A quick glance out the window told Jason it was going to be another gray day. Great, he sighed, just great.
Wrenching open the door to his trailer, Jason stepped outside and sat down on the steps to drink his morning coffee. It's always so nice when the weather matches your mood, he thought, and sighed again.
As he leaned back against the door, Jason let his thoughts drift back to the previous evening. The impromptu party at the restaurant with Mark, Princess and their friends *was* fun.
So why didn't I enjoy myself? Jason wondered. The young lady who'd declared herself his 'date' certainly seemed like she'd enjoyed herself.
Jason took a sip of coffee, concentrating, trying to remember her name. There'd been so many lately - Jane, Kylie, Susan........how the list went on. Mark didn't have that problem any more, not that he ever did to begin with. He'd been secretly in love with Princess for years. But six months ago it was suddenly no longer a secret - Mark and Princess proclaimed their feelings for each other and had begun seeing each other.
Anderson practically blew a gasket, Jason thought, smiling to himself. But they've proved it hasn't interfered with working together.
So maybe that was it? Jealousy?? Over Mark getting Prin? No, not over Prin. Over him having someone *like* Princess? A small wave of loneliness washed over Jason. Yeah, maybe that's it, he thought, That's stupid, but........
Loneliness. Strange how he'd never thought of that before. Oh sure, he had lots of dates but none of them turned into the kind of relationship Mark and Princess had. Or the kind of relationship Jason suddenly found himself wishing for.
"Oh this is stupid," he chided himself. "You don't need that kind of complication in your life. Everyone you've ever loved has died or tried to kill you, so what the hell are you dreaming about? Deal with it, and live with it. Your life has a purpose - destroying Zoltar and Spectra - and that's it!"
But lately, Mark was looking and sounding just so...........happy and content.
Rising from the stairs, Jason tossed the now empty coffee mug inside the trailer and locked the door. He scowled towards the gray horizon, pushing all thoughts from his head. His personal life would just have to wait, he had work to do today.
End Part 1
Angel looked down the length of the table in the laboratory, her green eyes registering a flash of frustration. Packing all this will take forever, she sighed, pinning back her long auburn hair.
The scientist who worked in this lab had finally got the promotion he'd been after for more than a year. Angel had seen watched many scientists come and go for the last 10 years. She had been the only constant in the dreary lab, 8 stories below ground level. But that was hopefully changing today too.
Angel paused and pulled out the locket she always wore. "I promised you revenge, and in little pieces I'm keeping that promise," she whispered to the photo in the locket. "He will pay daddy, both he and Spectra will pay." Angel's normally soft features hardened with determination. Oh yes, they will pay.
"Hey there! Could you use some help?"
The sudden voice behind her startled Angel. She spun around and saw Princess standing in the doorway. A smile broke out on Angel's face, "I'd love some. I thought you had a practice session scheduled for today."
"Still do, but I figured you could use some help so I came in early." Princess explained, "Wow! You're expected to pack ALL this???"
Angel laughed. "Not all of it, just the lab notes and some of the extra equipment. Someone else will take care of the rest - or so I was told. Here," Angel said as she tossed an empty box toward Princess, "this one is all yours."
"Thank you for inviting me out last night," Angel said, "it's been too long since I went out and enjoyed myself like that."
"That was definitely fun wasn't it? I was afraid we were getting a little rowdy, but when that other table joined in............" Princess held her sides as she laughed at the memory.
"I thought Mark was going to have a fit! I don't think I'm gonna be allowed to play with you anymore," Angel teased.
"Don't be silly, Mark had a blast. He told me so later on." Princess winked at Angel.
Angel picked up a wad of paper and threw it at her friend, "You're so bad! What would Mark say if he could hear you?"
Princess laughed, "You should hear him and Jason talk! Man, they say women are bad, but we can't hold a candle to them."
"Jason?" Angel closed her eyes in concentration, "broad shoulders, longish hair, violet eyes, brooding look, arrived late, had a blonde woman hanging on him for most of the evening? It looked like he would have rather been somewhere else."
Princess was stunned; that was a very accurate description of Jason. "That's Jason. He's usually looks like that. Don't get me wrong, he's a great guy, just sometimes........to tell the truth, I think he's lonely."
Angel nodded her head in understanding. She had a long term relationship with loneliness herself.
"So where are these boxes going?" Princess queried.
"Third floor, room...............310." Angel directed, checking the data sheet to make sure she had the room right.
"Okay, I'll take these two up now, then I should split. Heaven help me if I'm late," Princess hefted the two boxes into her arms and started out the door.
"No problem, thanks for the help. I'll grab these two and be right behind you." Angel closed the top on her box, grabbed the other one and followed Princess out of the lab.
"So where are you being transferred to?" Princess asked as they walked towards the elevator. "Some where with windows?"
"Oh lordy I hope so." Angel sighed, "I'm supposed to meet with the head of personall later today. I guess he'll give me my new assignment." Angel sighed and pressed the elevator call button, "Tech support staff are always at the mercy of the 'big guys in suits'."
"I don't envy you one bit. It sounds like a major pain."
Angel pressed the hold button in the elevator to give Princess time to maneuver her way inside. If only you knew, she thought. The most difficult part is having to deal with paperwork that has been dumped on your desk in no particular order. She turned her face upward saying a silent prayer to be assigned to something a little more.......flexible.
"Angel? Hey Angel," Princess nudged her out of her silent reverie. "This is three, you wanna get out here??"
"Oh, sorry. Guess I got caught up in my thoughts," Angel said sheepishly.
Laughing, Princess said "I'll race up there."
Adjusting the boxes, Angel stepped out of the elevator. Mental note, she thought, pack the next ones a tad lighter and grab a cart. I can't see a blasted thing.
