tagRomanceShackled Ch. 16

Shackled Ch. 16

byStory_Spinner©

Hansen stood at the counter drinking his coffee. It was nice. Could have done with a splash of whiskey, but now was not the time.

Emma sat at the counter with her cup in front of her. She looked nervous and fidgety.

"Don't worry," said Hansen. "I have a plan."

He smiled.

I have a plan. At least it sounds confident.....

Finally, there was noise behind the door. Liam got up and opened the door before anyone had even knocked. Mrs. Chan was first in line.

As usual.

She walked in, kissed him on the cheek and hugged him in a tight squeeze. When she was done squeezing him, she pushed herself away a little while still in his embrace and looked around him at Emma.

"Oh it's so nice to come here and see a pretty face. You should keep this one around, Liam."

"Oh," he said. "I thought you were talking about me."

She hit him lightly on the arm and moved into the room, going down the short set of stairs.

Victor was behind Mrs. Chan, her her oldest son. Black hair and thin. It was the thinness that fooled most people. They were only fooled once. But once was enough with him, you didn't get a second chance to learn from your mistake.

Hansen shook his hand and the Asian man nodded. In his other hand he had bags of groceries. He rolled his eyes as he looked down to the bags.

"Mother."

Hansen smiled. "I know."

"I better get these to her," said Victor, "or she will feel bad at not getting lunch ready."

Behind Victor was Carl. The big man nodded at Hansen and walked down into the room silently, followed by Jimmy, Paul and Finley. Waiting behind them, but not entering immediately was Laura Black. She looked stunning, her short blonde hair perfectly made up and her clothes only enhancing her style. She walked slowly up to him, her blue eyes looking directly into his.

"Hey," she said, and then placed both her hands on the side of his face and kissed him gently.

"Hey you too," he said, trying to not to respond to the kiss, but failing.

She stepped back. "We need to talk sometime, baby," she said softly.

Hansen's chest went tight.

"We do," he nodded.

Please, no trouble today.

She smiled, barely and then walked past him, to join the others. Hansen watched her in her jeans, white shirt and black coat. He wasn't the only one looking.

Yes, Laura has arrived.

Hansen looked around outside the doorway. No sign of Bonnie. He shut the door and walked up to Carl. He whispered in the big man's ear.

"Bonnie?"

Carl looked at him, already chewing on something.

"She said she'd be here. She'll be here."

Hansen nodded. The grocery bags were on the bench and Mrs. Chan was rifling through his drawers and cupboards to find cutlery and plates. Already she'd assembled plates of cold meats, salads, cakes and pastries. She might have thought the army was coming. She had poor Victor running around looking for things. She looked up for a moment directly at Hansen and smiled softly. Then she heard a clatter from behind and rolled her eyes before turning to say something to Victor.

Hansen surveyed the group. They hadn't been all together in the same room for a while. It had been too dangerous, he reflected. They used to be his team. Now they were all equals with the same aim in mind.

Open the eyes of the world to what was happening. They were controlled by mega conglomerate businesses and their puppet governments. Didn't anyone care? They were all so busy acquiring and consuming that they hadn't seen anything wrong in the way the world was. Well there was something wrong and it was their job to right it.

If anyone cared.

"Liam?"

It was Carl. He was standing beside him. "Let's get it going. It won't matter for Bonnie, she'll be here soon."

Hansen nodded.

He clapped his hands. "Ok," he said, looking towards Mrs. Chan. "Has everyone got a plate and some food? We may as well start. Bonnie will be here soon."

He got himself a plate, but he wasn't hungry. He dropped a small bread roll on it and some cold meat. He couldn't quite tell what meat it was, but it wouldn't matter, if Mrs. Chan had brought it, it would taste good. Everyone had found a place to stand or sit by now and the chatter was dropping. They were waiting for him to start.

He was about to say something when there was a knock at the door.

Bonnie.

He put his plate down on the small amount of space left on his bench and walked towards the door. When he reached the top of the stairs, he opened the door.

And there she was.

Bonnie.

Her face looked like the face of an angel that had seen too much evil. It was framed with straight shoulder length black hair. She was lucky to be a couple of inches over five foot, but she was the toughest woman he'd ever known. And the most reliable. She was a pit bull and luckily for Hansen, he was her favourite person. She loved him with a fierceness that frightened and smothered him, but made him feel better at the same time.

