*Remember to read the AN at the bottom!*
The Traveler 32
Fear. It coursed through my body as the man's hand tightened around my upper arm. I had no idea what was going on and I couldn't very well guess. He led me—the weight of worry and dread heavy on my shoulders—almost pushing me through the crowded terminal. There was no way to escape.
I was at a loss of what to do. Of course, my carnal instincts were right there, ready and waiting to kick in. But there was something else, lying beneath the surface. Something that told me, maybe there was a reason for this man being there.
He didn't have a gun to my back, but I had a sinking suspicion that if I screamed, or cried out, there would be trouble. And although it wasn't obvious to him I was pregnant, I knew, and I wasn't about to take a chance where he could hurt my baby.
So I took a sounder chance, where I stayed quiet and let him take me.
Something at the back of my mind told me this was related to Edward. My heart was breaking and there was nothing I could do about it. I was afraid, if this wasn't about Edward and I let my guard down, I would be in more danger.
My father had taught me self-defense at a young age. He was always concerned about his baby girl and didn't want any man walking all over her. But one look at the gentleman escorting me out of the airport told me I wasn't at all sure if I could handle him and keep my baby safe.
He was huge, and I was, well, not.
Tears were close to falling, but I was trying my best to keep my cool. I knew I had one out left. My purse. As long as they didn't take that, I still might have a way of getting away, if need be.
A sleek black SUV pulled up in front of us. He pushed me closer to the door, before opening it.
"In the car, please," he grunted as I stood there, trying to decide if I should scream or comply with his wishes.
Fear. It was a special emotion. You felt everything and nothing at the same time. It was incredibly potent that way, because your brain could dump adrenalin at an alarming rate into your blood stream. This could allow a small framed woman, in some cases, the ability to overpower a much stronger, much larger man. Then again, said brain was also thinking of the worst possible outcome and crippling your entire body. And it didn't just go and fade. It bloomed and continued to consume every last molecule of your body until you were literally riddled with pain and nerves.
I took a moment to look up into his eyes. Searching them, trying to find the good, or hope that I pleaded would be there.
After closing my eyes and letting out a breath I cautiously got into the back of the vehicle.
I slid across the cool leather, my skin prickled at the unwelcoming feeling. I shivered briefly; I couldn't tell if it was from the chill in the air or my nerves that were so far on edge that I was beginning to lose control of them.
When the door closed a seat swiveled around to reveal a well-dressed gentleman staring at me. His eyes were a cold grey and his hair was jet-black. His suit was neatly pressed and he looked beyond important.
"Ms. Isabella Swan?" he questioned; his voice devoid of emotion.
I gulped; he knew my name that could either be very good or very bad. Either way, though, I knew I had never met him. And as to how he knew me, I was at a loss.
"Yes," I answered, steeling my gaze. I needed to be brave. That was always one thing my father taught me—don't let them see your fear. "And who are you?"
His lips lifted in a partial smile. I watched as he took a deep breath, filling his lungs. I wasn't sure what was about to happen, but I could tell he was deciding on how to proceed. These were things I'd learned from my father and from Emmett. That book had taught me more than he would ever know.
"Well," he said with a chuckle. "My name is Agent Smith. Tom, if you'd like. But it's not really me that you should be concerned about."
"Oh?" I asked.
"Ms. Swan, I take it you are very familiar with Mr. Edward Cullen, or Agent Masen, as we refer to him; yes?" he asked, searching my face for a reaction.
Suddenly my breath caught.
Shit. Edward. No! No! No!
I nodded, not able to find my voice. My throat was as dry as the Sahara Desert and it was getting hard to breathe. I needed to calm down or my baby wasn't going to be okay. That was something I couldn't risk. I needed to be more careful.
"We also understand that Agent Masen has taken the liberty of bringing you up to speed on all of his professional endeavors, correct?"
"Yes," I coughed out.
My skin prickled and I began to prepare myself. This was fight or flight for me. I had a baby to protect. This wasn't just about me anymore, and these assholes weren't going to hurt my baby. I was already a momma bear, and there was nothing they were going to do about it.
"Excellent. Then we are safe to tell you a few things. One being that I work in the same program as Agent Masen."
