Chapter 26

Maya had not slept well. The night previous she had suspected that something was living in her matress. Now she was convinced it was a spider or something. There were three bites on her legs alone, and she kept finding new ones. 

Before she even ventured to the kitchen, she made a bee-line for the bathroom, scrubbing every inch of her body, applying massive ammounts of lotion to combat the bites and the dry winter air.

She came out of her shower only feeling moderately good about life, but perked up when a welcome smell met her nose. Bacon. Oh sweet, Lord; a world of hurt could be solved with bacon and eggs.

Alex was in the kitchen, beating an enormous bowl of eggs into scrambled submission. The lovely girl had even made coffee and, joy and rapture, hash browned potatoes! 

Maya poured herself a cup and gave Alex a kiss on the cheek. The girl blushed and blundered as she poured eggs into the pan to cook.

"You are an angel." Maya said, giggling at her friend's embarassment. "An eggs and coffee and hashbrowns cooking angel."

"You're very welcome." Alex shook her head as she stirred the eggs. A timer went off and she whipped around to the wall mounted oven. "Though I don't think it merrited a kiss on the cheek."

"It was a thank you." Maya shook her head. "I'm not flirting. Though you are pretty cute." Alex froze in her tracks, pan load of bacon still in her oven mitt protected hands.

"Is this too forward?" Alex asked. "Are you trying to come out to me?"

"Ha!" Maya barked her laughter. "I forgot, actually, that you didn't know I was out before your mind wipe. But you did know before you got injured. So, yeah. I guess I'm recoming out to you."

"Oh!" Alex, put the bacon down on the stove and turned around, a smile on her face. "I feel so honored that you would come out to me! Thank you for sharing that piece of you with me!"

Maya blinked trying to swallow her shock along with her coffee. She had always pegged Alex for a hyper conservative; joining the military, Christian family, all American values. The Alex after the military had been accepting of Maya's lifestyle but she was pretty sure that pre-IJS Alex wouldn't have been very open minded.

“That was a weirdly formal statement.” Maya smiled.

“I know.” Alex smiled, nervously. “I don't know how else to say it. Congratulations?”

Maya cracked up, trying not to spill her coffee all over the floor.

“I don't know how you say it without it being awkward.” She said, catching her breath. “And it was no less awkward the second time than the first. But that was a kind and generous way to say the awkward, I guess? Hugs also work.” Alex came and gave Maya a hug, a large smile on her face. 

“Does this mean you forgive me for lying to you?” Maya said through the girls newly dyed hair. Alex gently broke the hug off, all traces of her mirth gone. 

“Leo and I had this conversation.” Alex began stirring the eggs gently. The smell of bacon became too much and Maya got up to snag a piece. 

“It's going to take a long time to get over that. But I want to, because we have to stick together right now and because my life without you, even the way it was before, would be nothing without you guys. But it was such a breach of trust. It's just going to take a while to rebuild that trust. But I still want to be friends and I don't really have a choice but to be with you guys right now.” Maya nodded. 

“That all makes perfect sense.” She sighed. “And I wish it could be different. But I understand why it can't. And I'm going to do my best to rebuild that trust.”

“That means a lot to me.”

“Oh my, God!” Sams voice made both the girls jump. “You girls done having a squish love fest or can I get some fucking bacon?” He swaggered into the kitchen, in Sesame Street boxers and a faded band t-shirt.

Maya sighed, snagged some bacon and gestured him to go ahead. 

“I guess we were done.” Alex shook her head. “But I'm pretty sure our menstrual cycles were about to sync up.”

“La la la la.” Sam plugged his ears, a piece of bacon in each hands, looking like pork antennae. “I don't want to hear it. This man needs EGGS and fucking CEREAL.” He dove into the cabinet and dug out the colorful cereal box, “not-food” as Maya liked to think about it. 

“You're foul mouthed this morning.” Alex dished a pile of eggs onto a plate with more bacon and hash browns and handed it to Maya. 

“The happier he is,” Maya said, shoveling eggs into her mouth. Dang, Alex could cook. “The more profanity he uses. A bit like Deadpool.”

“And why is he so happy?” Alex asked, peering at the lad. She clasped her ears with her hands. “Never mind I don't want to know!” She sat down at the bar with Maya and ate.

The others were slower to get up than Sam, Leo not rising for another two hours. She reheated breakfast, but made fresh coffee for herself. Maya was already showered and dressed by the time her sister crawled her way to semi-consciousness with the aid of several cups of coffee. 

“We should probably start talking about next steps.” Maya said, putting lipstick on using her tablet’s camera. “We have stayed here too long and need to wiggle on to Russia. Who wants to fly first class?”

“All of us? I would hope.” Sam said, reading a comic book. 

“Before we do that.” Leo raised her coffee cup. “Alex and I were up late devising a plan we hope will help her regain some memories.”

“So the file didn't trigger anything?” Ray asked. His face was difficult to read, ask always.

“Nope.” Alex knocked on her cranium. “Locked up tight. 

“We can't stay here long enough to do that.” Maya was shocked. How in the world could these two justify this risk? “We've been here almost too long. We need to get the hell out, now.”

“We have three other safe houses.” Sam said. “We can relocate today and implement this plan before we go. I'm sure it's low risk.”

“Yeah.” Leo said. “I wish.” She put down her coffee cup and turned on the places large TV. She made her tablet wirelessly talk to it and brought up a floor plan. 

“This.” She said, “Is the local branch of IJS. Where they make local arrests and handle small local crime.”

“Nope.” Maya stood, heading for her room to pack. “I'm out.”

“Maya!” Alex said, “Come on! This won't take more than a couple hours. And we have a really good plan. Can't you come and listen?” Maya crossed her arms and stared at the ceiling. She really didn't want to. 

“Fine.” She went and poured herself a third cup of coffee. 

“This,” Leo circled a small area of the floor plan in red. “Is where the plans say an outgoing terminal is for their intranet. It's the only access to the external servers that we can get to. And it's where I will go and get the info on the drugs they used on Alex to suppress her memory.” 

The area was a small cubical in a sea of cubical. The only difference Maya could see was it was labeled with a few special letters. Leo apparently knew this meant it was an outgoing node. 

“So.” Maya rolled her eyes. “You just walk in and take it?”

“Nope.” Alex stood up. “She's going to get a uniform for a private IT firm and come into ’update firmware’ and she's actually going to get as much as she can on the drugs.”

“While I'm at it,” Leo said. “I may as well get as much as I can. I'll try to get infrastructure protocols and lay a back door down so I can get in later, much easier. They won't even find it. I coded it last night. Well… most of it.”

“This is crazy.” Maya shook her head. “You're just gonna waltz in there and steal TERABYTES of data? Without someone noticing?”

“I'll be IT.” Leo said. “Of someone gets suspicious, I'll say it's data miners or something. I'll make a distraction. It'll be fine.”

Maya was breathing heavily. They just needed to go but she knew Alex needed her memory. She pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration.

“There's not any way this can be done in Russia?“

“Nope.” Leo said. “We tried to think of that, but the only IJS base is the embassy. And that's heavier guarded and they don't farm out IT to private companies. Specialists from the internal network are flown in. It requires much more paperwork. Here, it just takes a faked ID and a smile.”

“Fine.” Maya sighed. “But before we even start, get your shit and get in the car. We have to move to a new safe house.”

Zoe FleischerComment