(Author's Note): …wow. I'm a little (or, uh, actually majorly so) that there are readers still actually reading this story! Wow, thank you guys so much—I can't express my gratitude enough, when I logged onto my email to check some stuff out, I was a little more than astounded to find that there was actually a response to the story.

THANK YOU. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAD TOLD ME NOT TO GIVE UP.

I don't plan on leaving this story—that's what you reviewers had made me realize as I pumped this chapter out. I reread my chapters and I realize exactly how many strings are lose in this story, so with renewed vigor—I plan on not only giving up, I plan on finishing this story by the end of the summer. I may be getting ahead of myself, but I think with all the support I've been getting, it's the least I could do to attempt it.


Replies to Anonymous Reviewers: (due to fanfiction's new "guest reviewers" format, I'll be answering these in the order which the reviews came in, although I appreciate that some of you left your names)

1) I'm glad you find the story entertaining! As for Cammie's status, on what she isn't/is, I'll leave that up to the story to decide. Thank you for your review and support! And hopefully I'll be able to get to a library to borrow the book sometime soon. I heard it's amazing.

2) Wow! That's extremely flattering, I'm glad that I was able to write a story that you can call your favorite—especially considering there are a lot of great fics in this fandom. Thank you for the compliment, and hopefully you'll like this chapter as well.

3) I do plan on continuing this story, so no gigantic need to worry, I hope you like this chapter, thank you very much for the support! I leave Cammie's status up to you. But thanks so much for such the high praise!

4) I'm happy to know that you find it a great story, but thanks for sympathizing with my lack of interest. I'm hoping to read the latest book to get me back into writing. But thank you very much for the support, it's greatly appreciated!

5) Thanks for saying that! Saying that you love a story that I had written really brings up my mood and hopefully I won't stop writing any time soon. It's nice to know it's not in vain. Thanks again for the support!

6) Thank you for such amazing support, I'm happy to say that I'm getting some of my mojo back, but it wouldn't have gotten back if it were not for you, and everyone else's, kind words! And hopefully I'll be able to write the ending to this story soon (:

Sam: You were the first response! Thank you for the support! I'm glad to hear that you like the story, and hopefully I'll be able to pull through for the rest of the plot line. Thanks for letting me know, it really helped me spin this chapter out!

Lacey/BlueHeelsKill: I'm so glad that you enjoy the story enough to say that you love it! And I do plan on finishing this story, I'll just do my best at spinning out more ideas and chapters, but it was thanks to the support you guys gave me that really got this chapter out, so thank you so much for that!

Two-BitMattews3: Wow, that's really, really flattering of you to say! I'm nearly blushing, thank you so much! I wouldn't have gotten this many chapters out without all the feedback that people gave me, they really are great pep talks in motivating myself. So thank you for leaving a review, and letting me know that there are people out there wanting to read what I write. I don't plan on ruining it now (: thank you for your support!


Summary of Story So Far [dubbed SSF]:

Identity revealed—Maxwell Edwards: past agent who cut his ties with the CIA on the account of feeling used. His philosophy: "Spies aren't hired, they're used." Bethany Monroe's death information and file now in the hands of Zach and the others, they realize that the murderer must know some secret information at Blackthorne—as the move done to kill her could only have happened at the hands of their alumni. Along with the fact that they found a clue, some things are revealed while some stay shrouded in mystery.

Oh yeah, and Zach plans on making sure that no other guy asks one Cameron Morgan out. Whether he knows it or not.

No big deal—no big deal at all.


Mission Rankings:

Black Out – Highest Clearance Level(s) (Level 10 and over)/Time Span: As Much as Necessary/ Classified: Between BOA members and advisors only/NSA, OSS, FBI assistance on occasion.

Level A – Clearance Level 8 to Level 10/ Time Span: As Much as Necessary/ Classified: High Leveled CIA agents only.

Level B – Clearance Level 6 to Level 8/ Time Span: Approximately 4 to 8 months.

Level C – Clearance Level 4 to Level 6/ Time Span: Approximately 2 to 3 months.

Level D – Clearance Level 2 to Level 4/ Time Span: Approximately 1 week.

Level E – Clearance Level 1/Time Span: Approximately 7 to 9 hours.


Chapter Nine: Resolve

"A mystery is not a mystery if there is no answer."—Director Jordan

Location: The Punch Pizzeria,

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date: Sunday, September 17th Time: 7:26 p.m.

