Author's Note: This is the final chapter unless any of you have requests. Thanks to all my readers and a special thanks to those of you who left reviews. I appreciate it SO much!
Chapter Eleven ~Never Say Never
Eliot drove as Loki changed in the back seat. Short, black wig, conservative slacks and button down, comfortable shoes, and a navy windbreaker with DHS on the back. He pulled up in front of Loki's duplex and pulled on a matching windbreaker before getting out.
O'Mara hadn't called off his goons yet. There was one in a black SUV at the end of the block watching them.
They grabbed the cardboard boxes from the trunk and entered her duplex. They moved methodically through the duplex; she'd select items and he'd box it up. They worked without talking, listening through their earpieces what the rest of the team was doing.
Nate, Hardison, and Parker dropped O'Mara off at his home, promising he would never hear from 'The Raptor' or the Department of Homeland Security again. Then they swung by Hardison's loft and with Sophie's help locked everything down and loaded up the van. Then the foursome donned navy DHS windbreakers and joined Eliot and Loki at the duplex.
They quickly packed the boxes into the van, and Eliot and Loki climbed back into the car. They drove into the northwest suburbs to the private airfield where the company jet was waiting. They loaded up and were in the air a little after 1:00 am.
They celebrated with beer and Loki's favorite pizza. She thanked them again, and then discretely made her way to a seat at the back of the cabin. She reclined the seat, wrapped up in a blanket, and appeared to go to sleep.
When the work talk ended, Eliot grabbed two more beers and moved to the seat next to Loki. "I know you're not asleep," he said.
She opened her eyes a fraction. "What makes you think that?"
"I know how your head works," he said, tapping a bottle lightly on her forehead. "It's going a mile a minute right now. You couldn't sleep if you wanted to."
She sat up, and took the bottle from him. "You're finally getting it, aren't you Cowboy?"
He looked into her eyes, not sure where she was going. "Uh… maybe…"
She smiled. "Ever since Montana you've been saying that you don't know me, but you really do." She paused, watching his face carefully. "You may not know my entire history or my real name, but you know me. You always have."
He thought back over their history and began to see it. "That night in Murmansk… you were there under a cover…"
"But I had no need to play that cover with you."
"In Montana… another cover…"
"But that was to protect me from my employers, not from you."
"It was you all the time," he said, overwhelmed by the truth and the simplicity of it.
"Yeah," she smiled.
And gradually, as they stared at each other, everything else slipped away. Sounds and colors faded until his full attention was on her face… her eyes… her lips.
He wanted her so badly at that moment, it was physically painful. He had to force himself to keep from touching her. A sudden loud outburst from Hardison helped.
"You're coming home with me," he said.
Her green eyes were hazy with what he interpreted as desire. She wet her lips purposefully. "I can get a hotel room."
He shook his head. "I've waited for this for four years. You're coming home with me," he said in his most commanding tone.
She stared at him for a moment, and then gave him a sexy smile. "Whatever you want, Cowboy."
He stared at her for a few moments, then said, "You know what I want right now?"
"Mmmmm, I'm imagining it…"
He gave a brief shake of his head. "I want to know your name. Your real name."
She smiled again and said, "Jocelyn… Jocelyn Wayland."
"Jocelyn," he repeated, liking the way it felt on his lips and tongue. He ran his eyes over her, putting her into the new context. He brought his eyes to rest on her eyes. "That sounds… right."
Picture you're the queen of everything
As far as the eye can see
Under your command
I will be your guardian
When all is crumbling
Steady your hand
Don't let me go…
Never Say Never by The Fray
Author's Note: This Epilogue is for Raine44354. It may not have been a true "request", but the review said 'I want Eliot to kick his ** SO bad!'. Since the final chapter was so short, I thought I could easily add this on. But, read at your own risk… I didn't spend a lot of time editing it. (Fight scenes are a challenge for me and take a lot of time for me to write and edit. And I really wanted to get this posted ASAP.)
Epilogue ~ Dangerous Game
Master Mitch Walker recognized him immediately. The first words out of his mouth were, "Is Melissa okay?"
Melissa Shaw. The cover identity Jocelyn had used in Chicago.
She was better than okay. But she would be pissed as hell if she knew what he was doing.
It didn't take much to convince Walker. He didn't seem surprised when Eliot told him what Melissa had endured. Eliot expected some resistance at his request – it went against the principles that Walker taught. But after a brief deliberation, Walker agreed. With one condition:
"You make sure he never comes back to this dojang."
O'Mara also recognized him immediately. The first words out of his mouth were, "I held up my end of the bargain…!"
