Grace sat in the briefing room trying to look comfortable. Any sign of anything other than a blank stare was met with derision by blondie. Turning her head to a noise, blondie came through the door at his normal speedy pace. Not a moment wasted, not a movement came from him that was not premeditated Grace mused. He started to talk with no preamble. "Our mission is Padric O'Shae. He is a leader of a breakoff IRA faction." Clicking the remote in his hand, a picture of a pale white man with brown hair appeared on the hologram in front of the assembled. "He is targeting the Irish peace talks once again. His faction is embroiled in a plot to assassinate the British royal family to throw the process in turmoil. It is a strategic nightmare to stop, because they are planning to target 20 members simultaneously. He has the manpower to do it. Instead, we need to take him out before they can proceed any further. Intel has come in that he will be attending a gun convention in New York City to shop for arms. We are to apprehend and bring the target back. He is wanted in one piece. Read your profiles. Dismissed. "
Throwing the remote onto the table, Operations turned on his heel and walked out. Grace's eyes followed him, thinking of the irony of her being on this mission. She was sure Madeline had suggested it just to see her perform. Rising from her chair, she walked to a free station. Listening to her heels clack on the silent floor she pondered how she should respond. It all depended on the profile, so better read it first she cautioned herself.
Scanning quickly with green eyes aglow, Grace was ambivalent as to her role. She was to be the wife of a gun dealer Padric wanted to meet. Walter would impersonate the dealer. A good choice, Grace mused. If they stared off on any topic, Walter could follow any ammo conversation. Knowing her role might be tricky, she went to talk to Walter. Walking across the floor, she spotted Birkoff hard at work. He glanced up at her, and without his normal friendly smile, looked at his monitor once again. He must have heard, Grace thought, and is worried about Walter already. I better take care of him.
Smiling at Walter as she drew near, Grace touched her tongue to her nose. Somehow that never failed to get a grin out of Walter. "Oh babe, with your tongue gymnastics and my tricks we could go places" Walter smiled at her. "Just saw the profile Walter" she replied. "Long time since you've been in the field. I'm a newbie myself, are we gonna be okay together?" Walter grinned like a Cheshire cat. "Baby doll, we'll be fine. You have big bad Walter to protect you, and with Birkoff monitoring us it'll be a piece of cake." Winking, he left her to raise his gate and log stuff into the back.
Grace shifted from foot to foot. She was uneasy but not sure why. Just mission jitters. She better rest in the ready room. Leaving word with Birkoff as to her whereabouts, Grace stared into the darkness trying to sleep. It never came.
Dressed to entice the dead (and the brain dead Grace thought wryly) the happy couple sauntered about the convention. Stopping to talk to almost everyone, Grace only paused when a message came through on her intercom. Walter whispered into her other ear to not stop dead every time Birkoff started talking, she had to act natural. Smiling for his benefit, she consciously went through relaxation techniques in her head. After two rows of dealers the effect started to work. Holding hands like lovebirds, Grace smiled at Walter just as she heard a voice at her back. "Luc, is that you? Paddy is looking forward to finally meeting you." The voice almost froze Grace in stone. It was a voice from the distant past, and she was afraid by turning around she would compromise the entire mission. Reading her eyes, Walter grinned at the newcomer. Wrapping his left arm around Grace and bringing her to his chest, he offered his right for a handshake. "Luc at you and Paddy's service. When shall we meet?"
Grace stared into Walter's chest praying for a miracle. Miracles rarely happen, and this time was no exception. Shaking his hand, the man said "My name is Ryan. Who is the lovely colleen you have with you?" Walter smiled down at Grace, tilting her back so he could see her. Realizing she had to take the initiative, she twirled so quickly her short skirt rose in the air. Flashing icy green eyes she mummered "Hello Ryan". Ryan looked puzzledly at her. Feeling Walter start to intake breath, she placed her heel into his foot as a warning of silence. Suddenly a light of recognition came into Ryan's eyes. "Brenna" he breathed in a sigh. "How lovely to see you again". Listening to Birkoff in her ear with only a tenth of her mental capacity she heard Birkoff stating "Mission compromised. Abort and go to pick up position at once."
