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Covert Operations

Chapter Text

Covert Operations

The Dragon rises up his back

In daylight near and far

He soars at night with deadly eye

Beneath the moon and star

The Rising Dragon!

 

Be cautious of its ruthless ways

This enigma to the night

For the Dragon bears upon his wings

A chilling tale of fright

The Rising Dragon

 

“Death with Honour” its way of life

With motto “Strength by Dare”

Once you yield fear nought … but

When it seeks you, beware!

The Rising Dragon!

In the early hours of the morning Section One operative Claire Beauchamp was in a sound but restless sleep. Her mind, however, was filled with the images of her partner and mentor Jamie Fraser and herself on last night’s mission together.

Waiting in a darkened city street outside the nightclub, we wait to seize the two heroin dealers and lovers whom we are to replace on an upcoming mission. They are to be our point of entry to our target’s party circle and his dealings with Red Cell. I keep glancing into the alleyway to see if they are coming … but Jamie is somewhat distracted … which is most unusual for him.

I have been a little flippant with him tonight joking about our so-called “date” and the setting where it was happening and I feel like teasing him just a bit more. “You always take me to such nice places, James Fraser.”

He keeps looking at me as if he wants to commit me to memory … as if he can’t get enough of me. I watch his eyes as they caress my features over and over. Moving right into my space … Jamie overwhelms me. I can barely breathe let alone think properly. He is so close to my face that I can taste his lips and feel the soft, warm caress of his words.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Laying in her bed, Claire smiled languorously in her dream-induced sleep as Jamie Fraser’s words and actions washed over her.

Leaning into me while we are waiting for the targets to appear, the soft timbre of Jamie’s voice affects my senses.

“Where are you staying tonight?”

His words sent a tingle running down her spine and she recalled the soft whisper of his breath near her cheek as they were uttered. Unconsciously Claire sighed in her sleep as her body had seemed to gravitate to the gorgeous man who was her enigmatic partner. Jamie’s words had sent her heart fluttering as to the underlying innuendo of those five softly spoken words against her cheek. It had been dark in the alleyway but she wondered had he been able to see the vein throb in her neck or see that her face was a little flushed or that her eyes had slightly glazed over with a hopeful but questioning look?

Her eyelids twitched and a little grin crossed her mouth as if she was remembering the satisfied reply of her answer.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“They’ve assigned me to temporary quarters not far from my little apartment.”

I look disdainfully around the alleyway that we are waiting in observing the background of noisy traffic, rubbish bins and drunks walking by. Taking one look at the setting and then looking at James Fraser, I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of our surroundings. Catching his gaze as he studies me I reply light heartedly, “I’ve got to say, my new pad’s almost as nice as this.”

Jamie smiles at me with this quirky little grin that I just love when the sides of his mouth bow in a conspiratorial way. “For how long?” He inquires hopefully.

“Two weeks.” I answer.

I know that thought processes are obviously churning over in Jamie’s head. I know those blank stares of his. They infuriate me at times but they speak so much without words. He replies somewhat tongue in cheek, but I’m sure he means every word he says. I can see it in his eyes. They sparkle with mischief.

“You could stay with me.”

Jamie strokes my shoulders leisurely with his gentle but strong hands. Caressing my body through my clothes … it feels as if I have nothing on at all. The heat of his touch is scorching me. It burns right to the core of my being. I’m on fire for more than just my partner’s potent caresses. I close my eyes … I can’t look at him for fear I will be roasted alive. I feel the heat shoot through my body at his nearness as my nerve endings tingle with desire.

I can’t help it … I groan. “Ahh! Jam -ie!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tossing and turning Claire called out again to Jamie in her sleep. Groaning incoherently, his name echoed in her room as she writhed in her bed feeling his tender touch on her body. Jamie’s caresses never failed to set off alarm bells ringing inside her. Even the mere thought of this man touching her ignited her senses making Claire long for something real from him … something that was a little bit more intense … something that would leave her smouldering with unbridled want and need.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Are you asking me to move in with you?”

I say to him … but in my mind I relay my real thoughts and answer, “Oh my God! I hope that IS what he is asking …YES! YES! YES! Please…” I yearn to say instead.

He is so hard to read at times but the next words out of his mouth in that sexy Scottish brogue nearly render me speechless. “You’d be more comfortable.”

I can hardly believe what I am hearing from James Fraser. I feel faint. Oh, how I have longed to hear such words uttered from his mouth … but I can’t help but wonder how serious Jamie is about his proposition so I ask.

“Well, is this for two weeks or were you thinking of something a little more … permanent?”

Before I have barley finished speaking his eyes seize mine. I cannot breathe … I’m riveted. His eyes are mesmerizing. Trapping me in his sights, Jamie’s eyes show he means every word. I stand transfixed before him … lost to him.

“We’d have more privacy,” he says.

We are so close that every time we talk, we are almost kissing. In fact his lips do brush mine but it is not enough … not nearly enough. However much I love his soft caresses … I want him to deepen the connection and ravish me like he’d done once before. I want to go off like a firecracker … just like I did on that special night on the boat in Lyons. Primal … feral … wanton. If only he would take me … here … now … in the alleyway … I really don’t care … I just want him to kiss me passionately, deeply … and senseless.

Although my mind wants more, my lips are content to feel Jamie’s lips gently caress mine as each wonderful word leaves his mouth with sincerity and intent. His eyes … the windows to his soul are laid bare for me to see the depth of his feelings. I know what he wants to do because I want the same thing. But I lower my gaze to his fingertips lightly caressing my lips then gaze back up into his eyes saying, “And how is it, that you think that we’re going to get away with that?”

But James Fraser doesn’t answer me … his lips zero in on mine and he begins to…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Brrr brrr … brrr brrr …

Before Claire even had enough time to waken properly from the wonderful erotic dream she was having, her cell phone echoed in her apartment.

Brrr brrr … brrr brrr …

“Aarrgghhhh!” she mumbled incoherently as the incessant ringing eventually woke her up.

Grunting, Claire rubbed her eyes, then reaching out her hand searched for where she had left the phone. Moaning loudly into her darkened bedroom she picked it up reluctantly from the bedside table. With eyes still closed and her body tingling from the visions of her pleasurable dream Claire lay back on her bed and reluctantly answered in a husky voice, “Yeah …?”

Surprisingly enough the main focus of her vivid dream was the very person on the other end of the line.

“Jos-e-phine …”

The sexy timbre of Jamie’s voice caressed Claire’s ear as if a kiss had been planted there instead. In her dream, he had just been about to kiss her … but here he was using her code name and asking her to come into Section. Begrudgingly glancing at the clock illuminating the room in the darkness, Claire focused on the early hour of the day. Although this was not unusual procedure for Section One, Claire hated these early morning wake up calls, but Jamie had called her in as a matter of urgency for a new mission was being profiled.

Turning off her cell phone, Claire moaned into her pillow.

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 2

 

The recalled Section One operatives were all assembled around the table for the briefing meeting; their minds focused on private thoughts they alone knew. Downtime had been cancelled and those operatives not on Close Quarter Standby had been called in at short notice earlier this morning for the important Intel on their next mission. Madeline Section's second-in-command and chief strategist had been the first to arrive and was already present when the others had filed in to take their seats. Claire, Rupert Mackenzie, Murtagh Fitzgibbons, Geillis Duncan and Jamie, all sat around the table waiting for Operations to arrive to commence the briefing knowing that whatever he was to say was going to require immediacy of action by the team. Who or whatever this terrorist organisation was, Jamie knew that their capture and elimination was Section One’s major objective.

Looking up at the sound of decisive footsteps, Geillis Duncan peeked sideways at Rupert sitting next to her, as Operations their superior strode purposefully into the room with Fergus Claudel, Section One’s computer whiz kid hot on his heels. While Fergus was seated Operations quickly glanced around at those gathered and acknowledged Madeline’s presence before commencing his update of known intelligence data on their target.

“Sun Yee Lok, known as “Dragon Head,” is the founder and supreme leader of The Rising Dragons. This feared and clandestine organization operates in Hong Kong and is the largest and most powerful of the Triads.”

Nodding towards his computer analyst, Fergus responded and quickly activated a hologram. Suddenly the faces of a few different Chinese and Caucasian people flashed across the screen and Operations proceeded once more with the briefing.

“From what scarce Intel we have, their leader Sun Yee Lok is an important Chinese underground syndicate tycoon of dubious background. He has a legitimate business known as The Yee Lok Commercial and Industrial Guild, which we believe is the principal centre for the Triad.”

Adding further Intel on their target Fergus continued. “He lives a very protected lifestyle in an enclave overlooking Hong Kong Bay; is hardly ever seen in and around Hong Kong, although his presence is felt in many fields such as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, banking, entertainment, horseracing and casinos in Macau and Mainland China. He is an elusive one.”

Operations surreptitiously observed his operatives as this information was relayed before once again taking control of the briefing. “The Rising Dragons is an extremely organised triad with syndicates of sophisticated criminals. Triad societies display degrees of hierarchy and these men and women are the suspected members of his inner circle.”

As Fergus showed scenes of places where the targets had been seen recently Operations continued. “In the last month though, his activities have escalated and Sun Yee Lok and his members have been living the high life on the profits from extortion money and gambling profits. We are waiting for him or his hierarchy to slip up somewhere in the future.”

Gesturing to the faces revolving on the screen Fergus added. “Any one of these men pictured could be him.”

Jamie asked a question. “Do we know anything about these other people?”

“They are involved in a variety of business activities, all of which are very lucrative. However, their main responsibility involves the different areas of the Rising Dragons’ many criminal activities … including extortion, blackmail and murder, kidnapping, migrant smuggling, illegal gambling and counterfeit currency, prostitution and pornography, arson, assault, loan sharking, criminal intimidation and street-level drug trafficking.”

“Boy! THAT is indeed some list!” Voiced Rupert incredulously.

“Yes! … THAT … is precisely why Section One is targeting their leader but … it is unknown exactly, which one is Sun Yee Lok. As you can see the list is endless, and we have dedicated over 20% of our resources to the pursuit of this one man. However, if we can infiltrate and eliminate these other members, we may be able to flush Sun Yee Lok out of hiding.” Operations declared.

Taking turns with Section One’s leader, Madeline continued, “Unfortunately the photographs are old. Although we have sketchy Intel of his influence all of which is supposition, intelligence on Sun Yee Lok himself is scarce, almost non-existent. What we do know is that the Rising Dragons now have far reaching membership with splinter groups in China, Thailand, Sydney and Montreal.”

“We’ve been monitoring his operation since they’ve expanded but it is Sun Yee Lok’s recent inroads into Canada that is very alarming, as it could filter over into the United States as well if we don’t eliminate him and as many of his followers as possible.”

“Do we have any operatives in place?” Jamie asked.

“We have a contact in Hong Kong … but not in Sun Yee Lok’s inner circle, although the Hong Kong police may have more up to date information.”

“Intel about recent activities that have the Rising Dragons’ signature all over them have also intercepted. There is indication that the Rising Dragons are stepping up their campaign of terror in Hong Kong and this won’t be tolerated.”

Watching proceeding for his cue Fergus then activated a picture of a vessel at sea. “This Chinese junk has been drifting in the South China Sea and there is every indication that the Rising Dragons are responsible. A prominent Chinese government official’s recent disappearance and probable murder may be attributed to this group as they often use junks to commit these crimes which go unnoticed in the open sea. We suspect foul play of this man for failure to comply to their demands.”

Operations finally bought the briefing to a conclusion. “This morning we pinpointed the location. We need to get on top of this ASAP. It seems that the Rising Dragons have increased their murderous activities once more. We need 100% containment on this. Sun Yee Lok is our major target through any means necessary. Jamie, assemble your team. Claire, you will proceed to Hong Kong independently and report to a Superintendent Xiao Zheng of the Hong Kong police. That will be all. All other details are on your panels.”

 

Meanwhile ... somewhere in the South China Sea

 

Serene.

Peaceful.

Calm.

There was nothing for miles around … just the quiet glide of wood on water and the gentle lapping of the sea swell against the bows of the rickety old boat.

However, on the junk an eerie silence abounded.

The only noises that could be heard in an otherwise still environment were the creaking of deck wood echoing as it bobbed to and fro while drifting aimlessly in the vast surrounds of the ocean and the shrill cries of some seagulls filling the air.

On board though ... was … a deadly cargo.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In Systems, James Fraser stood behind Fergus Claudel watching as he punched up a computerized radar depiction of the South China Sea indicating the location of the vessel he had mentioned at the briefing.

With eyes fixed on the screen Fergus relayed, “This junk has been drifting off the coast of Hong Kong for a few days but we have just narrowed down the coordinates. It has all the signs of the Rising Dragons involvement as they tend to use this method of abandonment at sea.”

“Start running the numbers Fergus, I want you to get me on that junk.”

“What do you want to do?” he enquired looking up at Jamie.

“Prepare a chopper and a zodiac. Do we have location?”

“Yes … But it’s too far off-shore Jamie. If anything goes wrong out there, you're alone.”

“Is Claire in position?” James asked ignoring his concern

“Yes, she’s in transit.”

“Then we proceed as profiled.”

“You want to use Abeyance Ops?”

“No. I'll use my Team … this is too important.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Hong Kong Water Police had been alerted to an abandoned junk seen floating for three days off the coast of Lamma Island in the South China Sea. Where it had come from and where it was going was unknown but more than probable it had originated in China and was making its way back to Aberdeen Bay. Thousands of junks found shelter from the seasonal typhoons in this unique fishing port on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Alternatively, it may have been bound for Victoria Harbour Kowloon. Here these rickety fishing vessels also found their way in and out of one of the world’s busiest harbours and it was where the traffic of junk boats was prolific as well.

The police were fully aware that not all of the watercraft traffic was on legitimate livelihood pursuits. Hong Kong was a melting pot of illicit trade coming and going from China, the surrounding islands and Asian countries and various contraband regularly changed hands out of sight of surveillance at sea. However, the police were too understaffed and seriously overworked to cope with the ever-increasing proliferation of drugs, people smuggling and illegal goings on that occurred within their waters.

And now … this abandoned junk may very well fall into any one of these categories.

Senior Superintendent Xiao Zheng of the Hong Kong Police had received the anonymous call a short while ago. The mayday had been received and now the police patrol boat was streaming towards the lone junk to what was probably another crime scene involving drug smuggling once again. Zheng was the senior officer in charge of all these kinds of investigations. Although mysterious, this was not the first time that an abandoned junk had been left to drift in the ocean.

Unfortunately, foul play reared its ugly head in many different ways on the water surrounding Hong Kong. Senior Superintendent Zheng had seen them all in the line of duty and the police were bound to check out all possibilities and calls … hoax or not. Lately there had been a resurgence of murders, kidnappings and violence linked to the Rising Dragons, which had been cause for concern. It was also well known to the police that Triads liked this "modus operandi" and their involvement was highly likely. Zheng hoped that was not the case but knew there was a good chance that they would be implicated in some way.

Impatient, he issued a rapid order in Chinese and the patrol boat accelerated another few knots in the course of duty although it would take some time before they finally reached the listing vessel.

This was not going to be a good day … he just knew it.

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 3

 

As the wooden, Chinese junk bobbed up and down on the water a small rubber zodiac speedboat carrying three Section One operatives, wearing camouflage wet suits, rapidly approached it. Speeding through the water at a rate of knots the water craft left a foamy wake in its path riding the waves as it sped across the sea to the floating target.

In Systems, Fergus studied his computer screen matrix showing the location of the junk and zodiac as they moved toward the floating boat in the South China Sea. At the moment the blips were too far apart and there was nothing to report of any significance or of any successful outcome to Operations until James Fraser and his team reached the junk. Waiting for the Section One operatives’ body sensors to register that they were nearing the target, Fergus studied his computer screen and repeatedly tapped his fingers on his desk. He could not relay any information to Operations until he had clarification. Adjusting his glasses in concentration, he glanced up from time to time to see his superior pacing up and down in the Perch as he waited for confirmation that the mission was on track. Finally, the dots got closer and closer and Fergus communicated this to his leader.

“Jamie and his team are approaching the target,” he informed Section One’s leader Dougal Mackenzie.

In the Perch looking down on to Systems Operations leaned his hands against the ledge of his desk and peered through the glass windows at his computer genius. Switching on the communication button located near his hand, his words soon echoed in Fergus’s headset.

“Good. Let me know when James and his team reach the target.”

“Yes sir.”

Waiting at his post, Fergus’s computer screen suddenly began beeping significantly. Noticing the dots of the zodiac and junk merging on his screen’s matrix, Fergus looked up towards Operations relaying this important Intel.

“They're at the ship sir.”

“Excellent.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When it came closer to the junk the zodiac slowed somewhat before finally pulling up beside the listing vessel. Ever vigilant, James Fraser and his two operatives prepared to board. Time was of the essence and Geillis Duncan wasted none as she inserted a grappling hook inside the propelling mechanism that would fire it onto the junk so that they could easily scale the side of the boat and get on board. Once the grappling hook was inserted correctly, she handed it to her team leader James Fraser.

Taking the mechanism from her hands, Jamie quickly eyed the junk for a suitable location before aiming accurately at his chosen point. He shot the hook onto the deck where it lodged securely in the wood then signalled to his team to prepare for boarding. Rupert Mackenzie collected their laser weapons and handed them to Geillis Duncan and James Fraser. They swiftly scaled the side of the vessel after their leader until all three had successfully climbed onboard the junk. With weapons at the ready the two operatives were ordered to cautiously survey the deck from starboard to aft as Jamie relayed back to Section.

“Fergus … we’re in position.”

The operatives immediately split up to explore different areas of the junk for any targets. Stealthily making their way along the creaking deck, each was alert and cognizant of the potential danger they were in for they knew not if there were hostiles hiding on board or not. They moved as if blending into the surroundings, vigilant … aware … and watchful for any anomalies in the mission profile.

Fergus’s voice sounded in Jamie’s communication unit. "Jamie? Any signs of life?”

“No, the junk is abandoned.”

Seeing some bodies lying on the deck, he made his way over to them. “No hostiles alive Fergus.”

“How many?”

Before relaying this information back to Section One, James Fraser bent down and turned the dead bodies over and examined the corpses. “Three men … two Chinese and a Caucasian on the main deck,” he replied.

“Anything else?” Fergus inquired.

“Not yet,” Jamie answered and with a raised hand signal, he ordered his team to keep looking. They proceeded to the other ends of the junk to search for any other Intel that could be useful.

Fergus’ voice interrupted once again. “Wait! Jamie! I have a faint thermal reading below deck.”

“I’m going down.”

“Okay … but … proceed with caution,” was his advice.

Soft footfalls descended one after the other as James Fraser made his way below deck gun poised and ready. His eyes vigilantly scanned the perimeter. It was eerily quiet except for a creaking door that was flapping backwards and forwards as the junk rocked to and fro. It was then that he saw another two bodies and made his way through the open doorway into what was the bedroom on board the junk. Before him were two deceased, one male and the other female. Both were riddled with bullets and sword marks crisscrossed the male’s chest in a triangular pattern with writing inside the markings that appeared to be Chinese calligraphy. Taking a closer look Jamie knew he had seen this symbol on the other dead bodies on the deck. “Death with Honour” he translated.

Stepping away from the male dead body he walked to the other side of the bed to examine the second corpse. It was a woman and she was stark naked. Her body had the same calligraphy marks as the male deceased but instead of sword slashes; it was written on her chest in her own blood. Her cerulean eyes were fixed open and stared right up at him. James felt for a pulse, but she had already flat lined. The young woman had obviously met with a violent death for she lay tangled in bloody sheets on the bed and coagulated blood congealed in her tousled long, brunette hair.

He quickly searched the room for any identification.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Jamie? Anything to report?”

“There are two more bodies below. Both deceased. One male ... Chinese and a Caucasian female.”

“Anything specific that could identify them?”

“Not as yet but I recognise the Chinese calligraphy inside the distinctive triangle which marks their bodies.”

At this information Operations’ voice echoed in Jamie’s headset. “That is a modus operandi of triads. Do we know which one? Could it be the Rising Dragons?”

“It will be in my report when I debrief.”

“Good work James.”

“Thank you, sir.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Back at Section One, Fergus’s computer lit up as yet another beeping signal flashed across the screen and an alarm bells suddenly went off. He watched, as the blip seemed to move closer and closer to the abandoned junk where James Fraser and his team were.

“Sir … There’s something's out there. I'm picking up something in the water.”

“What?”

“I'm not sure yet. It’s probably a passenger ship. I'll check.” Then switching channels Fergus contacted one of Jamie’s operatives. “Mackenzie, give me a visual ... forty degrees to the southeast.”

Making his way promptly to position and looking over the side of the junk, Rupert raised a pair of binoculars scanning the horizon. “Looks like another vessel … perhaps a patrol boat.”

“A patrol boat?”

Rupert Mackenzie scanned the ocean once more just to be sure. “Yes … It has some kind of flag flying on it. Whatever it is, it’s getting closer.”

“Who is it Fergus?” Operations bellowed.

Thinking on his feet, to give Operations an answer that would satisfy his superior as to what this other craft was, he erred on the side of common sense and replied. “It could be the Hong Kong Water Police.”

Operations did not want the Hong Kong Police to find the Section One operatives anywhere near the junk as it was a covert operation to gain Intel into who were the perpetrators of this crime. If indeed it was the Rising Dragons triad who was responsible and it very much looked as if it was, then Police interference could hamper their end game. When James and his team returned to Section One and debriefed, Madeline and he would go over Jamie’s’ report to see where any correlation was to the Intel they already had on the triad.

“Have James and his team get out of there,” was his next order.

“Jamie! Do you have the Intel?”

“Aye.”

“Then get your team to exit point … and proceed with plan B.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“We have an abort position,” James Fraser communicated to his team.

Quickly abandoning the ship by jumping over the side into the sea below, the team climbed back into the floating zodiac and sped off as quickly as they had arrived. Thankfully this was done without being detected by the approaching patrol boat that was motoring towards the junk on the opposite side to the zodiac.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The police launch made its way out toward the open sea to the coordinates pinpointing the listing junk. Senior Superintendent Xiao Zheng had started the day early and already they had more cases than they could handle. More paperwork meant another late night spent at Headquarters. Although he was diligent in his police work and left nothing to chance, he loathed the mountain of paperwork that one of these cases usually resulted in. Now he had yet another case to add to the pile already mounting up on his desk. He cursed under his breath as a niggling sensation lodged in the pit of his stomach.

If his gut instinct were anything to go on this would not be an ordinary crime scene. The junk had been listing aimlessly for some days. Whoever had perpetrated the crime had been long gone and by the time forensics had gone over it with a fine toothcomb, getting an early lead on whoever was responsible would take valuable time … and resources that he didn’t have. Nonetheless, he prided himself on the comprehensive and thorough investigation strategies of his team to do their job under duress. The work ethic of the men and women under his leadership was commendable yet he was extremely short staffed. Not only that but he had a rookie recruit and an exchange colleague arriving from Australia, plus he had not yet organised where to best use them. Perhaps this new case would be suitable.

As the police launch made steady progress towards its target, Zheng watched his new recruit Mei Ling as she focused her binoculars on the horizon seeking out the floating Chinese junk.

“Do you see anything Mei?” He said approaching her.

“No, not yet Sir.”

“The coordinates are logged in. It shouldn’t be too long before you see something … keep looking and let me know when you do.”

“Yes Sir.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 4

 

Once off the plane at Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong’s futuristic and ultra-efficient International Airport, Claire Beauchamp checked through Immigration and went in search of the correct carousel to reclaim her luggage. As she waited with all the other tired and anxious passengers, Claire fleetingly looked around at the many faces of fellow passengers. There were people going about their business, and excited tourists commencing their holidays pushed forward to claim their belongings when they made an appearance on the carousel.

Finally collecting her baggage Claire made her way toward Customs like all the other disembarking passengers. The officious uniformed Immigration officials sat at ridiculously high desks blocking their faces below eye level. It seemed that all were wearing wire-framed glasses, were very serious and never offered the hint of a smile. Standing in the queue Claire slowly moved forward until it was her turn to approach the desk. Glancing at her passport the official asked, “Are you in Hong Kong for business or pleasure?”

Business … unfortunately. Pleasure … if I’m lucky. Actually … I’m in Hong Kong on a mission … a very dangerous undercover mission for Section One ... the world’s most clandestine anti-terrorist organisation. Ever heard of it? ... No? ... Well we’re after the elusive leader of the Rising Dragons. Do you know him? ... Sun Yee Lok? ... Ring any bells?

Obviously suffering from some jet lag, Claire’s mind went off on this flippant tangent before she answered the waiting Custom’s official. “I’m on holiday,” she replied casting a megawatt smile in the official’s direction.

He casually glanced her way, having heard the same reply thousands of time and methodically stamped Claire’s passport with the patented response. “Enjoy your stay in Hong Kong.”

“Thank you,” she replied and took her passport from the counter.

Claire once again collected her belongings and made her way to the Arrivals hall. Ever watchful for anything suspicious she casually glanced around her surroundings. It was a bustling area divided into two distinct areas. Big plasma TV panels installed in both allowed waiting meeters and greeters to see arriving passengers as they entered either area. Miniature gardens added a green touch to both ends of the hall as well. But it was the aromatic smells of food readily available that tempted Claire’s taste buds. Realising how very hungry she was, she couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten having left Section One immediately after the briefing. Claire’s stomach let her know it was probably hours since any food had passed her mouth and she was sorely tempted to sample some of the superb selection of fare at food outlets catering to all kinds of cuisine.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The airport was beautiful, modern and quite easy to manoeuvre around. Claire next proceeded into the waiting area of the Meeting Point located at the centre of the Arrivals hall. It was a clearly marked area to meet and greet passengers upon arrival. There was a bustle of people milling around waiting for friends and family as was common at all international and domestic airports. Scanning the area, Claire made her way towards a colourful sculpture given to the Hong Kong SAR Government by Chongqing City to celebrate the reunification of the territory with its motherland China that was placed near the exit.

Arriving in Hong Kong was like stepping into a whirling mass of humanity with a dynamism that was unforgettable. The atmosphere was electric and Claire felt the excitement of this exotic city wash over her. If only this was anything but a mission, she would definitely be in a different frame of mind. Many eyes focused on the beautiful, tall, brunette woman who stood out from the crowd no doubt wondering whom she may be meeting, but people looked away just as quickly when her eyes connected with theirs. However, unbeknownst to Claire, one pair of eyes watched her surreptitiously. He smiled to himself before flipping open his cell phone to make a call.

Merging with the cosmopolitan crowd Claire Beauchamp walked further along the exit where a stream of Chinese messengers awaited the disembarking passengers. Patient operators held up placards with the names of many different hotels, while tour guides rushed around. All were wearing white shirts and dark pants which seemed a mandatory uniform coupled with quite a few looking like the Customs officials who wore wire rimmed glasses below their dark hair. They were checking lists with the names of passengers waiting to be escorted to their respective hotels and babbling quickly in Chinese.

Looking around Claire couldn’t help but notice one Chinese person who stood out distinctly from the others. The man was wearing a colourful Hawaiian shirt and was holding up an iPad bearing her name. Picking up her baggage, she made her way over to him.

“Hi … I’m Claire Beauchamp,” she said smiling at him.

“Ah, Miss Beauchamp … Welcome to Hong Kong. I hope you had a pleasant flight from Sydney.”

“Yes, I did thank you.”

“My name is Angus Mhor from the Hong Kong Police,” he said showing her his identification badge before placing it back in his pocket. “Here let me take your luggage. Accommodation has been arranged for you in a lovely apartment overlooking Victoria Harbour.”

“How lovely. Thank-you.”

“I’m afraid it is not as beautiful as the view of your Sydney Harbour but it is beautiful nonetheless.”

“I’m sure it will be fine.”

“My superior, Senior Superintendent Zheng is expecting you, and once you are settled in he is looking forward to meeting you at Police Headquarters later today.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mhor, I’ll look forward to meeting with him as well.”

 

Meanwhile ... at Hong Kong Police Headquarters

 

Senior Superintendent Xiao Zheng sat huddled over the mounting pile of cases on his desk. All the latest ones seemed to point to some connection between the Rising Dragons triad and the victims. For some time, his department had been investigating these connections in line with the rise in kidnappings and murders that had taken palace in Hong Kong over the last couple of months. However, he was at his wits end trying to piece together all the evidence building on this notorious triad’s members and its elusive leader Sun Yee Lok.

This was precisely why he had called in outside help because he needed someone with a covert background who could be placed undercover on this case.

He looked at the photo kit picture of Claire Beauchamp from the Australian Federal Bureau of Police. She had volunteered to be part of an exchange program with the Hong Kong Police. Claire was a beautiful young woman, a “looker” if ever he saw one. Pity he was happily married, he smiled to himself. It was hard to believe that a woman with her looks was so lethal, but she came with excellent credentials from her superiors. Claire Beauchamp was not only a stunning woman she was deadly accurate too. He was very impressed with her résumé as he read information about her last covert work in Parramatta and Redfern. It seemed that Miss Beauchamp had undergone a National Undercover Operatives’ Training Program in Australia, passing with flying colours. She had excelled in all areas as well as personal defence, martial arts, assessment and competency skills.

Zheng was most pleased that he had been able to snare her for a short time in Hong Kong to work on this specific case. He knew that Claire would be an invaluable asset to the police given her forte was undercover work. Perhaps she would be better suited to the OCTB, Hong Kong's Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, but she could transfer there for an extended stint if need be … once this case was closed. Zheng knew that his counterpart at OCTB Detective Jiang Ng, could use her services, but he never really trusted the man. There was something about him that made his hackles rise but he couldn’t put his finger on the pulse of his uncertainty. Perhaps it was because the man was so overconfident and arrogant? What he did know for certain was he didn’t like him and that was that.

Nevertheless, he was grateful for Claire Beauchamp’s expertise and that could prove to be quite useful in helping to discover the perpetrator of the recent deaths on the junk. Angus Mhor had radioed him to say that Miss Beauchamp had arrived and they were on the way to her apartment on Hong Kong Island.

“Mei Ling!” Zheng bellowed at his new recruit.

She came running over to his desk. “Yes Sir?”

“Bring me the file on this afternoon’s murder of Mr. Wu and the woman …”

“Yes Sir,” she replied obediently. However, before she could leave to do his bidding he issued another order.

“… and bring me a cup of coffee. I think this is going to be a long night.”

“Yes … Sir.” Mei left as quickly as she had arrived at his desk thinking that her new boss was as hardnosed as she had been told.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire followed Angus Mhor to the Ground Transportation Centre where he had left his car. There she saw a highly efficient and comprehensive transportation network connected to the passenger terminal. Airport express trains and an extensive public transport interchange with facilities for taxis, franchised buses, tour coaches; hotel limousines and private cars were to be found on the multi-levelled structure.

Taking Claire’s luggage from the baggage trolley he placed it in the trunk of the car. Making small conversation as a way of "breaking the ice" between them as they got into the vehicle Angus said, “Pity we don’t fly into Kai Tak Airport anymore.”

“Why’s that?” Claire asked interestingly.

“There was an element of danger involved in its spectacular urban landing approach which was much more thrilling and beautiful than our new modernized airport.”

“It sounds exciting.”

“Oh … yes it was.” Angus sighed pensively, remembering the many times he had returned home from overseas assignments. “During the last few seconds of landing you were actually flying between high-rise buildings that were very close on both sides and higher than the aeroplane.”

“Wow! That would have been amazing.”

“The old airport had spectacular views of the city when landing and taking off. Pity things have to change, don’t you think Miss Beauchamp?”

“Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same,” she added thoughtfully.

Settling in the driver’s seat, Angus gave Claire a wink in the rear vision mirror. “It’s quite a distance to downtown Hong Kong and will take us about an hour. I guess it's the price you pay for modernization.”

Having said that Angus then turned on the ignition, pumped the accelerator and sped off in the direction of Lantau Island.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 5

 

On their return to Section One after their mission to the South China Sea, James Fraser stood at the entrance of the airlock in Van Access as his team Rupert Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan filed past him. He tacitly acknowledged his team as they walked down the Van Access corridor and made their way to Munitions to return their weapons to Murtagh Fitzgibbon, Section’s munitions master and weapons expert who would check off the borrowed weaponry he had supplied to them for this mission.

Despite being called in on a moment’s notice due to the emergency situation that had arisen in Hong Kong, the mission had run smoothly and the team had performed well. Jamie had briefed them en route providing the mission profile to the team members on their PDA’s as they’d departed Section for Hong Kong. It was to be a quick in and out, collect Intel and return to Section One. He’d needed to do this to see the dynamics of the group he had chosen and to gauge their initiative to how they reacted under pressure for the pending Rising Dragons’ mission. James Fraser was pleased with his new team’s field mechanics and how they had carried out their mission profile.

Operations also stood to the side waiting for James and his team’s return. He cast that look Jamie’s way that said he needed to debrief ASAP. “Madeline’s office … thirty minutes.” Then he briskly walked away.

Jamie just blankly acknowledged his superior’s directive and once Rupert and Geillis had disappeared from sight he turned in the direction of his office to prepare for his debrief.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ever punctual, James Fraser strode toward Madeline’s office with the purposeful gait that distinguished him as a man of confidence and Section One’s top Level 5 operative. He knew that the mission had been successful and the Intel Fergus was examining at the moment would provide further leads to their terrorist target Sun Yee Lok and the Rising Dragons. If it substantiated that they were indeed responsible for the deaths, it would prove just how widespread their influence was and the means to which they would go to achieve their ends. The Rising Dragons were dangerous … very dangerous and the quicker he got to Hong Kong to keep an eye on Claire the better. The fact that she wasn’t on the flash mission felt strange, but she had her orders and was on a commercial flight to Hong Kong as part of her undercover mission.

The doors to Madeline’s office quietly opened and Jamie stood resolutely, hands clasped in front of his body. With guarded eyes he watched as Madeline attended to her orchids totally involved in her horticulture of the delicate plants while Operations sat at the table in his second in command’s office.

Glancing his way when he saw him standing on the threshold Operations indicated, “Come in James.”

Continuing to examine her plants and without facing him Madeline asked. “How was your visit to the South China Sea?”

“Brief.”

“How did your team hold up?”

“There were no incidents.”

Operations joined in. “Where are we with the Rising Dragons? Did you collect any Intel on the bodies?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“Fergus is going through what we recovered from the junk.”

“Good,” Madeline intonated as she intensely studied her plants while removing any sign of bugs on the stems and any dead leaves.

Pragmatically Operations asked, “And what do you think, is it their work?”

“It's possible.”

“Permission to re-profile the mission sir.”

“Granted. Let me know when you have something definitive. Oversight wants a quick turnover on this one.”

“Of course.”

“And Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan?” Madeline asked offhandedly.

“They work well together.”

“Good. Stay close to it ... ”

The conversation between Madeline and Jamie had taken place without any eye contact whatsoever. Her total absorption of her plants seemed to be of paramount concern to her; however, his answers were pleasing and Madeline was well satisfied.

“Yes.”

“That will be all James. I will expect your full debrief on my desk as soon as possible.” Operations stated.

Placing one foot behind the other, Jamie did a one hundred and eighty degree turn and strode from her office without a further glance at his superiors.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Operations looked at Madeline while stating the obvious as he engaged the communication channel into Systems. She nodded her tacit approval.

“Fergus?”

“Yes sir?”

“Any progress on the Intel from James and his team?”

“I’m working on it sir.”

“When you have something patch it through to Madeline’s office.”

“Yes sir.”

Turning towards Madeline he stated, “James’ team performed well.”

“Yes.”

“Have we heard from Claire?”

“Not yet … Fergus will contact her when the others are in transit.”

“Good.”

Their conversation was interrupted by Section’s computer genius Fergus Claudel.

“Yes Fergus?”

“It appears that the Rising Dragons are indeed responsible for the deaths on the junk.”

“They haven’t taken responsibility for them though.”

“The signature calligraphy is authentic and the modus operandi is definitely theirs.”

“Anything else?”

“I have found out some Intel on the woman.”

“Well … what is it?”

“She is the daughter of the Canadian ambassador to China. Her name is Annalise de Marillac.”

“Hmm? … Interesting.”

“Fergus process this Intel. A background check on her father the ambassador may be necessary.”

Sir.”

“Good work Fergus,” he stated and disconnected communication.

Turning towards Madeline he changed the subject and said, “Looks like we’re going to have point eight surplus in personnel this month.”

“Yes.”

“Where would you like to allocate?”

“Housekeeping. The attrition has been high there.”

“Done.”

When Operations left for the Perch, Madeline once again pottered around her plants dismissing for the moment what had just transpired in her office. Her first task was to complete caring for her orchids then she would routinely and meticulously analyse the mission tapes and debrief records of what had transpired in the field.

Meanwhile ... back in Hong Kong

Angus Mhor sped off like a bat out of hell on the multi lane motorway heading from Lantau Island toward Kowloon peninsula on the Chinese mainland. They travelled some distance before crossing into the tunnel to Hong Kong Island on the southern side of the harbour facing Kowloon, then on exiting the freeway they merged in with the local traffic. The ride along Causeway Bay was invigorating with a steady stream of taxis and double-decker buses clogging the busy road. It was easy to see how one could get bewildered and enthusiastic by the convergence and contradictions of a Chinese city with multi-Asian and Western elements. Hong Kong was simply dazzling with a distinctive blend of East and West in a dynamic, cosmopolitan city.

Claire’s first observations were that Hong Kong was an amazing place, full of energy, life, new smells, sounds and amazing sights, a place that once visited was one you could not and would not forget. She looked out of the window at the tall buildings with daily wash hanging from so many windows, never ending shops lit up with a heady mixture of neon light signs and busy with customers, hawkers selling their wares on the pavement, and the hustle and bustle of the endless crowds of people. Claire felt the excitement of the distinctive blend and dynamic melting pot of East and West in this vibrant city … a city coming to life as dusk fell over the capital. Hong Kong had diversity juxtaposed with sophistication. It was electric.

Despite the real purpose of her visit to Hong Kong, Claire decided to pretend for a little while on the journey to her destination. She breathed in the sights and sounds of Hong Kong as Angus made their way to the apartment where she would be staying. Hong Kong was an exciting city with plenty to offer. Claire knew it was a mecca for shopping and was a proverbial shopper’s paradise for designer label clothing to electronic gizmos. Hong Kong had it all, but unfortunately, she was not here to sightsee or shop. She was here on a mission … tracking down the leader of the Rising Dragons, the elusive Sun Yee Lok. Under other circumstances Claire would have been exuberant at spending a holiday in such an exotic location … but that was not to be.

Angus Mhor’s voice echoed in the car as he attempted to make conversation and break the silence that had settled over them. “Have you been to Hong Kong before Miss Beauchamp?’

His question roused Claire from her daydreams of normalcy. “Call me Claire please … and no I haven’t, but I’ve read all about this amazing place.”

“Well I’m sure if you were here under other circumstances you would have a wonderful time. Hong Kong has so much to offer the visitor.”

“Yes I can see that.”

They continued in relative silence as the car sped along in the traffic. Angus weaved in and out of the multitude of cars on the road like a Formula 1 rally car driver, the adrenalin pumping through his veins at the thrill of the ride. Claire watched the traffic and realised that everyone in Hong Kong seemed to drive like this also. They nearly collided with a pedestrian trying to cross the road. As Angus blasted his horn repeatedly, he swerved around the person; nevertheless the car mounted the gutter in the process as he tried to avoid a collision.

“Sorry about that,” he said as he righted the car and continued along the one-way street.

Claire breathed a sigh of relief looking back at the individual standing in relative safety near the curb. “Does that happen a lot?” She inquired apprehensively.

“What?”

“People playing Russian roulette with the traffic?”

Angus laughed. “Yes, unfortunately it does. One takes their life in their hands in Hong Kong I’m afraid.”

“So it would seem … I must remember that.” Claire replied evasively.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was not long before Angus passed by a large open park located in the heart of the city and the imposing but impressive buildings comprising the Pacific Place Apartments came into view. He slowed the car and pulled into an underground parking lot then turned off the car’s ignition. Turning towards Claire he announced.
“Well … we’re here.”

Getting out of the car, Angus opened her door and collected Claire’s luggage from the trunk. “This is a very prestigious area Claire … the Australian Federal Police must be paying for your accommodation … it’s a little pricey here.” He smiled at her enviously.

“Yes they are … it’s all part of the exchange programme.”

“Wow! Good for you! I hope you enjoy your stay here then.”

“Thanks,” she replied warming to her newfound friend.

They took the elevator up, exited on the fourth floor and walked along the corridor until they came to Apartment 412. A wry smiled passed Claire’s lips. What a coincidence, she thought as a wry smile bowed her lips at the uncanny similarity of the corresponding number of this Hong Kong apartment to her one in Glasgow. Taking the key from his pocket Angus passed it to her and Claire excitedly opened the door. They entered and Angus Mhor placed her belongings in the entrance foyer.

“You’ll love the view Claire. Hong Kong is Cantonese for "fragrant harbour" you know and it’s simply dazzling during the day or night.”

“Okay Angus, you’ve won me over … I’m sure it is much, much nicer than Sydney Harbour.”

Sharing a look and noticing the twinkle of mischief and teasing in his eyes, Claire burst out laughing. Angus joined in then left her to freshen up and to get acquainted with her new lodgings saying that he would return to pick her up in an hour’s time.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Xiao Zheng’s phone rang on his desk just as Mei returned with the coffee and files he had requested. Closing the folder on Claire Beauchamp that he had been reading, he bellowed into the receiver. “Senior Superintendent Zheng here … Oh! It’s you Mhor! What’s up?”

“Nothing Sir. I have just left Miss Beauchamp at her apartment. She is currently orientating herself with her new premises and freshening up. We should be at headquarters within the hour.”

“Good.”

Replacing the receiver in its cradle Zheng summoned Mei Ling once again.

“Yes Sir?”

“When Claire Beauchamp arrives show her to my office immediately.”

“Very well Sir … is that all?”

“For the moment …”

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 6

 

Hmmm impressive, very impressive, Claire thought as she studied her new premises.

The suite appeared to be very spacious and was warm and inviting. A fresh aroma filled the room and her nose followed the smell to the tiled entry where a table with fresh flowers was set against the wall. There was a card attached to the bouquet addressed to her which she removed from the flowers. Wondering who may have sent them, she slipped her fingers under the rim of the envelope releasing the card inside and read what was written. A longing gleam appeared in her eyes and smiling Claire placed the card to her lips, then leaning down she inhaled the fragrance of the roses and spring flowers that were a riot of colours.

Dropping the keys on the table top she was drawn to the large windows overlooking Victoria Harbour and made her way over to investigate. Excitedly she opened the sliding door off the lounge room onto a small balcony and stepped outside to admire the sights. Her senses were captivated. It was spectacular with breathtaking views of the world’s busiest and bustling harbour surrounded by Hong Kong’s dynamic and amazing city skyline. It was a megalopolis abuzz with a peculiar energy and vibrancy. Excitedly, she took in the sight of such a cosmopolitan city while studying the twinkling illumination of the buildings reflecting on the water like fairy lights.

The Harbour was still full of water traffic even at this hour of the day. Claire watched overwhelmed by the scene below her as a myriad of watercrafts such as jetfoils, sampans, junks, ferries and boats floated across the water to Kowloon on the northern side. It was not a sight she would ever forget, nor was it one she had seen duplicated in any other place in the entire world. Pity Jamie isn’t here to enjoy the view too, she thought, although when he was around she had tunnel vision and couldn’t see anything else but him. She smiled pensively.

Reluctantly she forced herself to leave the balcony and her wayward thoughts and returned inside to check the rest of the apartment. Going into the kitchen Claire opened and closed the cupboards and drawers and was thankful that someone had filled the pantry and seen to the basic necessities of food for her. Finding what she needed for a welcomed hot brew, she put the kettle on to make herself a cup of tea. That done she ventured into the living quarters with cup and saucer in hand to explore some more.

The bedroom was spacious with a magnificent huge bed in the centre as well as having large windows overlooking Victoria Harbour like in the lounge room. Claire looked at the bed lovingly … Ah! What the heck ... she thought as she walked over to the bed and sitting down placed her finished cuppa down on the bedside table. Placing her hands on the soft comforter she levered herself up and started to bounce on the inner spring mattress. Hmmm! Comfy too and with room to share.

Her thoughts immediately turned to her mentor James Fraser again. He had never spent a night in her real apartment back in Glasgow … as yet. Would he ever spend one here?

Falling back towards the bed Claire closed her eyes and placed her hands across her stomach. In her mind’s eye she could visualise the two of them in here together watching the night-lights of Hong Kong and … doing other more pleasurable things. Lying on the comfortable bed, tiredness suddenly overcame her. She closed her eyes and Claire soon fell asleep but her subconscious imagination began to run riot as she pictured the two of them in the throes of passion.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

(NSFW)

 

I rock my hips back and forth provocatively to force James to satisfy my burning desire. I can wait no longer … I’m impatient for his thrusts and I need to feel him … all of him inside me. He has aroused me until I am whimpering with unleased pleasure and I’m on the very edge of capitulation.

His lips caress my velvet breasts and my nipples are swollen and erect. Moaning incoherently into his neck, my hands begin to claw at Jamie’s back, then I press lower to his buttocks. Propelling him forward, I pull Jamie closer until not an inch of skin separates us, then locking my thighs around him; I squeeze them tightly, never wanting to let him go.

I sense Jamie’s need for me too. His hands caress my skin leaving trails of tingling sensations burning me to the core and turning me inside out. Feeling his wonderful erotic hands on my shivering hips; I also feel his penis throbbing … and … paused … waiting against my soft opening.

“Ja-mie …” I moan softly.

I am so hot … and wet. I wait willingly for his further penetration and dig my heels into his buttocks as James Fraser begins to inch into me. He is so gentle but I want more. Rising from the bed as waves of pleasure cascade through my body, I feel every glorious movement of Jamie’s erection sliding into my depths until he is buried to the hilt.

“Ahhh! ... Ja-mie ... Y-esss!”

It feels good … so good. We begin to move in sync slowly at first, but I ache for more … I need …

“Mmm-ore! ... Ahhh!”

I writhe on the bed … as Jamie erotically utters my name, each syllable a smooth caress from his lips. “Cl-aire”

My name resounds in my ears as he begins the rhythm of love. Jamie enters and withdraws from my depths … again and … again each thrust a little deeper and a little harder than the previous time. The feel of him deep within me is wonderful … more than wonderful … it’s incredible! I am floating in rapturous and delirious euphoria.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Claire.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I moan against Jamie’s mouth as I hear my name again and feel his erection bursting inside my body. The shivers leave me breathless. Jamie Fraser is driving me to the heights of ecstasy. I clench my body around him flexing my inner muscles to hold him tightly, and prevent him from withdrawing from my depths. He lays still and I clasp my hands tightly across his back … waiting.

“Ohhh, Ja-mie!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Claire?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pressing his body hard against mine … I arch my hips so that his penis remains within me. I love how he is making me feel. Jamie starts moving inside me fiercely rocking back and forth increasing his rhythm as he finds immense pleasure in my softness. I shiver with longing, while our bodies tremble with passion on the brink of capitulation.

Then unable to wait any longer, he brings both of us to a shattering climax and we tumble together into sublime ecstasy.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“CLAIRE! Claire? Are you OK? I thought I heard you groaning.” He enquired inquisitively.

When she realised that the voice belonged to Fergus, she sat up on the bed in Section mode, alert and on guard to what he may have to say. “I was … sleeping.”

“Oh, I see!” Then changing tack he asked … “Are you in place?”

“Yes.”

“Good. The team is in transit.”

Brief and concise with his information, Fergus severed communication just as a knock on the door echoed in the apartment. Looking at the clock on the bed stand Claire realised that the hour had flown by. Obviously all her daydreaming on the balcony and in the bedroom had whittled away the time. Who could that be? She thought stretching her arms above her head to try and shake off the jetlag and the vision of her little daydream about making love with Jamie Fraser.

Claire wondered if perhaps that someone knocking on the door was indeed Angus Mhor returning to take her to the meeting with Superintendent Xiao Zheng. It was the only conclusion she could make given that he said he would return within the hour.

 

Meanwhile ... back at Police Headquarters

 

The files Mei Ling had retrieved for him of the dead bodies of the man and the young woman found on the junk lay open on Senior Superintendent Zheng’s desk. Pictures of the crime scene also lay scattered over the top, while the scribbling Zheng had written regarding what clues they had so far … and that wasn’t many … covered the whiteboard situated near his desk.

Xiao Zheng reached for his cup of coffee, but it was stone cold and he grimaced at the taste. Placing the cup back down on his desk he thought of his new recruit and glanced over at her desk. The poor girl, what a baptism of fire she had experienced today. The scene they had discovered on the junk was not a pleasant one but Mei Ling had come through with flying colours. The young woman had held her composure at the sight of the mutilated bodies although he had noticed she looked a little green around the gills when they had discovered the two bodies below deck. However, she had been very professional in her manner and he admired her handling of the situation. Perhaps under the circumstances he should let up a little on her. She certainly had the makings of a good policewoman.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Mei Ling sat at her desk staring at her computer. This seemed such a long way from the Police Academy where she had graduated top of her class. She eventually wanted to be a detective and knew that she would have to work her way up the ladder before that occurred. Police work could usually be such drudgery at times but this case was so exciting that the hours she had spent at her monitor cross checking the faces against names in the police data bank had just flown by. She loved it. Having taken to her responsibilities like a duck to water, Mei was so glad that Senior Superintendent Zheng had placed his trust in such a raw recruit as herself in assigning her to this part of the investigation. She would repay his confidence if she could.

Mei’s concentration was interrupted when she heard her name resound again as her boss strode over to her desk. “What progress have you made so far Mei Ling?”

Looking her boss in the eye she replied confidently. “I’ve double checked the names and faces and it appears that the three men found on the upper deck were known to police for roughing up a bystander who threatened their employer. They were obviously bodyguards of some sort. The man made a complaint about his treatment which is on file.”

“Ah good work Mei.” He replied admirably.

“Thank you Sir. I’m still trying to find the Police record of the event in Archives though.”

“Carry on then.”

“Yes Sir.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Returning to his desk Xiao once again studied the information they had on this recent crime.

The photographs of the deceased people were attached to the whiteboard with each victim numbered from one to five. Resting against the side of his desk Xiao rubbed his hand over his chin as he contemplated the gruesome photographs of the murdered victims found on the junk earlier today. As he studied the pictures of the deceased persons, he tried to piece together the clues thus far. Although the four male bodies had all been identified, that was not the case for the female victim. The two Chinese men and a Caucasian found on the upper deck had been acknowledged as bodyguards, as Mei Ling had implied, to the man found on the lower deck.

The bullet riddled bodies of the deceased male and female found in the bloody bedroom on the junk were also attached. The male victim found in the bedroom was Mr. Chen Yong Wu a prominent Chinese politician and businessman from Repulse Bay a well-to-do residential area favoured by locals. He had been missing for a couple of days, feared kidnapped and now here he was at the centre of a murder mystery. The woman found on the Chinese junk with him had yet to be identified. She was most likely a prostitute, who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but this was only a hypothesis at the moment and they had no clues as to her identification at the present time.

The markings on each body were puzzling though. The Chinese calligraphy “Death with Honour” was the signature of the Rising Dragons, the group that had supposedly been responsible for quite a few murders in Hong Kong recently. But why would Mr. Wu be murdered and on a junk with his bodyguards and a beautiful young woman? That was the puzzling thing. Was this just a seedy sexual liaison gone wrong? Or had he done or been involved in something more ominous to warrant death by the Rising Dragons triad?

They had identified the murder weapons, ascertained the time of death and one of his detectives was gathering evidence from other fellow employees of Mr. Wu. Zheng mulled that he needed to interview residents of Mr. Wu’s building and track all the names in his personal diary and business logs. Then he would need to work on reconstructing the last seventy-two hours of his life from all that data. Perhaps something of the woman’s identity would be revealed from his diaries as well.

Superintendent Zheng could certainly do with some help on this case and was looking forward to the arrival of Claire Beauchamp. Her expertise in undercover work would prove invaluable; perhaps she could even shed some new light and perspective on this baffling case. Xiao massaged his temples as he felt the first signs of a headache appearing. It looked like he would need to make a call to his wife … again!

Yes … this was going to be a long night!

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 7

 

Dougal Mackenzie, aka Operations had assembled the operatives once more at short notice to go over the Intel that Fergus had found due to the discovery of last minute details about the deceased victims on the junk. James Fraser and his team were seated around the briefing table already dressed in their Mission gear and ready for the trip to Hong Kong. They sat in silence waiting for Operations and Madeline to make an appearance. Eventually the leaders of Section One strode in side-by-side, eyes fixed straight ahead. When they approached the table Madeline quietly sat down while Operations stood casting his gaze along those gathered watching their reactions intently before beginning the team briefing on the upcoming mission to Hong Kong.

Seated at the opposite end of the table Jamie’s expression as always was a blank stare. James Fraser never gave his superiors any inclination of what he was feeling and his stoic demeanour always infuriated them especially Madeline whose job it was to ascertain any weakness in their captured targets and those who were at Section. Jamie though was a conundrum. Although she suspected that he may have a weakness she was yet to discover what or who it was, however, if and when she did she planned to use it to her and Operations’ advantage to keep their Level 5 operative under control.

Concurrently, Jamie Fraser studied Operations carefully as he delivered the Intel while Madeline on the other hand, sat with her hands loosely clasped in front of her seemingly oblivious of any scrutiny. She was however; ever watchful of those gathered at the briefing table especially Geillis Duncan and Rupert Mackenzie hoping that they would be able to carry out their profile effectively.

Operations’ guttural voice resonated around the room. “Yesterday, we engaged in an operation to ascertain if the Rising Dragons were indeed responsible for the deaths on the floating junk.”

Nodding his head at Fergus to activate the holograph, the faces of three individuals flashed across the screen one after the other. “This woman is Annalise de Marillac, the daughter of the Canadian ambassador to China who was working as an exclusive call girl. Her parents were unaware of her seedier lifestyle and given her father’s position, they want to keep her and their name out of the newspapers.”

Jamie stared at the photo of the woman so similar in looks to Claire that it was uncanny, then lowered his eyes before Madeline caught his interest.

“Her father is Alain de Marillac who has been posted in China for the last year.”

Continuing, he focused his attention on the other victim. “The Chinese national found with the girl is Chen Yong Wu a prominent Chinese politician and businessman, who has a record for associating with anyone who can further his career or business opportunities.”

Geillis Duncan broke in with a question. “And what do they have to do with the Rising Dragons?”

Operations glared at Geillis for disrupting the briefing before proceeding. “It would appear that Mr Wu has connections to a Tony Wong … known as The Fighter or Hung Kwan in Chinese … who is a member of the Rising Dragons’ hierarchy. Mr. Wu may have been murdered by the Rising Dragons for failure to comply to their demands and for double crossing this Tony Wong.”

“Let me explain,” Madeline added interrupting Operations to relay what she had discovered about Tony Wong. “Apparently he runs an extortion racket among the fishermen in Aberdeen, a fishing village on the southern side of Hong Kong Island.”

“How do we know he is still there?” Geillis asked again for clarification.

“Information from our sources state that he blackmails and threatens the people who live in Aberdeen and uses their vessels for criminal purposes for the Rising Dragons,” Madeline elucidated.

Looking intently at the assembled operatives before turning his gaze to Geillis Duncan once more, Operations continued. “Tony Wong is an overbearing … intimidating bully who is feared by the people given his position in the Triad. Because of this and fear of retribution and reprisals, the village people have remained silent.”

Casting his glance towards Fergus Claudel, he then indicated for him to continue.

“These are photographs of Mr Wu and men he has been linked with over the last couple of months,” Fergus said. He activated the images of the people associated with the Rising Dragons that had previously been seen in his company. “One of these men is Tony Wong.”

“Cross checking the images that Fergus has of Mr Wu and what we know thus far … it seems highly likely that this man is our target,” Operations stated, as the image of a stocky, bald-headed Chinese man with a moustache appeared on screen.

“So our target is Tong Wong and not the Rising Dragons?” stated Rupert.

With an annoyed glance at Mackenzie for stating the obvious, Operations replied tersely. “The evidence found on the junk pointed to a conspiracy instigated by one of the Rising Dragons’ hierarchy therefore …” he glared at Rupert for a brief moment hoping that he was absorbing all of what he was saying, and wasn’t as incompetent as he appeared to be, “… Tony Wong can prove to be the link we need to flush out Sun Yee Lok.”

Turning his steely eyes on the others Operations declared, “We want 100% containment on this. Looking over at Jamie he stated. “James will proceed to Aberdeen to secure the target along with Claire who is currently en-route to Hong Kong working undercover at Hong Kong Police Headquarters.”

“What about us,” enquired Geillis?

“You will provide back up if needed. Until then you will check out Mr de Marillac … I have suspicions that he is not all he seems to be and there is more to this man than meets the eye.”

Continuing Operations’ train of thought, Madeline stated. “Our Intel is sketchy on him … He was recalled from his previous appointment to Africa for some dubious connections, which an internal review found unsubstantiated.”

Capturing the other team members in his gaze, Operations affirmed. “Your mission is to infiltrate and collect data on his movements in the diplomatic circles in Hong Kong.”

“And the woman?” Jamie asked looking over towards where Operations was standing.

“We are unaware who her employer is at the moment. There could be a connection there. Find it.”

“Of course.”

“Madeline has profiled a scenario for you. All Intel is on your panel.”

Always thinking two steps ahead Jamie again asked, “And Claire?”

“She will be informed once you make contact with her in Hong Kong.”

Operations dropped the holograph remote back on the table indicating that he had concluded the briefing. “You'll get further details from James en route. That's all. Van Access in twenty minutes.”
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie Fraser’s team members had already made their way over to Munitions; they’d picked up their weapons from Murtagh Fitzgibbons and had proceeded to Van Access to wait for him. However, Jamie sat at the briefing table a little while longer mulling over the Intel that had just been disseminated. Most disturbing for him had been the image of Annalise de Marillac. Her resemblance to Claire was eerily similar. Everything about her, from the long, brunette hair and blue eyes to the lithe body, was comparable. The two women could easily have passed as twins. Jamie knew only too well that Madeline had noticed the similarities as well and would in some way use this in Claire’s mission profile at some stage.

Eventually he made his way over to Munitions to pick up the weaponry he would need for this mission too, but Jamie’s mindset centred on Claire. The quicker he got to Hong Kong the better, he thought.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

While Murtagh checked the inventory for the Hong Kong mission once more waiting for Jamie to come and pick up his equipment, he sighed wistfully thinking of his younger days when he was a field operative. Some of the weaponry requisitioned for Section One’s consummate operative James Fraser brought back memories of his time in Vietnam as well. He had used similar kinds of arms with lethal precision in getting the better of the Viet Cong and Murtagh remembered especially when his platoon was on routine manoeuvres near Chin Duc and they were ambushed. If not for the weapons and some uncanny luck that day and on others during the war, he and his platoon may not have survived some very close life and death situations.

Running his eyes over the weaponry on the table, Murtagh reminisced yet again. He knew that these little beauties were so deadly that it took a very special operative to have the competence, skill and respect … not to mention “the balls” … to use them. There was no doubt Jamie Fraser fit the criteria, Operations was the second and he the third who would ever know of their finer capabilities. A reflective sigh escaped Murtagh’s lips … Ah! … If only!

He was jolted from his musings when he heard the unwavering footsteps of James Fraser and looking up Murtagh saw him approaching.

“I need that equipment now,” Jamie stated abruptly as he stopped at the table where the assortment of weapons was on display.

Ignoring Jamie’s tone, Water announced, “Hey Jamie… Check it out; it's all ready to go for you.” Handing him a PDA listing the inventory drawn for the mission, Murtagh excitedly stated, “I’ve got everything that you need plus a few little surprises to catch them on the hop.”

Jamie cast a wry look his way noting an extra enthusiasm in Murtagh’s voice.

Laid out in front of him on the table, was an array of equipment along with a selection of martial arts weapons. Jamie recognised many of the armaments, as he had used them in training with the Master. He fingered the objects with reverence … remembering … then looked up at a smiling Murtagh.

“Those are some beauties hey Jamie?” Murtagh said excitedly, then knitting his furrowed brows leaned in closer to him stating seriously … “But treat them with respect, they are deadly, lethal and accurate.”

James Fraser glanced at Murtagh but his expression remained blank before returning his gaze back to the PDA thinking, “The same has been said about me.”

“Yeah, yeah! You already know that,” Murtagh replied stating the obvious.

Jamie merely nodded as Murtagh blurted out his inner thoughts. “I must say, however, I am envious of the fact that...” Jamie looked up and caught Murtagh’s regretful look, “… you will get to use these … James, I think that's great.” Without drawing breath Murtagh pensively continued as he casually fingered the weapons, “Boy! … Wouldn’t I just love to be out in the field with you this one time?”

Responding to the munitions’ expert comment, he declared. “Perhaps … you never know Murtagh.”

“Nah! I’m too old for all that field work.” He laughed, but was thankful for Jamie’s understanding.

Hesitating Murtagh remembered one other piece of equipment that he had forgotten to give him. Reaching for a small vial of tracking spikes his eyes connected with the expressionless eyes of James Fraser. “Right-e-o!” He continued matter of factually holding up the vial for Jamie to see, “When you drop these little beauties on the floor … Hey Presto! They will adhere to the sole of the shoes of the target and then Fergus will be able to track them within a ten-mile radius with all his whiz bang gizmos.”

As Jamie finished gathering up the equipment from the table and prepared to leave, Murtagh’s infectious, enthusiastic voice was hard to ignore. Glancing up unresponsively Jamie stretched out his hand for the vial and Murtagh placed it in the palm of his hand. As he pocketed it in his Mission jacket, the two men then shared a look.

“I have to go now,” he stated, and with that James Fraser turned on his heel in the direction of Van Access.

As he walked away, Murtagh’s next statement stopped the Level 5 operative in his tracks for a moment. “Look after my Sugar,” he said in all seriousness.

Jamie knew that Murtagh was staring at him and he could feel his eyes boring holes into his retreating back. “I will,” he replied earnestly as he kept walking.

Laughing Murtagh replied a little louder knowing that Jamie could still hear him. “I don’t want to have to come after you James Fraser.”

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 8

 

The last thing she wanted if it wasn’t Angus knocking on the door, was for it to be a stranger or a nosey neighbour coming to welcome her to the apartment block. Claire rose slowly from the bed thinking that she must be suffering a little jet lag for her to have fallen asleep like that. She hadn’t realized just how tired she was. Section One had been working around the clock and everyone had been denied downtime to recuperate despite all the consecutive missions they had been involved in lately. All those elements, coupled with the cat and mouse relationship she was having with James Fraser was playing havoc with her thought processes. Perhaps that was to blame for the dream she’d had about Jamie whilst asleep.

The knocking continued.

Making her way to answer whoever was rapping on the door, Claire stumbled a little from disorientation. Except for some dimmed lighting in the entrance foyer where her luggage still stood, the apartment was cloaked in darkness and was eerily quiet for the evening had settled in. Her footsteps slowed as she made her way to the door because Claire found her mind wandering to the erotic daydream she’d just had while lying on the bed. It was so vivid she could have sworn it was real … that James Fraser was really here with her and that all the passionate lovemaking had indeed taken place. A disappointed sigh gushed out of her mouth at the reality of the situation. She was here but … alone … No James Fraser … It was just her very vivid imagination conjuring up his image as it often did.

The knock came again, more insistent and a little louder this time. It was then followed by the cheery voice of Angus Mhor.

“Hey! … Claire! … It’s me! Open up!”

“Keep your shirt on … I’m coming,” she called out to let him know she was on her way, but before answering the door, Claire checked the video cam surveillance screen to make sure of her caller’s identification.
Angus stood there with a cheeky look and an infectious smile on his face, and knowing that Claire would be checking the screen he gave her an impish wave too.

Smiling she opened the door to see the person who had left her here not more than an hour ago. “Hello Angus … you’re back I see ... and punctual too.”

“Yep ... if I say I’ll be here in an hour then an hour it will be.”

“Well I could have done with a little longer as I fell asleep.”

“Oh ... I’m sorry, but I have already contacted Superintendent Zheng to say that we would be at headquarters within the hour...”

Claire interrupted him before he could finish what he was going to say. “It’s okay Angus. Don’t worry.”

“If I’d know you were sleeping, I would have let Superintendent Zheng know you had jetlag and I’m sure he would have made his appointment for the morning instead.”

Claire was starting to like Angus as he reminded her a lot of her neighbour Mick. “Don’t worry. It’s fine.”

He gave her a broad smile. “So … are you ready to go then?”

“Yes! Come in … I’ll just get my things.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In no time they had reached their destination. Angus parked the car, then making their way to the main entrance, they entered Police Headquarters. “Wait here Claire,” he said and indicated that she take a seat in the reception area. “I’ll let Superintendent Zheng know that we have arrived.”

Leaving Claire alone, Angus Mhor approached the Enquiries desk and paged through to Xiao Zheng’s office. That done, he returned to where she was sitting to wait until summoned upstairs.

In no time a young police officer descended the stairs and met them at Reception. “Hi Angus,” she said coyly before extending her hand toward Claire saying. “Hello, I’m Mei Ling. Follow me please. Superintendent Zheng is expecting you and is waiting in his office.”

They ascended in the elevator and exited at the second floor. Following Mei along the corridor Angus whispered under his breath … “Hmm! Nice legs!” as he studied the retreating figure of the new recruit admirably.

Turning to look over her shoulder Mei asked, “What?”

“I was just telling Claire that Superintendent Zheng’s bark is worse than his bite.” He winked conspiratorially at Claire not knowing if she’d heard what he had muttered about Mei Ling or not.

“Thanks for the warning … but I’m sure I’ve seen worse,” she winked back.

They passed through a myriad of desks where officers were busily engaged in their work, then rounded a corner where Mei knocked on the door of her boss. A distinguished man in his late fifties sat at a desk covered with a mountain of paperwork and files. Seemingly lost in thought, and without looking up he bellowed. “Enter!”

“Ah … sir … Miss Beauchamp … is here … sir,” Mei stammered, interrupting her superior.

Peering over the top of his glasses he glanced toward where Claire stood. A smiled bowed his mouth as he stood to acknowledge her presence. “Ah, Miss Beauchamp! Welcome to Hong Kong. I hope you have settled in to your new apartment?”

“Yes, thank you. Everything is just lovely and please call me Claire.”

“Good … take a seat … Claire. I see you have already been introduced to Mei Ling and you know Angus.”

“Yes. Mr Mhor has been most helpful.”

“I’m sure he has,” he muttered glancing at his sheepish, incorrigible, young detective. Turning to Claire, Zheng stated admirably, “I have been studying your résumé and I am most impressed Miss Beauchamp. You have been involved in some dangerous undercover cases I see.”

Claire nodded … if only you knew the truth, she thought.

“We are very pleased to have you on exchange from Australia and will be most appreciative of your expertise about the recent deaths here in Hong Kong.”

“I’m looking forward to finding whoever was responsible for the murders.”

“This is a very dangerous group we are dealing with Claire. The Rising Dragons triad is ruthless, powerful and its members above the law it would seem.”

“Let me assure you I have dealt with worse. In my line of undercover work we go after the terrorists and lowlifes that other agencies can’t or won’t.”

“You make it sound all so easy.”

“Covert work is never easy Superintendent Zheng, but if the means justify the end and innocents are saved … then at the end of the day … it is worth it.”

“I like your philosophy Claire.” Zheng smiled, “I can see that you will fit in very well here.”

“Thank you … that’s why I am here.”

“There isn’t much you can do tonight. It’s late, go home and have a good night’s rest.”

“Will that be all Superintendent Zheng?”

“I expect to see you bright and early in the morning and we’ll go over the case at that time.”

“Of course.”

Then without looking at his young detective he informed Claire, “Angus will see you back home.”

“Thank you, Superintendent Zheng. Good night sir.”

 

The next morning ... down at the fishing docks in Aberdeen.

Charlie Yin and his son had been out fishing since the early hours of the morning and they had been rewarded with a plentiful catch. On the small docking area set aside for the transfer of their fish, Charlie and Han Yin were preparing the day’s harvest for transportation to various destinations. The two men were busily sorting through their catch of crabs and fish ready for the markets and floating restaurants that Aberdeen was famous for.

Charlie’s son was filleting the fish that would be packed in ice then transferred by sampan to Tai Bak Seafood Boat located in Aberdeen Harbour along with live specimens that people would choose for their dining pleasure tonight on the famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant. The air was full of the pungent smell of fish carcasses and Han’s clothing was covered in fish blood and guts. Wielding the sharp knife in his hand with precision and skill, he made light work of the task at hand as the hovering seagulls descended near where he was working waiting for titbits to come their way.

The father was proud of his son although Han could be a little impetuous at times. He was young and headstrong and was not always submissive to his father’s wishes. This worried Charlie especially when Tony Wong or his henchmen visited them for payment, as he never knew whether Han would do or say something to bring Tony Wong’s wrath upon them. If anything were to happen to his son, Charlie knew he would be in dire straits.

The local fishermen in the area were very frightened of Tony Wong and his connection with the Rising Dragons Triad added an extra dimension to that fear. Extortion payments were made every week and without fail Tony would come personally to supervise the handover of cash. These stand over tactics and intimidation to coerce money from the fishermen in Aberdeen had been going on for years; however, Tony Wong and the Rising Dragons were by far the most fearsome and the most threatening of any of the triads that had preceded them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

While father and son continued to go about their business, Han suddenly stopped his tasks and nervously exclaimed, “Father … look!”

Charlie glanced up from what he was doing and saw two black limousines slowly cruise along the dock. The cars stopped near where they were working. The blackened window in the rear of the second vehicle lowered, and Charlie could see the side view of his nemesis Tony Wong sitting in the back seat, cigar smoke rising in the air. He snapped his fingers and one of his henchmen got out of the car and approached Charlie Yin.

Without speaking to him, the bodyguard ushered Charlie over to the waiting vehicle. As he got closer, he could see that Tony was not alone in the automobile. A Chinese woman was sitting next to him draped all over his body like a rash. Her long red fingernails were running trails up and down his arm as her ruby red lips placed kisses to his cheek.

“Stop it babe. I’m here on business.”

“But Tony honey …” she pouted at him.

Brushing her aside like a bug he growled. “I said … stop it! … Later babe” and he pushed her clinging body to the other side of the car. Then ignoring her presence altogether, Tony Wong nodded to his bodyguard and Charlie was motioned to move closer to the window.

“Ah, Charlie Yin. You seem to have had a good catch today.”

“Yes Mr Wong … an exceptional catch.” Charlie muttered.

“Good.” Then casting his eyes his way Tony said, “Have you got it? Do you have my money?”

“I … I … I’m having some trouble Mr Wong … could I have a couple of more days?”

Without remorse, Tony gave a sign and three of his henchmen moved over to where Han Yin was working. One of the men pushed his head into the tub of crabs on the bench he was using and pushed it back and forth in the catch.

Charlie Yin followed their movement with his gaze worried that Han would do something hot headed if given the chance; however, he seemed to be subdued at the moment for Tony Wong’s men held him in a vice like grip. Charlie watched as his son started to struggle. Tony Wong’s bodyguards quickly began manhandling him preventing Han from retaliating. He quickly looked back toward the car again … worried … very worried. “Please Mr Wong … I’m begging you … don’t hurt my son.”

“Now, now Charlie … I’m a reasonable man.”

“Thank you, Mr Wong.” Charlie bowed, but another bodyguard backhanded him in the face then grabbed him roughly by the chin forcing him to look at Tony Wong.

“Don’t play games with me Charlie.”

“No games, I swear Mr Wong.”

“You have 24 hours.”

“But … but … that’s not possible. I can’t possibly raise the money by then.”

“That’s your problem Mr Yin ... not mine. You wouldn’t want to see anything else happen to your son or your boat, now would you?”

Charlie looked away toward his son. Three of Tony Wong’s henchmen stood next to the beleaguered figure of Han. He had just taken a blow to the face and blood trickled down his lip. Charlie watched as another bodyguard slapped him in the face again, and landed a swift Kung Fu kick to his stomach. Han doubled over in pain a beaten man.

“What do you think you’re here for Mr Yin?”

“To ask forgiveness of my most benevolent benefactor Tony Wong.”

“Good … And?”

“To pay the money I owe as quickly as possible.”

“Very good Charlie Yin. If you don’t want to see your son meet with an unforeseen accident …” he paused letting the words seep in, “… I would suggest that the money be here tomorrow same time. Understand?”

“Yes Mr Wong. I understand. I’ll have the money for you by tomorrow.”

“Yes! You will!”

Becoming restless with whole situation, the woman in the car muttered something alluringly to Tony and he replied, “Okay babe … I’m nearly finished.”

Ignoring her pouting demeanour, Tony Wong stated menacingly, “Oh just one more thing Charlie … failure to meet the deadline tomorrow would not be advisable …”

“No sir.”

“… Because … if you start messing around with me, I’ll finish you. Do I make myself clear?”

Before he could reply, Charlie Yin ducked as a loud explosion suddenly and unexpectedly rocked the wharf near where they were talking. The noise was deafening. Pieces of wood and debris tumbled into the air and onto the ground as smoke and fire billowed into the sky. The moored junk was ablaze while the sound of screaming could be heard as pandemonium broke out.

“I wouldn’t want you to suffer the same fate. Twenty-four hours! You’ve been warned!”

The window slowly rose and Charlie was left looking at his own reflection in the glass as the destructive scene behind him was mirrored in the limousine’s darkened window as well.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 9

“Ah, Mr Fraser. Come in. Please take a seat.”

“Thank you.”

Superintendent Xiao Zheng surreptitiously examined the man who had just entered his office. His eyes took in everything about this imposing man from the way he carried himself, his demeanour, to the clothes he was wearing. He had seen many a man who was as debonair as James Fraser but none who had the air of mystery and intrigue that this tall man with red hair displayed.

James Fraser was dressed in an expensive black, Italian made suit, silk tie and he carried a black briefcase. Zheng usually prided himself on a quick summation of a person’s character but the blank stare and succinct greeting gave him nothing to go on to ascertain any coherent opinion. He could not read anything on this man’s face. An imposing man, James Fraser gave nothing away; he was all business like and seemed to be a man with a definite purpose. All he knew was that he was a conundrum of the likes he had not come across before.

He would hold his opinion until he knew this man’s business.

“What brings you to Hong Kong Mr Fraser?”

“I’m a private investigator,” Jamie said as he placed his identification on the desk for Zheng’s appraisal of his credentials.

The Superintendent gave the documentation a quick glance before looking Jamie in the eye and asking, “What can I do for you?"

“I have been employed by Monsieur Alain de Marillac, the French Canadian ambassador to China. Do you know of him?”

“It is my job to know everyone of importance in China, Mr Fraser,” he answered intrigued at Fraser’s answer to who his employer was.

“Of course.”

Leaning back in his chair Zheng he inquired, “And why does he need your services?”

“I’m here to investigate the whereabouts of Monsieur de Marillac’s daughter Annalise, who has been missing in Hong Kong for some months.”

“There are a number of reasons why people go missing Mr Fraser … mental or medical conditions, child abuse, financial stress to avoid creditors, suicide or homicide. Locating missing persons, especially when they have no desire to be found, is often a time-consuming exercise. Miss de Marillac could have staged her own disappearance.”

“I doubt it … they think she could be a victim of foul play and have grave concerns for her safety.”

“When was the last time her parents heard from their daughter?”

“They have had no contact with her except for a phone call a couple of days ago stating that she was involved in something that was very dangerous.”

“Her name is not familiar to us Mr Fraser.”

Opening his briefcase James took out a photograph and slid it across the desk to Superintendent Zheng. “This is a photograph of the young woman in question.”

Leaning forward, Zheng took the photograph and studied it closely knowing immediately that the missing link in his case had just been presented to him. They knew her under an alias but this new information of her real identity and family connections could prove to be explosive … very explosive indeed. He raised his eyes to the figure of the commanding man sitting opposite.

“Would it be okay if I kept this photograph for our investigations Mr Fraser?

“Certainly.”

Glancing at Jamie and then at the photograph again Zheng stated, “I’m sorry to have to inform you Mr Fraser, but the woman you are looking for was found murdered along with others, on a junk yesterday in the South China Sea.”

“Hmm … I see. I will need to inform my client of this information.”

“As you wish … but this is a police matter and as such it is we who will inform Mr de Marillac.”

“Of course, … however, Monsieur de Marillac will want to keep his name and that of his daughter out of the newspapers.”

“I can’t guarantee that will be the case Mr Fraser.”

“Given Monsieur de Marillac’s position within the community and diplomatic circles, this is top priority and completely necessary.” Jamie continued stressing the importance of confidentially in this matter. “He will also not wish to have my name involved or implicated as well as this will be a clandestine investigation on his behalf. The less people know the better.”

“Yes I see.”

“Any sign of foul play in the death of his daughter would reflect badly on the Consulate, Superintendent Zheng, and you wouldn’t want that would you?”

With furrowed brows Zheng replied, “You’re not threatening me are you Mr Fraser?”

“Certainly not!” Jamie stated matter factually before menacingly continuing, “But the family of a consulate member is sacrosanct and under exterritoriality privilege with diplomatic immunity. What Monsieur de Marillac wants in this investigation he will get. Is that clear enough Superintendent Zheng?”

“I will need to check with my superiors and seek advisement.”

“Of course,” Jamie answered. “Do you know who was responsible for her death?”

“We suspect that she was murdered by one of her clients,” he hedged.

“Clients?”

“Yes … It was obvious by what evidence we found that she was a high society call girl … a prostitute.”

“And how was she murdered?”

“It would appear that it was a frenzied, sexual ritual type murder.”

“Do you have any leads on her murder?”

“We are following several at the moment. According to her appointment book, there was no appointment listed for several hours prior to her death. Her last client has an alibi for the critical missing hours. But a man who would pay for sexual favours would have no compunction about murder, Mr Fraser.”

“You mentioned a ritual, type murder … how could this be?”

“There were signs that it may somehow be associated with a triad group here in Hong Kong. But this is yet to be proven.”

“Hmm? I will need a copy of all the evidence you have thus far.”

“That will not be possible I’m afraid. All evidence of a capital crime is confidential.”

“Superintendent Zheng, in case of this very scenario, my superiors have made contingency plans, especially given the highly sensitive nature of the people involved.” James Fraser again reached into his briefcase and withdrew a document signed by the Hong Kong Chief Commissioner of Police and addressed to him.

Passing the documentation over to Superintendent Zheng, the policeman incredulously read the contents. The document authorized access for James Fraser, to any and all evidence and investigation data on Mademoiselle Annalise de Marillac in the event that she was found murdered. Looking up at James Fraser, Superintendent Zheng was met with a blank stare.

“This is most unusual,” he stated as he continued to read the document taken aback at its confidential content. Furthermore, it ordered Superintendent Zheng to assign James Fraser to work with the undercover agent from Australia, Miss Claire Beauchamp, in apprehending the perpetrator or perpetrators of the crime, without any interference whatsoever.

Superintendent Xiao Zheng was somewhat flummoxed by the orders he had in front of him. He cast another covert look at James Fraser reluctantly saying. “Very well … I will introduce you to your partner on this case,” and with that Zheng dialled the number to Claire’s work desk.

“It may be best if you speak to Miss Beauchamp without my presence Superintendent and say that I will meet her tomorrow in your office. You can explain the logistics of her new assignment to her better if I am not present.”

“As you wish,” he replied as Jamie stood and took his leave.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire Beauchamp was working at her computer reading the data that the police had on the junk murders for Superintendent Zheng had assigned her some routine investigative duties and to get her up to speed until he decided where best to use her expertise. She looked up when Mei Ling passed by her desk and handed her a drink.

“There you go.”

“Thanks.” Claire replied as the telephone on her desk rang insistently.

“Well … I can see that you are busy Claire,” Mei replied eyeing the ringing telephone, “I better get back to work too …”

Smiling at the young girl, Claire absent-mindedly picked up the phone and answered, “Hong Kong Police Headquarters. Claire Beauchamp speaking, how may I help you?”

“Would you come to my office immediately?”

“Yes sir.”

 

Later that evening at Claire’s apartment ... (S)

 

Fresh from an invigorating shower, Claire was busily pampering herself in the bathroom. Having smoothed some jasmine lotion onto her skin and leaving a provoking aroma in the air, she padded barefoot to her bedroom and began rummaging around in her drawer looking for her favourite top. Once found she casually pulled the blue cotton tank top over her head and put on comfortable sweat pants. Running her hands through her hair Claire then worked her magic and twisted her slightly damp tresses into a ponytail with wispy bangs framing her face.

Before she had a chance to slip into her loafers the sound of a sharp knock resounded throughout the apartment and stopped her in her tracks. Thinking it was the pizza deliveryman Rudy from Dino’s the downstairs Italian restaurant; Claire made her way to the door the money to pay for the pizza in her hand.

However, prior to answering Claire looked through the security cam screen … but it wasn’t Rudy with the pizza at all. Her eyes were fixated to the screen and the person standing there.

“Jamie.”

She breathed his name like a litany on her lips, the sound resembling a prayer to her ears. Lovingly touching the face on the video screen, her heart skipped a beat at the sight. Claire’s knees went weak at seeing him waiting there, then taking a deep breath to compose herself she reached for the handle and unlocked the door.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Fraser waited silently at the entrance of Claire’s new apartment. He was dressed in his usual black clothing with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. At the sound of the door opening, he turned to face her, his eyes caressing Claire from head to toe as she stood on the threshold of her door.

“Mind if I come in?” Jamie asked in a voice that was raw with emotion and virtually impossible to hear.

Yes, she minded. She minded a lot, for the sight of him standing there made the butterflies in her stomach flutter uncontrollably.

James Fraser had been occupying her thoughts way too much since Superintendent Zheng had said that she was required to go undercover with a James Fraser when he’d called her into his office earlier today, but … What was Jamie doing here at this hour when her boss had said she would meet him at the police station tomorrow? She thought. Claire knew she needed to focus, but Jamie’s presence at her apartment tonight was so unexpected that she was a little flustered at him being there. Although she tried to avoid her mentor’s intense scrutiny, Claire failed to do so and her eyes locked on his.

Standing on the threshold and not moving, Jamie’s face encapsulated Claire’s form, taking inventory of her casual attire. The light smell of jasmine invaded his senses as he waited for her all-important answer.

What she really wanted to do was to drag Jamie in and lead him straight into her bedroom where they could make love until nothing else mattered except mindless pleasure just like in her dream before his phone call had roused her the other morning. Hoping her face didn’t betray her feelings, Claire whispered huskily, “Sure … Come in.”

“Thank ye.”

“You just have to see this magnificent view,” she mumbled nervously saying the first thing that came into her head.

James rather liked the view in front of him better. Claire was illuminating in her tank top and sweat pants … and she looked so carefree. His eyes looked deep into hers, heavy with hidden emotions, then stepping inside Jamie closed the door behind him. The hint of a smile bowed his lips at her nervousness. His eyes stroked over her face, drawn once more to the lips he had kissed and to the beautiful mouth of the woman he wanted with every breath in his body.

She met Jamie’s commanding, patent gaze but Claire shifted hers between his face and the floor, not sure of how to handle the situation. Going weak at the knees Claire felt Jamie’s blue eyes bore into her but she couldn’t hold his intense scrutiny. Lowering her eyes, she studied the sterile, boring tiles in the entry of her apartment, her inner thoughts in turmoil of his nearness.

She’d wondered when he would make an appearance in Hong Kong and they would go after the Rising Dragons’ triad but now that he was really here, she was skittish in his presence. He always managed to unnerve her and tonight was no different. When Superintendent Zheng had said that she was to partner a James Fraser on an undercover mission, her heart had skipped a beat at just the sound of his name. She had kept her cool though in front of the police officer but she was so pleased that he had finally arrived.

Looking down at Claire’s hand Jamie touched it lightly, offering a small symbol of their bond. His touch felt as if she’d been scorched by fire and she raised her gaze to his. “I’m glad you’re here.”

Then impetuously she leaned in and placed a soft kiss to his cheek.

Looking up, Jamie felt Claire’s supple lips burning across his cheek; his eyes closed. Overwhelmed with her impetuous gesture, he paused for only a second and then took the initiative and leaned in to touch his lips to Claire’s cheek in return.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie’s lips were so soft and the feeling of them against her hot cheeks was heavenly. Although he started at her cheeks he soon began to kiss over toward her mouth. Once started … they couldn’t stop. He couldn’t stop. James Fraser continued his sensual assault, but so did Claire Beauchamp.

They exchanged two soft kisses before Claire’s hand snaked up to Jamie’s shoulder as he started to kiss her cheek and then her neck. His eyes closed and his emotions built up rapidly. Hesitantly at first, Claire moved forward, nuzzling her cheek to Jamie’s and then turned her face to give him a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth. But being so close to him stretched the limits of her resistance.

His knuckle grazed her hip. Claire’s breasts tightened, her nipples hardened, followed by the most delightful tremor that cascaded down her spine.

Jamie didn’t appear to even notice the distress she was suffering as he turned his face and caught Claire’s kiss fully with his own. His tongue darted out over the softness of her lips, lips he had come to know so well. The kiss became more heated, deeper … more desperate … and Claire lifted her hands to remove his leather jacket sliding it down off Jamie’s shoulders and letting it fall at his feet. Reluctantly his mouth left hers ... but his gaze scorched Claire as they both inhaled a little oxygen.

Leaning forward Claire kissed along Jamie’s jaw line and down his neck leaving trails of desire in her wake. He savoured the feel of her body memorizing every nuance of Claire and the way she was making him feel.

Rather than moving away so she could breathe, Jamie deliberately invaded her space. Claire slowly backed up toward the hallway table. Her pulse rate was racing … her skin flushed with desire. He pursued. Following Claire’s backward movement James Fraser moved forward like a predator stalking its prey. He braced his hands on the surface of the table as his body bracketed Claire’s hips. Leaning toward her, Jamie held Claire captive with his mesmerizing gaze and hands, his lips a whisper away from hers.

Claire’s heart started hammering in her chest all over again. Hearing the accelerated beats in her head Claire closed her eyes as Jamie leaned in closer.

“Sass-en-ach.”

James Fraser had never called her this before and she liked it. This pet name rolled off his tongue like a caress to her lips. Claire felt the soft, warm air of his speech while Jamie’s gaze scorched her as he looked deep within the blue pools of her eyes.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 10 (S)

 

Claire Beauchamp was frozen to the place where she stood … trapped with her back against the hallway table. She couldn’t move even if she wanted to for she was Jamie’s willing captive. Expelling a breath, she wished he would draw back a little since she was having difficulty in thinking coherently … but it was a double-edged sword because Claire also wanted him closer at the same time. James Fraser’s smell invaded her senses; her breathing was shallow and her heartbeats accelerated heightening her anticipation of what he would do next.

As if hearing her silent plea, Jamie removed one hand from the table; but drew his fingers lightly down Claire’s thigh to her knee, then back up again. Struggling to ignore the heat building in her stomach, she tried to concentrate but was fighting a losing battle. His eyes pierced her own in such an intense way that Claire could not look away. All she could do was feel the delicious, tactile glide of Jamie’s hand across the fabric of her sweat pants but wishing it was against her naked skin. A wry smirk slowly appeared on his mouth at her reaction to his touch for James Fraser knew exactly what he was doing. All of a sudden, she felt some dampness in her panties when the heat of Jamie’s palm slid more boldly down her leg drawing enticing but distracting patterns along her thigh. Unable to fight the feelings exacerbated by his touch, she shifted, easing her legs slightly apart to give him plenty of room.

Their eyes met and held.

Claire had little trouble whatsoever discerning the meaning of his actions for James Fraser stared at her mouth like a starving man thirsting for water. So powerful was his hypnotic gaze, that she felt the caress of his lips even without any tangible connection. She’d fallen under his spell and although her thoughts were centred hopefully on what was to come, she muttered feebly, “Oh! … Umm … Thanks for the flowers Ja-mie … they … were beautiful.”

“Ye’re beautiful, mo nighean donn,” he replied, as he dipped his head and nuzzled the side of Claire’s neck with intent. Jamie’s Scottish brogue was so much more apparent when they were alone like this than when he was in Section mode and his words washed over her like a caress.

“What? ... What does that mean?”

“My brown-haired lass,” Jamie replied splaying his fingers through her tresses.

Her heart suddenly accelerated. “O-oh,” she uttered loving the way those words rolled off his tongue.

However, in his mind’s eye, Jamie suddenly saw flashes of the dead body of Annalise de Marillac, and he couldn’t rid his mind of her disturbing likeness to Claire and the dead woman’s involvement with the Rising Dragons. This was a dangerous mission, for this Triad was cold-blooded and deadly. If the truth be known he was concerned for Claire’s safety even though he knew she could look after herself.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

With his thigh nestled between her legs, Jamie pulled her closer to his body and tightening his embrace began a slow seduction.

A rush of breath left Claire’s mouth when Jamie’s tongue nailed the sensitive spot between her shoulder and neck. She shivered with the sensation of his caress to her flushed skin and tipping her head to the side, gave him further access to her flesh. Jamie knew exactly where to touch her that would have the greatest effect on her sanity. Erotically nipping at her skin with his teeth he then soothed the spot with his tongue again and again. Claire sighed happily when Jamie’s determined fingers gently massaged her inner thigh while at the same time his addictive lips left wonderful little love nips along the column of her throat.

Unable to resist the onslaught of Jamie Fraser’s attack, Claire tightened her grip on the edge of the table as her body began to fall apart. He tongued the hollow of her throat and lathed it sensually against her skin. Moaning his name out loud, Claire tipped her head back and thrust her breasts forward willing Jamie to touch her, to cup the weight of her breasts in his palm and to take her in his mouth.

