Decided to split my last post up because it's a silly move.
by Daniele Marx
A cell phone let out a shrill ring in the quiet apartment. Dana and Jordan nearly cringed from the familiarity of the sound; it usually meant trouble for them when Colin’s phone rang. The sound of Colin presenting them with yet another dilemma to their already building tension made nothing easier to bear. Thankfully Colin was there to answer his own damn phone.
“Merriam speaking.” Dana sent a look to Jordan, waiting for the bad news to rear its ugly head, but the man was already angry at his superior for reasons he would not disclose, which meant that it concerned her. The man wasn’t too hard to figure out, despite his psychological defenses and cloaking devices. What did Colin say to him that had her caretaker on edge? “Sorry, you must have the wrong number.” The A.D. was even upset about something, being completely unreadable as he poured himself a brandy from his flask. It was a nasty habit to break for him; he usually did it around Dana when she was exceptionally difficult. This was their bimonthly meeting with the three of them. The A.D., Alfred Young, was not angry at her otherwise he’d been discussing whatever behavior she’d displayed with her by now. No, he was angry at Colin, but for different reasons than usual.
Colin was outright spiteful towards the young woman. He reasoned that she wasn’t trained for the work he was ordered to give her, so instead of adapting to the arrangement between himself and the other three who were in on this setup, he piled her with enough work that both she and Jordan suffered from sleep deprivation. The two often had to call in delivery in order to get a meal in while they looked over paperwork that Colin had dropped off. The week prior to this one, Dana had gotten a total of twelve hours of sleep; Jordan had gotten ten, but that’s only because he fell asleep on his file and she decided to let him lie there for two hours. He woke up with a start, nearly scaring Dana as she poured herself more hot tea.
But now Colin was paying for something he did. Dana just wished she knew what it was so she could hate him as much as Young did. “There’s no Jones here.” Jordan let his façade drop. There it was, Dana thought. Someone was looking for her. That’s why no one was looking at her, why everyone was keeping her in the dark. They didn’t want her to know they screwed up, that someone was looking for her. Who was it? She still didn’t know if she wanted to be found. She was lost. The A.D., who had once glared at Colin, was now content to look away from the trio in order to contemplate the possibilities of the caller.
“Put Jones on the line,” the man repeated on the other end of the line.
“Who is this ‘Jones’ you speak of? There is no one here by that name.”
“Of course there is.” Colin was shaken out of his confusion by Dana’s hand, which came up to take the phone. “She’s right there beside you.” Colin’s face paled at her blank stare. She had been confused for a moment until she’d looked around. Everyone was trying not to think about what was happening on the phone, trying to deny that someone had leaked information about her whereabouts. She wasn’t one to deny the facts, but Jordan should’ve known better. At least the A.D. was trying to discover a way out of this, either that or he was too upset about the fact that someone opened their fat mouth.
“No you aren’t.”
“Did you even read my file? It was the first thing at the top you idiot.”
“I’m not giving you the phone.” Colin looked at Jordan, who was giving him a stern look of disdain. “I’m not giving her the phone.”
“Give her the damn phone, Merriam, or it’s your job.” A.D. Young said. The taller man’s shoulders sagged from reluctance; he surrendered and dropped the phone into Dana’s hand. His revulsion towards her was childlike and frowned upon among his colleagues, but he continued to let her bother him. At first she debated even answering it but she saw Young’s blank stare. “Answer it, Eiseley.” She brought the phone to her ear, turned away from the three stares, and held her breath.
“I knew you’d be there. That Colin has a big mouth.” Well, she reasoned, she couldn’t argue with fact.
“Who is this?”
“Joseph Ridge.” Dana blinked. Was she supposed to recognize this name? No one she knew had that name or alias. “You don’t know me, Jones, but I’ve heard about you.”
“How do you know about me?”
“It doesn’t matter. What matters is time. You are running out of it.” Dana scoffed at the message. Running out of time? About time. “I have placed a rather powerful explosive in a very crowed place, and I’m going to give you the chance to find it.”
“That won’t fly, Ridge. I’ve got no power to do that.”
