Disclaimers: GIJoe & COBRA are the property of Marvel, Hasbro, Sunbow, and Devil's Due. I do not own them much to my chagrin. Thanks to Kay, my beta reader, for assisting me with this series. You're fantastic!

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"There they go," Zartan mumbled under his breath, lowering his binoculars.

"Who?" Ian approached the top of the hill where Zartan stood, watching the pub.

"Two of the Joes are leaving," Zartan raised his radio to his mouth. "Buzzer, they're headed south, out of town. Follow them."

Raising his binoculars, Ian watched Shipwreck and 'Flint' load up their gear into the back of an old jeep.

"Move it sailor...I swear if you ain't the sorriest excuse for a ..."

"I'm moving...I'm moving," Shipwreck groaned, climbing into the passenger seat on the left side of the jeep. "You...ah...know how to drive this thing, don't you?" He gulped, watching Beach Head turn the key. The motor wasn't catching. "Let me try..." Shipwreck reached over, grasping the hand on the key.

"I got it," Beach Head growled, pumping the gas. He heard the engine turn over and smirked.

"Hey, I was only tryin' to help," Shipwreck folded his arms behind his head, closing his eyes.

Beach Head swung his arm out, striking him in the chest. "Eyes front, yahoo, you got shotgun on this," he barked.

"All right...all right," Shipwreck groaned, checking the mirrors. He folded his arms, leaning back. "Just like Hawk called it, the 'Noks are tailing us."

*****

"Beach Head and Shipwreck are on their way, with company," Scarlett rushed into the study, warning Duke.

"How many?" Duke paused, looking up from his stack of Intel reports.

"Looks like one...Buzzer," Scarlett approached. "What do you have?"

"Hawk sent Zarana this morning," Flint scowled.

"Zarana? Why?"

"They want Lady Jaye back, don't they?" Duke smirked, watching a frown spread across Scarlett's face. "We're going to let them take her and slip out of here."

"Let them take Zarana! Have you lost your mind? She'll tell them everything."

"Got it under control," he placed a hand on her shoulder, guiding her to the patio window. They looked out at Flint and Lady Jaye walking in the garden. Lady Jaye was leaning into his shoulder. "Flint's taking her out of here as soon as Zarana gets here."

"Can she travel?"

"She's fine, aside from the headaches," Doc entered with his medical reports in hand. "She still needs to take it easy for awhile but I see no reason to keep her here. Hawk wants her returned ASAP."

*****

"You're awfully quiet," Flint guided her to a bench. "What's wrong?"

"I," she closed her eyes, shaking her head slowly. "It's nothing."

"No, it's something. What's wrong?" He pressed, lifting her chin with his hand.

She nodded once more, staring at a planter overflowing with blooms. "Something's not right about...us." She observed a mixture of confusion and fear cross his face for a second. He was about to speak when she placed her fingertips to his lips, silencing him. "I meant the...ah...handfasting. Dash, I would have known if we did. I grew up learning about my heritage, listening to all the traditions. This doesn't add up." She squeezed his hand in hers.

"Allie..."

"No wait, Dash. I would have told you if it was real, you know that?"

"Yeah, but the way your dad said..."

"I said everything appeared to be in order with the papers," Jason entered the garden.

"Daddy," she jumped from her seat, flying into his arms.

"Allie," he hugged her tightly, brushing his hand over the top of her head before setting her back from him. "Let me have a look at you," he smiled, kissing her nose. "You had us worried." He glanced towards Flint, leaning back on the bench. He was scratching the back of his neck.

Following her father's eyes, she spotted Flint shifting uncomfortably.

"Daddy?"

"He's good for you," he wrapped his arm around her shoulder. "Dash and I have a meeting in the library. Can you manage without him for a few?"

"What are you up to?" She scowled.

"Nothing to worry about. Now, I promise I'll bring him back shortly. I'll meet you inside," he looked to Flint, nodding.

"I'll be back," he brushed a kiss over her lips and followed Jason inside, leaving her in the garden.

*****

"This is too easy," Zartan studied the cottage Beach Head and Shipwreck had entered. He and Ian moved along the sides of the building, peering through the windows. "I don't see her," he hissed at Ian. "Buzzer, get up there and check the windows," Zartan ordered, watching the man scale a trellis.

"Beach Head, we got company," Shipwreck heard Buzzer stumble against the ledge.

"We just let them take her as planned," Beach Head smirked, raising his radio to his mouth. "Showtime," he radioed to Duke.

"Stick with the plan," Duke turned to see Jason enter the room with Flint. "Everyone's in place. Duke out."

"Zartan, she's here," Buzzer groaned, clinging to the gutter.

"Get up there," Zartan rolled his eyes, watching Buzzer swing his leg up and over to pull himself up.

"I'll get her myself," Ian scaled the trellis with ease, propping the window open. She was gagged with her hands tied behind her back. "Easy, luv, I've got you," Ian gently lifted her up. Beach Head and Shipwreck listened carefully to their cue. Sending a backhand slap to Shipwreck's shoulder, Beach Head signaled for him to crash the door. Hearing the Joes rushing the door, Ian quickly handed her down to Buzzer.

"Remove the gag," Ian called down.

"No time, we have to move now," Zartan yelled, placing her in the back of a van.

"C'mon, Shipwreck," Beach Head flung his leg over the sash, climbing through the window.

"Aren't we supposed to..."

"Move it," Beach Head snapped, pulling him through after him.

"Better luck next time, Joes," Zartan scoffed.

"C'mon, let's get back to the house," Beach Head smirked. "By the time they figure they have Zarana, we'll be long gone."

