omens and she would have disregarded them all, scornful of such things, as any scientist would be. The fact remained. She had walked into Sunny’s life and fallen in love. What was even more astonishing, from what ever angle you looked at it, was the fact that the young blonde loved her back.  

Laura slammed her fist against the brick wall.

She had hurt a lot of people over the years.

She had walked out on them without explanations after telling them only lies. She had killed.

Still nothing hurt the scientist more than the memory of the sleeping woman she had left at Malachai’s.

Furiously she wiped the tears away, making herself stop crying out of sheer willpower.

This was not the time for tears.

That time would no doubt come later.

This was the time for action, action and revenge for all that she had lost and for the sake of all that she had left.

Determinedly she stood and began to put the rest of her plan into motion.  

*****

Continued in part 10
Back


Home Fan Fiction - Original - FAQs - Email