Dismayed, Metal voiced a whiney protest. "Whoa, wait. You gonna leave me with him like that? Uh, all wet? Shouldn't he, I dunno, get dressed?"

Trent snorted. Dear God, Metal could snap a neck, gut a man, disrespect a dead body, but a near-naked teammate rattled his delicate sensibilities?! Pfft. "Toss a blanket over him."

Mrs. Bonsky tugged on the wet elastic of Clay's briefs, swatted at his hands when he batted at hers.

"I'm not leaving." Vic was arguing. "If Metal's gonna babysit Spenser, I'll sleep here on the floor."

"And you're gonna change the bandage on his leg too, aren't you?" Metal asked. "Don't say I am." Stranded in the jungle, marooned in the desert, confined in a plane, on a boat, he could; wrap a limb, bandage an injury, effectively slap on a chest seal, stop someone from bleeding out by applying a tourniquet. Dry clothes? Most certainly not!

"You're not staying." Trent said firmly. "Since you slept all night, you get to scout, see what the damage is. Wind stopped, rain let up, I wanna know if leaving is gonna be easy."

"You don't give orders," Vic began hotly, but Metal stood up, crossed his arms over his chest. "You ain't…."

"I do." Metal forgot about wet underwear and soggy bandages. "Now go do what Trent told you to."

Mrs. Bonsky blinked. Men! Goodness. Whining and childish one moment, authoritative and bossy the next. And they protected her country? Goo Lord, how was she ever supposed to get another good nights sleep?!

Vic glared. He hadn't slept 'all night'. He'd caught a nap, sure, but no, he hadn't slept for any great length of time. And he did not want to go schlepping around outside.

"No." He replied steadily. "We're not on a job and I don't have to follow orders," he paused, gained confidence. "Or do anything he – you – tells me to do."

Metal raised a hand to ward off Trent, a warning to let him handle it.

"You're right. You don't. But your stay here is being paid for by the Navy, so vacate your room, these premises and don't let me see your face again."

"What?" Vic sputtered. "You can't be serious!"

"I didn't stutter and you ain't deaf. Get gone."

"And go where?"

"Don't know, don't care."

Vic knew Metal lacked the authority to ban him from the premises, but the man could, and very likely would, make his life difficult once they returned to active duty if he didn't agree to 'get gone'.

"Why you gotta treat me like this?" He demanded.

"Because you little bugger, you're ill-mannered and rude," Mrs. Bonsky began, but-butted him quiet. "You lack compassion, possess no empathy, think you're better than….."


"Oh, I'm just getting started."

"I think you're done."

"I'm no nervous ninny. I'll lay it out for him, what's he gonna do to me?" She sniffed haughtily. "About time someone told him exactly what…."


Mrs. Bonsky looked ready to erupt, but held her tongue. For a few seconds.

"He struts around like a coc….."


"….rooster…." She glared at her daughter who insisted on being particularly troublesome today. "Better?"

"Because you don't do as your told," Trent started. "Which…."

"I would have started with, because you shot him, but whatever." Mrs. Bonsky butted in.

"…was accompany and watch," He continued, was interrupted yet again.

"Not shove him into a railing." Mrs. Bonsky beamed smugly. "Or vat of mud."

"….let him rest," He glared at the elderly lady who ignored him.

"Which is not the definition of - jump, shrieking out of the bushes."

"MOM!" Betty covered her face with her hands. Dear God, never again would she go on vacation with her mother. Well, not anytime soon anyway.

"…..watch him." Trent glared at his 'boss's' mother-in-law, who had the audacity to grin cheekily right back at him. "How hard is that?" He finished.

About to snap, Vic sneered. "I ain't no fucking babysitter and if he needs one so damn much, he shouldn't have the job he does."

"Your role on the team is whatever Jason says it is." Metal pointed out. "On a job, a mission, deployment, at home, or accompanying your Lt. Commander's wife and mother-in-law to a spa resort. You do as you're told."

"Yeah, see, no." Vic said firmly. "Not at home. No." And he could, most likely would, argue that up the chain of command and he would win. "Just...no."

"This is Bravo, Jason doesn't understand the meaning of the word, 'no'," Metal waved Trent silent. "You wanna know why you aren't treated equally on this team? That right there. That's why. No one one this team says, no. It's called, loyalty."

"I'm beginning to understand why Summer transferred out."

