DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction, as such, I claim absolutely no ownership of the original source material nor will I make any profit.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
A Family Affair
"Jane, are you ok?"
My partner smirked that smirk of hers, the one which seemed to stop time and space. It said while everything wasn't alright, it was going to be because she knew so. Arrogant? Of course, and awfully gaudy expectations from one of Scotland Yard's whelps, but we'd been through enough. The two years we shared together in that old boy's club saw us go up against all sorts of things detectives with decades of experience never even imagined. Undoubtedly, that's one of the reasons the chief called us Double Trouble. Well, that and the fact we stuck by each other both on and off the clock. Couldn't leave my best friend since pre-school to fend for herself, right?
A hail of bullets pelted the beat-up desk we used as cover.
Ok, so we probably should have waited for backup. Honest, neither of us expected a few Spanish coke dealers to be packing submachine guns. That cadre of people in the back of the warehouse getting high? Yeah, didn't see those druggies coming either. Who'd ever heard of druggies physically protecting their dealers? Druggies ran at the first sign of trouble! Whatever the case was, we had fifteen pissed off people wanting to put some bullets in us.
Me? I was down to my last clip. Which reminded me, "Why do you carry that PPK useless?"
PPKs held eight bullets of questionable stopping power. They were small and dinky. I never understood why she carried that gun, and despite the same questions from our boss, she still had it as her primaryand onlyweapon.
"What?" She glared at me like we weren't in a firefight. "Vicky, it's my dad's favorite gun."
"Sentimental and practical don't go hand in hand!"
Another barrage thumped against our deteriorating shield. With practiced ease, Jane popped up and squeezed off four rounds. Amazingly, the shooting stopped for a few moments.
"See? It's accurate."
"Now don't miss your other four shots and we'll only have seven people trying to kill us!"
My radio squawked. "We're a block away!"
A block. Depending on the conditions, we had anywhere from one to two minutes to hold out. Jane looked at me, both of us knowing the meaning: dear lord, please don't let us get shot when we're so close to surviving this clusterfuck. Unfortunately, the desk had about ten more seconds worth of life.
I nodded at her. "I'll go right."
"I'll go left," she smirked.
We rose from our hiding spot and dashed our respective directions. This was like every other run down shack of a warehouse, littered with dust, rust, and various things in advanced stages of disuse. Already I saw a two burly goons trying to outflank us, and to them, I expended six precious shots. Unlike wunderkind over there, I wasn't some deadeye prodigy, but what I lacked in accuracy, I made up for with what the chief termed "stupid determination."
That stupid determination made me slide into the two fallen men, snatch their guns from their loosening grasps, and spray the rest of our assailants with some two-fisted antics. Eventually though, the guys in the back got wise to me and returned fire. Through some insane miracle, I didn't end up like a beehive by the time I dove for cover behind a stack of cobweb crusted tires.
There was less shooting now. I probably hit a bunch of those bastards, maybe even all the ones out in the open. It'd only been another twenty seconds since backup radioed, but I figured we were doing pretty well
Until I looked over at Jane.
First of all, she was face down, her gun lying uselessly about a meter away. I saw her twitching as sparks of bullets hitting metal surrounded her. I'd never felt so helpless in my life as I watched her inch toward something resembling cover. My brain told me to get over to her, but my instincts said I couldn't. I'd just be killing myself and that wouldn't do either of us any good. Instead, I aimed for those focused on her, and in no time, I had every lowlife's undivided attention.
Forty seconds. Jane stopped twitching. A pool of blood seeped out from under her. I couldn't hear them too well, but I thought they were retreating. Maybe a lookout had spotted our backup. Maybe they'd gotten a chance to pack up everything they needed. Maybe they thought I was dead.
Just as I hazarded a peek from the side, a grenade landed at my feet. Before I knew what I was doing, I kicked the sucker like a football right into the wall. A ploom of smoke, a lot of cussing, and then I heard it: salvation.
"That was exactly ten years ago, the worst day of my life."
Everyone at the table had their eyes glued on me. No one said a word, and for that, I was somewhat grateful. Working with these people might turn out bearable, but I was getting ahead of myself.
"Jane died on the way to hospital. I called her mom to tell her the news, promising her I'd get those murderers. Well, turns out those Spanish coke dealers worked for Francisco Callas, one of the nastiest crime lords you'd never want to meet. Armed all his men to the teeth as a sort of machismo thing. We got him though. Took a bunch of years, but we got him."
