All new agents have required therapy sessions. Please attend your scheduled time, and be courteous to the other agents that have been assigned to your group.
“Camo, why are you the only one here?” Doctor Shorn asked as she glanced between her watch and the list of names. There were three people in each group, and the other two in Camo’s group were attempting to find a way out of the mandatory session. They didn’t want to discuss their feelings, their story, and how they were affected by the cover story CIRA had given them when they were recruited. They just wanted to move on.
Camo didn’t need a cover story. She had been picked up in a raid against the Cardoza Cartel after they attempted to murder her. As far as they were concerned she died in that raid, and wouldn’t come looking for her. They made sure that even when she did leave she wouldn’t be recognized. Complete with a constant spray tan to cover her pale white skin, colored contacts, and even small facial surgery to prevent facial recognition. She was safe, and had chosen to join on her own. That also left her wondering why she had been called in for the session, but either way she was just here to get it done with; unlike her two coworkers.
Camo was about to answer when the door behind her burst open. Threats and foul words streamed into the room as Demon, the leader of their small team, carried Night Stripe into the room against her will. Demon had her slung over his shoulder, her umber hair covering her face as she struggled to get loose. Her attempts including hits wherever she could land them, and was flailing in an attempt to break his grip; it didn’t work.
“If you don’t put me down right now,” Night Stripe started to threaten before Demon dropped her into the chair the therapist had left open for her.
“There you’re down. Now stay there until this is over,” Demon ordered. He waited for Night Stripe to show that she heard him, but when she opened her mouth he stopped her. “I don’t want to hear anymore excuses. You don’t want to train, you just want a way out. I’ll be right outside that door,” he said gesturing to the only way in or out of this room. There weren’t even windows for her to squeeze out of. “Don’t try going anywhere.”
Night Stripe folded her arms over her chest groaned as she gave in and laid on the seat Demon had dropped her into.
“Nice to see you, Night Stripe. Do you know where the other agent is?” Dr. Shorn questioned.
“Behind you,” a deep voice stated.
All eyes turned to him as he walked into the room, Demon glancing inside to make sure Night Stripe was still present, and took his seat next to Camo. He was tall, about 6”5, with a short military haircut, hazel eyes and a smile that seemed take most of the female agents breath away.
“Renegade,” Dr. Shorn said with a smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. This meeting has ben far too long over due.”
“Five years, ma’am,” he said letting the southern drawl slip through in his words.
As they conversed about why he was so far behind on this session, Camo leaned over tapped Night Stripe, who seemed to be sleeping, on the shoulder. When Night Stripe turned around to face her Camo pointed to Renegade.
“He looks like Jackson,” Camo observed. “Don’t you think so?” While he had the same height, and build Night Stripe wasn’t so sure. Jackson Reeves was someone she only knew from a hitman’s file. He was on the man’s list to kill, and Camo had gotten the idea that they would make a wonderful couple. After getting past the fact that Night Stripe worked for a top secret agency, couldn’t leave the building yet due to her house arrest, and that she wouldn’t be able to tell him anything except that if she did, she’d have to kill him.
“He’s not Jackson,” Night Stripe snapped. “Jackson’s hair is blond, Renegade’s is black. Besides other obvious things, it’s clear he’s not Jackson Reeves. So let it go.”
“Why are you interested in Jackson Reeves?” Renegade questioned.
Night Stripe glared daggers at Camo, who leaned back in her chair to avoid the stare. Night Stripe had wanted her to drop the topic since she brought the files home. She had no intensions of meeting or being with Jackson. It wasn’t possible. It wouldn’t be possible even if she could meet him. Or so she thought. Renegade was after all in disguise. The black hair dye hadn’t washed out yet, and just underneath the fake color was the blond hair Night Stripe knew him by.
“I’m not,” Night Stripe insisted.
“What if I told you I knew where he was? Would you tell me what’s so special about him to you then?”
“Nothing about him is special to me.” She growled, hoping to show that she didn’t want to talk to him about it. “I shredded his file. I kept him out of harms way. I killed the man that was after him. I did my job. That’s all there is, and that’s all there will ever be.”
“You know, I’ll have you eventually right?” Renegade said with a suggestive eyebrow lift. The gesture was lost on Night Stripe, but Camo caught it. She hit her friend, who hit her back, and told her that he was Jackson.
“Oh, that’s interesting,” Dr. Shorn interrupted as she jotted down a few notes. “So you’ve been infatuated with who he was after you saved him from the hit man. Now that you know he’s an agent, do you see a future with each other?”
Night Stripe rolled her eyes, and was about to protest when Renegade beat her to the punch.
