By: Meg C.
I walked into the Silver Star, closing out the bright sunlight behind me. Seeing the guys gathered around the bar talking to Debbie, I walked over to them.
"Hey guys. How was your weekend?" I asked them.
Nick Delvechio, Jason "Chance" Walker and C.J. Yates turned around on the bar stools. They grinned at me.
"Good. How was yours?" Chance asked, giving me a hug.
"Pretty good." I said, smiling.
"Uh-oh. I know that look." He responded.
"What?" I asked, innocently.
"What are you talking about, mate?' C.J. asked.
"She met someone." Chance explained.
"How ya know that?" Nick stared at him.
I laughed and walked around the bar, pouring myself a margarita. I glanced up at the office and saw Matt Shephard sitting down at his desk.
"What's Matt doing?" I asked, changing the subject.
"Tax stuff." Nick said, shrugging.
The door opened and a man stepped in.
"Sorry, we're closed." Debbie called out.
The man walked to the bar, carrying flowers in his arms. Debbie's eyes lit up.
"Is there a Margo….uh…Vincent here?" He asked, looking at the card.
"That's me." I told him, walking over to him.
He held out the flowers and walked out the door.
I smelled them and smiled, seeing the card. I took it out and read it.
"Who'd ya get flowers from?"
I heard Benny Ray Riddle's voice behind me. I turned to him and smiled.
"She met someone this weekend." C.J. said, shrugging.
I laughed and walked over to the bar, pulling a vase down and filling it with water. I grinned at the beautiful flowers in the vase.
"I don't get it. How's it she meets someone in just three days?" Nick asked, incredulously.
Benny Ray shook his head and grinned at the man.
"Are you blind, Delvechio?" He winked at Nick.
I pretended not to hear this and turned to walk back toward them. I saw Debbie staring at the flowers out of the corner of her eye.
"Hey. I'm not going to be home to take care of those. Why don't you take them?" I told her, touching her arm lightly.
"Really? Thanks, Margo." She smiled at me.
"Hey guys! Come on up." A voice called from the office.
I turned to see Major Matt Shepard standing in the doorway.
Chance held out his arm and I took it, walking up the short flight of stairs.
Matt sat back down behind his desk, pulling off his glasses and rubbing his eyes.
"What'cha working on?" Nick asked, grabbing some papers off of his desk.
"Nunya, Delvechio." Benny Ray said, grabbing them back from Nick.
I rolled my eyes at them and smiled.
"How was your weekend, sir?" Chance asked.
Matt turned his attention to him and shrugged.
"It was uneventful." Matt told him.
We all laughed at the sour expression on his face.
"You sound like that is a bad thing." I said.
"Sometimes it can be." Matt answered begrudgingly.
"What's up, sir?" Benny Ray asked, suddenly all business.
"I'm being audited." Matt said, his voice reflecting his lack of sleep.
"What? When'd you find out about this?" Nick asked.
"Some guy in a cheap suit came by on Saturday and served the papers.""Saturday?" Chance asked.
We all watched as he nodded and rubbed his face tiredly. I sat and listened as he told us what had occurred.
I looked at Matt and grinned.
" I thought you were keeping up with all this stuff."
"I have! But this guy said there was a problem with one of the papers. Something about a tax item that was left out."
CJ chuckled and Matt shot him a dirty look.
"Sorry, Major." His smile dying on his lips.
"So. How was everyone's weekend?" Matt asked us.
Everyone mumbled and we knew it was back to work as usual. We all filed downstairs.
"Hey Deb! Nice flowers." Matt said, seeing the flowers.
I saw Debbie wince and I shot Matt a look, which he ignored.
He walked over to the bar and grinned at her.
"Something we should know?" He said, trying to be charming.
Behind me, I heard Nick and CJ snicker. Benny Ray jabbed Nick in the side.
"They're not mine." Debbie said, begrudgingly.
"Oh?" Matt asked, his smile fading slightly.
"They're Margo's." She said, walking off down the bar.
Matt turned, embarrassed and stumbled back toward us. He looked like he had been burned as he pushed his way past us and lumbered down the stairs. He glared at us and then grinned.
"So, now that you've all had a laugh , maybe we can get down to business." He looked at us and smiled. "Time for workout. Get dressed and meet here in 5."