My wineglass found its way to my lips to cover up the slight tremble in my voice. A decade later, this story still hurt. I thought there'd be closure when I put a bullet into Callas' black heart, but no. I still saw Jane's body in my nightmares, I still felt dirty for letting her down, yet, "That's what you have to expect from this job. Joining the Specialist Crime Directorate, especially us of the Organized Crime Division, we all have our stories and none of them too pretty. We've lost friends, some of us family, and that's the price we pay for going after people who don't like to be bothered.
"I know every one of you here petitioned to join. Some of you might think it's a nice pay raise, and it is. Some of you want the glory, and I won't lie, it has its moments. Some of you just want to make a difference, at least, a bigger than one than what your patrolman makes. I don't care what your reasons are, but every one of you has to be prepared to pay the price. If you can't do that, you better leave now because this job will kill you one way or another."
Twelve peoplethat's how many were left after all the sifting and interviewing and testing. They sat around me now, riveted. I could tell some of them thinking about their wives, husbands, children, and or parents. I could see the splash of guilt run across some of their faces as I talked about glory and money. A few had no response, and those were the kinds of people we had to look out for: they were either exemplary officers or disasters waiting to happen.
I answered their questions and gave them their deadline: one week. True, most of these recruits were never going to see any deep undercover cases, but they still needed to make sure this, the OCD, was what they wanted to do. The threat to our lives at every moment of the day was real, realer than any movie could make it, realer than what any of these supposedly fine upholders of the law had ever dealt with. One by one they filtered out of this private room leaving me alone with myself, my wine, and my untouched food.
A hand came to rest on my shoulder. "You did not like the kotmis satsivi?"
I suppressed my jumpiness at the sudden intrusion. Didn't expect any less from Anya Amasova. Despite creeping up on sixty, the woman still moved like a shadow; nothing escaped her sharp, darting eyes. Took a lot out of a person to run one of the most successful restaurants in London, but Anya made it look easy. Somehow, some way, she always knew what to say, what to do, how to make the world dance to her tune.
She needed all her tricks to keep Jane in line as a kid.
"The chicken's fine," I answered as I got up to give her a hug. "Just didn't have much of an appetite."
Shaking her head, she snatched an unused glass from the table and helped herself to what was left of the wine. "This group looked scared," she noted. "What did you say to them?"
"Some of this, some of that."
"You told them about my daughter, yes?"
No accusation lie in her voice. She knew I'd never use Jane, knew it since we first played in the park together, but not hearing any bitterness reassured me. "It felt appropriate," I shrugged, "I mean, today is well "
She sighed. "I know, Victoria. How could I forget?"
I never knew what to say to her in these moments. I wanted to do something to make her feel better, but the inevitable truth was, I couldn't. I had my chance, Jane was dead, and that was that. She told me not to blame myself, told me to stop crying when I asked for forgiveness ("You have nothing to be sorry about!"), and treated me like she always had: like a second daughter.
She was a better person than me who deserved better than this grief. "Do you want me to help you clean up?"
A playful, offended twinkle broke through her frown. "Never in my business have I made a paying customer clean after herself. What kind of establishment do you take this for?"
"I had to ask because you always reserve this VIP room for the department whenever we ask."
"Whenever you ask. I cannot say no to those doe-like eyes." As yawn surfaced from the depths of my exhaustion, Anya squinted at me. "Go home and sleep. You will be no good to yourself if you can't be rested."
"I know," I nodded as I moved to finish off my wine.
Only I didn't get to finish my wine. Like lightning, Anya's hand struck again, this time pulling the crystal away and managing not to even spill a drop. Her squint grew disapproving. "You should not drink on an empty stomach. It will get you drunk and leave with terrible hangover in the morning. Heavens, you are almost thirty five, haven't you learned that by now?"
Funny point, actually, "Jane used to ask me the same thing." Of course, I still hadn't learned a thing.
I blamed it on eternal youthfulness.
My shrilling home phone made sleeping impossible. The clock on my nightstand flashed "4:30" and I had no misconceptions that it was in the AM. Next to the clock lay my cell and pager, both vibrating and flashing maniacally. The cacophony made me moan in pitiful disgust and undisguised dread.
I was about to hear some dreadful news.
