|Decoding the Enigma
Author: amy jonas PM
In 1940, Private Investigator, Melvin Frohike thought he was working on a simple missing person case but he soon found himself embroiled in something far more sinister.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 20 - Words: 92,517 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 08-25-06 - Published: 08-06-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3089302
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The grandfather clock in Byers' front hall clunked and whirred to life to announce the hour. Despite being fully aware of the time, Dana Scully silently counted the ten chimes. "I had hoped we'd have heard something by now," she said.
"Agent Doggett said not to worry until at least 11 p.m." Byers explained.
"What did he say to do at that point?"
"He wants me to contact Police Chief Skinner, then the FBI." Although he didn't say it, this was the main reason Byers had not accompanied the others on the exchange. If the whole business blew up in their faces, someone with some clout would know what had gone down and could help the authorities sort the whole thing out.
They lapsed into silence, each lost in his or her own thoughts. After a minute or so, Byers asked, "How long have you known Mr. Frohike?"
Fully understanding that he was trying to change the subject to something less worrisome, Dana said, "Only a few days. We met when he came in to identify poor little Molly Jenning's body. He wanted to make sure it was her before bringing her parents in. He said he didn't see any sense in putting them through that torture unless it was absolutely necessary."
Byers nodded suppressing a grin at the admiration in her voice. Although he had wondered at first what an intelligent woman like Dana Scully could see in an old toad like Frohike, he was beginning to understand that his long standing animosity towards the man had blinded him to the private investigator's better qualities.
"It couldn't have been easy for him either," said Byers. "I know he has a daughter the same age."
Dana nodded. "The little girls were friends."
"I know. Carla told me," he said softly.
"Carla Mason. She's a reporter for the DC Gazette. Have you seen her reports on Molly's kidnapping and murder?"
"Yes," replied Dana. "She's good. She gets her facts straight. That's refreshing from a medical examiner's point of view."
"It's the same for us in the DA's office," said Byers. "But I think her talent goes beyond just getting the facts straight. She is a truly gifted writer. She has an ability to make her readers understand what the people in her stories are experiencing, what they're feeling. She's an amazing woman."
This last comment made Dana look over at her companion. He was staring at a spot halfway between his chair and the fireplace enjoying some memory he wasn't sharing with her. Dana strongly suspected that Byers admired more than just the reporter's writing ability.
"You know Miss Mason personally?" asked Scully.
"We've met a couple of times." Realizing he'd said far more than he intended, Byers quickly shifted the focus of the conversation. "Did Frohike ever mention that we first met when he was a beat cop? I was still in private practice at the time."
The DA did not seem comfortable talking about himself but had no problem asking Dana about her personal life. It must be the lawyer side of him, she surmised, always asking questions, trying to get to the truth. Either that or he was working incredibly hard to keep her distracted. She couldn't fault him for that.
"He told me that he and Police Chief Skinner were partners back then."
"They were," Byers confirmed. "They both made detective at the same time, too. Shortly after that, Skinner started rising quickly through the ranks. It's too bad…" Not wanting to discuss parts of Frohike's past that Dana may not be aware of, Byers stopped himself.
"I know there are some aspects of Mel's past that he's not proud of," said Scully. "But he's a good man who cares about the people he's trying to help. Sometimes I think that's part of the problem; he just cares too deeply." Gazing once again at the fire, she continued only much more softly than before. "I've never met anyone like him."
Experiencing a fleeting moment of jealousy, the DA realized that Frohike had a staunch ally in Dana Scully. Byers hadn't had that since Susanne died: a good woman who believed in him. One who would stand by him through all hardships, worries, trials and tribulations. But then unasked, Carla's words came back to him. "You're a good man, John. One of the best I've ever met." The genuine concern in her eyes at that statement had surprised him and, on some level, had also pleased him.
Before Byers could further consider Carla's words, he heard another car turn the corner onto his street. But this one did not pass on by as the others had; this one slowed to a stop in front of his house.
He glanced at Dr. Scully. She had heard it, too. With both hands on the saucer of her teacup she remained unmoving in her chair. The flickering firelight showed the hope on her face but along with that hope, Byers noted a touch of fear. What if it wasn't them? What if it was the police or the FBI coming to tell them that everything had gone horribly wrong?
