Nelson and Crane sat in the Admiral's office going over the security report regarding O'Brien's disappearance. Despite the high tech security system in place none of the cameras caught a glimpse of the missing crewman after he left his office. They suspected he had come to the Admiral's office because there was a spot on the carpet that had been cleaned with bleach and that would have removed any blood stains, had the officer been attacked. If this had been the spot O'Brien was taken, then it would make sense to ditch the cell phone here and try to frame Ryan.
Crane wasn't entirely convinced the personal assistant was innocent despite Nelson's assurance to the contrary; he felt kind of guilty for assuming the worst about one of his friends but someone had betrayed them.
A soft knock at the door grabbed their attention. Nelson looked up and waved Michelle into the office.
"Sorry to interrupt sir, but I was hoping I could speak to you alone for a moment?" asked Michelle.
"I'll go and get some coffee," offered Lee as he gave his chair to Michelle.
Lee headed down to the cafeteria where he saw Davenport and Jamieson sitting together at a corner table. It was after hours and the Institute was empty except for a few employees. Crane thought it was odd that the two were having coffee together, but decided to join them anyway; not so much for Lyndon's company but for Will's.
"Evening Captain; what brings you down here?" asked the doctor as Lee sat down next to him.
"The Admiral and I are going over the security report regarding O'Brien's disappearance. Michelle came up and wanted to speak with the Admiral privately so I decided to come grab a cup of coffee."
"It's a shame about O'Brien; are there any leads yet?" asked Will.
Lee sighed, "Nothing so far to tell us where he is, if he's still alive or who did this."
"Made any head way on your list of suspects yet? The Admiral did say there was someone on the inside in his last meeting," said Jamie as he took a sip of his coffee.
Davenport snorted before Crane had a chance to answer. "I'd imagine I'm at the top of your list."
"What makes you say that Commander?" snapped Crane.
"Our love for one another is legendary."
Not hiding his sarcastic tone Lee shot back, "I'm sure nothing would give you more pleasure than for me to admit that, but unfortunately as much as I would love all the fingers to point to you, you're not on the top of my list."
Sensing the growing tension between his commanding officers Jamieson tried to direct the conversation away from one another.
Not sure he wanted to hear the answer; Will asked anyways, "who did you suspect."
Not looking the doctor in the eye Crane answered, "Things tend to point to Ryan; it has to be someone that knows very personal details about us, has access to sensitive information, access to the Admiral's files and can move around without raising suspicion."
"True," concurred Jamieson, "but you're forgetting one very important detail. It was Tuesday when O'Brien went missing and a Tuesday when Riley was stabbed, Archer was killed and Ryan and I were attacked."
"What's your point Jamie?"
"Every Tuesday from five o'clock on Ryan is with me; we go for dinner and then to the movies. I assure you, O'Brien was still in his office when I left with Ryan."
"If you want my opinion," Lyndon turned to look directly at Crane, "and I know you don't, I would focus on someone who appears to be innocent. If someone has gone to all this trouble, they're going to take the time to frame some people to hide the true identity of the traitor. If I was going to bet . . ."
"This isn't a game!" snapped Lee.
Ignoring the interruption Lyndon continued, "if I was going to bet I'd say Michelle O'Brien in the science lab with a frying pan."
"Think about it. Planting someone in your inner circle takes time and who's to say you'd ever really trust them; now I'm sure you tell O'Brien all sorts of things which like any husband, he tells his wife. You never directly say anything to her, but she knows more about you than you're probably comfortable with. That's how marriage works. As one of the science administrators she has access to any research occurring and knows when top secret things happen. Even though she's not allowed to see the top secret files, she indirectly does anyways. I mean you can only play dumb for so long about having to process bills for things that when put together build a nuclear device of whatever else you have going on."
"What do you mean?"
"She's always carrying around files, and one day she dropped one. I don't think you write reports in mandarin, which is what she had; 'just taking it to the Admiral'. And written threats, seems kinda out of place considering what everyone else got; and why take O'Brien?"
The wheels in Lee's head started to turn; he'd never thought about that option before. His conversation with Ryan a few weeks ago echoed in his head.
"How drunk are you?"
"On a scale of one to ten, one being manageable and ten being if my boss walks in here I'm probably fired - - about . . . thirteen."
"You're upset; it's understandable."
"At least I know what room I'm in. Poor Michelle O'Brien, when I went to get the personnel files, she was so upset she didn't realize she was in the personnel files room."
The Admiral! Lee jumped out of his seat and ran back up to Nelson's office.
"Did he just take me seriously?" asked Lyndon.
Jamie raised an eyebrow and cocked his head to the side.
"Cause I was just shooting my mouth off again."
"Maybe you should follow him and make sure he doesn't embarrass himself," suggested Will.
Davenport shook his head as he slowly stood up and headed towards the stairs. Jamie chuckled to himself. Nelson couldn't have had two more different people that were somehow very similar, command Seaview. If only those two could see their similarities instead of their differences; but then again the doctor might have a better shot of convincing oil and water to focus on their similarities.