Lost in her thoughts, Angel failed to notice the man rounding the same corner as she until it was too late.
"Ow! Geez lady!" A muffled male voice said from under a box. "Why don't you watch where your going."
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry." Angel apologized, "Here, let me get that off you."
Pushing the box off himself, Jason looked up to find a pair of concerned green eyes staring at him. "Maybe you shouldn't carry more than you're capable of next time," he snarled.
"And maybe you should look where your walking next time," Angel shot back. "Clumsy oaf."
Jason looked at the woman standing over him, her eyes spitting fire in response to his comment, and pushed himself off the floor. "I think that might apply more to you, lady."
Picking up the fallen box, Angel glared at the man she had run into. What a grouch. It was only an accident, she thought. Cute, but a grouch.
"Angel, Jason! Are you two okay?" Princess asked as she came down the hall. "What happened?"
"You know this klutz?" Jason asked Princess. "Better get her some lessons in how to walk and see where she's going."
"Hey! It was an accident, get a grip will ya." Angel was quickly losing her temper.
Princess took one of the boxes from Angel and glared at Jason. "Geez, you're in a good mood today aren't you?"
Angel moved off down the hall, Princess close behind her. "Such a nice man," Angel commented sarcastically, "I'll make sure I put on my Christmas card list."
Entering room 310, Princess deposited the box on the table next to the other ones. "Join me for lunch later? I should get a break around 12:30."
"Sure, I'll meet you down in the cafeteria. And Princess? Please tell Jason I'm sorry 'bout running into him."
Princess laughed, "Don't worry about it, I'm sure he'll survive. Anyway, I have to run, so I'll see you later."
End Part 2
Angel looked at her watch and sighed. It was only 8:30. 'This is going to be one LONG day,' she thought, walking out of the room.
The windows in the corridor caught her eye. The clouds were still there, but at least they looked like they were breaking up some. She leaned against the glass, staring blankly at her reflection, absently rubbing the locket around her neck.
It had been 10 years since her father died. Taken from her while on a mission for Intergalactic. She never knew of his secret life, never known her chemist father had been a secret agent for Intergalactic, until Chief Anderson had 'adopted' her.
"Thank the heavens for that," she whispered. Had it really been 10 years?
Her mother had giving Angel life and with her father's recent death, Angel had a hard time adjusting to being an orphan. When Chief Anderson has offered her a place at Intergalactic, albeit as a gopher, and a surrogate family she had jumped at the chance. To spend as much time as possible with her, Angel's father had put her to work in his lab, transcribing his notes, monitoring the non-vital parts of experiments, so it was no stretch for the 8 year old.
Angel brushed back a stray tendril of her auburn hair. Oh the havoc I caused, she remembered fondly.
She'd inherited her fathers stealth and dubious technical ability, or so Chief Anderson had informed her. Her photographic memory, however, was hers alone.
At ten years of age, Angel could pick the locks on any of the doors in the complex, and remember the layout of each room she'd visited no matter how detailed it was. The one and only time she'd been caught in the act, Angel had been *very* thankful it was Chief Anderson that caught her - Security would have strung her up.
"I think we need to talk, Angel." Chief Anderson had informed her in that stern tone of his.
Angel shuddered at the memory. Even now that tone in his voice gave her chills.
"I've been looking at your evaluations," Anderson started, guiding Angel down the hall, "you have been scoring very high on the aptitude and dexterity tests. And the scientist you are currently assigned to speaks very highly of your organization skills - says you've got him the most organized he's been in years. But this breaking and entering of yours has got to stop.
Angel looked up sharply. She didn't think anyone had known before today, certainly she'd never been reported or caught.
"How..........when.........who," she stammered.
"I've been watching you for a while now, to see how far you would go, what would slow you down." Anderson explained as he led her into his office.
"You make it sound like you've know about my activities for quite awhile sir." Angel gulped.
Anderson gestured for Angel to sit down, but remained standing himself. "Only for the last 2 months, my dear."
He looked at his young charge, trying to conceal his pride in her. He'd not only been watching her, but testing her skills as well. She is definitely her father's daughter in many respects, he thought.
"I think its time to put those talents of yours to a more *productive* use, don't you?"
Angel looked closely at Anderson, a wave of relief washing over her. She wasn't going to be reprimanded, but what was he talking about?
"I explained one time that your father did some rather sensitive work for us. But, I never you told the nature of that work." Anderson began, clasping his hands behind his back.
"John was one of the best break-and-enter men this agency had. He's never been replaced and his talents are sorely missed."
Angel sat in her chair speechless, and stared at Anderson. She'd never had any indication of this, not while her father was alive and not since his death.
".............that's why I think it's time you began some formal training Angel."
"I'm sorry sir, you lost me there," Angel said, "Could you repeat that last bit?"
"I said, it's time you knew exactly what your father did for us here. You show the same talent he did, and I think it's time you received some formal training in that regard."
He had her full attention now. Her father had been a break-and-enter man? A thief? Anderson had to be talking about someone else!
"I know you're aware of the G-Force," Anderson began as he sat down and faced Angel, "and what they do. But no one works in a vacuum. The information they act on is brought to my attention by other sources. Your father was just such a source."
"Spectra has many agents working on Earth, in many secret places. Sometimes it's pretty obvious what they are doing and where they are, but other times.......lets just say some preliminary scouting is needed. That's where you father came in."
Anderson rose and paced behind his desk, his hands clasped behind his back. "John would infiltrate a suspected Spectra location, make notes, take pictures, that kind of thing. Sometimes just so we'd know what the layout was for future use, other times to ascertain whether a particular person was being held there."
"He had the ability to get in and get out without being caught or seen. After that, we could decided if G-Force was required. He provided us with invaluable information. It was risky and dangerous work."
