The ride to the target´s safe house was bumpy, more than usual, he was starting to understand why Jonas stayed behind his computers at headquarters, I bet his ass doesn´t get as bruised as mine in his stupid seat warming chair, he thought.
“All right Alpha Team, you´ll be on the targets ass in 7 minutes,” said Joe in his and his colleague´s ears. “Agent Winters, you are the team leader in this op. The others, you´ll follow every single one of his orders. This is an in, grab and extract operation. I don´t want any screw ups because someone decided to play hero. Understood?”
The question was answered by a series of “Yes, sir”, “Copy that” or “Roger that”, and the final “Yes, boss” Preston gave.
“Okay, guys,” said the voice of his favourite nerd, Jonas. “You´ll be walking inside an abandoned building that, by the looks of it, has been uninhabited for a very short time. The target is the suspect in the recent hacking of the Kazakhstanian base. I traced its IP address which leads me to the building you´re about to walk into. According to the report our people issued about the hacking, one file was pulled from their servers, an operation canceled five years ago by the name of ‘Arabian Heirs’, the only agent related to the mission was the late Agent Morgan who disappeared during that op, that´s why it was canceled, her mission was to-”
“We all know what her mission was, Jonas” Preston cut in, “you don´t have to remind us.”
“I know, but-” Jonas tried to explain.
“But nothing,” snapped Preston. “Cammie was our friend, remember?” he demanded. “Or have you forgotten it because of your god dammed computers?”
“Winters, take it easy, would you?” Joe said, always trying to keep this subject as peaceful as possible, or just not mentioning it at all.
“You think you´re the only one who misses her? She was my best friend too, you know?” Jonas responded, completely ignoring Joe. Something he had never done before. “Plus, if someone should be throwing a tantrum in this particular day, it should be Zach, not you! You think you´re the only one who owed her something, but you´re not.” Finished Jonas, followed by the sound of an earpiece hitting something, probably a desk. The seconds that followed were spent in a very awkward silence in the convoy, And probably at the intelligence room too, thought Preston.
“Well,” said Joe, breaking the silence, “thanks for taking it easy.” He added in a sarcastic tone. “3 minutes ´till you arrive, gentleman. Jonas, finish the debriefing, please.”
“Whatever,” he muttered, “you´ll be infiltrating a building with three floors, thermal shows only one inhabitant, appearing to be at floor number 3-”
“Appearing?” asked one of the guys in the convoy, “you mean you´re not sure in what floor he is?”
“What´s wrong buddy?” teased another one, “scared much?”
“Of course not,” answered the other, though not sounding very positive about it, “but what if there´s a bomb or he has weapons?”
“First of all, we don´t have any knowledge about the targets gender,” cut in Jonas, sounding a bit irritated, he was clearly getting tired of all the interruptions, “second of all, no, I´m not sure the target is on the third floor; and third and most important of all, it doesn´t matter in which floor he or she is because there is only one weapon located in that building and it´s a Glock, by the looks of it. So stop acting like a little bitch, my friend. You are much more armed than that person so if anyone gets injured during this op, it should be the target.”
“As much as I agree with what you just said, Jonas,” said a voice that belonged to Abigail Cameron, “I don´t appreciate the cursing that came with it.” She said in a tone that sounded much like being told off by your kindergarten teacher.
“Sorry, Abby,” said Simon.
“Guys get ready, I´m pulling up,” said the driver.
“Okay, guys. On my say,” said Preston in the most authoritarian voice he could summon. “Go!” he yelled, and everyone started stepping out of the convoy. In a matter of second they reached the entrance of the building and started the sweeping.
The first floor was empty; no surprise there, the first floor was almost always empty. So they went up the stairs, approaching their target. The second floor wasn´t that different from the first, except maybe this one wasn´t as damaged as the one below them. As they neared the second stairwell they started hearing a weird noise.
“Do you hear that?” asked Preston, it was answered by the yes’s of his team. “What do you think it is?”
“It sounds like running water, sir.” Answered one of them. “Maybe a toilet?”
“Gross!” they heard Jonas say over the comms.
“Who´s the little bitch now, eh, Anderson?” asked one of the guys, most likely the one Jonas had insulted earlier. The comment was answered by a few laughs coming from the team and a “bite me” from Jonas himself; who probably got a reproachful look from Abby because he apologized shortly after.
“It could also by a shower, you know?” said one of the others. “It´s been running for a while now, so my bet goes to shower.”
“Actually it does sound like a shower, now that you mention it,” said another one as they started up the staircase leading to the third and last floor of the building, “maybe we can give him the-“
“I thought we´d agreed that the gender of the target was NOT confirmed yet,” said Jonas, receiving a lot of eye-rolls as answer.
“Jesus Christ, Anderson. What are the odds that the target isn´t a man?”
