( a sequel to Deceptions)
By: Meg C.
I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing in the other room. I thought it was just a dream for a few minutes until it stopped abruptly and I sat up. I grabbed the robe at the end of the bed and wrapped it around me and slowly walked to the bedroom door. Opening it, I saw Benny Ray's back turned toward me and heard him quietly talking to someone on the phone.
"When was this?" He asked and then paused, waiting for whomever to answer him.
He shook his head and he sat down heavily on the sofa.
"And no one has been able to identify the body?"
I gasped and he turned around seeing me.
"Look, keep me informed." He said and hung up.
"Benny Ray?" I asked, feeling the weight of his stare penetrating my eyes. My knees started to buckle and the room started to spin.
Benny Ray jumped up and crossed the room to grab my arm as I started to fall. He walked me over to the couch and we sat.
"That was Trout. A body was found washed up on a beach in Santa Monica. They haven't been able to identify it yet, but it looks to have been in the water for about a month." He explained, not looking into my eyes.
I shook my head, not wanting this to be true. This is a dream! I'm going to wake up!
"Trout was going to call Chance and C.J. He'll keep us informed." He said, standing up and walking into the small kitchen.
It was two months later and we were no closer to finding Matt and Nick than we had been. C.J. and Chance had flown off to Hawaii and were keeping a low profile while Benny Ray and I had disappeared to a secluded Maine cabin. There had been no word on either Matt or Nick and all hope was dwindling day by day, week by week.
Benny Ray stood at the counter, eyes glazed over, hands flat. I could see that the stress in his face and shoulders. I regained my composure and walked over to him. Laying my hand on his, I looked down at our hands and when I finally felt like I wouldn't fall apart, I glanced up into his steel blue eyes. Our eyes met and my breath caught as I saw tears once again weld up in my eyes.
"Damn it!" I cursed myself for being so weak.
Benny Ray walked around the counter and gathered my into his arms.
"It's okay, sweet pea. We don't know it's either one of them." He soothed, smoothing my hair.
I shook my head against him, and took a deep breath. I stepped away from him and walked over to the living room.
"Don't we? I've given up hope. It's been two months." I told him, rubbing my arms.
Suddenly the phone rang again, Benny Ray grabbing it before it could ring a second time.
"Yes, sir. When? Okay, we'll be ready." He said, closing the phone.
"That was Trout. We're to come in. He's sending a chopper in 30."
I walked into the bedroom, gathering stuff and shoving it in my duffel. I quickly dressed and returned to the living room. Benny Ray was standing at the window, watching intently, his duffel at the door.
He turned slightly as he saw me place my bag next to his.
I nodded, then said, "Yes."
We looked out the window together in silence.
Twenty minutes later we heard the approaching sounds of a helicopter. We gathered our bags and walked out toward the clearing about a half-mile from the cabin.
I looked around at our home for the past two months. I was beautiful up here, even if we hadn't gotten out for more than a few minutes to get some fresh air. The cabin was surrounded with woods and on a secluded mountain. There was no way in or out except by air. It was the perfect safe house.
As the helicopter neared, we backed off a few feet as it hovered and finally landed. We saw the pilot motion to us and we ran cautiously toward it.
"Alpha Dog sent me. Get in." The pilot yelled over the engine.
We nodded as we recognized Trout's password. Benny Ray hoisted our bags up and into the copter as we climbed aboard.
I stared out the door as we lifted off the ground and circled the field and took off. Looking back at the cabin, I grinned.
"What ya grinning at?" Benny Ray nudged me.
"It's so beautiful. I guess I didn't really pay much attention when we came in."
We both looked back, seeing the cabin get lost in the snow covered trees.
I looked at Benny Ray and he smiled at me, putting his arm around my shoulders.
I leaned my head against his shoulder and closed my eyes.
Columbus Air force Base, Mississippi
I awoke as Benny Ray gently tapped my arm.
"Where are we?" I asked, groggily.
"Mississippi. Did you have a good nap, sweet pea?" He joked.
The helicopter landed and the pilot shut the engine off.
"We're here, folks. Welcome to Mississippi." He drawled, turning around to grin at us.
We grabbed our bags and jumped out.
Benny Ray slid his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose.
"Here come Trout."
I turned to look as the salt-and-pepper haired man in the three piece suit came walking out onto the helo-pad. He looked out of place and uncomfortable. I smiled at him.
"Xavier." I said, reaching out my hand.
"Miss Vincent, Mr. Riddle." He said, shaking my hand and then Benny Ray's.
"Colonel." Benny Ray replied.
"I'm glad to see you two." Trout said.
"Any word on the body, sir?" Benny Ray was once again back in business mode.
"We should have something within the hour. Come on inside and grab something to eat."
We walked into the hanger and I blinked as my eyes adjusted.
