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Elisabeth: Marked

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:~: Monday, November 05, 2007 :~:

Still Stuck...

"This sucks." Cruise tosses the remote control on the scuffed coffee table that's seen better days and pushes off the couch. The guys-weekend-from-hell is getting worse. They're about out of beer, the Cheetos dried up sometime yesterday morning and someone in the room ate too much chili on their chili dog last night because the SBDs are smokin' them all out. The lack of windows in The Basement only makes things worse.

Cruise pushes a hand through his hair and starts pacing. "It's Monday-frickin'-afternoon for Pete's sake!" He looks up to the ceiling and raises his voice just to make sure She can hear him. "Did you hear me??? Some of us have work to do!"

Tick glances at Rio. "I think he's losing it."

Rio regards Tick thoughtfully. "Wasn't there a Pete in here with us last time?"

Tick rubs a hand over his weekend's worth of stubble. "Now that you mention it, there was. Slick dude. Didn't like him."

Rio reaches for the remote Cruise dropped and sarts flipping channels. "Me neither. Too slick."

He and Tick look at each other and nod in unison. "Felon."

Brody chuckles from across the room where he's lying on his back, feet propped against the concrete slap wall, tossing his baseball against the wall while Cruise continues pacing and muttering to himself.

"What's so funny?" Stanton asks, looking up from the Women's Day he's found wedged into a basket full of old magazines and newspapers.

Brody grins. "The felon. He'll be back. Uber-agent's reading his book right now. Guarantee there'll be edits."

"Fabulous," Rio mutters, returning his attention to the TV. "That's all we need in here. The only thing that'd make it better is if good ol' Troy Lee was in here too."

Tick quickly looks away.

Stanton's eyes narrow. "What do you know that we don't?"

"Nothing," Tick says quickly. Too quickly. "I mean, just that She's got his torture all laid out. And knowing Troy Lee, it's going to get worse before it gets better."

"I do not want to be stuck in here with Troy Lee," Ash says adamantly from the recliner where he's been pretending to sleep.

Cruise finally stops pacing long enough to glance toward the SI Swimsuit special Rio's paused the TV on. But his attention is obviously elsewhere because he looks away from the TV and scans each of the men's faces. "How much longer can this go on? Seriously. We've all got things to do."

"Not all of us," Theron mutters from the corner of the room where he's been quietly plotting to escape most of the day.

Brody catches the ball and stills. "Now that sounds like animosity, to me. Did you boys here that?"

Cruise drops into the other recliner and rolls his eyes. "Here we go again. Don't you two have anything better to do than bicker about who's getting WIP time?"

"I do," Theron mumbles.

"Not me," Brody says, going back to his tossing. The ball hits the concrete wall with a thunk. "Season's over, spring training doesn't start until Feb. I got all the time in the world. 'Course you wouldn't understand that. You being a spook and all. Busy things to do. Like wire-tapping innocent citizens, making deals with terrorists, and then there's that ever-present hunting-down-Bin-Laden thing that you guys can't seem to get right. And on that subject, explain it to me. Why can't you guys seem to find one old man again?"

"That's it!" Cruise leaps off the couch. "I've had about enough of your mouth."

Tick and Rio both step in to intercept. Tick puts a hand on Cruise's chest to keep him back. "He's just trying to get you going."

Brody chuckles.

Tick looks Brody's way. "And you. Knock it off, meat. It's bad enough we're all stuck in here together without your smartass comments."

Brody pushes up from the floor and slouches against the wall, all flippant attitude and defiant charm. "I'm hurt. Did you just call me meat?"

"Yeah, deal with it. And cut the crap."

Brody lifts a brow. "Watch Bull Durham one too many times, insect man?"

"Let me hit him. Just once," Cruise pleads. "It'll make us all feel better."

"That's true," Theron says from across the room.

Tick looked at Rio. Rio shrugs in a why not? move. Stanton puts down the article on how to bake a bundt cake and grins. "This could get interesting."

Tick finally drops his hand. He lets out a long-suffering sigh. "I know pounding on each other sounds like a good idea at the moment, but I'll be the one in trouble if there's a brawl. Remember the card game?"

"What card game?" Ash asks. "You played cards without me?"

"That wasn't our fault," Rio cuts in. "There were extenuating circumstances."