P.O.V: Zachary "The Shadow" Goode

"You do realize I just set you up with a hot girl for the night, right?"

I leaned against the brown leather upholstery of the booth. The evening had fallen quickly, the sun steadily dipping down the horizon. Cam messaged both Jonas and I the details of the night, they were supposed to meet us at 7:30 at a local pizzeria. Jonas sat beside me, elbows leaning on the wooden table with his face buried in his hands.

At my words, his head snapped up, and I was pinned by a cutting glare that would have made an axe envious.

"And you also realize that I don't wantto be set up with Lucy, right?" He grimaced at the girl's name, his voice sounded equivalent to a toddler's reaction to the boogieman. "I've been trying to tell her I'm not interested in her romantically without hurting her feelings, I even told her that I had a girlfriend but she didn't believe me since I hadn't taken any photos with Liz with me on this trip."

Suddenly, Jonas turned to me, blue eyes so hopeful that it made me wary—did he want something? "You know, as a best friend—" Oh yeah, he wanted something alright. "—it'd be really awesome if you'd go out with Lucy, to get her off my back."

Bring the glass of water to my lips, I raised a brow. Disinterestedly, I said, "Don't think she'd like me."

Jonas waved it off, "Ah come on; she'll love you! You're handsome, you're confident, you're intellectual, you have that whole sexy-slash-mysterious crap girls like, and—you just manipulated me into complimenting you, didn't you?"

Smirking, I shrugged. "Thank you for falling for it; although I realize I am all those things, it's nice to hear it once in a while." I grinned deviously, "and it sounded almost like you wanted to date me for a second there."

He punched my shoulder before going back to begging. "Come on, would you just help me out? You even said you thought Lucy's hot."

Conversationally, I continued, "Brunettes aren't really my type."

My friend looked confused: "But you just said—"

"Yes, Lucy's hot." I admitted, before saying: "And so is McHenry and we both know how well thatwent."

Jonas cringed, recalling the disastrous dinner date—it was surprising the restaurant hadn't kicked McHenry and I out, or had caused the place to explode from nagging, insults, and the salt-shaker-turned-grenade [poor waitress didn't stand the slightest chance].

Running a hand through my hair, I continued, "Besides, I think I might have my eye on someone else." My mind pictured pretty green eyes just as Jonas' demeanor seemed to drop the room's temperature fifteen degrees lower.

"Zach." His tone suddenly turned belligerent. "You knowthat we have to be careful, especially now. We can't trust anyone, not even her." I turned expressionless eyes to Jonas, hard green colliding with icy blue.

Through an interrogation with Sam Kennedy—the lackey who assisted with Bethany Monroe's murder—the thirty-five year old cracked and broke down before us. An eye swollen shut from a beating and his other one looking at us, begged us for mercy and watered, words tumbling out his mouth between the sobs. The sight made me sick—we, as agents, had done that to him. I had to fight the guilt back with the thought that he had murdered many before.

He'd been hired by a group of three or four people who had made him meet just outside Harvard College in a warehouse. Kennedy told us how he had followed one of them, a man, to the gateway at Harvard before running away. By the time, we asked for faces and descriptions he had gone hysterical, screaming how he couldn't remember. I was almost certain I wasn't the only one whose hairs stood up on end at his wounded cries.

Kim had been monitoring him since she plopped him at the police station. Sam Kennedy escaped, said the news. From his broken cries, the truth was he had been taken by the group to the warehouse. Arnold had found him in an alley before calling the rest of us to come to his aid.

The second the interrogation was over, Jonas had taken him back to prison until further notice, our plan was to see if he'd calmed down enough to talk. The way his face broke in relief was as nearly haunting as his words before: "Please take me back to jail, please! T-They'll kill me for tellin' ya—they'll kill me!"

Our suspects were inside the school, either masquerading as students or faculty or both. Jonas had been on edge with this subject since then.

"Hey, you guys!"

Hearing the boisterous voice of Lucy, I looked up to see the little brunette with a black skirt and a frilly crimson blouse, curled hair bouncing with every step she took. Behind the ostentatious girl, was Cammie looking around a bit uncertain with jeans, blue canvas sneakers and a navy and white parka. Her green eyes locked onto mine, she gave a cute, timid smile and a shy little wave. I grinned as she walked over.

