Out of Africa

Somebody's Going to Emergency

"You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it's time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives."
~José Saramago.


April 2010. Killrea, Ireland.

He couldn't believe it. Constance Connelly was standing (well, kneeling, actually) in front of him, that same tiredly-amused smile on that same slightly-scarred mouth, gloved hands waiting patiently atop her thighs as she looked up at him. He was standing outside the worn cobalt blue gate, watching as she toiled away in her perfectly charming little garden.

"How long ya been staring?" She asked, still amused—she had looked up to see him standing outside the fence, an odd look on his face.

"Not long," he assured her.

She took another moment to give him a once-over with her sea-colored eyes. "Well, do you not know how a gate works, Mr. Easter?"

She'd set down her trowel, now she was pulling off her gardening gloves, which were caked with dark, rich soil. Clyde accepted the invitation and entered the garden, his face blossoming into a smile as she opened her arms to embrace him.

Constance Connelly had always been a slight thing, but she seemed even smaller now—he could feel the hard lines of her ribcage, her backbone beneath his fingertips. She smelled of loamy earth and lemons and cedar wood and the faintest of roses, like some long-lost pagan earth goddess. For some unfathomable reason, Clyde Easter had the distinct feeling of coming home.

"How are you, my dear?" He asked, his voice betraying the years of amity between them.

"I'm well. Enjoying retirement—as you should be, though from the looks of it, you're not." She gave him a slightly admonishing look, more playful than serious. Her fingers lightly played with the lapel of his peacoat. "You're all done up, like some sleek secret agent. And knowing your love for queen and country, I'd say you're still keeping Her Majesty's secrets."

"I am," he admitted. "But in a slightly different capacity. I'm one of the heads at Interpol, now."

She stepped back, hands on her hips, "My, my, Mr. Easter. Conquering the world, are we? I'm impressed."

"Flattering though it may be, I'm not here for your praise."

"Ah," she looked away with a smile, squinting in the early morning sun. "You always were one to push past the foreplay."

"I don't remember you ever complaining."

"Because I never needed it with you," she was grinning at him again, coy and catlike as usual. She moved past him, down the little paved walkway to the house, "Surely whatever offer you've brought can be delivered over tea, can't it?"

He smiled and followed her. Within minutes, they were back in another section of the garden, installed in a small table surrounded by more roses—so perfectly British, even Clyde felt overwhelmed.

"Now." Constance added a bit of lemon to her tea, "What is so earth-shatteringly important that you showed up on my doorstep after nearly a decade of silence?"

"I tried to contact you—"

"I wasn't blaming you, Clyde. Merely stating a fact. You know I'm the last person to be bitter about anything."

Clyde wanted to point out that if either of them had any right to be bitter, it would be him—after all, she was the one who took a new job and then seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. However, he wasn't one to rehash ancient history, and in truth, he'd never truly been upset with her for doing so.

"I'm building a new team, at the London office. I want you to be a part of it."

She gave a small huff of surprise, looked out at her roses, contemplated the question. "I'm happy here, Clyde. Very happy. I've never had much peace in my life, you know—it's nice to have a bit of quiet. I tend my garden, I go to the market, I read books."

"That's all?"

"That's all," she smiled back at him, a true beaming smile of contentment. "It's lovely. Truly lovely."

"You still train."

"What?"

"You're very fit, Constance—perhaps even fitter than you were before you left ten years ago."

She blushed slightly at that, "That's…not for the same reasons. It's a personal thing."

"For lovers, you mean."

"Yes," she looked down at her tea, as if slightly embarrassed. "A woman my age—you have to have certain advantages, you see. Before, being young was advantage enough. Now…well, I have less cards in my favor."

"An utter lie," he informed her, and she looked up at him with a slightly breathless smile.

"You always were a charmer."

"I'm trying to get you back, remember?"

"Interpol? Or elsewhere?" There was a playful quirk of her eyebrow.

"Interpol. For now."

She sat back again, with a heavy sigh. One last look at her garden, then back to Clyde, "You're not going to give up until I say yes, are you?"

He gave a nonchalant shrug, "You know me."

A Mona Lisa smile. "That I do, my love. That I do."


September 2013. Nairobi, Kenya.

"It has to be them," Ahoo asserted, setting her hands on her hips. They had finally sent the heat mapping satellites to two separate locations, and one location had proven fruitful—an abandoned building whose owner had known ties to ANAM and which currently held two heat signatures. They'd been watching the room for over an hour, and so far, the heat sources hadn't left.

