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Love That Does Not Die
Closing his eyes at the deep voice that echoed down the hallway toward him, Will shook his head. He wasn't sure what the hell he'd done to offend God today, but the Big Guy was doing his level best to rain down some kind of Armageddon on his head. He was sure of it. Turning, he eyed the former linebacker stomping down the corridor toward him.
"Where the hell did you go this time?"
"I had a meeting. In the building. You know, the secured building where you said I was safe and allowed to move around under my own steam," Will retorted sarcastically, glaring at the bald, black man barreling toward him.
"Where else?" Lonnie Church challenged, lifting his chin. "Don't even try and bullshit me," he dared the older man.
Sighing, Will shrugged. "I went out to lunch."
"Yeah," Lonnie snorted, crossing his arms over his chest. "Got that when I trailed your sorry ass to Sardi's!"
"It required me to be alone, Lonnie. I had a source and he refused to meet with my own personal avenging angel at my shoulder. Sue me."
"I don't wanna sue you; I wanna deck you, man. My job is to guard your body because some psycho wants to put you in the ground."
"Allegedly. Allegedly wants to put me in the ground," Will corrected under his breath. Hell, at this point, he might be willing to lie down voluntarily if it meant he'd get some fucking quiet.
"What the fuck ever man. As a so-called smart guy you do realize that requires to be in my line of sight at all times, right? I mean, I am speaking English and you're not a moron. These are short, complete, coherent sentences that a fucking toddler can understand, right?"
"I'm a newsman, Lonnie. Occasionally, that's going to require me to respect my sources and actually act like I've got some journalistic integrity," Will replied in a bored voice.
"Nah, you're a dick, man. One that's gonna get a cap in his ass if he doesn't learn to follow simple directions. Blue North Security does not pay me enough to put up with this bullshit," the taller man raged.
"Look, I'll pay you double to leave me the fuck alone," Will offered generously, willing to pay any amount if it meant he could find fifteen minutes of peace inside his day.
"You aren't the only one with integrity, asshole," Lonnie retorted, crossing his arms over his wide chest. "Keep playing fuckin' games, and I swear to God, I'll tag you with a GPS locator, McAvoy. Try me," he said, jabbing his finger toward Will's face before turning on his heel to stride back down the hallway. "Pound 5 on your phone before you leave the building, Will. Wait for me or the next time I find you, you go into traction. I won't have any trouble at all locating your ass in a hospital bed," he called out over his shoulder before disappearing around the corner.
"Still making friends and winning fans all over the damn place, I see," an amused voice noted from behind him.
"Fuck off," Will directed stonily, not bothering to turn and face the owner of the voice. He'd heard it enough times over the years to recognize it in his sleep.
"Now is that any way to talk to one of the few real friends you've got left, Billy?" David Rossi asked genially as he clapped his pal on his tense shoulder.
"I've generally decided that friends are a pain in the ass and I'd probably be better off without the ones I have," Will announced grouchily, turning to face a man he'd known for over twenty-five years.
"Present company excluded, I presume," Dave deadpanned, staring at Will's tired face. "Bad day?"
"You have no idea," Will muttered, shaking his head. "Good flight?" he asked, guiding Dave down the hall toward the green room.
"Eh, coulda been worse. I remember when you guys used to spring for first class," Dave complained, shuddering at the thought. "I was wedged between a grandma from Wisconsin and a chatty Canadian. I think I hate you a little for that."
"You'll live," Will grunted, shoving open the door and stepping inside the thankfully deserted room. "Next time, spring for your own ticket."
"Your inordinate gratitude humbles me, Billy. I mean, your people calling me on a moment's notice and summoning me to New York, supposedly on your order?"
"With embassies being stormed around the world, it seemed like a pretty good time to talk about the bad guys in our own backyard. You were the first guy that Charlie and I thought of calling."
"I'm honored," Dave grumbled, privately knowing that Skinner's ulterior motives had a hell of a lot more to do with his presence than any book he'd written. "I was a little surprised by your new staff. I would have thought that might have warranted a casual mention, McAvoy," Dave needled, dropping into one of the easy chairs scattered throughout the room. Nailing his old friend with a look that quelled lesser men in their tracks, Dave bit out, "What the fuck, Will? Are you some kind of glutton for punishment or is this some diabolical plan to pay MacKenzie back for four years ago?"
Leaning his head back against his own chair, Will groaned. "If I asked you to leave this alone, is there a hope in hell you'd do me that one solid? Just for now." Talking about MacKenzie now would be like slicing himself open with a scalpel without the benefit of anesthesia. He knew Rossi would wheedle his answers out of him, but if it could happen over an expensive bottle of scotch, so much the better.
Considering the stress lines bracketing Will's mouth and eyes, Dave relented. "For now. But before I depart back to my bureaucratic wasteland, you and I are gonna have a conversation."
"Fine," Will agreed succinctly.
Nodding, Dave negligently crossed one leg over the other as he studied Will from across the room. "Besides, I'm a little more interested now in why the hell you've been assigned a bodyguard. Since I know you've never been married, I can cross crazy ex-wives off the list. So, who've you pissed off now?"
Yawning, Will smiled smugly. "Hmmm, there's the Tea Party, big business, Leona Lansing and her cronies, and about seventy-five percent of my own staff…and that's just this week. Take your pick. It's really an open game. I'm pretty sure Don Draper is still taking bets in the pool."