When the door had slammed, the lights were torn away, and the tomb was temporarily in pitch blackness. He had instinctively dropped the flashlight when he caught the scarab, and the light had gone out.
"Lindsay! Lindsay! Are you all right? Answer me! Lind-say!!" He dropped to his knees, feeling for the flashlight. He found it, but it had broken in the drop.
He held his breath, trying to hear her breathing. At last he heard a faint moan in the direction of the door, and he ran, half-crouching, in that direction. He almost fell over what, by feeling, turned out to be her leg. His frantic hands slid upward until he found her head. He felt for a wound, and found a warm stickiness that chilled him. "Lindsay, honey, please! Talk to me! Please! Please, baby, be all right!"
Finally she moaned and came around. "C-Con-Con-nor? Wh-what hap-pened!"
"You had the great-grandfather of all freak outs! Are you all right? Are you dizzy? You must have hit your head. I felt blood up there."
Slowly she became aware his arm was under her shoulders and that he was holding her tight to his chest.
"Yeah. I-guess I’m-all right. Ooh! My head hurts! And–I’ve scraped my knee! And–oh, blast!" She heard his heart speed up, triple-time, after a momentary lull.
"I’ve got on brand-new pantyhose, and they’re ruined!"
She was startled to her him burst out into laughter.
He tried to catch his breath. "We’re trapped–in the dark–in a tomb–and you talk about p-pantyhose?" and his laughter came again.
Her voice was indignant. "Well, they’re good ones!" Then, all of a sudden, they were both laughing and holding each other.
Finally he managed to collect himself to a degree. "Lindsay, do you have your flashlight? Mine’s broken."
"Sure. Just a minute." She felt around her waist and located it, switching it on as she lifted it off her belt. Both sighed in relief at the light. She saw he was as pale as paper.
"Let me have it and let me look at you."
He examined her briefly, checking her eyes for reaction to light, and determining the head wound was only a minor one. Just a lot of blood. "It may not even need stitches," he told her. He also looked at her scraped knee. "Remind me to tell headquarters that we should carry small first-aid kits." He held up his long, well-shaped hand. "How many fingers?"
"Three," she smiled. "Unless you want to count the other three over there." She indicated to her left.
"That’s not funny!" he laughed.
She answered with raised eyebrows and a mildly smug grin. Then she looked around a little. "Connor! You were going to call Peter."
"Oh." He pressed the button on his earpiece, but nothing happened. He looked up and shook his head. "Try yours."
Her results were the same.
"Must be some kind of element in the stone that blocks the radio," Connor speculated. "They probably only worked before because the door was open."
He picked up the flashlight and got to his feet, examining the wall. "Lindsay!" He drew in his breath and looked down at her. "Where’s the door?" The wall was one solid mass of indiscernible stones.
He saw the fear in her eyes. "Oh, Connor, what are we going to do?"
He sat down beside her again and put his right hand on her right shoulder. She was sitting up now, with her back against the wall.
"It should be okay. Peter and Natasha know where we are, and they know the situation by now. I’m sure they’re bringing help. It’s only a matter of time before they get us out of here. Don’t worry, darling."
She gasped, eyes widening. "Wh-what did you say?"
He smiled, a little chagrined. "You heard me."
"Did you mean it?"
He looked down, then up at her. "Ayahs, my love. In spades."
"Oh!" and she threw herself into his arms, peppering him with light kisses.
"Whoa, whoa," he laughed. "Slow down."
She stopped and looked at him questioningly. He took off their earpieces and laid them aside, then drew her onto his lap. The kiss he gave her threatened to melt her bones.
"Oh, my! I felt that in my toes! They could have used you in the Spanish Inquisition! One of those, and they would have confessed to anything!"
He laughed. "I take it you approve?"
For answer, she gave him one of her own.
"I think we would have made a very good team."
She leaned against his shoulder, arms around his neck, laughing and crying at the same time.
"How long have you felt this way?"
"After the fog incident; but actually, long before that, only I didn’t realize it."
"Boy, can you keep a secret!"
He laughed quietly and gave her a little squeeze. "Now that you know, we have to talk." His voice was serious.
She sighed. "Kiss me again, first."
She again rested her head on his shoulder afterwards, kissed him lightly on the neck, then looked up at him.
"Okay. What is it?"
"You asked me this morning what was wrong. Well, there’s two things–the first one is that I think–I think my life is in danger."
He felt her stiffen. "How? Why?"
"Lindsay, for quite a while now, I’ve been suspecting that something’s not quite right at headquarters. The way they would just halt some of our investigations. And that there’s a hidden agenda. Ever since Montana, I’ve been positive of it. Positive–but I’ve no proof to back it up."
"I see. Why are you so sure?"
He was silent, undecided.
"Connor, tell me! Please! Let me help you! I’ve loved you from the first day I saw you, dearest."
He hugged her to him and sighed, then answered her. "Because when I talked to the prisoner, he told me to ask Frank. He all but said that he’s right in the middle of ‘Black Ops’. That’s something I despise and it’s something I cannot–and will not–stomach. And in telling me that, he signed his own death warrant–Frank knew that information could have come from only one place, and government assassins have very short lives. Not to mention Frank’s trashing of the investigation. Then later, when I confronted Frank about his connection with the man, he didn’t deny it, and he knew that I knew."
"And he thinks you know too much?"
"That’s about it."
"But why have you been keeping–everything–to yourself?"
He sighed again. "You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to tell you that I love you, but I was trying to keep you safe, darling. If they knew I loved you, they could–and would–strike at me through you. And I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you. In the first minutes after the accident, when I didn’t know if you were alive or dead–"
She kissed him gently, for reassurance. "So–what will you do?"
"That’s the other part of the problem. And I’m going to resign, before they can arrange–an accident–for me."
She looked at him, appalled. "Then I’ll resign, too! And together we’ll expose them and–"
"No! No, you mustn’t arouse their suspicions of you! You’re the only thing that keeps me going! Whenever all this gets too much for me, I think of you. Lindsay, darling, you’re my Place of Peace."
Lindsay closed her eyes and smiled, tears of joy slowly flowing down her cheeks as she leaned against him once more. "No one has ever said anything half so wonderful to me." She looked up at him. "All right, darling, it will be your way. But if you ever need me, just think of me, and I will hear you, though I am a universe away."
They held each other in silence, occupying their own little universe for a time, each of them lost in the other.