Eliot took a relaxed fighting stance and then started a series of alternating axe kicks. He had borrowed a dobok – a white uniform used by most Tae Kwon Do schools -- from Walker, and took a moment to enjoy the freedom of movement. It was a luxury he didn't have when fighting in jeans or cargo pants.
"Yeah, you're a model citizen," Eliot sniped.
O'Mara stared at him. "What do you want from me?"
A pound of flesh, you prick. Eliot moved from the axe kicks into a hurricane kick – an outside crescent kick followed by a jumping-spinning inside crescent kick. He rarely bothered with jumping or spinning kicks. They took more time and energy than he usually had available in a spontaneous fight. But damn, they were impressive looking… and fun.
He strung several hurricanes together and quickly closed the distance between them. He stopped a couple of feet from O'Mara. "I'm here for training. Just like you."
O'Mara gave him a doubtful look. "You expect me to believe that you showing up here is just a coincidence?"
"Walker's got the best rep in Chicago," Eliot said. "I'm here because of him, not you."
O'Mara studied Eliot's face, obviously still skeptical. "Where is Walker?" he asked.
"Got called away. Personal emergency," Eliot replied. "Asked if I could fill in for him."
"With me?" O'Mara snapped. "During my personal training?"
Eliot nodded. "He said you guys were just sparring today. He figured I was qualified enough."
O'Mara looked purposely at Eliot's waist where there was no belt. "What rank are you?"
"I'm not big on the whole ranking thing," Eliot replied.
"Aye, and apparently you aren't big on sparring gear either?" O'Mara asked.
O'Mara's hesitated, then said, "I'm testing for my black belt next weekend."
"Good for you," Eliot said flatly.
"I'm just saying that I don't want to get injured so close to my test," O'Mara sputtered. "That's the only reason why I'm going to wear gear."
Eliot watched as O'Mara walked to the chairs along the back of the dojang, and dropped his duffle bag. O'Mara opened up the bag and started pulling out gear.
While he watched O'Mara pull on pads, Eliot continued to warm up with light kicks, punches, and stretches. Warming up was another luxury he rarely experienced. It was nice. So was the anticipation of kicking that smug pretty boy's ass.
After a few moments, O'Mara approached him covered in pads from head to toe. He was holding a chest protector against his torso. O'Mara said something but Eliot couldn't understand it around the mouth guard O'Mara was chewing on.
O'Mara gave an exasperated frown, turned around and pointed over his shoulder at the nylon straps dangling free on his back.
"Seriously?" Eliot snapped. O'Mara just waved an impatient hand. Eliot gritted his teeth and reluctantly went to work threading the straps through the loops. He pulled the straps tight, tied them off, and secured the Velcro across O'Mara's lower back.
"Ready now?" Eliot asked as O'Mara turned around.
O'Mara shook his head and removed the mouth guard. "Give me a minute to stretch."
"Yeah, sure," Eliot said, crossing his arms over his chest and parking his eyes on the other man. He watched as O'Mara lowered himself to the floor and started stretching his legs. As he watched, Eliot thought back to the warehouse – back to what Jocelyn had looked like when he found her and the bruises he discovered later. He thought about the details that she had reluctantly shared with him, and he let his anger build in his stomach and seep into his chest.
It was obvious O'Mara was uncomfortable under his stare. He attempted to fill the awkward silence, "I haven't seen you here before. You been training with Walker very long?"
Eliot shook his head. "Couple of weeks."
"Where did you study before that?"
"Mostly on the job training," Eliot said.
O'Mara nodded and then looked away. Another couple of minutes of awkward silence and stretching, and O'Mara came to his feet. He looked at Eliot as he stretched his arms across his chest.
"How is she?" he asked softly.
Eliot was caught off guard by the question and the emotion he heard in O'Mara's voice. He stepped closer. "Beg your pardon?"
O'Mara squared up to him. "How is Melissa?" he asked with a fuller voice.
Eliot hesitated. He hadn't planned on this much conversation. "That's classified."
O'Mara frowned. "Is she still alive? Is she well?"
"Do you honestly care?" Eliot said without thought.
"Of course I care," O'Mara replied. "I love her. I was going to marry her."
Eliot frowned. "Come on, I saw what you did to her. That's not love," he growled.
What little color O'Mara had drained from his face. "What do you mean?"
Eliot let his hands fall to his sides. "The bruises all over her body. She eventually told us how she got them."
O'Mara hesitated. "And she said I gave them to her?"
"She said you paid somebody else to do it. Not even man enough to face her yourself…" Eliot slid forward and landed a half-assed side kick in the middle of O'Mara's chest protector. O'Mara swayed and then stepped back into a fighting stance.
"She's an assassin!" O'Mara objected. "She deserves worse than that."
Eliot felt his anger burn into his muscles. He continued to slide forward snapping kicks into O'Mara's pad. O'Mara countered with half-hearted blocks.