Raising his head Jamie looked down at Claire’s flushed face with passion filled eyes now changed to a deep smoky hue. He pried her fingers from the table and lifted her arms over her head, but just as he was about to remove her tank top the ringing of the doorbell startled them halting his actions.

“Damn!” Claire muttered disappointment dripping from her words and closing her eyes she nestled her head against Jamie’s chest willing whoever was at her door to beat a hasty retreat.

“Oh, no! Go away!” she admonished in her brain.

Jamie pulled back to look down at her. “Expecting someone else?” he asked amusingly.

Managing a weak smile Claire shook her head. It was probably her dinner. She had completely forgotten about the pizza order from the down stairs Deli. “Pizza delivery I think.”

However, Jamie did not relinquish his hold on her straight away. Capturing Claire’s hands once more, he pulled her away from the table and pressed his body flush against hers. Going weak at the knees, her heart was pounding in her chest for Claire could feel Jamie’s arousal nestled against her. Leaning her head against his chest she tried to calm her breathing then looking up at him, she saw the disappointment in his eyes that she too felt. She didn’t want to move but with more reluctance than she would ever believe possible, Claire Beauchamp slipped out of James Fraser’s embrace and went to answer the door frustrated with the untimely interruption.

Gazing back at him, she managed to say huskily, “I’ll be right back.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Ahhh! Mei … what are you doing here?” Claire asked incredulously when she finally opened the door.

“Superintendent Zheng sent me over here to keep you company.”

“Oh! … I see.”

“I’m here to take you out to dinner.” Mei cheerily replied waiting for Claire to invite her inside the apartment. “Hong Kong’s culinary delights are legendary. What would you like? Italian? Nepalese? Cantonese?”

“Ahh! That’s very nice of you Mei … but …”

“Hello,” sounded a male voice behind Claire as she stood at the open door.

Looking up and seeing James Fraser standing there, Mei Ling looked at Claire apologetically and answered, “Oh. I’m sorry Claire; I didn’t know you had company. I’ll go.”

“No … no … stay,” she answered Mei trying to allay her new friend’s perceived embarrassment at perhaps having disturbed her evening with a male guest.

However, it was Jamie’s words that eased the situation for the young police recruit. “I’m just leaving anyway I’m afraid,” he stated matter of factually. “Miss Beauchamp and I were just getting … acquainted, but our business is concluded.”

With disappointment registering in her eyes, Claire glanced at Jamie. He was standing there as if the past few moments hadn’t occurred and was again wearing his leather jacket that she had dropped on the floor. She gave him another quizzical glance then looking at Mei Ling said, “Why don’t you go into the lounge room Mei … I’ll just see Mr Fraser out.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie’s voice echoed loud enough for Mei Ling to hear in the other room. “I look forward to working undercover with you Claire.”

“Until tomorrow then …” she replied in a similar manner.

James Fraser lightly brushed her arm and raised his eyes to hers. Claire saw the regret registered there also for the untimely interruption by the young lass. Keeping his gaze locked with hers, Jamie lifted Claire’s hand to gently cup her wrist, then bent his head and stroked his tongue across her palm. Straightening up, he let his fingers glide from her wrist, along her hand, then slowly over her fingertips.

Claire felt his touch as if a bolt of lightning had struck her. She was melting on the spot as her eyes closed in lament of what might have been had they not been disturbed.

Then … he was gone. Turning, James Fraser had walked out of the door, not looking back.

Hearing the door shut quietly behind him, Claire opened her eyes. She looked at her hand and brought the area that Jamie had kissed to her mouth and nose. Nuzzling the spot he had caressed, a dreamy expression crossed her face. She took a moment to compose herself before returning to the lounge room where Mei Ling was waiting for her.

“I’ve ordered pizza. Why don’t you stay and share some with me instead of going out.”

 

The next morning the mission begins...

 

Before departing for Aberdeen, Claire and Jamie had sat in Superintendent Zheng’s office being briefed on last minute details. Xiao Zheng was not at all happy with the fact that Claire Beauchamp was to go off with James Fraser to Aberdeen for he’d had reservations about him from the moment they had first met. However, Zheng was convinced that if all else failed, it was, after all, better to keep your friends close and your enemies closer … if … James Fraser was indeed an enemy. Claire though, had appeased his suspicions, convincing him that she could keep an eye on Mr Fraser while taking advantage of his connections to solve this case.

She had argued the fact that being a couple would provide an excellent cover for them than if they were on their own. Zheng was under no illusion about what may lay ahead for these two. He was resolved to the fact that undercover work was covert but it appeared these two people were not new to this type of subterfuge. Both of their résumés had outlined the many times they had been on assignments such as this one. Nevertheless, that still didn’t make his concern any the less. After all Claire Beauchamp was on exchange and under his protection. If anything should happen to her … well … he loathed thinking of the consequences. Xiao had his misgivings about the very plausible scenarios Claire had outlined, but he had reluctantly agreed to them travelling together stating that back up would be available if needed despite his orders from head office.

On the other hand, Superintendent Zheng was still at sixes and sevens about sending his exchange colleague on a mission with this private investigator, no matter how good was his or her résumé. As a precaution he had checked out James Fraser’s credentials, and he had come up clean with a very impressive body of work as well. It appeared that Fraser was a former MI6 officer who had been seconded to work as a special agent for the FBI in his area of expertise … Organized Crime. He had travelled extensively throughout the United States and Europe while conducting investigations and interviewing difficult suspects, thus developing a network of investigative contacts nationwide. Moving into private investigating for a career change, James Fraser still was highly regarded and often worked in conjunction with the police in undercover work on sensitive cases.

Fraser’s credentials had been categorically verified also when he had earlier contacted the Chief Commissioner to confirm his documentation. Zheng had been given the short shift by his commanding officer when they had spoken on the phone. It seemed that in matters of national security and diplomacy, pairing the two was a win-win situation for the Hong Kong police, and Zheng was reminded of this very succinctly. Without it being verbalized, he knew he was to “stay out of their way and under no circumstances was he to meddle or try to contact them whilst undercover.”

Having been convinced from many quarters and given that the French-Canadian ambassador Monsieur Alain de Marillac would not have engaged his services if the man wasn’t what he appeared to be; Zheng reluctantly saw James Fraser in a slightly different light. The man was very interesting and there was something in his eyes. He finally realised just what it was that he saw … it was power. James Fraser was a very foreboding individual who would not be crossed. Good … then he'll protect her, he’d thought optimistically.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Angus, show Mr Fraser and Claire their vehicle, would you?”

“Sure thing Boss,” he replied as he led the way to the elevators in the corridor.

Looking at Claire, Zheng added, “And make sure there are no scratches or dents anywhere on the car while you’re at it …” he ordered, “… or it will come out of your wages!”

“Yes sir!”

As he observed James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp leave, his canny police eyes studied the couple once more. What he saw aroused his suspicions. Could it be that these two knew each other? No! … That was not possible! Zheng reflected on their meeting in his office. It had been quite aloof and even some antagonism was evident … a fact he had attributed to their pairing. In his experience undercover people liked to work alone and here they were with a sanctioned pairing at the request of the Chief Commissioner. He only hoped that they would get on together and achieve the end results for all of them. Zheng watched as they left the premises and entered the lift that would take them to their waiting car. Claire turned and gave him a cheeky smile and a wave as the doors closed behind them. James Fraser on the other hand stood resolutely … his face a blank mask.

Returning to his desk, Xiao sat back in his chair lost in concentration. James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp appeared to be so in sync, so attuned to each other that there was an air of togetherness about the couple, as if they had worked together before. He knew that was not feasible but they certainly struck a chord with him in their demeanour. There was something about that Mr. Fraser that he couldn’t quite put his finger on also and it irked him. Dressed all in black he looked menacing, dangerous and the minimal movement of his gestures left him wondering. James Fraser was so difficult to read and … that blank stare of his was compelling. The man was too self-assured … possibly a legacy of his type of work. Perhaps I am just too distrustful, he thought. I’ve been on this job too long. Even the good guys are starting to look suspicious.

Zheng laughed at his ramblings knowing that if he were a younger man, in similar circumstances, he too would have jumped at the chance of working with Claire Beauchamp undercover. However, if he had been left out of the loop and there was more going on than at first appearances then … he would not be happy.

He would be demanding some explanations … from very high places.

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 11

Jamie surreptitiously studied the alluring woman standing next to him in the elevator who had cheekily waved to a stoic Superintendent Zheng as they’d left his office. He quietly applauded Claire’s bravado in winning him over this morning as her handling of the hardnosed policeman had been effortless. Zheng had fallen under her charm since Claire had arrived at police headquarters, while her naturalness had endeared her to her colleagues. She never failed to spread her charisma everywhere it would seem, managing to captivate all kinds of people spontaneously with her compassion. However, it was this very compassion that Section One wanted to crush, but Jamie knew it was such an integral part of who Claire was and why she did the things she did.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ever since she had been recruited to Section One and because he was her trainer, Jamie had been well aware that Claire Beauchamp was different to the other recruits. She was a young street person falsely accused of murdering a police officer and sentenced to life in prison when recruited. These were the people that Section would give a second chance to if they were willing to live by Section One’s rule. Claire was one such person and was selected by Section as “material” with potential and given the opportunity to serve society as a warrior against terrorism. The alternative was death.

For two years he had been her trainer and mentor for Section One … a covert secret government organization that resorted to measures that would be unacceptable for most government organizations … and they owned her now. Jamie remembered well the first time he had laid eyes on Section’s new recruit Claire Beauchamp. She was a wilful and stubborn, raw, frightened and beautiful street-smart woman who was assigned to him to train. Claire was wary of him and she was terrified of where she was and why she was there in a locked white room.

“Good morning. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“What is this?” She cast a sideway glance his way obviously not knowing who she was dealing with … the best of the best at Section One.

“You’re not in prison anymore. The world thinks you’re dead. Suicide. This is your funeral. Row 8, plot 30,” he replied showing her a picture of a gravestone at the cemetery. “We’ve decided to give you another chance. This is where you’ll train. This is where you’ll learn. After two years, if everything goes well, you’ll work for us.”

Her eyes were wide with questions she wanted to know the answer to. “Why me?”

“A woman with your looks, who can kill in cold blood…”

Claire cut off what else he was going to say. She was adamant that her crime was false and that she was innocent. Her words were guttural, pleading and emphasised with vehemence. “I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t kill anyone!”

She lashed out at James Fraser in self-defence but was immobilised by his swift action to foil her assault.

“When you attack someone from behind, go for the kidneys. It disables them and they can’t fight back.”

“I don’t want … I don’t want lessons!”

Claire had been recalcitrant from the get go, but he knew a challenge when he saw one. “Training starts tomorrow at five a.m.”

His voice had been soft … but threateningly authoritative. Her eyes had searched his face with a bravado he knew she was probably not feeling. “And if I don’t want to?”

“Row 8, plot 30,” was his succinct answer which really left her with no options but to do as he said.

James Fraser had soon sized her up and noted that underneath her rebellious façade was a woman with great potential and courage if only she could learn to behave and accept her fate. Her jaw was set tight, her eyes had blazed with defiance but she didn’t reply but merely nodded ever so slightly. She had chosen to fight.

For two years she had been his material, he was responsible for her every move in her intensive training to be a Section One operative. Claire Beauchamp had been given a new identity and a codename … Josephine. He had groomed her to be a cold-blooded killer, but her humanity always seemed to get in the way. Madeline saw her potential due to her looks and had given her the ultimatum that Section One owned her and if she wanted to live it would be on their terms. She could learn to shoot and fight, but it was her beauty that was her means of gaining an advantage and defending herself in a conflict. There was no weapon as powerful as her femininity and Madeline had seen to it that Claire’s womanly charms had been honed until she was set a test. Nearing the end of her training Operations had said he’s been monitoring her and found that Claire lacked discipline. He’d replied stating that she just needed a little more time but his superior had been pragmatic.

“It’s been two years Jamie. That’s our policy. We start making exceptions, we’re no better than the CIA. Cancel her.”

“I think that would be a mistake. I think she could be a good operative.”

“If she fails, you fail.”

Claire Beauchamp had not failed in her first mission and she had saved his life by killing the terrorist but despite her first kill she never did quite fit in. Her rebellious attitude, however, was tolerated because she got the job done and their leaders were well aware that her methods were many times against all Section One rules. He knew that Madeline’s Mona Lisa smile made her fume and that the steel look in Operation’s eyes made her want to disobey every order thrown at her and his face had angered her most of all. When she first came into Section One, he knew that Claire couldn’t read him. His face was blank although emotions swam beneath it but out of reach. He scared her and Claire liked to be in control of her destiny. With him though, she already knew she’d have none. Something told her that she wouldn’t have control anymore.

She’d rebelled against everyone and everything in Section One and it was hoped that he could rein in her propensity for bucking the system because of who he was … Section’s leading operative. No one disobeyed him, but that didn’t mean he didn’t disobey his superiors. Claire Beauchamp had changed him in ways he was still coming to terms with.

Oh, how things had changed over the two years that they had been partners. Jamie knew that Claire was in love with him but it had taken him a while to get used to how she had wormed her way into his heart. Now he would do anything for her to keep her safe and out of the hands of their manipulative leaders. He could ill afford for her to become his weakness but that is just what Claire Beauchamp had become and Dougal Mackenzie’s words resounded in his head.

“It would be a mistake to become emotionally attached to the material.”

But it was too late for that. He was already emotionally attached.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The lift eventually came to a stop and once outside the building, they made their way to the parking lot where a car was waiting for them. Angus Mhor directed them to a gleaming, black, Mercedes coupe compliments of the Hong Kong police department parked in the shade of a tree. “Nothing but the best it would seem,” Angus stated as he guided them to the impressive car.

“Very nice Angus,” Claire replied as she examined the car.

He looked at Jamie warily, as he handed him the keys to the vehicle. “We have the highest number of Mercedes Benz’s per capita in the world … you’ll just look like any other young millionaire in Hong Kong in that little beauty.”

James Fraser just gave him a penetrating look, took the keys and made his way to the driver’s side of the car.

Turning back towards Claire to help her into the vehicle, Angus mumbled quietly under his breath. “Sheesh … doesn’t he ever lighten up? That guy’s wound up as tight as a spring.”

“What did you say Angus?”

“Ahh! Nothing important,” he said holding Claire’s door open for her to enter the Mercedes.

“Thank you,” she responded smiling, as she hopped into the passenger seat.

He closed the door after her with a firm hand. “See you when you get back,” Angus replied, then looking at Claire hopefully while leaning on the window frame he added, “You sure you don’t want me to be your driver?”

Impatient to leave, Jamie cast another blank look Angus’s way as his leather-gloved hand turned on the ignition and the car idled.

“Driving in Hong Kong is a nightmare … you saw that on the way here from the airport”.

“We’ll be fine.”

Unremittingly he continued, “The highway system is complex, with clogged roads and devilish parking.”

“Stop it Angus! You’re incorrigible!” Claire laughed indulgently.

“Can’t blame a guy for trying? Can you?” He winked cheekily. “Good luck.”

Revving the engine with some irritation to be on their way, Jamie skilfully manoeuvred the car past Angus Mhor when he finally stepped away from Claire’s open window.
“What’s the matter Jamie?” Claire asked as she glanced at him.

James Fraser merely gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, returning her look with his patent blank stare and concentrated on manoeuvring the Mercedes from the police station car park into the busy morning traffic. His failure to answer her question verbally had itself been her answer.

“Hmm … Patented Jamie answer … the blank stare. I’d swear you were a little jealous … ” she thought happily.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Leaving the police station behind them, Jamie and Claire’s destination was the floating city of Aberdeen, the largest satellite town on the southwest side of Hong Kong Island, where the junk obviously originated looking for a proverbial needle in a haystack.

Jamie’s driving expertise was surely tested in the congested traffic on the road leading to their entry point. A bewildering plethora of buses, narrow double-decker trams and cars clogged the streets as the bustle of people living and working here went about their business. Hong Kong Island, the glitzy big brother of Kowloon was tightly packed with overcrowded housing area and financial centres towering into the skyline … a paean to market capitalism. Opulence and poverty existed side by side in a country where Chinese culture was assimilated with Colonialism extending back to the Opium War and British sovereignty.

They drove along Causeway Bay heading toward Aberdeen, on the southern side of the island, where six thousand people lived or worked on junks anchored in the harbour. The day was typical of Hong Kong’s temperate climate warm and barmy, and Claire opened her window to let in the breeze as they sped along the motorway. The air whipped her tresses around her face but Claire didn’t care. She felt free although at the back of her mind the mission was still paramount in her head.

Travelling in relative silence along the motorway, each was lost in thoughts of the other.

The atmosphere in the car was relaxed for Section One’s two operatives. Driving along it was so simple for Jamie and Claire to feel that they were two people on an adventurous holiday seeking out exotic locations, just like any other normal couple. Claire casually glanced over at Jamie wishing that last night had ended differently, but knowing that they would have other opportunities to be together. She smiled as if the cat had just swallowed the canary. Yes, she was sure there would be another time and another place and … besides she still had to show Jamie the view from her apartment. Pensively, Claire looked out of the window lost in thought.

James Fraser cast a look Claire’s way with similar thoughts running through his mind also. He saw her self-satisfied smile, as nothing about her moods escaped him. Last night had been so similar to other times when they had been interrupted. They had only just begun to get started when … wham! Jamie could see the funny side of it however, and a small wry smile crossed his lips at the thought that Fergus was not the only one who could dampen the mood.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Turning his eyes back to the road, Jamie manoeuvred the Mercedes through the busy, Hong Kong Island traffic. Eventually he entered Hardcourt Road and headed toward the entrance to Aberdeen Tunnel on the Wan Chai Side. Angus had said that the traffic was a nightmare and how true were his words. Cars and vehicles of all shapes and sizes clogged the roads. The motorway was packed but Jamie placed the car in auto drive and settled in for the long haul to Aberdeen. Along the way they passed through many residential and business districts but the steady stream of traffic seemed to follow them with no sight of it petering out.

After some time, Claire saw the exit for Aberdeen and Jamie veered the car to the Wang Chuk Hang Side of the Aberdeen Tunnel, knowing that soon as they arrived in Aberdeen they would be looking for a package that would lead them to Sun Yee Lok and thus bring down the Rising Dragons’ triad.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie steered the Mercedes along the winding coastal road closer to Aberdeen, known as Little Fragrant Harbour, in the south west of Hong Kong Island. Following the stretch of water as far as the eye could see was invigorating for them and the sea breeze wafted through the open windows of the Mercedes. As they neared Aberdeen Harbour, the sight before them was certainly an eye opener for hundreds of junks and sampans, the floating homes for thousands of people, bobbed into sight in the distance. They were crowded into the narrow harbour dramatically juxtaposed against the modern high-rise buildings that spread up in the nearby hillsides. It was amazing to see these unique junks floating against the backdrop of skyscrapers … a blend of the old with the new.

Aberdeen Harbour was breath taking especially in the early morning sun. Once a pirates den nearly two centuries ago Aberdeen had turned into a simple fishing village port nestled in its typhoon shelter of the calm waters of the harbour. Despite modernization traditional fishing life still prevailed, and the unique fishing vessels served as boat workplaces and home to many Chinese, just as the junks and sampans had been used as homes for thousands of years before.

It was easy for Jamie and Claire to see how Triads like the Rising Dragons reigned in such a setting. The uncomplicated lifestyle of the people coupled with the dominance and intimidation of such groups would be rampant amongst these simple fishing folks whose traditional way of life was still an integral characteristic of harbour life and activity. Consequently, they had no means to thwart the criminal undertakings of such a powerful organisation. The boats would leave port for weeks at a time fishing the South China Sea and then return to Aberdeen for safe harbour from the weather, only to experience turbulence in form of intimidation by extortion racketeers.

Finding the origin of the fated junk that held the secrets of Annalise de Marillac and Chen Wu’s death and the connection to the Rising Dragons may prove to be more difficult than they first thought for Aberdeen was the location of a plethora of floating junks in a sea of vessels … and where would they start to look?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As they neared their destination, the mood in the car changed noticeably as each realised that the mission was now in play. Jamie and Claire also knew their brief taste of an ordinary life had just changed. Although they were away from the visual surveillance of Section One, they were not a normal couple on holiday and they were never far enough away for total freedom. At any given time, they could and would be reminded that they were two people doing a job, nothing more, nothing less with set parameters and objectives.

The lively sound of Fergus Claudel’s voice echoing in their comm. units soon brought them back to their reality with a thud.

“Jamie?”

Where they were and their prime objective … the mission target … was all they were here for. Both looked at the other with a tinge of regret. Reluctantly returning his eyes to the road Jamie replied, “Yes Fergus?”

“There was an explosion on the south wharf yesterday morning. A fishing vessel was blown out of the water.”

“And …?”

“It’s unlikely that it was a boating accident. Whoever was responsible was making a point to one of his customers.”

“Was it the target?”

“It’s highly likely that it was Tony Wong.”

“His target?”

“A man called Charlie Yin. He could be a point of reference.”

“Do ye have a location?”

“His boat is situated near the entrance of the wharf … but he will be moving out again within the hour.”

“Thank ye.”

“I’ll keep you posted.”

“Okay.”

Claire looked over to Jamie with a questioning look on her face at what Fergus had just told them, “I’m a little confused.”

“About what?”

“This Charlie Yin. Is he going to lead us to Wong?”

“Aye.”

“But … can we trust this guy?

“We need tae trust him enough.”

“Enough to relay Intel about Tony Wong?”

“Aye.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

They proceeded a few kilometres further until they saw the entrance to the Aberdeen wharf. Jamie parked the car and got out ever watchful for any anomaly. Claire did the same, then both of them perused the perimeter of the wharf looking for anything suspicious. Reflected in the sunglasses covering their eyes was the awesome setting before them. They could see what appeared to be thousands of dilapidated boats carpeted in Aberdeen Harbour … and they all looked alike. Not only were there junks but the imposing Floating Restaurants came into view as well. It was abuzz with traffic coming and going as the ubiquitous boat people that lived on the vessels made their way toward the dock in a variety of watercrafts. In a hurry scurry of jostling vessels each craft vied to find any remaining best advantage points along the wharf to off load their morning’s catch.

“Fergus we’re here.”

“Good. … Proceed.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 12 (V)

Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp looked around and saw people going about their business. The wharf was a hive of activity and they saw the boat dwellers doing their daily routines: cleaning and putting away fishing gear, relaxing with a cup of tea and some even playing mah-jong after an exhausting day’s work. Many of the junks and fishing boats moored in the region also had family members working and children playing while the elderly Chinese women sat and smoked what appeared to be cigarettes, but which could have easily have been joints of opium.

They made their way along the wharf trying not to draw too much attention to themselves and looking for where Charlie Yin’s boat may be anchored. They passed by several fishermen preparing their day’s catch for the fish market or for the Floating Seafood Restaurants that had large tanks full of their live swimming offerings from which you could pick your meal which was then cooked to order. Some of the boat people sold their fresh seafood, dried fish and salt fish from their own small boats along the wharf and Jamie and Claire saw quite a lot of this seafood drying and strung up on rope on quite a few of the junks.

The two operatives passed by several Tankas living on their boats as well. These women dressed in their traditional garb were peddling the catch of the day, sorting through their husband’s catch or untangling the trawling nets they used in preparation for tomorrow’s daily catch in the South China Sea. Many different sized containers from coolers to buckets with all kinds of marine life including fish, live crabs, lobsters, shell fish such as prawns and shrimp, sea cucumbers, and eels were plentiful along the wharf. Too engrossed in their work to notice who passed by on the dock, the fishermen and women ignored the two individuals who passed by.

Claire took in the surroundings in apprehension, for finding Charlie Yin’s boat would not be easy. Communicating her thoughts out loud she remarked. “He may be difficult to locate … look. There are thousands of boats Jamie. Finding a needle in a haystack would be easier.”

Locating where, Charlie Yin’s boat was, would be a daunting task as there were rows upon rows of the old-fashioned junks and sampans where the fishermen and their families still lived. Finding him in the sea of vessels and the industrious fishermen working on the wharf may indeed be more difficult than they first thought, but they had prevailed with less information than what they had on his whereabouts. Fergus had pinpointed a location and they would start there. Searching for a man who could help them find this Tony Wong of the Rising Dragons may be easier said than done. However, Jamie looked over at Claire with a wry smile and replied assertively to her statement.

“Dinna fash, we’ll find him.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Once again, Fergus’s voice resonated in their comm. Units with more information to pin point their target.

“Charlie Yin’s fishing boat has a distinctive red dragon on the side showing that it is unmistakably indebted to the Rising Dragons.”

“Just where do we start looking Fergus?”

“It’s on the south side of the wharf.”

“Thank ye.”

Quickly casting their eyes along the junks and fishing vessels secured at the wharf, Jamie and Claire made their way to where a junk fitting Fergus’s description was moored on the dock.

“Yeah, I got it.” Claire confirmed as the junk came into closer view.

However, as they approached to investigate the vessel, Jamie and Claire heard the sound of a car or cars driving along the wharf. Back at Section Fergus noted that they were not alone also and alerted them. “Jamie we have two vehicles. Tony Wong’s limousine and a brown BMW just pulled into the dock area heading south on the waterfront.”

“Is Tony Wong with them?”

“No confirmation as yet if he’s in the back seat behind the driver.”

Keeping out of sight, the two operatives took position beside some crates of fish on the dock and watched as the target drew closer to Charlie Yin’s boat. The limousine came to a stop; the driver got out of the car and opened the rear door while the BMW cruised to a stop behind it. Several menacing Chinese men alighted from both cars and surrounded the limousine checking about to see if they were alone. A stocky, balding Chinese man with a moustache, obviously Tony Wong, got out of his limousine. He nodded to two of his men to take up position, then together with his other guards he walked purposefully in the direction of Charlie Yin’s boat.

Confirming the target hot spot, Fergus stated, Tony Wong’s turned up with his henchmen.”

“How many?”

“He’s got six bodyguards with him. Remember, we need Tony Wong alive.”

Jamie signalled to Claire to take up point and moved into position. They watched the four bodyguards escort Tony Wong onto the fishing junk, while the other two stood guard at the gangplank. The burly built henchmen looked menacing as they perused the area looking for anything suspicious while their boss conducted business with Charlie Yin.

From a distance Claire caused a distraction forcing the guards to look around in the direction of the commotion. When they turned back both were met with the imposing figure of Jamie Fraser standing in front of them. The three men stared each other down before one of the bodyguards asked in a menacing voice, “What’s your business here?”

Jamie casually removed his sunglasses, looked at them, then glanced away as he put his glasses in his pocket before looking in their direction again. “I came to see the owner of this boat.”

“Well that’s impossible … so get lost.”

“And if I decide tae stay?”

“I wouldn’t if I were you."

“And if I refuse tae leave?”

“I don’t like your chances,” one of the guards replied sarcastically, a smirk crossing his face as he quickly looked across at his companion, then back at Jamie. “Beat it!”

“Hmm … I guess I could use a little exercise then,” Jamie stated nonchalantly as with foreboding eyes he watched the guards take in his words.

The two bodyguards stood their ground at Jamie’s backhanded reply. With hands poised in a self-protective yet aggressive stance they sized up their opponent while their actions were both hostile and threatening. Jamie on the other hand stared straight ahead with the left side of his body facing towards the two guards. He raised his left and right hand defensively and bent his head slightly forward. One of the guards lunged forward with a kick, but he only managed to land a fresh air kick as Jamie moved backward avoiding any blow.

The assailant moved forward in an attempt to amend his poor performance, and this time each kick was fended off and brushed aside with Jamie’s quick hand reflexes.

Left! … Right!

Left! … Right!

His proficiency was lethal as Jamie’s rapid arm movements stopped each kick from reaching its target.

Despite his ineffectiveness, the guard lunged at Jamie once again only to see him duck and have his kick land over Jamie’s head. This threw him slightly off balance. In comeback, Jamie landed a swift blow to his midsection and yet another to his face, which temporarily winded the guard.

The other henchman attempted to land blows to him but, likewise, Jamie headed off each and every attempt with proficiency. Kicks came fast and furiously from both sides with each quicker than the last. Jamie blocked every blow without any significant impact landing on his body. The opponent came back at him only to be outmanoeuvred by Jamie’s skill and agility.

James Fraser was too adept in martial arts for this opponent as well.

Meanwhile the first assailant had regained his balance and Jamie was faced with simultaneous assaults from both sides of his body. As if by sheer willpower, he twisted his body to the left landing a heavy blow to the first bodyguard, then twisting in mid-air doing a 180-degree revolution, he did the same to the other man.

However, the two assailants would not be defeated; they were no match for James Fraser although they composed themselves lunging at him once more. As one tried to land a kick Jamie grabbed his leg, twisting the man away from him. The other guard attempted to do the same. Flipping his jacket over his head, Jamie twisted it inside out and lunged with it toward the second guard, knocking him off balance and causing him to reel back. They exchanged a flurry of Kung Fu kicks. He kicked him with one swift blow then turned just as the other guard was about to land a kick to his body. Quickly putting his jacket back on, Jamie landed a fatal blow that knocked the guard to the ground. As the other man watched what had happened, he tried to use the element of surprise and catch Jamie unaware.

That was his mistake and he too met with the same fate.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

No sooner had Jamie dealt with the two assailants on guard at the dock, than two more burly men appeared from Charlie Yin’s fishing boat. Obviously, the commotion on the wharf had resulted in them being sent up to check out what was happening. Quickly sizing up their opponent, they raced up the gangplank in order to catch Jamie off guard. Once again, he was faced with more of Tony Wong’s determined henchmen who had issues with him overpowering their colleagues as well as being near this particular boat.
Exchanging some words, they took a defensive stance.

Jamie answered them in kind.

Steely looks passed between the men when they realised that the man in black had understood what they had said. They advanced toward Jamie who stood his ground. His breathing was controlled, his mind focused and his stance prepared. It was then that the two men realised that he was not alone. A brunette woman of similar height appeared from nowhere, like an avenging angel to stand at his side. With eyes darting quickly from one person to the other and seeing only one combatant each, Tony Wong’s henchmen thought it would be so easy to dispose of them. However, they would soon find out that they were no opponents for Section One’s James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp.

Without signalling to the other his move, the two men pursued the two Westerners paused for a quick victory over them. They advanced and the bigger of the two had Jamie in his sights. Moving forward in the blink of an eye he lunged at him with a defensive movement using his fist in a straight follow through to get into punching range. His feet moved forward trying to catch Jamie off guard. However, James Fraser was prepared for such a rudimentary move and counteracted with a trapping movement of his own therefore avoiding any body contact. With accurate precision, Jamie returned with a swift kick to the leg of the Chinese man and powerful short and sharp cross fist punches, which caused the bodyguard to retreat and reconsider his next moves.

Claire, on the other hand, had her hands full with a very determined assailant who would not give up. A quick bout of kicks was being exchanged, as the man tried to gain the upper hand over his female opponent. He charged and landed a kick to her mid section, which caused Claire to reel back in pain. Sensing that his opponent was injured and slightly immobilised, the man lunged forward only to be met with a penetrating and accurate kick to his leg. Claire advanced and administered a series of kicks to the left and right sides of his body in rapid succession.

Surprised by the woman’s skill, her attacker realised that she was a more than competent adversary. Composed, he charged toward her, but Claire was prepared for this different technique and landed a blow to the side of his head with a commanding thrusting kick.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Meanwhile Tony Wong’s other two bodyguards had appeared on the scene coming to the aid of their friends after realising that they needed assistance. It was now two on two and the fresher of the men advanced on Jamie and Claire hoping to subdue the two people. This was not to be the case as the Section operatives dealt in a similar fashion with the two new opponents. With rapid fire precision they landed one successive blow after another as the first man and then the second tried to overpower them … but to no avail.

Retreating to evaluate the situation, the henchmen composed themselves for a two-prong attack.

Coming from both sides at Jamie simultaneously, one landed a kick to his body but before the other could do the same, Jamie unexpectedly swung around with a kick that connected and caused the other to stumble backward. A flurry of aggressive kicks resulted. Jamie took another blow to his body then offset yet another with a penetrating block that unbalanced one of his assailants. Realising that Jamie was a strong and powerful opponent, the two adversaries would not concede. They would not lose face to a single man. Thinking that they should be able to overcome one man and … a woman no less, Tony Wong’s men would not admit defeat to the man in black.

The two aggressors continued in the same vein. Staying within punching range, all four henchmen exchanged kicks and blows with Jamie and Claire using all the different techniques and fighting scenarios in their repertoire. However, their two opponents were far too dominant with strength and speed that they could not contest or counteract.

Jamie swung around again and landed a series of punishing blows that had both of his pursuers on their knees. Gaining a second wind they returned for more, but the next blows that landed from James Fraser were fatal. The sound of a cracking skull reverberated on the dock as Jamie landed a blow just below one of the opponent’s chin. He dropped … then the other heavily built man staggered back and fell to the ground lifeless.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In the meantime, Claire was struggling to overcome her foes.

The two men were unrelenting in the ferocity of their attack. Despite using charging and retreating techniques followed by jumping kicks in their pursuit, Claire was quick and her lithe movements managed to avoid the blows they were hoping to land. In spite of her agility they persisted in their attack. Like their colleagues these men would not concede to a woman. One of them slid straight towards Claire with a step punch. Underestimating Claire’s strength and training was his grave mistake. She retaliated with an advancing linear move that fatally immobilised him and he slumped to the ground with a thud.

Claire was left with only one adversary … but she had the added burden of seeing him return wearing steel rings on his arms obviously to give him more shoulder strength, power, and speed. He pursued Claire relentlessly, attacking in a forceful manner trying to gain some ascendancy over her. However, her footwork was nimble and Claire fortunately avoided any contact from him to her torso. Using quick, evasive moves and stances, she managed to overpower him as well. Summoning all her strength, she turned with a rapid circular movement landing a mortal blow to his head. The henchman fell backwards into the water lifeless.

She was somewhat spent. With her chest heaving, Claire stood tall to catch her breath after all the exertion she had used against her attackers. Jamie looked across at her with admiration of her efforts. Claire quickly acknowledged his look, then together they hurried to where Charlie Yin’s fishing boat was moored in search of their target … Tony Wong.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 13

 

As the lifeless assailants lay on the dock, James Fraser ran along the dock and quickly sprinted down the gangplank of Charlie Yin’s boat with Claire in hot pursuit. Seagulls hovering close to the junk were oblivious to the drama unfolding on the dock and were too content on scavenging what little food they could find. However, the sound of pounding footsteps on the gangplank and the rocking of the boat caused the gulls to move away from the junk squawking loudly at the intrusion into their environment.

Hurriedly boarding the fishing vessel only to find it deserted on deck, Jamie and Claire quickly cast their eyes around assessing the situation. Moving stealthily along the deck with guns poised, they stopped as they came to the bridge. It too was deserted. The smell of dead fish was overpowering, its pungent odour was suffocating; nevertheless, swallowing back the bile rising in her throat at the smell, Claire was still ever vigilant to any irregularities. Cautiously, they surveyed the area before advancing further. Jamie looked at her and signalled with his hand for Claire to go in the opposite direction to him.

Would their target Tony Wong still be on board the fishing vessel?

They both thought not. It was more than probable that he had made a hasty retreat from the boat via a sampan or some other watercraft when all of the commotion was happening on the dock. But … what else would they find? Would they discover Charlie Yin … dead or alive? Or perhaps come across some other victims?

Circling the bridge carefully from either side, the two operatives found no sign of life whatsoever. There was nothing. It was as if all the inhabitants of the junk had disappeared into thin air. They moved forward in silence, lightly treading over the fishing nets that lay on the deck. Coming to a door with stairs leading into the bowels of the boat, Jamie descended carefully while Claire covered his back. Charlie Yin’s boat was somewhat dilapidated and it was easy to see that these simple fishing folks had little in personal wealth or belongings. The rickety, old wooden steps had obviously seen better days, and even though Jamie was light of foot the stairs creaked with each step he took.

Descending further he heard the sound of whimpering coming from below deck. Ducking his head under the boat beam, Jamie also heard the rapid Chinese dialect of the junk’s inhabitants. Glancing towards the sound of their voices, he saw the roughed-up body of two men, one older … obviously Charlie Yin … and the other a younger man … probably his son. The two men had been tied up and beaten badly. Blood streamed from gashes to their faces and severe bruising was evident around their temples. An elderly woman was attending to the wounds of the two men while the whimpering came from a young girl of about six years old who was cowering in the corner obviously petrified from witnessing such a beating.

Alerting the four people to their presence, Jamie spoke to them in Cantonese and asked what had happened.

Looking up at this new intruder, Charlie Yin said wearily. “Tony Wong came to collect protection money which I didn’t have to pay him and well … you can see what happened.”

“And … Tony Wong?” Jamie asked, knowing that Charlie would only verify that he had made a hasty retreat at the first sign of trouble.

“He left soon after his bodyguards went up on deck,” replied the older man.

“Thank ye,” replied Jamie lowering his gun.

“The son-of-a-bitch couldn’t get away fast enough,” the younger man stated emphatically, as he wiped the blood away from his temple with a hand still bleeding profusely from a severed finger.

“Han! That’s enough!” The older woman reprimanded him in a flourish of Cantonese as she tried to attend to his wounds.

“Sorry Grandmother … but it is true. Next time I see him I’ll kill him for what he did to father … and me.”

Worried at his son’s impetuousness, his father remonstrated, “Han … show respect to your elders and do not speak this way in front of your sister.”

“Yes father.” Han bowed his head in contrition to his grandmother and father. Although not stated out loud, Han’s intention to follow through on his words, if given the chance, were indicated with the defiant look of determination that crossed his face. His unspoken meaning resonated in the silence of the cabin.

Comforting the small distressed child Claire asked, “Mr Yin, could you tell us where Tony Wong went?”

Charlie Yin turned his head to the sound of the woman’s voice and met her gaze with eyes that were troubled. “I don’t know.”

“It would help us if you could give us any information to his whereabouts,” Claire stated hopefully and seeing the hesitation in his eyes, she smiled at him. “We can help you.”

Charlie saw that the woman’s eyes showed compassion and empathy for their predicament and her gentleness with his daughter was evident. On the other hand, the man seemed restrained, cold and very difficult to read. His eyes darted from one to the other slowly. Finally coming to the conclusion that if these two avenging angels could have fended off Tony Wong’s six bodyguards then he knew he could trust them with what information he knew. “He lives on Lamma Island; he has probably gone back there.”

“Thank you for your help Mr Yin. Tony Wong won’t bother you again, believe me.”

Turning toward the little girl, Claire crouched down and caressed the young child’s hair. She smiled at her warmly and asked, “What's your name?”

A gentle smile appeared on the little girl’s tear stained face. “Cindy,” she replied.

“It’s okay, no one will hurt you again either … I promise.”

The little doe-eyed child managed a tentative smile at Claire then her little cherub face beamed. Her tiny hand held Claire’s tightly, as she looked at her with trusting eyes.

Claire Beauchamp melted.

Jamie too was a little affected by the scene but quickly hid his thoughts and walking toward Claire he stated, “Claire, let's go. We have a location.”

 

Meanwhile back at Section One ...

 

Systems was a hive of activity and Fergus was going about his duties monitoring his computers when Operations strode into the work area. Making his way over to Fergus’s computer station, he noticed that he was a little edgy at his appearance, as he flitted between screens as if something had happened. Fergus looked up and caught Operations’ eye and a worried looked passed between the two men.

“What is it Fergus?” Dougal Mackenzie asked irritably.

“We have just received a communiqué from Jamie and Claire.”

“And?”

“First team has engaged … but …”

“But what Fergus?”

Hearing the exasperation in his leader’s voice, Fergus replied, “They’ve got a Condition Blue.”

“Well what’s the hitch?” Operations admonished, noticing Fergus’s fidgetiness.

“There was only ninety percent containment.”

“That means we still have a problem,” he said discouragingly. “Has the target been acquired?”

“No. He has evaded them.”

“Fraser!” Operations bellowed into his comm. Unit.

Almost immediately Jamie replied, “Yes sir?”

“The target is priority. Fix it!”

“Yes sir. We are on tae something. We have a new location.”

“You had a location ... but he escaped.”

“Maybe there's another way. Request permission tae go after Tony Wong?”

“I won’t tolerate ineptitude a second time James Fraser.” Operations declared before validating his request, “Permission granted. Just do it!”

“Thank ye.”

 

Meanwhile at Tony Wong’s office …

 

Tony Wong sat in his office pondering on what had happened at Charlie Yin’s boat this morning. What was to have been a routine exchange of money had turned into something much more. He had been incensed that the money owed to him was not forthcoming, especially after what he had said and threatened to do, if it wasn’t. Charlie Yin had been warned the previous day what would happen if he failed to meet his obligations.

“If you don’t want to see your son meet with an unforeseen accident … I would suggest that the money be here tomorrow same time.”

Severing the finger of his son, Han, had been necessary to prove his point and not lose face in front of his client. When Tony Wong, the Hung Kwan and fifth in line in the Rising Dragons hierarchy, issued a threat … then Tony Wong always was obliged to follow through and that is just what he had done. For too long Charlie and Han Yin had been a big problem and a thorn in his side with their tardiness, defiance and excuses for avoiding payment. Although the two men had put up a valiant fight, his bodyguards had had to resort to more drastic and highly persuasive measures to subdue both Charlie and his son because they had not handed over the money owed for protection.

Tony had had enough of Charlie Yin and his evasive tactics. The next step would be to wipe him out completely. It was about time that Yin and his son were taught a lesson … once and for all. Confiscating his boat and livelihood would be the death knoll for Charlie and his family. In fact, he was a very lucky man that he wasn’t dead already. If it hadn’t been for the old lady and child being on the boat, Charlie and Han Yin would be dead.

As he sat in his office, Tong Wong speculated on the events that had occurred at the boat. Something was not quite right. All the other fishermen were compliant ... but not him. Why was it always Charlie Yin who caused him grief? There was obviously bad Chi around Yin and anyone who associated with or confronted him. Bad Chi meant bad luck and he was suspicious enough to feel worried, furthermore, Tony Wong thought he might rue the day that he didn’t follow through when he had the opportunity to eliminate them today.

Contemplating the situation on the dock, Tony also wondered about the two strangers who had shown prowess in martial arts. He wanted to know who the two black clad assailants were who had single handedly disposed of six of his best bodyguards. Just who were these two people daring to overpower and defeat his men? Who were they and more importantly, who sent them? Where were they from? Were they from a rival Triad or had they been sent to spy on him by Sun Yee Lok who may have found out that he was skimming off some of the Rising Dragons’ profit?

So many questions and no answers, and this frustrated and worried Tony Wong no end. Although confident that he had all bases covered, he certainly didn’t want to jeopardise his relationship with Sun Yee Lok. However, fear of his own retribution at the hands of their supreme leader would not be pleasant if he did discover his subterfuge.

His thoughts turned to his own predicament. Seeing that all six bodyguards had met their demise, it was best for him to beat a hasty retreat before discovery for his own personal safety. He had phoned through to his people to send a small, motorized sampan in order to escape the same fate. Arriving at the opposite side of Charlie Yin’s boat … out of sight … he’d made his getaway from the fishing boat by boarding the small craft that enabled him to escape detection by the man and woman assailants. Merging in with other similar watercraft traffic on the harbour, it appeared as if he was going on about his daily business. In no time at all he had vanished into the safety of the steady stream of junks and sampans on the water. With discreet manoeuvres and without exposure, he’d made his escape before any other dire consequences.

Returning to his base, Tony’s first priority had been to find out just who had come to Charlie Yin’s fishing vessel. Faced with this perplexing dilemma as to who were the two interlopers near the boat ... he had few options but to contact someone who may be able to shed light on their identity.

He reached for his phone.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 14 (S)

 

The ferry ride across the water was tranquil and peaceful. Couples stood near the railings of the boat their arms entwined as the sea breeze gently lapped their faces. With heads bent close together they stole kisses as they pretended to watch the scenic view of the outlying islands, they passed on the way to Lamma Island. Claire Beauchamp watched wistfully as she witnessed the romantic exchanges between the couples and sighed longingly.

Feeling somewhat melancholy she made her way over to the deserted back of the ferry and gazed at the expanse of water watching the spray of ripples as the ferry smoothly cut through the water. Alone and lost in thought she was a million miles away when a pair of arms encircled her from behind and strong hands rested over hers on the rail. Knowing immediately who it was and with eyes closed, Claire leaned back content to rest her head in the crook of James Fraser’s shoulder.

Imprisoning her in a warm embrace he leaned in closer and gently nipped her earlobe with his teeth. The soft, warm caress of his breath against her skin sent a shiver down her spine.

“What are ye thinking about Sassenach?” Jamie mumbled into her ear.

“Nothing …,” Claire replied. “Everything …,” she added sadly.

He didn’t respond to an answer he had mulled over as well but merely pulled her a little closer to his warm body. His fingers intertwined with Claire’s and she gripped them tightly as he held them across her stomach. Savouring the feel of Jamie’s body against hers, a little sigh left her lips.

“We’re here tae do a job mo nighean donn,” he said softly, but he felt her body tense at his words and tried to placate the situation by whispering in her ear, “but …”

“But what … Jamie?” Claire interrupted as she attempted to pull away from his hold on her, however, he wouldn’t release her.

“This …” he answered softly, and without warning Jamie turned Claire into his arms and gently kissed her lips. Her lips were soft and responsive to his tender caress and tasted salty from the sea spray. His lips cajoled and teased hers once more until they surrendered and their mouths connected in another kiss. He broke away but their eyes met and held in unspoken communication as Jamie felt his body quicken at the vision of loveliness he saw before him. They simply stared at one another as if time had stood still. Keen eyes travelled slowly across Claire’s parted lips, watching as her hidden tongue shyly appeared to add moisture to her soft petals of her mouth.

James Fraser was ensnared and unable to stop himself from staring at her tempting lips. Memories of the soft, tentative kisses they had shared at her apartment before being interrupted by Mei Ling were vivid in his mind. The sweet taste of her mouth lingered with a tinge of regret that he was unable to savour them longer that night. With a gentle pull, Jamie drew Claire towards him once more. Her eyes widened and her lips parted as a gasp of anticipation tempted him to the limit of his self-control. Then, with a will of their own, his lips returned once again to claim her yielding mouth.

Kisses that started out tenderly soon developed into much more as the sweet warmth of Claire’s mouth against his responded with encouragement. Swaying toward Jamie, she moaned in satisfaction as his lips nipped hers with intention. Slipping his arms around Claire’s waist, he pulled her flush to him, as her hands snaked up around his head and found their way to his windblown hair. Their arms tightened around each other and she held Jamie’s head steady as they kissed passionately.

Although the cool sea breeze lapped their skins, they shuddered simultaneously as the heat of desire radiated through their clothes. Hips brushed hips as their bodies aligned from head to toe. Jamie’s hands lowered as he pulled Claire’s buttocks to his groin. Sheltered in the circle of his arms, she uttered his name on a breathless sigh of want as she opened her mouth eagerly to the probing caress of his tongue.

Jamie was lost and … Claire was lost to the enchantment of the moment.

Her name echoed from his lips when he broke for air then pulling Claire harder against him, Jamie kissed her with a fierceness that was addictive. Everything was a blur to her as his lips caressed her to the point of insanity. All she had ever wanted was right here in her arms. It was heaven.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are approaching Lamma Island.”

The sound of the captain announcing their arrival at the Island boomed over the loud speakers as the ferry neared closer to the pier. In no time at all, the crash of the tires on the side of the vessel, which cushioned the impact against the jetty, creaked as the ferry came to rest against the dock with a thud.

“Please get ready for disembarking. All passengers to the starboard side please … and thank you for travelling with us.”

The passengers made their way to the designated disembarking point; however, it was some time before the message registered with the couple entwined in a lover’s embrace at the rear of the ferry. Slowly and reluctantly Jamie ended the kiss and gave Claire’s bottom lip a gentle teasing nip before completely letting go. Wrapped in each other’s arms and with their foreheads resting against the others they tried to steady their breathing and compose themselves.

Claire sighed, and then pulling away from the warmth of Jamie’s embrace she stepped back a little but her body rested against the rail … trapped. Jamie watched as a beautiful telltale flush lingered on her cheeks. Dexterous fingertips caressed the rosy skin, then cupping Claire’s chin in his hand, Jamie raised her gaze to his penetrating one. She was captivated by what she saw in the smoky depths of his passion filled eyes. It was as if he was looking right into her soul.

It took all of Claire’s willpower to resist capturing his thumb between her teeth as Jamie ran it leisurely back and forth over her velvet lips. Her gaze locked with his as her body reacted to his teasing strokes across her sensitive lips. He knew exactly what he was doing to her and because the temptation was far too great Claire surrendered to her desire and passion. Her kissed lips took Jamie’s thumb prisoner and nipped at it seductively. James Fraser’s eyes blazed with want at her bold tactics.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Most of the other passengers had already disembarked and the last remaining couples had made their way to the gangplank. Noticing that they were one of the last to leave the ferry Jamie took Claire’s hand in his and lifted it back up to his mouth bestowing an unhurried but promising kiss to it while uttering a softly spoken … “Come.”

They left the ferryboat looking like any of the young lovers’ passengers who had come to Lamma Island to enjoy some privacy together. But that was not who they really were or what their objective was. Despite their inner turmoil at what had occurred on the ferry; they were once again Section One operatives in determined mission mode in search of their elusive target … Tony Wong.

If he had indeed returned to this island, they would find him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Charlie Yin had given Jamie and Claire a location for Tony Wong on the island near Tung O Wan before they had left his fishing boat. The island, shaped like the limb of a tree or the letter Y that corresponded to the Chinese character of “ma”, and “Lam” meaning “south”, was situated southwest of Hong Kong Island a short ferry ride from Aberdeen. They’d easily found the ferry terminal as it was near the fish market at the pier. The two operatives had then caught the early afternoon ferry service to the northern village of Yung Shue Wan from the Outlying Islands Ferry Pier No. 4 in Aberdeen.

Their trip to the closest of Hong Kong’s outlying islands had taken about forty minutes. Whilst on the ferry, they had relished every second of the time spent in relative relaxation on the journey to Lamma Island without surveillance from Section One. However, privacy for them was usually non-existent yet they were able to have some on the ferry ride. Although Jamie and Claire had visual scanners, these were not needed on such a journey across the sea and would be activated once they were on the island to give Fergus the feed he needed to collate and transfer information both ways.

Making their way along the pier once they had disembarked it was easy for them to see that Lamma Island was such a contrast to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It was peaceful and tranquil with natural scenery and the appealing surrounds made the island a very attractive respite for commuters. There were no high-rise buildings anywhere to be seen and the tallest was about three stories in height. The hills above the village were scattered with small homes and apartment blocks. Also absent was the hustle and bustle of traffic. Lamma was a calm haven providing an alternative to the hectic life in the city. No wonder Tony Wong escaped to the island to avoid the fast pace of life in Aberdeen. Lamma was indeed the complete contrast to that lifestyle.

Even before they had left the pier, Jamie and Claire noted the many seafood restaurants dotting the promenade overlooking the sandy beach but it was the expensive watercraft moored in the bay that caught their attention. One particular luxurious craft stood out with a distinctive red dragon, the same that was on Charlie Yin’s fishing boat. The Chinese calligraphy for the Rising Dragon’s insignia motto “Strength by Dare”was the name of the boat and the initials of TW were intertwined on the dragon’s body. This craft could only belong to one person.

“It looks like the target is here,” Jamie relayed to Fergus.

“Can you give me some visuals? I’ll confirm the authenticity of the calligraphy.”

Providing a visual feed of Tony Wong’s boat, Jamie transmitted it back to Section One and waited for his reply.

“It’s authentic.”

“Good”

“Operations has given this top priority. Proceed!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Their first precedence, however, was to locate some transportation in order to get around Lamma Island. Giving the appearance that they were tourists exploring the island, the two Section One operatives walked leisurely into the main township of Yung Shue Wan, where traditional Chinese food shops were jumbled together with modern low-rise buildings. Stalls selling everything from dried fish to Chinese herbal medicines, jars of incense and candles, as well as interesting handcraft abounded. Interspersed with modern low-rise cafes, waterfront seafood restaurants and banks, the island appeared very popular with younger people and it seemed to be a haven for artists who thronged to the art galleries dotted in between the shops and wares.

Upon coming to the centre of the town, Jamie spotted a “FOR HIRE” sign advertising all types of vehicles for the day traveller to the island. As they walked into the premises, a cheery faced local Chinese salesman approached them and asked, “May I help you sir?” as he saw the couple looking at the mode of transport available.

“Yes … thank ye. We’re looking for some transportation tae get around the island.”

“What are you after? Bicycle? Motorbike? We’ve got them all,” he stated enthusiastically.

“What would you suggest then?” Claire asked.

“Depends on what you want to do?”

“Oh … just explore the island … isn’t that right darling?” She replied looking adoringly at Jamie.

“Aye … we like to go off the beaten track.” He smiled besottedly at Claire and gave her a little squeeze for the benefit of the salesman.

“Hmmm … That seems to be a favourite of the young couples visiting Lamma Island.”

“What kind of transportation is available? Do ye have something that would suit our needs?” Jamie badgered politely.

“Let me think.” Then as if ticking off a checklist, he mumbled out loud, “There are village vehicles around to serve the community’s transport needs but … alas … we have no automobiles because we have no proper roads.” He glanced at the two young people, “You will only see a few diminutive fire trucks and ambulances…”

“So there are no cars that we can hire then?”

“Unfortunately, not,” he replied, and then as an afterthought added, “… although Tony Wong has a car, but he is about the only one.”

Jamie and Claire shared a look. “Who’s Tony Wong?” She asked nonchalantly.

“Oh … He’s a very powerful businessman.” He leaned in towards Claire as if going to reveal a secret. “Rumour has it that he is a member of the Rising Dragons’ Triad. The local fishermen seem to be afraid of him for some reason. Can’t think why though? He is just very reclusive.”

“We saw a very expensive boat with the initials TW on them when we docked. Would that be his boat?” Was her next inquisitive question.

“Why …Yes … it is … but he lives on the southern side of the island in a sprawling villa overlooking the sea. Everyone knows it although it is hard to see from the track as it is surrounded by thick vegetation. He likes his privacy.”

“It sounds very romantic … a villa overlooking the sea.” Claire sighed batting her eyelashes at the talkative salesman.

Blushing at the beautiful woman he cleared his throat. “Hmm? Well … let me check what’s available … Ahhh! … Yes! … I would suggest this versatile motorbike then,” he stated as he led them over to a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide touring bike complete with a passenger backrest. Looking at Jamie he exchanged a look … man-to-man … and gave him a conspiratorial wink. Continuing he declared, “It would be perfect for what you have in mind I’m sure.”

“Aye, it will be suitable.’ Jamie replied glancing at the machine. “How much is the hire …?”

The two men haggled over the price in Cantonese, much to the local’s admiration. They finally agreed on a price for the day, including all the leather gear and helmets that were extra, but which the salesman had thrown in with the hire price.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Watching the two people leave as if the bike was moulded to their bodies, the salesman had smiled, for he couldn’t resist young couples looking for a quiet romantic escape on his island. Little did he know their real objective.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 15 (S)

 

Jamie and Claire had been told that the journey to the other side of the island shouldn’t take any more than two or three hours. The salesman who had rented them the motorbike had also mentioned that there were at least two beaches ideal for swimming or a barbecue or … other things if they felt so inclined.

“Be sure to stop at Lo So Shing Beach,” he’d said, “It’s the most beautiful one and very secluded. It’s a beach for lovers.”

“Hmm! That sounds nice.” Claire had replied, then had asked casually feigning to remember Tony Wong’s name. “What about that Mr Wang’s villa overlooking the sea?”

“Oh! You mean Mr Wong?” He’d laughed.

“Yes … yes … that’s him, the one with the romantic villa. Are we able to have a look at it or does he like his privacy too much?” She asked turning on her megawatt smile.

Somewhat flustered at all the attention he was receiving from this beautiful woman, the salesman had replied, “It is visible but you won’t be able to get that near. Mr Wong has security in his grounds so I’ve been told.”

“Oh, I’d still love to see it nonetheless.” Turning to Jamie with a slight pout she’d inquired, “Do you think we could while we are here darling?”

“I don’t see why not my love,” he’d replied indulgently looking at her lowered eyes with intent. Then turning to the salesman asked the directions on how to get there.

“Going overland is by far the most direct route, but it is easy to lose your bearings and take a wrong turn if you don’t know where you are going, and you could get lost,” was the reply. “I would really recommend the coastal route.”

“Thank you …?” The inflection of Claire’s question was answered with …

“Alfred … Alfred Chow.”

“Well thank you Alfred, we’ll take your advice. We might even check out the beach you mentioned,” She smiled kindly. “Perhaps we’ll even go skinny dipping if it is so secluded.”

“Oh my … you young ones!” Alfred chuckled. “I’m sure you’ll find what you are looking for.”

“Oh, I’m sure we will,” was her reply looking not at Alfred, but at one James Fraser. “I’m sure we will.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie and Claire were not that far behind Tony Wong. Finding him was their prime objective and gaining the extra information from Alfred Chow would certainly prove invaluable. Manoeuvring the motorbike out of the premises and into the late afternoon breeze was a simple procedure for Jamie. Once outside, he swung his leg over the Harley and started the engine. The sleek chrome machine moulded to his torso like it was made for him and his powerful thighs hugged the machine as its motor throbbed to life vibrating between his legs. Then, turning to Claire, he held his hand out to help her get on the Harley. Hopping onto the bike she straddled the passenger seat, but as she did so, Jamie’s thighs tensed for he could feel her wriggling behind him to find the most comfortable position.

Having settled, she vacillated about where to place her hands and hesitantly tried many different positions. First, she placed them by her sides hoping that by leaning back against the bike’s backrest and holding on to her seat that this would be the best place, but it was not. She soon tried another position … this time on his shoulders. Again this was uncomfortable. Not wanting to sit too intimately close to Jamie, Claire knew that if she leaned forward and rested her head on his shoulder that her arms would fall down to his chest and that would bring her body far too close. She thought about placing them around Jamie’s waist, but again this would only bring her body flush against his back and she didn’t know how she could sit on the motorbike for the entire journey knowing how this proximity to James Fraser’s body would affect her.

At the moment she had a tentative grasp on his body as she lightly rested them on his hips. Her reluctance to hold on tighter made Jamie smile, for he knew that Claire Beauchamp had tried several scenarios in her head before placing her hands where they were at the present moment. He also knew that if he were to just take a bend a little faster than usual or go over a bump in the road that her hands would grip him quick enough. James Fraser grinned at her inner indecision.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Finally, they roared off leaving the Hire Shop and a smiling salesman behind them. Cruising along the main street, it wasn’t long before Jamie and Claire passed a small Tin Hau Temple indicating the beginning of the countryside. They soon left the outskirts of the little village of Yung Shue Wan and were riding out into the picturesque hinterland of the island.

Behind him, Claire eventually slid her hands from his hips to around Jamie’s waist and tightened her grip loath to lean into his body for fear she would relay how her body was reacting to his nearness. Nonetheless she had to grip his torso as the Harley Davidson rounded a bend in the road. Her palms were sweaty, her heart palpitated and her legs quivered somewhat when Jamie accelerated the motor. The wind was whistling around the visor of her helmet and Claire was feeling a little cramped, but she didn’t care. Pressed up against James Fraser’s broad, muscular body was doing unimaginable things to her libido, and her imagination. The feel and smell of his leather clad back flush with the front of her body was so erotic and stimulating that her mind was awash with thoughts she shouldn’t be having but she couldn’t help herself. With adrenaline pumping through her veins and the heady sensation of his nearness, Claire was in seventh heaven.

Being in such close proximity to James Fraser was having a domino effect on her senses. As her body practically molded itself to his, her nerves jangled at the intimate contact. With arms wrapped around his lean waist, Claire could feel the hardness of his torso through her fingertips. Her hands were locked intimately close to his groin and if she moved her fingers below his belt … just so … she could feel the hardness of the swelling there. That wasn’t the only thing hardening. Her breasts tightened at the sensation of being pressed up against Jamie’s back, but it was the feel of the tingle in her groin that caused a sigh to escape from her lips. The snug fit of body-to-body was nearly her undoing as her groin fitted into the curve of his backside and she uttered a small groan.

Thank God, she thought, as the noise of the motorbike drowned out her utterance.

Wriggling a little closer and holding Jamie a little tighter, Claire rested her chin on his shoulder. She’d been so distracted by their earlier dalliance on the ferry that it was easy for her to imagine that they were just a young couple engaging in a spirited motorbike ride to some secluded location on the island where they could swim in the moonlight and make love while the stars came out.

Jamie felt Claire’s discomfort at the close proximity to his body and smiled extremely satisfied. He too had been a little distracted especially as he could feel the warmth of her body flush to his own. His thoughts turned to their trip earlier, where if not for the ferry berthing at the dock, they might still be locked in each other’s arms admiring the view from the ferry. However, real life was something they could only snatch at fleetingly for Section One always came between their desired reality and the true reality of their existence.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

They travelled for some time and were now in the dense bushland of the island having avoided the coast road and James Fraser steered the motorbike over the terrain with ease. Clinging to Jamie’s back as they motored along the countryside was energizing. The scenery was beautiful and the vegetation lush and green. It was like they were in the middle of nowhere, alone just the two of them with nature. Shifting uncomfortably in her seat though, Claire’s hands slid down over his waist and lower again until they touched his thighs. The heat from his body permeated through to her fingertips, and she could feel his muscles flex at her touch. Giving him a tap to gain his attention, Jamie brought the motorbike to a stop next to a shady tree. Cutting the engine and pushing down the brake to steady the bike, he took off his helmet and gloves placing them inside the helmet’s cavity before turning toward her.

“What’s the matter?”

“I need to stretch my legs … I have a cramp.”

Jamie smiled at her with a perceptive glint in his eyes. “Okay,” he said as he hopped off the Harley.

With avid eyes, Claire watched the muscles ripple in his thigh as he threw his leg over the motorbike and to the ground. While James Fraser in jeans was a most usual sight, he certainly filled them out well. The denim hugged his body like a second skin, moulding to his muscles like they were made for him. Her heart skipped a beat as she looked her fill.

“Do you think it is much further Jamie?”

“No. Just over that rise.”

Helping her off the motorbike, Claire gingerly replied, “That’s good. I was starting to get a little saddle sore.”

She bent and stretched her aching limbs trying to get some circulation back into her body while nearby Jamie cast a covert look her way.

 

Meanwhile … at the Canadian Consulate

 

“Good afternoon … Canadian Consulate … May I help you?”

“Put me through to the Ambassador,” the irritated caller demanded rattling off his words in quick succession to the voice on the other end of the line.

“May I ask who is calling?”

“You may, but this is a private matter …”

“That may be so sir, but I can’t interrupt the Ambassador if he is in an important meeting unless I know who is calling? Your name please and I’ll see if he is in?” the receptionist demanded with authority.

His indignation increased with the woman’s refusal to comply with his demands although he knew that this was a standard response, a ploy from receptionists to protect their employer and help them avoid people they didn’t want to talk to. “Very well …” he said begrudgingly “… tell him it is Tony Wong.”

“Certainly Mr. Wong … just one moment please.”

After a few moments of the ubiquitous recorded messages stating the services of the Consulate, her voice echoed down the line once more. “I’m putting you through … Go ahead please.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Ah Tony what’s up old friend? And what are you calling me here for?” A familiar voice answered cheerily but guardedly at the same time.

“Alain this is not a social call … something has happened.” He replied seriously.

“What is it?”

Before he continued Tony asked cautiously, “Is this a secure line?”

“Of course …you can speak freely.”

“It involves your daughter Annalise.”

Stalling before answering Alain de Marillac asked, “Yes … what about her?”

“We had to … she’s …”

“I know, the Hong Kong police … a Superintendent Zheng … I think, visited me today. It was very unfortunate that she had to meet her demise like that, but it was necessary or else she could have blown my cover right out of the water … and yours as well. Business is business … family or not!”

“I’m worried that she just may have done so?”

“Why is that?”

“There were two black clad people at Charlie Yin’s boat this morning and single-handedly they took out six … do you believe it … six of my best people!” He said indignantly.

“And?”

“I want to know who they were and why they were hanging around Charlie Yin.”

“What would you like me to do Tony?”

“You have diplomatic immunity. You have connections in high places. I want to know who sent them.”

“It may take some time. I don’t want to appear too suspicious; after all I have to act the grieving father.”

“That may be so Alain … but our operations here in Hong Kong depend on running smoothly and when there is a glitch in my operations … well … I don’t like it! I won’t tolerate it!” Tony Wong bellowed angrily over the telephone.

“Do you have any suspicions as to who they might be?”

“Who knows … CIA … Interpol … Hong Kong Police?”

“Could be all of them Tony. You know that the Rising Dragons have increased their operations in Hong Kong. Perhaps they are having a crackdown. Maybe it would be beneficial if you lie low for a while.”

“What? And pull back on deals already in progress. You’ve got to be joking!”

“Well Wu’s death was necessary. He was getting too big for his own good. Refusing to pass the legislation in Parliament caused his demise too. We are surrounded by fools.”

“I agree. Wu got too greedy; he was making demands of his own.”

“And Sun Yee Lok? Does he have any inkling that you are involved in underhand contraband and murder using their signature?”

“Of course not! I cover my tracks very well. You don’t think that the two assassins this morning were sent by him, do you?” Tony replied nervously.

“Anything is possible … watch your back.”

“I will … and Alain?”

“Yes.”

“Watch yours too. If word got out that you were less than straight, your head would be on the chopping block sooner than you could blink your eyes.”

“I’m well aware of that Tony. I’ll make some discreet enquiries and see what I can come up with … I have to go I have another call on line 2.”

“Thanks … I’ll be in touch.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tony Wong set the receiver back down in its cradle and sat back in his chair deep in thought. He hoped that the deaths of Wu and Annalise de Marillac on the junk would not blow up in his face. Everything he had said to Alain de Marillac had been cautious. Had Annalise known of her impending death and contacted someone and spilled the beans about what she had found out about her father and him as well? Had she told someone that he was implicated in dirty business? Is that why the two people had come calling this morning?

Perhaps he was getting a little careless. Losing six good men was not something that happened to Tony Wong. He wanted answers and he wanted them yesterday. Reaching for the phone again he dialled an all too familiar number.

“Chen! Ready the chopper! I’m returning to Aberdeen.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Somewhat agitated, Alain de Marillac picked up line 2 and listened as he recognised the voice on the other end of the telephone. “I told you not to call me here at the embassy. This is not the first time either! It’s far too dangerous.”

“But I have some information for you. It’s about the brunette woman.”

“The one at the airport?”

“Yes.”

“Does she fit the profile?”

“Yes.”

“Madame Cheung would be most interested to make her acquaintance. Have you managed to track her whereabouts?”

“Not as yet … but I am making inquiries.”

“Well don’t contact me here again unless you have something concrete to go on.”

“Very well”

“Time is money and this is big business. Remember that!”

De Marillac severed the contact without waiting for a reply, sat back in his chair rubbing his hands through his hair worriedly.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 16 (V)

 

The evening sky had just started to turn to shades of red as the setting sun cast its last rays over the glimmering water. It had taken Jamie and Claire nearly all the time that Alfred Chow had said to find the location of Tony Wong’s villa despite coming cross country. As they neared the residence, Jamie brought the motorbike to a halt and parked it out of sight in some dense foliage. Swinging his leg over the Harley he held one gloved hand out to Claire to help her off the bike. He gave her a knowing look then they both activated their comm. units and reported in with Section One.

“Okay, we’re here.”

“Hold your position Jamie. We need to establish a satellite picture.” Fergus communicated as he quickly set things into motion.

A short while later his voice sounded in their comm. units once again, “I need better visuals. Adjust your scanners. Good. That’s better.” Then after a few moments, his next transmission elucidated on their Intel, “Location confirmed. Proceed.”

Making their way toward the villa, Jamie and Claire stopped to observe the surrounds from an undetected vantage point behind some bushes. The two operatives had a clear view of the compound from their position and took stock of their surroundings. They observed windows dotted along the building reflecting the last beams of the setting sun which sent dazzling shards of light shooting out from the house. This sprawling villa set on a cliff top overlooking an idyllic bay certainly had a romantic ambiance about it and was obviously Tony Wong’s haven from the rat race on the main island.

Although he was perceived as just another Aberdeen businessman who liked the tranquil setting of the island to the local people, Tony Wong’s laid-back lifestyle here on Lamma Island hid the true nature of his business. Alfred Chow had alluded to the fact that some of the fishermen were afraid of him and so they should be. The Rising Dragons were not a group to be meddled with or for that matter mince words or deeds with either. They were ruthless and fearsome. If Tony Wong gave the impression of being one of the locals then they were very much mistaken as his true identity was the complete opposite.

Scanning the perimeter from their hidden positions, all Jamie and Claire could see were five, possibly six guards patrolling the grounds. Due to the remoteness of his compound and because of the foliage surrounding it there was only surveillance security on the three land locked sides. The front of the villa was inaccessible due to a rocky outcrop facing the water.

“Okay Fergus, there’s six on the perimeter. How many inside?”

Thermal black images appeared on his computer screen. “Eight … Focus on Wong. We need him alive. The others are incidental.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The element of surprise caught the nearest guards unaware as Jamie and Claire simultaneously ambushed them from behind twisting their necks in the process. The guards had no time to retaliate as the precise, quiet movements of the two Section One operatives contained the hostiles. Dragging the bodies into the undergrowth and using the cover of the foliage they advanced on the other security guards. Moving closer to the house they had the added advantage of the fading daylight to see clearly. Jamie signalled to Claire to take the left while he took the right as they observed two more of the other heavily built security guards go in opposite directions to patrol the outer boundaries.

Soon out of sight of each other, Claire Beauchamp stood her ground and confronted a surprised guard.

“What the fuck!!!!” He exclaimed as he saw a woman standing in front of him. “How the hell did you get in here?”

Just as he was just about to radio in to his partner, she kicked his cell phone from his grasp and followed through with a karate chop to the back of his head. He stumbled forward from the blow but regaining his balance, he retaliated with a quick couple of blows, which Claire was able to block with her forearms. Turning to one side she feigned a hand movement while capturing her opponent’s gaze in a look. While he prepared for an attack against her stance, her foot connected to the assailant’s groin area then grabbing on to his body she somersaulted him over and onto the ground. He hit the dirt with a sickening thump and lay lifeless face down.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie stalked the other guard like a lion its prey, he was so light on foot that he was one with the surroundings. As the guard rounded a corner, the Level 5 operative delayed making his move until he was satisfied that the guard was preoccupied. It was then that he saw another guard make his way over to him. Chattering in Chinese, Jamie realised that they could not contact some of their men and were about to raise the alarm.

Consequently, whenever James Fraser began any sequence of attack, his kills always came quickly and quietly. He moved towards the first target taking him down with a roundhouse kick to the head before he even had time to assess who or what was his target. The second guard turned on him but he too was greeted with a quick hand movement to his neck, all before he was able to land a blow which left him lifeless.

The last guard was on the far side of the compound but Claire had swiftly dealt with him as well before rendezvousing with Jamie. Then together they edged toward the house for a greater advantage. From their surveillance point they could clearly see the layout of the grounds surrounding the villa.

“All hostiles accounted for in outside quadrants,” Jamie reported back to Section, then he asked for a current status.

“Eight in the house but there is other movement on the grounds.”

“Thank ye.”

Looking through his binoculars Jamie could clearly see three figures emerge from the house. “Fergus … target in view.”

Sweeping the area in the opposite direction, Claire pointed out a helipad situated to their left with a helicopter standing idle on it; however, a man was milling around the craft seemingly doing a pre-flight check. Four security guards, all armed with assault rifles, kept watch guarding the plane and looked ready for business.

“Jamie … Look!” she whispered.

Suddenly, the sounds of voices could be heard coming in their direction and, before long, the sound of the rotor blades echoed loudly in the still of the evening drowning out any other sounds. Three figures made their way to the helipad. One was obviously Tony Wong accompanied by a burly bodyguard. The third was a young Chinese woman, provocatively dressed who was running to catch up with her paramour.

“Aye, Tony Wong is going somewhere,” Jamie answered her, then relaying this Intel back to Section One he stated, “Fergus … there’s an anomaly in the east corridor.”

“How serious?”

“Seven hostiles.”

“And the target?”

Jamie and Claire watched as Tony Wong spoke to one of the guards who indicated to the other men to step back. The three passengers bobbed their heads and boarded the helicopter.

“Target is leaving.”

The two operatives watched as ascending into the sky in a cloud of dust, the helicopter made a low sweep of the grounds before turning and taking off in the direction of the sea.

Unexpectedly, Operations’ voice echoed loud and clear in his ear. “Abort Fraser.”

“Yes sir.”

 

Meanwhile … Jamie and Claire begin their return journey (S)

 

Dougal Mackenzie was never happy when a mission was aborted and Jamie and Claire knew that he would want answers as to why Tony Wong had slipped through their fingers yet again. However, there was nothing they could do about it as he had left his compound in a helicopter to destinations unknown. All the two operatives could do now was return to Yung Shue Wan to catch the ferry back to Aberdeen and start all over again.

Returning to where Jamie had parked the motorbike they put on their helmets and got back on the Harley. “It’s late Sassenach. Unfortunately, we won’t make it back tae Yung Shue Wan to catch the last ferry.”

“Well what do you suggest we do then?”

Jamie reached over and lightly caressed her face. His gentle touch sent an electric shock wave rippling up and down the length of her spine like fireworks exploding and nervously she raised her eyes and looked at his gorgeous, but mischievous face. This was so unlike the cold operative James Fraser was at Section One. This was a different man entirely. He captured her gaze with such an intense, secret look that Claire felt she would melt on the spot.

“Are ye hungry Sassenach?” Jamie’s eyes captured hers, immediately aware of her embarrassment at the sound of his endearment.

These looks from him unsettled her because of the way he made her feel. This Jamie Fraser totally unnerved her and when he ever so slowly lowered his eyes to her mouth this only made her even more jumpy. Reluctantly, Claire severed the glance looking down to escape his scrutiny. Her breath caught in her throat.

“A little.”

“Then let’s find somewhere tae eat and some accommodation too before it gets too dark tae find a place to stay tonight.”

With a gentle pat to her knee, he gave Claire an enigmatic look that was hard to decipher but which also held secret promises. Rapturous feelings tracked through her body from Jamie’s innocent but intimate touch.

She smiled and with daring leaned over to kiss him. “That sounds like a good plan Fraser. I concur … nothing more can be done tonight so we may as well have some downtime.”

There was that certain look in his eye that was challenging but also something there that she was not 100% sure of. Perhaps she rattled him as well.

At her bold response, Jamie raised an eyebrow and gave her a piercing look that thrilled her to the core. Apparently, innuendo was not his sole domain. Two could play this cat and mouse game and it seemed that Claire Beauchamp was up for any challenge that he could initiate despite how he always managed to keep her off kilter.

“Well then … let’s get going Miss Beauchamp. We have a long ride ahead of us. And who know what the night shall bring.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Placing her arms around Jamie’s waist, Claire hugged him tight and she couldn’t stop smiling. Her partner had issued a challenge and she was looking forward to it. Ever since that night in the alleyway, her dreams had been peppered with thoughts of the two of them together. So vivid were those dreams that she had woken all hot and bothered by the erotic pictures of their intimate coupling. His visit to her apartment in Hong Kong had shown her that James Fraser had let his guard down somewhat and she had liked it … she’d liked it a lot. Claire hoped that tonight may offer up another occasion where they might continue where they had left off with the untimely interruption of Mei Ling’s appearance at her apartment door.

Of God! She hoped something would happen tonight and if Jamie’s look was anything to go on … it would.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Fraser kicked the Harley into life and they roared off into the night. He knew that the night held promises but for Claire Beauchamp, just these few moments as they rode away from Tony Wong’s property made her appreciate the little periods of opportunity and freedom away from Section One even more.

Snaking along cliffs they took the mountainous coastal road this time. As night fell the lights on the motorbike illuminated their way along this remote road. Although visibility was limited at first, when small dots of sparkle began to appear one after the other in the blackened sky and the stars came out, it improved. The extra glow from the full moon, illumination of the stars coupled with the Harley’s own lights soon made travel along the remote road all that much better. When casting a look towards the water, Claire noticed lights from individual watercraft scattered here and there which also made the landscape appear even more picturesque.

Even at this time of day the scenery was breath taking and the never-ending horizon lay before them at every turn. Whenever the wind blew her hair wildly across her helmet’s visor Claire brushed it away from her face for the view and landscape was spectacular. The serenity of the vista and the clean, fresh air made her forget about the rush of the city just some miles away, and she soaked up every moment in enjoyment. The ride along the windy road was exhilarating for her but none more so than the feel of the masculine body in front of her. However, when the motorbike glided around another hairpin bend in the road, her breath hitched in her throat as she needed to hold on to Jamie’s torso a little tighter.

He made good progress and they soon came to a small village where a bay full of fishing boats, docks and fish breeding nets hugged the shoreline of the village. These objects were indicative of the people who lived here and for whom fishing had always been at the centre of their lives. Gliding the Harley further into the town, there were also many seafood restaurants and bars dotted along the main street where they could easily find somewhere to eat. However, something in the name of the village also triggered a memory in Jamie’s mind. Slowing down he casually pulled the motorbike over to the shoulder of the road. He took his helmet off then turning to Claire with a smile announced.

“I think this is as good a place as any tae stop for a bite tae eat Sassenach.”

“This place sounds familiar Jamie, but I can’t remember where I have heard of Lo So Shing.”

All of a sudden, there was a glimmer of recollection in his eyes. “Remember back tae the Hire Shop Claire where we picked up the Harley. Do ye recall what Alfred Chow told us?”

“Oh, yes. I do remember now. There is a beach near here that he recommended if I’m not mistaken.”

“Indeed. I suggest that we make some inquiries about accommodation then before we find somewhere tae eat. Perhaps there is a place tae stay close by that would be available.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 17

 

Cruising down the main street Jamie finally saw a parking area where several other motorbikes were parked near Wai Kee Seafood Restaurant one of the premier eating places close to the pier. Lamma Island was a working fishing island and there was no shortage of seafood restaurants on the island. Although not completely full, the eatery was fairly busy with patrons who were enjoying the romantic ambiance of the surrounds. The Cantonese population’s love of fresh seafood was well known and judging by the patronage of this particular restaurant, it was easy to see that the clientele was extremely satisfied with the cuisine and service provided.

Jamie pulled up to the parking bay overlooking the water. Cutting the Harley’s engine he climbed off the bike leaving Claire still sitting there. He took off his leather gloves and helmet and placing his gloves inside the cavity he put it on the console of the motorbike and turned to look at her. Claire did likewise and handed her helmet and gloves to him and Jamie tucked them under his arm. Holding out his hand to help her from the back of the Harley he gave her a smile but when their fingers touched, she felt a wave of heat surge through her body. The touch of his warm palm to her hand was electric and his gentlemanly gesture made her heart skip a beat.

“Come ... my Sassenach. I’m starving and our restaurant waits,” Jamie announced raising them to his lips for a brief kiss.

She closed her eyes and her heart skipped a beat at the touch of his soft lips. When their fingers entwined, Claire swore that Jamie tightened his grip on purpose. She knew that was precisely what he’d done when the soft pad of his thumb erotically caressed her Mount of Venus. Her nerve endings were zinging and when he placed a gentle kiss on her knuckles her knees felt as if they would buckle. Not only was her breathing laboured but a raspy sigh also left her mouth when she felt his tongue gently slide across her palm. Her nerves were already on edge from the close proximity of their bodies on the bike but James Fraser wasn’t making things easy for her.

Although the night air was somewhat balmy Claire was feeling anything but cold. She wondered if Jamie was able to see the tell-tale flush that crossed her cheeks and she was thankful that the sea breeze was keeping the warmth at bay. The whole time she had cradled his body between her thighs on the way here she was fighting a losing battle with her feelings. Internally it felt as if her organs had melted and no cooling sea breeze could soothe the pounding of her heart or cure her wayward thoughts about her mentor James Fraser. The ride had been testing and she was relieved that they had finally stopped for food. Claire shivered with a hunger that she couldn’t deny. She was ravenous not only for bodily sustenance but emotionally she needed a different kind of food, and if her dreams were any indication, this man was the only one who could provide what she desperately needed.

Capturing his intense gaze, she locked her eyes with his penetrating gaze. “I’m hungry too Jamie.”

A raised eyebrow greeted her reply and a mischievous grin bowed his mouth. He knew Claire was not speaking just of food for he had noticed her reaction to his intimate touch. This woman was his material but she was more than that to him. She was the only one who could find his humanity in a world where his emotions were always held in check. Section One abhorred relationships between operatives and in fact they were forbidden under threat of abeyance. It was only on missions when they were required to play a role could they act on their feelings for each other. Claire Beauchamp was trouble and she didn’t realise how much trouble they would be in if Section found out about any liaisons between the two of them. Jamie knew that he affected her and relished that fact and teased her mercilessly with his protracted actions. He loved seeing her flounder with her emotions for him when he rocked her very world off its axis.

Lustful thoughts often careened through his mind of what they would do when they were both naked. Tonight, had been no different. Feeling Claire’s warm body behind him on the motorbike caused his body to react something fierce until he was coiled tighter that a spring because of her nearness. If they managed to make it through dinner without any slipups then he would be surprised but he looked forward to what the night may behold once he had managed to find some accommodation for the evening. Tonight, may be the night to break through those barriers between them because of this unexpected downtime away from Section One. He knew very well that if and when that happened, Claire Beauchamp would be putty in his hands and he certainly would be in hers.

“Come!” he said again, “Let’s go inside Claire.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was easy for Jamie and Claire to forget they were Section One operatives who had killed twelve of Tony Wong’s men today without the blink of an eye. Tonight, they were just a young couple like any other normal couple out to dinner sharing a meal. They sat on the rooftop terrace and enjoyed a very good ginger rice and shrimp dish while they conversed and enjoyed each other’s company away from the prying eyes of Section One and their superiors Operations and Madeline. The view from the rooftop terrace was lovely and they admired the glimmering lights from the moored watercraft in the bay that more than likely housed families as well as being their means of employment. The lights glimmered in the blackened night and the reflection on the surface of the water bounced back and shimmered like twinkling stars on a Christmas tree. Claire’s thoughts though returned back to Charlie Yin and his family and the explosion on the fishing docks that had taken away another family’s livelihood at the hands of the person that had slipped through their fingers ... Tony Wong. Sadly, casting her eyes around the boats in the bay, she turned to Jamie.

He could see that her mind was mulling over something for Claire’s brow was a little furrowed. He casually reached out his hand capturing her fingers within his own and started to gently caress them. In the glow of the soft candlelight James Fraser studied her beautiful long tapering fingers and polished nails, soothingly trying to ease whatever it was that was bothering her.

“What is it Sassenach?”

She looked down to where he was caressing her hand then looked up to capture the concern in his eyes. “Oh Jamie ... I can’t stop thinking how that lowlife slipped through our fingers again.”

Absentmindedly he continued to caress her hand while his nails gently raked the fine lines across her palm and trailed across her warm skin. The touch was a soothing balm but electrifying at the same time.

“Dinna fash ... It won’t happen a third time Claire. Ye have my word on it,” he replied as he once again traced along her lifeline, then heart line before caressing her Mount of Venus just like he had done earlier tonight.

James Fraser was a man of his word and it gave her solace and confidence that what he said, would happen. Section One always got their man eventually and for Tony Wong to escape from their clutches would not have sat well with Section One’s top operative. There would be no third time for Tony Wong, Claire was quite confident that the next time he crossed their path would be his last.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After Jamie had appeased her concerns, the night had progressed without any further trepidation on Claire’s behalf. On the contrary they had eased into conversation like an old married couple. To finish off their meal he’d ordered a black coffee and Claire a pot of green tea. As they sipped their respective beverages, she suddenly realised that they had nowhere to stay for the night.

“It is getting a bit late Jamie,” she gasped a little worried. “How are we going to find somewhere to stay at this late hour?”

He ignored Claire’s question and merely smiled at her and as they conversed, he raised his hand and signalled for the waiter to come over. “The check please.”

“Certainly sir. I will be right back.”

Finishing his coffee Americano, Jamie couldn’t help but observe her as she peered at the tea leaves that had settled on the bottom of her cup. “What are ye doing Claire?”

Raising her eyes momentarily, her pulse quickened when she caught Jamie’s gaze centred on her mouth. Her heart did a little somersault as his gaze became more intense and intimate. “Oh, just wondering what the tea leaves say.”

“And what do they say Sassenach?”

Her life in Section One had no guarantees and life was expendable, even hers and Jamie’s. To have a little ray of hope when there may be none was always grasped at with both hands. “I wish I knew,” she replied sadly.

Sensing her melancholy, Jamie leaned over and took a fortune cookie from the bowl on the table and pushed one over in her direction. “Here. Have a fortune cookie instead Beauchamp. Open it,” he said playfully. “Perhaps the fortune cookie may reveal yer future.”

Claire cast a guarded glance his way. “Who really knows what lies ahead for you or I for that matter? Do we even have a future Jamie?”

“I would like to think that we did ... even though our life in Section is tenuous.”

Casting a shy glance his way she replied. “You haven’t opened your fortune cookie either Fraser. Who knows what lies ahead for you?”

With a burning look at her, James Fraser evocatively uttered, “I know what lies ahead tonight. But the future? ... It is more complicated.”

Claire lowered her eyes from his penetrating gaze for his words about this evening had affected her more than she could admit. Could it be possible that Jamie knew his innuendo was arousing? If the truth be told she didn’t really want to open her fortune cookie for fear that it would break the spell being woven. Instead, she placed the cookie in her pocket.

Raising her glance once more Claire stated. “I’m going to keep it as a little talisman while we’re on this mission.”

“Then … so will I,” he replied. “We’ll open them together … after the mission.”

Waiting for the waiter’s return Jamie then changed the topic of conversation that seemed to be going down a rabbit hole and finally answered her question about where they would stay for the night.

“Accommodation’s already arranged Sassenach.”

“What? ... When? ... Where?” She gasped flabbergasted at Jamie’s reply.

He informed her that he had managed to find somewhere to stay not far from Lo So Shing for the night. Raising an eyebrow at his reply, she thought back to when he may have done that, when it dawned on her that Jamie had managed a quiet word to the Maître D when they had first arrived.

“Is it far from here?”

“No, it’s about ten minutes.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Aye ... we were able tae get accommodation at a bungalow on the beach.”

“Oh! How lovely,” she replied but inwardly Claire Beauchamp was on tenterhooks, “Oh! No!” She thought, as Alfred Chow’s words again suddenly resonated in her mind. It’s secluded ... a beach for lovers ...

When the waiter returned with their bill, Jamie cast a casual glance at his watch. “I guess we ought tae go Claire. It’s getting late.”

Her heart was racing at his statement.

Jamie merely held in check the amused, wry smile when he looked at her and saw Claire’s mind ticking over the fact that they would be alone tonight on a secluded beach ... a beach for lovers.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 18 (S)

As they left the restaurant and made their way back to where Jamie had parked the Harley suddenly thoughts of nervousness but also of anticipation and excitement began to swirl in Claire’s brain at the possibilities of what the night may actually hold. She didn’t need a fortune cookie or tea leaves in a cup to tell her anything. Spending alone time with James Fraser in a normal situation were very rare and it was only on missions that they were able to role play being lovers or a married couple if it was profiled by Section One. All of a sudden, Jamie casually reached out and captured her hand, entwining his fingers with hers and holding it tightly. The simple gesture sent butterflies whirling through the pit of her stomach. Abruptly Claire exhaled a little short of breath and could feel a warm flush cross her cheeks. Did it happen every time? She mused before having to admit that it did! She trembled at his touch and felt her insides melt as shivers of desire began to run down her spine. She gave Jamie a sideways glance but it was then that her knees became weak and Claire quickly looked away before he could see her staring at him.

Very aware of her little shudder, Jamie knew that whatever was going on in Claire Beauchamp’s mind had nothing to do with the light chill in the night air but more to do with her duelling thought processes of him holding her hand.

“Ye okay Claire?”

Knowing that her feelings were showing she could barely look at James Fraser. Could he see what her eyes were conveying in the darkness? Oh, God ... please no, her inner voice scolded her. Then with a bravado she was not actually feeling she thought it was safe enough for her to reply noncommittally without him knowing her true mind-set.

“Yes ... just a little tired. It has been an exhausting day.”

All the while Claire was having these muddled concerns; he’d been keenly watching her with a mesmerising stare. He saw how her facial expressions were deciphering the scenario that they were placed in and noticing her shiver a little, Jamie snaked his arm around her shoulders and drew Claire closer against the sheltering warmth of his body. However, this movement only escalated her body’s reaction to his nearness. It instinctively responded to the man at her side and she felt as though her entire body was humming. His strong hand idly caressed her shoulder as they walked and Claire’s heartbeat quickened significantly. Then when Jamie’s hip brushed against hers, she wanted to melt into him right there on the footpath.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

This stoic, Section One, cold operative was a completely different man in Claire Beauchamp’s presence and his eyes were raging with mirth at her uneasiness. Jamie knew that she’d fallen in love with him and if he could admit the truth to himself, then so had he. But Section One was no place for a normal life. That could never be. They were at the whim of their superiors and could be cancelled for even fraternizing after hours. Section One owned them and could cancel them at any moment if they wished. There was no escape from Section. There were no picket fences or puppies or normalcy in an operative’s life. Not in Section One. There was only make believe when on missions and any stolen clandestine moments were grasped with both hands for, they could be their last.

