His head jolted back in the seat, the red light flashing across his field of vision, the sweat pouring down his neck. He tried to pull his hands free of the restraints, as he gasped for breath. He looked straight again, and saw her walking, slowly, towards him. She was dressed in a black lacy number, her eyes smoldering in the darkness that accented her high cheekbones, her waist sashaying from side to side as she moved to him, the red light illuminating her figure from above, shadows moving like smoke on the dark concrete. He bowed his head, sweat coming off the bridge of his nose. He closed his eyes for a second, and she flickered out of existence, and he tensed again, squeezing against the buckles that held him to the chair.
“Smith, what did she tell you?”
He rolled his head back again, screaming with frustration.
“We’re losing him again. Shock him. No, I don’t care, we need him here, we need him now.”
Liquid fire poured through his veins, and he convulsed in the chair, his teeth chattering as the shocks ripped through him, the scream tearing at his throat even as he went hoarse. As the shock sequence finished, he collapsed against the chair, his muscles going limp. His eyes half closed, his head lolling back on his neck, shaking from side to side, fading into the void. The black threatened to consume him, and the red light kept flashing in his vision like a disc, flitting from side to side. He could feel her breath on his neck, and he smiled, feeling himself in her grasp again. The next time that the red light flashed by, he grabbed it and rode it into the darkness, falling into the blackness.
“Ugh, I think we’ve lost him again.”
Undisclosed location. July 23rd, 1989.
His hand resting on her stomach, her light breathing raising his hand a few millimeters at a time, breeze wafting in from the open window and curling around them, the ocean waves crashing against the beach, eroding his will to stay awake. As he opened his eyes again, he realized that he had fallen asleep for a bit – she was just getting out of bed now, her nightrobe clinging to her hips as she walked, pulling it down with her hands as she moved to the bathroom. He called her name and –
“WE NEED HIM HERE NOW. SMITH, WHAT DID SHE SAY? SMITH.”
– “Hun?” he mumbled, slurring the word as it came out of his mouth. She turned around and smiled at him, still heading towards the bathroom, her eyes flashing red in the early morning light, and all of a sudden, she flitted out of existence for a second, and sparks filled his vision again. Concrete room, red lights, shadows on the wall. She was sitting in his lap now, his hands still caught in the buckles, and he bent his head forward, tired and weak against her touch.
“Smith, I need you to focus.”
He raised his eyes to hers, and she smiled, blood dripping down her lips.
Blood dripping down her lips.
“Linny?” The word dropped from his mouth with the weight of a train, shattering in the silence on the concrete room, on the man in the shadows, on the red light. On him.
“No, not Linny. Smith, not her. The other one.”
Smith rolled his head back again, feeling his neck loose, feeling as if his head was going to come off his shoulders completely and just roll around on the floor, blinking with surprise. Her hand came down on his neck, first with pressure, her nails digging in. And then, lighter, her palm on his cheekbone, and her tears on his cheeks. They were cold, cold cold tears.
He opened his eyes. The roof was leaking.
Cold. They were somewhere cold, cold and the roof was leaking.
Interrogation room, Severnyy, approx. 12 km north of Vorkuta, Russia. December 13th, 2011
He snapped his head forward again, looking past the apparition on his lap, ignoring her as she started to run her hands down his back. He growled in the dark, his teeth bared in defiance, the old familiar sting of adrenaline hitting his system. Muscles tensed, his brain kicked back into gear. He was being tortured. She pressed her lips against his, and for a second, he nearly lost who he was again, lost in the memory of her embrace.
“He’s fading back, he’s fading into Linny. We need LACEY, NOT LINNY. DO YOU HEAR ME SMITH?”
“Lacey…?” He heard himself mutter. Why did they need Lacey? Lacey…
He looked into Linny’s eyes, and he saw the promise of forever.
A promise broken, a promise unfulfilled. And then he bared his teeth at her, growling in the concrete room, the only sound other than the machinations of the machines beside him, and the faded static hum of the red light above his head. She backed up, looking at him in the dark, her eyes sincere. Her touch, her eyes, her breath on his lips, NO.
