Chapter 10

"You can leave clues in the strangest of places. People that are looking for them can work out a lot from very little. Especially in our business; just do something that doesn't quite fit in with your normal habits. A letter you wouldn't normally leave, a word you'd never normally misspell. Even punctuation that doesn't match your standard handwriting forms. All of these and more have been used to process information." Adam had taught us today.

I loved this idea; I could use it with Taylor. To tell him I loved him, or what I wanted to do with him that no-one else needed to know. I could send notes to Beth in school to remind her of what lessons would be safe to miss and the answers to her latest 'spot' test.

"Taylor!"

"Hey, I'm in my room," he called from up the stairs. I ran towards his voice, skipping every other step. I knew I should be exhausted after fitness training, but I was too excited. Taylor was going to love this.

"I have something really, really cool to show you!"

Letta's motherly face peeked round the side of the door. "I know this is hard for you, sweetie." She consoled Beth, who was still white as sheet in the corner having gone into a state of shock. She had to deal with the death of her own sister and now this had been thrown on top of that. But Letta was good at trying to make people feel better with food and drink.

She'd been doing a lot of that in my time here. She looked after all of us, and after Harry she was the best cook here. "This probably isn't the best time, but would you like a drink?" there it was, her solution to everything.

Beth smiled at her, though I could see that it wasn't quite reaching her eyes. "No thanks, I think I just need to sit down for a bit, really." Clearly she needed more than that, some kind of counselling or something, but Letta couldn't offer that, knowing there was little else she could do she turned around and left.

"It wasn't her; it wasn't fucking her." Beth whispered as soon as Letta left. And as soon as she uttered it, the certainty that she felt made sure that that thought gripped me with a conviction I didn't deserve to have.

It was Anika's word against the word of every other person in this building, because everyone else had been looking for her. Someone was pulling the strings here like we were all puppets to their faceless bidding and we were the prize pieces in the collection. They used my sister's pain to make her kill an innocent woman. Anika takes the blame, can't deny it, and they are, whoever they are, free to play the puppet master.

I had to check the database. I had to see what was going on. I was looking through everything; every code and every detail, Thomas had shown me how it all worked in preparation for the task that I was never able to complete.

It was pristine; no-one could have touched this. I guessed it really was Anika all along, despite Beth's suspicions and then something caught my eye.

I couldn't believe it. Was this real? It didn't seem right, it didn't look right, it was so obvious but so tiny. Just a single bracket out of place, but it was so wrong, everything else was too clean and this one little mistake.

Adam never made mistakes, he'd written this program so it would be clear, so why? Why these brackets? Adam wouldn't have put any extra in, let alone left them there. Unless...

Unless someone had changed it.

It was just a standard file, locked of course, but easy to keep clean, lists of whom was working with whom.

The name I kept coming back to was Sam's. I didn't want to think it was him, but he fit the picture so well.

He was in charge of the case between Becca and Anika, he was the one who led all of the agents looking for Dr. Bayer to the wrong country. Once he'd found out that the kidnapped scientist's true location was known, he was the one who fled the scene. He was the only other person aside from Adam who had access to this mission, only Adam hadn't left the country for a mission in the past year. He'd been doing all negotiation work on British soil, but Sam was left unaccounted for.

Despite this and despite the fact I knew all of this to be fact, something just didn't sit right with me about it.

It couldn't really be Sam, could it? If they thought it might have been Anika then surely there were some other agents I'd overlooked.

I unfolded the letter that lived in my top pocket. Something about this was wrong. Something about everything was wrong. How the hell did my life get this messed up? I read it carefully even though I knew the whole thing off by heart. I wanted to read it, to feel like she was there. If she was the master at this, then surely she would know what to do right now, she would know what to say.

Hey sweetheart

I hope you slept well. I really can't wait to see you, I'm downstairs in the kitchen right now making breakfast. or I should be by the time you wake up.

So what I suppose is the important message today Happy Anniversary.

We've had so many beautiful moments together,

Every single moment with you I treasure,

I can't believe it's been so long. It was only yesterday it seemed like an impossible dream,

I love you

Yours always

Becca.

I couldn't get away from the important message. Ok, there was the microdot, but the idea that it could be something else never left me. Look closer, Taylor, there's something there. Why can't you see it, Becca always told to look deeper. If you looked deeper you could see if there was something important going on.

I can't believe it's been so long. It was only yesterday it seemed like an impossible dream,

Come on, this is where it is. I didn't know what. What the hell was wrong with this sentence?