“I’m all for it, but clearly she’s playing hard to get,” he said with a smile. “I’ll wait and see if she changes her mind. I like the punk thing she has going on, and when she’s not being forced into something I hear she has an infectious personality.” He flashed Night Stripe a wink, which caused Camo to nudge her. She wanted her to take a chance, but Night Stripe had other ideas.
She shoved Camo back, forcing her out of her chair and onto the ground before turning her attention back to Renegade. While she did find him attractive, she wasn’t sure she was ready to let him in and tell him what her life had been like before CIRA recruited her. It was surely send him running for the hills. That’s why she liked the idea of him, not knowing that he was with her and fearing what he would do once he knew about her past.
What better time than now? At least she thought she could know before she got too attached.
“I’d like to see you try once you know about my past,” she said with a wicked smile. She thought she knew how he would react, but everyone was in for surprises.
“That’s a good topic to start off with, Night Stripe. Would you like to talk about your suicide attempt or the accident prior to the attempt?” Dr. Shorn asked, waiting patiently for Night Stripe to answer.
“You tried to kill yourself?” Camo asked, suddenly worried for her friend, who she thought she knew everything about.
“You have no right to bring that up in front of them. It’s personal!” Night Stripe cried.
“So is saying that Camo got her tattoo to cover her cuts from her attempt, or that Renegade is currently spending every free minute he has tracking down the person who killed Ash Crest.” She paused and let the statement sink in, but Night Stripe fought her reaction. She knew that eventually someone would figure out she was the one who killed him. Renegade would be furious, and she’d lose someone else, someone she didn’t even know yet. “Renegade left a sister behind, just like you left behind your family, and Camo let her only surviving relative vanish. You’re not the only one here with a story.”
“I know I’m not. I also know I’m not the only one with a heartbreaking one either, but we aren’t in here to talk about how I attempted to take my own life. I’m not here to talk about the stigma surrounding depression in our society. I don’t need to explain to you how it felt when I lost most of my friends, because let’s face it the second you tell someone you’re depressed, they run away. But when I had a cast on my leg, everyone ran to sign it. That’s not support, support comes from the few friends that stayed with me. We aren’t here to talk about how somewhere in the world, every 30 seconds, someone takes their own life over depression. I can’t explain to you that you don't beat it once and it's gone forever. I can’t ask someone to change their life like I did. I can only tell them that they can fight it, it is a sickness, and they can survive it like I did. I have hope for them and others.” Night Stripe had effectively silenced whatever anyone else had to say and she had enough sharing for one day. “I’m done with this! I don’t care what Demon does to me. I’m not sticking around to explain to anyone my depression.”
As she turned to leave, Renegade got up, rushing to comfort her. Before he could reach her, Dr Shorn had one more question for her.
“How about talking about what happened with Ash Crest?”
Renegade stopped, glancing back at Shorn and then to Camo. It was clear they knew something he didn’t. He retracted his hand before it could touch her shoulder. Though seeing the clear tension that had seized her body only made him want to comfort her more, but he may not get to know what news she had on Ash Crest, the man who killed his parents.
“I killed him,” she spoke. “That’s it. Nothing more.” Without another word she walked out of the room, only to be yelled at by Demon for leaving before the session was over.
“You should go after her,” Camo said. “She killed him to save you, and countless others. She’s not happy about what she did. She never wanted to kill someone, but she did it to save lives. Don’t hate her because she took away your chance for revenge. She did you favor, including saving your sister.”
Renegade nodded, before asking to make sure he could leave. When Shorn said he could go he raced after Night Stripe, leaving Camo and Shorn alone again.
“So why did we have this session? It didn’t accomplish anything except make Night Stripe upset, and Renegade chase after her.”
Shorn smiled. “That seems like a pretty good session to me. Night Stripe said everything she had to, and will grow to recover from her ordeal with the right people by her side. Which Renegade will happily take one of those slots, and be there for her now that he knows what she did for him and his sister. They have a bond over Ash Crest, he took both their families from them, and they can be there for each other.”
“Camo, you’re so worried about staying hidden. You’re hiding from your friends. You’re so worried about Night Stripe’s suicide attempt because you know her feelings. You’ve been there, and you could lapse back into it. I brought up Night Stripe’s problems so you and Renegade know that she will understand. Talk to her about it, let her help you, and be there for her as well. You’ll all do remarkable things. These sessions are just so you know that you’re not alone.” She smiled and rose from her seat, exiting the room and leaving Camo alone, but not really.
She had a family here, a real one, not one that used her for a drug trade. They tried to kill her, and kill her family. At least here she knew that she had people that cared for her. Maybe she’d be able to open up to them, and understand that they wouldn’t betray her as the cartel had done.
“Thanks Shorn. I needed this more than either of them.”
Releases June, 21st 2015