Part 3 and the epilogue of Safehouse. Hope you like the ending! As always, R&R. ~ SamayouTamashi
Two weeks later, Ben Daniels was in his office at the Royal and General catching up on all the wonderful paperwork that he had to complete after each mission. For every day he spent out on his 'illustrious' job, he wound up using a week to fill out, sign, and date all the individual documents thrown on to his desk. The operation had lasted a mere three days, with no complications whatsoever, but the paperwork seemed to tower up a good half a meter. Tossing the handful of finished papers in a second tray, he put his head in his hands, running through a list of reasons as to why he shouldn't burn the stack down to a pile of cinders.
As he stood up to grab his fourth cup of caffeine, Ben could've sworn that he saw a glimpse of Alex's familiar face flash by his window. Peering down the hallway outside his office, the teenager turned to meet his curious glance. Ben deflated as he realized that, first, this teenager was much older. Likely somewhere around nineteen or twenty, not fifteen. Second, he was of Russian or Nordic descent with nearly platinum blond hair, skin too pale to be called fair, piercing arctic blue eyes, the two small diamond studs in his left ear, and the thick sweater and fur boots made for a place much colder than England. He held his head high, as if he was too good for the rest of the world, but when he noticed the MI6 agent's confusion, the teen let the flash of a smile cross his face, nodded, and continued down the hall in the direction of Blunt's office.
Ben chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip as the Russian teenager turned a corner. He hadn't seen or worked with Alex since the incident with the assassins, nor had he found him in the patient list at St. Dominic's, which is where he should have been with his shoulder.
For a brief moment, he had assumed that the kid was one of the other agent's sons, or maybe related to a visiting diplomat. In a flash of memory, however, he recalled Snake's repetition of their conversation prior to his sudden departure: "…and if you look carefully, I think we'll meet again." The nod and flicker of warmth behind the cold eyes became stunningly obvious.
Alex had returned.
Wolf drained the last of his beer later that same week in K-Unit's temporary Egyptian post. They'd been relocated at the last minute when worries of a terrorist cell in Aswan had been brought up by worried local merchants. Until this 'terrorist cell' was located, K-Unit would be stuck in the middle of the desert with nothing to do.
Eagle was currently attempting to catch Falcon, Fox's replacement and their languages expert, cheating at cards. The only reason he was so irritated was because he was also cheating, but still lacked the ability to catch up with their new member's twenty-three consecutive wins. "How are you doing that?" he angrily demanded, throwing down his straight flush. Falcon, of course, had a royal straight flush. On the piece of paper beside him, he marked down another win in his favor.
"I just drew the cards," he replied innocently, but fooling no one. Master of cheating he might be, but deception was a whole other thing.
Snake looked up from his book at the pair, then at the mirror placed conveniently behind his losing teammate, and again at the second empty box of playing cards on the floor. He gave a disbelieving look at Falcon. "He hasn't figured it out yet?"
Falcon shuffled the deck, deftly placing the extra cards into the second deck in his lap. "Realized what?"
Shaking his head, the medic went back to his book, thoroughly disappointed by the apparent intelligence in his companions. "I'm stuck in the desert with children."
"We should get paid extra," Wolf agreed whole-heartedly.
A young Egyptian popped his head in the tent and everyone looked up from their previous tasks. His white robe had been dirtied and faded from long exposure to both sun and sand. Only his dark ebony skin and hood had protected him from intense sunburn. When he noticed their eyes, he timidly spoke up, "باللهعليكالتحدثبالعربية?"
Everyone turned to their translator. Falcon hesitated, but replied back in Egyptian Arabic. "نا."
"He wants to know who's in charge," came the English translation. The unit looked at Wolf.
"Ask him what he wants."
The boy shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. Instead of answering, he drew a long rolled-up scroll from within the folds of his robe. Parts of the top appeared to have been licked by flames and stains looking suspiciously like blood splattered a half-circle around the middle. He seemed to take no notice of either of these when he unrolled it, pinning it to the table previously used by them for cards with a pair of cups.
Across the parchment was a map scrawled by hand with small symbols marking individual landmarks. "What is this?" Wolf demanded, and the Egyptian grew even more nervous. His eyes flickered over the room, looking at everything except the SAS men. "القاعدةالإرهابيةستةونصفكيلومترمنهنا."
Falcon's eyes widened, and the rest of them turned to him. "He says that this is a map of the terrorist base six and a half kilometers here."
"How did you get this map?" Wolf asked, with an edge to his voice.
