Targeted

Discussion in 'ONE ON ONES IN CHARACTER' started by AkikoYukito, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. Claire adjusted the collar of her black blazer as she marched through the hallway of the J. Edgar Hoover high-rise, making sure it lined up with the collar of her white button-up blouse. It was a bit early for her to be in to work yet, but she received a text message from her boss saying that he wanted to speak to her. There was no reason as to why; and Claire speculated the few possible reasons there could be. It was either about the case she and her partner just closed, a new case he wanted her to take, or someone filed a complaint - likely a suspect she was too rough with.

    Taking a brief pause outside of her boss's office door, Claire collected herself with a deep breath, then knocked. The man's gruff voice told her to come in and she slipped through the door as calmly as she could manage, lingering there. "Ah, Claire. Come in and have a seat." Her boss glanced up from the papers on his desk and motioned for her to approach his desk. "You, um, wanted to speak to me, sir?" She asked, her uncertainty made clear in the tone of her voice. She sat in one of the two chairs in front of his desk, literally on the edge of her seat.

    "Indeed," The older man said with a nod and added, "Don't look so worried. You're not in any trouble." Claire looked stricken, realizing her angst must have slipped past her poker face. That left only two possibilities as to the subject of the impending conversation. "It has been brought to my attention that some underhanded operations are taking place within Haddon Defense Industries. It's not clear how far up the ladder the scandal goes, but there appears to be some very important people involved. One of the techs there has come forward with evidence he found of the company's fraud and I want you to be security detail while we investigate the matter in case complications arise."

    Claire blinked, her poker face again giving way. Slowly her brow furrowed and her jaw dropped. "What?" She gasped, the word hardly more than a whisper. "'Security detail?' I-I've never done -- I have no experience with security detail and you want me to babysit your witness?! Do you want us both to die?" She raised her voice, flailing her hands in wild emphatic gestures. "Come now, you're overreacting. We've already secured a safe location and we'll have backup ready to assist you. But as of right now, you and Curtis are the only ones not in active investigation." Claire sank despairingly into the chair. Randy Curtis was her partner who worked just about every case with her. She wondered if they would work this one together, too. "What about Randy?" She asked, to which her boss shook his head a little. "We need him to do the investigation."

    It was shortly after that that Claire stormed out of the office to her own, where she let loose her frustration. That was a few days ago. Now, Claire was walking into work, a travel bag slung over one shoulder. It had a few changes of clothes and her necessary amenities that should last her until this whole thing was over. She hadn't even met the guy she was supposed to be guarding yet. This would be the first time.
     
    #1 AkikoYukito, Jan 30, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  2. “There’s never an excuse not to do the right thing Clark. If you see a chance to make a positive difference for the right reasons Clark, you need to take those chances.” Those were words Henry Walton impressed on his son at an early age, and those words hadn’t always been easy to follow through but Clark did the best that he could to live up to them. It was very hard to live to those words recently because in doing the right thing this time Clark had just turned his world and the world of some very powerful people upside down.

    Up until two days ago the biggest issue Clark was facing was getting up the nerve to ask Jeannie in accounting out to the Haddon Defense Industries Gala, and trying to decide if he wanted Season Tickets to the Steelers or Pirates. Now he was having to keep his nerve on the witness stand testifying against George R. Haddon III, a majority of the Board of the Directors, and several politicians in Washington DC who were channeling prototypical weapons to the highest bidders. Clark discovered the manifest hidden within a program that no one was supposed to see. The manifest led him to irregularities within accounting and logistics as well. Clark knew that what he was seeing was something he wasn’t supposed to see. He copied the information onto a flash drive and would bring it up at the next stock holders meeting in a couple of weeks. “Just play it cool Clark,” was the only thought that went through his mind at the time. Clark sat on what he knew for a couple of days, and thought he was doing all right until he came one night from work. That night Clark noticed a suspicious car parked across the street and then saw how a picture on his wall was off center. He straightened it only to discover a hidden camera, and then noticed how a couple of items on his dresser were out of place.

    With just a black button up shirt, a pair of blue jeans, black and white Nikes Clark slipped on a windbreaker. Clark cut on the lights in couple of rooms, his stereo, and laptop. He felt fairly confident that his lap top was bugged, so Clark very quickly created a program that would enter several lines of computer code. It was enough to make whoever was watching the apartment believe that Clark was in his apartment. Clark waited for a few minutes and then slipped out of his apartment through his bathroom window. Armed with the program of the information he discovered Clark went to the FBI Branch Office in Pittsburgh. He showed them everything and within 2 hours Clark’s phone was confiscated, and he was told that not only would he be testifying, but chances were better than average Clark earned himself a ticket into the Witness Relocation Program.

    Clark wasn’t sure how long he had been in the van with no windows or anything of that nature, but Clark didn’t have much more time to wonder what was going on. The van he was in stopped and Clark was escorted out of the van to a farm house in the middle of nowhere. One of the agents said, “In a few moments there will be a team that will take you to your safe house.”

    Clark replied, “Okay I just wonder one thing? And that is I still have student loans is this gonna ruin my credit rating?”

    The agent replied shaking his head, “No Mr. Walton those items you no longer need to worry about. The team from DC will be here in a few and they’ll take over from us.”

    Clark asked, “Do you have a name or what?”

    The agent chucked and said, “I’d say I go under the heading of what.” The agent nodded and said looking out to the distance “They’re on their way but to be safe.” The agent pulled out a cell phone and said, “This is red bike.” Another voice said on the phone, “And this is lonely trail ready to take possession of the gift.”

    With that an SUV pulled up a couple of agents got out and put Clark into the back. There was a tap twice on the roof and a voice said, “Go!” Next thing Clark knew the SUV was moving on into the night with a team of five other agents.
     
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  3. As soon as Claire arrived at work, she and her partner, along with a team of field agents, left the FBI Headquarters. The large black SUV glided along the interstate going west towards Pittsburgh. The four-hours-long ride was mostly quiet aside from the going over of details about the case and how things were going to go upon arrival. Claire was driving, which was arguably a mistake since she was so pissed off. She had the tinted window cracked a little, a cigarette held firmly between her pursed lips trailing smoke against the visible sliver of blue sky.

    "You know you really shouldn't be smoking.." Randy said from the passenger seat, glancing at his partner out of the corners of his green eyes. "I thought you quit." He added when Claire didn't answer. Briefly she shot him a glare, took one last long drag from the smoke, and let it fly out the window before she rolled it up. "Shut up, Randy." She scoffed and clenched the steering wheel until her knuckles whitened. For Claire, the distance between DC and the country house outside of Pittsburgh closed too quickly. She didn't want to go to the safe house or to room with and babysit a total stranger until this case went to trial. Why couldn't she investigate and Randy do the security detail instead? They got off the exit onto a stretch of empty two-lane road, following the directions sent to them from the branch office to the country dirt road that led to the house.