She looked at him, expressionless, her eyes looking directly into his. He could lose himself in those eyes and he had. They had known each other for nearly twenty years. Longer than he'd known Jess. Mrs. Chan. Even Carl. Bonnie was his past, his present and his future. There would always be Bonnie.

Whether he wanted her or not.

Her face softened.

A little.

"Liam."

The Irish accent. Faint, but still there.

"Bonnie."

She walked up closer to him and put her mouth at his ear. She had her hands against his chest for support because even with his head tilted down, she had to get on her toes. He felt her warm breath on his ear.

"It's been a long time."

"Yes," he whispered back hoarsely.

She let out a soft laugh. "A long time...." She gently kissed him on the ear and then stepped back. The softness had left her face, her green eyes piercing him, looking straight through him.

She was not happy. He could tell. But she was trying. An unhappy Bonnie meant trouble. Big trouble.

Shit.

Keep trying to be happy Bonnie. For me.


The room had gone quiet. Everyone was watching Bonnie and him. They never tired of this dance, of the heat. She had stepped back out the doorway and reached around the corner. She nodded at someone there and a man appeared in the doorway.

"Ladies and gentleman," she said theatrically, with small bow and extension of her arm, "I present for your pleasure, doctor and researcher extraordinaire, Simon Thornton."

A man walked into the doorway next to Bonnie. Everyone looked at him and then at Emma.

This was what they were all here for, the last piece of the puzzle.

****

Emma tried to relax, greeting everyone quietly as they entered Liam's home and filled in the small space quickly. The act that Laura put on though, was off putting to say the least as she leaned in to kiss Liam on the lips. She watched his body tighten, trying to hold back, but inevitably kissing her back gently. A harsh pang of jealous hit her square in the chest and made her look away.

Pretending not to take notice, Emma found herself clenching her teeth. She felt foolish and silly, no promises had been made, but after their shared night...well...it was a bitter pill to swallow knowing that he'd shared such nights with her. But nothing could compare to the look that crossed his face with Bonnie appeared.

Emma swallowed hard and watched their exchanged looks, the tension and chemistry there so thick she could have easily cut it with a knife. She felt her heart sink and yet her pulse hammered in her ears, jealousy laced with anger simmering under her calm facade...or so she thought. Laura caught her gaze and smirked, making Emma's eyes narrow. Clenched teeth now ground together, making her jaw ache, until movement made her gaze shift again.

She watched as Bonnie stepped away from Liam and made her announcement with a flourish.


Emma's breath whooshed out softly as Simon appeared in the doorway and before she knew it, she was rushing forward and hugging him. He smiled and drew her close, burying his face in her wealth of freshly washed hair. "I'm so glad you're alright!" She gushed softly. A long moment later she stepped back and gave him a wobbly smile. "I was so worried they'd gotten to you."

Simon 's pale, lean face smiled down at her. His all too familiar freckles still dusted the bridge of his nose and across his cheeks. His hazel eyes still sharp and full of life and intelligence. He was okay. Which meant they could do something. "What about your family?"

"I sent them away. Soon after you left. I had a feeling that things would get, well, complicated."

Emma laughed and nodded, "That might be an understatement, but I still have the disk, as well as some muscle on my side." Turning to the group, she felt strangely awkward as her gaze met Liam's. "So now that we're all together, what's the next step?"

****

Simon looked just like a researcher should and Emma rushed to embrace him. He looked fine, which meant the SPF's had only been watching him up to now. Once they worked out he was missing, there would be a more concerted effort on all of them. They had probably not stepped up the search for Emma and Hansen because they knew that, at some point, they would need to get to Simon to finish the work and get the antidote out there. Then the government would be able to get to them all with one net.

Or at least they thought.

There was some murmuring as Emma held him and Simon explained what he'd done.

Bonnie was looking directly at Hansen, one side of her lip slightly curled in a way that most would not even call a small smile, but for her it was downright laughter. She knew he would be wondering how she had retrieved the doctor so easily.

She knew everything.

About Hansen at least.

Her green eyes kept looking at him. The perfect face. The black hair. She was talking to him. No one would know. No one would hear. But she was talking to him, her eyes speaking more than any voice could. Even The Voice.

