A/N: Last post to BH. Word warning applies. All mistakes mine.
Fifty-Andrew's AFB (Late Sunday Night)
"Thanks for coming, D." Jack adjusted his seatbelt for the ninth time.
"Not a problem." The older man deftly slid the strap beneath the stabilizing sling so it wouldn't press against the injured man's shoulder. "Better?"
There was a sigh. "Yeah. Thanks." Brown eyes closed in relief. "I just want to go home."
Dimitrius nodded in understanding and started the car. He pulled out, and within minutes, the pair was headed for Washington, D.C. The trip was not long, but Jack faded out to the hum of the wheels on the black top.
The older agent frowned to himself. I wonder what happened? Why he is keeping to himself? Why didn't he call Bobby?
D didn't like being in the dark; as supervisor to the team, he was there when they needed him to be (and even when they didn't really want him to notice), but no longer had the option of pressing for details on every single thing. He glanced at the other man, noticing the faint pain lines between his brows. What did you do?
As if aware of the scrutiny, Jack peeled his eyes open and sighed. "D, I'm going to need to take medical leave to get this taken care of. And then, I will need to use some of my vacation time."
D nodded. "I'll process the paperwork first thing. What did the doctor on base say?"
"Surgery for sure, and then, therapy to come back to speed." The dark-haired agent turned his head away and gazed out the window. I think I'll go home to recuperate. Home...as in Wisconsin."
And take some time to think about things? I hope you get it all sorted out, my friend. "No problem. We'll miss seeing you around, but you do what you need to get better."
The unit leader didn't turn. "Right now I think you're about the only person who would actually miss me, D."
"Well, I can't say I disagree with you at this exact moment in time." D had never been one to whitewash things for any of them. "But you three run deep, no matter what's been going on lately. And you are an asset to our team. I want you to know that."
Jack smiled at his old friend. "Thanks again, D. I wasn't sure how I'd explain this whole situation to Bobby or even Myles, seeing as it is supposed to stay on the down-low."
"I think telling them that you were injured during a training exercise will be sufficient. They know the drill well enough to read between the lines."
The shorter man nodded slightly and looked out the window again. "Tell me something, D. Have you ever lost everything that was important to you? Before you ever realized how important it really was?" He glanced over just long enough to catch the older man's nod. "And did you find it again?"
Dimitrius paused before answering, waiting for the right words. "When I let go, I found that what came back was better than I could have imagined."
Now Jack faced him directly. "Did it hurt?"
"Oh, yeah. Hardest thing I have ever done. Once, Donna thought about calling the wedding off and I had to let her go, hoping I would be the path she chose in the end. I was scared to death to be without her, but I had to ride it out. When she came back, she was settled in her self and I was ready to really commit." His dark eyes met Jack's. "Not everything works out the way we want. Sometimes, change happens for the better. Sometimes, it feels more like the worse, but if you wait, the sun will eventually come out again."
"So, you're telling me to just be patient?"
"For starters; the rest you'll have to find out for yourself," replied the older man. He put the car in park. "We're here. Do you need a hand with your bag?"
Jack released the seatbelt and opened the door. "Nah, I can manage. I won't be coming in. I'm going to book a flight out ASAP for the surgeon at home."
"The team will wonder about you."
"I'm sure you'll handle it well, D. You always do," he smirked back.
Dimitrius held out his hand and Jack shook it. "I hope you find what you're looking for, Jack. Call me if you need anything."
"Will do." The brown-headed man watched the car pull away and turned with a sigh before going up the long stairway.
Fifty-one-Hoover Building (Monday Morning)
Dimitrius Gans walked into the Bullpen. Everyone was already at work, with the exception of Jack Hudson. He cleared his throat and signaled Levi to gain Sue's attention. When she looked up, he began. "In case you haven't noticed, Jack isn't here today.."
"I hadn't; but then, I was busy with paperwork." Myles leaned back in his chair, fingers resting lightly on his keyboard. His blue-gray eyes were somber.
Bobby glared at the blond man. "He's probably running late after last night's hockey game went into double overtime." A yawn caught the Aussie mid-speech, as if to emphasize his point. "He should be here shortly..."
"He's probably just stuck in traffic." Tara glanced from one man to the other. "There was a horrible pile-up around there earlier on this morning. He could be sitting there, wishing he were here."
Myles rolled his eyes and turned his attention to D.
The acting supervisor ignored the tension, knowing they would have to work it out sooner or later. Sooner, I hope.
