Izzy caught Megan looking down at her new ID card again. She elbowed her friend and looked down at the card indicating she should put it away. Megan nodded and stuffed the card in her pocket. It hadn’t taken them long to get their new cards from the Pastor and to head to the airport. Mike had tried to convince Brian not to go after the people chasing him. He felt it would be better if they took their new identifications and found a new life for themselves. The TSA officers did not look at her strangely this time when she went through security. Her face had healed completely. Izzy had no idea how that happened but she wasn’t going to count it out as a blessing.
They were now standing outside a hotel waiting for Brian to come back with a room key. Megan was going to stay in the room while Brian and Izzy headed over to Howie’s place to confront him and hopefully learn some new information.
Megan had been watching the news. It appeared that she was either immune to the affects the subliminal messaging was having or they had not been sending them through the airwaves. She did tell the others that it had been mentioned that Brian was having health issues and the tour was postponed to give him time to get better. She managed to get a computer from the front desk at the latest hotel and said she was going to do some research, find out what was being said by fans and news websites.
Izzy hesitated leaving Megan alone in the hotel but it was by far the nicest they had stayed in and after ten minutes in the Florida humidity she envied Megan lounging on the bed surfing the internet and watching television.
Brian drove in silence all the way to Howie’s gated community. He easily gained access; he was still on the list. It’s not like Howie would remove him from the list if he thought Brian might show up there at all. They parked a distance away and walked closer to his place. There were some bushes strategically placed across from his place and they hid themselves behind them.
“If anyone sees us we are screwed,” Izzy muttered realizing how badly they were hidden by the bushes.
“He lives in a community with mostly older people. If it weren’t for the few families I’ve seen around I’d claim he was the youngest person living here. Wouldn’t surprise me if he moved to a senior citizen complex in a few years, he just seems to act old like that.”
“Maybe it’s because of all the teen girls and hanging out with Nick that have him wanting an older crowd where he lives.” Izzy let out a soft chuckle.
Brian smiled at the thought. The two lay in the grass together watching for several minutes before Izzy groaned. The plant they were laying next to was starting to cause her skin to itch. She continued to scratch but the itch would not go away. Her eyes looked up at the building they were watching again, still no movement. Finally, she’d had enough of the plant. She stood and started towards the building.
“What are you doing?” Brian sounded angry at her impulsiveness. He had hold of her arm and was attempting to pull her away from the building.
“No one is here,” She snapped at him and immediately felt bad for doing so. His face fell and he dropped her arm. He stood in the middle of the parking lot for only a few seconds before jogging to catch up with her.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. She wasn’t sure Brian heard her or if he was ignoring her apology.
“It’s locked.” He said curtly as he tried the door. Izzy kept her mouth tightly closed to avoid telling him that it was obviously locked, no one was there.
“How are we going to get in?” Brian’s voice had an edge of sarcasm as he spoke.
Izzy looked at the door. There didn’t seem to be anything special about the door. As she looked over the door her mind sent her several ways she could get through the door. Her hands took over as they reached into her hair and pulled out a hair pin she had forgotten she was even wearing. It was almost as if she was watching someone else crouch at the door and fiddle with the door. It was seconds later that she heard a click and turned the doorknob. The door opened and she replaced the hair pin.
“How the hell..?” Brian asked.
Izzy shrugged as she walked in. She turned to face him; he was still standing outside on the porch. “I honestly have no idea how I know that.” She really hated having parts of herself that were hidden from her. She knew who she was, or thought she did, but now so much was coming to light that she never knew about herself. There had to be a reason she knew how to pick a lock and how to kill a man so easily and with little remorse.
Brian followed her inside but she hardly noticed. She was looking around the apartment trying to determine where they might find any information they were looking for, anything that would help them determine what had happened to them and why they were being pursued now.
“His office is over here,” Brian turned into the room that he’d been in before. Howie liked to host parties and Brian would often try to find a room to be alone away from the crowds for a few minutes at a time. He walked into the familiar room, Izzy right behind him. Everything looked the same. The bookshelves lined one wall filled with books of all sorts. Brian ran his fingers along the spines of the books taking in the titles. He moved to the desk next and took a seat in the chair. The computer sat off and he thought about turning it on briefly but something kept him from hitting the on button.
Pictures of Howie, him and the others adorned the desk as well as pictures of Howie’s family. How much of that was real? Brian remembered taking the picture that was on his desk. It was taken during one of their photo shoots but management didn’t want it to be released. Howie had asked for the picture, pleaded that he be able to have a copy. If he remembered correctly Nick had just let a ball of smelly gas and the picture had been their reactions. Kevin had hold of Nick around his neck with one arm; his hand in a fist over the younger’s head. Brian was holding his nose and lifting his leg towards Nick like he was going to fart in his face. Howie had his arm out as if he was attempting to stop the smell with his hand and AJ was feigning like he was going to pass out. Brian couldn’t help but smile at the memory of it. How could that life be a fake life?
