One Shot – Short Story Sunday

This one is a spy story, something I’ve not written before. It was pretty fun to write, though I think spy stories aren’t really my strong suit (maybe I’d be better on a longer piece?) and I probably won’t write many more. I hope you enjoy it. :)

 

*******

Isaac glanced through the cafe window to make sure that she was there today. Yup. There in the corner, the same place she always was. Her electric blue eyes gave her away instantly, along with her vibrant purple hair. He wondered why she’d made herself so noticeable.

He headed inside, trying to look casually interested, and set a hand gently on the chair across from her. “Is this seat taken?”

She looked up, a lock of bright purple hair falling over her eye. She brushed it away. “No.”

He took a seat. “I’m Isaac.”

“Atrea.” She looked at him, obviously intrigued.

“Nice to meet you.”

“You too.” Her jacket sleeve had slid up to reveal a barcode tattoo on the inside of her left wrist. The numbers underneath read “G-037.”

“Interesting tattoo.” He pointed.

Atrea slid her sleeve back down and moved her arm to her lap. “Thanks.”

“You seem really interesting.” Well this conversation was going much slower than Isaac had intended. He had to get her talking. He had to make her feel comfortable.

Atrea shrugged. “I suppose. I’m really just like anyone else.”

Isaac decided against mentioning her eyes. That would have just spooked her further. “Do you like music?”

“Yeah. Do you?”

Isaac nodded. “I love it. I’m going to a concert tonight at the park, actually. Mya & Alex are performing.”

“I love them.” Atrea grinned. “Do you have a favorite song?”

“What could be better than Charming?”

“Agreed.” Atrea’s grin widened.

“I actually have an extra ticket. Would you like to come?”

“Of course you have an extra.” She smirked. “I’ll think about it.”

Isaac pulled out a card and handed it to her. “Here’s my number, so you can call me when you decide. I hope to see you there.” He winked and got up.

“Thank you.” Her vivid eyes twinkled.

Isaac glanced up at the counter. There was Giselle, his coworker, her black hair up in its usual ponytail. He didn’t trust her much. Her black-green eyes met his gaze and she gave him a short wave before turning back to her work. He turned back to Atrea and gave her a farewell smile before heading home.

********

Isaac was unsurprised to get Atrea’s call that afternoon, and that evening he met her at the park gate, about to enter.

“Well fancy seeing you here,” he said with a wink.

“Yes,” she replied, equally facetious. “I didn’t expect to see you ever again.”

Isaac grinned, handing the two tickets to the guard.

“Enjoy the concert.”

Isaac and Atrea stepped through, and Isaac found them seats on the fifth row. As the concert progressed, Isaac looked around and spotted Giselle a couple rows in front of him. His brow furrowed. Giselle didn’t strike him as someone who would enjoy a Mya & Alex concert. And indeed, she looked quite bored with the whole thing. She constantly shifted, as if wishing she could leave.

Isaac turned his attention back to the concert, keeping Giselle’s presence in the back of his mind.

When the concert ended, Atrea and Isaac headed over to a park bench and talked. Isaac caught sight of Giselle out of the corner of his eye, over Atrea’s shoulder, and noticed a tattoo on her neck. It was a series of numbers, and though he couldn’t read it he knew exactly what it meant. How had he never noticed it before? Giselle matched his gaze and gave a bit of a smile before looking again at whatever it was she was studying.

Isaac looked at Atrea. “Do you need a ride home?”

He could tell from Atrea’s eyes that she was masking alarm at his abrupt change of topic. “So eager to cut things off?” She gave a smile, but it faltered slightly.

“Trust me.” He took her hand and headed toward the park gate. She hurried to catch up. He grabbed a set of keys from his pocket and clicked the unlock button. His car lights blinked across the parking lot, and he hurried over, opening the passenger door for her.

“What about my car?” Atrea asked, getting in.

“One of us can come back for it later. We need to get out of here.” He closed the door, looking over the car to see Giselle coming toward them. He tried to look casual as he rounded the car and got in, turning the key in the ignition. “Where are we going?” He backed out of the parking space.

“I don’t think it’s particularly safe to go to my house, if you’re right in your worry. Drop me off at the fire station.”

“The fire station?”