"As I was saying, Jack will be out for the next three weeks at least. He tore his shoulder up during a training exercise late Saturday. As of last night, he was flying to Wisconsin to see his family doctor and have the repair surgery done there. He is in for a minimum of three weeks of PT to strengthen his shoulder, and will likely take a couple weeks of his vacation time afterward to get back to 100%."
He held up a hand before the questions started flying fast and furious. "No, I don't know the hospital. Yes, you can call his cell. Yes, he is coming back as soon as his doctor clears it. No, you can't have his desk. No, we will not have a temp. Anything else you can ask me a bit later. Now, please get to work on those piles before Randy comes to find them."
D left the stunned room and shook his head as it exploded into sound behind him. I think you'll find what you were looking for, Jack;and a few others might see themselves doing the same thing. He shook his head and sighed as his footsteps faded down the hall.
In the Bullpen, Bobby rounded his desk and was in Myles' face. "What is up with you, mate?" His words were tightly whispered, fists almost knuckle white.
The Bostonian narrowed his eyes, but not before glancing around at the tense faces in the room. "I don't think we want to have this conversation here, Manning." His voice was icy cool and very quiet. "Conference room in five." He dusted off his jacket as the Aussie pushed away, a curt nod the only response.
Sue watched the exchange, confusion and hurt in her features. Father? she found herself praying, what is happening here?
A touch on her shoulder had her gazing up at Lucy.
"You okay?" Dark cocoa eyes held tears that threatened to spill. "Did you know about this accident?"
Mutely, the blond analyst shook her head. ME NOT KNOW
Tara stopped at the desk. "You two okay?" She jerked her chin towards the two men and snorted. "They took it well."
Three pairs of eyes watched as the desk partners glared at each other until one finally left the room, only to be followed by the other.
Lucy rolled her eyes. "Here we go. Males battling for dominance, testosterone overload..." She turned away as her phone rang. PHONE
Sue nodded and smiled tiredly as Tara patted her hand in sympathy before heading back to her own desk. Unsure of what to do, the blond analyst dove into the pile of forms Randall Pitts had so graciously had left for her to correct.
The door locked with a quiet, ear-shattering click. Like Titans, the two agents squared off on either side of the table.
"What the bloody hell—?"
"Would you mind telling me—?"
Both stopped as soon as they started. Myles gestured for Bobby to go first.
"Why are you poking at Jack?" The Aussie gave an ice-breaking glare.
"I said nothing I've not said a hundred times before with equal jesting. Perhaps your perception has changed. Why are you defending him, knowing the stunt he pulled?" Myles raised his chin ever so slightly, giving the appearance of looking down his nose at the other man.
Fire flared momentarily. "Because he's my best mate, and while you have a right to be a bit wonked, parading it into the office every bloody second isn't helping." He sat with a thud, drumming his fingers on the table top. "Besides, if anyone is going to be on Sparky's case right now, it should be me." He turned his stare to a spot just beyond Myles' shoulder.
A blond brow lifted in curiosity. "Oh? And what has our illustrious leader done to earn your ire?"
Bobby drew his gaze to the other man's face, blue eyes narrowing. "Let's just say the past two days have gotten me to thinking about a few different things."
With great reluctance, the Bostonian passed on the open-door insult. Instead, he opted to seat himself, steepling his hands in thought. "I see. I take it there have been some...unpleasant occurrences for you as well?" At the other's nod, he continued. "I propose a truce."
"Yeah. What's that?"
To Myles' discerning eye, Bobby looked more than just physically tired. "That we refrain from discussing this until such a time that both of us can rationally participate." When the Aussie made to protest, he held up a hand. "I have to think of my trainee right now. You have your issues to deal with."
A slight knock on the door startled both men. The muffled voice came through, saying, "Bobby? Myles? Are you okay?"
The dark-headed agent gave a twisted grin. "That's our girl, keeping tabs on us." He rose, right hand extended. "Pax, mate."
Knocking sounded again, a bit louder, and Myles walked over to unlock the door. It opened slowly with Sue peeking in. Not seeing any blood, she gave a shy smile. OKAY YOUQQ
The taller agent managed to suppress a smile, but there was a fond warmth in his eyes. "All is well here," he said. "We have to meet with Tompkins in ten minutes. I'll leave you two alone." He strode down the hall to the Bullpen.
The analyst watched him go, her brow furrowed at his last remark. She turned to face the Aussie. "Are you okay, Bobby?"
"Aye, darlin'. Just tired is all." He tried to grin at her, but it didn't reach his eyes.
Hers narrowed. NO LIE YOU She placed a hand to her heart.
Bobby sighed, puffing out his cheeks. He stood slowly and tried to sign NO LIE ME. At her raised eyebrow, he frowned. "I wasn't lying. I am tired."
