Disclaimer: The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Robert McCall brooded in his apartment for three days before going to see Control. Thankfully, there were no calls for the Equalizer, a mixed blessing. If he had gotten involved in some elseís problems, he might have been able to get Erin out of his mind for a while. As it was, he spent time wandering around his apartment, touching the places she had been, smoothing the pillow where she had slept, and wondering how he was capable of experiencing such a deep sense of loss. By the end of the third day, Robert knew he had to see Control and ask him about Erin. At least the process of finding everything he could about her would keep him occupied until she returned. He tried Controlís office phone with no success. Leaving a message, he returned to his solitary prowl about the apartment. A drink, he thought to himself, maybe a drink will make me feel better. Robert poured himself a glass of scotch and sat down on the sofa in the den. As he sipped the warm liquor, his thoughts returned to Erinís exchange with Control. I just got healthy again, she had said. Moldy rice and rotting fish. With her fluency in Asian languages, that must mean she was going undercover in some political hotspot, probably posing as a servant or a destitute villager, or God no, a prostitute, in order to get close to her source of intelligence, or close to her target. A target, Robert thought dejectedly, have I fallen in love with an assassin? Can I love an assassin?
His mind in turmoil, Robert finished the glass and thought about going to bed and trying to sleep. No, sleeping alone would only make me miss her more, he decided as he rose to refill glass. He paused by the fireplace mantel and let his eyes lose focus as he remembered their last twenty-four hours togetherÖ
Despite Robertís resolve to make the most of the time they had left, their dinner was quite muted. They finished quickly, left OíPhelanís, and drove back to McCallís apartment. Once inside with coats stowed away, Robert drew Erin into his arms and hugged her tightly.
"A few hours ago, I thought I was the happiest man in the world," he said. "Now, I think Iím the saddest."
"I know the feeling," Erin murmured against his chest. They stood together for another moment, just holding on. Erin listened to the beat of Robertís heart as he cradled her head against him. Robert caressed her silken hair and then took her face between both hands.
"Come," he said and led the way to the den. Robert put some quiet classical music on and pulled Erin onto the sofa with him. They sat together, holding each other tightly for a few minutes, before Erin raised her head. With one hand she stroked his face and pulled him down for a kiss. Robert gently laid her back on the couch and stretched out beside her, his back against the back of the couch, her back against his chest. He buried his face in her hair, glorying in the scent of her, trying to permanently fix her being into his psyche. Robert gently caressed her arm and shoulder, smoothed her clothing down around her waist and hip. He took his time, no goal in mind, just caressing and holding her close. Erin delighted in the feel of his hands and the warmth of his breath in her hair. After a few more minutes, Erin sat up and looked at Robert.
"Letís go to the bedroom," she said huskily. "This is lovely, but a bit cramped. I feel like I might fall off the edge."
"I would never let you fall," Robert whispered with a smile. He stood and quickly grabbed Erin into a crushing embrace. "I would love to find a way to keep the world at bay so there was just the two of us with no distraction, no demands, no Company, no Control."
"Paradise," Erin smiled. "Come on, letís create a little paradise of our own." She took Robert by the hand and led him to the bedroom. She stood before him and began to remove her clothing. Robert sat on the bed and watched appreciatively. Her skin was like dark honey, her arms and hips softly rounded. From his earlier explorations, he knew her slender frame was supported by muscles that felt like steel cable, covered by the silken softness of femininity. He wondered what all she did for the Company. But that thought quickly diminished as she stood fully naked before him. Robert put his hands around her waist and pulled her forward to kiss her stomach, just below her ribs. Her tiny breasts rubbed the sides of his face as he kissed her chest between them. Gasping with pleasure, Erin cradled his head against her momentarily, then knelt before him and unbuttoned his shirt. As she parted the cloth, Erin pressed kisses against his chest, pausing to lick circles around his paps, her tongue feeling the nipples harden and stand out. Robert caressed her hair with both hands as she continued kissing down to his belt line.
