Seven Days is owned by Crowe Entertainment and UPN. No money is being exchanged. My conscience is clear.
Feedback; Oh please!
Summary; Olga gives Frank a gift before his next mission.
Another day, another Backstep.
Frank Parker was suiting up for his next mission having read the dossier that Ramsey had handed him. Home-grown terrorists somehow managed to sneak explosives to the top of the Empire State Building. The resulting explosion claimed over a hundred lives, and was already being compared to the Oklahoma City bombing. Frank's mission, once he Stepped back, was to locate the headquarters of the so-called "Brotherhood of Shiloh", a white-supremacist group that claimed credit for the bombing, and shut them down before they could act.
A milk run, actually. Frank could do this in his sleep.
He cinched up his suit's Velcro attachments, when he heard a knock at the door. "Come in, I'm decent," he called out.
"I think Mr. Ramsey would disagree with that statement, Mr. Parker," a familiar Russian-accented voice answered, "but you'll get no argument from me." Frank turned around, to see the smiling face of Olga Vulkavitch, Backstep's senior scientist.
"Hey, Olga," he waved a heavily gloved hand. "Here to wish me off?"
"Something like that," Olga answered. She seemed to be looking intently at a spot behind Frank and just to the left.
Frank waved to get her attention. "Hey, this is Ground Control to Doctor Vulkavitch, you've really made the grade, and the papers want to know whose shirts you wear."
Olga glanced back at Frank, smiling warmly. "David Bowie, right?" she asked.
"Not bad, Olga," Frank teased her. "Didn't think you were into ol' Ziggy Stardust."
"Actually," Olga demurred, "I was always more into his Thin White Duke period. My favorite of his was 'Heroes'."
Frank nodded lightly, "Yeah, that was more of a love song."
"About two lovers separated by the Berlin Wall," Olga added.
Frank raised an eyebrow at the comment. "I did not know that."
Olga nodded back, suddenly falling silent. Frank scanned over her body, trying to read her signs. Assuming she was giving any signs. Usually, the signs she gave him read, "Closed". Especially to Frank Parker. But sometimes...
Sometimes, he might be fortunate to catch her in an unguarded moment, when she seemed to be looking at him as something more than a psychiatric patient or a test subject. A warmth would fill her eyes at those moments, and her face would soften, making her the most incredibly attractive person he had ever seen. But then she would notice his eyes on her, and the fleeting moment would fade, and she would go back to her business-as-usual façade.
For some reason, that familiar warmth was in her eyes, and she was looking directly at him. He wondered what was going on in that mind of hers. "Hey, Olga, a rupee for them."
Olga shook her head, as though her mind had been recalled from far away. "A rupee, Mr. Parker?" she asked. "Whatever for?"
"Your thoughts," Parker smiled. "Y'know, like a penny for them, a rupee, sort of the Russian equivalent?" Olga chuckled as an embarrassed Parker tried to explain his joke.
"Sorry, Mr. Parker," she explained. "I guess my mind was elsewhere. I— I was thinking about something. Something that's been on my mind for a while now."
"What's up, Olga?" Frank urged her, but she stood silent. "Hey, come on, we're friends, right? I mean, sure there are times when we can barely stand the site of each other, but—"
"No, Mr. Parker," Olga interrupted. "You're right, and I do want to talk about this." She swallowed hard, and began her confession. "Mr. Parker, I have always been aware of, well, this—thing between us."
"A thing? Olga, what do you mean a 'thing'? I mean, any time I talk to you outside of work, you throw me off."
"I know, Frank, and I'm sorry." Olga lowered her head, uncertain how to continue. Frank slowly lifted her chin with a finger, forcing her to look into his eyes again. He saw a faint trace of a tear forming in the corner of her eye, and wiped it away gently with his left thumb.
"Olga," something had occurred to him suddenly. "Did you just call me 'Frank'?
Olga regarded Parker with a watery smile. "Yes, I guess I did. Frank, I don't know how else to say this, except to just—say it. Frank, I'm attracted to you. For the first time since my husband died, I'm at a point where I want that kind of intimacy, to be with someone else, and you're the one I want." She looked Frank directly in his unbelieving eyes, as she said it plain as day; "I want a relationship with you."
Frank stared at Olga, desperately trying to fathom her words. Was his most cherished fantasy about to come true? Olga then did something that Frank would never have believed in a million years. She took his head in her hands, and pulled it toward hers, ending in a deeply passionate kiss.
Frank simply reveled in the kiss, in the softness and taste of Olga's lips for a full ten seconds, before he backed off suddenly. "Oh, I get it," he raised his voice accusingly. "Donavan set you up, didn't he? You make this big admission of your attraction to me, hours before I'm scheduled to Backstep, so when I go back, I'll remember this moment, but none of it'll have happened as far as you're aware! Thanks a whole helluva lot!" He turned away from her, angry at her seeming betrayal of his heart.
