I dragged myself into the war room after almost 50 hours of no sleep, how I was still functioning I didn’t know.
Bozer was already there, sat in one of the armchairs, Leanna’s legs draped over his lap. I could see Leanna was struggling to keep her eyes open, but I was shocked when I saw Bozer looking alert, eyes overly bright.
“How much coffee have you had Boze?”
He turned to look at me and grimaced.
“I uhh...I lost count after the fifth cup. Honestly man, I’m surprised I’m still alive.”
“Is that why you both decided to squish onto one chair? You’re too caffeinated to think straight and Leanne’s too tired to argue?”
Leanna said from her position on Bozer’s lap. I couldn’t help but smile as I promptly proceeded to throw myself onto another chair. We were all way too tired to start a conversation, and the only words spoken were to Riley when she arrived.
“If Matty doesn’t show up soon, I’m gonna go home and sleep.”
Riley’s voice broke the silence, issuing an agreeing groan from Leanna and I.
“Don’t worry Riley, I’ll try not to take up more of your time.”
Matty walked through the door, slamming it behind her, waking Bozer up from his nap.
“Nice of you to join us Mac, but you know you didn’t have to. You had a tougher time than everyone else this time. ”
My boss’ voice fills my ears, soft and gentle, completely different to her normal stern voice.
“I know but I wanted to..you know…”
I trailed off. Matty didn’t know, and neither did Riley or Leanna or Bozer. Or Jack. But Jack wasn’t here, clearly taking advantage Matty’s lenience, unlike me. I hoped that it didn’t show on my face that I was disappointed.
“Just start the debrief while I’m still awake, please.”
I looked at Matty and smiled before I settled down between the cushions.
About halfway through the debrief, the door was flung open, and Jack strutted in, clearly very sleep deprived and clearly trying his best to hide it. Matty paused and turned to stare at the agent who had interrupted her.
“Could you not have come a tiny bit earlier Jack? Everyone else managed to make it in on time.”
Jack rolled his eyes and smiled, resting his hands on the back of my chair.
“Even Mac’s here.”
“Well, aren’t you a little teachers pet?”
He laughs, turning to face me before pushing me over and squashing himself into the chair with me.I leant forward and picked up a paper clip as Jack settled into the chair, resting his head on my shoulder. I stiffened, then relaxed when I heard Jack tell me to stop being so uncomfortable.
Although I knew I should be listening, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the mission; it kept replaying over and over in my head like one of those old crappy looped films.
I was snapped out of my trance by Riley slamming the door shut. Jack woke up with a start, quickly realised that he had fallen asleep and tried, and failed to pretend to Matty that he had been paying attention. She caught on immediately, but chose to let it go and Jack managed to leave with his head still on his shoulders.
I moved to get up from the chair and leave when I heard Matty’s voice from in front of me.
I stopped and sunk back into the chair as she turned around and looked at me, my fingers still wrestling with the metal of the paperclip. Matty continues to stare at me and I recoiled under her gaze.
“Why am I still here? Do you need more info on the mission?”
She shot a thin smile in my direction and walked closer, leaning back against the table.
“No, I just…”
Matty tilted her head back and closed her eyes before turning her gaze to me again.
“I just wanted to ask why you came in today. I didn’t expect you to have the willpower to be here after what happened.”
I sighed and leant my head back against the cushions.
“Do you want to talk about it Mac?”
“Nope. I just want to sleep.”
I stood up and made my way to the door but my boss’ voice halted me in my tracks.
I turned around, my fingers still resting on the door handle.
“I… take a few days off. Please, you need it.”
I nod lightly and leave, closing the door behind me.
My breath hitches in my throat as I frantically scan the room, searching for something. Anything. The gunshots get closer and closer to the door as I search for some way to escape. Tears blur my vision as my heart beats faster and faster. The roaring in my ears intensified and the tears finally fall as I realise.
I am not making it out of this alive.