"There is a good chance that it is them," George Whitting agreed, though his tone still held a note of caution.

Clyde Easter gave a frustrated sigh and swiveled his chair to glance over at David Rossi. He'd made a hundred decisions like this, and a hundred more that were even more tactically perilous than this, but this was the first time that he truly knew that he had an emotional stake in the outcome.

He wanted Constance to live. He wanted to speak to her again, to hear her confession, to hear her tell him that it was all a lie, a ruse, to explain away the evil feeling in his gut.

Of course, he had to prepare for the fact that she might not survive. Normally, he would be tasked with calling a next-of-kin. But who was Connelly's family? Her biological one was completely gone. Would he have to call Bev again, this time to actually speak, to inform her that Constance Connelly was gone?

He pressed his lips together and fought back the odd wave of nausea at the thought. You can't think ten steps ahead. Focus on the target, let the rest fall where they may.

Wasaki. That was their goal. Connelly was just garnish at this point.

Except she wasn't. Not for him.

Rossi's face was neutral, but there seemed to be a flicker of sympathy behind his eyes. He thoughtfully stroked his goatee, gave a slight raise of his eyebrows, Tough call, buddy.

Easter took a deep breath. Tough calls were part and parcel of this position, and he had to prove (now more than ever) that he could make those tough calls, no matter what.

"Our biggest issue isn't whether or not those two blips are our targets, though I might add, we are technically looking for three, since Ade is still on the loose," he turned back to Shir-Del and Whitting. For some reason, everyone had all but abandoned the idea of finding Wasaki's second-in-command. "It's how the hell we roll up a tactical team without telling anyone what it's for or why. And as I am sure you can understand, our extraction is a bit delicate, to say the least. Connelly pretty much stayed below decks in the lab, but if anyone else from the task force recognizes her—or if she says anything to one of them, if she's taken alive—Interpol would obviously be compromised."

"I think we're past the point of shielding Interpol from being compromised," George said, not unkindly. "But I still agree—we should send in two, maybe three. Our best marks. Plus maybe a sniper on a nearby building."

"Sniper could pull attention, spook them before the extraction team has a chance to move," Rossi pointed out.

"They wouldn't see us coming," Spencer Reid interjected, pulling a print-out of the building's floorplan, which Penelope had so helpfully supplied. "If they stay in their current location—this room, right here—they're basically blind, except for a window to the north. There are two doors, at the western and southern sides of the room. We could enter through the south side of the building, have the sniper set up for the north window, but not get into place until the team is within seconds of the location. Even if they noticed the sniper, it would be too late for them to react."

"That's a whole lot of ifs and very few certainties," Easter pointed out, crossing his arms over his chest. "And even good snipers need time to set up. Throwing them in at the last minute decreases their level of effectiveness exponentially."

"We've run other tac ops with better chances, and they still flopped," Ahoo reminded him. "I think we have to accept the fact that any situation can go any direction with this case—and honestly, we don't have much other options."

"We don't have any other options," Clyde corrected her, scrubbing the side of his face with a tired hand.

The conference door opened and Aaron Hotchner breezed in. He'd already been apprised of the situation whenever Rossi phoned him, so he simply said, "Have we made a decision?"

"The beginnings of one, at least," Easter gave a flat smile, one that belied his sense of distaste with aforementioned decision.

"Small tac team entering from the south, sniper on the north adjacent, quick and easy extraction," Rossi summed it up, motioning to various points on the floorplan that Reid was holding up.

"Has anything about this case been quick and easy?" Hotch couldn't help but ask. This earned him a few wry smiles from the rest of the room. He took a seat, turning back to Clyde, "I suppose there isn't any other viable options, if we want to keep this as tightly locked as possible."

"No," the Englishman admitted. "It all comes down to who's actually in the room. If it's Wasaki and Ade, we take them both, no worries. If it's Connelly and one of the others, which I think we can all agree will most likely be Wasaki, things get trickier. Once we extract both Connelly and Wasaki, we'll remove Connelly from the story altogether. Say we found Wasaki alone, that we had to act quickly—there will still be some ruffled feathers, mainly from the Israelis, I'd say. They have a particular beef with Wasaki, and they'll want to have played some part in bringing him to justice, but it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, especially in situations like these. If there's any true fallout, Interpol will handle it."

Ahoo felt a prick of apprehension—what did he mean by remove Connelly? She shouldn't be worried about this woman, this obvious traitor, yet she couldn't help but feel a slight uneasiness at the thought of the consequences of her actions.

