I swear I was ready to jump out after Crow when I thought he fell. I was already pumped full of adrenaline from the mission, and having already tried to shoot him, I would have had that lapse of judgment and fell to my death after him. I wasn't going to loose him again. Luckily for me, he crawled up over the edge of the helicopter, Dani with him, and I screamed and laughed with joy. "Crow, you made it!"
He was right, he was like a Phoenix. My brother, the Phoenix.
We pulled him up and signaled for the pilot to head back to Jung's place.
When we got there, after Jung and the President conferred shortly, and after Kirsten was patched up and well enough to smile and beam up at her father (and Crow, I might add), it was time to head back home.
Air Force One was waiting for us on the strip, and more than a few F-16 fighter jets were there to escort us.
Soaring over the Pacific Ocean, I was finally asleep in one of the cushy seats of our President's plane. I was dreaming of getting home and actually showering. It was lovely. So deeply out was I that I jumped when Jagan sat next to me.
My hand went straight to my gun, and I almost shot him before I realized who it was.
"Man, am I edgy..." I said drowsily.
"I'm sorry," he said as he eyed the pistol, "I didn't mean to wake you."
"That's all right. I'm glad to see you... without having to run or shoot someone."
There was a horrible smell, and I was embarrassed to realize that it was me. I had shed the grimy combat gear I'd been wearing and threw it in the corner. Even still, in these shorts and t-shirt, it was not my most comely moment. But I knew that Jagan didn't care; he was just as stinky as I was. However, the smell wasn't so appalling coming from him. It was sweat mixed with sulfur and gunpowder and the greenery of the forest. It was a long day full of hard work from a strong man. It was kind of sexy.
I blushed immediately, like perhaps I'd said it out loud and not realized it.
Jagan just smiled that crooked smile at me but didn't respond other than that. Whoo, maybe I hadn't said it. I just launched into words instead. "Man, Jag, the places you take me. If I'd have known that this was your idea of a fancy restaurant, I wouldn't have signed up for it."
He chuckled. "I promise you when we get back that I'll take you out-- to a real place."
"And it won't be just because a mission requires it?"
"Sure. Only You'll have to wait until I get a new car..."
I smiled at him. "I don't mind walking."
He sighed and grabbed my hand. "Good, 'cause I don't know when I'm gonna be able to get another one. They are expensive!"
"I know. I need a new one from that incident on the day we met." I squeezed his hand. "The fireworks did more damage than our mutual attraction, ya know."
"I don't care. I'm glad it happened." He kissed my forehead and put his arm around me. I leaned my head on his shoulder and breathed in that scent. There was something else, like he'd put on some cologne to try to mask it. I smiled and lifted up the armrest between us, and cuddled in closer, curling up with my feet on the spacious seat.
Crow sat across from us, watching us with a mixed expression. I stuck my tongue out at him and looked up at Jagan.
"Oh, and by the way, I can't remember if I told you that I forgive you..."
I felt the vibration through his chest and he said: "Yeah, I know... I love you, Beth." He pet my hair fondly.
"I love you too..." I mumbled into his warm side. And then I fell asleep.