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If The World Was Ending

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California - Townsend Agency Outpost

Elena Houghlin had been a fully trained Angel for seven months, one week and three days. Not that she was counting.

Every night her fingers would trace her collarbone as she was brushing her teeth, her golden wings shimmering beneath the strap of her tank top, and every single night she’d silently thank whoever could be listening for giving her the Angels. The Agency. Her new life.

Seven months, one week and thee days. And just over ninety two percent of that time had been spent with both Jane and Sabina. Again, not that she was counting.

The time had gone by in a blur of missions and gun shots and travelling the continents as they moved from one job to another. No sooner had they returned from Tel Aviv they were on a flight to Hanoi, living in a little wooden house on stilts for a week while tracking a potential arms dealer across Vietnam. Since the day Elena had gained her wings they had been practically inseparable, and Sabina had taken every opportunity to celebrate every one of Elena’s ‘firsts’ with the Agency.

First stakeout. First disguise. First gunshot wound (the bullet had hit the wall behind her and the shrapnel had rebounded into her arm, but Sabina had insisted on claiming the bruise as her first wound as an Angel). Jane had pointed out that many of Elena’s ‘firsts’ had happened before she’d even began her training, but Sabina loved an excuse to celebrate anyway; which usually involved more than one bottle of tequila and many games with questionable ‘rules’ that always seemed to lean in Sabina’s favour.

They worked well together and the Agency had noticed. They had had a two week break over Christmas and although they all had their own apartment near the outpost, Saint having found both Jane and Elena somewhere to stay within a week of their move to LA, they were all sprawled across the living area of the outpost when Bosley had found them.

“Ladies, I’ve spoken to Charlie,” she had announced and for a split second Elena convinced herself that she was going to say they’d made a mistake. That Elena wasn’t Angel material after all and she’d have to go back to her life pre-Agency. “As you know, you’re all trained to work with whatever team we need you to, regardless of where you’re based. But we’ve been impressed at how well you three have worked together since Istanbul. Now that Jane has transferred to California, and Elena you’ve finished your training, we want to keep you together as a permanent team unless your specific skills are needed elsewhere.”

Bosley paused and looked between the three women in front of her, waiting for a reaction.

“Which means I’ll remain your Bosley for the foreseeable.”

Elena had had a hard time containing her excitement, practically bouncing on the spot as Jane raised an eyebrow and pointed her thumb in Sabina’s direction.

“You mean I have to put up with this one daily now?”

“Ah, I know you love me really,” Sabina had grinned, wrapping her arms around Jane’s waist and earning herself a shake of the head from Jane who was trying not to smile.

And so they had kept working together. Kept travelling and learning more about how each other behaved in different situations. Elena had quickly realised that Jane would spend hours meticulously going over every possibility before they left for a mission, whereas Sabina would glance at the file and run head on into potential danger without thinking twice.

Once the case had been sighed off Jane liked to relax with a Netflix series and a glass of wine. Sabina liked to party. And even if she left for a club alone, she always seemed to find her way back to one of their apartments at stupid o’clock in the morning. Elena had spent many nights holding Sabina’s hair back in the bathroom and tucking her into bed, taking the sofa while she slept off the night.

And on more nights than she wanted to remember, Elena had sampled the nightlife of whatever country they were in at the time their mission ended and had her own hair held back over a toilet basin.

Apparently she had some catching up to do when it came to partying, and Sabina was only too happy to teach her.

They had worked together every day until three weeks ago when Bosley had found them in the living area of the LA outpost with a tablet in her hand a smile on her lips.

“I have a new mission for each of you,” Elena had noticed the forced casualness in Bosley’s voice and her choice of words. “You’ll all be leaving within the next few days.”

“I’m getting my first solo mission?” Elena had asked with both apprehension and excitement and heard Jane chuckle beside her.

“Kind of,” Bosley raised an eyebrow and perched on the side of the sofa. “You’ll be stationed in Vienna for a few weeks, the flight leaves this evening.”

