WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
(FIX: this section needs a TON of work, but it’s important. Denna has to decide as a result of this experience that there are some aspects of her life where she has not given her all or reached far enough for fulfillment, and she’s nearly died without having done these things.)
(REALLY need to be careful, since both characters are captured and interrogated over the course of the story. Is that necessary? Is that redundant? Will I lose the reader if that happens? What if I have them both captured at different points, but I only reveal different aspects of the experiences to keep them from being duplicative?)
(BACKREV: FOSTER AND MARSH want to catch Renault. LOPEZ wants to catch the Falcon.)
Denna heard voices, but couldn’t make them out. All she knew was that the sharper pains had stopped, but the deeper steadier pain remained. She tried to hold onto her sanity, her self as she swam through the pulsing currents of agony, the broken places screaming to be put back together.
Yet what she felt most was loss. A deep, aching, down to the marrow loss that she couldn’t put into words, not even in thought.
She felt herself physically moved, carried to a surface that was just as unyielding as the cot had been, felt her head secured but her hands left untied and legs untied, felt cold air against her arms and legs and feet and body as her clothes were removed.
What was this? Was it the final violation before they killed her?
And then she felt something scratchy but warm over her entire body, the weight painful but welcome, felt the surface where she lay start to move.
Finally, all was dark and quiet.
Once again, she woke to blinding light. One eye wouldn’t open right, and the vision in the other was blurred. Everything still hurt, but it was muted somehow. She felt foggy and muted herself.
As soon as she moved, there were suddenly voices. So many, all asking questions she didn’t know how to answer just yet. It took a moment before she remembered she was able to form words, that she should be capable of speech.
The doctor shined another smaller light in her eye and she winced. She realized that one arm was much heavier than it was supposed to be, and looked down to see a cast encasing her fingers and extending all the way to her elbow. Only the tip of her thumb was visible.
In German, the doctor asked her name, the city, the date – answers she was able to whisper after a moment.
Foster stepped in then, urging the doctors and nurses to leave the room. They argued, and she felt trapped, immobile. The medical personnel left the room, and Foster loomed over her, blocking the light mercifully, but insistent on getting answers.
She wanted out of this room, but couldn’t move the way she wanted, the fog, the pain –
Denna remembered her final moments in that warehouse, and the loss, that wrenching feeling of loss came back and she felt the sting of tears. Foster probably thought she was crying because of the pain, the whole terrible experience, the trauma, but she had filed all that away to be dealt with later. She couldn’t handle it now, so she put it in a box deep inside, to be opened when she was alone.
Now, she had found words for the loss she’d felt, that she was still feeling. And the aching loss became its own wrenching pain.
“I know you’re not up for this, but there are details that we need and we need them now.”
He didn’t look all that sympathetic.
“Rayner told us how they found you.”
Rayner. Denna had forgotten about Rayner. “Is -“ It hurt to talk, but she swallowed and tried again. “Is she okay?”
Foster frowned, and nodded. “Fine. I told you that your recreational activities would be a problem.”
Denna didn’t care about that. Foster could fuck himself. She and Rayner had been cautious, overly cautious, so that wasn’t a factor, but she didn’t want to think about that. There were more important things, and she listened to Foster prattle on, answered when she could, but she was thinking about her father.
“Can you confirm it was Roux?”
“Yeah,” Denna said, thinking about days long gone.
Her father had adored her, she knew, but he had thrown himself into work after her mother’s death. He hadn’t neglected to clothe, feed and shelter his daughter, but his affection had to be coaxed from him through the filter of his grief, and was limited to his approval when she did things that attracted his attention. Excellent grades, extra-curricular projects in his fields of interest, following his path when she went to university.
Denna had known that a part of him had been sealed away forever when her mother died. She wondered if she’d done the same.
“What about Renault? Was Renault there?”
“I – I don’t know. I never saw him.”