He felt Izzy standing over his shoulder before he saw her. He looked up and noticed she was looking at the picture as well. “It looks like you had fun with each other.”
Brian nodded and slammed the picture ‘face’ down on the desk.
Izzy watched as Brian tore through the room. He was determined to find something that Howie was hiding that would give them an idea of what was going on.
“What if the new memories are fake?” Izzy questioned as she too started to look.
“What do you mean?” Brian paused briefly as he leafed through the file cabinet.
“What if the new memories were implanted to trigger at a certain point and make us upset our lives?”
“Why would someone do that?”
“I don’t know why would someone cover our old memories with new ones? It’s a theory we can’t rule out.”
Brian thought about the picture on the desk and nodded. He wanted things to go back to the way they were with the other guys but deep down he knew it was not his life. Why would Leighanne lie about only knowing him six months, why would he feel so comfortable with Isabelle around despite how hard he fought it and why would he have a constant nagging feeling that he was forgetting something if the ‘new’ memories were the fake ones?
“A safe,” Izzy’s voice snapped Brian back to the current reality of searching through Howie’s place for answers. He turned and made his to the bookshelves where Izzy was standing. The books he had just run his fingers along were not really books after all but a cover for a safe. He mentally kicked himself that he had missed how fake the books looked.
Izzy pressed her ear to the safe and started turning the dial.
“Really?” Brian was shocked and a little annoyed that this woman seemed to know how to do everything. She was the one who had unbelievable fighting skills, she knew information that saved their lives, she opened the door to Howie’s and now she was going to crack the safe? He hadn’t discovered any super special skills. He’d been able to fight back, defend himself but he knew that his skills were nothing compared to Isabelle’s.
Izzy turned and smirked at Brian shaking her head. “I thought I’d give it a shot. Apparently safe cracking is not one of my newly discovered hidden talents.”
On impulse Brian moved forward and pulled Izzy into a tight hug. He felt her tense only briefly before relaxing into his arms. “As much as I am enjoying this, we should get moving. Howie could be back at any minute.” Izzy spoke up. She hoped it wouldn’t put Brian off from hugging her again.
“You’re right,” He dropped his arms. He started to move to the door when he stopped and looked at the safe. “I wonder…” He moved closer and started moving the dial. If he were to admit it later, he had tried to open the safe as a joke, but a though struck him before he started and he used a set of numbers that came to his mind. They were both shocked when Brian entered a combination that worked, the safe door swinging open.
“I see that safe cracking is one of your special talents,” Izzy smirked.
“No, I just remembered something from Howie’s bus. He slipped one time when we were talking about our birthdays and said that he was born June, sixteenth. He played it off like a joke, said it was one of his animals growing up birthday’s. It has always stuck with me.” Brian shrugged as he started to root through the safe.
A sound at the front of the building had both of their heads looking up. They froze standing where they were holding papers from the safe. When a few minutes passed and nobody came inside the apartment they continued to search through the papers.
“Nothing,” Izzy shouted in frustration as she started to stack her papers back together to put in the safe.
Brian took the papers from Izzy and put them with his own. He was placing them back in when he realized the safe seemed rather shallow for how deep it went into the wall. Feeling around he smiled when he found what he was looking for. Pushing the button he released the catch and slid the back wall down revealing a hidden part of the safe.
“Nice,” Izzy stood over his shoulder looking inside. “A safe within a safe.” She smiled and reached her hands inside pulling out a manila envelope. She moved to the desk and unwound the string that bound it shut. Pulling the papers out carefully she knew instantly this was what she was looking for.
From a quick glance at the papers she saw the title ‘Back Story’ at the top of the page and flipped through until she finished the pages full of the story that would be Howie’s life assigned to him. “His mission,” She muttered and handed it to Brian thinking he may want to read up on what Howie was assigned to be in his life.
Izzy busied herself reading the remaining paperwork. “Here,” she said smacking Brian’s arm causing him to almost drop the papers on the floor.
“What is it?” he asked as he placed the papers back on the desk.
“It looks to be a list of places to get the drug they are trying to use on us,” Izzy pointed to the word Clorametaphen II at the top of the page.
“Look,” Brian’s hand shot in front of Izzy’s face and his finger pointed to one of the locations. “There is a location only a few blocks away.” Izzy folded the piece of paper with the address and shoved it in her pocket.
She started to put the papers back when a picture caught her eye. It was a picture of her and Brian together, arms around each other. The kind of picture couples would take for engagement announcements. She held it up out to Brian who only looked at it briefly then back at Izzy. He could feel his cheeks blush.
“Let’s go,” he said. It was like confirmation for all his dreams about proposing to her, confirmation that what Leighanne said was true. He shook his head hoping that he could shake the thoughts out. Leighanne was his wife, he was married to her, and he loved her, right?
Izzy folded the picture and put it in her pocket as well. She was about to put the papers away when one line on the bottom of the last page read “The Cleaners” and listed a phone number. She almost folded that paper up and put it in her pocket as well but the sound of the front door opening made her freeze in terror.