It was only yesterday it seemed like an impossible dream,

No full stop. I'd thought it might be something more, and now I just felt stupid. I folded the letter and put it back in my pocket. I already knew what message was in here, I was just obsessing. I wanted her, I wanted her to be able to talk to me and to tell me what to do. Who was it that had killed her? Who was it that had torn us apart? Turning our perfect three into two broken incomplete people.

"I have something really, really cool to show you! I was reading a book on codes earlier and I saw this, I thought we could use it."

"What is it?" I was eighteen and in love; the worst, most terrible kind of love there was, but I didn't care. I revelled in Becca and her ideas and anything she wanted to say.

"It's this way of talking to people without them knowing by using information that looks insignificant; like phone bills or birthday cards, but you mess with the punctuation to make Morse code. Commas are like the dashes and full stops are like the dots and a new paragraph shows a change in letter. You just write whatever you want and if people aren't looking for it, they'll never know."

"How does it work?" Becca pulled out a letter with a flourish. I loved that about her. She always knew what I was going to ask.

"I tried this one earlier, it's a short message, but it gets the point across."

Hey Taylor, I just thought I'd write a letter to you, so here it is, it's probably not too interesting

First things first,

You're the best brother ever. I guess you know that already, but it never hurts to make sure, I know how insecure you get.

I want to give you something. You looked pretty stressed, so I thought you'd need it

My day was interesting. I read a couple of books. I thought about you.

I should stop talking about obvious stuff, but this is pretty hard. That's it for now I think.

Becca

"No offence, Becs but this letter isn't very interesting."

She smiled so wide at that, it almost made my heart hurt with joy. "That's the point! It doesn't need to be interesting because the message is hidden."

"Right." I looked at the letter for a brain addling moment. I would not be able to figure this out from just reading it. "Becca, can I have a pen? I'm no good at working stuff out in my head."

"Sure." She passed me a glittery black and pink ballpoint; that was so typically her. "So this comma is like a dash?"

"Yup."

Ok let's have a look see. This is dot, dot, dot; 'S' well that's easy enough. Right.

... . -..- -. - .—

So the first one is S, then a single dot is an E, X, N, O...Oh. I didn't need to translate the last one. I was pretty sure what it was going to be.

"Got it yet, Tay?" Becca said, slinking forward into my lap. I swallowed hard.

"Yeah, I think I've got a pretty good idea." I was less than a centimetre from her lips before I stopped. I had to ask now, I'd forget later.

"But how do I tell if you want to talk by code and the letter doesn't matter or if the letter matters?"

"Just look for the weird punctuation. Enough talking, I've been waiting all afternoon."

And that had been that.

Weird punctuation? It couldn't hurt to try could it? I unfolded the letter again, grabbed a pen, and started to jot it down.

.-. .-

L-E-T-T-A

Shit.

I ran out of the room but Letta was no longer in sight. Beth was still sitting by the table staring into space. "Have you seen Letta?" I practically screamed at her.

"She said she was headed towards the hangers a couple of minutes ago. Why?"

"I've got to get her. Do you know where Adam is too?"

"Yeah he was just left here he said he left his food in the upstairs kitchen."

"I'm going to go and get him and then I'm going to get to the hangers, gather some of the others and bring weapons, I think something's going on."

"But Tay."

Was all she managed to add before I threw her a thank you and took off at speed again. I regretted not telling her everything, but time was of the essence and I couldn't waste time explaining. I could just hope she's trust that what I asked was of the utmost importance. When I got to the kitchen Adam was still there, the smell of bacon wafting around the kitchen.

"It wasn't Anika."

"What?"

"It wasn't Anika," I repeated.

"Do you mean the girl we were tracking? It was her, Taylor, we made certain of that."

"No, I mean it wasn't her who killed Becca."

He gave me a look of great sympathy and understanding, look I know today was hard on Beth and she feels guilty, but she was right to do what she did."

"It's not her, it was someone else I'm certain of it and I think I know who it is." He turned off the stove and looked me in the eyes.

"Who do you think it was?"

"Letta. It was in the letter Becca left me. I just didn't see it before. You have to trust me on this, it's really her."

"Are you sure?" Adam asked; I had to be one hundred percent sure. Ninety-nine percent wouldn't do.

"I'm absolutely positive. I know she's going to the hanger but I need your help. Can you get some handcuffs or weapons or something and meet me there?"

"Sure I can, but are you certain about this?"

"Completely, please just trust me on this."

"Do you want to wait 'til I can get everything together?"

"No, I want to go now while I still know where she is. Just hurry, please."

The hanger was almost a fifteen minute walk away from the centre of the complex but I didn't care. I was running like my life depended on it. I had to get to her.

