Disclaimer- These characters are my own. I own them, I created them. Any resemblance to a certain warrior or bard is purely accidental. (un-huh)
Subtext- What isn't subtext? LOL.
Rating- PG-13 or T or violence and language, and possible heavy suggestion.
Sequel Alert: This is a sequel to my stories "The Price" and "Famous Last Words, and was written to follow "Famous Last Words." Also, I apologize ahead of time for any continuality (time line) wise for those of you who have read "Famous Last Words." I know there is a conflict and I will fix it, eventually ;).
Thanks and enjoy. As always feedback is always met with enthusiasm and stimulates more writing!
Kasey jumped as the large video screen in her office buzzed to life. She'd been so preoccupied with her programing that the incoming call startled her. After giving herself a moment to settle her rapid heartbeat, she closed her laptop and turned to face the larger screen. Hitting the Accept button, she quickly straightened up when she realized who'd called.
"Good afternoon, Kasey."
"Your Majesty," Kasey returned with a respectful bow of her head and a short Amazon salute in the form of a fist to the chest. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"It's just me and you, Kasey. No need to be so formal."
Kasey grinned at the salt-and-pepper haired woman who was not only her mentor but had also become her friend. "It's good to see you, Diana."
"Good to see you too, Kasey. How's Alex?"
"She's great. Hercules is taking her for a walk as we speak."
Diana chuckled. "I guess you don't take a hundred and ten pound dog for a walk, he takes you." Her tone became more serious as she continued. "Unfortunately, Kasey, this isn't a social call. I have a mission for you, but it's of a personal nature. This should be pretty tame, but I want to make sure that you feel up to a field assignment."
"You know I'm ready. It's been five months since the kidnapping, and I've been cleared by Psych for almost three. The only thing that's been holding me back was you and Alex."
"Only because we both care for you," Diana gently scolded.
"I know." Kasey sighed, her lip turning up into a small pout. "But it's time for me to move on. So tell me about this mission."
Dianna nodded. "You are aware of the incident that my youngest daughter, Hali, was in last year?"
"Of course, I remember. It had to do with one of those new Navy mini-subs they've been testing. Something about it malfunctioning when it was being hoisted up on deck?"
"Yes, that's the short of it. Hali was trapped inside with two other crewmen, the hatch malfunctioned, and they were running low on air. The main cable snapped, and if it wasn't for the quick actions of a certain young lieutenant it would have plunged back into the sea."
"I've seen the specs for the mini-sub, but I don't really see how my expertise could be useful…" Kasey stopped, interrupted, as the queen raised her hand silencing her.
"I'm not looking for your technological expertise this time. I'm more curious about the young lieutenant. I think you may know him. His name is Daniel Alexander."
Kasey suddenly paled. "Yes, I know him, or knew him very well."
Lieutenant Daniel Alexander clutched a newspaper in one hand and his cane in the other as he hobbled down Olympic Avenue. He gritted his teeth as a cold gust of wind forced his jacket open, trapping itself inside as it danced about his arms and back. Silently he cursed the broken zipper, swearing that if it wasn't the only jacket he owned he would have thrown it away. Pausing for a moment to clutch the jacket closed, he fumbled, dropping the newspaper, and helplessly watched as it tumbled away on the same ice cold breeze. Sighing, he let it go. It was yesterday's paper anyway. Shaking his head in disgust, he resumed his earlier pace and continued on to his goal: a small coffee shop two more blocks down the road.
The bell on the door of Hot Shots jingled, announcing his presence, yet no one seemed to notice as the shop was already packed with customers. Daniel joined the queue, squeezing behind a tall brunette in a gray business suit. He inhaled deeply, enjoying the strong aroma of coffee, mixed with freshly baked pastries, and the tingle of rose-scented perfume coming from the woman in front of him.