"Letís save some time," Robert said as he gently moved Erin aside to stand. Making quick work of removing the rest of his clothing, Robert drew Erin astride him as he sat on the bed. Her breasts were at a level with his mouth and he gently captured a nipple. He ran his tongue in circles around the areola and pulled as much of her breast into his mouth as he could. He released it and similarly grasped the other, earning more gasps of pleasure. Erin clasped both hands around his fully erect penis and reached to caress his scrotum. She released one hand to place it behind Robertís head and caressed his hair as he continued to kiss and nuzzle her breasts. Moving his hands from her waist, Robert cupped Erinís butt cheeks and explored the vertical seam between them. He found her cunt already incredibly wet and gently thrust two fingers inside. Erin squirmed with excitement and bent her head to kiss his ear and suck on the lobe. Robert moved his fingers in and out of her cunt until she was moaning and twisting with passion. Spreading the moisture from her vaginal opening to her anus, he gently worked one finger inside.
"Oh, the beginning of an adventure," Erin husked into his ear. Her voice was throaty with lust, exciting him even more. She returned both hands to his cock and rubbed and caressed it with more urgency. After a few moments, Erin raised her hands to push Robert back on the bed so that she was now kneeling astride him. Slightly lowering herself from her kneeling position, Erin tilted her pelvis so that her wet cunt now rubbed against his cock. Robert moved his finger in and out of her ass in the same rhythm as her movements.
"More," Erin urged. Robert added another finger inside her anus and renewed his rhythmic movements. Erin rubbed her cunt harder and harder against his cock, seeking to stimulate her clit against his hard member. Just as she was feeling the sensitivity grow to the point of real excitement, Robert thrust a third finger inside her. Erin felt her chest tighten and warmth spread from her cunt down her legs and up into her abdomen. The orgasm was all enveloping, every muscle tensing and quivering. Quickly, before it was over, Erin lifted Robertís cock and positioned it at the opening of her vagina. With one quick movement, she sat down and was impaled immediately, drawing a groan of ecstasy from her lover. As her orgasm continued, she posted quickly up and down on his cock, luxuriating in the fullness and excitement. When the last vestiges of the orgasm faded, Erin slowed her movements and pulled Robertís penis from her vagina and moved it toward where his fingers filled her asshole. Robert removed his fingers and she positioned the head of his cock at the opening before slowly lowering herself on it. Robert gasped and tensed as he felt his cock enter that extremely tight and warm orifice. He moved his hands softly up and down her thighs as she carefully took him completely inside herself. Erin slowly started moving up and down, making soft noises and sighs. Robert grasped each cheek of her butt and squeezed as she moved, urging faster and faster. He felt her tire after a few seconds and held her tightly to him as they rolled. Robert positioned her legs on his shoulders and grasped the headboard to steady himself. He slowly pumped his cock in and out of her ass a few times to be sure he wasnít hurting her before returning to a quicker pace. He removed one hand from the headboard and rubbed her clit with his thumb. Erinís excitement increased tremendously and soon she was moaning and twisting, desperate to cum again. Robert felt her cunt get wetter and wetter as he moved his thumb forward and backward across her clit. Suddenly, they both exploded together into mind-numbing ecstasy, writhing together to the end, then feeling each other relax and their breathing start to return to normal. Robert eased Erinís legs down and himself from inside of her and curled around her body, kissing any skin in reach.
"RobertÖ," Erin began.
"Sshh," Robert whispered, "no talkingÖ just touching, kissing, feeling, holding." He pinned both arms to her stomach as he continued to caress her and hold her against him until the warmth of their activity had receded and her skin became cool to the touch.
"Hey, let me get up," Erin said and quickly returned with a warm washcloth to clean him up. Erin tenderly applied the cloth to his penis. Robert threw his arms over his head and arched his back, stretching and luxuriating in the warmth of that intimate contact. Erin returned to the bathroom for a moment before coming back to bed, refreshed after her own routine.
"Is it too early to sleep?" he asked as he pulled her into his arms.
"God no, Iím exhausted. The last couple of days have caught up with me. Letís be decadent and lazy until I have to go."
"Sshh," he said, "donít remind me. I just want to hold you and not worry about tomorrow." They curled together. Spoons, he thought laughingly to himself. He placed his hand over her breast and composed himself for sleep. Tomorrow would come soon enough.