Hearing voices outside, Byers got up and went to open the front door. Dana did not accompany him, choosing instead to wait by the fire. Swinging the door wide, Byers stepped out onto the porch.
He was relieved to see Frohike's car, looking no more damaged than it had when Yves had driven off in it. Jimmy was already standing at the curb, offering Yves a hand out of the back seat. Frohike slammed the door on the driver's side looking none the worse for wear. He could only guess that the man with the long blond hair was the professor. When he bent over to retrieve the Enigma machine from inside the car, Byers knew he had guessed correctly.
"You couldn't bring a different car," Professor Langly complained. "It was freezing in that back seat without the rear window."
"You didn't seem to mind the first time you rode in my car," Frohike stated, limping toward the house. His leg was bothering him again. He'd been running on pure adrenaline back at the warehouse and hadn't felt it at all.
Langly came around the car shifting the heavy Enigma to his other hand. "I was unconscious the first time I was in your rolling death trap," he pointed out.
"I don't know why I bothered to save your pathetic, whiney ass," Frohike growled as he continued toward the house.
"You didn't save my ass; Yves did."
At this comment, Frohike spun on the other man. Langly had to stop short in front of him. "She had help," he declared poking the scientist in the chest to emphasize his point. "And not just from me. Jimmy, Doggett and Mulder risked their lives, too,"
"Yeah, but without Yves you guys couldn't have pulled it off."
"Gentlemen," Yves said in a mild tone that broached no argument, "can we please move this conversation inside. You're going to wake Mr. Byers' neighbors." She pointed to where the DA was patiently waiting. "And there are others who await information as to the outcome of this misadventure who deserve to know that we have all survived unharmed."
A look of guilt flashed across Frohike's face. Ignoring the pain in his leg, he strode much more quickly towards the porch and climbed the stairs. Byers wisely stepped out of the way to let him pass.
"Dana!" Frohike called as he limped quickly into the living room.
She rose from her chair, her face painted with relief. She looked so beautiful with the fire behind her, the light from the flames making her red hair glow. "I'm here," she said as he moved across the room to join her. "I'm so happy to see you. Is everyone else all right?"
Without speaking, he took her in his arms and held her close. She returned his warm embrace, deeply breathing in the smell of him, relishing the feel of his arms around her body. The first time they had held each other like this, her thoughts had been only for him and her concern for all the loss he had experienced in his life. But this time, she was allowing him to comfort her. His embrace felt right, as if she'd always belonged in his arms, as if he'd held her this way everyday of her life.
"I was so worried," she said after those few moments of self-indulgence.
"I'm sorry we didn't call to tell you everything was all right," Frohike said releasing her enough to see her face. "We just wanted to get back here as soon as possible."
"Everyone is all right then?" she asked again.
Frohike smiled saying, "Everyone who matters."
"You got the professor back in one piece?" Frohike nodded. "And the Enigma?"
"I'm fine and the Enigma is right here," said a voice from behind them accompanied by the loud thud of something heavy being set down on a side table.
Scully stepped out of Frohike's arms to go to Langly. Taking him by the hand, she led him into the brighter light near a floor lamp. "How are you? Did they hurt you?" she asked carefully studying his face.
"I said I was fine," he responded a little bemused by her concern.
"I'll be the judge of that," she said. "Sit here." Scully pointed to a straight-backed chair under the light.
"Do what the doctor says," Yves commanded from the doorway. Byers was standing right behind her.
Langly dropped a bit grudgingly into the chair but allowed Scully to re-examine the head injuries he had sustained in the explosion. "Your head looks good. That lump's not as big as it was. How does it feel?"
"It was okay until you started pressing on it," the professor complained gingerly reaching up to touch it himself.
Ignoring his whining, Scully said, "All right, stand up. I want to check your stitches." She put a hand under his elbow to encourage him to rise. When he did, she began to unbutton his shirt. "Hey, I hardly even know you," he said pushing her fingers away.
Yves was now standing next to Langly. "If you don't want the doctor to take your shirt off, you need to do it yourself but you will let her examine you."
