19: BACK AGAIN

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"So . . . what'd you hit me with?" Rebel had just finished reading Under's letter, and he now wore a lazy smirk, his emerald eyes alight with amusement.

I answered with a completely straight face, and no hesitation. "Telekinesis."

He hissed, shaking his head to himself. "That explains the killer headache . . ."

I shrugged, a small smile playing on my own lips. "Mine wore off in twenty-four hours. You'll be fine."

Rebel nodded diplomatically at that, before letting silence resume, his attention falling to the road before us, along with everything that whizzed by as I drove. It was a comfortable, familiar silence; the kind that reminded me of the many reasons I was glad he was back.

He was the one that broke it. "Because I'm sure you've already figured it out," he began, his gaze shifting back from the streets to me, "who decided to make an enemy out of us?"

I scowled at that, glaring straight ahead as I drove as fast as traffic would allow.  "They call themselves the Kinetic--"

He scoffed, "Stupid."

"--I know," I nodded once. "And they're actually an expansion of our favorite team."

His brilliant eyes narrowed, dark brows scrunching together as underlying irritation began to shine through. "Aim and Gambler -- you're serious?"

I nodded stiffly. "We were expecting their opposition eventually . . ."

"Yeah, I remember," he muttered. "I was still kind of hoping it'd happen after their alienation."

I suppressed a sigh, instead raking my fingers through my hair before steeling both hands on the steering wheel. "They killed nine agents. Plus Boss."

Rebel's features darkened. "So Under . . ."

I nodded once in confirmation, and he let out a hiss of a sigh.

"Should've known," he muttered, rubbing a hand over his face. "How'd you find out who died?"

"Hacked the mainframe," I said. "It took a while, because I'm no techno-genius, but I got into the video footage. Nine confirmed dead, everyone else is MIA. Even Gray. Well . . ." A lopsided smile tugged at my lips as I shot Rebel a look. "Everyone except Bravo."

His brows arched, and his smirk returned. "Bravo, huh? Can't say I'm surprised."

"Nor should you be," I grinned. "In fact, they were the ones who caused the car crash that sent me out of the stasis. They're who we're meeting at the Boston airport."

Rebel's smile widened, a fair display of pearly white teeth that was borderline vicious. "Well I'm definitely not disappointed. Legion and Sergeant -- man, Risk, we haven't seen them in . . ."

"A year," I finished for him with a small smile. "Yeah, I remember. Thing is, they think they've got a location on Gray. They seem to believe he's in South Africa, though I have no idea what he'd be doing there. As far as Bravo could tell, he has no contacts in-country; no friendlies, no bank accounts . . ." I shrugged. "But hey, this is Gray we're talking about."

Rebel nodded in agreement. "And it's Bravo. They know what they're doing. After all, they wouldn't be good at infiltrating a place if they didn't do all of the necessary research before hand, right?" He kind of laughed.

"Right," I smiled in agreement.

"Once we find Gray," Rebel said then, slowly, "are we going to go after the Kinetic?" His tone was mocking as he said the name, and I didn't have to see his face to know he had rolled his eyes.

"I wasn't aware we needed to see Gray to do that," I retorted sarcastically.

"Touché," he allowed.

I nodded absently to myself, thrumming my fingers against the steering wheel for a moment. "It's an acceptable next move."

Rebel did a bad time suppressing his chuckle. "You can't figure out where the Kinetic's base is, can you?"

"No," I growled loudly, "I can't."

He full-on laughed at that, shaking his head. He reached for one of my hands then, tugging it off the steering wheel and purposefully working the muscles in my palm. "Don't worry about it," he said calmly. "There's nothing to worry about."

"I'm not worried," I muttered under my breath. "I'm annoyed."

Rebel chuckled lowly, continuing to massage my hand. "Don't be that, either. We'll handle it."

"We always do," I finished automatically.

He smiled calmly at that, releasing my fingers slowly. "Yeah. We do. Especially when it comes to those two imbeciles."

"Imbeciles no longer feels like a strong enough word," I sighed, relaxing slightly.

"I'm also a fan of ignoramuses, but last time I said that you called me-- what was it?" He pretended to be thoughtful. "A 'pompous jerk'?"

"Pompous bastard," I corrected. "And yes. Yes I did. And you deserved it."

"Right, right," he said with an exaggerated nod. "I deserve being called names for saying ignoramus, but when you use antidisestablishmentarianism as a distraction in a conversation, that credits no insults."

"You can't even spell antidisestablishmentarianism," I scoffed, grinning widely all the while.

"Well you can't hold your temper for very long when we're undercover, so there," he retorted, smiling just as widely. "How long until we get to the airport, anyway?"

"With my driving?" I smirked. "Soon, obviously. It's kind of sad we'll have to ditch the car . . . but worth it. We haven't had a good old fashioned case of revenge in a while, after all."

"Ah, yes," Rebel said. "Revenge. The third R; that which completes the trifecta."

"Your jokes are still awful," I pointed out.

"And yet so far, you haven't tried to eject me from the car." He smirked proudly, leaning against the car door comfortably. "I count that as a win."

"As you should, Rebel," I smiled fondly at him. Though the words would never leave my lips, nor the emotion cross my  features, I had never felt such relief as came when Rebel was actually, truly back.

Now it was time for us to take on the world.

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