DISCLAIMER: This is an Uber story, which means that the two main characters bear a striking resemblance to a certain Warrior Princess and her Bard <g>. Xena and Gabrielle are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use only and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
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1455 Hours, 20 October
There was a firm knock at the door. Lieutenant Colonel Deanna Peterson had been rocking in her oversized leather desk chair, looking out the window into the courtyard. The chair was the only luxury she allowed herself in her large, but spartan office, at the Pentagon. She swiveled her chair around and straightened the papers that were scattered about her desk before she called out, Enter. A brilliant smile quickly replaced her formal military countenance as she recognized the individual entering through the doorway. It was her long time friend, Tracy Kidd, with whom she had recently been reunited while on detached assignment in the Catskills of New York. That was an assignment she would remember for the rest of her life, for it was where she finally reconciled with her past, and took a bold step into the future.
Hey, Colonel, came the quick salutation from Tracy, how about lunch?
Tracy! Its good to see you! Are you here alone? Wheres Colleen? Stepping from behind her desk, Dean greeted her old friend with a barrage of questions and a fierce hug instead of a handshake. Before allowing Tracy time to answer, she added, So, what brings you to Washington?
Tracy grinned at her friends obvious delight at seeing her. Oh, just one of the perks of being the Director of Parks and Recreation! We brought down a busload of senior citizens to see the sights for the weekend. We just got in. I left them in Linnas capable hands and hopped the first cab over here to see you. Colleen couldnt make this trip, but she sends her love, Tracy said, answering all of her questions as Dean waved her to a chair by the desk and returned to her own chair. We havent heard from you in a while, so I just took a chance youd be here and not out on assignment in some backwater. And before you ask, I ran into Captain Jerral at the Information Desk, and he got me the visitors pass and directed me to your office.
Good old Jerral. Thats right, you were posted together at Fort Sill. Yeah, Ive been here plowing through paperwork for what seems like eons. Dean motioned at the stacks of papers littering her desk. I was just rocking in my chair and contemplating how bored I am, when you knocked. I really hate paperwork! Much rather be out in the field.
So, why arent you? came the direct question from Tracy.
Well, with the loss of General James, the higher ups decided that his replacement, Brigadier General Carlton, needed an aide who was well versed in Intelligence work in the field, and guess who they picked? Dean pointed at her chest with a sad smile.
Carlton? Is that Mary Carlton? Shes a one-star now?
Yep! Nice to see a woman progress to such a good posting, but its sure cramping my style. General Carlton was always a top-notch administrator, great with budgets, proposals, planning, and staffing, but unfortunately has never been in the field herself. So now I get to help her make those assignments, track their progress, recommend changes, etc., etc.
Hey, it cant be that bad. At least you get to see Katie, dont you? Tracy offered this comment with a bright smile. How are the two of you doing, anyway?
Here Dean brightened visibly. Katie had become the stable force Dean needed in her life, and they grabbed every chance they could to be together. However, working for different government agencies was not helping their relationship to develop on a normal track. Katie was often out in the field, while Dean was swamped with paperwork. She filled Tracy in on the latest assignment Katie had in El Paso, knowing full well that nothing she said to her friend would leave her office. Shell be here this weekend. Shes just finishing up the paperwork on the case and will be arriving at National on the red eye from Dallas late tonight. I know shell be glad to see you and Linna too! Whats your schedule like with the seniors?
Not too bad. We bought a packaged tour this time. The company is providing a tour guide for the whole weekend. Linna and I came along just to participate and see whether its a good deal or not for future reference. So I can slip out any time, but Linna will be available only in the evenings. Whatd ya have in mind?
I know a great restaurant down by the river. Best crab cakes youve ever tasted. Maybe we could all get together there. Its called The Crab Pot.
Hey! Thats where the tour has us scheduled for tomorrow night at seven.
Great. Katie and I will meet you there at seven.