"Just beginning to? Didn't think you were that stupid." Trent took pity on Metal's discomfort, flipped open a knife, sliced through the soggy, elastic bandage on Clay's thigh with one swipe. "You do what's best for the team. It's we, not me."

"I've had enough from you." Vic fingered his eye, that all of a sudden, wanted to throb. "Your position on the team is medic, that's it, nothing more. Dunno why Jason lets you get away with your attitude, but…."

Trent moved around the bed, knife pointed at Vic, level with his throat, as he passed by. "Because of shit like this."

Metal crossed his arms, raised an eyebrow. "Need help finding the door?"

Vic stepped back from Trent's knife-wielding hand, that was just a tad too close for comfort, even though Trent wasn't within striking distance. "Shit like what? Spenser?"

"Right, sure." Metal nodded. "Just Spenser and nothing to do with you."


"Not reporting shooting your gun to your CO?"

Vic flushed red. Yeah, discharging his weapon in public was a no-no. "That's not why Blackburn sent you." He muttered. "Not my fault you're here." He paused. "How'd you get here so fast anyway?"

"Blackburn didn't send him." Trent cackled. "Jason did."

"It is your fault!" Mrs. Bonsky chortled. "Because you shot him!"

Vic's jaw visibly clenched, and his hands tightened into fists…God, he so wanted to tell that nosy-busy-body to shut up.

Metal's look revealed he knew what Vic was thinking, said 'go ahead, say it, I dare you'.


"Because," Trent shot Mrs. Bonsky an evil glare, dared her to interrupt him one more time. She didn't. "…..you didn't bother to stay with him…."

She just couldn't help herself and, "After you shot him," popped right out of her mouth.

Metal swore he saw steam come out Trent's nostrils.

"…last night. If you had," another glare, she remained silent, but her mouth opened and closed once or twice – five times. "He'd have taken meds, his fever would've stayed down and we wouldn't've had to come here in a shitty canoe in the middle of the god-damn night, during a fucking hurricane."

"That's not my fault." Vic insisted. "I had it handled, you didn't need to come here." Jason had sent Metal? And Metal had obeyed? Yikes. "And what makes you so damn sure, he'd have taken anything from me?"

"Because he's ordered to." Packets and packages from his med pack in his hands, Trent turned away to tend to Clay's leg.

"By Jason, right?" Vic sneered. Christ he was so tired of having rules and orders only Bravo obeyed thrown in his face. You know, such as; having to shower after coming in from the field – and he didn't mean from baling hay. "Everyone just does whatever he says, no questions allowed."

"I'm counting to one," Metal's voice held an edge even Vic knew not to mess with.

Flustered, he didn't even bother to argue, just slammed out of the room.

"Glad to see the last of him." Mrs. Bonsky muttered. Clay yelped. "Now what are you doing to him?"

"He's just gonna sleep, right?" Metal eyed the bed as Trent finished squeezing a gel from a tube onto both bullet wounds, applied a large band-aid over both, wrapped the leg with an ace bandage. "Sawyer?" He prompted when the medic remained silent. He would leave his wife, navigate dangerous waters, risk his safety in bad weather, spare his teammate additional physical exertion, but 'nurse' Clay Spenser? Hell, he had limits.

Trent shrugged. "Might." He nodded at Mrs. Bonsky who hovered with a light blanket, allowed her to toss it over Clay and tuck him in. "Give him ibuprofen, his fever goes up, get him to drink."

"He don't need stitches?"

"Nah, bleeding's stopped, he's good." He had his own sat phone, left Clay in the capable hands of Metal and retreated to Betty's room for dry clothes, couple phone calls and a nap.

"You prick!" Metal called after him. "I'll find a way, make you pay!"

The door shut firmly.

"We'll be fine." Betty assured Metal who flipped the closed door the bird. "We've got him, get some sleep."

He didn't.


Clay didn't sleep.
He fussed.
His temperature went up slightly.
He didn't want to drink.
Or swallow pills.
The red rash abated, but he wanted to itch, scratch his arms.
Grew irritated when he was stopped.
Metal thanked God several times, for Betty and Mrs. Bonsky.
Because Betty had the patience of a Saint.
And Mrs. Bonsky was content to do battle with the recalcitrant pain-in-the-ass.