"Stand up, sit down, take off your shirt. You know I'm getting really tired of being pushed around!"
"Be quiet now and let Dr. Scully get a good look at you."
Byers returned to his chair by the fire. Frohike had taken up residence in the one recently vacated by Dana. "My god, does he ever stop complaining?" Byers asked Frohike in a low voice.
"This may hurt a bit," Scully told Langly as she quickly removed the bandage that was taped over his rib cage.
"OW!" he whined. "That smarts!"
Frohike snorted in response to Byers' question. "Only when he's unconscious."Monday, September 30, 1940
"…and then the house exploded in a giant fireball!" Realizing his voice had risen, Jimmy glanced around the bullpen, taking in the constant hum of noise. Reassured he hadn't attracted any undue attention, he turned his attention back to Carla. Lowering his voice, he continued. "That's when we saw the bad guys coming so we piled into the car. After a crazy chase through the neighbor's property we made it to the highway. That's when they started shooting at us and…"
"Who were they?" Carla had been patient while Jimmy regaled her with his story but his omission of pertinent facts made her reporter instincts flare. There was more to the story than just missing pictures.
Jimmy hesitated. Yves and Doggett had both cautioned him that certain details had to remain secret for national security. "I can't say."
"Why were they chasing you?"
"I can't say."
"Does this have anything to do with Professor Richard Langly and your mystery woman?"
"I can't say."
"And how did you get that black eye and split lip?"
Jimmy fought the smile that threatened to spread across his face, knowing full well how frustrated she must be getting. "I can't say that either."
Carla tapped her ever-present pencil on the desk and raised an eyebrow at the young photographer. Exasperated and slightly amused by his evasiveness, she tried another question.
"Is there anything you….Jimmy?"
But Jimmy's attention was riveted by the arrival of two men. While visitors were hardly a rarity at the newspaper, Carla was intrigued. Instinct immediately tagged the men as cops. One was tall and burly suggesting the man was athletic while the other one was slimmer. She watched as the men strode right up to Jeffery Spender who was standing outside the publisher's office berating an intern who had the misfortune of wandering into his path.
The big cop spoke first. "Jeffery Spender," he said in a no nonsense tone.
Spender the Lesser turned from the intern, taking in the other two men, his irritation quickly turning to caution. "I'm Jeffery Spender."
The intern seized that moment to flee.
"I'm Agent Doggett with the F.B.I. This is Agent Pendrell." Doggett flipped open his wallet, letting Spender peruse his ID. He was taking longer than needed and Carla knew he was stalling for time. Interesting.
Agent Doggett returned his wallet to his breast pocket as he continued speaking "Jeffery Spender, you're under arrest –"
Spender's eyes widened as Agent Pendrell pulled out a pair of handcuffs and snapped them over the man's wrists. "What is this travesty? My father is the publisher of this newspaper and he will make sure…"
"Do you know where your father, C.B. Spender, is?" Pendrell interrupted.
"He's on a business trip;" Jeffery snapped in a haughty tone, "an extended business trip."
He glared at the two agents as if he had won some private game but Doggett's next words shattered Jeffery's superior attitude. "Looks like your father hung you out to dry."
Jeffery looked stricken as Doggett said smoothly, "You're under arrest as an accessory after the fact in the death of Margaret Sinclair, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, treasonous acts against the United States…"
Agent Doggett continued a litany of impressive charges as he and his partner herded the flustered newspaperman through the bullpen. Employees watched in stunned silence. As the trio walked passed, Carla saw a brief, meaningful glance pass between Agent Doggett and Jimmy. The photographer's face spread into a pleased grin.
Carla's mind was racing, already compiling a mental list of contacts: the police, the District Attorney's office, the F.B.I., any possible witnesses. Picking up her phone, she glanced at Jimmy, catching his eye. "Are you sure there's nothing else you can tell me about this?" she asked as she started to dial.
Jimmy offered her an embarrassed grin. "The good guys won?"
