Persistence of Memory
Written February 2002
Synopsis: Madeline develops amnesia, and Paul releases her until her condition improves. However, a new terrorist organization is determined to make her re-integration into Section as difficult as possible.
Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.
The light, the love in her eyes had simply…died.
Paul swallowed the long string of expletives that rose in his throat. Her hurt and dejected expression was forever engraved in his mind. She would never forgive him, and even if she did, it would take months to repair what it had taken a moment to destroy. Shy, sweet, wonderful Madeline had been humiliated beyond her boundaries–and it was all his fault.
And Michael’s. He’d better have a damn good reason! Seething with fury, he yanked the phone out of his pocket, nearly flinging it across the porch, and dialed Michael’s number. “Report.”
“Where are you?”
His patience wearing thin, he growled, “The same place I’ve been for the past two months. What difference does it make?”
“Dark Moon agents just arrived in your area.”
“Dark Moon? Here?” His mind swam with dozens of questions, the first one being, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“You didn’t answer your phone.”
The picnic. He had left his coat at Madeline’s house when they went on their picnic. “What are they doing here?”
“Birkoff intercepted a communiqué between HTL and Dark Moon. HTL said they knew the location of one of Section’s top commanding officers.”
“But that’s impossible! You’re the only one who knows where I am.”
“There are no other commanding officers in the field. We can only assume they’ve come after you. I’ve deployed a team; they should be there in an hour.”
Something wasn’t right. Think, Paul, think! How would HTL have zeroed in on his location? The frequency for the internal locators was known only to Section operatives. He hadn’t done anything to draw attention to himself, he’d never been on the news…
“You know, I was on the national news once. I was asked to do a presentation on adolescent misdiagnoses of depression. They filmed it and interviewed me, and I made headlines.”
His heart stop beating, and he nearly choked on the breath that had caught in his throat. Dark Moon wouldn’t know if Madeline was alive or dead since the only agents who witnessed her beating had been taken back to Section and killed. They wouldn’t know that she had been ‘cancelled’ and Michael had taken her place; they would assume that she was still second-in-command.
Oh, my God.
He had been trying to protect her, but he had put her in harm’s way. And if anything happened to her…
“Where are the Dark Moon agents now?” he asked distantly, staring at the house.
“At the airport.”
The airport? Madeline lived a mile from the airport–and it was likely they knew where she lived. “I will be back at Section tomorrow.” If I make it out of this alive.
He hung up the phone and shoved it back in his pocket. This whole situation was all his fault! He hadn’t planned on revealing his true identity yet, but he didn’t have a choice.
They would make it out of this alive…if Madeline would let him back in the house.
Madeline slumped against the door and sank to the carpet, sobbing quietly. Damn her for being so vulnerable! She didn’t need anyone; she had spent ten months alone, and she was fine! Then he appeared and swept her off her feet, making her feel safe and beautiful and loved. Loved. Ha! If he really loved her, she should have taken precedence over that phone call. It should have rang and rang until the person on the other end realized that he was with someone important.
I never should have allowed myself to get that close.
But it had been so wonderful… He had brought out intense emotions that she never knew existed. Passion. Desire. And for a while, she had even gotten over her shyness. Paul was the bright spot in her life. He was there to help her through the nightmares of her past. He never once turned away from her, even when she needed him the most and he was thousands of miles away. If he hadn’t been there, she never would have progressed through her memories as well as she did. But now she faced a lightless future, without Paul, alone.
Why did I have to fall in love with him?
Madeline closed her eyes, feeling utterly miserable. Well, no more. If there was any part of her broken heart left to repair, she would have to do it by herself. Their relationship couldn’t be salvaged. It would be better to disengage, to never see him again.
“Madeline! Madeline, open the door, please!”
Paul. For a moment, she ignored the pounding and the yells. How was she supposed to start over if he was at her door?
“Madeline! I know you’re there. Please let me in.”
Stop being selfish, she told herself. He at least deserves to know your decision. Mixed feelings surged through her. She had to tell him that it was over between them, that she couldn’t play second to whoever was on the phone. But she still loved him. If he apologized and asked her back, would she be able to say no? Just stick to your guns. Grunting, she pushed herself up and opened the door. “What–”
Paul shoved past her, slamming the door shut and locking it. She was taken aback, watching him move around downstairs, closing curtains and turning off lights.
