A/N Surprise, surprise! I know, believe me. Most of this chapter has been sitting on my computer for over a year. I got stuck and walked away for far too long. But some things happened in my life recently and one night I got the inspiration of how this needed to play out and it just started flowing again. So here it is after 22 months since the last chapter was posted. I truly do hope there are some readers still interested in my ramblings. Sorry Esardi, I know you've been waiting for this as long as I have. But you will never be forgotten, my friend.
Insert standard FanFiction disclaimer here.
The London Eye
"Sarah, we need to find my dad."
Twin Pines Cabin
Stephen Bartowski was sitting at his kitchen table eating a plate of blueberry pancakes. Since he had reconnected with his children six months ago he had finally been able to enjoy them again. Before that they were just a painful reminder of the last words he had said to his children, that he was going to get what he needed to make pancakes. It had been over ten years without eating them. They just seemed to taste as bitter as the memory of that day. But ever since Chuck had found him in that trailer a hundred miles east of Barstow, he had finally been able to enjoy them again and they had become a staple of his mornings.
Chuck finding him had also brought him the joy of walking his daughter down the aisle, a final payback to his personal nemesis, Ted Rourke, and it had allowed him to finish his work on an Intersect removal device that would help keep his son away from the spy life once and for all.
But not everything about that reunion went as planned. He had trusted Bryce to protect the cube and keep it away from the Ring. But when he flashed on the agent who had come to take Bryce to the upload facility and his son went chasing after the woman he told him he loved, he gave Chuck his wrist computer to help him rescue his one-time roommate. But after Chuck didn't return to the reception he knew something had happened. So he said his goodbyes to his daughter and new son-in-law and headed back to his trailer.
The entire ride back he wondered what had happened. But knowing the man his son had become he had a pretty good idea. Once he arrived there he hitched up the trailer onto his jeep and headed to his beloved cabin at Twin Pines. There he had the resources and the tools he needed to find out what he hoped wasn't the case. Had something happened to Bryce and his son done the unthinkable and re-uploaded himself with a new and far more powerful version of the curse he had created? Had his son doomed himself to a life of lies, danger and deceit that he had worked so hard to keep him from? Had all of his work on the removal program been for naught? Had Bryce failed to protect him? Had he himself done the cowardly thing once again and ran when he knew his son was in danger at the hands of the Ring? Had his love for Sarah blinded him to the horror of that life so much that he willingly stepped back into the breach once again? And if he had, would this new version 2.0 of the Intersect change Chuck in such a way that he would no longer be the same honorable and loving man he had become? The government had modified the Intersect from his original designs to add skills to a trained agent like Larkin who was adept at controlling his emotions. But Chuck was neither a trained agent nor adept at controlling his emotions. For Chuck his emotions drove his very existence. They made him who he was, a kind, selfless, loving and honorable man. Would his son now become the super agent the government had always wanted? That thought terrified him as he raised the wall section of the cabin to reveal his most advanced server. One thing he knew for certain was that the removal device he had invented and used on Chuck at the abandoned drive in was now useless. The 2.0 was built on different architecture and now he was back to square one. Without a great deal more information, the best he could possibly develop without much more information on the 2.0 was a suppression device and not a removal device. A device that once shown to Chuck or another Intersect host would simply suppress or put the Intersect in sleep mode instead of removing the database and the program itself. It was really just a visual virus if you will that "locked up" the Intersect.
Within minutes he knew that what he had tried to protect his little boy from for all of his life, the noble man he had become had walked right into of his own free will. He saw the secret coded message that Bryce was dead, the Intersect had been activated and then the cube was destroyed. His final proof came when he accessed the wrist computer his son was wearing and saw the telltale heightened beta and gamma brainwave signature of an Intersected host. Bryce was dead and Chuck had re-intersected himself. He had trusted Bryce and good intentions or not it seemed like Bryce Larkin had once again altered Chuck's future irrevocably.