"How's Emily?" Spencer turned his attention to Hotch again.

"She's doing well," his unit chief remained brusque, business-like as ever. "She's back at the hotel, recovering."

David Rossi had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from retorting, Recovering from what, though? The others might not have noticed, because they didn't know Aaron as well as he did—but there was definitely something different, a certain little spark in his eyes that his friend had not seen in a very long time.

"She's aware of the situation," Aaron added, sparing another glance at Easter. "She had already mentioned keeping the extraction to a minimum number of agents, so I think we're all still on the same page."

Easter nodded, took another deep breath (seemed to be the only thing he was capable of doing at the moment, breathing and pushing forward), and looked around the room at the five other agents assembled.

"So now, the hard part begins. Who's the best sniper in the room?"


Yonah Zamir gripped the stainless steel edges of the sink—holding on tightly was the only way to keep her hands from shaking, and she didn't need a physical reminder of just how precarious her current situation was. After her mutual realization with Agent Azoulay, she'd gotten sick one last time, then returned to her duties and tried to push the thought from her mind.

But the fear was as persistent as the morning sickness.

If it was morning sickness. But what else could it be? She was healthy, with a generally hearty immune system—truly, the only times she had been this ill was during her two pregnancies.

There were so many things to consider—none of which should be decided during a high-intensity case such as this. She and her husband hadn't been trying for a third child, though they hadn't exactly been trying not to have one, either (and secretly, she knew he'd love to have another, especially if it gave him a chance at a son). The demands of her job and the excruciating residual physical ailments from her last birth had been her biggest concerns (one could be curtailed, but the other was unavoidable—she wasn't looking forward to adding the extra weight of an unborn babe onto the stress of her already-strained back).

Of course, in an even longer view of time, she would one day have to tell this unborn child what she was doing when she first found out that she was pregnant with him or her.

And what would she say? How would the story of the hunt for Mariatu Wasaki end? And what role would she play, once all was said and done?

She gave another small moan, leaning forward to ease the tightness building in her chest—whether it was from anxiety or actual illness, she couldn't say.

What if this worry was all for nothing? Soon she'd know—during lunch, she had bought a pregnancy test. She couldn't spend the rest of the day wondering if. She was a woman of action, as soon as she knew for certain, she could take steps into whatever direction was necessary. But this constant uncertainty was driving her insane—now, during what may become the defining moment of her career and possibly her life, now, when she couldn't afford to be anything less than at the top of her game, in full control of her highest abilities and functions.

She glanced at her watch again. The wait was over. She picked up the pregnancy test, hand trembling.

Positive.

Her hand became steady again.

"So it is," she gave a curt nod. Now you know, Yonah. And now you must decide how the story of this child's life begins.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror—dark circles under her eyes (her father's eyes), face haggard from too little sleep, too little water, and too much sun.

This is not who you are, Yonah. This is never who you have been.

She tossed the pregnancy test in the trash. She had made the right choice, telling the Kidon. But their agent had been here for two days, and there hadn't been any word on whether or not Wasaki had been killed. Of course, the Kidon did not owe Zamir an answer. Tel Aviv's silence could mean anything. It could mean that Wasaki was already dead, or in the process of a slow, agonizing death (and God, she hoped for the latter), or it could mean that he'd killed the agent.

So many variables. And only one outcome could assuage her guilt and prove her sacrifice worthy.

The Americans may know more. Chava had been keeping an eye on them, but nothing had turned up so far.

So it was time to see what they knew, exactly.

Yonah moved quickly, pushing through another mind-swirling wave of sickness. She went back to the conference room, grabbed a box of witness reports, and left again without a word.

Picking up speed, she flew through the door of the second conference room, where the others were, pasting on a false smile, "More witness reports—we are running out of space in the other room, so we're going to put a few in here—"

Clyde Easter was on his feet, obviously startled.

David Rossi sat up, taking in every nuance of Zamir's actions—her dark eyes were darting around the room, memorizing faces, noting the items pinned on the board, the laptop on the other end of the table. Her cheeriness seemed fake, as if she were trying to appear innocent and harmless.

"Thank you," Clyde took the box of papers. "I'm sorry, your name again—"

"Zamir. Yonah Zamir."

"Ah, yes. Rav Seren Zamir." Easter was the epitome of British politesse as he gave another grateful smile.

"So," she set her hands on her hips. "How goes the location hunt?"

"We've got it narrowed down to four possible options," the very skinny American informed her (she couldn't remember his name, only that he looked so much like her younger brother that it was uncanny).

