Rugby England, Wednesday August 13th 2262
Terry was sat on the edge of Norman’s sickbed. He looked down at his sleeping brother and sighed, he looked so peaceful; despite his battered, bruised and bloodied condition. That would soon change when he awoke and the previous nights events came flooding back to him.
Terry himself was exhausted. It had been a very late night by the time Hector Humphreys had finally left. The hours had flown by whilst he relayed the night’s events to him. Hector in turn had then asked a hundred and one questions and insisted on dozens of photograms of Norman from every conceivable angle, of every mark and wound. Norman had slept through it all.
Before Hector had returned home they had agreed on a cover story between them. Terry didn’t want to fall out with his brother; and certainly didn’t want him to find out that he was the source of the government leak to the press. Hector on the other hand wasn’t bothered about Terry’s relationship with Norman; he didn’t however want to lose a potential source of future scandal. He relied on guys like Terry for his living.
Hillary Jane would want to know where Hector had got the photograms from, so it had been decided that Hector would mention a nurse at the ENH; but keep the details vague. Terry would tell Norman that a nurse had teleported in whilst he slept. He would say he relayed all the information to her to be sure that he was getting the right medical treatment for him. He would also confirm at a later date that she had taken photograms for his medical records; if it came up.
Terry yawned quietly. The few hours sleep he had managed to get in the guest bedroom hadn’t been enough. Still, a little fatigue and stress was worth it; well worth it. The V’s Hector had transferred to his account would keep him comfortable for six to twelve months at least. He smiled as he bent over and kissed his brother’s forehead. Norman didn’t move. He glanced at his brother’s dat-com strap. Hillary Jane had tried calling, again. He had lost count now how many times she had tried. It was her first call that had woke him up ninety minutes earlier. Prior to retiring to the guest bedroom for the night he had linked his strap with Norman’s; something else he had remembered you could do without consent in an emergency situation. He wanted to be aware of any change in his little brother’s condition and be ready to take swift appropriate action. He had therefore been infuriated that she had woken him with such a start. For a few seconds he had thought it was a medical alert; her name on his strap confirmed it wasn’t. The audacity of the woman to call Norman like nothing had happened. Trying to get back to sleep would have been futile so he had got up. The pulsing against Norman’s wrist thankfully hadn’t woken him. Terry muted all alerts of calls from her. He doubted that she would just teleport in, but anything was possible, so he blocked her access to his teleporter.
Terry slipped quietly out of the bedroom and into the hall to get himself a mug of tea and then he would return to sit with Norman until he woke up. He wanted to clean him up and dress his head wound if necessary. He wandered up the hall towards the lounge; he hadn’t showered or changed himself yet and still wore the plain white T-shirt he’d slept in and the mauve boxer briefs he had worn yesterday. As he lumbered into the lounge he stopped in his tracks. Had he seen someone at his front door? He stepped backwards into the hall. He had been right, there was a figure on the other side of the door. The frosted solar glass prevented him from seeing who it was. Before he could move the person rapped loudly three times on the solar glass. The sudden noise made him jump. Had the noise woken Norman? He glanced at the closed bedroom door, as though he could answer his question by just looking at it. He turned his attention back to the front door. The person had gone. What was going on? He strode to the door and pressed his thumb against the panel in the wall. The door slid open to reveal no one there. Had it not been for the loud rapping on the solar glass he would have believed that he had imagined the figure in his tired state. He then noticed the white envelope lying on the ground in front of the door. It had something written on it that he couldn’t make out. He stooped down and picked it up. Norman was written neatly on it in black ink.
“What the…” Terry muttered to himself as he stepped out onto the open landing. A pleasant breeze found him and ruffled his already tousled hair. He glanced left and then right. There was someone peering around the corner at him. They weren’t there long enough for him to work out who it was; they slipped out of sight within a second of him spotting them. Terry couldn’t give chase with what he was dressed in so returned to his hall. The front door closed behind him.
He turned the crisp white envelope over and over in his hands. There was only the one word written on it. How old fashioned, a letter arriving on his doorstep. Who would be writing to Norman here? It quickly dawned on him. There could only be one person. Hillary Jane. Terry recalled an audio call with his brother about the leather bound writing set she had bought him. Without a seconds thought he tore open the envelope, ripping the paper savagely, and pulled out the letter. He unfolded it and glanced straight at the bottom. There was her name in black ink. He lowered his hand with the letter; clutching it so hard in an increasing wrath that he started crumpling the paper. How dare she just turn up here and try to win Norman over with her big words on her fancy paper. Did she think he would even be interested? He raised his hand that now trembled with rage and started to read.
I can only imagine what you must be feeling right now; to come home and face what you did must have been horrid. I dread to contemplate what you must be assuming too. I deduce that you must believe all the wrong things. Your poor head must be in a spin.
We did not get the chance to speak last night as you left me so hurriedly; I believe if we had that we could have already started to put this behind us. I understand your state of mind at the time wasn’t as it should have been and was full of irrational cogitation; I myself have managed to keep a clear head and have not been led by my emotions despite a sleepless night.
I want you to understand that I have never felt closer to you than I do right now. I know that we can get through this unfortunate incident and come out the other side and be two stronger closer people. In a few months time we will be husband and wife. There is nothing that I want more.
I need you by my side Norman if we are to get through this; everything we have today hangs in the balance. You have the power at the moment; without your support everything that we have built between us will be gone within hours. Our beautiful home, my career and all that we hold dear.
This is bigger than just the two of us; all I have managed to build with the Russians is also in the direst jeopardy. You hold the power to make or break us and keep the Russian movement alive or kill it off once and for all. I am confident that you have the strength Norman to do the right thing;
I will try and understand if you can’t find it in you. If I don’t hear from you in the next hour then I will respect your decision.
x x x
Terry was shocked, so stunned at what he had read the he dropped the envelope. That evil nasty piece of scum he thought, as he paced up and down his hall. His anger was as bad as it had been the previous night when Norman had first told him what had happened. He could feel the heat from his reddening face, a vein in his temple started to pulsate and his jaw ached where he had been clenching his teeth. He stopped his pacing and stood with his back to the closed front door. He briefly scanned the letter a second time to confirm his belief - there was no apology anywhere, it was just full of emotional blackmail. The bitch couldn’t even bring herself to say sorry. Well, there was no way he was going to pass this piece of trash to Norman. He would ram it down her throat before he did that. How dare she?
“What’s that Terry?”
Terry flinched; he’d been in a world of his own. He looked up to see a bewildered Norman standing before him pointing at the letter he held in his hand.