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23 June 2012 @ 10:44 pm
Fic: Afternoon Adventure [Original]  
Title: Afternoon Adventure
Word Count: 3112
Rating: T
Original/Fandom: Original
Characters/Pairings: Leah, Charlie (intimations of future Leah/Charlie)
Warnings: none
Summary: When a privileged general's daughter is attacked and then rescued and taken on the run, she doesn't know who to trust.
Notes: Written for writerverse challenge. Prompts: lost in the city, mistrust
I reserve the right to future editing -- this 'little' scene I envisioned grew like a monster. I think there actually might be much more story here...

Afternoon Adventure

Leah Cole flipped her long blonde hair behind her shoulders as she stepped out of the store into the bright sunshine. Balancing her shopping bags on one arm, she dug through her purse for her keys as she walked through the parking lot. She pulled them out just as she was approaching her red convertible. But as she went to unlock the door, she felt herself pushed forward, pinned against the side of car by a heavy body, a hand across her mouth.

For one terrifying second, she forgot everything that she’d learned in the self-defense class her father had insisted she take. She couldn’t think, was only aware of the weight of the body behind her, the rough skin against her mouth and face, the harsh breaths rolling down her neck. The moment seemed to stretch into eternity before everything snapped back into place.

She shifted her center of balance abruptly to her left and brought her right foot up against his shin. That first impact pried enough room between them that she could bring a hand down and up into his crotch. She knew she’d missed doing any serious damage, but his hold on her had loosened enough that she dropped everything and ran across the nearly deserted lot, aiming for the stores.

As she passed the alleyway leading to the loading docks, a hand darted out and grabbed her arm, pulling her away from the parking lot. She struggled against the tight grip.

“Leah, wait. I’m trying to help you.” The man kept his voice low, but somehow it still held an element of command. She stopped fighting at the sound of her name and looked up at him. She had a quick impression of a blue baseball cap and hard, brown eyes before he edged toward the corner of the wall and listened. She knew she’d never seen him before.

“How do you know me?” she asked, breathing heavily more from fear than her sprint across the parking lot.

He held a hand up to silence her. Then she heard it too: the sound of footsteps approaching. He tightened his grip on her arm and took off down the alley, leaving her no choice but to keep up with him. About halfway down, he pulled her through an open door and they made their way toward the front of a toy store. Once in the store proper, she planted her feet and refused to walk.

He looked back, surprised at the sudden resistance yanking his arm behind him.

“What the hell is happening here? Who are you?” she hissed.

He looked behind her anxiously. “We need to keep moving.”

“No.” Her raised voice drew looks from several customers and he shot her a warning look as he stepped in closer. His jaw was set and his deep brown eyes were intensely focused on hers.

“I’m Major Charles Bowen. My friends call me Charlie. You are in danger and it’s my job to keep you safe. Okay? Let’s go.”

She drew a deep breath, trying to make some sense of what was happening here. “Major,” she repeated absently. “You Army?”

He nodded, his eyes now trained on the door to the storage room they had just exited.

“My dad’s in the Army.”

“I know,” he said shortly. “That’s why I’m here.” He shifted his gaze back to her and he must have read how overwhelmed she felt, because he softened his expression somewhat, loosened his grip on her wrist. He brought his other hand up to rest on her shoulder.

“This is sudden and it’s crazy, and you’re probably scared as hell, but I need you to trust me. We have to get moving.”

She looked up at him. Could she trust him? Should she? The sound of crashing boxes suddenly echoed from the storage room and she nodded, even as he turned and started for the front door, still loosely holding her arm.

Once out on the street, he continued at a quick walk, tugging at her until she was walking alongside him. She kept glancing nervously behind them, until he growled, “Stop that. You’re just drawing attention to us.”

So instead, she found herself looking over at him. He was several inches taller than she was and maybe ten years older. And very definitely cute. She mentally shook her head; cute wasn’t the right word. Rugged, handsome, compelling. She was still debating adjectives when he started to slow their pace as they neared an intersection some five blocks away.

He stopped in the shadow of the large red brick building on the corner lot. “My car’s on the next street. Wait here, let me see if it’s clear.”

He eased around the corner of the building and returned less than a minute later, scowling. “No good.” His eyes danced around the street, then he started back the way they came.

“What? What’s no good?” She had to jog to catch up with him.

“They’re watching my car. How the hell they even knew...” he muttered, then turned abruptly down another street, heading toward city center.

“Who’s watching your car? What does any of this have to do with me?” Panic started to build again as it dawned on her that she was following a virtual stranger on nothing more than his word. Who was to say that he wasn’t working with the guy that had attacked her? Maybe he was just taking a more subtle approach.

He looked at her briefly, then resumed his constant scanning of the crowd. “What do you know about your father’s work?”

“My father? Pretty much nothing other than it’s why he’s never around.” She congratulated herself on her reserve as she thought bitterly about all the birthdays he’d missed, her high school graduation, her mom’s illness.

“Well, okay then, that’s between you and your dad. What you need to know is that he’s made some enemies over the years. One of them has decided that he’s going to get his revenge through you. I was supposed to get you to a safe house about an hour outside of the city, but I think we have to scrap that plan.”