We all groaned and dispersed.
A few minutes later, we were back in the meeting room of the basement.
"Okay. For the little embarrassment at my expense….10 miles."
"Oh man!" Nick groaned.
"That wasn't our fault, Major." CJ whined.
Matt was halfway out the door and ignored the remarks. He took off down the sidewalk and crossed out to the beach.
I sighed and stretched, taking off after him. I ran, thinking of the past weekend.
It had started off normal. The usual five miles in the park when I heard someone yell, "HEADS UP!" I ducked as a football went sailing over my head.
I turned to see the voice that had warned me. I glared up at him and saw the man smile guiltily.
"I am so sorry." He said, again, reaching down for the football.
I continued to glare but turned to continue my run.
"At least let me make it up to you."
And that's how I started my weekend.
I grinned to myself as I thought of Mark. He was so charming and I had enjoyed the past weekend that I had spent with him. I felt someone coming up beside me and turned to see Chance jogging up next to me.
"Hey." I grinned at him.
"What ya grinning at?" Chance asked, looking straight ahead.
He continued to keep pace with me as we ran in silence for a while.
"Margo! You know what!"
I glanced at him as we turned and headed back toward the Silver Star. We passed Nick and CJ being herded by Benny Ray.
"What do you want to know, nosy?"
Chance chuckled and said, "His name would be nice."
I shook my head but answered. "Mark."
Chance seemed satisfied for about ten minutes.
"What's he do?"
He nodded, knowing I had told him as much as I was going to. We saw Matt ahead in the distance and I picked up speed, Chance following my lead. We stopped underneath the pier, regaining our breath. Matt stood watching for the others.
I sighed. "Yes?"
"Who'd you get the flowers from?" Matt asked, turning his attention to me.
I looked at Chance, who raised an eyebrow. I groaned.
"Just someone I met this weekend."
I shook my head and walked toward the Silver Star. I opened the door and walked over to the bar, grabbing a stool. Debbie saw me and came over my way.
I smiled at her.
"Where'd Matt go?"
Debbie nodded and walked down to help some customers who had walked in. I decided to go back downstairs to wait for the others. I sat down on the couch and leaned my head back, closing my eyes.
I felt someone plop down next to me a few minutes later.
I jumped and my eyes flew open to see Nick grinning at me and Benny Ray glaring at him.
"What?" Nick asked innocently.
"She was sleeping!" Benny Ray yelled.
"Well, I'm sorry. Didn't you get any sleep this weekend?" Nick asked wickedly, winking at me.
Benny Ray slapped him in the back of his head.
"Where's Matt?" I asked, ignoring his comment.
"Upstairs on the phone." Benny Ray answered, walking over to the punching bag.
I turned to see Chance working out on the weights and CJ on his computer.
Nick was still sitting next to me and I looked at him. He grinned at me and raised his eyebrows.
"What?" I asked.
"Delvechio! Leave her alone." Chance shouted from the weight bench.
"Enquiring minds want to know." Nick said, still waiting for my answer.
"Curiosity killed the cat." Benny Ray warned him.
"Go away, Nick." I said, my voice low.
"Go find the Major, Delvechio." Benny Ray snarled.
I stood up and walked toward the door.
"Hey! Where ya going?" Nick shouted.
I ignored Nick and continued toward the door.
"Beep me if you need me." I called over my shoulder, opening the door.
"Stay close." Benny Ray yelled.
I walked over to my car and looked around the parking lot. I saw Matt talking to someone but I couldn't make out who it was. He was listening as the man talked heatedly, waving his hands around. A second man appeared behind Matt and I shielded my eyes against the afternoon sun to make out who the men were. I started toward them when suddenly Matt when down on one knee.
"What the hell?!" I said, running toward them.
I still couldn't see the first man's face but I yelled as they pulled Matt toward the van. His head was hanging and I couldn't tell if he was conscious or not.
"Hey!" I screamed.
Nick walked out of the front door and saw what was going on. He rushed to help Matt but the first man turned and shot him. Nick dropped where he was.
The second man looked up, not seeing Nick coming to Matt's aid. He looked up sharply at the other man and turned to grab Nick. He glanced at me as he jumped into the passenger seat.. The doors were slammed behind my two fallen teammates and the other man.