Eliot struggled to keep his voice even. "You say that now. But at the time she was just your fiancée." Eliot ended his attack with a jumping front snap kick that while not full contact was enough to send O'Mara down on his butt on the mat.
O'Mara locked eyes with him as he came to his knees. "Why the hell do you care?" he snapped.
Eliot let his distaste show on his face. "I have no tolerance for men who knock around their girlfriends."
O'Mara threw his mouth guard onto the mat and shot a leg out at Eliot in a roundhouse kick to the ribs. Eliot had plenty of time to block it or sidestep it but he moved only enough to keep O'Mara from breaking the ribs. He took the kick with a smile. The pain was the perfect complement to his anger. It felt like home.
O'Mara made the mistake of landing flat-footed, his hands held loosely near his waist. Eliot punched him full force in the solar plexus. Despite the chest protector, the punch did some damage. O'Mara's body seemed to collapse around Eliot's fist, and Eliot felt hot air in his face as it was driven out of O'Mara's lungs.
O'Mara stumbled backwards, gasping. Eliot held his ground as O'Mara sucked air. O'Mara's face gradually reddened as his breath returned. He lunged at Eliot suddenly, throwing a kick at his groin area.
Eliot stepped backwards; O'Mara continued to advance on him. "Going below the belt so soon?" Eliot said with a smug smile.
O'Mara's face continued to darken as he threw several punches at Eliot's face. Eliot dodged them and spun around landing a full contact back fist into O'Mara's foam head gear.
O'Mara went down on his knees and Eliot stepped backwards. "Guys like you make me sick," he spat. O'Mara slowly came to his feet, glaring at Eliot. "Exerting power over the defenseless…"
"She was far from defenseless…!"
"Right! That's why you used drugs and guns! Chained her to a pole and beat the hell out her with a pipe!"
An odd look came over O'Mara's face. He stared at Eliot for a moment and then exploded, attacking Eliot, throwing a mix of kicks and punches. Eliot blocked the first punch but took a vicious roundhouse kick in the jaw. His head snapped to the side and he felt O'Mara's fist drive into his abdomen like a sledge hammer.
Eliot stumbled back and felt the blood starting to trickle down his chin. He gasped for air, waiting for O'Mara to follow him. When O'Mara lunged, Eliot jumped in the air and put a powerful spinning back kick in O'Mara's face.
Eliot landed and watched with satisfaction as O'Mara fell backwards. O'Mara made a satisfying thud as he landed hard on the mat on his back. O'Mara groaned and Eliot smiled. "Not giving up already, are you?" Eliot needled.
O'Mara rolled to his side and pushed up. He wobbled as he came to his feet. He turned to face Eliot again with a dazed look on his face.
"Why would she tell you all that?" he yelled.
Eliot's stomach twisted, worried suddenly that he may have given too much away.
He did his best to play it off, tilting his head as if he were thinking about it. He shrugged, "Maybe because it was something she could talk about without incriminating herself. Maybe because she was trying to keep us focused on you instead of her. But probably because she thought she could get our sympathy."
"It obviously worked," O'Mara spat. "Here you are defending her."
Eliot's stomach twisted some more. He shook his head. "I'm just doing Walker a favor. You're the one that brought her into it."
They stared at each other for several moments, both breathing hard. Finally Eliot said, "You gonna fight me or continue with the therapy session?"
O'Mara grabbed his head gear angrily, pulled it off, and tossed toward his duffle bag. He rushed Eliot like a defensive lineman taking down the quarterback. He wrapped arms around Eliot waist, pinning his arms to his side and pushed him backwards. Eliot was unable to get his footing until O'Mara slammed him against the mirrors that covered one wall of the dojang.
The impact loosened O'Mara's arms and Eliot took advantage of it. He bent his knees and lowered his center as he brought his elbows up forcefully. He easily broke O'Mara's grip. Eliot saw O'Mara's right hand rocketing toward his face and he dropped to his knees. He heard the mirror spiderweb where O'Mara's padded fist made contact.
Eliot leaned back on his hands and swung his right leg around in a sweep. O'Mara fell backwards, away from the mirrors, and landed on his back. Eliot brought his right leg up and over O'Mara's body with the intention of slamming his heel into O'Mara's face, but O'Mara rolled away from him and quickly came to his feet.
Eliot spun away in the opposite direction and moved smoothly from his hands and feet to his knees and then to standing. He turned to face O'Mara and brushed his hair out of his face.
O'Mara came at him again, bringing up his leg in axe kick when he was within range. Eliot threw up both his forearms to block him. He successfully blocked the powerful kick, but was unable to stop the punch O'Mara threw at his face. Eliot's head snapped with the impact and he immediately felt blood start to trickle into his sinuses.