The two friends talked a bit longer and were about to leave for a short tour of the Pentagon when they were interrupted by an order for Deans presence in General Carltons office. Guess Ill have to bow out on the tour, but well see you at the Crab Pot tomorrow. The women rose from their chairs and hugged again before they left Deans office, each heading in a different direction.
* * * * * * *
One thing about Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, it was almost always busy. Dean parked her SUV in the short-term lot and ran into the airport, scanning the monitors for Katies arrival gate information. Damn! Theyre early. Must have caught a good tailwind. Okay, Dean, lets see how fast you can sprint down to the gate! As she hurriedly turned from the bank of monitors, she ran right into Katie who had been quietly standing behind the tall woman and was just about to tap her on the shoulder.
Ufff! Sorry, I didnt Dean said, as she reached down to assist the traveler she had just laid out on the floor. Katie! Why didnt you say something? Dean sputtered as she lifted her lover into her arms.
Yeah Im glad to see you, too! Katie said, reveling in the warmth of Deans embrace.
Releasing Katie, Dean put on her very best puppy dog look and started to apologize for being late, explaining that she had a very long meeting with the general, then had to run home to give Sugar her medicine, then the traffic on I 95 .
Katie reached up, smiling, and placed two fingers on Deans lips to stop the litany of excuses. Its okay, Dean. We got in early. I slipped the pilot an extra $20 to floor it all the way home, cause I missed you so much! This said with a wink and a smile. Ive got my bag, so lets just go home. Home she thought, losing herself in Deans eyes. That sounds so good, and after this weekend, itll be even better.
Hey, love, penny for your thoughts, Dean said, pulling the blonde out of her reverie.
Mmmm, I was just thinking about how nice it is to be home. The tall woman gave her lover another hug before walking out into the warm October night towards the SUV.
Are you hungry? Dean asked, as she pulled out into the southbound traffic on I 95.
Do birds fly? Of course Im hungry but, no beef or Mexican food, okay? Ive pretty much hit my limit on those. Katie reached over to hold Deans hand. How about some Chinese, or Thai, or Indian, or Her list of suggestions was cut short as Dean shouted for her to hold on, and made a quick defensive move to the right to keep from being side swiped by a limo coming up quickly on her left, zigzagging between their SUV and the vehicle just in front of them. Holy Horse Puckey! Where the heck did he come from? the blonde exclaimed, as she felt the strong restraint of her shoulder harness keep her from bouncing around on the slick leather seat.
Damn! snarled Dean, carefully controlling her SUV on the loose gravel of the right hand shoulder. Looking into her rearview mirror, she noted that the vehicle that had been in front of her was not as lucky. It had pulled violently to the left to avoid the limo and wound up sliding sideways into the median, kicking up a spray of dirt and grass before it came to an abrupt stop. Wed better check on that other vehicle. Make sure the driver is all right.
The two women got out of the SUV and checked for traffic before crossing the highway. When they got to the unlucky car, they found it occupied by two elderly people who looked to be in their early seventies. The male driver was slumped over the steering wheel, and his female companion was holding the right side of her head and mumbling what they assumed was his name, but was unrecognizable at the time. Dean noticed they both had their seat belts on, so she hoped any injuries would be minor.
Check her out, Ill check him, Dean instructed. Katie nodded and hurried over to the passenger side. Each worked quickly and skillfully, assessing their charges. Katie called over that the woman had hit her head on the passenger door, but seemed to be all right otherwise. Dean carefully checked the man for bleeding, pulse and breathing. Though she found no sign of physical injuries, he wasnt breathing and had no pulse. Quick, give me a hand. Ive got to start CPR. Katie rushed over to the drivers side, and together they unhooked his seatbelt, carefully moved him to the grass, and began CPR. Dean performed chest compressions while Katie provided the breaths. By the time they finished the third round, a few other vehicles had stopped to lend assistance. Dean shouted to the gathering crowd, asking if a cell phone was available and for a call to 911 for assistance. A young teenager who had stopped quickly pulled out his cell phone and dialed for help, while his date went to check on the elderly woman. A truck driver helped the teen with the woman, who was now becoming hysterical as she watched Katie and Dean work on her husband.