Then Tabitha delivered cherry-flavored soda shaved into slivers of ice, and finally, Clay dressed in dry boxer briefs and a t-shirt – courtesy of Mrs. Bonsky's dogged determination – was content to obediently lick pink ice from a spoon when offered, and Metal was finally able to collapse onto his sleeping bag and with a warning not to startle Clay, be asleep in under a minute.

Mrs. Bonsky relaxed in the recliner, Betty went to check on both Trent and Vic.

Good Lord, if this little imp was one of her son-in-law's men, no wonder the man was: never home, always cranky, always preoccupied, attached to his phone, drank too much.

She must have dozed off, because the next thing she knew, Metal's gentle snoring ended with a snort, Betty sat at the desk, the door opened and with a slight tilt of his head, one eye opening the merest slit, Metal promptly went back to sleep.

"Hey," Trent entered, munching on an apple, banana in his other hand. "He settle down, go to sleep?"

"Somehow, I believe you knew he would." Mrs. Bonsky sniffed.

Trent grinned, stuck the apple between his teeth, put the back of his palm against Clay's cheek, nodded with satisfaction, then...backhanded him.

"Wake up, sunshine!"

Mrs. Bonsky jumped with a startled squeak. "You didn't just do that!"

"Oh, but I did." He teased and coaxed, cajoled and wheedled – bullied – until he got what he wanted – Clay awake.

"Nuff." Clay groaned, rolled away, hugged tight to the blanket. Trent stopped shaking, tickling, pinching, slapping, rolled the thermometer across his forehead. "S'op."

"Sssh, shush." Trent scolded. "Just a little of what you're gonna get for making me come get you."

"Here now, the boy is ill. You don't get to bully him."

"Still 101.7?" Betty asked, shushed her mother. "It rose slightly, but Scott said it wasn't enough to bother you."

"Yeah." He looked at his watch. Eh, time for a couple more Tylenol. "No, you don't." He reprimanded when Clay buried his head under the blanket. "Take these." He tugged the blanket. "Hey! Don't play with me."

Clay came up on an elbow, scratched his neck, accepted them, drank the water, glared, itched his arm, his shoulder.

"You itch?" Trent questioned. He nodded, laid back down. "A lot?"

"N'uff." His hand dug under his pillow, he frowned, searched with both hands. "Where's't?

"Now? You itch now? Not in the tub, not while you slept….now?" He withdrew a syringe from a pocket on his backpack, several bottles from another, chose one, returned the rest. He filled the syringe, set the bottle on the night stand. "Your gun is gone Spense, ain't gonna find it.

"Huh? 'h'why?"

Cap from the syringe between his teeth with the apple, Trent snorted. "You waved it in my face." He filled the syringe, the bottle disappeared. "Not getting it back either."

"How do you manage to speak so clearly with all that in your mouth?" Mrs. Bonsky made a disapproving face. "It's really unsanitary."

Trent made an obnoxious show of biting off another chuck of apple and chewing. "Say ow."

"What is that?" Mrs. Bonsky demanded as Trent swabbed an alcohol pad over a patch of skin, pinched Clay's arm to puff his deltoid muscle.


"Why didn't you give it to him before?"

"He wasn't exhibiting usual signs of an allergy."

That made little sense to her. "Doesn't it need to be refrigerated?" She didn't receive an answer.

"OW!" Clay griped when he was jabbed. He really didn't like shots, but he got them all the time. No one ever listened to what he wanted.

"They sell it over the counter in pill form, you know." She informed him. "You ever just walk into the corner drugstore, look for it on the shelf?"

Trent dug deep for patience. He didn't think he'd be getting rid of this old lady for a cat. "I do know. And I have."

"How do you know how much to give him? Did you read the instructions?" She knew he hadn't, she'd seen the bottle, watched him fill the syringe.

Trent snorted, choked. "Lady, I wrote the instructions."

She sniffed, miffed he'd one-upped her. "Well, then." She looked away. "Fine."

"His fever a result of the gunshot?" Betty asked. Trent looked much better, appeared more patient. Amazing what hot water, good food and a short nap could accomplish.

"Doubt it." He chucked the apple core into a trashcan, looked around for the banana he had at some point, put down somewhere. "Hit to his kidney sapped him a bit. Whether he feels it or not, it's painful. His headache was…."

"Undoubtedly from dealing with that little bugger." Mrs. Bonsky muttered under her breath.

"Most likely dehydration," Trent continued, glared at the older woman. Man, why him?! "Thinking he threw an allergic reaction to the mud."