Monica Reyes paused just inside the front entrance of the first class reception area of the Queen Mary. The ocean liner was far more opulent than she had expected. She walked slowly through the room noting each detail: the highly polished veneer columns with the brass handrails that encircled them; the copper lined inset ceiling that reflected back the light of the chandelier in its center; and the enormous fresh flower arrangement that graced a heavy, round wooden table in the middle of the lobby.
Frohike turned to find his companion when he realized she was no longer by his side. "We haven't got a lot of time, Monica," he said to get her attention.
Monica looked at him and smiled. "Sorry," she said as she began to walk at a more normal speed. Then she laughed. "I was just thinking."
"About what?" Frohike asked.
"I'm working for the wrong government."
Frohike smiled, chuckling under his breath. "Yeah, I traveled in steerage when I went over."
They paused at the entrance to a long hallway lined with numbered doors and brass handrails down both sides. The end of the hall was so far away, perspective made it look too small for humans to pass through.
Though neither spoke it, they both had the same question in mind. "This is the right spot," said Frohike. He pointed to a plague on the wall listing the suite numbers on this deck and down this particular hallway.
They found the one they were looking for about halfway down the corridor. Standing side by side before the cabin's entrance, Frohike knocked.
The response was almost immediate. "Come in! Come in!" Professor Langly greeted them, throwing the door wide. "Monica, it's nice to see you again!" He stepped back giving them space to pass.
"I'm pleased I got a chance to see you before you left," Monica replied.
"Well, we couldn't exactly leave without saying good-bye now, could we?"
"You're in a good mood," Frohike noted taking in the scientist's red satin smoking jacket. His long, blond hair was tied back in a ponytail and he had somehow acquired a replacement for the glasses he'd lost in the explosion.
Langly closed the door, a big grin on his face. "Welcome to my humble abode," he declared making a sweeping motion with his right arm taking in the entire room.
The cabin was large, well appointed and full of friends. John Doggett, who had been deep in conversation with Jimmy Bond and D.A. Byers, set down the glass of champagne he'd been drinking to cross the room to join them. "Miss Reyes, I was hoping you'd come."
Monica watched him calmly, not allowing her emotions to show on her face. Mel had told her everything the man had done to help her sister and the professor but she still had no real desire to talk to him. She had agreed to come to this farewell celebration for her sister's sake, a chance to say good-bye for what could be a very long time considering how the war in Europe was progressing.
"I wanted to apologize for frightening you and for my harsh words at your sister's house the other day," said the FBI agent. He extended his hand as a peace offering.
"You didn't frighten me; you infuriated me," she asserted, pointedly ignoring his hand.
Frohike ducked around them knowing full well that Monica could take care of herself in this situation. He smiled privately once he was clear of them. Doggett had asked him about Monica while they were waiting at Byers' house before it was time to leave for the exchange. He strongly suspected that Doggett's interest was more personal than professional in nature.
"Good afternoon, Mel," Byers said as Frohike came to stand next to him.
Jimmy grinned broadly at his friend. "Hey, Frohike," he said by way of greeting. "Let me get the waiter guy to give you some champagne." He raised an arm signaling the man with the tray of half filled champagne flutes.
"No, thanks," said Frohike waving the waiter off. "I'm trying to steer clear of the sauce for a while."
Jimmy didn't hear this response as his and all other eyes in the room were drawn to the door of one of the suite's bedrooms. Yves had just stepped out, resplendent in a long red satin dress that matched Langly's smoking jacket, a choker of rubies encircling her throat. Her hair was arranged in a Veronica Lake style, her nails painted to match her gown.
Langly stepped up beside her and, taking one of her hands loosely in his, he brought it to his lips and kissed it before drawing her farther in to the room. He announced, "May I present my lovely wife, Mrs. Stewart Funston." He laughed out loud. "That's me… Stewart Funston," he said scanning the faces of those assembled to ascertain whether or not they shared in his amusement.
Jimmy's face crumbled. "But… you said your name was Rich..."
Grabbing the big guy's arm, Frohike yanked him downward so he could talk right in his ear. "It's their cover," he whispered, glancing at the waiter who seemed oblivious to this exchange as he arranged canapés on a tray. "They're supposed to be married."
"Oh!" Jimmy mouthed, his relief evident.