By the time the ambulance arrived, the two women had managed to get the mans heart beating, and he had recovered sufficiently to breathe on his own. A Virginia State Police vehicle arrived at the same time as the ambulance. One officer went to interview the woman, while the other crossed over to the where the EMTs were taking over from Dean and Katie.
Excuse me, called the officer, as the two women turned over the care of the man to the ambulance crew, may I have a word with you two?
Certainly, officer, Katie nodded, as they walked over to him.
Im Sergeant Dooley, he identified himself as he offered his ID for their inspection. May I have your names, please? The question came as he pulled out his report pad.
Deanna Peterson, Dean said, then motioned towards Katie, and this is Katherine OMalley.
The officer made a notation. Do you have any idea what happened here?
We were on our way from Washington National when a silver stretch limo, I believe it was a Lincoln, sped between my SUV and the Mercedes these folks were driving. The car had to be going at least ninety miles an hour when he cut between the two of us.
Did you notice the plate and get the number? Pen at the ready, he calmly waited for their reply.
At ninety miles an hour? Katie asked incredulously. We were lucky Dean was able to keep control of the car.
Yes, maam, but did you notice anything significant about the car? Theres got to be at least two hundred silver stretch limos in Washington alone. Anything that could identify this particular one would be a big help.
It had Embassy flags, Dean answered. I cant be sure which Embassy went by too fast, and its too dark.
Well, that narrows it down a little, but if it was an embassy vehicle, we might as well hang it up now, cause well never see justice done. He jotted a few notes in his pad before closing it. Well, thank you, ladies. Is there somewhere we can reach you if we need to?
Both women took their business card cases from their coat pockets and handed their cards to the officer. He took them, reading the information, then whistled. Well, thank you, Colonel Peterson, Agent OMalley. If you think of anything else, please give me a call. He handed one of his cards to each woman and returned to his squad car.
As they walked back to the road, Katie asked a contemplative Dean, You actually saw flags on that limo?
Mmhmm, and I think they were Algerian, and I may have seen the guy in the passenger seat before. If Im right, hes a mercenary named Scott Gentry.
You could get all that and still keep the SUV under control? Katie shook her head in wonder. So why didnt you tell the officer?
Like he said, if they were embassy flags, you might as well forget about it, its a lost cause. Dean shrugged. Cmon, theres a break in traffic, lets get back to the truck. She grabbed Katies arm and led her across the highway to where the SUV was parked.
Once the vehicle was back on the road, the young blonde turned in her seat to face her partner. Dean?
Why do you think the limo was in such a hurry that it would risk cutting us off like that?
Dont know, love. Could be they were late for a meeting, or maybe the driver just likes to speed. Well probably never find out. Dean glanced over at Katie, winked, and gave her a crooked smile before adding, I just need more time to process what I saw. But -- if theres a way to figure it out, I will.
Katie smiled at her lover and put her left arm behind Deans neck and began a gentle massage of tight neck muscles. You know, hon, I just bet you will.
* * * * * * *
1900 Hours, 21 October
Dean and Katie pulled into the parking lot for the Crab Pot Restaurant at precisely 7:00 PM, observing the tour bus unloading its passengers by the door. Linna and Tracy were holding the door open for the last of their seniors when Linna spotted Katie exiting the SUV. Insuring that the last person was clear, Linna let go of the door and began waving at her. Hey, Katie! Linna shouted.
Ill go get them all seated and make my rounds with the group. Why dont you go over and say hi to Katie and Dean. Ill meet you inside in a bit, Tracy told Linna before she followed her last senior inside. Linna smiled her thanks, then walked briskly over to the SUV and gave each woman a heartfelt hug.
Jeez, its good to see you two! How the heck are yas? Linna exclaimed exuberantly.
