have a problem." Teigra blurted out as soon as Forbes had gone.
got up worriedly to meet her. "What kind of problem?"
went to put her hand on his cheek, then changed her mind. Instead,
she turned away from him. "I - " she put her arms around
what? Come on, Tig, don't leave me hangin' here."
lost the tape, Gopher."
it, or stole it?" he
snapped, though it was rhetorical.
it'd better be lost, or I'll kill him myself." she grumbled.
Travis sighed, then sat on the cot. "So what do we do now?"
turned to face him. "I don't know," she shook her head
slowly. "I really don't know."
closed his eyes, leaning back against the wall. "Great, just
knelt in front of him, and put her hand on his knee. He opened his
eyes and met her gaze. "But I am still going to get you outta
Tig? You said their confession was on that damn tape."
for one thing Steve's looking for it as we speak, and then I'm going
to ransack his place myself, and if we still can't find it, we'll
just have to get them to confess again."
yeah, that'll happen." Travis rolled his eyes.
slapped his knee angrily. "Don't you dare give up on me. Not
now, Gopher. Not now."
got up in frustration, and went to the bars of his cell. "Tomorrow,
Tigger," he turned back to her. "They're shipping me out
averted her eyes, her voice barely audible, "I know," She
saw the distress in his tired expression, just before he looked away.
He crossed his arms across his chest, staring without seeing into
the floor. Teigra got up and put her arms around him, knowing that
he was afraid of going back to prison. "It's not going to
happen, Roland. If you go anywhere
tomorrow, it'll be home. Even if I have to plan a break-out."
reciprocated the embrace, holding her tightly. "Promise?"
up," Forbes stated. "You have to go now, Teigra."
withdrew reluctantly, and offered Travis her pinky finger in the
age-old custom of a promise. He half-smiled, linking his pinky with
hers, remembering their first date. She had made him pinky-swear to
call her the next evening.
come back later, okay?" He nodded, still gazing at their
entwined digits. "Okay," she kissed him on the cheek, then
watched her go sadly.
outside, Teigra headed around the back of the precinct, where she had
parked her car. A note was tucked under the windshield wiper, which
she carefully removed and read: "Too bad, so sad."
furrowed her eyebrows, looking around her to see if the person who
had left the message was still around, but there was no one.
Troubled, she walked around her car, looking for signs of tampering.
Satisfied that she would not be blown up upon ignition, she got in
the car, and drove to Steve's house.
herself in, and expecting to find him searching for the lost tape,
Teigra was surprised to find the apartment empty. She sought a
message saying where Steve had gone, but found no indication that he
had even been home recently.
odd," she said to herself, going into Steve's bedroom, where he
kept his computer. And where she would hopefully find the tape.
two hours of sifting through drawers and stacks of junk, Teigra
decided to give up, and find Steve instead. She decided the best
place to look was Uprising HQ, so that is where she went next.
was not there either.
asked around, but no one had seen him since earlier that morning. On
her way out, she spotted Max and Loon talking alone. She ducked
behind a stack of computer monitors, and listened to what they had to
say. Hopefully it had nothing to do with something they had done to
heard what he said," Max sounded frustrated with the other.
I don't - "
on, killing Roller'll be easy. Look where he is! And no one cares
if anything happens to him, not really."
be able to help him. Too bad, so sad." Max snickered. "I've
already had it arranged. We don't even have to see him. There'll be
poison in his next meal."
you think that's a little suspicious?"
how? CrayZhorse is trying to send a message to Teigra and anyone
working with her."
sure she'll get it." Loon chuckled.
she will. It really is too bad, though. I always had a thing for
backed away from the two schemers before they noticed her there.