“I thought protocol was to tell no one where we were going?” Elena asked before she could stop herself, her recent training still fresh in her mind.

“This isn’t technically a mission,” Bosley explained, crossing her hands in her lap. “It’s internal research.”

“Oh,” Elena hadn’t been able to hide the disappointment from her voice.

“The Austrian Agency have been working on a new hacking device but are having more than a few issues. We need you to help them fix it,” Bosley added. “It’s still a mission, just an internal one. We need the best, and that’s you.”

Her last words had helped somewhat and Elena had felt something stir in her chest. An excitement at getting her hands on a new bit of tech; she’d missed it since leaving the lab. Not that she’d ever swap the life she now had.

“Ladies, you’re also being split up,” Bosley turned to both Jane and Sabina who had been uncharacteristically quiet. “Jane, you’re scheduled to leave in two days time, Sabina you’re early next week.”

“Oh, fun,” Sabina grinned. “Can I go somewhere warm this time?”

“Everything you need to know has been sent to you using the usual system. Read and delete as appropriate,” Bosley instructed with a wave of her hand. “Don’t worry, you should all be back within a few weeks of each other assuming there are no issues or delays.”

“Risk level?” Jane couldn’t help but ask.

“Medium to low. We’re not expecting anything crazy and you’ll be working as part of a bigger team once out there.”

Jane tried to hide her own disappointment at the thought of working with any other Angel, although she knew she was being stupid. Until Hamburg she has hated the idea of working with anyone else in general. Before Sabina and Elena had turned up.

“And Sabina’s?” Again, Jane couldn’t stop herself from asking.

“We have no idea,” Bosley shrugged, sending a nervous shiver down Jane’s spine and evoking an excited grin from Sabina.

“My favourite,” Sabina’s eyebrow twitched playfully. “Seriously though, it better be somewhere with some sun, Boz. April in LA just isn’t hot enough yet.”

Jane held back her comment about wearing more than hot pants on a daily basis and how different the weather in England was at this time of year.

Elena’s first mission without her team mates, internal or otherwise, had gone well. She had immersed herself in her work from the very first evening, quickly falling into a new routine of order and calculations. For the first time in months she was reminded of her old life and how much she had truly enjoyed working in the lab, before everything had turned crazy and she had helped develop a murder weapon.

And yet every night, despite being surrounded by numerous Angels with a shared interest in technology and spyware, she had craved the company of Jane and Sabina. Counted down the days until she could return to LA, the thought of being back together the main driving force that kept her going.

And then she got the breakthrough they were looking for. The puzzle pieces clicked into place. The numbers worked perfectly. And the hacking device worked seamlessly with every try.

Working in the lab again had brought comfort and a thrill she had been missing for nearly a year, but Elena had been immensely relieved to have the option of leaving it all behind once the job was done. Like any other mission she could see it to its end and then move on.

Elena had been the first one to return to the LA outpost, finding Saint in the kitchen brewing a new batch of kombucha and a scribbled note on the table from Sabina.

“E - Boz says you’re due back first. I miss your face already. Will call you when it’s safe to do so. I want all the goss from your first party without us. There’s leftover ice cream in the freezer. S x”

Elena had smiled and tucked the note into her jacket pocket before spending the next hour under the hot water of the shower, letting the steam clear her mind and relax her muscles.

Jane had turned up at the outpost the next evening with stories of her mission in Kyiv and sporting a gunshot graze to the top of her arm which Saint had been fussing over since she had stepped through the door.

“You should have seen them, Elena,” Jane grinned as Saint applied a thin coat of antiseptic cream to her skin. “They had no idea what they were doing, they practically fell over each other trying to shoot the tyres from the car and every one of them missed.”

“All but one,” Saint corrected, his hand pausing over the graze on her arm.

“Yeah but he was still aiming for the car. I think.”

“I’m just happy you’re both back in one piece,” Saint stated and Elena didn’t miss the smirk that played on his lips.

