Disclaimer: I don't own The Border or its characters...

Author's Note: I know I don't do the characters justice, but I can't stay away (plus no one else is providing me with my fanfic fix for this series).

First, Kessler had chained her to her desk for far, far too long. Then there was the forced counseling. And now Layla Hourani found herself confined to a small apartment. And not only that, but with a man who was fast getting on her nerves. She supposed it was for a good cause, but…

"I don't see why we can't just bring him in," she complained, setting the binoculars down upon the windowsill.

"Because we don't have any evidence that will stick," Gray Jackson replied.

She scoffed at the idea of none of the dirt sticking to a man like Alexei Kosokov. Just considering how many laws he had broken, he was extremely filthy. But when taking into account crimes against humanity, he was a mudslide.

"What's a human being worth, anyway?" he commented, picking up the binoculars and scouring the warehouse as she just had.

"To these men?" Layla responded with disgust for their targets. "Nothing. A little cash, some drugs…"

"I heard that a healthy teenage girl can fetch 15,000 on the black market," Gray said absent-mindedly as he continued to survey the outside world.

"Men," Layla criticized. "Only you would come up with the idea of kidnapping young girls and selling them to be used for sex."

"Hey!" Gray retorted, insulted by his partner's attitude. "I didn't have anything to do with the creation of sex trafficking. In fact, if you recall, I'm trying to take down a particularly nasty ring of the bastards at this very moment."

"Sorry," Layla apologized relenting to the bruised feelings of her partner and sometimes friend. "I didn't mean to lump you in with those sorry excuses for human beings."

"But…" she began to resume her tirade against men. However, Gray cut her off before she could piss him off with any more neo-feminist, sexist garbage.

"Layla," he warned. "Might I remind you before you spout off your misguided aggression towards men as a whole-which roots probably reside in some date that stood you up when you were a college freshman-that we have several days left to continue this stakeout." He gave her a piercing look. "Just the two of us. In this rather tight space. And we're barely getting along as it is…"

"Point taken," she replied curtly, incensed at his insinuations for the source of her diatribe. She tore the binoculars out of his hand resumed the act of staring at nothing-in-particular.

"It looks like they're being smart," Layla concluded, deciding that the op was better topic than their recently strained partnership. "We haven't seen them move any of the girls yet."

"Sure we're watching the right place?" Gray joked. The look Layla gave him informed him that it was more-than-slightly unwelcome.

"Those in the neighborhood who would actually talk said that they'd seen young girls being ushered in and out of the building on the DL," Layla reiterated a fact Gray was already aware of, as if he was incapable of remembering on his own. "And from what little they overheard, they were speaking Russian or possibly some other eastern European language."

"I was there for the briefing, Layla," Gray eliminated the need for her to continue to lecture him with information he already possessed.

"Maybe you were physically there," she countered. "But mentally, who knows with you? Sometimes…"

"What?" Gray asked, intrigued and insulted by the way she began to criticize him only to trail off. "Sometimes what?"

"Nothing," she clammed up. Gray shrugged and shook his head. His partner baffled him on more occasions than he cared to admit.

"I'm going to replenish our caffeine reserves," Gray changed the subject, deciding a little space, if however brief would do them both some good. "Want anything else while I'm out?"

The feisty little customs agent simply shook her head whilst still staring out the window. Was she trying to ignore him, or was she really that interested in their as of yet boring target?

A/N: TBC...