Letta was standing in the middle of the hanger, boxing with the punching bag. She stopped and looked at me with the infuriating ever-pleasant smile on her face. "Hello, Taylor. I was just working out. Did you want something?"

"Unless you can reanimate the dead, then I think your head on a platter will do nicely."

Her face fell. "What are you on about, Taylor? Sweetie, are you feeling well?"

"Cut the crap, Letta, I know it was you. It was you who changed the database to frame Anika, it was you who was working in China on the Gregory Bayer mission. It was you who killed my sister. I'm feeling fucking peachy, but I can guarantee that in a few minutes you won't."

She held her hands up, fear evident in her eyes. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't blow your brains out now."

"Taylor you've got to be mistaken, I mean, I..." Then she burst out laughing. Her eyes were looking a spot over my shoulder. "I'm sorry, G. I couldn't keep it up," she breathed out through her giggles.

"Who the fuck is G?" I looked over my shoulder to find Adam with gun in hand, pointed at my head.

"It's alright, babe, I know you can't help it. To be fair it was pretty funny."

"Adam, what's going on?"

"I've got to admit, Taylor, I'm impressed that you found out, though I'm sure it wasn't you that did all the work, was it?"

"I knew there was something up with that damn letter; it just took me a while to notice. As Sam said before, Becca was good at leaving information in unlikely places."

"My question is though, Letta, how the hell did Becca know you were the leak?"

"I don't know, G, you know how Becca was but we dealt with her so what does it matter?" She was so blasé about the fact she'd killed her. I wanted to break her face.

"You know, Taylor," Anis said. "You're completely right about everything you said. She won't be feeling peachy any time soon."

She laughed nervously. "Don't be silly, G."

"I'm not being silly at all. The thing is, Letta, as sweet as you are, you just aren't as good as Becca was. Even in death she tipped people off about you. You're an unnecessary risk. I can't chance people finding me because of you."

"G, baby? What are you talking about?" The simpering, stuttering drawl of a whore who knows she's in trouble. I had no sympathy for her, even as I knew I should be scared for my life.

"You led Taylor straight to us, he's not even in our business and he tracked you down." His gun was still trained to my head. How the fuck could I get out of this?

"But we can destroy all the things Becca left, no-one else will ever suspect."

"Come on, we all know it's past that. If Sam doesn't know who's behind all this by now then he's not the man I thought he was."

"Then what are you planning? You can't leave me here. Please, G, I'll spend the rest of my life in a cell. I can't live like that! I couldn't live if you left me."

"You really couldn't live without me?" He lowered his gun from my head, finger still on the trigger. His eyes met hers, shining with something indefinable.

"Never, G."

"Oh, ok then."

I didn't even have time to flinch at the sound of the gun like I thought I might. I closed my eyes slowly, but I was surprised to find I wasn't in pain, or bleeding. I opened my eyes just in time to see Letta fall to the floor with a sickening thud.

Adam's face was contorted into a look of disgust. Both had tiny specks of her blood on us. My shudder was uncontrollable.

"She was such a stupid bitch. How she ever got onto the team I don't know." He turned to me again. "And now you, Taylor."

Stop him, stall him, say anything, damn it!

"Why all this? Why her? Why my sister!"

"You're so naive, Tay my dear. What's the use of people like us when half of Britain could be wiped out by a single biological weapon before we could even get a cure on the starting line; those who make the disease, however, will develop a cure before using it. What is this you ask? This is security, this is a guaranteed stake in that cure and whoever manufactures it. This is having enough money to never have to work another day, risking myself for people who don't even know who I am."

"So this is what it all comes down to? Money?"

"Money and power, Taylor. It's all this world ever comes down to."

My laugh was mirthless. "I think you forgot something."

"And that is?"

"Love."

"Ah yes, your dearly beloved freak of a sister."

"You loved her too, don't pretend you didn't. I might not be trained in reading emotions but I'm not blind to them either."

"What does it matter if I cared a little? I didn't care enough to want her alive and in my way, and I don't care that she's gone. Honestly, Taylor I'm sorry to wrap you up in all this, but you and Beth just aren't that important enough the grand scheme of things." The latch clicked. "I could have let you be, but I really needed to find out what Becca knew. It's ok; you'll be with her soon."

As soon as I saw it I thought that I was hallucinating, or perhaps already dead, because truly, this couldn't be real, I was imagining things, right?

"He most certainly will." Those soft lips whispered in my captor's ear. "But not in the way you're thinking." She held a tube of lipstick to Adam's back. "I know these things are short range, but at point blank I don't think it matters much, does it?"