Sliding into the opposite seat of the booth, Cammie looked at the clock on the wall, relieved: "Right on time, I was so worried we'd be late." I didn't tell her that she was exactly a hundred and thirty-two seconds late. She glanced accusingly at her roommate, who was currently fluttering long fake lashes at my[socially awkward and uncomfortable] roommate.

"Perfection should never be rushed, Cam." Lucy said without taking her eyes off Jonas, flicking a curl of hair over her shoulder. Cammie rolled her eyes, torn somewhere between annoyance and amusement. Lucy reached her manicured hands for Jonas' across the table just as he pulled his into his lap. Seeing the retreat, she retracted immediately and pivoted her hand to Cammie. "You should have let me done something with your hair."

Cammie fingered a lock of hair and cocked an eyebrow: "And what? Have dinner with the guys by midnight."

"Fine, then the clothes, and your shoes!" Lucy looked down, probably glancing at Cammie's sneakers, as if the fact that they were on her best friend's feet was a personal affront on her behalf.

The dirty-blonde looked down at her feet. "They're comfortable."

"But do they show off your long legs and cute butt? No, no they don't." Lucy commented, swabbing and smoothing out a dollop of pink gloss onto her lips. I never understood the concept of it; it seemed like a fruity flavored nuisance to eating if you asked me.

Cammie let out a nearly invisible sigh. "How can you say that so easily?"

"She has an inner demon that likes to act up from time to time." I stated simply, quite satisfied when curious, green eyes turned their attention to me. "Also known to mankind as a libido."

Jonas cocked a brow in my direction, quickly slipping his hand away when Lucy attempted to play with his fingers, "Are you calling yourself a demon then?"

I flicked a straw at his face, smile quirking up as it hit his glasses. "Hush, you."

He retaliated by throwing napkins at my face.

Physics did not love Jonas the way Jonas loved physics and said napkins ended up smacking Cammie in the face instead. Laughing eyes glanced over at Jonas and I accumulated the sneaking suspicion that she would have readied her menu for battle if not for an irritated manager glaring balefully at us twenty paces away.

"He looked ready to blow an artery." Jonas stated matter-of-factly as the manager walked away, not before throwing a wry glance our direction.

"As long as he doesn't get anything in my pizza, I don't mind. Man can have a stroke if he'd like," Lucy stated frankly. A passing waiter threw a particular nasty glance as he walked away.

At least Cammie had the grace to look a tad sheepish; embarrassment's pink flushing her cheeks a bit. I'd be lying if it wasn't cute.

"They're going to spit in our food," Cammie replied rather warily, like it was as inevitable as the moon rising in a few hours. "If I contract some type of disease after this, I'm blaming you."

Conversation ambled on like that for a while before I slipped away to give our order. I felt my mouth go into a hard line at the remembrance of Jonas' words. I watched as Cammie conversed amicably with Jonas, unbeknownst to her, I saw clearly from the tight smiles and short, but conspicuously thoughtful, responses that Jonas' guard was still up.

I studied her profile, everything from the small pink mouth to the curve of her eyelashes. Thinking back to how she looked so guilty, like she should have been put in an orange jumper and a cell, when she accidentally squirted ketchup on a friend's shirt sleeve to how she seemed too drawn into a novel as she walked and slammed into a teacher [again, looking so guilty and piling apology after nervous apology on said professor].

I glanced down before she could catch me staring, my eyes hardened. Feeling a tap on my shoulder, I turned to be faced with three large steaming hot pizzas. Carrying them steadily in my hands, I made my way back to the booth, its table full of laughter.

Cammie Morgan was no threat. Whether Jonas believed me or not.


"Does Jonas not like me?"

I glanced at Cammie, genuinely surprised. We [or more like Lucy] decided to take a walk after eating the monstrous amount of pepperoni, sausage and cheese back in the pizzeria. The little brunette clung to Jonas' arm like one does in chick flicks and was hauling him around on the sidewalks like an unwilling dog with his paws dragging against the gravel. Cammie and I lagged behind the two. We were walking around the shopping district of Cambridge. Stores and boutiques lined the sidewalks with bright, swanky lights blinking, begging for attention.

"And what gave you that idea?" I inquired, feeling the warmth of her arm against mine. It gave the illusion that we were close and perhaps Cammie thought that we were—but I knew that we weren't really. Maybe Zach White could have been, but not me, never me.