I reached for my weapon but suddenly realized I was without it.
"Shit!" I said, seeing the second man taking aim at me.
I dodged behind a trash can but felt pain shoot through my calf. Everything went dark.
How long I had been there, I wasn't sure. I knew I was in and out and my leg was on fire. MATT! NICK! What had happened? I felt my beeper going off and then what seemed like an eternity later I heard voices.
"Margo?" Chance's voice came to my ears.
I felt him check for a wound.
"Leg." I whispered.
"It's okay, sweet pea. We've got you." I heard Benny Ray and felt him lift me off the ground and into his arms. I blanked out again for a few seconds but felt the cool leather of the couch beneath me.
"CJ! Some water." Chance yelled.
"I'm fine." I whispered again.
"Shhh. Take it easy." Benny Ray soothed.
"Nick went to get him."
"No. He's gone too. They took them." I struggled to sit up.
"What are you talking about?"
"I saw them take Matt and Nick. A van…two men." I managed to get out.
"Lay back. Take it easy."
"I'm fine." I pushed them away and got to my feet. I swayed and Chance grabbed my arm.
"Tell us what happened." He urged, sitting me back down.
"Matt's not there. Debbie said someone was looking for him and they went outside. What the hell is going on?" CJ said as he walked over to us and handed me the glass of water.
"Someone's got Matt." Chance explained, as he took the water and handed it to me. He held up a small object.
"Tranquilizer. That's what hit you."
Benny Ray gritted his teeth. "CJ, get Trout on the phone. Tell him we've been breached and we need him to meet us at safe house one ASAP."
"Chance, get the gear together. Lock up the rest. We need to be out of here in 10. Then tell Debbie we're locking up. Get rid of the customers."
Chance and CJ ran to their duties.
"How bout you? You okay?"
"My leg is getting feeling back." I assured him.
"Good. Now explain what happened."
I told Benny Ray what had happened and what I remembered. He didn't press me.
"I'm sorry. That's all I know."
"Hey. It's okay." He said, his hand on my arm.
Benny Ray loaded up the SUV and Chance returned from upstairs.
"Everyone's gone. CJ's finishing up with Trout. I'll lock up everything else."
"Good. Okay, let's get moving people." Benny Ray said an hour later.
CJ and Chance finished locking up the stuff we weren't taking and then CJ started the car. Benny Ray helped me to my feet and wrapped his arm around my waist to steady me. Once inside the Suburban, it was all business.
"Chance, how's our six?" Benny Ray asked from the back.
CJ drove fast but carefully, taking side streets to lose any tails.
My cell phone rang. All eyes were on me as I fished in my bag to retrieve it.
"Margo? It's me, Mark."
I blushed and turned slightly to avoid eye contact with the others.
"Uh..it's not a good time, Mark." I said, hearing CJ scoff.
I shot him a dirty look, seeing his eyes in the rearview mirror.
"I'm sorry. I have to go."
I hung up the phone. We pulled into the driveway and Chance opened the garage, letting the SUV in and closing it behind us.
"Now what?" CJ asked as we all filed into the living room.
"We wait." Benny Ray said, taking up sentry at the window.
Chance went around the small house, checking the windows and doors. He returned and nodded at Benny Ray. CJ helped me set up the computer and equipment we had brought. Benny Ray's phone chirped.
"Yeah? Okay." He hung up, announcing Trout was on his way.
A few seconds later, a knock at the door told us of his arrival. He walked in and greeted us, grimly.
I explained once more what I had seen and Trout sat down heavily on the armchair.
"I have no news for you. I'm not sure what's going on." He said, sounding defeated.
"That's just bloody terrific!" CJ shouted angrily.
Trout shot him a look but CJ stood there, hands on hips.
"So what! Now we wait for someone to grab us one by one. We're sitting ducks. Wonderful!"
I shook my head. "CJ, calm down." I said softly.
"No! I won't. Whoever we're dealing with grabbed Major and Nick in broad daylight and then tried to take you out."
Benny Ray had been leaning against the wall, arms crossed across his chest. He pushed off the wall and walked over to CJ.
"CJ, knock it off. We're all on edge. We need to stay frosted, okay."