Over the next few months Stephen followed his son's progress. He had learned of what Chuck with his friend Butch Landers had done while he was at the training facility in Switzerland quite by accident. While doing a search of CIA archives regarding Ring activities in the area near where Chuck was training, he found a file codenamed Laser Landers. It seems the military through most likely NSA channels had learned about Chuck's idea of bouncing laser signals off the reflectors left on the moon by the Apollo astronauts and was now developing the technology to use laser reflectors in geo-synchronous orbits around the globe as precise unhackable communications tools. Lasers had become so precise that once the reflectors were positioned properly the messages could only be received by those within a 10 meter area on the ground. At first he thought it was simply about some new technology used to land aircraft in uncharted areas or in bad weather. But it was located not in an aviation sector like he would have expected. It was in an area he knew held some secret documents related to the Intersect project. After he opened the file he had to admit he was proud of what his son had done. It was ingenious and showed that maybe his son was meant for this life after all.
Getting up from his table, he put the dishes in the sink and went to log in to a forum site for old Commodore 64 computers like he did every morning. The 64 had been the first computer he had given his son when he was a little boy. He and Chuck had spent hours playing games, writing programs, and exposing his son to what had become such a big part of his life. Sure Stephen had a number of far more sophisticated computers in his work room, a room neither Chuck nor Ellie were allowed in, especially after Stephen had found out that Chuck had downloaded a dataless beta version of the Intersect loader program he was working on. After the disaster of what happened to his friend Hartley he had spent years trying to fix the bug that caused his friend and partner to become what he became and had finally realized it was the loader kernal. The version Chuck saw fortunately proved to be the final fix.
Chuck and his dad had found a common ground around the 64. It was something they shared and when Chuck had asked for a way to contact his dad again at the rehearsal dinner, he suggested they post messages to each other on a 64 forum site. So each morning Stephen Bartowski logged on and looked for a comment by Dimwit Flathead Lover in the Zork thread. The name Dimwit Flathead from the game had always made 5 year old Chuck laugh. Zork had been one of their favorite games to play together and the irony of the games place in Chuck's life years later seemed appropriate as a place to communicate anonymously. So Stephen logged in expecting there to be just the same few posters talking about which version was better, I, II or III.
But this day was different. In the thread was a message from Dimwit Flathead Lover. It was a string of characters written without spaces. Almost like someone had been randomly flexing their hands on the keyboard. It looked like jibberish to anyone but Stephen. He didn't even have to run it through the pre-determined code Chuck was using. Stephen knew what it said. His son needed his help.
"Damn that glue that holds the beard on is itchy." Chuck said scratching his now reddened skin under his chin.
"I told you not to just rip it off before your shower. Serves you right for not listening to me... again." Sarah replied with what little sympathy she felt for her lover's plight well hidden.
"I know, I know. I should have used peroxide and then baby shampoo instead of just plain soap and brute force. But Casey..."
"Come on Chuck, are you really that clueless? You remember the Tango incident? Besides, who are you going to trust when it comes to makeup and disguises, me or Mr. Subtle as a hand grenade?"
Sarah just gave him the look that told him his best course of action was to "always do what Sarah tells me" without question. A look she had perfected even more once Chuck and Sarah had become more than asset and handler. Then he risked just feeling her wrath when he disobeyed her, now he risked waking up on the couch instead of next to his own, personal, Vicky Vale.
Resigned to defeat, Chuck just nodded.
"Thought so." She said with a smirk.
Chuck took the towel and wiped off the excess Gold Bond lotion he had picked up on the way back from today's surveillance at the convention. It helped a little but seeing the look of triumph on his girlfriend's face took any of that relief away.
Today had been pretty much a bust without any real flashes that would lead them to anything that helped them understand what the Director's targets were or his objectives. It had simply been a parade of low level crooks and politicians. In fact, at many points Chuck couldn't decide which category they fit in. More often than not, it was both.
They had used the implant once more however to find out that Andrea already had plans to see Hutcheson again tonight. She had asked him to show her some of the sights of London and he had suggested the London Eye at dusk. It was a great place to view his beloved city and she could hopefully have some privacy with him away from the prying eyes of her Ring escorts. Having been the company that designed the security for the giant Ferris Wheel, he arranged for a private capsule just for the two of them.