Were good, Linna, came Deans simple reply. Katie, on the other hand, immediately began to quiz Linna on their tour so far. Dean just smiled as she listened to the women chatter as the three made their way into the restaurant. Damn, I really owe Linna big time! If she hadnt been so damned curious, Katie would be dead, and the whole case would have turned out quite differently. Tracy sure has one heck of a secretary in that woman.
Oh, its been really great, she began enthusiastically, but I can see were going to have to take several trips here before we can see all the sights. Theres just too much to see and do in this town! We must have walked twenty miles today alone!
Yeah, theres certainly a lot to do here, Katie agreed. What have you found most interesting so far?
Linna began a dialogue on all the sights they had visited that day while Katie listened in earnest, nodding at the appropriate times and making comments on her visits to the same sites. As the two women conversed, Dean walked over to the hostess desk and waited in line. When it was her turn, she gave her name and another hostess came forward to lead the three women to their reserved table overlooking the Potomac. Katie and Linna talked the entire time until Tracy made her way over and sat down.
I see Linnas filling you in on our tour so far, Tracy said with a grin, then in a soft aside to Dean she added, I think this trip is a winner already. Linna is definitely impressed, and thats the real battle on these trips. She demands the best for our people and doesnt stop til she gets it.
Hey, if I were a tour operator, Id be doing everything I could to keep that woman happy! Dean chuckled softly. I certainly wouldnt want to be on her bad side. The two women chuckled in agreement, then turned their attention back to their tablemates.
Whats so funny? Katie asked, raising an eyebrow at Dean.
Oh, nothing, love. Tracy and I were just enjoying Linnas enthusiasm for the trip so far, Dean commented quickly, then winked at Tracy.
Linna looked over at her boss and gave her one of her stern questioning looks, to which Tracy quickly responded, Its the truth, Linna. Really! Then all four of them burst out laughing.
When dinner was finished, Katie tapped her water glass to get the attention of her friends before speaking. When Dean told me we were going to have dinner with you two tonight, I decided to wait until now to make my announcement. Dean raised an eyebrow at her partner, surprised by her secrecy. Katie had a terrible time keeping things from Dean, so she was truly curious about what was coming next. After our little assignment in the Catskills, I started to re-think some of my goals with the DEA. And I made a few discreet inquiries. Yesterday, before I left El Paso, I received confirmation on a new assignment I requested. She paused for effect and found three sets of eyes totally focused on her. Starting the first week in December, I will be assigned to the DEAs new Justice Training Center in Quantico as an instructor!
Dean was the first to break into a huge grin, knowing that this would mean that she and Katie would be able to spend more time together. It took a little longer for Tracy and Linna to realize the significance of the assignment before they, too, joined in with smiles of their own.
Wow! Thats great Katie! What will you be teaching? Linna asked excitedly.
Well, hand-to-hand combat methods, small weapons training, and some classes on surveillance and undercover techniques, for starters.
They sure picked your strong points, Tracy commented, reaching over to give Katie a pat on the shoulder. The new recruits will be getting the very best. They all lifted their glasses and toasted her new assignment. Guess that means you two will get to see each other a bit more, eh? she added with an even bigger grin that brought a nice rosy flush to the young womans cheeks as well as to Deans. Well, this calls for some kind of celebration, and I think I have just the right thing in mind. Tracy smiled broadly at her two friends. How much time off have you two accrued?
Dean replied that she had about forty-five days, and Katie thought she had twenty-one. Great! How would you two like to join Colleen and me at our condo in the Bahamas for the middle two weeks in November?
Before they could answer, Linna jumped in and started raving about the great time she had there the year before ending with so you just gotta go!
Dean looked over at Katie and immediately recognized that her young lover was already picturing herself on the beach. Slipping into that visualization, Dean pictured Katie in a bikini stretched out on the sand. That thought alone led her to quickly accept the offer. Thats really generous of you, Tracy. Well have to check our calendars and make sure we can get the time cleared. When would you have to know by?
Any time before we step on the plane to leave is good with us. As long as you can get there, wed love to have you.
