November 2001

Georgiana steps into the shower, stifling a weary groan as hot water beats onto the sore muscles in her shoulders. She tilts her head back so that the water runs down her face and closes her eyes. She can't remember a time when her eyelids didn't feel like they were made of sandpaper. August maybe?

Though her arms feel like lead weights, she goes through the mindless motions of washing off a day's worth of grit and grime. It won't make her feel any cleaner. No matter how hard she scrubs, it always feels like there's a sticky residue coating her skin making her itchy and restless. After three Shepard-mandated sessions with Cathy, she knows that it's a build up of two months worth of fear, blinding rage, and paranoia. Knowing, however, doesn't make it go away.

Her brain is always running these days. Going over the facts in her files, replaying the images she wishes she could burn from her memory, reliving those moments of heart-stopping panic. Not even the soothing scent from lavender candles relaxes her so she's stopped trying to fight it. She works until she gets kicked out of the office then brings it all home to continue. She avoids sleep whenever possible. Sleep leads to dreams, and her dreams of late have been loud, violent, and bloody. These days she'd welcome a Mark Hurst dream.

As she's drying her hair, a flash of light catches her eye. She can't help but smile softly at the twinkling diamonds on her left hand. The rings are larger than she'd wanted but smaller than the combo Trevor had picked out. A compromise. Much like most everything they've done together. It's a good rule for marriage. Not that it feels like a marriage. How can it when they've been married for six weeks but only spent a day of that on the same continent?

They haven't told Carolyn or Tom yet. Her boss and Trevor's CO are the only ones who know. It wasn't something they planned. It was a gut reaction to news of Trevor's impending deployment while still reeling from everything else. He had thirty-six hours to prepare to leave for the Middle East. Most others would use that time to spend time with their families, have one last hurrah, or get their affairs in order. Trevor and Georgiana used it to make a quick trip to Las Vegas.

She loves him, but that's not why they did it. Not really. It helps, that's for sure, but it was more about security and communication. He's out of the country now, and at any moment Shep could decide to send her off somewhere. This way they each have a legal right to demand information about the other. Georgiana doesn't think she could handle not being the first to know and Trevor feels the same way.

After dressing in a pair of sweatpants and one of Trevor's t-shirts, she settles in at the desk in her den for another few hours of work. Her eyes ache from staring at line after line after line of intelligence, but she forces herself to continue. Maybe if she finds something hidden in one of these damn reports, they can catch the bastards who blasted the world off its axis and Trevor can come home. It's just wishful thinking, but it feels good to be doing something, anything.

When her stomach complains about lack of food, she scarfs down a gritty power bar and washes it down with cup of coffee number thirteen. The bars taste like dirt, but they're the only thing she can eat without retching. She'd rather go without but doesn't relish another lecture from Shep or threats of being put on medical leave. Knowing Shep, he'd make her spend it under the watchful eye of his tyrant of a wife.

At midnight, she takes a break to fire off an e-mail to Tom. She relays some of the details from her sat phone conversation with Trevor the previous day. There's nothing new to tell Tom, really, but she wants to keep him in the loop. She knows that if their situations were reversed and it was Caro out in a combat zone, she'd want to know what was going on. Thankfully, Tom's been so relieved to receive updates that he doesn't question why she's the one delivering them.

The caffeine jolt finally hitting her system, Georgiana steps away from her desk to give herself a chance to refocus. Fresh eyes don't miss small details. She uses the time to fill a couple of large boxes with things that need to be moved to Trevor's apartment. She's still got three months left on her lease, but Trevor's apartment is larger so that's where they'll be living. She has a key and Trevor made it clear that she was more than welcome to stay there while he's gone, but she can't. Not if she wants to maintain some semblance of sanity.

As if there wasn't enough on her mind already, there's a large envelope on the corner of her desk with Trevor's name on it. She knows what's inside. She and Shepard have been discussing it off and on since Trevor started working at the Pentagon. Shep wants Trevor working with Cereberus and Georgiana is rapidly warming to the idea. Trevor may still be sent out to dangerous places, but at least she'll have more inside information and there's no one she trusts more than Shepard when it comes to the job. Also, aside from a bomb threat last summer, her building's never come under attack.

