Chloe And The Mice

Chapter 24

In The Company Of Heroes

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The good Dane felt now that the world had no joys for him; and not long afterward he was carried back to the sweet Vale of Avelon where he still lives to this day in the company of heroes.

The Song of Roland

CTU 21 Days Later

Chloe pulled the ruler off her desk and shoved it in down the side of her cast. She pulled it back and forth until she hit the itch. She really missed her foot and couldn't wait to get the cast off. She then returned to her screen. Britain was being hit by a series of terrorist attacks. Chloe wished she could hop on the next jet to London and do something to help her friends but the United States went on Orange Alert and all leaves were cancelled. So far everything was quiet here in the U. S. of A. All the jihadist traffic seemed surprised at the British attacks. Not angry or disappointed. They were elated but still . . . suprised.

She glanced up at Audrey. Audrey was staring blankly into space. Chloe was a little worried about her. She had been talking about going to China by herself to rescue Jack. Chloe thought that would qualify as the dumbest dumb plan in the history of dumb plans except that the word plan indicates thought and she couldn't see any thought behind it. Best case scenario, the Chinese completely ignore her. Worst case scenario, they put the screws to Audrey to get to Jack.

Chloe understood how she felt. She loved Jack too. Every day he stayed imprisoned seemed like a knife in the gut reminding her of her own failure. But she couldn't see how Audrey could accomplish anything useful and would probably just make things worse. They weren't even sure where Jack was. Michael Collingwood had sent her a coded message that their agent had been arrested but the Chinese didn't get Fencepost.

The relationship between the two women was rather awkward. Audrey got all Jack's loving, the kissing, the sex, while Chloe got a nearly insane level of trust, deep friendship, and confidence in her competence. Chloe was the only one who stayed in touch with Jack while he was on the run. Both women envied what the other one had.

But still Chloe liked Audrey and tried to talk her out of it. Jack loved her and would be devastated if anything bad happened to her. Two days ago on the big screen in the conference room she put up a map of China next to a map of the U.S. to show her how big it was. Nothing. She then put up red dots to show how many jails and prisons were in the country while reminding Audrey that Jack wasn't necessarily in any of them and the Chinese certainly weren't going to let her wander through them looking for him. Still nothing. Chloe explained that the People's Liberation Army had over two million active troops and that the Ministry of State Security was one of the best secret police organizations in the world and neither of them can be overcome by the power of TRUUE LUUUVE. A blank look. Nothing she said or did could get through to either one of Audrey's working brain cells.

Chloe remembered looking into those shimmering green eyes so full of hope and again wondered what it was like being stupid. Are stupid people even aware that they're stupid? Do they think they're really smart? Audrey reminded Chloe of the cheerleaders in high school. They weren't usually really mean to Chloe. They just pretended she didn't exist. Chloe's brow furrowed as she tried to think of a way to get through to Audrey. Maybe a puppet show?

A new update came in from London. Chloe scanned the screen trying to figure out what the Hell was going on over there. None of it seemed to make any sense. Then a line caught her eye. Just a couple of sentences. She went back and reread it. 'No, no, no.' The screen began to blur. She shut it down and hobbled as fast as she could to the ladies room. She didn't want anyone to see her cry.

Morris watched Chloe get up and leave. He was worried about her. Ever since she got back from London she seemed moody and withdrawn. She never talked about her experiences there and answered all questions with curt, one word answers. Morris still had contacts at MI-5 and had managed to wheedle out of Malcolm the fact that she'd been captured and had her toes broken by a terrorist. Morris was deeply angered by that. Chloe always had such soft, beautiful feet with small delicate toes and the idea of somebody desecrating them outraged him.

But there was more to the story than broken toes. Something really horrible happened over there. Nobody he talked to was willing to say anything. They either didn't know or they clammed up. Whatever got Chloe so upset seemed to have a conspiracy of silence around it.

Morris still cared about Chloe, he'd always cared about her. His brother Timothy warned him against marrying her but all Timothy ever saw was a scowling, plain faced woman. Was he blind!? Nevertheless, to say the marriage was a stormy one would be an understatement. Morris loved the night life. Music, dancing, parties, nightclubs, drinking. Chloe hated parties, dancing, crowds, and loud music. She considered discos to be hellish places that she could only endure for a few minutes before fleeing. Morris also knew he was a weak willed man who often gave in to temptation whether it was alcohol, women, or something else. He had cheated on her, lied to her, and betrayed her in every way a man can betray a woman. Their shouting matches were enough to frighten the neighbors. He still remembered the look she gave him when the doctor confirmed that he had given her gonorrhea and that they both needed treatment. He would have preferred that she screamed at him, hit him, tried to claw his eyes out, God knows he deserved it but what Chloe did to him was far worse. There wasn't a single word. Just that look. The divorce came soon after. There were only two lines he never crossed. He never struck her and he never for one second ever stopped loving her.

He set to work repositioning several American spy satellites to scan Britain. He wanted to stop the attacks as much as anybody. Morris had been an American citizen for over a decade now but you never lose your love for the land of your birth. After turning temporary control of the satellites over to the British he looked back over at Chloe's station. She still hadn't come back. Morris frowned. He got up to look for her.

He checked the Tech room and the other rooms in the back of the building. Nothing. There was one room he hadn't checked yet. He hesitated in front of the ladies room then pushed the door open.

Earlier Chloe had rushed into the ladies room, locked herself into a stall, sat down, and began weeping. 'Those bastards! Those evil shits! Why? Why? Everything I touch turns to shit! Everyone I love dies!' She tore off a length of toilet paper and dabbed her eyes as her body shook with anguish and rage. After a while she heard the door open. She stifled her sobs and hoped whoever it was would do her business and leave quickly.