Worried, she returned to the police station as fast as she could to
see Travis. And to warn him.
eyes lit up when he saw her. "Did you find it?" She shook
her head, unable to look him straight in the eye. "Oh,"
on the way over, I had this idea." she paused uncertainly. "But
you have to get your buddies to let you out for a night. And make
your release believable, like they dropped charges because they found
a discrepancy in your med files or something."
does that help me?"
can meet Max and Loon at the Club, and drag another confession out of
think that'll work?"
get Loon drunk - "
he'll admit to anything." he nodded.
noticed that she was fidgeting with her watch. "What is it?"
nodded at her hands. "You're playing with your watch. What's
- Max and Loon were - " she swallowed, uncertain how she should
They were what?" he straightened to better read her expression.
looked up into his expectant eyes. "They were talking about how
the Horse wants you dead."
thought it over. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised." She
was going to say something, but he kept talking, "They'll have a
back-up plan. Especially if they want to kill me." he leaned
back against the wall, thinking hard. He still could not think of a
better way to go about doing this. "How would I get them to
they hear you're out, which I can do myself, they'll get in touch
don't know where I live. None of you do."
know where you hang out. I can tell them where you'll be. They'll
nodded, then arched his eyebrow at her. "And where will you be
while this is all going down?"
shook his head. "You've done enough. If I can convince Price
to give me one crack at this, you're off the hook as soon as I step
outside. We can't see each other after this, you know that. Level
Nine's after you, now."
smiled at him, seeing that old concern in his eyes. "I miss
rested his head in her lap, a faint smile on his face. He closed his
eyes, while she played with his hair.
minutes, he was asleep.
smiled, hearing his familiar soft breathing, and closed her own eyes.
I've missed you so much.
the hell are you?" Price's harsh voice thundered, awakening both
Teigra and Travis.
sat bolt upright at the sound. "Oh no." he mumbled to
grabbed Price's arm, to prevent her from physically harming either of
glared at him, the way a rebellious teenager glares at her parents
after being given a curfew. "Is this her, Travis? The girl on
the surveillance tape?"
looked completely lost. He knew he could not deny it. Not now, with
her sitting right beside him.
you should leave." Wiley suggested to Teigra.
No, she stays. I want an explanation." Price folded her arms
across her chest expectantly.
gazed at Teigra apologetically. She met Price's glare. "I can
prove that what happened to him wasn't his fault."
Wiley and Price raised their eyebrows in surprise at this.
think we can work this." Wiley nodded, upon Teigra's completion
of the retelling of her plan.
was rolling the idea around in her mind, trying to find a loop hole.
There did not appear to be one. "What if this Max won't meet
sighed heavily, "Oh, he will."
and Teigra exchanged looks. "Positive," she replied.
fools are positive." Travis pointed out.
used to be," he sighed.
hugged him comfortingly. Her watch beeped, she had forgotten that
she had to work tonight. "I have to go." she got up
gaze locked temporarily with Price's, as he rose from the cot. He
looked to Teigra, asking, "Take me with you?"
scanned the cell, pretending that they were alone, but may be being
watched. She bit her bottom lip, moving closer to him. "Okay,"
she held her pocket open. "Get in, quick!"
smile slowly crept across his face, feelings he thought were long
buried returning to the surface.
recognized the look in his eyes. "'Nobody knows it, but you've
got a secret smile, and you use it only for me.'" she sang the
line from Semisonic.
cleared his throat, reminding the pair that they were not alone.
see you later, okay?" Teigra told Travis quietly, putting on her
coat. "At the Club in one hour, where we will solve this
mystery, and you can then go home."
he agreed, and she left. He watched her for as long as he could see
her down the hall.
she seems like a nice girl, Trav." Wiley said amicably.
turned a lopsided grin on him. "Yeah, well, just remember,
she's my nice girl."
he flopped back down on the cot.
here's the whole deal, Travis. You have one chance - one.
You screw this up, I don't care, you go to prison tonight, get it?"
Price glared daggers at him.
if I succeed, what'll you give me?"
pat on the back. Wiley, bring him out, while I assemble the team."
saluted Price, and she rolled her eyes as she exited. "Well,
here goes nothing, Junior."
it's here goes everything,
ignore the hormones, Trav." Wiley told him sternly. "The
hormones are bad."
Wiley, I got that." he snapped. "She doesn't want -
anyway, don't worry about it, alright?"
last thing we need is for you to get all lovey-dovey in there."
Hooten agreed, taping the microphone to Travis' bare chest.
else? God. This is my one track to freedom, I'm not going to screw
when the hormones kick in - " Travis shot Wiley a silencing
glare. "Well, you know all that."
