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Chapter 20

"On speaker," said Nathan firmly as Annie dialed Joan using a satellite phone she had taken from McQuaid's equipment. Annie studied Nathan, part of her still unable to read him. Did she succeed in winning his trust?

"Where are you? McQuaid knows you're gone already," started Joan.

"I'll send my coordinates when Nathan and I are done, try to keep him on a leash," said Annie.

"Nathan and you? What has he sucked you into? Remember you were just given leeway to find out what he is up to," said Joan.

"Well, I found out and I'm going to help him, so please stall Ryan," said Annie.

"I'm not his favorite person, he might be able to track you down before that and this isn't a good idea, Nathan's loyalties are unknown," said Joan.

"I know what our friend Nathan has been up to and it's nothing nefarious," said Annie.

"He needs a guarantee from you that he won't be detained and taken back to the U.S."

"In exchange for what?" asked Joan.

Annie looked over at Nathan.

"In exchange for information to bring down Belenko's network, according to Nathan it's quite extensive," said Annie.

She could hear Joan breathing on the other end.

"You trust him?" asked Joan.

"Yes, I believe his motive is genuine and I'm still alive," said Annie looking into Nathan's eyes.

"Okay then, he has a deal, we won't bring him home, but I do want all his intel," said Joan.

"Can we have that in writing?" asked Annie.

"What is he going to do? Just disappear into the wilderness?" asked Joan.

"I didn't ask, but I think he's going to be all right after he does this, it's his way of clearing his conscience," said Annie.

"So where are you headed?" asked Joan.

"I know, we've got a good head start, but I'll tell you once we're there just to be safe," said Annie.

"I need a handle on where you are, Nathan may not want our help, but your safety is still my concern and Ryan said you gave up all your medication," said Joan.

"Where are you Annie?" demanded Joan.

"I'll make contact when I can," said Annie.

"I can't let you do that Annie, not in your condition," said Joan.

"It's too late Joan, this is the only way Nathan and I will have it," said Annie.

"We need to debrief him after, make sure he knows that," said Joan.

"I've kept copious notes, you won't need to debrief me," said Nathan surprising Joan.

Joan was thinking on the other end.

"Nathan, if anything happens to my operative, you will have to answer to me," said Joan.

"Tell Ryan, I'll meet up with him once I'm back in Azerbaijian," said Annie.

Joan let out a long exhale.

"Okay, I'll draw up the papers and have them sent to Ryan for you to sign Nathan," said Joan.

"Thanks Joan," said Annie.

"You take care of yourself Annie," said Joan.

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So what was she talking about?" asked Nathan changing the subject.

"Huh?" asked Annie.

"She said you don't have your meds," said Nathan.

"I've lost things too Nathan, for the longest time all I wanted was to protect my job at all costs, it was all I had left and it gave me purpose. Hell, I was good at it. But sometimes it takes having things taken away for us to see what's really important," said Annie chuckling.

"Here, let's switch, pull over. I'll drive and you can look at the video footage Auggie sent of your funeral. A lot of people were there, you were loved Nathan and you're missed by many. That says something to me," said Annie.

Curious, Nathan slowed the car down and Annie got into the driver's seat.

"Where are we headed?"

"Follow the signs for Tbilisi," said Nathan. Annie drove towards the heart of Georgia, Tbilisi.

Nathan watched the video as his parents, his siblings and his wife spoke. Then about a dozen friends including Auggie and James Decker stood up to pay tribute to him. Annie watched tears stream down his scarred face.

"I never meant to hurt my friends and my wife especially. I was just so angry with the military," said Nathan, but even if I wanted to go back, who would have me looking like this?

"Your scars are on the outside, but mine are on the inside. . .we all have our baggage, but it's how we see ourselves that matters the most," said Annie.

Nathan nodded.

"So what's the plan?"

"Belenko had another brother who uses an alias, he's now a wealthy and powerful man in the city, an associate of Belenko's wired all of his assets to this brother before the U.S. had all his assets frozen."

"We didn't have another brother on the radar, where did you get this intel?"

"I have a friend who has been helping me with surveillance, someone less conspicuous than me," said Nathan.

"Who?"

"I have a safe house in town," said Nathan evading the question.

"So how are we going to bring down this brother?" asked Annie.

"We need to get into his bank accounts and wire his funds into a few off shore accounts we've opened," said Nathan.

"How are we going to get access to this brother?" asked Annie.

"That's where you will come in handy," said Nathan.

"If Belenko is involved, he knows me and could have told his brother and associates about me," said Annie.

"That's a risk we'll have to take," said Nathan.