Killing Time OST – 21b – Nerves

<< 12a – Nerves

At first, the reveal of Vexx’s identity created an uncomfortable amount of tension. Gabriel wondered what he should do with the information. Vexx feared for our safety. I felt like I had lain down my last card, or very closely so; my ace was up the FBI’s sleeve – they just didn’t know about it yet. Nevertheless, the game of Texas Hold’em I played with the suits had seriously shifted in their favor.
By the time I cleaned and treated Vexx’s burn with enhanced healing ointment and a protective gauze, we had grown used to the new balance of powers. Gabriel brewed coffee for everyone but returned with Naomi and Derek’s cups.
“They’re sound asleep,” he said, pouring the untouched goodness back into the pot. “We’ll be able to talk.” Gabriel tapped Vexx’s signal jammer with the tip of his foot. “They listen in on every house at six am and pm.”
The clock said eleven. “Seven hours to figure out our next move.”
“What. Happened?”
Agreed, the events weighed down on each of us but my understanding didn’t ease the acceptation of Gabriel’s hammered question. I stopped myself short of yelling: “I screwed up! Happy?”
“Any chance I can spice up this coffee?” Gabriel smiled despite his obvious fatigue. “Of course not.”
“Her father tested her. On an instinctive level. He knows we’re onto him.”
“He got away. Chances are all the security protocols are reset by now.” I drank some coffee though my palate yearned for scotch.
“Oh God, Lorelei.” Gabriel dropped to the couch in front on ours. “This is bad.”
“Don’t you think we know it?” Vexx half-stood but I grabbed his elbow.
“Listen up, hacker. I’m currently aiding and abetting a Most Wanted and a presumed-dead public enemy in a FBI safe house. Without any leverage whatsoever to justify my not shooting you on the spot. I can’t pull miracles out of my ass.”
Gabriel was half across the table by the time he caught his breath. I used Vexx to help me stand which effectively pulled him down and forced Gabriel to draw back.
“I’m not running,” I said a few decibels lower than the previous arguments. Both men looked at me like I was crazy. “You heard me. I’m not ruining your lives. Either we calmly convince your guys I can help or I strut down death row to cover your ass while Vexx walks free.”
“Lor, you can’t –”
“This is my bullshit. My mistake. My last stand. We’re doing this my way, friends, or you’re not doing it at all.”
After weeks of second guessing myself, this felt right. Peaceful.
Vexx smiled and tackle-hugged me so fast I almost fell over backward. “It’s good to have you back,” he murmured in the nape of my neck. “You’re a nutjob.”
“I concur.” Gabriel stood and pulled a micro cell phone out of his pocket. “Can I call them?”
Vexx extended his open hand. After I nodded, Gabriel gave him his phone. A scan from the frequency scanner and Vexx revised the signal jammer to allow the cell phone to go through.
“You got that specialized a tech in your carry-on?”
I chuckled. “And then some.”
“Huh.” Gabriel looped his phone around his ear while we sat back on the couch. “Agent Gabriel Walker. Update on the Nightshade case.” He turned to leave the room but then revised his decision when he realized I would follow – or be very pissed if he shut a door in my face. He returned to his seat in front of us.
“FYI, we still have access to a recent upload of the mainframe.”
While my exclusive insider status had been revoked and part of my information rendered useless, most of the mainframe’s content had nothing to do with security. Merrilyn Tech couldn’t drop all the researches, suppliers, employees we compromised without going bankrupt. This type of information had limited value for me but no intelligence agency’s secret tech task force would pass up the offer.
“Good evening sir. Sorry for the late call.”
I bit my lower lip. I hoped the man wasn’t too fond of his sleep; I needed him in as positive a mood as possible.
“There has been an important shift inAlice’s situation. Her cover’s blown. She sought my protection.”
I liked the clean, efficient way Gabriel used to sum up the shit I swam in. It sounded so simple when he talked about it.
“She still has a copy of the mainframe and is ready to meet.”
Vexx tensed by my side. I had known for the get-go that no decisions would be reached unless I agreed to meet with those guys.
“I’ll arrange it. There are also two civilians involved. Debriefing and potentially, Witsec.” Gabriel’s expression relaxed as the last details were hammered. “Thank you, sir.”
Gabriel plucked his phone out of his ear and slid it back into its protective case, seemingly unaffected by the tension in the room.
“Transport will be here at five to pick us all up. A clean-up crew will make sure no one ever knows we were here.”
“What then?” Vexx voiced the question in my head.
Gabriel shrugged. “I’m coming with you. I’ll help where I can.”
“Yay! Red tape bound help,” Vexx mumbled. I elbowed his flank. “Sorry.”
“Anywhere I can crash? I’ll need all the sleep I can get for tomorrow.” I doubted I’d get any quality rest at all but if I didn’t even try, I’d fail for sure.
“You guys can take the master bedroom. I’ll take the couch.”
“Oh! We’re not a real couple.” Both guys looked at me, surprised for very different reasons. “Fine. Given the available spaces… Come on, Vexx.”
When panic overrode my dreams in the middle of our short night, I was glad Vexx was there to lull me back to sleep.

21c – Nerves >>


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

6 responses to “Killing Time OST – 21b – Nerves

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