Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Are you in position?" Jake asked through the transmitter.

"Yeah. The second night in this lab waiting on him. Nick had better show tonight."

"Don't get too cranky. They want him in one piece."

"Very funny," Tamsin whispered back dryly.

Tamsin had taken up position in the lab while Jake was in a closet outside in the hall watching a little LCD monitor with a split screen showing the entire hall and both entrances. The logical assumption was that Crossfield would come through the door but there was an air duct in the lab he could use. They were covering as much as two people could. Tamsin sat under a desk waiting for the second night in a row for Nick to show up. She wanted to get the initial meeting over with, anxiously wondering how it would go. He couldn't be expected to surrender, but she didn't know if he would actually hurt her to escape either. If the consequences were bad enough, Tamsin figured she could battle Jake, but was doubtful she could inflict much damage. She - her thoughts were interrupted by a new sound in the lab, the sound of the duct plate coming off the wall. Tamsin waited until she heard both feet hit the floor. Then she crawled out from under the desk, hoping there would be enough light from the adjacent control room to see the perpetrator. Swiftly she got into position and ordered, "Hands in the air where I can see them!"

The intruder began to assume the position, but Tamsin saw the slight shift of weight and was ready when he spun around and fired a gun in her direction. She ducked and noted the gun bore a silencer. She peeked out and tried to locate him, forcing herself to listen for any movement, even his breathing. She picked up a faint rustling to her left, but the noise didn't seem loud enough to come from a man. Knowing the layout of the lab, Tamsin slowly circled around so she'd have access to the secured lab that housed the nuclear material. Seeing a movement in the shadows heading in the same direction assured her she had chosen right. Cover the only way in and he'll come to you, she thought.

Readying herself, Tamsin stood again. "That's far enough." With her gun trained on him, Tamsin was still unprepared for it - that first sight of her first mentor. The updated pictures of Nick Crossfield in the dossier didn't do him justice. He was still a ruggedly handsome man. And the pictures missed the cagey intelligence emanating from his dark, piercing eyes. She took a deep breath. "Drop the gun and kick it over here."

"They sent you after me? The agency's learning some new tricks."

"You gave them reason to. And you still haven't dropped the gun."

"I don't suppose you'd be interested in my side of things." Nick said conversationally, as if it was just any other day.

"On the contrary. I'm more than interested. And as soon as I get you back to headquarters, you can tell me all about it." Tamsin tried to steady herself, hoping Nick didn't see how nervous she was. It was one thing to know the mission parameters, but another thing to actually be there holding Nick at gunpoint.

"You know I can't let that happen."

"And you know I have my orders."

Nick's eyes glanced around the room quickly and landed back onto Tamsin. "I'm sorry Tamsin. I have to finish this. I'll try not to kill you in the process."

Nick made a motion with his gun hand, distracting Tamsin long enough to whip out the little flashlight device. He closed his eyes and clicked the device, emitting a blinding pulse which disoriented Tamsin. He lunged toward her, taking her down to the ground. Although she tried to fight back, Nick was able to wrench the gun from her hand and pulled the earpiece from her head.

"Why?" She demanded, still seeing spots. "Why did you have to do this?"

Nick rolled her over and handcuffed her hands behind her back."Forest for the trees, Tamsin."

"They're going to hang you by those trees. There's always another way."

"Do you honestly think I can just walk in and say, ‘Hello loyal members of the Crimson Sun. Give me you leader' and everything will be fine?"

"Crimson Su-?"

Nick pulled her up and sat her against the wall. Then he sat a device about three feet in front of her and started pushing buttons and flipping switches. "I hope you have a good team with you. I doubt you'll be able to get out of those handcuffs and disarm this in the 10 minutes I'm giving you."

"Ten minutes? Your setting a bomb? Are you insane? There's nuclear material in here!"

Nick chuckled softly. "Then you'll be a little too busy to follow me, won't you."

Nick left her and gained access to the storage facility. A few minutes later he returned to see Tamsin still sitting in the same spot, watching the clock count down.

"You're in the big leagues now Tamsin. You're going to have to step up to the plate."

"If you want to make the game more sporting, leave by the door, not the air duct. I'm a team of two. Only two."

Nick paused and studied her for a moment. Could they really only have sent Tamsin and her partner on this operation? Tamsin always played by the book, so ordinarily she wouldn't disclose the size of her team, but the way she kept staring at the bomb, Nick had to wonder if fear wasn't dictating her moves now. That thought plucked at something deep in his gut. Usually, he could divorce himself from his feelings easily, but there had always been something about Tamsin Garrett that brought out the humanity in him. It was a smart move for the agency, sending Tamsin after him. He couldn't treat her the way he would any other adversary. He would have to change his own tactics for the next time they met.

"Fine. Good luck Tamsin." Nick barged out the door and headed down the hall. Jake had lost contact with Tamsin early on but that didn't worry him. The fact that she wasn't following Crossfield did. Jake left his post and entered the lab, gun drawn. He found Tamsin dissecting a device that looked suspiciously like a bomb.

"What the hell happened?" Jake asked moving to join her on the floor.

"What does it look like? Help me defuse this."

Jake and Tamsin worked in silence until the timer stopped marking time and the device was deactivated. They had only a minute, thirty left, but for the two of them, that was time to spare. They had been in tighter spots before.

"Can't wait for the debrief for this one, Tam. Edwards will just love this." Jake said sarcastically.