"HA! I told you! Didn't I tell you?" Mrs. Bonsky crowed. "No one listens to me!" She paused, "Wait, what?"

"Allergic. Reaction. To. Mud." The banana peel joined the apple core in the trashcan. "How is that not clear to you?"

"You came to that conclusion on your own?" Mrs. Bonsky said dubiously. "Based on, what again? Did you find mud in his ears?"

"He's allergic to tree moss. He fell into mud. Do the math."

"Really? Moss in trees?" She sounded very doubtful. "You know that how?" Her eyes narrowed. "What makes you think there's 'moss from trees'," she rolled her eyes, "in the spa's therapeutic mud?"

"Cause...appened' fore..." Clay yawned, "I...snipe. Go high."

"And that means what?"

"He spends a lot of time in trees."

"Lotsa moss in...trees." Clay rubbed his eyes, licked dry lips, made a face. Blah.

"So, you're telling me...what you're saying is...his fever, his unresponsiveness, was due to an allergic reaction to tree moss most likely in the mud Vic pushed him into?" She shook her head. "And not being shot?"


"And a simple shot of Benadryl would have made him all better? Eric couldn't just say that on the phone?" She threw her hands up. "The doctor could have given him the shot. No need to send you here in the dead of night, during a hurricane, in a canoe! MEN!"

"We wouldn't have known that Mom. Or known what was safe for the doctor to give him."

"I mean, really Liz, he just knows? With no blood test?" She chided. "He just guesses and gives medicine on what he thinks? Harrumph!"

"Dog tags." Trent reminded Betty who slapped her forehead. Right. Eric had stressed, that though she might not understand the medical references on the military issued tags, a doctor would. "If he'd gotten worse, you would've contacted the resident doctor, the resort manager, a 911 call would've gone out, Blackburn would've been all over it."

"A lot of unnecessary fuss." Mrs. Bonsky tut-tutted disapprovingly. "And how would Eric know about a 911 call made from here?"

"Cause, ma'am, we are, uh...um...yeah, property of the United States Navy." Metal had set up, was rubbing sleep from his eyes, patting his every-which-way hair down. "The military has invested millions of dollars in….well…uh….he'd know."

"Mmmm." She wasn't satisfied. "In the middle of a crisis, a natural disaster, he'd just snap his fingers, wave a hand and wah-lah, instant retrieval. That it?"

"Yeah, in Airwolf." Trent teased, she scowled.

"It's Spenser, they'd want him back."

"And, he's so special, why?" She countered.

"Cause his….uh….he's talented, got a talent….yeah." Metal pushed to his feet, stepped out of his nest of blankets. "You here for a bit? Gonna go find something to eat."

Trent waved him on his way.

"Toast?" Clay yawned, stretched. "Maybe some…pudding?"

"Really?" Metal rolled his eyes, hand on the doorknob. "Now you want to eat? You're hungry?"

Clay looked up through bangs with puffy eyes still fuzzy with sleep and medications. "Uh, kinda?" He said uncertainly. He was used to being given pudding or jello whenever he asked for it, not questioned. "When'd…you guys get'ere?"

"When?" Metal repeated. "When, not why? You don't wanna know why?"

Palm to forehead, Clay tried to pull his thoughts together, but they stubbornly resisted being collected, remained scattered and distant. He hurt, his body ached, he wasn't comfortable, his leg was actively trying to disconnect from his hip and he was cold.

Trent watched his youngest teammate struggle to pull it together. He'd done this so many times, he knew the signs: tightly closed eyes, hand to head, tongue between his teeth, rapid breathing.

"What the fuck'd you do Spenser?" He asked, walked over to adjust the temperature on the a/c unit.

"Capitulated." Clay winced, shivering. "Didn't…uh…want another mug chucked at my head."

"Jason doesn't miss 'less he wants to."

"Or forgets." Metal added dryly. "Why I'm here." Because though it had been months ago when he'd lost Clay in his own house, Jason had yet to forgive him for it.

"Me too." Clay shuddered, goosebumps popped up on his arms and Trent snagged a blanket from Metal's makeshift bed. "Some….week…of…rest." He rubbed his eyes with closed fists, itched. "Feel like….shit."

"Because you aren't drinking enough." Trent tossed the second blanket over him. "Been dizzy?"