Deciding it was time to give the acting job of her life, Grace leaned back against Walter's chest. Smiling at Ryan, she said "How quaint to meet you here. Far from terra firma aren't you?" Coiling closer into Walter's body, Walter finally got the hint. He wrapped both arms around her abdomen and nuzzled into her neck. "Baby doll, have you met this black guard before?", Walter queried. "Yes darling, but since I met you there will never be another" she swore in a breathless whisper. Ryan took in the sight before him. A neutral expression came to his face.
Walter looked up at Ryan. He decided to go for the ride. "Now that we have had introductions, when do I get to meet my new friend Paddy?" Ryan glanced over Walter, taking in the jeans, boots, long hair and bandanna. Looking over grace her took in her five foot frame tucked into the smallest top that was legal. From her flirty short chiffon skirt to her heels so she could look taller, he eyed every inch of her. Making a snap decision, he said to follow him and abruptly turned on his heel. Walter unwrapped Grace from his body and motioned for her to proceed him.
Waiting for Ryan to get slightly ahead of her, Grace muttered carefully. "Birkoff, tell Operations we are continuing. This is too important to abort. Have team two follow us. And let Madeline know to pull my psyche file. All we know on Ryan is in there and we might need an edge." "Copy" Birkoff replied. Grace turned and smiled flirtatiously at Walter. Reaching back she took his hand. Arm in arm Grace and Walter went, catching up to Ryan. Grace smiled at Walter with eyes full of confidence. It was time to follow Ryan into the gates of hell and confront the devil that brought them all here. After all, every good wife followed her husband, didn't she?
As they all entered the elevator, Walter started some normal sounding chit chat. "So Ryan, how do you know my lovely Baby Doll here?" Drawing his finger down her right cheek, Grace drew more strength from the look in Walter's eyes. "Oh, Brenna?" Ryan said, innocence in his voice. "She was the madam of a house I used to frequent" he replied with derision. Grace whipped her head to stare at him. Letting her jaw fall open, she went from shock to laughter in one second flat. Walter stood straight and eyed the man. " I don't like people making sport of my property" Walter said in a flat and deadly voice. "Say what you mean sonny, before I take my supplies elsewhere."
Reaching up to stroke his head, Grace cooed at Walter. "Luc, please, don't concern yourself with underlings." Stroking his hair from his crown and adjusting his ponytail, Grace continued to smile at Walter. "Ryan is upset because he did not expect to find his ex wife here, isn't that right Ryan?" Leaving her hands on Walter's chest, she glanced sideways at Ryan. Gritting his teeth as the elevator stopped, Ryan forced a smirk to his face. "Brenna, you could not be more wrong. The church does not allow divorce so you still are my wife. No matter who you sleep with, in the eyes of God and the Irish state we are man and wife." With a finality of tone he exited the opening doors.
Walter glanced down at Grace. Walking forward and propelling her along on her heels, they followed Ryan in silence. Down the corridor and into a hotel suite. As they entered the first room, two bodyguards motioned to Walter that they wanted to frisk him. Taking a gun from his waistband by two fingers, he extended the butt to the man nearest him. As he took the gun, the other patted Walter down. Glancing at Grace, they seemed to think she had nowhere to hide anything. Ryan had disappeared into another room. Out of that room came Padric O'Shea.
Padric motioned for Walter and Grace to sit. Taking a place on the couch, the technical chit chat started. Walter bargained for quantity, Padric bargained for price. It went easily and smoothly for a good half hour. 'Luc' asked for a drink and Grace went to the wet bar to get him one. As she started pouring she felt a draft on her backing. It was Ryan. "What are you doing here?" he hissed. "Everyone thinks you died in that explosion, your family, the group, everyone. How could you not tell us you were alive?" With stormy hazel eyes he glared at her. Smiling playfully, Grace tried to casually move around him. No doing. He put his arms on either side of her and pinned her to the bar.