“I hope you´re not saying that because you think men are better at hacking than women are, Mr. Sanders.” said Elizabeth Sutton, one of the most intelligent women in the business. “Because if you are you are most certainly going to regret it,” she added in a very threatening tone, or at least what Liz felt it was threatening tone; seriously that girl couldn´t even hurt a fly.
“Okay, now. Shut up!” said Preston. “We´re at the door. Try the lock." He ordered to one of the man.
When his man turned the handle, it opened easily and they entered the apartment as silently as they could, so as to not let their target know they were there. As soon as they set into position they heard a “creek”, as if someone had turned a rusty handle. “Target´s getting out of the shower now, be prepared to shoot if it tries to escape,” ordered Preston. They all had their weapons ready to fire as a pair of legs walked out of the bathroom and went into the living room. The legs were attached to a woman wrapping herself in a towel. “Stop right there and put your hands in the air!” yelled Preston. The woman looked up and stopped securing her towel as soon as Preston opened his mouth. She looked around at the men pointing at her with guns with a look of surprise, not fear, as Preston had grown accustomed to, and he couldn´t help but think that look and that woman seemed familiar.
The woman raised her hands above her head and said in a voice that showed no trace of Arabian speaking, but perfect English, “Well, I was starting to wonder how long it would take Jonas and Liz to trace my address. For a second there I thought they´d gotten a bit slow.”
That voice, thought Preston, It’s impossible, she´s dead, she´s been that way for the past five years. He started to look closer at the woman, her face, her very long dirty blonde hair which definitely didn´t belong to the girl he remembered, she’d never let it grow ´till it reached the very small of her back, then he started focusing on her eyes, they looked tired and a bit happy at the same time, thought he had no idea how she got them to look like that, but the color, that shade of blue belonged to only one person in the entire world. Those were the eyes of his best friend. “How?” he heard himself say aloud.
The woman turned to him and gave him a confused look, the same looked he´d gotten a lot of times from her when he made a reference about some old movie, and her mouth twitched into something that must have been a smile, but was replaced by a smug expression the second the towel that covered her fell to the ground, revealing the body of a woman who had obviously been trained, and also a small tattoo at the bottom of her stomach, the same he and his “crew” had made themselves when they all turned 18.
And at that moment he knew it was no trick. The woman standing in front of him was none other than the dead Cammie Morgan.
FIVE YEARS AGO
“So, how´re things with Macey?” asked the voice of his best friend in his ear just as he walked around the ‘piazza’. “Have you guys done the nasty business grownups do already?”
“For the love of everything that´s precious, Cammie, do you really need me to answer that NOW?” he muttered through gritted teeth.
“Is that a no? ‘Cause if it is I could help you with that, you know? I could talk to her and-“
“Damm it, Cammie, shut up! I don´t need your help, okay? We´re taking things slow.” He told her through their comms unit, knowing that HQ couldn´t hear them, they were just doing a recon.
“Oh my God! She´s playing hard to get! I told her not to do that with you.” She said, as if talking to herself.
“Wait, why are you talking to Macey about us?” he asked, horrified of what the answer might be.
“Eh, well, you see-“ she tried.
“Stop the babbleling and tell me, damm it!” he insisted.
“All right, all right.” She took a deep breath before speaking again.”First you need to know that she came to me, not the other way around, okay? She asked me if you had said anything to me about her and I obviously said yes. You know I´ll always be you wingman” she added in her usual playful tone, “or winglady, now that you think about it.” He let out a laugh at his friend´s thoughts. “Whatever,” she continued, “what she really meant by that is if you´d told me if this thing you guys have got going on was serious. So I let my mind drift a little and the first thong that popped in was “They so slept together and he hasn´t called her, bastard”, but I thought that was a bit unlikely given the fact that I’ve taught you to never treat women like that.” At this point, he thought, she must be waving her hand; as if I could see her.
He covered his face in his hands. “Oh, I owe you so much for that,” he said in a sarcastic tone that was lead to a very exaggerated “AHHHHHHH”, “Oh, shut it, you devil. You know you´d be lost in ‘ladies world’ if it weren´t for me. Plus-”
“Wait!” he cut in. “Did you see that?” he asked pointing with his finger to the south side of the ‘piazza’.
“Oh, yeah.” She answered in a smug tone, one she knew he hated. “Movement at the south corner of the ‘zone in study’. But don´t worry about it. It´s just a man chasing this pickpocket that took the engagement ring he was gonna give to his girlfriend.” She said, taking a sip of what he suspected was a very cold Coke.
“How did you know all that?” he asked, unable to keep the surprise off his voice.
“The what?” she asked, with her mouth full of what was most likely peanut M&M´s; seriously it was a miracle that girl didn´t have diabetes or something.
“The whole ‘pickpocket-engagement ring-girlfriend’ thing. How could you have possibly known he´d been pick pocketed? How could you have known the thief took a ring? How did you even know the dude has a girlfriend?”