    “This is red bike,” A voice came over the phone. “And this is lonely trail ready to take possession of the gift,” Randy replied. The SUV ground to a halt practically at the doorstep of the country house, stirring up a cloud of dirt and dust. The back door swung open and one of the agents in the back got out to allow the witness into the vehicle. The agent climbed into the far back seat where the fifth sat; and as soon as she was given the "Go," Claire peeled out of the dirt lot with a squeal of the tires. Up front, Randy was giving Claire directions to the place, since they only took back roads. She said nothing in reply and never looked away from the road, not even in the rearview mirror.

    The safe house was more like a cabin one might rent for a holiday. It was remote, though not too far from cell towers that calls would be impossible. They parked close to the door and all got out. Randy came around the front and stood beside Claire. "Mr. Walton, this is Agent Bennett. She'll be your security detail for the duration of this case. Now, you both know the drill: Don't leave unless it's an emergency and no contacting the outside or discussing any details with anyone outside of the investigation. Capiche?" Claire rolled her gray-blue eyes at her partner, since he knew that she knew all of this already. One of the other agents tossed Claire her bag from the trunk and carried some other supplies into the cabin.

    Claire shut the door behind her fellow agents as they left, locking it. She turned, looking around the place. It was a roomy single story building, with a high ceiling. It had a technical second story, but it was more or less a staircase leading up to a loft with a bedroom and bathroom. After a long moment, her eyes fell on Clark. She blinked and tossed her bag over by the couch. "You can have the loft room; I'll take the couch." She said and headed towards the kitchen.
     
    #3 AkikoYukito, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  4. Clark took a look around what would probably be his home for the next few days. It wasn’t exactly the Ritz but he at least felt safe. He knew in a few days he would be transferred to where ever he would be giving his deposition from, and then probably into Witness Relocation. That was what Agent Simmons back in Pittsburgh told him. Clark had no clue where here was though for all he knew he could be in another state entirely. He was picked up at a bookstore at the mall by a female agent posing as someone who was interested in the works of Nora Roberts. Once they got outside Clark noticed there was no one else around, and at first Clark was scared out of his skull. Then Agent Simmons showed up to let Clark know what was going on, and then a black sack was placed over his head. The next time he saw anything concerning the outside world it was night and Clark was on a back roads ride. Not to mention they apparently had the conversational skills of gargoyles because not a word was said during the ride.

    Once he was alone with Ennett and she gave out the sleeping details she was gone. Clark let out an exhale and said with an unsure wave knowing she was out of ear shot, “Hmm hi Clark Walton. Nice to meet you.”

    Clark had a sense from the very beginning that this was probably going to be a very lonely situation for him. He was preparing to assume a whole new identity, within a couple of days it would be reported to his family that Clark was killed in a car crash, and then moved to some place as far away from Pittsburgh as one could get. While there was nothing special about Clark’s life it was his life, and it was something he was comfortable with. Now it was all being gutted away from him. However, this was balanced out with the fact that if Clark hadn’t said something not only would these crooks be getting away with everything, but chances are likely he would be dead by now.

    Clark went upstairs to what would be his room and took a look around. In his looking around Clark realized that his main enemy wasn’t really going to be the people wanting to kill him, but it was going to be boredom. No electronic devices of any kind, no TV, but there was a radio in the corner. Of course, with where they were there was no way of telling if they could get anything. Clark shook his head and said, “Next time Clark just resign quietly and move to Tahiti.”

    Clark headed back downstairs to the Kitchen where Agent Ennett was and he started to say something. He was interrupted as one of the agents came barreling into the living room. Clark quickly moved out of the way as the Agent was bleeding badly from his chest. Clark was too shocked to do anything else other than freeze where he had moved into a corner. The Agent stumbled towards Ennett and fell on his knees in front of her. He said in between gasps looking up, “Location compromised…..dunno how…they found us…it’s like….like…World War Three…about everyone dead…We’re holding ‘em off best we can…but you have to…get him out of here Ennett…go out the back door…” He gave her a set of keys and said, “Out the back door…down the side of the hill…quarter of a mile…there’s a car get gone.”

    The Agent glanced over at Clark and said, “Walton…” Clark was still in shock and the Agent yelled, “WALTON!” Clark looked back over at the Agent who said, “Kick over that baseboard heater now…and reach in.” Clark kicked the baseboard heater and it fell away. Clark reached inside and pulled out a two stacks of hundred dollar bills. The Agent said back to Ennett, “That will get you where you need to go…get him to the Federal Building in Atlanta in five days he is to appear before Judge Parker in District Court number 9.” He blinked twice and said, “Get him there or all of this…our deaths were in vain.” He nodded twice to Agent Ennett and said, “Get going we’ll hold ‘em…off as long as we can...” He looked at Clark and said, “Trust her…and don’t chicken out…this is all for you Clark...” He looked back Ennett and struggled to his feet. He said holding up his 9 mm and to Ennett, “Get going Agent…NOW!”

    Clark looked over to Agent Ennett waiting for her next move.
     
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  5. In the kitchen, Claire was opening the cabinets and looking at the stock of dried boxed and canned foods. There was no coffee to be found anywhere, nor a coffee machine. That would be a problem; there was no operating properly without a cup of joe in the mornings. With no coffee, the days to come were looking bleak and grouchy. Claire closed the cabinet she was blankly staring into upon Clark's entrance. She turned toward him, brows raised expectantly. He seemed to be about to speak, but was interrupted by the door flying open, an agent barreling through into the living room. Claire burst past Clark and made an attempt to catch the man before he fell to the floor. The best she managed was to break the fall a little.

    "What happened?" Claire gasped, kneeling at the agent's level to inspect his wound. "Compromised? How?!" She asked despite the agent said he didn't know. She quickly stood up and went to close the door, peeking out the window into the darkness. Of course, she could see nothing with all the trees and the starless black sky. There didn't appear to be any moon either. Claire bolted to the light switch and turned off all of the lights except for one lamp in the corner. Then, she moved to the supply closet and rifled through the large black box that sat on the floor. She pulled from the box two vests, tossing one over her shoulder to Clark. It was Kevlar.

    "Put that on!" She commanded and put on her own. From the box she pulled multiple guns and preloaded magazines, attaching some to her belt and stuffing others into a bag. She pulled a pair of goggles, adjusting them on her head, then jumped to grab her duffle and threw it over herself. "Come on." Claire grasped Clark's sleeve and tugged him towards the back door, glancing at the agent. "Good luck." She breathed, pulling Clark along then into the dark kitchen to stand by the door. Stopping momentarily, Claire pulled the goggles down to her eyes and turned them on. Slowly and carefully she opened the door and looked out. "Hold on and don't let go." Claire placed Clark's hand on her bag, then jogged out the door and across the stretch of green yard to the tree line, gun at the ready.

    They trekked as cautiously and quietly down the hill as they possibly could while still being swift. Claire, since she could see, tried to guide Clark away from places where there were lots of leaves on the ground or tree roots to trip over. At the foot of the hill was a car, a nondescript vehicle that wasn't like what the FBI drove. Claire practically shoved Clark into the passenger seat, tossed her bag onto his lap, and got behind the wheel. For the first few miles, she drove without headlights, using the goggles to enable her vision. Only when they hit the main road did she turn the lights on and discard the goggles to the back seat.