"No, Frank, it's nothing like that at all," Olga pleaded with him. "I've been thinking of this for some time. And I knew that if I made such an admission to you, there was always the possibility of a Backstep taking place within a week of my confession." Frank turned slightly toward Olga again, his anger subsiding slowly. "Once I got over my fear of my feelings, I knew that I had to find a way to insure that any effort on my part to make such an overture to you wouldn't be lost in the Backstep. And I think I found a way."
Frank regarded Olga's face, saw the hopefulness in her eyes, the warm flush of her cheeks. Oh my God, he thought, is there another person as beautiful? He could not recall a time when any woman appealed to him more than Olga did at that very moment. Even with his photographic memory.
Olga took a small envelop, about two inches square, out of her jacket pocket, and handed it to Frank. "When you finish your current mission, please give this to me on the other side."
Frank opened the envelop gently, and admired the small pressed flower inside. "Nice. Sort of a reminder, kinda like a Backstep Bookmark."
"Something like that," she nodded, liking the comparison. "It's called a nezabudka. In English, a forget-me-not."
"Fitting," Frank commented.
"I've had that with me for a few weeks now," Olga admitted, "making sure that there were no Backsteps to erase my ever preparing the pressed flower. When you give this to me, I'll know that I did what I set out to do now."
"And then what happens?"
"I guess we'll find that out together," she smiled at him. She leaned forward and kissed him again, lightly on the lips. Breaking off the kiss reluctantly, she told him, "You had better finish preparing for your Backstep."
"I've never been more ready for a Backstep in all my life," he answered in a lopsided grin. "I'll see ya on the other side, Olga." He smiled at her as she departed, and he couldn't help but notice a sashay in her step.
Yeah, this was going to be an interesting Backstep.
Seven days ago;
Talmadge answered the incessantly ringing phone, and heard the word he was waiting for since the Sphere disappeared: "Conundrum."
"What's the mission, Frank?"
"We need to shut down a bunch of white supremacist terrorists, the Brotherhood of Shiloh, before they blow up the top of the Empire State Building."
"Oh my word!"
"We got some intell before I Backstepped on where they're located, so once I find the exact whereabouts, I'll phone you to send in the troops."
"Consider it done, Frank," Talmadge answered. "Good hunting."
Two days later, the leaders of the Brotherhood of Shiloh were arrested on several counts of terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder. Frank returned to the Backstep headquarters in Nevada, relieved that the Brotherhood's schemes would never see fruition. But he still had one more thing to do.
He saw her puttering about her lab, and knocked casually at the open door. "Hey, Olga, how goes the march of progress?"
"It goes fine, Mr. Parker," she answered, in a slightly annoyed tone; she was too busy with her experiments to listen to Parker's childish prattlings. "Is there something I can do for you?"
"Actually, yes, there is," Frank muffled slightly as he fished through his pocket. "Uh, this is gonna sound kind of odd, but you asked me to give you this."
"Oh?" she crooked her eyebrow. "When did I do that?"
"Uh, before I Backstepped." Olga's eyes opened wide at the words. Did she finally—
Frank handed her the envelop, and before even opening it, Olga knew what it contained. She opened the envelop, withdrawing the still preserved flower, smiling thankfully at the realization that Frank had protected the flower with great care.
"It's called a nezabudka," Frank said quietly, "a forget-me-not."
"Yes, it is," she breathed. She gently returned the flower to its envelop, and placed it on the counter next to her. She turned back to Frank, who had both desired and feared this moment since just before he Backstepped. He waited anxiously for her reaction.
The ten-thousand-candlepower smile that lit her face warmed Frank's heart to the core. "Now what, Mr. Parker?"
"Well, under the circumstances," he grinned merrily, "you could start by calling me 'Frank'."
"I'd like that—" she said sweetly, "Frank." She leaned into his waiting arms, enjoying this closeness, his warmth, his gentle strength. She turned her head slightly to the left, and their lips met in a slow, languid kiss.
Reluctantly breaking off the kiss, she turned back to the counter, saying, "I still have to finish these experiments, Frank. But I'm free tonight."
"What a coincidence," Frank answered. "I'm not only free, but I've got a friend who owns the best Italian restaurant in Nevada, and he owes me a few favors. How about the best table for two at Luigi's at 1500 hours?"
"I'd like that." She smiled as she withdrew from his arms and returned to her Bunsen burners. "I'll be the one in the tight red strapless."
"When did you get a tight red strapless?"
Olga smiled mysteriously. "I had it for a few months, Frank. Just for a special occasion. See you at seven." She brushed her hand lightly, in a 'shoo, shoo' motion, and Frank left.
For the rest of the day before seven p.m., his face bore the most impossibly wide grin.