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“Captain Hart, would you step in here for a moment.” The request was quietly given as John walked past the open office door. However, as Colonel West was his superior officer, he took the request as an order, and promptly turned to walk through the opening.
Captain John Hart stood quietly to attention as the officer behind the desk sorted through some papers. Computer and all the technology had never really replaced a sheet of paper with hand-writing on, in the senior officer’s mind.
At long last she looked up and straight into the bluest eyes she knew. However many times they met, Karen always wished that she wasn’t his immediate boss, but she knew he refused to mix work with pleasure. He had been with the agency since he had requested the transfer from the Home Guard. During that time he had been quiet and conscientious, but had always kept his private life very personal.
“I have an unusual assignment for you.” She started without any of her usual chat. “I need you to go to The Rehab Centre and collect one of the men from there. He is being released to us as he was in the home Guard and had an exemplary service record. Due to his treatment he has been demoted to Captain and has to be supervised for the first week by someone who can honestly keep an eye on him.”
John’s heart sank at the news. He guessed who he would end up having to spend time with. He groaned inwardly.
“So I am releasing him to you for this supervision. Here is the transfer paperwork and you will need to report back to me every evening at 18.00 hours, so that I can administer his probation.”
John saluted smartly and walked swiftly out of the office. There was no way he was going to show any reaction when he read the name that he knew would be on the paper in front of him. He walked smartly along the corridor and out into the main quadrangle, where he spotted a bench that was empty. He made his way over to it and slowly sat down. He looked at the paper, in the hope that the name would be anything but the one that he knew he would be reading. As he slowly opened it, sure enough, there was the name at the top of the form.
Captain Jack Hartness.
How was he going to cope?
Still, he knew the only way that he could face this situation was head on. He had always been glad to put his duty at the front of his persona, and at a time like today, he knew all his hard work was going to pay off.
~ ~ ~
At the Rehab Centre a tall officer stood chatting to the office clerk. He knew that he had to be careful in what he was saying, as the foyer where he was waiting was being monitored. Years in the Home Guard had prepared him for most things, and he had therefore been able to persuade the doctors that he was willing to work harder and to be transferred to The Time Agency.
As this elite unit was always looking for recruits, they tended to turn a blind eye to certain discrepancies. Home Guard officers very rarely came their way. So when there was a Major who was willing to sign on for the next 5 years, they tended to gloss over the details of the Rehab reports.
The main doors silently opened and in walked Captain Hart. He handed the papers to the girl behind the desk and waited for the transfer process to be completed. Although he knew that he was being watched, he maintained his focus on the task in hand.
Finally it was complete, and he knew he could put off the moment no longer. He turned and faced the other officer, looking up into slightly smirking eyes, he said “Captain Hartness, if you would please follow me.” Then he abruptly turned and walked back out of the door without waiting for an answer.
As they both walked across the square towards the Time Agency offices, neither man spoke. Probably neither knew how to start the conversation.
Captain Hart took his companion to the office and dealt with the paperwork, before heading towards the bar, ordering 2 drinks and heading towards a quiet corner. Through it all he had been followed by Captain Hartness, and as the time had passed the taller officer had begun to grin. The grin continued to grow as he realised how much his companion was ignoring him.
They both sat and sipped their drinks. Identical drinks that both knew the other loved.
“I can’t do this.” Admitted John. For the space of the last hour he saw his reputation falling apart. All that he was now would be nothing once Jack started making friends ... and talking. “I do not mix business with pleasure.”
“Why not? You used to be make pleasure your utmost business the last time I saw you.”
“I changed. I realised that a career is important. There are people who depend on the work I do, and on ...” He trailed off as Jacks laughter grew. John had worked so hard to build a new life, but he slowly realised that it wasn’t worth much if he didn’t enjoy it.
Jack was still laughing and John felt himself opening up, reawakening to his real self. It began to feel good to know that the job could be done, but that life could be lived as well. Maybe this assignment, that he had taken with such trepidation, would be the beginning of a new start for them both.
Jack needed a second chance and John wanted one, so together they could find a way to make business and pleasure mix. It would be good to see what this cocktail turned out to be.