    "You can take that off now.." Claire said after a while with a glance to Clark. It would be alright. There weren't many other cars on the road, it seemed. It looked like they were out of danger for the time being. She grabbed her bag and tossed it into the back seat as she had the goggles. Securing the steering wheel with her knee, she took her hands away from the wheel to take her own vest off. It was a relief, as it was most hot and uncomfortable. "Try to get some shuteye. We'll be on the road a while." She said no more after that, opting to smoke instead. It was nearly daylight when they pulled off the road at a motel. There were no cars in the lot but one, likely the front desk manager. Claire parked and went in, returning a few minutes later with a room key. She pulled around the building, parking away from where the room actually was. The room was typical of a motel, with two beds and a single, small bathroom. "This will do for the night." She tossed her bag on one bed and kicked the door shut.
     
    #5 AkikoYukito, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  6. Clark was ready for certain possibilities concerning this situation. The overwhelming desire to contact someone from his family was his main one ever since he walked into Agent Simmons’ office a few days ago. Now the overwhelming desire to turn back time and never type in the code that started all of this was filling every fiber of his being. Clark couldn’t believe what was going on at this moment. He was being led through a darkened house and through the woods by an agent who looked like she wasn’t much older than him. Then she was driving without any headlights on and once he was told he could off his vest Clark did so but very slowly. There was so much he wanted to do and say but at the moment all he could think of was to do what Agent Ennett said. If she told him to stand on his head and try to sell 10 pounds of cocaine to a squirrel Clark probably would’ve done so, because she was the only thing separating Clark from life and shaking hands with several dead relatives.

    Everything was a blur and Clark vaguely remembered Agent Ennett telling him to get some rest. Clark was ready to do anything but sleeping wasn’t exactly high on the list. He was afraid that if he did in light of current events that he would not be waking up. However, his adrenaline rush was wearing off, and his body’s desire to rest was starting to take over. Clark caught himself dozing off on occasion but every time he did his head would snap back up like he was High Schooler trying not to fall asleep in class.

    Finally, after what felt like forever Agent Ennett pulled off at a hotel that looked like it was something to see; at least back in the mid 80’s. At the moment it looked it had been many a person’s last known location, but Agent Ennett was an FBI Agent she was experienced so Clark felt a sense of safety with her at the moment. Clark was relieved when they got into the room.

    Clark just sat on the bed and was finally catching his breath. Clark said, “I don’t think I’ll ever go to sleep again ever in life.” He put his glasses on the nightstand next to the bed he was sitting and just put his head in his hands for a moment. Clark was never known to be an overly religious man. He was what best could be described as a lapsed Catholic, but if they made it out of this Clark was strongly considering becoming a monk.

    Clark stood up and began to walk around the room. He said, “You must think I’m some sort of computer geek who has no life and can’t take care of himself in a crisis.” Looking at Agent Ennett he said, “Pretty true sadly, but this is not something I expected to have happen to me. I realize that you have a job to do and I’m when you get down to it nothing more than just another assignment to you, but thank you Agent Ennett for saving my life this evening. I have the sad feeling though that this was only the beginning, and considering we have no idea who sent that group I have no idea how far what I know goes up. All I know is that Agent Simmons was very concerned about everything that I told him.”

    Clark’s body was sending signals that he was exhausted, but he was also starting to realize that neither he nor Agent Ennett had ate in almost 12 hours as his stomach was making funny sounds. Clark though wasn’t sure if he was more exhausted or starving. There was another issue on his mind that Clark needed to address. He said, “Agent Ennett we’re both in a difficult situation we’re going to be dealing with a lot of stuff, but I overheard one of the other agents refer to you as Claire. Would you be offended if I called you by your first name? I mean if you would be let me know, but calling you Agent Ennett all the time just seems so….” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Formal. I mean if you’re offended just say so.”

    Sitting back on the bed Clark finally laid down and said, “Mama said there would be days like this.”
     
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  7. Securing the bolt and chain locks on the door, Claire sat on the corner of the closest bed beside her bag. She kicked her shoes off and crossed her legs, fishing in her pocket for her pack of cigarettes, which turned out to be empty. With a sigh, Claire tossed the box on the floor and pulled her bag into her lap to rifle through it. It was a faded army green canvas bag with tan straps reinforced with bits of leather, a typical travel bag. From it, she pulled an unopened pack of smokes. She promptly opened it, put a cigarette between her lips, and lit it. The first drag was almost blissful, released with a slow calming breath. The gray pall swirled on the air, dingy against the yellowed white curtains.

    "Wonder if Randy's okay?" Claire thought, exhaling another puff of smoke. She wanted to call and check up on him; but there were too many possibilities that a phone call would only prove disastrous. What if Randy was hiding and his phone rang, giving away his position? What if he wasn't even alive and the enemy had his phone and used it to track her and Clark? Claire forced that idea from her mind. Of course Randy was fine and she would surely see him in court when the time came. If something happened, he or the boss would make contact one way or another. "...Right?" Claire's attention was pulled away from her contemplation by Clark's pacing.

    "I don't really think anything," The agent mumbled, gray-blue eyes shifting to watch the man idle back and forth. For the most part, Clark's ramblings went in one ear and out the other. It struck a nerve when he thanked her, not that she got angry, rather that it made her uncomfortable. She glowered and turned her head entirely to look away from him, face hidden by her loose brown curls. "You don't have to call me 'Agent Bennett,' Bennett or Claire is fine. They're both my name." Claire's words may have been difficult to hear with her mumbling around her cigarette and facing the window.

    Only did Claire turn back around when she heard the springs of the other bed condense. Her glower relaxed into a slight frown. Her stomach was churning uncomfortably; the cigarettes that had been suppressing her appetite all those hours subdued it no longer. "Brace yourself, then. There are plenty more of those days to come." She said as she stood up and put on her shoes. Grabbing the keys to the car and the room, she headed for the door. With a "stay here" over her shoulder, Claire left.

    Rather than go to the car, Claire went to the lobby where the man stood behind the desk. "Let me borrow your car." She demanded and slapped the keys down on the counter. He looked at her like one insane and screwed up his face in disbelief. "I'm not going to lend you my car." He sounded appalled. "Look, I need to get food and gasoline. You have my car as collateral." It took convincing, but Claire managed to get the keys to the man's car and pulled out of the lot. The need for gasoline was only a bit of a lie, but it wasn't like the car's tank was empty. An hour passed before she returned and placed a large paper sack full of cheeseburgers and fries onto the bed.

    "Hope you're hungry," Claire said and sat down to dig into the bag, "I doubt these will be any good once they get cold." She tossed a burger to Clark then grabbed one for herself.
     
    #7 AkikoYukito, Feb 1, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  8. As Claire left Clark was not sure what was going on at the moment. For all he knew Claire could be in on all of this as well. Clark quickly shook his head as though he were getting rid of a buzzing only he could hear. Clark realized that paranoia was starting to creep in on his psyche, but after what he had seen and what he was about to go through paranoia just might be the thing that kept him alive in the end. However, he realized that if Claire really wanted to kill him she had more than ample opportunity to do it in either the woods or while they were enroute to their new dwellings.

