Not compulsory, but I would recommend that you read my previous fics; 'The Seeds of Destiny' and 'Will Never Disappear," as my OFC's feature throughout.
I didn't really set out to write a trilogy - actually just wanted to see if I could complete just one - but that's how it's ended up..
Summary: Darien's rapidly deteriorating condition isn't the only thing The Agency have to worry about, as an obsessed nemesis from the past hides in the shadows…and prepares to strike.
Chapter 1: Prologue
California Correctional Institute for Women
The tall reed thin man easily matched the rapid pace of the female prison guard as she led the way through the maze-like corridors of the correctional facility, pausing en route only as long as it took to swipe her key card through the mag locks on the heavy security doors. He was very familiar with the routine as he'd been a regular visitor here over the past few weeks.
Eventually they came to a halt before a set of double doors with the sign above advising that they were about to enter the 'Hospital Wing'. This time the guard tapped in a four digit access code and the doors slid open almost inaudibly, and she stepped to one side to allow the visitor to pass through. She didn't follow, instead keeping watch as he headed to a door half way down the narrow corridor beyond and entered.
Georges Menendez, the prison's doctor, smiled, almost in relief, at the sight of his medical colleague. Leaving his nurse to continue taking the blood pressure of the woman lying motionless on the bed, he moved over to meet the man he knew as Dr. James Ferguson, Oncologist.
"How is she?" Ferguson asked softly, his eyes flicking quickly across to the bed.
Menendez shook his head in genuine sadness. He took great pride in offering the best medical care possible for the female inmates, but every now and again a case would come along that was beyond his field of expertise; which is when they'd call in a specialist like Dr. Ferguson.
"Not good doctor, her condition has deteriorated rapidly since your last visit as you anticipated. We waited as long as possible to call, but…"
His statement hung in the air, and Ferguson touched a hand to the man's shoulder and patted it reassuringly. "You did the right thing Dr. Menendez."
He placed his medical bag on the floor and took a step closer to the bed. "I'll need to read over her case notes again, and then do a brief examination of my own to be sure." Menendez nodded agreement. "Then I'd like some time alone to talk to her about the uh…arrangements for her palliative care." Again Menendez nodded; it's what he'd been expecting.
After retrieving a few items including his stethoscope from his medical bag, Ferguson took a couple of furtive steps towards the bed, his version of a sympathetic expression already in place.
A weak smile formed on the woman's lovely face as she turned to acknowledge her visitor. Even terminal illness could not detract from her stunning beauty; if anything it emphasized it more acutely, adding a fragile ethereal quality that made those caring for her feel very protective.
Ferguson had to fight the temptation to push a lock of short raven-black hair from her pale face. All he wanted to do was touch her, but he couldn't do that while Menendez and his nurse were still in the same room; they were over by the door quietly conferring. Keeping up his professional act with some difficulty Ferguson leaned over the bed and asked, "How are you feeling?"
"Like death warmed over," came the strained response and this time Ferguson couldn't help himself and he reached for her hand, squeezing it gently. For the benefit of his medical colleagues he then raised his voice so that they could hear his words.
"You know exactly what's happening?" Ferguson asked, waiting for the woman's nodded response and then pausing a moment as if reluctant to continue. "Well then you know the time has come for us to move you to where they have the proper facilities to care for you, until…"
The woman nodded again, with no hint of self-pity in her eyes.
As if on cue, Menendez's voice came from the now open doorway. "Uh, Dr. Ferguson, we'll give you some privacy. I'll be in my office if you need me."
"Thank you doctor, it's much appreciated." Ferguson called out to Menendez as he and the nurse left the room leaving him alone with the woman…at last.
Almost before the door had closed Ferguson's attention snapped back to his patient, who seemed to have undergone something of a miracle recovery in the short space of time. She pushed herself up off the pillows, the wan smile of a few moments before now replaced by something bordering on cynical amusement.
"Bravo, Wesley," Ella Craven purred happily. "I always knew this would work."
Wesley Carter took a quick glance back towards the door. "We're not home free yet, my love," he responded nervously. "We've still got to get you out of here."
"A minor technicality," she responded matter-of-factly, sitting up properly now and languidly stretching her long slender body - lying in bed all day dying was a bitch on the muscles. The drugs that Wesley Carter had been surreptitiously administering to replicate the ravages of final stage leukemia, had actually taken their toll on her system; though nothing she couldn't overcome when she was finally free of this hell hole.
"I've obtained the necessary documentation authorizing your transfer," Carter confirmed. "I'm recommending that we move you later this afternoon."
She smiled again in satisfaction. "Good." Then raised an inquisitive eyebrow "And I assume everything else is running to plan?"
The tall man nodded again, though this part of their plan had always pricked his conscience the most. If he were honest, he'd actually enjoyed his time over the past few months working with Dr. Keeply and the rest of the I-Man team. But his obsession with this woman overrode everything as far as he was concerned.
It was the flash of irritation in Ella's eyes at his hesitance that spurred him to respond. "Darien is virtually bed-ridden at the moment. They moved him back from Fort Leavitt to the Agency earlier this week." Carter smoothed the thin strands of reddish hair over his otherwise bald head.
"And the fools don't suspect a thing?" she asked, shaking her head in awed wonderment.
The doctor allowed himself a thin smile also. "Apart from showing up as a minor abnormality in his blood the drugs in his system are virtually undetectable, that's the way our benefactor designed them. This is why his condition has them all baffled …even the brilliant Claire Keeply. Though I've had to sabotage the tests on a few occasions when she's got worryingly close."
Ella's eyes narrowed at the mention of that woman's name, her hand absently rubbing the jaw that had been fractured by Claire's carefully planted roundhouse punch during a dramatic confrontation several months previously.
"I assume the trigger device is still in place?" she asked.
Once again he nodded. "Borden's determination to maintain absolute control of his I-Man made that aspect easier than we ever anticipated," he confirmed..
"That'll simplify matters."
Ella had risked getting out of the bed to flex her under-used muscles and Carter's eyes followed her hungrily. She knew this and played on it; some men were just so damn easy to manipulate, even when she had no intention of satisfying their pathetic 'needs'.
"And what about Agent Hobbes?"
Carter shuddered a little at the mention of the man who always made him so nervous for some reason. "He drops by most days to visit Darien, but Borden has him working virtually 24/7 on different cases at the moment to compensate for his partner's absence. It should be relatively easy to time everything for when he's out on assignment."
"Excellent news." Ella had no doubt whatsoever that all of their carefully laid plans would go up in smoke if Hobbes got wind of any of this. "And our departure?"
"He has arranged all of that," Carter confirmed, referring to their 'benefactor' once again. "A private jet will be ready and waiting for us at Lindburgh Field tomorrow at noon All the official paperwork is in place to authorize the transfer of your critically ill husband, Adrien Franks, out of the country for urgent treatment."
Ella chuckled. After all these months of incarceration, freedom was now tantalizingly close and with it came the chance to get the two things that had kept her focused and reasonably sane during these long, often agonizing months; revenge on Borden and his pathetic little excuse for a top secret government Agency, plus the ultimate prize as far as she was concerned…Darien Fawkes once again under her control.