A cheeky smirk bowed his lips in response. “Aye ... that it has,” he replied raising his eyebrow in that adorable way that she loved.

Firming his grip around her shoulders, Claire very much wanted to nestle into James Fraser’s arms and rest her head on his shoulder. In turn Jamie’s fingertips ached to brush the hair from her flushed face and kiss those pliable lips that responded with ardour when he kissed her. He remembered back to when in her Hong Kong apartment when Claire’s kisses held promise of the wonders yet to be discovered. He very much wanted tonight to be the continuation of where they had left off when the untimely interruption by Mei Ling had thrown cold water over their reunion.

Jamie’s blue eyes glided across Claire’s jaw then down her swan like throat that he adored before resting on her chest rising and falling with her laboured breaths. He could only imagine the hardening of her nipples beneath her sweater and how his lips ached to caress them. Glancing down once more he was confronted with Claire Beauchamp’s beautiful, cerulean eyes shimmering with a hunger that mirrored his own need.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

James Fraser realized that he was in no hurry to return to the real world either. They had this rare opportunity to be together, something that was denied them by Section One. He wanted to explore those emotions they had been skirting around for too long and to live... really live if only for one night. He needed to feel Claire’s velvet, soft skin against his own and to make love to her as if there was no tomorrow. This mission to capture the leader of the Rising Dragons could be long and protracted and it may very well be extremely dangerous for Claire. Suddenly the image of the dead woman on the junk entered his mind. She was so similar to her in appearance that they could have been twins. This image did not sit well with him. There could be ongoing mission profile situations dealing with the triads where he may not be able to protect her and the thought of anything happening to his Sassenach was a kick to his heart.

He didn’t want to think about Tony Wong, the mission, or Section One. The abort command from Operations had been followed by his request for permission to re-profile the mission. Tomorrow was soon enough for them to put his plan into action, but not tonight.

Tonight, would be theirs.

When they finally reached the car park, Jamie gave Claire a smile and releasing her, he reached for his keys. They both quickly donned their helmets and wrapping her arms around herself, Claire waited as Jamie started the motorbike. He held out his hand to her in silent invitation and his smile was one of such heated promise that she felt it right down to her toes. She forgot everything except how this man made her feel. Swallowing hard, she climbed onto the back of the Harley, wrapping her arms and legs around him as she settled herself against the backrest. Jamie gunned the engine and she wriggled restlessly, a blush creeping up the back of her neck.

Who would have thought that riding a motorbike could be considered foreplay?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The bungalow was not that far away, but every minute getting to their accommodation seemed to take forever for Claire. Every second that she sat behind the virile man was sending her heart into palpitations. She was nervous but at the same time excited to be spending this precious downtime with, her mentor and partner ... James Fraser. Every precious moment together away from Section One was a lifetime in normalcy for them. When an opportunity arose, she grabbed it with both hands because as soon as they returned to Section One, their lives were under scrutiny from their superiors.

Located just ten minutes from Lo So Shing village where they had dined, they made their way to where they would spend the night. Although the bungalow was set back a distance from the road it was easy access for a motorbike. Having turned off the main road, the navigation signage to it was pretty good and Jamie had no trouble finding the location of their accommodation overlooking Lo So Shing Beach. Luckily, he was able to manoeuvre the Harley closer to their lodgings rather than having to walk the forty minutes it normally took to reach the beach if they were using a different mode of transport.

Finally, the intimate bungalow came into view silhouetted in the moonlight.

The wheels of the Harley Davidson spun in the gravel when Jamie finally reached their destination and killed the engine. Immediately the quietness of their surroundings swallowed them. The accommodation was situated in a secluded area and seemed to be very private, while the bungalow’s isolation from civilization and the peace and quiet of the location all added up to its charm. It was an appealing little thatched roof hut, surrounded by thick foliage and with not another bungalow in sight. The ambiance and seclusion just echoed that this was the ideal place for young lovers. Everything seemed to be exacerbated at night and in the quietness, they could hear the sound of the waves as they washed up on the beach.

Claire eyed the man of her thoughts as he gracefully swung one long leg over the motorbike, then removing his helmet; he ran a careless hand through his tousled hair. Unzipping his leather jacket, Jamie pulled off his gloves and stuffed them into his upturned helmet. Their eyes met over the Harley and she grinned at him. Giving her a lazy smile in return, James Fraser merely walked around the bike, put his hand under her elbow and helped Claire off the bike.

Taking off her helmet and shaking her head, she took another quick look at their environs as her long, brunette tendrils flew around her face in the breeze. However, she couldn’t help feeling that the surroundings were secondary to the company despite the lovely setting of the bungalow. She could think of nothing better than spending the night here with Jamie. Signing, Claire just knew that this was going to be a place that would have special memories for her and for him.

“Is this it?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was peaceful and quiet, that is until they both got off the bike.

Clutching their helmets, all that could be heard was the crunch of their boots on the gravel path which seemed to reverberate in the darkness like a thousand cicadas chirping. However, the isolation of the bungalow made them feel like they were the only two people on Lamma Island. There was not another soul around and with just the muted moonlight for illumination; they made their way towards where they would spend the night.

Putting his hand on the small of her back, Jamie’s thumb nonchalantly traced the waistband of her jeans. “Aye ... we’re here Claire,” he replied, again reaching out his hand and interlocking his fingers with hers. When he gave her hand a little squeeze, his grip was firm, warm, encouraging and full of promise.

Returning the gesture, Claire flashed him a dazzling smile of anticipation. “You always take me to the nicest places Jamie.”

It was all James Fraser ... cool and collected Section One’s, cold blooded killer; James Fraser ... could do to keep from reaching for her and kissing Claire Beauchamp senseless in the moonlight.

Claire held her breath as he lifted his hand to her face gently brushing his knuckles against her cheek. His fingers were warm against her cold skin. “I aim to please,” was his suggestive reply.

They exchanged a long, searching look. Their gazes held in the moonlight while a shiver danced down her spine when Jamie curled his hand around the nape of her neck, gently drawing her closer. Claire saw the dark flare of desire in his eyes and felt an answering quiver deep inside her. All of a sudden, she felt the gentle slide of his fingertips caressing the back of her neck. James Fraser then touched his mouth to hers in a soft, engaging kiss that turned her legs to jelly and nearly made her drop her helmet. Unable to refuse the invitation of his kiss, Claire opened her mouth to the gentle caress of Jamie’s tongue, but the kiss instantly grew hotter then more commanding. Her free hand came up to twist in the soft wool of the sweater under his jacket, a moan vibrating softly at the back of her throat. A hunger that had been simmering in her blood all day bubbled up with an intensity that surprised her. Claire closed her eyes and for a few heady seconds the taste of Jamie’s mouth, the feel of his thigh pressed hard against hers, was her only reality.

When he pulled away, she took a deep breath, vaguely pleased to see that he was also breathing hard. Jamie gave her a little smirk and stared at her with half-lidded eyes, while her heart did a little somersault in her chest. One little kiss was all it took for her to want James Fraser to push her up against the nearest wall and have his wicked way with her.

Section One’s Level 2 operative, Claire Beauchamp took a deep breath as he found the key and opened the door to the gorgeous thatched¬-roof hut on the beach. Jamie too, may have been contemplating the same course of action for his voice was low and rough with so much suppressed emotion when he next spoke.

“After ye ... Miss Beauchamp.”

It made her heart skip another beat.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Opening the door, James Fraser switched on the lights and stepping inside the two operatives glanced around at the beach bungalow where they would send the night. It was tastefully furnished and its charming, airy interior was beautiful ... just perfect for a romantic beach getaway for travellers to Lamma Island. The secluded location of the accommodation was indeed very special and designed with privacy in mind and ... they had it all to themselves for this one night.

This place was a paradise.

Claire was a little transfixed by what she was seeing in front of her eyes and was caught up in the moment. It was so easy for her to imagine what the outside panorama would look like in the moonlight. She visualized a beautiful sandy beach outside the front door with the most stunning deep blue sea lapping at the shore of the beach and sparkling all the way to the horizon whether it was day or night. She could see herself and Jamie strolling barefoot in the soft sand underfoot as they walked a few steps from the balcony to the water and then making love on the beach under the night stars.

Turning, Jamie noticed the dreamy look that had crossed over Claire’s face. He took a moment to witness the contented smile on her mouth and the wistful look in her eyes and suddenly he was taken aback at just how beautiful she was. It was hard to reconcile that he had trained this stunningly, beautiful woman and that Section One had groomed her to be a deadly, cold-blooded killer yet here she was, standing in a beach bungalow and no doubt having romantic thoughts about this place.

Swallowing the lump in his throat that made it difficult for James Fraser to breathe, it took all of his resolve to pull himself together before commenting. “Penny for yer thoughts Sassenach?”

“Uh? What? ... Wh ...what did you say?”

“Earth tae Major Tom!”

“Wh ...what did you say?” She repeated as her thoughts visualised before her eyes.

“Ye were miles away lass ...”

Reaching out his hand towards her, Jamie took her motorbike helmet and her leather gloves from her trembling hands and placed her sole belongings next to his on the table near the front door.

“Here ... let me help ye with yer jacket,” he said as he watched Claire unzip her leather coat without looking at him.

But ... he watched her.

The tell-tale hitch in his voice intensified his Scottish accent, so stealing a very quick glance at him, Claire suddenly knew why. Jamie’s eyes bore into her with a penetrating gaze and there was a hunger in his eyes that she hadn’t seen before and it made her nervous. She was all but trembling and thought for sure that Jamie had noticed.

Had he known what she was imagining about this romantic setting with similar thoughts of his own?

It was always so hard to read James Fraser when he looked at her the way he was looking at her now. He had a predatory look in his eye that thrilled her and frightened her at the same time and she stumbled with her reply. “W...was I?”

“Aye ... ye were.”

Oh ... I was just thinking how lovely it is here ... that’s all.”

“Well … Indeed ... ‘tis,” Jamie replied with a roguish grin walking towards her until he was practically in her personal space and brushing near her body with slow, deliberate movements that made Claire’s pulse skyrocket.

Closing her eyes, she inhaled the masculine smell of this unique man who sent her heart racing ten to the dozen. His close proximity unnerved her even more and when he leaned around her and closed the front door Claire held her breath. James Fraser gave her no respite for when he had finished that task; his rock-hard body deliberately bumped against her, imprisoning her against him with no way for her to escape his nearness.

Ever so slowly, Jamie walked her back until Claire felt her own back touch the hard surface of the front door. Her breathing at this stage was ragged and she could feel her heart hammering within her chest pounding like a beating drum. She was being held prisoner by his arms but also by his muscular thighs that were bracketing her hips. She had already felt the muscles in those thighs when her hands inadvertently had rested on them when on the Harley. She’d gotten such a shock when his muscles contracted at her touch that she had quickly removed them and placed them around his waist, however, the feeling that having her hands there had also sent her heart fluttering in her chest. James Fraser was a lethal weapon of a man and being this close to him was testing her resolve. Obviously, she had none because she was capitulating right before his eyes.

Their eyes connected exchanging a long, passionate look. Jamie’s eyes were devouring her with such a hungry look that Claire thought her heart would burst. He wanted her. She wanted him. They wanted each other and there would be no turning back, especially not tonight. Communicating without words their mutual need they simultaneously closed the gap between them. Claire shut her eyes as Jamie’s lips were a whisper’s breath away from her own. Her pulse was racing; her skin was flushed with desire. Shivers darted through her body and feeling the evidence of his aroused body pressed firmly against her own trembling body was amazing. A tiny smile curved Jamie’s mouth as he brushed her hip with his hand before trailing his fingertips down her thigh. However, when his hands slid lower pressing her buttocks close, the warmth of his touch seemed to burn her skin right through the fabric of her mission pants. Claire felt her legs begin to buckle and if not for his arms encircling her, she would have collapsed.

With eyes flaming with desire James Fraser felt his own body quivering in response to Claire Beauchamp’s nearness as well. Then ... like a caress to her lips, her name rolled off his tongue like a prayer. “Cl-aire!”

Reciprocating, Claire uttered Jamie’s name on a sigh, then snaking her arms around him ... their mouths touched in a soft kiss that very quickly became more intense.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 19 (S/NSFW)

Jamie’s kisses started out as a slow burn as his lips brushed Claire’s with gentle caresses that teased her pliable lips. Nuzzling her cheek to his she turned her face and kissed him on the corner of his mouth in return, but before she could experiment further, he shifted his head. His teeth bit her bottom lip before returning again and again to capture the softness of her mouth with passionate connections that had her feeling breathless. Soft mewing sounds vibrated in Claire’s throat urging Jamie to deepen his kisses and although responsive to his hot caresses, she wanted more ... so much more than he was giving her no matter how enjoyable. Digging her fingers into his curls, she tangled them in his hair while gently caressing him in that sweet spot behind his ears. At the same time she pulled Jamie’s head closer and opening her mouth gave him permission to give her more.

The lure of Claire’s mouth was so sexually stimulating that he could not refuse and he peppered kisses across her face, her cheeks and down her ethereal neck leaving trails of desire in his wake while uttering a groan of his own. Their eyes met and held when Jamie reluctantly broke away from their kisses. He was gazing at her in such wonderment as if he’d had an epiphany. He could feel his chest heave with the gamut of awareness that coursed through his body at the realization that Claire Beauchamp was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

“Oh. God. Claire,” was his guttural whisper.

Their eyes met and held for a long moment. James Fraser’s gaze was scorching ... hers, in turn ... was hypnotised by his blistering stare. With a body stirring with an unruly desire for Claire Beauchamp, his gaze moved downward as he ran his eyes over her body skimming over her lips, her breasts then lower committing to memory every little nuance of the woman in his arms. Jamie pulled her closer until she was flush against his virile body then his hands danced up and down her spine in euphoric torment. Claire’s eyes widened feeling his response to her nearness while her lips parted on a gasp of expectation. Tempted to the limit of his self-control his lips returned once again to claim what was his in a kiss that rapidly turned heated. Sealing his mouth over hers, Jamie’s tongue slid past her lips as a throaty growl left his lips and their tongues matted in a sensual dance ritual that curled Claire’s toes.

Arching into his touch, hunger bubbled through her veins as well. She wanted Jamie with a fierceness that would not be denied. Slipping her arms up around his head, Claire held him steady as they kissed ardently both shuddering as the heat of desire radiated through their bodies. Ever since they were interrupted in her apartment, she had wanted Jamie to kiss her, hold her, love her until there was no tomorrow. All day her blood had been simmering with desire for her Section One mentor. Their kisses on the ferry had been the start of this sexual tension between them when they first came to Lamma Island. The repeated hand holding sex had also unnerved her but it was straddling James Fraser on the motorbike today that had been unbearably excruciating to her senses. Feeling his muscled torso and ripped body while hugging Jamie to her warmth had sent erotic thoughts ricocheting through her brain. Now they were here in this beach bungalow, away from the eyes of Section One for just one night, it was inevitable that they would act on their baser instincts.

With a passion that shocked her, Claire reciprocated the heady kiss, hugging Jamie to her trembling body with a desire so profound that it couldn’t be denied any longer.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In the throes of passion, they rocked against each other; their bodies aligned. Pressing her body flush against his was a powerful aphrodisiac and as he pulled Claire closer and closer, Jamie ran his meandering hands down over the curve of her back until they slid lower, cupping, then kneading her buttocks. There was no denying that he was aroused, for she could feel the evidence of her effect on him as well. Little tell-tale signs manifested themselves to tell that she was just as aroused as him. Her breathing in particular was laboured, in fact Claire was quite breathless, her breasts were swollen and she felt flushed from the top of her head to the tip of her toes. However, there was one sensitive area of her body that was totally stimulated, for she could feel her groin quiver in response to his attack on her senses. The tightness of her nipples brushing against Jamie’s chest sent delicious tremors rippling down her spine while her heart pummelled wildly.

Everything was a blur to her except the way James Fraser was making her respond.

Persuasive lips caressed her to the point of madness with an intensity that was completely addictive. Claire had never been kissed the way he was kissing her or felt the way he made her feel in his arms and nothing had prepared her for the way she would respond to his attack on her senses. In Jamie’s arms she soared with an overwhelming joy and pleasure. The blush of sheer happiness coursed through her veins and she felt invincible.

Why did life have to be so complicated in Section One that relationships between operatives were frowned upon? She knew the score and so too did Jamie. They were both pragmatic about it and even though these precious clandestine moments were relished; they knew their life was always in jeopardy in their line of work. Life was a cruel mistress but tonight love would be their guardian.

Finally breaking for air, he groaned out her name in a rasping sigh. “Cl-aire! ... Sorcha!”

Pressing his thigh between her legs, he began rocking against her as their foreheads touched. Opening her eyes, she saw that Jamie was looking at her as though he was pondering the most efficient yet torturous way of peeling off her clothes, as though it was something he’d been thinking about all night. A sheer quiver of awareness shot through her and a deep rosy flush stole across her skin.

Well, she certainly knew that feeling, Claire thought feverishly for she had spent the whole evening fighting those demons too and resisting the temptation to slide her hands underneath his chocolate brown sweater and explore the sculptured muscles of his torso.

Smiling back at him, she gave him a cheeky Eskimo kiss. Jamie’s whole face lit up and he couldn’t help but smile back in return, then with eyes dark with desire he danced his Sassenach back against the front door giving her no respite from his pursuit. Swaying in sync with him, Claire was aware that this man was trying to kill her with a sexual assault that had her wanting more. He sensually rubbed his rock-hard body against hers again and again so provocatively that her body just moulded against him in capitulation, but when his fingertips touched her intimately between the legs a gasping sigh of want echoed in her throat.

Her whole being was burning up inside as James Fraser continued his onslaught to her senses and she thought she might combust if he continued this sensual torment. Claire Beauchamp was on fire for this man and she was melting in his arms. She could neither think nor speak and any words that left her mouth were inaudible gibberish because she was consumed with the euphoric sensation after sensation of Jamie’s sensual, tactile touch.

A distorted sigh escaped from his mouth as he inhaled a breath then a mournful whimper reverberated in her throat when their lips reconnected. Claire’s head fell back towards the front door and with her arms around Jamie’s neck, she brought him with her. Insatiable for each other, they kissed passionately. Once their lips touched, it was as if they had fused together. Their tongues battled for supremacy and lips shifted to accommodate a deeper joining. But it was not enough, not nearly enough for either of them. Jamie couldn’t pull Claire close enough. He couldn’t go slowly. He wanted her desperately.

“Jamie! Oh! Ja …” she muttered as this wonderful man overpowered her with another mind-blowing kiss.

Overcome with passion, they succumbed to their feelings for each other.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie’s hands ached to feel Claire’s velvet soft, skin against his palms and to run his hands over the luscious curves of this woman’s tempting body. He longed to have her naked against him with nothing separating them like the first time they had made love in Lyons. Although he was well aware of the short distance to the bedroom, he was uncertain if they would be able to make any expanse at all given the way he was feeling. It would indeed be a miracle if they made it to the bedroom fully clothed.

Feeling Claire straddle him today on the Harley had been so tempting and it had taken all of his will power and Section One training, to try and ignore the burgeoning feelings that had tested him to the limit. Her hands around his waist and her head resting against his shoulder had nearly been the straw that broke the camel’s back. He’d inhaled raggedly many a time on the ride to the village and again here to the beach bungalow to try and ignore his escalating need for his partner. Tonight though, without the prying eyes of their superiors may be the night that they both acted on their growing attraction for each other.

The air in the bungalow was thick with the sexual tension escalating between the two operatives by the minute. Swept up in the moment, their need for each other was a blazing firestorm ready to go up in flames with the slightest spark.

“I verra much want tae look at ye Sassenach.”

Claire moaned hearing these words leave his mouth as Jamie’s hands began to tear at her clothes trying to find a way to separate them from her body. Finally, finding the hem of her sweater he glanced at her seeking permission before sliding his fingertips under the fabric. Pushing the material up he revealed the naked flesh of her stomach. Claire’s breathing was irregular and her abdomen muscles expanded and contracted as his palms lay flat against her warm skin. Shivering, she closed her eyes as Jamie lightly caressed her back and forth. It felt so good.

Growling in need, he rocked himself more determinedly against Claire as his hands slid up from her waist. He splayed them across her stomach before gliding along the side of her body, then slowly inching up across her naked skin he stopped at her breasts. Sinking his fingers into her soft curves, Jamie cupped them in the palms of his hands then squeezed them gently with his fingers. Claire wasn’t wearing a bra and when his thumbs found their way to her aroused nipples, he stroked them back and forth before rolling them tenderly between his fingertips until his Sassenach swooned in ecstasy.

His erotic touch only ignited Claire’s need to feel him inside her. Moaning incoherently once more, her glazed eyes captured his as she murmured breathlessly, “My turn.”

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Backing away a little her sweater fell back into pace. Never severing his eyes from hers, Jamie gently bit his lip as he waited for her touch.

Reciprocating his moves, Claire found the hem of his mission sweater and placing her hands beneath the jumper she slowly slid them up his chest with purpose. James Fraser was a magnificent man and the sensation of his naked skin beneath her palms felt wonderful. Gliding her hands upwards, she soon reached where his heart was pounding in his chest and the rhythm of his heartbeats pulsated against her hands. She sighed as a sharp breath caught in her mouth. Jamie, too, made a guttural noise deep within his throat and when Claire cast a quick glance at him, he had his eyes closed. The look of sheer elation plastered on his face was indescribable.

Likewise, the play of her soft, warm fingertips up and down his upper body caused Jamie to inhale sharply. Feeling her scrutiny, he slowly opened his eyes, and what she saw was a mirror image of the yearning and desire that was reflected in her own eyes.

Claire Beauchamp’s touch ignited feelings he thought had long been suppressed by Section One. He was after all, a coldly efficient killing machine, nothing more nothing less that had been stripped of his humanity. He had no compassion for those that Section One targeted and everyone, including innocent civilians, was expendable on any given mission. In Section One human life was obligatory collateral if anyone stood in the way of achieving the End Game, but this woman had found his weakness. Claire ... was his weakness. She saw that beneath his stoic veneer there was a man worth caring about, a man worth saving.

This otherworldly woman was driving him insane.

Her touch to his naked skin electrified his nervous system sending shivers to every part of his body. Searching fingernails scraped over his back. The sensation nearly sent Jamie over the edge particularly when Claire rested her hands against his chest once more, but this time pinching his aroused nipples between her fingers. Piercing blue eyes devoured her and raising his hands, he caught hers and pressed them more firmly to his chest. This woman in his arms was the architect of such agony and ecstasy that James Fraser was totally turned on. His eyes caressed her face drawn once more to the lips he had kissed to distraction. He wanted Claire with every breath in his body and leaning forward his lips reconnected with hers until they were kissing each other desperately.

She nipped at Jamie’s bottom lip with a fierceness that scared her while he retaliated with scorching French kisses that caused an enormous shudder to pass through her body. Encircling his neck, Claire pulled Jamie closer and held him tight. Kissing him passionately she sent his senses reeling just as they had in Lyons when their emotions were at a boiling point the first time, they had made love. The desperation was tangible then, but tonight it was a raging inferno.

An intense heat consumed them while Jamie’s mindset was sent reeling. Briefly separating from their ardent kisses, Claire raised his arms and pulled the sweater over his head tossing it to the floor. Her eyes ran over her mentor’s exposed skin secretly admiring the wonderful specimen of a man standing before her. Imprisoning her against the door Jamie held her delicate hands captive and rocked his hips against hers in reprisal. This exquisite woman was dynamite in his arms.

“Cl-aire,’’ he growled hoarsely as his hands once again found their way under her pullover too.

Raising her sweater, he quickly removed it from her torso revealing the luminous beauty that was Claire Beauchamp’s beautifully aroused body to his sight. They were both now naked from the waist up, and the need to feel skin against skin was a powerful inducement. The sight of Claire’s exquisite breasts and small, rose-coloured nipples were just too tempting to resist. Reverently his hands cupped her breasts then bending his head, Jamie teased each nipple with the slide of his tongue as she whimpered in subjugation. Tantalising each hardened nub back and forth, he suckled her over and over, before sliding his tongue up the curve of one breast and kissing her collarbone. With gentle fingers he skated them over her full breasts once more before venturing down her chest and back up again. It was sheer torture for both of them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pressing their naked torso against each other, the sensation of skin to skin nearly sent him over the edge. Claire writhed against him and Jamie grabbed her hips in response. Grinding his aroused flesh against her with tormenting precision he let her feel her full effect on him. He had no control over how his body responded so naturally to the charms of the woman in his arms and he couldn’t prevent the erotic rocking motions against her. In desperate need his hands sought to remove the rest of her clothing as quickly as he could.

James Fraser was impatient to feel her fully naked body against him and to know what it was like to make love with Claire Beauchamp again. That first time in Lyons had been so visceral, and they’d come together with such a primal need for each other it was combustible. He had thought she was dead and when he’d discovered that Claire lived, he could not stop the feelings that he had for her surfacing and vice versa.

His need for her was strong but given this rare chance to be together if only for one night then he would grab it willingly. Jamie pulled Claire to his chest and burning flesh collided. Shivering with unbridled desire her knees threatened to give way. Tightening his hold around her waist Jamie bent his knees then dipped down sweeping Claire up off the ground and into his arms as if she was as light as a feather. Ever the temptress she snaked an arm up and wrapped it around his neck. Playfully her fingers slid under the curls at the nape of his neck and sensually caressed him while her other hand lay on his naked chest across his beating heart. With a happy sigh Claire Beauchamp leaned her head into the crook of his collarbone as James Fraser carried her into the bedroom.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 20 (S/NSFW)

The sound of waves rolling in across the sand, the smell of the ocean and moonlight filtering through large glass sliding doors greeted the amorous couple as Jamie carried Claire into the bedroom. Although a soft sea breeze entered the room causing the curtains to billow gently in the balmy evening, there was nothing balmy about James Fraser if anything he was causing the temperature on the room to escalate. The look he was giving Claire made her catch her breath. It was scorching and had her on the back foot and her chest was pounding with anticipation.

Jamie’s gaze sizzled and sent heat swirling to the depths of her being. His strong arms held her close and she could feel the beating of his heart against her hand. Claire tightened her grip on him by sliding both arms around his neck then nuzzled in his strong arms; she gave a little sigh as Jamie headed towards the king size bed dominating the centre of the bedroom. He smelt so good that she couldn’t resist nipping at the skin of this throat with her teeth, while at the same time huskily murmuring an endearment against his ear as she brushed her lips against his cheek. Turning his head, Jamie’s lips captured Claire’s soft mouth kissing her seductively.

The woman in his arms was sending his libido escalating and the sooner he reached the bed the better. He very much wanted to ravish her but their frenzied kisses in the entry had him taking a step back. A slow burning seduction would heighten the intensity when they did finally come together, but those thoughts soon disappeared when he laid his Sassenach down on the bed and his eyes roamed over her.

Suddenly Jamie didn’t trust himself to go slowly for he was bowled over at the vision of exquisiteness before him. His breath caught in his throat as he inhaled a raspy breath at the sight of Claire Beauchamp’s beautiful, velvet soft skin with her tousled hair cascading around her flawless face and spilled all over the pillow. However, it was her kissable lips and perky breasts that held his attention. The sight of her like this tormented him beyond distraction for she looked like an alluring divine being lying there on the bed naked from the waist up. He watched as Claire struggled to breathe normally and his eyes could not sever from the sight of her heaving breasts as her chest rose and fell in sexual arousal. Jamie’s hands ached to touch her and discover the wonder that was this woman who Section One had tried to tame. However, Claire still held on to her humanity, no matter how hard her superiors tried to kill that part of her personality they had not yet succeeded in doing so. In their eyes Claire Beauchamp was a liability and they were always watching her looking for a way to have her cancelled if she didn’t follow through on mission orders. If they ever suspected that she was his weakness then they would have no compunction in using her against him to keep him in line as well.

The allure of Claire’s charm tested the limits of Jamie’s control. Her blue eyes seemed so fathomless and he was thunderstruck with just how beautiful she looked when aroused. He had witnessed this once before but he’d treated that liaison as merely a one-night stand. However, looking at her lying there writhing against him like she was doing, he knew that he was only kidding himself about his feelings for this woman. He was Section One’s cold blooded killer but because of how his material had wormed her way into his cold heart meant that she was dangerous. Claire Beauchamp was dangerous to his sanity and dangerous to his position in Section One. It placed him in a perilous situation and any affection between them could only be clandestine at the best because of their superiors at Section One.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her body was reacting to Jamie Fraser’s in ways she had not experienced before. All Claire knew was that she desired him and wanted him with all of her being. Little did she know that her pupils had dilated to such an extent that they radiated with a passion that affected Jamie just as much. His look was menacing and she felt like he’d snared her in a trap that she didn’t want to get out of. Her chest pounded in her body with the look he returned, it was searing and made her shiver in desire. Moistening her suddenly dry lips Claire bit her bottom lip in anticipation of what he was going to do.

Time stood still as they stared into the depths of each other’s eyes.

Smoothing back wayward tendrils of hair from her face, Jamie imprisoned her gaze, then placing his hands on either side of her body he leant down and kissed Claire’s lips so tenderly that she couldn’t breathe. Their breaths mingled as his lips teased and cajoled her pliant lips with the skill of a Valentine operative. She was drowning in feelings and coiling her arms up around Jamie’s neck brought their bodies even closer. He in turn increased the pressure of his caress and she groaned in supplication.

James Fraser’s lips were so intoxicating and addictive, his kiss curled her toes and she felt her whole body surrender to his touch. However, before the caress escalated to the point of no return he broke away from the kiss. Yet, in refusal to completely sever the connection of lips, Jamie teased her top lip with a little flick with his mouth. Claire felt as if she was falling apart at the seams so potent and sensual were his kisses but when his tongue licked up the column of her throat, she thought she would completely expire with need.

“Make love to me,” she hoarsely whispered, ragged with need.

“No Claire.”

She ached for him to move ... to touch her. “But I want you Jamie.”

“Me too ... but not yet.”

“Noooo ...”

“Soon ... my Sassenach ... soon.”

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When Jamie looked at Claire Beauchamp, he knew he was in trouble. Her request had his heart hammering and he desperately wanted to give in to her entreaty and make passionate love to her until they were spent with exhaustion. But first he wanted a slow burn that would overwhelm all her senses. Claire deserved that and more. He wanted this night to be so special that they would remember it long after they returned to Section One. These opportunities were a rare occurrence in their line of work for when you were faced with the possibility of death on a mission, then you grabbed on to happiness with both hands when you could. They had failed to capture Tony Wong and hence they had lost their chance of him leading them to the leader of the Rising Dragons. Operations and Madeline would not be at all happy that he had slipped through their fingers and there could be repercussions when they returned to Section One to report.

Tonight though, he wanted to ease any thought that Claire might have of that scenario and make her forget that she was indeed a Section One operative on a mission. Tonight, there was just the two of them, alone, without surveillance from Section in a romantic setting. He planned to make it memorable. Breathing deeply, Jamie knew that he needed to take control of his own raging hormones first before he could proceed with his seduction.

Holding Claire with his gaze he ever so tenderly kissed her lips then trailed his hands seductively across her stomach until they rested on the waistband of her mission pants. She uttered a deep sigh for all she could feel was the slide of his fingers against her warm skin. Claire sucked in her stomach muscles and of her own accord raised her hips to give Jamie better access to the fastening of her pants. He smiled at her reaction to his touch and bending his head lightly kissed one breast and then the other as his fingers slid along the inside of the mission pants once more before adroitly releasing the belt buckle fastening with ease.

The leather mission pants hugged her body like a second skin and Jamie caressed her toned muscles from her thighs to her calf as he ran his hands down her lithesome legs. His touch was electrifying and Claire could hardly breathe. She was restless and writhing on the bed sighed into the pillow urging Jamie to hurry with his task for every sense in her body was receptive to his touch. Her mentor and partner smelt so good; the pheromones radiating from his body made her shiver; while the sound of his lowered Scottish voice was so sexy to her ears. This stoic man was always so circumspect at Section One and it was only when James Fraser let his guard down, like he was doing now, was his Scottish accent more pronounced.

He was as aroused by his actions as she was to be the recipient.

Through lidded eyes Claire saw the intensity of his lingering stare and knew that Jamie too was breathing heavily. With dextrous fingers he undid the buckles on her boots and tugged then off her feet. Dropping them to the floor he wasted no time in returning to her pants and began to pull them from her legs one leg at a time. As soon as her knee was visible Jamie kissed her kneecap before trailing another kiss to her calf muscle by lathing his tongue over her fevered skin. It was torturous for her and Claire rolled her head on the pillow and bit her lip while her body quivered from his touch. The pounding of her heartbeats was deafening in her ears and she wasn’t sure whether or not she would survive any more of Jamie’s foreplay.

This was utter agony.

She wanted this man with every breath in her body.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire Beauchamp was a vision and James Fraser inhaled a gasp and looked his fill at the woman who had become his weakness and had opened his heart to feelings he had long suppressed. Bending closer, he placed a tender kiss to her lips, trailing them down her swan like neck until he reached her chest.

In response Claire’s’ lungs inhaled and exhaled gasping for any little bit of oxygen to help her breathe as her heart thumped sporadically in her chest. When his lips glided over her stomach pressing warm kisses there, she practically levitated off the bed and when Jamie’s tongue anointed her belly button her hips automatically rose from the covers. It was both erotic and sensual but Claire ached to feel Jamie close to her. Her hands captured his head and her fingertips tightly gripped his hair as she pushed him to her body.

Releasing her grip, Jamie raised his head and their eyes connected. Claire Beauchamp was literally stealing his breath away. She looked so alluring with her come hither gaze, her pouting mouth and her teeth biting her bottom lip in a way that tested his control. She was dangerous in so many ways but at this moment Jamie didn’t care if he got burnt and he knew just what had to be done to raise the fire in her as well. Neither could sever their gaze, then with eyes full of mischief and intent James Fraser smiled at her. He licked his lips and as he did so Claire felt his fingers glide down under her panties and rest against her groin before his fingers explored where she ached for his touch. She closed her eyes at the pleasurable sensations building inside her but his touch was too much to bear and she cried out in supplication.

“Ahhh! J-amie.”

His lips meandered at will across her heated flesh then inching lower, his teeth caught the edge of her silk panties and he playfully pulled the material away from her skin. When his tongue slid across her mound, Claire gave a guttural moan. Jamie was breathing hard too. His fingertips replaced his teeth slipping into the sides of her silk underwear and he started to take them off, slowly edging the silk panties down inch by inch over her hips revealing a tiny piece of more skin to his gaze. With each small exposure of flesh, his lips kissed where his fingers had been.

Loving hands cupped her bottom sliding over the round shape of her cheeks and pressed his fingers into her flesh. Claire writhed under Jamie’s touch; she bit her lip shaking her head from side to side into the pillow with suppressed pleasure of his strokes. It was nearly too much for her and she rose up giving him the opportunity he needed to remove the fragile underwear and with dexterous hands he did just that. Their eyes locked and Jamie gave a quirky smile as he slid her panties down her legs and pulled them off her feet in quick haste.

Removing her last piece of clothing, he finally revealed Claire’s glowing skin flushed with desire for him. Captivated by her sensuality his dilated eyes glided down her body from head to toe taking in every nuance of Claire Beauchamp’s astonishing beauty.

Drawing much need breath into his lungs he uttered “Christ, Claire!” He took another breath. “Ye’re the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Ye take my breath away.”

Her voice was a guttural whisper of entreaty. “Please Jamie ... I need you.”

“Not yet, mo nighean donn.”

Claire was in a sensual daze. Touching herself, her legs parted as she laid there tempting him with her nakedness. “But ... I want you ... I want you inside me.”

“And ye shall have me,” he hoarsely replied his voice catching in his throat.

This amazing woman was a vixen, a sexual being and Jamie knew Claire Beauchamp was unaware of the profound effect her inherent beauty was having on him and his libido. He needed to be as naked as she and so reluctantly James Fraser moved away from the bed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire’s half-lidded eyes fluttered open and she cast a loving smile towards Jamie when she saw that he was removing the rest of his own clothing. “Ah! Fair’s fair,” she uttered awe in her voice.

Her eyes glazed over with admiration and appreciation of the magnificent specimen that was James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser once he’d fully disrobed and was standing there gloriously naked. She couldn’t take her eyes from the play of muscles in his shoulders and arms, his taut thighs, his powerful chest or the lean line of his waist. James Fraser the Section One operative was a man to fear, but James Fraser the man was a masterpiece. All of those workouts in the dojo with martial arts training had toned his body to perfection. The sight of his superb nude body and the evidence of his desire for her took her breath away.

Jamie looked up when he heard Claire’s voice hitch in her throat. Lying in the king-sized bed in a halo of wonderfully dishevelled hair she was the most stunning woman he had ever seen. As their eyes locked as he approached the bed, he dared not gaze too long at Claire’s wanton beauty for he was already captivated. Her eyes beckoned to him to come back to her on the bed but her actions spoke even louder. No words were needed. Raising her arms towards him, she reached out to Jamie in unspoken meaning.

There was no way that he could ever refuse the lure of this beautiful woman waiting so wantonly with open arms for him to embrace. James Fraser could not refuse and moved towards her … lost to Claire Beauchamp’s entreaty.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 21 (S & NSFW)

 

The feel of Jamie’s fingertips slowly stroking the outline of her body awoke Claire from her slumber. Sighing against his chest, she burrowed deeper into his arms snuggling closer to her lover’s body so that he had better access to her skin. She could feel the slow beats of his heart rumbling in his chest beneath her hand and her own heart gave a little leap of joy. Last night Jamie’s heart had been pounding but the slow rhythm now was a soothing aphrodisiac and with his leisurely rhythmic touches along her body, Claire knew that last night had been real. His touch was everything and had brought her being to life in the most delicious way. Those remarkable hands of his that had taken her to the zenith of pleasure were now moving across her shoulder blades, lazily dancing along her arm before exploring lower to caress the curve of her naked hip.

She couldn’t be happier lying here with this amazing man. It had been sheer paradise last night for the sex was all she had imagined it would be and more. Now delightfully exhausted, Claire nestled her drowsy head on Jamie’s shoulder satiated and fulfilled from their wonderful lovemaking. Burrowing her nose against his skin, she was confronted by the essence that was all James Fraser. He smelt so good and whatever the scent was that was exuding from his body, she was intoxicated by it. Her mentor was a very accomplished lover and he’d initiated her in the ways of making love that had her floating on cloud nine. She had wondered if his seduction technique was part of his Valentine operative training, but that thought soon left Claire’s mind, for the James Fraser he was in Section One to the man he was with her last night were two completely different people.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie too was on a similar wavelength as his own thoughts suddenly flashed through his mind.

He was a cold-blooded killer, but because of his looks and charisma, he was often profiled to be a Valentine operative, to wine, dine and seduce women who were of particular interest to Section. If he could use his charms to manipulate the women with connection to terrorists in order to capture their spouse then he did it. No questions asked but in so doing Section One managed to chip away at any feelings of guilt, remorse or conscience that he may have had once upon a time. Those women he had to seduce meant nothing to him. They were just a means to an end but with Claire Beauchamp, he had shown her his raw vulnerability. He knew that if they were to make love for a second time that she would be dangerous and tonight he knew categorically that Claire had found his Achilles’ heel. She had wormed her way well and truly under his skin and into his heart.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

With his Sassenach cuddled up in his arms, Jamie trailed his hands back up her body repeating the tactile caresses in reverse. Sighing she moved her body in response to his loving touch.

Claire was still shaken by what they had shared and by the power of her feelings towards her mentor. Coyly, she looked up at him with such a contented smile on her face that Jamie was thunderstruck with just how gorgeous she was and leaning down he placed a kiss to her forehead. Contentedly, Claire closed her eyes with a dreamy smile on her lips as he repeated the kiss to her eyelids and next to her softly parted lips but it was the sound of this marvellous man’s voice as smooth as honey as it caressed her ears, that had her heart racing.

“Mo ghràdh?”

Opening her eyes once more she saw the depth of passion that was evident in Jamie’s eyes too and she could do nothing but take pleasure in his embrace. Looking into her sleepy, blue eyes his fingers caressed Claire’s face with such tenderness that she could not look away. Splaying his hand across the curve of her shoulder, his fingers idly slid into her bed-tussled hair caressing the tender spot behind her ear before letting the strands fall through his fingers like grains of sand. Jamie brushed Claire’s dishevelled tresses away from her neck and instead of his hand; his mouth stroked her skin with the touch of his lips.

Everything that James Fraser was doing to her was having the desired effect. Embracing his touch, Claire relished the way Jamie could turn her into mush with so little effort.

Softly his lips kissed the top of her head as his hands lazily roamed across her naked back caressing her skin with slow erotic strokes. The feel of her body against his was such an incredible feeling that Jamie was taking great pleasure in these post coital moments. This woman ...Claire Beauchamp ... made him question everything about his life in Section One especially could they ever be together? He was determined that he would find a way for that to happen but right now he would relish this time here on Lamma Island before they had to face their superiors.

Raising her head from his shoulder Claire turned her body into Jamie’s and linked her fingers with his. Her eyes fluttered closed for a brief moment before opening and focusing on the man who had well and truly satisfied her with a look that he could not refuse. They locked eyes, stunned by what had transpired here between them emotionally. It had shocked her to the core and opened up a Pandora’s Box of questions that they may not yet be able to answer. Unaware of Jamie’s thoughts and trepidation for their return to Section One, all Claire could think about was that James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser was everything she had ever wanted and making love with him was the most explosive sensation of her life.

Without breaking eye contact she slowly meandered her hand across his muscled chest and circled one of his dark brown nipples. A ragged breath escaped from his mouth, his chest rose and fell laboriously as Jamie felt each gentle caress of Claire’s fingertips with renewed pleasure. Her teasing of his nipples felt amazing but her ministrations were causing havoc with his libido. Piercing blue eyes stroked over her features, drawn yet again to the slightly swollen lips he’d kissed to distraction.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Bending her head Claire kissed him on the chest just before Jamie captured her hand and placed it across his thumping heart. Drawing her closer their faces aligned and they tenderly kissed before separating and falling back against the pillows just looking at each other. Darkened blue orbs caressed his Sassenach’s face from her forehead, to her sapphire blue eyes, flushed cheeks and delectable chin like she was an artist’s muse and he was going to paint her portrait. Finally, his eyes rested on her mouth. Jamie loved the softness of her full lips … they were so responsive and pliable and although a little swollen he couldn’t resist just one more taste. He kissed her, wrapping his arms around Claire as their bodies intimately touched until he could feel the beat of her heart against his own.

“Sassenach?” he whispered brushing his mouth against her cheek.

“Hmmm?” she sighed and began to torment him as well, as the feel of the erotic brush of her tongue lightly playing against his lips made his groin tighten.

“Mon nighean donn, I want to make love to ye again … but not here.”

Claire’s eyes locked on his lips as the words gushed from her mouth. “Where are we going Jamie Fraser?” she asked pulling back from her teasing caresses to look at him.

“Outside.”

“Outside?”

“Aye … I want to make love to ye under the stars,” he murmured rolling away from her and getting out of bed.

“Oh!” She replied radiantly as a hungry look passed between them.

Bending down Jamie placed a chaste kiss to her forehead but his eyes were blazing with unleashed desire. “Come.”

With an irresistible smile, he held out his hand toward her and placing hers in his grasp, Claire Beauchamp rose from the bed like Venus de Milo, her hair cascading riotously around her shoulders.

The look of reciprocated hunger that Claire gave him pierced his heart with elation.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Silence surrounded them except for the repeated lapping of water against the shore. The night was still and remarkably pleasant even at this late hour and the twinkling stars in the night sky along with the glow from the full moon illuminated the way to the water’s edge. Claire’s animated laughter echoed into the night as they ran down the deserted beach gloriously naked holding hands. Eventually laying a blanket over the sand, Jamie dropped some towels on top of the blanket then he caught Claire off guard and swung her up into his arms carrying her into the sea.

“Jamie! … No!” she squealed in surprise.

However, her pleas fell on deaf ears as Jamie Fraser dumped her into the water.

“You wait!” she spluttered breaking the surface and looking around for him.

“Ye have to catch me first ye ken,” he replied laughter bubbling in his voice just behind her.

“I will … so look out buster!”

But before Claire could spin around to the sound of his voice Jamie had captured her in his arms and kissed her passionately. Snaking her arms up and around his head she threaded her hands through his wet hair holding him tight, then returned the kiss with the same amount of ardour as their lips fused with kisses with no beginning or end. They broke for some air only to align their faces once more in another blistering kiss. Lowering her hands to his shoulders Claire unexpectedly caught him off guard and when Jamie lost his footing in the waves and undertow her hands pushed him back under the water.

“Gotcha!” she chuckled mischievously.

Her delighted laughter echoed in the night as Jamie quickly rose from the water with a splash. With a determination she could feel he captured her slick body to his own holding her so close that there was no escape from his grasp. Her swollen breasts collided with his chest and rubbed against him as her fingertips massaged his scalp. The erotic sensation of her pebbled nipples sliding against his torso and rubbing so sensually against his smooth, wet skin was torturous.

This Claire Beauchamp was a minx … she was such a sexual being that he knew she had no idea of the profound effect her innate beauty had on his senses. Or did she?

“Who’s got ye now Sassenach?” Was his teasing response as his arms held her tight.

Staring into her vivid blue eyes Jamie saw the heated glaze of desire. Claire was a water nymph siren and he was captivated by her sensuality. He was a lost soul … lost only to her, then with eyes locked on each other’s, their mouths met. Kisses with no beginning or end became deeper, longer, and more passionate. Their heads moved … their lips connected … their desire never abated. They were lost to each other, lost to where they were and lost in drowning kisses that went on and on.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Beneath the water, Jamie spread Claire’s legs with his powerful, muscular thighs. Moulding his body to hers, he fitted against her so perfectly that feeling inspired, he slowly rubbed his wet body against hers. When he heard a small moan escape from her parted lips he smiled to himself. She couldn’t move ... she couldn’t breathe. The sensation of his body so intimately against hers was nearly too much to bear. Staring deeply into her eyes Jamie could see that Claire was completely overwhelmed with her reaction of his assault to her senses. Dipping his head, his lips touched hers, breathing into her mouth, as if giving her the life-supporting oxygen she needed. Her lungs finally responded as she took a short raspy breath wondering if he continued to seduce her in the water would she be able to keep her balance or swoon with complete loss of consciousness.

Moving his hand slowly down her breast bone, Jamie rubbed past Claire’s abdomen, teased her belly button and rested his fingers in her soft, wet, brown curls gently massaging her there.

Pressing his lips to hers, he softly uttered against her mouth, "Do ye like it when I touch ye here Sassenach?”

Her answer was a guttural, “Y-yes.”

Jamie watched her eyes shutter at his erotic touch and as Claire writhed against him, he held her still then eased his finger inside her silky, hot, wet core. “This is mine, ye ken. It belongs tae me and no other.”

His words sent a shiver coursing through her already heightened aroused body. Her breath was ragged and shaky; she couldn’t even think coherently all she could do was feel. She melted into Jamie and into the water surrendering to his complete seduction. The feel of his muscular body and his silky, wet skin rubbing against hers under the cool water was having the desired effect. Claire held on tight as the sensation of his fingers inside her, caressing her was sending her spiralling into orbit.

Leaning up she pressed a deep, hungry kiss against his parted lips and admitted defeat before they both lost themselves to each other.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Seemingly oblivious of their surroundings, there was something exceedingly erotic about the sensation of being in the water, in the dark and under the stars in the middle of the night in the arms of this ethereal creature. Pulling Claire to him they fell beneath the water, kissing and touching. Breathless they eventually surfaced for air and Jamie dragged Claire’s body up his torso while his hands roamed wildly over her breasts, hips and thighs. Ravishing her mouth with his tongue he bit her lips gently.

“Christ Claire ... you feel so good,” he breathed into her mouth.

Lost in his touch she rubbed her cheek against the soft stubble on his cheek, before nibbling on his earlobe. Clutching at his shoulders Claire then smoothed her hands over Jamie’s slick, wet back. Her fingers slid down to his slim waist and cupping his buttocks she dug her fingers into his flesh signifying her need for a closer connection but it was Jamie who voiced her inner thoughts.

"Make love to me, mo chridhe... I need to be inside ye," he begged hoarsely against her mouth.

He was uncertain how they would be able to return to Section One without their superiors knowing that the relationship between the two of them had changed significantly. Being underwater and the silkiness of her smooth, wet skin and enticing body had brought him to a complete state of arousal. This woman in his arms was a temptress and he was lost to her and how she made him feel.

Claire too was clearly wrapped up in this erotic encounter feeling the complete bliss of being with the man of her dreams, James Fraser. A nearly incoherent whimper gushed from her lips when she heard his plea and kissing his face urged him to enter her.

“Ja-mie!” was the plaintive moan softly uttered from her lips.

Of their own accord, her shivering hips pushed up against him in wanton abandon and need. She’d had enough foreplay … she wanted … him. Claire wanted to feel James Fraser buried so deep inside her that she lost all consciousness.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Reaching down past her flat stomach yet again, Jamie ran his fingers through her soft curls and slipped a finger into her. His body reacted instantly; he quickly parted Claire’s legs letting her feel the tip of his penis pressed firmly against her soft opening. Capturing her swollen lips in a searing, deep kiss he gripped her hips tightly and lifting Claire’s legs up she wrapped them around his waist. Slowly, Jamie entered her and pulled his love down onto his throbbing erection while pressing her tightly against him.
Bliss … sheer bliss.

Immediately, he felt Claire clench her inner muscles as the soft, warm depths of her body enclosed him snugly.

In utter ecstasy, Claire Beauchamp threw her head back and moaned softly, feeling the full power of James Fraser inside her, then arching her back, her hair dipped into the water. Scorching lips seared her skin as he licked her breasts, suckled her nipples and kissed her neck. Jamie circled them slowly in the weightlessness of the velvety water thrusting deeply inside her. Pressing her hips down on him at every deep upward movement, the silky water caressed their bodies, heightening the intense erotic sensations of their lovemaking. With fingers digging into her flesh he rested his hands under her buttocks and held his Sassenach tight as Jamie slid into her welcoming depths again and again in the rhythm of love. Quickening the pace, he thrust himself in her with even, powerful stokes and grasping his shoulders, Claire pulled herself tightly to her lover, kissing his lips while exploring his hot mouth with her tongue.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Circling around and around in the darkened water they clung tightly to one another. She gasped at the feel of this wonderful man inside her and every time he moved, Claire felt an exquisite pleasure and fulfilment for James Fraser was driving her to the heights of ecstasy. The water cushioned his movements, but the intensity of his thrusts was as heightened as earlier this evening. Her arms tightened around Jamie’s neck while her breathlessness echoed in his ear as she reciprocated his movements rocking her hips back and forth impatient for more of this sublime rhythm. Pulling his mouth away from hers Jamie readied for his release and buried his head into her neck.

“Oh … Ja …” but Claire didn’t finish what she was going to say as emotion overwhelmed her.

“Mo ghràidh ... come with me, now ...” he begged her in desperate need to feel her pulsate around his throbbing cock.

Claire could only utter a soft moan of pleasure as together they exploded in a euphoric release of joy that wracked their bodies.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In the depths of the sea their lovemaking had been extremely intense and highly emotional. When they had begun their day today there was no way that Claire Beauchamp and James Fraser would ever have thought that this night would have been possible. But it had, and raw emotions had surfaced that would be hard to put a lid on even if they tried. They softly whispered each other's name repeatedly and sighed deeply as they came down from ecstasy. Placing their foreheads together, Claire could feel Jamie’s ragged breath on her face and she brought her hands up to gently embrace his handsome face. Looking deeply into his eyes she saw such raw feelings that she’d not seen before. He’d ignited a flame deep within her that she would treasure always and ever so gently caressing his face with her own, Claire kissed his eyebrows, his eyes, his cheeks, his lips, before rubbing her cheek against his. In turn, Jamie tenderly captured her face in his hand and looked into her darkened eyes that were now like black pools of desire.

“Tha gaol agam ort,” he whispered against her ear.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Carrying his Sassenach, Jamie waded over into the shallows of the water where they fell to the wet sand clutching each other. He lay still on the sand with Claire straddling his torso. Pulling her to his heart, he enclosed his arms around her in a protective and possessive embrace, feeling sated and completely in awe of this divine woman. Clasping her hands tightly across his back, Claire pressed his body hard against hers while arching her hips so that Jamie’s cock remained inside her. Opening her shiny, glazed eyes she caressed his face locking on his passion filled eyes dark with renewed desire. Still swollen inside her he thrust once more branding Claire’s lips with a caress that left her panting and tingling all over.

The waves kissed their feet as it ebbed and waned in syncopation to the movements of his body, but the sand was not their best friend or more importantly Jamie’s best friend. Although so amorous that he didn’t want to stop their lovemaking getting a good exfoliation on the sand on his backside would be painful not to mention, his knees and elbows would all be rug-burned. He didn’t mind for himself but he would not put Claire in that position should their positions be reversed. Training in Section One was comprehensive and thorough and therefore any operative was prepared for any circumstance and all contingences whether if placed in such a position. His Valentine training in seduction techniques, sexual positions and places where sex may occur had been factored into his training. The worst part about ocean sex was the sand factor. Somehow, even if he was extra careful, sand could end up lodged in intimate places. He could have pleasured her with his hands but he had a greater need.

“Claire ... I want to make love with ye again ... but the sand ...”

“I don’t mind.” She didn’t care because intercourse with James Fraser was worth any discomfort she may experience be it minimal or not.

Reluctantly severing their kiss, he rolled her over until she was underneath his body. Raising himself on his arms he looked down at her all flushed with desire. “But I do. I would never want tae hurt ye Claire.”

He kissed her on the nose, then leaning back on his thighs Jamie held out his hands to her and capturing her hands in his pulled her up with him and stood up. Claire locked her arms around his neck as Jamie placed his strong hands underneath her buttocks and lifted her up into his arms carrying her up to where he had dropped the blanket and towels further up the beach on higher ground.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Indulging in sex under the stars was wonderful. The sound of the crashing waves and the movement of their bodies in the throes of passion were in sync until it was difficult to distinguish which sound was which. So enthralled were they with each other that they moaned simultaneously as they began to reach the pinnacle of their joining. Although being in the water was super sensual, the sand had been scratchy against the wet skin as they rocked together on the beach. The blanket however provided just what they needed for some X-rated action.

Rolling Claire underneath him Jamie kissed her hard and deep mirroring his thrusts. She gasped in passion but he swallowed her sighs of ecstasy in another kiss. They were both breathing heavily but still he pressed her body close never once severing their union. He was buried so deep inside her that her walls welcomed his every powerful thrust contracting around his cock with each of his erotic sliding movements.

Flexing her legs, she wrapped them around his body tightly as her nails raked the skin of his shoulders leaving her mark on his flesh. “Jamie … yes … oh ... my …!”

A strangled groan bubbled in his throat too as he swelled to bursting inside of her. Her name left his mouth on a breathy sigh.

“Cl-aire.”

He thrust and withdrew until she begged for mercy. Straining against the sensual friction of his movements Claire felt her body go into spasms and cried out jerking against him at the same moment that Jamie thrust into her wildly. A shattering orgasm rocked her to the core. Her cry of pleasure was all it took to push him over the edge too. Groaning into her wet, velvety skin he kissed her passionately as his climax rippled through his body with a shuddering intensity as well.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

With their bodies still joined and wrapped in each other’s arms on the soft sand the two lovers rested quietly. They had lost count of the number of times they had made love under the stars, but there would never be enough times to satisfy them … for they might only have this one night and they wanted to make a night of memories. Looking deeply into each other's eyes, they were still shaken and overwhelmed by the passion and intensity of their feelings tonight. Fate indeed had been kind to them. For the first time since Lyons they were truly one … they were whole … they were normal.

“Sass-en-ach?” Jamie whispered brushing his mouth against her cheek.

“Hmm?” Claire mumbled sleepily.

“Tha gaol agam ort.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 22

 

At Section One, in the austere confines of the Loft, Operations was busily going over the Mission parameters concerning the Rising Dragons triad thus far. His eyes examined all the details on his computer screen that Fergus had downloaded on their current target. However, Tony Wong was proving to be a slippery character and although he had eluded Jamie and Claire on two occasions, there would be no escaping them a third time. Madeline’s profile of the target had confirmed that Tony Wong was as shrewd in covering his tracks and avoiding trouble as he was in being implicated in any wrongdoing. Capturing this target would be difficult but like all criminal minds, at one point or another they slipped up and Mr. Wong was ready to take a major fall and when he did Section One would be waiting for him.

As Operations mulled over Jamie and Claire’s next move, he was interrupted from his train of thought by his Technical wizard’s voice from Systems. Leaving his computer and crossing the perch the head of Section One hit the button on his desk answering his phone in the process.

“Yes?” He asked irritably as was his usual retort.

“Sir … Jamie is on a secure line.”

“Put him through Fergus,” Operations ordered.

“Yes sir.”

Issuing the directive, Fergus replied in Jamie’s ear communication unit, “Go ahead.”

However, before giving Jamie the chance to speak and without mincing words Dougal Mackenzie got straight to the point. “What is your location Fraser?”

Jamie listened stoically to his belligerent superior speak before he replied. “En route to Aberdeen.”

“The target is proving to be somewhat elusive Fraser,” he replied a little sarcastically.

Ignoring the veiled presumption of his leader’s words, he answered back. “Has Fergus been able tae give us a new location for Tony Wong?”

Realising Jamie’s ploy, Operations replied matter of factually, “The helicopter was tracked to his boat building warehouse near the marina.”

“Thank ye.”

“James … We want him brought in this time!” Operations stated brusquely.

“Yes Sir.”

“I’ll send in Abernathy’s team for backup.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re on a twenty-four hour clock Fraser … and no more.”

“I understand.”

Unbeknownst to Operations, James Fraser had been irrevocably changed because of his partner Claire Beauchamp and what had transpired between them last night. Gone was the Scottish brogue he’d reverted back to when in her presence. He was not the man who had let his guard down with Claire and in his place was the cold, Section One operative who had resumed his minimalistic Section persona. Even his tone of voice had been different when speaking to his leader. James Fraser was a chameleon and he only let his superiors see what he wanted them to see. It had served him well during his time since being recruited to Section One and it left both Operations and Madeline always guessing what made him tick. It is not until Claire Beauchamp had entered the organization that he’d began to open up emotionally and last night she had broken down some of his stoic barriers. Now Jamie had to come to grips as to how he should proceed without giving away the feelings he had long suppressed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Meanwhile in her office at Section One Madeline sat at her desk contemplating this mission thus far also. Any information they had on Tony Wong had proved that he was indeed a devious character and his cunningness in slipping past Jamie and Claire had not gone unnoticed. Both of his escapes had been beyond their control but she didn’t like all the loose ends … she didn’t like it one iota. Section’s head strategist liked everything to be tied up neat and tidy. She hated things left to chance and left hanging, but hopefully the new Intel that Fergus had gained would see Mr Wong as her visitor in the white interrogation room very, very soon. The need for Section One to know the whereabouts of Sun Yee Lok before a triad war broke out was imperative, and given that Tony Wong was a right-hand man in the Rising Dragons, he was the key to his capture.

It was not just Tony Wong that interested Madeline at the moment. The network of subterfuge within the Rising Dragons was proving to be a labyrinth of trails and this was only the tip of the iceberg. What Intel Tony Wong would give them, either voluntary or coerced, really didn’t matter to her. Either way he was shot out of the water and Section would use the information it needed to take down the Rising Dragons and their hierarchy.

Some newly gained Intel had also placed a smug smile to her face this morning and Madeline couldn’t wait to tell Operations of these new developments. Sitting back in her chair her eyes seemed transfixed on the screen as an image appeared of an unlikely associate of the Rising Dragons. The face peered back at her in defiance as if to say … “You can’t touch me.”

Likewise, Madeline’s eyes lit up and her Mona Lisa smile bowed her lips as she glanced at the screen. You don’t know who you are dealing with. Nothing and nobody is immune from Section One. I’ll … be waiting for you.

She was just about to page through to Operations’ office when she looked up from her computer screen on hearing the footfalls of Section One’s leader enter her office. Turning to face him, she said, “Good morning Dougal.”

Smiling at his second in command Operations replied, “Madeline.”

Rising from her computer desk, she made her way to where Dougal Mackenzie was standing. “I was just about to page through to you.”

“Really?”

“Yes … but it can wait. Would you care to join me for breakfast?” She gestured at the laid out feast on the table in her office of fruit, cereal and coffee.

“Yes, I think I will,” he replied hungrily as he perused the delicacies on offer. “I see that Christopher has done well.”

“Hmm? Oh yes. Please, sit down Dougal.”

“What were you going to say to me?” Operations inquired as he held out Madeline’s chair before taking the one opposite her. Pouring himself a cup of coffee, he set about seeing to his needs.

“I was just going over the mission profile,” she stated offhandedly.

“And …?”

With a tone in her voice that made Operations stop what he was doing and glance up she replied, “I’ve found something interesting.”

Noting Madeline’s self-satisfied air at some Intel that she was very happy to have, Operations looked at her with a quizzical look on his face and asked the inevitable question, “About Tony Wong?”

“No actually …” She paused for the maximum effect, “… it was about Alain de Marillac.”

“The Canadian Ambassador?” He asked inquisitively, his interest piqued. “What have you uncovered?”

“He is a known associate of Tony Wong. Apparently, they went to the same university in America ... Harvard. They knew each other as freshmen.”

“Hmm? Interesting. Did this Intel come from Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan?”

“No … they haven’t debriefed as yet.”

“You leave no stone unturned, do you Madeline?” Operations said approvingly. “Work up a profile.”

“I already have.”

“Good. Now … would you like some coffee?”

“Thank you,” Madeline replied holding out her cup in order for Dougal to pour the aromatic brew into it and caught his look of admiration.

Meanwhile … on the way back in Aberdeen (S)

The ferry ride back to Aberdeen was more subdued than on the way over, as both Jamie and Claire knew that their relationship had taken a new turn. How they would approach these new developments depended on a number of things, not the least being Section One. Nevertheless, for the time being, they would savour the last moments of what had been an extraordinary day and night for once they were back in Aberdeen they would be in Section mode with a target to contain.

Resting her head in the crook of Jamie’s shoulder, Claire felt his protective arm firmly around her body. She nestled into the hardness of him feeling the warmth of his nearness seep into her warding off the early morning chill of the sea breeze. Although the ferry was packed with day-trippers and workers going to the big island, they had managed to find a private spot away from the suited businessmen with their briefcases and the tourists taking photos of the island as the sun rose over the mountains. Claire’s hand idly traced the contours of Jamie’s thigh resting against her and felt him twitch as his muscles reacted to her touch.

Capturing her wayward hand, he brought it to his lips kissing her knuckles and fingertips lovingly. His pensive touch caused Claire to move her head a little and she peered into her partner’s gaze as he scrutinized her response to his touch too.

“Jamie?”

“Aye?” he replied kissing her gently.

His gaze entangled with hers and he saw Claire’s rapturous look. He tried to disengage from her scrutiny … but he couldn’t … not that he wanted to and his thoughts immediately turned to what had happened between them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was so easy to imagine that their night spent in the beach bungalow was real. Last night had been magical and extraordinary. Making love to Claire under the stars had been a breathtaking experience. She was an exquisite lover so receptive and giving that this woman had stolen his heart like she had that explosive night in Lyons when he had found her on the barge.

Then... this morning when he had woken, he’d been partially aroused. This was not unusual for he often woke in a state of arousal after his dreams of Claire Beauchamp. However, this morning had been different though, for the lazy brush of his Sassenach’s silky skin against his had quickly brought him fully erect. Her nearness had tempted his resolve beyond breaking point and even in restful slumber she’d closed the distance between them moving closer to his warmth. Snuggling next to him, Claire had provocatively wrapped her lithesome body around his, her husky voice murmuring his name contentedly. He could still feel the sensation of her legs entwining with his own as her skin brushed against his heated body unaware of the effect, she’d had on him.

Considering the amount of times they had “died” in each other’s arms during the night, he thought his need for her had been satisfied … but it hadn’t.

Her hand resting on his chest had risen and fallen with each beat of his heart. It had felt so right ... then Claire had stretched lazily and he’d suddenly lost all rational thought. He’d tried to ignore his hardening erection but it was impossible. He’d known that making slow romantic love to Claire to wake her from her sleep was inevitable, for she was the devil incarnate and he was a fallen man.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

With tenderness Claire reached out her hand and softly caressed the side of Jamie’s face. Her touch was so gentle and comforting that he ached with desire. He buried his face in her palm and she felt the warm lathe of his tongue on her skin like a soothing balm. Studying her partner’s demeanour, she intrinsically knew exactly what Jamie was thinking. Returning her fingertips to his chin, her caress travelled up to his mouth tracing the contours of the fervent lips that had taken ownership of her own tender ones so passionately. Her lips tingled remembering the sensation of his touching hers. Then a jolt of desire suddenly shot through her body when his tongue anointed her fingertips as they stroked his mouth causing Claire to shiver with passion.

Jamie couldn’t break his gaze. It was only the raised voices of passengers laughing loudly as they made their way to where they sat that marred the poignant moment. Casting their eyes towards the milling passengers who had joined them, the two operatives both sat thinking about what had happened on the island and where they would go from there. Their relationship had certainly escalated at a rate of knots last night and it had been everything that Claire knew it would be and more.

Touching her face with his eyes and a light caress to her cheek, James Fraser communicated all she needed to know. Claire couldn’t help the smile that bowed her mouth as her thoughts turned to what they had done again and again at the bungalow on Lo So Shing Beach.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She had wanted to savour all the moments of their stay in the idyllic bungalow for the memories made here in this special place would stay with her forever. Their beautiful prolonged lovemaking last night and again this morning had left an indelible mark on her heart. Jamie had been amazing. The sex had been amazing. He was the most wonderful lover and they had made love as if there was no tomorrow. Making love in the water, in the shallows and on the sand had been incredible and despite some minor tenderness, her body, although tired, felt great.

On waking this morning Jamie had leaned down placing his mouth gently to hers and she’d felt his reaction instantly once she had opened her mouth to receive his caresses. Her passion laced voice had moaned incoherently as her lips connected and returned Jamie’s potent kisses in dreamy surrender. Pulling her closer until their bodies were entwined, he’d subsequently deepened the kiss until his lips gently soothed hers over and over. She’d eventually opened her drowsy eyes and looked into his evocative ones … a slight smile curving her lips.

“Good morning,” she’d murmured dreamily.

He’d kissed her lips, the bridge of her nose, her closed eyelids all over again. Jamie had entwined his fingers in her tousled hair then he’d held her face lovingly and caressed the arch of her brow with the lightest of touches. She’d closed her eyes but had softly opened them caught in his spell.

“Good morning mo chridhe …” he’d lazily replied, sliding his hands down her torso.

Snuggling closer, she’d rubbed her silky thighs seductively against him as feelings beyond her control bubbled to the surface. She’d stretched wantonly against him then cupping her bottom, Jamie had propelled her against his erection. Her eyes had opened wide in wonder at his intention then feeling his erection swelling and throbbing against her, she’d locked her thighs around him squeezing them tightly. Rocking her hips back and forth she had urged his penetration, and pleadingly murmured his name in the morning light.

Then... on feeling the smooth slide of him into her depths, she’d groaned as euphoric waves of pleasure immediately resonated through her body.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Looking back up at Jamie they shared a conspiratorial look. With a sparkle in her eyes, Claire smiled before resting her head once more on her partner’s shoulder.

“Ah ... I was just thinking.”

“What about Sassenach?”

Letting her words drift off she replied softly, “Last night...”

“Me too.”

His words made her smile deepen and when Jamie pressed his lips to her brow Claire sighed contentedly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Their stay in the beach bungalow had provided a glimpse into what they might have if not for Section One; nevertheless, they were both realistic in knowing they would never have a normal kind of relationship. The reality was that Section One was their master and any semblance of normal life was denied to them.

They had skirted around their feelings for one another in the past, but last night had allowed them to express their real feelings at long last. If no other opportunities came their way on this mission then their time here on Lamma Island would have to suffice.

Would they share other intimate moments again in the future? Nothing in life was certain, but their bond was as unique as the circumstances in which they lived so anything was possible.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 23

 

Madeline had summoned Rupert Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan to her office to go over the Intel they have gauged from their surveillance of Alain de Marillac. In her indomitable way, Section One’s second in command raised her eyes to the doorway as the two operatives in question stood on the threshold waiting for permission to enter.

“You wanted to see us?”

“Yes … come in,” she indicated as Section’s head strategist continued to enter data on her computer.

The two operatives glanced at each other fleetingly as they entered compliant as to what their second in command may require of them. They thought it strange though; that they had been ordered here together for this debriefing, as they usually reported one on one. They each took a chair in front of Madeline’s desk and waited for the inevitable cross-examination they knew would take place from her.

Turning away from her screen, her piercing brown eyes looked directly at them as she spoke. “So … tell me about Monsieur Alain de Marillac. What did you find out?”

Rupert Mackenzie took the initiative and answered her question while Geillis sat beside him to add credence to his replies if needs be.

“De Marillac has been laying low over these past few days and has been involved in legitimate Consular business.”

“Any Intel on people he came in contact with?”

“He saw a Superintendent Zheng from the Hong Kong police who informed him of his daughter’s death.”

Madeline sat back in her chair as her eyes gazed at Rupert in attentiveness before asking another question. “And how did he react to the news?”

“We were able to intersect a conversation between Tony Wong and Mr de Marillac at the consulate,” Rupert added in clarification. “It seems Mr de Marillac has been acting the part of the grieving father.”

“Hmmm … that’s interesting.”

“His attitude was very indifferent,” Mackenzie further elucidated. “He didn’t seem that aggrieved by her death.”

Pondering his words Madeline then turned to face Geillis Duncan. “Do you have anything else to add?”

“De Marillac was worried that his daughter may have blown his cover … right out of the water … were his exact words … and he also implicated that Tony Wong was vulnerable too.”

“Did he say what that cover might be?”

“No.”

“Was there any mention of the Rising Dragons’ direct involvement in her death?”

“Not in as many words. Tony Wong spoke of a “we”... Whether this referred to the Rising Dragons or not ... I don’t know ... it was a bit too ambiguous,” was her honest reply.

“Anyone else?”

“There was one other person … but they didn’t identify themselves by name. The conversation was brief, and it was difficult to understand as it was a poor connection.”

“Give Fergus the tapes and he can run an analysis on them and I’ll go over them myself as well. Any other facts we should know about Mr de Marillac?”

They paused before answering Madeline’s question. “Well it seems they were old friends by the tone of the conversation. I’d say they had known each other for some time,” Rupert Mackenzie replied.

Geillis then chimed in and continued their report. “It was indicated that Mr de Marillac was well aware of why his daughter was killed as well. Something that she did or was about to do is why she died. They both seemed to be more concerned with repercussions to their business.”

Well that is another new connection I must look into, Madeline thought. This comprehensive information raised more questions than answers and the wheels of intrigue only turned more forcibly and deepened her resolve to get to the bottom of this new Intel.

“Thank you … that's all for now. You may go.”

The two operatives got up to leave and just as they were walking away, their superior called them back. “One more question.”

Stopping in their tracks, Geillis Duncan and Rupert Mackenzie turned around at the same time, and looked questioningly at Madeline.

“Was Sun Yee Lok mentioned?”

Geillis answered her question. “Only in passing … I think they may have been duping him somewhat along the way. De Marillac asked if he knew of Tony Wong’s extra surreptitious affairs.”

“And what was his reaction?”

“He seemed worried that Sun Yee Lok may have found out and had sent Jamie and Claire to the wharf.”

“You can both go, but stand by, there's going to be a follow up mission.”

When they had left, Madeline internalised this Intel that confirmed what she herself had found out. It appeared to her that there was subterfuge within the ranks of the Rising Dragons or Tony Wong was feathering his own nest at the Rising Dragons’ expense. Either way she would find out. She knew that once she’d had a visit from Tony Wong in the White Room all this and more would be revealed or confirmed. Alain De Marillac, however, was another matter entirely.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Operations approached his second in command’s office, he saw the two operatives leaving. He waited and watched them until they had passed by before he too entered her domain.

“Madeline.”

“Dougal,” she acknowledged his greeting in kind.

“I see that Geillis Duncan and Rupert Mackenzie have just left.”

“Yes.”

“And …?” The inflection in his voice indicated that he wanted to know exactly what they had told her.

Rising from her desk, Madeline picked up her watering can and proceeded to water her orchids as if she was dismissive of his question. Operations was not pleased but waited until she turned to face him once more. Ever cagey, she prolonged his agony a moment longer before giving her answer. Madeline looked at Operations with a slight smile crossing her face. It nearly reached her eyes, but failed to do so.

“They were very informative.”

“Did their Intel correspond with what you had already found out?”

“Absolutely.”

“So where do we stand then on Alain de Marillac?”

“There seems to be a strong connection between him and Tony Wong.”

“Why do you suppose de Marillac’s daughter was killed?

“Because she had found out something that they both didn’t want revealed.”

“What? Underhand interests?”

“Possibly.”

“What did they gain by it?”

“Silence.”

“Yes! Dead men and women don’t talk. They must be hiding something.”

“My thoughts exactly.”

“Perhaps there is something else on the tape that will reveal more light on Sun Yee Lok’s involvement.”

“Yes … maybe.”

“What about de Marillac now?”

“We have been tracking his movements over the last few days, and it seems he has been making discreet inquiries as to Jamie and Claire’s identity … or at the very least … who they were working for.”

“Good work.”

“Something is not quite right though Dougal ... I smell a rat. However, ... I will get to the bottom of it!”

“I’m sure of it! I have great confidence in your ability. Work it into your profile Madeline.”

Operations was pleased with the Intel thus far but he hated to be on the back foot in capturing terrorists that Section One had in their focus. This Intel only deepened the web on deception of the Rising Dragons’ triad, but like any new information gained, there were always leads that would bring them closer to their end game. He smiled knowing that his second in command would do nothing less than achieve success in her pursuit of her suspicions for if anyone could find concealed information it was indeed his head strategist.

Madeline’s silent answer said all Dougal Mackenzie needed to know.

Meanwhile … At Tony Wong’s warehouse offices

The lone figure of Tony Wong sat in his office thinking on the events that had unfolded over the last twenty-four hours. His departure from Lamma Island had been expeditious to say the least, but there was no use staying there when there were more pressing things to attend to on the mainland. On his return to Aberdeen he had ditched his girlfriend Suzie Tang and had returned to the sanctum of his office here at the warehouse. With events milling around in his mind of the two assailants at the marina near Charlie Yin’s boat and also his conversation with Alain de Marillac, Tony thought there was nothing much else that could go wrong.

How wrong he would be. There was worse to come from an unexpected source.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

With bowed head Tony Wong acknowledged the man who had just entered into his office at the marina. Flanked by minders just as daunting as the man who had turned up unannounced, this commanding person stood and glared at Tony Wong. Although the warehouse was fortified and Tony had men stationed in strategic positions to observe the comings and goings of people in and out of the building, they had been ordered not to alert him to his caller. To say he was surprised by the unexpected visit was an understatement. Sun Yee Lok never came out into the open unless it was important or he wanted to make an example of someone. Tony Wong was concerned that that someone was he.

An imposing, self-assured man, Sun Yee Lok had an aura of danger around him. His persona indicated that he was a powerful man, one who commanded respect and compliance before he even opened his mouth. He was a man who instilled fear by his very presence, an authoritative figure, and one who did not suffer fools lightly. This was a man not to be reckoned with.

Tony, although appearing calm in his presence, was shaking in his boots as to the reason why Sun Yee Lok was here today. Raising his eyes to his leader, Tony Wong with bravado he was far from feeling, welcomed his supreme leader. Ushering the Dragon Head of the Rising Dragons to take a seat, he said, “Ah, Honourable One ... thank you for gracing us with your presence at our humble abode.”

The two men exchanged piercing looks before Tony lowered his gaze at what he saw in Sun Yee Lok’s scrutiny. Anger was reflected in his steely eyes. The look on his face was enough for Tony Wong to realise that this was not a friendly visit.

“Cut the crap Tony. You know why I am here.” Sun Yee replied with distain.

“No sir, I’m afraid I do not,” he replied incredulously.

“You know nothing escapes my knowledge Tony Wong. Now I would prefer the truth before I have to resort to other drastic measures. What will it be? Hmmm?”

“What is it you wish to know sir?”

“What was all that about on the marina yesterday?”

“Aaah … the marina … Charlie Yin had refused to be submissive sir and he refused to pay his protection money to the Rising Dragons. I needed to make an example of him.”

Sun Yee Lok glanced at his Hung Kwan … “The Fighter” of his organisation before replying emphatically. “Tony you’re incompetent.”

“B-ut …”

“Don’t interrupt! You are responsible for collecting what is owed to the Rising Dragons from these simpletons … and I expect you to do the job you were appointed for!”

“Yes sir.”

“Otherwise I will need to promote another in our organisation. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes sir.”

“We cannot allow for this one person to rock the boat or else it will have a domino effect on the others. This will undermine our hold on these people.”

“Yes sir,” he mumbled yet again.

“If you value your position and … dare I say … your life, I would make sure that all is back on track quickly. We don’t want people to think we are going soft.”

“I understand.”

“Good … I don’t want to come here again Tony to tidy up your little messes. Extortion, blackmail and murder are supposed to be your forte … I don’t like loose ends and I don’t like my men to be incompetent. Fix it!”

“Thank you, sir, … I will make it better.”

“If you betray me Tony, I will have retribution … mark my words!”

Tony Wong merely nodded his head in contrition, knowing that Sun Yee Lok’s demeanour indicated that he was in no way finished remonstrating with him.

“You lost six of our men at the marina too … six men! I won’t tolerate those attrition numbers.”

“There were two assailants there.”

“Who were they?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know who they were … yet. But I have made inquiries as to who they might be.”

Shaking his head in disbelief Sun Yee Lok gestured to Wang Yu, his personal bodyguard. Tony glanced at the big, burly, thuggish man who was responsible for taking care in the nicest possible way any of Sun Yee Lok’s dirty work. He quietly came to stand next to Tony.

“You might find yourself the recipient of something very unpleasant if you don’t fix this Tony. Understand?”

His voice quavering a little Tony Wong merely nodded towards his leader.

“Next time I hear from you … this will all be cleared up won’t it?”

“Yes sir.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Once Sun Yee Lok had left, Tony Wong counted his blessings. He had not found out about the deaths on the junk as yet, for explaining them may be somewhat difficult. However, he would now be able to clean up this mess and blame it on a rival triad before Sun Yee Lok was any the wiser. If this scenario didn’t work his explanation as to Annalise de Marillac’s exposure of the Rising Dragons triad members would be a more than plausible explanation ... one that would appease Sun Yee Lok and a win-win situation for him. Either way he would have protected his extracurricular activities and his position within the triad as well.

Yes! All was right with the world. Tony Wong smiled … then laughed out loud.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 24 (V)

 

Section One knew that the obliteration of Tony Wong’s headquarters would certainly prove destabilizing for the Rising Dragons. Not only that, but with his capture and demise a new protagonist would most likely arise and this could very well flush out Sun Yee Lok for Section One. If not, it would severely handicap his operations given that Tony Wong was responsible for extortion and murder. Hence the mission tonight was an integral means to an end in capturing their elusive target.

Having reached the perimeter of Tony Wong’s warehouse on the outskirts of the Aberdeen waterfront, the black clad operatives dressed in mission gear, filed out of the Section van and blended into the surroundings. Jamie’s Team including Claire, Rupert Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan along with Joe Abernathy’s back up team had their orders and mission profile and this time it was imperative that they were victorious. The future of the mission depended on the successful execution without any causality to any team members. The two Section One teams moved quietly to their marks and assembled in the dark of night waiting in readiness for their orders.

Remaining inside the van to anchor the mission, Fergus went over final preparation for their planned assault while the operatives got into place.

“Teams in position Fergus,” Jamie reported back a short while later.

“Wait … I’m just doing a final thermal reading of the building and perimeter.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tony Wong’s warehouse had all the appearance of a legitimate front for his boat building business but in actual fact that was not the case.

Fergus had already done a thorough sweep of the area using the various satellite and global technology available to him, but this final sweep was necessary before the teams could infiltrate. What he’d found was that Tony Wong’s operation base was at the centre of a labyrinth of secret corridors hidden from view. Section had dealt with situations like this previously with the terrorist group the Freedom League but it seemed that in this case a more sophisticated network existed. Corridors led to chambers hidden off the main corridor. If dissent against the Rising Dragons occurred, these were obviously used for coercion purposes in attempting to urge clients to comply with the demands of the triad. Fortunately, Fergus found no thermal readings for any people imprisoned there.

Ascertaining just where the main office was located had been relatively easy and Section’s computer whiz had smiled his self-satisfied smirk when the pieces of the puzzle fell nicely into place. All things being relative it was inevitable that the office was located where the thermal tracking had confirmed the most bodies for these people were obviously protecting Tony Wong’s inner sanctum.

The thermal monitor on his screen indicated a body count of twelve assailants in this area, mostly located in pockets around the office area. In his sweep Fergus also found that there were more men … anything up to twenty scattered at various points in and around the building as well. An attack by Section One on the building would leave Tony Wong’s personnel vulnerable and defending the maze of corridors would be problematic when the element of surprise caught them unawares.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Suddenly two hot spots appeared on screen close to where Team B was waiting.

“Abernathy! ... Two assailants on roof top in your quotient.”

No sooner had he signified this, than an operative had the targets in sight and their precise skill managed to deal expediently with the men guarding the helipad.

“Fergus … perimeter is clean,” Joe Abernathy indicated.

“Teams … Proceed to first mark.”

On hearing Fergus’s communiqué James Fraser signalled for his team to enter under the cover of darkness.

Swiftly and silently they proceeded into the building while their entry went completely unnoticed. Merging into the surroundings like thieves in the night, the operatives activated their night vision goggles enabling them to see clearly in the darkness. They poised waiting for the rest of Abernathy’s team to join them. Meanwhile Fergus monitored their progress in the building as he waited for confirmation from Jamie that they had reached the corridors leading to Tony Wong’s headquarters. Moving into the building the operatives then made steady progress towards their first mark.

Switching on his comm. Unit Jamie stated succinctly, “Fergus, we’re in.”

In reply Fergus’s clear voice echoed to life in his ear. “Proceed due north to the main access corridor. There should be a junction in the corridor you are in.”

Continuing along the walkway guided only by the Techie’s directions, the operative teams were so stealth of foot that any person would be caught completely unaware of their position until it was too late. In no time they had reached their first objective, the beginning of the main access corridor with a branch corridor leading off from it.

With first mark completed, Fergus stated, “Continue to B.”

Signalling hand signals swiftly to Abernathy, the two men exchanged a knowing nod then Jamie quietly took his team to the right along the other corridor extending deeper into Tony Wong’s territory. The mission plan was to converge on the office centre from both sides thus surrounding the office and the men protecting it. Although the profile for this mission seemed straightforward enough, Jamie had made contingency plans to allay any anomalies should they occur. Capturing Tony Wong after two aborted efforts was paramount and he had left nothing to chance this time.

Following along the corridor Jamie’s team proceeded, moving deeper into the deserted maze of passageways they eventually came to a fork in the corridor leading in two different directions. Ever vigilant he scanned the area looking for any sign that would indicate the correct approach ahead.

“Which way Fergus?”

Keeping tabs on the operatives’ progression the young techie expert failed to reply to Jamie’s question instead he hurriedly declared, “Jamie there is movement coming toward you.”

“Where?”

“They're mobilizing east of your position … about 50 metres … and moving fast.”

With a rapid flurry of hand movements James Fraser silently instructed his team to quietly merge into the shadows, then he followed suit. With his back pressed to the wall amid the tangled insulation piping that was covering the wall, his eyes focused to the direction of the hostiles Fergus had indicated in preparedness.

A split-second later Fergus’ voice activated in his comm. Unit once more. “Jamie, there's a lone person closing in on your position. He’s in the main corridor about 20 seconds from you.”

Quickly, James Fraser prepared for this contingency.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The steady footsteps of the sentry echoed in the night while the glow from his flashlight reflected along the walls from left to right as he patrolled the corridor. Hiding on top of some pipes running along the ceiling, Jamie swiftly took his TRG 21 from the belt on his mission clothes. In no time the patrol guard approached his concealed position until he was nearly on top of him. From his hiding place, James Fraser reached his arm down, and pulled the sentry up by the scruff of the neck zapping him with the tazer, catching the man completely unawares. Jamie had instantaneously rendered Tony Wong’s guard lifeless. He then dropped the sentry and his body hit the floor with a dull thud.

Dropping to the ground himself, Jamie once more headed in the direction from whence the guard had come. The rest of his team emerged from the shadows and followed their Team leader. Continuing on, the operatives pushed forward into the darkness to the main target. Upon reaching their second mark, the main access corridor leading to the central office area, they saw a wire framed gate separating the abandoned corridors from the protected headquarters. They watched as a sentry shut the gate and placed the keys on the desk where his colleague was taking a little catnap.

“I’m off now ….”

“Hmm …what? … yeah … Okay,” he mumbled sleepily as he shut his eyes once more.

Seated at his monitor the solitary guard was completely unaware of the presence of any intruders mere metres from him. Jamie’s hand signal indicated to Geillis Duncan what she was to do. Quietly approaching the guard Geillis tapped him on the shoulder. As he roused groggily from his shuteye, he surprisingly looked behind him … but it was too late. His eyes bulged as Geillis wound a wire thread around his neck rendering him lifeless in mere seconds.

Nonchalantly taking the keys from the desk to open the gate, she completed the task and the other operatives filed through infiltrating even further towards their target. They penetrated further still along the corridor into the darkened building placing explosive charges at random as they went. Once placed, Claire, Mackenzie and Geillis activated each canister to be detonated when they had acquired the target and egressed the building.

Back in the Section Van, Fergus was monitoring every move that the Operatives made. Pleased so far with the team’s headway he relayed further instructions. “Jamie! … The key office area is beyond the next turn.”

“Good”

On reaching the main hallway Jamie gestured once more to his team to wait before proceeding to the final mark. Fergus’s voice then echoed in his comm. Unit yet again.

“The office area is hot … at least ten hostiles and there is only one access point Jamie.”

“Thank ye Fergus.”

“Be careful … it’s heavily guarded.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie was well aware of the danger his team was in but they had the element of surprise on their side. It would be a silent and stealth attack. According to Fergus’s data the office was located to the left through the sole access point. In order to clarify this Intel Jamie indicated that the team stay put and he inched closer to the hostiles guarding the office area.

Utilising a new Murtagh gizmo, a mirror to see around the corners, James Fraser leaned against the wall stretching his arm out in front of him with the mirror cupped in his palm. Adjusting the tilt of the mirror he was able to get his bearings to determine for himself the positions and how many hostiles were in the target area. There in front of him were the guards heavily armed but complacent at this late hour in the night. There was also a communications area where some men were working on monitors, although they too had no sense of urgency about their duties. Little did they know but their complacency would lead to their demise.

Foolish, thought Jamie … for to be alert was to stay alive.

Searching the perimeter for potential cover he saw several large brick pillars leading to the main office area. These pillars would provide the perfect cover for the team’s approach as they were wide enough to prevent exposure and would conceal their advance. Silently Jamie returned to where the team waited further instructions from their Team leader.

He signalled for them to proceed and all operatives quietly and quickly did so positioning themselves behind a column out of sight from Tony Wong’s guards. Once in place Claire gestured to Jamie to follow and with gun poised, he too positioned himself behind a column then peeked out to get a view of the situation. While he checked to his right, Claire quickly moved to Jamie’s position and with her back to his and gun raised, she checked to the left. Given the all clear the team crept forward advancing further on the unsuspecting guards. Using the columns as cover they slowly moved in range of the sentries. In mere seconds Jamie and the team had infiltrated undetected to the point of attack.

Rupert Mackenzie slid through the night shadows his back hugging the wall as he advanced to the guard nearest to their position. With sleight of hand he wrapped a metal cord around the unsuspecting guard, twisting the cord and his neck at the same time. However, his death was not instantaneous, and as he fell backwards, he discharged a round of bullets which echoed through the night alerting the others to an inside attack.

The gunshot noise reverberated around the room. They were caught unprepared by the surprise attack and panic set in. Rapid Chinese dialogue echoed warning the shocked guards into flurried activity but before anyone in the room could adequately respond all were quickly taken out of play by James Fraser’s swift response and his team’s accuracy. The diversion also left Jamie free to set more charges next to the computers, prior to advancing on the central office where Tony Wong was located.

“Fergus, the Team's in position. Is Abernathy near the target?”

“Team two is still advancing.”

“Tell them to retreat. Hostiles contained.”

Checking to make sure that all the charges had been set, Jamie then told his Team. “Everyone out! ... Now!”

“What are you doing, Jamie?” … Claire’s eyes communicated.

She exchanged a tense look with him indicating that she would stay with him but Jamie returned her glance with a no-nonsense one that said she was not to disobey him. Although not happy with his decision, Claire evacuated with Rupert Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan. Jamie then proceeded to Tony Wong’s office and communiqué centre alone in order to extract him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Fergus stared at his computer screen watching the red blips that showed Abernathy’s team returning to the van. In a few minutes he heard the sound of the van door being wrenched open as the Team members reached and entered the van. Switching to the area where Jamie’s team had been, the heat thermal picked up their egress movements too. A short while later they too had arrived. He glanced briefly at them, as Geillis and then Mackenzie entered, followed by Claire.