The only other thing of note that happened at the convention today was that he had received an encoded text from his father. Stephen Bartowski had gotten his son's message and set up a link for a secure video conference at 8:30 London time.
After a few minutes a knock came on the door. Chuck had already hacked into the hotel's surveillance on this floor and the elevators and looped the cameras so when their two guests arrived there would be no record of it.
Pulling a t-shirt over his head Chuck said, "That must be Casey and Cole." He carefully stood to the side of the door as Sarah had taught him and looked through the eyepiece. Nodding to Sarah, she quickly put her gun away back in the waistband of her sweats.
Opening the door, the two men entered. Cole, his usual confident self, but Casey came in with a bit of a smirk. His "Gotcha" grunt came as soon as he saw the redness on Chuck's neck.
"Fine Casey, you got me. Can we just move on?"
Cole looked at Sarah in confusion. He nodded at her "you don't want to know" expression.
In triumph Casey almost pranced, but you would never hear anyone actually say Casey pranced, over to the table where Chuck had set up the laptop. Chuck and Sarah took the chairs while Cole stood behind them. Within a few seconds the same old school computer style text Chuck had first seen when contacted by the mysterious Orion appeared. It flashed "1 or 11?"
Cole looked over to Casey wondering if Chuck had hacked into. What did that have to do with the Ring and nuclear materials?
Casey just shook his head and mumbled "Geek speak"
"Casey!" Sarah said with a rather terrifying look at her partner.
Chuck ignored what was going behind them and just proceeded to enter the appropriate response. "Aces, Charles"
After he pressed enter, the screen dissolved into an almost Matrix like code before the image of Stephen J. Bartowski appeared on the screen.
"Charles, I didn't expect to hear from you under these circumstances ever again. I spent a great..."
"Look, Dad. I know. But this time it was MY choice, MINE. Not yours and not Bryce Larkin's. So can we please have this discussion later? We really need your help."
"Son, ok. But just so you know this new version of..." Noticing Cole standing behind Chuck, Stephen stopped before he said too much.
"Why is MI6 there? What's this about? Though I guess..." Stephen then entered a couple of keystrokes and... "well seeing you're in London this is more than just a domestic problem."
Chuck glanced back at Cole and then back to the screen.
"Dad, this is Agent Barker, though I assume you already know that. Sarah, Casey and I have worked with him before. He's the only MI6 agent fully read in to my "special" abilities."
Stephen looked skeptical and this time Sarah spoke. "Mr. Bartowski. Agent Barker understands the unique nature of this team and has proven his trustworthiness with regards to your son under great danger to himself."
"Fine. Agent Walker I'll trust your judgment in this case. I know how important Charles safety is to you. But again please, call me Stephen."
"Thank you M... ah Stephen. Chuck's safety is the most important thing in the world to me." She said as she turned to Chuck and smiled. Casey just rolled his eyes.
"And call me Sarah."
"Ok, Sarah. You are all involved in very dangerous business but my son's a very lucky man to have you."
"That I am."
"Ok, son what do you need?"
"Dad, how much do you know about the Ring?"
"Well, I know they were involved in funding Fulcrum. But from the chatter I've seen they are far more international in scope. They have operatives inside every government from Washington to London, to Tehran, to Pyongyang. The CIA has been after their leadership for the last few years without much success. But based on the incompetent agent they put in charge of the investigation I can see why."
"Daniel Shaw." Chuck replied unable to fully keep the contempt out of his voice.
"You know him?"
"Yea, he was assigned to work with us. Turns out he was a double."
"Hmmm, I'm not surprised. It explains a lot actually. He in custody?"
"No, he's dead. Killed by his mother in law."
"Damn. I'm glad I never crossed Mary's mom."
Chuck eye's opened wide for a split second. Not only had his dad made a joke but it was the first time he mentioned his mom in a very long time. Filing that away for later he decided to bring the conversation back to the threat at hand.
"Dad, we know that the Ring has obtained some nuclear material and we believe they have brought it here to London."
"Son, you know I can't leave the country easily."
"I realize that. But we don't need you here, we need you in LA."
