Tangled Agendas (1/?)
By Carol M.
Summary: A new woman in Ed's life is not what she seems, putting everyone's life at risk
Spoilers: Transformations, Veil, Sleeper, Vengeance
Rating: PG-13 to R for violence, mild sexuality and lots of angst
Disclaimer: Don't own them, only play with them
Note: So this might possibly be the first story in a series focusing on Ed. This one takes place sometime after the events of Sleeper and Vengeance. Hope you enjoy it, folks!
Ed sighed in happiness as he swam through the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean, his surfboard nestled firmly in his arms. It had been weeks since he had been able to enjoy his Saturday morning tradition of catching a few waves. The damn Spanish influenza had left him weak and his lungs achy, not a good combination for someone who prided himself on riding some of the biggest waves Los Angeles had to offer.
But he was back now. Back and better than ever. No more relying on surfing movies to get him through his withdrawal of the sun, sand and water. No more nervous breakdowns on Monday mornings after a weekend lacking some good waves. Surfing was Ed's escape, his way of dealing with the events of the past couple of months. He needed it to sustain his sanity. He craved it like a drug.
Today had been a very good day. Three monster waves and a few babies. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday. His body was bursting with adrenaline and with life. God, it felt good.
He slowly swam out of the water, reveling in all the sensations around him. Cool water against the material of his wetsuit, mushy sand under his feet, the sounds of muffled chatter coming from the sunbathers on the beach, that soft, salty smell that most people hated, but Ed loved. He was in heaven.
He stepped fully out of the water and walked up into the sand, perching his board up in a vertical position. Then he plopped down in front of it and a look of child-like glee came on his face. He couldn't remember the last time he had been this happy.
Yes, he could, he realized. It was the day he had met Sloan. He had nervously sat down at a desk for his first day of advanced organic chemistry in grad school and Sloan had taken the seat next to him. She asked if she could borrow a pencil and the rest was history. They had quickly become friends, best friends, studying together and doing basically everything else together. Ed was completely in love. Of course, he had never confessed his feelings. He was scared to death of being rejected and losing Sloan from his life completely. Being her best friend wasn't want he wanted, but he would take what he could get.
Ed sighed at the thought and then shook it from his mind. Sloan was in his life and that was all that mattered. He squeezed the water droplets from his long hair and then leaned back against his surfboard, pumping himself up for the next round of waves.
Haley Sumner had been watching Ed Tate for weeks and had quickly determined that he was perfect. Single, lonely, shy. Spent his nights reading, watching television and playing video games. Occasionally attended movies, most of the time by himself. Ate out every Friday night at a local beach bistro where he ordered a chicken salad and three Coronas. All in all, living a pathetic bachelor lifestyle. And for the life of her, she couldn't figure out why.
Ed was very good looking. She had admired his long and lean form from the very first time she had laid eyes on it. The hair was a little messy, but she could live with that. His eyes were gorgeous. A deep, chocolate brown that betrayed every emotion that flowed through his mind. Lot's of smiles, lot's of laughs, an all around nice guy. Smart, funny, slightly sarcastic. She was intrigued. There was something about him that made her want to get to know him better. And it looked as if today would be her perfect opportunity.
The surfing had come as a bit of a surprise to her. Sure, she had seen the surfboard in his van and had noticed the blonde surfer streaks in his hair and that earthy surfer boy necklace he always wore. But today had been totally unexpected. She had tailed him from his apartment to the beach, all the while admiring the way the tight wet suit hugged his body in all the right places. Damn, the man was a stud and he didn't even know it. She had seen him run into the water with his surfboard in hand and paddle his way out into the heavy surf. She had plopped down in the sand to watch, expecting the lanky Mr. Tate to get washed away in the messy surf of the waves.
Instead, Ed had totally blown her mind. As she watched him catch his first wave, she was struck by the extraordinary amount of power and grace he possessed. He had taken control of the wave and made it his own. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Here was a man who in his real life was meek and soft-spoken, pushed around like a laboratory rat. But here, in the ocean, Ed was home. He was strong, he was powerful, he was a God. For over an hour she watched him catch wave after wave, one bigger than the other, all the while her jaw dropping closer to the ground. She caught glimpses of his face and noticed how incredibly happy and peaceful he seemed. She continued to watch curiously as he swam out of the surf and stepped out onto the beach, seeming to revel in his surroundings. She saw him sit down on the sand and then seem to contemplate something fairly depressing. Then she had seen him take a deep breath and relax against his surfboard, enjoying the beautiful ocean view. That was her cue. The poor sap would never know what hit him. And neither would the rest of them.
Ed couldn't take his eyes of her when he first saw her. She was a tall and slender red head, wearing a matching red tank top and tiny shorts that accentuated her model-like figure. He stared as she walked down the beach, his heart beating wildly in his chest. She reminded him of Sloan. God, she was gorgeous. She continued walking towards him and suddenly, she was looking right at him, a small smile on her face.
Ed turned around to see if there was some hot stud behind him. Surely she wasn't smiling at him. She couldn't be. My god, she was.
"Hi," she said as she stepped to Ed, her shadow casting his face into darkness.
Ed swallowed and looked up at her. "Hi, can I help you?" he answered somewhat nervously.
"Name's Haley. Haley Sumner," she said, sticking out her perfectly sculpted hand.
Ed stuck out his own hand and gave her a friendly shake. "Ed Tate," he replied.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Tate," said Haley as she sat down next to him in the sand.
"It's Ed," he said softly.
"Ed," repeated Haley with a toothy grin. "I couldn't help but admire your surfing skills out there," she said as she pointed to the ocean.