    Then Clark began to wonder; why did Claire leave? What was she doing? Did she realize that inspite of a sizable head start that whoever was after them could catch up with them in a matter of minutes or possible even seconds? Not to mention Claire didn’t exactly look like a seasoned vet, because of she was would they have made her the lackey to keep an eye on the computer geek?

    Clark sat on the bed and closed his eyes and said, “Okay Clark get ahold of yourself. You’re still alive Claire is an FBI Agent. She has the training and the skills that are obviously good enough for her to be a part of the FBI.” Clark let out a sigh of relief and said, “The sky is blue and the grass is green. The sky is blue and the grass is green. The sky is blue and the grass is green.” Clark opened his eyes and took a look around the room. He nodded a couple of times relaxed and said, “That’s it Walton. Remember the stress training from Ellen in HR.”

    Just then Claire came back in with a bag of food. She tossed Clark a cheeseburger and there were fries too. Normally Clark avoided fast-food, but after what they had just been through Clark had the feeling that this wouldn’t be the last time he would have to woof down the stuff. Clark said, “Thank you…” with a shrug of the shoulder “Claire” and a bit of a smile. Clark wasn’t sure if he should try to be too friendly with Claire, but since they were going to be travelling companions for the next few days he figured he might as well make the most of it.

    Unwrapping his cheeseburger and digging into it Clark in most cases would’ve choked on the grease bomb, but in his current state this food was the best meal he ever had. Clark saw a clock radio and said, “Well might as well see what’s going on in the world.” Clark cut on the radio and there was a news broadcast going on, and what he heard next made his blood go cold. The announcer said, “Repeating our top story from last night FBI Agent Lou Simmons was found dead at his office. The apparent victim of a suicide Agent Simmons was found to have been the target of an FBI probe into Agency corruption.”

    Clark felt his jaw drop, but he swallowed what was in his mouth so as to not look like a complete goof in front of Claire. Just because his life was endangered and he got a figurative punch to the gut, but that was no reason to look like a complete fool in front of a lady. Clark’s shock was plain to see as he said, “Claire Agent Simmons was the Agent I was dealing with. If they’re saying, he was involved in corruption either one of two things.” Clark steadied himself as he spoke, “He was the one who sold us out, or this thing goes way up higher than we realized and chances are likely they know who I am.” A hard reality hit Clark as he asked, “Is it possible that my family maybe in danger now? Or even yours because by now they know we’ve escaped.”

    Clark knew he just laid a lot out there and he looked at Claire and said, “I’m just full of all kind of good news.”
     
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  9. In the time it took Clark to start eating, Claire had nearly finished her burger. Only once she started to eat did she realize just how hungry she really was. She visibly winced when Clark thanked her, as if his gratitude physically pained her. In a couple more bites, the burger was gone and she tossed the wadded up paper into a nearby waste basket. "Don't thank me." Claire said softly, placing the bag of food on the night stand between the beds. Suddenly, her appetite was lost and she felt like perhaps she shouldn't have eaten.

    The first bit of interest showed on her face as Clark reached to turn on the radio. Perhaps a little news, talk radio, or music could help ease the tension if just for a little bit. It was too good to be true, though; the story on the news broadcast was about the FBI. Claire managed to look horrified and enraged at the same, whirling to face the radio. What was a story like that doing on the news? Why had the FBI released that information when it pertained to such a case? It could put Clark and herself at risk. Scrambling across the bed, Claire slapped her hand down on the radio hard. The force punched multiple buttons on the top of it at once and it skipped through a few radio stations before it settled on one playing music.

    "No. More. News." Claire said through clenched teeth, her jaw firmly set. For a moment, she sat with her back to Clark, then turned to peer back at him over her shoulder. There was an ambiguous light in her eyes that might have been sympathy or guilt. "More than likely, he was the one who sold us out. He was probably working for someone higher up on the food chain than him, just another lackey." She sighed with resignation. "They probably do know who you are; they may even know who I am, even though I don't know if names were given when word was sent that Washington was sending a team to retrieve you. Realistically speaking, your family is at risk; however, there's not much of a point in trying to harm them since they don't know anything about your whereabouts." Claire explained, sounding as if it were all just a matter of fact.

    "As for my family, they don't even live in Washington and I haven't spoken to them in a while. Harassing them would be even more pointless." With a shrug, Claire stood from the bed. She stripped off what remained of her equipment and stuffed it into her bag, which she set on the floor between the beds, out of sight of the door. Claire unbuttoned her blouse a bit, to make it more breathable, and pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail. Once she made sure the door was secure, she laid back on the bed, listening to the music playing over the static of the shitty reception.

    "Don't worry about your family; just worry about you." She said finally.
     
    #9 AkikoYukito, Feb 3, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  10. The words that Claire had said were painful to hear especially after the last nearly 12 hours. He was hoping that there would some kind of sign of hope or that she was already come up with a plan to help them along the way. Every fiber and nerve in Clark’s body wanted to crawl up in a corner and just wail away. Maybe even wish for all of this to go away, but that wasn’t dealing with reality. The reality was that yes their situation sucked on ice, but they were still alive and as long as they were breathing they still had a chance.

    He looked over at Claire and Clark realized that she had enough on her plate as it was. Clark needed to step his game up and help where he could. The whinny clingy nerd routine wasn’t going to help at all, but Clark was smart and when it came to seeing the big picture that was an area that he excelled in. As this was all settling into Clark’s mind he felt not really a sense of strength, but more of a sense of focus. Not necessarily overpowering but it was helping to see what was going and how he could make a difference.

    Laying on the bed next to Claire's Clark said, “My family and I talk, or should I say talked, during the holidays and if there was a major event going on. We’re pretty well scattered across the globe actually. Mom and Dad live in Cleveland both getting ready to retire. Believe it or not dad works in law enforcement too. Homicide Captain mom’s an RN. Older Brother is in Iraq special forces. Two older sisters one in London working as an actress the other is an attorney in Houston. One younger sister getting ready to study veterinarian medicine in Oregon.” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “So whoever is after me and thinks of going for my family good luck finding all of them. With all of them all over the place they would be spreading their resources very thin for just one person. Especially when they thought that we’d be dead already.” Clark looked over at Claire and said, “I know it sounds like a lot or rationalizations, but for the moment it’s working for me. I know I’m spilling a lot of details and crap about my personal life to you but Claire right now you’re the only, for lack of a better term and I don’t mean this the way it’s gonna sound, but you’re the only person I know I can trust right now.” Sitting up slightly in the bed he continued, “I mean I’m sure you’re used to dealing with this kind of stuff all the time, but me I’m just normal computer geek. I enjoy Bruce Springsteen, Football, and Running I am entering a world now that I have no clue or idea how it works.” Nodding Clark said, “And if that makes me annoying I’m sorry Claire. Not to mention I'm sort of jealous you have a change of clothes at least.” Clark let out a slight smirk when he said that.