Sarah took a step forward and took over. "Stephen, another team we are working with discovered that there were two shipments of nuclear material out of Costa Gravis. The second was last seen arriving at the Port of Long Beach three days ago."
"So you want me to help them? Why can't the NSA and AEC take care of that? I'm not so sure..."
"Dad, one of the members of that team has been working with us for a while. She's Sarah's best friend. We trust her with our lives." Sarah nodded. Casey wanted to roll his eyes at such high praise for the red headed cyclone. But he couldn't deny that among all the things that Carina Miller was, being a great agent was at the top of her list.
"Ok, do you have any idea what the Ring plans to do with this material? I assume a bomb."
"Actually that's why we need your help. We don't think they plan to build just one large bomb but separate it into as many as 20 smaller bombs. Rather than just blow up one or two cities they could threaten large population centers all over the globe. Extend their reach so to speak."
"Makes sense. If the Japanese had known we only had enough fissionable material for the two bombs, they might not have surrendered so easily. This way the Ring can create panic and reap global terror for years to come."
"Dad, we need you to find where the Ring took that material. General Beckman.."
"Dad, I know you don't want anything to do with the Government, especially the big wigs in Washington. But..."
"Chuck you don't understand what they have done to our family. I can't get involved again. You made your choice to go back. I won't..."
"But Dad, Ellie's in Los Angeles. I need you to protect her."
Stephen Bartowski took a deep breath. Chuck had hit his weak point. No matter how much he distrusted the government and especially the diminutive NSA Director, Ellie was within the possible blast range of a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb. He would have to put aside his anger and paranoia and do what any good father would do, protect his daughter.
"Son, if we do this we are going to have to be smart. Keep the emotions out of it. First tell me what you know about the London op. Chances are they are planning something coordinated."
"Dad, what do you know about David Hutcheson?"
5:34 pm BST
The third day of the conference had been much the same for Andrea. She had talked with a number of different companies, saw many a boring presentation on data security in the financial arena of large scale transportation conglomerates. She had also had far too many pairs of eyes focused on her cleavage for her liking. In her younger days as an agent and even during her time at the Farm her natural endowments were two of her greatest assets, no pun intended. But somehow that part of the business that she had never let herself think too much about for many years was now something that made her a little uncomfortable. Or at least more uncomfortable than she had ever remembered feeling about it. Maybe it was because she found herself in a no win situation between her work for both the CIA and the Ring on this assignment. No matter how she played it she was likely to lose and if she was honest with herself, likely never to leave London alive.
Maybe it was seeing that bastard Shaw again that brought back all of those memories from her time in Thailand. Where she was nothing more than a piece of meat to either fight, fuck or kill whomever was placed in front of her. Though shooting the asshole's balls off was satisfying even if he was already dead at the time, it also made her remember things she'd much rather forget. Then, when she was abandoned by her own agency to not "create an international incident" as her Ring rescuer had told her they had claimed, she fell into just another group of lecherous men who used her for their own devices or amusement. Only the conditions of that imprisonment were different. Luxury hotels instead of decrepit jungle shacks.
As she walked around the conference with every set of eyes that focused on anything but her face, she felt the revulsion of all those many hands that had pawed at her flesh during her time as an agent. It had made her come to the conclusion that there were no good guys in this world. There was no knight in shining armor that was going to rescue her from the life she had known. A life of killing, torture, pain and sex for anything else but love.
Love, what a concept. She chuckled internally at the thought. How could anyone who lives in her world believe that such a thing existed. That people were kind to each other and not out for their own personal benefit or gain. That folks didn't enjoy inflicting their will or their sadistic perversions on others. That people but especially men were actually good people at heart. People who cared about others and even loved someone above all else. Men like her beloved grandfather that sacrificed themselves because it was the right thing to do and would do it again without hesitation even knowing the outcome.
Thoughts like these had never entered her mind before. She just accepted her reality from the day she was mysteriously kicked out of her last foster home at 17. The day she was recruited by one Langston Graham.
But something changed a few months ago. Somehow a long forgotten voice inside her, maybe her grandfather's or maybe just the little girl she once knew had been awakened. Awakened in such a way she allowed herself to let go even if for just a few moments. Let herself feel like a real woman, dream of a better life, dream of someone being kind to her without an agenda. As she sat at a small table sipping on her afternoon tea while she waited for her "mark" she knew when that awakening began. Or more accurately, who had awakened her.