"That's what he was doing when he died wasn't it?" Angel asked. She'd long suspected she'd been lied to about her father's death. But she never she dreamed he had he had been involved in something like this!
"Yes," Anderson nodded, "he was gathering information on a new base Spectra had set up." He turned to face Angel, "He knew exactly what he was doing and the risks involved."
"And you want me to continue his work?" Angel stated as fact. "To essentially act as a thief. To put my life on the line for Intergalactic as well?"
"The decision is yours, but yes. Take some time and think this over, but not too much time."
"No sir," Angel assured him as she rose from her chair, "I won't sir."
Angel left the room in a stunned state. Her father had been.......a spy - and he'd died because of it. Now she was being asked to take his place.
There really was no decision to be made Angel concluded. How could she NOT do this?
Looking back, Angel wondered how she'd managed to survive her initial training. Keeping abreast of her growing duties in the lab, and learning how to be an effective 'infiltrator' was grueling work.
She hadn't felt quite ready when the formal training ended after only five years. But Anderson assured her the next step, some decidedly 'informal training,' would put her at ease. She understood the concepts and could quickly solve a modest problem, but that was under controlled situations; could she do it in a real, life threatening situation? She had to be able to think fast and creatively if she was to survive out in the field.
Anderson set up remote areas of the complex and the grounds around it to simulate the more complex encounters that would occur. It was by no means complete, but it was a good starting ground to test what she had learned.
Angel laughed to herself. Though she didn't see the point to them at the time, those little 'informal' sessions had proved their worth. Her first mission for Intergalactic, locate & photograph a small Spectra staging area on the coast, was almost her last.
She pushed herself off from the window and moved down the hall. It had been two years since that first harrowing experience, but she wouldn't have traded it for anything.
Pity I can't use those skills to move boxes, she thought.
End Part 3
The rest of the morning passed quickly for Angel. By the time lunch rolled around, she was *very* ready for a break.
The cafeteria was filling rapidly when Angel arrived. She looked around, searching for Princess. She was sitting in the far corner with Mark and two people Angel had never met. Princess spotted her at the same time and waved Angel over.
"Angel, hi! Come join us! Let me introduce you; Mark you already know, and these two are Tiny," she gestured to the larger man sitting across from her, "and this is Keyop," Princess indicated the young boy sitting next to her. "This is my friend, Angel, guys."
"Hi," Tiny and Keyop said in unison.
"Nice to meet you," Angel said as she sat down.
"Have you worked here long?" Tiny inquired, "I haven't seen you around here before."
"I work in one of the lower level labs," Angel explained, "I've been here about 10 years."
"Ten years!" Keyop exclaimed, "why haven't we seen you before? How did you meet Prin?"
"Keyop!" Princess cried, "watch you manners!"
Angel laughed at Keyop's quick questions. "I'm guess we didn't have the same schedules and I met Princess in the women's shower when the one on my level was being repaired. Do I pass the test?"
Mark tried unsuccessfully to hide a grin behind his hand. "So, where's Jason?" Mark asked, trying to turn the conversation away from the grilling Angel was receiving. "I thought he said he'd be right up."
"Probably sulking somewhere," Tiny supplied
"Yeah," Keyop agreed, "he's been in a grumpy mood all morning."
"I'm hoping some lunch will improve that." Mark looked up in time to see Jason approaching.
"I didn't know we were eating with strangers today," Jason said icily.
"Jason! Angel is not a stranger," Princess exclaimed, "Honestly, I don't know what's gotten into you today."
"Oh, pardon me. I don't know what came over me," he snarled.
Angel stared at Jason. If looks could kill, he would have been dead on the spot. "I think I hear a box calling my name," Angel said rising, "Princess, I'll get that book we were talking about last night to you later on. It was nice to meet the rest of you."
"Don't leave on my account," Jason jeered.
Angel stepped closer to Jason, making sure she got right into his personal space. "And it's been a REAL pleasure seeing you again," she told him, "we must do this again real soon." And with that, she walked rigidly out of the cafeteria.
Jason watched her go, chiding himself for his behavior. Why did this woman make his temper flare like that? Must be bad vibes or something, he decided. He sat down and rubbed his hands over his face.
"Jas," Mark asked, reaching out to touch his friend's arm, "you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. What's it to you."
"Hey, I'm just asking. You haven't been yourself today," Mark stated.
"You've been grouchy all day," Keyop chimed in, "and not concentrating."
Jason pushed himself up from the table. "Mind your own business, all of you," he snarled and stormed out of the cafeteria.
"What's with him today?" Tiny asked, "he's in real bad mood, even for Jason."
"I don't know," Mark confessed, "but I hope he gets over it soon."
End Part 4
"We suspect the missing scientist may be held somewhere around here," Anderson stated, pointing to a barren location on the map. "We *think* there is an underground lab around here, but we've not been able to get anyone in close enough without causing suspicion."
Angel looked the indicated area over carefully. There wasn't much there, it was a barren, desert area. With nothing around it for miles, anyone entering the area better have damn good reason for being there.
Not much in the way of cover once you're in the area either, she noted, night might be the best time to get in. A mark on the map caught her attention, "What is this line here?"
"There is an endurance car race happening there in 2 days time, that line is marking out the course." Anderson explained, and he looked up quickly at Angel.
She glanced questioningly at Anderson. "It's not much time to prepare, but it would certainly provide me with a reason to be in the area. But I'm not sure my driving skills would even get me past the qualifying round."
Anderson waved her comment away. "That can be worked around. One of our people is already entered in the race." He pressed the intercom to his secretary, instructing her to summon Jason to his office.
Oblivious to Anderson, Angel looked at the line designating the race course. The course skirted the suspected underground lab area for about 20 miles. Difficult, but not impossible, she thought. The hardest part will be finding an entrance. Thank goodness any rescue operation is someone else's job; this is not an area I'd like to hang around in.