"Still," Tick says, shaking his head. "I've been around here the longest, and it's not wise to tick Her off. Now if we just---"

The basement door opens with a soft click. Silence falls over the room as all the men turn to look toward the lean woman standing in the doorway wearing cargo pants, a fitted black tee and army boots.

Theron uncoils from his corner, but She doesn't seem to notice him. She's zeroed in on Brody across the room. A wicked smile curls Her mouth, and She lifts one finger, beckoning him toward Her.

Theron shoots forward. No one attempts to stop him. "No!"

She turns Her attention his way. Her smile fades. Her violet eyes narrow. Theron stops dead in the center of the room as something unsaid passes between them. His shoulders slump. Then suddenly She turns. She looks at Brody again over Her shoulder and heads for the door.

A lopsided grin curls Brody's mouth. He hikes up his Levi's. "Been nice knowin' ya, losers." He follows Her out of the room. The door snaps shut with an echoing click.

Theron slumps back to the floor.

Ash kicks the recliner footrest down. "Um. What just happened here?"

Theron's jaw clenches. "She's toying with me."


"Um, no offense," Ash finally says, "but what does that mean for the rest of us?"

"It means the weekend's over," Tick says. "And The Other Two will be coming for us soon."

Rio tips his head and studies the closed door. "Well, some of us. Hopefully."


"Yoo-hoo," another female voice calls from the top of the stairs.

All male ears in the basement perk.

"Are there any spooks, spies or CIA hanging out down there?" she asks.

Every man's gaze turns on Cruise. Stanton leans back and laces his fingers behind his head with a sour expression. "As a matter of fact--"

Cruise smacks Stan in the chest, cutting him off as he squints suspiciously at the darkened stairwell. "Who wants to know?"

She clears her throat, taps her foot. "Let me rephrase. Are there any spooks, spies or CIA hanging out down there who want steamy shower sex?"

Every man's feet hit the floor. Every spine straightens.

Stanton ducks and peers toward the top of the stairs. "Uh, nope, no spooks down here, just a lousy diplomat. But I've been in some pretty dicey situations in the past, know how to lie my ass right out of trouble--"

"No way Stan," Tick says. "I've been on three times as many undercover operations as you have. I'm far more qualified as a spy."

"Sorry, boys." Rio extends his arms and cracks his knuckles with a smug expression. "My UC ops have extended for years. I've lied to drug cartel, military leaders and psychopathic murderers. I'm way out of your league."

Theron stands, shoves his shoulders back until his full height looms over the other men. "None of you can deny I'm the most suspicious one here."

Ash taps his temple with one finger, comtemplative. "I don't suppose disposing of chicken corpses would count as espinage..."

Cruise is quiet, now standing aside the doorway peering past the jamb. The silouhette of a woman outlined in yellow light hovers on the top step. "Who wants to know?"

"Jesus," Rio frowns at Cruise and darts a disgusted look at Tick. "He's way below rookie status. He's just a fucking idiot."

"Hmmm," the woman ponders. "Too bad there's no spy down here, cause I've really amped up that shower scene, and I'm letting him stay afterward for more instead of cutting to the future. Big, comfortable bed, Egyptian cotton sheets. Slow this time, too. No wham-bam, which has it's place and all, but we've always got to remember if there's no meaning behind a sex scene, we may as well be writing porno."

"What's wrong with porno?" Stan mutters, pouting now, arms crossed again.

She sighs, long and loud. "I'm kinda thinking after the intensity of the shower, my h/h might indulge in some exploration of bodies, a little experimentation...might throw in some mouth action--"

Every man rises to his feet.

"I'm the spy!" Cruise bellows up the stairwell. He turns on the imposters, whips his Glock from the holster at his spine and trains it on the rest of men as he backs toward the darkened stairs. "Step away from my muse. Anyone even so much as looks at these stairs is going to loose an eyeball...or worse."

Cruise's feet pound up the stairs and the door closes with an exhuberant slam. All the men sink back into their seats...except Rio. He stalks to the opening to the stairs, braces his hands on either side of the jamb and yells, "Hey, what about me? Any word from the agents?"

"Sorry, handsome," Her voice floats back, fading. "Nothing yet."

Rio swears again, scraps a hand through his hair and stalks back to his recliner. "Damn spies have all the luck."



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