"Hey there, beautiful." I heard a voice from behind me.
I turned to see Chance and C.J. sitting at a table just inside the door.
"Oh my God!" I ran to them and hugged them tightly.
"Did you miss me love?" C.J. asked, hugging me back.
Benny Ray walked over and smiled at the two.
"Even your stupid stories." He told C.J.
"If I wasn't so bloody glad to see you..." He said as he clasped Benny Ray's hand.
Trout smiled at all of us and motioned for us to sit down.
"Tell us what you know so far, sir." Benny Ray said.
"Ah...not much. Just what you know. A body washed up in Santa Monica about 48 hours ago. A jogger found it. We were notified about 15 hours ago. The authorities released it in to FBI custody and an autopsy is being done as we speak. I was guaranteed answers in about...20 minutes now." Trout told us as he looked at the clock on the hanger wall.
We all sat and glanced at the clock every few minutes. Trout's cell phone rang, making us jump.
"Trout." He answered.
We all watched anxiously as he paced back and forth.
Frowning, he asked, "Are you sure?"
I looked at Benny Ray and could see his jaw clenching.
"I want the report on my desk within the hour." He barked, hanging up.
Sighing, he looked at us. There was a pause that felt like forever. I felt Chance's hand on my arm.
"Well its not our boys." Trout said, looking as if twenty years of stress had melted away.
We all sighed, then quickly turned back to what was at hand.
"So what now, sir?" Chance asked Trout.
"Well I have a source at the DOD working on a new lead. They should be calling in a few." Trout said, sitting down heavily.
"Do we know who this guy is or what he wants?" CJ asked.
I looked at CJ and the others.
"No." Trout said.
A man in dark glasses and a suit came in.
"We have to move, sir." He stated. "The General thinks it would be better for you if you were to occupy his quarters for the night. It's easier to keep it locked down."
Trout stood wearily and we were moved by armored van across town to the General's house.
We approached the gates and they swung open slowly. Pulling up to the door, we stopped and got out.
"Why all the hush-hush?" Chance asked, looking around.
"We still might be targets, right sir?" Benny Ray said.
Trout reached into the side pocket of his briefcase and pulled out a file. He gave the file to Benny Ray, who briefly scanned the file and passed it on. Rubbing the back of his neck, he looked around the grounds and grimaced.
We were ushered into the massive hallway and I watched as the men in suits scattered.
"Who is that?" Benny Ray said, pointing to the file that CJ was reading over.
"An ex-CIA officer who worked a recon team in the early-90s. He supposedly is pissed because we left him over enemy lines in Iraq."
"Supposedly, sir?" Chance asked.
"We have no record that he was even over in that area. Not even top ranking officials have heard of him."
I looked at Trout and then down at the file now in my hands. I flipped through the pages to a photograph.
"Recognize him, Miss Vincent?" Trout asked.
I shook my head.
I handed the file back to Trout. We walked into the living room. The room was filled with leather furniture and animal heads. The fireplace was roaring. I walked over to it and held out my hands.
Trout's cell phone rang. Jumping up, he walked back into the hallway and answered. We saw him pace back and forth across the threshold.
I turned my attention back to the fire.
Chance came over and put his arm around me.
"Miss me?" He asked, huskily.
I laughed and nodded. "Yes, you know I did."
He leaned over and kissed my forehead.
I smiled at him, then turned around sitting on the hearth, my back to the fire.
"I hate this." Benny Ray mumbled.
I looked over at him.
He sat in a oversized leather armchair. His face was set in a deep scowl.
"What?" CJ asked.
"This waiting. I feel like a sitting duck. We should be out there looking for the Major and Delvechio instead of being baby-sat by some rent-a-cops."
I nodded, knowing he was feeling helpless like the rest of us.
"What did you have in mind?" Chance asked.
He shrugged his shoulders.
I shook my head and looked at my hands in my lap.
We waited silently for Trout to return.
"They found Mr. Delvechio! He was found wandering around in Chicago three days ago by the police. He had no id and couldn't tell them anything. They dropped him at a homeless shelter."
Trout said, running his hands through his hair.
We were all on our feet.
"Let's get going!" CJ exclaimed.
An hour later we were in the air on our way to Chicago.
Two hours later
A car was waiting for us at the airport. We climbed in and were taken to the Westside Homeless Shelter. A older lady about fifty and a younger man were waiting for us inside the doors.
"Hello. I called you earlier." Trout said to the twosome.
"Yes, Mr. Trout, right?" The man guessed.
"Yes...and these are my associates."
We all shook hands.
We were lead to a office that opened up to a large room with tables in it.
"This is our dining hall. It will be lunch time in five minutes. If you'd like to stay...." The lady explained, motioning toward the long buffet line.
"No, ma'am. We're just here to see if our friend is here." Benny Ray said, politely.