Where have you been?

Hansen returned her gaze. He had nothing to hide from Bonnie. He was probably the only person she loved. Truly loved, not just cared for, but truly loved. There was nothing he could do that would change that. He'd tried. Some of the things he'd done in the past....She loved him anyway. She'd nursed him. Put him back together so many times. He loved her, he always would, but the intensity was....

With her? Is that where? If you needed me, you should have....

Hansen shook his head slightly at her. Emma brought his mind back to the room. He turned to look at her as she spoke.


He turned back for a quick moment to Bonnie, her eyebrow was raised slightly. Not anything the others would notice, but Hansen did. She was amused with him even bothering to listen to Emma. Now both sides of her lips curled slightly, almost imperceptibly, with a friendly mocking in her eyes.

Yeah, lover boy, what's the next step?

It didn't bother Hansen being the center of attention. He had been a CO from a young age and these people were part of the team.

His team.

What did bother him was that this was an acceleration of their efforts to slowly destabilize things. They were all working in their areas, meeting up occasionally and causing disturbances where they could. The plan had been to wait and see what developed and then go for a bigger strike.

Hansen smiled as he looked around the room.

"It's good to see us all together," he said. "First, we need to welcome Paul to the team. He's always been part of us, but this is the first time he's ever gotten out of that damn theater."

There were a few laughs and claps around the room. The young man's face went red as he nodded his head in acknowledgment to Hansen's greeting. Finley, who was standing closest to him, slapped him on the back.

Carl spoke.

"No doubt, he'll be bloody happy that he won't have to watch Casablanca one more time!"

Everyone laughed. Hansen's eyes were drawn to Emma, Laura and Bonnie. He was a tough man, but this was as edgy as he'd been in a long while. The team needed unity. He hoped they could do that. Emma was standing next to Simon, waiting to hear what they would be doing next. Laura sat next to Paul, the poor boy probably hyperventilating at having the super Amazon sitting so close to him. Bonnie stood alone, leaning against a wall, arms folded.

Just looking.

"Now, I've told most of you the story in bits in pieces, but I'll tell you now again so that we all know what's going on. It's a bit long winded and complex, so when I finish, could someone please explain it to Carl again."

They all laughed and Carl pretended to be offended. Once they'd settled down, Hansen started recounting the story from the beginning. He would occasionally check with Emma to make sure the facts were ok and she would nod or explain something a little more to the group. He was proud of Emma. This was all foreign to her, but she was doing well in giving her information and being part of the team.

Especially considering Laura and Bonnie.

There were a few murmurs when he mentioned that Blaxland had been at the bar the night they'd almost been captured.

"He's fucking dead," Laura had said softly.

Normally that meant you would be dead.

Soon.

Hansen raised his hand.

"We don't want this to be personal. It will cloud our judgment."

"He made me do what I did to you...." she said.

He nodded.

"Yes. I'm sure he'll get what's coming, but in due course, Laura, in due course."

She breathed in deeply and nodded, but her face was cold.

Hansen told the story slowly. Ultimately the team would need to decide if they did anything and how they did it. He hoped they wanted in, but he wouldn't try to influence them. It was Emma's and his fight.

At the story's end, Hansen asked if there were any questions.

Jimmy quickly spoke, with a laugh in his voice.

"So how come, it's like you always, and I mean always, get the hot girls and we get to do all the dirty work?"

They laughed.

"I'm an officer," said Hansen, smiling, but glancing nervously at Emma, "I'm supposed to get all the perks. Plus Jimmy, you spend most of your time tapping away on a keyboard, you could hardly call that dirty could you?"

Jimmy smiled at him. Everyone quietened down for a moment. They were waiting. Hansen knew what they were waiting for, but it didn't make things easier. He was the CO, but there was always her.

"So this is it?"

Bonnie.

Hansen turned to her and nodded.

"Yes."

She stood up straight from leaning against the wall. Tiny frame. Overpowering presence.

"This is the job we've been looking for?" she asked.

"Yes. It is."

"To save the woman and Dr. Thornton?"

Hansen instinctively looked to Emma to reassure her all was ok. She and Thornton must have been fascinated by the group plotting to both save them and inflict some major damage to the government.

