A/N: Thanks for reading this one. I like the way I started off this version of S6, but was stuck for a bit. I think I am back on track. This fanfic will veer off for a bit from what is typical for me. I'm surprised myself. It does have Annie doing things that some of you found surprising, like her getting cozy with Teo (loved his character, wish they explored him more deeply). Although I am a huge Ryan and Annie fan, I'm also a huge Annie and Eyal fan. No slim pickings for Annie. Anyway, I'm not sure who her happy ending will be with or even if there will be a happy ending for this fanfic, but leaning towards something different. Let me know what you think. . . I really appreciate reviews. None of these characters are mine. All belong to CA writers & USA Network.
Annie and Ryan just entered the inside of the warehouse, they heard heels coming up stairs from an opening in the ground. Caitlyn emerged and was about to leave. All they heard her say to the men below was, "The plan moves forward as planned."
Annie looked at Ryan and signaled for him to remain quiet in the spot where they were crouched and hidden behind some office equipment. Ryan was getting ready to go after his former friend and co-worker, but Annie shoved him against the wall with her body and gave him another stern look. Ryan was hot and bothered, he wanted to go after Caitlyn, but Annie stopped him and he didn't fight her for fear that they would give up their position to the men below. It did take all that was in him to restrain himself from grabbing Caitlyn.
Caitlyn left the building, next they heard her car start. When Annie was sure the car had driven away, she noted
"What the hell?" Ryan whispered angrily. "We had her."
"You don't, you didn't! You're thinking like a soldier, it's time to switch gears Rambo. You need to start thinking like a spy. You have an advantage she doesn't know you know. . . we're better off following her later. And what do you think would happen, the car's down the road. Whoever's down there would know we're here if you confront her."
"She's gone, how are we going to follow her?" said Ryan still perturbed.
Annie rolled her eyes. "We'll find her later. You know where she lives don't you?"
Ryan hit the wall with his fist. The man had been nothing but eager and ready since they first met, but he always appeared relaxed and jovial even in the most hairy situations, this was the first she saw him tense and slightly unhinged. The news about Caitlyn obviously hit him hard.
"Get your head in this, not your heart. You're reacting. My call is the right one. Let her go, now let's see if we can neutralize what's down there."
Reluctantly Ryan nods.
The two put on their ski masks and quietly go down the stairs. They don't hear anything at first. Annie looks around and sees taped lines on the ground on a very large open space. It was the size of an underground city parking lot.
"This place is enormous!" whispered Annie.
"Needed to be for trainings."
There's a light towards the back. She saw a man shredding papers. Ryan signaled that he was going to check it out. He kepts his back to the wall and arrived at the opening to a small command center where the man was working. He fired his weapon and wounded the man who ran out towards Annie. She was annoyed that Ryan made their presence known in such a bold way. She would have opted to sneak up the man and given him a verbal warning before firing at him.
The man was not in the right frame of mind for the task before them. He needed to work on being less rash, but it was too late. Annie came out from the shadows and tripped the man who was running towards her. She got on the man's back. He had fallen down and twisted his arm behind him. He was grunting in pain, but flipped himself around and knocked Annie off balance. Clearly, he was trained in hand-to-hand combat. She landed a blow on his chest, but not before he had his hands around her neck for a few seconds. He fell back and hit his head on the floor.
Allen Langer appeared from another room. He fired shots at Ryan before taking off towards the stairs. Another man emerged and ran towards the stairs too. Annie managed to fire a fatal shot at the man, but missed Langer. "Go after him, I've got this one," said Annie as she elbows the man Ryan had shot earlier. Seeing that she had things under control, Ryan took to the stairs two at a time.
The man left behind managed to get up and shoved Annie to a wall causing her to lose her grip on her firearm. He picked up a broomstick and swung it at her. She ducked and leapt towards the direction of her gun. He continued to come after her, but not before she army crawled towards her gun and grabbed it. Annie shot him, just as he was about to land the broomstick on her. The man collapsed and fell on top of Annie. She used what strength she has left to push him off.
The close physical contact had taken a toll on Annie, she could feel her chest start to tighten and couldn't catch her breath. She started to go through her pocket for her medicine as the pain began to travel down her arm. She had her medicine out, but wasn't able to administer it before she blacked out.