Five jingles later, Daniel had progressed to the center of the line. He'd turned the corner and was facing the door when a sixth jingle rang. His eyes suddenly widened in surprise as he recognized the newcomer. It had been years. Her hair was shorter and a bit redder than he remembered, but it was definitely her. He took a step out of line and closer to her. "Kasey?"
She seemed to flinch, perhaps surprised at the mention of her name. Her green eyes looked up, catching his brown. "Danny. Wow, it's been a long time."
"Shoot, Kase! It's good to see you." Daniel tentatively embraced her, relieved when she returned the gesture. "I didn't know you lived out here."
"Yeah, been out here since I left…" Kasey stepped back and gave him a once over, pausing briefly at the cane. "What are you doing in here in L.A.? You on leave?"
"Not exactly. I just got back state-side a few weeks ago. Been staying with my cousin since I was discharged. I didn't want to leave, but seems the Navy don't want no pirates."
Kasey wrinkled her nose in confusion, causing Daniel to laugh. He bent down and knocked on his lower leg, producing a slightly hollow sound. "Not wood, but plastic is just about the same."
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Danny. I didn't realize…"
"Nope, that's the point, not supposed to notice. But it's not important."
"Yeah, I suppose…" Kasey replied, getting interrupted by a young girl who handed her a hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream. "Thanks Helen," she nodded, punching in a code on the credit-card machine the young lady offered her. "Do me a favor and get Danny here anything he wants. Put it on my tab."
"No, you don't have to do that."
"It's ok, I know the owner and get a good discount," Kasey winked.
"Ah, well then, thank-ya," Daniel responded, asking Helen for a black decaf and a blueberry muffin. As the girl rushed off to fill the order he looked back at Kasey. "So… how ya been?"
"Good, but listen, I'm sorry, but I'm late for an appointment. It was great seeing you, but I really have to run. Tell ya what though, here's my card. Give me a call. We can get together and have lunch or something."
"Um, sure. I'd like that."
And just like that she was gone. Feeling suddenly empty, Daniel looked down at the card in his hand and ran his thumb over the delicate and slightly embossed script. At least this time she left a number where he could reach her.
Kasey leaned against the cold brick wall around the corner from Hot Shots. She put her hand on her chest. Her heart was beating so fast it was almost making her dizzy. She'd chickened out, given her him card, and ran. Her orders had been simple: make contact, and if he was receptive then to get to know him better, or again, as Diana had put it. Seeing him brought back the old memories – painful memories – of when her grandmother passed and she'd had to step up and take over her clan. Seventeen was too young for that sort of responsibility, hell, so was twenty-nine.
And then there was the surprise with Daniel's leg. She felt a bit of anger rise and wondered why Diana hadn't warned her. Not that it would have mattered to the queen, as Amazons didn't see such things as handicaps, but rather assets. If nothing else, the idea of being powerful women in a man's world had taught them, is that the unexpected is often the best defense, or weapon. They had the ability to look past such things, and as Diana explained, Daniel's expertise was valuable, and that would be true regardless of his physical condition. Not that the queen cared to share exactly what the expertise was, but at least she accomplished the first part of her mission. Now it was up to him, all she had to do is wait for the phone to ring.
Daniel managed to wait a full three days before he attempted to call her. It took him another two after that to get up enough nerve to finish the dialing sequence.
"Hello?" a deep but silky female voice answered.
"Who is this?" the voice demanded.
Daniel paused, hearing shuffling and giggling in the background, "My name is Daniel. I'm a friend of Kasey's."
Muffled whispers, followed by more shuffling and giggles, before a slightly out of breath Kasey managed to gain control of her phone. "Danny. Hey! How ya doing?"
"Good, ah, are you ok? Who was that?"
"Me? I'm fine and that was Alex. She was just goofing around." Kasey paused as Daniel heard a muttered ooouff followed by a loud thump. "Damn it, Herc. Get off."
"Ah, who's Herc?"
Kacey groaned. "Hercules. He's Alex's dog."
"Maybe I should call back."
