Just something I thought everyone would enjoy…
Set the summer after Cammie turned nine, at Joe Solomon's safe house at the lake.
"Son of a…" Mathew Morgan cursed , swearing quietly under his breath as he tugged on an old fishing pole, glaring at a rogue branch and the hook that was lodged securely in it's jagged bark.
Joe Solomon laughed, ignoring his friend's sharp glance and slapping his knee, eyes twinkling with mirth as their legs dangled off the edge of the pier and over the water. "Well," Joe said, barely able to straighten his face to finish his sentence, "at least you caught something."
"Ha," Matt barked sarcastically, finally able to tug his hook free of the branch, watching it soar through the air for a second before plopping in the water a good foot and half closer to the rickety pier. "You're hilarious," Matt finished, turning to stare at his friend with a blank expression, only to let it break and allow a small smile to cross his face about fifteen seconds later.
They both looked away, eyes finding their way back to the sparkling lake, the last few hours of sunlight glittering like a thousand perfect diamonds across it's smooth surface. A couple of yards away a duck shuffled her brood out of the water and disappeared into the weeds, the cattails barely swaying behind her.
"How's the family?" Joe asked, his voice cutting smoothly through the silence that had easily crept over them.
Matt smiled as he squinted into the sun. "Great. Rachel's still in Guam and Cammie's been at my parent's since the day before yesterday-insisted that she wanted to help my dad build that new fence he's been talking about for the cows," he said, the right corner of his mouth twitching at some slightly distant memory of a little girl with her hands placed firmly on her hips, stubbornly arguing that she had yet to learn how to properly jar the peaches that grew from the tree in her grandmother's back garden.
Joe smiled slightly, trying to imagine the little girl he'd only recently seen in photographs, arguing one of the best operatives he's ever known into submission. "And why did she really want to go?" he asked curiously.
Matt chuckled softly, shaking his head as he watched his bobber subtly rise and drop on the surface of the rippling water. "I think she was sitting behind the couch a couple weeks ago when Rachel and I were talking. Rachel kept insisting that I take a break for a couple days, just go somewhere to relax and not think about everything. I think Cam saw it as the perfect opportunity to let me have that-plus, my dad always lets her swing from the barn's loft on some sketchy old rope and drop into the hay," he added with a slight snort, Joe chuckling along with him.
"I can't decide if she sounds more like you or Rachel," Joe admitted, shaking his head.
"Well maybe if you took a break and visited once in a while," Matt said pointedly; he had seen the circles under his friend's eyes, the slightly haggard look he had worn that had only just began fading with the light of the day's sun. Clearly Matt wasn't the only one who needed a break. "When was the last time you saw Cammie anyway?" he asked thoughtfully, mentally going through any sort of get-together that had happened in reverse order, trying to count down the occasions in his mind. But apparently, he wasn't strolling down memory lane fast enough because it only took Joe a second to recall, "That barbeque at the Dower's about a month after Singapore-you remember that MI6 agent-"
"With the pigeons and the beach ball," they finished together, both laughing as they recalled that particular weekend that no one will ever know happened.
"That was probably the most creative way I've ever seen someone attempt to get the attention of a foreign diplomat's entire security team," Joe said with a grin.
"And it's Singapore, so of course it worked!" Matt added, choking back another snort of laughter. Matt let out a sigh as they both stopped laughing, once again letting the calmness take over. "Cammie was four then," Matt added, glancing back a Joe as they got back on subject.
Joe smiled and nodded his head. "Yeah, still dragging around that old stuffed cat Abby gave her-what did she call it again?" he asked, his eyebrows pulling together. He remembered asking but he couldn't seem to recall the name somehow…
Matt laughed. "She changed that cat's name everyday-said it was better for her cover," Matt said, remembering how amused his colleagues had been whenever it was mentioned.
Joe shook his head, not believing that he had forgotten about that until now. "Uncle Joey?" he had remembered the little girl saying, tugging insistently on his pant leg even though she already had his attention-like she wasn't used to being noticed so quickly by many adults.
"What do you need Cammie?" he'd asked softly, hiding his amusement and even some delight at the way she addressed him as he crouched down on one knee so he was closer to her eye level.