CJ sighed and stomped off.
"He'll cool off." Chance stated, watching CJ.
I nodded and looked back at Trout.
"So now what, Xavier?" I asked.
All eyes went to him.
"I have sources checking some things out for me. Nothing yet. I need to get back." He said, standing up. "I'll be in touch. Call if you find out anything." He walked out the door.
I sat down, my head spinning. Guilt from my fellow teammates' kidnapping consumed me. I saw tears flooding up in front of my eyes, and angrily brushed them away. I rested my head in my hands, trying to calm myself. I stood up after a few minutes, suddenly realizing we were all still in our work out gear.
"I'm going to shower and change." I announced.
Benny Ray nodded but said nothing.
I walked into the bedroom and pulled some clothes out of my bag. My cell phone rang again.
"Margo, what the hell is going on? Is something wrong?"
I sighed, hearing Mark's voice on the line.
"No. I just had some work stuff come up."
"What about dinner tonight?"
I hesitated and then said, "I can't. Some at work got sick and I have to fill in."
The lie wasn't too much of a stretch from the truth.
"Somehow I kinda think there's more to it than that."
"No. I had a great weekend and I'll call you soon."
I heard a dial tone and closed my eyes.
"Didn't believe ya, huh?" Chance's voice asked.
I jumped and turned to see him standing there, still clad in his track pants and tank. He grinned at me and walked off down the hall. I grabbed up my clothes and headed for the bathroom. I stripped off my jogging outfit and let the hot water soothe my aching muscles. Turning the shower off, I climbed out and dried off. I stepped out of the bathroom and returned to the living room.
Benny Ray sat cleaning his weapon at the kitchen table while CJ hovered over one of the computers. I walked over to them.
"You feel better?" CJ asked me.
"I could ask the same of you." I countered.
I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and leaned over his shoulder, realizing what he was trying to do.
"Try ALPHA TANGO 461 ROGER." I said as he typed in some codes.
ACCESS DENIED flashed across the screen.
"Damn!" I said, frustrated.
CJ waited for another suggestion and I felt his and Benny Ray's eyes on me as I paced.
"Move over." I said to CJ.
He pushed his chair back from the table and I slid in.
"ALPHA 327 BRAVO TANGO 41." I said aloud, typing the sequence in.
"What's going on?" Chance asked, coming into the small room.
"Margo hacked into the database of the DOD."
Chance whistled. "Can't they track us?"
"Not if I run a tracer from the path and attach it to the header in the domain name."
I saw him glance at Benny Ray who exchanged confused looks with him.
A small screen popped up and I typed in "427 Long 624 Lat" and it brought up a map where I again clicked on the location.
"What are you doing?" CJ asked, astonished as he watched.
A picture came into view and I felt the guys behind me.
"How in the hell....?" Chance breathed.
Silence enveloped me and I grinned as I knew all eyes were on me. I zoomed in on the picture.
"That's the second guy. I can't focus on the first." I said, showing them the picture of Matt and Nick's kidnappers. I had accessed the video from the Silver Star's surveillance system.
"You're scary, you know that?" Chance told me, clamping his hand on my shoulder.
I laughed and then framed the first guy's face.
"It will take a few minutes to run this."
CJ returned with a cup of coffee and handed it to me. I pushed back my chair and motioned for him to sit down. He smiled and sat down, watching the screen.
"You'll have to show me how you did this, love."
I winked at him and walked off. I sat down on the couch and waited, watching the guys. I wondered if Matt and Nick were okay and I once again berated myself. I stood up, smoothing my hair back and went to the window, staring out blankly.
Chance touched my shoulder. "They'll be okay." was all he said and I managed a weak smile.
"We've got it!" CJ yelled and we all made a dash for the kitchen table.
CJ pulled up the picture and I gasped.
Benny Ray heard the noise and turned to look at me.
"What is it? You know him?"
I nodded and turned, "Mark." I said as I felt the room start to spin. I knew I had to get out of there. I opened the door and walked out onto the back porch. I sat down heavily on the last step, my legs falling out from under me.
How? How could I be so stupid? I thought.
I heard the back door open and heard footsteps. A half a second later, Benny Ray sat down next to me. He looked around the fenced backyard, searching for something amiss. His quietness infuriated me.