    Thinking for a moment Clark said, “Claire I think you’re right about Simmons, and if that Is true and he did set us up. Do you think that whoever he is working for is waiting for us in Atlanta? And if he is do you think we might want to think of getting rid of the playbook and possibly heading for another location somewhere else. I mean I’m sure you know other agents who might be able to help us or something like that.” Clark sat on the edge of the bed and said, “Whatever you say I’ll do. I won’t let you down Claire.”
     
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  11. Claire laid on her back, arms behind her head, staring at the ceiling. For a mattress in a crappy motel, it wasn't that bad, even if it was more than likely a cesspool of germs and other peoples' bodily fluids. If just for a moment, the agent closed her eyes and was at peace in spite of the static of the radio and the noise of cars flying past on the highway. With another moment of the silence between she and Clark, Claire might have fallen asleep; but after a moment, he picked up the conversation with talk of his family. Annoyance briefly showed on her face, replaced quickly by indifference as she turned her head to look at him. It was a little strange to her that he would speak so openly about his family. He didn't even know her! For all he knew, she could be in on the whole thing. Of course, that wasn't the case, but that didn't make his relating to her every detail of his life any less awkward.

    "I don't really care about your rationalizations. Whatever stops the tears, then by all means. But you really should be more careful who you just go telling details about your life to. Not that you have reason to distrust me, but..." Claire struggled with what she wanted to say. Was there a polite way to tell someone that they were just business or that forming emotional connections was only going to make things more difficult in the long run and to stop talking? If there was, Claire couldn't think of it. She turned her head back towards the window, knowing her expression wasn't one that she wanted him to see. Aside from Randy, Claire didn't relate to others very well, at least not on a personal level.

    "You must like my name a lot to say it so much." Claire said and turned to look at Clark again. There was the faintest trace of a smirk on the corner of her lips. "Clark, I'm going to level with you. I.. I'm not used to dealing with this kind of thing at all. This is my first security detail; most of my cases, they... they don't involve living victims. I investigate homicides and missing persons cases, most of which end up being homicides. Luckily, training does prepare you at least a little bit for different types of situations that you might encounter." She spoke carefully, as if explaining something very important to a child.

    "I do have a small network of contacts who might be able to help, though. We'll want to steer clear of the FBI. We don't know who all was in on this aside from Simmons, like whether any of the Bureau in Washington were working for him. Just because Simmons is gone doesn't mean that there aren't still dirty agents in the FBI. The only agent we can count on right now is Rand-- er, Agent Curtis; and I don't know if he's even still alive." With a sigh, Claire returned her gaze to the ceiling then closed her eyes. "We can get you some more clothes when we get back on the road. The next town is only a couple of hours from here. Now, we sleep."

    At that, Claire rolled over on her side, her back to Clark. She didn't bother to get under the covers; she just grabbed a pillow for her head, drifting off soon after. Claire woke earlier than she might have liked, the sun just after dawn throwing light on her face through the slats in the window blinds. Opting out of using the creepy motel shower, she settled for simply changing her clothes. Now, instead of her dress clothes, she wore a casual sweatshirt and jeans.

    "Rise and shine, sleeping beauty. We need to get a move on." She nudged Clark before making sure all of her things were in her bag. The keys to the car were in her hand.
     
    #11 AkikoYukito, Feb 6, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  12. Clark realized that he was spilling his guts out to someone who was not supposed to be protecting him, but she was for the most part a complete stranger. He wasn’t sure how to react to Claire, very politely and in her own way, that they weren’t gonna be pals or anything of that nature. That to her Clark was just an assignment. Had things gone the way they were supposed to there would be another Agent Clark would be dealing with right now. Then again if things went the way they were supposed to within the context of the big picture Haddon Industries would be playing by the same rules as everyone else.

    Seeing Claire smirk gave Clark a bit of a jolt a rush as it were. Mainly because for a brief second Claire allowed her Humanity to show through, and maybe that was what Clark really wanted at the moment. That someone gave a damn about him on a personal level, and not just someone who knew something that he shouldn’t have known. Although hearing Claire detail what she was originally supposed to be doing didn’t fill Clark with a whole lot of confidence. However, Clark was more grateful that Claire was at least being honest with him which something that he really needed at this time.

    Now that he had a full, although somewhat uncomfortable, feeling in his stomach Clark could feel his adrenaline rush wearing down which made him somewhat sleepy. Seeing Claire rollover and being to drift off to sleep Clark thought it was okay to follow her lead. Although for the most part that night Clark didn’t sleep that well. The slightest sound made Clark flinch in bed and think that whoever was after them had found them. However, when he did fall asleep Clark barely even moved, and then Clark finally felt relaxed enough to fall asleep. That was when Claire woke him up, and every part of him wanted to say, “Just five more hours please.” He didn’t say that though because if Claire said it was time to go then Clark knew it was time.

    Clark looked around and was pleased to see that no one had broken into the room and taken Cynthia and him hostage. Clark looked at Cynthia and said, “Okay no problem. I can’t say for sure but I think it might be necessary to burn my clothes. Who knows what has been on this bed, or what has been done in it.” Standing up and stretching Clark shook his head and said, “On second thought I don’t wanna know. I might sleep better tonight not knowing the answer to that one. Although this motel looks like it has been many a person’s last known location.” Nodding he said, “Just glad it wasn’t ours.”

    Seeing that Claire had the keys in hand Clark said, “Well ready when you are Claire.” Just then Clark saw red dot appear on Claire’s face. Without even thinking Clark, basically, tackled Claire just as the glass sounded as though a pebble had hit it. Clark turned and saw a bullet hole about the size of nickel in the wall at the far end of the room. Clark suddenly realized he was laying on top of Claire. He very quickly rolled off of her and said, “Sorry about tackling you and laying on you, but ummm…..” He pointed to the hole in the wall and said, “Whatever you’re thinking of doing right now I love it.”
     
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  13. "WHAT. THE. FUCK?!" Claire nearly screamed when Clark tackled her, surprised and a little angry at being knocked to the floor. Her eyes were narrow, lips pursed and jaw clenched. She shoved Clark by the shoulder as he started to roll off of her and sat up abruptly, glancing around. There had been a sound, brief as it was; but it was just loud enough that Claire knew she heard it. On Clark's last lingering syllable, her gaze fell on the window and the shaft of light pouring through the hole in the glass. Her eyes followed the light to the hole in the wall and widened. "Was that--?" The realization hit that she had undoubtedly just been shot at; and Clark saved her ass. There was a hint of guilt as Claire looked back at Clark; however, it was quickly replaced with determination.

    "No, you don't." The brunette said in a low voice and crawled towards the window. She came up to the side of it where she was hidden by the drapes and reached her hand up to close the blinds. The room was instantly darker, plunged further into darkness when Claire pulled the black-out drapes shut. She scrambled the three feet from the window to the bed and pulled her bag onto the floor to rummage through it. From the bag she pulled a pack of gum and a compact mirror, like that used for make-up. First, Claire unwrapped a stick of gum and shoved it into her mouth, chewing vigorously; then, she crawled over to the door that connected their room to the next one, opened the mirror, and slid it underneath the door. The crack between the door and the dingy carpet was just large enough that Claire was able to see the other room's reflection in the mirror. From the looks of it, the room was empty.