“What’s happening, Fergus? Where’s Jamie?” Claire asked, concern lacing her voice.

“He’s looking for Tony Wong.”

“How long before detonation?”

“Ten minutes,” and on hearing the worry in Claire’s question Fergus tried to assuage her fears saying ... “He’s fine. Jamie knows what he's doing.”

However, this was not the case as Fergus tracked Jamie’s progress and what he saw was an anomaly that had not been expected. The infrared scan on his monitor lit up indicating the presence of six bodies descending on the office area. He was trapped with no safe egress, but knowing Section One’s Level 5 operative; Fergus hoped that Jamie had a contingency plan in mind. He was severely outnumbered but Fergus never underestimated this man’s resourcefulness. James Fraser was a chameleon and had gotten out of tighter spots than this in the past. Nonetheless, Fergus swallowed fearfully and held his breath.

“Jamie, where are you? … You’ve got to get out of there … Hostiles approaching.”

Jamie, however, was well aware of the Chinese guards ready to rush him that had approached Tony Wong’s office area as a result of the sound of gunfire. Suddenly he launched himself out of the room sitting in a wheeled office chair a machine gun in each hand. He unexpectedly caught the guards in surprise for they were not prepared for a lone gunman or his unconventional methods of attack. Despite this, two guards came from behind him, guns in the defensive mode. At the ready they looked through their gun sights and aimed at the black clad man. However, the Section One operative’s reflexes were too good and too quick as James Fraser instinctively knew where they were. He spun to his left and took them out of play. One fell to the ground while the other man slumped down against the wall. Quickly Jamie spun to the right as more men approached from behind the cover of a column.

Propelling the chair across the hallway as if low flying, he fired repeatedly and accurately at will at the assailants who waited for him using each machine gun in rapid succession. Rounds of continuous ammunition fire echoed in the corridors outside Tony Wong’s office. The heat residue from the shooting action illuminated the darkness as Jamie’s nonchalant, cavalier yet cool, calculating actions were deadly accurate. Before they were able to retaliate, James Fraser simply swung the chair around when he reached the columns and took out the other guards hiding behind them.

He swivelled the chair left then right, twisting the chair around, with both smoking guns raised in the air. In the blink of an eye Jamie then swiftly surveyed the damage. All of Tony Wong’s men lay dead on the ground.

Fergus couldn’t believe what he was hearing or seeing on his monitor. He started at his computer screen in disbelief. A nervous smile appeared on his face and then he shook his head, while pushing his glasses back into place on his nose, at the ingenuity of James Fraser.

“Shit … he’s good!” he voiced out loud in admiration.

Composing himself a little, Fergus got back to the business at hand. Two heartbeat readings remained on screen … Jamie’s … and the target … Tony Wong.

“Target is there Jamie … Heat source indicates a body in the room to your left.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Fergus, how long does Jamie have before the charges are detonated?” was Claire’s concerned question for a second time.

“Five minutes, maybe six. It all depends if he secures the target.”

“And if he doesn’t?”

“He will! You know Jamie, Claire. He won’t fail.”

“But if something goes wrong?”

“Then I’ll try and stretch the time frame a little,” he replied with meaning.

Just then James Fraser’s voice rang clear, “Target secure.”

Relief registered in Fergus’s reply. “Proceed to egress Jamie.”

Closing her eyes in relief, Claire had heard everything and sighed thankfully.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Throwing open the van door Jamie entered with his captive in hand. “Ignite the charges,” he ordered.

With a relieved nod Fergus set off the explosives and instantaneously an explosion rocked the ground.

“Go!”

Tony Wong’s headquarters had exploded in an enormous fireball and all that remained of his base was the grey smoke, dust and debris that filled Aberdeen Harbour and lit up the night sky like the fourth of July.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 25

 

Returning back to Section One after their mission to Aberdeen both teams made their way through Van Access. The mission had been successful and they’d captured their target Tony Wong without sustaining any injuries. As major Team leader, James Fraser preceded first and stood to one side as Team B filed past and continued on to Munitions to return their weapons. However, their team leader stopped in front of Jamie instead of following his operatives.

“Jamie. I couldn’t have done what you did there tonight. I learned a lot,” Joe Abernathy commended.

“Thank ye,” he acknowledged with a slight tilt of his head.

At the same time as they were speaking, Jamie’s team members exited Van Access with their elusive target in hand. Tony Wong’s arms were in a straightjacket that prevented him from trying anything stupid, while Rupert Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan walked beside him on either side. He was constrained between them and on seeing their captive approach; Abernathy nodded to Jamie then followed on after his team towards Munitions.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Even though well restrained, Tony Wong was defiant, proud and resolute. Despite the plight he was in the triad member watched everything taking mental note of his captives and his place of incarceration while trying to come to terms to where he was.

He observed.

Looking around at the unfamiliar surrounds he wondered where he could be. What was this place and who were these people? He knew that wherever he was wasn’t somewhere he had been before or cared to be again. He was never in a subservient role to anyone except Sun Yee Lok, and he didn’t like the fact that he was the captive and all trussed up as well. It was most demeaning given his position in the Rising Dragons’ triad.

He scrutinized.

The man ... James Fraser ... who had captured him was interesting, but impossible to read especially with those blank facial stares. He was a formidable opponent and possessed all the attributes that would make him an enormous asset to the Rising Dragons … agility … stealth … ruthlessness … cunning. He had known it was useless to try and resist capture especially when he was aware of what had happened tonight. His building had been well fortified yet his men had been overpowered by a few assailants and in particular this aloof leader. His capture at his office after Fraser had disposed of all of his men spoke volumes as to his merciless ability and skill as an assassin. He was truly one of a kind. An exceptional mercenary, who could kill in cold blood yet show no emotions whatsoever was the epitome of the kind of person he admired and sought for the Rising Dragons.

He’d remembered seeing the brunette woman in the van once before and was now aware that it was the two of them who had been at Charlie Yin’s boat and disposed of six of his best men at the dock. She was skilled in martial arts also and had obviously been well trained by a Master. They were a fearsome pair and would go far in his organisation and Sun Yee Lok would welcome such people without hesitation. Perhaps he could work out a deal and persuade them to change sides and thus gain his freedom from his incarceration.

He listened.

James Fraser acknowledged his team members, Geillis Duncan and Rupert Mackenzie who stopped in front of him waiting for their orders. “Take him to Containment, then debrief in thirty minutes.”

Hmmm! The Rising Dragons had places of containment for torture purposes. He had them at his warehouse no less … but here he was in foreign territory and the unknown was somewhat disconcerting. Just what kind of coercion would they inflict on him? It didn’t matter what they did for he’d been in worse situations. Nothing they could dish out would be close to what he had used before. Too many perplexing questions went through his mind. They had certainly gone to great lengths to capture him. Why? Why were they interested in him?

He internalised.

Just who were these people and why was he here? No doubt he would find out soon enough. It would all be very enlightening. Whoever they had to debrief with were obviously their leaders. He looked forward to seeing if they too were as ruthless as his captors. He was not afraid; on the contrary he was confident that he would overcome any adversary they could throw in his way. There was nothing he hadn’t seen or tried to extract information from his victims. The deaths of Wu and De Marillac’s’ daughter were testament to just what he was capable of. The fact that he was their prisoner was irrelevant. Whatever they did to him would be noting to what the Rising Dragons would do to them in retaliation of his capture. He smiled, satisfied that they would never outwit the Hung Kwan … The Fighter … Tony Wong.

So … he waited.

Death with Honour … Strength by Dare. Abiding by the Rising Dragons’ mantra whatever his fate would be his strategy. If he were to die here then he would make things very difficult for them. He wasn’t the chosen head executioner in the Rising Dragons’ hierarchy for nothing! If they wanted any information from him, they would die trying to extract it or have to kill him before he would divulge any information. Self-discipline was his way of life and there was no one who could better him at his own game.

Whoever these people were ...they were in for a big surprise.

Casting his eyes briefly in Jamie’s direction, Tony Wong walked with head held high with a defiance few hostiles showed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Fraser, however, missed nothing.

Section One’s Level 5 operative was well aware of Tony Wong’s demeanour. He’d seen many terrorists over the years walk into Section One little realising what their fate would be. He’d witnessed belligerent hostiles who thought they could outsmart whoever was in charge, to the bewildered targets who had no idea of their destiny. No one ever left Section One and certainly those who were captured never left Section alive. Their fate was already determined once information was gauged for they were of no further use. Section One had achieved what they needed and dealt with the terrorists accordingly.

Jamie observed Tony Wong closely, noting the cocky attitude of their captive as he passed by. There was a look of admiration … but also arrogance in having been captured in his eyes. Wong’s self-importance was obvious and with a look that could kill he was taken away.

Tony Wong may prove to be a challenge for Madeline, Jamie thought, but one she would relish no doubt.

Lagging behind, Fergus filed past with Claire. Watching as Mackenzie and Geillis Duncan disappeared around the corner with the target, they stopped and faced Jamie. Fergus couldn’t contain the look of admiration that crossed his face when he looked at him.

“James Fraser. What you did was so gutsy.”

They merely exchanged a look. Fergus nodded to Jamie’s acknowledgement then continued on to Systems with the tapes of the mission in his hand knowing that Madeline would want to go over them as soon as possible.

“Do you want me to debrief?” Claire asked trying to gauge Jamie’s mindset.

However, as per usual, he replied in his succinct Section mannerisms. “Return your weapons to Munitions first.”

“And the debrief?”

His eyes were saying one thing but his words another. “Twenty minutes … and don’t leave Section. We may need to go back out again.”

“Okay …” Claire hesitated before adding, “You can't deny what happened tonight, Jamie. You took a risk. I would have provided backup.”

He knew there was truth to her words and with his reply he tried to convey why he did what he did as he moved closer into her personal space. Reaching out to touch her Jamie tenderly stroked Claire’s hair and cheek with the tips of his fingers. She closed her eyes momentarily just absorbing the gentle caress to her face but opened them again when she heard him speak.

“I knew what I was doing Sassenach,” he replied quietly while his eyes looked intensely into hers.

“Yes ...” she answered back capturing his gaze with a similar intensity.

Her words were softly spoken but her eyes revealed her inner angst. Jamie continued to lightly stroke her cheek and Claire felt the reassurance in his touch before reluctantly breaking their stare. She took a step back and with one final glance she continued on to Munitions knowing that her partner had done what he had to do in his own inimitable way.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Slightly turning his head, James Fraser’s eyes followed every step she took as he watched Claire Beauchamp disappear around the corner, then with a resolute yet thoughtful disposition he about faced and headed in the opposite direction. Determinedly Jamie continued to his office to write his report on the mission knowing that there would be questions asked by Operations and Madeline as to their handling of Tony Wong’s capture, and … the missing hours beyond Section One’s surveillance on Lamma Island.

In his indomitable way Jamie, however, had already surmised his plan. As usual he had suitable answers to all and any questions they might pose about their mission.

Sitting down at his desk, he began typing his report.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Tending to her array of exotic orchids Madeline’s undivided attention was focused on the delicate plants that gave a glimmer of warmth to an otherwise austere office. Although some of her orchid specimens gave the appearance of vulnerability, they were resilient and hardy. The orchid was a deceiving plant that could weather all kinds of environments … and much like her … they were illusory. Appearing to be one thing, orchids were in actual fact the very opposite.

The analogy was not lost on Madeline for being a woman in Section One was a decisive advantage in her line of work. People’s perception on first seeing her in the White Room was misleading, for she was anything but delicate. A hostage’s first mistake was in thinking that because Madeline was an attractive woman, she would be a push over but nothing got past her and nobody outwitted her. She likened herself to a Black Widow spider actually … lure them in, deceive them and then go in for the kill. The perfect tactics.

While pottering with her orchids, she waited for the call from Fergus Claudel as to Tony Wong’s arrival at Section One. She was eventually roused from her task when his voice interrupted what she was doing.

“Madeline?”

“Yes Fergus …?”

While nonchalantly still tending her plants, Section’s Head Strategist listened to all that Fergus had to say until he had finished.

“Thank you. Inform Operations I’ll be there shortly,” she replied replacing her orchids carefully back onto the shelves. Madeline’s self-satisfied smiled was hard to contain for the mission had been more than successful.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Having been notified that Jamie and Claire had returned with the target in hand, Madeline made her way from her office through the labyrinth of corridors to the Perch. Lost in thoughts of her impending meeting in the White Room, she was cognizant of, but ignored the operatives, profilers and other personnel that were going about their duties in Section. They in turn attempted to avoid her as best they could too unless they came into her direct path. Madeline was not a person to engage in conversation with, and evasion strategies seemed to be the best strategy for all concerned. Her minimalist actions made her difficult to read and people never knew what she was ever truly thinking and this made them extremely nervous and uncomfortable in her presence.

Madeline knew she was feared by her subordinates … and with good reason. Her ability to analyse people was her specialty and because of this she was able to manipulate those around her for the better good of Section One. She was true to the ideals that Section stood for in that the end did justify the means. Protection of the innocents and the protection of the whole, even at the expense of a few terrorists made her line of work to some extent enjoyable and Madeline looked forward to matching wits with Section’s latest arrival.

Making her way up the stairs into Operations' perch, she was confronted with Dougal Mackenzie standing observing the hive of activity taking place in the communications centre. Standing quietly behind him, she watched as Section’s formidable leader monitored the comings and goings below him. Operations knew immediately the moment she had entered, and acknowledged her presence by giving Madeline a brief glance before turning away from the window to face his second in command.

“You’ve heard the news?”

“Yes, Fergus informed me.”

“Tony Wong has been quite evasive.”

“Yes. He has.”

“He may prove difficult.”

Completely calm, and unfazed, Madeline answered, “Nothing is too difficult for me Dougal … you of all people should know that. He’ll be taken care of soon enough.”

A wry smile crossed his face at her reply. “Carry on then.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madeline, Section One’s chief strategist, best manipulator and psychologist stood outside the doors to the White Room. Inside the room was Tony Wong a hierarchical member of the Rising Dragons triad and the means to an end. Her latest victim was a wily customer, but the smile that briefly lit Madeline’s eyes indicated that not only was Tony Wong in for a huge surprise, but he would soon find out that the Rising Dragons was child’s play in comparison to Section One. She knew what had to be done and their triad member was her crucial focal point. Being in the White Room gave Madeline an immense pleasure, an adrenalin rush that left her heady and satisfied. Capitulation of the target by revealing the Intel Section needed to bring about the end game in a mission was always enjoyable and satisfying no matter how it was achieved.

The creaking noise of the steel doors echoed forebodingly in the stark white room. They opened and Madeline entered.

She had stood on the threshold of the White Room so many times over the years that it was all a blur now. In truth it was a bit blasé too. The targets who eventually found their way to the White Room were all lowlifes … all the scum of the earth. All were insidious terrorists who killed for the sake of killing, were manipulative of innocents or were destructive dictators bent on power at the expense of their people and country. They came from all walks of life and Madeline had seen them all … dealt with the belligerent, the scared, the indifferent, the bold and the confident. In all cases bar one that she could think of … when one terrorist called Tyko managed to briefly escape before being recaptured … all had seen the benefit of divulging the Intel that she wanted.

Standing there Madeline took inventory of her newest challenge …Tony Wong. She had been studying his profile trying to find his vulnerable spot, his Achilles heel, the point where he would capitulate and crack under pressure. Her job was to know the other side, to get into their criminal minds and to understand them. Everyone who got to ‘know’ her better in the White Room had a weakness. It was her job … no pleasure to discover what it was … then leave them dangling with some hope before coming in for the kill in their compliance and submission when they broke. Madeline knew that in order to make them break you exploited their weakness, while the breaking point came when you threatened or harmed their own life, personally and repeatedly. Some terrorists broke quickly … others were more antagonistic.
Just where would Tony Wong slot in along the continuum?

Mr. Wong should prove to be interesting. Madeline had witnessed his cockiness, his trite performance of invincibility, but that was nothing new to her. She always got the upper hand, after all this was her domain and she was the queen of it for she had an uncanny insight into the human psyche. Pitting her intellect against this adversary would be a challenge that she was looking forward to. Honing her skills against a foe who seemed to be cut from the same cloth was always exhilarating.

Madeline looked forward to Tony Wong’s reactions and she was well prepared to meet the elusive man. Given his background in the Rising Dragons as an extortionist and organizer of murders, she was conscious that he would be aware of torture measures in order to break a person and would have inbuilt defences to protect himself and his way of life at any cost. However, Section one’s ‘chief persuaders’ … Henry and Elizabeth ... were well up to the task of making anyone talk … eventually. Seeing Tony Wong get a taste of his own medicine and studying his threshold for pain would be very interesting indeed. Madeline had one or two things up her sleeve if needs be, that he would “enjoy” … but all in good time.

Footfalls echoed on the tiled floor and Tony Wong awaited his opposition.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 26 (V)

 

Round…

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.*

Madeline thought it was amusing that the words of that particular song came into her head as she entered the White Room. It must have been the imagery contained in the lyrics that appealed to her warped sense of humour. Rooms without corners had a psychological impact on a captive. With no corners … only endless curves … round and round with no beginning or end, they had nowhere to focus their attention. It drove people crazy while unnerving them at the same time.

Not only that, but white was such a stark and pristine colour and the glaringly brilliant and piercing whiteness of the White Room surrounded Section One’s latest captive Tony Wong. Madeline likened the room to that of a blank canvas waiting for the artist’s touch to bring it to life; however, the White Room was anything but that. It was white for the purpose of unbalancing the individuals whose fate was determined there, while the only figurative painting to be done here was by her. The room would only come to life when and only when Tony Wong provided her with the Intel that she wanted.

Smiling her Mona Lisa smile, Section’s head strategist cast her eyes around the circular room before resting them on the target. She moved towards where Tony Wong was seated in the centre of the White Room strapped in the metal chair awaiting his fate. Having the upper hand had its advantages. Mr. Wong would give her the Intel Section One wanted or suffer the consequences although his fate was already preordained regardless of what he told them. He would not be seeing the light of day after being in the White Room. Once he told them what they wanted to know about the whereabouts of Sun Yee Lok … he would be cancelled.

Madeline suspected that Tony Wong knew more about the Rising Dragons’ hierarchy and their associates as well. Convincing him to relinquish this Intel would prove beneficial for the more information he gave her, the better for Section One. If he proved to be obstinate, Henry and Elizabeth, Section’s pre-eminent torture technicians, would apply that little extra persuasive pressure needed to tip their captive over the edge.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tony Wong began to stir a little as he heard the door opening. A squeaking echo creaked loudly as it was pushed wider and wider. The noise continued as it closed again with a decisive click of the bolt moving into a locked position.

He’d been sitting in this chair for what seemed like ages, days even. He had lost all sense of time and the surroundings also gave no clues to the whereabouts of this strange place. Was he even in Hong Kong?

The room was stark … no windows … no corners … nothing, and the glaring white light dazzled the senses and played havoc with his rational thought processes. White … it was a brilliant white room … no colours whatsoever. The colour scheme only increased the room’s harshness. It was cold, drained, lifeless, bare and vacant. It made a man think … made your thoughts scramble. He must remember to incorporate something like this for interrogation purposes for the Rising Dragons … it was very effective.

The colour white signified a proud, rigid, judgmental controlling attitude. Is that what he was up against … a perfectionist hell bent on breaking him?

The bright white was blinding. It was giving him a tension headache plus he felt a shiver pass through his body at the significance of white in Chinese culture.

White was the colour of death.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Hearing the footfalls of his visitor Tony Wong sat more upright in the chair and although manacled and in discomfort, he gave the air of a foreboding figure ready to face whatever they had to throw at him. Although restricted in his movements, and with tense muscles, he tried to get the circulation back into his joints. He flexed and breathed deeply to compose himself and readied his mind and body for the inquisition he knew was about to take place.

Determined footsteps echoed louder in the room as they came closer and closer before stopping behind him. His eyes were wary, alert, waiting for the inevitable. Tony knew the drill … he had used it himself time and time again. He stared at the floor somewhat surprised at seeing a pair of women’s shoes slowly approach in front of him. He glanced up and met the steely cold eyes of an imposing and beautiful woman.

“Ho Ma …” Madeline spoke in perfect Cantonese. “… Ngoh ho go hing toong lay geen meen Mr. Wong.” (Hello … It is “nice” to meet you Mr Wong.)

“I’d clap if you untied my hands!” Tony replied somewhat sarcastically and impressed at her fluency. “Very good … but you can speak English.”

Madeline merely raised her eyebrows somewhat at his reply and nodded, “Welcome to Section One!”

“Ahhh! … So that’s where I am … I did wonder,” he answered nonchalantly. “Could you answer a question … I’m curious.”

“Certainly.”

“Just where and what is Section One?”

“You’re 500 feet underground in a place called Section One. We’re a secret government organization that helps people in trouble.”

Looking her square in the eye with bravado Tony Wong asked, “So am I, in trouble or am I the trouble?”

“Mr Wong … I’m surprised you had to ask. Surely you know the answer to your own question.”

“Hmmm! Whatever it is you want … I can’t help you so it is best that you let me go.”

“That will be impossible I’m afraid, until you give us the information we need.”

Madeline’s demeanour changed in the blink of an eye. She stood in front of him resolute, determined, and unflinching with cold, expressionless and soulless eyes.

Tony Wong had only met one other woman like this one … Madame Cheung, Sun Yee Lok’s Advisor who was in charge of Prostitution and Escort Services. She had the same piercing eyes, cold outer beauty and steely presence that underlined the strong resolve of the woman. Without knowing who she was he knew that this woman who was interrogating him had nerves of steel and would be a fierce adversary.

Her succinct voice vibrated through his mind with menacing determination with words that bode ill for him. “Mr Wong … you will tell us what we need to know.”

“And what if I don’t cooperate?”

“I'm going to torture you until you do.” Madeline replied with steely resolve. “It’s just you … and me.”

Tony Wong knew that he had just been acquainted with Section One’s head strategist in no uncertain terms.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A bit taken back by Madeline’s succinct announcement he calmly raised his eyes and looked at the woman who stood in front of him and realised that she did indeed mean every word she had said. Tony wondered how to handle the situation he was in. What was he to do? There was no way he could escape. He could not physically retaliate … but he could verbally antagonise her with mind games.

“I’m not scared of you.”

“You should be … I hold your life in my hands.”

“Do your worst.” He dismissively replied.

“That's too bad Mr Wong … because my worst will be your worst and best nightmare rolled into one. We know you are a member of the Rising Dragons.”

“So, what!”

“We want to know the whereabouts of your leader Sun Yee Lok. Where is he Mr. Wong?”

“I don’t know … he doesn’t surface very much … He’s … what do you say? … Incognito when he does … even I don’t know what he looks like.”

“Come now Mr. Wong … do you expect me to believe that?”

Tony looked amused, “I told you what I know.”

“Where’s Sun Yee Lok?” Madeline calmly asked again.

“I don’t know … I know nothing!” Tony Wong said shaking his head in disbelief at her failure to comprehend what he was saying.

Changing tack Madeline inquired cunningly, “What’s your relationship with Alain de Marillac?”

“I don’t know him.”

“Yes, you do! … Now! Tell me about his daughter Annalise’s death on one of your junks.”

“Who …?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Tony Wong could picture the first meeting with Madame Cheung when he had introduced her to Annalise de Marillac. She could not believe her good fortune that the ambassador’s daughter was willing to work for the Rising Dragons. At that stage Annalise was unaware of her father’s involvement in the triad, but Madame Cheung knew only too well what a coup her recruitment was. Annalise was a recalcitrant girl who had a point to prove to her domineering father. Working for the Rising Dragons was a way of severing all ties with her family and she also knew that if her career choice was made public it would embarrass her father’s diplomatic position.

Annalise had become one of Madame Cheung’s prize escorts and a favourite. However, things had soured and if it hadn’t been for her wanting out of the business by threatening to expose him, Madame Cheung and the Rising Dragons to the authorities then he wouldn’t have had her killed. But more importantly, it was her threat to expose her father and his extra business activities and his money skimming from the triad that had been the ultimate betrayal. They would have faced certain death from Sun Yee Lok if he had found out about their subterfuge. The chain of events that her betrayal would have set in motion would have had dire consequences.

Her father, and his friend, Alain de Marillac knew that her death was a matter of honour too. He knew the mantra of their triad, only too well.

“Death with Honour” its way of life
With motto “Strength by Dare”
Once you yield fear nought … but
When it seeks you, beware!
The Rising Dragon!

His position as ambassador would have been in jeopardy if Annalise had followed through with her threats. De Marillac’s potential to the Rising Dragons would have been threatened too if his daughter had been allowed to live. He was crucial to their influence across a broad spectrum of political and cultural barriers. Alain de Marillac had made sacrifices along the way to improve his standing in the triad but Tony knew he had trodden on people’s toes as well. He’d had too. De Marillac’s extra underhand business with him had been threatened by his daughter Annalise. He really had no choice and his hands were tied as they had no other options open to them. He too, had taken the only way out despite the loss of his daughter’s life, but Alain knew and understood this only too well.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“ … I’ve no idea what you are talking about. You seem to have all the answers, don't you? So, you tell me! … What do you need me for?”

Ignoring his cocky disposition and question Madeline continued with a wry tone to her voice. “If you were our typical guest, you'd have been tortured to within an inch of your life by now Mr. Wong. Here's my offer. If you cooperate, we'll assign you to an internment that will be bearable.”

“Oh … I'm sorry you feel that way.”

Never fazed by any of her victims’ bravado, Madeline merely stated the facts with no recourse for interpretation by her prisoner. “You will give us all the information we need … sooner or later.”

The disdainful tone to Tony Wong’s voice was very evident when he next spoke. “Must be so hard on you, huh? … Being a woman in this place … You … so beautiful and all.”

Getting an icy edge in her own voice at his stalling tactics Madeline replied, “Things would be easier all around if you helped.”

The target chose to ignore any words that came out of her mouth and tried to counter Madeline’s carrot with one of his own in order to gain some leverage with this formidable woman.

“I know a woman … just like you. I’m sure she would love to make your acquaintance too.”

Immediately grasping this additional off the cuff information that the target had revealed Madeline paced around the chair until she was standing behind Tony Wong where he couldn’t see her. Her smile nearly reached her eyes internalising this intel … but it didn’t.

“Oh? … And who may this woman be? … Another member of the Rising Dragons?”

“As if I would tell you?”

As she again faced him in the metal chair, Tony Wong studied his inquisitor seeing only a calm, in control woman who gave him little information to exploit by her demeanour. Although she was very minimalist with her expressions, one thing he did note by her actions was how bad or good things really were for him. Her next words, unfortunately, reiterated that she was one woman not to cross.

“On the other hand, Mr Wong, we can make things unbearable,” Madeline stated, turning away from him and hitting a call button on a small table beside the chair.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Henry and Elizabeth her torture twin helpers entered the White Room each carrying a briefcase in their hands. They walked over to where the table was situated and very calmly placed the briefcases on it. Tony Wong watched these two aloof people as they stood beside the table waiting for instructions.

“Oh, no, now, why do we need them? Just when we were having such fun, just the two of us,” he stated smugly to the very person who was ignoring him.

Speaking to Henry just loud enough that Tony Wong could hear Madeline issued her command. “Yes. 10 cc's.”

Opening his briefcase Henry took out a vial of liquid and a syringe inserting the needle into the bottle and drawing up the plunger to the required dosage.

A slight feeling of panic suddenly hit Tony Wong and he tried to diffuse the situation and stop this man injecting him with a serum he was quite familiar with.

“Oh, no, don't do this, don't do this. The information about Madame Cheung is very complicated. I won't be able to remember it if you do that!”

However, without even the blink of an eye, Henry gave him a shot in the neck and the sensation of acute pain shooting through his body caused the target to groan and physically cringe.

Madeline watched his reactions. “That tightening and pain that you feel in your chest will only get worse. It's caused by …”

“… Mephobarbital,” he replied finishing her statement. “I recognized it right away. I use that too. Very effective. You know, what I can't understand is why people don't like this drug because it's so lovely. Is there more?”

“There's more.”

“Ah, good,” was Tony Wong’s reply. There was no way that he would capitulate to these people despite the intense pain he was feeling in his body. He would not give in. He would not surrender.

Elizabeth stood by with another syringe at the ready. Giving her a nod Madeline ordered, “Another 10 cc's!”

Injecting the second dose caused Tony Wong to smile in triumph. “Oh, yes, please, don't be shy, yes, do.”

“Dehydrate him.” Madeline stated tersely and walked away.

“What? Another lamp?” Tony said raising his voice at Madeline’s retreating back. “Good … I need to improve my suntan. I don’t spend nearly enough time at Repulse Bay!”

Madeline knew Henry and Elizabeth would methodically deal with Tony Wong’s reluctance to comply. They smirked as Elizabeth opened her briefcase of countless tricks removing the infrared electronic lamp. Turning towards the target sitting in the chair, they then set the dehydration process in motion.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A dazed Tony Wong sat slumped on the floor in the White Room suffering the intense pain wracking his body.

He realised that his avoidance and psychological tactics hadn’t worked with these people for he’d never endured or administered such brutal torture before. The woman was right … he had no idea that such intolerable torture techniques and methods of coercion even existed. It had always been him that had administered torture tactics to victims, but this place … this room … these methods was something he had never seen before. He was used to being the one in control, the one to give orders and in his role at the triad knew a few tricks of the trade but not even the Rising Dragons used Section One’s mode of persuasion. The interrogation and pain that he had been subjected to was indescribable. The woman’s collaborators had left their personalised calling card also and the two cut slits under his eyes were evidence of their deft handiwork.

Tony Wong finally admitted that this place was unique and these people meant business … he had few if any choices.

After some time, Madeline returned to the White Room. She nodded to Henry and Elizabeth as they quietly picked up their briefcases and left after having successfully completed their orders. The subdued target was now lying on the floor, barely conscious. Approaching him Madeline noted the handiwork of her co-conspirators and the defeated demeanour of her captive.

From his prone position all Tony could see was a woman's shoe step into his peripheral vision. His inquisitor ... Madeline ... had returned. She walked around him, while the sound of her steps echoed in his head like a booming cannon.

Madeline stopped and stood over him. To the victor went the spoils while the vanquished capitulated. Her voce held just a slight tone of self-satisfaction. "Is there anything else you'd like to tell me, Mr. Wong?”

The intense torture techniques used by Section One had caused him to reassess his way of thinking. Defeated, he was unable to do more than shake his head slightly and moan, “What do you want from me?”

“We want the information you are withholding from us. Now … Where is Sun Yee Lok? Who is this woman Madame Cheung? And tell me about the De Marillac connection.”

“Very well. I'll tell you what I know.”

“Good … please continue Mr. Wong!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

* The Windmills of Your Mind is a song with music by French composer Michel Legrand and English lyrics written by Americans Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The song was introduced in the film The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in the same year.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 27

 

Studying his monitor Operations stopped what he was doing when he heard his second in command enter the Perch and turned in her direction well pleased with the results of her interrogation.

“I see things went well in the White Room Madeline,” he stated with a supercilious smirk on his face.

“Yes … very well.”

“Good. And Tony Wong?”

“It took some persuasion over the last two days, but we got the Intel we wanted.”

“I’ve just been going over the tapes.”

“He was very elucidating,” Madeline replied with a satisfied self-importance.

“Indeed.”

“We don't know everything yet, but we do know he knew more than we.”

“Which is?” Dougal Mackenzie asked raising his eyebrow in interest.

“It appears Tony Wong was not as close to Sun Yee Lok as we first thought. Although he was part of the Rising Dragons’ hierarchy, Wong was not in his inner circle of the triad.”

“Where does that leave us now?”

“He didn’t have the knowledge of Sun Yee Lok that we need to capture him. However, he was most lucid in implicating some who were in his leader’s inner circle.”

“Good.”

“There were a couple of new players ... a Jonathon Randall and Madame Cheung, the woman he spoke of in the White Room.”

“We’ll need to get on to this Intel ASAP.”

“Already done.”

“And Wong?”

Succinct and to the point, Madeline replied, “He’s been taken care of.”

“Excellent.”

“What about Tony Wong’s connection to De Marillac?” Operations inquired as their conversation eventually changed tack.

“It was much deeper than we even suspected,” Madeline answered. “The Intel on Monsieur de Marillac has been very interesting. His association with Tony Wong has stretched over a good many years. Although they had lost contact, he was reacquainted when Alain de Marillac was the Ambassador in Africa.”

“And?”

“Tony Wong sought him out when there on triad business. De Marillac it seemed had to leave his African appointment under a cloud. Hence, he was just ripe for the picking.”

“Didn’t our Intel confirm as much?”

“Some of it, but there were grey areas.”

“Obviously Tony Wong was able to fill in the missing pieces of our profile then.”

“Yes. De Marillac’s recall was indeed due to suspicion of conspiring with criminal elements to further his profile and line his pockets. No substantial evidence was found to support the allegations though.”

“The Rising Dragons saw to that?”

“Apparently. De Marillac had no convictions registered and the internal review committee never proved any of the dubious connections.”

“Hmmm … thus strengthening his bonds with the Rising Dragons and Tony Wong no doubt.”

“It seemed Tony Wong had asked Alain to turn a blind eye to money laundering that he had organised in East Africa in exchange for favours with the triad. Due to his high position in African diplomatic circles, de Marillac was able to ascertain contacts for the Rising Dragons to facilitate this … many of which he had previously used for his own gains.”

“Diplomatic immunity meant he could not be charged if indeed implicated in underhand business.”

“Nevertheless, he was informed that he was being transferred to China … never knowing it was more than the Rising Dragons could ever have expected.”

“They now had an untouchable, yet indebted man in a high position, one who was a part of their triad.”

“True. Recalling him from his previous appointment to Africa was a godsend that the Rising Dragons could not have planned. He was virtually handed to them on a silver platter when he was recalled for a new diplomatic mission here to China.”

“Indeed … a straightforward recruitment for the triad.”

“Not only that but the deaths on the junk …” Madeline began, only to be interrupted by Operations reading her thoughts.

“I know ... we may have a bigger problem. We need to avert a diplomatic catastrophe. If the Chinese government find out that de Marillac was involved in the death of their government official … it will not fare well for the Canadian government and could very well sever their ties with that country and the West in general.”

“I agree.” This isn't good, is it?

“No. We need to get this Monsieur de Marillac.”

“What's your decision Dougal?”

“Designate this as a top priority; put our best people on it. We'll deploy this afternoon,” Operations replied. “Do we have a location on Alain de Marillac?”

“Beijing.”

“Good.”

With a determined gleam in his eye, Operations immediately buzzed through to Systems. “Fergus?”

“Yes sir?”

“Prepare all the data on Alain de Marillac. We're going to brief in Systems in thirty minutes … and inform James and his team.”

“Yes sir.”

 

Later on in the Briefing Room...

 

Madeline entered the Briefing room, joining Operations, Jamie, Claire, team members and Fergus who was manning the hologram's computer. She gave Fergus a disk and he loaded it into the generating computer as Operations began the briefing. Clicking on the holographic screen, the image of a debonair, distinguished looking, handsome man in his late-forties or early fifties appeared before those seated.

“This is Alain de Marillac. He’s the French-Canadian Ambassador to China … friend and confidant of Tony Wong … member of the Rising Dragons triad and … a terrorist.”

Operations quickly scanned his best and most skilled Level 5 operative and his team, while Fergus continued. “De Marillac was also involved in the death of his own daughter Annalise, as well as the other deaths on the junk including Chen Yong Wu from the Chinese government.”

Fergus activated pictures of Alain de Marillac in his role as Ambassador meeting with foreign government dignitaries. “He is able to move freely in sensitive areas because of his position without suspicion. De Marillac is using his diplomatic position to further advance the Rising Dragons infiltration into high ranking government agencies.”

Operations added categorically, “We need to avoid a potential falling out of China with the West. Wu’s death may be the very catalyst for this super power to wreak revenge on the West. If it feels it has lost face and finds that de Marillac or the Canadian Government is involved in any way in the death of their government official, they will seek harsh retribution. It could be a catastrophic economic and political nightmare.”

His words registered with those gathered as Dougal Mackenzie continued, “We’ll want a clean pick on de Marillac. Bring him in for interrogation. We need to find out who else is involved who can lead us to their leader. We’re working this like an onion … peeling off the layers until we get to the centre … their leader Sun Yee Lok.”

“Tony Wong has provided us with updated Intel about Alain de Marillac, contact location and access to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing China.” Madeline stated.

Scanning his operatives Operations added, “There is an Embassy Ball being held there where the extraction will take place.”

“When?” Jamie asked knowing only too well that the mission was probably imminent.

“Tonight.”

“Do we intercept?”

“Yes. We'll wait for his arrival, and after due course we will instigate an offset. De Marillac is our target ... Fergus?”

“It's ready sir,” he replied tapping some codes into the computer. A 3-D hologram of the Canadian Embassy appeared on the table screen as the operatives watched.

“Study this,” Operations ordered those gathered at the table before glancing at James Fraser. “Get your transport ready.”

Jamie's mind processed the data he was hearing. Madeline and Operations had evidently used all the Intel gauged from her different sources about Alain de Marillac as the basis of this new mission to extract him. Although it was obvious that Section One clearly didn’t want to alert the triad or any Chinese officials of their intentions, he knew it would be a standard execution for his team.

With a determined glance around the briefing table Operations finally asked, “Any questions?” As none were forthcoming, he continued. “Details are on your panels. You leave in two hours. See Madeline for more details and wardrobe. That will be all.”

As the operatives exchanged inquisitive looks, Operations dismissed those sitting at the briefing table, and then with his second in command, he swiftly exited the room.

 

CANADIAN EMBASSY - BEIJING, CHINA (S)

 

The embassy gathering was in full swing and people were mingling with the dignitaries gathered. James Fraser stood on the landing watching the guests while casting his surreptitious glance around the revelry taking place. The dulcet sound of melodic jazz music resonated in the air as couples made their way to the dance floor seduced by the soft, non-intrusive music. Small clusters of people were also spread across the room quietly conversing and networking. From his vantage position Jamie had a good view of the ballroom below and could see that all the team members were in position.

Speaking into his comm. unit, he checked in with his operatives ever watchful of those gathered. “Mackenzie?”

“I’m in position Jamie, but no sign of the target.”

“Geillis?”

“I’ve checked the outside terrace … all is clear.”

“Good.”

The ballroom was crowded and people were milling out onto the terrace as well. Leaning back against the balustrade Jamie’s eyes continued his surveillance. From his elevated position he scanned the area below where glamorous women, dressed in the finest haute couture gowns and bejewelled with expensive diamonds and precious stones were hanging on every word from their escorts. Before long, his eyes rested on a lovely woman elegantly dressed in a red creation that hugged her body like a second skin. Although his eyes were watchful of his surroundings, Jamie repeatedly looked over at the stunning woman standing alone in the alcove.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Feeling the hairs on the back of her neck rise, the woman raised her eyes to the direction where James Fraser stood. Vivid, sapphire blue eyes met hypnotic, azure ones across the crowed room. For a moment, time stood still and the two people were oblivious to everything and everyone but each other. In that one split second, his heart missed a beat while his eyes caressed the column of her long, swan like neck, her lips and her face.

His husky voice then seemed to caress her name in her ear, “Cl-aire?”

“Yes Jamie?” She replied a little flustered but trying not to show it.

“Anything tae report?”

“Not at the moment … De Marillac hasn’t arrived yet.”

Jamie descended the stairway all the while his eyes continued tracking the consulate ballroom looking for their target Ambassador Alain de Marillac. Casually he turned his head this way and that keeping watch while acknowledging guests who passed him by on the staircase.

“Nothing so far Fergus,” he reported back to Section.

Checking his monitor, the techie replied, “Perimeter’s quiet too, but de Marillac will be there soon enough.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Once at the foot of the stairs, the virile man dressed resplendently in a tuxedo stood quietly observing. Many female heads turned in James Fraser’s direction or tried to catch his eye but to no avail. His striking good looks coupled with a lean muscular frame sent many a heart a fluttering but he ignored them all. He was only distracted by the sight before him and his piercing gaze locked on only one person … Claire Beauchamp. She too, was unable to break her gaze from his and she dreamily fingered the ring on her finger.

With one purpose in mind Jamie made his way onto the ballroom floor and headed towards her. Accepting a glass of champagne from a passing waiter he took a sip while at the same time trading nods with Rupert Mackenzie who was holding the tray. He took another glass of refreshment from the tray then made his way towards where the most beautiful woman he had ever seen stood watching him walk towards her with a transfixed look on her face.

“Here ye are …” Jamie said handing the drink to Claire and jolting her attention back to the mission.

As he handed her the champagne, Claire’s hand trembled a little when his fingers touched hers and especially when Jamie’s fingertips lightly glided over the band of gold. She felt like a stunned rabbit caught in the headlights of an approaching car. Her breathing became shallower when Jamie moved in closer for his intense gaze seemed to suffocate her as he pressed further into her private space. Claire Beauchamp’s insides churned with anticipation and nervous tension. Slowly casting his eyes over his Sassenach’s face Jamie watched for her reaction to his closeness.

“Thank you,” she muttered as she took the champagne glass from his outstretched hand and fingered the stem of the glass in an erotic motion that Jamie couldn’t help but notice.

He appeared unaffected by Claire’s nearness however; her actions had affected him despite his nonchalant question to his team on the open channel, “Any sign of the target?”

When all operatives answered in the negative, he replied, “Stay alert.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Realizing that she had been concentrating on Jamie, Claire broke her gaze and looked down at the drink in her hand. She hadn’t touched her champagne. However, despite his succinct Section persona Jamie took her hand in his and looking deeply into her eyes admonished.

“Ye have not touched yer drink.”

With a slight tremble Claire slowly raised her eyes only to see that James Fraser was a chameleon. For all intents and purposes, he was in full control of what was happening at the moment but what she saw reflected in his eyes as they bore into hers was something entirely different. This was the Jamie she had seen on Lamma Island and his eyes softened as his gaze swept her from head to toe. Touching his glass to hers he raised his glass in salute.

“To the most beautiful woman in this room,” he said. “Nothing holds a candle to your loveliness mo nighean donn. Yer beauty is timeless Cl-aire.”

“Thank you Jamie,” she replied bashfully knowing that even though tonight was just a covert mission and they were playing the role of a couple, Jamie’s eyes held a depth of meaning that could not be disguised.

Claire consumed the contents of her glass as did he. Then taking the glass from her hands Jamie placed a kiss to her knuckles as he placed her glass and his own on the tray of a passing drinks waiter. He noticed her unease and his nearness only exacerbated her nervousness, then when he peered into her blue eyes and turned over her hand kissing her palm, Claire thought she would expire for she could barely breathe as it was.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The music started up again and the dance floor was soon filled with Consulate guests dancing. Claire was a little nervous, for this party was a little more extravagant than what she was used to even for Section One standards. Always aware of his partner’s trepidations Jamie noticed her hesitation and before she knew it, he outstretched his hand towards her.

His eyes were sparkling with mischief. "May I have this dance Mrs MacTavish?"

Claire flushed. She knew the profile had indicated they were supposed to dance near where Ambassador de Marillac might see them because that was how they were going to be noticed. But did he have to ask me with his pronounced Scottish accent while staring into my eyes? she thought.

"My pleasure Dr MacTavish," she said softly in reply.

Taking her hand into his Jamie ushered Claire onto the dance floor. “Come,” he said.

As the attractive couple glided to the dance floor, her fingers entwined with his and she gripped them tightly. Turning Claire into his two strong arms Jamie captured her in an embrace as he wantonly pulled her body close to his own. They started to dance. As they did so, Jamie’s testosterone hormones began to activate his libido for the feel of his Sassenach in his arms stimulated his sex drive. Nerve impulses cascaded down his spinal cord forcing blood cells to rush to his groin. He felt a pleasurable but uncomfortable tightening in his trousers as they moved around the room.

Their bodies aligned perfectly together as if made for one another. Jamie pulled her closer still while lightly brushing his hand against Claire’s arm. His eyes were compelling and mesmerizing. Sensuality shimmered in his blue gaze like a warm flame and she was mesmerized. Jamie slid his hand caressingly down Claire’s arm then lazily traced her skin on the way back up again. Hot, then cold sensations rippled under her flesh as his touch set her skin on fire. Claire felt him insert his thigh between her legs as Jamie suggestively rubbed his body to hers as they began to dance more intimately. Her insides were melting at the acceptance of his movements and she found that she rather liked it … no wanted it. Her head fell back. She looked at Jamie and smiled enticingly.

He was so handsome, so appealing so adorable when he was in this James Fraser role.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dancing in Jamie’s arms was heaven.

The look he was giving her was piercing, it was as if she was naked and stripped bare of the gown she was wearing. His look could scorch the clothes off her body as surely as if he had undressed her with his hands. It was as though he was oblivious to anyone around them but the woman in his arms. Jamie’s gaze penetrated through to her soul and Claire was spellbound, rooted to the spot. There was no one else in the room but the two of them. Music was playing, but the music they heard came from the beating of their hearts and it was building to a crescendo. They were lost to each other. To anyone watching, it was as if the onlookers were a voyeur witnessing this couple in the early stages of foreplay. Jamie and Claire virtually sizzled on the floor, the heat emanating from them palatable to all gathered. Steam could have been rising from them … and the way they looked at each other when they were dancing, well, their eyes nearly burned a hole in one another.

Jamie’s gaze made Claire lose thought as she saw only him. His hands lightly caressed her skin and left a line of fire, but the fire below was rapidly turning into an inferno. If it was possible to self-combust, then she was on the verge of it. Claire could smell the faint cologne that Jamie always wore. She locked her arms around his neck and felt his curls brushing her forearms while he tightened his grip around her waist. Glancing up at him provocatively, she smiled. He in turn bent down towards her placing a kiss to her neck and bit the flesh with teeth that left a little mark. Despite her demure gown Claire felt anything but demure in it with the way Jamie was making her feel. They were on a mission but being in his arms was making her head spin.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie worked hard to control his breathing.

Her evening gown, although circumspect in the front, the back was something else entirely. It was so low-cut in the back that just knowing his hand was that close to her backside was making him sweat. Jamie began to feel his crotch start to tighten, but he was determined to maintain control. Damn it, woman! He thought. You are testing me to the limit of my control. Damn you too Madeline for choosing this sexy gown for Claire!

As they danced to the music, Jamie concentrated on keeping his hands perfectly in place and his mind on the assignment. He ran the mission profile over and over in his head and tried to keep an eye out for their target. However, they were oblivious to everything and everyone but each other on the floor as Jamie guided Claire around the other couples while pulling her closer to his body. She had eyes only for him and seemed lost in a trance. Claire could not look away. She had no idea what her feet were doing … it felt as if she was floating on air. Jamie's hand lightly brushed against her arm and she felt her pulse race. His lips were so close to her own that she could feel the soft, warm breaths caress her flushed skin.

They nearly kissed.

Her insides knotted at James Fraser’s close proximity. Continuing to dance Claire could feel the sway of Jamie’s body, so in sync with hers, that she closed her eyes as blissful feelings and remembrances overwhelmed her. It seemed like forever since they were on Lamma Island where nothing had separated them. Their gazes held for a moment before she broke Jamie’s hypnotic hold on her and angled her head closer to his cheek.

Claire closed her eyes. “Oh Jamie,” she sighed.

He bit her neck again, this time a little firmer.

“I like that,” she whispered softly.

“There is more where that came from Sassenach,” he said as he waltzed her around the dance floor.

It seemed that as they danced, they moved closer and closer to each other. The distance between them narrowed so slowly it was nearly imperceptible. Before Claire knew it, they were pressed tightly together, their bodies as interwoven as their souls. Jamie could smell her perfume, a sweet feminine fragrance working its way towards his nose. Inhaling deeply, he sighed; for once his tormented soul was at peace and wished they could stay forever this way. Claire leaned into him taking pleasure in the feeling of his chiselled body so close to her own.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Whispering her name against her skin, she nearly stumbled when she felt the touch of Jamie’s lips gently caress her ear lobe as his hands nonchalantly caressed her body. He began talking, but Claire barely heard what he was saying, so lost was she to the moment in Jamie’s arms that all peripheral distractions paled into insignificance. But then it slowly dawned on her to whom he was speaking.

“Fergus ... any sign of de Marillac?” Jamie asked through clenched teeth.

Just as his lips began to brush against her ear, the comm. units crackled to life as Fergus replied, “Not yet.”

His breath was hot on her skin and Claire shivered under the pressure of his lips upon her lobe. Jamie continued playing with her ear discretely so that no one would notice them, then turning his head, he looked intently at her. Claire felt his penetrating gaze and met it. Their eyes held communicating without words. Then they kissed.

Jamie’s lips lightly brushed hers. Gently, softly his lips pulled hers onto his mouth teasing her top lip tenderly with his tongue. Claire uttered a muffled sigh as she opened her mouth to Jamie’s caress. Her teeth nipped his bottom lip holding it prisoner never wanting to let go but reluctantly they released lips as his hands danced up her spine in rapturous torment. Claire arched toward him, feeling the first stirrings of desire ripple through her and then echo back from Jamie too.

Fergus's voice, like cold water on a smouldering fire, broke Claire out of her reverie, as she heard the information he replayed.

“Jamie … target is approaching. De Marillac is coming through the main corridor towards the ballroom now.”

“Got it.”

However, James Fraser continued to hold her close, dancing to the music as if nothing had happened, “Perimeter team … converge,” he ordered. “Any new Intel, Fergus?”

“He’s accompanied by guards.”

“Hold … stay on B channel,” Jamie ordered his team.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire could feel Jamie’s touch caressing her skin as he continued to dance her around the ballroom as he moved them closer to their mark. She was somewhat surprised by his actions given that the target had been spotted. However, Claire’s nearness was having a profound effect on Jamie as well and he was barely able to control his body’s reaction. His eyes looked intensely into hers noticing Claire’s desire mixed with surprise. She melted against him and Jamie pulled her even closer than before, his hand moving slowly across her back. To any watching eyes, this striking couple looked inseparable and other couples glanced enviously at them as they watched the beautiful couple glide magically across the dance floor.

Their eyes held each other in a fiery look that was all consuming, her red dress radiating the heat between them. Jamie’s blazing blue eyes held Claire’s in a paralyzing stare devouring her with his gaze, all the while claiming her. Her eyes looked lovingly into his. Take me; they dared as she moved even closer

“Aren't we done?” she hesitantly asked.

“Not yet...”

Jamie’s fingertips caressed Claire’s soft curves before he lowered them to her derriere and pulled her closer. With a slight smile hovering on his lips and with eyes boring into her gaze he replied, “After this dance.”

Claire Beauchamp looked down and smiled.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 28

 

Flanked by his minders Ambassador de Marillac and his wife ventured further into the ballroom where all of their guests were assembled. His eyes scanned the room putting names to faces of dignitaries he had previously met and noting those persons whom he wished to engage in conversation. These consular events were usually more boring that fortuitous for him but if he was able to make a new clandestine contact for the Rising Dragons then all the more rewarding. Smiling at the sea of faces in front of him, Alain de Marillac’s eyes once again surveyed those gathered. Ever watchful, he glanced over the assembled guests before resting them on some particular guests who’d caught his attention. As he scanned the perimeter of the dance floor, he couldn’t help but notice a new couple he was not familiar with and his eyes stared with interest at the handsome pair as he watched them dance.

That was a couple he certainly wanted to meet and turning to his minder told him to make a note of the young couple on the dance floor. The woman, the man was dancing with, was beautiful, tall, statuesque and breath-taking and he couldn’t take his eyes off the gorgeous woman in his arms. He first noticed the gown she was wearing and wondered if he might actually know the woman who seemed quite familiar but until he actually saw her face then he was only guessing as to who she might be.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Everyone began clapping as they saw the Ambassador and Madame de Marillac make their grand entrance into the ballroom. That is, all except for James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp.

As they danced Jamie continued to set her heart a fluttering with the sensual way in which he caressed her body as if reading Braille. Although the music had not yet stopped playing, the beating of Claire’s heart continued pounding in a synchronized rhythm against Jamie’s chest. Dancing with him was wonderful and the way he’d been seducing her had her floating on cloud nine. The touch of his hands to her flesh and the sensation of his kiss had caused her heart to skip a beat earlier but the way he was still looking at her while in each other’s arms was sizzling, so much so that she was oblivious to anyone else around them.

Claire tingled as the heat from Jamie’s eyes seared her to her very soul. God! Was Jamie ever going to stop singeing her with his look and concentrate more on the mission or was it just her who had not yet returned to the reality of the situation?

When he’d said they would only be finished when the dance was over even though their target was approaching had been unnerving. James Fraser never went off profile on a mission like this because it was too risky if Madeline or Operations were observing footage of the Embassy. They would certainly hold it against them if they could and Jamie knew that just as much as she did but this time, he had made an exception for her as if he was loathe to break their close embrace.

With all these thoughts whirling around in her head, Claire suddenly began to have doubts about Jamie’s motives for dancing with her like he did.

Was it honesty, or a ruse, just to attract attention from their target? How would he explain this in his debrief to Dougal Mackenzie?

Nonetheless, she forced all of these thoughts to the back of her mind because she knew James Fraser’s mode of operandi. Claire knew Jamie never did things without already knowing the consequences of his actions and how he could manipulate the data to support the what and why he did what he did.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Fraser held Claire Beauchamp’s eyes in a feverish gaze as he leaned down, cupping the side of her face and tenderly running his thumb across her brow. His fingertips caressed her cheek and started lightly down the side of her neck. Jamie slowly devoured her body with his piercing blue eyes and he knew what his look was doing to Claire. He could feel the heat that radiated from her body, scorching him, making him hunger for the passion that burned within her but they were on a mission and not back on Lamma Island where he had taken her to paradise. Being in Claire’s arms was a reminder of that wonderful night but here they were now at the Embassy to trap yet another triad member who Tony Wong had divulged during his interrogation with Madeline in the White Room.

He’d told her they would be done when the dance was over but for him, and them, it was not over yet as they swayed intimately and seamlessly together. James Fraser was savouring these last few seconds in Claire Beauchamp’s’ arms for every clandestine moment was precious in the unpredictable world in which they lived. However when his mouth started to make its way down her neck, Claire came to consciousness and spoke in a soft way reluctantly trying to pull away from his embrace.

“The target is approaching behind you Jamie.”

But …he didn’t let go of her.

“Don’t worry De Marillac won’t be going anywhere in a hurry Sassenach,” Jamie replied quietly with a seductive voice, as he reached down, caressed her face and tenderly kissed her cheek.

Claire was taken by surprise. Was Jamie putting her above the mission profile?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Finally, the musicians ceased playing, as the Ambassador and his wife took centre stage near where they were playing.

Unfortunately, Claire was brought back to the reality of the mission with a thud. Reluctantly Jamie released his hold on her … but not his gaze. Lowering his arms, he seductively slid his hands across Claire’s body caressing her skin with the flutter of his fingertips knowing that his touch had caused the reaction he was looking for. His hand skated across the naked expanse of skin on her back and Claire shuddered as Jamie placed his arm around her waist and brought her close to his side. Turning slowly, they faced where the target was getting ready to speak to the gathered crowd, and with his arm firmly holding her around the waist they stood side by side together on the dance floor.

Then watching the target, they waited for him to address the assembled guests.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alain de Marillac stood on the stage and in this more elevated position he had a better view of the ballroom. He had an air of disquiet about him as he once more scanned the crowd and found what he was looking for … the enigmatic couple who had been dancing so intimately when he’d first arrived. However, when the couple who had gained his attention turned to face his entourage Alain de Marillac let out an audible gasp. Catching his breath, his heart rate accelerated while he suddenly felt cold and clammy. He wanted to throw up as a wave of nausea and deep unease suddenly sat in the pit of his stomach.

“Are you all right Alain?” his wife asked as she felt the tension in his body. “You’ve turned a little pale dear.”

He patted her hand in reassurance. “Yes … I’m fine ma chère. You know how crowds affect me sometimes.”

Catherine de Marillac was not convinced of his answer and asked again looking at him with a worrisome expression on her face. “You’re sure you are okay?”

“I’ll be fine. Let’s just enjoy the evening, shall we?”

De Marillac could not stop looking in the direction of the woman guest standing there with her handsome partner. It was as if a ghost had walked over his grave and a shiver of disbelief then regret, tinged with a modicum of sadness coursed through his body. His heart palpated and he had to compose himself before stopping to acknowledge the applause.

“Merci! Thank you everyone for coming this evening. On behalf of my wife and I … and the Canadian Government … we hope you have a wonderful evening and enjoy our hospitality. At some stage through the night we both hope to meet as many of you as possible.”

The applause was deafening once again and Alain de Marillac waved and smiled accordingly like the dignitary that he was. However, before moving on he signalled discreetly to one of his minders. Looking in the direction of the couple standing close together on the dance floor, he whispered in his ear, “Who is that man and woman?”

“I don’t know sir, but I’ll find out,” he replied following the direction of the ambassador’s glance.

“Good … I’d like to meet them.”

Taking his wife’s arm de Marillac made his way off the stage and began to mingle with his guests. Merging into the crowd they greeted the dignitaries, diplomats and guests who stopped to talk to them along the way. Other guests continued conversing and dancing, all over again, since the musicians had commenced playing once more. Out of the corner of his eye Alain de Marillac kept tabs on his minder who he saw was approaching the elegant couple he had noticed when he’d entered.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Jamie and Claire stood to one side of the dancers, de Marillac’s minder, a thick set man, approached them asking, “Do you mind if I check your invitation?”

“No that’s fine,” Jamie replied taking the card from his breast pocket.

Reading the name on the invitation, he looked up at Jamie. “Dr. MacTavish?”

“Yes? … Is something the matter?”

“No. Everything is in order,” he replied giving the card back to him. “Thank you, monsieur.”

“I'm Claire MacTavish,” Claire said stretching her hand out to the man.

“Bonsoir Madame, I'm John Winters, Ambassador de Marillac’s private secretary.”

“Thank you so much for inviting us. We’ve never been to a consulate before. There are such a lot of people here.”

“Yes, there are, Madame.” Then looking at Jamie he explained why he was interested in knowing who they were. “I needed to check your names to pass on the information to the Ambassador as he has indicated that he would love to meet you both.”

“My wife and I would very much like to meet with the ambassador too,” Jamie interjected.

“Good … Follow me please,” he announced and led the way over towards where Alain de Marillac was talking with some guests.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As they walked around the outside of the dance floor, Claire made eye contact with Geillis, who acknowledged her look with a corresponding nod as she walked past her. Weaving their way through the people, Claire touched her glasses to give Fergus a better view of the group of people talking to the target. Speaking to him through her comm. unit, she stated, “Are you receiving?”

“I got ya, but switch to channel four. I'm getting a lot of static.”

Adjusting her glasses Claire replied, “How's that?”

“Better … thanks.”

They soon reached the small group where Alain de Marillac was standing. He was just concluding his conversation with the group when his minder approached.

“Excuse me ambassador, but may I introduce, Dr MacTavish and his wife Claire.”

He turned to face the couple, nervous as to what he may see when he saw this woman up close. Alain de Marillac’ eyes widened as he took in Claire’s features.

Brunette, blue eyed, tall, and exceptionally beautiful … just like his daughter Annalise. How could this be? Except for the glasses, the two women could have been twins. It was as if his dead daughter had come back to haunt him. Mon dieu! This woman was the reincarnation of the woman he’d had killed.

Gaining some composure after the shock of seeing the resemblance between his daughter and this woman Alain de Marillac finally found his voice. “Ah, so you are the young couple I saw dancing earlier.” Then hiding his astonishment and holding out his hand, the ambassador shook Jamie’s with a firm grip.

After acknowledging his statement and hand shake, James Fraser turned his gaze to his wife. His blue eyes sought hers and bore into Claire’s eyes with a ferocity that scared her.

“I hope we didn't offend ye with our dancing sir. We’ve only recently been married and we are on our honeymoon as well as taking the opportunity to attend a research conference here in China.”

“So that certainly explains the intimacy between the two of you and I can see why Dr MacTavish. Your wife is certainly very attractive,” De Marillac replied suggestively looking at Claire’s body, but when he realized she was looking at him, he drew his eyes up to her face.

“Congratulations to you both."

“Thank you,” they mutually replied.

“I have heard only good things about your research work Dr MacTavish.”

“Why thank ye Ambassador.”

“You are doing fine work … on strokes and heart attacks isn’t it?”

“Aye.”

“Mrs. Baird, the undersecretary in Paris, and I were just talking about your research facility. We hear only wonderful things about your findings thus far.”

“Thank ye kindly sir.”

“Your research will benefit many people all over the world Dr MacTavish. I may even benefit from your revolutionary heart treatment one day,” he added casually ending the handshake.

“Perhaps ye may,” was Jamie’s candid reply.

Then turning toward Claire, Alain de Marillac took her hand and raised her knuckle to his mouth. As he kissed it he never took his eyes from her beauty.

“Enchanté Madame MacTavish.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you ambassador.”

“The pleasure is all mine … I assure you. Welcome to our embassy.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

While they were talking, Rupert Mackenzie walked by to offer and replenish their drinks. Geillis Duncan moved to mark, providing a diversion by accidentally bumping into him as he was carrying his tray of refreshments. Losing his balance, Rupert stumbled into Alain de Marillac, pushing him forward into Claire and in the process spilling liquid on his suit. When de Marillac turned to see who had caused the commotion, Claire injected him with a slow acting tranquilliser.

Apologizing profusely Mackenzie stated. “Excuse me, I’m so sorry ambassador. It was an accident.”

Almost immediately his minders converged on him, but de Marillac waved them off. Although he was seething inside, he replied, “It wasn’t your fault. Accidents happen, but could you be a little more careful next time.”

“Yes sir … Thank you sir. I’m sorry but I was knocked in the crowd.”

Turning to one of his staff members Alain de Marillac ordered, “Please see to it that this mess is cleared away … and have that waiter dismissed immediately,” he added for his ears only.

“Yes sir.”

De Marillac then turned to Claire once again smiling sheepishly and asked, “Are you all right Mrs MacTavish?”

“Yes. I’m fine.”

Inspecting the damage to his clothing too, Claire reached out to help the ambassador as he brushed away the water spilled on him. “And you? Can I help you?” She said taking a napkin and dabbing at his suit.

“It's quite all right. No problem.”

“It seems that the waiter was a little clumsy.”

“Yes, it would seem so. These things happen.”

The music began playing again and de Marillac turned to Jamie … “Dr MacTavish would you mind very much if I danced with your wife? I would like to make it up for our little mishap.”

“No … not at all.” Jamie replied smiling at the ambassador.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Back at Section, Fergus was monitoring the mission from Systems. As he watched his monitor, he was able to see exactly what had eventuated in the room at the embassy when they were talking with the target. Claire had provided the visual and it was now a game of wait and see. Operations knowing that the in play scenario was active checked in with Fergus for an update on the mission.

“Fergus … report.”

“They've separated sir. The target is with Claire.”

“Has she administered the tranquilizer?”

“Yes.”

“Keep me posted.”

“It shouldn’t be too long before the drug kicks in.”

“Have the appropriate vehicles stand by.”

“They’re in position already.”

“Good! … Inform Jamie that we want a clean pick on this.”

“Yes sir.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Alain de Marillac danced with Claire the thoughts careening around in his mind were far different from the outward persona, he had presented to these two very interesting guests.

When he’d seen Claire standing amongst the invited guests, he was thankful that his wife had been unaware of why he had suddenly felt edgy. She had failed to see what he had seen in the crowded ballroom ... a woman with an uncanny resemblance to their dead daughter. There were many beautiful brunette women here tonight, but it was his guilty conscious playing tricks on his mind that had singled out this woman in the sea of faces.

Although he knew of Annalise’s subterfuge and lifestyle with the Rising Dragons triad, his wife did not. To her, Annalise was just another missing teenager that had severed all ties with her family. Catherine had not seen their daughter for many years and Annalise had not contacted her in all that time. He knew this had broken his wife’s heart. Annalise had also changed her appearance considerably. When she’d left home she had been a pimply faced teenager but his daughter had been groomed into a sophisticated, alluring young woman under Madame Cheung’s tutelage. He wondered if his wife would even have recognised her as a grown woman let alone picked her out in a crowded ballroom.

However, those thoughts soon dissipated when he came face to face with this gorgeous woman … and that is when he began to set his plan in motion.

Was Claire the woman that his informant had told him about? The one he had seen at the airport? If so, he had been right … she did fit the profile. Madame Cheung would be most interested in her. Claire MacTavish was definitely the type of woman that she was anxious to have in her employ … one that men would pay good money for.

He would contact his informant as soon as possible … tonight even … after the ball and organise a meeting and arrange for him to approach Claire. He would have to get rid of the husband though, but that shouldn’t be too hard. James MacTavish could meet with an “accident” just like Wu on the junk. Pity about the research though … but this was business and business was money … lots of money in his pocket.

His contact’s job was to approach Western women travelling alone at the airport, bars, nightclubs and restaurants with a proposition too good to refuse. How the girls came into Madame Cheung’s employ was of no concern to him, although coercion of vulnerable women into prostitution and escort services was not uncommon. Madame Cheung had always seen to the seedier side of procuring their services. Drugging and brainwashing the women after her initial meeting with them had been her most successful method of compliance.

He in turn was responsible for providing the wealthy clients to her escort service. Diplomats visiting China on the lookout for beautiful women companions were his speciality. He had an extensive list of powerful clients who wanted discreet meetings with beautiful women and his arrangement with Madame Cheung worked well. It was because of this and his many diplomatic contacts, that he had gained a prominent position in the Rising Dragons.

Getting hold of Claire MacTavish for Madame Cheung would certainly raise his profile and Sun Yee Lok could look favourably on his contributions to the Rising Dragons and consider him for a promotion within the triad. Tony Wong had served his purpose … it was now time to further his horizons. Having members of the inner circle in his favour was a very desirable proposition, and one he fostered at every available opportunity.

There was only one regret that played on his mind, and that was that he had deceived his wife over all these years. She had never fully recovered from their daughter’s disappearance and leaving home. It was only when he had been recruited by the Rising Dragons that he became aware of his daughter’s involvement with the triad too. He could never have told her the full extent of how Annalise’s life had changed. Catherine would never have understood how their daughter had become involved in the Rising Dragons’ triad or for that matter how he had in criminal dealings.

He thought Annalise would be the one who saw to his rise within the Rising Dragons particularly given Madame Cheung’s fondness for her. However, she had turned against all that had been offered to her. Annalise was about to bite the hand that fed her and would have jeopardised not only his position but that of the Rising Dragons’ inner circle ... and that was intolerable. Her death however as much as he regretted what had happened to her, he knew that there was no other way. If Tony and he had come under greater scrutiny then their days would have been marked. As it was Tony had died in his warehouse explosion and he was not going to follow in his footsteps.

He had an opportunity to enhance not only his coffers but also his standing in the triad … and that meant everything.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie continued his surveillance of the target dancing with Claire. He observed the body language as Alain de Marillac talked with her and when Claire glanced his way Jamie knew she was communicating that de Marillac was beginning to show signs of the drug’s effect.

“I’m sorry my dear, b-but I feel a little faint,” he said to Claire as they danced.

“Are you okay ambassador?”

“No … Not really! Do you mind if I sit down?”

“Certainly not … Here, let me help you,” Claire replied and escorted him over to where Jamie was standing.

“Dr. MacTavish … I don’t feel …”

Alain de Marillac could barely finish what he was saying because he staggered forward and luckily Jamie caught him just before he hit the floor. The ambassador’s skin had turned a shade of pale and he appeared disorientated and somewhat stunned at the turn of events. Taking De Marillac’ arm Jamie and Claire began to escort him from the ballroom and away from the crowd before anyone noticed his distressed state.

However, his security team had noticed that something was wrong with the ambassador, and they descended on Jamie and Claire as they were hustling de Marillac away.

“Quick he needs to get some air,” Jamie stated as they approached. “I’m a doctor … clear the way please. The ambassador’s feeling faint.”

“We’ll help you,” they replied and cleared a path for them and with Claire’s help they led Alain de Marillac out as inconspicuously as possible.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

De Marillac and his wife had separated soon after entering the ballroom and she was mingling with guests on the opposite side of the room out of view of her husband. This was not uncommon as it enabled them to mix with as many people as possible at these functions.

When they had entered the ballroom tonight, she had been looking forward to an enjoyable evening. She took great pride in organising these parties and it kept her mind and heavy heart off the recent death of their estranged daughter.

She had not seen Annalise for many years having lost all communication with her. Alain and she never spoke of their daughter for she blamed him for her leaving home. When Annalise had left, she was barely sixteen with an attitude to match. She’d always been a wilful child, headstrong and recalcitrant. She was difficult to handle and had bickered with her father constantly.

She’d been distraught at her daughter’s disappearance and the years of separation had taken their toll on her. Now all she had to occupy her time were these events at the embassy.

Madame de Marillac was oblivious to all the turmoil that was unfolding on the other side of the ballroom in the sitting room, but having been informed that the ambassador was unwell, and anxious about his health, she came hurrying over to see what had happened to her husband.

Worriedly she spoke to Jamie asking, “What happened? Is there a problem?”

“I’m Dr MacTavish,” Jamie replied reassuringly. “I don't know yet, but yer husband needs to be admitted to a hospital.”

“A hospital? … Why? … What's wrong with him?”

“I don’t want tae alarm ye Madame.”

“Is he okay? … He was a little pale and sweaty earlier this evening.”

“Hmmm … Is that so?”

“I asked Alain how he was feeling Dr MacTavish, and he said he was fine … but there really is something wrong with him, isn’t there?” Her nervousness was palatable as she conveyed her observations of her husband earlier.

“It could be a heart attack,” Jamie stated with some concern.

“Oh, my goodness!” She replied in shock. “Will he be all right?”

“I’ll know more when we get him to the hospital Madame. We’ll have to run some tests. I’ve already called the paramedics and my colleague ... another heart specialist.”

“Thank you, Dr MacTavish!”

In her distressed state about her husband’s plight, Madame de Marillac failed to notice Claire standing nearby until she asked, “Are you all right Madame?”

She saw the beautiful woman but didn’t really “look” at her. The shock of Alain’s apparent heart attack had affected Catherine de Marillac deeply and now a feeling of panic coursed through her body in her worry. She had lost her only child and now her husband was in jeopardy of dying too. Catherine de Marillac was frantic but tried to hide her distress. She saw people standing around but looked right through them as her attention was completely focused on her husband and what they were to do.

“Yes, yes … I’m fine … I’ll go with you.”

“Of course, Madame.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alain de Marillac lay in the hospital bed unconscious while the heart monitor he was attached to beeped consistently. Catherine de Marillac sat by her husband’s bedside as the Intensive Care nurse attended to him. She studied his chart, then took his vital signs writing her observations in her notes.

As she was adjusting the monitor, Catherine asked, “Is there any change?”

“He’s stable Madame.”

“That’s good isn’t it?” She asked hopefully.

When the nurse just smiled at her, Jamie replied, “These things take time unfortunately. Life is so fragile where the heart is concerned.”

“Is there any hope for him?”

“There is always hope Madame.”

“Thank you, Dr MacTavish. Whatever would we have done if you had not been at the ball this evening?”

“I’ll page his specialist to talk to you and hopefully he will have the results of your husband’s tests and be able to explain them to you.”

“I am in your gratitude Monsieur.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The sounds of the heart specialist being paged echoed in the room as Madame de Marillac sat by her husband’s bedside.

“Dr. Hawkins to Admitting … Dr. Hawkins to Admitting”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 29 (V)

 

Madeline made her way along the labyrinth of corridors to the White Room, located deep within the bowels of Section One, where interrogations were performed and where her newest target … the Canadian Ambassador … awaited her restrained in a steel chair.

An expert at extracting Intel from hostile captives and in evaluating and manipulating Section operatives, Section One’s Second in Command, Level 9 and Chief Strategist could be positively Machiavellian at times. For the first time in days the woman who specialized in psych analysis, profiling, interrogation, and torture techniques smiled, albeit her trademark Mona Lisa smile, because of the adrenaline rushing through her body at the prospect of accomplishing what she had planned for this target.

Having worked her way up in the ranks of Section One over the past twenty years, with cunning, determination and manipulation, Madeline was a conundrum herself. Accused of killing her sister, Sarah, by pushing her down the stairs she, like most operatives was recruited from prison. She had no compunction for the terrorists who found their way to the White Room or for that matter, for any operative who tried to buck the system and would willingly manipulate anyone, including herself, to achieve her ends. Her angelic sweetness, diabolical intelligence, phlegmatic appearance coupled with her strategic patience and iced charm made her a formidable adversary. Because of her beauty and elegance Madeline was perceived to be amenable to manipulation by terrorists because she was a woman, but they soon discovered that under the façade of her persona was a measured, calculating and resolute woman who took no prisoners. Indeed, her measures for torturing hostiles verged on cruelty and with utilizing the Torture Twins to motivate targets to speak was a testament to how far she would go to gain what she wanted.

Madeline’s gait was that of a confident leader as she made her way to interrogate her target in the White Room and expel any information that would lead Section One to capturing their main antagonist. The Embassy mission had been successful and Claire Beauchamp had performed well in administering the tranquilizer that had brought on Alain de Marillac’s heart attack. The subterfuge that followed had also gone to plan and she looked forward to reading James Fraser’s debrief, but first she had a pressing appointment.

At long last the pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fall into place. Tony Wong had implicated Alain de Marillac and now he would reveal what they needed to know about furthering their quest to find Sun Yee Lok. De Marillac had been a wild card … someone they had not suspected especially given his position of authority in the community and government. To find out that he was a member of the Rising Dragons was certainly unexpected, but Madeline knew she should never underestimate the human person’s propensity for evil. Terrorists came from all walks of life but they had many things in common … all were ruthless, determined and unflinching in obtaining their goals.

Ambassador Alain de Marillac was in a position of power but he’d obviously wanted more. Total power was corrupting and given his position of authority this is what had happened to him. Power had corrupted his moral decency … and being involved in his own daughter’s death showed just how low he would sink to obtain his ends. It … was contemptible. He … was contemptible.

Madeline had thoroughly scrutinized Geillis Duncan’s and Rupert Mackenzie’s debrief about the telephone calls that de Marillac had received at the embassy. They had provided important Intel on a mystery man that had contacted him and now Madeline would find out his connection and where this piece fitted into the bigger picture. She couldn’t wait to meet with Ambassador Alain de Marillac. He was about to pay for the consequences of his actions and would be surprised at what awaited him, for there was no going back to the life he had before coming to Section One … in fact there was no life for him at all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The brilliant glare of a ceiling light focused on the lone piece of furniture illuminating the man strapped in the chair. Alain de Marillac sat shackled in the middle of a white room in a cold, metal chair. His hands and feet were manacled and there was no way that he could see to break from the restraints. He’d tried several times to loosen the binds that tied him to the chair but to no avail. There was no escaping and things looked hopeless for him unless he was able to outsmart the inquisitor he knew would eventually come.

Like many others before him, he wondered where he was. This place was like no other he had ever experienced. He had seen where Tony Wong had interrogated his victims, and he had seen pictures of torture chambers in books … but this room was surreal, eerie and ominously foreboding. Casting his eyes around there was nothing to identify where he might be. There was nothing too that he could associate with, but his imagination was overactive thinking that this room held many secrets … secrets of people in similar situations that he now found himself in.

He was aware that all was not as it should be.

So, he waited. Alain de Marillac … Canadian Ambassador to China … triad member … murderer … and terrorist … waited for whom may come through the door and for what they may want.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The sound of creaking hinges echoed in the sterile room as Madeline opened the fortified door and entered the White Room walking smartly until she stood in front of Alain de Marillac. She smiled but the smile didn’t reach her eyes on the contrary it was a foreboding smile that was tinged with a hint of a smirk.

“Hello Monsieur de Marillac … or should I say Ambassador de Marillac?”

He was taken aback by the sound of a woman’s voice and glancing up saw an elegantly dressed lady whose appearance he would soon find was deceptive. His tone was brash and laced with bravado as he replied.

“Whoever the hell you think you are you don't know who you're dealing with.”

Madeline smiled her Mona Lisa smile once more and circled de Marillac sitting in the steel chair. As she slowly circled, she observed the reaction of her guest noting the rapid breathing, the tell-tale throb in his neck vein and the darting of his eyes as he tried to avoid eye contact. He sat up more erect in order to give the impression of control which in fact he had none here in the White Room.

“My people will carve you up and feed you to the dogs. I’m the Ambassador you know. I have rights.”

Still circling the chair Madeline replied. “Yes … Let's talk about your people. They have recently been involved in multiple murders in Hong Kong with a man named Tony Wong.”

“How preposterous! I’m the Canadian Ambassador to China … not a murderer.”

“We already know about your connection to the Rising Dragons triad. We want to know the whereabouts of your leader.”

“I don't know what you're talking about.”

“Sun Yee Lok? The man who is your Boss and Shan Chu? The man who orders the murders of innocents in Hong Kong?”

“Never heard of the guy.”

Madeline gazed at de Marillac with her steely cold eyes, “Do you think there's anything I won't do to get this information from you?”

“You can’t touch me. I have diplomatic immunity you know,” he stated matter-of-factually.

“And … I’m trying to be diplomatic,” Madeline replied with an undermining menace.

As she was speaking the White Room door opened again and a man and a woman entered, each bearing a sinister yellow case. The Torture Twins had entered carrying their briefcases of instruments and potions that would leave the hostile with no other choice than to impart the Intel they were after. The two people stood waiting for their instructions to begin their modus operandi.

Addressing Henry and Elizabeth, Madeline stated, “Shouldn't take long. Let me know when you're through.”

“I intend to make a formal complaint for wrongful detainment. You’ll be hearing from my lawyers. I’m the Ambassador after all.”

Ignoring de Marillac’s retort, Madeline turned to leave while Henry and Elizabeth placed their briefcases on the bench and approached the target in the chair. Nervous laughter emitted from Alain de Marillac but faded as Madeline closed the White Room door with a decisive click, leaving her torture specialists to their tasks.

His scream of agony echoed in the room.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometime later Henry and Elizabeth exited the White Room to find Madeline waiting for them near the viewing window into the White Room. As they passed by her with their tools of trade, they stopped and Madeline asked, “How were the new units?”

“I think you'll be pleased with the results,” Henry replied with a wry look on his face.

“Thank you.”

They both nodded and Madeline acknowledged their tacit answer then she entered the White Room again.

Hearing footsteps approach Alain de Marillac sat more erect in the chair a beaten but proud man who refused to show how defeated he really was. Prominent twin slashes inflamed his cheeks as his face bore witness to the distinctive techniques used by the two people who had just left.

Admiring the torture twins’ handiwork, Madeline asked, “Are we ready to talk now, Monsieur de Marillac?”

Nodding his head Alain asked bravely, “What is this place? Who are you people?”

“Who is the mystery person who called you at the embassy? What is his role with you and the Rising Dragons?”

“I can't tell you what I don't know. You can torture me all day and that won't change.”

“It's a deal.”

“Who died and made you God?” He asked indignantly.

“Perhaps this might convince you Monsieur de Marillac.”

Madeline said nothing more, but just turned and picked up a stack of newspaper clippings which she showed to him. What de Marillac saw made his heart sink. He was staring at his own death obituaries.

Madeline looked at him, satisfied to see real fear in his eyes. “As far as the world is concerned … you’re dead. Now … tell me what I need to know.”

Later that same day...

Operations quickly walked into the Briefing room where Jamie, Claire, Fergus and other operatives sat waiting quietly with stony faces. Madeline too, sat to one side of the briefing table knowing what Intel Operations would disclose. Without any preamble he began the meeting by activating the holographic imager while the operatives listened to all that he had to impart. Those gathered watched as information and a picture emerged on the holograph screen. Pacing back and forth each time he spoke, Dougal Mackenzie relayed the Intel Madeline had coerced from Alain de Marillac about members of the Rising Dragons and in particular that of the oriental woman whose face glared back at those assembled.

“This is Madame Cheung, the only woman member of the Rising Dragons hierarchy who was personally chosen by Sun Yee Lok.”

Looking at the picture of the woman, Jamie asked, “What is her role within the triad?”

“Her main role is to procure women to work in prostitution and her exclusive high-class escort service. Alain de Marillac’s daughter was in her employ. Madame Cheung was planning on expanding her business but with Annalise de Marillac’s death this had set her plans back somewhat. She is now on the lookout for brunette Western women of Annalise’s age and build.”

Feeling more than one pair of eyes on her, Claire inquired, “She is our next target then?”

Operations’ nod towards her confirmed what Claire was thinking … she just knew that she would be involved to snare the woman on this mission in some way.

Dougal Mackenzie turned to his second in command to continue. “Madeline?”

“Alain de Marillac was kind enough to reveal to us the location of his mole, and gave us a description of the mystery man who approached women on their own for this Madame Cheung of the Rising Dragons.”

“I have also done a voice analysis of the mystery man who we suspect was Alain de Marillac’s contact from the audio tapes of conversation between them at the embassy.” Fergus added confidently.

“The plan's simple.” Operations stated. “Claire will meet with this man. We’ll then track and follow him to his meeting to discuss Claire. That's where we’ll find Madame Cheung.”

“When and where is this meeting to take place between Claire and the informer?” Jamie requested knowing that whatever plans Operation and Madeline had that they would not bode well for his Sassenach.

Operations gave no more details to answer Jamie’s question but only stated, “Details are on your panel. You’re on standby so stay close to Section until you leave. That will be all.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As the field operatives left the room Madeline spoke quietly to Claire before she had time to leave the briefing table. “Could we see you before you leave?”

Nodding at her, Claire Beauchamp acknowledged her request wondering what Madeline had to further add to this mission but knowing that the voice of doom was highly likely. She’d read between the lines during the briefing knowing that Madeline obviously had plans for her and this Madame Cheung particularly given her preference for western, brunette women similar to Annalise de Marillac.

Covertly noting the exchange between the two women, Jamie realised that his initial inclinations about his superiors’ motives were not too far from the truth. Madeline certainly had more in mind for Claire than what would be outlined on her PDA. He knew exactlyjust what she would propose to her for this mission given the Intel presented and Claire’s similar appearance to the deceased Annalise de Marillac.

He would discuss it with her in privacy later at her apartment away from the prying eyes of Section One.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In Operations’ Perch, the two Section Leaders were grappling with the wisdom of their decision concerning Claire Beauchamp, hoping that she would be able to carry it off and also about Jamie Fraser’s reaction once he found out about it.

“It’s time to put Claire to the test,” Madeline stated but her words had a double meaning which Operations failed to recognise.

In her Machiavellian mind, she was not only testing Claire about her loyalty to Section One and what was to be asked of her, but also to see what she suspected might be true ... that Claire Beauchamp had a relationship with her partner James Fraser that was more than platonic.

Operations, however, was not convinced and said so. “Do you think it's premature?”

“No. This mission will surely grab Madame Cheung’s attention. Now it’s just a question of how far she’s willing to go.”

“We knew the probabilities going in … just under sixty percent. Is that good enough Madeline?”

“If Madame Cheung is drawn to Claire as I suspect she will be given her resemblance to Annalise de Marillac … then I believe we can be confident in the outcome.”

“And James?”

“James Fraser is Section. He will do whatever is necessary.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Come in Claire,” Dougal stated as Claire Beauchamp arrived at the Perch a little while later.

She walked in and stood to attention with her arms folded in front of her. With a blank stare perfected like Jamie’s, and looking at Operations and Madeline, Claire waited for the axe to fall on her.

Without mincing words, Operations told her why she was there. “Claire, we feel that a connection to Madame Cheung can be extremely useful to us.”

“Of course.”

“However … although the profile's already been set there are some changes.”

Continuing Madeline outlined their plan. “We want you to undertake a deep cover on this assignment. It will be vital for the success of the mission. You will immerse yourself in Madame Cheung’s world and learn what you can about her dealings with the Rising Dragons and in particular Sun Yee Lok.”

“Are you saying you’d like me to accept any proposal from her?

“Yes.”

“For how long?”

“Indefinitely.”

Claire’s heart dropped and her stomach was in knots. “And Jamie? … Does he know about this?”

“Not yet … You can tell him in due course. Tell him you need to learn more about Madame Cheung and being in close proximity for some time is the best way. He’ll know this is true.”

“Is that all?” Claire replied perfecting Jamie’s blank stare and not showing any emotion although her insides were churning up.

“Yes.”

Claire Beauchamp looked at her Section leaders while Madeline watched her closely too realising that she was internalising the fact that she was now on a deep cover mission. James Fraser had taught her well for Claire gave very little away in her stance and replies to their orders, but the fact they had asked her to go undercover with this woman was more than she could comprehend at the moment. She needed some time to digest what the mission would entail and how she would find the strength and fortitude to endure such a deep cover assignment without Jamie.

With a blank expression on her face Claire turned and left the loft. As she walked out, Madeline looked at Operations again. The Section leaders traded a glance.

They both looked pleased.

 

In Munitions …

 

Murtagh was fiddling with a modified cam’s expansion card seemingly lost in the task at hand; however, he looked up smiling when he heard the honeyed sounds of Claire Beauchamp’s voice as she approached his section.

“Hey Murtagh,” she greeted him trying to appear upbeat for her friend upon coming into his area.

“Hey Sugar.”

She watched as he continued to fiddle with the apparatus he was working on. “I haven't seen you for over a week. Whatcha got there?”

“Nothing much … just a cam I’m modifying,” he replied looking at her, “Heading out?”

“Yep … Have you seen Jamie?”

“He just left.”

“Oooh!”

This was nothing new for James Fraser as he often left Section before anyone else. However, Murtagh failed to notice Claire’s disappointment in his reply about Jamie and continued to question her as he worked.

“So how are things? How’s the mission going?”

“So far … so good but we still don’t have Sun Yee Lok.”

“Proving to be a bit elusive, is he?”

“Yeah … you could say that.”

“I see you have to go back to Hong Kong.”

“Yeah.”

This time Murtagh looked up at Claire finally noticing her reticent sigh. “Hey, why the long face then? You okay?”

“I'm fine.”

He put down what he was working on and gave her his undivided attention. “You don't seem so fine.”

“Murtagh, it's just this place. It just gets to me sometimes, that's all.”

“Is it the mission?”

“Sort of … It’s another new mission within a mission.”

“Well Jamie will be there to keep an eye on you.”

“Maybe …”

“What do you mean maybe?”

“They’ve put me on a deep cover mission.”

“What? … Where?”

“At Madame Cheung’s.”

“Does Jamie know?”

“Not yet.”

“Don’t worry Claire; Jamie won’t let anything happen to you. Trust me.”

“I know …”

“You know how things are, Sugar. Things don’t just “work out” around here, they happen for a business.”

“Yeah … but, I’m not sure I can go through with it though.”

“It’s only a numbers game Claire. They pull the lever, whatever comes out three cherries, that’s the jackpot.”

“Murtagh … it’s just that …”

“What?”

Claire let her thoughts materialize … “I was in bad shape this time last year. I don't want to feel that way again and ... I fit the profile again for this mission. I’m getting a bit sick of it. Tall, leggy brunettes! I wish I was shorter and blonde occasionally.”

“Oh, I see,” Murtagh replied biting his lip in mirth.

He looked at Claire and his eyes crinkled with mischievousness, “Hey … come to think of it … Madeline fits THAT bill! She could take your place.” Murtagh winked at her with the cheeky, craggy grin that Claire loved, breaking her from her melancholy. “Don’t worry … You’ll knock ‘em dead Sugar!"

Laughing, she answered, “Thanks Murtagh … you always put things into perspective.”

“Keep your powder dry. Sure, as hell going to miss you Sugar.”

“I’ll be back,” Claire replied and began to walk away but paused when Murtagh added in all seriousness.

“Talk to Jamie. He’ll figure out something.”

“Okay.”

“Goodnight Murtagh.”

“Goodnight Sugar,” he replied as he watched Claire Beauchamp walk away from his station with much on her mind and hoped in some ways that his words had given her some comfort.

Chapter Text

Covert Operations

 

CHAPTER 30(S)

 

As Jamie drove his Mercedes along the darkened streets, his heart raced with the anticipation of seeing Claire about what had transpired after the briefing at Section today. Whatever Madeline and Operations had asked of his Sassenach would definitely be hanging over her head like an ominous black cloud, and if his suspicions were correct, they had ordered Claire on a deep cover mission with Madame Cheung which he was not at all happy about.

Were they testing her or him or both of them by their actions? Madeline and Operations often threw curved balls in their direction to test them all for the good of Section. Was this another of those times?

Nevertheless, despite what their reasoning may be, Jamie wanted to reassure Claire that he would find a way to protect her and help her through the initial stages of the new mission until he was able to set an alternate plan into action. They had no guarantees of what tomorrow may hold for them but if Madeline and Operations had ordered Claire on a deep cover mission this would separate her from him and he wouldn’t be able to protect her. Jamie knew that Claire was more than capable of handling any situations that arose in Hong Kong without him, unless that is … Madame Cheung asked her to do something which she was vehemently opposed to.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A short time after entering into her neighbourhood Jamie pulled up outside Claire’s apartment building. Pulling into the curb, he parked his car and took a moment to survey the surroundings. The immediate area was devoid of traffic and was relatively dark and deserted. As he stood across the street from Claire's apartment building Jamie looked up to her residence and could see lights on in the living area. The balcony area was also illuminated and once realizing that she was outside, he stepped back into the shadows to observe her movements and try to gauge her mindset.

Good, she’s home, Jamie thought as he watched.

He had chosen this apartment for her after her final training at Section knowing that Claire would love the French windows that opened onto the small, private courtyard overlooking the city lights. He knew this light and airy apartment was perfect for her and she had loved it at first sight. It was a haven away from Section One and a place where she could relax and feel normal. As he watched her, he noticed that Claire appeared lost in her own thoughts. She was probably thinking about whatever Madeline and Operations had discussed today and the danger of the situation they may have placed her in.

