Shades of Grey
Part 10

The sound of footsteps in the hall was unsettling enough, but when the key scraped in the lock, Sam tensed. Now what? He got to his feet and stood back against the wall, drew a deep breath, and waited.

The door swung open so hard it slammed against the wall. Sam started, instinctively bringing his hands up in front of himself. Framed in the doorway was one of the men from earlier. The one with the automatic rifle. The muzzle of the weapon panned across the room until the man's eyes adjusted to the dimness and picked Sam out of the shadows. An order followed.

Sam remained still. His captor hadn't made any motions that he should move, so he figured staying where he was was the safest bet. Then the man moved aside, making room for another figure.

"Josh?" He took a step forward, relief outweighing caution, but the rifle swung up in his direction again.

"Whoa, whoa!" Josh held up a hand to the guard.

Muttering through clenched teeth, the man gave Josh a shove far enough into the room so he could shut the door. It cut out the light from the hall, leaving Josh standing in the pinkish glow from the bathroom.

Sam quickly closed the distance between them, but couldn't seem to get any words past his lips.

Josh smiled, clasping Sam's arms. "You okay?"

"Ye-ah." His voice caught. Sam cleared his throat. "You?" That was better.

Josh nodded, but his attention focused on Sam's right cheek.

Sam knew there was a bruise there; he could feel it every time he moved his jaw. "It's nothing," he said. "I'm okay."

"You're freezing."

"Now that you mentioned it. Since you have an in with the head honcho, think you could get me my coat back? Or maybe a cup of coffee?" He hadn't meant it to sound biting, but from the look on Josh's face he knew it had hurt.

Josh's grip tightened and he gave a weak smile. "I'll see what I can do." He patted Sam's arms, then let go.

A pang of guilt tightened Sam's chest and he hastened to change the subject. "I heard my pager. They know?"

Again, Josh nodded. "I talked to Leo."

"They let you talk to Leo?"

"Only for a few seconds. He said they would do everything they can."

Sam took a few steps away from Josh and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah." He knew what that meant.

"Sam, I'm so sorry I got you involved in this."

"Josh, don't—"

His friend stepped up beside him once more, but this time when he spoke, Sam had to strain to hear.

"Sam, I've been talking with Raj...I think I can convince him to let us go."

"What?" Sam had heard him; he just didn't believe it.

"I think—"

"No, Josh." He glanced at his friend and saw the confusion in his face. Matching Josh's tone, he explained, "He's obviously not the same guy you knew in school." Before Josh could comment, he turned to face him, the words spilling from his mouth before he thought about them. "And even if you could convince him, what about the other ten guys here? Or however many there are. Think they'll go for it? They'll shoot Rashid and we'll be left with Mr. Don't Mess With Me, My Gun Is Bigger out there. And he's not so happy with me as it is. Besides, you heard what Rashid said. 'Your friend's life depends on your behavior.' I would appreciate it if you didn't do or say anything that's going to get me killed." Sam paused in his tirade, suddenly realizing what he'd just said. "That was a little egocentric," he decided.

"You think?"

"Josh, I—"

"Sam, Raj gave the White House twenty-four hours. I can do this."

Twenty-four hours. The prospect of having to spend the next day in this cold, dingy room made Sam's stomach churn. Yet at the same time, it occurred to him that in twenty-four hours, his death warrant would be signed. "Twenty-four hours," he whispered.

"Hey." Josh laid a hand on his shoulder. "We're gonna make it. Trust me."

Sam saw the look on his friend's face. Josh really believed it. He wished he could be so sure. Maybe Josh had seen something hopeful in Rashid. Maybe there was a chance. Maybe...

"All right."

The door burst open once again and Mr. Don't Mess With Me My Gun is Bigger took a step into the room. This time he did motion with the gun.

"Guess visiting hours are over," Sam said. He tried to sound like it was no big deal, but when Josh squeezed his shoulder he knew something in his voice must have given his true feelings away.

Josh glanced over his shoulder at the terrorist, then turned back to Sam. "You give him the bloody nose?"


"Good job."

An order came from the doorway.

As Josh headed for the door, a wave of panic hit Sam full force. Having his friend there gave him hope, and took away some of the endless uncertainty. He didn't want to lose that now. He took a step after him. "Josh."

Josh stopped and turned. "I'll be back," he promised.

The terrorist grabbed Josh's arm and pulled him from the room, passing him to two other men in the hallway.

The weapon was still on Sam, and so was the terrorist's gaze. The hatred in the man's eyes felt colder than the room itself. Desperately trying to keep still, Sam stood his ground, returning the icy glare. After a moment, the man said something low in his throat, then backed out and slammed the door.

Sam closed his eyes, letting out a shuddering breath. He got the feeling that if it were up to the young terrorist, he would be dead already. He didn't want to be left alone in a room with that guy.

Now he was simply alone, and his mind began to wander.

Twenty-four hours.


Shades of Grey - 11



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