Okay, well check into it and let you know as soon as we can, Dean finished with a smile, as Katie gave her leg a squeeze under the table.
Before long, it was time for the tour bus to load and for the old and new friends to part once more. Of course, all of the seniors wanted to know who the two women with Linna and Tracy were, so there were many introductions and handshakes in the parking lot before the groups finally went their separate ways.
* * * * * * *
The ride back to Deans house outside of Occoquan, Virginia took less time than the ride into D.C., as most of the traffic was still heading north on I 95 into the greater D.C. area. Dean really enjoyed the privacy her house afforded them. It was located on a dead end street, just across the water from the southeastern tip of Fountainhead Regional Park on the Occoquan River. Although a fairly large home, considering some of the houses her neighbors had, it was not too big. Dean had designed it herself in the style of Frank Lloyd Wrights famous Fallingwater home in Pennsylvania, only she omitted the boulders in the living room and by the hearth. Other than that, she tried to stay true to his style, while blending in some of her own innovations as well. The lot was perfect for the design, and the seclusion at the end of the road was great. It was a labor of love and the finished product showed it. She was glad that it was finally finished, having just moved in two weeks previously. Dean was looking forward to furnishing it beyond the essentials she currently had, putting off any major purchases in hopes of getting Katies input. The place already had the seal of approval from Katies three cats, Sugar, Spice and Butter, since they had been staying with her while Katie was on assignment in El Paso. The trio of felines had totally taken over in the two weeks since they moved from the cramped apartment Dean had occupied in Georgetown. Katie had not yet seen the finished product, because they slept Friday night in Katies old apartment in Arlington, then spent almost their entire Saturday cleaning it and storing the rest of her furniture, before they left to meet Tracy and Linna.
As Dean slowed for her exit off I 95, she looked over at her napping passenger and smiled. Hey sleepy head were almost home.
Mmmm the young woman protested, did you have to wake me just now? I was having the best dream.
Well, sorry I woke you then. Was I in it?
No, Katie began with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, but, there was this drop dead gorgeous redhead in it. And we were making mad passionate love on the beach Her words came to an abrupt halt as Dean reached over and gave Katie a playful smack on her arm. Ouch! What was that for? Katies response was as exaggerated as the tap was soft.
That, was for the big tease you are! Dean winked as she turned off the exit ramp onto Route 641. I hope you like the way the house turned out. Theres not much furniture yet, just the essentials. But it certainly looks a lot better than when you saw it before you left for El Paso.
Katie had been in El Paso on assignment since the last week in July and only saw the rough design of the house, leaving Dean to play architect and general contractor. Dean knew she was in for a surprise, and hoped that Katie liked the finished product as much as she did.
I cant wait to see it! I went on-line to check out Wrights Fallingwater house, and that one looks spectacular.
Well, I just hope I did him justice with the adaptation of his design to my lot, Dean replied, starting to get nervous about Katies reaction to the surprise shed left in the bedroom. Dean had already asked her lover to move in when her El Paso assignment was finished, at least until her next assignment took her away again. They had both agreed that it was foolish for her to pay for an apartment that sat empty most of the time. Now, with the instructors position coming up in December, well -- things were looking better and better.
Do you think youll be able to swing a vacation in the Bahamas? Katie asked her partner as they headed down the road.
Probably. It would be nice to be on a warm beach when its cold back here.
Unhuh. Katie shivered at the mere thought of snow, having had her fill the previous winter in the Catskills. Oooo that would mean youd have to wear a bathing suit most of the time. Like that nifty little bikini I made you buy last the time I was here. Oh, yeah, I definitely want to go the Bahamas!
Dean turned the corner onto her street as she thought about Katie in a bikini. Yeah, I think a trip to the islands is in order. Soon they pulled into the long winding driveway that was cut through the woods. Well here we are, home sweet home! She hit the garage door opener, pulled the SUV in, and turned off the ignition. When she hit the button once more, the garage door closed behind them. The spectacular view of the house was now waiting on the other side of the small side door.