"How come you put a fork in Daddy's coat pocket?" she asked, not accusing in the least, but her eyes burned with curiosity.
He quickly masked his surprise, not having any clue that she, or anyone else for that matter, might have seen him carry out a joke between himself and Matt that had been around since a mission to Hong Kong long before Cammie was even born. In fact, he was quite surprised that he hadn't found any sort of silverware bulging out of his pockets yet. "It's just something funny for your dad to find later," he told her, smiling slightly at the confused look that was still on her face.
After a moment, she shrugged, more to herself than to Joe as she readjusted the graying stuffed cat under her arm, completely disregarding the way she only held onto it around the neck while letting the bottom half drag recklessly through the dirt. Rachel will love that. "Okay," she said, seeming to know she wouldn't find out any more than that-perhaps not really minding either way.
"Promise not to tell him it was me?" he asked with a grin, even though he knew that the second Matt reached into his pocket he would know exactly where that particular item would have come from.
Cammie grinned, bouncing slightly on her toes, clearly excited to be invited in on the secret. "I promise," she vowed instantly, reaching out toward her father's closest friend and offering her pinky to him.
He stared at her hand for a second and then looked back at her smiling face, almost as if he had forgotten that kind of innocence still existed in this world. He grinned, ignoring the multiple pairs of eyes he knew were watching this cute little scene unfold, and reached out to intertwine his closest friend's daughter's pinky securely around his own. "Not a word," he whispered to her seriously, watching as her face shifted to mirror his as she nodded somberly. "Good," he said, the smile returned to his face as he lightly ruffled her hair and stood up, turning in the direction of the food table as he spotted the host of this shindig waving him over.
"Uncle Joey?" he heard again, the familiar tugging on his pant leg causing him to stop and turn around with another grin.
"What do you need, kid?" he asked, leaning over a bit as she craned her neck to look at him.
"When I grow up, can I live with you?" she asked, her eyes bright and excited as Joe let a loud laugh escape his chest.
"Sure," he consented, staring straight over her head and meeting eyes with Matt, who stood with an eyebrow quirked and his arms folded across his chest, in definite hearing range of this second conversation. If an amused grin hadn't been attempting to slip onto his face, he might have looked slightly intimidating; but he could hardly resist his own daughter's quiet charisma.
"Yes!" Cammie cried, absolutely beaming before turning tail and quickly disappearing into the crowd, blending into pant legs and skirt hems seamlessly.
"Yeah," Joe said, smiling slightly as he stared across the lake, shaking his head slightly as if he were shaking off the memory. "Remember that ketchup stain?" he asked, glancing back at Matt who tilted his head back and groaned.
"I thought Rachel was going to kill me for that," Matt said, running a hand through his hair in slight distress as he chuckled, as if he had let Cammie try and squirt her own ketchup for the first time yesterday-and subsequently watched in horror as, seconds later, it had dripped down the front of her new dress.
"Still, even with the stain, she could blend right in," Joe said, shaking his head, remembering even without any hint of knowledge of who her parents were when they left the house, she could vanish into a crowd.
Matt snorted in agreement and turned to look at Joe, that familiar 'proud parent' smile creeping onto his face. "Didn't I tell you about Christmas shopping?" he asked, though he already knew that he hadn't. He hadn't seen Joe in months, and he knew for a fact that the few conversations they'd had in between had absolutely nothing to do with trips to the mall.
"She tailed me," Matt told him, half stunned, half bursting with pride. "She tailed me through the entire mall while I was shopping for her Christmas present-I was even Counter Surveilling a bit. That was right after New Zealand, you know?" he added to Joe, who nodded, looking appropriately impressed as he imagined the girl walking nonchalantly through the bustling Christmas shoppers, not looking even a bit out of place. "I was bread-crumbing and corner-cutting…I didn't see her once," he said, a wistful smile creeping across his face as he remembered that day. "I don't think I've ever been so proud in my life," he said, glancing at Joe with a grin, casting his line after having reeled it in.
"Sounds like in a few years she'll be giving her old man a run for his money," Joe said with a grin, watching as his best friend stared out at the horizon, a smile on his face as he shook his head and chuckled softly.
"Nah," he said easily, glancing at Joe and then back at the water. "She'll be better."
Bit random, but the idea wouldn't get out of my head.
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