Cordelia's bag was already packed. There wasn't much more to take after she had shut down her computers. Once it had been established that Benji's and Zhen's favourite birds were penguins and toucans respectively, Scott had come along without hesitation.
The girl swallowed as they all boarded the plane, telling herself to trust her feelings for once. Because this felt right.
There was something so easy about the Skye Holt. Maybe it was the way she talked, Cordelia had never heard a person speak with an English accent outside of TV shows. Maybe it was the bravery she had seen from her. The way she had faced Hernández without batting an eyelid. Cordelia had stayed close to her when the agent had called the security transport. Holt had let her stay to watch when the men closed the door and shook hands with the agent. As if she knew that Cordelia needed to see.
She had a good feeling about the others too.
Zhen Lei, wounding Orca even at the risk of endangering her friend, and then proceeding to bandage the clean shot through her shoulder with the same self-evidence.
And Benji Dunn, that same soothing accent she wasn't used to hearing and an endless flow of questions about how she went about remote access tools and building backdoors and polymorphic code. Whenever he stopped for air, Lei supplied the next question. Apparently they had spent weeks trying to track her down.
Cordelia wanted to answer them, too. She felt flattered by the way they seemed to respect her skills, disregarding her young age entirely when it came to discussions about hacking. It was just all a bit much. She had to think of Tyler a lot, and worried how Scott would take all of this.
"Everything okay?" Agent Holt asked her.
"I've never been on a plane," Cordelia admitted quietly.
"Enjoy it, then," Skye smiled at her.
"But how did you crack my virus?" Benji asked, who had missed the exchange.
"The latest version."
"It took me a while, but I disassembled it. I just took the binary executable and turned it into machine code and reformatted. Then I could read it and see what it does. It's pretty good, I saved it on a floppy disc." She still sounded meek and uncertain, but a touch of pride shone through now.
Benji was about to ask another question when he was interrupted.
"Skatter," Skye said gently. "Maybe this can wait until we're home."
Cordelia threw her a grateful glance.
Benji took the hint. "Right. Of course."
Zhen was on her computer, Cordelia had fallen asleep, and Scott was completely transfixed looking out of the window when Skye let herself fall onto the seat next to Benji. She had just spoken to their pilot. They were going to land soon.
"You can stop worrying now."
"I'm not worried, I'm relieved," Benji explained. "They're different things."
He'd wanted to respond, but Skye pulled him in for a brief kiss. She still managed to surprise him with that. It made him realise how much he had missed her. She ruffled the hair at the nape of his neck for a second before it was over. Skye glanced over at the others. She didn't like being such an obvious couple while on a mission, but this close to home, when everyone else was busy, she decided to make an exception as he kissed her again.
Resisting Benji was the actual impossible mission.
"Where do you think you're going?"
Skye tried hard to suppress the smile before turning back around to Benji. "Home," she said as casually as possible.
There had been so much to do. Finding a safe place to stay for Cordelia and Scott. A visit the infirmary including intense discussions with Dr. Lee. And a long conversation with the legal department to sort out the whole under-age-thing. Skye had stayed with them for most of it, in order to give them at least one familiar face through all of it. HQ had been a bit overwhelming for the siblings at first. By now Skye had lost track of the date.
Benji caught up to her. "Without me?"
"I was sure you'd want to stay with Cordelia to hear how she did it."
"I do," he admitted. "But Zhen took over for me and I don't want to overcrowd her. She's still a bit shaken, too many people at once, you know? We set the first official meeting for tomorrow afternoon, just our original team. The rest of the tech department will have to wait. And, truth be told, I could use a shower."
"A shower sounds wonderful."
Benji's stomach tingled with warmth when he sneaked an arm around Skye's waist and they continued their way through IMF HQ. "So. I found your hitman-"
"That, and you found my hacker in return. Seems like we make a good team."
"And on top of that, IMF has gained a new addition to their tech department."
"Don't be jealous. What else are they supposed do after losing you to field work?" Skye nudged him gently. "I for one can't wait to see everyone's faces when they realise they've been dodged by a sixteen-year-old girl the entire time."
Benji smiled. "You like her."
"Yeah. I think she'll be all right here."
They had reached the parking garage.
"Should we pick up some food?"
"I saved us a batch of cinnamon rolls."
Benji smiled widely. "Straight home, then."
Alma Hernández took in the scene in front of her with a smile. She hadn't allowed herself to smile for some time, but the moment had finally come. It felt good to be out of the prison jumpsuit, its course fabric had been an disgrace to her skin. She preferred expensive fabrics. Silk was one of her favourites, closely followed by the suede of her gloves. There would be new ones in the future.
She'd had to kill the first guard, of course. There had been no way to avoid that. But the second guy got away with a bullet in his thigh and shoulder each. The third one, who had been driving, might get away with a concussion and some bruised ribs if he was lucky. Depending on how long it would take to find them and the dead body in the back of the truck, of course. She couldn't just leave them by the roadside after all.
For now she would drive south. The uniform she had taken off of one of the men guarding her was only a small improvement to the jumpsuit, but driving their own security transport truck gave her a certain satisfaction. She would have to ditch it soon and find a new car to cross the border.
She was also in need of a new name. Orca... she liked the sound of it.
Author's Note: First of all, thank you so much for reading and the reviews. I hope you liked reading a mission that passes the Bechdel test for once – and I even managed to keep everyone hydrated. Secondly, I did research a lot about autism to get Zero/Scott right, but if I made any mistakes, I'm very sorry. I really don't mean to offend anyone. I've grown quite fond of the character too, to be honest, same goes for Cordelia.
I also enjoyed teaming up Zhen and Benji, which I somehow didn't expect.
Anyway, till next time.