I appreciate your concern, but Tig's got something going on - "
interrupted, "That's for sure. You can sure pick 'em."
glowered at him, but continued, "That she doesn't want me to get
tangled up in. So we will not be getting back together for quite
to your dismay," Hooten half-smiled.
never said that,"
don't have to. Come on, we're all guys here - "
all," Sosh cut
in. "You be careful in there."
sorry we couldn't do more."
worry about it. At least you tried, unlike some people." Travis
cast a look in Price's direction, but she did not notice. "Well,
here I go,"
entered the Club, and Max waved him over to his and Loon's table. He
joined them, shaking hands, pretending not to suspect them of
they seemed to believe it.
and Loon carried on with their converstaion, as Travis watched Teigra
at the bar with the other tender. They seemed at ease with each
other, and he felt a twinge of jealousy.
name's Steve." Max cut into Travis' thoughts.
tore his eyes away from her. "What?"
nodded towards the bar. "The guy. His name's Steve."
feigned indifference. "So?"
they don't have a relationship or nothin'. They just have the same
shift," Loon replied. "And they're friends."
see," Travis' gaze returned to the bar.
Roller, what's the deal with your gf?" Max inquired.
not my gf anymore, Max. You know that." Travis sighed.
miss her, admit it." Loon said.
a heart attack." he retorted, but he was lying.
come on. I bet you wake up in the morning expecting her to be there
beside you." Travis did not reply. "Why don't you go talk
looked back at Max. "She won't want to talk to me."
she will." Loon jumped in. "You know that pic of you two
that she always had at her station beside the comp? It's still
there, man. I think she misses you, too."
he was watching her again.
your ass up there and talk to her, Roller."
and get us some drinks." Loon added. "You know what we
shook his head at his former colleagues, as he got up from the table.
He tried to look confident as he strode up to the bar. Teigra saw
him approaching and smiled. "I'm turning off the visuals for a
few." he told the team listening on the other end of the wire.
get 'er, Trav." Wiley replied encouragingly.
smacked him in the arm. "Tread lightly." she cautioned.
can I get you tonight?" Teigra asked Travis flatly, as he sat on
the stool on the other side of the counter.
much spare time do you have?" he was being mischievous.
funny." she shook her head at him. She leaned closer and
whispered in his ear, "If they're playing dumb, so should we."
they're playing very
dumb. How long have they been here?" He noticed the
lizard-charm necklace that he had bought her on their one year
anniversary, and smiled.
went back to cleaning glasses. "Maybe fifteen minutes,"
they're not very drunk yet,"
they're not very drunk yet." He smiled, then placed his order
for drinks. "I thought no alcohol was an integral part of your
parole?" Travis shrugged. "You're wired, aren't you?"
feigned looking hurt. "What makes you say that?"
come on, Gopher." she rolled her eyes at him. "I can tell
can't tell you that."
you're wired." she placed the first of two drinks down on the
counter. "That wasn't in the plan. I hope they don't notice."
wasn't my idea, but someone
doesn't trust you to look after all that."
can understand that. It's fine. As long as they don't notice."
returned with a case of beer from the basement. He set it on the
counter and placed the bottles along the shelf behind them. "There's
a bomb downstairs with ten minutes less the time it took me to get
back here on it." he told Teigra, his voice low, trying to look
inconspicuous to anyone who may be watching them closely.
ya hear that, guys?" Travis spoke to the Level Nine team
listening in. "Get someone in here, now."
have to get these people out of here." Steve hissed.
can't. If I know Max - "
got a remote detonator in his pocket." Travis finished her
what do we do?" Steve demanded.
and Hooten are on their way in." Price announced in Travis' ear.
on the way." he took the other drink from Teigra, and headed
back over to Max and Loon.
we really going to leave this up to him?"
Steve growled, picking up the empty box to throw in the back room.