Cammie shrugged, eyes staring ahead. "I guess I just got the feeling that he doesn't see me as a friend." Gloom hovered over her like a raincloud, but she hurried to reassure me. "But it's nothing to worry about, really."

"It's not." I agreed. "Because he does like you."

Cam seemed to perk up a bit. And I added it onto my ever-growing list of lies that I had already fed her. "He does?"

"Absolutely." I fibbed, before throwing a casual arm around her shoulders, giving her a lazy grin. "But I'm here to make sure he doesn't like you too much."

The way Cammie tilted her head up at me, eyes too innocent to be true, told me that she hadn't gotten my little comment. Smiling softly down at her, I slid my hand down to her hand before carefully holding it, treating it like glass. "After all, I'd have to save you from the cat fight you and Lucy would get into if he liked you too much." My other hand pushed aside a strand of hair, her green eyes growing steadily in understanding.

My hand moved on its own accord, playing with a smooth strand of dark blonde hair. I smirked. "Besides, I'll let you in on a little secret," I breathed, leaning in. "I'm probably the most competitive guy you'll ever meet. This, I can practically guarantee." The fringe of my hair met her own, and the cool autumn air was quickly forgotten when the warmth of her breath greeted my chin. "Being in a contest wouldn't be good for my friendship with Jonas, now would it?"

Cammie mutely shook her head, hair swishing back and forth.

I vaguely noted we stopped walking.

And my thumb was drawing absentminded circles around the back of her warm hand.

My gaze seemed to zero in on her mouth.

Before she yanked us closer to Lucy and Jonas with surprising strength for a girl her size, nearly tipping me over.

The two ahead had stopped as well, the former looking excitedly between Cammie and me, as if we were a science experiment going in the direction of her hypothesis and the latter looking at us warily, as if we were a science experiment that was going to blow up in his face. As we caught up with them, I felt rather warmed from the fact she hadn't pulled her hand away from mine.

As the four of us kept walking, the warmth in me froze into a glacier.

Lucy screamed. Her horrified eyes wide, hands around her mouth as she hyperventilated. I was nearly certain she would faint if Cammie hadn't immediately gone to her side, trying to calm her, but looking rather shell-shocked herself.

Jonas looked disturbed and alarmed, eyes trained solely on the wall of the alley beside us. People had already started murmuring, a bald man with a white moustache talking rapidly into his cell phone, along with a few others copying his action. Mothers turned their children the other way, curious bystanders walking closer to see what was happening. Jonas and I, along with a few other civilians surged forward, wanting an accurate look.

The blood in my veins frosted over, ice lacing my veins, my eyes not able to look away.

There, with knifes thrust through his ragged, dirty orange jumper and into the brick wall behind him, hung Sam Kennedy, the criminal convicted for multiple homicides, his mouth twisted into a silent scream of anguish, the whites of his eyes showing, his skin looking as if it had shrunk and was too small to hold his flesh in. He looked like a tormented statue that had been pinned onto the brick wall like a bulletin board.

In my mind, I took note that Lucy's screams had quieted to whimpers from behind me, seeing Cammie freeze as she hugged her friend close. It looked more like it was on instinct—Cammie turning herself into a human shield for a comrade.

But the only thing I was truly aware of was the post-it on the chest of his jumper, its message accompanied by Sam Kennedy's skin-crawling murder.

Your first clue just died. Think it's worth a second try?


Location: Room T763,

Harvard College,

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date: Thursday, September 28th Time: 3:32 p.m.

P.O.V: Zachary "The Shadow" Goode

Covert Operations Report

Day 74

…with recent discoveries; the assailant(s) are capable to do a Seirende Maneuver, which had been outlawed by forty-six global governments between the years of 1934 to 1938. This forbidden technique has been used on Bethany Monroe's right arm, its deformation visible through the naked eye, these shows that the assailant(s) are not swift enough to do a successful Seirende Maneuver [which can only be seen through an autopsy]. Further information shall be updated by Virus and Hacker…

I scanned the words, fingers poised above the keyboard of my laptop. I was debating on whether the consistent number of fire alarms [eight] that Harvard College was experiencing were worth mentioning or not.

I sat at the corner desk in the back, slapping the screen down, feeling my leg bouncing in irritation. Raking my hands through my dark hair, I exhaled in exasperation. Despite what I was feeling, the mission was continuing as planned, a list of suspects already piling up, including Edwards [although I practically scoffed at Kim when she suggested him as a suspect], ready for my team and me to evaluate.