    "Grab the bag," Claire instructed. She stood in the corner behind the door to their room where she was out of view of the peephole and, removing her gum, stuck it over the hole. That would ensure that no one outside could use the hole to look in. "Now, move." Claire took a step back from the second door then laid a kick on it. After a couple more kicks, the door swung open onto the empty adjacent room. She crouched by the door of this room, which was a near mirror image of theirs.

    "Alright, so it may not be the smartest decision, but we're going to have to run for it. I can't see another way around it. We need to get out of here before they close in, if they haven't already, and make a break for the clerk's car out front. Our car probably has a gun pointed at it, too, if they haven't thought to strap a bomb to it." The last words were said with a touch of grim humor that was arguably too grim considering the circumstances. Claire reached over and adjusted her bag around Clark. "Keep it on that side of you and hold it up in front of your head a bit. It'll shield you." She said, loading a round into the chamber of her gun and unlocking the door.

    "Ready? ...Go, now!" Standing, Claire placed her hand on the doorknob then jerked it open. She grabbed a hold of Clark's sleeve and put him just in front of her on the inside, placing herself between him and any bullets as they made a mad dash for the clerk's car. Claire flung the door open and shoved Clark in in front of her. While she couldn't hear the shots, Claire could hear the bullets make impact on the building and feel them whizzing by her. She didn't even wait for him to actually get into the passenger seat before she was in the car, starting it up and taking off. Indeed, the keys she'd had were the keys to the clerk's car, which she purposely neglected to return the night before.

    The old white car more suitable for a Sunday drive after church squealed onto the highway, pushing eighty miles per hour in a fifty-five. Claire pressed on the gas, urging the car to speed up. She wanted to put as much distance between her and Clark and their pursuers as possible.
     
    #13 AkikoYukito, Feb 10, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  14. As the bullets whizzed by them Clark didn’t have time to think or react to them. He knew if he even thought about stopping then there would be no way he’d live to see the next hour much less tomorrow. Clark got in the car as Claire was starting to gun it. The echo of the door closing had barely subsided when Clark realized that they were flying down to the highway. Clark heard the sound of his seatbelt click and everything else felt like it was a blur. Periodically Clark would glance in the rear view mirror to see if anyone was following them. Luckily he didn’t see anyone which meant they these shooters were now scrambling trying to figure out how to stop them. Clark had made his sure of enemies in his days at the company, but this was the first time that someone actually wanted him to die. Not just an expression to be hurled about recklessly there were people that wanted him dead. However, as long as Claire was with him Clark felt like he had a chance.

    With great deal of focus Clark made sure that he didn’t show any outward signs of nervousness or fear. Things were tense enough and him blubbering wasn’t going to help the situation. Claire had enough on her mind without a spastic Clark. Although every part of him was terrified beyond words, and if he tried to eat anything right now Clark was fairly certain he’d throw up. Clark leaned his head back and let out an exhale with an eye roll. After that he looked himself over briefly to make sure that he wasn’t bleeding.

    Clark said, “Not meaning to state the completely obvious, but we’re still alive so we got that going for us.”

    Now that things we’re for the moment somewhat settled. Clark began to think logically about the situation. To say that he and Claire were an eyelash away from being screwed was an understatement. Sooner or later the clerk would realize that his car was gone, the speeding down the road was going to attract the police, and once they got busted Clark was fairly certain that Claire wouldn’t mention she was with the FBI. At least he was hoping she wouldn’t because if the word got out they were in jail then that was it. Those who wanted them dead would have no problem finding them and catching them.

    Clark said, “The car so far is holding up pretty good maybe we…” just then the car began to sputter and then the deafening sound of something blowing up. Then the smell of smoke began to fill the car. Claire pulled over and they both got out of the car. Clark looked over at Claire and said, “Next time I try to say something positive about our situation feel free to slap me.” Looking over the car Clark realized that this car was done it was not going to do them any good anymore.

    Looking around and seeing nothing resembling another car they could take Clark said, “Goes without saying being out here in the open is a really bad idea.” He looked over to Claire and said, “Sorry I get nervous I tend to babble. Feel free to slap me in this situation too.” Clark saw down a dirt road a barn that clearly had seen it’s better day, but in this situation it just might save their lives. He noticed that the fencing was torn down and the house had weeds and ivy growing all around it.

    Clark said, “That farm over there we can hide out over there and try to figure out our next move. Unless you got a better idea. To which I am more than willing to listen to. Although if nothing else we probably ought to hide the car. As long as it’s out in the open it’s almost like a neon sign saying, ‘Here we are’ so we need to ditch it.”

    With that Clark got in the car and put it in neutral. He got back out and said, “I’m willing to push if you’re willing to steer.” Just then Clark noticed something else. He said, “Over to your left Claire that’s a large enough lake. We can ditch the car in there and move onto to the farm house without them following us.” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Unless you got a better plan.”
     
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  15. "So far, so clear," Claire thought, glancing in the rearview mirror to see the road behind them. The motel was far behind them now; a good twenty minutes away at least going the speed limit. They had managed to get ahead of their failed assailants by only a very narrow turn that might by an outsider be called a miracle. It was no miracle, though; it was quick logical and tactical thinking. With a slow exhale, the tension in Claire visibly eased up, her knuckles turning from stark white back to flesh as her grip on the steering wheel relaxed.

    "Of course we're alive. I may not be experienced in protective detail, but I've done my share of field work." The agent said, looking at Clark with a raised eyebrow. For a moment, the two were on the same wavelength. Thoughts about the speed at which Claire was flying down the highway and the possibility of getting pulled over and arrested crossed her mind; however, only briefly. They were bulwarked by the sudden steady decrease of speed, which didn't make sense since Claire hadn't let off the gas. Then, there was a sound that could only be described as an explosion and black smoke was seeping from under the hood of the car.

    "Fuck." Claire growled, hitting the breaks and veering over to the grassy, gravely side of the road. She parked and got out, popping the hood open. More black smoke billowed out, so much that it was nearly impossible to see under the hood. Unfortunately, Claire didn't know much about cars. She knew how to jump start a vehicle when the battery died and how to check the oil to see if it needed changing, but that was where her knowledge ended. Randy was the one to go to about cars. This one was clearly toast and they were shit out of luck.

    "Fuck!" She repeated, this time more hotly. Her eyes narrowed in Clark's direction when he spoke. His stating the obvious was beginning to wear on her nerves. With a sweeping glance in all directions, Claire looked for anything that might be of use to them. There was a lake on the other side of the road and an old building in the trees just down the hill on their side. There were no other cars to flag down or possibly steal off the side of the road. They were screwed.

    "Don't tempt me." Claire said when Clark mentioned slapping him. In her frustration, there was nothing she wanted to do more than hit something or someone. She turned to look towards the barn, this time with consideration. That was actually not a bad plan. If there was a loft accessible inside, they might could keep an eye on the road and surrounding trees for any danger; and it would be a good vantage point for shooting if it came to that. With a second look at the lake, Claire considered it a moment, too, then got in the car.