“They’ll take care of any one who comes after me, and thus whoever’s after us probably won’t come to get me.”

Isaac nodded, getting on the road toward the station.

Pulling into the station parking lot, Isaac’s stomach flipped at the thought of leaving Atrea alone. He was supposed to bring her in, and if he lost her to Grantech… “Are you sure you’ll be all right here?”

Atrea nodded. “I’ll be fine. I’ll see you later.” She gave him a reassuring smile before heading into the station.

Isaac hesitated a long moment before heading home, still worrying that Giselle would catch her.

********

How had he missed Giselle’s tattoo? Isaac hung his keys on their hook, closing his apartment door behind him. It had been clear as day at the concert, and she always wore her hair in a ponytail, so her hair wouldn’t have covered it. She must have used makeup or something, and forgotten at the concert. Or was it deliberate? Had she wanted Isaac to know who she was? Surely not.

Isaac took a seat in his living room chair and stared at a spot on the wall, not really seeing it. He can’t lose Atrea. Losing Atrea means losing his job, and losing his job means… He swallowed hard. He wouldn’t lose Atrea.

He headed into his room, slamming the door shut.

********

Isaac woke to the sound of his phone ringing and rubbed his eyes as he answered. “Hello?”

“Hello, Isaac.” He recognized Atrea’s voice on the end of the line. “I didn’t wake you did I?”

“You did, actually. Hi, Atrea. What’s up?”

“I just wanted to see if you wanted to meet for coffee this afternoon. At my place?”

The fact that she didn’t choose Giretti’s – the cafe he and Giselle worked at – didn’t get past him. “Sure. What time?”

“Two? Meet me at the fire station and we can walk from there.”

“Did you get your car last night?”

“I got it this morning.”

“Glad it was still there.” Isaac smiled a bit, attempting a joke.

Atrea chuckled. “I don’t think anyone would be real interested in stealing a rusty old pickup truck. I’ll see you this afternoon.”

“Sure thing.”

The connection clicked off and Isaac rolled over to go back to sleep.

********

Isaac waited fifteen minutes at the fire station before Atrea finally showed up. Instead of being annoyed, he was impressed with her ingenuity. If someone had been tracking the call, they’d expect her at the station at two, not two fifteen.

“Hello,” she said with a grin. “Sorry I’m late.”

“That’s fine. I understand.”

Her eyes twinkled. “Let’s get going, shall we?” She linked her arm in his, startling him a bit, and they started down the sidewalk.

“Nice delay,” Isaac whispered.

“Aw, thank you.” She smiled and rested her head against his shoulder. He played along with her masquerade, impressed that in her short time free she’d learned to go undercover so effectively.

They got to her house, a small cottage with a door to match her hair, and she let them in. “How do you like your coffee?” she asked, flicking on a couple of lights in the living room and heading into the kitchen.

“Black, with two creams and a sugar.”

“Ugh. How do you drink that? I can’t stand the bitterness. I have to get something like a mocha.”

Isaac shrugged. “I’m not a huge fan of sweet drinks.”

“You’re crazy, but okay.”

After a minute she headed back into the living room and, seeing him still standing, gestured toward the couch. “Have a seat! Goodness. Did you think you had to wait to be invited to sit? I don’t care about etiquette nearly enough for that.”

Isaac chuckled and took a seat on the brown leather couch. “Thank you.”

“Sure.” She took a seat next to him, and Isaac noticed her wrist tattoo again.

“So, where did you get that tattoo?”

“Determined, aren’t you?” She smirked. Abruptly the smirk faded and she swatted at the air. “Dumb bugs…”

Isaac looked around. There weren’t any bugs. Unless she was acting again. “What do you think of tech?” he asked.

“Nasty stuff.” A gleam in her eye told him he’d guessed correctly. She wasn’t talking about insects, but the fact that her house was bugged. He should have known.

“I agree.”

“Like your coffee.” Atrea grinned and Isaac rolled his eyes.

The timer went off in the kitchen and Atrea went to retrieve their drinks, handing Isaac his and taking a sip of her own.

Isaac stopped just before his mug touched his lips. He raised it toward her. “Want a sip?”

Atrea laughed. “No thank you, sir.”

