Cameron was used to Chloe being the more talkative one, and he was resigned to the fact she was probably the more clever one as well. She knew just how to tweak his ego, make him flustered and off-balance. So the drive to the airport was odd and unsettling, but not for the usual reasons.
Chloe was chattering, nerviously at times. It seemed like silence was the last thing she wanted in the car. Buck knew she was anxious, but didn't want to press things. They'd only managed to make up the night before, when she realized his article on the Event was a smokescreen. Things felt good to Cameron, but delicate, and he didn't want to foul anything up before his flight to Isreal.
The treaty signing was confusing. It was obvious that Carpathia had manipulated events to literally turn the entire world against Isreal, but why? He'd been successful, so why seek a treaty now? Cameron was so lost in thought he hadn't registered that Chloe had parked the car and was unloading his luggage from the trunk. Cameron found himself walking briskly to catch up with Chloe as she headed towards the ticket counter.
"Hey, remember me? The one who's actually flying out?"
Chloe blushed and looked embarassed.
"Sorry. I was just nervious that you'd miss your flight, and I didn't want you to be late, and..."
"Woah woah woah! You're with experienced world traveller Buck Williams! We've got enought time to get checked in."
Chloe smiled as his self-depreciating use of the nickname, but she still looked tense and nervious. Cameron got his boarding pass, and they walked along the concourse.
"I overheard you talking with Dad. Carpathia's offered you a job?"
"Not formally, but it looks like it. I don't know if Steve Plank put in a good word, or if he was just impressed by my recent turn to bland propoganda."
"I know you want to help the cause, I know you want to serve the Lord, but last night you said you wanted to protect... people from danger, and I just-"
"Cookies! That's what I want right now!" The conversation was headed for dangerous territory, and Cameron wanted to defuse it as quickly as possible, so he hooked his arm in Chloe's, spun her to the side, and marched into Ms. Fieldsworth's Cookie Shoppe.
"Cameron, could you please be serious for a minute?"
"I am serious, Chloe. Look at this place? There's a Ms. Fieldsworth's Cookie Shoppe in every major airport in the United States, and every airport in Europe, eastern and western!"
Chloe looked at him pleadingly, but Cameron wouldn't slow down or stop to let a word in edgewise.
"I've flown out of a dozen airports in Africa, and there's only two things that all of them had: a Pepsi vending machine, and Ms. Fieldsworth cookies. Once, I was stuck in the North Korean airport for three days; it was Ms. Fieldsworth or kim-chi. At least, I hope it was kim-chi, but I wasn't going to risk it."
"I hope this is important enough to talk about instead of taking a job for-"
"Yes, as a matter of fact it is. I'm flying to Isreal; I hope to interview the Two Preachers, and I'll be standing on a dias next to the Antichrist when he signs a treaty that will start the end of the world as we know it. There aren't a whole lot of things you can count on in this world, even less in the End of Days. Small comforts are important, even better when they're shared..."
Cameron walked up to the counter. A sullen teenager stood with an apron, visor, and nametag. His face was bleak, like so many others. Briefly, Cameron wondered who he had lost in the Event. One parent? Both? A little brother? Cameron blinked, and looked closer; the kid was young, possibly still in high school, but the grief on his face was deep. Maybe it was a son or a daughter he'd lost.
"Excuse me, sir, but I need two oatmeal chocolate chip cookies."
The kid shuffled, bagged the cookies quickly and rang up a total.
"Oh, could I get two bags? One for each cookie?"
The teen had almost no affect at all.
"Store policy is one bag per purchase, sir. I'm sorry..."
Chloe must have noticed the kid's grief, and she piped up.
"Can I get a cookie? What's your favorite kind?" Buck eyed Chloe warily. Had she seen the same grief he had?
Chloe happily bought the cookie, removed it from the bag, and handed it back to the kid behind the counter with a quick peck on the cheek before leading Cameron out of the store.
"What? He looked like he needed a pretty girl to cheer him up a little. Here's your extra bag. Now what's with the cookies?"
"I wish I could share more time with you. But since I can't, I'll share what I can."
"Medeocre baked goods found across the globe?"
"When I eat this," Cameron gestured with the cookie, "it's something I know is real, something I know wherever in the world I am, it's there. I know faith is supposed to provide that for me, but faith doesn't come with a little sugar rush between meals. When I eat this particular cookie, sometime while I'm in Isreal, I'll let you know, so you and I can share a snack, even if I'm on the other side of the world."
"Bucky... I think you're trying to make eating a cookie over the phone sound romantic..."
"Is it working?"
"...let's get you to your plane, Bucky."
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