“Then how come you’re the one I keep hearing about? The hacker turned FBI commodity? Everyone wants one now that you’ve come along.” Dana took a seat and leaned back into the cushioning. She had a feeling that this wouldn’t be quick or simple.
“And everyone wants me, I suppose?”
“You suppose correct. What are your thoughts on this?” Dana, without missing a beat, changed the subject. She’d try to not become too curious. Jordan was too anxious to leave in the dark at this point.
“Why would I give a damn about a bomb?” Jordan and the A.D. stared at her in shock as the words left her mouth. They couldn’t believe, with her self-sacrificing attitude, that she would say such a thing. Was she bluffing? Jordan knew that she’d been suffering mental strain these past few days; he just didn’t know it was as serious as she was acting. She had to be bluffing.
Then Ridge backed up to the original topic, went along with her topic. Why? Dana wondered momentarily.
“Because you don’t want to be responsible for the one-thousand casualties when this device goes off. You’re not ready to risk more lives in order to fulfill your own need to rebel.” Jordan watched her face turn a little more stony, as though met with a challenge. Suddenly, she was ready for a fight. The man on the line was making little to no sense. Why would he not pursue her lack of response to his apparently play on her position? She was angry because of his lack of interest.
“I could disconnect this call right now and would not lose--”
“Eiseley, don’t you dare.” the A.D. barked. She rolled her eyes, sighed from frustration, and threw her arm over the back of the couch. Her patience had been waning for three days, and now she seemed to be lashing out against a threat to national security. She could do this and no one would be able to force her to do anything else--they’d have to send her to prison; she wanted that from the beginning. But, with a raised eyebrow and look of pure apathy on her face, she could hardly resist.
“Sure, why not? Tell me about your bomb, Mr. Ridge, I have all the time in the world. It’s not my phone.” There was laughter on the other line. Colin shifted uncomfortably at the thought of her racking up his phone bill. The notion almost made her smile. Jordan wasn’t sure whether she was still serious about her reluctance to help them by staying on the line. He was starting to wonder whether keeping her on the line was a good idea. In her moods like this it was well known to keep her away from people she’d once been associated with. She was on no one’s side when she reverted to this attitude.
He sent a look to the A.D. Young said nothing, but stared at Dana, trying to read her expressions.
“I’m not impressed.”
“Of course you’re not. Are they still in the room?” Dana looked up to see the three staring at her intensely.
“They are. Do you wish to speak with one of them?”
“Your voice is infinitely more arousing than any of theirs.”
“Not disgusted. I’ll bet Svela had some real chivalry and class you could compare men to in the future.” Her mouth went numb. How did he know about Alan? “I don’t stand a chance.” Jordan didn’t even know about Alan until she told him and even then he had to fight her for the information. Her caretaker was staring oddly at her, or was it she who was uncomfortable enough to interpret his looks differently? She took a second to gather her reserves, her breath being hasty and draining as she realized her state. Her hands were clammy and her face was obviously pale; her jaw was slack. There was good reason for her to be this way, and she meant to stop it now. She stood up and made her way to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, moving the phone to her other ear so she could wipe the moisture from her hands.
“Leave him out of this.” She passed between Jordan and the A.D. and aimed straight for the hallway that led to the bathroom. His voice stopped her.
“You’re nervous. Stop moving around.”
“I wouldn’t be if you’d stop beating around the bush.”
“I’m not the one running from my past. Don’t move another muscle until
I’m done speaking.” She looked down, feeling anxious for moving and allowing him control.
“Lets just get to business; we can talk about me some other time.”
“It’s a date. Meet me outside in ten, and wear something nice.” Before she could say anything, there was a click and she was disconnected. Looking up quickly, the realization that she was once again tricked soaked into her mind; she wouldn’t go through this again. She was numb. Suddenly, her arm jerked away from her and the cell phone went flying onto the coffee table. She didn’t move another inch.
