Note:When Annie gave Zarya her travel and identification documents (the ones Eyal prepped for her) in Ep 11 of Season 3 they were for a Canadian woman, Nicole Perkins. My assumption is that is the new identity Zarya Fischer lived under.
It was a lovely Saturday afternoon over a three-day weekend. Washington D.C. buzzed with tourists and locals enjoying the sunshine and nation's monuments. Annie took a circuitous route from Georgetown to the Lincoln Memorial all the while thinking back on Simon, Cuba, Lena, and Russia. Those were dark times, turning points for her, thus she emerged a different person.
Before Annie parked and exited her car, she used her newly purchased scarf to cover her head. Annie arrived at the crowded steps of the Lincoln Memorial ahead of Zarya and Simone. Her eagerness to sit down and talk freely with Zarya motivated her to make her way there quickly after she exited her car. She also wanted to scan the area ahead of Zarya's arrival. Her distrustful nature was something that became finely honed after her dealings with Lena Smith and then Henry Wilcox. Meeting Ryan helped her learn to trust again and he earned the highest form of her trust when over time she fell in love with him, but she was always cautious as a function of her field of work.
As for Zarya, she never paid much attention when her brother and mother tried to school her in the basics of spy craft. They warned her to always have her guard up and to be watchful of those around her and to treat nothing as a coincidence, but she was always the free spirit in the family untilSimon died. In recent years she appreciated their wisdom and held on to their lessons as a way of feeling close to them. Their advice always seemed to pop up when she needed them most.
When Annie came to her after she escaped from Lefortovo and told her she wasn't safe, she naively thought she could leave and disappear as herself and with her actual documents. Zarya owed her life to Annie who gave up her own clean Canadian passport so that she could start over. From then on, she wised up and the learning curve was steep, but she became distrustful and guarded like Simon. Zarya took a roundabout way to the meeting as well.
Annie scanned the steps to the Lincoln Memorial, then took a few photos and found a spot in the general area she described to Zarya. She placed her tote bag down beside her and took out the book she purchased earlier and started to read, but her concentration was elsewhere as she bit the insides of her cheeks.
Once again, Annie started to review everything that led Simon Fischer into her life and unfortunately that included thinking about Lena Smith. The anger and hatred she thought she buried long ago bubbled up in her. She never quite did the necessary work to process that time of her life and never fully acknowledged how those events radically changed her outlook and psyche.
Putting bullets into Lena didn't undo what Lena had done to Jai, Simon or the lasting effects of Annie's gunshot wounds. She hated Lena even more because of the last words she uttered. . . that killing her would change Annie…Lena was right, Annie was never the same after she killed Lena. Unknowingly Annie's shoulders tensed and she clenched her jaw and fists as she thought about how Lena set her up from the beginning. How could she have been so stupid and naïve. Her need to prove herself made her easy to manipulate. The anger and regret continued coursing back through her body as her mind wandered to the events of three years ago.
When she came back from Russia her work life picked up without losing a beat, she did not take the time to decompress or review all the files starting from Jai's investigation of the mole at Langley to what happened to her in her sister's kitchen. Langley was also quick to put the Lena Smith debacle behind them. Files were swiftly classified and redacted. Lena's division disbanded and everyone polygraphed, thoroughly vetted and reassigned. Annie was never debriefed fully, she figured it was the Agency's way of tacitly thanking her for putting Lena down. The powers that be spared her from a lengthy vetting process to get back in the field and of course she was given a handsome cash bonus.
Delving back into her work as a covert operative was one way she put the painful loss of Simon behind her. The details of that time of her life seemed to matter less and less, but now, seeing Zarya changed all of that. Annie took a deep breath when she realized her body had tensed up undoing all the relaxation from her yoga workshop. She looked up soaking in the sun and took a deep breath as she stretched her neck to the left and right and then her shoulders by clasping her hands behind her back.
Annie's read of Zarya during their short interaction at the café was that she was eager to discuss something, maybe she'd even go so far as to say she was anxious to get something off her chest. Zarya had gone to great lengths and come a long way to see Annie. What could Zarya possibly want to talk to her in person about? Time ticked away while Annie thought about the past that found her present. She looked at her watch, she had already been there fifteen minutes when she started to wonder where Zarya was. . . she tried not to play worst case scenario in her brain as she looked at her phone for the time again she saw the red stroller approaching.