He growled louder this time, fighting against his restraints. “Get her out of here, GET HER OUT NOW.” Smith roared at the shadow.
The figure shook his head and responded sadly, “She’s not here Smith. She never was. She died with the rest.”
“With the rest…” Smith collapsed again, thinking. “My name isn’t Smith.”
“No, it’s not.”
Smith thought some more, wondering what else the shadow knew about him. About her. About Lacey. “Lacey isn’t her real name you know, neither is Linny.”
“I know. All lies, all codenames, all shadows.”
Smith smiled, the red light swinging back and forth above his head, shaken by some invisible breeze. Reminded him of the beach, reminded him of the ocean spray, reminded him of the bright light of the morning sun and…
“We’re losing him again, he’s fading fast, SHOCK him again, I FUCKING NEED LACEY.”
He mumbled something, and then a prism of light shot into his eyes again, and this time, he didn’t even remember the screaming – just the smell of burnt hair in a damp room. Above him, the red light swung by as he traveled mile by mile in his own head, the yelling of the shadow lost to him. He could barely hear the enraged yells, nudging at his consciousness.
“GODFUCKINGDAMNIT SMITH, YOU’RE FUCKING SPEC OPS. YOU’RE BETTER THAN THIS, SNAP TO IT, COME ON. I NEED THOSE GODDAMNED CODES SMITH, DO YOU HEAR ME? THOSE CODES ARE VITAL, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE IF WE DON’T GET THOSE CODES.
SHE WAS UNDERCOVER FOR THE KOREANS, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? SHE WAS FUCKING UNDERCOVER, SHE WAS WORKING FOR THE ENEMY YOU FUCK. SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH YOU, SHE GAVE YOU THE CODES, AND NOW WE NEED THOSE CODES SMITH. THE CODES THAT ARE IN YOUR HEAD, THOSE CODES, THEY CONTROL A NUCLEAR SILO – WE’RE ON THE BRINK OF A NUCLEAR WAR SMITH, COME TO YOUR FUCKING SENSES.”
His mind was a jumbled mess, swirling around like a melting pot of emotions, all simmering beneath the surface in a vile concoction that threatened to make him throw up. “Dead with the rest…with the rest.”
“Fucking…he’s gone. He’s back in the hotel.”
As he lay there, he heard the shadows yelling at each other now, trying to figure out something far beyond his comprehension. Something about survival, something about a bunker. No sun. Sun…
She stood in front of the mirror, fixing her hair and brushing her teeth while he lay in bed, thinking. She looked over at him, his face illuminated in the morning light. She spat out the toothpaste, washing out her mouth, before turning to turn on the shower, a beam of light shining across her hips and across her back as she moved into the light of the window. She stretched, the shadows of the dimples on her lower back stretching with her, and when her hands came back down, his were there, waiting for her fingers to wrap around his own. She tossed her hair back, the scent of him filling her nostrils, a light fluttering forming in the pit of her stomach as his light stubble grazed against her neck, his growl filling her ears, and his hands wrapping protectively around her waist.
She smiled, and turned to face him, a smirk already forming at his mouth as he was was figuring out his next angle of approach. She headed him off at the pass, backing into the shower and closing the shower door, laughing as she did so, his smirk vanishing into a look of surprise as his eyes widened. She grinned mischievously, her skin feeling as if it was on fire in the morning light and the hot water that cascaded down from the showerhead in a steady, rhythmic beat. Her mind was racing, wondering what he was doing on the other side of the door. As she closed her eyes, her senses betrayed her, reminding her of everything about him. His lips on hers, his fingers dancing across the skin of her stomach, the growl in the dark as he cut loose what it meant to be a man…she shivered, despite the hot water. She couldn’t stand it anymore.
She needed him.
She shut off the water, watching as the water stopped abruptly, and then let loose a few drops, the tap-tap-tap of the water on the tub filling the washroom. She opened the shower door, looking around for where he was. She didn’t see him in the bathroom, and as she looked down, she saw wet footprints leading away from the shower door – obviously, some of the water had leaked out during her shower. So he HAD been waiting there for a bit after all – but where was he now? She wrapped the towel around herself, tiptoeing to the edge of the bathroom, peeking her head out from the doorway, looking in either direction. She walked slowly into the bedroom, the sounds of the ocean wafting in from the windows, the distinct breeze of being by the sea pushing the cream coloured curtains into the room.