They both nodded.
A few scraggly men wandered into the room. None of them were Nick.
Chance and CJ split up, covering the one door as Benny Ray and I looked toward the other entrance.
A couple came in with two young kids in tow.
I shook my head.
Benny Ray noticed the gesture and glanced toward where I was looking.
He looked back over at me and grabbed my hand. Squeezing it, he smiled weakly at me.
I searched around the room, seeing no one familiar.
My eyes caught sight of a short bearded man in torn up clothing walking in.
I gasped as his eyes met mine.
Benny Ray glanced over at me and saw him too.
"It's...Nick?" My heart stopped as the man looked away, as if not seeing me.
Benny Ray pulled me along as we weaved in around the tables.
Chance and CJ were on the move as soon as they saw us.
We got to the man first.
"Nick?" I said, looking at his face.
He was dirty and had a scraggly beard. His eyes were bloodshot and glazed over. He looked at us as if he had never seen us before.
"Do I know ya?" He asked, his eyes wandering over each of us.
People were starting to stare at us and a few were on their feet. The guy in front of Nick in line grabbed Chance's arm.
Chance glanced at him angrily.
"Leave him alone, mister." The man grumbled.
Chance tried to shake off the man's hand but he wouldn't let go.
"You don't want to do this, man." Chance snarled, gripping the man's hand with his other hand.
The man's face contorted into one of pain. He quickly let Chance go.
Benny Ray and CJ both ushered Nick to the office.
"Hey...let me go! I didn't do anything." Nick whined, getting scared.
They sat him down in a chair and he struggled against them, trying to get up.
Chance stepped behind him, holding him by the shoulders.
"Dammit, Delvechio! Stop struggling!" Benny Ray said through clenched teeth.
"Who are you people! What do you want!" Nick shouted.
"You really don't know us?" I said, kneeling down in front of Nick, my hands on his face.
"No!" He started crying. "I didn't do anything wrong. I'm just hungry."
I stood up, brushing tears away.
Benny Ray rolled up Nick's sleeves, exposing needle marks on his arms.
"Damn!" He hissed.
"Who did this to you, Nick?" Chance asked.
Nick was sobbing now.
Trout was sitting on the desk across from us, watching. He shook his head.
"We need to get him outta here." CJ said, looking at Nick sadly.
Trout nodded and Chance and Benny Ray each grabbed Nick's arms.
"Where are you taking me?" He sniffled.
"Somewhere where you can rest and have a good meal." I told him, smiling.
He nodded and allowed them to carry him to the waiting car.
"He's sleeping." Chance said, closing the door softly behind him.
"At least he got a shower and a hot meal." CJ said, tapping his fingers on his coffee cup.
Benny Ray nodded.
Trout was on the phone in the kitchen. I listened to him pace back and forth across the linoleum floor.
"I can't believe someone did this to Nick and just dropped him on the streets." I said, shaking my head.
"I know." Chance said coming to sit next to me.
We had been taken to one of Trout's safehouses. I looked around at the apartment, never ceasing to amaze me the contacts that this man had. We were somewhere in Chicago on the 23rd floor of an apartment building that made the Trump tower look like a dump.
Yawning, I stretched out my legs.
"Why don't you get some sleep, sweetpea. It's been a really long day." Benny Ray said, smiling at me.
"Yeah, it has." Standing up, I walked over to Chance and CJ, giving them both hugs. "I'm glad you're back."
"Me too." Chance said.
I walked into the small bedroom off of the living room. Closing the door, I pulled my suitcase that I had hastily packed when we had found out about Nick. I grabbed for my pajamas.
I walked over to the bed and pulled back the covers. Climbing in, I breathed deeply and closed my eyes.
The next morning I awoke. Stretching I climbed out of bed and almost forgot the past few months. At least we found Nick, I thought, and we WILL find Matt.
I got dressed and walked into the living room.
Benny Ray and Chance were sitting watching the news.
"Where's Trout?" I asked, looking around.
"He took off this morning. He's going to get Delvechio set up in a detox center." Benny Ray told me, getting up to refresh his coffee.
"What made you look at his arms for track marks?" I asked him.
"The eyes." He replied simply.
I glanced at Chance and he met my gaze.
"CJ still sleeping?"
I sat down on the oversized chair and looked outside at the view of downtown Chicago. It was beautiful outside, sunny and a few clouds in the sky.
The phone rang and Chance snatched it up on the first ring.
I watched as he listened to the caller. Benny Ray returned from the kitchen with a cup of coffee for me. He crossed the room and handed it to me.
"Thank you." I told him, taking a sip.
He sat down on the arm of my chair.
Chance hung up.
"Trout is sending someone in an hour to pick up Nick. He's got a center lined up about an hour from home." Chance told us.
"Where's home?" a voice asked from behind us.