Jamie continued to watch until Claire turned and went back inside her apartment. Grabbing the bottle of whisky he had taken from his cellar earlier, he scanned the area once more then walked the few paces to the entrance of Claire’s building. With these thoughts in mind, he opened the security door and proceeded to her apartment on the fourth floor.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She hated drinking alone, but feeling the need for something to take her mind off what had happened at Section One today, Claire planned to drown her sorrows in the bottle of red that she had been saving for a special occasion. Taking the bottle of wine and glass from beneath the counter she placed them on the bench. Opening the top cupboard near her stove, she rummaged around in the cabinet looking for the corkscrew she had just bought the other day. Finding it, she set about opening the wine and poured some into a glass.

Ambling into the living room, Claire placed her glass of wine on the coffee table then chose her favourite CD with haunting French melodies and placed it on her stereo. Taking her wine glass from the table she sat in her comfy art deco chair listening to Françoise Hardy’s lilting tones surround her. She casually sipped the glass of wine in her hand as her thoughts centred on what Madeline and Operations had intonated today at their private meeting in the perch after the briefing.

She closed her eyes and deep in thought reminisced about what would await her on this mission while at the same time lost to the melancholy of the music that filtered through her apartment.

Being separated from Jamie would be unbearable particularly now that they had become closer since their mission to Lamma Island. Circumstances were cruel. It was so unfair of Madeline and Operations to place her in this situation but she knew that their machinations were always veiled in some underlying motives that had little to do with the mission or Section One. Had they suspected that Jamie and she had developed a closer relationship while searching for Tony Wong? They had been totally discreet and had kept their distance from each other when at Section and had also been entirely circumspect in their contact. What then were the real reasons for her deep cover to this Madame Cheung’s? Was it purely for the sake of the mission or were they trying to circumvent a potential relationship between her and Jamie?

This mission would also be dangerous. Her life would be in jeopardy if the Rising Dragons ever found out about her. Madame Cheung by all accounts was ruthless or she wouldn’t be in such an esteemed position within the triad. Given her role and business interests, what would she ask of her? … Would she want her to replace the void left by Annalise de Marillac and all that it entailed, and if so, could she do it?

Claire worriedly bit her bottom lip as her thoughts took on these many tangents.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When the elevator came to a halt, James Fraser exited quietly with eyes fixed ahead and walked down the corridor towards Apartment 412. His stride quickened and his footsteps echoed lightly on the floor as her apartment loomed just up ahead of him and a thrill of anticipation tinged with apprehension ran through him at the thought of seeing his Claire again. Jamie had been to her apartment on many occasions but this time was different. He knew he would have to get to the bottom of Madeline and Operations’ discussion with her after the briefing and that could only be done face to face. Usually, Claire came to his office to discuss things, but he’d left Section early so they had not been able to talk about it. He needed to do this in privacy away from the prying eyes and ears of their Section One’s superiors. Thankfully Murtagh had contacted him as to Claire’s state of mind this evening when she’d left, although he had not told him why she was feeling this way. It had worried him ... worried him a lot knowing that whatever it was that had obviously been proposed to Claire other than what was on her panel was serious. Something was afoot but he would soon know what it was and if his suspicions were correct.

As he approached her door, Jamie could hear the faint sounds of some of his favourite music being played. Raising his knuckles, he lightly rapped on the wooden door.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The soft knocking resonating on her door roused Claire from her thoughts. Placing her glass of wine on the coffee table she gingerly rose from the chair and made her way to the door. Checking the security screen, Claire Beauchamp immediately saw just who her visitor was.

Jamie was here.

Standing on the threshold, James Fraser was holding a bottle of whisky in his hand. Instinctively, he raised his head knowing that Claire had activated her security screen. Although her door separated them, his glance held hers as if he were facing her with nothing separating them. Claire caught her breath at the intensity of Jamie’s glance and she swallowed the lump that suddenly appeared in her throat. It was as if he could see her face and that he knew that she was troubled. Her hand touched the video screen caressing his face and noticing that Jamie, at that precise moment, closed his eyes.

Did he feel the connection also?

Seeing his wonderful image before her Claire touched the video screen once more. Her fingertips lightly stroked the screen in a caressing manner as if she was indeed stroking Jamie’s face. Her heart skipped a beat and began pounding in her chest. Her partner’s presence outside her apartment, away from the prying eyes of Section One, caused a sudden fluttering in the pit of her stomach as well. Claire bit her lip nervously, for although her heart was racing with the eagerness of seeing him, she felt some trepidation too.

With a slightly trembling hand she opened the door.

Feeling his body quicken James Fraser stood on the doorstep and drank in the sight of his Sassenach. His eyes drank her in a heartbeat for he could see the relief cross her face knowing that he had come to her apartment to see her. Their eyes met then held as they silently looked at one another while a tiny smile of anticipation bowed her mouth as her eyes were held captive. Jamie’s gaze was an intense stare which mesmerized her and Claire couldn’t sever from his glance. Eventually breaking the spell, she found her voice.

“Hi,” she said breathlessly in a half whisper.

Jamie said nothing, but his clear gaze swept her from head to toe in the space of a heartbeat devouring Claire’s form once more. His eyes lowered to her lips aware of that hesitant bite Claire often did when nervous. Lifting his penetrating gaze slowly back up to her eyes, James Fraser captured his Sassenach in a look that made her bones melt.

“Hi …” he answered softly, “May I come in?”

Her heart skipped another beat. Claire could only nod her tacit approval and as if in a trance she pulled the heavy door back a little further. Jamie stepped inside closing the door behind him while narrowing the space between them. Reaching out, he touched her arm sliding his fingers down her limb to clasp her hand. Claire raised her head to look at him and saw the smile light his face as he handed her the bottle of whisky.

“Here … something for ye.”

Clutching the bottle, Claire’s lips parted and her tongue peeped out, moistening her bottom lip in nervousness as she replied, “Thank you.”

Before they had a chance to move further into the apartment Jamie cut to the chase. “Did they talk to ye?”

“What do you mean?”

“Did Madeline and Operations order a deep cover on the Cheung mission?”

“Yes.”

What Madeline and Operations had asked of her today was out of the ordinary. They must have ulterior motives to her deep cover, other than gaining Intel about the Rising Dragons triad. Perhaps it was payback time for letting Tony Wong slip through their fingers and some doubt over his debrief when they were delayed on Lamma Island. It was obvious to Jamie that they sensed or perceived to see demons where there were none. Madeline and Operations were ruthless in their pursuit of something if they feel it justified in some small away a win for them or Section without whoever may be hurt along the way. Jamie vowed that he would however get to the bottom of whatever it was they wanted. He was resolute in his convictions that he would find a way to manipulate the mission profile once he knew where he stood and would under all circumstances protect Claire at all costs.

As they talked, Claire walked to the bench placing the whisky bottle on the counter next to the opened bottle of wine that was already there. Noticing her nervous reactions, Jamie only exacerbated them further by his next actions. Closing the distance between them, he stood right behind her, and when Claire turned around, she collided with his rock-hard chest. His predatory like actions made her go to water in front of him. Placing her hands out to brace herself she felt the rise and fall of Jamie’s chest and caught her breath.

“And how did ye respond?”

“I didn't.”

“Good,” he stated as his lips gently placed a kiss to her forehead.

Claire raised her eyes to Jamie’s in appeal. “I don’t know if I can do it,” she continued worriedly.

“I’ll scan yer PDA. Something will present itself later and I’ll have a contingency strategy,” he replied reassuringly locking his gaze with hers. “I’ll make it happen mo ghràidh.”

“Okay.”

“They don't want us tae be together.”

“No they don't.”

“What about ye?”

Taken aback by Jamie’s question Claire didn’t know how to respond, so Jamie did it for her. Slipping his arms around her waist he pulled her closer captivated by the flame of desire he saw in her eyes. He leaned in for a kiss succinctly heralding his answer. Cupping her chin in his hand, Jamie turned Claire’s face up to his. Spellbound, she could only watch as he leaned down to place a chaste kiss to her lips. By the time his lips finally touched hers all coherent thoughts had fled her mind. Jamie pulled her closer to his warm, hard body and within a few seconds Claire was nestled against him with her arms wrapped around him. The kiss was gentle and Jamie savoured the sweet warmth of her mouth against his knowing that this may very well be the last opportunity for them to be together like this for a long time.

Claire’s heart leapt in her chest as Jamie’s fingertips rested against her throat feeling the beating of the vein under her skin. Their light touch made her close her eyes in blissful joy as his lips gently swept across her forehead then her eyelids. Trailing his lips down Claire’s cheek, Jamie lingered his caress at the corner of her inviting mouth. Then in delicious assault he placed fleeting, whisper light kisses across her cheek and face with caresses that made Claire’s pulse race. Thrilling shivers of pleasure danced along her spine as her soft moan of satisfaction echoed in Jamie’s ear and she swayed toward him.

“Mmm,” she murmured with sudden yearning.

Threading her fingers through Jamie’s unruly hair, Claire held his mouth to hers deepening their kiss. His lips tasted salty; his mouth soft yet hard at the same time. Warmth spread through her body and Claire wanted Jamie so desperately she felt as though she would burst. She could hardly breathe as it was. The taste of his mouth on hers, and the feel of him against her body was all she cared about.

His first few kisses were tentative yet probing as lips joined softly, again and again. Aligning their heads, their mouths touched ... then separated ... only to connect once again. Soft lips caressed Claire’s gently, almost reverently until opening his mouth; his tongue sought entry to her mouth and claimed her with burning desire. Sighing audibly she reciprocated his potent caresses.

“Cl-aire ...”

Breathing heavily against her mouth, his lips teased hers with each syllable of her name. A low groan quivered in his throat as he too felt the effects of Claire’s nearness. Their shared kiss at the consulate ball had been far too brief, but now he had time to make amends.

But how much time did he really have? Not nearly enough, Jamie thought, but they had this moment.

It took all of his strength not to devour his Sassenach’s soft mouth all over again. Grudgingly breaking the kiss his fixed gaze caressed her appearance with piercing blue eyes. Reaching up his hand Jamie caressed Claire’s eyebrow, as he trailed his fingertips to her cheeks, her lips and jaw in an all too familiar gesture. With half lidded eyes he swept her face again committing to memory the effect that his nearness had on her. His Claire was beautiful.

Hurriedly, she began to take off his jacket lowering it from Jamie’s shoulders while frantically touching his body at the same time. However; without severing his gaze, he captured Claire’s hands as he finished the task tossing his leather jacket carelessly to the bench where the whisky bottle sat. The piercing blue eyes of her partner caressed her face while the fire in his eyes caused an intense heat to radiate throughout her body. His intentions were perfectly clear. Reaching down, he captured her hand in his.

Claire Beauchamp could not look away. She watched Jamie Fraser begin to pull her slowly towards him with a predatory look in his eyes that scorched her soul and made her shiver in anticipation.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 31 (S/NSFW)

 

James Fraser was seducing her and Claire had no power to resist falling under his spell and she couldn't stop herself; she had to touch him. Unable to take her eyes from his she tentatively raised her fingertips to Jamie’s jaw. Skimming them lightly over the indentation on his chin, Claire trailed her fingertips up to touch his mouth aware of Jamie’s intense gaze following her every movement.

He smiled in a way that made her heart skip a beat and she trembled when he lowered his head.

Capturing her petal soft lips in tender and loving caresses, Jamie’s mouth nipped and withdrew seductively before returning again and again. His lips opened slightly and Claire felt his tongue lightly caress her lower lip before seeking entry into her sweet mouth. Their tongues duelled playfully until her sigh caused Jamie to hold her tighter and deepen the kiss. Aligning her head to accommodate his assault on her lips, she could only surrender to the moment.

Leaning into Jamie’s body she let the feelings pour over her as he worked his magic on her heightened senses.

Claire’s head fell backwards as Jamie kissed her tenderly. He made her feel things she couldn’t control for when she was with him, she felt whole and alive. Her common sense however, seemed to desert her along with any rational thought processes, for she went to water whenever Jamie kissed her. These feelings were so much more exacerbated than at the embassy ball when he’d ushered her onto the dance floor. This was an invitation for a dance of desire … and Claire knew that she could not resist the powerful pull of Jamie Fraser’s magnetism.

She was on fire for him with a burning desire that made it difficult for her to breathe.

Jamie’s hands were dexterous in their haste to feel his Sassenach’s velvet soft skin. Ever so slowly he began removing Claire’s clothing by inserting his hands beneath the material of her top. Quickly raising her arms, he pulled the top over her head revealing her beautiful body to his sight. With shaking hands Jamie then inched his fingers into Claire’s sweat pants effortlessly lowering them down her body.

What had started out as a slow erotic task soon escalated and with a rapid flurry, clothing was soon scattered every which way across the floor. In no time at all Claire was standing semi naked in her living room while Jamie stood gloriously naked in front of her. There was no escaping the affect his nakedness was having on her and she tentatively lowered her eyes admiring Jamie’s ripped torso.

James Fraser was dangerous … and oh, so lethal

~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*~*~

Claire watched mesmerized as Jamie’s fingers lingered awhile caressing her aroused body. The hairs on her skin rose as she felt the cold night air touch her fevered flesh, but inside she was melting with the heat of her partner’s touch. She sucked in her breath as he lightly caressed the underside of her breasts cupping them in his hands before gently sliding his fingers over their luscious curves. Single-mindedly, Jamie stroked his thumbs over Claire’s nipples, teasing the sensitive nerve endings until they grew taut.

“Oh God!”

The involuntary expletive echoed in her ear as Jamie leaned down to place hot kisses to her now heaving breasts. Feeling the touch of his tongue as it lathed her aroused flesh caused shudders of surrender to track through her body. Her head fell back in surrender as his lips roamed across her flesh then with laboured breathing Claire moaned when Jamie paused at the base of her throat before erotically travelling along the length of her neck.

Looking up at him with hooded eyes, his name was a sigh on the tip of her tongue. “Ahhhh … Jamie …”

Adroit fingertips slowly ventured to the juncture of Claire’s legs erotically stroking the only piece of clothing she wore … the delicate lace underwear covering her groin. Sublime feelings of desire filled her as he continued to stroke her backwards and forwards until he felt moistness on the tips of his fingers. The friction of his touch across the lace was painfully stimulating and Claire was unable to stop the feelings coursing through her. She squirmed in a puddle of sensual bliss. James Fraser knew exactly what he was doing to his Sassenach and inserting his hands into the lace fabric, he eased them down her legs and away from her body.

Claire welcomed the intimate feel of skin to skin as Jamie then sensually slid his fingertips along and over her highly sensitised body. “Hmmm …Mmmm,” she whimpered, her head rolling backwards to reveal the glorious length of her neck once more.

Lowering his head, Jamie wrapped his arms around her trembling body rubbing his torso erotically against hers. With his lips just hovering over hers, he gently fanned his warm breath across Claire’s mouth. Sighing in acute need, his actions tormented her until she thought she would expire. Daubing her skin with hot kisses, Jamie licked his tongue up the column of Claire’s throat caressing her skin as he inched his way towards her ear. Her body began to crumble in sheer elation at all that Jamie was doing to her senses and when he swirled his tongue around the whorls of her ears, Claire felt her body’s response in spades. James Fraser was unravelling her little by little and all she could do was feel.

Pulling her back up to his chest, Claire could feel the staccato hammering of his heart beats accelerating in passion and when she opened her eyes, she lovingly touched his face capturing his gaze fiercely once more. Reciprocating, Jamie placed gentle kisses across her cheek then his lips returned to capture Claire’s mouth nibbling on her bottom lip. Sliding his hands up into her glorious hair he cupped his love’s head urging her even closer. Then with his fingers entwined in her auburn tresses Jamie brought his Sassenach’s mouth flush to his own. Claire was lost to the moment and totally lost to the man in whose arms she found a safe haven.

Surrendering to the passion raging inside them and still kissing, Jamie led Claire upstairs to her bedroom.

~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*~*~

Reluctantly breaking their kiss, he took a step backwards releasing his hold on her and looked deeply into desire filled eyes. His Claire was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and the way she always responded to his touch made his heart burst with love for her. His outstretched hands gathered her closer to his body in playful teasing. As he began to walk Claire backwards towards her bed, Jamie placed his hands on her hip and gently caressed her thigh. Then leaning towards her with intent he devoured Claire with his eyes.

He watched as her dilated pupils darkened in passion.

Claire reciprocated Jamie’s playful gesture. With a coy look in his direction, she too moved backwards raising her hand and placing it to his warm chest. Bursting sparks of desire ignited like fireworks when her fingertips touched his body. So sensitised and highly attuned was she to Jamie’s allure that Claire moaned for she too was in a heightened state of sexual arousal and she had no control over what she was feeling. Her breasts ached. Her nerve endings were humming while her breath hitched in her throat.

Breathing shallowly, her hands glided up his chest as Jamie’s hands circled her waist bringing her body flush to his own.

Leaning in for a kiss, Claire closed her eyes when she felt the gentle touch of Jamie’s mouth tenderly caress hers. Her fingertips inched higher touching Jamie’s shoulder as the affect of his kiss took hold. Gentle nips anointed her mouth and Claire sighed as his caresses fanned her lips. Jamie kissed her once ... twice ... three times ... and on the fourth time his lips lingered seductively. Lifting Claire slightly from the floor, he held her to his body. She angled her head as he placed repeated kisses to her mouth only to break away releasing her lips while tenderly biting her bottom lip. Claire sighed and moved her head in the opposite direction. Still Jamie placed kisses to her mouth and she felt her body turn to water in his relentless pursuit.

This was no longer a game.

This woman surely would be the death of him, he reflected. Claire Beauchamp was a she devil with an angelic face but was also a seductress in disguise.

A shudder went through him as Claire’s hips brushed his while one long leg pressed against his thigh. Jamie’s body betrayed his reactions to her nearness for when she stretched her lithe body against him sighing, his erection swelled between her legs. Taking the initiative, Claire then pressed the enticing curves of her body closer against him rubbing Jamie’s hardened cock with her mound.

Pulling her against him Jamie did likewise. Then cupping Claire’s buttocks, he pressed his groin harder to her warmth imitating her actions and replying with some of his own. When her knees began to buckle, he pulled her close before she slid to the floor, then Jamie lifted Claire up from the ground and carried her to bed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*~*~

The two lovers stared into each other’s eyes as they lay among the crumpled sheets of her bed. Tormenting Claire, Jamie placed open mouthed kisses along the length of her jaw line and then back again which caused her head to fall backwards in supplication. His hands then edged around her body drawing her closer. With a shivering need Claire also caressed his back while her fingers lightly traced over his warm skin. Jamie reacted by propelling her forward and aligning her with his aroused body, then he rocked his hips against her signalling his intent.

Claire moaned with a guttural pleasure that resonated through her body. She wanted this man desperately.

She clutched his shoulders, but Jamie held her still against his chest which only accelerated her heartbeats in sync with his. Claire tried to rock her hips back and forth against his in a demand for his movement into her body, but he ignored her appeal. Jamie was in control and his persuasive lips meandered up her chest and along the column of her throat taking Claire to the brink of madness. With kisses alternating between soothing and demanding, Jamie continued to kiss her. And when he captured her top lip between his teeth, Claire’s head fell backwards against the pillow. Raising himself up on his arms, James Fraser stared into her passion glazed eyes while her chest heaved in anticipation of what was to come.

Smooth to the touch, her enticing curves fitted perfectly into the palm of his hand and Claire felt Jamie smile as he placed his soft lips to her velvet breasts. His tongue lathed the puckered skin around her areolas before taking possession of her hardened nipples. Gasping at the sensation of his lips, she rose up from the bed when she felt the gentle nips of Jamie’s teeth against her breast. His tongue followed, soothing the ache before moving to her other breast alternatively caressing and abrading.

Claire in turn offered him everything of herself. It had been so long since their passionate encounter on Lamma Island and the rapturous night they had spent in each other’s arms. Capitulating, she answered his demands, while wordlessly communicating her needs just as coherently.

Simultaneously humbled and empowered, Jamie still wanted more. He needed more, while with his body … he silently demanded more. He ached with longing to consummate their love once again. Deftly parting Claire’s legs, he gently placed the tip of his erection against her then slowly … slowly … he pressed against her easing himself into her welcoming warmth.

Luminous eyes burned into his before Claire pulled Jamie urgently into her embrace. Sweeping the damp hair tendrils back from his face, she arched beneath him, taking Jamie deeper into the silken heat of her body and with an emotion laced voice she groaned his name against his mouth.

Swallowing hard, Jamie held himself still before pushing even further into her depths. Cradling Claire’s face in his hands, he kissed her … gently at first, then deeper … and harder. She answered with a yielding whimper which Jamie captured against his lips. Twisting against him, her thigh rode high around Jamie’s hips; her breasts rose and fell rapidly with her every shallow breath. Claire wrapped her legs around his buttocks and pressed her heels into his flesh urging a deeper joining. Feeling Jamie’s penis begin to swell, she flexed her inner muscles to prevent him from withdrawing, while her body clenched tightly around him.

Only when he was completely inside of her did Jamie begin to move. Staring into her eyes, he began to roll his hips in a slow, fierce rhythm. Claire gasped biting her bottom lip. He thrust harder and a little deeper. Jamie withdrew … then sank back deeper once again pushing them closer and closer to the edge of sublime oblivion. Closing her eyes, Claire began to move with him. Her husky mew resonated in his ear as Jamie’s repeated strokes overwhelmed her. Their bodies moved in complete and total unison, rising and falling, moving forward and back.

The intense friction of his movements in and out of her depths was magnificent and Claire huskily whimpered his name, “Ja-mie.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*~*~

Resting his weight on his knees, Jamie placed his hands under Claire’s head. His buttocks flexed with each forward movement as he thrust again into his love’s depths. With rhythmic strokes, he continued to bring Claire to the pinnacle of desire. She raised her hips to help deepen his thrusts, but Jamie temporally slowed his rhythm and he watched his Sassenach writhing on the bed. He’d never seen anything more beautiful. Claire’s hands clenched the sheets twisting the material while her head thrashed from side to side. When Jamie hit her special spot, she moaned and arched up against him. Raising her hands from the twisted sheets she sank her fingers deeply into Jamie’s back, leaving pressure welts on his skin.

Holding her close he began thrusting once more before finally merging with her so deeply that he could feel the slick sensation of her walls embracing his cock. Claire felt every exquisite centimetre of his erection filling her depths. What began as a slow rhythmic pace soon increased, as Jamie repeatedly entered and withdrew from her body, each thrust quicker, deeper, and harder than the last. Shivers of desire ricocheted through her being as he brought her closer to an orgasmic capitulation.

“Cl-aire!” Jamie moaned as he struggled to contain his climax. He wanted to guide her to experience her own orgasm before he sought his own release.

Her lips parted on a gasp as the velvety warmth of her body began to shiver around him. With a soft moan tearing from her throat, Claire exploded in ecstasy.

Her inner muscles clenched around Jamie’s cock as he took her over the edge into total oblivion. Her hands gripped his back, holding Jamie closer to her while she bit his shoulder while at the same time entwining her legs with his quivering as her orgasm exploded inside her. However, before it had reached its crescendo, Jamie once again thrust into her with his magnificent cock as he continued to stroke wildly against her. Lifting his hand to grip her hip more firmly, he held Claire hard against him as he pressed deeper into the warmth of her body.

Humming with sensation after sensation, Claire writhed as throbbing and explosive vibrations ricocheted within her depths. “Oooh … Yesss!”

Claire’s passionate cry urged Jamie to follow. Tremors exploded around him as her pleasure became his pleasure and his body swelled with his impending release as he felt Claire’s walls capture his length.

"Ahhhh!" Jamie cried out as the rapture of his release quickly shattered all of his control.

Feeling rippling, earth shattering sensations course through his body, Jamie succumbed to the bliss of their joining as he too reached an incredible climax.

Claire wrapped her arms around him tightly. Jamie buried his face into the crook of her neck for the intense feeling as if he was passing the core of his soul to his woman reverberated in a burst of kaleidoscopic awareness.

Everything suddenly made sense as if he was seeing things clearly for the first time. Spent ... Jamie whispered her name reverently as the last throes of his climax pulsated over him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Exhausted their breathing gradually grew more even and their hearts slowed to a steady beat. Claire placed her head on Jamie’s chest and idly trailed her fingertips across his skin. Her light touch however, heightened his feelings and Jamie’s chest rose and fell in acceleration once more. He closed his eyes enjoying the renewed sensations of her touch while Claire felt the increased vibrations of his heartbeats when she placed her hand to his heart.

“Jamie?”

He felt the soft caress of her lips as she kissed his chest where her fingers had strayed. “Hmmm?”

Claire raised her head to look at him. He could see in her eyes that something was troubling her, but Jamie let her continue.

“The mission? … What if … what if … I can’t do it? What if Madame Cheung wants me to …?”

She had finally broached the subject of her discussion at Section One earlier in the day and her unfinished words washed over him. Jamie lightly stroked her back in a slow comforting, circular motion; however, on feeling the tension in Claire’s body, he pulled her up closer kissing her cheek.

“I’ll think of something before it comes to that.” Jamie’s gaze held hers, piercing in his intent. “Claire … It will be okay mo ghràidh,” he reassured her allaying any apprehension she may have.

But she wasn’t totally convinced. “What if Madeline and Operations really want a permanent long-term arrangement?”

“I’ll find a way mo nighean donn.”

His words were comforting and Claire nuzzled into his strong arms “Okay,” she said and laid her head back on his shoulder.

Idly fingering her dishevelled auburn tresses Jamie asked, “Have ye prepped?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll go over yer PDA en route.”

Suddenly the sound of Jamie's cell phone rang interrupting their conversation. The chilling ring tone immediately affected the two lovers embracing for there was only one reason that his cell phone would ring. Jamie noticed the hesitation in Claire’s eyes as she looked at him, but he lovingly stroked her hair away from her face and caressed her cheek reassuringly. Tightening his arms, he pulled her closer as he reached down and brought the handset to his ear.

“Yes?”

“Jacques.”

Severing the call, Jamie absently continued to smooth Claire’s hair as his fingertips caressed her cheek knowing that his next words would cut her like a knife to the heart. Finally capturing her gaze, he said the words Claire least wanted to hear.

“We have to go.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 32

 

Jamie and Claire sat opposite to each other in the Section jet en route to Shek Kong Airfield a provincial airport in the New Territories. She watched as he worked at his computer going over last-minute details of the profile while the other team members caught some shuteye on the journey. Although they were beginning the first phase of the new mission and her deep cover, Claire’s thoughts centred on their evening spent in her apartment. She placed a tentative fingertip to her swollen lips that still tingled from the sensation of Jamie’s against hers. Covertly she glanced up at him as he typed. He noticed her gesture and reciprocated the gaze before she lowered her eyes from his scrutiny, then closing them in fatigue, Claire soon fell asleep.

James Fraser watched her sleeping as he typed, knowing that the next stage of the mission may prove to be a little dangerous. Claire’s new deep cover profile with Madame Cheung worried him as it was fraught with danger and intrigue. She would be on her own without him to back her up, but he would find a way one way or another. He’d done some checking of his own on the so-called mystery man that had been Alain de Marillac’s’ informer and go between, but it was this Madame Cheung of the Rising Dragon’s hierarchy who was a conundrum.

Just who was she?

Women in powerful positions often had to assert themselves to rise within the ranks and were as a rule, more ruthless than men. There was no doubt in his mind that Madame Cheung wouldn’t have been able to rise to power within the triad to become a member of Sun Yee Lok’s inner circle, if she wasn’t a formidable woman. He was somewhat concerned, but if Claire could deal with Madeline she could surely hold her own against Madame Cheung.

As he watched her sleeping, he also had visions of Annalise de Marillac who had been in Madame Cheung’s employ. His mental pictures centred on what the dead body of the beautiful girl had looked like. Jamie closed his eyes and felt his heart tighten in his chest, as his thoughts wandered to the woman who slept so peacefully opposite him en route to an uncertain deep cover mission.

What if it had been Claire? What if he wasn’t there to protect her? What if …

Shaking himself from that malaise Jamie peered over the top of his computer at his Sassenach while the jet winged its way back into the surreal world that they inhabited … and to the mission at hand.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The lights inside the smoky bar were a contrast to the colourful neon glow of signs that that lit up the sidewalk advertising the entertainment within. Inside the premises, the lights were dim, and men congregated around the tables watching the nubile girl on stage wrap herself around a pole in all sorts of contortionist moves. She probably wasn’t more that eighteen years old and here she was dancing half naked in front of a salivating crowd of local Chinese men and curious tourists out to experience the seedier side to Hong Kong. It was a typical joint to many others that were scattered along Nathan Road in the Tsim Sha Tsui District at the tip of Kowloon Peninsula. In this densely congested area of a square kilometre there were numerous shops, bars, nightclubs and topless clubs bustling with activity. By day these entertainment areas were the front for hawkers’ wares, but they came alive at night and were a hive of activity for people seeking a good time.

Once again Jamie’s team was in place in order to search for leads to those behind the death of the girl on the junk, the Rising Dragons and the owner of the Escort Service. They were all in play in this Hong Kong bar waiting for the man who they knew would arrive shortly … the so-called mystery man that was Alain de Marillac’s contact to Madame Cheung of the Rising Dragons.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As she worked behind the bar serving customers their drinks, Claire Beauchamp watched the clientele gather around the bar and sit at the tables watching the show. Reporting in to Fergus she asked, “Any leads yet?”

“I’ve got visual but there is none. We still don't know why he's not here yet.”

“There’s a new man just walked in. He's sitting at the end of the bar.” Claire stated and to Jamie said, “Do you recognize him?”

“No.” Then speaking to Fergus asked, “Can you identify him?”

“Give me a minute … I’ll see what I can do. Claire, give me a view.”

Claire slid a small cylinder forward and made her way over to him when a slightly inebriated man approached her with his empty glass in hand and sat on a bar stool next to the man who had just walked in. The small camera lens inside the cylinder captured a visual of the men at the bar and the images of both of them appeared on Fergus's computer screen back at Systems.

“Hey! Sweetheart! Come here!” A slightly inebriated patron of the bar called out.

Walking over to the man, Claire asked, “Is there a problem?”

“Hit me again babe!” he stated giving her a lecherous look, indicating he would rather “hit” on her.

“Sure,” she replied offering small talk while replenishing the alcoholic beverage desired. “Is that all?”

“One drink for you too, I'm buying.”

“No thanks, I don’t drink on the job.”

“C'mon, you'll see me in a whole new light.”

“I said no.”

The drunk suddenly became aware of the other man at the bar watching him as he tried to chat Claire up. Turning to face him he asked abruptly, “What are you looking at huh?”

“I don't like your attitude.”

“Really?” He sneered raising his hackles at the affront.

“Yeah, really. How much do you weigh?”

He became more defensive. “What's it to you?”

“I'm just curious.”

“220, so what?”

“Wow. I didn't realize they could pile that much crap on a barstool.”

Seeing that this altercation could quickly escalate into a barroom brawl, Claire Beauchamp quietly intervened. “Don't do this, please. Do you want to get me fired?” she replied trying to avoid a confrontation as the man got off his bar stool and walked over to the other man.

Hey … I'm just trying to teach this bozo some manners.”

Suddenly, a bouncer appeared and asked, “Is everything okay Claire? … Do you want me to toss these guys out?”

Looking up, Claire shrugged and told him, “Yeah everything’s fine Rupert … just a misunderstanding … Jack here says that all the time. Don’t you Jacky?”

Looking at Claire but still keeping his eye on the man he replied. “Hey sorry man … can’t blame a guy for trying to hit on a beautiful woman.” Then looking at Claire sheepishly stated, “Well … what do you say? Wanna get together sometime?”

“Yeah! Sure! In your dreams!” She replied cheekily.

“One day you’ll say yes … and then I’ll be waiting babe,” he mumbled winking at her. Taking his drink Jack went off to watch the show leaving the guy at the bar behind.

“Whoa. What was all that about?”

“He’s a regular. Comes in every night. He’s harmless really. Here have a drink on the house.”

“Thanks.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Who was he, Fergus?” Jamie enquired a tad frustrated that things were moving too slowly for his liking.

“I'm not showing a match. He’s not in any of our databases.”

Switching to a different computer, Fergus checked if the man’s details were on another computer database source.

“He’s not listed … and more than likely … he’s an innocent like Jack there at the bar.”

“Stay with it Fergus and patch through if something comes up.” Jamie instructed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometime later another man dressed in a brown suit and geeky glasses entered the bar and stood in the doorway casting his eyes over the clientele. The last time he had followed a lead, was when a woman of the right description was last seen employed in the populous area in Central on Hong Kong Island. This area of a few short streets was packed with bars and popular drinking venues just a short distance from Central Police station and prison. However, that lead had proved fruitless as the woman had moved on. Acting on another tip off he’d had about a woman who had once worked in Hong Kong's vibrant bar and nightlife scene of Lan Kwai Fong, he had followed the lead to this bar. His informant had been casing this joint for a while now, and knowing that he was interested in tall, leggy brunettes, the information he’d given him had certainly raised his hopes. Perhaps this barmaid was the one his informant had located before but she had needed to keep on the move to escape the law and was now working here.

Backtracking his glance across the patrons once more, his eyes rested on the barmaid and his stomach knotted. At long last his search was over. He had found her.

He’d been looking for the woman he had seen at the airport for months now and he had been on many a wild goose chase in search of her only to come up empty handed. It had taken a lot of called in favours to track her down, however, as he clasped eyes on her now, he smiled happily for it seemed that the woman working here was indeed the one he’d been searching for.

This beauty would be worth big money. She was gorgeous, brunette, statuesque and alluring all the qualities required by Madame Cheung who would be most pleased. A proposition formed in his mind, and he rubbed his hands in glee knowing that he had just hit the jackpot. Although he knew his asking price would surely be met when he introduced her to Madame Cheung, he thought he just might up the ante with this one … she was after all the “pièce de résistance.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Fergus’s voice suddenly resonated in his headset. “Jamie. Doorway.”

Jamie however, had noticed the man entering the club too. “Yes … I know. Perimeter teams converge. Possible target has just entered.” He watched as the reedy thin man with thinning hair confidently approached one of the tables and sat down watching the girls perform.

Lighting up a cigarette he sat back in his chair and surveyed the room while casting several glances over at the bar where Claire was working. Then as the drink waitress passed by his table, he caught her eye summoning her over to place an order. “Get me a whisky sour …”

“Certainly sir.”

“… and give this note to the brunette barmaid,” he said leaning forward and placing a hundred dollar bill into her bra.

“Sure! Gee thanks!”

Geillis sauntered over to Claire and handed her the note that had been given to her by the target. Indicating who it was, Claire followed her gaze and looked in the direction of the man at the table, the one who had just entered the club. She took the note but didn’t read it.

Returning with his drink Geillis Duncan placed it in front of him. “Here you are sir.”

As the target took a sip he looked over towards where Claire was now reading his note. She looked up. Catching her eye, the target nodded in her direction, smiled and raised his glass in a salute. Claire merely acknowledged him and then continued to go about her duties serving and talking to the customers at the bar.

Her rebuttal was a mere formality. Mystery man never gave up the fight. He could wait all night if needs be. So, biding his time, he waited until the bar was clear of customers and the barmaid was alone. He rose and made his way over to the bar.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Any new Intel, Fergus?”

“None yet. Do you recognize him?”

“No. Can you I.D. him?”

“See what I can do.”

Jamie watched the overconfident swagger of the man as he approached Claire and took at seat. Once he was seated, James Fraser too made his way over to the bar and sat a few stools away from the target.

“You getting all this Fergus?”

“Yes … I’m running his profile through our system as we speak. Shouldn’t be too long if he’s there.”

“Good”

“Claire?”

“I’m ready,” she replied knowing that the mission profile was now really in play.

Having seen the man approach in the mirror behind the bar she’d ignored his presence for a moment, then without looking up Claire asked, “Good evening. What can I get you?”

“I’ll have vodka, rocks, please.”

“Coming up ... There you go,” she said as she placed his drink on the bar. “Enjoy.”

“Claire, give me a view.”

“Thank you,” he replied taking a sip of the drink, then when he placed it back on the counter, Claire Beauchamp used a large ring on her finger to scan the glass for fingerprints which were immediately transmitted back to Fergus Claudel in Section to analyse.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

At Section One, the bar scene appeared on his computer screen as Fergus sat back in his chair watching the computer process the information and waited for any Intel to materialize. While he was running the scan on the mystery man’s voice, the fingerprints on the glass were being analysed simultaneously as well.

“Is it him, Fergus?”

“I'm not showing a match yet, but if he’s in any of our databases it will show a match soon.”

He switched to a different computer and in no time an image of a face appeared on the computer screen matching the description which Alain de Marillac had given them of his informant. At the same time the computer repeated the mystery man’s words and voice as it narrowed down the search processing the slight British accent. After a few minutes a computer reading stating … “VOICE PRINT MATCH” … appeared.

“It’s a match Jamie … his name is Oliver Chan. A British citizen of Chinese extraction.”

As soon as the recognition data had been verified Claire was informed that she was now in play with the designated target. “Claire … It’s him.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Once the man had finished his drink, the target raised his hand to gain Claire’s attention again.

Making her way back over to him she asked, “Yes sir? … What can I do for you?”

“Well babe … it’s more what I can do for you,” he replied smarmily toying with his empty glass.

Jamie watched as the man began his spiel, one he had seen many times before when the target thought he could sway and impress Claire. He watched as she merely reeled him in hook, line and sinker.

Raising her face, she looked at the creep lounging on the bar as if he owed it. “Oh yeah?”

Staring her in the eye and with a wink he continued, “Yeah! … So, tell me, what’s a good looking girl like you doing working in a joint like this?”

“Ah ... the pay’s good,” she replied flippantly.

“Well how would you like to work in a classier place?”

“Nah … I like it here … the hours are good.”

“I can better that … in fact I can do much, much better than that. Are you interested?”

“Could be? How much does it pay?”

“Let’s just say it lucrative … very lucrative. It could be anything up to triple your salary here. You may even be able to name your own price.”

“Hmm … Now … I’m listening,” Claire replied which only made Oliver Chan believe that he had her undivided attention.

“Good. Perhaps we can discuss this at my table … in private.”

“Okay … I have a break in ten minutes … I’ll meet you then ...”

“My apologises ... I’m forgetting my manners. My name is Oliver Chan.”

Then with a self-satisfied look her way he got up to leave the bar, leaned forward and whispered, “You won’t regret it … I can assure you. I’ll be waiting …?”

“My real name is Caitriona but everyone calls me Claire.”

“Claire.” He looked at her before saying, “Hmm … That’s a lovely name.”

“Thank you.”

“Mesmerizing and classy … just like you my dear. I can see that we are going to have a very rewarding relationship,” he replied confidently. “See you in ten.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 33

 

The music in the nightclub eventually died down somewhat while the girls on stage took a small break. As he only had a few minutes, Oliver Chan flipped open his cell phone and quickly dialled an unlisted number then waited for the ringing of the phone to be answered. Claire, the barmaid, would soon be here to meet with him and he wanted to inform Madame Cheung of his potential conquest.

After what seemed like an inordinate amount of time the phone was eventually answered and a cultured female voice was heard on the other end. “Yes?”

“Madame? It’s Oliver Chan.”

“Yes.”

“I have goods here that may be of interest to you.”

“I’m listening.”

“I have the very person who could replace Annalise de Marillac.”

“Does she fit the criteria and profile?”

“Absolutely … and more!”

“Hmmm, interesting you have piqued my imagination … I would like to meet with this person.”

“It can be arranged.”

“Good … tomorrow … usual place.”

“We’ll be there Madame.”

“I look forward to it … good work as usual Oliver.”

“Thank you.”

With a self-satisfied smile on his face Oliver Chan disconnected the call and replaced his cell phone into his pocket. Sitting back in his chair he was very pleased at the turn of events for Madame Cheung was curious about the new woman he had found. That was a good thing as he knew she only took the best of the women for her business. Oliver also knew of Madame Cheung’s connections to the Rising Dragons, so he recognized the need to be careful. He could ill afford for anything to go wrong for he was on his own now that Alain de Marillac was dead. He would have to use his British canny coupled with his Chinese chi to make sure that all went smoothly with Madame Cheung at the meeting tomorrow.

But first he had to make Claire a deal that would be too good to refuse.

Casting his eyes toward the bar, Oliver noticed that the barmaid was tidying up in readiness of her break. This woman … Claire … was going to be his ticket to riches and the lifestyle that he’d always wanted. He could see it all … the villa … the fast cars and faster women. Now that Alain de Marillac was no longer in the picture having died from a heart attack at the Embassy ball, he was currently in a position to negotiate for a higher price for this woman and keep all the profits for himself.

Yes, he thought, when Madame Cheung saw Claire in the flesh, she would pay dearly for the services of this new woman, and he would be on easy street at long last. Hell, he may even prove useful to the Rising Dragons. He had potential that was yet untapped. If he played his cards right this could be a win-win situation for all parties.

Oliver could hardly contain the grin that crossed his mouth. All he had to do was convince Claire of her potential. He would outline a proposal to her with the view of meeting someone who could guarantee that she would make a lot of money but in a much classier environment. The fact that the classy environment was what amounted to an upmarket, exclusive brothel was beside the point. This was business and Oliver had invested a lot of time and energy into finding this woman ever since he’d seen her at the airport. There was no way that he would let her refuse his proposition, for Fate had dealt him a good hand with the death of Alain de Marillac … now was the time for him to capitalize on his good fortune.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Noticing the target lost in thought, Claire quietly sneaked up on Oliver Chan, interrupting him, “Hey … Here I am, but I only have a short while,” she said pulling out a chair to sit down at his table.

Slightly startled, he gathered his composure and looked intently at her. “Let’s talk business then!”

“I’m all ears!” She said as she sat at the table, elbows on the table top, hands interlaced waiting for Oliver Chan to state his business proposition.

Gazing at the gorgeous woman with the auburn locks and body to die for, Oliver declared enthusiastically, “Mark my words Claire … I am going to change your life …”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Giving the impression that she hung on Chan’s every word Claire finally delivered the words he was waiting to hear. “Well Oliver, I’m very interested. Perhaps I could meet with the woman who will be responsible for changing my life?”

Internally he was ecstatic at her reply and leaning forward in his chair answered, “Yes that can be arranged. In fact, I took the liberty of contacting her in anticipation of your reply. I hope you don’t mind Claire?”

“Were you so sure I would say yes?”

“I was hoping you would find my proposition too difficult to refuse … and I was right,” he replied confidently.

“So when can we arrange a meeting?”

He didn’t want to appear too overly self-assured but knew he needed to strike quickly unless Claire changed her mind. “What about tomorrow? Is that okay?”

“Yes … it’s my day off… That will be fine.”

“Good. I’ll pick you up here at ten o’clock then,” Oliver replied most pleased with how proceedings were falling into place.

“I’ll be waiting.” Then looking at the clock Claire smiled and stated, “Hey I gotta go. I need to get back on the job before the boss says something.”

Oliver Chan stood up as Claire rose from her seat and took her hand. Seizing the opportunity, she placed her hand on his jacket and slipped a tracker device beneath the jacket lapel.

“Until tomorrow then.”

“Yes … tomorrow.” Subsequently just as she was leaving Oliver called her back, “Claire?”

“Yes?”

“You won’t need this job after tomorrow, I can assure you. The world is your oyster from now on.”

“Hmm, I like the sound of that,” was her jaunty reply.

Oliver Chan watched as Claire sauntered back over to the bar. He watched the swish of her hips and the sway of her hair as she walked away from him. She certainly was a beautiful woman and Madame Cheung would be extremely pleased that he had found such a beauty. Her clientele would pay big money for a night spent in this beautiful woman’s company and she was a prize he was going to capitalize on. Oliver could see the dollars filling his coffers as he daydreamed about the riches he would receive from Madame Cheung for her services.

Tomorrow could not come quick enough for him as he too made an exit from the club.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Back at Section One, Fergus had monitored the whole conversation between Claire and Oliver Chan and as soon as she had placed the tracker on his lapel, it beeped showing them his location. Fergus alerted Jamie of this development.

“Jamie what do you want to do? He’s moving.”

“The tracker has been activated?”

“Yes. He has just left the club.”

“Good. Have Abernathy follow him.”

“Do you want him picked up?”

“Not yet.”

“Got it. All teams, switch to "B" channel.”

Fergus knew that at any time now Operations and or Madeline would demand an update on the mission, and he had no sooner collated all the Intel from Jamie than his leader summoned him.

“Fergus?”

“Yes sir?”

“What’s the state of the in play in Hong Kong?”

Relaying the Intel, he replied. “The target has put a proposal to Claire for a meeting tomorrow. It has been arranged for her to meet with Madame Cheung.”

“Do we have confirmation of the rendezvous place?”

“It’s at an undisclosed place, but Claire has been able to plant a tracker on Chan, so we will be able to monitor his movements once he leaves the club.”

“Good. Keep on it Fergus.

“Yes sir.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning, Section One operatives had kept the target, Oliver Chan, under close surveillance. From their vantage point they’d been able to observe his movements, but Chan had not left his apartment nor had he received any visitors during the night. As they watched the building this morning it wasn’t long until they saw him exit his flat and get into his car.

Alerting Section One to the situation, Joe Abernathy contacted Fergus, “Chan’s on the move.”

“Excellent!” Then switching channels, he alerted Jamie. “Standby … Chan’s just left his apartment.”

The operatives watched as he pulled out from the curb and headed north towards the club where he was to rendezvous with Claire.

“I’m not receiving any signal … Is Chan wearing the same jacket?” Fergus asked.

“He’s dressed similarly to last night and is wearing what appears to be the same suit.” Geillis Duncan relayed.

“The tracker must have malfunctioned.”

“Do you want us to follow?”

“No … I’ll tell Jamie to proceed as planned.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie waited in a silver BMW a little way from the club and watched while Claire paced nonchalantly along the pavement waiting for Oliver Chan to appear. Many prestigious cars and chauffeur driven limousines passed by and slowed to a stop near where she stood. The occupants of the vehicles lowered the windows and beckoned her over. Most of the men in the limousines were well-dressed businessmen, but the request was always the same … How much? They asked propositioning the beautiful woman alone. However, they sped off again when Claire ignored all of their “offers”.

Cooling her heels, she had been waiting for a while because the target had not yet made an appearance, and Claire was just about to contact Jamie when at long last he informed her of the target’s imminent arrival using her Section One code name.

“Jos-e-phine.”

James Fraser observed from a distance as he saw Oliver Chan’s car cruise along the road slowly as he approached the rendezvous point. Rolling down the window, he aimed his binoculars at the target and attentively watched as he drove closer to where Claire was waiting on the pavement. Looking up the road at the approaching vehicle, she finally saw a beautiful, slick, navy Jaguar sports coupe with the hood down pull into the curb.

Oliver Chan took off his sunglasses and leaned over the passenger seat to greet her. “Hey babe. You ready?”

“Yeah. Is this okay?” Claire asked alluding to her clothing.

Oliver Chan got out of the car and helped her into the waiting vehicle. “You look gorgeous. Madame Cheung will be knocked out when she sees you. She will be most impressed.”

“Thanks … you sure know how to stroke a girl’s ego. You don’t look too bad yourself Oliver ... New jacket?” Claire asked fingering the material and replacing a new tracker under the lapel.

“Yeah ... All part of the image babe. Shall we go?”

“Okay.”

Jamie watched their interaction for a while, then put the car window back up as Oliver Chan sped off into the traffic, while he followed at a discreet distance.

Watching what was happening on his monitor Fergus beeped Operations in the Loft as to the state of affairs.

“Sir. He’s made his move. Claire’s leaving and Jamie’s in pursuit.”

“Good.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Oliver Chan drove through the traffic for a while weaving and dodging between the many buses and local traffic heading for the outskirts of the city. They had travelled a short distance when all of a sudden, his car phone rang and Oliver picked up the handset this time and answered, “Chan here.”

“Can you talk?”

“Yes”

“There’s been a change in the rendezvous point … Don’t bring her here. Proceed with Plan B. We will use a more discreet location.

“I understand.”

“Be careful … make sure you are NOT being followed.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“Since Alain de Marillac’s death things have heated up. The police are suspicious of the Rising Dragons and I don’t want any slip-ups …”

“You can trust me.”

“Well … you know the consequences if you betray me Chan!”

“My word is my bond … We’ll be there.”

“I look forward to meeting your conquest … if what you say about this new girl is true.”

“You’ll be pleasantly surprised … I assure you.”

“Very Good … and Chan.... do what you have to do.”

“Yes … I will.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Is everything all right Oliver?” Claire asked as he disconnected the call and replaced the receiver in the handset.

Oliver Chan’s arranged meeting with Madame Cheung had just been changed from her home in Repulse Bay to a more secretive place due to her suspicion of police interference. “Yes … Nothing to worry about … just a change of venues … that’s all.”

“Oh … and just where are we going?”

“You’ll see soon enough,” he cagily replied.

Oliver had taken Madame Cheung’s warning to heart about being followed and was diligent in covering his tracks. He manoeuvred the car along tiny streets and back alleyways avoiding the main traffic wherever he could. If anyone were on his trail, he would certainly know about it. He had zigzagged and taken so many obscure routes that were unknown to others except for the local pedestrian traffic.

Claire hoped that Jamie was still on their tail, but he would not pursue if it risked exposure. It was likely that Chan had lost him, which was highly probable given the clandestine roundabout route he had taken. Nevertheless, Fergus would be able to pinpoint the location coordinates from Chan’s tracker so they would be on the grid.

Eventually Chan slowed the Jaguar and pulled the car over and stopped for a moment in a commercial area. This was obviously the hub of Hong Kong’s rag trade and was a highly industrialised estate.

“Are we here already?” Claire inquired.

Turning to face her, he replied. “No.”

“Then why did we stop?”

“I’m sorry to have to do this Claire … but it is just a precautionary measure. You do understand?” Oliver said as he reached out and pricked her arm with a pin treated with a tranquilizer drug.

Claire slapped it away, “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ! What … the…?” but the damage had been done. The drug worked so fast she was unable to retaliate and slumped back in the seat. As she lay there losing consciousness, Claire watched in a blur as Oliver dialed someone on his car phone. His voice sounded so far away and his words were the last thing Claire heard as the dark completely enfolded her.

“We're on our way. Prepare Madame Cheung’s helicopter.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Fraser was not happy and the expression on his face spoke more about his concern for Claire’s whereabouts than he would like to admit. “Chan’s given me the slip. Where are they Fergus?”

Watching on his computer screen Fergus reluctantly said, “We’ve lost them.”

“What do you mean?” Jamie replied anxiety and fear on his face for his Claire and where she was.

“They must have entered some kind of building, I'm downloading satellite Intel right now, standard protocol dictates an abort.”

“Standard protocol is suspended. Find them!” Jamie barked back at Section’s Techie.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Some miles on, Chan turned the Jaguar into an underground car park at an impressive building nestled between other mercantile and manufacturing businesses. Had Claire been lucid she would have seen the name of the building they had entered for … The Yee Lok Commercial and Industrial Guild … was written in bold letters. Sun Yee Lok’s headquarters had just materialised, and it was here that Chan had taken her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Oliver Chan, now with Claire in a wheelchair, made their way to the top of the roof where a helicopter was waiting for them. Still under the influence of the drug Chan had injected her with, an unconscious Claire Beauchamp was unaware of where she was. Strapping her into the interior of the helicopter Chan took his seat beside her as the pilot readied the aircraft for take off. It would take about thirty minutes for the flight to Madame Cheung’s hideaway, and by that time the drug usually had started to wear off somewhat. Oliver however, had been ordered to give her an extra boost and he had given Claire a full dosage. The effects of the drug therefore would take much longer under these circumstances. He knew that drastic measures were needed, but nonetheless he was sorry he had to inflict the drug on this woman. But rules were rules and he was too close to his fortune to blow it by being insubordinate to Madame Cheung.

With the sound of the rotor blades echoing in the azure sky, the helicopter took off with Oliver Chan and Claire Beauchamp on board. Circling once in a loop over the sparkling waters of Stanley Bay below them, the helicopter flew off to the east in the direction of the New Territories.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 34

 

The helicopter flew over the rural hinterland and urbanized areas under development of the Sai Kung Peninsula in the New Territories. Many of Hong Kong’s residents made their way to this picturesque area for the weekend, and it was in this vicinity that the helicopter flew. The area of Clearwater Bay was their ultimate destination as this was where Madame Cheung’s sprawling, secluded summer residence was situated in an untamed and rough-contoured area of the peninsula.

In what seemed like no time at all the marked landing field came into view and the pilot put the appropriate landing procedures into action. Making its descent the helicopter came to rest on the helipad situated near the house and where two of Madame Cheung’s bodyguards were waiting for Oliver Chan and his unconscious passenger. Once the rotor blades had stopped turning the burly men approached the aircraft to retrieve their employer’s unconscious guest.

Helping a drugged Claire Beauchamp from the helicopter they placed her into the back seat of a waiting Rolls Royce.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

This was not an unusual occurrence for them; for they had seen many women come to this residence in a similar fashion. Madame Cheung left nothing to chance and it was better for the women to be drugged and be compliant than change their minds on the way to this secretive location. Furthermore, it was a very necessary precaution to stop any potential assailants from following, trying to stop the women or more importantly finding the secret location of Madame Cheung’s residence. Once at her property she was then able to convince them of the rewards of joining her employ. Her business was after all the Rising Dragons’ business and no one messed with the wrath of the triad group if they knew what was good for them. All who worked for the triad had their mantra well and truly ingrained in their way of thinking.

 

Be cautious of its ruthless ways

This enigma to the night

For the Dragon bears upon his wings

A chilling tale of fright

The Rising Dragon!

 

This new woman was just another one in a long line of candidates some of whom chose not to join Madame Cheung. Unfortunately, those who were not amenable were disposed of before they had a chance to change their minds or realise the huge mistake they had made. Madame Cheung did not want indecisive people working for her. She catered for an exclusive clientele and she had a reputation to maintain on a lot of levels and not only that but she had to maintain “face”. That was so important in Chinese culture ... for to lose face was to admit a weakness, and she was anything but weak. Those women who did comply were treated well and lived the life of luxury with riches few would ever imagine. However, they were required to adhere to a code of silence … or suffer the consequences of their actions if they were to go against the triad. Madame Cheung was powerful but the Rising Dragons were more so.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Oliver Chan got into the Rolls Royce next to Claire, and as he sat down her body slumped towards him resting against his body as the driver proceeded toward the house. He straightened her back up in the seat, then Oliver Chan looked at Claire with some feelings of guilt. However, those feelings were fleeting as he thought of the reception he would get from Madame Cheung when he delivered this alluring woman into her hands. He was in the business for better or worse now and Claire Beauchamp was to be his piece de résistance.

A sly smirk crossed his lips as he settled in for the ride to the house as thoughts of grandiose proportions floated around in his mind.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Meanwhile James Fraser was extremely worried at the loss of Claire from surveillance for some time and contacted Fergus at Section One to put in motion a broad search using all their facilities to find her.

” Fergus? Do ye have a trace on Claire?”

Alarm resonated in Fergus’s voice when he replied, “Not yet … We seem to have lost her.”

This was not the answer Jamie was expecting and that was particularly evident in his voice as he replied to Section One’s techie. “Find her Fergus … Now!”

“I’m trying Jamie, but the tracker frequency has died.”

“Use the password for her clock frequency,” was Jamie’s other suggestion.

“Good idea … I’ll work on that.”

Fergus pulled up a series of sequences on his monitor and keyed in Claire’s data to activate the programme. Looking at the screen he waited until the monitor showed a map of Hong Kong and the surrounding islands. A small square outline soon drifted across the map before settling on the New Territories area where a small dot appeared.

With relief evident in his voice, Section’s techie alerted Jamie, “Okay, here you go. The area is the southern tip of Sai Kung Peninsula.”

This information was at least a start to pinpoint just where Claire may be but it was not nearly enough information for James Fraser. “Whereabouts on the peninsula?”

“Near Clearwater Bay. Looks like a couple kilometres outside the village of Poi Toi O.”

“Do we have anyone in that area?”

Fergus keyed new data into his computer and read the result that appeared. “I've got two Panda Teams in Shenzhen, China. They’re the closest to her but …”

“Patch me in.” Jamie replied without waiting for Fergus to finish what he was saying. Time was of the essence and he was mindful that it was imperative that they move swiftly or else Claire may be in grievous danger.

Insistently Fergus replied, “… they are close but ... they have a situation in China.”

“Give me the co-ordinates … I'm on my way.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometime later, as an unconscious Claire Beauchamp lay on a bed, her facial and arm muscles began to twitch as she started to come out of her drugged sleep. Opening her eyes as she awoke, Claire felt groggy and disoriented and slowly she tried to get up but could only lie there groaning. Rolling on the bed, half in and half out, she thrashed about trying to regain her equilibrium. Although it was obvious that she was suffering from the drug's side effects Claire had the presence of mind to activate her comm. Unit in order to alert Section to her whereabouts.

Her head ached and her mouth felt dry, and when she tried to stand up she was unable to keep her balance and fell back towards the bed.

“Is anybody there? Where am I?” she managed to utter softly … then a little louder called out again, “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ! Where am I?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire finally managed to get up again a little while later and wandered over to the window on the other side of the room which overlooked a small courtyard where roses were in full bloom. All of a sudden, the sound of the door opening alerted her to the arrival of someone and she turned her head to see if it was Madame Cheung, however, when the door fully opened Oliver Chan appeared.

Standing just inside the room, he looked somewhat accountable as to what had happened to her before inquiring, “Are you feeling all right?”

“I'm fine. Where am I Oliver? Who are you really?”

” It’s not important. I'm here to get you ready.”

“Ready? …”

Moving away from the window she asked more lucidly, “Ready for what?”

“You're going to meet someone. We need to make sure you're coherent.”

“So, what are you then Oliver? A terrorist?”

“No.”

“You have brought me here under false pretences Mr. Chan. I want to know what is going on!”

“All in good time. Don’t be afraid Claire … what I promised you can be a reality … just wait and see.”

“Why should I trust you? Hmmm? You drugged me for God’s sake.”

Oliver Chan shook off Claire’s tirade ignoring what she had said, and started to back out of the room. “You seem to be clearheaded enough. I'll send someone up in five minutes. Freshen up,” and he left the room closing the doors behind him.

Meanwhile back at Section One...

“Wait Jamie … something’s happening.”

“What is it Fergus?”

“I’m getting a signal from Claire. She is trying to contact us.”

James Fraser closed his eyes in relief and put his comm. unit on to open frequency so that he too could hear the moment that Claire tried to make contact.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Looking around the room Claire activated her comm. unit once more trying to raise any signal that would show her that she had been successful in making contact with Section One

“Fergus are you there?”

Nothing!

No reply.

The drug Oliver Chan had injected her with was finally beginning to wear off. Her head was a little less fuzzy, and she was beginning to regain her thought faculties although still a little slower than she would like. Although she was to meet Madame Cheung at last, first things first, she needed to make contact with her surveillance and Claire continued trying to contact Section One as to her predicament.

She knew at this moment that she was on her own in a situation that they had not envisaged for there had been no reply. She tried again.

“Fergus … are you there?”

As she did so her comm. unit finally buzzed with a voice dear to her ears.

“Cl-aire?”

There was no mistaking the Scottish brogue and the tenderness of her name rolled off her partner’s lips.

“Jamie?”

The sound of Claire’s voice was indeed a relief. “Where are ye?” he asked.

“I'm at Madame Cheung’s hideaway.”

“Are ye OK Sassenach?”

“Yes … I’m … fine Jamie. Chan drugged me and brought me here, but I don’t know exactly where.”

“It’s all right we have the coordinates.”

Suddenly Claire heard footsteps approaching her room. “Jamie … someone’s coming.”

“We've got your location, de-activate.”

They quickly severed communication.

As he took the comm. unit from his ear, Jamie’s concerned feelings were reflected in the way he pensively rubbed his chin and taped his fingers on the steering wheel of the BMW. Although he knew Claire could look after herself, his worry was the unknown quantity that was … Madame Cheung.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Follow me please,” bowed a beautiful Chinese girl who entered the room a short while later.

Claire looked up at her request, to see who had come into the room. “Where are we going?” she asked, but the girl merely smiled and left the room as quietly as she had entered it. Claire had no option but to follow the retreating back of the Chinese girl. They proceeded down a long corridor to a large open room with French windows that overlooked the garden that Claire had seen from the bedroom where she was.

“Please take a seat. Madame will be here shortly,” the girl said before she turned and left her alone in the room.

Claire watched her leave before quickly scanning the room then activating her comm. unit she contacted Jamie once more.

“Jamie, I'm in.”

“Did ye do a scan?”

“Yes … The room is clean.”

“And the target?”

“Madame Cheung is about to come and meet me.”

“Keep on open channel then and we will monitor everything.”

“Okay.”

No sooner had Claire disconnected than she heard the sound of voices conversing in Chinese outside the room. Quickly she sat in a comfortable chair near the window with a view of the garden and waited for the target to arrive.

The door opened again.

“Good afternoon, my dear. I apologize for keeping you waiting.”

Claire immediately twirled around at the sound of a female voice. She looked up and came face to face with the only hierarchical woman member of the Rising Dragons triad. Surreptitiously appraising the target as she entered the room, what Claire saw was a far cry from what she thought she would see. Madame Cheung was a distinguished looking Chinese woman with dark hair and piercing eyes. Adorned with expensive jewellery, she had the air of sophistication about her.

“There’s nothing to be alarmed about,” she said, then calmly approaching where Claire sat Madame Cheung asked, “You are Claire?”

“Yes.”

“How nice to make your acquaintance,” the woman replied.

Her eyes covertly canvassed Claire Beauchamp from head to toe as the two women studied each other for a moment before Claire spoke, “Where am I? Why was I brought here?”

“You have been brought here by Oliver Chan at my request.”

“Why was I drugged?”

"I’m sorry my dear but that was necessary to protect me.”

“And … who are you?”

“My name is Madame Cheung and this is my home ... amongst other things.”

She moved further into the drawing room stopping next to a table and once more scrutinised the young woman in front of her. Madame Cheung’s steely eyes missed nothing. It was as if she had looked right through her. Claire did not reply but was observant of the woman too who was giving her the once over with eyes that sparkled with hidden meaning.

“Take off your clothes, Claire.” Madame Cheung nonchalantly requested without warning.

“What?” Was Claire’s flabbergasted reply.

“I said … Take off your clothes.”

“Go to Hell!” Claire answered curtly.

“Well, you can remove them yourself, or I can call for assistance and have someone else remove them for you if you would prefer. The choice is yours.”

Madame Cheung watched Claire without twitching a muscle, as the young woman in front of her decided whether to respond to her request or not. She smiled satisfied when Claire jumped up and hastily removed her clothes although Madame Cheung could tell by her actions, she was not happy with the request asked of her.

Standing there naked, Claire was non communicative while Madame Cheung’s eyes traversed her torso. “Hmmm! That’s enough ... Oliver was right,” she stated out loud. “You are a beauty. Now … put your clothes back on before you catch cold.”

Claire Beauchamp gave her a steely look as she dressed. “Was that necessary?”

“Absolutely … You see, Claire, you are here for a very special reason.”

“And that is?”

“Mutually exclusive business that will change your life, but I need something from you first. I need your compliance, and at this point no doubt ... you would inveigh against any request.”

"Why am I here?” Claire asked more determinedly.

“It's an orientation of sorts to see if we are compatible.”

“Compatible for what?”

“Why … for making money of course. You my dear could be my crown jewel.”

“I'm sorry. ... Who are you again?” Claire asked somewhat vexed.

“Someone unlike anyone you've ever met.” Madame Cheung stared at her unwaveringly while Claire held her look waiting for her to continue. “If you decide to go back to that five and dime nightclub my dear, you will have made the wrong decision and I will be extremely disappointed.”

“What is this all about?”

Moving closer to Claire she said, “Let me see your hand.”

With reluctance she placed her hand in Madame Cheung’s, who looked at it and ran her finger across the lines on Claire’s palm. “Hmmm … long lifeline … I see we are going to have a very fruitful relationship …” This imposing woman looked up into Claire’s puzzled blue eyes. “You'll fit in nicely to our work here.”

Pulling her hand from her grasp, Claire shot daggers at Madame Cheung as she continued to speak.

“Let me explain my dear … I’m sure we are going to work extremely well together and you are going to make us a lot of money.”

“But I haven’t agreed to anything yet.”

“Oh, but you will!” She smiled knowingly. “Come now. I will order some Yum Cha and we will discuss how we will be mutually beneficial to one another.”

Madame Cheung clapped her hands and before too long Claire could hear voices outside the door once more. It opened and the Chinese girl who had escorted her to this room re-entered and looked directly at Madame Cheung.

“Yes Madame?”

“Ah … Lee … please bring some tea and something to eat for me and my guest … and ask Mr Chan to join us here.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Prepare the guest room as well and see that Miss Beauchamp has everything that she needs.”

“Certainly Madame Cheung. Will that be all?”

“For the moment.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

No sooner had the Chinese girl left the room than Madame Cheung again turned to Claire. Her countenance gave nothing away, although a smile crossed her face and her eyes watched Claire like a hawk.

“So, my dear, did Oliver outline his proposal to you?”

“Ah … yes he did,” she replied.

“Well then … have you made a decision?”

“I would like to know exactly what would be required of me.”

“Certainly … to put it quite simply … you will be transformed into an even more beautiful young woman with the best of everything at your beck and call. The Rising Dragons triad will spare no cost in making you the most desirable woman on our books for my escort business caters for only the very best in society. The rich, powerful and influential men, who visit Hong Kong, often require the services of an intelligent and beautiful companion from time to time and that is where you will fit in.”

“I see.”

“Diplomats and businessmen always pay generously for conversation and companionship with a beautiful young woman such as yourself.”

“Is that all?”

“You will of course, be paid most handsomely for exclusive and discreet gentlemen to have the pleasure of your company at functions and … privately on occasion,” she added with a slightly contained grin on her face.

“Will I be required to have sex with these men?” Claire asked in all seriousness.

“That decision is for you alone my dear, you may choose to do so or you may not. It is entirely up to you. However, having said that, from time to time there are special requests from some of our clientele, but no one is forcing you to do anything against your free will.”

“But … I was brought here...”

Interrupting her query Madame Cheung continued. “Drugging you was a necessary precaution Claire … but you did come voluntarily after Oliver had outlined his proposal to you at the nightclub. Did you not?”

“Yes.”

“Well then, when you have had a chance to think things over, I’m sure you will come to the right decision ... Until then you will remain here as my guest and we shall begin your transformation.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 35

 

Be wary of its mercilessness
For treachery brings you danger.
Perpetrators be especially vigilant,
It will rise up in anger...
The Rising Dragon!

The triad has a cruel, ferocious wrath
Beware! Take heed! Think twice!
Never ... ever ... deceive or betray
For you will pay the price...
The Rising Dragon!

In the secret headquarters of the Rising Dragons at the Yee Lok Commercial and Industrial Guild, Sun Yee Lok sat facing the panoramic view of Stanley Bay from his high-rise palatial office. The supreme leader of the triad seldom ventured out of his hideaway in order to avoid being exposed by his enemies so this visit was a rare occasion. Anonymity was an effective, valuable strategy and he prided himself on keeping one step ahead of any adversaries from all corners because few people knew of his true identity. However, he had made this rare visit to his headquarters as certain situations had arisen of late affecting the Rising Dragons that needed his personal scrutiny. He was not pleased; in fact, he was furious for it had come to his attention that all was not as it should be. Triad members had mysteriously disappeared or died under less than normal circumstances and ever since there had been that incident in Aberdeen involving Charlie Yin, it seemed that the triad had been cursed. He wanted to know what was going on and why and more importantly by whom.

Deep in thought, the sound of his intercom filling the office broke him from his reverie. Reaching out his hand he depressed the answer button knowing already who had arrived.

“Send him in,” he ordered as he turned to gaze once more at the vista from his office.

The door opened and a young, well dressed, suited man entered and waited standing motionless looking at the back of Sun Yee Lok’s head. The powerful man, who had summoned him, observed his stance which was reflected in the windows that overlooked the sweeping view of the water. After some moments, Sun Yee Lok swung his chair around and with a penetrating look the Dragon Head of the Rising Dragons glared at the man opposite him. He was angry at the turn of events concerning the triad and wanted a number of answers … and he wanted them now. Speaking in rapid Cantonese, he ordered the man to sit down.

“What’s going on?” The question left no room for any bullshit answer and Sun Yee Lok waited to hear the reply.

A little nervously he replied knowing that this would not be the answer his leader wanted. “I don’t really know sir.”

“That’s not good enough. There has been far too much interference lately and we have lost two good triad members. Tony Wong’s death and the destruction of his headquarters have left a huge gap on a number of levels. I do however; have someone in mind to replace him, as the situation in Aberdeen needs to be fixed ASAP. Alain de Marillac’s death from natural causes has handicapped our business too. There is too much of a coincidence to believe that both these deaths were unrelated. I smell a rat. Something is going on and I want to know what it is.”

“I’ll check our files and see what I can find out.”

“There has been a domino effect on the triad which has suffered not only a substantial loss of revenue in Aberdeen, but Madame Cheung has also informed me that business is on the down turn too. The police have been getting information that has substantially affected our business dealings. The triad is losing money hand over fist. We are suffering in all areas and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one iota.”

The man worriedly wrung his hands together before replying. “I’ll get on to it straight away sir.”

“Yes … I think you should. Whatever police agency is working against us I want to know who is responsible.”

“I know of the department that has been investigating the murders. It is under the Water Police’s jurisdiction.”

“Well … the only thing that is clear to me is that they are making inroads. The Rising Dragons is suffering because of what has happened in Aberdeen. Find out who is responsible and who else is working on this case. You have the power and resources at your disposal.”

“Xiao Zheng is the Superintendent in charge, but he has not asked for our assistance. It’s possible that he may have his own people undercover.”

“Find out … I want action … or else it will be your head on the chopping block. Do I make myself clear?”

“Crystal clear sir.”

“I want to know what information they have and who is supplying it and how far advanced they are in their investigations.”

“I’ll look into it however; it might be wise to tread carefully with the Water Police. If I press too hard Superintendent Zheng could grow suspicious.”

“Well …It's up to you then to be there to prevent that happening,” was Sun Yee Lok’s succinct and terse reply.

“I understand.”

“I don’t want to see any more damage done to the triad. We can’t afford to implode and if our members are being eliminated, I want to know who is behind this.”

“There is another possibility.”

The conversation became more heated and the sound of Sun Yee Lok’s annoyed voice echoed in the room. “What are you insinuating? … That there are enemies within? That we have a mole in our midst? Believe you me; I will punish them severely if that is true.” Sun Yee Lok slammed his fist on the desk to reiterate his point of view.

“No sir, but it could be another triad.”

“What? Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? A person in your position should have their finger on the pulse. Am I surrounded by incompetent fools?”

“No sir.”

“Then who?”

“Our investigations at OCTB show that the Black Panthers have been more active lately particularly around Aberdeen.”

“Did they kill Wu and the girl?”

“We’re not certain at the moment … but it’s possible.”

“I want answers. How close are you to any confirmation about this speculation?”

“Given our preliminary Intel, the information we have is being productively analysed but investigations are reaching a dead end.”

“If they did and are trying to frame the triad … I will retaliate. They will feel the wrath of the Rising Dragons in full force.”

“It's just a matter of time before someone comes out of the cold to pay up in spades however, we don’t need a bloodbath.”

“I will decide what we will or won’t do. Where honour is at stake I am ruthless!”

“Yes sir.”

“Did they kill Tony Wong too?”

“We don’t know. We’re still investigating.”

“What do you know then? … Nothing much it would appear! I want information ASAP or I’ll hold you accountable.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now if you don't mind, I have a plane to catch but I have some business to attend to first.”

“I will contact you as soon as I have some information then.”

“Do that but in the meantime, I expect my orders to be carried out successfully.”

“Certainly sir.”

Dismissing him by indicating that their conversation was concluded, Sun Yee Lok replied, “That is all, you may go.” The imposing leader of the Rising Dragons turned his chair back towards the view totally ignoring the man who was left flummoxed at what to do next.

The quiet sound of the door closing was the only sound that permeated in the room as he exited Sun Yee Lok’s office to return to the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.

 

Meanwhile … back at Section One.

 

Despite Jamie’s initial apprehension about her welfare and the fact that Oliver Chan had drugged her for her arrival at Madame Cheung’s residence, Claire had informed him that she did not need rescuing at the moment and would keep in regular contact to appease any further concerns. She was after all a well skilled Section One operative who had been trained by their number one penultimate operative … James Fraser himself. She could not allow his feelings for her to override her prime objective on this deep cover mission despite some trepidation on her own behalf of what this woman may require of her in the future.

Furthermore, it was imperative that Madeline and Operations should not become aware of any rash behaviour by Jamie to come to her assistance just because she had been drugged by Oliver Chan and they had lost contact with her whereabouts until rectified. Section One now had the coordinates of her location and if she did in fact need assistance, she would ask for it.

This was her job and this was just one of the consequences of the dangerous life they led in Section One. She had been educated in many different scenarios and letting your emotions dictate your response could in fact lead to your downfall …particularly with their superiors. They could be cancelled at any time on their leaders’ discretion and Claire certainly didn’t want Jamie to be in jeopardy with the two people who already may be questioning an ulterior relationship between them. If they suspected any coercion involving the two of them, then, not only Jamie but she too would be under the microscope further if they believed there was any sort of liaison other than that of trainer and his material.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Her deep cover was now entering into its fourth week in duration and although her mission to ingratiate into the triad via Madame Cheung had been uppermost in Section’s mind, nothing of consequence had come to the fore as yet. Despite her absence at Section One, alternate missions had been profiled as per usual; however, they had not made a move on Madame Cheung as yet until Claire reported something of significance. The capture of the Rising Dragons’ members and the elusive Sun Yee Lok was still very much to the forefront of Section One’s planning, for on any given day, it was never known what Intel they would receive about the Rising Dragons and the targets they wanted brought in.
Today however, was different. Today they had new Intel.

Operations entered the Briefing Room and approached the table followed by Fergus and Madeline who took their seats with the other operatives. Glancing at those gathered he began in his inimitable manner.

“We received priority Intel from Claire an hour ago.”

Operating the holograph screen with the remote control, the face of a classic, mature beauty, but a strong-minded, determined looking woman stared back at them. As the holograph rotated giving everyone a perfect vision of the woman in question, her steely eyes seemed to follow the people assembled with a dismissive and contemptible look.

“Claire has relayed this current picture of Madame Cheung.”

Jamie studied the image of the woman. She appeared formidable but the beauty of her features and appearance belied the cold-blooded persona she possessed. It was obvious that this woman did not rise within the triad without cut throat tactics and Jamie knew she would be a ruthless foe. His initial thoughts about Madame Cheung had been proven correct and despite what Clare had relayed each day he could not shake the feeling that seemed to knot his stomach at her photographic appearance. There was something in her eyes that contradicted her outward disposition. To Jamie this was a woman to be careful of and his unease seemed to escalate the more he looked at the holograph.

“The Intel from Tony Wong also gave us a better understanding of Madame Cheung and her position within the Rising Dragons’ triad.” Madeline added.

“Which is?” Roger Wakefield, a new member of the team, asked.

“She’s a member of Sun Yee Lok’s inner circle and runs an extremely tight, competent business venture for the Rising Dragons in her own right.”

Operations continued the explanation. “Claire has provided some vital information about her operations and associates as well over the past month particularly concerning Oliver Chan.”

Another picture, this time of a male, Chinese in origin, appeared on the screen. It was an updated image of the mystery man at the nightclub. Continuing Fergus said, “This is Oliver Chan who instigated Claire’s meeting with Madame Cheung at her residence.”

“Intel confirms it would appear, that he also likes to play both ends off against the middle. We know he was Alain de Marillac’s’ informant and the go between with Madame Cheung, but after de Marillac’s death he has become more of a major player.”

Elaborating on Operations’ statement Madeline further briefed the operatives, “Claire said that he is being groomed for a place of importance in the Rising Dragons possibly to replace Tony Wong. Apparently over the last few weeks, he has proved himself to be savvy, ruthless and discreet and this has impressed both Madame Cheung and Sun Yee Lok.”

“Furthermore, additional Intel has corroborated that after leaving Madame Cheung’s estate, he returned to Hong Kong but that he is now currently in Shanghai.” Fergus relayed.

“Why is he there?” Jamie asked trying to join the dots of all the players.

“We’re not sure but it could be a hundred reasons.” Madeline answered.

“It would appear Madame Cheung trusts Chan’s discretion and expertise in clandestine matters as he seems to move freely from place to place without drawing attention to himself,” Operations declared.

Continuing Madeline announced, “Chan has come into his element and is showing signs of being even more capable than Tony Wong.”

“A quiet assassin?”

“Not exactly Jamie ... but he could become one. However, it’s more likely to be coercion given his background with procuring innocents for Madame Cheung.”

“Nevertheless, the real reason why he is in China is unknown … and that is what we want to find out. We believe that he has been sent on a special mission for her or Sun Yee Lok or both,” Operations stated, looking around intently at the faces of the operatives gathered.

“He has recently been seen in the company of an unknown man … and we need Intel on his contacts, no matter how obscure they may seem.”

Fergus pulled up a picture of Oliver Chan with an unidentified male. “We have no data on this person but Chan was seen in intense discussion with him just recently.”

“The Rising Dragons have a splinter group in Shanghai and Chan may have made contact with them and in so doing the members of the triad.” Madeline interjected.

“So far all we know is that he’s a new player. Fergus is still searching for reliable Intel for a match up.”

“Is it likely that his contact was Sun Yee Lok?”

“It’s possible.”

“Sun Yee Lok’s movements are at random and we don’t know where he may next make contact with one of his circle. He is extremely cautious in his actions as well and consequently it is difficult to pinpoint just who is.”

“Due to the clandestine nature of his activities, he may be using Chan to pave the way for a visit to make contact with his groups.” Operations exclaimed to further clarify.

“So where is this Chan now?” Roger Wakefield inquired thinking that this was the man who may very well be their next target.

“Shanghai. He was granted special favours for procuring Claire’s services for Madame Cheung and is reaping some rewards there. Chan was last seen at the high rollers table at the casino. He is known to like the high life and has a fascination for all kinds of gambolling but this will be his undoing.”

“Could this be just a ruse to divert attention away from the real reason why he is in Shanghai?” Wakefield asked again.

Madeline answered his query. “It’s highly probable given that Sun Yee Lok’s movements are so secretive.”

“They could make contact at the casino. If so, we need to be there to intercept. Jamie will be leading the team to Shanghai and will dispatch to where Chan was last seen. Step up reconnaissance and collect any material on site. We need to bring him in and find out what he knows. As he hasn’t mobilized yet this makes Chan a perfect target for a pre-emptive. We're looking for any kind of a link especially to Sun Yee Lok and the Rising Dragons. Get in and find out what he’s got. Afterwards, roll it up. I want 100% containment. Pick up the profile from Fergus. You'll be going out this afternoon.”

Operations placed the remote control on the table and without a further glance at those gathered walked off. Everyone knew the drill and what was required of them as they disbanded.

Jamie knew this was just another stepping stone to capture the lowlife who had drugged his Sassenach and once Oliver Chan was in Section One he would pay amends for what he did to her.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 36 (V)

 

The Golden Palace Casino was bustling tonight as Chinese media moguls, models, and stylish foreigners slipped through the foyer that led to the gaming tables and secluded private rooms set aside for the high roller clientele. The main floor was packed with patrons both gambling and observing the interplay going on at the gaming tables. The bulk of the gamblers were pitting their hopes on the red or black of the Roulette wheel while the Crap, Blackjack and Poker tables were thick with milling patrons trying to beat the house. The sounds of poker machines ringing with the fall of winning coins echoed above the voices of cheering, when a lucky gambler made a killing on the roll of the dice or the fall of the ball on the right numbers.

James Fraser and his team were positioned throughout the casino observing the patrons from a distance and waiting for confirmation that the target was indeed there tonight. Ever vigilant Jamie’s eyes surveyed the surrounds watching and waiting for the familiar face of Oliver Chan. Strutting slowly across the carpeted floor of the opulent gaming room, he nodded to the operatives on mark.

“We’re in position,” he reported back to Section One as Fergus readied the in play scenario to find Oliver Chan.

“All right. Give me a good base. Second team, advance to mark,” Fergus instructed. “Geillis we’re ready for you.”

Geillis Duncan entered the room dressed in a slinky red dress that turned many an eye. Some of the gamblers and onlookers assembled at the various tables were momentarily distracted and openly admired the stunning beauty walking past. However, without giving any acknowledgement whatsoever, Geillis continued across the floor to the target’s location with a confident gait.

“I’m inside, where is he Fergus?” She asked.

“Mirrored door, at the back.”

Approaching the secured room Geillis spoke to the guard on the door. “Hi. Is Mr. Chan here?”

“Could I see your identification pass?”

She handed it to him and after giving her the once over he handed it back to her again. “Thanks.”

Stepping to one side he let her pass into a room. On entering Geillis, noticed a secluded area where high rollers were assembled at the gambling table playing poker. Slick black glass panelling, muted lighting and leather couches were also placed around the room. This was an area where wealthy clients could enjoy a drink and watch the proceedings in the high rollers’ room from a discreet distance.

Spotting Oliver Chan sitting with two blonde, attractive Caucasian women on each arm, she moved toward him while at the same time alerting him to her approach.

“Mr. Chan? Mr. Chan?”

Looking up Oliver Chan turned his head towards the striking beauty who was calling his name. His heart skipped a beat as he glanced at the most exquisite woman he had seen since Claire at the airport all those months ago. Dressed in a figure-hugging cheongsam, he watched the sway of her hips as she sashayed towards his private area. Her shinning, long scarlet hair framed her petite face delicately made up to accentuate her piercing eyes. Oliver Chan could not disengage his eyes from the ruby lips that were mouthing his name.

Thoughts of another conquest for Madame Cheung coursed through his mind momentarily, before deciding that better still; he would keep this one for himself. The closer she got the more he began to salivate at the possibilities of acquiring this woman for his own pleasure. Without taking his eyes from the operative’s approach and having quickly lost interest in the two women on his either side, Chan ordered, “Beat it.”

Begrudgingly the two women slid off the couch, as the woman … their competition … came closer. Realising that there was no point in remaining in a futile situation, they picked up their champagne glasses and beat a hasty retreat to look for more amenable company.

“Hi. Hello,” Geillis murmured in a very suggestive voice.

Practically drooling at the beautiful woman who stood before him, Oliver Chan cleared his throat before replying, “Who are you?

“I’m Geillis.”

For one moment he thought he had seen this woman before as she did look a little familiar to him. But how could that be? Mentally shaking his head at his random niggling reflection, Oliver quickly dismissed those thoughts to the back of his mind. The adage of “once seen never forgotten” could not be dismissed from his mind but on the other hand, he also couldn’t reconcile his thoughts with the vision before his very eyes. Surely if he had seen her before, he would certainly not have forgotten her.

“Well then … This must be my lucky day Geillis.”

“Yes, I will be your good luck charm Mr Chan” Geillis replied baiting him with her charm and irresistible smile.

Completely taken in by her allure Oliver replied, “Come sit down, I’ll order you a drink. What would you like?”

“Surprise me,” she purred provocatively moving forward and sitting next to him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Monitoring Geillis Duncan’s actions back at Section One and her contact with the target, Fergus alerted the team leader.

“OK Jamie, you’re clear to move up.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Oliver Chan was practically salivating at the mouth at Geillis Duncan’s reply and when he felt her slide over closer to him, his libido began to kick in with a vengeance as libidinous thoughts ran away with him. Immediately she began to lure the target into a false sense of her intentions as Geillis began to casually fondle him lightly running her hand over his thigh before applying a slight pressure near his groin. Capturing her eyes, Oliver Chan was unable to sever his gaze. With an alluring smile, she grinned at him as she moved her hand closer and closer to his throbbing groin. He let out an audible gasp as her fingers intimately touched him. Stirring at the erotic touch of her attention, Chan leaned back in the couch, eyes closed. Losing all coherent thoughts, he lapped up the sensation of what this woman was doing to him. Completely letting his guard down, Oliver could only think of getting Geillis to his room as quickly as possible and getting horizontal with her in a more private setting.

However, before he could rationalise his rambling feelings and his body’s reactions to this woman sensuous touch, Oliver Chan felt the cold steel of a gun digging into his groin.

Caught completely unawares his surprised eyes darted sideways at the woman who moments ago was fondling his genitals. “Who are you?” He managed to voice as he very quickly came back to earth with a thud.

Even her voce had changed from the alluring siren to a colder, no nonsense demeanour as Geillis ignored his question and instead stated, “You are an associate of Madame Cheung and Sun Yee Lok.”

“What?” Oliver Chan feigned his shock at her correct statement while at the same time trying to figure out what exactly had just happened.

Leaning over, nose to nose with him and pointing the gun at his head, Geillis replied succinctly, “I want information about them.”

Having the presence of mind he activated a secret button under the table that alerted main security that he needed some assistance. “Look, I don’t know where you’re coming from and I don’t care. You’re already dead.” Chan replied bombastically knowing that Security would soon be here.

“Not as dead as you will be if you don’t give me the information I want.” Looking Chan directly in the eye, Geillis then spoke to Fergus back at Section, “Do we really need this guy?

“Unfortunately … yes, we do.”

“Pity.”

Geillis nevertheless pistol-whipped Chan to press home her point “I haven’t got all day Mr Chan. You have two choices; you can come quietly or not.”

“You’ll regret this … I assure you.” Chan replied as several burly security men gathered near the room.

“Geillis, you’ve got incoming hostiles,” Fergus warned.

It was obvious that the situation had escalated now that Security was descending on the cul-de-sac positioning of their location in the Casino and realising that she may be somewhat trapped asked for a possible egress point.

“Can you back me out? I’ve nearly convinced Mr Chan of his options.”

“No. You’re going to have to go through them.”

Suddenly another operative’s voice replied into her communication unit. “I’ll cover you,” interjected Rupert Mackenzie.

“No, Mac. I need you at the front to prepare egress.”

“Send Wakefield. I’m getting Geillis.” Rupert Mackenzie replied back to Fergus.

“Mackenzie, what are you doing?” James Fraser’s voice interjected.

“Geillis can handle herself, but I’ll provide backup for her,” Jamie responded succinctly to Mackenzie while at the same time dismissing Fergus’s concerned ramblings.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Hearing a gun click behind her, Geillis Duncan whirled around and shot one of the security team in the chest before he had a chance to fire his weapon. As he fell to the ground, more men came running towards her from all directions, their weapons poised for retaliation.

“There she is … get her!”

The screams of the women and patrons echoed around the private room as several heavily built security personnel came rushing in to assist Oliver Chan. The sound of gunshots ricocheted too as they opened fire, while patrons dropped to the floor trying to find cover from the flying bullets.

Geillis ducked behind the leather couch while Oliver Chan slid under the table away from the rapid and repeated bullet fire. Security fired at her. She shot back. Rising to have a look and keeping her target in sight, Geillis then blasted away at the assailants. As each shot left her weapon, she bobbed behind cover to regain momentum. A wayward bullet lodged in the leather couch just near her head. Quickly she rose once more to shoot at her would be assassins with a flurry of bullets. Geillis took several of them down with accurate precision and aim as her bullets hit the targets and by the time Jamie had arrived, she had the situation well in hand.

“Come on, let's get out of here,” he whispered just before orders to the same effect were relayed from Fergus through their comm. units.

“Get to your exit point ASAP ... there are more hostiles approaching.”

Oliver Chan was cowering on the floor when he felt a strong hand drag him up by the scruff of his neck from his hiding place. Looking into the eyes of a menacing man, Chan was pulled up until standing and ushered to a back entrance of the room as the members of Jamie’s team provided cover for their escape.

Speaking into his comm. set Jamie relayed back to Section. “Team One has possession. Target is en route.”

“Good … got it. Bring him in.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

On returning back to Section One after the Shanghai mission, James Fraser preceded his team and walked into Van Access first followed by Geillis Duncan. There stoically waiting for them in the hallway was Operations and Madeline. Stopping in front of Section One’s leaders, Jamie waited for his superior to address him as to the success of the mission.

“You have the target?”

“Yes.”

At his reply Operations and Madeline glanced toward the exit door. They saw Rupert Mackenzie and Roger Wakefield come through Van Access with Oliver Chan in tow wearing a black hood over his face. As the two operatives neared where Operations was standing, they stopped and Rupert pulled off the hood.

“You can't keep me here, old man … I know people.” Chan spat out as he defiantly looked at Operations.

Ignoring his angry remarks Dougal Mackenzie merely declared. “Take him to Containment.”

“Do you want him interrogated?” Jamie asked for further clarification, knowing that he would be monitoring that interview and if needs be, oversee the interrogation himself.

“Yes, but let him spend some time with Madeline first.”

Operations then cast his glance towards Geillis Duncan. “Well done. The mission was a success.”

“Thank you, sir. There wasn’t that much resistance once Chan realised what his options were,” she replied looking her superior in the eye.

He gave her a wry smile at her answer. Madeline too, held back a smile knowing that Geillis Duncan had performed well on this mission. The girl definitely had potential. However, the anomaly with Rupert Mackenzie’s behaviour was another matter she would need to address with she debriefed with her.

As if reading her thoughts Geillis asked, “You want me to debrief?”