Yves turned her back on their guests, and patting Langly on the cheek, she said amiably. "They all know your name, dear. Now, why don't you go mingle like a good host?" She turned from him then. "Monica," she said with obvious pleasure, hugging her half sister, "Thank you so much for coming. I was afraid we'd have to go home before we could see you again."
Yves' veiled berating did nothing to dampen Langly's mood. He strutted through the suite holding a champagne glass between three fingers and his thumb, his pinky extended. His free hand was stuffed in the pocket of his jacket.
Byers had to fight to keep from laughing at the man's idea of wealthy people's mannerisms. He was distracted from these thoughts by a question from Frohike. "Have you seen Dana? She said she was coming."
Byers quickly surveyed the room. "She must still be out on the balcony with Officer Mulder. They went out there to talk privately quite a while ago." He pointed to glass doorway set in a large window that ran the length of the outer wall.
Crossing the room, Frohike stood off to one side, his hand on the heavy curtains framing the window to observe the couple on the balcony. Mulder was standing with his back to Frohike looking out across the water of the harbor. Scully was at his side, her hand over his on the rail. She was speaking to him, soft words the private investigator could not hear.
Frohike experienced a jolt of jealousy before common sense took over. Dana knew how much Maggie meant to Mulder and upon closer examination, this had to be what they were deep in conversation about. Mulder's shoulders were forward; his back was slumped as he leaned heavily on the guard railing. Dana's face in profile showed her compassion as she leaned closer to him to offer what emotional support she could give.
When Mulder turned a tear stained face to look down at Scully, Frohike knew he was right. He felt a wave of guilt for even considering the possibility that his long time friend might be trying to steal his girl.
Backing away from the window, Frohike left them to decide when they were ready to rejoin the party.
The rest of the company had divided into two groups. Yves, Monica and Doggett were talking near the door. Langly, Jimmy and Byers had settled into the couch and chairs that were arranged for easy conversation.
Choosing to sit with the other three men, Frohike selected a spot where he could see the whole room. He wanted to find out how Agent Doggett was faring with the ladies as well as be aware of the instant Dana came back into the suite. It had been less than a day since he'd talked to her but that seemed far too long all ready.
"This is the last cruise for the Queen Mary," Langly was saying. "After this she's sailing to Australia to be fitted out as a troop carrier for the British army."
"Wow," said Jimmy. "Aren't you worried you might get torpedoed on the trip across the Atlantic to England?"
Langly's brow creased with concern and he lost his haughty demeanor. "I wasn't until you mentioned it." He started to get up to ask Yves about it but Frohike pulled him back into his chair.
"I'm certain the cruise line has taken all contingencies into consideration," he said. "If there was any real danger, you wouldn't be here right now."
Langly sat back in his chair but didn't relax completely. "You're sure about that?"
"Yes," Byers said to back up Frohike's assessment of the situation. "The captain is probably in contact with authorities on both continents at all times."
Laughter from the other group drew Frohike's attention from Langly's fit of paranoia. Yves was smiling but Monica was laughing out right at something John Doggett was talking about. Frohike was pleased to see that Monica had apparently forgiven the agent for his earlier treatment of her. Maybe the fact that her sister seemed to trust him completely had something to do with her change of heart.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," the waiter said in his clipped British accent. "I'm sorry, sir," he said bending to speak directly to Langly where he sat in an overstuffed chair, "but we're nearly out of champagne. Will you be requiring any more?"
"Yes," said Langly once again putting on airs. "Go get some and bring back plenty this time. I don't want my friends to go thirsty."
"Very well, sir," he said straightening up. "I've left some filled glasses on the bar."
"Thank you, Jeeves," Langly said with a wave of his hand. "That will be all."
As the waiter exited the cabin, Jimmy asked, "His name is Jeeves?"
"I have no idea," Langly laughed. "But it sure sounded good, didn't it."
Jimmy leaned in closer to Langly and whispered, "Hey, now that he's gone, do we still have to pretend?"
Langly shook his head. "Yves said that when we're alone here, we can talk freely."