The ladies room appeared empty. Morris bent over to look under the stalls There! He saw the cast along side the ugly two toned patent leather shoe he once tried to talk her out of buying.

"Chloe! Are you alright?" Chloe heard Morris's voice.

"This is the ladies room! Get the hell out!"

"Please Chloe, you've been in here for forty minutes. Please tell me what's wrong."

"What's wrong is I'm taking a dump! Go away!"

There were a few seconds of silence. Did he leave? Then she heard his voice again. "No you're not. You still have your trousers pulled up."

"MORRIS! YOU SLEAZY, LYING, WHORING, DRUNKEN, TWO-TIMING BUCKET OF SHIT!"

"Yes, I'm all that and more." Morris's voice sounded sad. "I know I've hurt you so many times but this isn't about me. Something else is hurting you. Please let me help."

For long moments there was silence. Morris wondered if he had gone too far peeping though the crack into the stall. He had violated her privacy. Then the stall door opened. Chloe was standing there eyes swollen, cheeks streaked with tears. She was normally such a strong woman but now she looked so very small and vulnerable. He opened his arms. He was afraid to step forward. Then she hobbled up to him and threw her arms around him. Her tears wet his shirt as he held her and he could feel her body shake as she sobbed.

"It's Colin." she sobbed. "They found his body two hours ago. The bastards murdered him! They hanged him! Just like Nathan Hale, just like John Andre!"

Morris gently stroked her back. "Then he died in the company of heroes. I'm sorry love. There's nothing I can say to make you feel better." The door to the ladies room opened and the new girl, Nadia? Stepped in and stopped. Surprised to see a man in there. Morris quietly waved her out.

"It's too much! The price we pay, it's just too much! All the friends we lose! The innocent people I've murdered! The children! It's too much! And we have to keep paying it! I can't bear it anymore! I can't quit but I can't bear it anymore!"

Morris's brow furrowed. 'The innocent people she's murdered? The children? What really happened over there in England?'

Chloe went on "When Kevin Rourke was killed, I didn't feel happy. I didn't feel relief. I didn't feel anything. I knew that someone else would replace him. Someone always does. It never ends. We'll have to pay the price again and again."

"You won't have to pay it by yourself." He murmured. "I will share the burden. No matter what happens I'll be there for you."

Chloe kept holding him. Another one of her friends died. And deep inside another little piece of her soul died with him.

Epilogue

The red headed woman strode through Heathrow. She once had a name. She once had a life. But not anymore. She was a true spook. A ghost. That other woman that she used to be was now officially dead. A pair of dark sunglasses hid her eyes. They were once grey but were now blue. The red hair wasn't natural but she had done a very good job dying it not neglecting the eyebrows which were also carefully reshaped. She didn't know if they were still looking for her but she didn't want to take any chances. The airport had recently installed O'Brian's new facial recognition program but there were some ways to beat it. There weren't that many infrared scanners and she knew exactly where they all were. A small wedge in one shoe altered her walk slightly. Cotton balls in her cheeks altered the shape of her face. She had both hands thrust into her coat pockets. She normally didn't walk that way but they might have programmed her body language into the system. As she approached the security checkpoint where one of the scanners was her eyes narrowed to tiny slits. She didn't pick up her eye shadow at the make up counter in Harrods. It was designed to reflect infrared light the same as her eyes would except it showed them as being 3/8ths of an inch further apart than they were. It wouldn't fool a human but it would a computer. Without the sunglasses she looked like some kind of crazy tart but she would clean them off in the loo once she's in the air. It was one of the last things Colin worked on before his murder. He thought Chloe's program was far too good and immediately set about finding ways to beat it. For every move there's a countermove. That's how the game is played. Spy vs. Spy.

Once past security she collected her handbag and approached the gate. She was flying to Moscow, then Calcutta, then Tokyo and on to Mexico City. At every airport she would buy a new ticket under a different name. She had several passports. She hated leaving though. For this woman patriotism was as natural as the air she breathed. She loved her country but when you're on the run it seems like such a small claustrophobic little island. Her ultimate destination was North America. The United States and Canada. Two gigantic English speaking countries with an open border. 7.5 million square miles. 335 million people. It would be very easy to get lost in North America.

The woman boarded the plane and got a window seat. As the plane taxied to the runway she kept staring out the window. She was leaving behind everything she loved. One man in particular. She shut her eyes. 'Oh Harry. Someday I will come back I swear.' Harry had been forced to chose between betraying either his country or the woman he loved. For either one of them it was no choice at all. The woman understood it. She would have made the same choice. As the plane took off she kept staring out the window until England finally disappeared. Her ultimate destination was Los Angeles. She had a friend there. Someone who could provide identity documents, food, shelter. And maybe a little companionship. Being on the run is very lonely. There probably wouldn't be any girl's nights out. Her friend wasn't very gregarious. But perhaps they can drink a toast to Nathan Hale, John Andre, and Colin Wells. Those who passed on before them.

The End

Author's note: I finally finished it. My longest story ever. Many thanks to my reviewers; Jesse611, laura sedai, chezlovesyou, erica1531, Sam, mollyina, jd burns, Claire M C, Teleri Pendaren, Kyomay, Vaniah, princess dreams, Dulcedecorumest, shosh, Maddy, Queen Hotaru, 24Heroesfan, That anonymous Briton who explained handbags and tills to me. I especially would like to thank my good friend Rachael (Exotic Rooftile) who helped me out with a lot of Britishisms. You made the story a lot better than it would have been. You are all great. And all you people who read it but didn't review. You're great too. I might write a sequel about Ruth and Chloe in LA but don't hold your breath. I haven't any idea what the plot would be.