Out of breath Zarya said, "Sorry everything just takes longer with a baby, I had to find a bathroom with a changing table and then she fell asleep during the cab ride here, so it took extra time to get her into the stroller."
Annie smiled as she looked at the sleeping angel, she looked so peaceful, "I'm glad you made it."
Zarya embraced Annie warmly and the two women let out a collective exhale before separating. Both of them had tears in their eyes when they looked at each other.
"It's good that we're here I've always wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial and I can tell my partner the truth when he asks me what we did all day," said Zarya.
"Tell me, what's he like?" asked Annie who wanted to put Zarya at ease, but also learn some details about the man.
"He's a good man, I looked into him. Made sure he was not connected to the life my family once had. He's decent, kind, hard-working, persistent, he can get lost in his research and his work, a bit boring some might say, but he makes me feel normal, safe, ordinary, not. . . not who I really am," said Zarya.
"You have nothing to be ashamed of," said Annie feeling sad that Zarya's life took this turn.
"Don't get me wrong, I love the life I have now. I love him and now her. Really, I do," said Zarya sensing she had to convince her doubtful friend.
"But I wonder things sometimes and…it's hard to keep all my thoughts and questions to myself, sometimes I just want someone to talk to and I talk to her, but I can't keep that up as she grows up," said Zarya looking at her baby.
"So your husband doesn't know who you really are?" asked Annie, sad for Zarya. In Ryan she had someone who knew her thoughts and longings in ways no man ever did even though there were still things he didn't know about her past.
"We're not married. I feel badly for keeping things from him, I was never good at lying and pretending I suppose necessity, fear and paranoia trained me these last few years, but to take a vow in a church? I couldn't do that," said Zarya as her voice cracked. "He knows I have a troubled past and left home to escape it, but not much more than that. I'm afraid I led him to believe I was from an abused home. He knows I don't like to talk about it and he's left me alone."
"You're a survivor, you used what you learned growing up and what you picked up along the way and look, you've come this far," encouraged Annie.
"Only because of you and your friend Eyal," said Zarya.
"Don't sell yourself short, we haven't been with you day-to-day, keep trusting yourself, trust your instincts, now tell me what led those instincts here to D.C.," said Annie.
There was silence for a brief moment before Zarya leaned in and whispered, "I didn't want to tell Eyal because I didn't want to worry you. He told me you married and well, I didn't want to bring up the past and stop you from the happiness you deserve after everything that happened because of my brother."
"The last thing you should be doing is worrying about me, I don't blame Simon for anything, I loved him," said Annie as her voice cracked. She continued, "I loved him very much."
Zarya looked at Annie, the tears returning. "I know you did and I know you risked everything because your love for him extended to me and I'll be grateful for as long as I live."
The two women looked at each other for a few moments, both of them moved to tears. Annie put her hand on Zarya's back.
"Why don't you start at the beginning. . ." said Annie squeezing her arm.
"I don't know where to begin. . .and I don't know what you know or knew," said Zarya looking into Annie's eyes. "Whatever you knew, I know you were protecting me," said Zarya.
Annie started to treat the conversation delicately as if she were trying to get information from an asset. Her brain kicked in high gear and she started to focus in on Zarya, her body language, her tone of voice, her eye movements. She wasn't sure what Zarya was referring to and was eager to hear from her.
"I've felt so unsettled for a time."
"Back up, start at the beginning, tell me why were you feeling unsettled? I want to hear everything, nothing is insignificant," said Annie in a soft tone as she put her hand on Zarya's and looked at her the way Danielle used to look at Annie when she wanted her to tell her what was on her mind. All the details genuinely interested Annie because as a covert operative, that's what she was taught, to keep track of small things to see if they figured into a bigger picture.
Zarya began her story, "After we parted ways in Russia, I was constantly afraid and anxious. So much so it affected my physical health. Whenever something scared me, I left, I ran. It was hard and I was never so lonely. I moved around all over Italy and Greece, I even spent a few weeks at a convent in Albania while I searched myself, trying to figure out what I was meant to do. My brother and both my parents, they knew what they were destined to be. I was the aimless one. Simon might have seen me as his "bright star", but I needed to find my own compass. I realized I had to support myself because I couldn't risk accessing any of my family's accounts when the money you gave me ran out. The safe deposit boxes Simon told me about in case of emergencies were also out of the question. . .I was too afraid to go to them."
"I'm sorry it was so hard on you, I should have been there to help you, I wish you did ask me for help," said Annie.