Deciding to take the womanly way out, she aimed a kick at his inner calf. Stars shot through her eyes at the pain. She had kicked his gun with her stupid little slinky heels that had no cushion to them. Muttering an oath, she called "Luc, I'd like to leave. Now". Walter turned and saw her pinned at the bar. Striding over, he glared at Ryan. Ryan moved back and Grace tried her hardest not to limp badly. She walked out with Walter, hearing that they would meet tomorrow at the convention to exchange commodities. She never turned, knowing that Ryan was smirking at her back thinking she broke a toe.
Walter carried her in to section. Operations barked for her as soon as she got in the door. Skipping med lab, she had Walter deposit her outside the loft. He swore he would wait right there for her. Helping her take off her shoes, she limped barefoot into the lion's den. Knowing she was going to get it, she just resolved to half listen and then head for med lab. Operations turned to see her try to walk normally. "What happened in there? If we call off a mission, you have no right to arbitrarily decided to continue it. That is the type of thing that can put an op in abeyance, do I make myself clear?"
Swallowing back the pain, and her first response, Grace replied. "Yes, sir. I did not want to end the mission because of my safety being compromised. Section's missions are more important than one individual. Ryan had already seen me and identified me so I had no problem bluffing through the rest of it. The mission is more important than I, plus we now have an added advantage. I know what makes Ryan tick and that might help us tomorrow". Operations looked at her with icy eyes. "We shall see. Report to Madeline in 30 minutes. That is all." Turing back to his panels he acted as if no one was in the room. Limping out , Grace was grateful for Walter outside the door. Med lab and drugs, here she came!
After discussing changes to the profile, Grace bedded down at section for the night. She was on pain killing drugs for her two broken toes and didn't want to drive. The morning was a whirl of preparation, with Walter checking her every two minutes to see if she needed something. He was such a dear, she thought.
As time came to go, she squeezed her feet into cowboy boots with rounded toes. Blanching at the pain, Walter saw her white face. "Baby doll, we don't need you. Stay here in med lab." Looking up at Walter, Grace shook her head. "They will be suspicious if I don't show. Just give me a lift to the door of the van. By the time we make it there my toes will be numb." Walter grumbled and told her to wait a sec. He left and quickly returned with Michael. Each of them grabbed one of her arms and legs. They carried her through section and out to the van doors. Blushing, Grace felt like a fairy princess from some story.
As the van jostled to their destination, Walter stroked her leg. Grace smiled at him and checked her ammo. She could not wait for it to be all over. Disembarking, Grace could still feel the pain but not as strong. Limping only slightly, her and Walter once again strode the aisles of the gun convention. Luckily they didn't have long to wait for an appearance by Ryan. Merely motioning them to follow him, they walked to a booth against the back wall. Going through the back of the booth, they followed down two flights of stairs into the bowels of the stadium. Padric looked up and saw them come down the flight of stairs. Smiling, he walked to Walter with a computer in his hand. "Luc, my boy, enter your account number so I can pay you already." Walter raised an eyebrow at him. "So you decided to agree to my terms?" "Yes, but with one proviso. Ryan would like his wife back. I'm sure that won't hinder our deal."
Grace stiffened and looked at Walter. They would have to play this carefully. Expecting a fight, Grace tensed. Walter looked at Padric and said "Sure, why not." With a shrug of his shoulders he took the computer to punch in his account number. Grace looked at Walter with shock in her eyes. That was not what she expected to happen. But thinking quickly, it might be for the better. She would be closer to Padric to nab him this way. But for looks.... "What the hell are you talking about Luc? I'm not a piece of meat you can throw to the dogs!"