She blocked the last lamp in the room and folded her arms across her chest. “What are you doing?”
“The first rule of survival is ‘never draw attention to yourself.'”
He tried to reach around her, but she pushed his hand away. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but you–”
Something caught his attention, and he pulled her against him, covering her mouth with his hand. She tried to wiggle free, but it was no use. Paul shook her slightly and hushed, “Be quiet.” Slowly, he crept to the front window and peeked out between the cracks. He relaxed only slightly before reaching into his pocket, but his voice was still harsh. “Turn off that lamp!”
The light reflected off the object he pulled from his jacket, and she gasped. A gun! He had a gun! He was going to kill her! Madeline shook her head in disbelief. No, it wasn’t possible…
“Madeline! The–” He crossed the room, and she ran into the kitchen, sliding around the island and rummaging through her silverware drawer. Paul followed her. “Madeline, what–”
There! She withdrew the steak knife from the drawer and held it in front of her with both trembling hands. “Stay away from me.”
“What are you doing? We don’t have time for this.”
“Why are you trying to kill me?” she whimpered, backing away from him as he inched forward.
He glanced at his gun. “I’m not trying to kill you, but the terrorists on their way to your house are!” She lowered the knife slightly, trying to decide if he was being serious or not. “Madeline, you have to trust me, now more than ever. Please. They’ll be here any minute.”
“What do they want with me? I didn’t do anything wrong!” She paused, looking at his apologetic expression, and a tear slipped down her cheek. “I didn’t do anything wrong…” She lowered her guard, tossing her knife on the counter and covering her face with her hands. Sighing, Paul brought her into his arms.
“I won’t let anything happen to you, but you have to trust me. You have to do everything that I say, when I say it.”
She nodded, clinging to him weakly. She felt safe again, calmer. “How do you know they’re coming?”
“The phone call,” he whispered. “The one I had to answer. If Michael hadn’t called, we would have been killed.”
She suddenly felt guilty. Although she still had a hundred questions, one thing was very clear in her mind. Paul loved her. “Oh, God, I thought–”
Madeline drew in a breath as Paul walked to the living room. She followed him carefully, the loud sound of her heart drowning out any other noise she may have heard. He had heard something though. Spreading the curtains with his gun, he peered out into the darkness.
“Go upstairs.” The low tone of his voice frightened her, and her legs began to wobble. “In your closet, stacked in the corner, there are six shoeboxes. The fourth one contains a gun like mine.”
She froze. “How did you know about that?”
“Take it out. Load it.”
“I don’t know how!”
“Yes, you do.” He slowly backed away from the window, his weapon poised for a fight. “Lock your door and hide. Make sure Rufus is with you. Don’t let anyone in unless it’s me. Rufus will let you know if it is.”
Her whole body shook, and she found herself unable to move. “Paul, I can’t do this!”
“You can, and you will. Now go.” He pulled back on the top of the gun, and it made a clicking sound. “Go!”
Madeline scrambled up the stairs, tripping and falling at the top. She cried out as she crashed into the wall, but the sound of the front door opening propelled her to her feet and around the corner into her bedroom. Rufus, who had been lying on the bed, looked at her while she locked the door and wedged her desk chair under the knob. She backed up slowly and waited.
Shots rang out from downstairs, and Madeline rushed for her closet, tearing at the shoeboxes, throwing the contents in all directions. Which box was it? What if she didn’t find it in time? There was shouting and more shots, and she finally found the gun. Grabbing both the weapon and the ammunition, she ran around her bed and hid between it and the wall, panting and sobbing. What was happening? Was Paul okay?
Without thinking, she slammed the clip into the bottom of the gun and cocked the hammer. Her eyes widened. How did I know that? She stared at the weapon, her hand clenched around the grip, her finger on the trigger, and somehow it felt natural. She had definitely handled a gun before. But when? And why?
There was a heavy pounding on the stairs, and her head snapped up. Someone was coming! Madeline turned onto her knees and crawled to the edge of the bed, peeking around it. The handle jiggled a little, then a lot. Someone was definitely trying to break in. Rufus growled, barring his teeth, and pounced onto the floor, cautiously approaching the door. It wasn’t Paul. But if it wasn’t Paul, then it had to be one of the terrorists, which meant that Paul was–no.
A loud, deafening boom reverberated through the hallway, and then there was silence. Rufus whined softly, staring at the door, his tail between his legs. Madeline shut her eyes, listening, concentrating.
