The seven spies stared back at the ship they'd just abandoned. The ladder most of them had used to board the boat was quickly raised.
"There goes that possibility," said Rachel. "We could always call to her."
"Okay," said Peter. "One, two, three—"
"AUTUMN!" they all yelled.
"Busy!" The reply was faint, but it was Autumn who answered. That was reassuring.
"What are we gonna do now?" asked Mike.
"We could wait a minute and call again."
The only sound for a short minute were small waves.
Peter broke the near-silence. "Ready? One, two, three—"
"AUTUMN!" they all called again.
"Still just the slightest bit busy!"
"I think she's in trouble."
"Probably, Peter. But we can't do anything about that right now."
"ARE YOU OKAY?" Peter yelled.
A piercing scream was his only answer.
"I guess not," Mike understated.
It seemed that even the waves sensed the tension and silenced. Rachel wrung her hands. Ever since she'd joined the CIS, any friends she made were fairweather or just easily cut off. Besides that, the fact that she often didn't use her real identity when she was allowed to associate with civilians. But that mission in southern California fizzled after the second month. She was left there, hanging, for seven or eight months. Rachel waited for them to issue new commands, and she was allowed to talk to a few civilians. As luck would have it, Autumn Carnem moved into the hotel room next to her, another long-term visitor. She'd been burned out of her home by an arson. Autumn and Rachel immediately became fast friends. Just days after Rachel and Autumn met, Rachel met Autumn's good friend, Micky. And it was another quick friendship—relationship. Things were off and on because of his previous messy break up, but things did eventually begin to pick up. When they did, Rachel got new orders and was whisked away to Mexico for almost the whole year.
It would've been the whole year, if she hadn't been given Christams vacation. Immediately, she thought of her good friends in southern California. Just days after she left for desk duty in Washington, she was called back to southern California to head up a mission of seven civilian recruits—her old friends.
To lose one of those recruits was tragic. But with the bonds the eight of them had formed, it could be torture. It would be for Peter. If she died because of some fool mistake Rachel had made, Rachel would never forgive herself. Peter would probably second that emotion.
Peter stared nervously at the ship's deck railing, scanning it for any signs of his girlfriend. He couldn't think in terms of "if." When she got down, when she was safe in his arms, then he could stop worrying. The doubtful if's tugged at his thoughts, lurking at the back of his mind. He couldn't dare let them rise to the front. If he doubted her, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself if she didn't—enough. He couldn't torture himself like this. Autumn would be down here in a few minutes, and he could look back on these doubts and laugh at himself in just a few days. Sweetie, he thought, you can't leave me now. Don't leave me. I'll never be able to forgive you if you do. Or me.
on to Goin' Down Part Seven
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