“Yes, my office. Twenty minutes,” Madeline responded giving nothing away as to her mindset knowing that Geillis Duncan would believe this to be a normal procedure.

“Yes ma’am.”

Followed by Madeline on his heels, Operations turned to walk towards his office, but he looked back at Jamie and stipulated, “I’ll expect your debrief on my desk within the hour.”

“Of course.”

The Section leaders then briskly walked away from Van Access. When they had disappeared from sight, Jamie nodded to Geillis while the remaining team members filed past heading to Munitions to return their weapons. Once all team members had filed past, James Fraser turned and headed towards his office.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Rupert Mackenzie and Roger Wakefield headed round the corner towards Containment, Oliver Chan seized his moment and made a move to escape. Punching Mackenzie with his shoulder Chan caught him off balance and he stumbled backwards. Ducking and shaking his head he managed to dislodge the hood over his face, it fell off and he was able to see. While Rupert was trying to gain his equilibrium, Oliver head butted the other operative in order to cause a diversion so that he could escape from the two men guarding him. Roger Wakefield fell to the ground as the unexpected assault caught him off kilter as well.

Eventually regaining his balance, Rupert was able to prevent the target’s getaway by quickly kicking him in the leg. It buckled beneath him as Oliver Chan lost his balance too, enabling Mackenzie to get back the momentum by pushing him forcibly up against the wall. Meanwhile Roger Wakefield rose to his feet and trained his gun on him. Feeling the cold metal pressed into his temple, Chan realised the futility of his actions and he reluctantly complied knowing the any escape from this place was hopeless.

Flanked by the two Section operatives, Oliver Chan finally continued on to his incarceration … and an uncertain outlook.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Geillis Duncan entered Madeline’s office a short while later in order to debrief on the Shanghai mission and Oliver Chan’s capture. She knew that there would be questions to be asked especially with Rupert Mackenzie’s behaviour. If it hadn’t been for Jamie’s intervention, he would surely face the consequences … perhaps even be placed in abeyance for showing his emotions. Madeline did not tolerate any form of weakness and Rupert had nearly broken mark. There would be reprisals for him, of that she was certain. Hearing Madeline talking on the phone, she waited quietly for affirmation of her presence.

“Has level eight analysed Chernov's files? Good.”

Knowing who had entered her office Madeline concluded the call, and without looking up she addressed Geillis. “Come in. I’ve been expecting you.”

“Madeline,” she replied as she saw her superior gesture for her to take a seat.

“Sit down … You did well.”

“Thank you.”

Finally, Madeline looked at her with eyes that seemed sincere but there was no telling what she was really thinking for she hid her emotions well. Section One’s second in command was hard to read and any expressions on her face were clandestine at the best. Operatives never knew what her thoughts were and Geillis was flummoxed by the warm smile that appeared on Madeline’s lips.

“Operations and I are impressed with your handling of the situation in Shanghai. You are under consideration for a promotion to Level 3.”

“Thank you.”

“Yes … We have been watching you closely on the Rising Dragons missions thus far and think you may be most useful in the future.”

However, after this initial praise, Madeline’s tone of voice suddenly changed. It became more reproaching and accusing. Looking Geillis in the eye she continued addressing her. “Nevertheless, there are some concerns. Do you understand what just happened on your mission?”

“It was a contained dispersion. There was an incident at the second mark.”

“How many times do you think Rupert Mackenzie can break position before a team is in jeopardy?”

“I didn't ask for his help. Why don't you talk to Mackenzie?”

Without mincing words, Madeline continued. “You two will extricate the personal component from your relationship.”

“There is no personal component of our relationship … it doesn't exist.” Geillis Duncan replied with steely nerves.

“Mackenzie will be placed in abeyance if the relationship continues,” Madeline remarked, ignoring Geillis’ response.

“You're talking to the wrong person. It is strictly one sided, I assure you.”

Madeline was dogged in her retort and would tolerate no recourse other than the one she proposed. “If Mackenzie isn't letting go, you will have to make him.”

“And how do I do that?”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something. That'll be all.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometime later after the debriefings, Oliver Chan was dragged down the hall from Containment into the White Room by Rupert Mackenzie and Roger Wakefield. They passed by Madeline who was standing in the hallway watching and waiting for his appearance in the interrogation room. Chan, however, was putting up resistance and was struggling against his escorts. At the sight of his superior, the hair on the back of his neck rose, as Mackenzie felt Madeline’s eyes boring into him as they led the target into the White Room. Once they had strapped him into the metal chair, they left. Rupert avoided any eye contact with Madeline as he closed the door behind him.

Approaching the White Room for Chan’s interrogation, Madeline entered the room as the heavy door creaked open once again. With soft footfalls she neared the chair where the target sat … shackled by his hands and feet.

He looked up.

“Hello, Mr. Chan. I trust we will have your full cooperation while you’re here with us.”

He smiled but gave no answer.

“My apologies for disrupting your evening.”

“It could not be avoided, I’m sure,” he replied flippantly.

Advancing slowly toward the chair Madeline continued. “We’re not unaware of your importance or the privileges you have been enjoying of late by your association with the Rising Dragons.”

“That must explain the extraordinary lengths you’ve gone to, to make me feel at home. But you’re misinformed; I have nothing to do with the Rising Dragons.”

“Mr. Chan, tell me about your relationship with Madame Cheung.”

“I don't know who she is.”

“You work for the Rising Dragons. You were personally responsible for procuring women for Madame Cheung and you were Alain de Marillac’s go between.”

“What? ... What are you talking about?”

“Mr Chan, you do business with a known terrorist and murderer, Sun Yee Lok.”

Staring at her and giving nothing away, he replied, “Who’s that?”

“Come, come Mr Chan … we know of your connections … We want to know why you were in Shanghai and where we can locate Sun Yee Lok.”

“I can’t help you.”

“You can. And you will.”

Oliver Chan’s refusal to answer her questions irked Madeline. Walking to the door she opened it gesturing to the two people waiting outside in the corridor for their instructions. Section One’s Torture Twins entered, wheeling their gold cases on a cart. Acknowledging them with a slight nod in their direction, Madeline left the White Room, closing the door behind her. The female operative opened the case, while maintaining eye contact with Chan at all times.

It was obvious to Oliver that this was a woman who enjoyed her job.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Madeline returned a short while later, Oliver Chan looked less like the self-confident man he had been previously. The torture experts stood on either side of the chair as Madeline surveyed their handiwork.

“Are you ready to co-operate now Mr Chan?” She asked in a measured tone of voice.

Oliver looked up with defiance and glared at Madeline. Bearing the tell-tale slits beneath his eyes, he was not yet a broken man.

She ignored his futile rebelliousness and turning to speak to Elizabeth, Madeline inquired, “Did you saturate?”

“Any more and it would have killed him.”

Madeline calmly observed Chan and consciously compared him to Tony Wong. Oliver Chan was definitely showing signs of having more backbone and Madeline understood why Sun Yee Lok had been impressed by his fortitude. “You’re a very strong man, Mr. Chan.”

Seeing the resistance in his eyes, Madeline’s gaze followed the throb of his neck pulse and noticed something. “What’s that on your neck?”

Addressing one of the Torture experts, she ordered. “Remove his shirt.”

Taking her scissors Elizabeth began cutting Chan’s black T-shirt, beginning at the arm and travelling upward to the neckline. The material fell apart, revealing his neck and chest. A large scar was exposed at the bottom of his neck running downward.

Madeline moved the material aside, her eyes honed in on the indentation and she lightly passed a finger over the scar. “A burn scar. From the coloration, it appears to have happened when you were very young.”

Having gained Chan’s attention, Madeline watched as his eyes flickered in remembrance.

“Your meeting with Mr. Sun Yee Lok. Where and when?”

Oliver Chan glanced away, indicating that he would not spill the information.

Madeline looked towards the Torture Two briefly, before turning to leave again. As she turned, she said, “Butane torch.”

Before she’d reached the door to exit, Chan cried out in panic, “No! Please!”

Turning back to him, Madeline knew that he was now ready to talk and give her the information she requested.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 37

 

Madame Cheung was extremely pleased with the progress she had made with Claire Beauchamp over the past few weeks. Her attitude had been both receptive and totally embracing of everything that she had taught her hence she was very impressed. The girl was a quick and willing learner and there had been no need to use the normal drugging procedures to convince Claire of her responsibilities to her new life … unlike with many of the other girls who had failed to understand what was required of them. Madame Cheung was convinced Claire was relishing the circumstances that would see her have a lifestyle that would bring her admiration and riches.

To her mind, it was also highly possible that Claire would become a jewel in the Rising Dragons’ crown as she was a model student. Sadly, however, Madame Cheung had thought Annalise de Marillac would be that woman, but that was not to be. Although the two women were similar, Claire Beauchamp was very different from Annalise. She was savvy and smart as well as being exceptionally beautiful and a woman with her looks would indeed be an asset for the triad. Claire had been open to all instruction thus far, and Madame Cheung was ready to test the waters with her new recruit to the business as soon as possible.

It so happened that the very situation she’d been looking for would arise quicker than she thought possible and from none other than her leader Sun Yee Lok.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Lost in her thoughts about her new protégé Madame Cheung was oblivious to her private telephone ringing in her office. The incessant buzzing eventually registered and broke her from her ponderings. There was only one person who ever used this number and he only used it when something important had arisen. Composing herself Madame Cheung reached for the handset and answered.

“Hello?”

“Ah, Madame, my dear … it is good to hear your voice.”

“And you too honourable one.”

“I hear you have been a busy woman.”

“You have eyes and ears everywhere it would seem Sun Yee.”

“Yes … Nothing much escapes me if it affects the Rising Dragons. Oliver Chan was all you said and more.”

“Thank you ...” She smiled at his compliment for he very rarely gave one.

“His recruitment to the Rising Dragons has been most beneficial.”

“How did your meeting go with him in Shanghai?”

“I was impressed. He will prove to be a useful liaison for us.”

“I agree. He moves freely without drawing attention to himself. He can be ruthless yet discreet at the same time.”

“Exactly!”

“I know our clientele. I am very thorough.”

“Yes… you are!” He stated admirably. “I believe Chan is reaping his rewards in Shanghai as we speak.”

“He must be enjoying himself … I haven’t heard from him for a while,” she laughed.

“Well I did give him two weeks downtime.”

Knowing that the leader of the Rising Dragons always had a second motive for contacting her, Madame Cheung changed the subject then asked, “What can I do for you?”

“I have a very important new client coming to Hong Kong next week who I would like you to take care of.”

“His every wish will be fulfilled … of that you can be sure.”

“I knew I could count on you Madame.”

“Who is it?”

“Le Comte St. Germain.”

“Ahh … I have heard of him … say no more. He will be taken care of in the best possible way. Does he have any special requirements?” She added reading between the lines.

“Yes … as a matter of fact he does.”

“I will take care of it. I have the very girl.”

“Good … I knew you would!”

“Will you be joining us too?”

“Possibly … I haven’t met this St. Germain in person and I would very much like to see if he can deliver the goods.”

“I’m sure if he is satisfied with what we can offer then he will be most amenable to a working relationship with the triad.”

“Yes … I agree ... and with you in particular Madame Cheung.”

“Interesting. I look forward to meeting him. You know that your favourite girl will be available sir if you do decide to pay us a visit.”

“Hmm? … Perhaps I just might do that then Madame. We’ll see.”

“Thank you.”

Replacing the receiver into its cradle Madame Cheung sat back in her chair and smiled satisfied at the fortuitous turn of events. Sun Yee Lok’s request was just what she’d been looking for. The fact that her leader wanted this person taken care of in the best possible way during his visit to Hong Kong was beneficial too, plus he’d indicated that he may be of interest to her. This had certainly set her imagination to thinking. What was Monsieur Le Comte St. Germain involved in that would be mutually beneficial to her business as well as to the Rising Dragons?

A wry smile bowed her lips as Madame Cheung finally realised what Sun Yee Lok’s underlying message was. Indeed, she was the one who could make his stay as comfortable and pleasurable as possible. She knew exactly who she would use. It was time and Claire Beauchamp was ready.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Jamie worked at his desk, Operations’ voice echoed in his office summoning him to the Perch. “Fraser? Briefing … my office.”

“Okay.”

Some minutes later after finishing off his debrief, James Fraser closed down his computer, left his office and made his way to the Perch as summoned.

Given the nature of her undercover mission, Jamie knew that eventually a large percentage of Claire’s Intel about Madame Cheung’s affairs would play right into Madeline’s hands. It was inevitable that when it did, she would be waiting for such an opportunity to profile a new mission for her. So far there had been little Intel that could place Claire in jeopardy, however, there were no guarantees of avoiding the situation should it arise. Perhaps a situation had already arisen and Operations had called him to the Perch to go over the Intel on the situation thus far. If this was the case, then Jamie knew his leaders had most likely already reached a decision on what they wanted Claire to do. Hence it was just a formality that he’d been summoned there at all.

Purposefully climbing the stairs, James Fraser quietly entered the perch. Madeline and Operations were deep in conversation when he entered. Ever the stealth operative Jamie cross the threshold of the Perch without his superiors knowing he was there and it was only when he spoke that they realised he had indeed entered Operations’ office.

“You wanted to see me?”

At the sound of his voice, both of them stopped and turned to see their Level 5 operative standing resolutely with his hands clasped loosely in front of his body.

“Yes,” Operations replied matter of factually.

Madeline stood quietly to one side while Operations began to relay what Claire had discovered about her hostess. “Claire’s connection with Madame Cheung has been eventful to say the least. While at her hideaway, she has been able to gauge significant Intel on the businesses that she runs for the Rising Dragons.”

“Good. Did she get what we needed?”

“Not quite. She still has no Intel to pin point where the leader of the Rising Dragons will next surface and has been unable to shine any light on his whereabouts as yet.”

“And Chan’s Intel was flawed.” Madeline added.

“I see.”

“Claire’s Intel on Madame Cheung, however, has been excellent so far. It appears her influence is more widespread than we first thought. She oversees exclusive Escort establishments in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand for the Rising Dragons, but this may just be the tip of the iceberg. We are yet to ascertain the depth and breadth of her dealings in prostitution in South East Asia.”

While they had Jamie’s undivided attention Madeline stated, “Despite what Madame Cheung told Claire about her exclusive Escort Service catering for the upper echelons of Asian and European moneyed society … although in part it was indeed true … Fergus has found out that her establishment actually provides for all their pleasures … no matter what … if the price is right.”

This intel was jarring to him, but Jamie merely replied with his stoic blank stare.

Looking directly at him, she continued … “While some escort agencies provide non-sexual services only, many turn a blind eye to escorts who provide additional sexual services or actively encourage them. Madame Cheung is one of those that do encourage fostering a deeper relationship … for it is then that she gains power over the client and this in turn is the Rising Dragons’ bargaining chip.”

“Blackmail?” Jamie surmised.

“Yes.” Operations answered. "The death of Chen Wu on the junk was part of this prostitution scheme. Vulnerable women who are dazzled by the thought of making a lot of money for themselves are more than often drawn into a business they have no hope of ever leaving.”

“Now that Annalise de Marillac is dead, Madame Cheung is grooming Claire to take her place.”

“Claire is the key?”

“Madame Cheung trusts her Jamie... that’s why she will do whatever it takes!”

Interjecting Madeline further clarified, “She will do what she has to do. We all do. You don’t have to like the job. You just have to do it. Section One is the most clandestine organization on the planet. It's our job to bring down the criminals and terrorists that no one else can get.”

James Fraser did not blink an eye as Madeline imparted all this confrontational information as to the real purpose of Madame Cheung’s business. He knew that any profile she had planned would surely involve a Valentine type mission for Claire. However, this was not acceptable for him. He was already drawing up possible scenarios in his mind. Even though Claire was on a deep cover mission she would not valentine herself … of that he was resolute.

 

Meanwhile … back at Madame Cheung’s

 

The conversation that had just transpired with her leader played over in Madame Cheung’s mind. Undeniably, she did have the very girl that could entertain Monsieur Le Comte St. Germain and she was certain that Claire would do whatever it took to captivate this new client. Confident in her protégé’s ability to carry out this challenge Madame Cheung summoned her so that she could outline her plans.

Reaching for the phone she said, “Lee would you ask Claire to come here please?”

“Yes ma’am … Right away.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madame Cheung sat at her dining room table, working on her laptop when Claire entered the room and joined her. “Ah! … Good … You’re here.”

“Madame … You wanted to see me?”

“Come in Claire … Yes … I have some good news.”

“Good news?”

Madame Cheung removed her glasses, rose from the table and ushered Claire to the more comfortable wing chairs overlooking the garden. “Come … sit down, I will explain.”

Claire took a seat opposite her as she continued. “You've done a great job my dear in redefining who you are since you came here, and I am extremely pleased with the progress we have made.” Madame Cheung beamed at her indulgently.

“Thank you …”

“You have far and away exceeded my wildest expectations. That is why I believe you are ready to put all of your training into practise. I have a job for you,’’ she informed her enthusiastically.

Without flinching a muscle, Claire engaged in eye contact with Madame Cheung. “Thank you for the vote of confidence … but are you sure Madame?”

“Most definitely … you have been my star recruit Claire. You’re more than ready my dear!”

Claire could barely hold on to the fixed smile that crossed her mouth as Madame Cheung continued. “I have had a request from my illustrious leader. Come … I will describe your duties for next weekend.”

Looking at Claire, she smiled contentedly watching for her reaction.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“... she will do whatever it takes!”

Standing at ease in the Perch, Jamie gave the appearance of complete attentiveness to what his superiors were saying. However, his thoughts centred on the conversation Claire had with Madame Cheung when she’d asked specifically about her duties. Given what Madeline had conveyed, this was especially significant in his plans to keep Claire out of harm’s way.

“Will I be required to have sex with these men?”

“That decision is for you alone Claire, you may choose to do so or you may not. It is entirely up to you. However, having said that, from time to time there are special requests from some of our clientele, but no one is forcing you to do anything against your free will.”

Obviously, this was Madame Cheung’s ploy to soften the impact of any proposal she may put to Claire. The first couple of times she would not be required to go further than required, however, Jamie knew this would not last forever. Claire may eventually be backed into a corner and put into a situation without compromise. She was in trouble … he knew it … Operations knew it and Madeline knew Claire may soon have her baptism of fire at long last.

Internalising this last piece of information, Jamie also knew that Claire could be in some danger especially if Madame Cheung pressed the envelope for her to oblige her clients every wants and needs.

Madeline’s voice prattling on brought Jamie back to the present as she confirmed what may be required of Claire. “… This form of prostitution often shelters under the umbrella of these exclusive Escort agencies, who supply attractive escorts for social occasions.”

“Is this where Claire fits into the scenario?”

Ignoring the interruption but with a look that spoke volumes, Madeline continued cognizant of the effect her words were having on Jamie’s psyche, “… Madame Cheung’s customers call her agency … and the act takes place at the customer's place of residence or more commonly at his hotel room. Given the clientele that are believed to be on Madame Cheung’s books … this is not beyond the realms of possibility.” Then, raising her eyes towards Jamie while watching for a response, she asked, “Would you have a problem with that James?”

His blank stare gave nothing away of his inner turmoil and replied, “No.”

“I suspect that at any time now Madame Cheung will require Claire to entertain clients that use her services. This could be at her residence or elsewhere by special arrangement. When this happens, we will be able to make a move on her and Sun Yee Lok at the same time.”

The wheels of motion were turning in Jamie’s head at the thought of what awaited Claire and how he could diffuse the situation for her. “Do we know any names on her clientele list?”

“No … Not as yet. The Rising Dragons receive a considerable amount of money from this “business” venture. It is well into the millions of dollars. These are influential men who procure the services of women from Madame Cheung, and many hide under the protection of diplomatic immunity to avoid detection. Some may even be members of the Rising Dragons Triad … perhaps even Sun Yee Lok himself also.”

“It would appear that Claire has ingratiated herself into Madame Cheung’s confidence and trust. As a result, it is crucial that she stay there a while longer,” Operations insisted. “We also need to know who Madame Cheung’s clients are and how they can lead us to Sun Yee Lok. I want results!”

“Yes ... Claire is in the perfect deep cover position to infiltrate the enemy long term,” Madeline replied, closely watching for Jamie’s reaction while at the same time twisting the knife a little deeper into his heart. “I have been working on her profile parameters for this continuing mission.”

Speaking with authority, Operations indicated that he too, was not open to challenge on Claire’s mission profile. “I agree. Claire will remain with Madame Cheung as long as it is necessary to complete her assignment.” Then looking decisively at his Level 5 Operative he ordered, “That will be all for now Fraser. You may go.”

“Thank ye.” Turning without a single glance towards his superiors, Jamie made his way from the Perch and walked towards his office.

 

Meanwhile …

 

Claire returned to her bedroom and sat on the bed somewhat stunned with what Madame Cheung had just told her would be required for her “first” assignation. Sighing, she briefly shut her eyes then leaned her head back against the pillow deep in thought. She knew who to contact and immediately activated her small Comm. unit to Channel C.

“Jamie?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In the confines of his office, Jamie sat at his desk rubbing his chin and tapping his fingers on his desk. Deep in thought, he worriedly stroked his skin back and forth, until the sound of Claire’s dulcet tones in his ear roused him from his thoughts.

“Sass-en-ach?” he answered softly.

“Jamie … Madame Cheung has a new client coming next weekend that she is grooming me to entertain as a personal request from Sun Yee Lok.”

“Do ye know who it is?”

“Yes … Le Comte St Germain.”

“Has she outlined what she wants ye to do?”

“Yes.”

There was silence from the other end and Claire plaintively repeated his name. “Jamie? I can’t do this!”

“Do Operations and Madeline know of his visit?” Jamie replied hearing the entreaty in her voice.

“Not yet … but I will have to inform Section of this connection to Sun Yee Lok.” There was a little hesitation before she asked, " What should I do?”

“Don’t worry I’ll think of something mo ghràidh,” he reassured her knowing how much of an anathema Valentine missions were to Claire. “Give me one hour.”

“I will.”

James Fraser set the wheels in motion … but first he needed to know who this Le Comte St. Germain was. “Let me check out the target first before ye tell Madeline and Operations.”

“Okay.” She hesitated a little before severing the communication and said, “Jamie? … I miss you.”

“Me too.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The sound of silence was deafening in two separate locations as two Section One operatives both did what they had to do.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 38

 

Needing to find out just who this Le Comte St. Germain was, Jamie typed the target’s name into Section’s Data Base to access Intel contained on his file, however, his computer showed that access was denied to his profile. This immediately raised his suspicions. Why was it highly classified and by whom? There could only be one reason and one person who had seen fit to place this Intel under a secret access code. Nevertheless, nothing was beyond the realms of possibility for James Fraser. Typing a special code into the confidential Vickers Log File, he waited for the necessary security clearance needed to access the secret files on Level 2. Inserting a small USB device into his computer Jamie downloaded the codes as they materialised before his eyes. Once transferred, he quickly removed it, shut down his computer, and left his office … a man on a mission.

James Fraser walked down several corridors in the labyrinth that was Section One until he was standing in front of a private elevator. Keying in a password, he surreptitiously looked around to make sure no one was watching him or more to the point following his movements. He entered the elevator and the doors closed after him with a whoosh. His fingers quickly punched the code … two-two-one-seven-one … into the keypad located on the wall and it quietly began to descend. The elevator continued down several levels, then stopped on seven. Using his apparatus pad Jamie plugged it into a port on the right of the elevator’s chamber. It immediately lit up and he keyed in the code once more. This time the elevator continued its descent before coming to a halt on Level 2.

The doors opened to reveal a deserted small antechamber.

Stepping out Jamie carefully looked around as the doors shut behind him. This undocumented area was not under surveillance, but there was always the possibility that someone with clearance could arrive unexpectedly without his knowledge but that was a chance he was willing to take. Vigilantly confirming that there was no one there, Jamie turned right and began walking down a small corridor partially lit with eerie green and pink lights. As he walked, he studied the various panels lining both sides with each segment indicating a contained past mission. All the current missions were lit up with a flashing red light, but Jamie ignored them and made his way to K316 … the highly classified terrorists’ profiles.

His eyes scanned the panels until he had located the one, he was looking for. Feeling for the handle at the bottom of the panel he inserted his fingers in the groove and locating a button with his fingertips he pressed it. The shield immediately began to roll up to reveal a screen and port opening. Once the docking port for the panel was exposed Jamie plugged in his USB device then tapped in Le Comte St. Germain’s name.

While the computer searched for Intel on the target he waited with resolve and ever vigilant for any disturbance in this top-secret part of Section One.

In no time at all several windows appeared. Scanning the Intel that materialized, Jamie looked for the one he wanted to appear on screen. In a short time, the terrorist’s name was emblazoned on the monitor followed by copious notes on his dealings. Internalising the major details and character traits of St. Germain, he quickly scanned the Intel as it flashed across the screen. However, a noise reverberating in the distance interrupted his perusal. Although tempted to read the remaining Intel Jamie resisted wanting to avoid discovery by Madeline or Operations in a classified area, he was not meant to be in. He quickly depressed the download command and parallel bars soon appeared on the computer screen indicating that the information on Le Comte St. Germain was being transferred to his office computer.

What seemed like an inordinate amount of time for the transfer to occur only took milliseconds to succeed. Once completed, Jamie immediately folded it up, pulled his device out of the port, lowered the shield and returned to the elevator.

Once he had secured the Intel on the target Le Comte St. Germain he immediately gave Claire the go ahead to contact Section One. He spoke her special code word.

“Jos-e-phine.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Heading in the direction of his office, James Fraser passed through Systems where all operatives were engaged in their duties. However, before he had a chance to reach his office and look at the data, he had secretly downloaded he was summoned to the Perch once again by the distinctive thunderous voice of Dougal Mackenzie.

“Fraser! … My office! … Now!”

Fergus and Murtagh stopped what they were doing and looked up towards the Perch as soon as they heard the command bellowed over the PA system wondering what had got Operations so riled up. They could see Madeline and Dougal Mackenzie deep in conversation in the interior of the eerie and both seemed to be putting across their point of view to the other as they witnessed hand gestures from each of their superiors. Their discussion came to an end when Operations turned to face the floor as if watching for Jamie to appear. It seemed that all eyes in Section were focused on the man in black who confidently strode towards the Perch as commanded.

Section One’s best cold operative never looked frazzled; he always gave the impression of self-assuredness and control. The two friends shared a look as they watched the retreating back of James Fraser climb the stairs to the Perch to have counsel with Section One’s leaders.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“You wanted tae see me?”

“Come in James.”

Standing as he always did when summoned to the Perch, James Fraser was a man who exuded strength with a deadly and steely aura of power his leaders had come to recognise was ingrained in their top Level 5 operative. James Fraser was a man who showed no weakness in adversity and whose loyalty to the Section was unchallenged. However, where there was connectedness to another person emotionally, there was always a weakness to be found. As of yet Jamie had not displayed his emotions towards Claire Beauchamp openly although Madeline and Operations knew there was a worrisome closeness they could not deny. Her mission profile for Claire could change all that this time.

Jamie watched his superiors suspecting that he had been summoned because Claire had finally informed them of Madame Cheung’s surprise visitor this weekend. Their next statement only confirmed that his suspicions were correct.

“We got lucky. We have received some Intel from Claire that could play right into our hands.” With a nod acknowledging his second in command, Operations continued, “Madeline has already profiled a special mission for her as a result of this information.”

“Claire’s deep cover will only assist in capturing these terrorists and one in particular who has evaded Section One for some time,” Madeline stated with resolve and a look that seemed to be sizing up any reaction from Jamie.

“Who?”

“Le Comte St. Germain.”

“We have to run this on an accelerated clock as we have a small window of opportunity.” Operations stated categorically.

“I see.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Claire will do whatever it takes!” He announced adding, “She is Section and knew the consequences that may arise from this deep cover mission.”

Standing there aloofly, Jamie digested all the Intel parameters of the mission from his superiors. He failed to respond or show any emotion to Operations’ statement, instead his thoughts centred on their previous briefing in the Perch earlier.

It was all making sense now. The innuendo Madeline and Operations had paraphrased in the Perch had all been leading to this. It was exactly as he’d thought … Claire’s real mission at Madame Cheung’s had always meant to be a Valentine one … probably to lure Sun Yee Lok initially, but due to the current circumstances it would now involve this Le Comte St. Germain.

Stalking up to Jamie, Operations’ voice spoke brusquely to him, indicating that he was not open to challenge on Madeline’s mission profile. “Do you hear me?”

In a whispered voice Jamie eventually replied, “I heard ye.”

“Good!” Continuing, Operations handed Jamie a PDA, remarking, “All relevant Intel is on your panel and there will be no deviation from the profile under any circumstances. Is that clear?”

James Fraser gave his standard succinct answer in reply. “Of course.”

"That will be all.”

Jamie’s eyes revealed nothing and his blank persona gave nothing away to what he was thinking. He took the PDA, turned, and without a single glance towards either of his superiors made his way from the Perch.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madeline and Operations watched from the Perch as their Level 5 operative walked in the direction of his office. They knew that what was contained on his PDA would not sit well with him. James Fraser was not going to like what Madeline had profiled for Claire that was for sure.

“Jamie won’t like it. You know he won’t Madeline.”

“We’ll deal with that if and when it arises. He's got to let it go.”

“What if he can't?”

“He'll get over it … or Claire may be in jeopardy.”

“It’s a huge risk. It might end very badly.”

“It won’t.”

“I doubt if it's going to be that simple Madeline. There's nothing that he won’t do to protect Claire.”

“He knows the consequences if he disobeys orders Dougal.”

“Cancellation?”

“Exactly! No one is immune, and Jamie knows that.”

Operations looked at Madeline with a concerned expression on his face for he knew they could never underestimate James Fraser despite his perceived loyalty to the Section. “It may backfire … We’ll need a contingency.”

“I agree.”

Turning to look at his second in Command, Dougal asked, “Any ideas?”

Madeline's expression inferred that she had already given this some thought. “One or two,” she smiled secretively.

“Good!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Making his way past Systems, Jamie headed towards his office determined to find out if the Intel he had gained from the Level 2 secret files and what he knew would be contained on his PDA corresponded. He suspected that Madeline had profiled that Claire be the enticement for this Le Comte St. Germain. He was also convinced that Madame Cheung would use Claire’s uncanny likeness to Annalise de Marillac as the lure that would hook her and the triad a very big fish. All in good time, Madeline would eventually use her to catch an even bigger fish … the leader of the Rising Dragons himself.

However, anything that she had profiled on this mission would be counteracted if it put Claire in jeopardy in any way. By manipulating the profile with little consequence to himself, Jamie would achieve the end game … but on his terms and his way. His footsteps were a little quicker, his breathing a little more ragged but his steely resolve was focused on one thing … Claire’s safety. He was already processing in his mind possible scenarios for the mission regardless of what Operations had said.

Being prepared by knowing who and what he was up against were the weapons of victory. Jamie was thorough and resolute in his mindset. Thankfully he was going alone to provide back up and that in itself played right into his hands. As he walked closer to his office, the fingers of his left hand unconsciously inserted themselves into the button holes of his jacket and he loosened the buttons one at a time. This small sign of his uneasiness showed his doggedness too, for it illustrated the yin and yang of his personality.

One thing the Master had taught him in martial arts training, and which Jamie had perfected on his own, was that the practise of this esoteric philosophy relied on internal power and strength … characteristics which he had in abundance. It was the discipline of these two areas that he’d used time and time again on missions, and it was what gave him fortitude in adversity. The training of his inner spirit and mind as well as physical strength enabled him to have advantage over his foes. His stoicism, bravery, courage and powerfulness when unleashed were the characteristics of his inner strength. This was why James Fraser was Section One’s penultimate cold operative. Showing no emotions, he gave nothing away that his adversaries from outside or within Section could use against him.

First things first though. He needed to check St. Germain’s data and the PDA for the mission profile from Operations.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie entered his sanctum, closed the door, shut his blinds and without delay sat down and opened up his computer. In the confines of his office, he immediately keyed in his secret password to read the data he had downloaded from Level 2. As the Intel flashed across his monitor, his eyes scanned it. He quickly read the details on Le Comte St. Germain’s profile and internalised what was revealed. Leaning back in his chair for a brief moment, Jamie rubbed his chin unconsciously deep in thought. Then without delay, he cross-checked the details on his panel to see just what Intel Operations and Madeline had on the target and what they had profiled for this mission.

Le Comte St. Germain is an industrialist and philanthropist, but he is a human trafficker. He has links to the Russian Mafia and it is suspected that he is fostering new links to the Rising Dragons triad through their leader Sun Yee Lok. Once he has become established in the triad, he will have extensive connections through the Mafia and them to terrorists in both hemispheres.

He moves kids around all over the world in an underage prostitution racket. St. Germain makes them disappear when they have no parents with which to file a missing person or to check on their whereabouts. He's been instrumental in providing young girls for several “businesses” but is not particular with whom he deals with as long as the money is forthcoming. Until now he's been very difficult to find, we have had no lead on him or his actions … But we do have a lead now and this planned trip to Hong Kong is an obvious ruse to procure business with the Rising Dragons and more to the point Madame Cheung who we suspect may possibly deal in child exploitation as well.

What Jamie discovered next though, set his mind into a tail spin. It appeared that Le Comte St. Germain was particularly fond of a certain type of entertainment, particularly with brunette, statuesque beauties. Jamie knew that Madame Cheung would be able to provide for his every want and need and that Claire would be his certain type of woman. If nothing else, Madame Cheung prided herself on her exclusivity in providing whatever her clientele required. She had been grooming Claire for just this very opportunity where she would be used to entice the target for the benefit of the Rising Dragons.

Section One needs some leverage over him. Claire will do “whatever” is necessary to tag Le Comte St. Germain.

Reading between the lines it was obvious that Claire had to valentine herself to this St. Germain. Jamie closed his eyes momentarily lost in thought. He loathed valentine missions, but Claire … she would be repulsed by what Madeline had asked of her. He would not place her in this situation if it could be avoided.

Jamie was well aware that Operations had forbidden him to change the profile in any way or suffer the consequences … usually the threat of cancellation for disobeying orders … but that had never stopped him before and it certainly wouldn’t stop him now. Whenever his Sassenach was in jeopardy, he always had a plan, and one was forming in his mind as he read further.

He read further instructions outlined on his PDA. Jamie will bring him in to Section.

Closing the PDA, Jamie meditatively sat back in his chair a wry smile bowing his mouth as he stroked his chin. He knew exactly what he would do.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Fergus watched James Fraser pass by Systems after his briefing without as much as a sideways glance his way. Casting his eyes towards the Perch he’d seen Madeline and Operations follow Jamie’s departure as well. Once he had disappeared down the corridor that led to his office, Fergus noticed that his superiors were deep in conversation. Something was up judging by the way the two were speaking to each other, but this was nothing unusual for Section’s leaders, and he shrugged off the reservations that filled his head and continued on with his tasks.

However, the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach would not go away and it was only exacerbated when he too was summoned to Madeline’s office a short while later.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“You wanted to see me?” Fergus Claudel asked wondering why he had been sent for. With eyes downcast he waited for Madeline to speak.

“Yes. When Jamie returns from this mission, I want you to sweep his panel,” she replied with a nonchalant glance.

“Why?”

“That’s no concern of yours.”

“Uh, what am I looking for?”

“Anything under the wire. Most likely, it will be encrypted.”

He knew immediately what Section’s head strategist was alluding to. “You’re looking for any changes to profile parameters?”

“Exactly.”

“I’ll get on it as soon as they get back,” Fergus replied assertively, knowing that if he valued his life, he could not answer any other way or refuse Madeline’s order.

“Good. That will be all Mr Claudel. You may go.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 39

 

Fergus Claudel was worried about what Madeline had asked him to do and he quickly made his way to Munitions to seek out his buddy Murtagh Fitzgibbons. As he left his station with a hastened step, Fergus nervously adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose hoping that no one would see the concern etched on his face. Madeline had never asked him to do something under the wire before and his mind was going ten for the dozen. He was dammed if he did and dammed if he didn’t. Churning thoughts of her words echoed in his head and he could feel a tension headache begin to throb across his forehead. She had been particular in her words and Fergus knew that if he did not carry out her instructions he would be cancelled.

For God’s sake! This was James Fraser she was talking about. Section One’s top operative … Something was going on … something he really wanted no part of.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As he hurried towards Murtagh’s station, Fergus’ mind was replaying similar events that had occurred in the Cyber Café on his downtime when Jamie had scared the living daylights out of him by stopping the game he was playing. His reaction was shaken at first until he’d realised who was actually standing next to him. He remembered breathing a sigh of relief because he was scared that in some way he may have been compromised. He’d thought that Red Cell or some other terrorist group had discovered who he was and who he worked for, and that at any moment a bullet would end his life, or worse that he was captured by the enemy.

However, his trepidation at being discovered was nothing compared to Jamie’s words, “Tell Operations the Team's dead except for Claire and me. We're on Mandatory Refusal until the Mission's complete.”

Fergus knew that Jamie had obviously changed the profile to suit his needs; however, it was only at the precise moment with his orders to cover for him with Operations until his return that he’d realised that it was something that involved Claire. Jamie never went out on a limb unless it was utterly necessary. He had been around Murtagh long enough to know that Jamie was a man of honour, and where Claire was concerned … Jamie threw caution to the wind in his protection of her. But who was he to interfere with Section One’s top operative? He was only the computer geek … he followed orders, and orders from Jamie were ones he knew were to his advantage to obey. He certainly didn’t want to get on James Fraser’s off side.

And now … Madeline had asked him to do a similar thing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

He’d briefly looked up at Jamie, before glancing back at the screen declaring, “You can trust me.”

But it was the level 5’s chilling, yet succinct reply, “If ye betray me … I'll kill ye,” that had geared him into action.

Fergus could still feel the churning in his stomach when he had uttered those words and turning to meet James Fraser’s gaze, he’d answered back … “That's why you can trust me.”

And he’d meant it. He trusted Jamie and to earn his trust he would do anything for him too.

But now he was placed between a rock and a hard place. Who should he be more afraid of? Jamie … or … Madeline? Either one sent chills down his spine at the prospect of ever double crossing them. What could he do? What should he do? He was in a quandary. Jamie and Claire were his friends but … Madeline? … Madeline scared the bejesus out of him.

Fergus was sure that Murtagh would have a solution to his dilemma, he’d bet his last Oreo on that fact, so with quickened footsteps, he hurriedly made his way to where Murtagh was.

He was a very worried man with the weight of the world on his young shoulders.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Murtagh Fitzgibbons was taking inventory of the equipment that had just been returned by Sandringham’s team when he heard Fergus’ voice.

“Murtagh. I’ve got to talk to you.”

“Hmmm?” Looking up he saw his little buddy approach with a troubled look on his face. “Fergus? Are you okay, amigo? Why such a long face?”

“I, um … There’s a problem.”

He stopped what he was doing at looked at his friend seeing a crestfallen look o his face laced with a tinge of fear and apprehension. “What is it?” He asked concerned.

Leaning in close to Murtagh’s face; his eyes peering through the glasses perched on his nose, Fergus held Murtagh’s gaze, alarmingly and quietly he said, “Madeline asked me to do a sweep of Jamie’s panel for debrief when he returns from the mission.”

“Any particular reason?”

“Mmm … hmmm. She’s looking for anything under the wire and any changes to the profile parameters.”

“You can’t be serious!” He exclaimed in disbelief but realising at the same time that Madeline was devious in her scheming in regards to Jamie and Claire.

“She’s deadly serious Murtagh. What should I do?”

Ever the supportive friend he replied with sage advice. “You just take it easy, okay? I’ll sanitize it when Jamie returns.”

Fergus however, was still not convinced, “But what if Madeline sends it down to Cryptoanalysis; they’ll spot any anomalies in it in a second?”

“Not necessarily … we are talking about James Fraser remember?”

“Yeah … that’s what I’m afraid of.”

“Hey, I wouldn’t … there’s a few tricks I haven’t told you about so don’t sweat it. I’ll think of something … don’t worry.”

“Okay … but I don’t want to know.” Fergus replied as he walked away quickly. Murtagh smiled knowing what he would do.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Murtagh kept his eye open waiting for Jamie to leave his office, and when he did, he bided his time until following him across the hub of Section’s main floor. Jamie took the corridor leading to a staircase and walked up them without so much as a look at people in Section. However, his sixth sense alerted him to the fact that a pair of eyes was watching him. He continued up the staircase and proceeded to an alcove hidden from view where he met Claire from time to time in privacy.

He stopped and waited.

Walking in from another direction, Murtagh looked behind him as he went, until he too was in the deserted area not under surveillance from Section One’s watchers. His footsteps echoed lightly on the floor as he purposely strode along in his indomitable way, making his way to a rendezvous point.

As he passed by, Jamie leaned out his hand and dragged Murtagh into the alcove somewhat surprised at who was following him. “Murtagh?”

“Jamie …” he said looking at him closely, “something’s happening?”

“I know.”

“Fergus has been asked to sweep your panel after the mission.”

“They won’t find anything.”

“Is it a test?”

“Probably.”

“Why?”

“They want to see if I change their mission parameters.”

“Because of Claire?”

Jamie’s look spoke volumes and Murtagh knew he had hit the nail on the head. “I’ll help … You could redirect the panels to me … I’ll look into it. They won’t find anything!” he intonated as a suggestion.

“I know the system as well as they do.”

“Better, I’d say,” Murtagh replied matter-of-factually.

Jamie said nothing but merely gave Murtagh the blank stare at his words knowing that he was indeed one step ahead of his leaders whenever it came to pushing the envelope.

“Everything is fine Murtagh … they’ll find nothing. Go now.”

Murtagh hesitated a moment before leaving as if he wanted to say something else and looked intently at Jamie.

“What is it?”

“Nothing … It’s just … I’m worried about my Sugar.”

“Don’t … she’ll be fine. Go!” Jamie reassured him, only empathising what Murtagh knew to be true where her safety was concerned when James Fraser had her back.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

On transit to Hong Kong Jamie replayed over in his mind the scenarios he had planned for this mission. The target Le Comte St Germain was a devious, lowlife terrorist who was involved in many criminal activities under the guise of philanthropy. However, he dealt primarily in human suffering and exploited women through underage prostitution. St Germain was known to Section One but had been lying low for some time, and although his business had continued; they were unable to find a lead on his whereabouts. Having now surfaced, Jamie was not happy that his Claire would be exposed to the likes of this terrorist. He knew exactly what kind of a man he was but Claire didn’t know of his “tastes” or of the trafficking in young girls for prostitution. Anyone who capitalised on another’s misery was lower than low and such an abhorrent individual would disgust her.

How much did Sun Yee Lok know about this man was also a conundrum. Jamie had run a search on St Germain before leaving Section One and it had revealed only minimal contact and mainly through an intermediary with no face to face contact of the principal characters. It stood to reason then, that Sun Yee Lok was unaware what Le Comte St Germain looked like. This Intel played into Jamie’s hands. There was only one thing he could do. He would change places and assume St Germain’s identity for the mission.

It would be a fait accompli. The target would be apprehended and brought into Section; he would introduce himself to Madame Cheung as Le Comte St Germain and Claire would be protected. Not only that, but his subterfuge could very well lead to the capturing of two birds with one stone … Madame Cheung and the leader of the Rising Dragons triad Sun Yee Lok.

He would bear the consequences of his superiors’ wrath once the mission was over, but until then he would proceed to Hong Kong as planned. Jamie’s main concern was for Claire’s safety and the sooner he got to her the better.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Fergus had ascertained where Claire was being held when they had tried to find her when she’d been kidnapped by Oliver Chan. As well as putting two and two together with added Intel from his interrogation in the White Room, Section One knew exactly the coordinates of Madame Cheung’s estate. Hence, beside a bend in the road hidden by dense foliage, James Fraser watched from his vantage point waiting for any appearance of the target Le Comte St Germain. After a few or so minutes of waiting a bright red Lamborghini with a lone driver wound its way along the road toward the hidden estate of Madame Cheung.

Jamie had the target under surveillance and followed the car’s progress through his binoculars as the vehicle neared closer to his vantage point.

“Fergus … the target’s approaching.”

“Confirmed,” the techie replied watching the Lamborghini on his computer screen.

“Fergus, hostile positions?”

“One only at the moment.”

“Any in reserve?”

“No … just St. Germain.”

“Good.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Observing from the Perch, Operations watched his computer whiz move from one computer to another in quick succession monitoring each with attentive concentration. Thinking that he seemed a little frazzled Operations asked somewhat edgily. “Fergus... Report!”

“Sir … we have a problem.”

“What is it?”

“There's a satellite malfunction. Communications are down with about half our teams.”

“How long?” He asked frustration echoing in his voice.

“Full resolution will take twelve hours. In the meantime, we're switching to alternate channels, but coverage isn't total.”

“Let me know if there's anything critical.”

“There is one other thing sir.”

“What else?”

“I’m detecting unusual signals near the target location in Hong Kong too.”

“How is that possible? Fix it Fergus!” Operations commanded not at all happy with the situation.

“Jamie will need to know.”

“Just do it Fergus! We don’t want to take a chance on anyone tunnelling into the system.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As he laid in wait, Fergus’s voice resonated once again in Jamie’s Comm. Unit. “Wait … Jamie … you’ll have to disconnect for a while. I’m detecting a kappa signal.”

“I’m not picking up anything. Are ye sure?”

“It’s there. You’re on your own while I run some checks. Stand by. I'll contact you when I discover the location. Hold your position until then. We'll need to work up a profile.”

“All right.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The roar of the powerful Lamborghini’s engine echoed in the air as Le Comte St Germain hit the accelerator on the magnificent, sleek motor car testing the car’s road holding ability. Speeding but taking the curves precisely the Lamborghini hugged the road to perfection as it came closer to where James Fraser was positioned. However, when the prestigious car came into view … Jamie took aim with a high-profile rifle.

With deadly accuracy the shot hit its target causing one of the wheels to have a blowout. The Lamborghini weaved all over the road as St Germain lost control and tried to right the vehicle, however with no success. Skidding in the rough pebbles on the side of the road the expensive, luxurious sports car spun 360 degrees before finally coming to a stop. Inside, the occupant of the car slumped forward hitting his head on the dashboard as the vehicle’s airbags automatically activated thrusting him backwards.

Approaching the now stationary Lamborghini, Jamie opened the driver’s door of the car. An unconscious Le Comte St Germain lay slumped in his seat bleeding profusely from a deep gash to his temple. His face was bloodied and bruised as well as sticky blood was trickling down his temples. It appeared as if St Germain had indeed fractured his skull with the impact of hitting his head on the dashboard. With the pads of his fingers, Jamie felt for a pulse. The target was breathing but cataleptic.

This scenario could not have been any better.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Back at Section One, Fergus had been busily trying to find the cause of the trouble without drawing undue attention to his techniques for this ruse. After much pacing to and fro and considering that sufficient time had elapsed, he notified Operations of his actions.

“Sir … I’ve fixed the problem.”

“What was it, Fergus?”

“There was some glitch in the system which I had to over-ride.”

“How did THAT happen?”

“It appears to have been a short circuit malfunction.”

“Good work.”

“Thank you sir … but it was unavoidable.”

“Inform Jamie to proceed to second base immediately.”

“Yes sir.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Notifying Jamie, Fergus hid the smile that wanted to escape. “Jamie? … False alarm … Operations said to proceed with your profile.”

“There’s a problem Fergus.”

Listening to the exchange Operations’ voice interrupted somewhat annoyed with this hindrance to the mission, “What?”

“St. Germain has had an accident.”

“No matter. We’re still on schedule.”

“He’s unconscious.”

“How serious?”

“He’s not responding and has a concussion.”

“Abort Jamie. Return to base.”

“No … there is another way.”

“Very well … do whatever is necessary.”

“Of course sir … It will be taken care of.”

“Good.” was Operations final command.

“Send Housekeeping Fergus, to clean up.”

"They're on their way Jamie."

"Thank ye.

With Fergus’ help, James Fraser's mission plan had eventuated. He’d set in motion his scenario with the tacit sanction of Section One and in particular Operations with his instructions to do whatever was necessary. Under these circumstances Madeline would have no course of redress.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 40

 

Madame Cheung was totally engrossed in business preparations when the intercom buzzed interrupting her from her paperwork. Looking disdainfully at the machine she flipped the button inquiring irritably, “What is it Lee?”

“A Monsieur Le Comte St Germain is here Madame.”

On knowing who had just arrived however, Madame Cheung’s mood changed considerably. She had been organising details for his stay and to know that he had indeed arrived at her premises made her significantly happier. Sun Yee Lok had said to take very good care of Monsieur Le Comte and she knew only too well that to do so would be looked upon most favourably by her leader.

Closing her organizer, she replied, “Send him in.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madame Cheung was momentarily lost for words as a man imperceptibly dressed entered. She was immediately taken back at his handsome appearance and surreptitiously cast her eye over her guest.

Was this the man who was in the same business as her of procuring young women into escort service and prostitution? It was easy to see how he could lure young women and girls into his lair especially if the man had the looks of someone who had jumped out of the pages of a GQ magazine. The man was to die for. Surely this man could entice the angels from heaven as well as charm the birds out of their trees. It was little wonder that Sun Yee Lok had requested her to look after this man well and to provide whatever he required.

From what she knew of Le Comte St Germain and his business acumen, she looked forward to putting a proposition to him that would no doubt swell the coffers of the Rising Dragons in the future. After all she was the “Mamma–sans”, the queen of trafficking in nubile young women in the Asian area for the Rising Dragons, and it was through her exclusive Escort Agency and underage prostitution particularly in Bangkok, that the Rising Dragons had a monopoly on the market. However, she was always on the lookout for “new” talent to staff her many interests or to collaborate with. She was most interested to talk business with Le Comte St Germain but when the weekend was over would be soon enough. By then, especially after experiencing the delights of her new protégé … Claire Beauchamp … he would be more than willing to come to the proposal she had in mind. Until then, she had a job to do and do it well she would, after all this was a special request from her leader Sun Yee Lok.

Monsieur Le Comte St Germain had undoubtedly come to the right place.

Composing her inner thoughts and catching her breath before answering, Madame Cheung held her slender hand out to him in greeting. “Ah, Monsieur Le Comte … Welcome. My name is Madame Cheung. I trust your journey was pleasant?”

“Qui… it was.”

“It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

Jamie noted the once over she had given him and taking her hand he turned over the palm and placed a chaste kiss there. “Merci Madame … however, the pleasure is all mine.”
He watched Madame Cheung as she stuttered somewhat in her welcome and tried to gain her composure. “Do … come in. Please sit down.”

“Thank you.”

“So, Monsieur Le Comte, I believe you’re interested in perusing some of our specialised activities this weekend?”

“That’s right. If what I have heard of your talent in organising these activities is true … then I am very interested! Is there an opening Madame?”

“The program doesn’t begin until the weekend, but for the fee you’ve offered to Sun Yee Lok, I’ll make one.”

“Merci Madame.”

“In the meantime, we do offer a wide range of activities to help you enjoy yourself. I’m sure everything and everyone here will be to your liking,” she laughed.

“Tres bien.”

Despite the recommendation from her leader Sun Yee Lok, Madame Cheung was still meticulous about the clientele who sought to use her services and who she admitted to her premises. Looking at St Germain, she courteously requested the personal information she required for her books.

“May I see your references?”

Jamie opened his briefcase and handed over the documentation and Madame Cheung quickly perused the references. After a short while she looked back at him with a smile on her face. “Hmm, these are very strong Monsieur but, I hope you won’t be offended if I reiterate certain policy details.”

“No, I won’t.”

“You’ve made the appropriate arrangements I gather?”

“Of course.”

“Good … You’ve told no one of your visit here and your contact with Sun Yee Lok?”

“No one. As you are aware Madame, my business is clandestine … similar to yours in fact and all the appropriate measures have been taken.”

“Monsieur Le Comte… I must be certain. You do understand? Don’t you? I want to protect your confidentiality and our other clients as well.”

“Of course.”

“Good. I am aware of your special requirements and I know I can accommodate your needs very well.” A scheming, wry smile crossed her face as Jamie nodded in expectation of her proposal. “We can do this a number of ways Monsieur … either at a place of your choosing or here. However, if you decide to stay, there are a number of provisos that we require.”

“Which are …?”

“During your time with us, you will avoid contact with our other guests. You must retain the same woman for the duration of your stay … and finally, you agree never to disclose to anyone the true nature of the entertainment we provide.”

“That’s fine with me.”

“Good … in that case then, all that remains is the matter of the fee you offered Sun Yee Lok.”

“Of course.”

Jamie keyed in an undisclosed amount on his electronic transfer device. It immediately showed up on Madame Cheung’s computer screen. Her eyes connected with his, sparkling with acceptance of the large sum. Pressing the key that saw the funds transferred into the Rising Dragons’ account, she looked up and said, “I look forward to doing business with you in the future Monsieur Le Comte.”

“As I you Madame,” he replied giving Madame Cheung an enigmatic look that pleased her very much. Reading between the lines she was sure she had read this man correctly and that he would indeed be most favourable to a business proposal. “I’m sure we can come to some mutually beneficial understanding if you are able to provide for my special needs. We can talk business after that.”

She smiled in return when Jamie clarified his statement and her nod of his acknowledgement indicated that she was most interested in taking their conversation to the next level … the business level, but she was willing to wait. “Monsieur Le Comte, I’m sure you will enjoy your stay here and that we may have the time to talk again … of other matters … in due course.”

“If everything is up to standard, we can discuss business Madame, but until then I am here for some rest and relaxation as you know and I never mix business with pleasure.” Jamie replied emphatically.

“Of course, Monsieur… I understand perfectly. Now, I’m sorry to cut short our meeting, but I need to finalise the arrangements for your stay.”

“I understand. Am I not permitted to select a woman to accompany me tonight?”

“Well … I can see you don’t believe in wasting time. You’re a very fortunate man, Monsieur Le Comte. I believe you are most partial to blue eyed brunette women, is that true?”

“I’m impressed. You have done your homework Madame.”

She cast a smug glance his way. “I have just the girl for you, but of course the final decision is yours.”

“I trust your judgement Madame and look forward to choosing my companion from your lovely ladies.”

“Very well Monsieur. You may choose any of the girls from the lounge.”

“Which is?”

“Downstairs, I will show you the way when you are ready.”

“Merci Madame.” Jamie replied giving her a megawatt smile that had Madame Cheung a little flustered at the piercing blue eyes that seemed to see right through her.

Composing herself she reiterated with an equally penetrating and enigmatic look. “I can assure you Monsieur that you will not be disappointed … I guarantee it.”

“Tres bien!”

“If there is anything that you need … anything at all … you have only to ask.”

“Thank you, Madame. I would like to rest first and then I would like to inspect your ladies … shall we say … in an hour?”

“Perfect. I will prepare my girls. Until then … rest well Monsieur Le Comte.”

Madame Cheung clapped her hands and her servant Lee Yang arrived at her summoning command. Turning to face Jamie she said, “Lee will show you to your room.”

“Merci.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Fraser moved away from the door and his eyes scanned the room where Lee Yang had placed him. It was opulent, lavishly furnished and with all the electrical gizmos of any five-star hotel accommodation. Stepping around his luggage that had already been taken to the room, he meticulously set about sweeping the room for bugs and other recording mechanisms. After checking all possible ports where a bug could be hidden, and on finding none, Jamie contacted Section One.

Sitting on the king-sized bed he activated his comm. unit.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Fergus.”

The sound of his name caught the IT techie in a distracted moment with a mouthful of Oreos. Quickly rolling his chair to his desk, he placed his half-munched cookie on the top as he spluttered guiltily in reply, “Yeah! …”

“Fergus?”

Clearing his throat, he replied more attentively, “Oh! Jamie? … What’s up?”

“Patch me through to Operations.”

All business like again Fergus glanced up from his computer towards the Perch where Operations was talking to Madeline and responded. “Sure thing …”

He watched as Operations moved away from Madeline and activated his call return switch. Testy at the interruption, Operations acknowledged him. “What is it Fergus?”

“Jamie on B Channel for you sir.”

“Patch him through.”

“Yes sir.”

Once the communication link had been activated, Fergus then informed Jamie that Operations was on the line saying, “Go ahead Jamie.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dougal Mackenzie’s strident voice boomed in Jamie’s comm. unit and he could hear the underlying irritation of his command. “Report Fraser!”

“I’m in place sir.”

“What of Madame Cheung?”

It was obvious by Operations’ tone of voice that Madeline and he had been discussing the change in the mission profile now that Le Comte St Germain had been taken out of play and he had assumed his identity. Jamie, however, gave nothing away in his reply.

“The deception went well.”

“Good … Any complications?”

“No … She believes I am St Germain.”

At his reply Operations cast a guarded look in Madeline’s direction realising that because of what had happened in the accident the only scenario was for Jamie to impersonate Le Comte St Germain especially since the target’s injuries were graver than first thought when Housekeeping had arrived to transfer the target back to Section One.

“Very well Fraser … but if you fail in this mission you will suffer the consequences.”

“Of course.”

Dougal Mackenzie looked over towards Madeline deciding whether he should inform Jamie of Le Comte St Germain’s demise. At the slight, tacit nod from Section’s Second-in-command giving approval, he relayed the Intel. “The target died in transit Fraser, so it is imperative now that this mission is a success. We cannot have any more lost opportunities in finding the whereabouts and apprehending Sun Yee Lok especially as St Germain’s connection has been lost. Is that clear?”

“I understand.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The meeting with Monsieur Le Comte St. Germain had gone better than she had anticipated and Madame Cheung was most pleased. She had finalised all the details of his stay and had set in place all the necessary requirements that she knew would be impossible to refuse. Her guest would be more than satisfied with the meticulous arrangements she had organised for his stay.

If she did well this weekend and provided for all his needs, then her leader Sun Yee Lok would most assuredly look on her favourably also. Moreover, she was convinced that St Germain would be doing business with her in the future, particularly if reading between the lines were any indication of his intent. The Rising Dragons triad would acquire an ally and they would increase their profits and gain a greater stronghold in under age prostitution particularly in Thailand if St Germain came on board.

She was very excited at the proposition of what was to come in the future. Yes both of them would be mutually beneficial to one another. She could provide what he wanted and he could provide her with what she needed. A win – win situation for everyone!

Le Comte St Germain was indeed a lucky man. Now all that was left was Claire herself. She was confident that her new girl would cast a spell over this man that he could not refuse.

With these thoughts in mind, Madame Cheung summoned Claire Beauchamp to see her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Claire my dear, come in.”

“Madame … you wanted to see me?”

Studying the vision of loveliness that had just walked through the door Madame Cheung couldn’t help thinking how fortunate she was that such a beautiful girl had come to work exclusively for the triad. Claire Beauchamp was indeed a stunner, in fact she was more so than Annalise de Marillac who had served the Rising Dragons well. Madame had had a soft spot for Annalise, for she had been her star employee. To see her die in such a horrific way was distressing … but business was business. She had double-crossed the triad in the worst possible way and for that she had to pay the ultimate price … death.

Loyalty to the triad was mandatory … her lack of it was her downfall. Annalise had not heeded the mantra of the Rising Dragons and her attempt to turn on them, and her father in particular, had seen her suffer the consequences.

The triad has a cruel, ferocious wrath
Beware! Take heed! Think twice!
Never … ever … deceive or betray
For you will pay the price…
The Rising Dragon!

She had experienced some flack about her ineptitude where Annalise was concerned from her leader Sun Yee Lok as well. Now though, with the arrival of Claire Beauchamp, she knew she had a gem … a brilliant diamond … one that would serve the Rising Dragons well. Madame Cheung knew that Claire would need to shine this weekend or she herself would have to answer to Sun Yee Lok for her incompetence in her choices of people she inaugurated into the Rising Dragons’ family. He would not tolerate another poor lack of judgement on her behalf and her head would be on the line.

Despite these past circumstances, she was not in the least bit worried though as Claire was temptation personified. Le Comte St Germain would not stand a chance when he eventually clapped eyes on her. Surely, he would go on her recommendations and choose this woman. What man in his right mind would not? Yes, she thought, Claire Beauchamp was indeed a profitable acquisition that she … and the Rising Dragons would benefit from.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Breaking from her reverie Madame Cheung replied, “Yes, Claire … I did. I have excellent news. A very handsome gentleman would like to make your acquaintance and have the pleasure of your company tonight and for this weekend. He comes with exemplary references … is rich, debonair, charming … and by the way did I say handsome?”

“Yes … I believe you did Madame.” Claire replied expressing her amusement.

“Well … Monsieur Le Comte St Germain has arrived and is most anxious to meet you Claire. However, he does have some special requirements that he likes satisfied as I explained earlier, and dare I say that you are the exact woman that he is looking for.”

“Thank you Madame … I hope I will not prove to be a disappointment.”

“I have great faith in your capabilities my dear to make this man surrender to you. If of course he decides not to choose you … which I very much doubt … then one of the other girls will be his companion for the weekend.”

“I won’t fail Madame.”

“Good … then let’s get ready shall we? We have an hour in which to make you more alluring than already, then we will meet the other girls in the lounge.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire returned to her room with a heavy heart. Le Comte St Germain had arrived and there was no sign of Jamie as yet. She didn’t know if she could go through with Madeline’s valentine profile or not. Oh! How she wished Jamie was here.

Where was he? What was she to do? Had he managed to elude Section One and implement a new profile?

Despite these questions Claire was more composed than she thought she would be. Jamie had always come through for her and there was no reason why he wouldn’t this time. But time was of the essence. Madame Cheung would be returning at any moment and Claire was staring her fate in the eye.

Jesus H Roosevelt Christ! Where was he? Where was her mentor, her partner … her love … James Fraser?

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 41

 

“The target died in transit Fraser, so it is imperative now that this mission is a success. We cannot have any more lost opportunities in finding the whereabouts and apprehending Sun Yee Lok especially as St Germain’s connection has been lost. Is that clear?”

Once Jamie had severed the connection with Section One, Dougal Mackenzie’s words reverberated in his mind and he was not at all surprised that St Germain had died in the accident. Unfortunately, his death would have been a lost opportunity in collecting Intel from him that Section could use in apprehending the leader of the Rising Dragons. Jaime knew that Madeline especially would be not pleased to lose an important connection that she could have exploited.

However, as with any dialogue between himself and Operations the underlying meaning was never lost. His last statement … Is that clear? … spoken in the brusque way he verbalised emphasised his superior’s mindset. The message was always the same and Jamie understood perfectly … if he screwed up then he would suffer the consequences … abeyance. Given that he had managed to change the profile Operations and Madeline were now dependent on him for the mission’s success … something that was intolerable to his leaders. He’d outsmarted them yet again and that fact never sat well with Madeline or Dougal especially being at the behest of their top operative.

James Fraser had outsmarted them yet again. Not only had he prevented his Claire from going through with the original profile but he had placed himself in the driver’s seat to find more Intel about the triad and its hierarchy. He and Claire would not fail. The target, Madame Cheung, would be apprehended and brought into Section One and if new Intel led to Sun Yee Lok’s demise at the same time then Madeline and Operations may just pull back on their scrutiny of them. It was possible that could happen but Jamie knew it would be highly unlikely given their superiors’ past performances in regards to them.

He’d manipulated this mission profile for one reason, and one reason only, and that was for Claire. He had done this, many times on a mission if she’d been in jeopardy and on all occasions the mission had still been successful. Jamie knew that the change in profile irked Madeline but since the same end game was achieved Operations was always satisfied. However, the more he did it the more the scrutiny increased on his motives. Although their leaders did not have proof that they were in a romantic relationship, Jamie knew that it was suspected, and if Madeline could find affirmation then she would no doubt use it against them. He would however deal with this situation should it arise but now he had a more pressing thing he needed to do.

Knowing how anxious Claire must be Jamie immediately set about contacting her regarding the changed profile for he knew his Sassenach would be waiting for this call.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Relief … sheer relief!

Jamie’s timely message about the change in the profile had definitely been a reprieve. She had not been looking forward to her foray into this seedier lifestyle that she’d been groomed for on this deep cover mission with Madame Cheung. The profile Madeline had outlined called for her to valentine the target, something which she would have found exceedingly difficult to do. How could she possibly reconcile her feelings and emotions with what Section One had asked of her? Could she have sold her soul in order to catch a terrorist? Could she have prostituted herself for Section One?

The only possible way Section would have been able to make her submissive to any such scenario was if she’d been drugged and not cognizant about what she was doing. However, no matter what the circumstances, she knew part of her soul would have been destroyed … a part of her that would have been dead forever. Jamie’s call couldn’t have come soon enough. It had eased her apprehension knowing that she’d avoided such an abhorrent anathema.

Although he was trained in valentine missions, she was certain Jamie didn’t like or enjoy them. They were so demeaning of your feelings, but what would Section care? Where there was a means to an end regardless of the method, their leaders were ruthless in perusing the end game by whatever means necessary. Cancellation did not frighten her; neither did Madeline or Operations’ wrath, for she’d faced them all before. Her personality, integrity and compassion remained steadfast even though each episode of undermining her character chipped away at her persona a little more each time. Nevertheless, through it all, she’d remained relatively unscathed. Operations and Madeline could not break her spirit but she knew they were determined to if the right opportunity arose. This mission to Madame Cheung’s was an opportunity they had seized with both hands.

But … yet again … Jamie had pulled off the impossible. He’d taken St Germain’s place. Le Comte St Germain was obviously a person of great interest to the Rising Dragons or Madame Cheung would not have personally overseen her transformation. Just why he was important though, she did not know but she was sure in all good time she would find out.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire had been primed and primped for her initiation into the life of a sophisticated call girl, and Madame Cheung had spared no cost in her attire. Even Claire had to admit that she was alluring in a sexy kind of way when she happened to glance in the mirror earlier. Would Jamie think so too? She would find out soon enough.

Quietly, Claire observed all the other girls who were waiting for Madame Cheung’s announcement and looking around the room she perused the faces of the women who had assembled there. In attendance were girls of different nationalities, some European, Caucasian and some of Asian origin. All were beautiful. All were impeccably groomed and like her, all wore expensive jewellery and the finest of clothes. However, despite the trappings of wealth, the girls lacked that sparkle in the eye and had the look of acceptance to the circumstances of their lot. In fact, there was an element of fear and a vacant look registered on many of their sad faces.

Sitting down next to a beautiful Asian young woman who was probably no more than eighteen, she whispered, “Hi … I’m Claire.”

Turning her head to look at the woman who spoke to her the girl replied, “Hello. I’m Jessie. I’ve heard about you from the others. They say you are Madame Cheung’s new replacement for Annalise.”

“Annalise?” The inflection in Claire’s voice indicated that she was perplexed as to who this might be.

The lass saw the look of unawareness as to who this Annalise was and so elucidated what she knew. “Annalise Rose … but her real name was Annalise de Marillac.”

“Was?”

“She’s dead … Once you are here under their control, there is no escape … Annalise tried and she suffered the consequences.

“I’m a free person.” Claire answered proudly.

“There is no freedom here Claire. You’ll do what you have to. Just like me.” She replied sadly. “Madame Cheung treats us well but there is no freedom from the triad.”

“Have you been here long?”

“I really can’t remember that well … It has been so long.”

“How old were you when you first came here?”

With her voice no more than a whisper she replied, “Twelve … I think …”

Jessie’s words disturbingly reverberated in Claire’s head as she asked, “How can you be … be so calm?”

“My family were very poor. We had very little and my parents sold me to the Rising Dragons triad for the promise of food to feed my brothers and sisters.”

Claire’s voice wavered a little. “But you were only a child …”

“Yes … but I didn’t want my family to suffer. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to survive.”

“And how did you do that?”

“I did what I had to do. People pay quite a lot and there are certain privileges that go along with pleasing our guests. But the choice is theirs, not yours. You understand? Understand?” she repeated.

“Yes I think I do.” Claire replied sadly her heart breaking for this young girl.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire’s mind was reeling with the information that the Thai girl had just told her and her heart bled for the lost childhood of such an innocent in such an insidious way. Finding a quiet place by herself away from the other girls, Claire really studied them more intently. Were their stories similar to the young woman she had spoken to? All seemed to be young but it was difficult to gauge their age due to their appearance. Just how long had they been here? Who was responsible for the trafficking in young children into servitude and prostitution for the Rising Dragons? Was it just Madame Cheung or were there others involved?

Claire felt sick to the stomach as she contacted Section to relay what she’d found out about the situation that these young women faced.

“Fergus?”

“Yeah.”

“Listen, Fergus, this place is more than just an Escort Agency.”

“Yeah.”

The shock of his affirmation registered in her next words, “You knew?”

“Not really … although Madeline and Operations suspected as much.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Claire mumbled under her breath. “Where does Le Comte St Germain fit in then?”

“With Madame Cheung?”

“Yes …”

“We’re not certain about her relationship with him … but he knows Sun Yee Lok.”

“Is Le Comte St Germain integral in some way with Madame Cheung’s business ventures or vice versa?”

“Possibly … there could be a connection or the opportunity for one! Jamie will fill you in on what we know.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Madame Cheung I am most interested to see who you have available for my pleasure.” Jamie stated as she finally came to escort him to where the girls were waiting for selection.

“You won’t be disappointed I assure you Monsieur Le Comte. Everything and every one of my girls are handpicked and of the utmost quality, class and taste. There is nothing but the best for my clients … and keep in mind that everything you desire is at your beck and call.”

“Madame … I am impressed,” Jamie nodded showing his pleasure in what she had told him.

“I have several girls matching your request. Each one is a diamond but the choice is yours Monsieur. I’m sure, however, that you will select the purest gem of all.”

“I am intrigued Madame … shall we go?”

“Certainly … this way.”

They walked down some stairs and along a corridor until they came to a room located on the lower floor of the mansion.

“Ah … we’re here,” Madame Cheung stated enthusiastically, ushering Jamie through the door.

On entering he noticed that it was some kind of parlour with lounge chairs scattered around the room in informal settings. The room was tastefully furnished, intimate … yet comfortable. A liquor bar was set to the side and a manservant waited for when he was needed.

“Come … Sit down Monsieur Le Comte. Make yourself comfortable. My man servant Peng will serve you refreshments. Until then relax and enjoy our hospitality. I shall return momentarily.”

Jamie watched as she exited through an adjoining door then clandestinely surveyed the surroundings and waited knowing that his Sassenach was somewhere just beyond the door in another room.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madame Cheung entered the room where the women were waiting and clapped her hands. “Ladies … ladies … may I have your attention please?”

The girls who had assembled in the room stopped their chatter and turned in the direction of Madame Cheung waiting for what she may say.

“We have a very important guest who is with us and he is looking for a lady for companionship this weekend. I have asked you all here so that he may choose the woman to be his companion.”

A mummer of interested talk arose as the women absorbed her words.

“I will bring him here and then let him make his decision.” Looking at Claire she said, “This will be Claire’s first time and if by chance she is chosen, we wish her well don’t we ladies?”

“Of course Madame!” They answered in unison.

“Good luck and remember if you are not chosen there will be other opportunities for you. I’m expecting more important clients and guests this weekend also who will require your services like in the past.”

“Can you tell us who they might be Madame?” Jessie asked having been the one selected on several occasions when an important guest arrived.

“Not at this stage, as I don’t want anyone scheming for favours, particularly if I say who may be paying us a visit. I will tolerate no jealousy or back stabbing of the other girls. Remember your ultimate goal … you do this for the good of the Rising Dragons and bear in mind the consequences if you would fail the triad.”

“Yes Madame,” was the consensual reply.

“Good that is understood. Come! It is time to dazzle our visitor with your beauty ladies. I will go and get our guest.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

On her return, Madame Cheung greeted Jamie in the anteroom. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting Monsieur Le Comte.”

“Not a problem Madame.”

“I hope you were looked after well?”

“Yes … Is everything all right?”

“Everything is just fine. Shall we go? You have some decisions to make.”

“Mais oui … but of course.”

“Good … Follow me please … There are some lovely ladies waiting to make your acquaintance Monsieur. I sincerely hope that you make the correct choice this evening.”

“Rest assured Madame … I will,” Jamie replied emphasising the last word knowing that there was only one woman he wanted to see and only one he would choose.

Madame Cheung was very pleased with his statement and optimistic that the one person she had chosen would also be his choice. She led Jamie through the door from whence she had come. They went along a corridor and down another flight of stairs before finally entering a room where several elegantly dressed ladies were assembled. Jamie immediately noticed Claire out of the corner of his eye, but made no eye contact with her, instead he aligned his head a little as beside him Madame Cheung whispered; “Remember what I said earlier.”

Directing his eyes to her he replied, “Certainement Madame.”

Holding Jamie’s attention, she smiled and cast her eyes surreptitiously in Claire’s direction … “I have just the girl for you …”

“Merci.”

“… You will not be disappointed I guarantee it,” she whispered with a satisfied smile knowing that Claire Beauchamp was indeed the perfect match for this handsome man.

Jamie’s intense eyes glanced around the room taking in the eclectic group of women who were trapped under the Rising Dragons’ power, but his mind was on the stunning brunette woman in the corner. It had been over a month since he had seen Claire and what Jamie saw made his heart leap. He was totally unprepared for the piercing ache of desire that stabbed his chest at the vision of loveliness before him. His Sassenach was exquisite. Jamie had wanted to stare and take in his fill but he knew he could not. The sight of Claire dressed so alluringly caused his mouth to go dry, and it was with some difficulty he uttered, “Yes … they are all lovely Madame.”

“I aim to please … This way, Monsieur Le Comte,” Madame Cheung said extending her arm towards the women.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was extremely difficult when he only wanted to drink in Claire’s beauty but with the resolve of the Section One operative that he was, Jamie walked slowly around the room, without making any eye contact with Claire. He admired each woman from top to toe, nodding politely at every person as he passed by. Each woman in turn focused on the handsome man who had entered and each was a little breathless hoping that he would choose them.

James Fraser was sartorially dressed in a black designer suit, silk tie and shirt. His broad shoulders and muscular chest were defined by the fabric of the suit which fit his torso to perfection. The sight of such a fine-looking man made many of the girls weak at the knees as he passed them by. In their “profession” you were paid to go with whoever had the money but if the man was good-looking it was that much more pleasurable. They’d had their share of ugly men … but here was a catch. A very rich catch too. Without doubt he would be good in bed … he had an indefinable “something” that set him apart from the other clients. They had seen many men come over the time they had been with Madame Cheung … diplomats, politicians, judges, actors … people in high places … even Sun Yee Lok himself, but none had been as handsome or as enigmatic as the man in this room.

The ladies eagerly watched as he made his way around the room until he came to a new girl. When he stopped and gave her the once over from top to toe with bedroom eyes that seemed to undress them, each woman melted, hoping she would be the one chosen.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire’s heart skipped a beat at the sight of Jamie as she watched him make his way around the room as well. She had been so worried that she would have to go through with the valentine mission that Madeline had profiled for her, but now that her Jamie was here, things had changed. He’d been able to change the mission profile and substitute himself as Le Comte St Germain. Once again, he had manipulated the profile for her but in reality; it was a win–win situation for Section One. Jamie would certainly gain the confidence of Madame Cheung and in so doing get closer to bringing down Sun Yee Lok of the Rising Dragons’ triad. Claire could already see that she had fallen under his charm.

What worried her though, was that some of these girls in this room had been in service for many years … some were only children when they came. This loss of innocence was an abomination to her. She was disgusted and horrified. Who was responsible for that? Who organised the girls? Madame Cheung? Or was it Le Comte St Germain? Did he procure young girls into prostitution for the Rising Dragons or was he here to do business with Madame Cheung in the future?

She couldn’t wait to have the opportunity to speak with Jamie. Perhaps he could shed some light on St Germain’s activities and contacts that in all probability would lead right to the top of the triad hierarchy.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Continuing, James Fraser did a circuit of the room appraising each woman as he strolled slowly past with a slight smile on his face. Although he examined each woman thoroughly, he made no decision as to his choice.

Madame Cheung watched as St Germain deliberated over his preference of companion. As he neared where Claire Beauchamp was a smile lit her face, but unfortunately, he was non-committal of her enthusiasm. Madame Cheung was somewhat disillusioned when he practically ignored Claire. Although St Germain had given her a quick once over too, he’d passed her by like he had done to all the others. He’d then kept on going to view the other women, in particular another pretty, brunette woman who had caught his eye. He stopped and spoke quietly to her. Madame Cheung was not able to make out what they were saying but judging by the body language she was crest fallen that Monsieur Le Comte may have made his decision.

Then … he’d turned once more and moved away again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

From her position in the room Claire Beauchamp watched James Fraser work his way round each woman for Madame Cheung’s benefit in his deliberation in choosing a companion.

Her Jamie was a sight for sore eyes. She had missed him so much and now seeing him in the flesh it was difficult to suppress her feelings. Dressed in his signature black … he was magnificent. He looked like an avenging angel to her … come to rescue her from the clutches of evil and Claire watched him covertly. It was as if time was playing tricks on her mind. Everything Jamie did seemed to be in slow motion to her. He also looked resplendent. His strut … his manner … even the cut of the suit hugged his torso accentuating Jamie’s supple, muscular body to perfection.

Ahhh! Claire sighed dreamily.

She had waited and hoped that this day would come that her Jamie would be able to find a way to reach her and now here he was and Claire was drunk on the sight of him. However, she was a nervous wreck and a bundle of nerves just watching him in the room. He was near but still too far away. All she desperately wanted to do was touch him to make sure Jamie was real and that he was really here. Closing her eyes Claire imagined just how that would feel and her nervous system suddenly went into a spiralling dive.

Despite the nosedive she wanted to savour the feelings of euphoria that coursed through her body. Lowering her head, her thoughts threatened to expose her feelings for this man. Claire knew she would have to control her emotions before they also gave her away completely and Madame Cheung observed that Le Comte St Germain and she had a connection. However, no doubt if Madame Cheung had noticed anything it would only mean that she too had been captivated by this handsome, virile specimen of manhood just like all the other girls in the room.

Nevertheless, her heart was pounding in her chest and the nervous tension threatened to blow her cover. Then … sensing his nearness, Claire slowly raised her eyes.

James Fraser was standing right in front of her.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 42(S)

 

Claire knew the very moment Jamie had stopped in front of her for she could smell the heady pheromones of his special masculine scent that teased her nostrils whenever he was near. She was already sexually awakened just by his presence in the room after not having seen him for over a month but now that he was really in front of her he was an aphrodisiac on steroids to her senses just waiting to be explored. Her eyes had surreptitiously followed him the moment he’d stepped in the room for a man like James Fraser commanded attention by his mere presence. He exuded confidence and self-assurance which was only exacerbated by his fine stature. He was a man among men and it was little wonder that the women were charmed by his physique and bearing. Claire could see that Madame Cheung was already very much taken with Le Comte St Germain and the look of disappointment that crossed the faces of the women he failed to select was clearly obvious. Such an attractive man would indeed have been a notch on their belt if he had chosen one of the ladies.

Raising her eyes in slow motion, Claire looked up into James Fraser’s piercing blue eyes peering intently back at her. It was only a brief moment in time but in that instant their connection was incredible. Their eyes locked and everything and everyone immediately faded into insignificance as Jamie kissed her with his eyes. There was only the two of them in a world of their own while every memory of their intimacy was suddenly reflected in the look exchanged between the two of them.

Claire felt her hand tremble as she began to raise it to touch him but at the last minute, she lowered it to her side clutching at the fabrics of her gown to steady her actions. Jamie’s eyes noticed the movement and a wry smile bowed the corner of his mouth as he caressed her face in slow motion. From her brow to her fluttering eyelashes his gaze finally rested on his Sassenach’s lips which had suddenly gone dry. When her tongue appeared to moisten her bottom lip, Jamie’s eyes dilated to the colour of darkened sapphires and the look he gave her stole her breath away. Claire’s heart was palpitating in a rhythm that saw her breasts heave and tighten in the constraints of her gown’s bodice. A hushed, hitched groan vibrated from her lips for Jamie’s ears only as he returned his gaze to her captivating eyes. For a very brief moment her heart was in her mouth. A thunderbolt from the heavens had struck Claire when their eyes had connected but in fear of her emotions showing and communicating her desire for this man, she quickly but reluctantly lowered them to the ground whist Jamie looked his fill one more time. Just as she did so, she heard him speak.

“This one!”

Claire stole another quick glimpse at Jamie as he pointed to her, but he was glancing in Madame Cheung’s direction. He’d chosen her almost in an indifferent kind of way, and although he was all business-like, Claire sensed his relief also. She dared not look at him again, for if she did, Madame Cheung would surely see their connection was more than on the surface of just recently acquainted people. Taking a deep breath she inhaled some much need oxygen to try and calm not only her nerves but her raging internal desire that was eating away at her to be back in Jamie’s arms.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser was there for one person only and that was his Sassenach, Claire Beauchamp. His stroll around the room was for Madame Cheung’s benefit in his deception as St Germain and he was only going through the motions until he could make his inevitable selection.

Jamie had felt Claire’s nervousness when he’d stopped in front of her. In that split second that they had held eye contact, he had also drunk in his fill. His eyes had caressed her face and lingered on her eyelashes before anointing Claire with an invisible kiss to her mouth. His fingers had run the length of her eyebrows many times in the past and her blue eyes always revealed a longing she could not deny. This time though, he could only caress them in his mind, knowing that sometime soon he would openly stroke her beautiful face.

He couldn’t help but notice the slit of Claire’s provocative and sexy dress. He couldn't help that his wayward eyes had taken in the long sweep of her lithe, long legs revealed by the slit … legs that seemed to go on forever ... legs that she’d wrapped around him in their passionate couplings. Jamie had observed the rise and fall of Claire’s breasts constrained against the material of her dress and had noticed the slight throb of the pulse in her neck also. He knew that his Claire was fighting against her emotions at seeing him in the flesh but with little success. She always had a glass face and when she had quickly lowered her gaze from his scrutiny Jamie realised that she was struggling with the feelings that bubbled to the surface. Claire could not afford for Madame Cheung to see that he unsettled her in any way romantically. She didn’t want to jeopardise her cover on this mission or his as well and by suppressing those emotions as best she could, was her best form of recourse.

However, it was what he saw in her eyes that moved him … Claire was glad to see him. At the same time relief registered along with her desire, feelings he could identify with as well. Although she’d lowered her gaze as she nonchalantly followed his movements and his assessment of the ladies around the room, Jamie’s eyes had missed nothing of Claire’s reactions. He’d smiled at her fleetingly; nodding his approval yet had passed her by without a further glance her way but now that he stood in front of her he knew that her nerves were on edge judging by her body language. Internalising his observations, Jamie watched as Claire with downcast eyes waited for her fate. He then uttered the words in a way that had her melting in anticipation.

“Send her to my room.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madame Cheung smiled quietly to herself in victory as she watched him make his selection.

Le Comte St. Germain had surprised her. He had passed Claire by and examined the other women but then he’d turned back and stopped in front of her once more. He had chosen quickly yet his eyes seemed to have caressed her from top to toe. She was indeed the perfect choice for him and she was delighted that he had ignored all the others in his quest. Claire Beauchamp would be the bait to lure him into the Rising Dragons’ web, and once there, St. Germain would not escape their clutches. Sun Yee Lok would be thrilled and if he did indeed make a visit here this weekend then she would surely gain favour with her leader.

“You have chosen well Monsieur. Claire’s very interesting … an especially fine woman, but not yet tamed.”

“Just how I like them,” Jamie responded with a wicked eyebrow lift that left no room for any other interpretation except his proclivity for such a woman.

“Good … I knew you would,” she replied suggestively.

“It will be my pleasure to initiate her Madame … I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.”

“I agree. There's something to be said for new girls who will become old favourites,” Madame Cheung answered back evasively.

“If I am satisfied with her Madame … I’m sure we will do business with you again in the future.”

Madame Cheung was thrilled to hear St Germain’s statement. “Excellent Monsieur Le Comte! Enjoy your stay.”

“Merci.”

As Claire stood by quietly listening to their exchange, Jamie nonchalantly extended his hand forward indicating for her to precede him.

Without glancing at him she led the way out of the room while he admired the sway of her hips in retreat. Claire’s insides were at sixes and sevens, and Jamie was suppressing the smile he so wanted to show at the swagger of her walk. He couldn’t stop admiring the delicate skin of her back or the tightness of her backside tempting him so provocatively in retreat. Claire’s pulse was racing and her heart pounded in her chest so much so that she thought Madame Cheung would hear. Little did she know but her nervous anticipation was reciprocated by the man who followed her.

“Soon mo ghràidh,” he whispered softly for her ears only.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire entered Jamie’s private quarters and he closed the door firmly behind them. Slowly making his way to where she was standing, each step he took and each penetrating look he imparted … hit their target. He said nothing, but his intense scrutinizing gaze swept his Sassenach from head to toe in the space of a heartbeat. Jamie’s powerful eyes locked with her cerulean blue ones devouring her form as if she was the most beautiful thing, he had ever laid eyes on.

Unable to sever her gaze, she welcomed his intent. Claire was ensnared … captivated by the desire she saw in Jamie’s eyes. She was impatient to feel her arms around him for it had been so long since she had felt the strength and security of her love’s embrace and it was something she desperately needed now. The time spent here with Madame Cheung had been harrowing to say the least, especially not knowing if she would have to proceed with Madeline’s profile for her or not.

“Cl-aire,” Jamie whispered caressing each syllable of her name as his eyes greedily consumed her.

All this was forgotten though when the sound of her name caressed her ears. Hearing the emotion in his soft lilting voice, she stood rooted to the spot unable to move forward.

“Jamie,” she replied breathlessly in return with profound emotion laced on the utterance.

Narrowing the space between them, Jamie took a step toward her … then another and another, until he was within touching space.

His hand reached for hers. Lightly caressing it, his thumb erotically stroked the soft skin on the inside of Claire’s wrist sending a ricochet of sensation straight to her heart. Feelings overwhelmed her and she was powerless to look away. Claire could only feel.

Moving closer she pressed her knee against his with eyes alight with desire. Then with fingers entwined, Claire curled her hand to press her palm against his too, stroking Jamie’s back and forth. Her heart skipped a beat. Her breathing became ragged as she was bathed in the piercing, unwavering and smouldering gaze of James Fraser.

His eyes glowed with a hunger long denied. Jamie moved his body closer and closer to Claire’s until it was aligned … flush … skin to skin. Arms embraced in a longing for each other that could not be denied. Curling his hand around the nape of her neck Jamie gently tilted back Claire’s head.

Lips fused.

Tongues mated.

Heat … a burning desire and shattering need catapulted them to places they had been too few times before. Desperation for one another consumed them.

The worry and anxiety of her mission here with an integral member of the Rising Dragons triad faded into insignificance now that Jamie was here. Here in this room, in this place in time … there was nothing and no one else. There was only the two of them. Claire wanted him, needed him desperately. Did Jamie feel the same? Placing her hands on his chest Claire’s fingers felt the pounding of Jamie’s heart and judging by the irregular beat, she had her answer.

Holding her tightly his seeking lips claimed hers again and again. Their extended separation had only intensified their feelings of longing and all else paled into unimportance now that she was back in his arms. The taste and feel of Jamie was in her bloodstream and his very essence was etched into her bones. Everything around her became inconsequential when she was in his arms. Each foray became much more intense as lips touched lips in knowing abandon. Eyes held, then closed. Although savouring the blissful joining, both of them wanted a much deeper and intimate connection. His tongue duelled with hers in an erotic ritual within her mouth seeking total dominance and Claire capitulated willingly.

Jamie’s lips repeatedly retreated and then returned to gently bite her soft flesh savouring the taste again and again. He made a delicate exploration of Claire’s mouth that quickly became something more. Her breathing became laboured as his kisses made her knees go to jelly. Nibbling on her bottom lip Jamie gently drew it into his mouth and captured it with his own lips lightly scraping his teeth over the fleshy morsel. He let go of her lip and returned to nibble at her upper one, repeating the process before deepening the kiss with a ravenous hunger for more.

Cupping her head, one of his hands tangled in her brown tresses as the other slid around to the small of Claire’s back urging her closer. Claiming her lips with burning precision yet again, Jamie surrendered to the passion raging inside him also. Both of their bodies were experiencing a heightened state of sexual arousal and Claire could feel Jamie’s body swell against her own. She cradled her hips against his, while the heavy ridge of his erection pressed hard against the hot ache between her legs.

A breathy sigh escaped from her lips. Her blood began to sing in her veins. Jamie’s kisses were better than she had imagined. Oh! How she had missed him ... missed his touch. Digging her fingers into his shoulders, she felt her legs begin to buckle under his onslaught of caresses, but before she slid to the floor Jamie’s hands lowered to her buttocks and pressed her closer to his hardened body.

“Mo ghràidh … Sass-en-ach,” he moaned in desperate need.

Her special name echoed in her ears and she floated away at his touch.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

With his lips tasting hers, rational thought process diminished as sexual desire overrode Jamie’s common sense. He should have remained more detached until he’d spoken to her … asked her what Intel she had gathered during her time here. He knew he should have debriefed with Claire first and told her everything that Section One had on Madame Cheung as well.

He should have … but … he didn’t. He couldn’t. He had been denied Claire’s touch for far too long. He needed to feel her body against his own and he needed to kiss her into oblivion.

The sight of his Sassenach after an absence of more than a month was the only catalyst, he needed to push him beyond the Section James Fraser and reveal the man beneath. Jamie’s thoughts and emotions overwhelmed him when he had closed the door. He had missed Claire … missed her laughter … her sparkling eyes … her voice ... he’d missed everything about her. He’d felt her absence more than he was willing to say.