“Ah wait until Sabina’s back, Saint. I’m sure she’ll have picked up a few injuries to keep you busy,” Jane raised an eyebrow, knowing Saint would be thinking the same thing even if he hadn’t voiced it.

“Really?” Elena’s voice wobbled and Saint laughed.

“Don’t worry Angel, I’m used to it. As is she,” Saint placed a hand on Elena’s shoulder. “She’ll be fine.”

“The worst injury I know about so far is a broken nail,” Jane smiled. “It took her about twenty messages to tell me. Why can’t she use full stops like a normal person instead of sending it all separately?”

Jane had just got back to the Kyiv outpost after a long but exhilarating day with the Ukrainian team and taken her phone from her locker when it buzzed in her hand, the number flashing across her screen. Not her name. They never used names in a burner phone. Jane smiled as the phone buzzed twice more in quick succession and she opened the messages.

J
Urgent
How do you dissolve super glue

Nothing surprised Jane any more when it came to Sabina, not least her lack of punctuation when messaging.

Is this work related? Try acetone.

Where do I find that
J
This isn’t funny

You can disarm a bomb, surely you know where you can get acetone. It’s in nail polish remover. Where do you need to remove it from?

Broke a nail
Tried to fix with glue
Bottle burst
Stuck my fingers together
It burns a little

Jane had spent the next half hour laughing at Sabina’s updated attempts to unstick the glue before she had received an ‘I’M FREE’ message followed by numerous gifs of various animals ‘celebrating’.

Bin the glue before you end up sticking yourself to something else.

Cant
It’s stuck to the table now
Oh well
I gtg to work
See you soon
Miss you

Jane had smiled at her phone for far longer than she should have before sending back a ‘miss you too’ and heading for the shower.

“You spoke to Sabina last week?” Elena had asked as Jane blinked herself back to the present.

“Yeah,” Jane nodded, flinching slightly as Saint tightened the bandage and shooting him a glare that was ignored. “We raided Saint’s supplies before we left and took a burner phone each.”

“You did?” Saint raised an eyebrow and Jane smirked.

“You didn’t hear that.”

Jane smiled at Elena who wasn’t quite able to return the enthusiasm, her eyes dropping to her hands as the sudden feeling of jealousy bubbled in her stomach. Elena knew Jane and Sabina had known each for a long time before she came on the scene, and yet she had never felt like the outsider. She had seemed to fit seamlessly into their little makeshift team even before the Agency had made it official.

And yet they had been messaging each other, despite protocol saying they shouldn’t, and they hadn’t messaged her. Not once. They both knew she was working internally, they even knew where she was.

Saint finished bandaging Jane’s arm and passed them both a cup of warm herbal tea before disappearing to the medical room to return his supplies.

“Sabina’s left us ice cream,” Elena stated after a few seconds of silence.

“That’s not like her,” Jane smirked. “Did she leave a note?”

“Yeah,” Elena nodded and the flutter in her stomach traveled to her chest, sending a smile to her lips.

Sabina had said she’d call her when she could. That she missed her.

Elena sighed slightly at the jealousy she had felt listening to Jane talk about her conversation with Sabina and suddenly understood why Sabina hadn’t been in contact sooner. She knew Elena became consumed by her research, they had joked about it during past missions when Elena had become fixated on finding the answer to a problem they had encountered. She would shut out everyone and everything to ensure she could find the right solution and the hacking device in Vienna had been no different.

Sabina hadn’t contacted her because she didn’t want to distract her, and Elena couldn’t help but feel something else stir in her mind at the very thought.

She would have made time for Sabina.

“Ice cream and a movie?” Elena asked in an attempt to divert her thoughts and Jane agreed instantly.

Elena found the ice cream as Jane cleaned up and they sat down in front of an old black and white film covered in thick blankets, pushed so close to each other that Elena was sure she could feel Jane’s heartbeat.

“What flavour?” Jane asked as Elena handed over a bowl.

“Neapolitan.”

“Figures.”