"Reporting as ordered, Chief." Jason announced as he walked into the room.
Anderson acknowledged Jason with a slight nod of his head. "Thank you for being so prompt. I'd like you to meet Angel, she'll be joining you on the Desert Rally. Angel, this is Jason , your transportation into the area."
Turning his head, Jason noticed Angel staring at him. Oh help me, he thought venomously.
Angel struggled to keep her face impassive. Of all the people, it had to be this one. Someone must really be out for me today.
Anderson completed the introductions, and was explaining the details of what he wanted from Jason. He kept as many details of Angels mission out of his explanation as possible; they were not essential to Jason's co-operation.
"I know this is not what you were planning on Jason, but you can understand the need here. If Doctor Timmons is being held there, we have to know."
"So I'm only providing transportation, not a rescue squad? Jason asked. He was not happy about this, not happy at all.
Angel could see the small muscles of his jaw twitch and smiled to herself. This was too good! "Perhaps we should discuss what is expected of you."
"Excellent idea Angel." Anderson said, "I'll leave it up to you two to work out the details."
Jason spun on his heels and quickly excited the room. Angel looked questioningly at Anderson.
"He's good at what he does Angel, he'll get you into the area."
"Yes sir," she said, and quickly hurried after Jason. I hope so, she added silently.
End Part 5
Jason was waiting for Angel in the hall, leaning menacingly against a wall.
"And it's so nice to see you again too Jason." Angel said, trying to diffuse the growing tension.
He pushed off the wall and grabbed Angel by the upper arm, forcefully guiding her down the hall. "We need to *discuss* a few things lady."
"Watch it Tarzan," she spit out, stuggling against his grip, "I'm not some rag doll you know."
He spun her around and pushed her up against the nearest wall, pinning her there. "Let's get a couple things straight," he ground out. "This race is important to me, and I will not have you screwing it up. I'm only providing transportation, not a rescue squad. Once you're out of my sight, my responsibility to you ends. Got that??"
"Ya, I got that, now kindly........let....me....go." she pushed against Jason's broad chest, feeling the muscles ridges underneath this thin shirt. Dear Lord! The man was built.
"Not until you understand EXACTLY what I'm saying." Her hands pressing against his chest felt.......good, too good in fact. And those flashing eyes, soft looking lips, hair that was made to bury fingers in.............WHAT am I thinking!?"
"Perfectly! And for the record I never requested a *rescue squad* of any kind. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself," she spat out. "Now kindly release me you bully." She shoved him away and pulled herself together.
"Now," Angel started, glaring at Jason, and stepping menacingly close, "let ME get a few things straight with YOU." She pushed him squarely in the chest, forcing him to back up. Two can play at this game. You are not gonna be intimidating me buddy boy.
"I have no intention of screwing up your precious race, nor do I have any intention of compromising my orders because of your race. Do you understand me??"
Jason glared at Angel. He understood something all right; he understood he that he was going to KILL this woman if he was around her for much longer. Kill her or kiss her? his brain asked him. She was standing with her hands on hands on her hips, her breasts heaving in anger, her face flushed............ Jason shook his head, this was getting him nowhere. "Perfectly," he snarled and stormed off down the hall.
When he was out of sight, Angel allowed herself to collapse against the wall. That man is just so...so...... Her line of thought trailed off as her eyes followed Jason's retreating form. His long brown hair, his broad shoulders........and that butt! Stop it, she ordered herself, you're acting like you'd never seen a man before. Not one like that, her brain informed her.
Suddenly, realizing that she didn't know when and where she needed to meet Jason, Angel hurried after him.
"Jason," she called, "wait up." She'd have to run if she wanted to talk to him.
Jason leaned against the car and tried to collect his thoughts. What a day this had been. His early morning thoughts on his life, having a box dropped on him, a verbal joust with Angel at lunch, and now this assignment. He rubbed his hands over his face. A nice fast ride home, a hot shower, maybe some *decent* female company.........
"Good, you haven't left yet," Angels voice broke into his thoughts.
He just couldn't get away from this woman! "I'm just about to, make it fast," he got quickly into his car.
"When and where?" Angel asked.
Jason stared at her, "When and where what? I'm not a mind reader."
Angel leaned in the window, "When and where am I to meet you? I don't read minds either," she grinned.
He started the car, revving it high, "Day after tomorrow, here, seven am."
Angel had to jump back quickly as Jason put the car in gear and roared out of the parking lot. "Thank you," she yelled and waved at him. There was no way he was getting the upper hand here.
Jason drove, and drove like Spectra was in hot pursuit.
He'd been looking forward to this race for months. Practices had worked out all the bugs from the new engine, he'd placed third in the tryouts; it was going to be another win - a solitary win. But now he had a passenger and an unwanted one at that. Races were meant to be done ALONE. Jason slammed his hand into the steering wheel. Damn Anderson, why did he have to do this!
Angel stared at the retreating car. What a peach, she thought and turned to go back inside.
The hallway was deserted and dim. The normal lighting had been shut down and just the night lights remained on. It gave the hall an eerie yet calming feel and Angel let the feeling wash over her. She was still wound up about her assignment. Well, not the assignment per say, more like the company.
Voices up ahead brought Angel back into focus.
"And I'm telling you it can be done."
"In your dreams, it's not possible."
The voices rounded the corner, and revealed the speakers - it was Mark and Tiny, with Keyop lagging quietly behind.
"Hey Angel," Mark called out, "you're here late. You get that lab all moved?"
"All moved. Should have it unpacked in the next day or two," she replied. "Is Princess still here too? I wanted to give her that book I mentioned at lunch."
"Let's go already," Keyop said pulling at Tiny's arm, "I'm starved."