Isaac took a sip of his coffee, grinning. “Well I think it’s delicious.”

“Good for you.” After another few sips, Atrea spoke again. “So, what’s your story? You don’t seem like the kind of guy who’d choose to work in a cafe.”

“No, not really.” Isaac took another sip. “I was a football player in college-”

Atrea cut him off. “And you were injured, lost your scholarship, and disowned.”

Isaac chuckled. “Is it that cliche?”

Atrea nodded. “Yup.” She eyed him over her mug, lowering it after her sip. “Is that really your story?”

Isaac nodded, though it was mostly a lie. He’d been a football player in college, but then chosen to join the CIA in college and left his football career dreams behind.

She arched an eyebrow, but didn’t push further.

After a long conversation in which both of them pointedly avoided the subject of their pasts, Atrea looked up at the digital clock above the mantle. She looked back at Isaac. “I’m sorry to kick you out, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, but I have dinner plans with my sister this evening. I’ll see you later?”

Isaac nodded. “Sure. Something tells me I won’t be seeing you at Giretti’s.”

Atrea’s only answer was a mysterious smile. “I’ll see you later, Isaac.”

Isaac rose and left, walking back to retrieve his car from the fire station and heading home.

******

Several days passed and Isaac didn’t hear from Atrea. All of his calls went to voicemail, and he was more than a little worried that Giselle had captured her when he woke up in the middle of the night to his phone ringing. The clock by his bed read two o’clock. He grabbed his phone and put it up to his ear.

“You have quite the penchant for waking me up to talk.” He smiled as he said it, but it was just to mask his racing heart. Was she all right?

“I need you to come over.” Her voice was calm, but even over the phone he could sense the underlying panic. “I know who you are. Your interest in my tattoo and lame backstory gave it away. You’re going to need to work on that.” She followed up the comment with a nervous laugh that cut off short. “They’re almost here. Hurry.” The connection clicked dead. Looking at his phone, he saw the screen was black, the battery empty.

Isaac threw off the covers and dressed as quickly as he could. Before five minutes had passed he was on the road to her house with enough cash in his pocket to get them both out of the country.

When he arrived, all of the lights were off and he wasn’t sure if he could be glad or very worried. He tried to walk calmly up the stairs and knocked on the door. Atrea wore a smile when she opened the door, but her eyes revealed her terror.

“Thanks for coming.” As Isaac stepped in, he noticed that Atrea was still wearing everyday clothes, a white tank top and skinny jeans under a purple cardigan. “Would you like some coffee?”

“Sure.”

“Good. It’s already on.” She gave him a short-lived smile before her gaze flicked to the three locks on the door. “Don’t let them take me back.” Her voice was barely a whisper, and Isaac wasn’t even sure if he was meant to hear or not.

“I won’t.”

Her electric blue eyes met his, and she didn’t even attempt to mask her fear this time. “You won’t take me, will you?”

“No.” He rubbed her shoulders. “No.” Though when he’d been given the assignment he would have given anything to take her back to the CIA, now, after getting to know her and with her fear right in front of him, he knew that he meant it. He couldn’t take her in. “What did they do to you?”

He knew that she’d been given superpowers, but with so much genuine fear shining out of those almost luminescent eyes, he wondered how they’d done it.

She looked at the door again and shook her head. “You don’t want to know.”

Light shone out on the street. Headlights. Atrea took a step toward Isaac, grabbing his arm in a death grip. “Protect me.”

“I will.” He looked around. “Do you have a scarf you can use to cover your hair?”

Atrea nodded and reluctantly released his arm, heading through the house. When she returned, it was with a black scarf over her hair and a matching leather jacket over her tanktop and cardigan. “Where?”

“Somewhere without spiders.”

Atrea nodded, understanding. She took hold of his arm again. “This way.”

The two of them slipped out the back door, careful not to let it make too much noise opening and closing. Isaac took the lead, heading toward the nearby train station. There was no noise from the house as they drew farther and farther away from it, something that terrified him worse than if he’d heard doors and windows crashing in.

It took them ten tense minutes to reach the train station, and Isaac wished it weren’t so late so that there’d be more people to fade among.

He placed a hand on hers. “You might want to loosen your grip.”

