Better Left Unsaid
Craig sat down on the end of Richard’s bed and smiled, causing him to wince. Thanks to their abilities, the wounds that had been inflicted only the day before had faded to barely noticeable bruising, but it still hurt to smile. The wince did not go unnoticed, and Richard flushed a deep scarlet, and suddenly found the design on his sheet deeply fascinating. Craig sighed.
“How many times do I have to say it’s not your fault?” he asked, his voice faintly amused. Richard flicked his eyes toward him, but his head remained directed down.
“I could have killed you. I would have killed you if Sharon hadn’t been there,” Richard replied, his voice low so only Craig would hear and wracked with guilt. Craig shook his head.
“Pretty sure of yourself,” he said with a grin, trying not to wince again. Richard looked up and cautiously returned the smile.
“Oh, I don’t know, I think I could take you.”
Craig chuckled before he reached out to place his left hand over Richard’s as it lay on top of the blanket. They sat in companionable silence for a few moments before Craig grew serious again.
“If anything, this was my fault. We knew it was a trap and I still encouraged you to go. You should never have been in that position.”
“Now, just hold on a minute. As agents we expect to put ourselves in these positions every day!” Richard protested, pulling his hand away and leaning forward in the bed to point his finger at Craig. “Besides, we all thought that I would be immune to any brainwashing techniques,” he added in a whisper. Craig nodded, thoughtful.
“About that, I mean, we’ve all had attempts fail before. We were so certain that we can’t be brainwashed. It’s got me worried, that there’s something that powerful out there,” Craig said, leaning forward. Richard nodded.
“Sharon seems to think it’s because of the drug they used. It didn’t try to force new information on top of existing, rather to wipe the brain clean. Even we would only have a limited resistance to such a thing. Well, as soon as I’m out of here we’ll follow up all possible leads; make certain we’ve got everyone involved.”
“Agreed. I have a feeling that this organisation is bigger than just the men we caught,” Craig said and stood up. “I’ve got to go, I’m running the place until Tremayne’s better, and unlike you he’s going to be off for a few weeks. Man, I never realised how much paperwork he does!” he finished with another chuckle. He clasped Richard’s hand again, briefly, and then left the room.
Half an hour later, Richard was reading a journal when he gasped as he felt an overwhelming surge of emotion. It wasn’t accompanied by the images that usually accompanied telepathic communication, but he instinctively knew that it was Craig and that he was in pain. Leaping out of bed and not even pausing to put on slippers or a robe, Richard dashed from the hospital wing to Tremayne’s office, ignoring the stares from the surprised Nemesis agents he passed in the corridor.
He was met outside the door to Tremayne’s office by a worried looking Sharon. She nodded to him and then looked at the door.
“I didn’t know whether to go in, it seemed so…private. I felt like I was intruding somehow,” she explained. She looked up at Richard and he could see her eyes were wet with tears. He smiled and gently brushed her cheek with his thumb.
“Let me,” he said softly. She nodded mutely and, after a moment’s hesitation, she left.
Richard paused, his hand on the doorknob. He took a deep breath, preparing himself for whatever had caused Craig such distress and then entered the office. He stopped short of the desk, surprised as the chair swivelled away from him. It wasn’t quick enough for Craig to hide from Richard that he’d been crying. Richard was incredulous; he couldn’t understand what would upset Craig enough to make him cry.
“I felt you couldn’t cope without me a minute longer,” Richard joked, awkwardly trying to break the tension.
“Oh, you’re absolutely right, we’d fall apart without you,” Craig replied without turning back to face him. His voice was cracked with emotion.
Richard desperately wanted to know what was wrong, wanted to help him, but he knew he couldn’t push the matter. Instead, he walked over, picked a folder up from the desk and perched on the corner. He began flicking through the pages.
“So, any leads?”
Craig swivelled round to face Richard and smiled, although Richard could tell he was just grateful for the topic of conversation.
“Some. It seems there’ve been a whole lot of thefts from chemical factories recently. From different locations, never more than one chemical and never in large amounts. Guess that’s why it didn’t raise any red flags sooner,” Craig explained. Richard nodded thoughtfully.
“We’ll have to investigate,” he replied. Craig chuckled.
“We’ll have to get you out of those clothes first,” he said with a smile. Richard raised an eyebrow. “Or are pyjamas what the swinging agent is wearing now?” Craig continued. Richard looked down and realised that he was still wearing his bed clothes and started laughing.
“Ok, clothes first, investigation later.”