They were threading through the stalls of an open-air market. “Why?” she asked. “I mean, can’t you just call your boss or my dad or, I don’t know, the cops?”

He shook his head. “Leah, you are your dad’s most closely guarded secret. The fact that these guys even know about you is worrisome. That they knew where you were and could ID me or my vehicle, that makes me think someone is talking who really shouldn’t be.”

She looked at the crowd of people around them. She had no idea how to pick out friend from foe, where danger might be hiding.

“Shouldn’t we go somewhere else?” she suggested. “You know, hide?”

“Not until I’ve got a plan. Don’t worry, the city’s a great place to get lost in, the crowds, the turns. There’s always somewhere to go.” They had just passed the last stall and he stopped and turned to look at her, appraisingly. “We need to do something about your hair though.”

Her hands flew up protectively. “I’m not dying my hair.”

He laughed. She was floored at the way his face changed when he smiled, however brief it was. “You’ve seen too many Jason Bourne movies. Here.” He leaned close enough that she could smell sweat and soap and a fading hint of aftershave. He reached over her shoulders and gathered her hair up on top of her head. Holding it there with one hand, he pulled his baseball cap off and slid it over her hair. He turned her around in a circle. “That’ll do from the back. And from the front,” he pulled a wisp of hair from her cheek and smiled, “It’s kind of cute.”

“Cute? I haven’t been called cute since I was a baby!”

“Well, then, I’m glad I could rectify that for you.” Her heart beat just a bit faster as he grinned at her. They stared at each other for a minute, then he gestured that they should get moving again.

Leah tried to shake off the momentary twinge of attraction; it was probably just the adrenaline rush. She didn’t know this guy, didn’t know if she could trust him, and just because he smelled good, and had an adorable smile, and sent shivers down her spine when his fingers brushed her neck... Lost in her thoughts, she fell a few steps behind. Noticing he was ahead of her, she nearly groaned when she saw what a nice butt he had. She hurried to his side, turning her thoughts to anything else.

They walked in silence for a while. Suddenly, he spoke, as if continuing a conversation. “Okay, there’s a place I used to stay. It’s across town, do you think you can make it?”

She wasn’t really dressed for cross-town walking, and she had crossed the comfort limit of her shoes about an hour ago.

“Can’t we cab it?”

Her hopeful smile disappeared when Charlie shook his head. “I don’t want to spend money we don’t have to until I know what’s going on.”

“Well, if that’s our only option...” she shrugged. “Lead on.”

“You want a break?” He looked concerned.

“Oh no. If I stop, you won’t get me started again. Just go.” She heard how brusque her voice sounded and tried for a small smile to make up for her lack of enthusiasm. She threw on her ‘brave little soldier’ face that her father had drilled into her from her earliest memories and kept walking.

Midway through the next block, Charlie elbowed her and stopped in front of a street vendor. He got two hot dogs and two waters, handing Leah one of each. They ate as they walked. Once the food was gone, she started talking. It was aimless conversation: fashion trends, vacations she’d taken, commenting on movies showing at the theatre they passed. Every now and then, she’d strike something he was interested in, and they’d chat for a while.

It was kind of nice, she thought. Almost like a date. If she could ignore the way he was constantly double-checking his awareness of everything going on around them.

After a couple of hours, they were almost out of the city. He guided them down a street to a motel, just a few steps above flea-bag. Charlie registered then led them to a second floor room. Leah gratefully sat down on one of the beds. He flipped her the remote for the TV. “You good for a few minutes? I’m just going to step in here.” He indicated the bathroom.

She nodded wearily, the exhaustion of the day finally catching up with her. The door closed behind him and she switched on the set, flipping through channels at random. She stopped when she saw a photo of herself shown onscreen, a chill settling in her chest.

“...daughter of General David Cole, was abducted this afternoon from the Market District. Her keys and other personal belongings were found next to her car. If you have any information...”

She quickly changed the channel, looking over at the bathroom door, trying to divine if Charlie had heard any of that. God, how could she have been so stupid?! She dropped the remote on the bed and stood, making her way as quietly as possible to where he’d draped his jacket over a chair. Digging through the pockets, she found his wallet.

She heard the toilet flush and the sound of water running in the sink. After she grabbed the cash from the wallet, she ran for the door and sprinted down the stairs and back toward the main street. A quick look behind her showed him in the open doorway, gun in one hand, a look of frustrated anger on his face. She could hear him shouting her name as she rounded the corner and started looking for a cop or a taxi; at this point, she didn’t really care which she found first.


45 minutes later, a cab pulled up to the foot of her driveway, just outside the large gate. She handed over twice the fare, ignored the driver’s surprised gratitude, and got out of the car to punch in the security code. She was through the gate as soon as it was wide enough and limping up the drive. All she wanted now was a hot bath, some good food, and maybe, just maybe, her dad would be home and could explain all of this to her.

As she crossed the expanse of grass between driveway and front door, she felt a strange presence. Before she could turn around, there was a strange popping sound, a forward push against her back, and a guttural groan against her ear even as she realized that she was pinned to the ground. Through the painful swirling in her brain, she could hear a commotion, lots of people running, walking, talking, shouting orders. But it was Charlie’s voice that really caught her attention.

