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He should be there.

The thought surged through him for the thousandth time as he stopped short of the wall with a frustrated huff and turned sharply to pace in the other direction again.

Logically, of course, he absolutely should not be. He checked his watch again. Cracking his fingers one by one, rolling his neck, forcing his breath steady, he went through it all in his head. Again.

He was too emotional about this kind of thing, too involved in this particular situation, and always too impulsive even when the situation didn't involve his best friend and a predator in a small, enclosed, mobile space where a thousand things could go wrong at any second. (Kick was exactly the same, the petty part of his brain argued. And they don't need two wild cards, the logical part countered.)

And this train of thought was only making him more emotional and less calm.

He checked his watch again. Huffed out another breath. Kicked the other wall in passing as he turned again, using the shock and slight, sharp pain to ground himself and pull him away from the swirling vortex of terror.

Okay, point one was "too emotional." (Hypothesis tested and confirmed.)

Point two: for all that Kick had insisted on training him and for all that he both logically understood the need for him to be able to defend himself and in fact wanted to, he was as much a failure at it as he had always been at pretty much anything else that involved physical coordination and/or upper body strength. His best move remained the little gem he liked to call "the splash and dash" or "pepper spray and run away." In a pinch and with (probably more than) a little luck, he could maybe manage to get away from an attacker, even without his handy pepper spray/taser combo thing Kick had given him, if he didn't manage to injure himself, but actually doing damage to the bad guy? Enough to rescue someone else? Yeah, right. If he were present in a dangerous situation, he'd just get in the way of the actual agents and he knew—in his mind, where his actual abilities did lay—that would be a serious problem. Bad for everyone involved. He would probably only get himself or Kick or Frank or any of the other agents injured.

He checked his watch again.

Wall. Turn.

Point three: he was the computer guy. The eye in the sky. The man behind the magic. Central intelligence. Like everyone else around here was at their best out "in the field," he was at his best in here. And he was the best in here. This ridiculous(ly cool) plane was where he could be the most help (and most likely safest, coward). When the time came (he checked his watch again), he would be needed to monitor the response to Kick's ride request (waiting; already pulled up on the screen and running), track her phone (automated), run license plates (whenever they gave him one), and confirm the guy's ID (when they caught up to him—if they caught up to him—don't go there)—all of that was waiting on everything else to happen, but it would still be needed. When the time came. He checked his watch again. Just because he had nothing to do right this second (or the 1,390 seconds before it), did not mean he wasn't helping.


He stood blinking at it, logic processes shorting.

He should be there.

He should be there.

Kick was brave, there was no denying that, but she wasn't fearless, like she liked to pretend and like he always pretended with her, and she was getting into a car with a grade A creep, knowingly, in a stupid echo of when she got into that other car with him all those years ago. She could deny it all she wanted—had, and would continue to—but she still had all the old nightmares and he knew she had to be at least as scared as he was and he should be there because none of the agents really understood, not like he did, and she might need him. Might need more than they could give her.

He should be there, because people weren't computers. They didn't run entirely on logic; they also ran on emotions and instinct and that wasn't a bad thing and it shouldn't be ignored and just because she was logically the best candidate and he logically shouldn't be there didn't mean—

She was in danger. Not more danger than she'd ever been in, not a kind of danger that she'd never been in, but that was exactly the problem. She was literally facing her exact fears. She was facing something horrible and terrifying and triggering and traumatic, even if nothing went even the slightest bit wrong with their plan, and having FBI agents—even Frank—nearby wasn't enough to counteract that. He should be there.

He understood what was going to happen to her—maybe even better than she did, because she liked to ignore her problems and dismiss therapy a lot more than could be sanely considered healthy and he was a reasonable kidnap victim—and he was miles away, listening.

He should be there.

He checked his watch again.

He should be there.