He wasn't able to catch up with Langer, who had gotten in his car and taken off. Langer was probably calling Caitlyn to tell her that they had to change their plans. McQuaid was angry at himself for being so rash. He shouldn't have fired his weapon at the man he saw shredding papers. He had to admit that Annie was right, he needed to think before he acted. Now they had to get out of there.
Ryan returned and called out, "Walker!"
Shit, McQuaid thought as he approached Annie. He saw her medicine near her hand and quickly injected her. She's still unconscious. He goes into the room and gathers as much of the shredded papers as he can. He looked around and took a bunch of pictures of what he saw. Ryan debated his next move. He looked around. The two other men had to have had a way there. He went out back and found their motorcycles. Ryan rode to the Prius. He drove it back and settled Annie in the backseat and drove back to D.C. It was his only choice. He had to get to Caitlyn.
As Ryan drove he formed a plan. He had to get a message to Arthur. He could trust him. He just needed to make sure Arthur would believe him. He needed him to go to the facility he just left to check it out. Ryan had a feeling that it was the staging area for the Chicago attacks.
Ryan entered the parking garage of a close friend and operative who was out of the country on a mission. After he carried Annie in, he checked her pulse periodically while trying to make sense of the papers and photos he took at the warehouse. The last time she was unconscious when they were in Maracaibo, she was out for about two and a half hours. He would give it that long before he worried. Her pulse had stabilized. He hopes she will be okay, but there's no one he can trusts to come check her out.
When Annie starts to wake up, she felt her throbbing head. She felt disoriented as she tried to remember what happened. She looked at herself and she was only in her tank top and underwear, she saw her clothes neatly folded at the foot of the bed. Annie looked around and saw no pictures or anything personal to indicate where she was. There was a book on the nightstand, a biography of Steve Jobs and Outliers. She looked out the window. She was back in D.C., on the outskirts of Chinatown. It felt like a bachelor's pad. Annie got dressed and found her weapons on the dresser. She armed herself and walked out of the room to take a look around and saw that Ryan had fallen asleep on the couch outside. He was surrounded by paper shreds, he had been trying to piece together.
Annie nudged him.
Ryan woke to a start. "You sure you should be up?"
"I'm okay, thirsty and a little hungry."
"There's water right here," said Ryan handing her a bottle.
"What happened? Did you get anything out of Langer?"
"He got away, when I came back, I saw you and hightailed us out of there after collecting what I could."
Annie drank the water and sat down on the couch next to Ryan.
"Twice I've saved you."
"Twice I've been in danger when with you."
"I wasn't keeping score, just making an observation."
"You undressed me."
"Trust me, I don't enjoy undressing an unconscious woman, I would have much preferred you to be conscious," said Ryan with a wink.
"Someone is in a better mood."
"Yeah, about that, I was angry and needed to get over it. You were right I was being emotional. I've over it now and ready to figure this out so I can clear my name."
"What's all this?"
"Trying to piece together what the man was shredding."
"What have you found?"
"Looks like parts of files on you, Ansari, me, Borz, so far."
"What the hell is all of this about? Why would someone want to frame you and me?"
"I can't wrap my head around it, but first things first. I'll look for some food and you take that bath you've been dreaming about and then we can talk about what we need to do next."
Annie slouched back on the couch and closed her eyes. Eyal! She had to get to him.
"Are you okay?"
He was probably cooking dinner and waiting for her.
"I'm not sure. That bath sounds good."
Ryan smiled. "It's just down the hall on the left."
Annie went to the bathroom, started to run a bath and looked for a way out. She had to get to Eyal's apartment.
She found a pen and wrote Ryan a note. He deserved that much.
Ryan knocked on the bathroom door. There was no answer. He worried that she passed out in the bath and broke the door down. When he discovered the bathroom empty and the window open, he laughed. He should not have underestimated her. He looked around and saw the note:
We're better off on our own here on out. If I find anything, I'll leave it where we had dinner.
Annie entered Eyal's apartment via the fire escape. She spent a few weeks there after her return from Russia. She knew the building well. Eyal was startled but not surprised.
"Thought you wouldn't show. I was about to eat without you."
"What's for dinner?"
They hug tightly for a bit.
"You look like hell Annie."