"Uh, Mark," Tiny started, "if you're gonna wait for Prin, we'll catch u later."
Mark laughed, and bid Tiny and Keyop farewell. "Don't stuff yourselves," he called out after them.
"Princess should be up soon. She's supposed to meet us in the parking lot," Mark informed Angel.
"I'll get the book to her later then, I have to get some more done tonight. Have a fun evening." Angel said, and started to turn away.
"Angel, wait a sec," Mark requested, "I'd like to apologize for Jason at lunch today. He's not normally that rude."
Angel laughed, "Why should you be apologizing for Jason? Besides, I did drop a box on him earlier. I guess that does not put me at the top of his list."
Mark shook his head. "Even that is not normal for Jas, " he confided. Don't let him throw you, he's really not a bad guy. There's just something on his mind lately."
"I don't plan to get personally involved here, Mark," she tried to explain, " to me, he's just an associate of Princess's."
End Part 6
The plan sounded simple enough - get in, look around, and get out. But it would be nice to where the door marked "In" was first, Angel thought. Where would be the most likely spot? The sand dunes would not offer much concealment, nor would the open desert itself. That small ridge of rock on the other hand.........
She scrutinized the map once more. Night cover would definitely be best. As long as the race took a break in the evening that should not be a problem. Have to ask Jason about that I guess.
Angel got up and stretched, relieving her cramped muscles. She'd been at this for hours now and there was still another file to read. Pouring herself some new, but hours old, coffee, she sat down and pulled the file on the missing doctor towards her. Just who was this Doctor Timmons? And why would Spectra be interested in him?
Angel looked at the couch behind her, not yet......one more file, then some sleep.
It was late; later than usual for him to be awake. Sleep was being particularly evasive tonight for Jason.
The fast drive home and the hot shower hadn't helped. The evening at the local club hadn't helped either. The women there we *friendly* enough, but tonight that wasn't what he wanted. Or needed, he admitted. What was going on with him?
Sighing, Jason rolled over on to his back - he had to get some sleep! The race started in two days, and the team had another practice session tomorrow.
The race, he thought dismally, I'm gonna be stuck with a woman I would like to punch right in
What was it about Angel that bothered him so much? He didn't even know her! He just met her last night - albeit briefly. She'd spent most of the evening across the aisle from him sitting with Mark and Prin. They never talked except to exchange hello's.
Jason tucked his hands behind his head. His *date* at one point had pouted that he should be looking at her, not some other woman. He'd been looking Angel then - her hair had been loose and flowing about her shoulders, and those green eyes had been full of laughter. He wondered what it would be like to feel her arms wrapped around him. He wondered............ENOUGH! This was NOT helping him sleep, if anything he was even more awake now. Jason shut his eyes tight and willed himself to think of something, anything else. '
This is going to be a l-o-n-g night, he thought dismally.
Angel checked her watch - time to go. She didn't want to risk security finding her in Anderson's office. Besides, she got what she came for - Jason's home address. Angel had questions to ask him,
and she wanted to catch him early in the morning - before he had a chance to develop an attitude.
She quietly crept back to her temporary office and set her alarm for 6 am. Ugh - way to early, she thought. Angel pulled the blanket over her and tried to find a comfortable position on the couch.
What was it about her that seemed to set Jason off? He hadn't been that unfriendly the night before at the resteraunt. He hadn't been overly friendly either. Nonetheless, Angel had found herself staring at him throughout the night, playing 'what if' games in her head. "You don't have to get along to get this job done," she chided herself, "now go to sleep.'
End Part 7
Bang! Bang-bang! The noise was loud, almost painfully loud.
"Go away Mark," he yelled toward the door of his trailer. What the hell was he doing here at........geez, 6:45 am!
"This is your wake up call, up and at 'em!"
Jason sat up. That *wasn't* Mark! Maybe one of his dates had finally tracked him down; wouldn't that be perfect!
"Hey Jason, come on! I gotta talk to you and I need some coffee."
Definitely a female voice, but who's? He grabbed his pants off the floor and pulled them on before walking to the door. Parting the curtain, he looked out and saw..............."Oh give me strength," he groaned. "What the hell are YOU doing here?" Jason yelled.
Angel looked at the still closed door. "If you open this door I will tell you what the hell I'm doing here, but I refuse to carry on a conversation through a door."
Throwing open the door, Jason confronted his early morning visitor. "What do you want?"
Angel had to quickly back up to avoid being hit by the door. She was not prepared for the sight standing in front of her. Jason stood in the doorway, his jeans hung low on his hips, his chest was bare, and his hair had that 'just woke up' look to it. Angel struggled to control an impulse to reach out and run her hands over his muscled chest and wind her fingers into his hair. This was not like her at all! "I........I......needed to, um, ask you a.........few questions," she stammered.
"And they couldn't wait until later?" he asked, oblivious to her uneasiness.
Angel cleared her throat and pulled herself together. "I thought it might be better to have this conversation before you assumed that lovely attitude you displayed yesterday. Got any coffee?"
Jason shook his head in disbelief and slammed the door.
"Hey," Angel yelled, "I'm not going away, I really do need to talk to you."
"Geez, can I at least put on some clothes first?" Jason yelled back.
"Take your time."
Angel sat down on the bumper of her car, admiring the rising sun. This was a beautiful spot to be in the morning. The peacefulness was abruptly broken by another slamming door. Jason approached her, carrying two steaming mugs of coffee.
"It's instant, and it's black - take it or leave it."
"Thank you," she said, accepting the cup. "black is fine. Have a seat. I take it you're not an early riser."
"Not by choice." Jason replied curtly, "I assume you are."
"When I need to be, yes. Actually I've only been up for about an hour. You'd be amazed how empty the roads are this early."
Jason looked closely at Angel. Her hair was still damp, and she smelled like a field of wildflowers. "What do you want that couldn't wait?" he yawned.