She bit her lip, trying to read his body language. It said tired, but he was holding back. She knew it, and he knew she did. "Just promise me you'll tell me when you can."
"You drive a hard bargain, darlin'." Steel blues met her gaze and he nodded. "I promise." With a wink, he shooed her out of the conference room. "You'd better catch up with Myles before he comes looking for you."
She reached up and touched a finger to his temple, the gesture reassuring to both of them. With a swirl, she was gone and he sagged against the wall, spent. Sparky, what have you done to us.
Fifty-two-Bobby Manning's Apt (Monday evening)
It had been a long morning, and an even longer afternoon. Lucy had stared at him the whole day, her brown eyes boring into his every move. That had been tiring to say the least.
At least Sue and Myles had been able to steer clear of the rotor's questions of "What do you think happened?," "Why didn't he call us or at least Sue?," "Are you sure you don't know what's going on?," and his favorite, "Who won the turf fight?"
At one point, Tara had tried to ask a question, but he had snapped a pencil when he realized the query was directed at him. She'd ducked behind her monitor, and he sighed before apologizing profusely.
Quitting time had finally rolled around, and the Aussie beat a hasty retreat from the Hoover building.
Jack, I'm going to kill you, mate. Bobby sat in the dark of his apartment now, a beer in one hand and a letter clutched in the other. If you hadn't screwed up, I wouldn't even be considering this letter.
He leaned his head back against the couch and tried to relax, but his mind was in turmoil. Four months ago, I never would have imagined leaving the FBI. Hell, not even Darcy's leaving had me thinking along this line. Taking a deep breath, Bobby counted to ten before exhaling.
The buzzer interrupted his meditation. He sat very still, waiting for the visitor to go away. He knew it wasn't Sue, and anyone else would get tired and leave.
"I know you're in there, Manning."
Except this one. Crap. He took a few seconds to try and ride the quiet out, but the sound of the lock being jimmied had him off the couch and to the door in a flash.
"Myles!" he hissed as he yanked the door open and pulled the Bostonian in. "Don't be messing up my locks."
The blond agent raised a brow. "You taught me better than that, Manning. 'Never leave a mark.'"
Once the door closed, the two were standing in the dark. "What are you doing here?"
"I thought you might need to talk."
"Since when do you play therapist for the group?" Bobby grumped into the living area and resumed his flop on the couch. A light suddenly flipped on, catching the Aussie by surprise. "Oy! You could give a guy some warning." He shielded his eyes with the letter in his hand.
"I must say I am impressed, Koala boy. I didn't know your skills included reading in the dark," Myles mused as he removed his coat and laid it across the back of a chair. He noted the half-empty bottle and raised a brow. "Bad day?"
Blue eyes rolled, and a groan escaped. "You don't know the half of it. You and Sue had it easy being down in Tompkins' office today."
"I imagine our fair rotor had a question or two directed at you, then?" At the tired nod, Myles continued. "Made harder to fend off due to your... disagreement with Jack?"
Bobby rubbed his brow wearily. "Why am I talking to you, again?"
"Because we called a truce until we could work this thing out."
"I suppose." The Aussie sat forward, finishing off the bottle before meeting his friend's gaze. "You ready for this?"
Myles sat easily on the opposite recliner. "Whenever you are."
"He told me he doesn't trust Sue."
"I know," the Harvard grad sighed. "He told me the same thing. Rather an ironic little twist of fate, wouldn't you say? I was the one spouting off the first few months she was here, and now I'm defending her to him."
Bobby couldn't resist a wan smile. "Who knew?"
Myles glanced soberly at the Aussie. "Do you know if they talked yet?"
"I know he talked to her this morning." A look of disgust crossed the normally cheerful face. "He came to see me afterwards."
"From your look, I surmise things didn't go well. He told her he doesn't trust her?"
Bobby seemed to chill up as he re-played the conversation in his head. "Not exactly." He stared at his hands.
Myles stood, then paced, thinking. "Bobby, what did he say to her then? I need to talk to her, too, and I need to know how much of my conversation with Jack to tell her. It's important. I—"
"He told her he didn't trust her God like she did." The statement was almost inaudible, but Bobby's voice began to rise as his anger took hold again. "He told her a lie... He told her a damn lie and then wanted me to... I dunno, take his side. I don't know if it's true, that he's having a faith crisis, but it sure isn't his main problem with her."
"Oh, sweet heaven. It's worse than I thought." The blond agent pressed his fingers over the bridge of his nose. "I threatened to transfer and take Sue with me. So much damage has been done already, but when she finds out he lied to her..."
"That's not all he's done." Steel-blue eyes looked ahead, staring a hole in the wall.