She stopped, and for a second, time slowed. She saw everything in slow motion – the curtains flying in the air, revealing the blue water and white sand that lay outside, the dark wooden door frame, the dark maroon coloured vanity upon which laid his gun and her bra, her own features reflected back at her, the water dripping down her skin, the sun on her forearms and the towel clenched underneath her, and something on the ceiling.
Something on the ceiling.
Before she could even scream, he dropped down, one hand over her mouth and the other wrapping around her face. She looked on in the mirror, even as she was about to bit down on her captor’s hand and run for the gun on the vanity, she saw his telltale smirk, and the scent of him filled her nostrils. She relaxed against his touch, and the towel fell away, pressing her back into his bare chest, the sun shining on them as they just froze there, muscles slowly loosening as they melded together, forming something less distinct, and more melded together, like liquid metal in the hot July sun.
A loud crash shook the room, the red light swaying above him.
As he faded in and out of the memory, everything started to blend together.
He was there, in the concrete room, with the shadows arguing, the room shaking repeatedly.
He was there, in the hotel in the sun, with her hand in his hair, his hands frozen on her body as the room shook and they slid sideways, the world starting to crash around them, even as her nails clenched in his back and he roared.
He was there, in the…
In the snow, in the cold.
The shadows stopped arguing.
“What did you say?”
“Lacey. I remember. I remember. I remember.”
As he sat there, the sweat dripping down his face, he remembered everything. The hotel, crashing down. Her body sliding out of his arms as they both fell, the look on her face showing her desperation, her nails drawing blood on his arm as she fell, falling forever in the sunlight as the detonations ripped through the hotel, and he fell too, the roof caving in on him, covering him in dust and shingles. He felt the pulse of C4 charges continuing to detonate, destroying the support structures holding up the hotel – planned demo.
It was a hit.
It was a hit.
It was a hit.
That was all he could think, as he fell. And then, just as fast as he had fallen, he landed, his back cracking against the desk as it collapsed under his weight. He looked to his left, and a woman twitched, a large object on her neck. His eyes wide in horror, then he realized that the woman was clothed. What was left of him breathed a sigh of relief, and then he turned to his right, seeing his gun. He crawled towards it, feeling the metal under his fingertips. Looking up and past it, he saw the sight that he’d never forget, not ever. Even after 20 years of alcohol and murder, night after night, the sight that would endure, the sight that he would never forget as long as he ever lived. The tears came before he even knew what he was looking at. Her body laid there, naked in the sunlight, her legs twisted to the side as if she was sleeping, her back laid flat against the surface of the hardwood floor. Sun beamed in directly on her body, and debris was scattered around her, almost like a halo in the destruction that lay around them. He called her name, hearing no response. He pulled himself to her, one hand falling on her chest, the familiar curve of her breast against his fingers, and he brought the hand up to her neck, feeling for a pulse.
Her head fell to the side, her eyes staring into his, dead.
He lay there for a long time, his fingers on her neck, feeling for a pulse. Feeling nothing.
The afternoon sun found him there, as rescue crews came in for them, finding them entombed from the rest of the hotel. No other survivors. He had a punctured lung, and multiple broken bones and fractures. The desk had saved his life, absorbing most of the blow. He laid there, as they surrounded him when they found him, dry of tears, still staring into her eyes, his hand on her stomach, her body wrapped in a torn towel that he had apparently found in the wreckage. As they checked the girl, his hands came up from her neck, and pressed against her face. When they pulled him away, her eyes were closed.
Before they even knew it, agents were on them. Something about special ops, something about national security. He walked out, multiple fractures and all, her eyes still reflecting off his in the sun, covered in dust. They took the body of the girl, her neck lolling backwards as they picked her up. They said she was dead before she even hit the ground – her neck having been snapped in the fall as she hit another floor on the way down.
Dead before she even hit the ground.
“LACEY” He roared in the darkness and the shadows, the rage filling him as he remembered.