So logically, I typically would have been in a magnificent mood.

I wasn't.

I just felt so goddamned frustrated.

"You've been avoiding me." It wasn't a question; it was a statement, an accusation to even my ears. I gazed up at the girl standing in front of me, her long veil of hair covering her face shyly, her nimble fingers fidgeting with the too-long sleeves of her bottle-green shirt. I leaned back, eyes practically burning a hole through her little bubble.

"No, I haven't." Her response was too fast.

"Don't lie to me, Cammie." I said quietly, rather disappointed. A string of last minute students rushed into the room, panting in exert and relief pouring over their faces, following a cheerful Edwards in a grey dress shirt tucked into black slacks.

"Class is starting!" Cammie's head snapped up, green eyes shining with relief, much like the last minute students, as she quickly stepped into the desk diagonal on the right for me. I narrowed my eyes on her back; I wasn't going to be pushed aside that easily, like some sort of pesky mosquito.

"Zeus!" Edwards boomed, making the front row of whispering and giggling girls jump in surprise. He looked quite satisfied with himself. "Poseidon, Hades, Artemis—can you tell me who these figures are, Jeremiah?" His grey eyes aimed at a boy with bushy brown hair.

"Greek mythological creatures…?" His answer sounded more like a question.

Edwards nodded approvingly, before continuing: "Mythology and literature are tied together, but are not to be confused with one another, understand? This will be on the rather large test next Friday, so I hope you're listening. Don't want to listen to me? Failing my class will be your only option."

Edwards turned to his whiteboard, hand quickly drawing a sloppy van diagram, one side reading Literature, the other Mythology. "On to business, on your desk, you should all have received a purple handout. I'll put it in laymen terms. Joint presentation. Twenty percent of your final grade. The topics? Up to you and your partner. And your time starts…now."

The second the last monosyllabic word left his mouth, my foot shot out to hook the leg of Cammie's chair and yanked it backwards easily against the floor, barely making a sound as the chatter of the room rose steadily in volume. Satisfied with the shocked look on her face, I leaned on my elbows, a finger capturing and swirling a wisp of her hair around and around, like it was the most natural thing in the world, before saying with a smug voice: "So, partner, what do you want to do?"

Minutes passed quickly as Cammie scrawled nonexistent notes before I decided to break the fragile silence between us.

"Mind explaining to me why you've been avoiding and ignoring me for weeks?" I asked casually, eyes on the strand of hair I was playing with. My leg had practically chained her desk to mine. I snuck a glance at her, and was rather fixated by the unconscious pout that seemed to make up her pink mouth.

"I'm sorry," she apologized, tone sincere. Forgiving her felt surprisingly simple, the logic of it all seemed as easy as one plus one equals two; it felt so easy that I had to remind myself that I had to be angry with her. "It's just that I've been busy…"

"And?" I prompted with my eyes on hers. She looked nervous, and seemed to want to look anywhere but me.

"And with what we saw, back at the pizzeria earlier this month…" Cammie's statement drifted off to silence. I nodded understandingly; a murder was traumatic, two in one month was just horrifying and exhausting. "Lucy hasn't really been handling things well…she's really stressed about it. She doesn't handle…death well, at all—then again, who wouldn't?—and really doesn't know how to deal with it. Everything's just gotten out of hand."

Looking at her, I caught on immediately: "I know you're not telling me the whole truth," I stated matter-of-factly, her petite shoulders tensing, but I smiled. "But thank you for at least telling me what's going on. Or a small portion of it." But I guarantee that I'll know the whole story behind this, I added silently.

She relaxed, but didn't elaborate on whatever else was bothering her. Cammie gave a brilliant smile before holding up her open notebook, a diagram much like Edwards' from the board, just much neater. In her other hand was the purple handout; black instructions printed clearing on it. "Looks like we need to get started. Alright, which Greek god? Ares? Athena?"


Location: Adams House, Room 119,

Harvard College,

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date: Thursday, September 28th Time: 3:32 p.m.

P.O.V: Zachary "The Shadow" Goode

"Think of it as honeypotting."

"No."

"For a man who believes there may be intellectual life on other corners of our solar system, you're close minded as hell."