Robert shook himself from his reverie, feeling his legs stiffen from standing still so long. He also realized there was more stiff than his legs. He had one hell of a boner, too. Sighing, Robert sat on the couch and unzipped his trousers. Holding his erection before him, he began slowly stroking it, thinking about Erinís touch and her excitement as she had caressed him. His actions became more urgent, his body tensing, wanting it, needing it. When he came, it was an empty feeling, only a physical release. Unhappily, his thoughts returned to Control. Tomorrow he would find out all about Erin, who she was, where she came from, what she did for the Company, and when she would be coming back. He had to, the world was crashing down around him. He hefted himself from the couch and walked to the bathroom to shower before going to bed. Tomorrow, he thought, tomorrow would be the day.
It was a dark cloudy morning that greeted Control on his way to his office. The weather matched his own gloomy feelings. Erin should have been back by now. The mission wasnít that difficult. The target was a local official who provided a lot of support for the notorious Quang Phan, a warlord in rural South Vietnam. Taking out the local village official would make Quang Phan suspicious, wondering who was preparing to take him down. Control didnít want Phan dead, he wanted his information on the foreign support he was getting and who was running the show. The officialís death had to look like it was an execution, a reprisal for Phanís actions, hopefully scaring him into seeking protection, and spilling all the information they could get from him. She should have been back by now! Despite his accusations at OíPhelanís, he knew Erin was the best. She could infiltrate any village, any fortress, whether by disguise or stealth. And, she was exceedingly lethal. Her small number of compatriots called her the Black Widow, because although small and beautiful, she was deadly. She was supposed to rappel from the stealth helicopter just outside of the village walls and work her way to the headmanís house. The means and the method were up to Erin, who had a way of arranging the scene for the utmost shock potential. Then, a quick helocast to pick her up and they should have been back. It was a forty-eight hour mission at the most. Control strode past his secretaryís desk to find McCall waiting by his door. The man looked exhausted, haunted.
"Robert?" Control said quietly. "Are you OK?"
"Control, I need a favor from you. I want to know all about Erin, and most importantly, when sheís coming back.
Control took the opportunity to unlock his door and turn on the lights while collecting his thoughts. Should he tell McCall that Erin was Dysonís daughter? Hell, Erin didnít even know that. But McCall and Dyson were very close friends before Dysonís recent death. McCall might find the thought that he had been screwing his best friendís daughter extremely uncomfortable. Well, maybe thatís one secret that he would have to hang on to. As he turned to face his friend, he found McCall looking at him hopefully.
"I can see that thereís no way I can talk you out of this, so why donít you let me get some things together for you."
"You mean edit the file of the things you think I shouldnít see," Robert retorted.
"Robert, you are not in a need-to-know status, and there are just some things even you donít need to know. Some things that Erin herself doesnít know. I intend to keep it that way for her protection." Control walked around the desk to place both hands on McCallís shoulders as he started to bristle. "Look, go find yourself a cup of coffee and let me get things ready for youÖ please."
Although his face softened only slightly, Robert was astounded. Control never said please to anyone. What did this mean? Had he softened his stance on the relationship between Erin and himself? Control was such a manipulator. It was difficult to tell his stance on anything.
"Very well, fifteen minutes?"
"That will be fine. There is an empty office three doors down that you can use. Iíll meet you there with the file." Control watched his friend walk away. What was it, he wondered, that made her fall for McCall instead of me? Iíve done everything I can for her, rescued her from the jungles, protected her from Dysonís abuse and guilt. Control shook his head. If there was ever a perfect match for him, it was Erin Cain. They were very close in personality, close-mouthed to a fault, and perfectionists in their actions. It would have been nice to have someone with whom he could share his thoughts without worrying about secrets being spilled or ulterior motives. He knew Erin was committed to her missions, able to see the big picture without getting caught up in the small details. Control opened his locked filing cabinet and retrieved Erinís file. Paging through it, he extracted the details of Dysonís involvement with her and placed those pages in his desk drawer. He continued to dwell on the situation as he walked to the empty office. He placed the file on the desk and stood there staring at it.
"Second thoughts, Control?" Robert said from behind him.
"NoÖno, old son. I was just feeling a bit worried. She should have been back by now. Iíve already started the process of looking for her. I will keep you updated."
McCall looked stricken and then heaved a heavy sigh.
"Thank you, Control. I owe you. Just let me know what the favor is when the time comes."
"Donít worry, Robert. Iím not looking to be repaid for this one." Control turned and left for his office. Robert sat at the desk and hesitated a moment before opening the file. Taking a deep breath, he opened it and picked up the first page. Erin Cain, born Duc Sho Phan on July 15th, 1950, making her thirty-five. The information continued with her progress as an agent for Southern Control from the age of ten. My God! He scanned the rest of the page. She was educated through the companyís language branch and tactical center. Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean were listed as the languages she could speak fluently. He scanned through several pages before stopping at one, disbelief on his face. The Black Widow? Bloody hell, sheís the Black Widow! He had heard of Dysonís boasts of an operative who infiltrate any organization, get through any obstacle, and assassinate anyone. Dyson had said no one was safe from the Black Widow. Suddenly, Control burst into the office.
"Robert! Erinís in a cybercafe in Da Nang. Somethingís gone wrong. Go home and get what you need and meet me at the helopad. Weíll get a flight out from the base immediately!"
McCall leaped to his feet, dread and doubt in his heart. He rushed out of the building to his parked car. Once on the way back to his apartment, he allowed himself to relax and focus on what he had read in Erinís file. The bloody Black Widow! She was an assassin! He was unsure of his feelings beyond shock and a vague sense of betrayal. After retrieving his weapons and tactical gear from his apartment, Robert sat quietly in the helicopter that would take them to the air force base. An obviously worried Control sat next to him. After Control briefed McCall on the details of the Erinís email, and they had transferred to the Company Lear jet that would take them to South Viet Nam, little was said for a while as each man indulged himself in memories and worries. Then Robert addressed Control.
"When were you going to tell me she was the Black Widow?"
Control looked out the window for a moment before he spoke. He then turned an outraged face toward McCall. His voice rose in anger.
"What would you have me tell you? Would you have really wanted to know? And what good would it do you! Would you want to know that the woman you fell in love with is one of the most prolific assassins in the world? Did you really want to hear that from me?" Controlís voice dropped to a hostile hiss, "And would you dredge that type of thing out of Erin?"
McCall paused, aghast, knowing in his heart that Control was right. Think of all the men I have killed in the line of Ďduty,í he thought. I did what I had to because I believed there was some justification for it, somewhere. It was when I did not believe in the justification anymore that I wanted out, that I was sick of myself and what I had then believed was the right thing to do. What would it do to us, what would it do to her, if I had to drag this out of Erin, if I made her admit to the dark side of her soul? No, he thought, I canít do it.
"YouÖyou are right, Control. It would serve no purpose. Sheíll tell me what sheís comfortable with and her life with the company will be a separate thing, the way my life was for years." He looked at the softening face of his companion. "Thank you, my friend, for keeping things in perspective for me. IÖI donít know what I was thinking."
Control smiled and put a hand on Robertís shoulder. Then his face sobered and he looked down as he spoke.
"Listen Robert, I have something to tell you. Erin means almost as much to me as she must to you. Although Iíve been her handler for the past three years, most of it was by distance. I didnít meet her personally until six weeks ago when she finally talked me into letting her come to the states. IÖI fell in love with her almost immediately, although I donít think she could see it. I never told her, of course. Weíre much too close on an operational basis. How could I tell her that I was in love with her and then send her on a mission that could potentially result her death?"
McCall closed his mouth after it had fallen open in shock. Control in love with one of his own agents? He thought he had known the man better. Was that the reason for the vehemence Control had directed toward Erin at OíPhelanís that night, and his anger of moments ago? Is he jealous, or just protective? McCall looked down for a moment and then back at Control. He nodded his head.
"She is a very special lady, I can see, to both of us. Letís go get her out of that god-forsaken hell that sheís in and bring her home."
Erinís email had instructed Control to meet her at a small bar in downtown Da Nang. She would have someone watching if they could arrive in the evening when the bar was at its fullest. Two round-eyes would be hard to miss. They arrived at approximately nine oíclock and entered the bar cautiously. It was a strip club, full of cheering men drinking, being entertained and served by mostly naked women, many of whom looked to be not much more than teenagers. They were led to a table in the back of the room and sat down. After ten minutes or so, a skinny, half-clothed waif asked them in stilted English if they wanted anything to drink. Control shook his head. The waif pressed them again.
"You not wan drink, but I know wha chu wan! You wan good time, numba one good time! Lotsa fucky-sucky!" She smiled crookedly and motioned them to follow her. As they followed, McCall heard her mutter to herself, "I no unnerstan wha Missy wan wi two ole man numba ten rouneyes." They entered a small storage room behind the bar. The woman shut the door behind them, leaving them alone in the dark room. Control snapped on a small flashlight.
"Sshh, put that out!" came a tense voice from somewhere above. Control complied and they heard a scratching noise before Erin landed on the floor in front of them from an unknown hiding place, evidently in the ceiling. Holes in the shabby walls let in the small amount of light that allowed them to see the silhouette of Erinís face.
"Can you signal a cab and then make some sort of commotion so I can get aboard? General Phanís men are watching, so I canít be seen."
Control nodded his head.
"Weíll think of something. Come on, Robert. Letís go make a couple of asses of ourselves. Oh, sorry, thatís arse to you." McCall was shocked. Control had actually made a joke while on a mission.
They left the room and headed toward the entrance of the bar. On the street, they searched for a cab to flag down. One presented itself within a few minutes and screeched to a halt in front of them. A half-dozen men tried to scramble into the cab ahead of them. Grasping smaller men by the scruff of the neck, McCall and Control bodily threw them away from the cab, swearing and shouting as they did so. McCall turned away from the cab and roared insults at a small cringing man. All eyes turned toward them as he proceeded to loose a litany of curses in Japanese and Russian upon the man. No one saw the small lithe figure that squirmed between Control and the door of the cab.
"Robert, Robert, thatís enough old son! We need to go!"
McCall turned toward Control.
"The son of a bitch really did have my wallet," he fumed. "I had to get it back!"
"Well, our diversion worked. Watch where you put your feet!" Erin was curled on the floor between them. Suddenly there were gunshots and they heard, rather than saw, bullets carom off the top of the car.
"Go, goÖairport!" Control ordered the driver and they took off with another screech of tires. McCall kept watch to see if anyone was following. Within moments, a military style jeep was within sight and soldiers leaned from the sides to shoot at the hapless cab, which was sorely exceeding its limit for weight and speed. They kept only a few hundred yards ahead of the jeep as the driver swerved back and forth, attempting to avoid being hit by any more bullets. The cab sputtered to a halt several hundred yards short of the gate of the military base. Its occupants piled out, including the cab driver.
"You save me, please!" begged the driver, clutching Controlís arm. "Please!" Control shook the driver off and glanced around for McCall and Cain. He spotted them running toward the gate, McCall supporting Cain. Control thrust a wad of bills into the driverís hands and pushed him away.
"Save yourself!" he yelled and took a diagonal line into the shadows. The pursuing jeep skidded to a stop in the gap between Controlís position and the fleeing couple.
"Stop! I order you to stop! You are attempting to leave with a Vietnamese National!" the officer in command yelled. He raised his pistol and placed warning shots ahead of the couple. "I warn you, I will not miss the next time!"
McCall and Cain limped to a stop and looked around for Control. They were only a hundred yards short of the gate. The guards stood outside the shack and watched the scene intensely. As much as they might want to assist, they were under orders that they could not advance beyond the boundary of the base.
"You are under arrest for unlawful flight from your country," the officer said, addressing Cain. Then to McCall, "Drop your weapon and let her go!" The officer leveled his pistol at McCall. McCall released Erin and slowly backed away, tossing the pistol in front of him. The two other soldiers from the jeep walked up to watch the confrontation. The officer kept his pistol trained on McCall, but suddenly shifted his aim to Cain. As he pulled back the hammer to fire, Control suddenly barreled into the officer, knocking him to the ground. A soldier lifted his rifle and snapped a shot toward Cain, who had slumped to the ground in exhaustion.
"Noo!" Control yelled as he leapt in front of Cain. The bullet meant for her slammed into his shoulder. As the officer fell, McCall picked up his pistol and fired a shot at the soldier with the rifle, killing him instantly. Training the weapon on the remaining soldier, McCall launched a kick at the face of the fallen officer. The kick connected with his head and sent the officer rolling toward the soldier, who stood rooted with shock. The soldiers guarding the gate, seeing that everything was under control, dashed out to help Control and Erin through the entry and into the guard shack. McCall backed away from the soldiers, keeping the pistol pointed toward them until he was within an armís reach of the fence. Turning, he dashed into the guard shack. Erin was lying supine on the floor while Control was slumped against the wall. Erin had passed out from pain and exhaustion, but Control was attempting to sit up to see what had happened to McCall.
"Robert, Robert! Are you alright?" he gasped, clutching his shoulder.
"Yes, yes. Iím fine. Control, you took that bullet for her!"
"Yes, I surprise even myself, sometimes." Control whispered, growing paler by the moment.
McCall stood and faced one of the soldiers.
"Can you get an ambulance? Quickly! Heís in a lot of pain and going into shock!"
The soldier had already picked up the telephone and was speaking into it. He held the receiver against his chest as he spoke to McCall.
"The ambulance is already on the way. But, can you tell me who you are and why youíre here? My C.O. will want to know."
"Iíll talk to your C.O. when he gets here, donít worry." McCall knelt to check the conditions of his friends. Erin was coming around groggily, trying to focus her eyes on McCallís anxious face.
"We made it? Everythingís OK?" she queried in a shaky voice. "Is Control OK?" she asked as she saw Control leaning against the wall, blood seeping through his clothing.
"He jumped in front of a soldier attempting to kill you and thankfully only got hit in the shoulder, it seems," Robert answered as he surveyed the bloody mess of Controlís shoulder. "It looks like itís only a crease. The bullet must have glanced off the bulletproof vest heís wearing, thank God!" McCall looked up as the guardsí commanding officer and two ambulance attendants entered the room. Pulling the officer aside while the medics applied bandages to Control and Cain, he quickly detailed their situation and demanded transportation to the jet that was awaiting them.
"Whereís the closest company medical facility, Control?" McCall asked.
"Tokyo, but all of this reeks of Eastern Control. We donít want to get caught within his purview. There are no life-threatening wounds. We can wait to return to New York. Just get some pain killers to keep us comfortable."
McCall shook his head and returned to his conversation with the officer, who was nodding his approval as he looked at the scene on the floor. The officer barked a few orders and within minutes, Control and Cain were loaded into the ambulance and on their way to the tarmac, where the company jet was waiting. Once inside and settled, Control and Cain both dropped into a drug-induced sleep. McCall sat back in his seat after checking them both over once again and allowed himself to doze. Before he dropped off, McCall prayed a few words.
"Thank you, Lord for bringing her back to me, and thank you for not allowing them to be killed. My life would have been destitute if either of them had died." He fell into a deep sleep.
The copilot roused McCall thirty minutes before landing in New York. McCall had instructed him to get in touch with the Companyís medical facility there when within range. An ambulance would meet them at the airport. Much more rested by what amounted to close to a nightís sleep, McCall refreshed himself in the planeís small bathroom and returned to check over his sleeping partners. He gently shook Control.
"Weíre within twenty minutes of landing," he said to a decidedly uncomfortable Control. Control grimaced as he attempted to straighten his posture in the seat.
"Watch Erin closely," Control instructed. "I donít want anyone near her who could start her talking about what happened. With the drugs in her system, she might admit to more than anyone needs to know. Promise me, Robert! I will debrief her myself when I get this patched up," gesturing toward his shoulder.
"Very well, Control. You said this Ďreeksí of Eastern Control. Are you two still feuding?"
"It seems so. I thought it was all settled." Control answered with iron in his voice. "But donít worry. Iíll have this taken care of before she gets back into the picture. I need to know exactly how this happened from Erin. Then Iíll take the steps I have to."
After having his shoulder attended to, Control was briefed on Cainís condition.
"Sheís seriously dehydrated, but her injuries are fairly minimal. There is a set of cracked ribs on either side of her chest, which she had the foresight to bind up in the field, thereís a broken bone in her left wrist, and a concussion. Sheís got numerous cuts and bruises. There were pieces of tree bark and leaves in her clothing. It looks like she collided with a tree, or was drug through some underbrush."
"Thank you, doctor. How long before she will be able to leave?"
"Sheíll have to stay on the IV for another day, I believe, because of the dehydration," the doctor answered. "But sheíll need to be checked for that concussion regularly for a couple of days, and have some stitches removed eventually. You can call one of our medics to come out to your location."
"You have been a great help," Control said to the doctor, and shook his hand before leaving for Erinís room. "Thank you."
Control silently pushed open the door to the room where Cain was lying asleep in a hospital bed and slipped inside. He held the door from closing with his good arm. McCall was seated on the side of Erinís bed and stroking the hair away from her face. He dropped his hand and pushed down the blankets to uncover her chest. He caressed one of her breasts, taking the nipple between his thumb and fingers through the cloth of the hospital gown and rolling it slightly. Then he ran his hand over the blankets down to her mons, covered it for a moment with his hand, and then returned to cup the her breast again. He sighed heavily and gently returned the blankets to their original position. Control watched silently, realizing McCallís gestures spoke of an intense physical relationship between them. He watched McCall kiss Erinís forehead before releasing the door. It closed with a small thump. McCall looked up, not realizing Control had seen his previous actions.
"The doctor said sheíll be OK and can leave tomorrow," Control quietly advised McCall. "We can get a medic to check her out over the next few days. Sheís got some cracked ribs, a broken wrist, and a concussion, in addition to various cuts and bruises. Sheís also quite dehydrated. Thatís why sheís on an IV and will need to stay until tomorrow."
"Thank God thatís all," McCall stood while speaking, keeping his eyes on Erin. "Now I know why I was feeling so badly after she left. I knew something was going to go wrong."
"Getting psychic on me, old son?" Control grinned. "I donít think so. I just think youíre in love and any time the two of you are apart, you will be unhappy."
"Yes, youíre probably right," McCall answered as he looked up. "You are right. I love her with all my heart. Iím deathly afraid of losing her."
"Hey, Iím not that easy to get rid of," Erin said as she awakened to hear McCallís last statement. Both menís faces stretched into wide grins. "What was all the doom and gloom about?" Erin continued.
"Weíre just happy youíre alright, considering what could have happened," Control answered, looking at McCall, and then at Erin. "They found bark and leaves in your clothing. What happened?"
"Just as I was connected to the line that would reel me into the helicopter, and just as they started to move off, the helicopter exploded. I remember slamming into a tree, and falling. When I came to, I knew I had some ribs broken. My left wrist was injured. It didnít feel badly broken, but it hurt like hell. I decided the only thing I could do was to get to Da Nang and contact you. I found a place to hole up and waited until dark to move about. It took about twenty-four hours to reach Da Nang. I located a cybercafe and sent the email to you after I made the contact in the bar."
"How did Phanís men know you were in Da Nang?" Control asked.
"I ran across them not far from Da Nang. They were stopping everything in sight. I bribed a farmer to get me through the checkpoint, but once I was gone, he told the soldiers everything that had happened. I guess he thought he could get some more money, but he only got shot for his trouble. They must have put out some kind of an alert because when I reached the outskirts of Da Nang, the place was covered with them." Control nodded.
"You rest, now, and weíll talk again tomorrow. Robert, will you bring Erin by my office for debriefing after sheís released?"
"Canít she rest another day before debriefing?" McCall demanded protectively. "I think sheís been through enough."
"Donít worry, my friend. You know the drill. Iíll keep it as painless as possible." Control smiled at them as he left. "Iíll see you tomorrow."