"I needed to ask you some questions about the race and how it works."
"And this couldn't wait until a more civilized hour?" Jason asked incredulously.
Angel pushed herself off the bumper and turned to face Jason square on. "Look, I'm doing my best to be pleasant here. I need to know certain things BEFORE we get out there. I know you don't particularly like this little assignment, but all you're doing is providing transportation. Grow up and deal with it."
Jason stared open mouthed at Angel. Whoever said red-haired women had tempers must have known this one, he thought. "I don't need a lecture from you.........." he started.
"I think you need one from someone.........." Angel retorted. "Look, I'm sorry, let's start this again shall we? I'm afraid I was up late reading reports and such and didn't get much sleep."
Jason looked at her closely. If he didn't know better he'd have to say she looked...........nervous. Well if that doesn't beat all. "Okay, you ask, I'll answer."
Angel breathed a sigh of relief and launched into her questions before he changed his mind.
For an hour she grilled him, at least that's what it felt like to Jason, but he scarcely noticed the passing time. Her questions were well thought out and intelligent. She queried him on all aspects of the race and the course, drawing every last detail out of him.
"So this point here," she asked, pulling out a map and indicating a spot on it, "is the closest we're likely to get to these rocks?"
Jason looked at the spot she'd indicated. It was well into the course. "Yes, that is as close as we'll get."
Angel made a mark on the map. "I need to get as close to those rocks as possible, so that's where we'll part company."
"Won't that look rather suspicious? I mean, here you start the race with me and then bail out - you don't think anyone's going to notice you're missing? And just how the hell am I supposed to explain you tagging along with me anyway?"
"Got that part all figured out," she said, a mischievous smile on her face. "See what you think." Angel lowered herself to the ground in front of Jason. "I'm your current girlfriend, and I badgered you into taking me along on this race. You're not happy about it...."
"That much is true," Jason interrupted, "I'm not."
"By the time we get to that spot on the map, I'll have had enough of the 'roughing it' and hours in a car doing nothing. We have a falling out, I storm off, and you finish the race - alone."
"What about you? How do you plan to get out of there?"
"That's not your concern. I'll manage to find my own way out, I usually do," she replied softly.
Jason thought about her plan. He had to admit it made perfect sense. Her sudden departure from the race would be difficult to explain otherwise, and once she was away from him she was no longer his responsibility.
He watched her fold up the map, and wondered how and why Angel came to be with Intergalactic and just what she would be doing in the middle of a desert. He had no doubt she could handle herself, there was a certain toughness and adaptability to her that set her apart from the women he'd met lately. But there was also an almost imperceptible nervousness and vulnerability. It piqued his curiosity - just who IS this woman?
"So you got everything you need from me?"
Angel straightened from putting the map in her car, "I think so. If I think of anything else, I'll find you at the complex."
"Speaking of finding me," Jason walked towards her, "how did you get this address? It's not like it's listed in any phone book."
"I'm a sneak; I root secret things out of hiding," she answered simply, and opened the door to get in.
"Sounds like there's some interesting tales in that statement," he smiled.
Angel stared at Jason. That smile, those words.....if she didn't know better, she'd swear they sounded like an offer to stay and talk. "There are," she got into the car quickly and turned the key, "I have to get back to the complex. I want to go over everything one more time. Thank you for answering my questions."
Jason stepped back from the car, and she stomped on the gas pedal. He watched her quick departure with a disappointment he didn't understand.
End Part 8
Angel checked her equipment once more. Blanket, water canteen, tools, small change of clothes, no ID, no markings to trace her back to Intergalactic if she was caught .........that should do. Lifting the knapsack up, she glanced at her watch. Jason should be arriving soon, and she'd best be getting up to the parking lot.
A light breeze was blowing as she emerged from the complex. It's touch felt good against her skin. Angel scanned the parking lot in the predawn light, looking for Jason's car. She alternated between relieved he wasn't here yet and anxious as to where he was. Depending on other people was not something she was accustomed to during a mission. And depending on this particular man, a man who one minute intrigued her and the next infuriated her, was particularly unnerving.
Jason left the front gates in his dust as he sped down the road to the complex. It was a five hour drive to the course, and he wanted to be there yesterday. He was annoyed at having to pick up an unwanted passenger, and annoyed at himself for being annoyed. Yesterday morning she'd piqued his curiosity and by the afternoon he was ready to kill her again. What is it about this chick? he asked himself.
He gave the parking lot a cursory glance as he approached it. He found Angel standing under one of the pole lamps and directed his car that way. As he neared her, he slowed and reached over to open the passenger door. "Get in," he commanded, "we don't have any time to waste."
Angel glared at him, "And good morning to you too." She just barely got the door closed before Jason had spun the car around and was headed back toward the gate. Reaching into the back seat, he pulled out a gray colored helmet and tossed it into Angel's lap.
"Thanks, but it's not my color."
"It's not meant to be a fashion statement," Jason said icily, "it's required race wear. No helmet, no racing - simple as that."
Angel nodded, understanding the safety issue. "So noted. Thank you."
The first two hours passed slowly. Neither spoke to the other, and the tension was so think it made both the cars occupants uncomfortable.
Angel sat curled in her seat staring out the window, counting the trees and rocks that whipped by. She glanced occasionally at Jason, he just stared stonily at the road ahead; a condition not suitable to conversation she noted.
A soft gurgling noise caught Jason's attention.
"Sorry," Angel apologized, "no time for breakfast this morning."
"There's a coffee shop coming up. You wanna stop and grab something fast?"
"Can you afford the time to stop?"
"Are you hungry or not?" he growled, "There's no other place to stop past this one."
Angel sighed and chided herself for her rudeness, "Sorry. Yes, I am hungry."