Having her back near him was all he needed and he couldn’t restrain himself any longer. What is more, he got his answer … Claire couldn’t either. Jamie pulled her towards him once more wrapping his arms around her body and kissed her senseless with a desperate need neither could deny. Their lips fused together and their bodies pressed against one another reconnecting and aligning like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that just fit together. Claire’s fingers tugged on Jamie’s curls as she held on to him for dear life savouring the exquisite sensation of having his lips locked against her own. Heads aligned as their lips connected again and again each kiss more passionate that the one before.

Their breathing grew ragged and with a great deal of regret each sought some much-needed oxygen before they asphyxiated. Claire let out a mournful groan of loss when Jamie disconnected their kiss and rested his forehead against hers. However, his warm breath caressed her skin as he peppered kisses to Claire’s face from her brow down the bridge of her nose then across her cheek before he captured her ear with his teeth at the same time whispering in her ear.

“I missed ye, mon nighean donn. So very much.”

Claire’s voiced hitched in her throat. She couldn’t deny the relief it was to hear him say those words. “I missed you too. I’m so glad you are here Jamie.”

Slowly rotating his hips against her, Jamie’s fingers began to trace a line from Claire’s collarbone down her décolleté to the curve of her breast with a touch so enthralling that she nearly forgot to breathe. Silky smooth to the touch, Jamie caressed her tantalizingly back and forth. Feeling the brush of his fingertips on her bare skin was like heaven. Gentle strokes trailed downward until his hand came to rest lightly on her ribcage. Wherever his fingertips stroked, electric currents coursed through her body making her skin tremble with desire. Claire was already sexually aroused by her man and inhaled deeply impatient to feel more.

Jamie’s breath was shallow too. Leaning in, his lips fanned her mouth making her heart skip a beat. His teeth lightly scraped against Claire’s tongue. He nipped gently then withdrew from her lips only to return once more with greater fervour. Jamie toyed with her mind and her body succumbed to his touch. There was nothing rational about how she felt, because what she felt was overwhelming her senses … all she could do was feel. Claire was on the verge of capitulation. Winding her arms around his head she pulled Jamie closer to her willing mouth begging for him to deepen his kisses and to ravish her to within an inch of her life once more.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

However, before he could advance their intimacy any further, his comm. unit buzzed to life with the sound of Operations’ voice.

“Jamie? … Fraser!” came the abrupt interruption.

“Aaarrrgghhhh!!!!” Claire moaned against his soft lips.

Jamie closed his eyes in frustration. With Operations’ voice echoing in his Comm. Unit, he broke from their embrace ruing that Section One had once again managed to diffuse a long-awaited intimate moment between them.

Claire managed to open her eyes while her dreamy gaze glanced at Jamie’s face. Breaking from their caress, she saw the regret etched in his eyes. She buried her head on his shoulder disappointed that this call had come before things had progressed any further. Sadly, Claire moved away from temptation knowing that the interruption from Operations had changed the mood and completely broken the spell.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Slowly and very reluctantly with his heart beating faster than normal, James Fraser composed himself before answering. The voice he used belonged to his Section One persona. This was the man that Operations heard answering not the man who had set her heart a fluttering. All that remained of the Jamie who had overwhelmed her was his flushed skin and dilated pupils.

“Yes sir?”

“Do you have anything to report?

“We’ve created a bridge.”

“With Madame Cheung?”

“Yes.”

“She’s convinced you’re St Germain?”

“Yes.”

“Excellent … Any sign of Sun Yee Lok?”

“No, but I’ll need tae debrief with Claire.”

“Good ... she may have new Intel.”

“It’s possible.”

“Yes … It’s just a matter of time. He’ll eventually want to set up a meeting with St Germain.”

“Is that all sir?”

“One other thing … Intel says that Sun Yee Lok doesn’t know what Le Comte St Germain looks like.”

“That will be tae our advantage.”

“You’re right! First team ... you’re on your own. Report back again Jamie when you have more Intel.”

“Of course.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Section One always seemed to have some type of inbuilt radar where they were concerned. The interruption from Operations had been just when they’d nearly reached a point of no return. So many times, this had happened to them … the seduction … the surrender … the interruption … then the change of mind. Claire had always marvelled at Jamie’s ability to regain his composure so quickly after such a heated moment, especially when she always struggled with her feelings of need.

She felt that way now. Sitting in a winged chair while Jamie spoke to Operations, Claire watched him respond to their superior’s questions with a heavy heart.

What would happen when he had finished the conversation? Would they start off where they had been interrupted or would things cool down? They had separated from their embrace and Jamie had spoken with calm resolve as if nothing had happened. Except … something had happened that could not be denied and it was something that she yearned to continue.

But would they?

Claire could only but hope so.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 43

 

First team ... you’re on your own.

Operations’ words reverberated in Jamie’s head for now they really were on their own at last. There was just the two of them. Alone and together. God forbid, any other untimely interruptions from Section One or Madame Cheung would be forthcoming for they would be most unwelcome. They had endured separation for weeks now and changing the mission profile by eliminating Le Comte St Germain from the picture had certainly worked in his favour. He couldn’t sit back on his hands and not be able to do anything. Deep cover missions were fraught with danger if the target suspected that the role you were playing was not who you really were. Tacit approval from Operations had been given and it was now up to both he and Claire to see this mission through to the conclusion Section One desired. Substituting himself in the role of the terrorist St Germain allowed him to be near Claire to not only protect her, but to be back up should she be in jeopardy if her subterfuge was discovered.

Knowing that Claire was vulnerable to the plight of the girls in Madame Cheung’s employ he knew that she would want to do something that could save them from the triad and the life they led with this triad member. Everything was calculated with Section and there was no room for sentiment on a mission and that was where Claire was at odds with her superiors. It was her compassion and empathy that was in conflict with the mantra that was Section One. Innocents were collateral in the end game and these women were no different because the bigger picture was the capture of Madame Cheung and how she could lead Section to the apprehension of their main protagonist, Sun Yee Lok. However, now that he was here with his Sassenach meant that together they would achieve the same outcome desired but they would do it their way because of his manipulation of the mission profile and despite Section One’s initial directives.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie chanced a look towards where Claire was seated and he could see the confused look on her face. He regretted that the interruption from Operations had dampened their ardour especially since they had only reconnected after an absence from each other. Neither of them knew just how they were faring for Jamie was in Section and Claire was on her assignment. Life in Section One continued as normal but the worry about Claire was never far from Jamie’s mind. Now that he had seen that physically she was okay it was the mental stress he was not aware of. This was the first time Claire had been ordered on a deep cover mission and Jamie knew from personal experience that they were morale deflating. Their connection before the untimely interruption from Operations had been on the precipice of self-combusting with a visceral need to touch one another but now they were both in a stalemate.

Looking over once more toward where Claire was seated Jamie knew she was analysing in her mind just what had happened to spoil their reconnection. He knew that Claire had moved away from him in disappointment to compose herself following the intrusion into their reunion. Letting her go was hard, but if she had stayed near, he may not have been as convincing as he was. Cooling his heels while Operations debriefed was not an easy task especially given their ardent state of arousal for one another when they had entered the room. Despite being agonizing for Claire, he’d had no choice. Years of self-discipline training had allowed him to return to the cold Section operative that Operations heard. His inner self, however, was something completely different.

Something had happened between them that could not be denied. Jamie had wanted Claire and they would have taken their passion to the logical conclusion if not for the intrusion. However, now that the moment had been broken, they should talk and he should tell Claire the Intel about Madame Cheung and Le Comte St Germain. They may not have another opportunity, for once he touched her again, nothing would thwart them for a second time.

Taking a breath Jamie turned around to face Claire once more. Her eyes canvassed his face as she sat in the chair waiting for him to make a move ... any move to indicate that what had happened prior to the interruption would continue. Questioning blue eyes held his for a moment then Claire looked down, not knowing how to read the look on Jamie’s face.

Although his mind had filled with the questions, he needed to know answers for, Jamie had struggled with what he should do and what he’d wanted to do. Operations’ interruption though had poured cold water on both of them. Instead of continuing their intimate reunion he knew he ought to take this opportunity to tell Claire about their target Madame Cheung and her role within the Rising Dragons.

His mind was perplexed by his conflicting feelings.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Although their Intel was sketchy on Madame Cheung, Section knew she was a very powerful and influential member of the Rising Dragons triad and their suspicions pointed to a two-pronged business that monopolised the market. In fact, it was very rare that a woman was a member of a triad. The Rising Dragons had made an exception in her case. That spoke of the high regard in which they held her … or was it her ruthlessness that they held in awe and what so impressed Sun Yee Lok? On the surface her high-class escort business was a cover for a seedier underbelly of sexual slavery and prostitution. Due to her connectedness to the triad … few if any escaped and those who did were dealt with in the triad way … death.

Had Claire been able to gain Intel on Madame Cheung’s business affairs or had she been kept in the dark? He really needed to ask her what Intel she had garnered too.

He should have told her before they had kissed but his emotions had got the better of him that Madame Cheung was embroiled in both, even though he suspected that Claire didn’t know to what extent. If she found this out, she would be hell bent on saving any girls who had been tainted by Madame Cheung and that could become an explosive proposition. Jamie knew that she would move heaven and earth to right injustices and protect innocents by going off-profile to achieve her goals despite her mission parameters.

Would she want to hear the Intel on Le Comte St. Germain that he was in the business of procuring young woman by any fouled means for whoever was willing to pay the highest price?

Clearly the Rising Dragons had the finances to buy the young women that St Germain was able to provide. Although Section One was unaware of the depth of her involvement, it was evident that Madame Cheung was responsible for, or was planning to become involved in underage prostitution as well. She had propositioned him … believing him to be St Germain … for a business proposal when the weekend was over. She obviously saw Le Comte St. Germain as being integral in her business ventures and vice versa. Where there could be a connection or the opportunity for one, she would grasp at it with both hands. Biding his time until she made a move could lead to Section One closing down those associated with her. He knew Claire would welcome such a move.

Had she made the connection that Madame Cheung was the Mamma–sans the Asian, female equivalent of a pimp?

More than likely she was much feared by the girls who were in indentured servitude under the guise of being an exclusive escort. Most would be illegal immigrants forced to work in prostitution, usually against their will and generally in circumstances such that they felt they had no other choice. Many of the girls in the “business” would have been smuggled in from other countries … or bought by the triad from destitute parents, especially from impoverished provinces in Thailand, Vietnam and China to work there. The girls then became reliant on her trying to escape poverty, but without papers, they had no means of escape. Her promise of a job as models, escorts or even just a better life for them or their families never eventuated and that forced them into prostitution. Keeping the girls in financial debt by the triad, despite thinking there was a way out of their predicament by being lured by the illusion of riches resulted in the prostitutes unable to earn enough to pay off the debt. However, by then it is too late … they’d find that the only way out is no way out at all.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Very gingerly, she raised her eyes to Jamie’s hoping above hope that they would convey that he too wanted to continue what they had started. Would they start off where they had been interrupted or would things cool down? Claire thought she had the answer but Jamie remained where he stood and she was transfixed and confused at the same time.

The call from Operations had certainly thrown cold water on their desire for this James Fraser was far removed from the Jamie Fraser who had kissed her to within an inch of her life moments ago. This man was fighting some inner demons. There was a troubled frown on his brow that was never there for Jamie always managed to hide what he was thinking. This was especially true in front of their superiors but when with her, he knew he could let his guard down without fear of judgement or reprisal. However, this time was different. She could see that Jamie was mulling over some Intel and whether he should tell her or not. His fingers tapped along the side of his thigh an outward sign that his thoughts were at loggerheads with his rational mind.

First and foremost, Jamie wanted to find out if Claire was okay and how she had coped on the deep cover assignment with Madame Cheung. He’d had ulterior motives also. He wanted to know if she had missed him as much as he’d missed her and should he delay telling her the truth about Madame Cheung and St Germain or succumb to his wants and needs for his Sassenach. Her six-month absence from Section One last year had cut deeply, but Claire’s mission here with Madame Cheung was fraught with danger given what he knew of this woman and it was this that had made him anxious all the time she had been absent from Section One over the past several weeks. The Rising Dragons were ruthless and callous. The death of Annalise de Marillac and the many criminal practises of those triad members Section One had already eliminated made them extremely dangerous. As a terrorist group their influence spread far and wide. Deception was not tolerated and death was the only way out for members who betrayed the triad.

Claire was vulnerable. He had come just in time.

Giving the appearance of regaining his self-control, Jamie was inwardly churning up with his own musings about Madame Cheung and St Germain that Claire may or may not know already. At some stage he would need to tell her, however she was a smart woman and had probably reached her own conclusions as to Madame Cheung’s operation. Struggling with his Section One sense of duty and his feelings of need for the woman who was so near yet too far away, Jamie knew then that even though the flames of desire burned foremost for his Sassenach brighter than ever than his obligation to the Section … duty came first.

Raising his hand to his ear, he turned off his comm. unit; Claire did the same while each watched the other intently. He stood and looked his fill. Claire appeared a little apprehensive not knowing what he may do, but to Jamie she was beautiful. His face however, wore his patent Section One mask. Jamie saw Claire’s reaction but he needed to draw back somewhat for if he didn’t, they may never find the time to debrief; hence he knew his words would affect her. His actions would only fuel her uncertainties too about his feelings for her. He regretted what he was about to do particularly given the unspoken desire escalating between them since they had entered his room.

It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d had to pull back and hurt Claire’s feelings unintentionally. His one redeeming feature was that he would make it up to her before the night was over.

“I’m sorry Claire but I must tell you the things that ye need to know before we can pursue our reunion further. If I don’t tell you this now, I may not be able to later ye ken. Please know that I do this with a heavy heart my love because I want nothing more than to make love with the woman I adore.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie was sending so many mixed signals at the moment that Claire questioned where they stood. She couldn’t read the signals for he had immediately closed down their intimacy and she had no idea of what she should do or say for he unnerved her when he was like this. Claire only knew that she would probably be hurt yet again when all she wanted to do was make love with Jamie and she’d thought he had wanted that too judging by his intense reaction to kissing her when they had entered his room. They couldn’t keep their hands off one another but with the interruption from Operations Jamie had reverted back to the Section One cold operative and had become aloof. She was heartbroken when all she had wanted to do was reconnect physically with her partner in crime, but Jamie had shut her down with the call.

Claire finally took the initiative before Jamie could speak and with bravado, she was far from feeling she struggled with her words. “So … what …” Faltering mid-sentence, then finding her voice once more she inquired softly, “... so what happens now? What are we going to do Jamie?”

“Nothing … We wait.”

“For Madame Cheung?” Her eyes locked with his hoping that he may be able to read the inner thought in her mind. Or to continue what we had started?

He was giving her no indication that he was aware of her inner turmoil and his reply was succinct. “Aye … and for Sun Yee Lok tae make an appearance.”

“What if he doesn’t?”

Before answering Jamie looked at Claire, his meaning loud and clear. “We carry out our subterfuge on Madame Cheung as if I was St. Germain.”

“Okay.” Claire replied unable to hold his gaze any longer.

Jamie was struggling with his own demons and continued in his Section voice. “Madeline and Operations suspect that St Germain has a connection with Sun Yee Lok and we need tae find out what it is.”

“And with Madame Cheung?”

“Aye.”

Claire thought of what the young Thai girl Jessie had told her this evening. “Jamie, you know what this place is.”

His answer was monosyllabic as usual. “Aye.”

Claire knew he had chosen not to elaborate on his knowledge at the moment and with disgust lacing her voice at their predicament she added, “Some of the girls here were only children when they came.”

Claire’s reaction was so predictable for he knew her humanity for these women would rise to the fore sooner rather than later. “I know. It seems that your observations back up the Intel we have on her Claire.”

Internalising this information, she began to appeal to Jamie’s suppressed humanitarian side hopeful that her words would strike a chord and that together they could do something, anything that would help these girls escape from Madame Cheung and the Rising Dragons. “We can't leave these women here working for the triad. We have to help them,” she implored hoping above hope that Jamie would be moved as she was moved by their plight.

But it wasn’t to be as his face registered no emotion for their troubles.

“Fine! Then they're my problem.”

He knew Claire’s compassionate heart would be appalled by the girls’ predicament and her social justice instincts would try to help them escape their binds to the triad. However, these things took time and the end game needed to be achieved before these girls would be free of the triad. “What do you expect to accomplish, Claire?”

“I don't know. Maybe nothing, but I have to try.”

Jamie’s gaze encompassed her form as Claire continued her tirade, knowing just what she would suggest next.

“I have to try … Jamie please … we have to try,” she implored a little more rationally. “We can't leave these women here. We have to help them … You've got a sister Jamie. When you went to prison, she was all alone. She could have ended up in a place like this if she hadn't been helped.”

Her entreaty to his better, softer, before Section side, saw Jamie swallow a lump in his throat. His Sassenach had touched a raw nerve at the mention of his sister Janet. He hated that he had left her to fend for herself and his feelings of guilt, long buried but … obviously not deep enough … surfaced.

“Surely you can do something … anything … Madame Cheung likes you. You said that she believes you’re Le Comte St. Germain … this could be leverage for us.”

Jamie knew he needed to give her something to hang on to and so he told her of Section One’s suspicions about St. Germain. “He’s in the business of trafficking and trading young girls for prostitution … but we need proof.”

“I see.”

“Madame Cheung already wants tae talk business with St. Germain. We need tae confirm this Intel so that we can bring them all down. Claire … trust me.”

“You’ve said that before Jamie and then let me down. Why should I trust you now? Hmmm? Give me one good reason.”

Jamie didn’t answer her question; he merely gave her the most penetrating stare … a look without words that spoke to her heart.

“Ye love me Sassenach.”

It shut her up.

Claire was speechless.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 44 (S)

 

“Why should I trust you now? Hmmm? Give me one good reason.”

Jamie didn’t answer her question; he merely gave her the most penetrating look … a look without words that spoke to Claire’s heart.

Every single thing that Jamie Fraser had said and done in the past paled into insignificance with that one penetrating look he cast towards Claire. The look without words that spoke to her heart was a glimmer of hope for her because she now understood him a little better. Jamie was not a man to show his emotions especially in Section One as to do so would be fraught with danger especially for their penultimate operative, their cold and calculating killing machine. For James Fraser to show any romantic attachment to his material would be a sign of weakness in his superiors’ eyes. Relationships between operatives were frowned upon and a relationship between their Level 5 operative and his partner could prove to be problematic if Jamie let his feelings dictate how he carried out his orders. Missions could fail if he let his emotions override his responsibility. However, this is the very thing that he had done. He’d manipulated the mission profile for Claire but was it because he wanted to only protect her since she was of a different ilk than most operatives, or was it because he too really did love her and wanted her to be safe at all costs? It was a fine line that Jamie walked but up until now he had been totally successful and there were no repercussions from the Section One leaders. Although they may suspect there was something more between the two of them, they as yet had no concrete proof about James Fraser’s deeper bond with Claire Beauchamp.

He was a complicated and enigmatic man but Claire had managed to see a very different side of Jamie that he showed to no one else. Although he was a passionate lover, she always had some doubt in the back of her mind if he was merely stringing her along and if his feelings for her were as real as hers for him. Was he holding back emotionally for fear of rejection or was he detached because life in Section was no place for emotion? You needed to have a cold demeanour to not be affected by the job you were required to do in Section One. Emotions made you vulnerable and at risk of making the wrong decision. Jamie could ill afford to be someone who showed his feelings for he had spent years perfecting his cold persona and now to have a woman break down his barriers was something he had avoided in the past.

James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser was a Section One man through and through but Claire now realised that being his partner had in fact changed him and made him not only question his role within the Section but had crashed through some of the defenses that lay dormant within his personality. That look he had just given her scorched her soul and she immediately knew the exact meaning Jamie was portraying in his look. To Claire it acknowledged that he might feel the same way.

“Ye love me Sassenach.”

Those words that spoke to her feelings were fundamentally about a question of trust. Did she really trust Jamie and could she trust him? This revelation about her by this man struck a deep chord within her heart. In that exact split moment that eyes met eyes Claire’s insecurity about trust issues with Jamie dissipated. To her trust was having the confidence and heart in someone that they wouldn't let you down when you needed them. Trust was faith, faith was reliance, reliance was belief, belief was having confidence in someone, and to be confident in someone brings you back to trust. Trust was everything; it put your heart in a safe place for it was the unwavering belief that the other person will fulfil his promises. It relied on the integrity, strength, ability and surety, of a person. It was confidence and hope and knowing that you could rely on that special someone and that they could rely on you in return.

Claire blinked as if she had reached enlightenment with that look from Jamie. There was only one answer she could truthfully give and unequivocally her answer was yes. At that moment in time she knew that if you truly loved someone you are not confused by this emotion and Claire finally realised that Jamie had given her the sign that she needed to indeed follow her heart.

She could be headstrong but her partner in crime was well aware that she was conflicted by the role forced upon her by Section One. She was a compassionate and caring person and this was such a dichotomy to what was expected of their operatives. Their mantra was that you got the job done, asked no questions and obeyed orders to the letter. Failure to conform usually lead to cancellation for Section was a ruthless mistress and even their operatives were expendable if they bucked the system. However, Claire Beauchamp was different and the fact that Jamie always found a way to protect her was his way of showing her how he felt about her.

They were always on an emotional rollercoaster ride and keeping her feelings in check for him was difficult, for Claire wore her heart on her sleeve for this man when out of the sight of Section’s prying eyes. Their life was complex enough but emotionally it was more so and until they reached some common ground things would not progress. Nevertheless, Claire knew she could wait for Jamie to let down his guard and become vulnerable too. When he did so then she would truly know that he felt the same as she did about him. Every little baby step was a mammoth step forward for a man who had buried his feelings so deep that he felt he was incapable of love. But Claire was chipping away little by little and if the look Jamie had given her was an indication to how much he knew about her feelings, then it only made sense that he would eventually show his own feelings to her.

She could wait for however long it took.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

That unspoken look pierced Claire’s heart knowing that Jamie had admitted that he was so in tune with her feelings for him and she was gobsmacked with his knowledge of her love for him. It blew her mind as she knew it was the start of barriers being broken down between them like they had done on Lamma Island all those months ago. She couldn’t look away from his mesmerizing blue eyes as they caressed her face so tenderly. His eyes radiated warmth and desire which seared through Claire undressing her with their intensity. Gripped by the hunger each saw in the other, they let their eyes do the talking and the touching. Jamie's smouldering gaze swept Claire from head to toe then rested on her luminous blue orbs. She couldn’t look away and was like a rabbit caught in headlights. Slowly capturing her stare James Fraser caressed her face then lowered his eyes to her perfect lips.

Claire watched spellbound, unable to sever his look.

Instinctively her tongue moistened her bottom lip in nervous response to what Jamie was making her feel. It only ever took one such look to tip her off kilter even after they had argued. His scorching gaze kissed her repeatedly but she wanted to feel the tangible touch of his lips rather than the superficial touch of eye sex. Despite their words earlier Claire wanted Jamie with every fibre of her being. She wanted to be kissed into obliteration and made love to until she cried out his name in surrender but she also wanted Jamie to capitulate to her as well in a mutual joining of souls.

Captivated by the woman who sat opposite him, Jamie’s gaze immediately returned to capture her beautiful eyes once more. A kaleidoscope of amazing images filled his mind,

of Claire’s mouth pressed against his …

of her in the throes of passion within his arms …

then of the ultimate giving of herself to him in complete abandon.

Jamie knew Claire felt the same connection too for a flame of desire was reciprocated in her eyes along with other tell-tale signs of her hunger and need. Their conversation was but a memory now as was the interruption from their leader Dougal Mackenzie. All that mattered was the here and now. He had come to be with her and that was his sole purpose for changing the mission profile. He cared about his Sassenach more than he could admit out loud but he knew that since she’d been recruited to Section One and assigned to him to train that Claire Beauchamp would have an impact on his life. He never anticipated that she would be the one who would open the Pandora’s Box that was his heart that had been well and truly sealed from any fulfilling romantic attachment.

The woman in front of him would cause a saint to drink. Claire Beauchamp took his breath away and everything about her exuded sexiness and he wanted to drink his fill. He wanted to adore her and bring her to the heights of ecstasy until she surrendered in the throes of passion in his arms.

Little knowing of her partner’s thoughts Claire sighed closing her eyes and recollecting the erotic images of Jamie’s mouth fused to hers as well. A firestorm of longing ignited her body in a need to rekindle the passion that had emanated between them as soon as the door to his room had closed banishing everyone to irrelevance except the two of them.

Time stood still as Claire waited for what Jamie would do next.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Reluctantly instead of making a move toward her, he turned away from Claire for a moment and knelt before the stereo in the room. Even this move puzzled her but she still watched in awe as his trousers became taut exposing the strong muscular thighs beneath the material as he knelt selecting a CD to play. Soon rhythmic, seductive music echoed evocatively in the room. Twiddling with her hair in nervousness, Claire sat in the chair watching Jamie’s every move closely wondering what he had in mind next. He looked up just as her tongue nervously moistened her bottom lip.

“W-what …?” she stammered, her voice a little husky, “… Are you doing Jamie?”

Standing, he said nothing, but slowly prowled toward her never taking his eyes from his Sassenach. Her body gave a little shiver in anticipation at the look Jamie was giving her and Claire couldn’t look away even if she wanted to. This man, this Jamie Fraser fascinated her and she couldn’t help but tease him with her next words.

“Trying to seduce me Fraser?” She added somewhat tongue in cheek as she finally realised what his motives might be. But was it wise to poke the beast? she thought, knowing that he had the upper hand at the moment.

In return, Jamie merely replied with his blank stare and predatory actions. He continued his slow approach and made his way across the room to where Claire was sitting extending a hand to her in invitation as he neared. His intense gaze looked deeply into her beautiful, blue eyes communicating his intentions. In slow motion she rose from her chair unable to resist his offer. Standing, Claire nervously went to him narrowing the space between them while Jamie’s eyes followed her every step towards him.

Biting her lip Claire looked into his eyes with a perplexed look on her face as she declared, “I’ve never been able to figure you out James Fraser.”

“Today is different Beauchamp,” he replied as if these words would convince her of that notion.

Powerless to fight the magnetic pull of his actions and words Claire answered back, “I thought so too... but …”

Jamie ignored her response as he clasped Claire’s left wrist; slowly sliding his hand to take her palm, he then gently brushed his lips to her fingertips halting any other words she may have wanted to say. Anointing her palm with open mouthed kisses and little biting nips, he scraped her skin with his teeth then soothed the sting with his tongue. Claire shivered with the erotic sensation as Jamie captured her gaze in his and locked eyes with her. She could not look away. Mesmerized by his actions, Claire’s glazed eyes stared back at him while the sensation of rippling feelings suddenly filled her body.

When next he spoke, Jamie’s voice was soft and seductive. “It’s verra simple ye ken. I never thought I would ever care for another woman again … and if I did ...”

While speaking, he lightly ran his fingertips over the back of Claire’s knuckles caressing her skin; she closed her eyes for his gentle touch made her hand tremble. Jamie’s low, lulling voice was music to her ears and she was affected by the sensuousness of it all washing over her like a cascading waterfall. A soft sound of pleasure bubbled in the back of her throat as she leaned into Jamie’s touch. Her nipples tightened and Claire trembled with desire. Even though he was only caressing her hands it was as if Jamie was touching her intimately as he had on Lamma Island. Her body was reacting to this sensuous foreplay as she seemed to lose all conscious thought about the conversation they had just had. All she could do was surrender to the way James Fraser was seducing her and to the way her body was melting with delicious feelings that had once again risen to the surface. Her skin felt alive wherever Jamie’s touch anointed her flesh and she was powerless to do anything but just feel.

Nevertheless, Claire ached to have him really touch her as only he knew how.

The timbre of his voice hypnotised her into a trance like state. His words spun around in her head. “… I thought it would have to be someone from outside of Section, but I was wrong mon nighean donn. No one from the outside can understand who we are.”

Leaning into Claire’s space Jamie slowly began caressing and stroking her hands within his and the sensation caused butterflies to flutter uncontrollably in her stomach. His fingers were so erotic, so light of touch but overpowering in the intensity of the feelings they evoked. Claire closed her eyes and let her body succumb to the feelings radiating to every fibre of her being. Pure unadulterated desire consumed her as Jamie circled her wrists then ran his fingertips down her palms exacerbating her intense feelings. He intentionally scraped his nails across the fleshy mound of her palm and across her heart line until he interlocked his fingers with hers. Opening her eyes Claire held her partner’s gaze but looked down to see their hands joined like two lovers intertwined in a passionate embrace.

She was swept away with longing and shuddered unable to control the emotions surfacing for this enigma of a man. It had been several weeks since they had been on Lamma Island and the feelings that Jamie’s actions were having on her senses at this moment were overwhelming. Would tonight bring all those wonderful memories to the surface again? Unquestionably in her mind Claire knew that Jamie’s intensified actions would lead to so much more … for both of them.

He gave her no respite from his sensual attack. Jamie entwined her hand within his own in a sensuous dance of erotic foreplay that attacked her senses. Claire was lost; being such a tactile person, she basked in the attention he was lavishing on her. His loving exploration continued relentlessly as Jamie captured her delicate wrist and lazily traced the blood-filled veins stroking his fingertips along the ridges. Completely caught up in the seduction, Claire allowed him to retain her hands as he caressed them while she was melting inside with a plethora of wonderful feelings.

“We fight all the time just to stay alive. This mission is dangerous Sassenach … Madame Cheung and the Rising Dragons’ triad are both ruthless. We don’t know what lies ahead with this mission, so let’s not fight what’s between us.”

They stared deeply into one another’s eyes as he spoke. Claire then followed Jamie’s mouth as she watched his lips form the next words. “I missed ye sae much mo ghràidh.”

She quickly looked up. Her pupils had dilated even more and Claire held Jamie’s gaze for a heartbeat. Subsequently closing her eyes, she savoured his words ... words that lodged deep in her heart and to the very core of her being as he continued.

“Let’s take what we can … like we did on Lamma Island.”

He pulled Claire closer to his hard, warm body and within a few seconds she was in his arms. Sensuously, Jamie slipped his hand up underneath the top of her gown leisurely exploring her bare skin with fingers with a will of their own. It was so velvety soft and warm to the touch beneath his hands that they trembled at the renewed contact against her body.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Ever so slowly they began to dance. As their bodies swayed as one, Jamie lightly traced his fingers down the line of Claire’s spine sending rapturous shivers up and down her nerve endings. His wonderful demonstrative touch sent a rush of heat through her body causing her to take a sharp intake of breath. The audible rasp echoed in the air in conjunction with the sound of the seductive music as they moved together. Wrapped in the circle of his arms like this, Claire was temptation personified and he was sorely tempted.

Spellbound and burning for this man’s touch, she could only watch as he moved his lips near to hers. Close but not quite touching her lips, Jamie teased her while playing a game of cat and mouse. They began dancing in slow circles while their eyes locked with such an intense gaze that she felt that fireworks had just exploded before her eyes. To Claire the world could have collapsed around her and she wouldn’t have noticed. Her world at that moment revolved around Jamie but his slow seduction was only exacerbating her anticipation. Closing her eyes, she felt the gentle pads of his fingertips teasingly stroke along her thigh where her leg was exposed by the slit in her dress. Swaying against him, she parted her lips and opened her dreamy filled eyes in invitation.

Jamie’s fingers erotically traced down Claire’s thigh once again then returned his hands to her back drawing her closer. Watching her pupils dilate to a darker hue, his mouth nearly … but not quite … touched hers. He tormented her until she moaned in entreaty. It was torturous. Gentle fingers caressed her eyebrow, trailing to her cheeks, then her lips until Claire wondered if she could stand one moment more of Jamie’s actions. She was ready to rip his clothes off then and there and sliding her hands around the back of his neck, she pulled his face down to hers. However, Jamie only caressed the corners of her mouth with the tip of his tongue.

“No!” Claire cried out.

Leaning in closer, she toyed with him in an effort to capture his lips for the connection she so desired. But James Fraser evaded her forays causing Claire to moan much louder in anguish wanting more … so much more than he was prepared to give. She was unravelling. Jamie flirted and teased her but he wouldn’t deepen the caress while Claire was burning up with a need for this man’s touch rapidly escalating. If James Fraser didn’t kiss her soon Claire thought she would expire. Groaning, she parted her lips in open invitation for his touch and taste, then when his fingertips rested against her throat her heart leapt in her chest as Jamie finally leaned in to kiss her.

She touched his lips.

Hot flesh met soft flesh.

All coherent thoughts fled Claire’s mind. Overcome with hunger, she incoherently frustratingly murmured keening noises against his lips. The games Jamie Fraser had been playing had driven her wild with want and need. Serve him right, she thought as she rubbed her body sinuously against him. Threading her fingers through his hair, Claire held Jamie’s mouth to hers, deepening their kiss with a need that was ravenous. His lips tasted salty, his mouth soft, yet hard at the same time. Warmth spread through her body and Claire wanted Jamie so desperately she felt as though she would explode.

He reciprocated.

Pulling his Sassenach a little closer, he inhaled the sweet scent of her as his own lips sought dominance. Sucking in a breath, Jamie felt Claire’s lithesome body flush against his own tempt him. He grew harder as his body again gave away evidence to his inner feelings. He kissed her cheek ... her mouth ... then kissing the column of Claire’s neck, Jamie lathed the tell-tale throbbing pulse with his tongue. He then worked his way back to her lips for more punishing kisses that had her breathless. Aligning her head to the side, Jamie captured his Sassenach’s mouth deepening their kiss … tightening his embrace and kissing her with a hunger that shocked him. He didn’t realise how much he needed her.

A satisfied groan rumbled deep in his chest when Claire replied in kind.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 45 (S)

 

Claire returned Jamie’s kisses with an equal amount of fervour as he held her tight and kissed her fiercely with a desire that had long been denied. Closing their eyes, the heightened intimacy of their kiss when mouth touched mouth was a rediscovery of what they had missed ever since Lamma Island. It was their way of finding each other all over again while the force of the kiss resuscitated their souls. Separation from the one who you shared a deep bond with was difficult and their kiss only exacerbated the need they both had for each other. Jamie’s caress scorched Claire’s mouth and inflamed her desire for the man in her arms. All of the pent-up feelings suppressed for several weeks since they had been parted were renewed once more with a deep longing they couldn’t deny. They had longed for this reunion and both of them savoured the reconnection with an intensity and passion that shook them to the core.

Lest she collapse, Claire’s arms held on to Jamie for dear life before her hands found their way to his copper curls. She grabbed his head as their mouths parried and foiled with kisses that nearly left her asphyxiated and breathless. Claire’s heart was palpating at a rate of knots but she was not yet content. Digging her fingers into his skull she pulled him closer. It felt like their bodies were merging into one for Jamie had just kissed her to within an inch of her life. Their breathing was heavy with the intenseness of their joined kisses and moaning, they bruised each other’s lips then broke away only to draw in oxygen before their lips mated once more. Jamie couldn’t taste enough and Claire wouldn’t relinquish his mouth as kisses with no beginning or end nearly suffocated them again and again. He could not sever their connection even if he wanted to for his Sassenach was intoxicating and he had yet to taste his fill.

His sensual aggressiveness thrilled her as Jamie became more adventurous in his intentions. Closing her eyes, the sensations Claire felt were sending ricocheting feelings coursing through her body. She loved being in his arms for she never knew what tactile exploration he would use to ignite those senses until she was on the brink of surrender. James Fraser was a conjurer of erotic pleasure. He teased and cajoled with a passionate onslaught to her mouth before his fervent kisses abated as he peppered her lips with lingering caresses. Biting Claire’s lower lip, he let his teeth tantalisingly graze there before he pulled away. The teasing of his mouth was sending her into a plummeting spiral and all she could do was feel and taste the erotic sortie of kisses that this man was bombarding her with.

God how she had missed this intimacy. Missed him. Missed these heated kisses.

Running his hands around Claire’s waist, then along her back, and especially the inside of her arm, Jamie next attacked her neck before tangling his hand in her hair. His fingers played with the soft tresses, holding his love to him as his tongue caressed her mouth signally his desire in no uncertain terms. Then ever so slowly he reluctantly drew his lips away but still kept them close enough that they were almost touching. He drew his tongue across Claire’s lips before smouldering blue eyes captured hers with a piercing gaze.

Inhaling a breath Jamie huskily spoke, “Mo nighean donn, mo chridhe, my heart. I have missed ye so. I burn for ye.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire was mesmerized and couldn’t look away. Jamie’s words were like a lingering caress for she could feel his soft, warm breath against her sensitive lips. She watched as he leaned in closer this time kissing her unhurriedly for a few seconds. Passion for her man was escalating but James Fraser was not done yet. Flicking the tip of his tongue just past her lips he pushed it deep into the sweet depths of her mouth slowly exploring Claire’s tongue in a light licking motion. He played erotically with the tip then pulled away teasing her all over again. Jamie was driving her wild with need while their mouths duelled and searched for more connection in a game that had their feelings reeling with anticipation.

Closing her eyes at the delicious feel of his tongue Jamie swirled it around while playfully teasing the roof of her mouth licking and ticking the area with his tongue. He pulled back once or twice only to return to her lips and begin his exploration anew sucking and wrestling with Claire’s tongue before holding it to the floor of her mouth. The highly sensitive surface of her tongue was sending erotic messages to her brain that had her melting in his arms. Enticing his Sassenach to do the same, their tongues coiled in a sensual dance. They kissed and mated out of sight as passion and yearning for more consumed them both. Extremely aroused by his actions, Claire writhed against him for her Jamie had unleashed all of those buried inner emotions she’d held in check for the past weeks.

“Aaaahhh!”

The guttural moan softly parted her lips inviting him to touch and taste her again.

Moving his head down the sweet column of his Sassenach’s throat Jamie kissed and nibbled on her neck. The feeling of his teeth gently biting her sensitive skin made Claire swoon as she moved her head the other way so that he could repeat his onslaught to the other side. Her body was unravelling in a kaleidoscope of forgotten feelings that this wonderful man had bought to the fore with his caresses. Cupping her chin in his hand, he obliged. Jamie turned his Sassenach’s face up to his for more of his intoxicating caresses that made her pulse race, then he kissed her tempting mouth once more. Thrilling shivers of pleasure danced along Claire’s spine as all the way along her jaw line and down her neck, his teeth nipped at her skin with wet, hot kisses. Her head fell backwards and Jamie pressed his advantage as her chest became exposed by the plunging neckline of her gown. Velvety skin beckoned for his caresses and James Fraser took the opportunity to navigate down Claire’s breast bone with open mouthed kisses that lathed her sensitive skin. She was unravelling in his arms.

In delirious abandon, she swayed against him. He felt the exquisite torment as her breasts brushed his chest but Jamie had no intention of moving away for his Sassenach’s touch sent a rush of heat straight to his groin. Palming her breasts, he pressed them firmly with his hands and felt Claire’s aroused nipples against his palms. The pebbled nubs caressed his skin and with dextrous fingertips Jamie tugged at them as they budded against the material of her top. Winding her fingers into the unruly curls at the nape of his neck she pulled him nearer to her as her fingertips fondled his head. Her splayed hands held him captive as her hands pressed his head closer to her chest incoherently muttering her approval of his actions.

Continuing his torment, Jamie dragged his head back up to Claire’s lips; she crushed them to her own feeling her effect on him as well. His body had become so much more aroused than when they’d danced and the evidence of just how much was now fully felt. Rocking his body against hers in knowing intent, Jamie pulled his woman hard against him so close to each other that nothing could separate them. Opening her legs with his thigh he pressed forward nestling against her warmth while running his hands up her thighs and over the swell of her hips.

Claire’s body was disintegrating into a puddle of mush. Her mind gave way to euphoric feelings as sensation after sensation rocked her off balance, and before she knew what was happening, she found herself moving backwards as Jamie manoeuvred them closer to the bedroom.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Pulling his love a little closer, Jamie inhaled the sweet scent of her hair. Cupping her bottom, he lifted her from the ground and her legs encircled his waist. Shoes fell to the floor with a thump, but it was the thumping in her chest that resounded louder in her ears. With arms around his neck Claire nipped at Jamie’s bottom lip with her teeth breathless with anticipation of what would happen next. Both were impatient to know what it was like to make love with each other again. They had been desperate at the bungalow on Lamma Island ... but tonight it was different. They already knew what it was like to lose themselves in the heady warmth of each other’s body. Tonight though, hunger went beyond impatience. Tonight, there was a mutual need caused by their long separation just like their first night on the boat in Lyons. Jamie knew it ... so did Claire.

He walked them into the bedroom bathed in muted light. Claire slid down his aroused body and her wobbly feet touched the ground unsteadily. Leaning against his strength she sighed his name in supplication then, in the deep recess of her mind she heard Jamie softly say, “Raise yer arms mon nighean donn.”

Somewhere in her muddled brain she complied.

Gripping the hem of the top part of her gown in his hands he raised the material gently over Claire’s head exposing her taut naked breasts to his gaze. Her beauty was intoxicating and he inhaled raggedly at her luminous form as he smoothed back wayward tendrils of hair from her forehead and face capturing her gaze. His look scorched her to the soul and Claire could barely think rationally … she could only feel. The top of her gown nonchalantly fell from his hand to the floor. Jamie looked his fill before palming the sides of her swelling breasts then lowering his head, his lips sought her hardened nipples capturing first one and then the other with torment. Placing burning open-mouthed kisses to her chest and over the soft swell of her cleavage he felt the rhythm of her heart beating against his lips in sync to the beating of his own.
Lost to her … Jamie buried his face between the soft swell of her chest finding comfort in his woman’s arms before his fingers searched for the zip on the other piece of her gown. It too slithered down Claire’s legs before pooling in a puddle on the floor.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Desperately wanting to peel away every scrap of his clothing and feel Jamie’s solid warmth against every inch of her, Claire in turn about, pressed her hands under his jacket hurriedly pushing it from his shoulders. Helping her, Jamie pulled the cashmere fabric from his body until it fell to the floor to join her top. With trembling fingers Claire tugged at his tie managing to loosen the knot before it too joined their clothing on the carpet. Trailing her wayward hands downwards, she next sought the buttons of Jamie’s shirt. In her haste and urgency to feel his skin against hers, she inserted her fingers in the silk fabric, ripping the buttons from their holes and exposing a magnificent heaving chest.

Reaching out her hand, Claire pressed it flat to the middle of his torso. He was so hot to the touch he scorched her fingers. Tracing his skin, she explored the contours of Jamie’s naked body. Her hands glided across his abdomen reacquainting her to the feel of him under her hands. Quivering with desire Jamie sucked in his stomach muscles. Everywhere his Sassenach’s touch glided, wreaked havoc on his equilibrium. It was Heaven and hell simultaneously as her fingertips brushed against his taut nipples. Inhaling sharply, blood pounded throughout his body when she scraped her fingernail over his sensitised skin leaving a trail of welts across his chest.

God, she loved the feel of his skin against her fingertips but he was oh so dangerous. James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser ... was a very dangerous man. He was dangerous to her sanity … to her peace of mind … but most of all to her feelings and she felt a rush of adrenalin of just how dangerous this man could be to her senses. He had the power to cast a spell over her that she never wanted to break.

His groin tightened and desire for his Claire consumed him. Jamie studied her with hooded eyes. He sucked in oxygen but a breath caught in his throat as she pressed her body closer until she was flush against him. Wrapping his arms around her, bare skin slid over bare skin. Jamie turned his head to kiss her, but Claire had other ideas. She kissed him first. Nipping at his skin, her mouth was hot on his jaw … then his neck … then his lips. Her nails scraped tantalizingly across his stomach teasing him as he’d teased her. Sucking in a raspy breath, he nearly snapped. Impatiently … he pulled Claire hard against him.

Moaning softly, she rose up on her toes, hooking her arms around his neck kissing her love on the mouth. Her kiss sent his senses reeling. Raw hunger consumed them. Lifting her off the ground, they lost their balance and tumbled onto the mattress and Claire landed on top of Jamie’s strong chest. Their legs entwined as her thigh pressed up against his groin. Encircling the back of her neck, Jamie pulled his Sassenach’s face down to his for a punishing kiss that was seamless. Breathing in her musky scent, he tasted the sweet, dark recesses of Claire’s mouth with assertion as lost to her as she was to him.

Two inaudible moans echoed in the room as they neared the point of no return.

Meanwhile …

Madame Cheung returned to the sanctum of her private quarters most pleased with the turn of events and how proceedings were unfolding. Satisfied that all was going to plan, she contemplated her next move, knowing however that it all depended on Claire Beauchamp and how well she entertained her guest Le Comte St. Germain. It was inevitable that he had chosen Claire just as she’d known he would. This had played directly into her hands and Madame Cheung knew that St. Germain would be extremely happy with the coupling. No doubt she was by now entertaining him to his complete

She’d lost her best girl Annalise de Marillac but now she had Claire Beauchamp … an alluring beauty, smart and savvy. Claire would indeed do the Rising Dragons proud. Although she wondered how things were progressing with Le Comte St. Germain, Madame Cheung never interfered with paying clients and their business of the pleasurable kind. After all, the fee that he’d paid was considerable for the privilege of her protégé’s company, and thus it assured him complete discretion.

Who was she to interfere?

What the clients did in the privacy of their bedroom happened within the four walls and stayed within them, and besides, she owed them this little piece of confidentiality. Although tempted to install surveillance she had not. Anyway, all would be known when Claire had completed her set task and was questioned at length. If she could not trust her girls … then who could she trust and more to the point, she soon heard about it from disgruntled clients and then the women were dealt with accordingly … the triad way. She was convinced, however, that Claire wouldn’t have any problems whatsoever with Monsieur Le Comte. He would want more … and then … she would demand her price.

As she sat back and reflected on what had happened this evening Madame Cheung’s thoughts also turned to her illustrious leader Sun Yee Lok. He’d made a personal request for St. Germain to be looked after well and she had complied with her part of the bargain. Le Comte St. Germain would be an interesting person to do business with and she looked forward to getting to know him and his business acumen better. In fact, she had contemplated arranging a trip to Thailand shortly to check out some potential leads that Oliver Chan had managed to obtain. Perhaps St. Germain could accompany her? She could pose a scenario to test his ability to arrange the purchase of girls that could be used, trained and modelled into “subservient employees.” St. Germain would certainly have leads of his own too that she would be able to capitalize on and in the long term merge with her own. The possibilities were endless, and the money from such ventures would certainly be significant to the expansion and consolidation of the triad’s monopoly all over South East Asia.

Would Sun Yee Lok grant her some favour in appreciation? She was after all part of his inner sanctum. As a consequence, she always had other ambitious people nipping at her heels, especially as she was the only woman in the inner circle. Undermining her credibility and competence were a constant threat but Madame Cheung was ever mindful of any threat from intimidating antagonists. Tony Wong had been trying to break through the ceiling of the tightly knit group comprising the hierarchy but his incompetence had been his downfall. She, however, was always one step ahead of the pack and that is what had secured her longevity in the triad thus far. Despite her gender, she was stronger than any of them knew. Not only was she the only woman, but she’d eliminated the competition as soon as anyone promising had shown initiative to Sun Yee Lok. Usurping her position in the triad was not on Madame Cheung’s agenda. Many had tried but none had succeeded.

Hence her plan of using Claire Beauchamp to lure Le Comte St. Germain into the Rising Dragons placed her in a very advantageous, strategic position of negotiating terms favourable to her. She knew that his expertise was in procuring women into prostitution and with Claire’s help and charisma he would be instrumental in spreading business into other Asian communities. With Le Comte St. Germain’s contacts; the Rising Dragons would enhance their influence and gain greater control under her guidance. It would be a “win-win” situation for all concerned, and would consolidate her stronghold and position within the triad. Ambition was a powerful aphrodisiac … but power was more so.

However much she might have a teeny, tiny tinge of regret about her machinations, eventually she would turn the tables on Le Comte St. Germain and take over his business. He appeared to be a very smart man though … one who could not be easily manipulated and this might pose some problems. But with Claire Beauchamp’s charms and her persuasive manner, coupled with the might of the Rising Dragons, St. Germain would not know what had hit him before it was too late, thus the eventual acquisition of his interests would be easy. Le Comte St. Germain would be used for as long as deemed auspicious for her and the Rising Dragons but would be shot out of the water once he was no longer required.

Pity really, she thought. Such a handsome and engaging young man would be dispensable once he had served his purpose.

Yes … this weekend would be interesting to say the least.

Madame Cheung was just about to retire herself for the evening when she was interrupted from her thoughts by the beeping of her private secure line. Knowing who would be on the other end she picked up the receiver. Placing the hand set on speaker phone she answered, “Yes sir...?”

Meanwhile back at Section One …

Operations sat across from Madeline after severing his communiqué with James Fraser. He cast a wary look her way and Madeline raised her eyebrow in question. The chain of events that had led to his subterfuge with Madame Cheung was uppermost in their minds.

“How did the debrief go?”

“Jamie said they had created a bridge with the target.”

Madeline was pleased. “He appears to have done well. Madame Cheung is starting to open up?”

“Apparently … We're getting closer to locating Sun Yee Lok too. We just need confirmation from Jamie and Claire of any meeting.” Casting a look in Madeline’s direction he asked for her input. “What are your impressions?”

“I think we should be able to start working her soon.”

“What are you suggesting? That they continue?”

“Jamie is in the perfect position to win Madame Cheung’s confidence and in so doing ingratiate himself into Sun Yee Lok’s favour in the triad.”

Operations pondered her words before realising the truth of her statement. “I see. He does not know what St. Germain looks like … so Jamie has an added advantage.”

“He’ll eventually want to set up a meeting with St. Germain. It could happen this weekend.”

“And Claire?”

“She is the pawn that Madame Cheung will use to her benefit. Her valentine baptism may not be too far away.”

“Hmm? Interesting that you say that.”

“Sun Yee Lok will most likely make an appearance while he knows St. Germain is at Madame Cheung’s.”

“Claire will seduce him?”

“And … Jamie will have to go along with the profile.”

“Yes, he will have no choice.”

“You have to use honey to catch flies Dougal. Claire is the sugar to entice the bee to the honey pot.”

“Fraser won’t like it.”

“There is nothing that he’ll be able to do ... or he will compromise the mission.”

“Excellent. So, things are back on track?” Dougal Mackenzie had a smirk on his face as his second in command never failed to disappoint with her machinations concerning James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp.

“Absolutely.”

“Shall we inform Jamie?”

“No not yet. Let him think he has the upper hand for a little while longer.”

“You see a problem?”

“No. We’re still on schedule, but my instincts tell me Jamie's up to something.”

“Hmm … his deception was somewhat suspicious.”

“Yes … I think so too, but … Nonetheless, we have both of them where we want them.”

“That’s good … it will work to our advantage.” Operations exchanged a knowing look with his second in command. “Do you agree?”

“Totally.”

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 46 (S-NSFW)

 

Claire’s intoxicating scent drifted over him.

Lying his head on her soft chest, Jamie buried his face between Claire’s breasts and felt the rise and fall of her breathing as they rested exhausted after their lovemaking. These intimate moments between them were so new yet he was still overwhelmed by the depth of feelings that surfaced for this woman. His hands wandered lower and cupped her bottom kneading her tender flesh before returning to pull her closer to his warmth. Claire sighed in Jamie’s arms moaning softly and arched up to him parting her legs in invitation. In reply he smoothed his roaming hands along her silken skin sliding them idly over her stomach, down to her tangle of curls and the soft folds of her femininity.

“Oh …”

Her contented cry sent heat spiralling through him as Claire gripped his shoulders and moved against him enticingly. She slid her hands over his scared back caressing Jamie’s skin with hands that ensnared him under her spell. Pulling back, Jamie looked at his Sassenach lying satisfied in the bed. Slowly raising her eyes, her mischievous gaze met his. Dark desire clouded the depths of her blue orbs.

Jamie understood her silent statement. She wasn’t completely sated. Claire wanted him once more.

Capturing his gaze, she purred provocatively, “Touch me Jamie.”

He did. Shifting his hand ever so slightly, his clever fingers teased, cajoled then opened her to his touch as he gently dipped two fingers into her. Claire closed her eyes at the immediate pleasurable sensation that this caused for every tender stroke of his fingers compounded the longing ache she felt for him deep inside her. Liquid pooled in her depths signalling her arousal … her readiness. She was so hot and wet. Overwhelmed by the effect of his touch, Claire felt her emotions begin to escalate and rose up slightly from the bed as Jamie’s fingers worked their magic.

His body also gave indication of the effect Claire’s reaction was having on his libido for his erection stirred with the need to plunge deep inside of her once more. Jamie’s tongue lazily swept Claire’s mouth with drugging kisses she could not ignore. Trailing caresses down the column of her throat, he then stroked his mouth across her skin with little nips of pleasure. Clenched hands twisted in the sheets as her body succumbed to the sensation of what Jamie was doing. The pleasure and the pain, was almost unbearable. Slowly, he moved down her body kissing a trail kisses over her flesh systematically retracing the path of his hands.

The feel of James Fraser’s blistering caresses to her burning flesh merely ignited the flames of desire. His lips kissed trails across her stomach then the tip if his tongue tickled her belly button until Claire writhed on the bed at the euphoric sensation of his quest. She’d lost all rational thought as he bombarded her senses with foray after foray of tactile sensation. Shifting, she tilted her hips to give him better access in his quest of discovery. Never one to refuse a transparent invitation Jamie scooped his hands beneath Claire’s buttocks and lifting her up, he lowered his mouth to her. Her body shuddered feeling the soft touch of Jamie’s tongue lick her folds before dipping into her depths. Running his tongue along her sensitive nub, Jamie centred his attention on the nerve endings while drawing lazy circles on her sensitive tip with his tongue in quiet victory.

Claire rolled her head from side to side on the pillow whilst her body thrashed about on the bed, shaking with need. Moaning inaudibly, she was unable to keep her emotions within and moved beneath him while Jamie lathed her adoringly. She could barely stand the bombardment to her senses … it was too much and not enough all at the same time. Closing her eyes, she bit her bottom lip yet managed to hoarsely cry out, “Yes! Oh God yes!” as Jamie’s mouth teased a particularly sensitive spot.

Her cry sent heat spiralling through him as he caressed Claire’s swollen flesh; her pleasure reached out to him and burned through him with the intensity of her reaction. Her movements became a little frantic because Claire was gripped by the exquisite sensation of this wonderful man touching her so intimately. She held Jamie’s head to her as shivers began to radiate through her body then gripping his shoulders Claire moved with him as Jamie relentlessly caressed her.

Her nails raked his flesh.

Her body trembled before surrendering to the bliss of the feelings her Jamie had unleashed. She cried out in ecstasy as her orgasm claimed her.

The woman unravelling to his ministrations was the epitome of incandescent and James Fraser drank in his fill as he watched his Claire explode in passionate fulfilment luminous in the throes of passion.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

At last Claire stilled and Jamie moved back up her body, placing soft kisses to her navel before he made his way up to her breast. He savoured the feel of her pebbled nipple against his tongue and masterfully flicked it several times over the tip. He suckled her long and hard while rolling the twin peak gently between his thumb and forefinger.

“Oh, my … Jamie,” Claire uttered a little breathless.

Then, unable to bear the sensation any longer, she flipped him over straddling his body.

Lying on his back James Fraser grinned at his Sassenach who now, so provocatively, had him at her mercy. Ever watchful of this amazing woman he was enthralled as Claire placed her knees on either side of his body looming over him like some Amazon goddess. Jamie made her feel emotions that surfaced only for him and she wanted the same experience for him too. Positioning herself over him Claire leaned down and kissed him deeply as her fingers slipped down his torso in déjà vu of what he’d done to her. She gave him such a playful grin that Jamie was lost for words as his love took the initiative to please him. She was thoroughly enjoying the havoc she was rendering to his feelings as if she was oh, so innocent. But Claire Beauchamp was a red, hot vixen and James Fraser was enjoying every moment of her attention.

Gliding her fingertips through the hair at the base of his groin, she took hold of him wrapping her hands around the smooth length of his erection. Trailing her fingertips along Jamie’s aching cock, she ran her hand up his long, incredibly thickened length. The moment her fingers touch him so intimately Jamie was lost. Leaning his head back against the pillows he closed his eyes and let out a guttural moan that rocked his body. At that very moment he felt the euphoric movement of her hands as she stroked his erection back and forth in a mesmerizing rhythm. The sensation of Claire’s touch threatened his sanity. However, with an immense effort Jamie managed to open his eyes to gaze at the woman astride him, the one who had opened a can of worms to the feelings he had long ago buried so deep within his psyche that none could enter. Claire Beauchamp had changed all that.

Staring into fathomless blue eyes his hands tightened on her hips, for her weight was an aphrodisiac to his senses. In stimulated agony, Jamie dug his heels into the mattress as a soft hiss of breath whooshed from between his clenched teeth. When she heard his body’s reaction to her touch a satisfied smile bowed Claire’s lips for that was what she was aiming for to have James Fraser be off kilter just has he had done to her.

Loving the feel and the weight of him in her hand, she leisurely stroked the tight, silky skin skimming her fingers over the pulsing heat of her partner’s aroused penis. The feel of her fingers touching him so intimately nearly unravelled him. Breathing erratically he rose and fell with her tactile movements and arched his spine from the bed. Lifting his pelvis, Jamie instinctively sought some relief from the torturous strokes of Claire fingers ... but none was forthcoming. Moving her hand a little lower between his legs, she cupped and stroked him as erotically as before. Relentless in her task Claire loved the way Jamie responded to her touch and she basked in his reaction keen to bring him to the brink of no return.

He groaned as if in pain.

Gentle fingers caressed the sensitive head of his cock in exploration, but Jamie could not bear her ministrations any longer. He reached for her, curling his hand around the nape of her neck. Stroking Claire’s soft skin with his fingertips, he opened his eyes to see desire ... and passion ... and a hunger that mirrored his own feelings. Drawing her down towards him Jamie kissed her deeply. Claire knew exactly what he needed and wriggling a little nestled his erection against her highly sensitive nub showing him unequivocally how much she wanted and needed him.

The pleasure was almost unbearable for them both. Groaning into her mouth, Jamie rolled her until Claire was again beneath him and felt the weight of his strong muscular body on top. Moving his hips in the age old rhythm, he slipped inside her thrusting deeply while his love moved in sync with him. Claire writhed in approval. The heat and the pleasure of being inside her spun around him in a tightening coil. Breaking the kiss, Jamie nestled his head in the crook of Claire’s neck as he thrust again ... then again... and again. His breaths came in short; sharp pants and he let the desire claim him.

Beneath him Claire paced her own movements in sync with Jamie’s rhythmic moves. She welcomed him into her depths savouring the euphoric feelings that overwhelmed her body and mind. Floating in a suspended state of arousal, ripples of pleasure cascaded through her body until she was on the verge of subliminal bliss.

“J-Ja-Jamie,” she groaned as he hit her magic place within that triggered another wave of joy.

Claire’s pleasurable keening noises urged him on to greater heights. Jamie thrust and withdrew several times more ... each deeper ... harder ... and faster than the time before. He sought to capture every delicious inch of his Claire until ecstasy consumed them until they were as one. Beginning yet another repeated assault, he sheathed himself once more in Claire’s welcoming heat repeating the rhythm that would lead to the ecstasy they sought. Squeezing his buttocks Jamie thrust deeply. Shudders racked his body as he plunged deeper still into Claire’s depths unable to control the obsession he had for her. She made him come alive and when she bewitched him like this ... he was lost. Claire Beauchamp made him feel things he had thought were long buried never to resurface.

“Awww …!!! Jesus H Roosevelt Christ!”

Trembling beneath him, Claire moaned as ripples of sensations consumed her body. Every heightened nerve ending was singing in the delight of the pleasure of what she was feeling and gripping Jamie’s hips, her nails left welts in his skin. Her muscles contracted around him signalling that nirvana was imminent. Then like an explosion of catastrophic proportions, her emotions were being bombarded with sensation after sensation as another orgasm overwhelmed her. Claire came with a force that threatened to send Jamie crashing over the edge with her too.

“Cl-aire!” Crying out her name, he ejaculated deep inside her as his own orgasm rippled through his body.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Quietly lying on the bed beside her, Jamie brought Claire’s hand to his lips kissing her palm and nestled her in his protective arms. Only their ragged breathing revealed the passion that they had just experienced. She closed her eyes, pressing her body closer to his as fatigue overcame them both. Section One was furthermost from their minds for they had blocked them from their psyche. They would let nothing mar these scarce moments of intimacy they shared. Madame Cheung would still be there tomorrow as too would Section One.

Tonight, they had been reunited and although today had been a blessing, tomorrow however, was still as unpredictable as ever for them both. But ... they had each other and that was all that mattered.

The next morning …

The early morning light filtering through the blinds cast shadows across the bed bathing the entwined couple in the muted glow of a dawning new day. Jamie gazed down at the woman sleeping by his side and all was right with the world. Her face was so beautiful. Whether relaxed in sleep, flushed with desire or with eyes that sparkled with passion ... Claire Beauchamp took his breath away. Scooping her closer he breathed in the smell of sex and the wonderful scent of her hair before gently kissing her temple.

Feeling her love’s soft caresses, Claire sighed contently. In a husky voice, she murmured Jamie’s name in her sleep, pressed up against his thigh and nestled into the warmth of his body.

He hardened almost immediately.

Nuzzling her neck with tender nips to her skin, Jamie breathed her in and gently cupped her breast. He slowly drew circles around her nipple with his thumb and felt it bud against his palm. A subliminal touch to her skin, but the feelings it stirred within Claire vibrated through her subconscious with increased potency. Making a soft, sighing sound she instinctively arched her body closer to the sensation of his hands tenderly drifting over her naked flesh in hypnotic rhythm. Simultaneously Jamie traced the shell of her ear. Leisurely gliding his tongue over the whorls, his warm breath inflamed her senses while tickling her sensitive skin at the same time. Stirring Claire shook her head from side to side as if to brush away whatever was causing the itch. However, the sensation returned. She raised her hand to brush it away again … but to no avail.

A wry grin crossed his Jamie’s as he continued to taunt and torment. “Sass-en-ach,” he whispered close to her ear.

The silken sounds of his soft accent murmuring her special name sent tiny shivers of excitement dancing through her body. Stirring slightly in her drowsy state of awakening, her eyelids fluttered open then closed again. Claire rolled over moaning softly then turned her sleepy eyes towards his husky voice calling to him quietly as she roused from her sleep.

“Jamie?”

Continuing to tease across her parted lips, he captured the sound of his name with a chaste kiss. He brushed her mouth several times kissing her softly and soothing Claire with light caresses all the while coaxing and flirting with her responsive lips until she elicited soft keening noises. Moving downward Jamie sipped along her throat and chest before capturing the firm budded tips of her sensitized breasts with his mouth. His velvet tongue against her skin made her quiver in pleasurable surprise as he suckled first one then the other.

Jamie then slipped his hand over the tight swell of her bottom, up along the crease of her thigh and over the soft folds of her femininity. He continued to stroke her and Claire shifted until the tip of his erection brushed her lubricated entrance where she was hot and lusciously aroused. Leaning in, he passionately kissed her rocking his hips erotically. Claire gyrated in reply. Undulating against the bed she uttered a soft but incoherent moan when Jamie gripped her by the hips. Watching Claire’s reaction, he called her name once more kissing the nape of her neck. Her breasts heaved and a pretty flush stained her skin. Looking his fill Jamie gathered Claire into his arms for he wanted to bury himself deep inside her while hearing her murmur his name over and over as she came with a gasp of ecstasy.

Opening her eyes wider she was caught in his spell.

Jamie smiled. “Hi.”

Lovingly tracing the arch of her brow with the pads of his fingertips, he let his gaze drift over her face. “Good morning, mo ghràidh.”

Smoking eyes caressed Claire’s silken skin with silent kisses that made her blush anew. Lowering his lashes Jamie’s gaze traced her eyes as blue as the ocean and he watched them focus on him alone. Severing, then lowering his gaze he leisurely mapped her lovely breasts which flushed a delicate rosy shade and beaded tighter in sensual excitement. Lazily his eyes returned to stroke across her lips. Claire’s tongue moistened them until they glistened with a shimmering sheen. She smiled dreamily but gasped when Jamie traced his thumb over her full bottom lip before leaning in to capture them with his own.

Seeking hands splayed his chest then she traced her fingernail across his skin with intent. Jamie sucked in his breath as he always did when she reciprocated this way. Her nail then scraped across his hardened nipple. The sensation of the stinging movement was electrifying. He deepened their kiss ready for early morning foreplay and high jinks. Claire pinched him playfully then rolled his bud between her fingertips. Jamie captured her hands and wound them around his neck then lowered his body. His kiss deepened and her hands caressed his head pulling him closer.

Breaking for air, Claire was just about to say, “Good morning” in reply, but before she could, the shrill ringing of the phone echoing in the quiet of the morning decisively startled them violating the moment.

Jamie frowned and rested his forehead against hers. The reality of their life and cover had intruded once again. Reluctantly he moved away but not before brushing Claire’s hair back from her face and with eyes communicating his sorrow at the interruption. Placing a kiss to her forehead, then her lips, Jamie watched as a gamut of emotions criss-crossed her face. Unfortunately, their escalating rapture had quickly turned to disappointment.

Laced with regret, Claire’s dreamy voce asked, “Who could that be?”

“We’ll have to see,” he answered leaning across the bed and reaching out his arm, Jamie picked up the receiver. “Oui?”

“Monsieur Le Comte?”

“Madame …”

“I hope everything was to your satisfaction?”

“Yes …yes … thank you.”

“Good … I’m sorry to disturb you … both … at this early hour,” she hesitated, “... but, I wanted to inform you personally that I have been called away unexpectedly for the remainder of the weekend.”

“I’m sorry to hear that Madame.”

“Yes, so am I … I did so want to talk business with you.”

“Perhaps when you return? How long will you be gone?”

“That depends on how things pan out I’m afraid. I need to go to Thailand for some urgent business that cannot wait. There are some loose ends that need my personal attention. It could take a few days or so, perhaps even up to a week.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Hmm, now that you mention it … there is one thing.”

“Anything …”

“If you are agreeable Monsieur Le Comte ... perhaps we could meet in Bangkok.”

“Bangkok? … Why … I’d be happy to.”

“Excellent!”

Changing the subject Madame Cheung then asked with a smug inflection in her voice, “Were you pleased with Claire Beauchamp’s services Monsieur Le Comte?”

Casting a glance at the dishevelled woman lying by his side, Jamie replied, “More than pleased Madame.”

“Good … then perhaps you would like Claire to accompany you to Thailand. It’s the least I can do.”

Jamie pressed the phone more firmly to his ear. “Thank you, Madame.”

“That’s settled then! … I look forward to meeting you in Bangkok in a couple of days’ time.”

“So do I.”

“Until then, please enjoy my hospitality and facilities for as long as you both wish.”

“Merci Madame … that is most generous.”

“Monsieur Le Comte, I will not disturb you again.” Jamie heard the innuendo drip from her words as she ended the conversation lowering the handset into its cradle with a decisive click.

Putting down the receiver he placed it back onto the bureau as Claire asked. “What time is it Jamie?”

“5:30” He replied turning to look at her. Stroking her hair, Jamie studied the auburn strands as they fell through his fingertips. His eyes caught hers and Claire was lost for words.

“Um...”

Jamie silenced whatever she was about to say. He leaned closer and kissed her gently on the mouth the conversation with Madame Cheung all but forgotten. His next words, however, broke the spell. “We’ll have to go in …”

For Jamie, there was little that they could do now that Madame Cheung was on her way to Thailand other than to plan another strategy and return to Section One to debrief with Operations and Madeline.

Claire however, had other ideas. She had endured several weeks without seeing or touching him whilst undercover and now that Jamie was here; she never wanted to let him go. Their lovemaking last night had been beautiful, uninhibited but frenetic. They had last made love when he’d said goodbye and before that on Lamma Island and they’d both been insatiable for one another after their long separation. Thus, in tit for tat she replied enticingly, “Eventually …”

Casting an intense look his way, she scrutinized Jamie’s features as her fingertip caressed his bottom lip, “... but not … just … yet.”

Jamie slightly raised an eyebrow at her bravado. Her eyes held his, then pulling his face close to hers, Claire kissed him passionately as they succumbed once more to each other.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 47

 

Returning to the secret located central headquarters of Section One after their flight from Hong Kong, James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp headed towards the elevator that would descend into the hub of Section. Buried 500 feet beneath the earth Section One was a high tech, covert anti-terrorism organisation which contained multiple levels of busy activity. Activating the secret code, the doors opened, and they entered the compartment. Once the metal doors closed behind them, the elevator whooshed quietly into the depths of the earth, then when it came to a stop, the elevator doors opened and Jamie and Claire exited.

With eyes fixed ahead and with footsteps that never faltered they passed through the inner portal to Van Access where mission teams arrived and departed and entered the main corridor to the Common Area. Claire's heels clicked out a resolute rhythm against the concrete floor of the corridor, while with each step he took Jamie’s determined gait indicated that he was in total control of the situation. Guardedly, she glanced at him, but Jamie just gave Claire his blank Section stare as they strode purposefully in unison along the corridor to where their leaders were waiting for their return.

They were greeted by Operations and Madeline who stood side by side watching as their two top operatives approached. Operations looked well pleased.

“Jamie? Claire?”

“Yes?”

“We're glad you're back.” Although there was a smile on Dougal Mackenzie’s face it didn’t reach his eyes and seemed a little too ingenuous to be sincere.

“Thank you,” they answered in unison not giving their leaders any facial expressions that would allude to anything more than that they had returned to Section to debrief on the mission.

“Well done. I was at Centre. I heard the Cheung mission was a success.”

“Thank you.”

Madeline on the other hand looked somewhat sceptical and added. “Yes … so it would seem … so far.”

Ignoring her veiled answer Operations continued, “I look forward to reading your debrief.”

“I'll have it on your desk this afternoon,” Jamie replied in the levelled voice he used at all times in Section. The cold operative was standing before his leaders and James Fraser gave away absolutely nothing for Madeline to interpret. .

“Good.”

Madeline watched Claire as she stood resolutely beside her partner and her eyes travelled between the two operatives surreptitiously. Much to her chagrin, she found nothing unusual or different about the two of them despite their separation and the tenuousness of their past mission. Her one redeeming thought though, was of her impending briefing with Claire. Knowing that Jamie’s presence at Madame Cheung’s home would have been timely, especially given Claire’s reluctance to perform valentine missions, Madeline relished the thought of Claire’s responses to her questioning. Both debriefs would certainly provide an interesting analysis of the mission and target and not to mention Jamie and Claire themselves.

With a slight tilt of her head, Madeline turned her attention towards her. “Claire … I look forward to your debrief as well.” Although her voice and demeanour were warm, her Mona Lisa smile indicated that her mind had already made some assumptions about Jamie’s change of mission profile for her that she would relish investigating.

However, just like Jamie, Claire showed no outward emotional response and glancing at Madeline’s face she replied, “Of course.”

Having declared their intentions succinctly to both of them, Madeline and Operations then left and made their way to their respective offices to await the debriefings from their operatives.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Watching their leaders proceed across the floor towards the Perch, Jamie and Claire poised a moment before continuing on towards his office. They passed through the central nerve centre of Section One, a vast open space, a circular cone shaped structure. Towering two stories high, it comprised of various workspaces on the perimeter along with four separate entrances and looking down over the entire level was the observation deck that was Dougal Mackenzie’s office where he could observe the comings and goings of operatives. They crossed the main floor at the same time, walking together with their eyes straight ahead and their steps unwavering.

Surreptitiously surveying her surroundings, Claire came to the conclusion that nothing had changed. She may have been out of Section One for nearly six weeks but the wheels of time moved as if it was only yesterday. Her mind however, was also on the debriefing she would give to Section’s second in command.

“Are ye okay Sassenach?” Jamie asked noticing the reticent look that fleetingly crossed Claire’s face.

Looking toward him she replied, but her face and voice were deadpan. “Yes.”

“Madeline?”

Nothing escaped Jamie when it concerned Claire. He had come to know her nuances very well and he could tell by just sensing her demeanour that her mind was thinking of the briefing. It was inevitable that she would need to debrief as her deep cover mission had been the keystone to finding Intel about the Rising Dragons, Madame Cheung and ultimately Sun Yee Lok. Madeline would have questions, lots of questions to ask of her but he had faith and confidence in his Claire and how she would report.

“I’m prepared.”

“Good.”

Claire saw the wry smile that appeared slightly across his mouth but it very quickly disappeared and Jamie’s cold operative persona remained stoic as they continued walking.

They walked side by side together until they neared Jamie’s office where they would separate and go in opposite directions. As they walked their bodies merged closer to each other and clandestinely their hands touched with a light caress of reassurance, a gesture that went unobserved by those around them. With corresponding open palms their skin touched. Jamie’s fingertips slid along hers caressing her soft skin. His hand cupped Claire’s in a protective manner, as her fingertips rested on his hand. She felt a bolt of electricity shoot through her fingers the very second that her skin touched his. Jamie continued to walk away as too did Claire yet their hands still held a tentative light touch that sent erotic tinglings zinging along the nerve endings in both of their fingers. Her hand followed his as Jamie appeared to pass her by before entering his office. Unseen by those who may be watching was the gamut of feelings that the light touch evoked within each of them. Jamie’s thumb lightly scraped her open palm and the caress made her shiver causing Claire to close her eyes momentarily to savour the feeling his touch gave to her. His little finger slowly glided across her open fingers until with reluctance and all too soon ... they were gone. Although Jamie’s touch would have measured only milliseconds in time ... to Claire it was as if his caress had lingered for a long while. She felt the sensation of his touch long after his fingers had been removed … but it was over all too soon.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Without casting a look her way, Jamie continued on to his own office located just beyond Comm. as Claire walked away in the opposite direction. Section One’s most well-respected Level 5 field operative’s office was minimal but he had several devices to make it secure if needs be. The picture window with shutters could be blackened to keep out prying eyes and Jamie had installed a surveillance jamming control panel located on his desk for the same reason. However, it would not be necessary to activate it this time although it had served him well on many occasions if he needed to talk clandestinely to Claire, Murtagh or Fergus.

Opening the door, he entered the room, then closed the door behind him. James Fraser made for his desk and sat down activating his computer, then gathering his thoughts he began to write his debrief. Operations would expect all the details on what had occurred especially given the circumstances of him changing the mission profile and his presence at Madame Cheung’s. His subterfuge as Le Comte St Germain would also have to be explained and clarified to his leader’s satisfaction. Dougal Mackenzie would no doubt question the validity of such a change even though he had given his approval to go ahead.

However, the news of Madame Cheung’s open invitation to meet with her in Bangkok with Claire would no doubt be met with endorsement. They had cause to suspect that Sun Yee Lok may have called her back to Bangkok for a meeting and this may be the impetus they needed to finally capture him and Madame Cheung. It was inevitable that both he and Claire would be able to follow through on her invitation and thus capture two birds with one stone.

This last minute invitation had so many meaningful possibilities for Section One to pursue the elusive Rising Dragons’ target. Jamie knew that Dougal would approve this new mission to Thailand and he set to work on his report. His fingers soon whizzed across the keyboard as his debrief began to materialise.

 

Sometime later on the way to Madeline’s office …

 

Making her way to Madeline’s office, Claire stopped when she heard the sound of her name. Turning in the direction of the sound, a smile bowed her mouth when she saw who it was walking briskly towards her.

“Ah Sugar,” Murtagh said, as he took a breath to compose himself. He had been waiting for her return for ages. Not having Claire Beauchamp around in Section for some weeks had been disquieting. He had missed her laughter and the conversations they had in Munitions, even if only in passing before a mission. Murtagh was smiling broadly and the skin around his crinkly eyes wrinkled a little more. He was looking at the better part of his day.

“Murtagh,” Claire responded beguilingly on seeing her friend.

“I missed you. So how are you doing Sugar?”

“I'm okay.”

“How did things go?”

“Oh you know ...” Claire replied not elaborating on any details of her mission.

With a raised eyebrow he answered rhetorically, “As well as could be expected?”

“Hmmm, something like that … yeah.”

“So what happens now?”

“We’ll go out again.”

“When? How much time do you have?”

“Don’t know. It depends on what Madeline and Operations want.”

“Well it’s great to have you back. You look just as beautiful as ever.”

“Thanks, Murtagh … but I’d better go … Madeline is waiting for me to debrief,” Claire replied pensively and walked away.

Murtagh Fitzgibbons watched his friend head towards her inquisition with the doyen of Section One. Once she had disappeared from sight he turned and walked back to Munitions hoping that the she devil wouldn’t tear strips off his Sugar.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madeline had issued her orders and Claire Beauchamp now made her way to her office. She had not been in Section for nearly six weeks and knew that her leader would have many questions to ask of her. Claire had walked these steps a hundred times before to debrief with Madeline to give her a progress report on a mission, face the music or be issued with orders from her superior. Standing poised on the threshold of Madeline’s office, she faced the cold steel of her door waiting for them to open. Knowing that the next step forward would activate the opening mechanism pad in the floor, Claire hesitated a moment before placing her foot to the device and the doors automatically whooshed opened. Quietly she stepped down onto the floor … and waited.

Sitting at her console reading a report on another mission summary, Madeline looked up when she heard Claire approach.

“Come in, Claire.”

Entering further into her office she waited for commands from her superior.

“Sit down.”

Closing the program, she finally looked at Claire who did as she was ordered. “I know this has been a difficult mission, but you’ve performed well.”

Praise from Madeline was indeed rare, nevertheless Claire acknowledged her congratulations. “Thank you.”

Without preamble Madeline then went to the crux of the matter ... the target. “Tell me about Madame Cheung.”

“She is very forthright, and runs a tight ship.”

“And her association with the Rising Dragons?”

“It’s well ingrained.”

“Did you ever meet with Sun Yee Lok?”

“No, but Madame Cheung had contact with him. He was supposed to come to her residence this weekend but she was called away for about a week.”

“I see.” Changing the subject Madeline pulled no punches and got straight to the point of the changed mission profile stating, “We know what Jamie did. Tell me what happened.”

Claire gave nothing away except for the bare bones of Jamie’s subterfuge. “He won Madame Cheung over.”

“Yes I’m sure he did,” she replied knowingly giving Claire a pointed look.

She did not acknowledge Madeline’s sly dig about Jamie’s prowess at charming women and remained just as stoic as when she had entered her leader’s office. Her reply gave Madeline noting more and nothing less than that Jamie was successful in dealing with Madame Cheung. “She was very impressed with Le Comte St Germain.”

“Good.”

“She wants to meet him again.”

This Intel raised a positive reaction from Madeline and in her ever active mind the ideas spun in her head as to how this could impact favourably for Section One. “Where?”

“Bangkok.”

“Excellent.”

In Madeline’s mindset, she saw this Intel in two different ways. Firstly, it was a possibility that Madame Cheung’s reason for going to Bangkok was twofold ... business with Sun Yee Lok and secondly to further her association with Le Comte St Germain by asking him to meet her there. The invitation for Jamie resonated that Madame Cheung was ready to do business with him because his subterfuge had been very successful. The wheels were automatically set in motion for a new profile scenario. Madeline sat back in her chair as a slight smile registered on her face, but then as quickly as it appeared it was gone.

Her next words though caught Claire by surprise, “By the way, Madame Cheung will be watching you. She will be curious to know if her plans for you with St Germain have been successful.”

“Plans?”

“She has to remain certain that you have wooed him sufficiently that he will be putty in your hands and thus her hands. Therefore, you and Jamie have to be convincing.”

“Right.”

Claire realised that once again Madeline was going to manipulate the two of them to foster a deeper relationship with Madame Cheung and utilise their connection for Section’s benefits. The question really was though … was it purely for the benefit of the mission or did Madeline have ulterior motives concerning her and Jamie that she would use against them at a later date? Everything Madeline did concerning the two of them had a double meaning and this mission was no different. If she could garner any Intel that she could use for her own purpose then she would not hesitate to do so. Jamie and she were always wary of Madeline’s intentions. They would also be in this mission despite the fact that Section’s second in command had also given permission to continue as if a couple to impress Madame Cheung.

“That will be all … You may go Claire,” was her curt reply.

Once dismissed, Claire got up to leave Madeline's office. She gave her a vacant non-committal glance so as not to alert her superior to any misgivings she may have at these new directives. Everything with Madeline was a double edged sword that she would use if she could. Her Machiavellian mind was always plotting, always scheming, always devious and she had set her sights on her and Jamie, hence they would need to be careful but still competent in the role they were to play in this continuing mission. Claire had confidence in her partner and the competence of James Fraser was something Madeline and Operations had never been able to suppress. They would achieve what they were trained to do and Madeline would have no recourse but to acknowledge that together they were a formidable pair to be reckoned with.

Turning on her heels Claire left her superior with her thoughts of a new profile for Jamie and herself for which she had probably already set the wheels in motion.

 

Meanwhile in Operations’ office...

 

In the eerie silence of his perch Dougal Mackenzie waited for James Fraser to arrive to go over his debrief. He stood looking out over Section observing that the hub was buzzing with action. There was nothing worse than peering out from the perch and finding inactivity. This was an anathema for him because from all corners of the world there were terrorist movements and insurrections that threatened a peaceful humanity. It was Section One’s role to deal with these fanatical individuals and groups that other authorities could not. Hence to see that Section was a hive of activity on any given day, Operations knew that they were making inroads to eradicating these blights on humanity.

From his elevated position Dougal Mackenzie watched as operatives moved about in the course of their duties and others crossed the Common Area on their way to Munitions to prep for a mission. As he waited for his Level 5 field operative, he contemplated his own meteoric rise in the ranks to the position he was in today.

A former U.S. military special intelligence officer captured by the Viet Cong, he was tortured for fifteen days straight and spent seven years in an internment camp before himself being recruited into Section One. Those survival skills during the Vietnam War had been used to mould him into a deadly anti-terrorist operative who had eventually found himself as the leader of the organisation. With allies like his second in command, he had developed operatives in the same ilk as them – cold, merciless and efficient. Both he and Madeline were of the understanding that one had to be more ruthless than the enemy in order to defeat it and any means necessary would be used to get the job done. His thoughts were always on the end game and how it could be achieved and the Rising Dragons mission, although progress had been made, was still not to his satisfaction.

Like Madeline, the leader of Section One was formidable but his arrogance in his demeanour was not conducive to Section being a happy place. Operatives were always under surveillance and relationships between them were frowned upon because any romantic liaison could be detrimental to the success of missions if an operative let his or her feelings affect their decisions. Dougal Mackenzie and Madeline ran a tight ship and they liked it that way. James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp were a conundrum but Operations could not fault the success of their partnership when on missions together.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Suddenly he was roused from his concentration when his Comm. beeped alerting him to a visitor to the Perch.

“Sir, Jamie's here.”

“Send him in.”

When James Fraser slowly entered, Operations turned to face his Level 5 operative.

The man in black who stood before him reminded him a little of himself. Jamie was a formidable Section One operative - clever, perceptive and intelligent. He was a man to be reckoned with who could turn on the charm when necessary to lure a target or could be cold and calculating in apprehending terrorists. James Fraser was Section’s penultimate operative who had been assigned the recalcitrant new recruit Claire Beauchamp to mould into an amenable operative. Never did he and Madeline think or know that their bond would be one that Section would use again and again to take down terrorist organisations or would be a relationship that Madeline would question.

“You wanted tae see me?”

Operations had examined Jamie’s report and he was impressed with how things had panned out. “Congratulations. I read your debrief. You carried off what seemed an impossible task.”

“Thank ye.”

“My brother Colum at Oversight was very impressed with you. He can’t stop talking about the mission.”

“It was possible after all.”

“Yes, I suppose it was. You took a big chance taking St Germain’s place.”

Operations moved over to his window and looked out again as he continued to discuss his debrief. Jamie joined him at the window.

“Your skills were impressive. The scenario worked to our advantage.”

“Thank you.”

“Everything went according to contingency.”

“Not everything.”

Turning Operations looked at Jamie with a frown on his face. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

“Madame Cheung has gone to Thailand. She wants to meet with St Germain.”

“You think there’s another prostitution agency being set up?”

“Yes, but I believe we can locate the nucleus of her operation there. I've gone over the layout with Fergus already. He’s going through what Intel we've relayed from Madame Cheung.”

“Was there any indication that Sun Yee Lok would be in attendance?”

“Not tae my knowledge, but given what we know about him it is possible.”

“Yes … Anything is probable with the elusive leader of the Rising Dragons. Have you worked up a new profile then?”

“Yes.”

“Okay let me know when you have something definitive.”

“I’d like tae take a small team to Thailand with Claire and I.”

Contemplating Jamie’s request, Dougal asked, “Who do you recommend?”

“Geillis Duncan, Rupert Mackenzie, Roger Wakefield and Davenport’s Team.”

“Consider it done. Leave nothing to chance.”

“I understand.”

“We’ll have a briefing in an hour. Both of you will be in play. That will be all. You can go, Jamie.”

“Yes, of course,” he replied, then James Fraser turned around, left the Perch and walked downstairs to prepare for the briefing.

Operations watched his Level 5 operative as he left the perch. James Fraser’s back was ramrod straight and his movements were calculated and precise. This operative showed complete control while his demeanour was that of a man of action and results. Jamie was a confident man who knew his worth and ability to succeed. Unfortunately, he gave nothing away with his blank stares and was difficult to get a handle on other than he was the best cold operative Section One had ever seen. If all operatives had the success rate that James Fraser had on missions then the fight against terrorists would be a winning formula for Section One. However, this was not always the case as some missions were not successful.

The one thing that he had noticed was that when paired with his partner Claire Beauchamp the competency and expediency of a mission’s success escalated. They were a good partnership but it was a relationship that needed careful monitoring. Madeline was wary of their bond and Section could ill afford for his best operative to become reckless in protecting his material if it could jeopardise a mission. So far they had been successful but would this always be the case? He too had some doubts to the validity of their connection.

Despite his escalating reservations, Dougal had confidence that Jamie and Claire would eventually capture the man who seemed to be faceless but whose influence stretched far and wide. So far they had managed to make extensive inroads into the Rising Dragons’ Triad hierarchy that had meted Section One far-reaching leads to the Dragon Head himself despite his elusiveness. At some stage he would appear and maybe this trip to Thailand would be that moment. By peeling away the layers of his organisation as they had been doing, then when the time came when Sun Yee Lok was captured, then Dougal knew that all their efforts had not been in vain. He would be a prize capture but if not, then Madame Cheung would most certainly be Madeline’s next inquisition victim designed for the White Room.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 48 (S)

 

Seated in the spacious limousine provided for their journey, James Fraser and Claire Beauchamp made their way to the private airport to board Madame Cheung’s Lear jet which had been placed at their disposal for the trip to Bangkok. It was not long before the sleek vehicle soon neared its destination and the waiting aircraft on the tarmac. Eventually the limousine pulled up beside a state-of-the-art Lear jet that was being readied for their pending take off. Alighting from the limo Jamie cast a look around the surrounding area before holding the door open for Claire to step out. They then approached the aircraft where the plane’s hatch lay open and standing at the foot of the aircraft’s steps, he cast another look around before boarding the Lear jet.

Jamie followed Claire up the steps where they were warmly welcomed by two hostesses on entering the cabin. “Good evening Monsieur Le Comte, mademoiselle. Welcome aboard.”

“Merci beaucoup.”

“Please take your seats, we will be leaving momentarily.”

Moving into the luxuriously appointed cabin, Jamie and Claire took seats opposite each other then settled in for the flight to Bangkok and their meeting with Madame Cheung. No sooner had they taken their seats than the pilot alerted them to their imminent departure.

“We’re preparing for take off!”

As the jet slowly taxied out of its holding zone, one of the hostesses ran through the safety procedures for the jet’s two VIP passengers. The Lear jet made a right turn then a left before gliding along the main runway in preparation for its take off procedure. It hovered on the runway for its turn for departure but waited for another aeroplane to land before clear skies indicated it was safe to begin the jet’s take off.

“Would all cabin crew please take your seats?”

The hum of the engines roaring to life echoed through the cabin as Jamie and Claire both fastened their seatbelts. The jet began its take off as it gathered more and more speed along the tarmac. Inside the cabin, the two passengers and staff were thrown back into their seats as lift-off occurred and the Lear jet gained more height in the air. Veering to the left in a gentle sweep of the airport the pilot gave those on board a clear picture of the ground below. In next to no time the buildings and surrounds soon diminished in size as the Lear jet gained more and more altitude until finally levelling off and disappearing into the clouds.

Jamie and Claire were finally winging their way to Bangkok on Madame Cheung’s private aircraft to rendezvous with the doyen of the Rising Dragons. Her fate was now in their hands.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire cast a glance Jamie’s way as the hostess made an appearance with refreshments once the Lear jet had settled into its correct flight pattern.

“Excuse me Monsieur what would you care to drink?”

“Whisky will be fine.”

“Certainly … And you mademoiselle?” She asked turning towards Claire.

“The same thank you.”

“I will be serving your evening meal in the dining room to the rear of the jet shortly Monsieur Le Comte, so perhaps you would care to have your drinks there as well.”

“Thank you, but I have some pressing business that I need to conclude before dining.”

“As you wish sir. Shall I return in a half an hour?”

“Yes.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

As the Lear jet levelled off, with its nose aimed for Bangkok, Jamie placed his personal computer on the table between them and began working at his laptop. He typed in an access code that gave him an open line with Fergus and which would alert him to the route the jet was travelling.

“What are you doing?” Claire asked looking over at him.

“Contacting Fergus.”

“Why?”

“I’m running Intel for the jet’s flight path.”

“Why can’t he just download it?”

“Fergus needs to confirm the transmission, then he’ll re-route it back to me.”

“Ahhh.” Claire’s face had a far-away expression, thinking about what may be happening back at Section. “It must be pretty crazy back there. You know what Fergus is like.”