There aren't that many people in here. Steve, take these," she
handed him three bottles of Bud, "Over to that table in the
corner, and tell them to get out."
took a couple of bottles down for the other table. "And then
you get out, too."
worry about me."
don't have time to argue, Steve."
sighed, knowing that he had been defeated, and headed to the table of
back." Jargon announced for Price and Wiley.
then she asked, "What about Tibbs?"
in," Tibbs responded.
there's the bomb." Hooten pointed to it.
approached the device carefully, expecting to find boobytraps.
cocked his head to the side. "The timer's stopped on
Roller, how'd it go?" Max inquired.
not there anymore." Travis sighed.
not there anymore?" Loon asked.
spark." Travis shrugged. "She just wants to distance
herself from me. She won't say it, but that's what she's thinking."
raised his eyebrows in surprise. "As if, man. Do I not have
eyes? She was trying not to jump you."
three of them laughed at that remark, as the three teenagers from the
table in the corner walked past, laughing themselves. "Hey, a
free beer's a free beer, man. I wanted to leave, anyway." one
of them shrugged to his companions.
and Loon exchanged looks.
there something you guys wanna tell me?" Travis asked
yeah." Loon was completely serious. "I wanna ask Teigra
out, man, and I just don't know how to do it. I was hoping you'd
help a brother out. What does she like? Where should I take her?"
shrugged. "She's not picky about that sort of thing." he
thought about his answer for a minute, before conceding, "She's
not really the fancy restaurant type. She's more a fast food kinda
wonder you two got along so well." Max chuckled.
she's a cheap date. Good." Loon nodded.
wouldn't say that." Travis grinned.
there's no way to disarm this baby without setting it off."
Tibbs stated in frustration.
has the time on it changed?"
Hooten replied, after checking the glowing red numbers on the side of
out of there, then. I'll tell Travis to do the same."
ya in a jiffy." Hooten said.
spoke into the other headset, "Travis, listen to me very
carefully. The timer on the bomb is sitting on two minutes, eight
seconds. Tibbs and Hooten couldn't disarm it. Either figure out who
has the remote, or get everyone out. The latter being the
you want a refill there, Loon?" Travis asked him, noticing that
his glass was empty.
just wanna talk to her again." Max grinned.
put in a good word for you, Loon." he picked up the glass, and
walked over to the bar. "Well, they have succeeded in not
saying anything important and
hitting on you." he told Teigra.
smiled, shaking her head. "What did you say to the last part?"
I didn't care. Look, Tig, you should get out of here." he
dropped his voice to a whisper, setting the empty glass on the
minutes must be up by now. Maybe it's a dud."
timer's staying at two-oh-eight. My people can't diffuse it without
setting it off. All Max or Loon have to do is get a little
suspicious and we're toast."
not leaving you alone with them. That's
set up to implode the building, much like in construction."
Travis heard Tibbs explaining to Price. "None of the
surrounding establishments will be affected if it goes off."
Max and Loon getting out is not
a mission objective." Price stated.
grab the babe and run." Wiley added.
placed the beverage on the counter for Travis, but did not take her
hand off the glass, watching him closely, reading him.
can't just run. This is supposed to be my way to stay out of jail,
and so far I've got nothing out of them." He put his hand
around hers, not realizing that she was still holding onto the glass.
His eyes met hers. "Promise me you'll go out the back as soon
as I get back to the table."
me you'll be right behind me."
do you think they're talkin' about?" Loon asked Max.
back together." he scoffed.
shook his head. "No,"
took in the room. "Dude, we're alone in here. They know
you saying I should blow it?"
Horse wants Roller out of business for good."
he does." Max nodded, restarting the counter on the bomb with
returned to the table, and set Loon's drink in front of him.
so glum, Chum?" Loon grinned. "You look like she ripped
your heart out with a spoon."
tried to shrug it off. "So, what's the deal, you two? There's
something you're not telling me."
right," Max checked his watch, "There is."
eyes went wide, as he realized what Max had done. He got up quickly,
the chair falling backwards, and turned to see that Teigra had left,
as he had told her to. But she was still behind the counter,
scrubbing it with a rag. "Teigra, get out!" he yelled at
looked up at him, and Max laughed. Loon stood up, and made a run for
bomb went off, the force of the explosion rippling upwards through
the walls. The small night club caved in on itself. Travis
scrambled to get to Teigra, but a large piece of debris fell on him
from the ceiling, trapping him. He screamed his agony as the bone in
his left leg snapped. He looked up, but could not see Teigra; the
overhang had collapsed. If she had been standing there, she would
have been crushed.