Ouch. Her name's Emma, Bonnie. Please.

Everyone had gone quiet. It seemed they didn't even want to breathe for fear of missing something.

"Yes, but we can also do much more. Stop the virus. This will hurt their plans. Be a severe setback to them," he said. "Plus, it will draw them out, in a big way, and we can finally have that day that most of us have craved. A showdown."

Bonnie stood looking at him, her eyes slightly narrowed, glistening green. She pursed her lips and let air slowly out of her nose, her body perfectly still.

Hansen stood there under the heat of her gaze. They were looking at each other and in turn everyone was looking at them.

She shifted slightly on her feet, but her expression didn't change.

"I will go where you go, Liam," she said flatly. "If your think this is the job, then this is the job. I'm in."

She leaned back against the wall, looking first at Emma and then back to Hansen, her eyes again boring into him.

I love you. You hurt me. But I love you.

He nodded, the tiniest of movements.

Thank you.

****

The tension in the room was palpable and Emma stiffened next to Simon when Bonnie went on a little rant. She clenched her teeth together to keep from speaking out of turn. Obviously she and Simon were outsiders. Even though they were part of this now. The others had history, on many levels. Some more personal than others, but all of them had a stake in this.

She watched them exchanging glances and blew out a small breath of relief as Bonnie finally settled down. She made a mental note to stay out of Bonnie's way. It was time to focus on the plan. Time to focus on staying alive while saving others. Time to bring an empire of evil down.

Emma glanced at Simon who smiled reassuringly and gave her hand a little squeeze. Something in his eyes told her he hadn't missed a thing. He was just a sharp and took in all the details. "First thing is first however...." She found herself speaking again, gaining Liam's attention. "While Simon takes the disk and starts things off where we left off, we need to do something about these shackles. We can't go about our business if you're stuck at my side and vise versa."

She watched Bonnie's dark eye brow raise as if this was a bit of news she hadn't been privy too and Emma felt a small tingle of excitement at having a little info that the Irish woman didn't have. She bit back a smile and cleared her throat.

"Could be worse people to be shackled up to, eh Liam!" Jimmy pipped up and she watched Carl punched the skinny idiot in the arm. "Ow!"

Emma rolled her eyes and yet found herself chuckling despite his idiocy. "Well I'll gladly trade spots with you Jimmy, if you would like to be to shackled up to Liam, be my guest." She teased and winked over at Liam, earning a slitty eyed look from Bonnie.


Emma was new and she was intelligent, she would try not to start something.


Simon cleared his throat. "Shackles is it? How do you go about removing those?"

****

Hansen was still a little worried at the dynamics of the women in the room, especially Bonnie. Laura was as hard as nails, but she was not very possessive....as long as she got what she thought was her share. Bonnie. Well, she was Bonnie.

Jimmy came out with a joke, but it didn't seem to help matters. Bonnie was alternating her gaze between Emma and Hansen and it wasn't exactly the look of love.

Come on, Bonnie. We've got work to do.

Hansen turned to him turned to Simon.

"Yes. They mean that Emma and I can't be more than fifty meters apart," he said. "Or a charge goes off and we're dead. We have to get them out, otherwise we won't be able to do our work."

"How do you do that?" asked Simon.

A voice came from the other side of the room. It was Victor, Mrs. Chan's son. "We need to get to a computer within one of the SPF Headquarters Buildings. Then we can disarm the shackles. Unfortunately, we can't get remote access to them. We have to physically get into a building to get to the database in the mainframe."

Hansen smiled.

"That's what I was going to say."

Victor smiled back at him. "Yeah right."

Mrs Chan gave her son a clip behind the ear and she was only half joking.

"Don't talk to Liam like that."

Victor rubbed his head. "You know, sometimes I think he's your favourite son."

Everyone laughed.

"So," asked Simon, "how do we get into an SPF building to disarm the shackles? I'm sure they're well protected...."

Hansen interrupted him.

"Oh, they are. But SPF's get in and out, which means we can." He looked over to Bonnie. "How did we go targeting an SPF with high level clearance?"

Her face changed almost immediately and she was back into soldier mode.

"I think I have a candidate, Liam," she said. "One of the detail that was watching Simon. He looks pretty senior. He wasn't there often and spent half his time eating donuts."

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