Chapter Ten ~Travis~

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The last place I want to be on my birthday is back at the Breeder Compound, but here I am. This is my first time returning since interrogating Danielle and witnessing the death of her best friend Amanda. To say it's been difficult to process would be an understatement. Being here is more difficult now, because the memories of that day are tied to this place.

I enter the briefing room and take a seat across from Sanders. He's looking down at the pencil he's slowly tapping on the table, so lost in his own thoughts he doesn't even notice I'm here. I know he's struggling to process what happened too, especially after seeing his reaction when we walked out of the compound last week. He and I haven't even attempted to discuss it.

"What up Sanders?" I ask, and he looks up at me.

"Hey, how's our birthday boy?" He smiles, and it takes a few seconds for the emotion to finally reach his eyes. I'm glad to see it does.

"I'm good," I reply, smiling back at him.

"So are you ready for tonight? We can't let this momentous occasion pass without celebration. The infamous Travis Brennan is the big 2-0. Happy birthday man!"

"Thanks, but I wouldn't quite say I'm infamous. Charming and intelligent? Maybe. Infamous? Nahh. Well... at least not yet."

"Well, maybe after tonight that'll change," Sanders quips.

Our attention is drawn to the front of the room by the unit secretary who's in charge of notifying all personnel of any changes to the unit's Standard Operating Procedures. It's usually pretty boring stuff, and as she rambles on it becomes clear this time will be no different. I look up at the clock and what feels like an hour, has only been twenty minutes.

As she continues on, my thoughts drift to Maddie. I can't recall a birthday of mine that didn't include her. I hope she's safe. I worry about her constantly. It's always been my job to watch over her; I feel like it's what I was born to do. It's not like I have a choice in the matter. Whether she was being picked on by a little punk in her sixth grade class or getting hit on a by a cocky jock in high school, trying to score much more than a date, I was there to make sure she was left alone.

It would be a lie to say all of my motives were unselfish and chivalrous. There were times when I'd meet her as she was getting out of school, and I'd see her walking out with a guy who looked as nervous as he did interested, but knowing guys, that can be an act as well. So once I'd reach them, I'd pull Maddie into a hug, and at the same time give the unsuspecting kid the almighty stare down. Oblivious to Maddie, she would make introductions, and he and I would shake hands. Maddie would say goodbye and as she turned to walk away, I would take the opportunity to give a silent "SShhh," followed with a slit to the throat just for added measure.

Was it a dick move? Probably. Especially when some of them looked like they might piss themselves. But she was too good for all of them. Hell, Maddie's probably too good for me. Whether she was seven and I was ten, or I was seventeen and she was fourteen, it seems a part of me always knew she was meant to be mine.

My attention is drawn back to the room as I hear chairs scrape across the floor and see Sanders stand. We head out the door and are walking down the hallway towards the exit when I see "Hot Doctor" standing at the end of the hallway. My birthday celebration at the bar on base provides the perfect opportunity to get to know the Doctor a bit better, so I decide to make my move. I don't have time to waste.

Hot Doctor actually has a name, but she was given the nickname by the guys in our unit and it's stuck. Her actual name is Dr. Kelly Reesen. She's in her early thirties and from what I've been told has a thing for younger men. She's a beautiful woman, stunning actually, and she knows it. She has long, red, wavy hair, green eyes, and porcelain skin, but her looks in my opinion are all she really has going for her. She walks around here in her tight skirts and stripper heels with a sense of superiority that doesn't sit well with me no matter who you are. I've heard the way she talks to staff. She can be very condescending at times which is a complete turn off.

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