It's unclear, though, if Trevor is willing to resign his commission or if it would be accepted. This summer he may have been ready but now? Now everything's all screwed up. His dedication and sense of duty are part of what she loves about him, but just this once she wishes he'd be selfish.

Having filled two boxes with clothes and books, she returns to her desk and picks up where she left off. Her progress is hampered by the lengthy portions written in Arabic or Persian. Her main focus has always been Slavic and Romance languages so translation is taking up valuable time. To ward off the headache she can feel building, she swallows two pain relievers with the dregs of her coffee.

The sound of a key turning in the lock has her out of her chair, gun in hand, and ready for a fight. She flattens herself against the wall and waits for the intruder to step inside. The silhouette is familiar but it could be her weary eyes playing tricks or a sleep-deprivation induced hallucination.


Georgiana flips the safety back on and steps back to put it in the drawer in her desk. Shock quickly gives way to elation. She launches herself from the hallway to his waiting arms, knocks him back a few steps, and wraps arms and legs around him so he can't move. She presses kisses to his cheeks, neck, forehead, every available inch of skin she can reach.

Trevor lets her smother him until he's afraid his knees are going to give out. When her feet hit the floor, she punches him in the shoulder. "You didn't tell me you were coming home!"

"I wanted to surprise you, Georgiana."

"I don't like surprises." She tries to pout, but can't pull it off. She's too damn happy to pretend otherwise.

Trevor rolls his eyes and flops onto the couch. He'd stopped by his apartment first hoping to catch a glimpse of Georgiana sleeping in his bed. Wouldn't that have been a sight to come home to? This isn't bad, though. It gets even better when she immediately snuggles up next to him. He turns on the television for background noise but avoids news programs. An I Love Lucy rerun will do.

"Missed you, Trev."

"Missed you, too, sweetheart." Trevor drops a kiss onto the top of her head and pauses to drink in the sight of his wife. Wife. Isn't that a kick? She's paler than he remembers. Cheeks sunken in; eyes bloodshot and weighed down with dark shadows. "Been pining for me?"

She huffs. "Been working. We can't all have cushy jobs like you. Not everyone gets to take long vacations to exotic places."

He laughs and drops it, for now. He's home and he'll make sure she takes better care of herself. He can only imagine how hard she's been pushing herself. If it hadn't been for his CO forcing them to take breaks, he might have fallen into the same trap. First on the list is a little relaxation. It's time for her to get out of the city. "Do you think Shepard will let you have a couple of days off?"

She hesitates; not because she thinks Shep will refuse, but because she's not sure if she wants to stop from working. It's been her main focus for weeks and some habits are hard to break. Then again, there's no telling how long it'll be before they send Trevor back or Shep sends her out, so she needs to make the most of the time they have. "Yeah, he'll go for it. What do you have in mind?"

Trevor lifts the hand wearing his rings and kisses each finger. "I think it's time we let Tom and Carolyn in on the big secret."

It's not something Georgiana's been looking forward to. Once she gets over her initial joy, Carolyn's going to be livid that they didn't tell them straight off or invite them to the wedding. Plus, they haven't had a chance to spend time along since the wedding. Don't they deserve a day or two to themselves?

Correctly guessing what's on Georgiana's mind, Trevor grins and squeezes her hand. "We'll spend a night with them and then we can check out that bed and breakfast in Mystic she's been raving about. We'll even do the whole tourist thing if it'd make you happy."

Georgiana thanks him with a kiss. It's too late to call Shepard now so she'll have to it first thing in the morning. She can sweeten the deal with him by bringing the Cerberus pre-employment package along. The hour-long flight to Hartford will give her plenty of time to give Trevor the sales pitch.

She pushes it, and everything else, out of her mind and concentrates on Trevor. He's flipped away from the rerun and is catching up on sports scores. She sends up a quiet prayer of thanks. Trevor's warm and solid and, most importantly, home. Her eyelids, still sandpapery, are growing heavy and, for the first time in weeks, she doesn't fight sleep.


I'm posting this now and marking this complete not because I'm finished with it, but because I've gotten distracted by something else and need a break. There are a few things I have outlined for Georgiana and Trevor still waiting to be written, so don't worry.