He remembered everything.
He looked out the window of the helicopter, the cold biting into his fresh cuts, the tragedy at the Hotel DeReece happening just two days before. Everytime he closed his eyes, all he could see was her body, laying in the wake of the destruction. The sunlight, her body, the death, the pulse.
The helicopter touched down and the door opened, and he hopped out, feeling the snow crunch under his boots as he pulled out his crutches after him, testing the ground for ice. Lacey stood there, hair whipping around as she remained unmoved by the frigid weather, despite the men around her shivering to keep the warmth in her bones. He looked at her, and for a second, he remembered her touch, her smile in the light of the candles on a cold Christmas Eve, her body wrapped around him as the snow fell around them. But by the time he blinked, that memory was long gone, replaced by the ice bitch that stood before him.
And as she turned and walked back to the Central Command hub, he followed, the armed guards falling into step beside him, waiting to help him if he should slip. He didn’t slip. His mind, his body, only ached for one thing – answers.
“She did it Smith. You know it, I know it. That Christmas Eve night, she left the codes on the table. You were having sex with her, you looked over at the table for a brief second, and those codes were RIGHT THERE. What were those codes Smith?”
The wind bit into him, and all he could scream for, all he could remember, all he could think about, was her beautiful broken body laying there, and the rage that filled him, and the rage that this bitch had caused.
“She killed Linny. It was Lacey, who sent in the team to plant the charges. It was Lacey, who killed Linny. Lacey killed Linny.”
As he looked up, she was on him again, her arms around him, and her lips on his forehead, the heat from her body, from between her legs, pressing against him, her skin soft, he pressed his lips to her neck, and he froze.
Broken body, beautiful, destroyed. Eyes forever staring, a lilt of a smile still on her lips, breathless.
He sat in the cold room, the crutches beside him, Lacey staring across the desk at him.
“She did it, Lacey killed Linny, now tell us what the codes are,” the shadows growled, the red light dancing across the room.
The room shook again, and the shadows slid for a second, and in his head, he looked out the window that didn’t exist in the concrete room, the blizzard raging outside, and when he looked back, Lacey was sitting in front of him, naked, smiling at him with love in her eyes, and she pulled him to her, the warmth of the candles washing over him as the coldness was held at bay.
“We did it. Tell the President to hold. We’re in. He’s remembering Lacey.”
As he traced the outlines of her figure, he felt her bite his lips and he started to shift to something more animal, something more passion than thought, more lust than rationality. His muscles clenched at her, his teeth bared, his hand on her back, tilting her backward, her hair falling in cascades, tickling the back of his thumb as she smiled against his lips, feeling his strength in the simple ways that he moved her. She smiled through the kisses, the small, tiny kisses, her eyes slightly opening with every pause, fingers wrapped around his neck. He paused for a second, pulling back and looking into her eyes, gazing into the depths within.
She stared back, from across the table. And the blizzard raged outside, and his body ached, in a much different way than it did that night, all those years ago. She waited for him to speak, and she saw his lips open…
And her fingers twitched, remembering the feel of his fingers entwined in hers so many years ago, as his mouth had opened then too, his voice strained, caught, wrapped in masculinity and smoothness, with a touch of arrogance to match the smirk that so often adorned his features…
She looked at him, the blizzard raging outside, her neck tilting back to let his lips rest on it, his voice again sounding out in the quietness of the room, his lips vibrating against her skin as he spoke.
He sat there, by himself, the shadows waiting for the inevitable conclusion to the story. He looked at them, seeing them, recognizing them for the first time, the red light swaying back and forth above his head, moved by the invisible breeze. The coldness of the room permeating his bones, the straps of the chair cutting into his hands, as he remembered it all.
For the first time, the shadow moved his hands from the shock button, and smiled. He looked at them, his head leaning to the side, finally understanding a bit of the situation that he was in now. What they were all in. In the darkness of the room, there was a quietness, the quietness of men who understand the gravity of a situation, the quietness of men who had lost too much to lose anything more. The quietness of death.
Her eyes, her broken neck, her beautiful body, laying in the debris of the Hotel DeReece.