Author's Note: I would like to thank all the readers and reviewers who are enjoying my story One Thing! And NO, I am not giving up on that I promise. I am actually working on the next chapter, and well I have realized that it is very close to coming to an end... and I just feel like not a lot of people are posting stories lately, and I thought I would give you guys a few previews to my new stories that will be coming soon! I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Hannah Montana or its characters.
Friday, April 22
The room was dark and damp, with only the sound of the dripping water filling the dingy air. Her breath came out harshly and her dark eyes searched the crypt-like area widely but to no avail. Unable to focus she relied on her instincts. With the cold steel of the gun pressed against the palm of her hand, she proceeded – taking slow and careful steps, feeling her way through until she heard a splash in the distance followed by heavy footsteps retreating.
"Come on kid, he's getting away!" She heard and without hesitation she ran. Her steps, in sync with her partner's, echoed throughout the narrow underground tunnel. She loved this; the thrill and excitement. The fast pace of her work energized her in a way few things on earth could. She merely followed the sounds as she ran a blind race. Her partner having the only coveted pair of night vision goggles, she ran on faith and followed simply by sheer trust.
"Watch out kid!" she heard, but not soon enough to prevent her fall. Her right foot dropped in one of the cavernous holes and her knee twisted. She could hear the rip and tear. She gritted her teeth in agony. The sound of the lion's roar she so desperately wanted to release would have jeopardized the mission. Any sign of weakness or pain was frowned upon.
"Go on Robbie!" she shouted through clenched teeth. The pain was unbearable.
"I'm not leaving you!"
"Go! He's getting away!"
Robbie Ray watched his partner struggle to free her foot, but knew if anyone could do it, the "kid" could get through. So he ran. Years of tracking the notorious Celestino Donatello was not going to end with him coming out on top once again, not if the ISA's top agent had anything to do with it. He had never failed a mission and he wasn't about to tarnish his impeccable record now. The split second he had allowed himself to show his concern however turned to be a terrible mistake.
Looking through the green hue of the goggles, he searched once again for his target, having lost sight of him. He cursed silently to himself for losing his focus and closed his eyes when he heard the sound of a gun cocking behind him.
"Hands up Agent Stewart," the smug Italian voice said from behind. "Toss your weapon aside," he ordered with his thick accent. He chuckled arrogantly as he watched Robbie Ray give into the demand. "And to think all this time you have been hunting me down only for it to end like this. Tsk, tsk... that is so careless on your part Robbie. The famous international spy Robbie Ray Stewart has proven he is just a mere mortal."
"Save the speech Donatello!" Robbie Ray spat. "If you're going to run like the coward you are you don't need to talk my ear off," he said bluntly.
"Fair enough, but I must say I admire your perseverance. You gave me a run for my money this time around," Celestino said conceitedly. "I was a little concerned. You and your young partner Agent Truscott are quite the dynamic duo, but she's got quite a bit to learn."
"Care to say that to my face?"
Celestino haughtily grinned as he turned his head slightly to see the barrel of a gun staring him in the face. "What a pleasant surprise."
"Drop the gun Donatello," she ordered, her Brooklyn accent more than evident as she spoke.
"Now, Agent Truscott... you are not in a position to order me around," Celestino said in an eerily calm tone.
"The hell I am. Put it down." She pressed the barrel of the gun against his temple and cocked the gun.
"I don't think so," Celestino said calmly. "You see if you shoot me, in that split second I could have a reflex reaction and I may pull the trigger myself. Now how would it look if I was dead and your coveted partner was dead... all by your hand, Agent Truscott."
"Drop it," the young agent repeated.
"Listen to him Lilly," Robbie urged. He had a plan. He had been down this road before with his often impulsive young partner.
"Robbie," Lilly protested. She studied her partner; his calmness and instantly knew what he was trying to do. Hesitantly he obliged and she lowered her hand slowly by inches.
"That's right," Celestino continued. "Nice and slow," he said as he watched Lilly lower her weapon down to the ground, Celestino then kicked it some distance away. "Join your partner," he ordered Lilly.
Sh had been working purely on adrenaline and pushed aside the almost crippling pain in her leg. The last thing she wanted was to show any sign of weakness and she walked over to Robbie Ray slowly and deliberately, trying not to show the slightest indication of her injury, but Celestino's power of observation was far too keen.
"Looks like you've lost the spring in your step, Agent Truscott." Celestino snidely remarked.
"I can still shove my foot up..."
"Kid!" Robbie Ray quickly reprimanded.
Lilly was now quiet but looked at Celestino with a venomous stare.
"Let's move!" Celestino barked and shoved Lilly, propelling her forward. Her injured leg was unable to support it and as she began to tumble Robbie moved in that instant. His reflexes were quick. They were so sharp they eluded Celestino's defenses. In a flash, Robbie Ray had retained control of the situation but looked down at his partner and realized the "kid" wasn't quite so lucky.
Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo Hospital
Saturday, April 23
With a quick knock, Robbie Ray did not hesitate to walk inside Room 409 to see Lilly sitting up in bed and her leg outstretched in a heavy cast. The sullen expression on her face said it all, and Robbie's heart went out to the young woman who in many ways was like a son to daughter.
"Chin up kid!" he said enthusiastically. He took a seat in the chair next to the bed and watched as Lilly barely acknowledged his presence. "It's not the end of the world," Robbie Ray continued. "You're young. You'll bounce back in no time."
"I wish that were true," Lilly mumbled. "It's going to take months of rehab until I'm a shadow of my former self, and even then there's no guarantee."
Robbie Ray suddenly began to look around as if he were searching for something or in this case, someone. "You know, I could have sworn this was Lilly Truscott's room, but I can't seem to find her anywhere. Any idea where that stubborn, impulsive, never give up without a fight partner of mine is? Any clue because I don't know who the hell I'm talking to now. The Lilly Alexis Truscott that I know never quits, and I'll be damned if I let her start now."
"Robbie Ray, what do you expect me to do?" Lilly asked with a sigh of frustration. "The ISA is my life."
"Then work hard at getting it back. No one's telling you to quit. But for now, take it easy. Get yourself better and maybe take a vacation. Go back to New York; visit your old stomping grounds. Or better yet, spend time with your family."
Lilly shot him a hard glare in response. "You know that is definitely out of the question."
"Come on kid. Don't make the mistake I've made and abandon your family."
"I didn't do the abandoning," Lilly muttered. "I didn't ask to be shipped to Brooklyn to be raised by my grandparents." She looked away from Robbie and stared at the wall in somewhat of a trance. "I don't want to talk about it."
"I'm looking out for your best interest. Don't live your life with regrets," he said solemnly.
"Robbie, I understand what you're saying but my situation is different. You know it is."
"Family is family. Eventually someone has to be the bigger person and make amends."
"You let me know how that goes for you," Lilly mumbled. "Now can we please drop this? If not, you can leave."
"Alright kid, consider it dropped," Robbie conceded. He relaxed in the chair and paused a moment before continuing. His eyes looked over the monstrous cast fitted to Lilly's leg. "How long do you need to stay here?"
"I'm not sure. Couple more days I think. I've got to work with a physical therapist to learn how to walk with crutches. Then I'll be flown to New York to check in at headquarters. They'll probably give me a nice desk job," she mumbled with a hint of sarcasm. It didn't take long for the anger to rise within her and she suddenly slammed her fist down on the hospital bed. "Damn it!" she yelled. "How could I be so careless!"
"It's my fault Lilly, I shouldn't have had you in that position. You couldn't see. I blame myself. I let you down as a partner."
"Robbie Ray don't give me that bull. I knew what I was getting into. Point is we got that sorry son of a bitch."
Robbie chuckled in response. "We sure did get that bastard." He stopped laughing and suddenly his expression grew more serious. He thought about the years he had spent tracking down Celestino Donatello, and the previous failed attempts at putting him behind bars. The notorious Mafioso had eluded capture so many times, this time Robbie was certain they were now finally victorious. "He's going to rot in federal prison. The charges are going to stick. He won't worm his way out of this situation... not this time."
"You've been chasing him a long time."
"I have," Robbie Ray said solemnly. "Longer than you've been an agent." He paused a moment, deep in thought as the last several years whipped through his mind. It was too much for him to bear. Standing up from his seat, Robbie forced a smile and patted Lilly on the arm. "You take care kid, and don't forget what I said about your family."
Confusion swept across Lilly's face as she noticed Robbie Ray's sudden somber behavior. "Robbie are you doing ok?"
"Never better partner. I'll check up on you tomorrow, ok?"
Lilly watched as Robbie turned and disappeared without another word said. It hadn't been the first time Robbie had ever reacted like that when he spoke of his long hunt to catch the infamous villain. Lilly learned not to question what impact Robbie's near decade long hunt had on his life and his now non-existent relationship with his family. Others who had been with the agency as long, or longer than Robbie had filled Lilly in on the story over the years and Robbie Ray would mention certain things from to time that allowed Lilly to piece the tale together. She never pried for one primary reason; Lilly was hardly the family woman so encouraging Robbie to make amends with his own appeared hypocritical. Although, that never stopped Robbie to encourage Lilly to not make the mistakes he had made. Lilly appreciated the advice, but was a long way from taking it. She was of the opinion that she had a different life to lead.
Hotel San Marco
Hours later, Robbie shuffled into his hotel room from sheer exhaustion. After seeing to the final arrangements for Celestino Donatello extradition to the US, Robbie decided it was time to relax and see what the mini bar had to offer. With a couple of bottles of hard liquor and a couple ice cubes in a glass, he put his feet up and relaxed, turning on the television to drown out the thoughts racing through his mind. Flipping through the channels, he was unable to settle on a program until a familiar face flashed across the screen. In surprise, he sat straight up on the bed and stared at his now estranged daughter finishing an interview, discussing her latest album release. There she was, the reason why the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to bring down such a notorious criminal was only bittersweet. Robbie Ray had sacrificed everything and now he was paying the ultimate price.
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