His non-verbal reply indicated that Jamie had his mind on other things so she settled in to read a glossy magazine while he contacted Section One. Nevertheless, Jamie glanced up at his partner and watched her from time to time as she read her publication.

Sensing his scrutiny, Claire looked up just as he looked away. For a moment she too watched him work. The faint greenish glow of his computer screen cast a muted light over him revealing the concentration etched on his face as Jamie continued his task. He didn’t look up from his screen even though he knew Claire was studying him. She took note of the matter-of-fact determined manner of his disposition. Jamie was Section One through and through and when it came to dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s, he left nothing to chance. She watched as he poured over the computer screen. She’d covertly studied him many times on their return from or going to a mission and Jamie usually pulled up some profiles he’d been working on or wrote his report while in transit. He hardly ever slept if at all for he was always doing something that concerned the mission. That is why his team members survived … because he was diligent just as he was now.

A sombre expression crossed her face thinking of the times he had rescued her.

But more importantly … she watched his eyes. They darted across the screen as his fingers quickly typed on the keyboard, so absorbed on his task; it was as if he had blocked everything else out of his mind.

But had he really?

At that moment Jamie stopped what he was doing, glanced up and studied Claire’s expression before capturing her gaze with his penetrating glance. Their eyes locked and she could only swoon at the depth of feeling his look imparted. Caressing her face his gaze lingered on her mouth before returning to her luminous eyes. An exhilarating blush rose to her cheeks as Claire held his look with one of her own. He appeared to be about to tell her something but didn’t need to utter a word. A silent communication where no words were necessary passed between them. With his one piercing look Jamie had managed to say everything she had wanted to hear and more.

However, as Claire’s eyes absorbed his look, Jamie’s comm. unit began to beep.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Back at Section One Fergus Claudel sat at his computer station snacking on Oreos his go to snack. He was fidgety as usual whenever he was waiting for something that was too slow coming through and was full of pent up energy as he waited for Jamie’s communiqué that would enable him to track the jet’s flight plan. He was getting a little angsty when nothing appeared on his computer screen and alerted Jamie in case there was a problem.

“Jamie?”

However James Fraser ignored his question until Fergus’ worried voice again intruded into their moment once more.

“Jamie, are you there?”

“Yes, Fergus?”

“I’m not receiving …Type PS dash E.”

“OK.”

Pushing his glasses back up his nose he watched his monitor. “Still nothing Jamie … All right type this in too … Kill, space, minus nine, space, 313 … Okay? You got that? … That should do it.”

“Anything yet?”

“Not yet … but it has to filter through.”

After a short time a red dot showed up on his computer screen. A relieved Fergus replied, “Yes! … Jamie … we have the coordinates.”

He sat back in his chair and watched the computer do its work. His main frame computer had picked up the jet’s fight trail like a homing beacon. Once the coordinates appeared on his monitor, Fergus was now able to track its sonic waves as the jet winged its way across the sky on its flight towards Bangkok with Jamie and Claire on the next phase of their mission to capture Madame Cheung.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometime into the flight to Bangkok, the hostess reappeared to collect their evening meal dishes from the dining area of the jet. Claire cast a glance Jamie’s way as she hovered around them then watched as she placed their dishes on her trolley. After she’d cleared their table the hostess cast her gaze over both of her guests before looking at Jamie.

“I hope you enjoyed your meals,” she inquired with a smile.

“Yes, merci beaucoup.”

“Will that be all then sir, or is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No.”

“I have a question,” Claire stated as she looked towards the hostess.

“Yes mademoiselle?”

“How long will the flight to Bangkok take?”

“It will be approximately two hours and twenty minutes until we reach our destination.”

“Thank you. I think I’ll just catch a little shut eye then,” Claire replied.

“By all means … if you need anything just press your call button.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Travelling at fifteen thousand feet, the hum of the engines and the gentle rocking of the plane was hypnotic. Claire’s forehead pressed against the jet’s window and she stared blankly into the night void, but she soon closed her eyes as the lull made her drowsy. She began to recount their time here in Hong Kong and in particular the night of their reunion and felt herself drifting back to the intimate moments shared with Jamie, after their long separation.

After only a few hours’ sleep caught here and there during the night she’d been exhausted, but it was an exhilarating exhaustion. She’d been somewhat insatiable for Jamie’s touch and their ensuing lovemaking had affected her deeply. Why was it that when together they had such an explosive outpouring of emotions? Separation had obviously made the heart grow fonder or was there more to their relationship than just sexual attraction? It wasn’t just the sex … because that was wonderful. There was something more, something so fragile and intangible that she knew it could only be one thing. If she could admit it was more … would Jamie too? The mutual outpouring of their emotions for one another had been overwhelming and too hard to ignore. She couldn’t wipe the smile off her face at just the thought of what they had done again and again.

When Jamie had laid his head on her chest, her skin had shivered but when his hands lowered and touched her intimately … she’d been lost. He’d bombarded her with his touch until she could stand no more. Her stomach muscles had clenched in the anticipation of what was to come … and she couldn’t stop the keening cry that left her lips. She’d arched up to make it easier for him to explore … but her motives were completely selfish. She’d wanted Jamie with such an overwhelming passion that her body had reacted spontaneously. She’d had no control whatsoever over how she’d reacted. All she knew was that it was right … it was what she’d missed … it was what she’d wanted.

She had moved against him without so much as one coherent thought entering her brain. Her body just knew what it wanted … what it needed. Her hands wandered roaming at will over his body. When Jamie had looked at her … he’d known. He’d known everything that she was feeling … he’d known the secret of her heart by just looking into her eyes. Then they had made love … fast and furiously until this man had turned her inside out sending her feelings soaring. They’d made love again … slowly this time, as they savoured the touch and feel of each other after so long away. Fraser was a conjurer … whatever magic he’d invoked … he’d used it on her until all she could do was respond to his touch. Shaking with the depth of her feelings she’d given him control of her mind and body to do whatever he would at will.

Jamie was everything to her and no matter how often they came together it would never be enough to satisfy her longing for him. Each time they had made love was a time of new discovery. She had broken down his barriers a little during the night. But did she really know him any better? Her heart had opened up wider with love that was overflowing for him but … was it reciprocated?

In the early morning she’d sighed out loud and moved her hand to the place where Jamie had laid beside her. She had touched his warm skin … then had felt his caress and she’d lost all conscious thought. She remembered stretching like a cat that had been well and truly stroked for he’d been extraordinary and she had responded to his lovemaking just as enthusiastically. Her body had felt weary, but every pore, sinew and nerve ending from the top of her head to the tip of her toes was sated. Yet still she had wanted more. Her brazen response to Jamie’s touch had been involuntary, but she had invited his caress and things had just escalated. His touch made her ache with the heat of desire and she’d gone to pieces. Her emotions were all a kilter when he had bombarded her senses making her tremble. Unravelling and moaning she’d surrendered to his potent touch lost to an outpouring of emotions she could not control.

She had touched him just as intimately. She’d felt Jamie swell as her fingers had glided over him until his erection had throbbed in her hand. The power was incredible. To think that he’d reacted to her touch with such conviction was overwhelming but he’d only given her so much control … and no more until he had groaned and flipped her over. She was hungry for him… so hungry she’d writhed in desperation of what she knew he could give her. And he had. They’d moved in sync until they had both capitulated to the “little death” that had swept them over the edge with a cataclysmic joining of their two souls.

She could still smell their intoxicating scent.

Jamie’s image was etched into her heart. Making love with him made her feel whole. They had been together so few times yet each coupling was a piece of the puzzle that fit together to make a bigger picture. It just felt right. They were right together. James Fraser may not yet realise the depth of his emotions but she knew that what she felt could only get better if they were only given the chance. But would that be possible in the life they led? Could they have a relationship and remain unaffected? Section One held no prisoners when it came to emotional ties between operatives. But this wonderful man was worth fighting for. They already had history together … they had a bond that was invincible. Could they have a love that lasted the test of time too?

Her heart smiled. They did have a love worth fighting for … of that she was certain and she would convince Jamie in due time.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I’m dreaming, Claire told herself, it was obviously the effects of the whisky she had consumed, but it was a dream she didn’t want to wake up from. Settling in for more of her wonderful reverie induced memories, she sighed out loud as her thoughts returned to their night spent at Madame Cheung’s. However, before she was able to recount more of those experiences Claire was awakened by Jamie’s gentle resonance.

“Sass-en-ach?” He whispered near her ear.

“Hmmph?”

“Wake up mo ghràidh we’re approaching descent.”

Two hours had passed quickly. Had she really slept all that time?

Noting her disorientated look Jamie queried, “What were ye dreaming about?”

“N-nothing…” she replied sheepishly.

Jamie merely raised an eyebrow in question. “Really?”

Gazing at his penetrating look and now fully awake, Claire answered cheekily staring him down … “Well actually … it was the Mile-High Club.”

The inflection and challenge in her voice amused him. A wry smile crossed Jamie’s lips … but his eyes promised much more.

She had done it again. Where Jamie was concerned … she very seldom could trump him for he had just turned the tables on her yet again. James Fraser was a dangerous man … a very dangerous man… and she had fallen into his trap once more, she chided herself.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madame Cheung’s Lear jet flew through the clouds en-route to Bangkok International Airport with its two passengers. However, those on board were unaware that Le Comte St. Germain and Claire Beauchamp were really Section One operatives whose mission was to capture Madame Cheung from the Rising Dragons’ triad. The time on board had passed all too quickly and as the jet neared its destination; the pilot made preparations for landing and spoke with the air traffic controller at the airport for confirmation of his landing procedures.

“Bangkok, this is Mooney-three-three-golf.”

In the control tower, a flight controller replied, “Mooney-three-three-golf, Bangkok. We have you level at 5,000.”

“Roger. Request directions, full-stop landing runway three-two.”

“Copy, three-three-golf. Turn right heading two-seven-zero descend to 3,000. Altimeter two-niner-niner-two.”

“Three-three-golf right to two-seven-zero. Decent to three thousand, two-nine nine-two,” the pilot repeated.

“Three-three-golf, you are cleared final runway three-two. Winds three-three-zero at 15. Be advised visibility is reduced on final half mile”.

“Roger, Bangkok. I don’t see the field in sight. Continue trajectories.”

Depressing his intercom to the passengers the pilot announced “Seatbelts please,” as the Lear jet descended into the steamy Bangkok evening. “We’re making our final approach and we’ll be landing in five minutes.”

The control tower continued with the Lear jet’s landing instructions. ” Turn left two-seven-zero. Descending.”

“Roger. Descending.”

“Three-three-golf, you’re lined up runway three-two, cleared to land.”

“I have field visual this time, Bangkok. Cleared to land.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Turning away from Jamie’s insightful gaze Claire looked out of the window as the jet made its descent into the “City of Angels”, Thailand’s capital city Bangkok. As she peered into the night sky, she could see the lights of the airport terminal and the many city buildings surrounding it aglow with illumination. Leaning her head back against the seat she waited for the initial touchdown jolt of the wheels onto the tarmac, however, the Lear jet made a perfect landing but bypassed the arrivals area and taxied towards a private hangar section of the airport to deplane its two important passengers.

The locale of the airport to where the Lear jet taxied was in a private secluded area away from the main terminal which was for the exclusive use of the Rising Dragons triad. Its restricted use to other jets set it apart from the main airport as this made for an easy passage into the country. Contraband, illegal immigrants or powerful figures connected with the triad often entered the country by these means, for the more powerful the triad, the more remuneration available to those corrupt officials who turned a blind eye if the price was right. Working for the Rising Dragons had its benefits for those officials on their payroll. They were rewarded well for their loyalty but they also knew the punishment if they were to turn against the triad.

Hence, Madame Cheung had left explicit instructions that the pilot would carry out to the letter … or face the consequences. The hangar’s seclusion away from prying eyes and the arrival officialdom that usually accompanied incoming flights, enabled Sun Yee Lok, Madame Cheung and other triad members to enter and leave Bangkok anonymously. The rigour of normal arrival procedures was always waived whenever her private jet arrived; thus, no custom officials would meet Jamie and Claire and Immigration documentation for their visit had been prearranged.

The Lear jet taxied calmly into the private hangar and disappeared from sight. Rotating inside the hangar the jet positioned itself nose out in preparation for a later departure back to Hong Kong if needs be. As the jet completed its 180-degree turnabout it rolled toward the front of the hangar and the pilot bought the jet to a final stop, powering down the engines. After some moments the fuselage door popped opened, and the hostess appeared in the doorway as the Lear jet’s electronic stairs smoothly dropped down before resting on the ground.

Inside the plane, Jamie and Claire gathered up their belongings and made their way to the exit.

“I hope you enjoyed your flight?” The hostess declared as they prepared to leave the Lear jet.

“Oui, merci.”

“Were you able to get all your work done Monsieur Le Comte during the flight?”

“Yes … I did”

“You have no need to go through Customs. Everything has been arranged.”

“I see.”

“The jet will be here for your departure back to Hong Kong or wherever else you need to go, whenever it is required Monsieur Le Comte.”

“Thank you.”

“Mademoiselle … I trust you had an enjoyable flight too.”

“Very.”

“Madame Cheung has also provided transportation to her Thai residence. It is waiting for you just inside the hangar to your right.” She nodded toward an enormous Jaguar stretch limousine, burgundy in colour with smoked glass windows, in the far corner of the hangar. “Magnus will be your driver.”

“Thank you.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Jamie and Claire made their way towards the waiting stretch limousine outside of the hangar, they experienced Bangkok’s steamy humidity and heat. It was uncomfortably hot and although only a short distance away, Claire broke out into a slight sweat. The limousine driver stood at attention beside the automobile waiting for his passengers. Nodding politely as they approached, he opened the rear door for them and they entered the welcoming, cool vehicle. Magnus, the chauffeur, then walked the length of the car, climbed in behind the wheel and started the engine. The Jaguar accelerated out of the hangar heading towards the bright lights of Bangkok and Jamie and Claire’s rendezvous location to meet Madame Cheung and discuss business.

Comfortable in the air-conditioned limousine the interior provided relief from the humid, hot weather conditions that they had experienced when they had stepped down from the Lear jet earlier. As the limousine raced toward Bangkok, they settled onto the long seat facing the divided window separating the chauffeur from the occupants of the automobile. A cabinet to their left held a variety of drinks and nibbles for their journey to their destination, but neither consumed any beverage.

Claire wasn’t quite sure what to expect on the journey into the capital of exotic Thailand. It certainly wasn’t the endless high-rise buildings, busy expressway flyovers and billboards of western companies advertising in English. Undoubtedly Bangkok had embraced westernization and modernization and the skyline was in some ways the same but different too from that of Hong Kong that she had observed when Angus Mhor had driven her to police headquarters all those months ago.

Bangkok was the centre of a busy metropolis. Like Hong Kong the traffic was horrendous. Even at this hour of the evening, there seemed to be a permanent traffic jam or what the Thai called a rot dtit that stretched for what seemed like many kilometres as cars five abreast on the road crawled along. Nonetheless, Magnus manoeuvred the jaguar through the traffic with ease and the limousine edged along the road even though the traffic moved slowly. It was little wonder that the combined effect of the traffic, heat, humidity, noise, dirt, pollution and the unappealing look of the city made some want to leave Bangkok almost as soon as they’d arrived to travel to the outlying seaside areas of Koh Samui and Pattaya.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

However, as they travelled along things began to change. Through the smoked windows of the limousine, Claire could make out the distinctive Thai architecture of the many temples and residences dotted along the route. Bangkok was certainly a visually unique capital city with diverse styles of architecture which exuded artistic grace. Wooden houses raised on stilts were arresting, with particularly striking and beautiful roofs. With swooping multi-tiered roof lines, they were elegantly shaped and tapering with various curiously attractive adornments, finials and decorations on the elongated roof beams. They were obviously ideally suited to shading the house from intense sun and the monsoon rain and they were unique and lovely.

South East Asia was such a dichotomy Claire thought. Juxtaposed with the traditional architecture was the ugly concrete housing that was as far removed from the traditional as could be. Large dedicated spirit houses built for good luck were alongside almost every major building they passed. How strange that two major cities of this region could be so different. What excitement would Thailand hold for them? Only time would tell.

Claire looked across at Jamie but he offered no conversation, he merely replied with his patent blank stare.

Unbeknownst to her he had, as usual, observed her ponderings in the car also, knowing that Claire’s mind had been transgressing to other things rather than to their prime objective. She had observed the scenery along the way and had probably taken note of the uniqueness of the architecture of the buildings as his keen eye had too. However, the similarity of this journey had not been lost on him. Hundreds of times they had travelled silently in the mission van to locations to implement their assignment. Although they were in slightly more salubrious transportation to apprehend a terrorist target, nevertheless, they had a prime objective in mind. This time Madame Cheung would be left with no options but to accompany them back to Section One.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 49

 

They had travelled several kilometres past the outskirts of the city when Magnus decelerated and turned off the main motorway. He drove down a dirt road that led to an imposing house set back from the highway on a few acres of land. Approaching the property Jamie noticed that there was a gated area leading up to the house and several guards were stationed at the entrance. The chauffeur slowed down the jaguar at the gates before he was waved through when they realised who he was, and in no time Jamie and Claire soon arrived at a traditional Thai residence located at the end of the winding road. Situated in sprawling grounds surrounded by a lake, lush tropical vegetation and flowering bougainvillea, the house had the traditional Thai architecture that Claire had admired on the journey.

Proceeding towards the house, Magnus circled the driveway then bought the jaguar to a stop near to where a well-dressed woman was standing on the threshold to the entrance of the house. Madame Cheung herself was waiting there to greet her guests’ arrival and had a huge smile on her face as she waited for Le Comte St Germain and Claire Beauchamp. Getting out of the limousine, the chauffeur opened the door then stood to one side as his passengers exited the vehicle. As they approached the house, he turned to retrieve their luggage from the trunk of the car.

“Claire … Monsieur Le Comte … Welcome. Thank you for coming,” Madame Cheng gushed as her guests neared closer.

“Non … Thank you Madame.” Jamie replied placing a chaste kiss to the back of her outstretched hand.

She eyed him boldly before asking, “Did you have a pleasant flight?”

Ushering Claire forward he placed his hand to her back then sliding it around her waist he pulled her close. Giving her an evocative smile, he looked only at Claire before answering. “Oui … we did.”

Madame Cheung’s intense gaze observed his intimate mannerisms with her protégé and was most pleased with this association. It certainly bode well for her intentions concerning St Germain. “Good … come inside I have organised refreshments and your accommodation. I’m sure you will be very comfortable here.”

“Merci.”

“Tomorrow we will discuss business Monsieur Le Comte and I will give you a tour of my business holdings here in Bangkok.”

“Perfect,” Jamie replied giving her his full attention at her declaration and plying on the charm he had Madame Cheung in the palm of his hand.

“Perhaps you would care to join me later for drinks on the terrace Monsieur?”

“You are most generous Madame … When?”

“Shall we say in an hour?”

“By all means.”

“Could I have a word with Claire before then Monsieur Le Comte?”

Jamie reluctantly released his arm from around Claire’s waist. “Of course. I will just orientate myself with your lovely residence until we meet, again shall I?”

“Certainly, enjoy your stroll Monsieur but stay on the path for your safety.”

“Oh … I will,” Jamie replied before taking his leave.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

James Fraser watched as Madame Cheung and Claire entered the house then once they were out of sight, he began his reconnaissance around the immediate area of her residence. When they had arrived earlier in the evening, he’d taken note of the secluded road that the limousine had driven along on their approach to the gated entrance to Madame Cheung’s Thai home. Surrounded by heavy foliage and trees, the high gate and fence that bordered the perimeter of the property hid the house from the main road. Due to its very private location off the highway, its seclusion and the unmistakable security that surrounded the property, it was obvious that the residence was well concealed from any would be interlopers. Their chauffeur, Magnus, had also not needed to activate the security buzzer mounted just outside the gate as the guards had waved him though knowing that he was her personal driver.

Continuing down the path of the sprawling grounds, Jamie headed towards the lake ever mindful of keeping to the shadows of the vegetation in order to avoid detection as there were several patrolling guards about. Hearing voices approaching, he pressed himself up against a tree out of sight while they loomed nearby and waited for the guards to pass him by. Once they had done so, he pulled an infrared tracking mechanism from his pocket to survey the surrounds. Jamie used it to scan the immediate area for any concealed security devices mounted in strategic positions around the grounds or near the house. He activated the device and it immediately lit up with the location of several well-placed surveillance cameras mounted in trees, sculptures and on the outer building, signalling that the estate was extremely well protected. Coupled with the high-tech security cameras on the tall entrance gate, Madame Cheung obviously took no chances when it came to her safety and the wellbeing of her guests.

Checking to see the safest egress point without being intercepted by the revolving cameras, Jamie watched until the camera rotated creating a blind spot. As soon as the way was clear, he darted across the lawn rushing into the heavy tropical foliage and woods. Continuing his meticulous assessment of Madame Cheung’s property, Jamie noted a standalone building off to his right and made his way towards it. However, he was unexpectedly accosted by a particularly menacing guard who had unfortunately stumbled across him.

With a raised gun aimed directly at Jamie’s head the guard ordered, “Stop or I’ll shoot!”

Turning slowly towards the guard with his hands raised in the air, Jamie replied. “Mon Dieu … Please don’t!”

“Who are you? How did you get into this property?”

“I’m not an intruder if that’s what you think. My name is Le Comte St. Germain and I’m Madame Cheung’s houseguest for the week.” Jamie explained.

However, the guard was sceptical and radioed this Intel to the residence for verification while he held Jamie at gunpoint. “What are you doing here? This area is out of bounds to guests.”

“I seem to have lost my bearings. I’ve strayed off the main path and lost my way back to the house. Could you point me in the right direction s'il vous plaît?”

The guard’s radio soon crackled to life with an impending reply. He raised it to his ear and listened. Once confirmation was received, the guard lowered the radio and looked at Jamie. He was sent on his way back to the house with a caution to stay on the main path to his left. However, as soon as the guard was out of sight Jamie retraced his steps to investigate what was inside the building.

Then, contacting Section One he relayed the Intel of his position to Fergus.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Immediately Fergus set to work. In next to no time an aerial view of Madame Cheung’s compound with Jamie’s location and that of the buildings in the near vicinity screened on his computer monitor. He adjusted the magnification and a closer visual of the building under question became highlighted.

“Jamie? I have visual.”

“Good … Report.”

“There are two hot spots inside the room but several more in the surrounding vicinity. I suggest that you proceed with caution.”

Opening the fuse box on the outside of the building, Jamie disconnected the wires to the alarm system before he disabled the light fuses which immediately caused the lights to go out in the building. Taking some night vision glasses out of his jacket he put them on before he entered the building and made his way inside. Keeping alert Jamie heard the sound of footsteps approaching the door. A man was walking down the hallway close to where he was. Without knowing what had happened, the assailant was taken out of the equation as Jamie took him down with a swift blow to the carotid artery. He fell slumped to the floor. Overstepping the body, he continued inside the building.

“Fergus?”

“There is still one body in a room to your left.”

“Okay.”

Making his way down a corridor Jamie approached a large room where an elaborate security system was housed. Several large monitors screened the perimeter of the property and the various placed cameras relayed the visual of the surrounding grounds back to the hub of the property’s security system. Such high maintenance security meant only one thing … Madame Cheung’s residence was extremely well protected mainly by a highly developed security system and armed guards who patrolled the boundary as a deterrent to any enemies who may think to storm the property. Hence any assault on her premises would have to come from other means rather than an offensive from the outside parameters of her house. Hence it could be problematic for the teams to make an assault, hence her capture would have to be in a less secure area away from the house and most likely at her business venue. Entering further into the room, Jamie saw a lone security guard monitoring procedures. Although the lights had been disabled there was still enough illumination from the computer screens for the guard to be able to see. However, he failed to hear the stealth footsteps of James Fraser as he immobilized the unsuspecting guard at his console.

“All clear Fergus.”

To his Section trained eyes the system was rudimentary and if needs be he could disable it in a flash, however, before he had a chance to do so Fergus’ voice echoed in warning.

“Hold a second Jamie. I have movement near to your position. Hostiles approaching. You’ll need to egress ASAP.”

Moving back from whence he’d came, Jamie made a swift retreat into the shadows of the grounds before he was discovered by Madame Cheung’s security guards yet again coming to see why the lights had gone out in the surveillance building. He then made his way back to the residence in double quick time.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Entering the house Jamie soon joined the ladies on the terrace. Madame Cheung was leaning on a wooden railing, overlooking her garden while talking with Claire when he entered. Hearing his approach, she looked up from her conversation then turned to face him welcoming him back. “Ah Monsieur Le Comte, you’ve returned. I hope you enjoyed your stroll.”

“I did Madame but I’m afraid I became a little disoriented.”

“Yes, I was informed but I’m glad that you found your way back again. Now … come sit down. Would you care to join us for drinks prior to retiring for the evening?”

“But of course.”

Summoning her servant, she soon returned with refreshments and placed them on the table in front of Madame Cheung’s guests.

“I do apologise for my overzealous security guard.”

“No need. He was only doing his job. It is far better to be safe than sorry, is it not?

“Indeed, Monsieur Le Comte.”

Taking a sip of her drink Madame Cheung eyed Jamie with a keen awareness before stating, “I have already made arrangements for you to tour my business holdings here in Bangkok tomorrow evening.”

“Merci Madame. I know I will look forward to seeing the size of your assets.”

She cast him a wry grin. “Oh, you flatter me Monsieur, but I’m sure it is Claire’s assets that you admire more.”

“That is true,” Jamie replied tongue in cheek to her innuendo, “but I speak of your prowess as a business woman, although your physical assets are indeed remarkable too Madame Cheung.”

“Yes … well …” she replied a little flabbergasted at his cheeky remark, then changing the subject on to a more even keel stated, “I have recently opened a new premises in Patpong … one I’m sure that we will have a mutually exclusive interest in.”

“Really Madame? … If what I suspect is the same line of business as in Hong Kong then rest assured, we will be doing business together in the future.”

“Excellent.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometime later Madame Cheung was approached by her servant who gesticulated towards the entrance. Glancing in the direction of the door she saw a member of her security team nervously pacing back and forth as he waited. Beckoning him over to her he bent down and whispered in her ear. Madame Cheung’s facial expression changed almost at once. She stood up then turning towards her guests announced, “I’m afraid I must offer my apologies. Something has arisen that needs my personal attention. Please excuse me but I am needed elsewhere.”

“Is there anything that we can do Madame?”

“No! No! Stay and enjoy my hospitality. This shouldn’t take very long, but if it does, I will see you tomorrow.”

“Very well. Good night Madame.”

The two Section operatives watched as their hostess made a hasty retreat from the terrace to attend to the security breach that had occurred.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The next evening Madame Cheung’s limousine cruised along the streets of Bangkok heading for the area called the most popular … nay infamous “red-light district” for westerners in all of Asia and where the Rising Dragons ran numerous business interests.

“Claire tells me, that you were well pleased with her services Monsieur Le Comte.”

“That is true Madame … I could not have wished for anything more.”

“Good … I am pleased to hear it, as I am to know that you are here visiting Thailand. I hope you will be interested in doing business with us once you have had a chance to inspect our business interests here and in Koh Samui.”

“Thank you Madame. I’m sure I will.”

“As you are no doubt aware Bangkok is a city of contrasts, ancient and ultramodern, beautiful and, in a word … seedy.”

“Oui … I had noticed.”

Madame Cheung laughed momentarily then picked up her phone and called through to her driver with an address. “Soi Patpong, between Silom and Surawong,” she ordered. Then turning to Jamie said, “We’ll be heading to Patpong where, as I said last evening, I have just opened a new business venue that you might like to inspect.”

“Of course.”

“Unfortunately Magnus is unable to park the limousine close to the club, so we’ll play the tourist tonight and check out some of the attractions along the way as it is only a short walk to my new premises.”

“No problems Madame. We could all use some fresh evening air.”

Madame Cheung smiled, then turning towards Claire she stated, “Patpong is one of Bangkok’s famous night street markets with everything you may want or need. Perhaps some trinket will take your eye Claire?”

“Perhaps, but you have given me everything I need already Madame.”

“That is true my dear, yet what girl can resist a bargain? Hmm?”

“We shall see.”

Looking at Jamie once again Madame Cheung continued, “It’s a business district by day Monsieur Le Comte, but Patpong really only comes to life at dusk when the pursuit of sex is its main appeal.”

Jamie nodded. “Interesting.”

“It has inevitably become a tourist “must see” and is the hub of our enterprise. Sex is what some tourists come for and sex is what I provide … at a price.”

“So tell me Madame Cheung … how many business interests do the Rising Dragons have in Bangkok in total?”

“Oh, Monsieur Le Comte!” she laughed, amusement dripping from her words. “The Rising Dragons have carte blanche under my jurisdiction and patronage here in Bangkok. There are numerous bars, erotic shows, massage parlours, clubs and of course our exclusive escort services that we own and operate.”

“I see.”

“There are far too many to put a figure on … but at a guess it is in the hundreds. Why … there are over a 100 back-to-back neon-lit bars here in Patpong itself. The Rising Dragons own all the land here and we also collect over 10 million baht monthly from rent alone.”

“Very profitable and … impressive.” Jamie remarked.

“Thank you.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire was incredulous as to what Madame Cheung was espousing about the Rising Dragons’ “interests”. She was horrified especially given her firsthand knowledge of the girls involved and how they came to be in her service. Although her eyes relayed interest in what she was telling Jamie, inside she was seething at the loss of innocence of the girls and boys involved in these establishments. The sooner they took Madame Cheung out of the equation and brought her into Section One couldn’t come quick enough for her.

She wondered how she would be able to avoid being desensitized by Patpong and not come away disturbed, troubled or bothered by what she would see. The quicker Section could minimize the abuses obviously taking place in these few blocks of the City of Angels, where virtually anything sensual that was available could be bought, then the better it would be for the hundreds of girls and young boys forced to live this debouched way of life. Her faith in human decency had been shattered and she hoped that there was indeed some redeeming feature about Patpong and that something else, something more positive was also going on.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The streets were full with people milling around. The blue and red Thai taxis cruised along Patpong 1 lane and tuk-tuks carried inquisitive tourists past the hustle and bustle of street vendors, bars, restaurants, massage parlours and hotels. After travelling down the short lanes stretching between Silom and Surawong Roads where the glow of neon lights made it seem like daylight, the limousine pulled into the curb and Madame Cheung, Claire and Jamie got out of the vehicle. Four of her bodyguards followed at a discreet distance.

“My new premises are a short walk from here … shall we?”

“Mais oui … Madame.”

Overzealous salesmen and touts were pestering the tourists for their dollars as they strolled past the night market selling clothes, fake watches and souvenirs down the centre of Patpong 1 and out along Silom Road. Sandwiched between stalls hawking Louis Vuitton luggage and Chanel handbags, jade trinkets and flip-flop sandals, they passed Bangkok’s fast-talking, baht-barking watch vendors, selling their cache of knock-off luxury timepieces. Many eyes scrutinized the three well-dressed people as they walked along obviously heading to the new club just recently opened down the street.

With Madame Cheung’s earlier words echoing in her ears, Claire ambled over to a watch vendor with a sign saying … “SUNEE’S EXCLUSIVE WATCHES” … where all kinds of timepieces from quartz, to automatic models were to be seen. Sunee offered a blinding collection of brand names of just about every high-end Swiss timepiece on the market. There were watches from Baume & Mercier, Rado, Omega, Panerai and Cartier. There were also dozens of gold and diamond-encrusted Rolexes and Guccis all looking tantalizingly genuine.

A stern looking woman greeted her approach with a slight nod.

Fingering an Omega Constellation, Claire couldn’t help but exclaim, "This can’t be fake!”

“Same-same, but different,” the proprietress answered.

They did look the part and Claire cast her eye on one that particularly caught her attention. A diamond studded Cintrée Curvex watch from Franck Muller with its pretty blue band and face the colour of her eyes took her fancy. At first and second glance, it looked and felt a lot like the real thing. Although it was a multi-functional watch, it was embellished with precious stones that made it all that more appealing as it sparkled under the glare of the bright lights. The watch had a golden case set with three rows of diamonds and its amazing and attractive design with the combination of diamonds made it so appealing to Claire. She thought that she could add it to her watch and sunglasses collection back home at her normal apartment.

“How much?” She queried fingering the exquisite timepiece.

“4,600 baht. Very good price,” Sunee replied watching her intensely, eager for a sale.

“You have superb taste my dear … Although this is only an imitation, that particular Franck Muller watch design is one of his most expensive timepieces. They sell for about $US130,000.00,” Madame Cheung interrupted coming up to stand beside her.

“Really?”

“Claire you don’t need a replica when you can have the real thing.”

“Yes, I know … but it is pretty Madame.”

Nevertheless, she replaced the watch back on the table, then turning to the owner replied, “Thank you … but no thank you … it’s a little too pricey.”

“How much you pay? I give you good price!” The proprietress implored as Claire moved away with Madame Cheung, ignoring the seller’s entreaty.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jamie had witnessed Claire’s exchange at the stall and as the two women continued walking further down the street past the other market stalls, he remained back and stepped in to haggle with the spry little lady with the beady but piercing eyes.

“Did I hear you say the price for this watch correctly?” He asked plying her with a charming smile.

The woman looked up at Jamie thinking that for sure she would have a sale this time. “Yes. 4,600 baht … very good price.” She picked up the watch in question and handed it to him. “Look at the jewels, at the design. It is beautiful for your lady no?”

“I’ll give you 1800 baht.”

“Kee nee-ow ai wen!” Sunee mumbled under her breath then with her hand on her chest she replied forlornly, “Oh, you wound me sir! How can I feed my family on such a pittance?”

“Nah gliat ee-gah,” Jamie replied playfully indicating that he had understood exactly what she had mumbled under her breath calling him a stingy bastard. He gave her a piercing look demonstrating that her little performance had no effect on him. “The watch is exorbitantly overpriced … I noticed other stalls have the same watch for 2750 baht.”

She laughed at his veiled insult in Thai of calling her an ugly old crow then smiled at this engaging man. “But look at the workmanship, the gold. Is it not a masterpiece?” Sunee explained hoping to sway Jamie to her sales pitch.

“It is not worth more than 1800 baht.”

She upped the ante. “2500. It is good buy at that price.”

“2300 … my last offer. Take it or leave it,” he countered.

“You drive a very hard bargain monsieur. It is yours.”

A toothy grin appeared from her mouth as the debonair gentleman bartered competently for the watch. She was impressed with his haggling skills and finally agreed on a modest price for the timepiece of 2,300 baht. Laying the watch in its protective box, she gave it to him.

Jamie placed the package in his breast pocket and quickly caught up with Claire and Madame Cheung and followed the two women on to her new venue with the watch safely in the pocket of his jacket.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Kee nee-ow ai wen!” - stingy bastard

“Nah gliat ee-gah” - ugly old crow

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 50

 

Madame Cheung’s new club was a short distance further along the street and they soon took a sharp left and turned into what appeared to be a forbidding alley. This lane was very different from others they had passed. It was covered overhead with large canopies that stretched from one side to the other and almost appeared to be air-conditioned as it was significantly cooler than out on the main road. Along the way numerous neon signs flickered advertising the different nightclubs and bars where people could be entertained for a price. Hustlers from two or three of the similar clubs beckoned any potential clients to come closer to inspect the entertainment available while Thai hawkers tried to verbally entice them into their establishments.

The noise in the alleyway was boisterous not only from the spruikers but from the milling crowd that walked along the lane that the hawkers failed to notice the formidable woman and her entourage walk past. Not realising who the important woman was with the young couple, it was only when the spruikers saw the four bodyguards looming behind that they knew who this woman really was. Their banter stopped and they stood there carefully watching as the imposing Chinese woman and her companions all ignored their requests and kept on walking. Madame Cheung gave each vendor an icy cold glare as she passed by and the others realised that their trade tonight would be diminished now that a senior member of the Rising Dragons’ Triad had arrived to inspect her new establishment. They watched as she continued down the street towards a brightly lit sign near the end of the alley that beckoned and a logo that was more noticeable and more dazzling than that of their own establishments.

“Come we are nearly there,” Madame Cheung announced with a decisive pride in her voice.

Beneath the flashing neon sign and amid a crush of men lined up to enter the property they reached the entrance to her new club. Raucous wolf whistles filled the evening air when the men saw the exquisite, tall brunette woman pass by thinking that she was one of the new ladies who would cater to their personal preference requests. Claire smiled but ignored their enthusiastic jibes as she bypassed those gathered. However, the men were soon silenced when Jamie wrapped his arm around Claire’s waist and cast his steely look their way signalling that the woman was indeed with him. They continued a little further down the street before entering the building by a side door and followed Madame Cheung inside where a petite Thai woman was there to greet them.

“S̄wạs̄dī - Good evening Madame,” the young girl repeated in English as she acknowledged her employer with a slight bow with the palms of her hands pressed together in a prayer-like fashion.

Madame Cheung returned the greeting.

“I see business is booming tonight Mali,” she replied most pleased knowing that the crowd outside her business establishment was considerable, which meant that these paying customers would indeed add to the coffers of the triad tonight.

“Yes, Madame Cheung ... it has been very steady.”

“That is good.” She then issued another order, “Tell Suchin I wish to see her in my office.”

“Straight away Madame,” she replied making her way out of the office to find the person in question.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A short while later a beautiful Thai girl with glowing skin and beautiful ebony hair appeared in Madame Cheung’s office where she was conversing with Jamie and Claire trying to impress Le Comte St Germain as to the success of her establishment here in Patpong. She stopped talking when she realised that the girl had entered the office.

“Ah, Suchin, come in my dear. I am very impressed … you have done wonders here in managing the club,” Madame Cheung said as the girl approached her desk. “I have been examining the books and I see our profits are up 100 percent from last week. Great work.”

“Thank you Madame,” she replied a little embarrassed by the compliment.

Madame Cheung merely smiled and turning her attention towards her two guests she stated, “I’d like to introduce Monsieur Le Comte St Germain and my newest protégé Claire Beauchamp.”

The Thai girl nodded her head in greeting as Madame Cheung continued. “Would you show them around? Monsieur Le Comte is thinking of becoming my business partner so he will want to see how things operate here.”

“Certainly Madame … follow me please,” she urged gesturing to the two Section One operatives to follow her out of the office little knowing that they were doing reconnaissance on the building for their future plans.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Jamie and Claire exited the office, they saw a stairway leading upwards to another level. Tuneful music could be heard coming from the second floor and they proceeded up the stairs to find a room where padded bench-style seating ran along the back of the wall. The area looked very comfortable and a well-stocked bar ran alongside the opposite far wall. There were several escort girls congregating near the dance stage and some more in a curved corner of the bench seating waiting for the male clientele they knew would soon be here from outside. A number of the girls looked no older than teenagers and Claire cast a probing look Jamie’s way, but he merely responded with his patent blank stare. However, she immediately knew exactly what he was thinking without communicating one word. Those non-verbal responses were a pattern between the two of them and Claire responded with a sight tilt of her head in understanding.

Her eyes scanned the upper floor with interest and when she noticed a young scantily dressed dancer was getting ready to perform, an eerie feeling of déjà vu weighed heavily on Claire. This club was similar to what she had worked in, in Hong Kong, when Oliver Chan had approached her. These kinds of establishments were obviously typical for the Rising Dragons and were used to lure young women into prostitution with little or no way out. It made her feel sick to the stomach. The vile taste of bile rose in her throat and Claire swallowed the acrid fluid quickly when their hostess spoke.

“Would you care for something to drink?” Suchin asked as they approached the bar area.

Turning back to face the Thai girl after casting a covert glance around the room as well Jamie replied, “Cha … thank you.”

A little surprised at his beverage request she answered, “Of course, Monsieur Le Comte. Tea is certainly more refreshing in this heat. And you ma’am?”

“I agree, tea sounds perfect. Thank you.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Suchin ordered the tea to be brought to a table near the bar and when it arrived, she poured the hot brew into the small oriental cups then passed them to Jamie and Claire. They placed the cups to their lips and drank while their eyes surreptitiously surveyed the surroundings once more.

As they drank, she began to promote the wonderful things about the club to Madame Cheung’s potential partner and in particular the policy to which all the patrons of the club must adhere.

“There are certain rules here Monsieur Le Comte that Madame insists upon. For one thing, there are no drugs and the other, safe sex.”

“Commendable indeed,” Jamie replied.

“Yes, Madame Cheung insists that the girls are tested regularly for drug use or any sexually transmitted diseases.”

“The girls appear young,” Claire stated casting her eye around the room at the girls who were waiting for the male patrons to enter.

Ready with an appropriate response Suchin elaborated, “Yes we like to train them early Miss Beauchamp. In actual fact we rescue them from rural poverty, for many are the youngest in large families that are already struggling to make ends meet. It is truly a blessing that Madame Cheung is so benevolent to her girls.”

Her answer was indicative of them being a godsend for the girls working there rather than the true answer to their plight and Claire was inwardly seething at her flippant reply. It took all of her willpower to bite her tongue and if not for Jamie continuing the conversation, she may have said something she would have regretted.

“Interesting you should say that Suchin. That is my line of occupation too,” Jamie stated with a forced smile on his face as if this information was normal practise for all of these establishments.

“Ah, I can see now why Madame wants to be in business with you Monsieur,” she replied with a tacit understanding as to her employer’s motives in seeking to form a partnership with this man. “Madame Cheung is like a mother to them … a role model for the girls. They love this work.”

The words were spoken so naturally and with complete pride in her voice that Claire nearly spilt the tea down her dress as she chocked on a mouthful of the hot brew. She found herself listening with a heavy heart. The frustrations building inside her were being exacerbated the more the Thai girl extolled the virtues of Madame Cheung. Claire was appalled at the underlying underbelly of her business which ultimately was the exploitation of young gullible and innocent poor victims.

When they had finished their tea, Suchin announced, “Shall we go? I have more I would like to show you.”

“Certainly.”

Moving back below, they proceeded with their inspection of Madame Cheung’s latest establishment from the discreet quiet quarters for tète et tètes to the more public rooms where girls mingled with the clientele. In one such area there were several banquette lounges, and a number of the men who had been waiting outside now intermingled with the beautifully attired Thai and other Asian girls. The new club certainly catered for all kinds of decadent requests and sensing Claire’s distaste in the whole situation, Jamie indicated that he had seen enough, and requested that they return to Madame Cheung’s office.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Looking up from her ledgers as she heard them all enter the office Madame Cheung proclaimed, “Ah, you are back. I trust that Suchin showed you all around our modest establishment Monsieur St Germain?”

“Yes she was very thorough,” Jamie replied smiling at her but at the same time trying to keep the disgust out of his voice.

Madame Cheung was most pleased at this statement. “Good. So, Monsieur Le Comte … have you reached a decision?” Her expression was hopeful as she looked at him and waited for his reply.

“I believe we can do business together Madame Cheung. I can definitely help you out. Do we have an agreement?” Jamie reached out his hand as she stood up to acknowledge his reply.

Madame Cheung could not wipe the smile off her face. “Yes … I think we have a perfect understanding Monsieur Le Comte ... I never doubted that would be your answer. Shall we have a drink to toast our collaboration?”

“Of course.”

Depressing her call button she summoned for champagne to be sent to the office. “Mali... bring my best champagne … we have cause to celebrate.”

“At once Madame.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Here’s to a most beneficial association for the Rising Dragons ... and for me. I believe that you will go far in our organisation Monsieur Le Comte.”

“Merci, you are too kind Madame Cheung … but I’m sure your association with me will be the better one. I have plans for you Madame that you will not be able to resist.”

“Sounds intriguing Monsieur … I look forward to that and so much more from our association ... May it be a long and successful one.”

“Oh it will be very successful ... I can assure you.”

Jamie’s ambiguous answer given to this terrorist who soon would feel the wrath of an interrogation in the White Room was cause for a wry smile not only from him but from Claire as well who could not wait until this woman was no longer around to inflict more hardship on vulnerable young women.

 

Later that evening …

 

Jamie noticed Claire’s quietness and melancholic mood since returning from Madame Cheung’s club this evening, and as she sat down, he broached the cause of her disquiet.

Sassenach, what's wrong?”

“Jamie, I just need to talk.”

Little did he know that she would unburden all of her pent-up frustration at what she had seen.

“We have to do something … this can’t go on. Those girls tonight were mere babies. It’s exploitation of the worse kind. I can’t bear this another moment.”

“Listen to me Claire … You're too emotionally vested. Don’t worry … it is all under control.”

“Control? What control? These are innocent, lovely girls, born on poverty-stricken farms in Thailand and other places in Asia, who are being exploited.”

Jamie tried to reply as sympathetically as he could particularly knowing Claire’s mindset at the moment. This mission had tested her emotions and her empathy for the vulnerable women caught up in this insidious business. “Unfortunately child exploitation is prevalent in poor, underdeveloped countries Sassenach.”

“Yeah ... I’ve heard the spiel before! Unscrupulous "career counsellors" and "job experts" eagerly trek to their villages seeking out these lovely underage girls. They take them to Bangkok with a promise of marriage, education, and well-paying jobs. It’s a farce Jamie … it’s sickening.”

“That’s the business Le Comte St. Germain and Madame Cheung are in mo nighean donn.”

“What did Suchin call it? ... Ah ... yes ... We like to rescue them from rural poverty because they like to train them early.”

Jamie could see that his Claire was upset by what she had seen and witnessed and tried to diffuse the situation with some words that would ease her distress to what would happen. “We will do something about it Sassenach. Madame Cheung won’t be in business for much longer.”

“When Jamie?”

“Soon … be patient mo ghràidh.”

Claire was nearly at her wits end while the emotion in her voice indicated that she was bordering on tears. “I have been patient Jamie ... I don’t know how much longer I can be. These girls are sold for the price of a television set or opium or for a quick baht in their parents’ pockets … maybe even kidnapped.”

“Unfortunately it's not called kidnapping if illiterate parents draw their X's on paper releasing their daughters. St. Germain was a master at doing just that … exploiting the illiteracy of the parents.”

“He’s dead ... thank God! It’s duping them into selling their daughters’ souls. These trusting girls have no idea what awaits them here in Bangkok when they are forced to prance on stage and are sold like animals in a meat market Jamie. They end up with no rights and no life. It’s vile … it makes me nauseous.”

“Dinna fash yersel' Sassenach. Once we know Madame Cheung’s schedule, we’ll implement the profile but we’ll need to know her plans for the next two days … Just be prepared for anything.”

“Good. I’ll find out that information then,” she stated emphatically.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire’s passionate tirade showed her deep compassion for the oppressed innocents that Madame Cheung exploited in Hong Kong as well as here in Thailand which was obviously only the tip of the iceberg. Jamie knew that the sooner she was Section One’s guest the better it would be and the faster Claire would be released from her deep cover mission.

They stared at one another in silence and Jamie watched the weariness of this mission wash over her features. She had endured a lot over the past few weeks and the subterfuge around Madame Cheung was beginning to take its toll. Claire needed closure on this mission sooner rather than later or her emotions would be further affected and the pretence life that she had embraced under the Rising Dragons’ triad needed to be done with. In order to do this Jamie knew that his planned scenario only needed the green light from Madame Cheung herself. When they knew her movements … he would contact Section to alert Abernathy’s secondary team to provide back up for first team, but until then they needed to be cautious and wait for the window of opportunity they needed.

His Claire needed to regain the happiness in her eyes that had been eroded bit by bit because of this mission and she needed to know what it felt liked to be loved. Jamie knew what he needed to do to bring that spark back to her eyes and placed his hand over the small package he had put in the pocket of his jacket.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As Claire let his words sink in Jamie approached her and stood quietly until she looked up. Her eyes connected with his in inquiry for he had a look on his face that she could not quite decipher. She watched somewhat perplexed as her eyes looked at his hands then to his face before following his hand movements again to where it rested on his chest. Unexpectedly Jamie then reached into his jacket and pulled out a small box and handed it to her.

“What’s this?” She asked in surprise at receiving the gift but a smile bowed her mouth at his unexpected gesture.

“Just open it,” he uttered softly as his fingers beat a little nervous thrum on his thigh.

Jamie watched as Claire bit her lip in anticipation of what it could be, but his thoughts remembered the only other gift he’d ever given her on her first mission when he’d taken her to the restaurant. Claire had thought it was a celebratory dinner for graduating from the extensive Section One training regimen she had endured for four years, but he had dashed her hopes when he’d presented her with the gun and told her what to do.

This time however, Claire’s eyes filled with wonder and unshed tears as she saw the lovely Franck Muller watch she had wanted. Looking up her eyes captured his hopeful gaze with such tenderness and gratitude at his wonderful gesture that her look pierced his heart. He had never given her anything personal before and he knew that the present was beyond priceless to Claire. At this moment he was lost for words and didn’t quite know what he should do when she stood up.

“It’s lovely ... thank you Jamie,” she replied her voice choking up with emotion.

Spontaneously Claire threw her arms around Jamie’s neck and kissed him, hugging him to her chest realising just what he’d done for her. His lips softly caressed hers in return tasting the salty tears that had trickled down her cheeks. Ever so gently he brushed them away with his fingers, then reciprocating the embrace, he held her tight deepening the kiss as his lips fused with her pliable mouth once more.

Claire groaned, then picking her up, Jamie carried her into the bedroom, their conversation about Madame Cheung and child exploitation all but forgotten for the time being.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 51(S)

 

It didn’t take long for Jamie to reach the bedroom and sliding Claire down his body they gazed into each other's eyes while the air around them crackled with pent up sexual energy. Her breath caught at the heat swirling in the depths of Jamie’s stare igniting a flame that burned deep inside her. Drawing his Sassenach nearer, her nipples beaded into tight buds against his chest while he continued to place kisses to her soft responsive lips. Claire coiled her arms back up around his neck and brought their bodies even closer, then applying the slightest amount of pressure she urged his head down for a hot open-mouth kiss. James Fraser tasted like heaven. His lips were warm and masculine, hot, demanding and oh so intoxicating. Lost to the moment, she sighed as his mouth captured hers compellingly.

Teasing the strands of his hair, Claire brushed the collar of Jamie’s shirt with her fingertips and then dug her hands into his thick mane of curls holding her body close to his so that there was little space between them. She wanted nothing more than to feel the warmth of his hands and the heat of his mouth on her naked flesh as he tasted her, but their clothing was in the way. Feeling the distinct ridge of Jamie’s erection, there was no denying the heat of his need and Claire moved provocatively against him. Then with tentative fingers, she gently glided her hand over the front of his trousers. Moaning at her discovery, her hands sought and found the hardened ridge of his body and boldly explored him.

A groan escaped from Jamie’s throat too at the boldness of her actions. In retaliation he skimmed her jaw while his lips trailed a steamy path down the side of Claire’s neck. Sensation shot through her with lightning speed and she lost her balance stumbling backwards. Catching her Jamie pressed his love up against the side of the dressing table. Claire moaned but continued to explore her new-found discovery. Caressing the fabric of his trousers she tormented him as she glided her fingers over the bulge feeling him harden even more. Jamie in turn struggled with his feelings as Claire’s movements were playing havoc with his libido. Boldly unzipping his fly, she slipped her hand beneath his trousers and felt his erection. Claire shivered with desire as her own sex pulsed in response. Aching for Jamie’s touch, she wrapped her fingers around his rock-hard cock and gently stroked the velvety smoothness of him.

Jamie sucked in a sharp hiss of breath and lowered his hand down hard over Claire’s halting her movements. Tenderly picking her hand up, he caressed it placing a kiss to her palm. Need raked her insides as he held her gaze captive in a look Claire could not deny. James Fraser was mesmerized by the boldness of his Sassenach and staring at one another for a brief moment, they both reached out as lips collided once more. With a flurry of movement his hands were dexterous as he quickly removed the clothing that was a barrier to her skin. In no time Claire stood before him in enticing red lace lingerie. The high cut of her panties revealed the lithe length of her long legs while her breasts heaved in the constriction of her bra. The sight of her was nearly his undoing.

Trailing tender caresses down her throat Jamie lingered on her breast while his hands gently cupped her and his lips worked their magic. Claire’s head fell back when he squeezed her breasts and his thumbs searched for her taut nipples protruding through the lace. Capturing his face with her hands she pressed him closer to her flesh.

He kissed her again.

Sliding further down her body Jamie stroked Claire’s thigh were her panties rested on her skin. Placing his hand over the lace he cupped the heat of her groin and provocatively pressed his hand there. Feeling his touch, warmth spread straight to the region where his hand rested. Reluctantly though Jamie left her heaving in want for this more intimate touch as he removed his hand and skimmed it over her stomach while his other hand caressed her warm back.

Claire trembled as riotous sensations coursed through her body. She moaned, but still Jamie’s gentle touch ignited the flames of desire and she could do nothing but enjoy the moment. Unclipping the fastening on the front of Claire’s bra her breasts broke free of the restraining garment and Jamie’s hands glided over her heaving chest removing the bra from her body. Capturing the lace on one finger he let it fall to the floor while his eyes held hers prisoner. His lips eventually returned to her chest and once again he caressed the mound of her breast lovingly.

Impatient fingers loosened Jamie’s shirt and pushed if from his frame while he quickly removed the rest of his own clothing. At the same time, he continued to glide up and over her body in familiar renewal of his love’s velvet soft skin. Tracing his hands back down her thighs Jamie then lifted his woman into his arms as he lavished kisses to her mouth. Wrapping her legs around him, Claire wove her hands into his hair and held him tightly to her.

Lifting her closer he deepened their kiss, meanwhile Claire’s hands encircled Jamie’s head holding him enslaved to her mouth as her thighs held him in a vice like grip. They kissed wildly, then walking her backwards they fell to the bed and Jamie rolled his Sassenach beneath him.

The next morning…

Piercing blue eyes caressed Claire’s body as he watched the rise and fall of her chest in peaceful slumber. Leisurely running his hands over the soft skin of her back Jamie felt every gradation of her body, a body he knew so well. Claire’s kiss-bruised lips also tempted him and he tenderly placed a chaste caress to her soft mouth. Although a beckoning raw need for her once again darted through his veins, Jamie didn’t want to wake her, but the warmth of his Sassenach pressed against him as she lay asleep in his arms was oh so tempting. Sighing, Claire inched closer to his warmth.

His eyes travelled down the column of her throat before resting on her hand that rose and fell on his chest. Capturing it in his, Jamie drew her closer as his thoughts turned to the gift and her reaction to it.

The spontaneity of her kisses last night when he’d given her the watch still played on his mind. He had felt a kick in the stomach when he’d seen her unshed tears and the impulsiveness of her reaction had captured his heart. His act of kindness had overwhelmed her. He didn’t know what had possessed him to barter for the watch ... he only knew at the time that he had seen how much Claire had loved the timepiece and he’d wanted her to have it. Her response only endorsed his decision to do so. He loved the way he felt at her reaction and was glad he’d done something out of the ordinary. So many times, he had hurt her, betrayed her trust, made Claire question the reasons why he did things ... but with this one gift he had somehow redeemed some of his past indiscretions. It felt good.

He was captivated by this woman who was his world. He never realised that his gift would evoke such a profound response from Claire and he was overwhelmed with how her reaction made him feel as well. It was just a watch, albeit one that she had admired but when he saw it, he knew why she had loved it. He suddenly realised that it was not just a gift to his Sassenach but it was a token of his love that he’d bought it for her. This was obviously what Claire had felt in receiving the gift. He would never figure women out and especially not this woman, but he had to acknowledge it was why she had so suddenly welled up with tears and emotion. His gift had touched her heart and in return it had made him introspective. This wonderful woman was worming her way into his heart. He was falling in love with Claire Beauchamp more and more and for the first time in his life he could admit this to himself.

Ever since he had been recruited to Section One his life had been mapped out for him from the get go. He was a cold-blooded killer who had become desensitised to the notion of love. He’d always seen himself as an unlovable man because that is what Section had made him. He was a ruthless, calculated assassin and their penultimate cold operative who was devoid of any feelings or compassion and empathy. He’d never once questioned the why of his actions, that is until Claire was recruited to Section One and was given to him to train. He always knew that he was not worthy of love but this amazing woman obviously saw in him what he did not of his character. This had always been so perplexing because she had come into his life and turned it upside down. He didn’t quite understand how Claire could feel the way she did.

But now, his perception had changed. Suddenly everything made complete sense. He had clarity about his feelings for this woman that he had long suppressed but which Claire had been able to tap into. His Sassenach was unlike any other woman he had ever met. Little by little she was indeed breaking down the barriers he had erected surrounding his heart … ones which he thought were impregnable. Perhaps he was beginning to see what she saw … he was worthy of love after all.

Jamie pulled Claire into a tighter embrace. She played such havoc with his inner demons and sorely tested his control, but having her in his arms and feeling her warmth against his body was comforting. Jamie bent forwards. Brushing Claire’s hair away from her temple he smelt her inimitable scent, a smell so intoxicating that it drove him to distraction. His Sassenach was so beautiful … if only she knew the power, she had over him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As he watched her sleeping, Jamie felt his body harden in reaction to his thoughts and her nearness. He tried to curtail his growing libido by reflecting on her deep cover mission with Madame Cheung.

It had been difficult but his presence had helped considerably. The Rising Dragons triad had many facets and this Madame Cheung had been involved in the very area that Claire abhorred. She was vulnerable where there were innocents being abused and this mission was beginning to take its toll on her emotions. However, their end game scenario would soon bring Madame Cheung’s reign to an end and severely incapacitate an important part of the triad’s business and revenue. Not only that, but the girls in her employ would be set free to return to their families or to start a new life free of the shackles of the triad. Claire would certainly relish the belief that they had achieved freedom for the girls in servitude and that their predicament was no longer.

However, their failure to locate the elusive Sun Yee Lok would necessitate further missions until he was brought down. Once they returned to Section One, they would be able to regroup before the next phase that he knew would come. What this may involve was unknown but anything was possible. More than likely Claire would go undercover once more given her past experience but that was up to Madeline and Operations to decide the best course of action. He was thankful though that his Sassenach wouldn’t be involved in another deep cover mission like that with Madame Cheung on her own. Being so close to the Rising Dragons again would be far more dangerous for Claire especially coming on the heels of this mission. Another deep cover mission could put her in jeopardy and Section could ill afford for their operative to be compromised at such a crucial stage in the big picture.

Operations had said they were working this like an onion before capturing the Rising Dragons’ leader, but there were many layers yet to peel away that would require patience and perseverance.

Leaning into her body, Jamie gently traced Claire’s curves with his hands while his eyes caressed her delicate features. He kissed her and stroked his fingertips along her arm. His body began to betray him as he felt the surging need radiate though him. His Sassenach’s nearness was sheer torture. He wanted her. Feeling the tightening in his groin, Jamie’s breathing became more laboured and when he shifted his hips and pressed them closer to her warmth a moan echoed mournfully in their room.

Claire stirred. Instinctively she moved against him half opening her sleepy eyes. Closing them again, she snuggled closer to Jamie’s warmth as the throaty, soft timbre of her voice murmured his name.

“Jamie?”

“Aye?”

Opening her sleepy eyes at the husky sound of his voice, Claire peered into the fathomless blue eyes of James Fraser. She could easily drown in those eyes that seemed to see deep into her soul. Surely Jamie knew that she adored him and loved him beyond comprehension. Claire smiled; her eyes lingering on his beckoning mouth. He grinned back at her then gently kissed her forehead. Reaching out, she tenderly stroked his stubbled face before running her fingertips along his tempting lips. They parted and he captured her wayward index finger caressing it with the tip of his tongue before reluctantly releasing it. Tracing Claire’s petal soft lips Jamie closed the distance between them gently stroking her face before capturing her mouth in a gentle kiss.

“Good morning,” he replied in a hushed voice.

“Good morning.”

“We have tae get up mo ghràidh.”

“Do we?” Claire replied mischievously feeling his painful erection throbbing against her soft skin.

Jamie watched as a beaming smile crossed her face. He couldn’t help himself. With her laughter echoing in the room he rolled his woman beneath him capturing her mouth in a punishing kiss that silenced them both as desire for each other consumed them.

 

Later that morning…

 

Wandering into the breakfast nook, Claire saw that Madame Cheung was already there. “Good Morning Madame”

“Claire … Where is Monsieur Le Comte? He’s not with you ... Hmmm?”

“No, he went for a swim in the pool.”

“Ahhh … Needed some cooling off, did he?” She intonated slyly noticing that her protégé was a little dishevelled this morning.

“But of course … Madame!”

Madame Cheung laughed out loud at her hidden innuendo. “Good … Come sit down.”

Claire joined her at the breakfast table and the woman watched as she moved her food around on her plate seemingly lost in thought.

“What … No appetite my dear? Or are you thinking about that intoxicating man Monsieur Le Comte? It appears that you are entertaining him well judging by that rosy flush I see on your cheeks.”

“No … you actually,” Claire replied glancing at the woman sitting opposite her.

“Me?” She replied somewhat bemused.

“Yes … about where you grew up. Were you like the girls in your employ? Oh, lots of things really.” She paused before adding, “I grew up on the streets in many different places …”

“Yes … I know.”

Claire looked at her with surprise. “Did that happen to you too?”

“Don’t be embarrassed Claire … I recognized immediately that you were from the streets. I too had a poor upbringing. I pretty much grew up on the street myself.”

“Did you? Not that it shows … Well, perhaps a little in the eyes. You’ve done very well.”

Jamie had not yet made an appearance on the terrace and was listening intensely to their conversation on his frequency channel, hoping that Claire wouldn’t mention Madame Cheung’s procurement of the young girls they had seen at her club. What he did know was that she was baiting her into revealing her plans for the next few days. He lowered his head, and began worrying his chin with his fingers absently waiting for their conversation to turn towards the information they required to set the mission profile for her capture into action.

“One thing about the streets is that you learn to take care of yourself. That some brains and a little luck … You’re a fighter like me. You’ve survived Claire and now that you are working for the Rising Dragons, we will take care of you.”

“Is that how you came to be in the triad?”

“In a fashion … yes it was. I worked my way up the ranks when my potential was recognised and I have never looked back. I see a similar projection for you in the triad Claire like myself.”

“Thank you. I’m very happy working for you Madame.”

She smiled at her reply. “That is good.”

“Madame Cheung? I was wondering if you would like to join Monsieur Le Comte and I on a trip to Koh Samui tomorrow?”

“Unfortunately, I have to stay in Bangkok for the next two days.”

“Business?”

“Does it really matter?”

“So where are you going if you don’t mind me asking?” Claire queried looking for the intel that they need to set the wheels in motion for her capture.

“No, not at all my dear. I have to attend to some business at the club … I’ll be there for the next couple of days. But you enjoy yourself at Koh Samui tomorrow ... anyway you don’t need my company when you have Monsieur Le Comte. Now do you?”

“No Madame … I can learn more about him that may be of use to the Rising Dragons.”

“Exactly … Perhaps you can take in some sights around Bangkok as well. I’ll have Magnus prepare the limousine.”

Just then Jamie entered the terrace and made his way towards the two women. Looking up, Madame Cheung noticed his approach. “Oh, here comes Monsieur Le Comte now.”

“Bonjour mes demoiselles - Good morning ladies.”

“Good morning … Come sit down and have some breakfast, or would you prefer juice?”

“Coffee will be fine.”

“Claire was just saying that you planned on going to Koh Samui tomorrow.”

“Oui.”

“And today? … Perhaps some sightseeing?”

“That’s what I’d like to discuss Madame. Perhaps I could come to the club and go over our business propositions. I’m sure Claire could relax here by the pool.”

“Sounds good to me,” Claire replied.

“Certainly Monsieur Le Comte. Splendid idea. The quicker we go over our business agreement the quicker we can set things in motion ... don’t you agree?”

“Definitely.”

“Excellent … but come this afternoon, then you can spend time with Claire as well.” Madame Cheung smiled cagily … “I don’t want to monopolise your time … after all you are paying for her services.”

“Of course.”

“I’ll see you later then.”

“Yes. Yes, you will.” Jamie replied with a disguised undercurrent in his tone that was foreboding for this woman.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 52

 

Later that afternoon James Fraser made his way to Madame Cheung’s new nightclub premises in Patpong. The street in which it was located was hardly recognizable in the daylight and was vastly different this time of day and it was hard to believe that it was the same one they had come down last night. There was nothing to distinguish this area as a red-light district in the day time. There were no spruikers enticing people into their establishments, no night time hawkers bartering with people and certainly no neon lights advertising the night time entertainment available. It was as if these businesses didn’t exist. Instead a farmers’ market had been set up in the lane where its overhead covering provided much needed relief from the heat and humidity of the day. Locals mingled with tourists as they bought their fruit and vegetables from the produce stalls set up by the vendors selling their wares along the pavement.

Jamie, however, moved determinedly through the throng of people as he walked towards the club at the end of the lane. On entering the building by the same side door as last night he was once again met by Mali, the petite Thai woman who had welcomed them the previous evening. Madame Cheung’s assistant cordially greeted him.

“Ah … Monsieur Le Comte … we meet again. Madame is expecting you but she will be delayed for a short time and has asked that you be taken care of in the best possible way.”

“Thank you.”

“Please follow me.”

They made their way slowly up the stairs until they came to the lounge and bar on the second floor. There were a few people gathered there and when Jamie glanced to the other end of the bar, he recognised the beautiful Thai girl with ebony hair who had been their escort last night standing between two Asian men. It appeared that these people were in the employ of Madame Cheung in some capacity more than likely body guards. They exchanged a nod in acknowledgement and Jamie watched as she spoke to one of the men who glanced over towards him.

As Mali and Jamie approached the bar, she pointed to the end where the three people were gathered. “I’ll leave you here Monsieur Le Comte. Suchin and Chatu will look after anything that you need. Madame Cheung should be along presently.”

When Mali left, Jamie ordered some green tea. As he poured and drank from the small oriental cup one of the Asian men approached him at the bar. Walking over he stood beside him and trailed his hand across Jamie’s shoulder as he did so. Although the gesture appeared friendly Jamie’s suspicions were raised by the presence of these men here at Madame Cheung’s premises at this time of the day.

“Sawatdee Khrap,” he said as they exchanged a greeting in Thai. “Sabai dee reu?”

“Phoot Thai mai dai,” Jamie replied indicating the he did not speak the Thai language.

“Kor thoad … Ah … Sorry Monsieur Le Comte I will speak English. My name is Chatu Shinawatra. I am an associate of Madame Cheung’s. Suchin was just talking about you. Madame said you would be here this afternoon. We are very happy that you have the opportunity to do business with us.”

“Thank you.”

“It is a pleasure to finally meet the Monsieur Le Comte that Madame has spoken about so admirably. But … please enlighten me … How did you meet my boss?”

“She didn’t tell you?”

The man had a closed look on his face despite the friendly manner he presented. There was a coldness behind his eyes that Jamie knew only too well.

“She did … but I want you to tell me.” He smiled at Jamie as if he was bantering in jest but in fact, he was deadly serious. The smile he exhibited didn’t reach his eyes.

Jamie realised that the man was testing him as to his association with Madame Cheung and if he was indeed who he said he was. He had seen the likes of this man’s type many times and knew just how to thwart Chatu with his reply.

“Through my connection with Sun Yee Lok.”

“He does a lot of business in Vietnam, doesn’t he?” He asked trying to catch Jamie out if he did not have a legitimate connection with the triad’s Dragon Head.

“He’s never been to Vietnam. He works out of Hong Kong.” Jamie replied aware of his ploy as he returned a look equally as menacing.

“Quite right,” he stated as if the standoff tension between them was nothing more than cautious banter.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As they were talking Suchin joined the two men at the bar. On seeing her approach Chatu Shinawatra stated, “Ah, Monsieur Le Comte, I believe you have met Madame’s assistant already.”

“Yes we met last night.” With a nod of the head Jamie acknowledged her presence.

“Sa-wat-dee Monsieur.” She smiled at him, but Suchin turned and spoke in quiet undertones to Chatu whispering in his ear.

Looking up at Jamie he relayed what she’d said to him. “Monsieur Le Comte, Madame Cheung knows of your arrival but unfortunately she will be longer than she first anticipated.”

“I see. I hope it is nothing serious?” Jamie asked wondering what it was that was causing a delay.

“No, she is caught up with paper work that is all. There is nothing to be concerned about Monsieur Le Comte,” Suchin answered politely. “She has asked if you could please wait, but if not, Madame will see you back at the house this evening.”

“Certainly. I am prepared to wait until she has concluded her business.”

“Good … Madame will be pleased. I will relay your message.”

Stumbling forward in order to thank her, Jamie accidentally spilt some of his drink on the woman. “Je suis vraiment désolé, “he mumbled in French then repeated in English. “I’m so sorry … my apologies.”

While their attention was diverted by his clumsiness, Jamie took the opportunity to scatter minuscule tracking devices onto the floor one of the many small stalking tools Murtagh had given him that would stick to the shoes of unsuspecting victims.

“No problem Monsieur Le Comte,” she replied brushing at her wet clothing where the tea had spilt. “I will let Madame Cheung know of your decision.”

Upon leaving the bar to go downstairs to talk with her boss, Suchin walked through the tiny self-adhesive gizmos that Jamie had dropped onto the floor would invariably be instrumental in tracing her whereabouts and the location and number of hostiles that may also be there. Clandestinely, he watched her descend the stairs knowing that back at Section One Fergus was tracking her every move.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In true Section mode, Fergus and Operations were indeed listening in on the conversation as Jamie and the Thai talked while waiting for the right moment to give the word to commence sequencing. Once Jamie had tagged the gofer and the devices attached to her shoes, Fergus was able to monitor her exact movements and he immediately set the wheels in motion.

“Jamie’s tagged Madame Cheung’s assistant sir. She’s heading in.”

“Good … keep me informed.”

The tags on her shoes gave Fergus all the information Section needed. He watched her movements on his computer screen tracking Suchin as she crossed the room below and entered a guarded hallway. Heat thermals appeared on his monitor as the woman joined Madame Cheung in her office.

Looking at his computer screen he relayed the Intel to Operations.

“Here we go.”

“Fergus, what does your sat-thermo say?”

“Thermo is hot. It looks like Madame Cheung’s got two bodies with her. Small …, probably female. Right inside the door there’s four more …, larger …, probably bodyguards.”

“And Madame Cheung’s egress?”

“Only one way out.”

“Good. Download the game plan to the onsite ops.”

“It’s done sir.”

“Start sequencing.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Two of Madame Cheung’s girls had been watching the handsome stranger at the bar and once Suchin had disappeared downstairs they seized their opportunity to make his acquaintance. The winsome, beautifully attired women approached him and joined Jamie as he waited for Teams One and Two to get on mark.

“Is there anything we can do for you?” One of the girls remarked capturing Jamie’s eye.

“Two for one. Very good price,” replied the other vying for his attention also.

The first woman started to flirt with Jamie brushing up against his side provocatively. “We will show you a very good time,” she whispered in his ear.

Jamie in turn leaned closer to her in reply ignoring Chatu Shinawatra who was still standing next to him.

Downstairs, Claire, Geillis Duncan and Rupert Mackenzie quietly headed for the guarded hallway that led to Madame Cheung’s office. As the women occupied Jamie’s attention Chatu glanced around. He saw trouble walk in the door as armed Section One operatives came up the stairs. Abernathy’s team members were poised to make an assault on any hostiles in this room upstairs. Realising that something was amiss, Chatu was about to raise the alarm, but was unable to do so, and when he attempted to grab for his gun, Jamie casually whipped out his hand snapping him in the throat throttling him, all the while giving his undivided attention to the woman beside him. Before he knew what had happened Chatu bent over gasping for air then dropped to the floor unconscious as Abernathy took out the other target who was about to fire his weapon.

With their backs to the action, the Thai women were oblivious to any ruckus and continued to flirt with the handsome man at the bar. “We can show you a very good time,” they purred in unison.

“Jamie … Thirty seconds.”

“Sorry ladies but some other time perhaps,” he stated as he left the two despondent women standing at the bar pondering what might have been and joined his team downstairs before they even had time to realise what was going on behind them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When First team got to the hallway entrance, they took cover and pulled out their weapons. In front of Jamie was a lone guard. Signalling his intentions to the other operatives to follow he entered the corridor. Caught off guard by the appearance of unauthorised assailants who had surprised him with their stealth, the guard had tried to fire his gun but was quickly taken out before he could raise a whimper. As Jamie slipped down the hallway towards Madame Cheung’s inner sanctum, they took care of two more of her other bodyguards who had wandered into the passageway.

Meanwhile, more of her guards descended from an adjoining corridor and from her office to investigate the commotion. On seeing several black clad attackers, the guards started shooting at anything that moved.

“We’ve got shooters, everybody down.”

Ricocheting bullets went flying every which way. The operatives immediately took cover from the melee then returned fire. The guards continued shooting and a hail of bullets was rapidly exchanged. Unfortunately, in the crossfire, Rupert Mackenzie was winged by a wayward shot to his shoulder.

“Are ye all right?” Jamie asked.

He slumped down the wall holding his arm as sticky, wet blood oozed through his fingers. “I’m fine,” Mackenzie replied taking his hand away from his wound. “Nothing too serious it’s just a superficial wound. I can still function.”

“Good.”

Madame Cheung’s bodyguards were dogged in their defence of their employer and they held the operatives at bay for a while. Nevertheless, the tenacity, quick thinking and precision accuracy of the team overpowered them and systematically all of her men were taken out of play.

“All clear Fergus,” Jamie declared knowing that their main target Madame Cheung was now their main objective and within reach.

“Proceed with Phase 2 Jamie.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

James Fraser continued down the winding corridor then stopped next to the closed door of Madame Cheung’s office. Pulling his gun out, he checked the ammo clip, reloaded his firearm and leant against the wall for a brief moment before bursting through the door with his weapon poised at the ready. Madame Cheung’s two assistants, Mali and Suchin were cowering on the floor in fright with their hands covering their heads. Jamie ignored them as he quickly glanced around the room to ascertain the situation. Unfortunately, it was not as he would like.

“Fergus she’s not here.”

Turning to the two frightened women he demanded, “Where is she?”

“We … don’t … know,” the women fearfully replied as they huddled together on the floor terrified that he would hurt them. This menacing man was the complete opposite of Monsieur Le Comte who had walked into the club not so long ago. It was hard for them to comprehend the change in his demeanour.

“Yes you do!” Jamie repeated more forcibly.

“There must be some secret wall panel in her office.” Fergus interrupted in his comm. unit.

Turning away from the two women, Jamie ran his gloved hand over the book case behind Madame Cheung’s desk searching for the mechanism that would open a hidden panel in the wall. Finding none, he walked over to the furthest bookcase.

“Jamie, we’re running out of time. Madame Cheung will be long gone by now.”

However, Operations interjected ordering, “Continue to search.”

Pulling a homing device from his pocket, Jamie continued to search, and ran the device over the books along each shelf. The two women watched terrified that Monsieur Le Comte may discover the secret getaway button that Madame Cheung only used in cases of emergency and if he did, then what would happen to them. Suchin and Mali began to panic as they knew he was getting closer to discovering the secret passage, but they were too frightened to do anything but cower on the floor. Casting a terrified glance towards each other uncertain of their fate they huddled even closer together.

“You’ve got to get out of there Jamie.” Fergus relayed.

Jamie ignored Fergus’s warning and Operations outburst, and continued to search for the secret passageway anyway. Although he heard another commotion going on outside, he quickly scanned the lower shelves meticulously running his device over the surface once more. A red light soon lit up indicating that the secret opening was located in the book case.

“I’ve found it.”

“Good … Proceed!”

Haphazardly pulling out books from the shelves the hidden button was eventually revealed. Jamie depressed it and the bookcase rotated revealing a secret door that opened to some stairs and an alleyway at the back of the building. He made his way through the opening just as Geillis, Rupert and Claire, joined him. Making their way through the secret door, together they all headed in the direction of the alleyway and into the bright afternoon sunlight in pursuit of their elusive target Madame Cheung who had managed to escape the pandemonium that had ensued at her establishment.

Madame Cheung was convinced that she had outwitted any assailants who might try and find a way to follow her given that she had escaped through a secret passageway. Any attempt would be hindered by this very fact and thus would give her crucial time to disappear into a crowd of people and become incognito.

However, little did she realise that the very individuals she had trusted were now hot on her tail.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Sawatdee Khrap – hello spoken by a male

“Sabai dee reu? – How are you

Pood Thai Mai Dai - I cannot speak Thai

Kor thoad - sorry/excuse me

Sa-wat-dee - hello

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 53 (V)

 

Jamie, Claire, Geillis Duncan and Rupert Mackenzie made their way through the secret passageway and down the stairs in pursuit of their elusive target Madame Cheung, while Joe Abernathy and his team stayed at her establishment to secure the building until further instructions. Regrettably, the lane was full of people milling about at the back of the building but nonetheless the operatives converged and vigilantly moved through the throng ever watchful for a woman who may have converged in with the crowd. It was clear to Jamie that Madame Cheung’s escape route could make it difficult to find her for it would be easy to see how a person could hide in plain sight by blending in with the surrounds to evade detection particularly when there were so many individuals to be seen. Avoiding exposure by this means was obviously her escape strategy, thus she would not draw attention to herself if she looked and acted like a local.

Crowded with hawkers setting up their wares for an afternoon and evening of bartering for locals and tourists alike, the backstreet was a flurry of noise and activity. As the operatives proceeded down the lane, they paused every now and again to check the various establishments along the way looking for Madame Cheung. Entering each location, they were ever watchful for the woman who eluded them. The sight of the black clad operatives obviously keen to find someone in a hurry was the cause of some inquisitiveness. In the hustle and bustle people either stepped aside or were pushed out of the way by the pursuers in their search of the target. A cacophony of rapid dialects echoed in the alleyway in contempt and annoyance as the Section One team continued searching for the elusive Madame Cheung. Yet, there was no sign of her anywhere to be seen and when they came to bisecting alleys Jamie sent Geillis Duncan and Rupert Mackenzie, down them to check if she’d gone that way.

Together, Jamie and Claire continued down the main laneway when all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, a gunshot ricocheted off a building narrowly missing Claire by a whisker. Looking to see where the shot had come from Jamie noticed a lone assailant in the distance that had begun shooting at them from one of the establishments further ahead. He fired once again. This time the bullet whizzed over Jamie’s head and lodged in the masonry of a merchant’s shop. The two operatives dived for cover behind a vegetable cart as a man exited premises just ahead of them with an automatic weapon.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Noticing that the two pursuers had taken cover, the man stood his ground and stared blasting away firing at the cart with a round of ammunition in rapid succession. Jamie rolled to the left and Claire to the right as the hail of bullets splintered the wooden frame of the wagon into smithereens. Fragments of wood flew into the air and vegetables scattered all over the laneway.

Pandemonium broke out as people screamed and ran every which way looking for any kind of cover to get away from the assassin. From the safety of the doorway of a shop on opposite sides of the alley both Jamie and Claire exchanged fire. Reloading his weapon, the assailant followed with yet another discharge of bullets, and although a shootout followed, they were pinned down by the ricocheting bullets.

“Claire, hold yer position. Hostile still in place.”

“He must be one of Madame Cheung’s men.”

“He’s creating a diversion so that she can get away.”

“We must be getting closer to her.”

“Aye.”

“I can get him Jamie,” Claire stated as she lined him up in her gun sight.

“No. Hold. I’ve got a clear view of the target. I’m pursuing.”

Creating a diversion, the attacker began running down the alleyway pushing frightened people out of the way who had sought refuge in any safe place they could find. Noting his getaway, Jamie took off after him in hot pursuit. He ran quickly and his heels clipped his buttocks while his hair blew backwards in the force of the breeze as he pursued the assailant. When Jamie started to gain on him, the Thai man grabbed a human body shield and fired at his pursuer while his terrified hostage was placed in the direct line of fire. Dodging the bullet, Jamie took aim and fired in return. With deft skill and precision his bullet wounded the man in the shoulder. He lost his balance and recoiled backwards loosening his grip on his hostage. The captive innocent screamed in terror and tried to free himself in all the commotion. Noticing that his captor was injured he made a play at escaping and began flailing his arms about as the villain tried to keep a hold of him. Losing his grip, he pushed him to the ground in disgust and took off in haste blood dripping from his wound.

Both ran down the alleyway and as they did so the assailant threw obstacles in Jamie’s way hoping that they would slow him down. Unfortunately for the man they didn’t impede him one iota, as James Fraser jumped, dodged and weaved over any obstacle thrown in his path. This managed to slow the attacker down somewhat and enabled Jamie to gain on him. Eventually catching up with the assassin he knocked him down to the ground kicking his weapon away from him. Although wounded, the assailant picked himself up and lunged at Jamie with a karate kick that hit him in the thigh. Reeling back from the blow, the level 5 operative retaliated with a Kung Fu move to the man’s throat that disabled him once and for all. He fell to the ground lifeless.

With one cautious look down the alleyway he alerted Claire. “Target contained.”

“Got it,” she replied watching what had taken place.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The alleyway was a scene of mayhem but people gradually came out from their hiding places knowing that the pandemonium had ceased and that the shooter was dead. Shop owners and sellers surveyed the damage to their property and attempted to right their belongings while others sought to find a quick exit from the alleyway in case something like what had just taken place would happen again.

Nonchalantly stepping over the lifeless man on the ground James Fraser, however, continued down the alleyway as if nothing had happened. He was a man on a mission and he knew that Madame Cheung would have taken the opportunity to make her getaway in all of the commotion to disappear further into the crowd. Men and women watched the black clad man casually walk away seemingly oblivious to what had just taken place. They stepped aside for him in awe but trepidation also, too frightened to look him in the eye. Everyone gave him a wide berth hoping to avoid his attention in any way.

“Any sign of Madame Cheung Jamie?” Claire queried.

“Not yet. Did ye patch this location to Abernathy’s Team?”

“Yeah. They’re re-tracking.”

“Good.”

“What now?”

“Stay alert. She's smart. She could be anywhere.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Madame Cheung’s bodyguard’s fatal attempt to halt Jamie and Claire’s pursuit only confirmed that they were getting closer and that she couldn’t be that far in front of them. The lane was surrounded by shops so there was no way of escape unless she had hidden in one of them which unfortunately was a possibility. However, given the premise that she would need to exit the alley before she could really make a clean getaway, it was logical that Madame Cheung had persevered with this route.

Weaving his way down the alleyway, Jamie ran with a determined stride with Claire running after him. Ever watchful they continued in the same direction when suddenly he stopped. There not too far ahead of him he saw a woman hurriedly retreating at the end of the alley. She was trying to be inconspicuous and blend in with the people thronging about in the narrow lane but sensing that someone was following her, she turned around. That was her mistake. Realising that it was indeed Madame Cheung, Jamie set off at a run at a quick pace. She in turn saw who was in pursuit and although surprised at who her pursuer was, she bolted.

“Claire … Target in sight. Let's go.”

“Where?” She asked finally catching up with him.

“Fifty metres ahead.”

“How do you want to proceed?”

“We’ll take her alive.” Jamie responded and motioned to Claire to follow him down the alleyway at a distance.

“Okay.”

He nodded at her, then he and Claire gave chase. They darted out once more along the street. Taking the lead and resolute in his quest, Jamie ran faster and swifter than Claire whose gangly gait slowed her down somewhat. He raced down the alley like a leopard in full stride in hot pursuit of the target Madame Cheung. He quickly picked up speed while Claire hurried to keep up with him as they ran quickly down the crowded lane pushing and barrelling their way past fruit vendors, shops and restaurants. People jumped out of their way as they did so cursing in a flurry of Thai at the madman careening down the packed lane and the woman running with him.

Once again, his heels clipped his behind as Jamie ran fast but given her headway, extreme agility and timely diversion by her bodyguard, Madame Cheung soon disappeared around a corner out of sight. Realising that she had no means of escape the two Section One operatives continued their pursuit rounding the corner after her. Unfortunately, Claire crashed into a man who didn’t see her coming and she fell to the ground. Jamie looked back when he heard her gasp, but she waved him on and he continued with the chase.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Some way ahead Madame Cheung stopped to look back once more to see if she had lost her pursuer, or if he was gaining on her. Wearing a black T-shirt and a leather jacket, with his hair pulled back and wearing sunglasses, Monsieur Le Comte looked more like a Terminator than the man she had come to know. How could she have been so wrong about his character? She had been well and truly hoodwinked by his charming personality. But why was Le Comte St. Germain chasing her? Who was he really?

Trying to avoid him, she made a dash through the opened back door of the nearest building. Madame Cheung found herself in the kitchen of a restaurant that backed onto the street. Surprise registered on the faces of the staff to see the sight of the well-dressed woman apparently in a great hurry scurrying through their working area as if the devil was nipping at her heels. To some it was quite comical. They stopped what they were doing to watch the antics of the woman and the bemused chefs got out of her way not quite cognizant of what was going on.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” The Maître-D asked the woman tersely as he came near realising there was an unauthorised person on the premises.

However, Madame Cheung made no attempt to explain her presence in the kitchen and pushed him away and any other personnel who approached her. Whatever the woman was doing in the kitchen of the restaurant was a mystery to them all.

“Madam! You’re not allowed in the kitchen area!” He repeated quite angrily.

“Get out of my way,” Madame Cheung bellowed as if she had every right to be there.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Déjà vu.

The bewildered staff had little time to recover from the first intrusion when there was another. Each person looked around at the others in the kitchen as they watched what was unfolding. Not only had there been a woman in the preparation area but she was being followed by a black clothed man in hot pursuit. The staff got out of the way when they saw James Fraser, knowing it was useless to try and intervene. Obviously, the woman must have stolen something from this vendor and he was out to make retribution. They shook their heads in disbelief wondering if that was the end of it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Seeing the doors to the main restaurant area Madame Cheung hurried in that direction, however, she nearly fell over as a waiter came through the revolving door and bumped into her. His dishes flew up into the air and fell to the ground with a crash as she pushed him out of the way in her haste to get away. Stumbling she nearly lost her footing and this slowed her down to some extent which allowed Jamie to gain on her. She then burst through the crowded restaurant as patrons who had heard the crash and noise in the kitchen area looked on wondering what the heck was going on.

Knowing that Madame Cheung had very little chance of escape, Jamie reached into his inner jacket pocket and withdrew his laser gun and followed her into the Chinese restaurant. Standing in the doorway he saw her trying to find an escape route but she had very few options. Madame Cheung had taken a wrong turn and now was cornered by the tables in the restaurant. Aiming his weapon, Jamie shot a bullet above her head. Completely focused on the target he ignored the people scattering to get out of gun range. People began to scream and disperse thinking that the police were raiding the restaurant. People raised their hands in the air while others took coverage under their tables trembling in fright.

There was nothing she could do. Madame Cheung stopped bolting caught like a rabbit in headlights.

Casually Jamie lowered his gun to his side ever watchful of Madame Cheung cornered in the restaurant. With a slow, nonchalant stride he approached her, his gun swinging as he walked towards her. On seeing his deadly manner, the terrified patrons cowered away from the formidable man who still had a lethal weapon in his hand not knowing if he would use it again.

Slowly Madame Cheung turned towards her pursuer and standing her ground, she watched defiantly as Monsieur Le Comte St Germain moved closer to her. As he did so, she could see her face reflected in his sunglasses. This man was a stranger to her. This man was a killer and she admonished herself that she had not recognised this side of Monsieur Le Comte’s character. Dressed all in black, James Fraser, Section One’s unemotional, taciturn operative stood with legs apart holding his gun at his side, a complete contrast to the character he’d been playing. His eyes were cold, unflinching … menacing.

“What the hell is this Monsieur Le Comte?” Madame Cheung demanded.

Jamie didn’t reply to her veiled question.

“Who the fuck are you?” she shouted. “And what the hell are you doing chasing me in here? ... Do you have any idea of who you are dealing with?”

Ignoring her tirade, James Fraser merely grabbed Madame Cheung by the shoulders and shoved her against the far wall, placing his gun next to her head and quietly requested, “Come with me, please.”

She glared at him in contempt.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Claire soon arrived and stood menacingly at Jamie’s side.

Madame Cheung averted her eyes and looked at her standing by Le Comte St Germain with an exact mirror image of his body language. Astonishment registered on her face and her pupils dilated in surprise. This woman who she had taken under her wing and for whom she had developed a great affection was unrecognizable. Glancing from one to the other she finally realised their subterfuge and that they had duped her. Shock soon turned to contempt. In her most vitriolic manner Madame Cheung spat at Claire, “YOU!”

“Yes, me.”

“You … You betrayed me!”

Ignoring her outburst, Jamie placed his hand on Madame Cheung’s shoulder to lead her away. She recoiled, shaking her body to dislodge his touch, but to no avail. As she moved forward, Madame Cheung looked back at the woman she had trusted. Looking Claire square in the eye and without faltering, she leaned towards her speaking tersely.

“Beware Claire Beauchamp! The Rising Dragons will retaliate with a rampant vengeance for my capture. Mark my words. Your days are numbered!”

With her head held high, the captive target, Madame Cheung, walked out beside James Fraser with Claire following behind with the woman’s threat ringing in her ears.

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 54(V)

 

Madeline closed the White Room door behind her and stopped for a moment. A Mona Lisa smile enigmatically but fleetingly bowed her mouth as she softly began humming. The melodic sound echoed in the stark room bouncing off the walls a strategy she knew would unnerve the stoic figure of Madame Cheung who sat shackled in the centre of the room. Section One’s second-in-command, a specialist in psych analysis, interrogation and pain techniques enjoyed matching wits with the targets and eventually breaking them by any means necessary and now, this woman was her latest victim.

Within Section, Madeline was the primary person responsible for analysing and predicting the behaviour of the enemy and she didn’t flinch at using torture in this capacity. In contrast to Operations, she was ca