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"That's where I draw the line," she said, weaving through the crowd.

I followed behind her. "You don't think it would be too much?"

She reached the glass door and held it open for me.

"Thanks," I added as I walked past her toward the parking lot.

"It's just the way things are," she said, catching up. "You have to stand up for yourself to get anywhere."

We reached her vehicle. She held her lunch under her arm as she fished out her keys. Within a few seconds, we were both inside.

"Sometimes I don't know what is worth the hassle, and what isn't," I told her.

"If it's making you unhappy, it's worth changing." She pulled the vehicle out of the slot.

"I think I can put up with it a little longer," I said. "It's not such a big deal."

We left the market parking lot and turned into the street.

"If you do nothing, all it does is fester and fill your life with a constant stream of unhappiness."

I was looking at my lunch but not really paying attention. My mind was elsewhere. She drove up the street. We were heading back to the office. A left turn and we were in the office parking lot.

She focused on finding an open slot. If we were lucky, we'd find one vacated by someone else who had left for lunch. If we came back too late, all the good slots would be taken, and we'd have to either circle endlessly or find a less than ideal slot far away.

"You don't have to do what I say," she continued. "I'm just saying what my personal limits are." She stopped the vehicle and we got out.

"I know. Thanks for that. And the ride to the market."

"Don't worry about it."

We headed for the elevators that would take us back up to our offices. She pulled out her badge and swiped it against the sensor. It beeped. The light flashed. The door clicked and she pulled it open.

She wasn't supposed to let me in, but she did. I was supposed to swipe my own badge but almost nobody did that. They didn't even ask strangers to verify themselves, much less longtime work acquaintences.

"Well, I think I should head back to my office and do some catch up today. Sorry I can't eat with you."

"Don't you worry about it," she said. "You just do what you have to do to make it through this."

I signed back into my computer and pulled up the files on our latest target. There was a long list of missions attached to the various files. It wasn't my habit to push back on any of my assignments, but maybe it was time for a change.

Linda was lucky. Despite all her talk, she was ready and willing to take on all her assignments. I wish it were that easy for me. I started going through the missions one at a time. In the past I would have just resigned myself to completing them all.

Maybe I can procrastinate and just put off not doing the ones I don't enjoy. No. Linda would never do that. She'd let them know just what it was she was okay with, and what was not acceptable. There was no indirect approach with her. Maybe that's why she was where she was, because those around her had learned her limits long ago, and there was no longer any guesswork with her.

It wasn't going to be easy for me. I looked out my office window and got up out of my chair. I wanted a distraction. I wanted to think about something else. I wandered past her office.  Her glasses were on her desk and she seemed to be rubbing her eyes.

"You okay, Linda?"

"Yes, I'm fine. It's nothing to do with the mission or the target. Just some personal stuff I'm trying to figure out."

"Anything you want to talk about?"

"No, I'll be okay," she said.

Not wanting to pry, I wandered down the hall, looking past the various offices and out their windows. The sky was overcast. The trees were dancing in the wind. Nothing to do but head back to my office.

I made a tentative ranking of all the missions assigned to me, based on my own subjective like or dislike of them. That was about the best I could do. I marked the top three and five as options possible for the day. Evening was coming. I headed to the armory, picked up a small caliber firearm, along with some nonlethal weapons.

It looked like Linda had already left. I left our building through the revolving door. The wind made my hair a mess. No time to worry about that. I turned on my phone. Target was still close by. A few miles north. Stationary.

I pulled out of the parking lot, following my phone. A few minutes later, I was in yet another parking lot. I noticed Linda's vehicle there as well. As expected. We were working on the same project.

I entered the building indicated by my phone. People milling about. No sign of anybody I recognize. Then I noticed her glasses. She was wearing something completely different now. This was not going to be a lunch trip. I wondered if she was armed as well.