Atrea did so, shifting so that her arm was looped through his instead of gripping it. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine.”

“I just don’t want to go back there…” She shuddered, and he drew her closer.

“It’s okay. They’re not going to get you.”

She looked up at him. “And what if they do?”

Isaac didn’t answer, just led her toward a bench. As they sat down, Isaac spotted Giselle enter, flanked by at least a dozen Grantech goons. Atrea flinched beside him.

“Find them.” Isaac couldn’t hear Giselle’s words, but it was easy enough to read her lips.

“We have to go,” Atrea whispered. “They’ll find us here.”

Isaac nodded and tried to appear casual as he and Atrea rose from the bench, heading toward the back entrance of the station. “There’s a warehouse not far from here. Abandoned.”

“How original.” Atrea gave a quick smile. “But if it’ll make us harder to find, I’m all for it.”

A shout sounded from behind them just as they pushed through the door of the station, and they broke into a run for the warehouse. Isaac busted the door in when it didn’t open. It was less than subtle, but he knew they didn’t have time to wait. He pulled Atrea behind a stack of crates and crouched down with her.

Isaac’s breath was short and quick as they waited in electric silence for the sound of footsteps entering the building.

Finally, there they were. Isaac peered through the narrow spaces between crates and saw that Giselle was the only one who had entered. Surely there were goons waiting outside, or a sniper on the roof waiting for them to run.

“I know you’re in here, Isaac. Thought to take her in, eh? Sorry, but I’m afraid she’s our property.”

Atrea was shivering uncontrollably beside him. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

“Just give her here and maybe we won’t kill you.”

Atrea shook her head, frantic. Isaac rubbed her shoulder to reassure her. He reached into his pocket for his phone, cursing when he remembered it had died and he’d left it on his bed.

Atrea moved beside him, pulling away. “You can’t touch me,” she warned, still shaking. She stood and staggered out from behind the crates to within full view of Giselle. Isaac almost grabbed her, but he knew she had powers of some kind. If she needed help, he’d give it.

“So, you’ve made your choice,” Giselle said with a smile. “Thank you, Isaac.” She lifted her gun and pulled the trigger.

Atrea thrust her arms toward Giselle, launching streaks of electricity at her. Her eyes really did glow, now, but the bullet was still shooting toward her.

Isaac leapt from his hiding place, throwing himself in front of the bullet. He yelled as it bit into his shoulder, embedding itself there. The electricity hit Giselle, knocking her to the floor.

“Isaac!” Atrea yelled, grabbing hold of his arms.

“I’ll be fine,” he said through clenched teeth. He grabbed a wad of cash from his pocket and handed it to her. “In case they kill me. Get to Thesbia.” He got to his feet, holding his shoulder.

She tucked the money into her jacket pocket. “They won’t kill you.” She wrapped her arm around him helped him past Giselle.

As they reached the doorway, Isaac stopped. “You can’t run while you’re helping me. I can run. You come after me.”

Atrea’s concern was evident in her eyes, but she nodded.

Isaac ran out of the warehouse as fast as he could, and almost immediately was on the ground, a bullet in his head.

Atrea shoved down a scream and ran out herself, trying to take advantage of the time the sniper would need to reload. She dashed into the train station, trying to slow her pace as she entered. Her heart was racing, her breathing too quick. Isaac was dead. She set a brisk pace toward the ticket counter and bought a single ticket for the route that went nearest the airport. It left in five minutes, and she spent those breathlessly running to the proper platform.

As she collapsed into her seat, tears came unbidden. She didn’t even know Isaac, but she’d been the cause of his death. She was responsible. And now she was going to run away from Grantech, and from his death. It would provide her escape from Grantech, yes, but was escape really what she needed to do? The train jolted into motion.

Too late now, she thought, looking down at her lap. Too late. Isaac was dead, but he had died – sacrificed himself, really – to grant her freedom. He wouldn’t want her to throw that away, would he?

She tried to banish her thoughts, but they haunted her all the way to the airport, and through two hours of her ten-hour flight out of the country before she finally fell asleep.

The next thing she knew, she was no longer Atrea Bowman. She was Patricia Tyre, a Thesbian florist, and that was what she would be for the rest of her life.

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