"What? What else?" Blue-gray eyes narrowed. "No... not you, too."
Bobby sighed heavily. "I'm his best mate. We've been friends a long time. He should have trusted me... I'd die before letting anything bad happen to any of the team, much less Sue..." He rubbed on the arm of the sofa absently, coming to a decision. Looking up to face Myles directly, he said, "Jack pulled classified records."
The Harvard grad stopped in shock. "He what?"
Misery was etched in the Aussie's features as he nodded. "He pulled mine, hers, and a Black Ops agent's in order to fill in some gaps from a case."
"Oh, God." Myles sat slowly on the edge of the recliner, trying to process this latest development. "That's... Bobby, that serious misconduct. What are—?"
"That's why I'm talking to you, mate. This mess is too big for me to go it alone."
"Shit." The Aussie looked up at him abruptly, and Myles shrugged. "Sorry. But there are times..."
"No kidding. I just want to know what he's trying to gain with all of this. Pushing Sue away, threatening me…" Bobby paused before going on. "I need a vacation."
"Threatening you? You? Why and with what?"
The lanky Aussie stood, pacing the room in long strides. "That's the problem! I dunno why. He's been on Ops before. He seems to think Sue and I owe him an explanation. We were sworn to secrecy...I...I can't tell him. And he won't take no for an answer." He paused, running a hand through his hair. "He's bonzo."
"You may be right." Myles also stood and walked to the window, staring out at the night sky for a moment. "You realize that if we don't report this, — the classified files, I mean, — we're as guilty as he is," he said softly. "And if we do, the team is destroyed forever."
"Myles." There was a peculiar edge to the other man's voice.
The Harvard grad continued, almost talking to himself now. "Why? Why is this going on? It can't be simple jealousy; he knows neither of us have designs on Sue that way. Control? Possible... it shows up in other areas of his work, but usually in a positive way... what's changed?"
"Myles, I've been offered an opportunity to transfer." He waved the letter he'd been holding the whole time.
The blond agent swung around. "Where?"
"It wouldn't be permanent, and before now, I really wouldn't have considered it—"
Myles picked up on the fact that Bobby was making a point to not say where. "Is it with the same group you were with before? With Sue?"
The Aussie turned away, not able to say yes, but betraying it nonetheless.
"I understand." Myles leaned against the windowsill, his arms folded over his chest. "What do you think this will do to the already tenuous thread your friendship with Jack is hanging by? Or does it still matter?"
"I dunno." Bobby started his pacing again. "I just dunno, mate. How am I supposed to deal with this? I can't hide this from Sue. She'll know. I never thought I'd be forced to seriously decide between a mate and a sheila in something like this."
"That was my next question," Myles said gently. "What do you think it will do to the new, deeper friendship you have with Sue?"
The tone of the query halted him in his tracks. "Is it that obvious?"
"That you share something the rest of us can know nothing about? Yes." The blue-gray eyes were solemn, concerned. "Is it more?"
"Do you ever feel a pull to do something and not know why, only that you need to, that it's the right thing to do?"
"On occasion. Like the need to let Sue spread her wings a bit more than she had previously. I knew I was walking a thin line, Bobby. I just never realized how far things would go." He laughed under his breath. "I almost got punched out the other night because I dared to tell him that I was more prepared for a relationship with her than he was."
Myles held up a hand. "Not that I was looking for one, mind you, just that I was more prepared for one."
"I was gonna say you actually said that to him? Good on ya, mate." A hint of smile ghosted across his face before disappearing behind his serious look. "It's not...personal, but it is. God, I almost wish it had been Sparky to have been the one going to meet her that day." He pinned Myles with a glare. "I need to tell you something. And you can never repeat it."
There was a sober nod. "All right."
The Aussie nodded. "If it had been Jack meeting her that day, a man would have died. I can't take it back, and I wouldn't, not for anything. We were in an impossible situation, and impossible things had to be done." He took a breath. "Let her fly, Myles. She can do it." The confidence in his voice showed in his eyes as well.
"I know." The simple statement said more than anything how far they'd come. "The question is, can she do it without you right now, when every other part of her life is turned sideways? I'm her trainer, Bobby; that puts a limit on how much I can be her friend at the moment."
"I knew you'd see it, Myles. Einstein with a brain, and all that." The jibe was soft, befitting the seriousness of the conversation. "She'll need a good friend. I'll stay for now."
"Is that what you were referring to by 'a pull to do something and not know why'?" Myles asked.
"Standing by her? Or was it something else and I just got sidetracked?"