We turned to see Nick standing there. His change of clothes that I had brought him from home looked two sizes to big. He looked better than he had the day before, but still his eyes had a haunted, sunken look in them.
I jumped up, walking over to him.
"Hey. How are you feeling?" I asked him, leading him over to the couch.
He sat down heavily. Chance scooted over and let me sit next to him.
Nick looked at the three of us, studying each of us for a few minutes.
"Do you remember anything?" Benny Ray asked him, still sitting on the chair.
"Remember what?" Nick said, narrowing his eyes at him. "just that you people took me away from my friends."
I shook my head. Chance stood, walking over to the windows. Standing with his hands on his hips, he said, "They weren't your friends, Nick."
"Why do you people keep trying to convince me that I know you! I have never seen any of you before in my life!"
"Nick....you live in California. You're from New York, and you work with us." I told him, softly.
"I don't work anywhere...I don't live in California......and I DON'T KNOW YOU!"
Benny Ray stood. "Delvechio...."
"Stop calling me that! Let me outta here! I wanna go home!" Nick said, shaking me off.
He bolted up and backed a few feet away.
"Nick, please..." I started.
"SHUT UP, bitch." Nick yelled, pointing his finger at me.
Benny Ray walked a few feet closer. His jaw was clenched. Chance had turned around and his arms were crossed against his chest.
"What's all the noise for?" CJ said, rubbing his eyes.
He stopped short seeing the scene before him.
"Bloody hell, what's going on?"
Nick looked at him, and his eyes darted between the four of us.
"Nick, you're going to a detox center. Now you can fight us, or you can go willingly...but either way, you're going." Chance said, walking toward him.
"NO!" Nick yelled, backing away toward the front door.
I saw Chance and Benny Ray lunge for him and the next thing I knew Nick was slumped on the chair.
"What the hell did you do to him?" CJ asked, wide-eyed.
Benny Ray held up a syringe. "A sedative."
CJ nodded, coming over to sit on the couch.
We sat there, watching our fallen friend. I found myself looking for the familiar rise and fall of his chest to make sure he was still breathing.
Less than twenty minutes later, there was a knock on the door. After assuring that it was from Trout, two men in suits came in and scooped up Nick in a wheelchair. They set to tying down his arms to the chair and his ankles were secured to the legs. His head hung limply.
"Be careful with him, please." I said to them.
We stood there, the four of us watching as Nick was wheeled out of the door. I sighed and felt CJ's hand on my shoulder.
"He'll be okay, luv." CJ whispered to me.
I nodded and sat back down on the couch. Pulling my legs up underneath me, I wiped away a tear.
Chance came and sat next to me while Benny Ray and CJ started packing and gathering our stuff.
"We'll find the Major." Chance said, patting my knee.
I bit my lip, not looking at him.
"And we will find whomever is did this to Nick...and they will pay, dearly." He said, threatening.
"I'm going to go pack." I said, feeling the others watching me.
Closing the door to my room, I stood against it. Sighing, I tried to fight the tears back but Nick's face came into my mind. More than that, it was his eyes...the fear. I wondered how long Nick would take to get his memory back...if ever. I wondered if we would indeed find Matt, and if we did what shape would he be in......
Sobbing quietly, I slid down the door.
A short time later we were back on a plane bound for California. We were told that we wouldn't be able to see Nick for a while, and that he had regained consciousness and was fine. We still had not heard from Trout or had any word on Matt.
As the plane landed, Benny Ray grabbed my hand.
"How long do you think it will take before we get word on Matt?" I asked.
"I don't know, sweet pea. But we will find him ya know." He said, meeting my eyes.
I could tell he was very angry, could see the anger in his cold blue eyes.
We made our way through the airport to the parking lot. Trout had sent a car for us along with "bodyguards". Benny Ray still shook his head seeing them.
We were taken to the Silver Star and found even more men in black suits crawling around.
Chance grinned as he held out his bag for one of the men.
CJ laughed and copied.
The man just looked at them over the top of his sunglasses.
They shrugged and carried it inside.
Once inside, we saw it had been shut down for a while, considering there was a thin layer of dust on the bar.
Walking behind the bar, I grabbed three beers and a water and handed them out.
"Thanks." CJ said, grabbing the bottled water.
Benny Ray and Chance pulled the chairs off of one table and we all gathered around.
I followed CJ's gaze to Matt's office.
"This is bloody ridiculous. We should be out there looking for the Major, not sitting here!" He said, throwing the water across the room.
It hit the window, causing one of the men to look in. Benny Ray nodded to him that all was ok.
We waited until he was gone and Chance looked at CJ.
"We know CJ. So, what's the plan." He said, turning to Benny Ray.
"We'll let's get started." Benny Ray said, standing.
We watched as he headed down the stairs to headquarters.
We stood and followed.