That evening back in Zuoz that she spent with her charge, the human Intersect, had been the best night of her life. How fucking pathetic was that? Even though she realized later that it was, like every other guy she had dated, in part at least an act for him, somehow she believed or wanted to believe that he was sincere. He knew she was his enemy and there to report on him and ultimately hand him over to the Ring, but he still treated her like a woman he genuinely liked. He had gone beyond what was necessary to complete his mission. He treated her like a woman who he wanted to spend time with even if it was just to have a little fun while on a mission.
Somehow Charles Carmichael had cut through or simply walked past the walls she had set up many years ago and found the woman inside. So when he and Agent Walker approached her with the chance to maybe redeem herself a little before she is either burned by the CIA with a mysterious accident in her cell or killed in prison by some Ring planted guard, he had shown he was different and that little voice he had awakened answered first. Maybe now when she saw her grandfather again he wouldn't be ashamed of what she had become. Maybe she could somehow honor his memory with her last dying breath.
Andrea shook her head a bit to bring herself back to where she found herself. She reached for her now tepid cup of tea and thought about the other Agent she had spoken with that day.
As she said the name in her head she couldn't have imagined that on her final mission she would be working with someone she had taught so many recruits about at the Farm. Someone who held records that had stood for five years. The perfect recruit, the perfect spy. Graham's Wild Card Enforcer. Incredibly beautiful and incredibly deadly. A spy many idolized and many aspired to become. A spy who though she didn't know her real story had likely had a similar first meeting with their common mentor. It somehow fit the woman she saw across from her. That same man standing, waiting for her as she was dealt a cruel hand she didn't know how to play. But in the brief time in her presence she had seen something she had never expected. Something that connected her with the beautiful blond on a totally different level.
Andrea didn't know how she knew but she was positive. The woman inside Sarah Walker had been awoken by Charles Carmichael as well. That very unique man had touched something inside of her and had changed her from the image and reputation that had been talked about by so many over the years at the Farm. The Ice Queen, the by the book, the hardened, no nonsense perfect agent had seemed warm. A word that no one would have ever previously tied to Sarah Walker.
But it was real. And what seemed really difficult to believe was that she was now even a better agent because of it. That whatever part of her soul Carmichael had touched, it had simply made her even better than her reputation. She was the best agent the CIA had and she seemed happy of all things. It was something she never would have imagined could happen and contrary to what they had all been taught and she had continued to teach recruits right up until Carmichael came to the training facility in that small Swiss village.
Maybe there were good men out there after all.
As Andrea had gotten lost in her thoughts again, she hadn't noticed the tall, handsome, British business man she was scheduled to meet.
The ride from the Olympia to the London Eye had taken a bit longer than had been expected but London traffic during rush hour was like any large metropolitan city, terrible. For much of the ride Andrea had seemed a bit pre-occupied and Hutcheson being the observant, gracious host had asked her if everything was ok or did she care to reschedule for another evening.
"Elise, are you feeling ok, my dear? You seem to have something or somewhere else on your mind. If you would like we can drop you off at your hotel."
David's idea of ending the evening early shook Andrea from her distracted state and she vowed to herself to get back on mission. She had a job to do and she needed to focus. Shortly after they had pulled out of the car park at the Olympia, she had noticed the tandem cars following them. Her Ring escorts were never far away and she was growing weary of all of this. If she had thought being a spy constantly on guard was tiring, it was nothing compared to being a double agent. Fortunately, Carmichael was more into the high tech modes of surveillance and when she looked behind her she didn't see a couple of central casting goons following her like the Director had assigned. Oh she knew that Barker was probably close by but the MI6 agent was far more discrete in his over watch. Besides David knew him and had working with him so if he was seen nearby it wouldn't have been a surprise even if he didn't know of Cole's other professional affiliation.