Both of them knew how indecisive Sabina could be, especially when it came to food. Why choose when you could have all three?

Elena pulled open the tub and noticed instantly that Sabina had finished the entire strawberry section leaving the other two intact and felt the smile grow on her lips. They had stopped for ice cream on more than one occasion when travelling and they always seemed to get the same flavour; Sabina chose strawberry, Elena vanilla and Jane chocolate.

‘It’s just like us,’ Elena thought to herself as she stared at the tub on her lap, feeling the condensation dampen her knee. ‘We fit together perfectly.’

But she couldn’t bring herself to speak the words as her thumb ran down the edge of the plastic, a lump forming in her throat at the missing strawberry and noticing the cold spot on the other side of the sofa where Sabina would usually tuck herself into.

Jane and Elena had spent the next three days completing their paperwork and discussing their missions with Saint. Elena had been given a prototype of their hacking device which had intrigued Saint more than she’d ever seen before, asking Elena a hundred and one questions as she detailed every new finding and explained exactly how it worked.

“This is amazing,” Saint had stated as he stared at the device in his hand. “Jane, have you seen this?”

“Ah ha,” Jane nodded as she took apart her gun just for something to do. “I have no idea what it is, but I’m sure it’s brilliant.”

Jane twisted the barrel of the gun in her hand and placed it on the table, each piece lined next to each other ready for cleaning. The first time she had taken apart one of her guns she was sure Saint was going to have a heart attack, lecturing her about the additional technology that was built into their weapons to ensure that only an Angel could pull the trigger. But after Jane had reassembled the weapon in record time and fired a shot into the ceiling tiles without flinching he had realised that Jane knew what she was doing.

She had been taking apart guns just for fun for longer than she could remember. And right now, although she didn’t want to admit it to anyone, she was so bored without Sabina around to annoy her that this was the third time her weapon had been in pieces that morning alone.

Bosley had returned to the outpost two days after Jane having spent some time in New York.

“I’ve had to sit in a room of Bosleys for over a week,” she had stated as she fell into the sofa in front of Jane and Elena. “I need a large glass of wine and a hot bath.”

They had discussed Jane’s mission and Elena’s hacking research. Had joked at how much Sabina would be annoying the Bosley she was working with and had gone through their paperwork in detail. She had promised them a new mission once they were together again and in the meantime had challenged them with collating as much information as they could get on a number of names given to her when in New York.

It kept them busy but it was tedious work and Jane for one couldn’t wait until Sabina was back so they could leave for a proper mission.

On the fourth day of Jane and Elena being back at the outpost they had decided to kill some of their boredom by heading to the gym, Jane instantly throwing Elena a pair of gloves and instructing she get in the ring. Jane’s grazed arm pulled slightly while sparring but she blinked away the discomfort at the familiarity of the cushioned floor beneath her feet and the focused look in Elena’s eyes.

“Left, left, right,” Jane instructed and Elena quickly followed. “Good, keep going. And keep your guard up, don’t drop it for a second. Now double jabs and quicken the pace.”

Jane smiled at the confidence behind Elena’s punches and after five minutes held up her hands as a sign for her to stop.

“Good,” Jane grinned. “Now gloves off and lets have some proper fun.”

This was always her favourite part of sparring with Sabina but Elena was getting better. She was less of a challenge but Elena was beginning to find her own fighting style and could keep Jane on her toes.

Unsurprisingly, Elena was a quick learner.

The first three rounds had gone to Jane who had pinned Elena to the mats with relative ease, predicting each move before Elena had even thought of it herself.

“Concentrate, Elena. Remember what we’ve trained, fight smart. Use your strengths,” Jane tilted her head and Elena nodded, pushing herself back to her feet. “Again.”

Jane barely had time to blink before Elena dropped to her knees and under Jane’s legs, grabbing her by the waist and pulling her to the ground. Within seconds Elena had her knee pressed against Jane’s chest and her hands pinned to the floor, her hair tickling Jane’s nose as she leant over the top of her.