Bobby bit the inside of his cheek, trying to gauge whether or not the Bostonian would laugh at him if he told him the truth. Ha! No lying for you, Bobb-o. "I trust her. I can let her go. She needs that."
Blond brows raised in a bit of confusion as to what the Aussie was really saying, but he let it go. "So," he sighed, turning his gaze to the window again, "the only problem remains: what do we do about Jack? Some thing's eating at him, Manning, and I don't think it's just a trust issue. Though heaven knows he's burned that bridge a dozen times over in the last forty-eight hours." He sighed, turning to gaze out the window again. "If we mutiny, so to speak, and tell D about the reports, D will have no choice, but to report him. I don't know that I'm ready to do that, but neither am I prepared to let him continue to ride roughshod over all of us."
"Let me try to talk to him one more time, after his surgery. If this time away doesn't help settle things, maybe we can... ah, bloody hell, mate. This is one of those things Sue is supposed to handle." He pulled at his hair, a growl escaping.
"I don't know that she'd want to right now." Myles sighed. "I'll keep an eye on her and gauge how she's doing. Maybe we can get this all resolved before it blows up in our faces."
"Maybe." Both men stood, Myles slipping into his jacket. A hand on his shoulder stopped him at the door. "Thanks, mate. Thanks for listening."
The Bostonian merely gave a slight smile before disappearing into the night.
Fifty-three- Sue and Lucy's apt. (late Monday Night)
Sue sighed, her hand straying to the golden fur beside her. Levi rolled his eyes up, seeking his mistress' face, hoping to see a smile. It wasn't there. With a doggie huff, he shifted to rest his head on her thigh, closing his eyes as she absently played with his coat.
"What am I going to do, boy? Huh?" She bent down and gave him a swift hug before rising. Determined steps took her to the door, purse in hand. It was with a second sigh that the blond turned and slid down the wall, seating herself on the floor. "I can't. As much as I want to, I have to stand on my own."
Levi pushed himself into her arms, nuzzling her neck. He loved her and didn't understand the upset in her world. All would be well, if he just loved her enough.
Sue pulled back and smiled at the Golden. "You won't leave me right now. Love, food, and a good scratch is all you need, right?"
He snuffed and gave her a wet kiss.
"All right. I think I will have to pray some more. With Jack at home, and Bobby and Myles at odds, we need all the help we can get." She rose and went into her room, Levi following. At his pleading look, she tried to look stern. "You know you aren't supposed to be up here, but I'll let you this time. I need all the support I can handle."
As the dog leapt to the bed, she picked up her Bible and sat beside him. Where should I look, Father? Sue worried her lip, opening the Book and letting her finger scan the titles of the individual books. Psalms? No. I'm not in need of lifting up, so much as encouragement.
Her lamp flickered, indicating an incoming call. She left the Bible on her bed to answer the phone. A few minutes later she returned, Lucy having called to check on her. Flipping the pages, the blond glanced over the various Proverbs she had underlined and sighed. Wisdom is good but I need to know this will be all right again. Not necessarily the way it was, but...at least right.
Ecclesiastes followed Proverbs and she scanned the first chapter, then the second, coming to rest on the third. It was that one, the one that had been made into a song. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up...
That certainly fit her team at this point. Changing partners, working with another team; we seem to be falling apart. And this whole thing with Bobby and Myles...I really don't understand it right now.
A time to weep... She paused here. Weeping had been a big part of her weekend. But the second half of the pair brought a smile to her face. ...and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing... Unconsciously she hugged herself, but realized that she was in the time of refraining.
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away... She frowned at the words. I've done both. I've gotten and kept, then, lost and cast away...or have been cast away... A tear threatened to spill, and she dashed at it.
A time to rend...If today was any indication, rending was happening now, more so than ever.
...A time to sew; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak. If these past weeks were any indication, the silence was over for a while, and she had to learn to speak her heart as well as her mind.
A time to love, and a time to hate... Sue refused to make comparisons. Hate issuch a strong word, but it was used with a reason. I hope I never have to truly use that part.
A time of war, and a time of peace. She closed her eyes, warring with herself and praying for peace. Father, are you reminding me that change is a natural course? If so, let this season pass as it may, and help me to be at peace, even when my heart is unsettled.
Rising from the bed, she changed for the night and climbed under the covers. Levi crept closer, snuggling next to her, and she fell asleep, grateful for his unconditional love.
A/N: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
A/N 2: Thanks to you who have read and stayed with this story. I appreciate your time. The next story, THINGS CHANGE, is written, and will be posted on Thursday, real life permitting. Again, many thanks to aubrey's mom for applying the red pen and the occasional beta to get Bobby and Miles in the right voices. Who knew?