*****

"Jason, what brings you here?" Duke frowned, standing from the desk to greet him.

"I just came from a meeting with Destro," he sighed, brushing his fingers through his hair as he walked to the sidebar. Duke and Flint looked at each other; worried Jason had bad news. Reaching for three highball glasses, he poured each a drink, casting an eye to their shocked expressions. "Whenever I finished a mission, I toasted my success, gentlemen."

"Jason?" Flint spoke first, taking the glass from him.

"Destro's letting her go," he grinned with a wink. "Apparently, she's not his heir after all...well, she's not the immediate heir at any rate," he sighed his satisfaction, tipping his class to the others.

"Not his heir?" Flint interrupted again.

"He and I had a rather long chat this afternoon -- after he called Daniel Buchanan to inform him an imposter had taken Ailíse's place in the family. Needless to say, the old curmudgeon was quiet flabbergasted," he chuckled. "When Daniel protested and demanded the real Ailíse for Ian, he informed him that his niece was already married and vacationing with her husband. He couldn't possibly expect a married woman to leave her husband."

Flint and Duke stared at him, unable to speak.

"Destro sent a courier with the papers to Daniel. You should have no problems leaving with her."

"And Destro's just going to let us leave, huh?" Flint scowled, walking towards the window.

"I had one other file for him," Jason passed a copy to Duke as he approached Flint. Placing a hand on his shoulder, he heard Duke gasp. "His name is Alexander...the product of a youthful indiscretion. The old laird knew of him but didn't tell Destro."

"Why?"

"He's a bastard," Jason shrugged. "Destro will still have to claim him but he is the heir."

"Speaking of Destro, where is he?" Duke asked, still reading the file.

"Out in the garden, he wanted to say farewell to Alison..."

"Out in the garden?" Flint lunged towards the door. Feeling Jason's hands grasping for his, he brushed them off.

"He's not going to harm her," Jason growled as Duke dropped the file, racing forward. Both men paused a moment.

"Are you out of your mind?" Flint snapped. "He's had her locked up for months."

"He won't harm her. He just wants to say good-bye and wish her well."

"Yeah, right," Flint pushed passed him, determined to find her in the garden.

*****

"Alison," she turned, hearing her name called.

"What are you doing here?" She backed away from him, searching for an escape.

"I mean you no harm," Destro raised his hands.

"No harm?" She fumed, glaring back at him.

"What I did was for your own well-being. I couldn't risk having COBRA discover you." He carefully approached her, offering his hand.

"So, you just decided to erase my past," she scoffed, refusing his hand.

"I deserve your venom," he nodded, reaching for her elbow. "I ask for 5 minutes of your time. I protected you from the worse of COBRA, didn't I? I would never have allowed harm to come to you."

"But, you would have sold me to the highest bidder, is that it?" she snapped.

"The Buchanan's are a fine family, and Ian does love you." He defended.

"I know that," she looked away, "but..."

"You're handfasted to Flint," he shook his head. "You know my father, your grandfather, would have been proud of you," his voice softened. "You're far too independent for your own good. Perhaps someday we'll be able to meet on more familiar terms. As it is, I will wish you well," he kissed her hand. "I must go." He smiled, walking off.

Lady Jaye sat down on a nearby bench to contemplate all Destro had said.

"ALLIE!" Flint yelled, searching for her.

"Over here," she waved. She smiled, observing a sigh of relief washing over him.

"Where's Destro?" He grabbed her to him, scanning the area.

"He's gone," she sighed, glancing over his shoulder. Destro disappeared at the end of the path.

*****

"DADDY!" Lady Jaye roared, walking from the library with a file in her hand. She found him standing with Flint and Duke.

"Yes, dear, I was just telling Dash that..."

~"Of all the underhanded, scheming, manipulative..." She fumed in Gaelic, dragging her father to the side. "How could you?"~

~"Would you rather be married to Ian?" He saw her hands resting on her hips. "I did it for your own good." He raised his hands defensively. ~

"What's wrong Allie?" Flint frowned, getting between her and her father.

~"Are you going to tell him or should I?" She spat. ~

"Allie?" Flint placed his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him.

"Dash, he had the papers forged." She glared at her father.

"Huh?"

"The papers," she raised the file, placing it into his hands. "My fathers 'associates' -- and I use the term loosely -- forged the papers with the registrar. We were not handfasted or married," she closed her eyes, lowering her head.

"Hey, I lost you once. I'm not going to lose you again," he lifted her chin in his hand. "Your father told me a few hours ago," he smirked.

"He told you?" Her eyes went wide, watching him nod his head. "You're taking this rather well."

"Well, I did tell him the next time he plans to marry you off, he'd BETTER tell me first," he glared over at Jason who was rocking back on his heels with his hands in his pockets.

"Daddy," she growled, turning towards him. She felt Flint's hand grasp her upper arm, gently bringing her around to face him. "Dash?"

"I told you, I lost you once. I'm not losing you again," he growled softly, glaring at the others to leave the room before pulling her into his arms. A slow smirk formed over her lips as she studied him a moment.

"Yes, you did," she traced the tip of her tongue over her bottom lip. Raising his hand to caress her cheek, he lifted her face up to his.

"Jason," Maggie hissed. "Amanda's on the phone for you," she handed the phone to him. "Sorry, luv, I'm bringing them back with me." He closed the door, allowing them privacy. "I'm sorry, dear," he grinned, slowly nodding to her question. "Yes, he did ask me first.... yes, I'll tell you the rest later. He looked back through the door, nodding approvingly.