Rapidly, he darted his eyes left, right, up, down, left. "Uh….no…don't think so." He lifted his head, gave it a shake. "No." He paused, snuggled under the blankets. "Why?"

"Kidney?" Trent reminded him. "I can take your blood pressure."

"What? Why?" He was silent. "Oh." More silence. "Nah, I'm good….pudding though?" He looked at Metal. "Choco…" He swallowed, itched, grimaced. "…..late."

Mrs. Bonsky eyed Metal, decided he wasn't capable of locating chocolate pudding on his own, heaved a put-out/put-upon sigh. "I'd better go help you, make sure you get it right."

"To find chocolate pudding? Not hard to identify." Metal held the door open, followed her through it. "You can make the toast though."

The door closed behind them.

"I should've guessed." Betty said despondently, "That I missed something."

"You mean, membe mud in his ear that just happened to contain a trace of something he was allergic to?" Trent mocked, saw her face, relented. "Look, it's Clay, I've had years to figure him out. Access to top-rate medical care. Doc."

"You never have doubts?" She glanced at Clay, who had disappeared under the blankets. "Feel over-whelmed?"

He shrugged. "Sometimes." He admitted. "He scared the shit outta me, but Blackburn brought Doc to the team, and it got easier." He paused, "I never let the team know."

"They knew."

He nodded. "Yeah, and they all help, but it's never really talked about. Can't be a field medic, you let everything get to you. Can't be a sniper, if killing people makes you lose sleep. Can't be a team leader if decisions keep you up at night."

"But you've never met anyone like Clay, huh?"


"Still, with everything Eric has told me, I thought I understood." She got up to fold clean towels, keep her hands busy. "Always thought what he could tell me, he embellished to make the story amusing, you know?"

Trent studied her. He knew damn well Bravo's Lt. Commander shared more with this wife than he should, but also knew, it wasn't nearly everything.

"He probably does."

"Now I feel awful, you and Scott came all the way out here, in a canoe for God's Sake, for nothing."

"Wasn't for nothing." He assured her. "Dunno what wudda happened, and he needed meds, so..." He wasn't used to giving comfort. "Life with Clay….we should write a book."

"If Eric hadn't sent you and he got worse, after I boo-hoo'd him about Clay," She hesitated. "I'm not sure about Vic, and….what if….what if the allergy had been severe or the gunshot had been…..life-threatening?"

"Lopez is an ass, but he isn't stupid. He wudda take care of the situation."

"He didn't do such a good job, now did he?"

"Clay's fucking resilient, he can and will fight through anything – if – when he has to. It's just….we kinda don't make him...have to, you know? We like having him to…" He searched for a word, settled on, worry. "…worry about and he lets us, so….it, uh, works." He shrugged. "Things would be different, he ran with another team, will be, when he leads this one. 'Til then, if me and Metal have to paddle a canoe or Jason has to go up a mountain to get him and Brock has to put him up for a couple of weeks…we're okay with that."

"He's lucky, you are."

"We took a vote." Trent grinned. "When we first got him, we didn't know what to do with him. We'd never had a rookie, never had someone so young. We let him get away with shit, didn't set him straight, let him...aah...well...cling, I guess, so blame us."

"Has he been like this since he joined up?"

"We talked to a guy from one of his earlier teams…he's always had a propensity to go missing, but the rest is on us."

"Eric says…." She paused. "Well, right."

"He scares the hell outta us. Stupid risks, reckless choices, irresponsible decisions, yet, we all come home."

"Yeah, but…."

"Maybe if Lopez had stayed with Clay, the kid wudda taken simple meds, kept his fever down and we wouldn't be here." He cast a glance - one she would almost call affectionate - towards the bed. "Lopez is in for a world of hurt. Once Blackburn's done with him, it's Jason's turn and then," He grinned evilly, "there's gonna come the day, he catches Sonny in a bad mood."

"We tried, he knows….."

"In his befuddled state, he didn't know you enough to trust you. To take anything from you." He gave her a genuine smile. "And you're female."

"There's Davis." She pointed out.

"She's rarely alone with him."

She smiled, headed to the door. "I'm gonna continue to dye Eric's beard for him, just….might not tease him so much anymore." She paused. "Though, I find I don't much care for the thought of him fighting naked women with pillows."

Trent laughed. "It was a sight to see."

She noted he didn't dispute her description of naked. "That….doesn't happen often, right?"