"No, it wasn't your fault and you weren't responsible for me. You had already done more than enough to help me. I needed to grow up finally. Simon never said that to me, he always supported my dream to have my own cafe because he could and I had my inheritance, but I know he wanted me to do more with my life. He always encouraged me to go back to university, so I did. I did it for him at first, but then it became mine, my dreams and my passions."
"That's great Zarya, I'm glad you found a way to move on. Keep going. Tell me about what you did next."
"I settled in Germany where it was easy to blend in and get a temporary residence permit. I wasn't gifted in languages like Simon, I could only speak Russian and English fluently at the time with a smattering of basic French. My German was weak, but I picked it up easily while I worked as a waitress and an au pair all while taking classes. I finished my college degree and became a medical translator and I returned to my art, painting and sketching was my therapy."
"I'm glad you found something that makes you happy," said Annie.
"My health was still terrible from all the stress. I moved flats and sometimes stayed in hostels inventing stories about who I was. I varied my routines constantly. I was always looking over my shoulder until one day I met Sven while translating Russian to German for a patient of his. Then suddenly he had many Russian patients. He asked me to coffee about a week after we met. I kept my distance, but it was nice to make a friend. That's how we started out. Slowly I got healthy, started eating better and sleeping better, thanks to Sven. Then he asked me to go back to Switzerland with him. He finished his medical degree and was off to get his Ph.D. I told him no. I stayed in Germany, but did move from Berlin to Munich to be closer to Zurich. Sven came to visit me every chance he had and every time I could I went to Zurich, but I made no promises. I learned not to. . . "
In many ways, Zarya's story reminded Annie of her own. They both guarded their hearts for a time after Simon died.
"I probably would have done the same in your situation," said Annie.
"It just didn't feel right still, what if I have to leave in a hurry like before?"
"I understand, it's hard to feel totally safe and secure," said Annie.
"I knew you would understand. I didn't marry him, but I moved to Zurich. The weeks and months went by and I didn't feel like I was being watched. I didn't let my guard down, but I was less anxious. One day I realized I was happy. Happy in Switzerland and happy with Sven."
"But then something happened," said Annie trying not to appear anxious for Zarya to move on with the story.
"Well for one, I got pregnant unexpectedly," said Zarya.
"I thought about ending the pregnancy, I didn't tell Sven for about two weeks while I debated what to do. He knew it before I told him and he started dropping hints like he would love to be a dad one day and what fun it would be to push a baby on the swings when we walked by a playground. So that settled it because I wanted the baby too."
"You have a family again and I'm happy for you, then what happened?" asked Annie.
"Before the baby came, we took a trip. He had a meeting at Oxford and suggested I go with him for a holiday before the baby came. I didn't want to go, I was afraid to go back there to see the places that would remind me of my childhood and those early days after we left Russia, but I felt this pull. . . something telling me that I should go back there. I had a dream about my brother and I took it as a sign that I should go. Soon after I arrived, I felt like I was being followed and I knew I made a mistake."
"Your photo on the passport. . . they use facial recognition, you probably triggered something when you entered the country," whispered Annie.
Zarya nodded. "I know, I didn't think about that and I'm sorry Annie. It was stupid, so stupid."
"So let's see, you were on someone's radar. You said you felt like you were being followed, did you ever identify the person or people following you?"
Zarya reached for her purse and took out her travel journal. Tucked into it was a folded pencil and charcoal sketch. She opened it up and handed it to Annie. Annie studied it. She didn't recognize the man. "I spoke to him," said Zarya.
Annie's stomach lurched. Zarya had contact with this unknown man, red flags went up in her head.
"It's a very good sketch," said Annie.
"Do you mind if I take a photo of this?"
Zarya shook her head.
"Do you know who he is?"
Zarya shook her head, "I'm not sure who he is, but he is British, at least from his accent and the way he spoke. He's older, very well dressed. I know how to spot custom suits, he is at least my parents' age, in his late 60s. Annie, I think he works for British Intelligence."
"What makes you say that? He could be with the FSB," asked Annie confused.
"The way he approached me, the things he said and what I remembered after he approached me," said Zarya.
"Tell me what happened exactly."
Zarya nodded, took a deep breath and described her interaction with the man in the sketch.