    "Nice thinking." She gave a sort of half smile that was both surprised at and congratulatory of Clark's clever idea. Turning the wheel all the way to the left, she removed her belt and tied it in place to the turn signal lever. Then she rolled down the windows, grabbed her bag, and got out to help Clark push. It took a minute to get the car rolling, but once the two got their footing, it went almost with ease. The real effort was getting it to go in the right direction, which required Claire to get back in and adjust the wheel a couple of times; however, once they got it on the grass on the opposite side of the road, the slope down towards the lake and gravity did the rest. With a good shove, the car went straight into the water. It quickly filled up with water with the windows down.

    "Come on, we best get back across and out of sight before someone drives by." Claire motioned for Clark to follow with a wave of her hand and climbed back up the short hill to the roadside. The trek to the barn was the smoothest part, and the safest since they had the cover of some trees. From the looks of the place, it was abandoned. Even so, Claire approached with caution, gun at the ready in case there was someone around. It was a torn down wooden building covered in cobwebs and overrun with ivy, tall grasses, and weeds. There was junk all over the place, piled along each wall.

    The heavy wooden doors were cracked and splintered, the locks rusted shut and the hinges weak. It took only a shot with Claire's gun to break the lock. The door didn't open much, but it was enough to squeeze through. Inside the barn was one large open space also littered with old junk. Sun poured in from holes in the ceiling and illuminated it enough to see. The plywood floors were paved with dust, weeds and patches of flowers popping up between the boards. The dust they disturbed swirled in slow motes and smelled of sawdust. In the far corner, in what might have once been a stable, there was ladder leading up to the hay loft. Claire started wordlessly towards it, gave it a kick to test its integrity, then climbed up.

    "Come on up, it's safe." Claire called softly down to Clark, tossing her bag onto a hay bale and moving to explore the loft. There was a hole in the tin roof that just had a view of the road and the path they took to the barn. "This will do for now."
     
    #15 AkikoYukito, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
  16. Considering where they had just come from the hole in the roof barn looked like five-star accommodations. This was ideal from many points of view. The one true way their pursuers had to track them was gone, they had a clear vantage point of being able to see, and here there was no one around for miles or at the farm. It looked the farm hadn’t seen another living soul in at least twenty years, and Clark was hoping that he and Claire would be living souls when they left as opposed to dead bodies being thrown in the lake.

    Clark made his way up the ladder, and realized that he had been working out more in the last 24 hours than he had in the last two weeks. He was actually surprised that his body was holding out as well as it had considering Clark was still recovering from a pulled hamstring. He looked around and said, “Okay looks like this is home for a while.” Clark sat along a wall and just looked up through the hole in the roof.

    It was about noon or shortly thereafter and assuming they weren’t going to be bolting off at a moment’s notice once again basic survival needs were going to start becoming a factor again. They had shelter so they had that going for them, but they needed food, it was still winter (technically) which meant that the temps at night were going to get chilly, and of course who knew what might actually be living on the property. Clark said, “I guess it’s too much to hope that the people chasing us just gave up and went home.” Clark chuckled and shook his head and said, “Yeah me neither.”

    Looking around Clark noticed a few items behind a crate and said, “Claire we may not be here for too long.” He stood up and with his foot he nudged over the crate a bit and said, “Exhibit A one used marijuana joint and two other joints unlit, exhibit B one used condom and a package with two more, and finally exhibit C two empty cases of Budweiser.” Clark examined the case a little closer and said, “Correction…” He pulled out two beers and said, “Now it’s two empty cases.” Clark gave one to Claire and said, “I realize you may not drink it because you need to keep your wits about you and all that or whatever, but I for one think we’ve earned ourselves a drink.” With that Clark opened his beer and said, “Here’s to blind luck may it continue to smile on us.” Clark took a drink and said, “Not exactly a margarita but in this case it’ll do.”

    Clark began nursing his beer when he said, “If the kids are really using this place as a party place. There isn’t a munchie place for miles from here and if they’re hittin’ the wacky weed then it stands to reason that they have got to have a stash somewhere around here.” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey I wasn’t always the computer geek I tried a few things back in college. I’m just glad YouTube wasn’t around back then or my parents would be so embarrassed.” With his back to Claire he said, “Or more than they already are.”

    Clark began looking around and then he saw something behind two bags of feed. He smiled and said, “Candy wrappers and chip bags which means that…” Clark moved away the bags of feed and said, “I present to you our fest for the day.” Clark pulled out two bags of Doritos and a twelve pack of Snickers. He said, “When this is all over I’m gonna eat nothing but salads for a month for all three meals.” Clark put the food down and said, “Okay we got food and shelter covered so we should, in theory, be safe for the time being.”

    For the brief time he had been with Claire Clark was starting to learn that being prepared for worse cases was always a good thing. To expect worse case while hoping for the best was starting to feel like a normal thing. So in his mind Clark was starting to wonder what would the worst case be in this situation. To him it was a no-brainer and that was someone showing up. Clark finished his beer and threw it into one of the empty cases as his mind began to work. It wasn’t working as fast as normal because alcohol on an empty stomach wasn’t a great idea. However, Clark’s mind was still working and as long as that was the case they had a chance.

    Clark climbed down the ladder and walked over to the middle of the barn. He kicked up some dust and saw what he was looking for which was a handle. Clark said, “Oh yeah Walton you’re on your game now.” Clark gave two sharp pulls and the hatch in the middle of the floor lifted up. He said, “Claire I found our panic room I give you a storm cellar. Looks like we should fit in there fine.”

    Clark climbed back up and sat down along the wall. He watched as the sun was going in and out among the clouds. He said, “On any other occasion this would be almost peaceful.” Clark looked over at Claire and asked, “Wouldn’t you say so?” Clark shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey small talk. We might as well face reality you and I are stuck with each other we might as well make the best of it.”
     
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  17. The hay loft was exactly as Claire expected it to be with hay bales piled in the corners made by the sloped roof and the floor, bits of hay strewn about on the wood floor, and some bags of feed stacked on one wall. It wasn't as dusty up there, or at least there was a lack of sawdust; the hay was surprisingly and pleasantly dry and free of bugs or mold. Claire sat down on the packed bale of hay on which she set her bag, gazing out through the hole towards the road. Clouds passed over the sun, casting a thin layer of shadow over the loft. A cool breeze rattled the mostly bare trees and stirred the stray pieces of hay.

    Closing her eyes, Claire took a deep breath of the fresh air. It was a beautiful day, even if the conditions weren't ideal. Jamie might have thought that it was a fun place to camp out. "Jamie.." The name crossed Claire's mind only briefly, a thought no more substantial than a wisp of smoke. Her attention was drawn to Clark as he spoke, likely just rambling again to break the silence between them. She didn't answer him; she only rested her chin on her palm and returned her attention to the distant road. That is, until Clark moved. Claire turned and followed him with her eyes to where he found the blunts, condoms, and beer.