Andrea reached over and placed her hand on her escort's knee. "I'm sorry, David. No, absolutely not. I just got a call from my office before you met me at the Olympia and there was an incident on the BART back home that I was thinking about. I apologize. I very much want to enjoy our evening." She put on her best smile and gave the Brit a small peck on the cheek.
"Is there anything I can do to help? We have an office right near Union Square and I could give them a call if you like."
"No David, that's sweet but it's been handled. I was just thinking about what possible assets and technologies I've seen this week that could help prevent things like this in the future, that's all."
"Well if you need anything please don't hesitate to ask. We have a growing presence in the Bay Area and it is at your disposal."
7:19 pm BST
"David this is amazing! How did you…."
"Not a problem. This capsule was just reinstalled today after it was refurbed in Essex for the last three months. Actually we are the first to ride in it."
Andrea had noticed that her Ring "bodyguards" were none too happy about being two capsules away with a crowd of about twenty tourists all jockeying for space against the glass walls facing the river.
"But how come it's just the two of us? There was a rather large line waiting for rides. I don't feel right being in her alone."
"That's ok Elise. Our firm manages the security of the Eye and this capsule isn't officially online till it completes some testing over the next day or so. 'Officially' this capsule is empty."
"Ahhh, thank you. I can't believe you did this for me. The view is amazing." Andrea stepped back and rested her shoulder against David's chest. The warmth she felt was intoxicating.
David leaned in and pressed his lips gently against her left ear. A chill raced down her spine. "Well I wanted you to see the London I love without any distractions, Andrea."
The chill she had felt suddenly turned icy cold as if someone had poured liquid nitrogen down her back. Her body became ridged in place. He knew. David knew her secret.
"It's ok Agent Saunders. Don't react. This capsule is sound proof and has a jammer installed so we are completely safe to talk. Just enjoy the view and act like you are fulfilling your mission. The Ring agents that were following us won't be able to see or hear anything that goes on in here as long as you cooperate. Can you do that Andrea?"
Andrea knew he had to comply. Of course a man like David Hutcheson wouldn't have fallen for a Honeypot scam. He was too smart and too connected to not have seen it a mile away. He had played her just as much as she had played him. In fact, he was better at it than her. She was falling for him, not the other way around. She knew she couldn't fight him even if she could beat him. She was in a locked capsule, with no chance of escape and she was certain that as soon as she got to the bottom they would be waiting for her. She just didn't know who would kill her, the CIA, MI-6 or the Ring. It really didn't matter she had about three quarters of a ride around a 300' tall Ferris wheel left to her life and she was not going to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing her break.
So Andrea did something completely unexpected, she turned around slowly and pulled Hutcheson into a searing kiss. One that would make any healthy man's topes curl. After the wheel had rotated another thirty degrees or so she broke the kiss and stared into a rather stunned David's eyes and smiled, like the weight of the world have been lifted off her shoulders finally.
"Wow!" was all Hutcheson could muster.
Andrea chuckled before she replied." I've been wanting to do that since the first moment I saw you and I didn't think I'd get another chance."
"That wasn't the reaction I was expecting."
"How did you know? Since the beginning?"
"Yes. Who do you think handles the security on the rail line from San Moritz to Zuoz. The CIA hired us a long time ago to monitor anything coming in and out of their base in that beautiful village. We also handle the cameras at the airport they flew you back to the states from."
"But why did you…"
"Why did I let it go on like this? Simple really. I need to know what the Ring Director is doing in London and why they are so interested in this conference. I figured I could get you to help me figure that out. Besides, I've read your history. I know what you've been through and what led you to this point. You're in a no-win situation and I thought I could maybe help you find a way out."
"But why me? You know I'm a double agent, how do you know where my real loyalties are and if you can trust me?"
David tilted his head down and took a deep breath before he looked back into Andrea's eyes as he spoke. "Because I saw something in you. I knew the Ring had you playing the honey pot but there was just something about you. I mean, I get it. The grieving, lonely widower who hasn't kissed a woman in the years since his wife died. Who hasn't even thought about another woman ever entering his life. How could I ever resist an amazingly beautiful woman like you who showed interest in me. But as soon as I spoke with you I knew you were too good for that role but that was all you were ever allowed to be. The CIA part took a little longer but once I did some research on you I knew they were just using you because you had no other options and they love to take advantage of people who don't have a choice. But for some reason it was clear to me that wasn't who you were. For the first time since my wife died I felt something. I wasn't just obsessed with work and I felt like a man, a real live man again. I know this is crazy, but I like you Andrea and I think maybe we can help each other and who knows maybe after this is all over we could get to know each other a little better."