"I feel like hell."
"You care to tell me about that photo that's surfaced?"
"Neshema, I had nothing to do with that."
"But Mossad did."
He said nothing for a moment. "There's a guy at our surveillance department, apparently he went to college with a member of your NCTC and owed her a favor so he sent her our file on Khalid."
"But you were keeping tabs on Khalid."
Eyal looked at her squarely. "We always keep tabs on our enemies, you do the same."
"He approached me, I wanted nothing to do with him."
"Neshema, you don't need to defend yourself with me."
"You knew I had contact with Khalid and you didn't even ask me about it when I went to see you in Jerusalem."
He shrugged. I didn't need to know. I know you enough, besides the reports said you met for about two minutes and that Khalid walked away upset. Khalid was also followed to you, not the other way around. Unlike your NCTC, I looked at the context.
She smiled. They had their ups and downs, but she could always count on him.
"Seriously, are you taking care of yourself, you don't look so good."
"I feel horrible actually."
Eyal gave her a look of concern. "When was your last episode?"
Annie looked at him afraid to reveal the truth, "About three hours ago or so."
Annie proceeded to give Eyal a quick run down of everything that had happened since her day began about 10 hours ago. Eyal knew this was big. What had his friend gotten sucked into. He sensed this was big and that she needed his help once again.
"Here come lie down and let me listen to your heart."
"I don't have time, I need to figure this out."
"You could collapse again and die my friend, then you won't be figuring anything out, but not while I'm with you." He took her arm and led her to couch.
"Unbutton your shirt."
"Well, that's forward."
"If I were seducing you I'd take it off myself ," said Eyal with a wink.
"I should have seen something like this coming."
"I was too damn busy trying to avoid the CIA while I was on vacation that I let my guard down. . . "
"We'll get to the bottom of this, right now you need to calm down, your pulse is still all over the place. When's the last time you ate or slept consistently?"
Annie's thoughts turned back to Spain with Teo, she slept well there right after she took out Henry and beside Teo. She finally was able to stay asleep for hours at a time. It was like a weight had been lifted from her. She rested while she was in Spain with him.
"It's been awhile."
"Neshema, when are you going to take my advice?"
Eyal had his stethoscope in his ears when McQuaid barged through the door with a gun cocked.
Annie quickly grabbed the weapon in the small of her back and pointed it right at Ryan.
"You don't know how to use the door chime?" asked Eyal.
"Shut up. Annie you okay?"
She looked shocked, how did he find her?
"Yes, Eyal was just listening to my heart."
"Wait you two know each other?"
Ryan meet Eyal Lavin, my Mossad contact.
"Ah the famous Ryan McQuaid. I've read a good deal about you."
The men shake hands.
"How is she?"
"Sounds like it's deteriorated from the last time."
"Uh, he never finished med school so. . ."
"Neshema, you hurt me."
"We don't have much time," said Annie looking at Ryan annoyed.
"Eyal can you tell me what you know?" asked Annie.
"We've been watching Ansari and we followed him to Chicago. But he didn't go on his own."
"He didn't?" asked Annie surprised.
"He was drugged and flown there. When your people shot him dead, he had woken up in that hotel room with the gun."
"So whoever is behind this wanted Khalid traced back to me and wanted us to find his link to Borz and McQuaid," said Annie.
"Looks that way," said Eyal.
"Why go through this whole charade? It's so convoluted," said Ryan.
Annie is thinking about why her life had to get so complicated and full of drama all the time. She needed a break. She never should have returned.
"Look, Eyal, can you get Walker here out of the country?"
"I've only had field medic training, but I agree with your friend who didn't finish med school here, you're not well, you're a liability now. You need to get treatment and leave the rest of this investigation up to me."
"How? How are you going to do this alone?"
"I'm not alone. I made contact with Arthur, he's going to help me."
"I can help you too," said Eyal.
"I came on a private plane. I can sneak you on and get her back to Jerusalem."
"I'm right here, don't I get a say?"
Ryan sat down beside Annie. "As much as I'd love to have you beside me as we figure this out, I want you to be around when this is over."
"You're no spy. You need me to help you."
"I've learned a thing or two from you in our time together. I'll be fine."
It was one of the hardest decisions of Annie's life. She finally chose herself, her life, her health, her future…she nodded.