“Like that?” Elena asked and Jane laughed loudly.

“Yeah, that’ll do,” she nodded, slipping her hand free and pulling Elena on to the mat behind her where they lay side by side, panting and smiling and sweaty, limbs still tangled together.

Jane sighed and felt Elena’s fingers brush her own, a tingling spreading across her skin. They had grown close over the past few months. Closer than Jane had ever intended or wanted to admit to herself. But the more she dared to linger on the realisation the more confused and guilty she felt as she remembered the nights spent with Sabina in her apartment, Elena often asleep on the sofa...

“Well that looked fun,” Bosley’s voice carried across the gym as she made her way over, heels clicking on the hard floor, but even from the ring Jane could see the tension in the way she moved.

“You’ve recruited a ninja,” Jane shouted back as she rolled onto her side and propped herself on her elbow.

“That makes two then,” Bosley tilted her head and leant her shoulder against the ropes. “You’ve taught her well.”

“It doesn’t take much with this one,” Jane smiled and Elena felt that familiar flutter in her chest at Jane’s praise. “What’s up, you don’t usually give us an audience?”

Bosley shifted her weight slightly, stepping away from the ring.

“Have you heard from Sabina recently?” Jane could tell that Bosley was trying to sound casual but her mere presence in the gym spoke otherwise.

“How recent?”

“Since you went to Kyiv.”

“The correct answer is no, right?” Jane frowned.

“This isn’t a test, Jane.”

“Fine. Yes. We were messaging last week,” Jane sighed, wondering whether Saint had said something after all. Maybe she was going to get a warning. Jane didn’t really care, she’d take a warning over missing out on Sabina’s antics any day.

“When exactly did you speak to her?”

“I don’t know,” Jane frowned. “About eight days ago. Nine maybe. I don’t think she’d been there long before she messaged, but she didn’t tell me where she was, not even a time zone. Promise. I can show you.”

“No, it’s fine,” Bosley shook her head. “And you’ve heard nothing from her since?”

“No. Boz, what’s going on?” Jane couldn’t stop the tremble entering her voice as she watched Bosley clench her fists slightly. She had thought Sabina’s silence after the glue incident was normal. That she had nothing else interesting to say and would be home soon to tell them all about the mission.

“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”

“Boz!”

There was a pause as Bosley let the words form in her mouth, unable to look at either of them as she spoke.

“Sabina’s missing.”

Jane was sure that just for a second, the world stopped spinning. Every second lasted an hour, every beat of her heart echoing in her mind. This had to be a joke. A test. Sabina was on a normal mission, just as she had been a hundred timed before. She was due back next week.

“She’s what?” Elena asked quickly, pulling Jane back to the ring as she felt her limbs grow numb.

“What do you mean, missing? For how long?” Jane forced out. “How is that possible?”

Bosley took a breath before carrying on.

“The Bosley lost all contact a week ago and we can’t find her through comms or the trackers.”

“A week!” Jane heard the word escape in a shout and quickly swallowed the anger that bubbled in her throat. “Why didn’t we know about this sooner?”

“I only found out myself yesterday, Jane,” Bosley held up her hands. “I’ve spent every minute since then on the phone to Charlie and the Bosley on the mission and anyone else who’ll listen!”

“Why only yesterday? You’re a Bosley!” Jane knew she should lower her voice but she couldn’t help it. “She’s your Angel, you should have known sooner!”

“I know, but this wasn’t my mission,” Bosley tried to explain. “They work differently, they didn’t think I needed to know. But no one does this to one of my girls and gets away with it, you know that.”

“They wanted to find her before admitting they’d fucked up?” Jane muttered.

“Jane.”

“What? You know it’s true. Where is she?” Even as she asked Jane had a feeling that she didn’t want to know the answer.

Bosley paused again, swallowing hard.

“I shouldn’t have told you as much as I have. You know protocol.”

“Fuck protocol, Boz. This is different and you know it.”