“Are you happy now? I’ve been shot!”

With a grunt, he rolled off her back. She sat up and looked at him, holding his arm tightly against his chest. She could see blood seeping through the arm of his jacket. He shook his head as he looked toward the small gazebo sitting off to the side of the house, where several uniformed men were restraining someone.

Charlie muttered, “Dammit. Burke; I should’ve known.”

They just sat there, her mind spinning through too many things to even begin to give voice; he lost in his own thoughts as well. Then there were ambulances and EMTs and they were helped to their feet and examined. It wasn’t until she felt the sting on her palms as they were cleaning her up that she realized her hands and cheek were scraped and bruised from the impact with the ground. With that, the endorphin rush faded and every ache and pain in her body seemed to magnify. She fought to push back the tears that threatened to spill over, concentrating instead on the other ambulance where they were bandaging Charlie’s shoulder.

A general she vaguely remembered from some reception or other came over to the ambulance. “Miss Cole, as soon as you’re done here, we’re going to take you to a safe house for the time being.”

“Where’s my dad?”

“We’re locating him right now. In the meantime, I just want to be sure that you are being looked after.”

The EMT pronounced her perfectly fine and she was bundled into an SUV. She was vaguely surprised to see Charlie in there as well; she figured they would have sent him home. Didn’t you get time off if you got shot?

The safe house turned out to be a small cabin about an hour out from the city. There were still uniforms walking all over the place, securing this and setting alerts on that, but Leah just sat huddled on the couch, trying to ignore everything around her.

Charlie came in and sat wearily on the other end of the couch. She kept her eyes focused on her hands. Every time she saw the sling they had put on him, she felt another rush of guilt.

She jumped a bit when he spoke. “What’s wrong?”

She let out a quick, hysterical giggle. “What’s wrong?” She looked up at him and gestured to his arm. “God, I got you shot. I am so sorry.”

He shrugged his good shoulder. “It’s nothing.” At her look of disbelief, he reached out and touched her hand. “Really. I’ve been shot before. This, this is just a scratch.”

“But if I hadn’t run... If I’d just trusted you...”

She felt his fingers tighten gently around hers.

“You got scared. You had no reason to believe that I was on your side, I understand that. I don’t know that I could’ve done anything differently, but.. you stood up for yourself.”

“Until I got you shot,” she groused, although his supportive words had lifted her mood some.

He grinned that stunning grin again. “Hey, you got me some free leave.”

“So you’re not here officially?”

He shook his head. “Nope. I’m just hanging around till someone can drive me home.”

She would never say it, but she hated the idea of him leaving her here with all these uptight strangers.

Charlie jumped to his feet as the general from her house entered, Kenner, she finally remembered. She kept looking at the door, waiting to see her father. When no one else appeared, she looked at General Kenner. “My dad?” she asked.

“As you were, Major Bowen.” Charlie nodded and relaxed his stance, but did not sit down. The general looked sympathetically down at Leah. “I’m sorry, but your father can’t be here right now. He had some urgent business to attend to. He’s actually on a flight out of the country right now.”

“Oh.” She didn’t know why she was surprised. She was even more confused that she was disappointed; she really thought she’d accepted this years ago. He’d made it very clear where she came in the list of priorities. Being targeted for death didn’t seem to have bumped her up the list any.

Misunderstanding her reaction, Kenner hastened to assure her. “I promise you, Leah, he has a full security complement.”

Brave soldier face back in place, she smiled. “Thank you, General.”

“Major, we’re all set here. We’ll have someone take you home. Leah, you’ll have a two man guard at all times. You are not to leave this house until we’re sure you’re in the clear.”

She nodded mutely.

Charlie spoke up. “Actually, General, I think the pain pills are starting to kick in; I’m not sure I’m up for a long ride. Would anybody mind if I just sack out here for a bit? I can catch a ride at the next shift change.”

She looked up at him, surprised, as did the general.

“That will be fine, Major, as long as Miss Cole doesn’t mind.”

Charlie looked down at her with that grin, no hint of pain medicine fuzziness in his eyes.

She smiled. “That’s... I’d like that.”

20 minutes later, most everyone was gone. Medical leave or not, Leah noticed that Charlie supervised all the final details before they cleared out. He sent the two officers on guard duty off to the front and back of the house and then sat down on the couch, bumping his good shoulder up against her. He handed her the remote.

“So whatcha wanna watch?”

Vaziravazira on June 24th, 2012 09:55 am (UTC)
I could easily see this being a movie C:
magickmoonsmagickmoons on June 24th, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)
pickingmybrain: Keepwritingpickingmybrain on July 5th, 2012 12:39 am (UTC)
I WANT MORE OMG OMG OMG Especially after the megan thing has now come up in your brain OMG I can't say much more except I'm completely and totally absolutely 150% hooked on this story now. *waves* now I'm going to write a bit of my own....TY again...so much. I needed this.
magickmoonsmagickmoons on July 5th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you :) I really like these two. I hope to write more on them soon!