It was a pop more than a bang, and Adam didn't collapse as Letta had. Becca held him as she lowered them both to the floor, laying him down, the dying man's against his chest, rocking him like a child. Becca was crying silently, soft tears falling over pale skin. There was a gasp from Adam. "How?"

"It was just my shoulder, she didn't check. I've been back for a while now."

A smile graced Adam's face "Stupid." And then he spoke no more. Becca checked his pulse but didn't let go once it faded underneath her fingers.

"Call it." Becca said out loud. From the shadows stepped Samuel and Beth. He checked his watch.

"Adam Baker, died 18.41." he stated before walking over to Letta, taking her limp hand, even though the prognosis was obvious.

"Letta Pechner, declared dead 18.42." He stood and looked around the dank room. "Ugh, I hate clean up duty."

"Thank you, Taylor," Sam said to me. "We had started to suspect that we had a leak, I just wish it hadn't taken so long to find them,"

"And Beth," he said, turning to her, "I'm so sorry about Anika, you weren't the only one he had fooled.

"Your house has been left the way it was before this whole ordeal. You shouldn't find anything missing. It was wonderful to meet you, hopefully I won't be needing to see either of you again." He shook my hand once, then turned around. "You can go home now, Becca, I'm sure Beth will have a change of clothes for you back in the sleeping quarters. You can take the week off if you want." Beth was at my side in an instant, waiting for Becca to join us, waiting for us to become the three musketeers once again, even if a little battered and broken.

Becca gave an almost imperceptible nod. "I'm sorry," she whispered, placing a kiss on her mentor's frozen lips before lowering his body to the floor. She gracefully unfolded himself from his kneeling position, her eyes still lowered to the ground.

"Becca." She looked up at me. She may have been blood stained and teary eyed, but to me she was the most beautiful person in the world. She gave me a shaky smile before stepping towards me.

"This isn't really how I wanted to see you again." she stopped a little away from the two of us, unsure, but I opened my arms.

"Don't worry, this shirt is already ruined." That was all it took for her to cling to me. I held him so tightly; I was scared that if I let go for even a second he would disappear again. Beth hovered by us, but I pulled her into the hug, just because I didn't love her in the same way as I did Becca didn't mean I didn't love her. All three of us were in this together, always.

"Are you really here?" Beth asked into her twin's shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Beth, Taylor."

"I'm hearing that phrase a lot today." She chuckled wetly.

"I'm..."

"You don't need to be." I insisted, "You're here aren't you? Just stay with us." I pressed my lips lightly against hers, for the first time in what felt like forever.

"Take me home, please." I wrapped my arm around her waist as Beth wrapped an arm around her shoulders and we walked out the door in comfortable silence, the strange three headed creature, travelling in the general direction of the central buildings. Not caring to greatly when we got there.

"So, Becca." I started after about ten minutes.

"Yes."

"Six languages?"

"Roughly."

"Any of those French?"

"Naturelment."

"Because you know that's very sexy." I raised my eyebrows in what I hoped was a suggestive way.

"Vraiment?"

"Hell yes." The light laugh that bubbled forth from her lips was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard.

"Peut-être nous pourrions examiner cette théorie plus tard."

"I don't even know what that meant and I'm already excited."

"No offense guys," Beth said from her side of Becca, "But I don't want to hear you flirting in English, let alone a whole host of other languages."

I laughed loudly with one arm still wrapped securely around her waist, and tried, unsuccessfully to clip her round the back of the head. I could have managed more easily if I had been willing to let go of Becca, but I was determined to never let her go again. We walked back inside from the bright sunlight into the entrance hall. In the hall were two men I didn't know. One of them I didn't recognise; the other was Gregory Bayer. Dr. Bayer was pushing the wheelchair the stranger was sitting in.

"I don't need this Greg, honestly." Gregory, however, was having none of it.

"Michael, four days ago you got shot it the abdomen, I think you're going to be off your feet for a while, don't you?"

I looked at Becca. "What are they here for? Shouldn't he be in a hospital?"

"They're just being debriefed." Becca insisted, "Michael was in the hospital for a couple of days. He should be alright. The bullet missed any vital organs so he'll be back to normal in a few weeks."

I had to admit I hadn't a clue what was going on or what had just happened. I was still trying to process everything, but what I knew now was that I had Becca back. The last three months had been like a fog and now that it had lifted I couldn't bring myself to care. I knew what had happened would hit me sooner or later, it would hit all of us eventually and we would have to cry and grieve, and probably throw things. Especially Beth, but for now I had her and Becca and that was the best feeling in the world.