My head cocked to the side and my eyes narrowed. I was still on edge, ready to fight, but he had definitely caught me off guard.
Were these idiots from the government?
I watched as Agent Smith opened a briefcase and presented me with a slew of documents. The file was thick and I knew I wouldn't have time to read everything.
"In the case of an emergency, we choose to follow the orders or wishes of the lead agent, within reason. In Agent Masen's case, he's requested that you are briefed on the subject matter before we take you to the warehouse. So what we're able to tell you about Agent Masen's latest mission is in there." He indicated the file in my hands.
What the fuck was going on?
Either way, I began to open up the file and look at the first document inside. Some papers were scribbling of information, others were technical documents. All of which meant nothing to me. All I cared about was Edward. I needed to know what was going on with him.
"It's probably better off that I give you a synopsis of what has happened."
I quickly met his eyes and nodded. "Yes, please."
I sure as hell wasn't going to be able to make much sense out of what was lying on my lap.
"Your… Agent Masen was sent on his final mission. He departed out of Los Angeles to Syria. He was to make a sale of software to their government so that we can track their artillery."
Syria? Fucking hell. Why there of all places?
"Shit," I breathed.
I basically knew what Edward did for a living. Selling software, yes that was all very familiar to me. As well as going to other countries to do it. I understood that quite well. But Syria… Why him?
He nodded before continuing. "In addition, Agent Masen was training his replacement, Liam, and just as they had secured the sale, something went awry. We're still not completely certain of all the details, but Agent Masen ended up taking three hot ones."
"Three hot ones?" I questioned quickly.
"Bullets," he answered.
My breath caught. I knew what he had meant. Emmett had used the term in his book. But it didn't stop my heart from bleeding at the terrifying news.
"Ms. Swan, we did everything we could to ensure his safety, you have to know that."
I pursed my lips. "Except for sending him to a war-torn country to peddle your hacking software because you don't have the balls to do it yourself."
"Now, come on, Ms. Swan, please stay calm, and let me continue... Agent Masen—"
"I don't care about the details right now. What I want to know…is Edward all right?"
My breath was shaky and I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. There was no doubt about it. If I lost Edward now…
He grimaced. "Agent Masen has seen better days, but he's been upgraded to critical condition. He just arrived back in the country today."
Rage surged through me, along with relief. Edward was at the very least, critical. I didn't know what was below that, but apparently if he'd been upgraded, it was worse.
"Are you taking me to see him?"
"Of course. We've also arranged for your friends you were meeting at the airport to be picked up by other agents."
My eyes bugged out and I felt awful that I had forgotten about Alice and Jasper. But how in the hell did these fools know about them?
"How?" I questioned.
"Ms. Swan, your phone has been on our radar while you've been seeing Agent Masen. Now, if he chose not to reveal those details to you, that was his decision."
My eyes narrowed, but I left that argument for another time, since I currently had bigger things to worry about.
Edward. Who was currently seriously hurt.
The rest of the ride was fairly quiet. My mind was clouded with questions and worry. I knew I needed to see Edward breathing to rest calmly.
The car rolled up to an airstrip where a single plane sat waiting.
I raised an eyebrow in the direction of Agent Smith.
"We have to catch a plane Ms. Swan. Agent Masen isn't in Texas," he uttered quietly.
I frowned and followed his lead out of the car.
As we walked across the tarmac, the large man that had removed me from the airport joined us.
"This is for you," he grunted as he handed me a folded piece of paper."
I clutched it to my chest as I was guided over to the stairs waiting for us. In a million years, I would have never dreamed that this was what I would've ended up doing today.
Once on the plane, I found my mind spinning yet again. I couldn't bring myself to appreciate the fact that I was on a private plane or how elegant it was. There was no way anything like that could combat against the tightening knot of anxiety that sat in the pit of my stomach.
The flight was quick and before I knew it, we were landing.
"Where are we?" I murmured as everyone began gathering their things.
"Washington, D.C, Ma'am. Agent Masen needed the care and debriefing that only a special facility here could provide," the large man explained.
I still had no idea what his name was, but there were other questions that were far more important which still needed answers.
And as I was led off the plane, I finally felt like I was going to get them.