Home! Thats such a nice word. Its implications only served to emphasize Katies uncertainty, and she knew she should take this opening to try and resolve that. In a hesitant voice, she asked, Are you sure you want me to move in with you?
Dean looked over at the young blonde, giving her one of her best raised eyebrow, I wouldnt have asked if I didnt mean it looks, before pulling Katie into her arms.
Yes, love, I do. Ive been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Besides our house is located just right. The perfect commute for both of us. She lowered her head, stealing a kiss from the woman she lost her heart to nearly a year before. Youll go south and Ill go north. Of course, I have to deal with more traffic on my commute, but then I drive a bit more aggressively than you do. Cmon, lets go inside. Dean walked over to Katies side of the vehicle, taking her loves hand as she led her to the side door of the garage, opening it gallantly to display the house--illuminated in beams of soft light coming from the outdoor receptacles.
Oh, Dean. Its absolutely breathtaking! Katie whispered as she caught her first full view of the house. She gave Dean an appreciative look before she continued. I cant wait to see how the inside looks, but I think we need to talk about something first. Katies voice quavered on the latter portion of the sentence, exhibiting obvious anxiety about something. How about we take a little walk down by the water first? Katie requested nervously as they exited the detached garage, walking on the slate path towards the house. I need to get this out before I walk into that house, just in case I have to walk out of it, she thought glumly.
Okay, love. Whats on your mind? the tall woman thought before saying with a flourish, Whatever madam wishes. They took the intersecting path that led down the steep embankment towards the river. The two women walked quietly, arm-in-arm, enjoying the Indian summer that had descended on the area. When they came to the river, Dean led Katie over to the teakwood bench on the flagstone patio along the riverbank. As they sat listening to the gentle waves lap along the shoreline, Dean waited for Katie to break the silence.
Dean? Katie began hesitantly.
Katie rested her head on Deans shoulder and sighed before she began to speak. I probably should have talked to you about my re-assignment. I guess that was kind of a bomb I dropped at dinner. I mean I I just assumed it would be all right. She looked searchingly into the eyes of her lover, then continued, It is all right, isnt it?
Oh, so thats whats bothering you, youre afraid Im not ready for you to be here full time only when youre in between assignments. Its more than all right. Its perfect. The tender response was followed by a sweet kiss as Dean wrapped her arms around Katie. I miss you so much when youre not here, and you cant imagine how I worry about you when youre on assignment. She felt Katie tense a little in her embrace. No, no I know youre an excellent field agent. I just cant help but worry. I dont want to lose you ever!
And I dont want to lose you either, came Katies reply. I want to be close to you all the time not just between assignments. Thats why I did it. Katie laid her head back on Deans shoulder and began idly tracing a pattern on the womans strong thigh.
Concerned that Katie was making the change just for her, and that it might not be the most appropriate use of her lovers skills, Dean asked, Are you sure youll be satisfied just teaching? Youll be missing a lot of the action, and teaching can become boring with the repetition of information from class to class.
Im not worried about that. I know it will be a big change, but it will be for the better. For us. Katie reached up and placed her hand over Deans heart.
Well, I probably wont get a field assignment any time soon, but there may come a day when I do, and Ill have to go. Dean shifted to look into Katies eyes. How will you feel about that?
The young woman closed her eyes, took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly before she opened her eyes again. I see what you mean about worrying. I guess Ill have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Lets just hope it doesnt come too soon. Id kinda like to get my fill of you before they ship you off to Timbuktu.
Mmmm, came the soft reply as Dean reached up with her free hand and caressed Katies cheek. What say we head up to the house and start working on that getting-your-fill thing now? Dean finished the statement with a radiant smile and a raised right eyebrow.
Mmm, sounds good to me, Katie answered as she turned her head and kissed the palm of Deans hand. Then the two women rose and walked back up to the house: Dean with her arm around Katies shoulder, and Katie with her arm around Deans waist. As they approached the house, Deans thoughts turned to the bedroom filled with white roses and she smiled, no longer nervous about her partners reaction to her surprise.
