What is owed.
Charlie looked over at Caitlinn as they sat in the back of one of the Piper SUVs. She was quiet the moment they pulled off the property and began heading toward the three tall mirrored spires in the sky. Her expression was thoughtful but the wave of despair she was emitting was almost overwhelming. He didn't think she wanted him poking around, bringing attention to what she was feeling if she wasn't openly showing it, so he tried to relax next to her.
"Did you eat anything yet?"
Cait looked over at him and shook her head. "Not really hungry."
Charlie nodded and then gave her a small smile as they pulled up to the back entrance of DI's north tower. Cait didn't wait for anyone to get her door, she just pulled on the handle and exited without a word.
The underground garage was quiet but full. Charlie and the other Pipers LT and Red waited for the Commander and JT to join them after parking their vehicle. Together the men circled Cait as they walked her to the elevator up. Her anxiety noticeably jumped to damn near hysteria, but she appeared cool and relaxed. Charlie couldn't help but reach out and gently touch her fingers as he stood next to her in the large elevator. Her fingers curled back with an audible sigh and colorful expletive under her breath.
Sarcasm was more Ellis style, but this situation seemed to warrant it. Simon leaned back against his steel and glass desk and crossed his arms. His missing scientist had finally awakened after the Pipers took her out of DI's sub-levels. Simon had been more than surprised to find out that the fair haired Lewis had found Miss Conrad, and not only brought her back to the city, but managed to get her involved with one of the Pipers, Dr. Hammond no less, and get her killed. But here she was, looking fit as a fiddle, so scared out of her mind that Simon was fairly certain she was going to give herself a heart attack.
"So would I be correct in assuming this is about you faking your credentials, stealing proprietary information, and giving it to our main competitor?"
"She's here in good faith, Simon."
Simon looked over at the Commander. It had to take a lot for him to come into Hell and ask the devil for a favor. Simon considered it for a moment and the let his eyes pass over Caitlinn Conrad to Charlie Hammond.
"What would you like me to do, Commander?"
"Not kill her for starters," Red offered.
"No reason to kill Miss Conrad. Besides, that's not really my style."
"I want her on my team working on my projects."
Caitlinn looked at Charlie and scoffed. "You expect him to employ me after -"
"Stealing from me? Yes, that is a good question, but I can answer that."
Caitlinn looked back at him as Simon stepped forward till he was directly in front of her, forcing her back against the Commander.
"I want all your research on Kyle Evans and how to find him."
Caitlinn's eyes narrowed and she turned her head to the side, pausing before answering. "Don't you already have him?"
"Oh I wish I did, Miss Conrad. Believe me, I do."
"You already have all the information. That's how Lewis caught me. I hid it within the code."
Simon looked down at Caitlinn and the held his hand out just past her shoulder. The Commander reached out and put a thumb drive in Simon's hand.
"Please give Piper Kearney my thanks," he said in a monotone voice as he kept his eyes on Caitlinn. "If I may, I'd like to speak to Miss Conrad privately."
"No," the Commander and his Pipers said in unison.
"What do you say, Miss Conrad? Just a quick chat?"
"Sure, why not."
Charlie turned toward her and whispered. "You don't have to, babe."
Cait grinned at the affectionate term but nodded. "Yeah, I do."
She looked back up at Simon who gave her the smallest of grins as he looked down his nose at her. Slowly the Pipers backed out of the office, leaving them alone.
They stood quietly for a full minute before Simon took a deep breath. "So how'd you manage this?"
Cait blinked. "I died."
"Well, that usually does the trick, doesn't it? Invokes a certain sense of trust and earned respect."
Cait kept her eyes down and to the side. She had no pretense of courage when facing the leader of the most reckless clan of vampires that was not even acknowledged by their own kind. Simon did inspire fear mixed with sex, she had to admit that, but the latter did not out way the former.
"The Commander is putting his neck on the line for you. Do you know why?"
She hated games. "I would imagine he's doing it for his Sergeant."
Cait looked up when Simon began to chuckle softly. It was a scary sound. The kind of noise that gives you shivers up your spine right before whatever rips it out.
"Not for him, but because of him."
"Is this because of Vivienne?"
"Know about that already, do you?"
Apparently not the entire story, she thought to herself. "Enlighten me," she said looking up at him.
"Oh no, this will be way more interesting to watch this way. However, let's get to the point of this private moment we've been allowed.". Simon reached out and touched Cait's shoulders, making her jump at the warmth of his touch. The gentleness of it was a lie, she knew this, especially when his fingers closed around her shoulders slowly but with pressure.