Jonas gave me an evil look that, if the laws of physics allowed it, probably would have melted my face off. He had his arms folded over his chest as he sat on bed, his tone clipping steel like a beautician would nails. "Honeypotting? With Cammie? If you're so determined to use your honeypot techniques, why not use it on say…" Jonas picked up a random sheet of paper, eyes scanning the names of our suspects. "…Sloan Fray?"

"Because I believe dating Sloan Fray would legally make her a pedophile."

Jonas rolled his eyes. "She's not that old, Zach."

"Then the Department of Cover and Concealment should really consider where Miss Fray gets her hair dye—the shade of gray is pretty realistic." I said sarcastically, flicking the picture of the thirty-seven-year-old woman back to Jonas. "The wrinkles are a nice touch—Cover and Concealment would want to ask her about that too."

He sighed, scratching the side of his head—a little trait that let me know he was getting frustrated but didn't want to show it. I rolled the computer chair towards Jonas, before relaxing once again by leaning back and crossing my ankles. "Look at it this way. You don't trust Cammie. My being her boyfriend will allow me to surmise whether she's a threat to this mission or not. Just like honeypotting."

A pause.

"No."

"Quite the killjoy, aren't you?"

Jonas flicked through the records before passing me a pile, his expression complicit as he said, "As long as you don't literally get killed, I'm fine with that."

Accepting the papers, I said. "Is it strange that if I imagined you were a civilian, you'd be some type of Donald Trump incarnate? You know, stomping on hopes, dreams and livelihood and all that."

"I'm wounded." He deadpanned, sifting through the papers mechanically. Jonas did it so efficiently, at times akin to these, I wondered if he an android of some kind. Wouldn't shock me too terribly. "Anything else?"

"Oh yeah, you stomp on puppies too. Can't forget the puppies."

"Now you're just being a prick."

"Love you too, man. Love you too." Once fully memorized, I grabbed a lighter off the nightstand and it wasn't a second longer before the lists and profiles of suspects that warranted attention was merely a pile of disintegrated ash. Dusting off my hands, I heard the kindling sound of Jonas obliterating his stack.

"Hey, watch the smoke," I reprimanded, Adams House didn't need to be lectured by the fire marshals a second time. Keeping a mental note to check the fire alarm system sometime this week [to figure out exactly who the hell keeps setting those things off]; I strode off purposefully to the doorway. "I'll be back by five." [Translation: I'll be patrolling the perimeter by Eliot House]

Jonas seemed to hesitate for a moment before nodding, but his cutting gaze slashed at my own. "This discussion isn't over, Zach."

Fixing my eyes onto his with a sharpness of my own, I replied evenly, my tone cool and frosted over.

"Agreed."

The door clicked into place behind me, the tense air from the room permeating the mahogany of the door, seeping through the cracks like some type of noxious gas escaping its confines.

Marching away down the hall, I couldn't help but think that something much denser than the door had just been closed between Jonas and me at that moment.


Location: Adams House, Room 207,

Harvard College,

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date: Saturday, October 14th Time: 6:47 p.m.

P.O.V: Zachary "The Shadow" Goode

"Can't really blame Jonas for ignoring you," Cammie declared, after hearing my [censored and shortened] story from a couple of weeks ago. The dirty blonde was sprawled out on her lilac bedspread, tummy down and legs kicking upwards: the very epitome of a typical teenage girl relaxing. "I think he'd prefer to be an incarnate of—say, someone like Da Vinci—over a guy who looks like he could keep his hair as a pet."

She paused for a moment before swapping her attention from her textbook to meet my own. "I was about to suggest 'incarnate of Einstein' but then again, Albert Einstein may be the only person in history to lose in a competition of hair against Donald Trump."

"Yeah, well, Trump is a jackass." I declared firmly. "And Einstein gave us E = mc^2 thus by the rules of everything great and mighty—that makes his hair far less ridiculous than Trump's." Cammie laughed. "Although, now that I think about it, wasn't it Einstein who poisoned his best friend on accident?"

Cammie looked at me as if I sprouted another head, or I told her I actually found Lucy's company pleasant. I glanced around said brunette's and Cam's room, feeling all the more grateful she wasn't there.

Staring back at the giggling green eyes of aforementioned girl, she elaborated: "Do you mean Sherlock Holmes? And I don't think it was his best friend he poisoned—I think it was his dog."

