Chapter 2

Note: I do not own these characters. They belong to CA Writers/USA.

Shifting back in time as I like to do in my writing. . .

Upon landing in Venezuela after being in the air for nearly eight hours, Ryan needed to see about refueling and pay fees for storing his plane a couple of nights. While Ryan took care of paper work and a requisite maintenance check at the small airport, Annie snooped around and found regular flights to Maracaibo. The security checks weren't stellar as it was an in country flight, it would be the perfect place to leave undetected. With Ryan on the tarmac going over paper work, she had purchased a ticket to leave later that day. He suspected nothing.

It wouldn't be difficult for her to think of a reason to leave the villa. She had to make a brief stop in Marcaibo before another stop in Columbia to take care of some business. And then she wasn't exactly sure what next. She painted a number of possible scenarios in her head, but nothing was clear just yet other than parting from Ryan later in the day. One step at a time she told herself.

When her myocarditis came to light, Calder and Joan benched her, anger fueled desire to fight and continue. She wanted to prove to Joan and Langley that she was still in the game. Then something Roger Bennett said about spy craft watered a seed that had been planted long ago. Roger's words though stayed with her. He said, the very thing he was good at was killing him. She could relate to him even though he didn't know it and his death impacted her in a way she didn't expect. She felt horrible that he became collateral damage in the investigation into the Chicago bombing. It was a stark contrast to what she felt when Borz Altan and Harris Wilson died while in her company.

In the elusive moments of solitude and calm over the last couple of weeks, she began to think about her future after all was said and done. It felt like the universe was telling her to stop living this life. It was slowly going to kill her. Look at what it had done to her already. Images of people who had tried to send her that same warning flooded back. She had known all along where she was headed if she continued living the way she lived, but heeded no one. Not Ray Gaskin, not Christopher Macauley, not Simon Fischer, not even Eyal Lavin. It was an unlikely person, Roger, who made her question everything. Now was time to deal with herself while she was still able to. Any more living on a few hour's sleep and adrenalin as her fuel instead of good healthy food and a solid night's sleep she would be dead in a matter of months. She could see it.

After her donut and coffee with Roger the drama only accelerated and the scrapes she and those around her narrowly escaped were television worthy. She vowed that when she got to the bottom of the current case, she would focus on her health, she wanted to live a long life and her current lifestyle wasn't going to cut it. All those thoughts were pushed down as more and more was revealed and it all connected to Belenko and Auggie's time in Chechnya, there was always something else that was more important. But she had to see it all through first. That was Annie Walker.

Annie's heart condition reared its head more often than she anticipated since returning and while she hated to admit it, at times it did get in the way of her missions. She couldn't continue following Borz, she wouldn't have made it without Ryan's help in Azerbaijan, and just a day ago, if the man she viewed as an enemy didn't help her, she could be in God knows what condition. That last episode was the straw that broke the camel's back.

During the course of her hunt for Belenko, she was scared of an episode coming on. She was scared it may be her last and her eyes would never open again. Ryan's proposal took her by surprise and it almost made her want to stay and keep living her life, then she blacked out and woke up feeling unsteady and completely vulnerable. Imagining her life was in the hands of a heartless criminal, scared the shit out of her. She felt something coming on even before she and Ryan split up but she pushed herself. What she did put Ryan in danger, what if he needed her help and she couldn't provide it because she collapsed. She would never forgive herself. And suddenly she had some clarity. This job like Eyal said, was just a job, she knew it was time to quit as much as that hurt her pride to admit. And it was also time to stop before her relationship with Ryan went any further.

Annie's plans to skip going back to D.C. with Ryan came together in Buenos Aires. She and Ryan spent a night there making sure everything was in order for Belenko's transport back to the States. He was talking as if they would have a wonderful carefree life in D.C. Making plans that would never come to fruition because she was sick and getting sicker. When she spoke with Auggie and Joan regarding the next steps, Joan spoke as if Annie was still working for her, but her heart wasn't in it anymore. For the first time she didn't want to continue. She was done chasing Belenko and she was ready to hand him off to the CIA now that Auggie was no longer in danger. Joan sensed the hesitation in her voice.

"We can talk more later, but Annie, know this, I will go to bat for you. I want us to move forward and past what happened. I am sorry for not trusting that you always put this agency and this country first."

"Thanks Joan. I will ask for your help. I need a little time to think about next steps."

Annie left the door open with Joan. She needed allies and help to start over and wasn't about to burn the bridge Joan was building between them.

"Enjoy your time with Ryan."

"Bye Joan."

/

Before leaving Buenos Aires with Ryan, Annie made a call.

"Hello?" answered the man on the other end.

"It's Annie."

"I didn't expect to hear from you so soon."

"I need a favor."

"What is it?"

"Can you meet me in Maracaibo tomorrow?"

"Maracaibo?" There was surprise in his voice.

"I think I can swing that," he responded.

"You think or you can?" She didn't have much more time.

"What's wrong Annie?"

"Bring credentials and an I.D. under the name Jorge Garcia."

"You got it."

"I'll call you from another phone tomorrow with specifics."

"At least tell me what's going on." There was concern in his voice.

"Not now. And thank you."

"I owe you, see you tomorrow."