The answering machine picked up with its mechanical, monotonous voice. "Please leave a message after the beep."
"It's Trevor. Pick up the damn phone! Vicky? I'm not even joking, you better-"
Detective Trevor Billings, full-time friend, former boyfriend, and fellow OCD officer. We'd worked together on too many cases to count, and if he wasn't such a control freak, I would've still been with him (To think, Trevor of OCD suffered from OCD. Fit the bastard just right.). Even though he still pined after me, professional detachment kept him far away enough.
But that wasn't here or there. "What's wrong?" I blurted out, receiver in hand and sleep heavy.
An audible sigh of relief came from his end. "Get up, get dressed, and get ready to leave. Jesse and Nora are coming to pick you up. Don't open that door for anyone else, you hear?"
The stress in his voice and the stark orders perked me up right quick, prompting me to fumble for my pistol. Not that the man didn't swear like a sailor on a normal day, but the way he sounded, "Trevor, what's going on?"
"One of the janitors at headquarters found a bunch of pictures taped to men's restroom mirror this morning. They're of you and the new recruits leaving that bloody restaurant you took them to last night."
"Pictures? What kind of pictures?"
"Grainy, sharp, fuzzy, video stills, mug shots, you name them, they were there. Whoever took these had the restaurant under some kind of surveillance and the chief isn't taking any chances."
My mind immediately went to the case files lingering in my desk. "Does this have anything to do with-"
"Trouble," he interrupted, using my nickname, "we don't know a thing as of this second. Just listen to me for once, ok? Throw on something so you're decent and wait for those two to arrive. Got me?"
Another reason why we broke up: he loved talking to people like children. I chalked it up to the time policing the Oxford University campus back in his early years. This time I couldn't find the wit to snap back at him, so I settled for a noncommittal, "Uh huh."
"Remember, it's Jesse and Nora. No one else."
See? What did I say about talking to others like children? "Uh huh."
"Do you understand?"
Oh, for crying out loud you obsessive-compulsive twit, "I get it!"
The receiver got the brunt of my displeasure when I slammed it back into place. So much for a decent night's rest.
My feet carried me to the bathroom. On reflex I shrugged off my nightgown and moved to turn on the shower, but better sense stopped me. What if Jesse and Nora rang the doorbell? What would they think if I didn't answer? Chances were I'd be paying for a new lock at the end of the day. Instead, I settled for wetting a washcloth and wiping my face a few good times. Reddened eyes stared back at me, those slight dark rings around them a little more prominent than yesterday. My hair was an unmitigated mess, locks of toffee brown strewn all about my face, shoulders, and back. I was thirty four and eight months old, my body decent thanks to my fitness regimen but my soul exhausted thanks to my job. Wrinkles crept up on me, some at the corner of my mouth, some on my forehead, even a few on my neck.
Where did all those years go? I remembered staring into a mirror just like this one and wondering when I'd start growing breasts. I remembered Jane teasing me because she hit puberty earlier. I remembered looking forward to each day, not dreading it. I remembered talking about crushes and majors and TV shows. I remembered having grand dreams of playing in a band, writing a book, and planning my wedding.
Thirty four years and eight months old. Single. Drained. Gun at my side. Living alone in a two-story townhouse. B-cups. Couldn't say I expected this.
In an amazing ten minutes I had my teeth brushed, my hair tamed into a ponytail, and myself dressed in a simple ensemble of shirt and slacks topped off by my navy blue raincoat. Make-up and contacts required too much effort, so on my way down the stairs, I snatched my glasses from the office. Before I had a chance to pour myself a cup of tea or nibble on something to calm my growling stomach, the doorbell rang.
A peep out the peephole told me Nora, with Jesse and his ancient Mercedes in tow, had arrived. I opened the door and smiled at them. "That was quick."
They nodded back, pleasant but detached. "Come on, Trouble," said Nora, "we don't have all day."
I liked Nora because she was always business-like. Never cussed, never gave anything less than her best, and never took any bull from anyone--the OCD could use more people like. Jesse? Well, the man was quiet and real sneaky looking. He had the uncanny habit of popping up right beside you when you least expected it. Good officer too, just not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it came to connecting the dots in a case. I much preferred Nora's presence.