Ed blushed slightly and looked down. "I wouldn't call it skill, it's just something I enjoy doing," he answered earnestly.
"Well, you're very good at it," said Haley with amusement. "You from around here?"
Ed pointed towards the street. "I've got an apartment a couple of blocks away. What about you?" he asked, trying not to stare at her emerald green eyes.
"I've got a place right down the beach. Beautiful sunsets," she remarked.
Ed pointed at his board. "You surf?"
Haley snorted. "No. I just like watching."
"Well, in that case," said Ed as he stood up and picked up his board, "wouldn't want to disappoint the lady," he said with a shy smile.
Haley motioned towards the surf. "By all means."
Ed smiled in slight embarrassment and then ran out into the ocean, his surfboard in a firm grip. He paddled out to an area where the waves were fairly big and then began riding one wave after another.
Haley sat on the shore, laughing and clapping as she watched Ed trying to impress her. And he did. The waves he was riding were huge. She couldn't understand how a person that thin couldn't just get washed away out to sea. It continued for another half-hour until Ed finally made his way back to the shore. He walked out of the water and then flopped down next to her, his chest heaving. "I think I over did it," he breathed.
Haley raised her eyebrow in concern. "Are you okay?"
Ed nodded and lay back in the sand against his surfboard. "Yeah. I was really sick for about a month, and I just now got over it. This is the first time I've been able to get out here in weeks."
Haley started. "You're Ed Tate."
"Yeah," said Ed, trailing off curiously.
"You're the Ed Tate. One of the scientists who discovered the new species," said Haley.
"Unfortunately, yes. How did you know?" asked Ed as he sat back up.
"I'm a reporter," said Haley.
Ed's face fell. "Oh, well in that case, it was nice meeting you," he said as he started to stand.
"No, no, it's not like that," said Haley in an upset tone. "I work in the lifestyles section at the LA Times. I've just seen some of the articles about this species. Dominants? Is that what you call them?" she asked curiously.
Ed nodded. "That's right," he said, looking down. "Look, if you don't mind, can we not talk about this? I deal with enough of this stuff and sometimes I just like to forget."
"Sure," said Haley, nodding. "I'm sorry, it's just that…you know, you're kind of a celebrity."
Ed smiled. "Yeah well, I could live without my new found status."
Haley grinned and then an awkward silence fell between the two. Haley interrupted it by clearing her throat. "Ed, I don't normally do this, but…do you think you might like to get dinner sometime?" she asked.
A surprised look spread across Ed's face. "Dinner?" he asked.
Haley nodded. "Yeah. You just seem like a really nice guy, and I'd like to get to know you better."
Ed blushed and gave her an awkward glance. "Sorry, it's just been awhile. Haven't really spent much time with anyone besides my fellow scientists and a couple of monkeys."
Haley leaned forward and rubbed her hand down Ed's shoulder. "Well how about we get you out of the lab for awhile."
Ed glanced at her hand on his shoulder and then his gaze drifted to her face. "Uh…how about uh…tonight? Where do you live? I can pick you up," he said nervously.
"1212 Palm Drive. It's just up the beach," said Haley.
"Right," said Ed, nodding his head. "How about seven?"
Haley nodded and stood up. "Sounds perfect."
Ed followed suit and awkwardly stuck out his hand. "It was nice meeting you, Haley."
Haley took his hand and shook it gently. "Likewise, Ed. I should be going."
Ed nodded. "I should be going too," he said as he glanced up at the street. "I guess I'll see you later."
Haley smiled. "Bye," she said as she slowly walked down the beach.
Ed stared after her for a few minutes and then shook his head, not believing his good luck. He then picked up his surfboard and headed for his van.
Haley had read Ed like a book. He was an extremely emotional person on the inside, although she could tell he tried to hide it on the outside. During their short introduction, she had detected lust, longing, and a sweet innocence. She also realized just how brilliant the man really was. She would have to be extremely careful with him, she realized.
After giving him enough time to get to his van, she had followed him back to his apartment where he had changed into some casual clothes, and then she had gone on a little field trip with him to the lab. That was what she needed from him. To get into the lab and expose all of its secrets.
Her mission was complicated. Several tasks, one involving the retrieval of all data collected by these people. Retrieve the data and then assassinate all the scientists involved, including Ed Tate, Sloan Parker, and Walter Attwood. Then there was the task of finding Lewis, which to her, took precedence over her other assignments.
Haley had been one of his best students. Trained since the age of five, she had perfected her skills of blocking, mind reading and self-defense. Homo Sapiens weren't an issue for her. It was Tom that might pose a problem. She had never met him, but she had heard stories about him, mostly from Lewis and his other disciples. He was the man who had gotten away. The man who had betrayed them all. He and the rest of them had put Lewis away. Lewis was no doubt locked away in some underground government facility. Haley and the rest of Lewis' followers had tried to find him, but obviously the government had done a damn good job of hiding him. It was her mission to find him, no matter what it cost her in the end.
A few minutes later, as she watched Ed come out of the lab and get back in his van, she felt a hint of regret work its way through her body. The damn emotions again. It was her one weakness, the weakness Lewis had always insisted that dominants didn't have, but nevertheless did, no matter how much they tried to deny them.
Ed was innocent, she realized. Maybe more than any of them. He was a scientist who had just happened to discover the existence of her kind. Like a good scientist, he was trying to figure out a way to scientifically stop them. He wasn't like Walter, whose sole purpose in life seemed to be to destroy the dominants. He wasn't even like Sloan, who seemed to spend most of her time out in the field, rather than in the lab. No, Ed was their workhorse. He did what they told him when they told him, trying to do the right thing for his species. He had never really realized just how much danger he had put himself in. But soon he would find out.