She looked again. Rufus scratched at the door, and she rushed over to it. Paul. He was alive, he had to be! She yanked the chair away, her fingers fumbling to undo the lock. She pulled the door open. Paul! Blinded by her tears, she threw her arms around him, kissing his face gratefully. “Oh! You’re okay!” She squeezed him tighter, and he groaned in pain. Madeline pulled back, her relief short-lived. Red fluid seeped through the hand that was covering his shoulder. “Oh, my God, you’ve been shot!”
“I’ll be all right,” he grunted. “We have to get out of here.”
“But you’re bleeding! You’ll never make it out of here!” She opened her dresser drawer and pulled out a white cotton t-shirt. Wrapping it under his armpit and completely covering the wound, her eyes darted around in search of something to secure the makeshift bandage. “Hold that,” she ordered, undoing his belt buckle swiftly.
“To hold it in place,” she explained, pulling it from his pants. She circled it in the same manner as the t-shirt.
“I don’t need a tourniquet.”
“I’ll be careful.” Poking a new hole in the leather, she buckled it and stepped back. “That’ll work for now, but we have to get you to a hospital. You–”
He grabbed her arm tightly. “No, no hospitals. We have to go to the airport.”
“The airport? Are you crazy? You’ve just been shot!”
“There’s a small triage unit on my jet. They will take care of me. We have to get out of the city before any more agents come.”
The agents! Her eyes lowered, and she saw a man bleeding onto the carpet, unmoving. The scene was not quite as shocking as she had anticipated. It was almost as if she had been prepared for it somehow. “You… You think there will be more?”
“Everything we know about Dark Moon suggests that.”
“Dark Moon.” The mere name sounded sinister to her. “So where are we going?”
“Europe? I can’t go to Europe! I have patients to see on Monday and…” He had that look again, that I’m-sorry-but-this-is-how-it-goes-and-I-can’t-tell-you-anymore look. “I…won’t be seeing any patients on Monday, will I?”
“I’m afraid not.” He held her gaze for a moment before taking her gun. “See this switch here? It’s the safety. Keep it latched until you need to defend yourself.”
Her lower lip quivered slightly. She didn’t want to learn how to use a gun! She wanted to wake up from this nightmare! “Who are you?” she demanded.
He cast her a dangerous gaze, and she regretting asking the question. “I’m the commanding officer of the world’s most covert anti-terrorist organization. My name is Paul Wolfe.”
She stared at him, the color draining from her face. Wolfe. Did that mean…? Her eyes slowly moved to the ring on his hand. I wear this ring for someone that was very close to me, someone that I lost. Was that someone her?
As if he could read her mind, Paul said, “No, Madeline. We’re not related, nor are we married. Listen, I’ll explain everything to you on the flight, but now we have to leave.” He started for the stairs, but she remained frozen in place. “Madeline!”
She swallowed hard, biting back the tears that had already started to fall. For two months, she had trusted him. Believed him. Loved him. And now the truth had been revealed: she never knew him at all.
Paul grabbed her wrist and pulled her downstairs. “The first thing you have to do is take Rufus over to Cam’s house. Tell her we’re going away for the weekend and that she needs to take care of him. You cannot tell her what happened here tonight or her life will be in danger as well.” He spun around, his eyes dark with fear. “Do you understand?”
She nodded numbly, stunned into silence.
Instantly, his features softened, like he had never yelled at her. “Oh, Madeline, I know you’re scared, but you have to do this. You can do this.”
“Why should I trust you? Everything you’ve ever told me has been a lie.”
“No, I’ve never lied to you. I haven’t given you the whole truth, but I’ve never lied.” He touched her cheek with his fingers, stopping a tear from sliding down further. “Deep down, you trust me, but you don’t know why. I can’t explain it now, but… Well, we go back a long way, you and I. You don’t remember that yet, but you will, and when you do, you’ll know that coming with me now was the right decision.”
Madeline shook her head. She didn’t want to trust him; spies were well versed in persuasive tactics, weren’t they? But she couldn’t deny the evidence any longer. The gun in her closet, how safe she felt when he was around, the fact that Rufus liked him, the look he had that hinted he knew so much more… She gave a tight nod of consent.
“Good. Now let’s get out of here.” He took her hand and led her away.
End of part eight