"Oh, man, you're not going to believe this," said Jimmy excitedly. "But Agent Doggett came out to my office to arrest my boss!" He studied their faces hoping to see that they found this to be as incredible as he did. He was disappointed to see nothing but nods from the other three men. "You all knew?"
"Agent Doggett told me," Byers said. "And I called Frohike to let him know."
"Yeah, and I was there when Doggett told Yves," Langly added.
Jimmy was crestfallen, feeling left out of the loop. "So, you all knew and no one bothered to call me."
Byers reached over and patted his knee. "We all figured you'd have a front row seat. Did he go quietly?"
Seeing that he did have information to share that the others didn't already know, Jimmy was once again excited. "No, he wasn't there. His son… you know, Frohike, Jeffrey Spender… the guy you came out to the newspaper to talk to…" Jimmy waited to make sure Mel knew who he was talking about, "…they took him away instead. I'm not sure why. Maybe he had something to do with it."
"Isn't he the guy who was with you when you came to the warehouse?" asked Langly.
"Yeah, that's him."
"So, you're telling me I nearly handed everything over to the wrong side by making one ill planned phone call?"
"Yes, you did," Yves said coming over to join the conversation. "But then, if you hadn't, we would not have discovered that Mr. Spender and his son were both Nazi sympathizers working for the SS."
"And that it was your publisher who paid Morris Fletcher to attempt to regain the stolen Enigma for the German government," Doggett added. He shook his head. "Fletcher turned on the man so fast, it made my head spin. He led us to documents proving the elder Spender's involvement. Too bad they didn't tell us where he's hiding."
"So, you never got him?" Frohike asked.
"Not yet, but we're still looking," said Doggett with determination. He seemed to be about to say more when he was interrupted.
"Frohike, I can't believe they let you on the ship!" Mulder exclaimed firmly closing the door to the balcony behind him once Scully had stepped back into the room. Mel grinned at his friend's attempt at normal smart-ass chatter.
Scully stood beside Mulder but her smile was only for Frohike.
"Yeah, well, they let you on, didn't they?" Frohike flung back rising from his chair. He stood in front of his friend placing a hand on his shoulder. "How you holding up, buddy?"
"I'm good," Mulder replied much too quickly. "Hey, where's that guy with the free champagne?" he asked even as he turned to find the waiter.
"He's gone," said Frohike. "But he knew you'd be thirsty and left some on the bar." He pointed to the tray full of glasses that sat bubbling endlessly.
"It's going to take him a while before he can talk about it freely," Dana said as the police officer moved off.
"He's tougher than he looks," said Frohike as Scully wound her arm through his and drew him nearer the windows out of earshot where they could speak discreetly.
"Apparently, Agent Doggett has suggested that Mr. Mulder might find a new home with the FBI if he's tired of wasting his time with the DC police department."
"The FBI, huh? What did he say about that?" Mel asked as he watched Yves introduce Monica to Mulder and the DA.
"He's interested. He figures it will be a step up from beat cop."
"Mulder always did want to be a detective," Frohike noted. "He's got the talent and the desire but he's always rubbed people the wrong way. Hopefully he'll do better with the feds."
Dana paused, studying Mel's face. "And how about you? How are you doing?"
"There's no need to worry about me."
"Well, I beg to differ," she said stepping closer to him. "Maggie wasn't just your secretary. She was a close personal friend and a confidant."
"Dana, don't," said Mel in a low voice. "I can't think about this now. We can talk about it later."
Caressing his cheek with one hand, she moved in even closer until their bodies were almost touching. "Is that a promise?" she asked softly.
He gazed into her blue eyes, his emotions caught somewhere between heartache for the loss of one of his dearest friends and joy of having Dana so close to him and the feel of her hand on his skin. Joy now, he decided, because he knew that grief would be with him for a while. But now, he had someone he could talk to, someone who would willingly listen and help him find forgiveness of himself for his part in Maggie's death.
Curling one arm around her waist, he pulled her to him, their bodies touching in full. "You have my word," he said.
"Maybe it's not only your word I'm looking for," Dana said, a smile barely touching the corners of her mouth, her eyes half closing.
"And what other guarantee do you require?" Frohike asked sensing where this discussion was headed.