Jason steered the car into the parking lot. "Fine, don't be long."
Angel winced as she climbed out of the car. The combination of tension and sitting in one position for so long had stiffened up her muscles. She leaned back in the window and grabbed her knapsack off the floor, "Can I get you something too Jason?"
"No, I'm fine." He watched her walk away, appreciating they way the shorts she was wearing clung to her. He roughly scrubbed his hands over his face. Maybe Tiny was right when he called me a walking hormone, Jason thought, God knows I'm acting like it now. He closed his eyes and leaned back into his seat.
He hadn't meant to be so silent during the drive. There were a thousand questions he wanted to ask her, but for whatever reason he just......couldn't.
"Hey, maybe you should get out and stretch your legs. I don't want you falling asleep on me. I got some extra in case you get hungry too." She popped open a container, releasing its pungent aroma.
"I won't fall asleep. What is that? It looks disgusting." And it didn't smell too appetizing either he decided.
"It's pasta with a clam and cheese sauce. But I don't think I'm going to share with you now," Angel said, and stuffed a forkful into her mouth.
"Somehow I don't think that I'll regret it," Jason replied, turning back onto the road, "you couldn't have found something that looked and smelled *worse* could you?"
"I grew up on this stuff," she grinned, "my dad used to make it all the time - usually with fresh clams though, not these canned ones. He was a good cook."
"Better than your mother?"
"I never knew my mother, she died when I was born."
Jason glanced over at Angel, "That must have been hard on your father, raising you by himself all these years."
"He was killed when I was eight," she stated with sadness in her voice, "we never really knew each other all that well."
"I'm sorry," Jason said, and he truly was. He could understand what it was like to lose one's parents; it was a sadness that never fully went away.
"He was always engrossed in his lab with something or out on assignment, so I guess I was an orphan years before he actually died. This stuff," she indicated the pasta, "was what he used to cook for me when he was feeling guilty about not paying enough attention to me. And could I ever make him feel guilty."
Jason could feel her grin before he actually saw it. It filled the car and her whole face was alight with the memory she evoked.
"What about yours? Your parents I mean, are they still alive?"
"No, mine where killed when I was four. Murdered by Spectra agents."
Angel looked at the hard set to Jason's jaw, saw the pain of the memory in his face and placed her hand on Jason's' arm. "I'm sorry," she whispered.
He sat in silence for a time, not knowing what to say. Those two words and the emotion behind them touched him deeply, leaving him at a loss for words.
"My father was killed by Spectra. Tortured then shot. His body was found dumped in the desert as buzzard food," the words came pouring out of Angel in rush of raw angry emotion. "I was told he tripped and fell into the path of an oncoming commuter train. At least you *knew* how and who killed your parents. It was two years before I was told my father was murdered, and another four before I knew the details."
Angel sighed. "I'm sorry, I don't know what possessed me to say all that. I don't usually spill my sordid family history to people I hardly know. Must be nerves I guess." Or loneliness she thought.
Jason swallowed the lump in his throat and sneaked a peak at Angel. He knew it wasn't nerves that made her say all that. It came from a lifetime of loneliness and isolation; of having no one to really talk to. He'd bet the car that not even Princess knew what Angel had just told him. He felt the tendrils of friendship forming between them.
"So," Angel said, breaking Jason from his thoughts, "how did you become hooked up with Anderson and the rest of the G-Force team?"
"Huh? What did you say?" he couldn't have heard her right. No one was supposed to know who was involved in G-Force except Anderson and a couple highly placed members at Intergalactic.
"I said., how did you.........."
"I heard you the first time," he interrupted, "How do you know about G-Force?"
Angel shifted in her seat and leaned back against the door. "Actually, I've known about G-Force for years, but not who was in it until recently."
"Geez," Jason exclaimed, "does Anderson know you know?"
"He's aware I know *about* G-Force, but not that I know *who's* involved with it," she laughed, "if you don't want to tell me I'll understand. I've got this insatiable curiosity problem. Anything you to tell me won't go any further."
Angel sat quietly; the next move was Jason's. She meant what she said. It was a potential security breach for her to know anything that detailed about him. But she suspected that he had no one, save the team, that he could talk to about his life.
"After my parents were killed," Jason began, "Anderson more or less adopted me..........."
During the next hour he told her about his training, of meeting the rest of the team, of butting heads with Anderson and his desire to destroy Spectra. It was as if a flood gate had open inside him and everything came cascading out. He was amazed at how comfortable it felt talking to her.
When Jason at last fell silent, Angel told him how and why she'd come to work for Intergalactic. The need to share with someone as overwhelming in her as it was in him.
By the time they reached the race course, that faint tendril Jason had felt earlier had solidified into what could only be called friendship and understanding.
End Part 9
"Jason, over here," the race director waved him over to the sign-in area.
"Hiya Max. How's it going?"
Max leaned back in his chair. "That's what I should be asking YOU. Who's the piece of eye candy in your car? Your pre-registration said nothing about a passenger."
Here we go, he thought. He did his best look uncomfortable about the situation. "My girlfriend. She insisted on coming along. I didn't have the heart to tell her no."
"You're such a sucker for a pretty face," Max informed Jason, "she got a helmet? Knows how grueling this race can be? Knows the powder room is a rock?"
"Yes to all of the above."
Max shrugged his shoulders. "All right, your life. Have her read the waiver and sign it. Make sure I get it back before the race starts."
Angel was walking around the car in an attempt to uncramp her legs and stretch her back. Her body always protested when she sat for too long. As he walked back to the car, Jason admired her limited workout from behind his sunglasses. Max's assessment of her was accurate - eye candy indeed!
"Here," he said holding out the paperwork to her, "you have to fill this out and sign it before the race starts."
"No problems with me tagging along?" Angel asked quietly.