Dana, after the conversation with Joseph Ridge, turned on the three FBI agents in the room. “What the hell kind of system are you running here? He knew everything about me!” She picked up the phone again and threw it hard at the wall, watching with near satisfaction as it thudded heavily into the wall and fell to the floor, unharmed. “He knew too much about me, so who opened his big mouth? What idiot do I have to thank--” She looked at Jordan, who had settled for grunting to clear his throat and shifting from one foot to the other. The A.D. sent a fleeting glare in Colin’s direction, not approving of the man’s actions apparently. Then it hit her. She settled her sights on Colin.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! You idiot! You god damn, self-serving bastard! He ran me through the wringer and told me to meet him out front! I probably won’t even get his demands.”
“What?” Jordan practically yelled. She didn’t move to face him. Colin was avoiding her eyes, his stare somewhere over her right shoulder.
“Apparently he thinks I’m desperate.”
“This may get us the leverage we need.” Dana sent daggers at Colin, who promptly quieted down.
“You have no say in what happens to me.”
“Shut up, Colin. You’re in hot water as it is. Agent Brenner, Miss Eiseley, we’ll continue this discussion in a quieter place.” She looked downwards.
“There’s no time for discussion. You’ll have to talk while I get ready. I have less than ten minutes.” The A.D. nodded and she walked into Jordan’s room where her stuff was stored away in her suitcase.
“You are excused, Agent Merriam. I expect you in my office first thing in the morning so we can discuss your actions further.” Colin sent a glance to Dana’s retreating form, then left. Dana paid him no attention as she dragged out a long black skirt and a silk shirt. She would have to improvise her outfit.
Jordan pushed past the A.D., intending to keep her from leaving the apartment. She wasn’t thinking clearly; it had to be that. She hadn’t been kidding earlier when she was tired of playing those mind games with everyone. The stress had to be wearing her out. When he walked into the bedroom and saw her sitting against the wall under the window crying, he knew he was right. He shut the door behind him and walked over to her, sitting down beside her without speaking at first. “Dana, you don’t want to hear me say this, but I’m here. Tell me what’s on your mind before I tell you you’re not going out there.”
“He knows too much about me, probably wants to be able to identify me before acting out since there are no pictures around for him to see. He only knew my alias as far as we know otherwise he would’ve called me Dana when he talked to me.” She was speaking coherently, which was a good thing, but her words were mumbled in a low-toned chant. Her mind was comprehending everything that had happened, but she was too dazed to get up from the floor. “He knew about Alan…”
Jordan was silent. He didn’t mean for any of this to get out. Colin was supposed to be his superior, responsible enough to keep his mouth shut. Dana was sure Colin must have been drunk or completely enraged by her performance on the Chicago case. It really wasn’t her fault that people wanted to get their hands on her. She didn’t want this in the first place, so there was no need getting all upset at her; it wasn’t like she had a choice in the matter.
I've been totally into this guy since the beginning of the year--I'm thinking nerds really do it for me--and I finally asked him out!
Me: "Hey, __[Kevin]____, I wanted to ask you something and didn't know how to say it, and I'm never that good at asking things when it's something I'm really interested in. . . ." blahblahblah "Would you like to go to a movie with me sometime?"
He: "Like as friends or more?"
Me: "Hopefully more?"
And that was that. He smiled at me!! I'm such a simp for the easy gestures. And then he asked if I wanted to go to dinner as well and I said, "Sure! Would you like to go Dutch on it?" *foreboding long statement explaining a conversation, he didn't like the sound of it so I think I'll drop it. . . *
"Well, when you want to see something specific, we'll go."
And when he left I had an anxiety attack and started crying on the phone--with mum--because I'd finally done it! I've been thinking about him for the longest time and I finally got the gall to ask him out!
Terribly enough, he'd already picked up on the hints. . . I imagine he might've started thinking that when he tried to tickle me and I forgot about telling him to stop because I actually liked it--then after the reaction he said "well That was delayed." oops.
[[he's a Taurus for anyone who's interested, I'm a Leo!]]
Ni-ice. New development for Dana, I see. I vaugely remember discussing this with you last time we met, but at the time, you weren't too sure about doing anything to move it forward. Glad you decided otherwise.
Hope to see more from you!(Since you are the better writer between us.)