"Hmm," Dana said almost dreamily. "How about something a bit more personal?"
Their faces were nearly touching already. Frohike only needed to tip his head slightly to one side. Completely forgetting they were not alone in the room, he closed that last tiny distance that separated their lips.
She whole-heartedly accepted his kiss pulling him closer than he thought possible. Her body was soft and yielding in his arms. He fleetingly worried that he might be crushing her but he could feel her arms wrapped just as tightly around him.
A loud clearing of someone's throat brought them back to reality. They turned to see all eyes on them: so much for discretion.
"Geez, you don't waste any time, do you?" Mulder joked. "Didn't you two just meet a couple of days ago?"
"Yes," Frohike admitted, his arms still around his lady doctor, "but more has happened in those few days than most people experience in their entire lifetimes."
There were general comments of agreement as they all turned back to their own conversations leaving Frohike and Scully once again in privacy. He studied her face for a moment his mind slipping back over the events of the last few days.
So much had changed: some things for the worse but more for the better. Although he hadn't admitted it to himself until that moment, he had found love again in a place and at a time he'd least expected it. He and his friends, both old and new, had succeeded in defeating Nazi sympathizers bent on assisting the Axis powers in the European conflict. Not to mention the fact that he had captured a serial child molester and killer and that the man had confessed to his crimes and would spend the rest of his life in jail.
His only remorse… "All ashore that's going ashore!" called a voice from the hallway interrupting his train of thought. The speaker moved off, repeating his warning.
"I guess that means us," said Jimmy with a touch of regret in his voice.
"Yes," confirmed Yves. "All good things do come to an end eventually."
Yet no one made a move to leave. Even though the last few days had been stressful and horrifying, the events had formed lasting bonds between them. They had learned to trust each other completely, risking their lives for each other. You just don't walk away from that without a backward glance.
Frohike suddenly felt the passage of time much too keenly. He'd wasted so much of his life dwelling on regrets instead of living in the present and being thankful for what he had.
"What are you thinking about?" Dana asked him after watching him in silence for a few moments.
Frohike smiled. "I'm thinking that I need a vacation," he said drawing her closer. "What do you say we simply forget to get off the ship?"
"It is a very large ship," Dana admitted returning his smile. "A person could easily get lost…"
Authors' notes and confessions:
We tried to make this story as authentic as possible, which necessitated a great deal of research. The lack of cell phones alone made this more of a challenge than we bargained on. (Hence Frohike's need for a secretary.) We found the Internet to be the best source of information but also made some serendipitous discoveries along the way. Amy was bold enough to post questions on a British gun enthusiasts' discussion group to find an authentic weapon for Yves to carry. These nice folks were more than willing to offer suggestions but most seemed to agree that the Browning would be the best choice for a female agent to use.
Frohike needed a car with 4 doors for the chase scene to work, but these were rare in 1940. The 1937 Ford Fordor was about the only one that worked. We even had a backstory for how he had acquired it but we never found a spot to insert this information in the story.
Early in the writing process, Amy happened to turn on her TV to find a movie called ENIGMA playing. It stars Doug Ray Scott, Kate Winslet and Jeremy Northam. It was all about the Enigma machine and Bletchley Park. We had already read up on these in our research but to actually see an Enigma in use and the historic setting where they worked on it was exciting. I must confess to lifting DRS's explanation of how the coding/decoding machine works directly from the movie. (The pause function on my DVD player with it in close caption mode worked great for this.)
We played around with the historical time line a little. The Queen Mary was indeed converted into a troop carrier for WW2 but in March of 1940, not September as we said here. There are also no balconies on the ship but I was not aware of this when I wrote this last scene. I've been on the Queen Mary since the story was finished but decided not to change the scene as it seemed to work.
Both of Edward R. Murrow's quotes are verbatim as they were broadcast from the streets or rooftops of London during the Blitz but the dates are slightly off.
MI6 was not called MI6 in 1940. Rather, it was known as Secret Intelligence Service. It wasn't until later in the war that it commonly became known as MI6. We chose MI6 for Yves out of dumb luck. Only later did I discover that we had chosen the correct branch of the British intelligence agencies.
You can read more about MI6 here: