False Signs
Chapter 14

Whitaker slept peacefully, her dark hair a sharp contrast against the bleach white pillow she rested on. Her face was calm and restful. Staring at her as she slept; Taylor thought back to how she looked in that gray, smoky concrete hallway, two days ago.

When he’d returned to her, Whitaker was in bad shape. Her skin had gone ghost white, and she was sweating profusely, lying in a pool of her own blood. She had only briefly opened her eyes when he’d gotten to her, and started basic first aid while they waited for the paramedics.

She was clearly in shock and strangely smiled up at him, although her smile quickly morphed into a mask of pain before she passed out completely in his arms. As he sat with her, holding a makeshift bandage over the hole in her side, Taylor was sure he’d lost her.

By the time the paramedics reached her, Whitaker’s pulse was nearly non-existent. They’d gotten to work, putting IVs in her and getting her on a gurney, rushing her out of the still dark building.

She’d been rushed into surgery the moment she’d hit the hospital, while Taylor paced in the hallway, occasionally joined by Whitaker’s colleagues. His shirt and pants were still stained with her blood. Rollins had shown up shortly after she had gone into surgery, demanding Taylor come back for a debriefing.

That had been a tense few moments. Taylor had made it clear it would take more than one FBI agent to pull him out of the hospital. Eventually, he did relent. He agreed to come in once he knew Whitaker was out of the woods.

Of course, he’d later regretted those words. He spent almost an entire day going through every moment of the investigation; from the minute he had landed in Dallas a week and a half ago up until he pulled the detonator out of the brick of C4. Then they had him do it a second time, and a third.

Taylor ignored the various forms of indignation and outrage his rotating cast of interrogators seemed to exhibit as he laid out all the ways the FBI had screwed up. He offered no apologies for the places where they thought he had almost cost the entire investigation.

He didn’t know if that was why they kept having him go over everything again and again, or if it was just the way they did it; but he was happy when it finally ended. When it was done, he made a short stop at a local store for a change of clothes. Hospitals didn’t look fondly on people in blood covered clothes hanging around. Properly attired, he headed back to Whitaker’s room, where he’d been ever since.

Taylor was staring at the TV in the corner of the room, its volume off, watching Rollins giving yet another press conference; when a voice pulled him out of his thoughts.

“Hey?” Whitaker said, her voice croaking.

Taylor reached to the side table and picked up a small cup of water, holding the straw to her lips.

“Thanks,” she said after a long pull of water, her voice clearer.

“How’re you feeling?”

“Like I got shot,” she said with a grimace.

“You should probably avoid that, next time.”

Reaching a hand up, her arm trailing IV tubes, she stroked the stubbled side of Taylor’s face.

“I’m going to assume the building didn’t blow up.”

“No, we stopped them in time.”

“We?” she laughed, then groaned. “I was a big help, lying in a pool of blood.”

Taylor chuckled, saying, “Nah, the only reason we stopped em is you were there with me. Not sure I could’ve done it on my own. We made a good team. Rollins seemed pleased with you.”

“Yeah?”

“They’re saying you’re the hero who ‘nearly gave her life, single handily taking down the terrorists’.”

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Story tagged with:
Crime / Violence / Military / Mystery /