He walked across the room to the table where the boys sat. Their chatter stopped when they realised the tall stranger was making his way over to them. Porter knew the instance As'ad recognised him. Fear entered the boy's eyes and he look hastily around for a way out.

"I lay my life for your sake." Porter spoke the words quietly in Arabic. "You know those words don't you As'ad?"

The boy nodded too scared to say anything else.

"We need to talk."

The other boys tensed wondering if there was going to be trouble. One of them spoke rapidly to him, asking if everything was alright, Porter guessed. As'ad spoke to them quietly and Porter noticed the tension ease.

The young Iraqi was as out of place this far north as Porter. He was also just as much on the run. He looked at the man's eyes, and the expression was the same as the night he'd disarmed the bomb he'd been forced to wear. Trust me was what he had seen then, and it was what he saw now. Certainly those eyes were not hostile. Knowing he had nowhere to run he stood and moved away from the other boys.

Porter moved back to the counter. Not to finish the coffee would insult the proprietor and he didn't want to do that.

"How much English do you understand?" Porter asked.

"Some," the boy replied.

"Are you in trouble? Is that why you are this far North?" Porter pointed at As'ad trying to indicate he meant the boy and not himself.


"Yes, over Katie Dartmouth's escape."

"Family blame me. They will kill me if I am caught. So, when you leave me, I run."

"I'm sorry about that. I wanted to take you with us. So did Ms Dartmouth"

"Why, so you can kill me? I didn't shoot your friends."

"I know that now. I know the truth."

The boy nodded.

"Are they friends of yours?" Porter glanced at the group As'ad had come in with.

"Not really I get casual work with them. I came here because family won't look in a Kurdish area. I avoid trouble."

"As'ad I need you to come with me back to England."

"To UK. So I can be tortured?"

"No, so both our names can be cleared over what happened in Basra."

As'ad stared at the man.

"You have been looking for me?" he asked

"No, I thought you were dead. This is a serendipitous moment."


"Fate," Porter explained. "I'm leaving Iraq tonight. You should come with me. I can protect you."

As'ad weighed his options. His choices were limited. Something about the British man's demeanour made him think that refusing to go was not an option.

"How will you get me out of Iraq?"

"Leave that to me."


June 7th 2010 05.00hrs Cyprus

Porter finally allowed himself a sigh of relief. After several weeks of evading the Americans, he was at last on British territorial soil. Thanks to the foresight of the military or politicians, (Porter didn't know which,) in the 1960's when Cyprus was awarded independence, this small piece of land remained under British rule. He had just crossed from Cypriot soil to the Western Sovereign Base Area, a small parcel of the UK in the Middle East. As a soldier he understood the strategic importance of this base given the unrest in the area as a whole. As a man he was just bloody grateful it was there. It would have been easier for him to have made to the NATO bases in the area, but given recent events he wasn't about to trust anybody but the British.

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