think, Roller?" Max came into his line of sight. "Are you
going to croak, or do I have to help you along?" he was pointing
a gun at Travis' head.
son of a bitch!" he yelled.
technically I'm just the messenger. CrayZhorse is the one who wants
you dead. I mean, we were pals, Roller, we used to hang out."
could have let her get out." Travis managed through clenched
After all she did for you, are you kidding? She knew she was toast,
why else do you think she stuck around?" Max cocked the gun.
"Well, goodbye, Roller."
before Max could pull the trigger, debris fell on top of him,
squishing him, and splattering Travis with blood.
God!" he barked in surprise, looking away. Some of the ceiling
struck him in the head, rendering him unconscious.
opened his eyes to find himself in a hospital. He tried to move, but
his hand was cuffed to the bed he was lying in. "Oh, great,"
he muttered, letting his head drop back onto the pillow. This action
made him realize that he had a headache. A very serious and blinding
one. He had an irritating itch on his right leg, but remembered that
it had been crushed. He now saw that it was in a cast from his ankle
to his hip.
when Travis thought his situation could not get any bleaker, Price
entered the room.
don't look happy to see me." she observed, that air of
superiority in her voice. She had Travis right where she wanted him,
a fly caught between two windows.
I be?" he scoffed, seeing Wiley closing the door behind him, as
he sat up carefully, his head swimming, and right leg screaming at
him to stop moving.
held up a small voice recorder. "Yes, as a matter of fact, you
should be." She pressed the play button.
laughter reached Travis' ears, and he felt a twinge of sadness. He
wanted to ask about her, but was afraid of the answer. So he
listened to the tape intently, instead.
you see, Tig, we sorta just framed him." Max replied
and Loon burst into hysterics.
tellin' ya, Tig," Max was saying, "He didn't even see it
comin'. I just whammed him in the back of the head, and he was out
you blow it out, that is." Loon clarified.
anyway, then we drag 'im back to HQ, hooked him up to this thingy
and left him with the Horse."
Teigra asked. "What did he want with Travis?"
date." Loon cackled.
joined in the laughter. When he got control again, he replied, "Are
you kidding? He's the one with all the Level Nine know-how. And the
Horse wants to get that thorn out of his side, Tig. Permanently."
laughed harder. "He was a pretty doped up thorn when we left
him in the street."
laughed at this, too. "That he was."
pressed stop. "What do you think, Travis?"
think they were very drunk when she taped that." he conceded.
"Actually, I know
they were drunk when she taped that. She told me as much."
not important. This is your way out."
did you get that?"
was found in the dumpster behind the Club. Any idea who might have
ditched it there?" Travis half-shrugged, shaking his head.
we'll figure it out." Wiley offered Travis the key to the
handcuffs. He took it from him uncertainly, then looked up at Price
before using it. She nodded, and he unlocked the bindings.
Price took them back from his outstretched hand, he asked, "What
happened to Teigra? Is she here, too?"
watched Price, uncomfortable. She finally looked away from the young
man. "We, um, didn't find her, Travis."
What do you mean you didn't find her? She was behind the bar when
the bomb went off."
looked to Wiley, and he shook his head. Travis stared down at
nothing, the truth sinking in: She was gone.
want us to leave you alone for awhile?" Wiley offered.
he looked up at them. "Are you sure?" he closed his eyes.
"I mean, you're sure she...uh..."
looked to Price again, but she was watching Travis. He reached into
his pocket, and revealed a necklace with a lizard charm on it. "We
found this near where the bar used to be."
took it from him, hands shaking.
talk more later." Price replied, and she and Wiley left Travis
laid back down, not taking his eyes from the lizard, tears running
down his cheeks.
figured he must have fallen asleep while staring at the ceiling,
replaying memories. When he opened his eyes again, there was a
single red rose in a vase on the table beside his bed. His heart
skipped a beat when he saw it, quickly reaching for the card.
on it were four letters: TTFN.
She was alive.
September 5, 2001