Pressure

He saw Val with Johnson and grinned, remembering last night. “I’m sorry! I must have overslept! What’s up?”

Hank realized he managed that with no stuttering. He was walking with more of a spring in his step. Somewhere, overnight, he had a newly found confidence. He knew just who to thank for it, but not here. He did manage a quick look to Val with a smile. If he could wink, he’d have done it.

Val noticed the spring in Hank's step as he approached. He was holding his head higher too. This was the man she'd seen in him at the computer, and last night. And the stutter was gone as well. She shot him a quick smile when he smiled at her then looked to Johnson who was entirely oblivious to everything.

"Alright kids," Johnson said as he started towards the front doors of the hotel. "We've got a helicopter waiting at the airport. The strike team's gonna meet us in Valparaiso and we'll be heading directly to where those bastards are hiding out. We need to move fast so no lollygaggin'."

They piled into a government SUV and drove to the airport where the helicopter Johnson had mentioned was indeed waiting. They clambered in and took off. The flight was more or less uneventful with the exception of a few knowing looks shared between Hank and Val and Johnson filling them in on the plan.

"The smugglers have their own private airfield with a hangar and an office inside. We think they're in the office, though expect some guards around the plane. Easton, you'll be with Blue Team and make your way to the hangar from the south, disable the plane so they can't take off and then try to apprehend Lorenzo and his buddies. I'll be with Red Team, we'll enter the site from the nearby forest, take out anyone we see, and meet with you to grab these suckers."

"What if they don't come quietly?" Val asked. She didn't specifically mention Hank's brother, but her mind was on him nonetheless.

"I'm not taking a bullet for these punks." Johnson said. "If they shoot at you, shoot back. Deadly force won't be frowned on given they've already killed one guy."

Suddenly the rather blissful feeling Val had from the previous night was pierced by reality. She looked to Hank, hoping he knew she'd do everything to bring her brother in alive.

---

“Go without me,” Fly softly said. “I’ll catch up in a few days.”

Inside, he wished at least Quin would stay with him. She knew the area and was good company. Fly was glad that it was an infection that an antibiotic would clean from his system. However, that didn’t help with the fever now.

Kurt wanted to say that no one was getting left behind. But the window was closing. He looked to Quin and had a similar thought to Fly's. She knew the place. Maybe if it was just the two of them lying low...

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