"So what is it you'd like to discuss Michelle," asked Nelson as he placed the report in a file and bent over to file it in his bottom desk drawer; when he sat back up he was looking down the barrel of a sleek handgun. It took several moments for the situation to actually register.
"Michelle, is there something you'd like to tell me?"
Gone was the sweet little secretary, sitting across from the Admiral was an individual with weapons experience. Her voice projected her anger but maintained a smooth flow.
"I tried to be patient, but Alexi is too obsessed with making Crane suffer to get the job done; well I'm not interested in Crane and I'm tired of waiting."
Nelson slowly raised his hands and placed them on top of his desk. He mentally calculated his odds and options; his best chance was if Lee came back from grabbing a coffee, providing him with a distraction to grab the gun. The only thing to do now was stall and remain calm.
"You don't want to do this."
"Yes I do. I've been waiting to do this ever since I accepted the position here. Eighteen months I had to walk around here with a smile on my face, stuck in some fake relationship with one of your men all for this moment; for what you did to my father!"
"Alexi thinks it was all Crane's doing, but I know the truth. It's all your fault, you did it and now I'm going to make you pay!"
"You'll have to refresh my memory dear, who is your father?"
"Michelle!" called Crane as he stood at the door.
"If it isn't our hero come to save the day; you're too late Captain."
Lee flinched when he heard the gunshot. There was a tremendous bang and then the room became deathly silent; an eternity could have passed during the suffocating silence. His pulse raced and a crushing weight grabbed his chest and stole his breath. He stood there powerless as he watched Nelson slump from the chair and topple to the floor.
Michelle turned triumphantly to face the tormented Crane who started to take a step towards his fallen friend; she waved the gun at him and he halted his movement.
Lee saw the gun point in his direction and paused. His first instinct was charge the gun wielding lunatic but the sight of the growing red puddle beneath the Admiral made him reconsider. Not sure if his friend was alive or dead he stared at the lifeless body looking for any kind of sign of life. With all of his being he willed Nelson to give him some sign that he was alive, that there still was a chance of saving his mentor. The slight rise and fall of Nelson's chest caught Lee's eye and a momentary wave of relief washed over him; it was all up to him now. Crane had to wait for the perfect opportunity to take Michelle by surprise. If he didn't gain control of this situation Nelson was surely going to die.
"Alexi seems to have a hard time killing you; well, it doesn't seem that difficult to me," she declared turning the gun towards the Captain.
Michelle's delicate finger slowly tightened on the trigger as Crane's muscles prepared to lunge forward. A second shot rang out and Lee dropped to the floor; out of his peripheral vision he saw Michelle collapse to the floor clutching her shoulder, a stain of red spreading across her shirt.
Lee immediately crawled over to the still body by the desk and turned the Admiral over onto his back. His uniform was stained bright red and Crane placed two fingers on the side of Nelson's neck; a faint pulse was beating underneath the blood covered skin.
The Captain turned towards the door and watched Lyndon enter the office keeping his gun trained on Michelle, who was trying to creep towards her fallen weapon. The exec moved over and grabbed the discarded weapon before she could pick it back up again.
"Give me your tie!" demanded Davenport.
It took Crane a moment to realize he was talking to him and then another moment to process the command. Not stopping to question the demand, Lee removed his tie and handed it to the XO. Lyndon quickly used it to restrain Michelle; once he was sure the traitor wasn't going to get loose, he moved over to Lee and Nelson.
Lee was desperately trying to stop the blood from leaking out of the wound.
"Keep pressure on that; I'm going to go get help," said Davenport as he reached over and grabbed the phone. After calling Med-bay and informing them of the emergency, he then rushed out of the office in search of Jamie, whom he'd left in the cafeteria only minutes ago.
Jamie was the first to arrive on the desperate scene, followed by two corpsmen that brought a gurney and other essential supplies. Following an initial assessment, Jamieson and his corpsmen rushed the Admiral to Med-bay and began prepping him for surgery.
Security came to the office and escorted Michelle down to have her shoulder looked at so she could be transported by local authorities to jail. Crane was torn between staying with Nelson and following his shooter to jail so he could have an opportunity to interrogate her himself. His loyalty to his friend won out in the end and he made his way down to the Institute's medical facilities.
Crane sat on the hard bench in the waiting room; a million plans were swirling in his head. Something in him snapped. This Alexi wanted him consumed in a world of self pity, fear and depression; well no longer. He was done playing by the rules; no more waiting for ONI to get the facts and give permission to act, no more taking the virtuous route. If Alexi wanted to play dirty then so would Crane.
Will entered the waiting room dressed in his scrubs; the look on his face was not promising.
"We're taking the Admiral into surgery now. It doesn't look good Lee, but I'm going to do everything I can. It might be a good idea to get a hold of Edith and bring her here; just in case."
Lee just nodded his understanding; he didn't trust his voice to work at that moment. He watched as Jamie walked back through the doors; the Admiral had to be alright, Alexi couldn't win. Lee began the waiting game. The second Nelson was in recovery he was going to go to New York and pay a visit to Kozlov, without any witnesses. Starting now he was taking the fight to Alexi.
(Story 3 of 5)
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Thank-you to Tracy137 for the amazing beta job!