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The Best Defense

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It’s three a.m. and the street is still wet from the rain. I’m walking home. It’s later than I thought; my colleagues gone, nothing or nobody preventing me from burying myself in research and only coming out of my daze when it's done.

I like my work. It’s diverse, with just enough danger to hold my interest. I’m good at what i do - the best, some would say. But lately, I’ve started feeling like I should watch my back. I’m not beloved by all, not by a long shot. There are people who want me gone. Gone as in eliminated, disposed of, dead. People are threatened by me. Part of my role in a team entails keeping a close eye on every person in it. Not everyone can appreciate that.

My footsteps echo through the empty road. Or - is that a second set of footsteps? Another person, trying to blend into my own loud disruption of the nightly quiet?

Quiet, I tell my thoughts. Quiet. There’s no need to be paranoid. Just keep on walking, pace unchanged, posture relaxed. Just keep on. Nobody is following me. Eames is not following me.

I turn a corner and wait, gun drawn. All sounds slowly silence.

Do I hear a raspy intake of breath?

It can’t be him.

What if it is?

Eames is stronger. More used to fighting dirty. A brawler pur sang, but he knows how to finish someone as well. I’ve seen it often enough, both here and under. Under, he’s smooth as a snake, deadly as one. I would never see it coming.

Almost there. The last stretch to my room is a long lane, buildings vacant. Nobody here to hear me.

I arrive at my motel and unbolt my crappy lock, hands shaking.

Eames is just where I left him, gagged and cuffed to the radiator. The wound on his temple seems to have stopped bleeding.

He’s staring right at me, eyes black and violent.

I exhale slowly, my nerves finally settling. "Good, you're still here. Let’s get started, shall we?”