He brought his face back around just in time to stop O'Mara's follow up punch. With his right arm, he knocked O'Mara's fist away as he simultaneously threw a punch with his left hand right into O'Mara's nose.
O'Mara stepped back, and Eliot was hoping that the pretty boy was going to whine about his now broken nose, but he didn't. So Eliot followed up with a full force front-snap kick to the solar plexus. O'Mara sucked air and took another step back, and Eliot followed him.
Eliot had to admit he was getting tired. Since O'Mara was wearing pads and he wasn't he had to exert twice the effort to get the same effect. Eliot needed to end the fight soon.
Breathing hard, Eliot continued to pursue O'Mara. He drove O'Mara back with a sliding side kick and then threw what he hoped would be a knock out punch towards O'Mara's face.
But O'Mara was ready for him. O'Mara blocked the punch and then wrapped his arm around Eliot's, in effect locking him in place. Then before Eliot could even think about defense, O'Mara brought down his long leg in an axe kick over Eliot's left shoulder. When O'Mara's heel made contact with Eliot's collarbone, the snap was loud enough for both men to hear. Eliot felt the flare of pain and sucked in a breath.
His knees gave out under the sudden pain, and if O'Mara hadn't been holding him upright, he would have hit the mat.
O'Mara stopped, looked in Eliot's eyes, and gave him a smug smirk. The he powered a front snap kick into Eliot's abdomen and as Eliot doubled over, O'Mara sunk an uppercut into Eliot's chin.
Eliot went airborne and O'Mara let go of his arm. He landed hard on his back, the pain in his collarbone flaring and the air being forced out of his lungs. He heard O'Mara approaching and rolled away from him. Each turn ground his fractured collarbone causing new levels of pain.
O'Mara laughed as Eliot staggered to his feet and turned to face him. "I think we're done," O'Mara said with a smile. "You need medical attention."
The only mark on O'Mara was his broken nose, trickling a small bit of blood. Eliot, on the other hand could feel his face swelling, his collarbone throbbed with every breath, and there was twice as much blood on his face, filling his sinuses and mouth.
Eliot wiped the sleeve of the dobok across his nose and chin, looked down at the result and then smiled at O'Mara. "I thought we were just getting warmed up."
The smile slid off O'Mara's once pretty face. Eliot attacked. He moved into O'Mara with a flurry of kicks and punches, pushing O'Mara back until they had covered the entire length of the dojang. Then he put everything he had into one last jumping sidekick.
O'Mara landed on his back, but Eliot stayed close. He fought the smile as he watched O'Mara snap back to his feet Jackie Chan style. Before O'Mara reached his full height and was still unsteady, Eliot threw a hook kick at O'Mara's head.
O'Mara's head snapped viciously to the side and his body followed. He stumbled away from Eliot until he hit the wall. Then he slowly slid down the wall, and crumpled to the floor.
Eliot moved swiftly to him, and dropped down on top of him with his left knee drilling into O'Mara's right shoulder, pinning him to the ground. O'Mara gave a satisfying groan. Eliot leaned over, grabbed O'Mara's short hair, and pulled his face up.
"Now, we're done," Eliot growled.
O'Mara gave a strangled laugh. "Done for today maybe…" he breathed.
Eliot pulled harder on O'Mara's head. "Is that a threat?"
O'Mara attempted another laugh. "Tell The Raptor that I look forward to seeing her again."
Eliot's heart seized and his mouth went dry. His mind spun with responses, but none of them were adequate enough to undo the harm he'd already done. O'Mara continued with an uneven laugh that went right to Eliot's bones.
"You must have some brain damage," Eliot said finally, "because you're not making any sense."
He slammed pretty boy's face into the mat, pushed forcefully off his body and took a step back. He waited for O'Mara to get up, but O'Mara just laid on the mat, his eyes glassy and breathing heavily.
"I'll tell you one thing…" Eliot said, "You definitely don't have what it takes to be a black belt at this school. I mean, your fighting is adequate, but your attitude sucks. Black belts don't go around beating up their girlfriends." He paused and then added, "And, oh yeah, Walker wants you out. If you ever come back to this gym, it'll be round two for me and you… and no pads."
Eliot took a deep breath, feeling the pain, the fatigue, and a new kind of worry for Jocelyn. He felt an overwhelming need to kill O'Mara right there, but knew that would bring all kind of hell down on Walker. Jocelyn would never forgive him.
With one last glare at O'Mara, Eliot headed for the door to the locker room.
What will we do, what will we say
When it's the end of this game that we play
Will we crumble into the dust, my friend
Or will we start this game over again
Dangerous Game by 3 Doors Down