So many missed opportunities in her life. She had believed herself incapable of finding a love like her parents, and had spent years sleeping with people she liked well enough but didn’t care about. The life she had now was not the life she wanted for herself. And if that were true, what else had she been wrong about?
“Was there anyone there that you recognized?”
In how many ways had she played it safe? Paths she could have gone down but she’d been afraid that she’d fail? Dreams for herself that she’d never pursued because her father wouldn’t approve? Even after he’d died, she’d stayed the course because she wanted to honor his memory and she’d believed that she’d wanted the same things.
And now she had been beaten nearly to death, and she had wasted so much time.
The tears turned to sobs, which made her whole body shake, and the pain cut through the fog. She cried out, and Foster’s request for privacy was ignored as the staff flooded back into the room. Nurses fussed at the bandages, the wires and cords and fluid lines, the doctor was back asking questions, and it was all too fucking much –
And then Denna saw her.
Or at least she thought she did. The room she was in was really just a glassed-in section of a larger area, and through the floor-to-ceiling sliding door, across the hall, over the nurse’s station, through another window, Katja Mannis stood staring right at her.
Denna froze, wondering if she was hallucinating.
Mannis tipped her head in acknowledgement. What was that quirk of her lips? What did it mean?
A moment later Mannis had disappeared, and Denna wondered if she was imagining the whole thing. Some things were real, but some things weren’t – what drugs did they have her on?
“Lopez, who else was there?” Foster’s voice cut through the haze.
Denna couldn’t seem to stop herself from responding.
“Mannis.” Mannis had been there, but…had she been here?
The haze thickened to fog, the fog gave way to oblivion.
Denna later found out that she’d awakened in the hospital two days after she’d been rescued. Foster said that their mole had revealed her location. She wondered at her luck. If they’d come any later, it would have been too late.
It took another ten days before she was able to travel, and that was still against doctor’s orders. Foster made some calls and gave her leave to head home until she was healed enough to come back to work. For the duration, she was headed back to D.C.
Rayner drove her to the airport. The ride was taut with tension. Neither of them said a word until Rayner pulled the borrowed Jeep onto the tarmac at the airstrip. She turned off the engine.
“Before you go, I just…”
Denna was too tired for this conversation, and she hadn’t even boarded her ten hour flight back to the states.
“You don’t have to say anything.”
Rayner frowned, and the severity of the expression made her look years older. “That’s bullshit, and stop letting me off easy. I should have -“
Denna sighed. “You took two of them out, and didn’t get snatched yourself. You did plenty.”
They were at an impasse, and there wasn’t much more to say. Rayner wouldn’t accept Denna’s insistence that she hadn’t done anything wrong, and Denna grew tired of having to convince her.
She knew they’d never be intimate again.
Denna slept most of the first flight, and dozed through most of the second. By the time she got home, it was past midnight. She waved at the [soldier] who gave her a lift to her building.
He wouldn’t leave until she was safely inside.
Her condo smelled stale and slightly sour, but that wasn’t surprising since she hadn’t been home in six months. The housecleaner came every few weeks, just to make sure the dust didn’t pile up. Still, the three bedroom condo felt empty, which only added to her sadness.
She’d been nothing but sad since her rescue. Not angry, not bitter – only melancholy at lost opportunities. She wanted Roux dead for what he’d done to her, but that was a cold fact, not a revengeful fury.
No, it was her life that saddened her, and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.
For now, though, she didn’t want to think about any of that. She was tired of thinking.
Denna didn’t want to sleep in her bed. It felt foreign and its king sized width too big, too much room. It felt unsafe.
She grabbed a pillow from her bed and tucked it under her cast, then found a blanket from a hall closet. She didn’t even bother to remove her jacket from where it hung on her shoulders. After kicking off her boots, she stretched out, still full dressed, on the long leather couch in her living room and pulled the blanket up to her chin.
Denna stilled her mind until she fell asleep.
[Make sure I address the trauma of the experience, and her response to that trauma. How does she change? What does she become?]
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Who else would want this crazy half-story?