Excerpt – Traitor

TRAITOR
Excerpt
© Clare London

Aiden paused now outside the interrogation cell, ready to key in the entrance code. For one shockingly slow moment, he just stood there. No one had passed him in the corridor; no one checked him in at the door. He wondered how long the basement would remain deserted after he went in. The ghouls would always be lurking, and possibly they had a right to watch. There was the security issue to consider as well. Yet even if the prisoner tried to escape, where did he have left to go? Aiden took a deep breath. The prisoner was officially just that—a prisoner. A statistic; a file number. He unlocked the door and stepped inside.

The other man didn’t raise his head. He’d heard Aiden approach, obviously. The only reaction Aiden saw was a sudden, sharp breath and a slight shake of the tousled head.

“Well, well,” Cam Fischer said. And there was that horribly familiar thread of ironic amusement in his tone. “I thought you’d moved on. Can’t keep away from me, eh? Must be my cologne. Eau de Sweat.” He coughed, painfully.

Aiden walked silently around to stand in front of the chair, his boots echoing on the stone floor.

Cam twitched, shifting awkwardly on the unforgiving seat. “Demotion, someone said. Booted upstairs. Better company, was it?” He coughed again, still hanging his head down as if he were trying to hide.

“I came back.” Aiden spoke quietly, but his voice still seemed harsh in the stark room.

Cam made a strange gasping noise. “You didn’t lock the door behind you. So, aren’t you afraid I’ll try to escape? I’ll attack you?”

Aiden shrugged, though he knew Cam couldn’t see the gesture. “Cam Fischer.” The name felt heavy on his tongue, yet awoke turbulent, poignant memories. “I’m not afraid of you, no.”

Cam shrugged too in unconscious mimicry, though his movements were sluggish and pained. “Yeah. Like I’m in the prime of health. Ready to take you on.” He sighed softly and lifted his head at last. “Ready to take you on.”

Aiden bit back a gasp. It wasn’t the bruises on Cam’s neck that shocked him, for they were minor souvenirs of his capture. He’d lost weight too, though he’d gained more sinewy muscle in exchange in those months away. No, what shocked Aiden was the look in Cam’s eyes—the deep, dark blue depths that made no attempt to mask his strong anger. Cam looked into him, stripping bare the channel between them. Who was the interrogator now?

“So.” Cam’s gaze, still wide and fierce, glanced over Aiden’s jacket, tracing the service badge on a lanyard around his neck. Puzzlement flickered momentarily in his eyes. “What happened to you? Far as I remember, you were captain, and aiming for higher still.”

Aiden frowned.

“Right.” Cam sighed. “Guess I forgot. You don’t owe me conversation.”

“I questioned my commanding officer’s decisions.” Aiden kept his voice calm and slow. It took an astonishing amount of effort. “I disagreed with her policy. Openly and loudly. I kept my job but was demoted.” He moistened his suddenly dry lips. “That’s when and why they offered me a move to Central.” To rethink your behavior, to realign your loyalties. Or so the HR report had said.

“Shit.” The curse was low and weary, but Cam looked confused. “Wouldn’t have expected that from you, Hanwell.”

“I don’t think you’re in any position to discuss expectation, Fischer.”

Cam’s eyes darkened. “The fuck you know.”

Aiden ground the words out, thick in his throat. “I know the details of the report on you. You defected to our enemies nearly six months ago, to a violently militant terrorist cell. Since then nothing’s been heard from you. Took you some time to meet the recruitment criteria, I suspect?” A flash in Cam’s eyes confirmed it. No one would take on a top field agent from the enemy without extensive investigation, though presumably Cam had eventually passed muster. “Then recently you were recaptured by this unit, attending a Central London right wing rally. My assumption is you were scavenging for updated information. They need the technology and the intelligence we have here. Who better to use to infiltrate us than an ex-agent?”

“Who better, eh?” Cam sounded weary.

“You’ll hear me say the word ‘assumption.’ But that will become certainty when you’ve answered my questions. You know you will, don’t you?” Aiden’s voice was dangerously soft. He only ever used such a tone when he was facing the last phase of an interrogation, when he knew his prisoner was about to break. When he was moving in for the virtual kill.