“Elementary, my dear Winters.” She answered in a very good British accent; She´s got to be practicing with Bex to get it to sound so real, he thought. “The man had been standing next to the fountain for about ten minutes staring at that woman in the fedora sitting at the caffé, which was either to gather up the courage to ask her or it was just plain ass creepy. Also I saw the pickpocket took a small velvet box so I just connected the dots. And by the way, she would have said no.” she finished, sounding very much pleased with herself and, thankfully, no longer using the accent.
“Okay, last question.” He said raising his hand a little over his head so that it was like he were a student and her, the know-it-all teacher. “How did you know she was going to say no?”
“Well, obviously, I notice that at least five guys have given her flirtatious looks and, by the happy faces the walk with for the next five seconds, she returns them. So I don´t think a girl like that can honor the word ‘marriage’. You just got ‘surveilanced’, son,” she said in a kind of manly tone but with the graciousness someone like Cammie could never lose.
“All right, getting back to your little conversation with Macey-”
“Guys, sorry to interrupt,” said Liz in both their ears, “Joe and Abby want you on the next flight back to D.C.”
“Why?” they both asked at the same time. “Jinx!” called Cammie before he even got a chance to register what happened.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. You got jinxed, my friend. Deal with it.” As expected she got no response from Preston so, being the lady devil she is, she laughed.
“Very amusing, my dear niece.” Interrupted the strict voice of Abby, and unfortunately, Cammie´s aunt, well, sort of, it´s a long story.
“I thought my nickname was ‘squirt’.” She responded as she laced her arm through Preston´s, giving him a slight heart attack; Where the hell did she come from?, he asked himself and, looking down at the girl walking with him he knew she´d read his mind as she pointed at herself with both index fingers and mouthed the word ‘spy’.
“Listen, idiots, get our asses here by tomorrow at 0700, you hear me?”
“Yes, Abby,” they both answered. Preston then felt a hand hitting him in the back of his head and looked over at Cammie with a surprised look. “What?” she asked, biting back a laugh but failing miserably. “You know you´re jinked. You can´t taked when you´re jinxed, you know that.”
“Ah, ah.” She raised her hand. “Unless you want another one.” She threatened, so he closed his mouth. “Good. Now let´s find a ride back to Washington, eh? What do you prefer: rich kids or stowaways? OMG! You´re letting me choose, what a gentleman. You know, there aren’t many of those anymore. Anyway, let´s go with rich kids stowaways.” He gave her a confused look and she clarified, “We´ll sneak into one of those rich kids´ flight jets. I´m too tired to start playing ‘super friendly stranger who´d love to go with you guys to the Bahamas’.”
They walked a little further along the pavement of the streets of Rome and within seconds she broke the comfortable silence they had.
“¡AGGGGG! I can´t take it anymore! Say something!”
He stared at her with his eyes wide.
“Oh, shit! Right.” she said, realizing he still couldn´t talk. “You're no longer jinxed”.
“Ahhhhhhh.” he exhaled. “Thanks.” He said touching his chest with one hand to show that he was very grateful, with its complementary wink.
She pushed him with one hand. “You´re such a ass.” She said while rolling her eyes. “Macey likes you a lot,” she said suddenly, “don’t screw it up,” she warned.“Or else.” The next was a series of gestures that do not have words to describe them.
“I won´t, I promise.” He said with all seriousness the world. With these issues serious is all she always wanted.
“Pinkie promise?” She suggested offering his right pinkie.
He thought about it for a moment and laced with his pinky with hers. “Pinkie promise.”
“Yaaaaaaaayyy!” She cried as she hugged him.
“Cam, calm down,” he said, pulling her away from him. “People are staring.” He whispered as he looked from side to side.
“Fuck ‘em.” She said. He looked at her alarmingly. “What?” She asked raising her shoulders.” They don’t even know what we are saying.” She explained.
“But we are still spies. We must not be seen, remember?” he countered her.
“Don´t tell me you believed that speech we got in Training,” she said as she looked at him credulously, “that was just to make us fall in love with the idea of being spies. You know, move in the shadows without a single eye or camera catching us.- she said as she slid down the sidewalk as if no one saw her.
He was about to return the comment when he saw some people leaving a nightclub with outfits they could not have unless they were filthy rich.
“Hey, look.” He said as he turned her around so she could see them with her own eyes.
“Target acquired.” She said in a computerized voice. “How do we follow them?” She asked as they saw them get in a cab.
He looked around and found a black Ducati 848. He tapped her shoulder and said in the same computerized voice. “Target acquired.”
She gave him a smirk. “Wanna do it? Or should I?”
He gave way to her with his hand and said. “Be my guest, my lady.”
30 seconds later they were following the cab on the Ducati that they´d later ditch somewhere so she´d be found by the police.