"Don't you get it?" I snarled at him.
Benny Ray nodded, still looking off into the distance.
"They're gone because of me!"
"You don't know that." He said, softly.
"Yes, I do. Mark managed to get to me. And now they're paying the price."
"Mark didn't just get to you. The IRS guy, remember. Now, we need to concentrate on getting them back."
I shook my head.
"Look Margo, I know how you feel, okay? You can't blame yourself just because you went out with this guy. I've seen the way you work. You're careful and level-headed. This isn't something you missed. He fooled you, okay. He's good...but we're better."
"Let me call him. Set up a meeting and.."
"No.""Come on, Benny Ray. He's made contact twice. He doesn't know I know."
"No, Margo" He said firmly, looking at me with steel blue eyes.
I stood up, glaring down at him.
"You do things your way, I'll do them mine." I snapped.
Benny Ray held up a hand to silence me.
"We need to move. We shouldn't stay here much longer." He said softly, still scanning the yard.
We walked back inside and he announced, "We need to get the hell out of here.""What? Where we going?" Chance asked.
"I don't know yet." Benny Ray stated, packing up his gear.
We headed out into the garage, throwing our stuff into the SUV. Pulling out of the garage, Benny Ray was on the phone instantly. I watched as he listened, starting up the computer.
"Ok. Margo's uploading the photos to you now. I want to know who these people are and what the fuck they want." Benny Ray was silent for a few minutes and then hung up.
Leaning into the front seat, he gave CJ directions.
"What the hell is going on, Benny Ray?" Chance asked from the passenger seat.
Benny Ray shook his head.
"Trout has no idea. He thinks we should separate and disappear until he finds out something.""No bloody way." CJ shouted from the front seat.
"My thoughts exactly." Chance answered.
After sending the pictures to Trout, I shut down the computer.
"Where exactly does he want us to 'disappear' to?" I asked, not believing what I was hearing.
Benny Ray shot me a look and I sat silent for a few minutes, knowing there was more to come.
"I'm thinking that maybe he's right." He said after a few minutes of silence.
The SUV swerved, almost hitting the concrete embankment.
CJ swore and got control of the SUV as he heard what had come out of Benny Ray's mouth.
"Shit CJ!" Chance exclaimed as we grabbed on to something.
"Sorry. What the bloody hell are you thinking, Benny Ray?!"
Benny Ray looked seriously at each of us.
"Look, whoever this is that's hunting us, they obviously know what we are and our moves. Trout thinks we should just each lie low until we find out what the hell is going on. Now I agree with the Colonel, to a point. We should split up...but just into twos."
We looked at him for a second, then slowly nodded our agreement.
"Matt wouldn't like this idea. We know better than to split up. He taught us that." I said quietly.
"I know, sweet pea, but its all we got right now."
A few hours later, CJ pulled the SUV into Chance's hanger. Benny Ray grabbed the gear out of the back. CJ locked the truck up and we all stood at Chance's plane.
"Well, y'all keep in touch. Every 12 hours, no excuses. I need to know where you are. Just get a hold of Trout and keep him informed." Benny Ray said.
Chance and CJ nodded.
We stood there for a few seconds, which seemed like eternity. I couldn't believe that we were splitting up and could hear Matt's voice in my head.
We would definitely get a lecture when this was over.........If we all made it through this. I thought, feeling tears well up.
Chance saw this and leaned over and hugged me.
"It'll be okay...you'll see. Take care of yourself." He whispered into my ear.
I watched as he and CJ climbed aboard the small plane and Benny Ray and I backed off as the Chance fired it up. CJ saluted us as they turned toward the runway, and then lifted off the ground. I wiped away a tear and waved as they turned south and flew off, rising above the tree line.
"C'mon, sweet pea. Let's go." Benny Ray said, waiting for me to follow.
I watched until I could no longer see the plane and then turned.
Benny Ray held out a helmet for me and I climbed on back of the motorcycle.
He revved the engine and I wrapped my arms around his waist, pressing my cheek against his shoulder.
As we drove off, I turned to see if I could see CJ and Chance still.
Sighing, I looked ahead, wondering if it was indeed going to be okay.