Alone now, McCall sat once again on the edge of the bed and pressed a kiss against Erinís forehead.
"I was so worried," he said, hoarsely. "I donít know what I would have done if you didnít come back."
"This was a tough one," Erin agreed. "Thankfully, they donít often go wrong like this. But itís something weíre going to have to get used to, you and I. You canít stop living because I am on a mission. I canít do a good job if I know youíre worrying your heart out, dreading that Iíll never come back. Weíll have to live day by day, taking happiness where we can, being content with what we have."
"Thatís a hell of a life, not knowing what tomorrow will bring."
"But what are we to do, darling?" Erin whispered. "Shall we let this all go because itís too painful, because it has a dark side? Canít we learn to live with the dark side?"
"Weíll have to because I will not simply let you go," McCall declared. He framed her face with both of his hands. "You have become the focus of my life, I love you." Erinís eyes were closed as she fought tears brimming at her eyelids. Robert kissed away the tears that had formed. "I will not let you go."
"I love you, Robert." Erinís voice cracked through her tight throat, not wanting to give way to crying. "I love you."
McCall made to stretch out on the bed beside her and Erin shifted to give him room. He pulled her gently against him and whispered into her ear.
"Rest," he said, kissing the edges of her ear and breathing into her hair. "Rest for now and let all your worries go. Iím here and Iím not going anywhere without you."
Erin closed her eyes and willed herself to relax. Her heart was content. He was not leaving. He would continue to hold her and love her, at least for now. Who knew what tomorrow would bring? But heís here now, and he loves me.
Control returned to his office to try to catch up on the developments of the past twenty-four hours with no success. He couldnít concentrate, his mind going back over the details of Erinís mission and itís unfortunate ending. I might as well go home, he told himself. Go home to my empty apartment, my empty life. Later, nursing a drink in his own apartment, Control thought back to the scene of McCall caressing the sleeping Erin, touching her breasts and the mound between her legs. Damn you, Erin, he thought, why didnít you see that I was wildly in love with you? Ah, I should just as well curse myself. Why couldnít I be more forthcoming with her? Why couldnít I just open my fucking mouth and tell her? Oh, the hell with it!
As he stalked about the living room, he found himself thinking back to earlier that day, when he had seen Erin lying naked on the examining table, doctors and nurses clustered around her. There was enough of a gap between them for him to see her small breasts, the flat stomach, the curly hair between her legs. She was perfect. He should have done something before sending her to McCall. He should have told her. He should have taken her! His anger became overwhelming. He looked for something suitable to throw, or break, then realized he was getting the hardest, most painful erection heíd had for months. Oh God, he moaned to himself in frustration. Flinging himself on the living room couch, he tore his trousers open and pulled out his cock. He could see the pre-cum glistening as it seeped from the glans and spread across the head. He fantasized about Erin, having her mouth covering the large head of his cock, her teeth catching the edge of it as she moved her head up and down. Control started stroking the shaft of his penis, quietly moaning in time to his movements. His fantasy shifted to find Erin in bed with him, her ass towards his face as her head bobbed rhythmically over his groin. He picked up one of her legs to pull it across his chest. He could see her hot, wet cunt glistening between her taut strong thighs. He speared her with two fingers, causing her to clutch his ass with her free hand and moan excitedly. Control held her hips as they rolled together across the bed and he plunged his mouth and face between her legs, drinking in her juices as he ran his tongue over and through her pussy, tongue-fucking her and sucking on her engorged clit. Erin moaned and cried out in ecstasy as her orgasm took her. Control felt himself awash in sheer pleasure, his cum pumping into her mouth, his face smeared with her orgasmic juices. But then the cooling stickiness of his cum on his stomach brought Control out of his fantasy and he shouted in frustration.
"Erin, Erin, what am I going to do!" Control sobbed her name once more and pulled himself from the couch. Staggering down the hall, he threw himself onto the bed and pulled the pillows against his chest, holding them tight as if he were cradling her in his arms. "Erin," he sobbed. "I love you. I love you, but you can never know. You can never know." Control faded into an exhausted sleep. "You can never know," he mumbled. "Never know, never know, neverÖ"