Paris, a Girl, and a Counter-terrorist

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: April 15, 2017

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Submitted: April 15, 2017

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Paris, A Girl, and A Counter-terrorist 


Clint had wanted a quick break. He’s not needed at the moment, so he’s walking to that comfy looking bar down the street, nothing fancy but certainly not a hole in the wall. The patrons seem just a little younger than him, some of them sitting at booth tables, some of them at the bar itself. There’s something innocent about them, the way they carry themselves so relaxed, so oblivious. He takes a seat at the bar and orders Dos Equis. He wasn’t planning on really drinking, just giving himself the illusion. His phone buzzes. He pulls it out of his pants pocket, types in the lock code, and reads the message.

“Meet confirmed. Need you ETA 15min.”

It’s his team leader, a former SEAL and a fairly strict man, going by the name Riker. Clint doesn’t know his real name, or the names of any of them, for that matter, and they don’t know his. They don’t talk about how they got here or what units they were in, but there are hints in their habits and conversation. It didn’t take long for Riker to figure out that Clint had been an Army Ranger before this.
They all get along like new friends a football team or whatever sport one wants to form the analogy with, but one small problem will keep Clint from ever being one of them. They are here because they wanted to serve. He’s here because he had no where else to go. A few years ago his world shook him fiercely, smashing him against the walls like a piñata. As he cracked and fractured, out poured pure anger and confusion. He was just 22 then. His family tried to pull him back, telling him this wouldn’t bring them back. He ignored them, which led him here, a dark puddle on a cold tile floor no one is sure how to clean. 

He doesn’t call his parents, his grand-parents, his sisters, his brothers, or his aunts and uncles very often. What’s he going to tell them? He obviously can’t tell them he’s a counter-terrorist illegally operating in France with the unofficial permission of the French government. The rest has already been said, or they’ve figured it out on their own. There’s his former unit of course, the last group he called home, but they’ve all moved on in their careers and he can’t tell them specifics. Riker disapproves of reaching out to old friends while they’re stationed here. It could jeopardize their covers.

The beer arrives. He takes a long, methodical sip, the taste of the alcohol temporarily washing away the gravity of his thoughts like cheap polish on a pair of shoes. 

He takes a glance around, and then it hits him. He doesn’t look or carry himself like the other patrons, breaking the first rule of the “grey man”, as his SERE trainer called it. He stands out, because he’s in a fucking student bar. 

“Hey you!”

He turns around with his beer still in hand, his stomach flipping, his survival instincts alarmed by the attention. His training and experiences ensure that he reveals nothing.

A beautiful brunette is biting her lower lip with a smile. She sits back, relaxed and alert, her legs crossed. She seems like the type who won’t take no for answer. 
She’s with group of women at the wrap around table to his right. A few of them are blushing, the rest are smiling like it’s an inside joke or they have something to prove. The woman who called out to him is the only one drinking a glass of water. He guesses she’s maybe 28.

He smiles skeptically.

“Come over here. I have an important question for you.” She beckons him with her index finger. 

He’s not sure how to proceed. He could ignore her, could leave, could walk over. Tactically, the least acceptable is walking over. He will cease to be a grey man. The one thing he knows is his desire to walk over. He spends a moment mulling it over.

Fuck it...

His heart rate picks up a bit as he slides off the seat and defies his trained instincts. The women around her hush excitedly as she and Clint hold each other’s gaze.

He sits across from her.

“Well?”, he asks with faux attitude.

“Are you a banker?”

He coughs a laugh and smiles.

No…I’m a guy that kills bad guys...

Yet, that just so happens to be his cover and part of his educational background. She is good.

“You have my attention.”

She lights up like a child who just had her wish granted. She looks over at one her friends with an arrogant smirk and beckons with her hand. “Hand it over.”

He smiles with slight bewilderment once he realizes there was a wager on whether or not this woman could guess his occupation. Her friend passes over bills with vague but forgiving annoyance—20$ worth of Euros. She twists and shuffles around in her purse, storing the bills. 

“How did you guess?”

“You’re wearing loafers— good ones. That shirt is Scotch & Soda. You’re wearing a Bespoke jacket. You ordered imported beer. So, obviously you’re important.”

She winks her eyebrow at him as if to say “how do you like me now?”.

That was something his team picked up on as well— his style. He realized this when he was asked “what’s prep school like?”.

Clint finds that his desire to stay disciplined and leave is eroding.

“What’s your name?”

She holds out her hand professionally.

“Olivia.”
He shakes it firmly.

“Eli.”

“You don’t look like an Eli”, she says with gentler eyes, as like he’s not making the cut. 

She’s guessed he’s a banker, which is partially true. Part of him wonders if her latest statement should concern him.

Is this random woman I’ve met in a bar, really going to be the one person that breaks my cover?

“Observant and perceptive. You must do well in art school.”

She cocks her head curiously, then smiles and lifts her chin.

He sniffs a laugh. It didn’t take her long to figure out how he guessed it. The Paris College of Art is a matter of blocks from here.

“You could’ve been wrong, you know”, she says cockily.

He finally takes another sip of his beer, not saying a word. He puts it down and pulls back his jacket sleeve to check his watch. He needs to go. His will team need him in a moment, and “went to see about a girl” is certainly not an excuse for matters of national security. “It was really nice meeting you, but I have to go.”

Her friends all turn to look at her with wide urgent eyes and parted lips. She throws them a sideways glance and ruffles in her purse to pull out a pen. She takes napkin and writes down a series of numbers. When she’s finished, she slides it over like a mystery envelope she wants to watch him open. 

He looks between the napkin and her and takes it, somewhat unsure.

He spends the rest of the night quietly watching a suspected terrorist through the scope of a sniper rifle, listening to his team though a radio. Depending on what happens next, he could receive the order to shoot. He keeps his finger on the trigger with cynical and algorithmic anticipation.

Later, he lays back in his bed, all cleaned up, his equipment stowed, his backups locked and loaded in their hiding places.

He holds the napkin in his hands, tracing his thumb over the digits repeatedly, knowing all too well that he hasn’t felt what he felt tonight since he was 22. If Riker finds out, he won’t approve of more than casual and distant. Then again, his mother and his sisters won’t approve of anything less than the beginning of a relationship; somehow they always seem to know, even if he’s miles away. He’s not sure who worries him more.

He carefully types it in number by number, breathing deeply, as if he’s entering the deactivation code for a bomb, and presses call.

“Hello?”, Olivia answers cheerfully.

“Hi.”

“I was wondering if you’d call.”

He remarks with the whole truth for once.

“So was I.”

 

 


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