In a Heartbeat
"Don't like this," Bonnie muttered. "Don't like this at all. Can't see everything from this angle. Cut the oxygen. We need to reposition that camera."
"Just swivel it from this side," Clyde told the technician.
"No, cut the oxygen," Bonnie ordered.
JJ kept his eyes closed when he started to feel sleepy and held his breath. Holding his breath was second nature to him. Seals were trained to hold their breaths longer than most people and JJ's lung capacity didn't fail him. Ollie was dozing off but he knew she'd quickly revive when the sliding door was opened and fresh air flowed in. He had discovered the air valves in the corners of the ceiling. He and Ollie just had to stay at floor level for the time being.
A faint whisper of movement alerted him and he strained hard to slowly expel the breath he was holding. Face down, his head resting on his arms, JJ remained as still as possible. When he felt the brush of an arm against his elbow, he lashed out, opening his eyes and grabbed the startled man by the neck.
The burly man fell back down the steps into the tunnel, crashing hard onto the concrete floor. JJ grabbed Ollie by the arms and pulled her down the steps with him as he filled his lungs with fresh air. In seconds, she was alert, ready to do battle.
JJ checked the large man's neck - the pulse was strong. He unbuckled the belt around the huge waist, yanked it off and used it to tie the man's hands behind his back. Ollie had her arms up in a defensive position, ready for whatever came next.
"What the hell just happened?" Clyde yelled. "Where the hell did they...?"
"They have to be in the tunnel," Bonnie shouted. "Jesus! No one's ever left that room without our help. Now what?"
"They got away from...?" one of the technicians asked, incredulous that anyone could overpower the huge man.
"That or he's got them pinned," Clyde growled. "I'm going to check it out."
"No!" Bonnie yelled. "Don't go down there. The Admiral will know who you are and the rest of the experiment will die. We have to remain anonymous!"
"So what do we do? Just sit here until he and the woman come looking for us?"
"They're not looking for us. They're looking for their clothes and a way out of here. Stay calm. We might be able to salvage this."
"How?" Clyde was dubious.
"I don't know how, let me think."
"We could always take them again - some other time, some other place."
"No, it's now or never." Bonnie was adamant. "I want them, Goddammit!"
"Give it up, woman!" Clyde growled. "We're not going to get anything else out of them. Hot and cold - angry and calm, it's just going to continue. Let them go. We're got enough data."
"No," Bonnie whispered. "I wanted to see if he'd really cave - make love to her - or just..."
"Just take her? Is that what you wanted?" he asked softly.
"No! I just wanted to see it through! It's not complete. If it isn't complete, we can't use the data," she reminded him.
"So be it! Let them go!"
They left the large man unconscious but breathing normally and cautiously made their way through the tunnel. When they reached the door, JJ pushed Ollie behind his back and kicked it open.
No one. Nothing.
They found themselves in an oversized closet - their clothes hung neatly on hangers, their shoes on the floor. They dressed quickly and paused to check their possessions. Ollie's shoulder bag and JJ's wallet and keys were in place. The only items out of order were their cell phones. They had been turned off. Ollie put her hand on JJ's arm, squeezing it gently.
Feeling more confident now that he was dressed, JJ shrugged. "Don't know, but let's keep moving and find out."
The next door was an exit and surprisingly, it opened when JJ threw the handle of the deadbolt. Carefully, they slipped through the door and surveyed the neighborhood. They had been in an ordinary looking house in an ordinary looking neighborhood. JJ was sure they were still in Virginia.
"The woods?" Ollie gestured toward the thick canopy of trees behind the house. "Or the street?"
"I think we're safer in the woods," the former Seal announced, grabbing Ollie's hand and running swiftly. Twenty minutes later, by Ollie's best guess, they knew they weren't being followed and slowed their pace. Through a break in the trees, they could see the sun and it was directly overhead. They sat at the foot of a tree and rested briefly, waiting for the sun to angle one way or the other so they could better determine their direction.
JJ was certain they were headed east and stood, ready to move again. "Come on, Ollie. Let's get some more distance between us and that nut house."
He followed his instincts, positive the woods would soon thin and they'd find themselves in another neighborhood. Ollie wasn't so sure.
"How do you know we're not walking in circles?"
"The trees have changed," he said, his voice still hushed. "You'll see. Shouldn't be too much longer before we're out of here."
He was right. They soon found a well worn path and followed it to someone's backyard. Skirting around the house, they followed an unpaved road for several miles and stopped at the edge of a main thoroughfare.
"What do you think, Admiral?" Ollie was suddenly formal now that she knew they were back in civilization.
"I think I know where we are," JJ grinned. "You're not gonna' believe this but..."
The grin on his face was contagious and Ollie stepped lighter, feeling confident that the Admiral knew where he was going. Without ceremony, JJ grabbed Ollie's hand and hurried her along the road that ran parallel to the thoroughfare. In minutes, he turned off onto another side road and into a 24-hour gas station.
"You've been here before!" Ollie exclaimed.
JJ nodded. "This is one of the lesser known exits into McLean. I use it when traffic is backed up on the main exit ramp. It's a couple of miles out of my way but gets me home about four minutes faster. I'll call a cab."
Thirty minutes later, JJ unlocked the front door to his house and invited Ollie inside. "You want coffee, something to eat, a shower, a nap?" he rattled the questions off as he went into the kitchen, Ollie bringing up the rear.
"Yes," she replied. "All of the above."
He looked at her sharply. "You okay?"
"Yes," she said softly, looking at him, committing his features to memory, certain her career was over.
"Ollie?" he said softly, holding out his arms, inviting her into his embrace.
She rushed into those arms and hugged him fiercely. "I'm going to miss you terribly," she murmured.
"You leaving my command?" he asked softly.
"Yes," she whispered. "As soon as you court martial me."
"Why would I do that?" he asked, his voice husky and his arms hugging her to his chest.
"I assaulted you. Conduct unbecoming and that other stuff."
"Gonna spank you for that," he murmured, kissing the top of her head.
"Spank me?" she looked up to meet his eyes.
"Uh-huh," he said, covering her mouth with his own. "We're going to have a cup of coffee, a bite to eat, a shower, and a nap... together. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I'm going to spank you for your naughty behavior. Do you know what I'm going to do next, Olivia Meadows?"
"No," she stared at him. "What?"
"I'm going to make love to you. Is that all right with you?"
Ollie nodded, unable to speak.
She nodded again.
"After that, I'll let you have your way with me."
"Promise?" she grinned, her relief palpable.
"Promise," he grinned back, giving her butt a light swat. "The coffee stuff is over there," he pointed to a cabinet. "Make it strong. I'll make burgers."