"Never in my career, 'til Spenser...have I….uh…no."


Eric Blackburn was not a happy man.

He was on his way to retrieve half a Navy Seal Team worth multiple millions of dollars from a luxurious health spa that catered to elderly rich ladies because his wife had convinced him she was 'capable of watching a grown man; aka, his headache, his reason for grey hair, his reason for an addiction to Pepto, his reason for drinking - Clay Spenser.

He should have known, anything to do with 'that kid' would cost him. It always did. Clay Spenser was not cheap to keep.

He hadn't expected a hurricane – who had? – one hadn't been forecasted, but he hadn't been surprised when one hit the mountains of North Carolina, because he should have known.

He hadn't expected anyone would shoot the kid, but he hadn't been at all surprised to receive the phone call that someone had, because he should have known.

An allergy?
A rash?
A fever?
Mud in his ears?

He should have known.

But he hadn't. Had allowed himself to believe, with no signs of infection….all would be well.

"Far as we can go by vehicle sir." The SUV in which he occupied the rear seat came to a halt, idled. "There's a boat waiting for you."

Great. A boat. Well, least it was no longer raining and the wind had subsided, but it was hot and muggy...ugh...he should have known.


Metal returned alone with chocolate pudding, toast, orange juice and a ham sandwich.

"Juice and sandwich are for you." He explained to Trent, set the glass and plate on the desk. "Can get in and out by motorized boat now."

"I ate."

"Fruit ain't a meal." He approached the bed. "Hey-hey twinkle-toes, you awake?"

"If'n I gotta be."

"I brought toast and pudding."

Why Metal was telling him that, Clay couldn't fathom. He wasn't hungry at all. He ached, felt tired, was comfortable and warm beneath the blankets and he wished to remain there.

"Sit up." Metal ordered. "The hell you do to him? He wasn't all spaced out when I left."

"Shot of Benadryl."

"For what?"

"Guessed he was allergic to something in the mud."

"The rash?"

"Then the itchin'"

"So, not the holes in his leg, that brought us here?"

Trent shook his head. "Blackburn will be here soon. What'd you do with Lopez?" He gave Clay a shake. "Need you to sit up, eat something."


"He's in the kitchen."

"Don't care. You've had a lot of meds, you're gonna eat."


Called in front of the man who had the authority to relocate him to some distant land, such as Svalbard, Vic wasn't as confident and cocky has he had been with Trent and Metal...'Cause Lt. Commander Eric Blackburn looked ready to order him to walk to the North Pole!

His boss was pacing as he verbally spewed everything he'd learned from his wife and Trent. "You shot him?" Eric was currently saying incredulously for the fourth, maybe fifth time, as he paced, pivoted, strode.

"I yelled at him to stop. I didn't know who it was, I told him to put his hands in the air."

"You fired your weapon!?" Eric whirled on one heel, stared, turned away. "The hell were you thinking?"

"I was thinking he was a bear!" Vic lost all patience, didn't care who he was yelling at. "He was wearing a black raincoat..."

Eric raised a hand. "Who are you raising your voice to?" He waited, Vic flushed, muttered an apology. "He didn't have a flashlight?"


"He couldn't hear you, you ass." Metal spoke up.

"It was raining, not thundering."

"His ears were full of mud."

"Not my fault." Vic objected.

"You didn't push him into a pit of mud?"

"Hey, he showered….his problem."

Eric clapped his hands. "You're damn lucky no one reported gun shots."

"Still gotta explain two gunshots in his leg." Trent said mildly. "I won't report it, but Doc?" he shrugged, "you know he will."

"He's fine, why drag Doc into this?" Vic asked petulantly. "Christ!"

"Be….ca...use…." Trent drawled. "Clay's under his care for a bruised kidney and when he sees Doc to get the all-clear to return to duty, Doc's gonna identify the fucking gun shot."

Right. Yeah. There was that.

The door flew opened...and...in strode the women.

"YOU!" Mrs. Bonsky exclaimed the moment her eyes found Eric.


"…..never again! Do you hear me?" Mrs. Bonsky waggled a finger. "…will I do you a favor!"

Scratching his beard, Eric blinked. She'd done him a favor? What? When? Explain, please.

"…..never again…will you assign me to accompany that dick anywhere!" Vic added. "I ain't no babysitter!"

Eric blinked. Oh, yes you are and yes, you will. It's punishment. You ever gonna figure that out?

