Echo, Part 24

“I think those guys were with the system.”

Ana nodded in agreement and added, “If they were the feds, they would have taken us into custody.  And they probably wouldn’t have been so out in the open.  But why would the system want to spy on us?”

Henry scratched his chin where a small amount of stubble had begun to come in.  After leaving the restaurant, they had ended up walking the few blocks back to his office where he told his boss he needed to take the rest of the day.  From there they had taken a cab to the closest mall where they hoped they’d be able to slip away, figuring their home and his office and their normal routes in between were being watched.  They ended up at a nicer hotel on the far side of town and Henry probably could have gotten a razor to shave with but it hadn’t been a priority.  They’d been there a day and a half, trying to figure out what was going  on and what they should do next, along with seeing if they had been followed to their new location or if they had gotten away clean.

“I haven’t figured that part out,” Henry replied.  “Maybe the system just wanted to see how we were getting on and didn’t think they would get a straight answer if they reached out directly.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“I know,” Henry laughed.  “But none of this really makes much sense.”

Ana countered, “I think the system knows that something is coming and was trying to figure out how we would respond to being spied on, to know if we need to be worried about again.”

Henry had considered this possibility, too.  He hadn’t wanted to vocalize it but agreed with his wife that it was the most likely conclusion.  If the feds were close to tracking them down, the system would need to know how much of a liability they were.  If Henry and Ana were captured, would they hold to their new identities or would they admit to who they used to be and talk about everything the system had done for them.  The system hadn’t been in the news much lately and that was probably exactly how they liked it.

Carrying the conversation forward as if Ana could read his thoughts, Henry said, “It could be something good.  Perhaps the moment has come for the promised battle to reclaim our old lives.”

She smirked.  “Neither of us care anymore.”

“Maybe that’s what they were, are, trying to figure out.”

Ana, who had been pacing around the room, stretching her legs and back, came and sat next to Henry.  She leaned against him and he wrapped his arms around her.

“So what do we do?”

He shrugged.  “Go home.”

She looked up at him with her brows furrowed.  “Just like that?  Just that easy?”

“It probably won’t be easy.  If it is just the system spying us, whatever their reasons are, we will have to deal with whatever comes of that.  The least of which is the knowledge that they are out there watching us.”  He closed his eyes and shuddered before continuing.  “If it is the feds trying to figure out if we are who they are looking for, perhaps the best thing to do would be pretend we don’t see them and go on living our lives.  Let’s not give them any reason to think we are more than we appear, right?  Either of them.  I love this life with you and have no interest in going back to who I used to be.”

Ana relaxed into him, evidently pleased with what she’d heard.  “Okay, let’s do it.”

They stayed that way for a long time, enjoying the closeness, the touch.  Only when Ana needed to get up to stretch again, something she needed to do more and more frequently as the baby grew within her, did they finally break apart.  Even then, Henry lingered.  He was loathe to leave the room without her, though there had been no evidence that their flight to the hotel had been spotted.  The fear of leaving the room either to be captured himself or to come back to find that she had disappeared suddenly loomed large over his heart.  The odds were low and the fear illogical but he couldn’t help the way he felt.  His resolve to return home slipped ever so slightly.

There was nothing else to do, though.  So, trying to suppress the sigh he felt rising up, he said, “I’ll go check us out.”

Ana reached out to him.  “This is the right move.”

He nodded, “I know.”

“It’s all going to be okay.”  She squeezed his hand.

“I know.”

“Then smile.”  And with that, she smiled herself.

Henry was powerless to do anything but smile in return.

And, begin:

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