"The director thinks I'm nuts, but he believed the story."
She put the waiver on the trunk and quickly filled it out. "We'll have to put on the act whenever we're around other people - can you handle that?" Jason nodded in agreement.
"Here you go honey," she said in a louder tone of voice, "all signed. Be a dear and run it back over to the table - I have to go powder my nose." She stuffed the paper into his hand, and kissed him on the cheek before walking away.
If that is part of the act, I think I might just enjoy this, he thought.
Angel almost sprinted to the bathroom. She knew that little peck looked good for appearance purposes, but that did not make it any less nerve wracking. The faint aroma of the soap he'd used earlier in the morning was still on his skin when she'd kissed his cheek. Her traitorous mind wondered if the smell lingered on the rest of him as well.
She looked in the small mirror that had been nailed to wall inside. Her face was flushed. Dear heaven above, she thought, if this is the result of one impersonal kiss, no one's ever gonna believe this farce. She'd have to keep reminding herself that this was business, and business only.
Slowly over the next few hour the rest of the racers arrived. Angel counted 12 entrants in total. After they had all signed in and greeted friends, they gathered under a tent for the 'last decent meal you'll eat for 5 days dinner' as Jason called it. Max officially welcomed all the contestants and supervised the distribution of the course maps.
Angel snuggled herself in close to Jason and rested her head on his shoulder. "What are the red dots?"
"Those mark the rest stops. You're timed from point to point; the one with the best overall time wins," he explained absently. It looked tougher this year. The course path had been changed more than once - possibly due to rock slides or other acts of nature.
"For those new comers this year," Max addressed the crowd, "you'll find a limited hot meal and limited showers at each of the stopping points."
"But only if you get there first," someone yelled out.
"Easy there killer," Max laughed, "there's enough for everyone. As usual, you are each responsible for yourselves. If you don't show up by the cut off time each night, you will be disqualified. If you haven't shown up by the morning, we'll be nice and out a search party.
"The race will begin at seven am tomorrow. You'll be sent out at fifteen minute intervals according to your rank at the time trials. You'll leave each stop point the next morning according to your ranking the previous day. Any questions?" Max looked around the room; no one spoke up. "Good, then get some sleep and I'll see you in the morning."
The crowd started to break up, some heading to their cars, some lingering to talk. Angel plucked the map from Jason's fingers as he rose to leave. She needed to know which stop was closest to where she wanted to depart the race.
"Don't be long," he instructed, "it's going to be a long day tomorrow."
She smiled wearily up at him. "I know, I'll be along in a few minutes sweetheart."
Jason rolled his eyes and walked away. This acting bit was making him uncomfortable and nauseated. Angel had been clinging to him for most of the afternoon and acting like.........like most of the women he was usually attracted to. And it bothered him for many reasons; not the least of which was it made him realize what airheads he'd been dating.
This Angel was also not the same woman he'd been talking to for five hours in the car that morning. "That one had brains and strength," he muttered, "but this one is a simpering wimp." But what was really bothering him the most was her nearness and those damn casual touches of hers. They caught him completely off guard on more than once. He was torn between returning them or pushing her away. He sighed deeply. I'll be glad when this is over, he thought.
Angel, folding the map carefully, walked slowly back to Jason's car. The third stop should put her within a few miles of where she wanted to be.
She was not looking forward to the next part of the act; sleeping arrangements. There was a risk, small though it was, that Spectra agents would have the race participants under surveillance. If there truly was a hidden base out here, it made sense that they might due to the nearness of the course.
She saw Jason unrolling his sleeping bag as she neared the car and steeled herself. This was going to be.....rather....awkward. She took a deep breath, and before embarrassment gripped her quietly whispered, "I think you better spread that out full. I don't believe either of us would be comfortable jammed together all night."
Jason froze. His mind immediately forming an image of Angel pressed up against him, and replaced just as quickly by complete and utter disbelief. There is NO way I heard that right, he convinced himself.
"For the sake of appearances," she started tenuously, "we should....um.....probably.....be sharing.....I mean......" Thank the heavens it was dark out - her face felt as if it were on fire!
"No," he whispered fiercely, "you're not saying what I think you're saying. PLEASE tell me you're not saying that."
"I not any happier about this, believe me. But it would look highly suspicious if your *girlfriend* slept by herself." Professional mode, Angel thought, just view this professionally. "This course comes very close to the suspected base area. If we don't do this right then my sudden disappearance will look extremely suspicious."
He understood her argument, she was right of course - but that didn't make it any easier to deal with.
"You have a blanket in that bag of yours?"
Angel nodded her head, and reached into the car to get it.
Jason unzipped the sleeping bag and laid it out on the ground. There would be just enough room; provided she didn't much in her sleep.
He yanked off his shirt and rolled it into a make-shift pillow, then started removing his pants. A sharp intake of breath reminded him he was in mixed company. "So turn around already," he whispered.
Angel quickly turned her back to Jason. What was wrong with her she wondered. When he removed his shirt she just stood there, completely transfixed by the sight of him. Exhaustion, she told herself, that's all it is. Hormones, her body informed her. She heard him slip beneath the blanket, and breathed a silent sigh of relief. Out of sight, out of mind.
Slipping carefully under the blanket herself, Angel debated removing her own clothes. She'd probably be spending much time sleeping in them once she left Jason, and the thought of removing their constrictive feel was tantalizing. Ensuring the blanket covered her, Angel quickly, and she hoped quietly, removed her shorts and shirt.
Jason willed himself to think of......anything! He heard each item being removed, felt the rustling of the blanket, and it was driving him mad! If he closed his eyes he could envision her removing each piece, exposing the silky skin he *knew* had to be underneath. He groaned inwardly. Sleeping on his stomach was not going to be an option tonight!
End Part 10