* * * * * *
Sunday morning was spent exploring every detail of the new house. Dean was thrilled to see Katies reaction to her dream home as she watched her lover bounce from one room to the next. The young woman was totally in awe of the way the house and its surroundings seemed to meld together. The combinations of rough and soft, dark and light, wood and rock, combined together in the three levels of the house to make a spectacular statement of form and function.
This is truly magnificent! Katie said as they returned to the kitchen. She couldnt help touching the walls and counters as she danced around the room. You must be really proud of it.
I am, Dean replied simply as she began scrambling eggs for their breakfast.
Thank you, Dean, for making me a part of all this. And thank you again for the roses. That was the sweetest thing Ive ever experienced in my life. Katie slid up behind the tall woman and put her arms around her in a gentle hug, resting her head against the strong back. They stood that way for a long moment, enjoying each others closeness until the sound of the door chime broke the spell.
Now, who could that be? Dean wiped her hands on the kitchen towel before she walked to the front door.
Katie, having released her hold on her beautiful lover, joined Dean at the front entrance. Looking out the window, they noticed a flower delivery truck in the driveway. Opening the door, Dean gave the young deliveryman a quizzical look.
Deanna Peterson? he inquired.
These are for you. He handed her the heavy basket and was amazed at the ease with which she took it from his hands. Umm, I have another basket in the truck for a Katherine OMalley, but the address is incorrect. They said you might know where she lives.
Im Katie OMalley. Katie stepped out of the entrance and smiled at him, then looked at the huge basket of flowers Dean was holding.
Great! he responded with a big smile. Saves me a trip trying to find you. Be right back. He dashed to the truck and returned with another basket of flowers. Have a nice day, ladies. He tipped his baseball cap and walked briskly back to the van.
The two women took their flowers into the house, closing the door behind them. Looking at each other in surprise, they each set their gift down on the bench by the door and withdrew the gift card. Both cards had the same handwritten note:
Thank you for being good Samaritans and coming to our aid Friday night. Without your quick response, a night of joy would have become a night of tragedy.
Arthur and Gwenevier Lyons
Wow! That was really nice. Wonder how they found your address? Katie looked up at Dean with a big grin. Hey Arthur and Gwenevier like in King Arthur and Queen Gwenevier?
Nah! Dean laughed as she picked up the baskets and returned to the kitchen, They were much too young to be that Arthur and Gwenevier. Which provoked more laughter before she got serious enough to answer Katies question. They probably got our names from the police, then traced me here through the Pentagon. They couldnt find you because I didnt leave a forwarding address at your apartment when I moved your personal stuff here.
Well, that sure was nice of them. I wonder how Arthur is doing, Katie said thoughtfully.
He must be doing fine or we would have gotten a different message on the cards. Dean replaced her card in the envelope and put it on the table next to the basket. Cmon, breakfast is ready.
* * * * * *
0600 Hours, 23 October
Monday morning found both women sharing a commute to Arlington, Virginia. Dean was dropping Katie off at the Washington headquarters for the DEA on Army Navy Drive. The DEA building happened to be located just a stones throw from the Pentagon. Katie was pulling duty working in the Intelligence Division until her new assignment started in December. She knew shed be stuck doing paperwork for the next two months, but she resigned herself to the fact, knowing that it wouldnt be forever. And, she had the extra bonus of commuting with Dean every day.