Which would probably explain why I instinctively pulled Nora into my house when the SUV across the street from us rolled down its window and stuck a gun out. Between Nora's surprised squeal and Jesse's dying breath, I managed to slam the door shut and round the corner to the living room. Windows shattered while holes appeared in my walls. Through the gunfire, the SUV's powerful roar and subsequent tire squeal made it to my ears.
For a brief second, I felt relief, but that was before I realized the car was heading straight for my living room.
A horrible thunder crack accompanied the disintegration of half my home. A front end proclaiming "GMC" rested on my couch as four masked men jumped out of the car. Nora, who'd managed to recover and draw her pistol, fired at our attackers. A bullet caught one of them in the head, sending him tumbling limply back into the SUV. His more lucky partner only took a shot to the chest where his bulletproof vest absorbed most of the hit
He raised the MP5 slung on his shoulder and returned the favor to Nora, Nora who wasn't wearing anything besides her shirt and her badge.
A sane person would've run. Me? I had little stock in sanity. All I knew was that these men destroyed my house, killed my colleagues, and were looking to kill me. Like Nora, I wasn't going to make their job easy.
I charged at the one who killed Nora. Instead of uselessly tackling him, I jammed my gun into his gut as hard I could and let loose three rounds. The way his eyes rolled into the back of his head told me that, at the very least, the wind was knocked out of him. I whipped my head about in time to hit the floor and avoid a spray of bullets from my other two assailants.
From my vantage point, I spied four unprotected shins. Without thinking twice, I emptied my clip in their general direction. The pair crumbled amidst their punctured limbs and painful moans. And here I was, three men stunned and no bullets left: I did the only thing an insane cop would've done.
I slipped into the driver's seat, put the car into reverse, and ran over the two I'd shot in the legs.
As I pulled out into the rainy morning, the third man, the one I shot at but still bloodless, shambled to his feet and fired into the windshield. I instinctively ducked while round after round chewed up the car's interior, my impatient self actually waiting for him to run out of bullets. When the shooting stopped, I pulled the car into drive, popped back up, and expected to catch him off guard by smashing into him.
Only he was the one who caught me off guard. In his hands was a 9mm pistol; at his side, his spent MP5. He had a perfect shot at my head and I was fucked.
Except I didn't die. Instead of a hole appearing in my forehead, a hole appeared in his. He staggered, first his arms falling to his side then the rest of his body slumping down. I immediately looked for Jesse and Nora but their bodies hadn't moved. That meant another person had joined this skirmish. That also meant the other person was behind me.
My eyes flashed to the rearview.
A silver Maserati Spyder sat in the middle of the street, its tinted window just now closing all the way. A car-nut like Trevor would've gone into shock from seeing such a piece of machinery in the middle of a war zone, but to me, it was just another car, perhaps another threat. A Maserati? In this middleclass neighborhood? A Maser-fucking-ati? It piqued my suspicious nature and sent butterflies through my stomach.
There was no way I'd outrun a sport scar in this shot up SUV. My extra clips were sitting on my kitchen counter, stupidly forgotten by yours truly. My only recourse to take back some semblance of control?
I stepped out of the car, drew my empty gun, and flashed my badge. "Police!" I shouted in my most authoritative voice. "I want to see your hands!"
Amazingly, the door opened and greeted me with an empty pair of hands. Empty hands I could deal with, but what I couldn't even believe was the face that came with the hands.
She wore a black, figure hugging pantsuit. She looked as she always had, youthful and vibrant yet tempered by a certain hint of danger. She moved gracefully, almost catlike, every ripple of muscle flowing into the next like poetry in motion. My best friend whom I let down, buried, mourned, and avenged stood before me, my dreams come true.
"Vicky," she pled, eyes somber and voice strained, "you need to come with me."
My body reacted before I had a chance to completely process her presence. I grabbed the front of her coat and slammed her against the Maserati. A part of me was furious, another part relieved. I wanted to scream while hugging her. I wanted to laugh and cry. Here she was, my best friend, come back from the dead after ten years and looking none worse for the wear.
I slapped her. "Why?!"
Jane being Jane had to do one better: she snared my wrist, opened the car door, and unceremoniously tossed me over the driver seat and into the passenger seat. By the time I rearranged myself into some semblance of a sitting position, she'd gotten in the car and straightened her coat.
She looked me dead in the eye. "Because."