"Okay, when's the plane leaving?"
"I'll make some calls. You'll have to go in my luggage until we take off."
"You're enjoying this arent' you?" asked Annie.
While Eyal was on the phone. Annie and Ryan spoke.
"This is more about me than it is about you. It looks like Caitlyn has been plotting against me and using my company's access to sell secrets for the last four to five years. I can't believe it's taken this long for me to realize it."
"But why involve me?"
"I'll let you know as soon as we figure it out. Here's a clean phone. Toss it after our first call and have one waiting as a back up once you get out of here."
"I've used a 's bulletin board in the past. My handle is nutzoverlabs."
"Just get your heart fixed."
He swept her hair out of her face and rubbed her cheek with his thumb. "The only good thing to come out of this is meeting you."
She smiled and looked down.
"It was nice to have met you too. Maybe we can have that dinner when this is all over."
Ryan leaned in and kissed her tenderly.
"That's all the incentive I need to get to the bottom of this."
Eyal cleared his throat.
"Leaving in 2 hours. We need to get to the airstrip."
"Take care of her."
"Wait, here's a Mossad file on the Altans. Maybe it can help. They were from Chechnya," said Eyal as he handed Ryan an envelope.
"Thanks, I owe you," said Ryan before he left.
Annie made it safely onto Eyal's chartered flight back to Israel, but not before she had Eyal go to one of her storage units to grab her cash and passports. It was a bit of a gamble to count on him not revealing her identities, but she needed some documents.
When out of D.C. airspace, Eyal opened the luggage closet and pulled out his duffel. He could see how the last few days had taken a toll on her. Eyal helped Annie out of her bag.
"I spoke with Rivka."
"What? Why? She hates me."
"Not true. She wants you to work for us."
Annie had to admit it was tempting. She spoke Hebrew fluently and a slew of other languages that Mossad valued in their operatives. She had a tumultuous time at the CIA and they obviously would rather jump to conclusions about her than give her trust. Maybe it was time she moved on. Why did she even return anyway? What was it that made it home?
"Rivka has conditions of course. You need to have surgery and go through our debriefs and pass our physical after you recover."
"How long will that take?"
"Well, I'm no real doctor, but you're otherwise in good health, so five or six months with physical therapy?"
"Five or six months?"
"You didn't think this was a weekend trip did you? It's heart surgery Neshema!"
"No, but . . . I've lost so much of my life already. . . "
Annie sighed. "I guess another half a year isn't that much in the grand scheme of things."
"No it's not and you'll be healthy again."
"Okay, I have conditions too."
"I want to work with only you."
"I'm flattered! We will be working together. I wouldn't have it any other way. What else? You said conditions."
"I need to know that my sister is safe, that she's kept out of all of this."
"I don't want to do this work indefinitely. There has to be an end. You were right Eyal when you said it was sad of me to say that being a spy was all I had. When this is over, what next? What's the next disaster or drama that will take over my life? When did my job take over my life?"
"I can work with that. I thought you'd want a fancy car and huge allowance for fancy clothes and purses. Tell me when you want out Annie and I'll help you get out. I told you what the goal of a spy is. . . to know when to get out. I think all of this was meant to happen. . . you and me partners."
"Kismet," they both said at the same time.
"But I can't go out like this. I need to clear my name and get to the bottom of this."
"Let me and Ryan worry about clearing your name. You worry about your surgery and recover. Let other people help you for a change."
Annie nodded. "It took all this to happen for me to see that you were right."
"Of course I am, Israelis are always right," said Eyal with a wink. "Now really, you can rest. You're safe."
"I'd love to lie on the beach for a few days and eat falafels before that surgery. I need to work on my tan."
Eyal smiled. "I'll see what we can do about that."
She fell asleep quickly. . . Eyal looked over her as she slept the worry on his face came, he didn't want her to see it earlier. She was always coming in and out of his life and he looked forward to each encounter. She was his friend and she was important to him. More than he ever let her know. His fear for her this time was concrete. Her heart wasn't strong enough to push out the blood that pooled into it. The paleness in her face, lips, and skin and the coldness of her hands told him that. She may not just need surgery, she may need a new heart, but he wasn't a cardiologist and he didn't want to alarm her.