Her eyes flicked back to the pin board. There were only two building schematics.

That was their first lie.

"We're hoping to narrow it further before casting the net," Agent Shir-Del added with a small smile. "You know, have something solid before presenting it to the rest of the task force."

"Of course," she nodded in agreement.

"And the tactical preparation?" Easter asked cordially, resuming his seat. "How is that going?"

"As well as can be expected," the Israeli gave a tight smile. "We have no idea where we're going or how we're going—at least not until we have a clearer picture of the location. But Silver is a very competent man. In the meantime, we have been re-creating the final assault between ANAM and local police, with the help of the forensic teams, trying to see exactly how Wasaki was able to pull it all off."

"And Agent Kimathi is working well with the team?"

"He is." Another smile. "He is a good agent. Interpol is very lucky to have him."

"I'm glad to hear that."

"Speaking of," Zamir shifted, moving towards the door again. "I must get back to help."

She disappeared as suddenly as she'd come.

After a beat, David Rossi spoke up, "She knows."

"I think you're starting to get a little paranoid, old chap," Easter informed him.

Rossi sat up, his voice even, assured, "She's not going to come back with another box. You know why? Because they don't need extra room in the conference room. The extra boxes were moved into the third conference room, which isn't being used by anyone."

"It's true," Ahoo piped up, nodding in agreement.

Rossi continued, "That was just an excuse to get her into the room. Did you see the way she was looking around? She was searching for something. When Reid mentioned four locations, she looked back at the board—she knows we already have it down to two."

"What else did she see?" Aaron suddenly became tense.

Reid squinted slightly as he accessed his eidetic memory. "She glanced at the table, at the faces in the room, back to the board, to the laptop, to the wall behind the laptop, to Easter—"

"Shit," Clyde's eyes had been following each point that the young doctor had mentioned. "You're sure she looked at the wall behind the laptop?"

"Yeah," Reid glanced behind him, trying to see what had upset Clyde. The laptop had been turned away, so that Yonah couldn't see the screen—but behind it sat the TV that they'd watched the witness interview tapes on.

Its blank black screen held the reflection of the laptop—the distinct coloring of the heat-map satellite, with two red figures on it.

"Shit," Hotch repeated quietly. "She does know."


"They know," Chava Azoulay stopped Yonah outside the conference room, rerouting her path to a more secluded area of the CID.

"What?" Yonah wasn't sure how Chava could know so quickly, especially when Yonah had just left the second conference room.

The younger woman's eyes darted around quickly before answering, "I've made friends with one of the officers in the division—a few minutes ago, he casually mentioned the heat satellite requests. He obviously thought that I knew—apparently they were sent to two different locations."

"And?"

"And that was over an hour ago. If they hadn't found anything, they should have been redirected somewhere else by now. And if they found something, they should have already told the rest of us."

"But they haven't," Yonah said quietly.

Chava shook her head. Then her brow wrinkled in confusion, "Though I don't understand why not. None of their agencies have any reason to keep this a secret—not like us, anyways."

Perhaps they do. Yonah didn't dare voice the thought aloud. Instead, she looked over her shoulder, "I have to call Tel Aviv."


"We have to move now," Ahoo stood again, the urgency beginning to course through her veins. "The longer we wait, the greater chance of compromising everything—for nothing. And we still can't definitively prove that Constance Connelly was the mole—the more people we bring in on this, the more we increase the chance of having Wasaki tipped off yet again."

Easter stood as well, walking over to the building schematic. "Not to brag, but I'm probably the best sniper we've got—however, I'm emotionally invested, so I will not be any good on the ground. It's best if I stay here. Agent Hotchner, who's the best on your team?"

Hotch glanced over at Rossi, who gave a slight nod of acquiescence.

"It's been awhile since I've had to play that role, but I think I can get the job done," the Italian informed him.

"And I'll take Reid and Whitting with me as the extraction team." Hotch added.

Ahoo crossed her arms over her chest, but she still nodded in agreement with the rest. "Easter and I can maintain contact and keep everyone updated on any change in the heat satellite visuals."

Easter set his hands on his hips again, taking a moment to scrutinize the faces around him. "Now, the true question: can we actually pull this off?"

David Rossi gave a slight shrug, "Only one way to find out."

"In the meantime," George Whitting shifted slightly, taking a deep breath. "What do we do about Major Zamir?"


"Knowledge, like all things, is best in moderation."
~Garth Nix.


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