Walter crooked his head and looked at her. "It's been fun baby doll. Let's remember it that way, okay?" Telling Padric where to pick up the goods, Walter walked up the stairs. Thinking melodrama was in order, Grace started screaming at him. "Luc, you bastard. You ....." She was quickly cut off by a hand on her mouth. "Watch that mouth my lovely, he is a good contact of ours" Ryan hissed in her ear. Clicking her hells together, Grace activated the tracker in her heel. Saying a prayer, she walked with everyone down the corridor. Trying to yank her arm away from Ryan, he just pinched harder at her flesh. "How's your foot Brenna? You seem to be fine" he queried. "Don't bother with the small talk, Ryan, I left you years ago and I'm going to leave you at the first chance I get." Watching his eyes go from hazel to emerald, Grace remembered his temper. Sounding jovial he replied. "Then I'll have to make sure you don't have a chance, won't I? " All the men had a good chortle at that.
Walking for an eternity, or so it seemed with her toes, the band of nine of them stopped at a loading dock. Parked there was a truck, a big rig. Padric made a motion with his hand and two men went to inspect the truck. This is it Grace thought, and the voice in her ear confirmed it. "Ouch" she muttered and reached down for her toe. Ryan looked down and smiled. Letting go of her arm, she put her hand inside her boot. She pulled out a tranq gun and in one smooth motion shot Padric with it. Never standing up, she turned to get Ryan, but it was too late. The men saw Padric going down and two yelled. Ryan kicked the gun from her hand and all hell broke loose.
Operatives came in from the doorway they had just left and the ground underneath the truck. Padric's men dispersed to the edge of the dock, trying to use stacked cargo for cover. Ryan put Grace into a stranglehold and dodged behind some cargo. Holding her neck in his left arm, he fired his gun with his right. Trying to put up a fight, Grace sank her teeth into his arm. He casually reached over and thumped the top of her head with his gun. Slightly stunned, Grace crouched down to under his level. Using his weight against him, she flipped him over so she landed on top of him with a thud. Smashing his hand into the ground, she ripped the gun away. He pushed her off his chest and she rolled to the side at an awkward angle. Looking up from her crouch, she aimed his pistol at him. Bang, the recoil threw her back a bit. Right through his eye. She turned from the gruesome sight.
Peeking from around the boxes, she took in the sight. All under control, everyone dead but Padric. Operatives were carrying him off to the waiting van. Walter was running towards her. "Baby Doll, come on. You don't want to get left behind, do you?" Turning, Grace looked one last time at the man she called husband. With a tear in her eye, she turned back to Walter. "No, Walter, it's time to go back. Give me a hand, will you?" Limping off on Walter's arm she resolved not to look back. The nightmares would be bad enough with what she had already seen.
Madeline looked at the woman across from her. Grace carefully folded her hands in a good imitation of Madeline. "Yes, Madeline?" she queried softly. "I would like to review this mission with you" Madeline carefully stated. Grace raised an eyebrow at her. "Madeline, have I not performed up to par? You put me in this mission to test my loyalty to section. I was recruited out of the IRA, so you wanted to see if I would lean that way again. I am betting you didn't count on Ryan being there, but all in all he made it a better test, didn't he?" Madeline turned to her computer screen and started typing. "I brought you in here to tell you I feel the mission went well. When things did not go as planned, you worked with it. I am pleased with how this went. That is all." Never looking up from her computer, Madeline expected Grace to leave. Grace stood, but had one parting comment. "Madeline, now I know what it's like to be inside your skin. We both had to kill our husbands for section, so that must make us sisters of a kind" Grace hobbled out the sliding door, leaving Madeline staring blankly at her computer screen.
Parking herself on the stool in front of Walter's table, she gave him a big grin. "Hey Luc, how's my favorite arms dealer doing?" she teased him. "Oh, Baby Doll, you give me two hours of your time and I'll show you my biggest rifle, all for you." Walter said with a lavicious wink. "Two hours!" Grace said in mock horror. "A real man takes his time Gracie, and I'm all man." Chuckling uproariously, Grace practically fell off her seat. God, how lucky section was to have Walter!
This story ęcopyright Grace, 1999
Convention Time Index