She did, of course. Bosley had been struggling with Agency restrictions and an ache in her heart that told her Jane and Elena had to know since she had been given the news. Regardless of what they could do to change the situation she couldn’t tell them this much and then nothing more.

“Russia,” Bosley stated and braced herself for the response.

“Russia!”

“Jane-”

“The biggest country on the planet!”

“Jane!”

“Boz, how are we supposed to find her with no comms or trackers, in Russia?!” Jane had pushed herself to her feet, hands trembling at her sides as Elena followed and took a hold of her arm.

“And you don’t think this is Sabina being- well- Sabina?” Elena asked hopefully. “She hasn’t gone missing before?”

“No,” Bosley shook her head before frowning. “Well, yes. But that was just for a few hours. Maybe twelve. It’s always been for less than a day.”

“Booze or girls?” Jane raised an eyebrow.

“Usually both,” Bosley shrugged before shaking her head. “This is different. She wouldn’t mess around with this, she knows how important it is. There’s no way she’d disappear for a week with no contact.”

“When you said you didn’t know how dangerous this was, Boz-” Jane questioned and could tell by the look in her eyes that she had had a fair idea.

“Sabina knew what she was leaving for.”

“What case is this?” Jane half expected the ‘protocol’ excuse from Bosley again and could see her purse her lips slightly, as if trying to stop herself from answering. But she must have realised that neither Jane nor Elena were going to back down from the questioning until they knew as much as she did.

“We think Osiris is back in Russia,” Bosley spoke evenly, still avoiding Jane’s gaze.

“Shit.”

“Who?” Elena looked between them but Jane had started to pace, her hand in her hair.

“Why was she sent alone? Why didn’t we go as a team?”

“We just needed intel. We don’t know what he’s up to yet,” Bosley shook her head slightly.

“And you couldn’t send a Russian Angel for that?”

“You know he has a thing for Americans,” Bosley bit her lip slightly as if only just realising how her words sounded. “And you know her skill set, we needed the best.”

“Who’s Osiris?” Elena asked again and Jane finally paused.

“He’s been around for years, hopping between countries and causing chaos wherever he goes. He’s dangerous, Elena. I mean, he’s sick. He’s been linked to so many attacks and incidents and yet no one has ever managed to get close enough to arrest him. Or stop him. And we have hardly any information on who he is. Not even a real name,” Jane paused and looked to Elena. “The last time he was in Russia a lot of people died. The government covered it up as an accidental explosion at a power plant that then caused rioting at a nearby town, but it was him. He was behind it all.”

“And you think he has something to do with Sabina being off radar?” Elena questioned quietly. “That he’s done something to-”

Elena swallowed, unable to finish her sentence. Not wanting to voice her fears.

“We were asked to send an American Angel who could get close to a few of his men. The ones that were known to have been linked to Osiris over the past few months and who had recently returned to Russia,” Bosley answered. “She was needed to get close, extract the information and feed it back to the Russian Bosley. Any information that could lead to finding Osiris or give us an idea of what he’s planning next. They didn’t tell us much more, only that Sabina would be protected at all times.”

“And how’s that working out so far when they have no idea where she is?!” Jane no longer tried to hide the anger in her voice.

“Look, Jane. We don’t know who else is involved or whether this does have anything to do with Osiris yet,” Bosley tried to reason but Jane raised an eyebrow. “It could just be a coincidence that these guys have returned, there’s been no sightings of Osiris for months.”

“Oh, so maybe this is just his lunatic team that have got involved, not the psychopath himself?”

“We’ll find her,” Bosley spoke confidently. “I wouldn’t put it past Sabina to make her way back to the outpost as if nothing has happened and wonder what all the fuss is about.”

Jane wanted to believe that. She really did. Elena took her hand and squeezed tightly.

“So when do we leave?” Elena asked and Bosley smiled slightly.

“The car will be waiting outside in an hour,” Bosley swallowed again and pushed her shoulders back, a new confidence in her eyes. “Let’s bring our girl home.”