We rode into the heart of London in silence. In some ways, it reminded me of our undergrad days when she broke my car trying to jump the Mathematical Bridge at Queen's College: I was pissed, she was somewhere between pissed and guilty, and neither of us were on speaking terms. Oh, there were differences, like us being hauled off to jail for our prank gone bad and no one getting hurt (or in this case, dead). Different, sure, but the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.
I still couldn't formulate what I wanted to say.
My heart still pounded like it would leap out of my chest at any moment.
I took the time to see how the years had treated Jane.
Well, she wasn't dead which was a huge plus. She looked good, criminally good, like she'd spent the past ten years working out, tanning, and getting the newest new age treatments at a spa. Her hands wrapped around the steering wheel with authority, but the way she carried on, it seemed so natural. Her gaze discretely swept between windshield, rearview, and side mirrors, never resting. Despite her almost spastic actions, she lounged in her chair as a resting lioness would, alert but outwardly uncaring. She was different, charming instead of innocent, confident instead of arrogant.
She was Jane Bond magnified by a million times.
At first, I thought we were going to the OCD headquarters. The familiar streets I took everyday to work calmed my temper and nerves, my mind insisting this was any other day and that I had not just witnessed Nora and Jesse gunned down in my house. I sought comfort in the familiar, in the fact that I'd get answers soon (or at the very least, be able to wretch it out of Trevor like the baby he was). Then Jane had to pass by my building like it was some two bit tourist trap, never stopping, not even slowing down.
I felt obligated to break the silence. "Where are you taking me?"
In Vauxhall? South London? Which made this, West London, so not on the way? "This is one hell of a detour."
"I thought you'd like to talk."
I'd like to talk about a million things, ask another million more questions, but, "What do you want me to talk about? You're dead to me, Jane, and I've fought every moment since then to make the hurting stop. I spend more time with your mom than my own. I make myself get up every morning by imagining the bastard who shot you. I'm still with the OCD, even though it's killing me, because we started together but never got to finish. Now you're here looking better than ever. Why didn't you call? Why didn't you write? Why didn't you send me some sign that you were ok?"
"Fuck you. How complicated is it to use a phone?"
"I couldn't call you, Vicky. It's against regulations."
"What kind of bloody regulations?"
Jane rolled her eyes. "What else is in Vauxhall Cross?"
"MI6," I immediately replied. That place was stuff of legends and movies, the general public seeing it as a repository of super spies and suave world-savers. To me, it was a house of shit built on sleazy individuals used to living lies, exploiting stupid people, and making little difference in the world today. It was a relic from the World Wars where stuffy bureaucrats thought battles were fought in midnight soirees at Russian palaces.
The public built them up as super spies; to me, they were nothing but prima donnas.
Apparently, Jane worked for them in some capacity. "You have got to be kidding me," I muttered. "While I've been hunting down mobsters and cocaine dealers, you've been drinking martinis and eavesdropping on dirty old men?"
Only an idiot would miss my disdain, and to it, Jane simply shook her head. "The world's full of more dangerous people than you think, Vicky."
"More dangerous than drug pushers preying on school children? More dangerous than turf wars that literally tear nations apart? More dangerous than rich bastards who can kill with impunity because they have the lawyers to cover their asses?"
"You go after those who break the law for money; I go after the higher ups who have their eyes on holding the world hostage. The people I fight can destroy countries with a single command. Simply knowing me makes you a target. If I communicated with you, it'd be a death sentence."
"What about your mom? Your dad? Wha-"
She held up a hand to silence me. "Mom knew and Dad's my commanding officer."
Anya knew about her daughter? Was that why she looked at me with such heartbreaking pity? She saw me beating myself up for years and always gave me more strength than I did her. That was why she had the strength to begin with, because her daughter wasn't dead. Her absentee father, the same one she always talked about but no one ever met, watched over her at MI6 while her dotting mother continued selling her supposed death.
Me, I was just another actor in the Bond family's play.
A younger me would've lunged into the driver side seat and wrapped my hands around her neck, self-preservation be damned. Now though, I deflated like a punctured balloon. I sank into the soft leather, fingers tingling and head swimming. Profound numbness replaced my rage. I couldn't cry, I knew I hurt, but I felt like a spirit
I felt like I was watching Jane rip my beating heart out on video.
All I wanted to know was "What do you want from me?"
"Nothing," she answered. "An MI6 agent went rogue and I've become her target. You're officially under MI6's protection until the rogue is apprehended."
To Be Continued
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