    "Nasty ass kids." Claire said under her breath, wrinkling her nose in disgust. Who left used condoms laying around? With two fingers and her thumb, she took the beer can by the top rim and set it down, as if it were just as dirty as the used condoms. It probably was, though, not that she needed a beer at a time like this. It would only cause problems if she got inebriated. "Thanks, but no thanks." She muttered, nudging the can if just a little farther away with the toe of her boot. She wasn't sure she wanted the chips and candy either, but she would have to eat something eventually.

    "We'll be fine." With a sigh, partly in boredom and partly in frustration, Claire leaned back against the sloped roof, eyes closed. "We don't need a 'panic room.' We'll. Be. Fine." She said, this time more strictly. It was good to be prepared for possible worse-case scenarios; however, it was another to expect them as if they were inevitable. Realizing her irritability, Claire grabbed a cigarette out of her bag and lit it up, taking a long, calming drag.

    "You really like to talk, don'tcha?" Claire questioned, raising an eyebrow and peeking one eye open to look at Clark. "..Indeed, we are." She agreed, exhaling a puff of smoke. Though she would never say it, Claire wished she'd been stuck with Randy, so she would at least have someone she could relate to more to talk to. It wasn't that she couldn't talk to Clark, she just didn't want to divulge a bunch of personal information to a total stranger. She certainly couldn't talk about work with him. "So, what do you want to talk about?"

    Claire wasn't entirely sure why she was encouraging idle chatter when she would much rather just sit in pensive silence. She could only suppose it was out of some psychological human need for the interaction that she wasn't getting from her absent partner. While she didn't want to talk about herself, she might consider answering a few questions if they weren't too personal.
     
    #17 AkikoYukito, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
  18. Getting to know Claire was proving on some levels to be somewhat of a Herculean Feat. He realized that she had to have a certain level of detachment from Clark, because she had a job to do and if she failed at that job it more than likely meant that Clark was dead and Claire would be as well. However, on a lot of levels their lives as they knew it were over. Clark was hoping that if Claire was smart, which all signs showed she was inspite of her lack of field experience, that her career was possibly over. If this conspiracy went up as high as it appeared it did, then that meant a field agent like her was expendable. Clark felt it best not to mention that at this time because as it was Claire was already on edge. Her partner was probably dead, Clark’s geekish tendencies and trying to strike up a conversation with Claire was getting on her nerves, and not to mention sooner or later she was going to run out of cigarettes.

    Clark nodded and replied, “Okay then, I’ll start with what I like to do when I’m not at work, and then you can respond.” If there were any doubts that Clark wasn’t a geek/nerd before this would establish it for sure. Clark said, “When I’m not working ironically I still am on my computer quite a bit.” He looked at Claire and said, “Contain your shock please.” He smirked and said, “Anyway, I play ‘World of Warcraft’ and I tweet a lot. Believe it or not though I do enjoy other things away from the computer. I like to jog, watch Football because I like the strategy aspect of the game, and I like music too. Springsteen fan classic rock mainly.”

    Clark walked over to the opening of the loft to get a look outside. It was calm and still which was good not only for their nerves, but if the killers came barreling down the road then they would know. Which Clark was counting on because he was hoping that the killers would be eased into a sense of complacency by the lack of witnesses. Well unless some of the local farm animals decided to testify then otherwise there would be no other witnesses.

    Clark sat back down and said, “Look I know damn well I am being a pain in the ass to you right now trying to talk to you and all that. I’m sorry about that. I don’t have too many friends, my family treats me like I’m ‘spooky’ ‘freaky’ or any other adjective along those lines, and right now you’re the only person that gives a damn if I’m alive or dead.” He nodded and said, “I know it’s your job to do that, but I just…” Clark shrugged his shoulders and said, “Forget it Claire you don’t have to say anything if you don’t wanna. We’ll just focus on staying alive and figure something out.” Clark turned his attention back to the outside and watched as the sun was slowly beginning to set.
     
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  19. "Springsteen?" Claire thought, trying to recall exactly who that was. Sounded like a name her grandfather had mentioned at one time or another; it was likely an older artist. Not that there was any room for Claire to comment on that, as she liked some of the older ballads herself. She searched her memory for the name and a song to put with it, something that would ring a bell. Alas, she couldn't say she knew who Clark was talking about. Perhaps it was Claire's silence that caused Clark to snap, having probably assumed her lack of response was her way of saying she didn't really want to talk and that he was annoying her.

    "I've never really found jogging to be very satisfying. I like a hard run, 1600 meters or more." The response came finally, after a couple more puffs on the cigarette. "I don't spend much time on the computer outside of work. I read mostly, listen to soft rock or anything with a good beat and a heavy baseline." Claire got one more drag from her smoke before it was spent. She tossed it on the floor and ground it beneath her boot to put it out. "'Don't really care for football, but mixed martial arts is interesting to watch."

    If the questions remained simple and required only simple answers, Claire likely would keep talking, even if conversation wasn't her favorite thing in the world. She wondered briefly whether their attempted assailants had made it to town yet and whether they would meet them there if and when they went. First, they had to figure out the direction town was in.
     
    #19 AkikoYukito, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
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  20. Hearing some of Claire’s interests actually made Clark feel like he had accomplished something. Granted it was merely small talk but in this case it didn’t feel like that he wasn’t dealing with a cold uncaring human being.

    Clark nodded and said, “I’m pretty decent at the 1600 meters can do it between 6-7 minutes most days. Really depends on the music that my MP3 has going on at the time.” He thought about the last time he ran, and it was glorious in Clark’s mind. He was about 10 seconds away from cracking the 5-minute mile on a back to back day. At the time Clark thought that he would get another chance, but now he was wondering if he could ever enjoy anything in his, soon to be, former life again.

    “In terms of MMA I’ve tried to watch it a couple of times, and I enjoyed it but it’s not something I can really get into. But I do have to admit the people who can do it are in a physical shape that I can’t even begin to imagine.” Clark shook his head and said, “To the people who can do it and have the discipline to stay with it I’m impressed.”

    Clark started to say something else and then as dusk began to settle in Clark noticed something. He said, “Claire…” He pointed and asked, “Do you see what I see?” It was a set of four headlights bouncing in the darkness. Clark said, “Those are headlights coming up the road.” Clark’s first instinct was to run, but then he noticed on one of them headlights on top of the roof. Clark said, “Those aren’t the people after us. They’re making too much of a scene which means….” He glanced back to where the beer and other assorted items were and said, “Somehow I doubt these clowns are gonna take too kindly to interlopers…” Clark then had an idea he said, “Wait a minute Claire. If they do what they normally plan on doing, they might be our ticket out of here.”

    Clark gathered his thoughts and said “We hide out for a bit and wait for them to pass out, or…” he rolled his eyes and said, “Whatever else they plan on doing and then we take a set of keys and take off.” He looked at Claire and said, “Unless you have a better idea, but we better think of something and fast. I really don’t think them seeing us is going to help us out. Whatever you think Claire I’m with you remember we’re in this together.”
     
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