"You're alive because I need them, as much as they need me, but do not mistake my generosity for weakness.". Simon leaned in a whispered in her ear. "Steal from me again and I will bleed you for a thousand years."
Simon squeezed just the barest hint of pain shot through her arms for a split second before he let go completely.
"Don't want to leave marks," he mumbled before taking a step back.
Charlie suspected he knew the reason why he was going out of his way to keep Caitlinn alive. The Commander was a good man who'd do anything for his men, but Brig Jameson hated Simon Huntington with every fiber of his being, more than the blood memory dictated. Vivienne was the Commander's mate, but she was also bonded to Simon. And before that realization, Charlie stood just close enough to be another distraction for her. Since waking Charlie's memories of Vivienne had been completely erased, and along with that his love for her.
Was the Commander ensuring that Charlie's attentions would never stray back to Vivienne as long as Caitlinn was alive? The Commander looked up at him as Charlie considered the odds of that being high. He never really picked up anything from the Commander, not emotionally, but Charlie knew guilt when he saw it.
The door opened up, breaking the silence. The secretary stood up from her desk as she reached into a drawer, pulling out a badge. Cait walked out first with Simon staying behind, turning his back on them as the door slowly closed again. Walking through the lobby, the secretary stepped in front of her and handed her the badge.
"Your security clearance has been reinstated and your office is as you left it."
Cait looked at the badge and took it without a word, but continued on down the short hallway to the elevator. Charlie looked at Red and JT, nodding to take rear while LT and the Commander followed Charlie to Cait. The ride down was painfully silent until they reached the parking garage and began moving toward the vehicles when suddenly Cait's emotions flared in his head and she ran to the front of a nearby car and doubled over, dry heaving.
"What are you doing?" Red asked in an uncharacteristically serious tone.
"She's dry heaving...."
Red pulled firmly back on JT, leading him away from the others to speak to him privately.
"Ok dude, you're young and I know it's a medic thing, but there are some things you gotta understand. Cait is Charlie's mate, maybe not declared but we all know it. If he can't handle it, then we step in, till then...don't ever over step the mate's place. That understood?"
JT looked at Red with a strangely confused expression, but nodded quietly. Red knew it was because nothing serious ever came out of his mouth, but Charlie was his best friend and beyond the bro code was respect and that was never ignored.
They both turned back and watched as Caitlinn and Charlie talked quietly, his buddy trying to comfort his new girl. There wasn't anything Red wouldn't do for Charlie to have this - lord knows the man deserved it.
"Yes I am aware of that."
Charlie gave Cait a sad smile when she glared up at him. Straightening, she wiped the sweat off her face and tried to look calm, which she was doing a reasonable job, all things considered, but her heart rate and sheen of sweat was saying otherwise.
"What did he say to you?"
Cait shrugged and looked away. "Wasn't so much what he said, but what he implied. You know - 'try and fuck me again without dinner first and...' blah blah blah I'm dead."
"Yeah, we figured as much. Was that it?"
Cait looked up at him and gave him the strangest look yet, but she shrugged and shook her head.
"So that's what it looks like when you bold face lie, then?" He couldnt help the disappointed tone in his voice, but knowing she'd try and lie badly was almost as bad as lying and doing it well.
"Have you ever known Simon Huntington to not be cryptic? I dont know what else he was implying, but apparently he's giggly about it. It doesn't matter. I'm just as trapped as I was before and it is so awesome."
Charlie lifted her chin and pulled her into a soft embrace. She easily came to him, which he really didnt think she would, even in front of the others, and sighed heavily into his chest.
"Listen, if you're going to throw up, let's at least get you something to eat."
"I'm not hungry," she mumbled into his chest.
"Yes you are. I'll take you somewhere you'll like. Come on."
"What about the others," she asked again, tickling his chest with the vibration of her voice.
"We'll ditch them and get home on our own."
He waited to see what her response was to calling his place their home, but she remained quiet and emotionally did not respond. Instead she pulled back and agreed silently. Smiling, he lifted her chin again and ran his thumb over her lips. She playfully tried to bite him and then turned away. Looking over at LT, Charlie lifted his chin and began to follow Cait. LT shook his head with a smile and then tapped his uncle on the arm, heading toward their own vehicle.
Charlie fell in step with Cait as they walked toward the elevator to street level, smiling again when she wrapped her arm around his.
(ooc all out))