This scene follows the one I posted yesterday, and to warn you, there is a little bit of language in it. I just don't see this character as having a PG-rated vocabulary.
“Please tell me you brought alcohol with you.”
Sarah whipped aside another frond that threatened to wreck her hairdo—admittedly, not stellar after her long hike and the windy plane ride that had preceded it—and scowled. “Alcohol? Should’ve brought a machete. How do you live like this?”
“You get used to it,” Zondra said. When Sarah leveled an unimpressed stare at her, half her mouth tilted up into a smirk. “Or so they say in the friggin’ handbooks they give you on orientation day. They’re liars.”
The trek to the barracks from the operations hut wasn’t a long one, but it was just that: a trek. Even weeks of making the same path through the jungle hadn’t allowed the agents to carve out much of a trail. Zondra seemed a little better equipped for it than Sarah: she wore an old Army BDU blouse open over a short T-shirt and her khakis were formfitting but much more durable than ones Sarah had packed, it looked like.
Still, by the time they reached the barracks, both women were sweating heavily.
“Home sweet home,” Zondra said, infusing just a hint of irony in her voice as she pushed open the door to the barracks, a squat, brown building framed by vegetation and foliage and plants and every other green thing. Sarah imagined in high wind, the greenery rustling against the sides of the barracks would probably drive the occupants nearly mad—until they grew used to it. “You can take Davis’s bunk.”
“Fantastic,” Sarah said, and nearly wept with relief when they stepped inside—and the blast of air conditioning hit. She automatically tilted her face up.
“Pansy,” Zondra said, cracking her first real smile.
“Damn right. I like my creature comforts.”
“I remember.” Zondra dropped down onto one of the bunks, obviously hers. The barracks was a simple, open room, beds separated by a few feet of space and a set of shelves each. In the back, there was a partition built; in the foot of space between the bottom of the partition, Sarah could see a drain on the floor, which told her that this was the shower. The door in the back had to lead to the toilet, she figured. Every single bunk in the place had pictures of some type taped above the head board: dogs, war buddies, sometimes family members. Every single bunk, she thought, except Zondra’s.
“This is all CIA out here?” she asked.
Zondra shook her head. “Task force. I’m lone CIA.”
“I can tell.”
“Yeah, guess you can. That’s Davis’s bunk there.” Zondra nodded over at the bunk next to hers, and Sarah wasted no time dumping her pack and flopping down. “How long you planning to stay?”
“Why? Does Davis want his bunk back?”
“He’s deep cover for a few weeks as a missionary. He won’t mind.”
“Okay.” Sarah rummaged in the top pocket of her pack and pulled out her flask. She saw Zondra’s eyes as she realized what the flask was from, and then shutter off to hide her emotions, just like any good CAT squad member. “And in answer to your question, I did bring alcohol. Mostly in case the apology didn’t go over well.”
“We were young and stupid.”
“Emphasis on stupid.”
“Not arguing that.” Zondra rolled her shoulders before she reached onto the bottom shelf next to her bunk. She set two shot glasses between them. “What’re we drinking to?”
“Amy’s duplicity, I guess.”
“Here’s to the ditz that fooled us all?”
Sarah poured two generous shots. “Cheers,” she said.
“Young and stupid,” Zondra said again, and tossed her shot back. “How’d she get burned?”
“Anonymous source,” Sarah said. “Somebody must’ve taken on our old case, and I guess with us out of the picture, Amy got sloppy? I don’t know. She always seemed...”
“Ditzy but meticulous, yeah.”
“I tried to track down the source, but seeing as I’ve spent most of the last two days on a plane, didn’t have much luck.”
“Anybody told Carina?”
“I imagine the DEA would’ve seen that she got the burn notice, too, but I think she’s deep right now. I couldn’t reach her.”
“Lucky bitch.” Zondra waved a hand when Sarah gave her a hurt look. “I mean about being deep, not about you not being able to reach her. I’d give my left arm to go deep again. Or hell, to just get out of the fucking jungle.” With expert precision, she slapped a fly that had been swarming around their heads the entire time. “Figure it’s only a matter of time before I die of malaria out here.”
“Yeah, who’d you piss off to net this assignment?” Sarah asked, looking around at the barren living quarters around them. Though it was only mid-afternoon, the windows, the blinds pulled to keep the air conditioning inside, so the room just seemed far too gloomy for her taste.
“Not all of us are the prized protégé of the director, you know. Some of us have to work for a living.”
“If this is working for a living, I’ll take my privileged position and like it,” Sarah said.
“Bitch,” Zondra said, but there wasn’t any heat behind the word. Instead, she sighed and rubbed her hands over her face. “Did we just spend four years not talking to each other because we got tricked by a blonde?”
“Hey!” But Sarah subsided with a sigh. “Yeah. We did.”
“Well, that sucks.” Zondra flopped backwards onto her bunk and stared up at the ceiling, propping her head up on her hand. “So what’s happened to you in the last four years, then? I did hear about Bryce. I’m sorry that happened. He was a good agent.”
“One of the best.” Since thinking of Bryce for too long was going to bring back the PTSD and that would result in nightmares that she didn’t want to have in a barracks full of people later, Sarah ruthlessly shoved the thoughts down. “Thank you. And not a lot’s happened to me, I guess. Mostly just working, one mission or another. You?”
“Oh, you know. Played the part of honey in the classic honeytrap a few times, jumped out of planes, kicked some bad guys in the face. Proved how badass I am in forty-two different countries in one year alone.”
“Is that a record?”
“I heard Carina got forty-three.”
“That bitch,” Sarah said, and made Zondra laugh. “Is there a drinking hole around here you trust? I could really use something more than my emergency flask.”
“Let’s go visit the locals.” Zondra rolled off the cot in one easy motion and extended a hand down to help Sarah to her feet. “Gotta warn you, though. They’ve got a thing for blondes.”
“Oh, goodie, something new and totally different for me,” Sarah said, rolling her eyes as she followed her long-lost friend and partner into the jungle once more. It was as she was following Zondra to the main road, the one that led to the village where there would be a bar and questionable food—some things never changed, no matter the longitude and latitude—she made her decision: if she was ever going to get over what had happened with Bryce, she needed a new partner. She was Graham’s prized protégé, after all. If that didn’t mean she couldn’t pull a few strings and get Zondra out of this over-humidified hell, what did?