"It's only a fifteen minute drive from here to the warehouse, but Ms. Swan, you have to understand, that once we're there, we need you to say calm."
I nodded, feeling more anxiety creep up my spine with his words of warning.
The car stopped in front of exactly what I pictured as a warehouse, and I began to wonder just how official these agents were.
But I let them lead me inside, where I was surprised to see a very business-like setting with a receptionist desk, nice waiting room, and other work-related amenities.
"Agent Smith and Collins to see Agent M. We've secured the wishes," Agent Smith recited as he flashed his badge to a grey haired woman, who quickly hit a button and gave them access to the secured hallway.
Two doors swung open and I was sandwiched by the men as we walked the length of it. Agent Smith took us to a bank of elevators, to which he had to scan an ID tag to gain access to it.
Once inside, he hit a series of buttons before it took off.
"Just a few more minutes, Ms. Swan," Agent Smith said, almost comfortingly.
After the elevator stopped we unloaded on to a floor that very much resembled a high end hospital.
Agent Smith's quick feet took us to a secluded room at the end of a corridor. It had to be Edward's because he stopped us, right there.
"Now, Ms. Swan, you remember your promise?" Agent Smith asked.
"Yes, calm, right?"
He nodded, confirming my memory. "He needs to heal and can't do that if you're upset."
I tipped my head, acknowledging his words. I wanted to see him before the hot tears brimming in my eyes decided to flood my face.
Two armed guards stepped aside and allowed us access to the door.
When it swung open my eyes began searching for him. But I was met with what looked like a small apartment. First a kitchenette, then a couch, complete with a large TV, but there, off to the side, was a curtain, pulled back, granting privacy.
"He's behind here?"
"Yes," Agent Smith answered quietly.
My hand hesitated as I reached to draw back the curtain, but I knew I had to steel myself first. He was alive and that was a blessing, everything else I could deal with…I had to.
I closed my eyes, mentally preparing myself as the curtain rolled back smoothly, and when I opened them, I was greeted with the best visual I'd had in a long time. A peacefully, sleeping Edward. His stubbed face looked the same, but the bags under his eyes told me that it had been a rough week.
Sure, there were all sorts of machines hooked up to him. Fluids were being drained into either arm, his heart was bleeping steadily on the machine in the corner, and his blood pressure was being taken intermittently with the automatic cuff on his arm.
But for the most part… He still looked like him. And the facts that his lips were pink and his chest was still rising with air, were probably the best things I'd come across. Relief flooded through me.
"Agent Masen is getting the best care possible at this time and his doctor has high hopes for a full recovery."
I swallowed, closing my eyes again, tears leaking down my cheeks. I'd forgotten some important information. With a deep sigh, I collected my thoughts. "Di-did any of the bullets hit anything vital?"
Agent Smith's face went blank, devoid of emotion before blowing out a breath. "I'll send his doctor up to speak with you, Ms. Swan, but as I'm aware, no. From what I understand, he was shot three times, twice in the leg and once in the shoulder."
My hand frantically went to my chest trying to keep my calm exterior, like I promised. But it was so hard because I knew that a centimeter or even a millimeter difference of a shot could have had a much different outcome.
"He'll be fine," Agent Smith offered quietly. "But I'll go get his doctor for you."
He was gone in a flash and I was left to stare at Edward.
It had been a while since I'd seen him and I just stood there, staring down at him. I didn't know if I was silently pleading for him to wake up or just heal, but there was something always coursing through my brain. Something important I had to tell him, that he needed to make it out of here…alive. For me, for our baby, for all of his family. We all needed him.
One hand slipped down to my belly and I whispered a small prayer, though I had never been religious, I was so desperate for help that I was reaching out to anything that might grant me relief.
And just then as the door opened behind me, I watched as Edward's deep green eyes blinked open. Hope bloomed in my heart and a smile appeared on my lips.
I looked upward and whispered 'thank you', before turning my attention back to him.
What did you think?
This little beauty is up over at The Lemonade Stand, so feel free to vote, if you liked it so far...
Also, just so you know, The Long Road Home was pulled from FFN, they said it violated their TOS, so I've moved it in it's entirety to TWCS. I may re-post here, edited of course. Just incase you are looking for it.