"Ah, and we're back to square one again: harming dogs." I leaned back, the spine of the computer chair arching back with me. "Jonas stomps. You poison. Don't you people know animal abuse is wrong?"

Laughter stirred the air around us, and the ambiance warmed like the rays of the sun had thawed it [you know, despite the fact that, from the looks of it, a storm was brewing above us that very second]. Eyeing the quick flash of purple in her hand, I playfully dove to my right to meet the white carpeted floor, rolling away expertly until my side hit her bed and effectively dodged the pillow aimed for my face.

"Hey!" I exclaimed, feeling my own mouth stretch into a grin on its own accord. My back met the ground as my gaze met the ceiling. The moment her head popped out from the edge of her bed, seeing flushed cheeks grinning and brilliant eyes sparked with amusement, I felt that there, on the hard floor with a book cramming its way into my spine, I had just won the most extravagant view on campus. "Don't go abusing people now, Cameron! You should be grateful for my wonderful reflexes—I know my face is."

Cammie grinned with the innocence of an angel, halo and all, but anyone would have been able to read the mischief winking in her eyes. Choosing not to answer, she put on her dark framed glasses. "Time to study, Spy Boy."

I knew a pretty picture when I saw one. And being the opportunist I was, I drank in her appearance with the precision and attention one would use taste the finest of wines, figurative tongue licking leisurely and buds buzzing with flavor.

It was a damned shame that Cam only donned her glasses for cramming, with her hair thrown into a messy bun, wild bronze strands licking pleasantly flushed cheeks and black framed glasses emphasizing green, green eyes.

Cameron Morgan made quite the pleasing image.

And could have became a pretty damn sexy librarian, if I did say so myself.

I pushed the sudden onslaught of rather indecent thoughts and partially lewd scenarios involving my conclusion back to the recesses of my mind.

As if reading my thoughts, which to be honest with myself, weren't exactly impervious to detection, Cammie seemed to blush before crawling back to the security of her textbook on the other side of the bed.

I smirked—cute.

Batting away the novel that was digging its grave in my back, I allowed my body to relax for a split second. Eying the robin egg blue walls of the room, I recalled the paint job Cam had roped me into [Jonas hadn't been so much roped as he was lassoed and hogtied by Lucy]. It had been nearly a month since then and nearly four since the mission had started. I knew for a fact neither Jonas nor Kim nor Arnold was used to an assignment prolonged to this extent.

Flipping through my mental cabinet and its various pocket folders, the list of citizens slaughtered, I felt a sudden rush of something engulf me from inside out.

Helplessness.

The mission had been initiated for four months now, and there seemed to be no pattern to these senseless killings. The massacre was uncalculated, each victim—each lost one—having nothing in common with the other. Some homicidal maniac was hacking his—her—its way through Harvard alumni, and the telltale option of contacting the Director that this mission was a dead-end whispered alluringly in my mind, the spidery fingers of just calling the Director dragging my heart around in my ribcage.

It was true—the deaths led a map-less trail, the departed having no relation that would spawn a hit list of this altitude.

"Zach?"

I snapped forward into a sitting position. My head whirled sharply to my right. Cammie had returned to her spot at the edge of the bed, glasses down, gem green eyes now bare with concern. Worry weighed her face down, tinted with curiosity and the way she stared at me felt like her irises were trying to find a way to open my ribcage up like Pandora's Box.

"Are you okay?"

The worried image Cammie presented warped into a different projection of her. Cammie, a girl I had barely met, the one I thought stupid of for dragging a complete stranger to her apartment to nurse him back to health. The murders in Oxen Hill back then—and a broken look in her eyes filled my line of vision.

It then jumped to a little girl with her father's grey eyes—Andy, was it? Maxwell Edwards' kid. "What I want is this murderer taken out."

Edwards' words resurfaced from the abyss of my mind to the forefront. The words dumping ice cold water down my spine, metaphorically sopping my head with realization.

"Spies aren't hired, Zach. They're used."Resounded in my ears—before another sentence rang, resonating like a church bell, true and unmistakable.

"Then tell me, Zach, did you join the CIA to solely serve your country?"

No. I didn't.

It could have been some heroic part of my subconscious that influenced me, but it wasn't the dividend that made me want this life—this mission. My mind pulled me back to that day, where the backs of two parents I barely got to know drove away from me and the faint glimmer of a grin of a previous caretaker lit up in my head.

