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And then it started raining.

Cold nasty rain, pelting down and making the tree slippery.

Face sighed, loudly. Why not? Who could hear him even if it wasn't raining? Which it was. Most emphatically.

A squirrel chattered angrily above him. He didn't look; if he moved he'd probably fall. He just hoped it was him the animal was pissed off at. Please, God: no snakes.

Down below he could hear arguing. His Vietnamese was sufficient to tell that his presence was being denied, and that the denial wasn't being bought. He hoped it wouldn't come to violence.

He hoped he wouldn't fall out of this tree.

He wished it wasn't raining. He wished the old man hadn't come home. And he really, really wished he'd had time to put his trousers back on before he'd had to run.

He closed his eyes for a minute and rested his head on the khakis across the branch in front of him. What he really wished was he'd had five more minutes before running.

His stillness reassured the squirrel. It came carefully down the trunk, its beady little rodent eyes fixed on him, ready to bolt. He held still and watched the dripping little creature finally make a dash for its hole, not an arm's length away. At least one of us is dry.

He looked at his watch. Late again, Lieutenant?

"I hate my life," he told the squirrel. It didn't answer.

The truck started; he craned his neck to watch it pull away. Finally. The colonel was going to be pissed. Maybe he'd get pneumonia. Not even Hannibal could scream at a man in the hospital.

A soft voice called. "Templeton? Lai xuang!"

Come down? He grinned. He'd come out of the tree, all right...

He had plenty of time, after all.

The End