After dropping Katie off, Dean quickly proceeded to the Pentagon, anxious to get into her office to do a little investigating on her own regarding the limo incident Friday night. She was almost positive that the passenger in the limo was Scott Gentry, a really nasty mercenary, and the hairs on the nape of her neck had been twitching all weekend; this was not a good sign! Logging on to her computer, she ran a quick check on Gentrys whereabouts. The records showed that he was last seen in Nassau, in June of this year. Hmm, no luck there, he must be lying low for some reason. Well, lets take a look at his file, and see what Mr. Gentry has been up to lately. She hit a few more keystrokes to pull up his file. Oh yeah, hes a foul one all right. Yep, he was linked to Saddam during Desert Storm, Qadhafi on several occasions, all sorts of nasty things in Mozambique, Colombia, Mexico, Iran, and Algeria . Hmmm, Mr. Diversity eh? Lets see, his strong points seem to be no scruples, a willingness to get his hands bloody, a mastery of armaments, and an engineering background with a good dose of computer programming. Oh, great. He was trained by good old Uncle Sam until he earned a dishonorable discharge. Dean went on reviewing his military record which indicated several Uniform Code of Military Justice charges--ranging from theft, disobeying an order, unauthorized absence, and so forth--finally leading to time at Leavenworth. Next, she went on to review his civilian records. Well, Dean concluded, compared to his civilian record, he was a good boy in the Army. Wonder what hes up to now? She closed his file, but hot flagged it first as a potential threat, listing herself as the point of contact if he should be seen. Thatll alert the boys on the streets to keep an eye out for him. Dean swiveled her chair around to look out the window and did what she did best when thinking--she rocked. She realized that doing just that little bit of investigating got her adrenaline flowing, and it made her very aware of how much she did not like what she was currently doing as aide to General Carlton. Only now, there was Katie to consider. She sat there rocking and twirling a pencil in her fingers until her intercom brought her back to the present.
Colonel? came the voice of Sergeant Major Tibbits.
The general would like to see you at 1030 hours.
Fine, Ill be there, she said as she tapped her pencil on her desk pad. Anything in particular?
I think its something about a car accident on Friday night, he responded in a hushed tone. Sergeant Major Tibbits had been General James office aide, and he had always liked Colonel Peterson, so he felt very protective of her since the generals passing. Is there anything I can do?
No, Sarge, this shouldnt be a problem. Thanks for the offer though, Dean said with a smile, fully aware of his protective inclinations. Now how would the general know about that? Guess Ill find out soon enough. Dean looked at her watch and noted that it was only 0930 and decided to get a cup of tea in the cafeteria -- and maybe a honey bun, too.
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Katie barely settled into her cubicle on the second floor, Intelligence Section, then sighed when the section secretary came in with a pile of old case folders for her to review. Y2K didnt have the dreaded effect that was publicized for years prior to January 1, 2000, but there were a few minor glitches that the agency was still straightening out. Her job, for now, was to make sure the files on the computer matched the hard copy files before they were sealed and sent to storage. The Intelligence Section, being what it was, had to triple insure that all the little snatches of information didnt get lost in the black hole of cyberspace. After all, a minor glitch in the intelligence field could result in huge errors on the playing field.
Oh boy, she sighed heavily, am I going to be able to handle this until December? What was that line in one of those Rocky movies keep your eye on the prize? The prize to her was Dean. Oh yeah, that helps! She smiled to herself and cheerfully tackled the stack, one file at a time.
About halfway through the second stack, she came upon a file jacket that made her scalp itch. Okay she thought as she flipped open the file to his vitals, so this is the guy Dean saw in the limo on Friday. Not a bad looking guy. Tall 62, 210 lbs., dark brown hair, brown eyes, no distinguishing marks except for a very thin scar extending from just behind his left ear, under his jaw to his chin. Wonder how he got that one! Lets see why the DEA is interested in him . Then she flipped past his statistics and started to read his rap sheets. Reviewing his folder, she found out pretty much the same information that Dean had located in her office that same morning. Not a nice boy, are you, Scott? Too bad the locals couldnt pin that drug charge on you in Nassau, but Ill just bet you were dirty. She turned back to his picture and studied it a bit longer, committing his face to her memory. Well, if you are working for Algeria now, I wonder which of your skills theyre interested in? Checking the jacket against the computer, she found that all of his information was up to date, so she set his file on the finished stack and went on to the next jacket.
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