I’m alone in a concrete box, tied to a chair and about to die. The wounds on my face sting with the salt, but the tears will not stop. My wrists are raw and bleeding from hours spent trying to break the zip ties strapping me down and I have been sat down for so long that I have lost pretty much all feeling in my legs. Even if I did manage to free myself, I’m in no shape to make it past the guards and out safely.
I’m going to die. My team isn’t going to save me this time. I’m all alone in god knows where, and I’m not getting out. I guess I’ve used up my nine lives.
My head drops and I stare at my bare feet, waiting for the guards to come in. I wait for what feels like an eternity when I hear something. Or rather, I don’t. The gunfire has stopped. I dare to lift up my head and look towards the door. Maybe they’re all gone, or all dead. Either way, if I can get out of this chair, I might be able to escape. A ghost of a smile crosses my lips and I yank my wrists off the arms of the chair, breaking both zip ties in the process. I guess adrenaline really does make you stronger. My legs tingle as I stand up and shake of my aching limbs. My vision clears as my heart swells with hope.
My happiness quickly dissipates when the door is flung open, and soldiers fill the room. I throw myself to the floor and crawl towards the back corner as the soldiers surround my. I scrunch my eyes closed and wait, but instead of a bullet, I feel a hand on my shoulder and I open my eyes to find myself staring into Jack’s face.
“We got you Mac. You’re safe now.”
The tears started anew, and I collapse into Jack’s arms, sobbing into his shoulder. He picks me up and carries me out of the compound, stepping over the bodies of my captors.
My arms wrap around his neck and he reassures me.
“I told you I’d never let anything happen to you. Didn’t think I’d forgotten, did you?”
Despite our situation, and my almost-dying, I can’t help but smile into his chest.
“Are you sure you don’t needs anything Mac? I can pick up some paperclips or something?”
My team were doing the best they could to find ways to entertain me with while they were working. Matty told me to take a few days off, and while it sounded like a request, it was a command. One that however hard I might want to, I wasn’t going to disobey. I knew I needed to process what had happened, but I didn't have the strength to bring the memory back up.
“I’ll be fine Boze, just go. Matty will be mad if you're late.”
He hesitated, but left, leaving me to my own devices.
I put on the first Die Hard, but barely made it through the first twenty minutes before my eyes fell closed and I slept.
I awoke with a start, scanning the living room with wild eyes. It was only when I heard it again that I realised the noise was someone knocking on my door, and not gunshots. My heart stopped racing and I stood up, shucked off the blanket, and went to answer the door.
“Anyone alive in there?”
Jack was peering through the window when I got to the door. I unlocked it and he waltzed in and grasped my shoulder as he walked past. I closed the door and followed him into the living room.
“What are you watching?”
I hear him gasp.
I hadn’t slept for as long as I thought I had and as I walked into the living room I realised and the movie was still playing.
“I’ve been asleep for most of it.”
Jack whirled around and stared at me with an incredulous look in his eyes.
“You fell ASLEEP?! During DIE HARD?”
He fell dramatically onto the couch, clutching his heart in mock pain.
“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
I pushed his legs off and perched on the couch.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at work? Matty summoned Bozer, was the invite not extended to you?”
I laughed, leant back and watched Jack reposition himself before replying.
“And why would I work when I can come and hang out with you?”
He shuffled closer and draped his arm over my shoulders.
“Didn’t think I’d leave you alone to wallow in your own self pity, did you? I know how you get when you’re left alone in that head of yours.”
My response was slow.
“Honestly, I’ve just been repressing it, finding anything else to occupy my thoughts. Sleeping, mostly.”
Jack let out a bark of laughter and shook his head.
“Well how about we just watch the rest of Die Hard?”
I rested my head on his shoulder and sighed.
“We’ve seen it soooo many times.”
“And it’s still the best movie of all time now shop and watch.”
With that, we fell into silence, my head now resting on his shoulder, our feet up on the coffee table.
So maybe I did still need to come to terms with what happened. But not just yet, not now, not here.
Not when I have a Jack to occupy my mind.