The boy looked like he might run, but he just scuffed his foot against the dusty floor. "وجهتله."
"He drew it himself," Falcon breathed, looking even more intently at the spidery lines making up an almost flawless diagram.
When Wolf gave him a disbelieving look, he bent over the map to point out the small symbols in his broken and heavily accented English. "Camera," his finger hovered over the small triangles. "Watchers," he traced the dotted lines that crisscrossed every hallway, doorway and entrance. "Air holes," which Falcon clarified as the ventilation shafts, were traced out in fine grey pencil instead of black ink like the rest. As he pointed at the largest room in the complex, he rubbed a hand against his forehead. "Er…center. Important."
"The control room," Eagle guessed, and he nodded.
Wolf crossed his arms, content that when the SAS units went in that they wouldn't be going in blind. "How many weapons?"
At this, a small smirk seemed to come over the Egyptian's face, though the timid persona fell back on almost as fast as it went. He shook his head. "No."
The unit leader blinked, confused by his answer. "The group has no weapons, whatsoever?"
"No, no. Did. No longer had."
"Then, what happened to their weapons?" Eagle pushed. If they'd had firearms or whatever, then where had they gone?
The Egyptian started to answer, but stopped and frowned, his eyebrows furrowed in thought. He spoke in Arabic again to Falcon, but the soldier looked even more confused than the boy did. "I can't figure out half the words. Must be a different dialect that I never learned."
When the boy noticed the holster at Snake's side, he gestured quickly at it. "Borrow?" The medic complied, but only with a nod from Wolf in agreement. "Here," he held it out and the Egyptian took it with an easy familiarity. Using one hand, he removed the ammunition clip and pointed to it.
"Something about their ammo?" Eagle guessed. A nod. He pointed to himself. "You took their ammo?" Another nod.
"And how in hell did you manage to get a hold of every single scrap of their ammunition?" Wolf growled suspiciously.
Once more, the Egyptian boy could only shrug. "Words English hard."
While he was far from being convinced, something in those deep dark eyes made him trust that whatever it was he wasn't explaining was something he didn't need to know. "All right, let's get the other two units out and ready in the next ten minutes. See if Owl can copy this so that each unit has a copy when we go in." Eagle bounced happily out the door, looking for a water bucket to wake an unsuspecting S-Unit. Falcon followed him out, glancing curiously at the young Egyptian.
As the tent flap closed, the boy fished a canteen from a loop on his waist and drank thirstily, taking in as much water as he could without choking on it. He had obviously crossed the desert by foot and, as his hood fell back, he had the sunburns to show for it. Collapsing into one of the chairs, he held up the canteen. "Water?"
From the storage under his bunk, Snake pulled out one of the gallon containers filled with water for the unit. "Here," he showed the nervous boy how to open and close the tap attached to the bottom. As he was filling the canteen to the brink, Snake peered at a long pink line trailing from below his eye to a spot in the middle of his cheek. "How'd you get that?" The boy closed the tap and capped his canteen, clipping it back on to his waist. In response to Snake's question, he pointed to the gun he'd laid back on the table. His fingers lightly traced the fading scar, and a sort-of tired fell over his face.
In one swift move, the weariness was covered up again and the Egyptian slipped from his chair to stand by the flap. He nodded at them, muttering a quiet thanks in his Arabic-tinged English, and left.
Wolf watched the sudden departure with a tingle of recognition. "Was it just me or did that seem-"
"Familiar? Yeah, but how?"
"I…I don't know," he sighed.
Wolf left the tent, Snake not long behind him, with the map in hand to take to Owl. He ran through the simplest plan imaginable in his mind. The simpler, the better.
From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a small figure vanishing behind a pair of tents and into the desert from whence he came. Cub's words seemed to come to mind: "…and if you look carefully, I think we'll meet again."
Suddenly, the scar on his face, the familiar eyes behind the contacts, and the weariness he had glimpsed all came together in one neat package.
Cub had returned.
A/N: The end has come way too soon, and I hate to leave, but I hope you liked my short little ending.
Many thanks to the twenty-nine reviews in my first two chapters, the people who added this story to their alerts, and the nearly thousand that read my story. I have an idea on a sequel to Safehouse that I'm going to call Favor. If you like the idea, send me some sort of message. The more support I have, the likelier I'll start work on building a plot line.
Thanks a trillion for all the awesome comments, and all the ones to come. Hope you liked it, because I sure as hell enjoyed the ride. ~ SamayouTamashi