"No, no, it's ok. They were just leaving."
Daniel smiled. He could almost imagine her pointing to the door and ushering Alex and her beast of a dog out with those fire-emerald-green eyes of hers. "So, I was wondering. That lunch invite, is it still good?"
Kasey sat her in car. She didn't want to go in and go through this… again. When she'd left, she left everything, including him. He wasn't a clan member, and therefore she was forced to sever her connection with him. Ironically, now that Diana was interested in him she could possibly pursue a relationship, but that ship had already sailed. She regretted accepting this mission. They should have sent someone natural, someone who didn't know him.
She opened her cell, stroking it gently, before dialing a familiar number.
It rang and after a moment of silence the voice on the other end asked, "Kasey? Are you ok?"
"Yes, I just needed to hear your voice."
"I'm right here. I'm always here when you need me," Alex responded.
Kasey fingered the bracelet on her left wrist. The diamond crested hawk-head matched the one that Alex wore. "No you're not; you're three thousand miles away."
"You sure you are ok? Did something happen? I can be on the next plane…"
"No, don't be silly, Alex. I'm just wallowing in my own self-pity. Wishing I was anywhere but here right now. I mean, what if he asks me what happened?"
"Then you do what you've been trained to do."
"You make it sound so simple."
"It is. Trust your instincts, Kasey. You know I believe you."
"I know." Kasey smiled. "I love you too."
Daniel paced in the foyer of Delia's Deli. Looking down at his watch he realized that she still had fifteen minutes. He felt like an adolescent school boy. After all what did he have to be nervous about? It almost seemed silly now, the effort he'd gone through. He'd gotten a haircut, in an attempt to tame his wild blond curls that he'd allowed to grow a little too long. He'd also bought a new shirt, royal blue, which he hoped was still Kasey's favorite color.
Daniel's head suddenly snapped up, his thoughts interrupted by the opening of the door. His mouth went dry at the vision that entered. He let out a low whistle. "Heaven called. Apparently one of their angels is missing." Dressed in a turquoise sweater, which fashionably slipped slightly off one shoulder, tight black skirt, hitting just above the knee, and spiked leather knee-high boots was his Kasey.
Kasey rolled her eyes. "That line didn't work on me when I was sixteen. You think you would have come up with some new material by now."
"I have," Daniel replied accepting a hug in greeting. He then offered the crook of his arm to her. "Shall we grab a table, ma'am?"
"So formal, but Danny, every time I hear the word 'ma'am,' I keep looking for my mother." Kasey put her arm in his and allowed him to escort her across the room to a booth. She smiled as she settled into the far side.
"Sorry, force of habit," Daniel replied as he slid in across from her. He glanced down at her hands and she crossed them, interlacing her fingers on the table top. The fact that she wasn't wearing a wedding ring was not lost on him. With a smile he asked, "So what's good here?"
"Everything, actually. The Reubens are to die for though."
At first the conversation flowed easily as they exchanged pleasantries, discussing mundane things such as the weather and how the Lakers were doing. They also ordered, but as soon as the drinks were delivered they fell into an uncomfortable silence.
"Kasey, do you mind if I ask you…"
"What happened?" she finished the sentence for him.
"Actually I was going to ask what you do for a living… but that is a much better question."
Kasey sighed and looked down at her hands. After an awkward moment she said, "All I can say is I'm sorry. I was a stupid kid. I shouldn't have left like I did. I… I had family obligations."
"I don't understand."
"I know and I can't really explain. My grandmother passed away. I had to help settle her affairs and deal with… everything. By the time I got back home, you'd already joined the Navy and shipped out."
"I didn't leave until almost six months later."
She looked down into her drink, stirring the ice around with her straw. "It was a complicated time. All I can say is that I am sorry."
"I'm sorry, too. I would have been there for you…if you would have let me."
"You were always a good friend to me, Danny."
He could only nod as the sandwiches were served.