"…..scantily clad women?" His wife was glaring at him. Oh-oh. "Think, I Dream of Jeannie, you said. Wisps of gauze? You didn't mention, see-through clothing! Never again, will you leave details like those out!"

Eric blinked. He'd been too busy trying to keep a hold of Spenser and duck flying pillows to be concerned with who wore what. Only one person in the room had been there to describe what little clothing the women had worn. He glared at Trent who beamed a shit-eating grin right back at him.

What's with all the yelling? Why's't gotta be in my room?….go 'way, lemme 'lone….

Clay rolled onto his back, blinked his eyes open. The light in the room wasn't bright, but he squinted anyway.

"Blackburn." He pushed up, managed to gain a half-upright slouch against the pillows. Man, he was tired. No, not tired. Weak. He felt wiped, just….blah.


Ooohh….that look, that tone, that stance – yeah, he was in trouble.

"We leaving?" Vic asked crossly.

"What the hell is it, with you and floods? Christ!" Eric dragged his palms down his cheeks, rubbed his chin. "Trent?"


"How many floods has he been in?" Mrs. Bonsky asked.

"Uh, three? Three."


"Janine meeting you?"

"She'll pick us up in the parking lot of the movie theatre."

"Us?" Vic repeated.

"Not you."

"How'm I getting home?" Vic demanded. "Driving your fancy SUV back?"

"I will escort the ladies." Eric told him. He intended to remain at the resort until the roads were passable by vehicle. If he tried to put his mother-in-law in a small, rubber boat, he'd have to get divorced, change his name, transfer to the island he was going to banish Lopez to. "You can either find your own way home or go with Metal."

"Wait….what?" Clay yawned. "Janine's here?"

"With all the kids. You get to ride home with us in the RV."

"All? Ain't that like, nine? Why?" Clay swallowed, licked his lips. "Wait, RV? No." He shuddered. A tour bus wouldn't be big enough.

"I came here in a canoe, you're going home in an RV." Trent informed him. "Get some sleep while you can. Kids can't wait to play with uncle Clay!"

Clay glared, Trent laughed, Eric pulled a flask from a pocket, Betty whisked it away from him while her mother handed him a glass of water.

"Never again," Eric muttered to his wife. "Am I gonna let you talk me into taking Clay Spenser anywhere."


Mrs. Bonsky set two glasses of lemonade on the table, sat down across from her son-in-law.

Activity was returning to normal at the resort, most people remained in the common areas where there was electricity and a/c, courtesy of the generator and Eric had commandeered a table and set up communications.

"You didn't come here to check on your wife." She stated.

"I did not."

"Are these men that important to you?"

"Edna." Eric said with a patience he did not feel. "You need to understand just what kind of man Clay is."

"Oh, I completely understand! He is…."

"Navy. Elite. Special Ops." Eric cut her off. "Highly trained."

"Yes, yes, I'm sure he can swim the seven seas and scale the highest mountain," She waved him off. "Leap the widest chasm."

"He's a trained sniper." Eric said bluntly. He often wondered if anything would ever shut his mother-in-law up. "You do know what a sniper is, don't you?"

"I do. Dead accuracy with a high-power weapon. He perches in trees that apparently grow moss." She waved a hand. "He's a SEAL, you're a SEAL, everyone's a SEAL, yes, yes, I know."

Eric rubbed his forehead. "Edna! He's a highly trained kil...uh, sniper! One of the best in…"

"Your Navy?" She scoffed. "Bah!"

"The world."

"Oh." She was momentarily set back. "Well then."

"If he didn't have someone to trust, he ever went rogue…..he could hire out as a hitman….never be caught by authorities, if he was, he has the skills, talent and training to escape. It would take someone like him to catch him." There, that should scare her.

She eagerly rubbed her palms together. "Jason Bourne, eh?"

Well, that method failed. He tried again.

"His mathematical ability, language skills, aptitude to blend in, he'd never be found."

"He'd have a handler, though, right?" She smirked at Eric's expression. "What, I read you know. Rather fond of spy novels."

"Not real Edna."

"Bah," She waved him off. "Entertaining though. Let an old lady have some fun with her imagination."

Eric sighed, he simply couldn't make her understand Clay wasn't the boy next door. He could snap at any time, would kill on demand without discretion - did.

She leaned over, took his hand, held it. "Then it's a good thing he has you." She winked.