That was it. David had said the magic words. Andrea pulled him down and kissed him tenderly this time. It wasn't the kiss of passion like before, but the kiss of hope. The kiss that said she trusted him and that he could trust her.
"Thank you, David. It's been a very long time since someone said something like that to me and actually meant it. But I just can't see a way out for me. I fully expect when this ride is over that a bullet will be waiting for me. The Director will not be happy with me spending so much time out of the watchful eyes of my "bodyguards". Andrea and David both chuckled at that description. And the CIA, well I'm still their prisoner."
"Well how about we give the Director what he wants?"
"What? No David, I won't let you do that. I'm not worth it. Besides if I give the Ring what it wants then the CIA puts the bullet in my head instead. In fact, they kind of already have."
"They gave you the new implant?"
"How did you…." David just smiled softly.
"Wow, remind me to never underestimate you again."
"Look Andrea, I have a pretty good idea what the Director wants and how he expected you to get it. So why not let him think that you are completing your mission. Come back to my townhouse tonight. Nothing has to happen, you can stay in the guest room but the Director will never know that as the inside of my home is more secure than the Crown Jewel room at the Tower of London."
"But what about the Americans?"
"Let me worry about them too. I'll get a message to Agent Barker, and yes I know he is MI-6, I've worked with him before and I trust him. Thinks he's a bit too much of a James Bond type, especially where the ladies are concerned, but he's a good man."
"Ok, I'd like that but what happens tomorrow?"
"I'll have you taken back to your hotel, you call the Director and say I've invited you to spend the weekend with me and you will drug me and get what he wants then."
David looked into her eyes and even though he saw a sparkle that he hadn't seen before, he also knew she was questioning everything. She had spent too many years on both sides of the coin to trust a plan so easily.
She looked away from him and turned to watch the view of Big Ben as the capsule was headed back down to the ground once more. The Brit stood once again with her back in his chest. David gently put his arms around her waist and she leaned once more into his embrace.
"It's ok Andrea, I understand this is a lot to take in. But I promise I'll protect you."
The brunette smiled and her heart skipped a beat at the sincerity of his voice. But she knew better. As long as she was involved in this mission no one could truly protect her. Being an agent is dangerous, but being a double agent is the most dangerous of all. And even if they were successful that didn't even mildly account for the years she would have to stay in CIA bunker/prison waiting for the implant to either shut down on itself or be activated somehow. Either way she would be in terrible danger. Nor did it account for what the Ring would do while she was underground. No one was truly safe if an organization like the Ring wanted you dead no matter where you were being held.
"That's a lovely thought David even if both of us know it's a promise you can't keep."
This time it was he that turned her back away from the glorious view and held her gaze once more. "I know your years of training and experience tell you that's true but I'm asking you to trust me. I will protect you and we will end this mission successfully. After that we will deal with what comes next, I promise."
This time it was David that initiated the kiss, it was strong, powerful, and full of the commitment he had made to her.
Their lips parted when they heard the doors to their capsule opening signaling the end of their ride. The couple smiled to each other and headed back towards David's Land Rover where his driver was waiting. As he opened the door of the vehicle, David felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Pulling it out he looked at the display and turned back to help Andrea into the car.
"If you'll excuse me just one minute my dear. I have to take this."
She nodded and as she slid into the back seat she noticed that the two Ring Agents had left their capsule looking none too happy and were headed towards their vehicle as well. She was certain the other two agents were waiting to take over the surveillance as soon as they got onto the Westminster Bridge.
David quickly stepped over towards the fence by the river. He wanted to face away from any prying eyes or ears. Typing in a special code he had learned long ago, he waited for the three distinctive beeps before he spoke.
"Well hello Stephen, it's been a long time."