What the fuck was I thinking?

"Zach!"

Train of thought thoroughly smashing into a mental wall, I snapped my attention to an obviously worried Cammie, who transferred from her seat on her bed to kneel in front of me. Concern made her stance apprehensive and from the way she was sitting, my guess was that she looked ready to bolt to the nearest phone for 911.

"Yeah?" I replied simply.

She relaxed a bit, leaning backwards; her eyes still regarded me a tad warily. "Are you okay?"

Shooing off her question like one would a fly; I stood before traveling across the room, grabbing my backpack for my water bottle. Feeling a concerned gaze prodding me in the back, worry hung in the air like a heavy curtain, practically tangible and real.

I turned a bit at the waist, a leering smirk quirking at the corner, hoping to ease the tension: "See something you like?"

I expected a blush, or a bit of that adorable sputtering I had grown fond of. I was startled by the luminous, relieved beam Cammie flashed me, the worry being wiped away like a shadow was from a burning light.

Without another word, the both of us had grabbed our respective textbooks and actually started some homework, like good little students.

Although I did have a rather pyromaniac-like urge to set my notebook on fire.

But I didn't so, like I said: good little students.

Renewed resolve steeled itself inside me. I'd have to contact Jonas soon [and if he so much tries to ignore me again, I'd roundhouse kick his face. As long as his face is bruised and not his brain, it should be fine]—my excitement practically vibrating inside me—

"Zach?" Hearing my name, I glanced up from the formulas littering my page, and the plans in my head. Cammie hadn't lifted her attention from her book; her bangs shaded her eyes so all I saw were the very tips of her lashes. The way her fingers picked at her bedspread had fanned the flames of my curiosity—she was nervous?

"Uh, to answer your question from earlier—yeah, yeah I do."

She lifted her head, green eyes connecting with my own, and I saw the pink dusting her cheeks and a shy—and dare I say affectionate?—smile.

A beat.

Cue astonished silence.

As if just realizing what she had said, Cammie put her head back down briskly, tips of her ears adopting a rosy hue.

Another beat.

The silence seemed as fragile as glass, and there I was, smirk and all, ready to bash it open with a sledgehammer.

"So, are you saying I have permission to sweep you off your feet, Miss Morgan?" I asked grandly. A grin pulled at the corners of my mouth—widening to greater lengths at the quiet "if you'd like," that passed her lips.

Once again, another beat.

Nerves at their peak, Cammie directed the conversation elsewhere, reading off random tidbits of information that spilled from her well of knowledge known as her textbook ["Did you know, that the human brain can't conjure up a face of its own, so all the people in your dreams are actually people you've before in real life? Kind of neat—"]

Her rambling?

Wasn't going to lie—it was pretty freaking adorable.

And educational—but it was endearing, so the information slid off my skin like a water off a duck.

I wondered vaguely if I looked like the Cheshire Cat at that point, I was grinning so much.

["...and there's actually so such thing as multi-tasking either, research showed—"]

Keeping a mental tab on my renewed vigor towards the mission, I couldn't help the near predatory grin that stretched my lips.

7:52 p.m. and 16 seconds—on Saturday, October 14th.

Also known as the exact time and date my official plans of wooing one Cameron Morgan commenced.


(Author's Note): I know, I know—you're probably thinking "ABOUT TIME" (whether this is towards Zach's "official plans" for Cammie or my update skills, is up to you), but I hope you enjoyed the chapter! I really need to stock up on romance novels—the Zammie of the story just may depend on it.

I've made it a goal to put out a chapter every week or so, if I can't make it to a week, I'll attempt to post a preview so you guys don't have to worry about me not continuing the story. Blame lack of motivation or AP assignments (homework during the summer... of course.)

So—any particular thoughts on the chapter? I'm hoping my motivation for the story won't slow down on me. Hopefully the Zammie will help me out in that department, but feedback would be lovely!

Thanks again to those of you who reviewed, not going to lie—I was about ready to stop writing altogether, so it's not an exaggeration when I say that you guys, the reviewers, had saved this story from the trash bin, and for that: I'm supremely grateful! THANK YOU SO MUCH.

With warm regards,

Diva

P.S. Fanfiction absolutely kills my formatting, so I apologize for any spelling/grammatical errors. ALSO: Is anyone on here interested in being a beta reader for this story? If so, please say so in a review.