"Since Sven had a day long meeting in Oxford, I went into London. I was excited to revisit some of the places I went to with Simon and my parents. I wanted to somehow feel connected to them, so I went to the British Museum out of nostalgia. My mother took my brother and I there often. She said we could study and learn about entire civilizations at that one museum. We loved spending time there and learning about thousands of years of civilization. Getting lost was an adventure, yet I still felt safe with my brother. I figured if I were being followed, I could get lost in the crowd. . . "
Zarya sighed as if lost at the museum.
"What happened?" prompted Annie.
Zarya continued, "I was looking at the Rosetta Stone when the man came beside me. He got pretty close, closer than a stranger would and it wasn't even that crowded at the Stone that day. I was scared, the hairs stood up on my arms as he spoke to me."
He said, "You were good, your brother taught you well, but you made a mistake when you entered the United Kingdom. You were flagged thanks to our facial recognition system."
"So he's someone affiliated with the British government?" asked Annie.
Zarya nodded. "That's how I knew he was somehow affiliated with intelligence. Annie, there was also something very familiar about his voice, he was older, much older than I remembered. . .but memories of staying up past my bedtime and hearing voices after I was supposed to be in bed returned. This man visited our home a couple of times when we were young," said Zarya.
Annie's brow furrowed as she thought hard about the implications of what Zarya shared.
"Tell me what else you remember from your interaction with this man," asked Annie.
"At first I told him he had mistaken me for someone else, but he persisted and spoke like he knew my brother so I asked him who he was and what he wanted."
He said, "I'm not here to cause you any harm, just the opposite in fact. I want to tell you to keep on living your life and don't look back. You've managed to keep yourself safe and go undetected for a long time, but don't underestimate the memory of the Russians and the FSB."
"So then I asked him, why the FSB would still come after me," said Zarya.
"What did he say?" asked Annie.
He said, "It's not me they would want, it's where I could lead them."
"Where you could lead them? I don't understand. . ." said Annie.
"I don't know either, but he warned me to stay away from my family's estate and my brother's properties if I wanted to stay in hiding. He thought I needed money. He told me he would make sure I had funds and what I needed," said Zarya.
"What did you tell him?" asked Annie.
"I told him I was managing just fine," said Zarya.
"What did he say to that?" Annie asked feeling extremely suspicious of man and his intentions. Someone offering money, probably wanted Zarya to feel indebted to him.
"He pointed to my belly and said, he was sure I'd need help because children are expensive and that scared me."
Annie felt even more uncomfortable.
"This man found out a lot about you in a short amount of time Zarya, he must be well connected," said Annie.
"The thing is, he wasn't threatening me in any way, but I felt scared so I got up, but not before he said, I could contact him through this man, he said he helped my brother and he would help me too, so the man gave me this card with a name and a number," said Zarya as she took out the card and showed it to Annie.
"So you never got this man's name?" asked Annie pointing to the sketch.
"No," said Zarya.
"May I take a photograph of this as well?" asked Annie pointing to the card with the name Gerald Matthews and a number on it. Zarya nodded.
"Go ahead, I have it memorized and think about calling it just to ask him questions about Simon, but every time I started, I stopped," said Zarya.
Annie nodded. She understood the conflicted feelings Zarya had. "Then what happened?"
"He said goodbye to me and that I was Simon's bright star and he would have been proud of me," said Zarya as her voice cracked.
"That I can agree with, you were his bright star," said Annie cheerfully despite feeling troubled by what Zarya shared.
Zarya smiled weakly, "I was shaking after he left. I wandered around the museum because it made me feel close to Simon. I felt better and sat in the café to sketch the man's face. Then when I returned to the hotel, there was someone in the elevator with me. He entered after me and I only got a brief look because he faced forward. He dropped a parcel and said, "Pardon me, you seemed to have dropped this. Then he handed me an envelope and quickly exited the elevator."
"What was in the envelope?"
"A new French passport, ten thousand euros, and an ATM card for a French bank," said Zarya.
"Tell me the date and time this happened, I might be able to look back on security images for the hotel that day," said Annie as she handed Zarya her book and a pen to write with.
As she was writing, Zarya asked, "So Annie, what do you think of all this? Did you know or suspect . . ." and then trailed off as she looked square into Annie's face.
Annie looked down. It had never occurred to her that Simon was a double for the Crown. As far as she knew, he was a Russian asset, a former FSB officier.
Zarya interrupted Annie's thoughts, "Do you think it's possible my brother was actually working for British Intelligence because this man, he wasn't Russian or do you think it was a trap? A test of some sort?"
Zarya said out loud what entered Annie's mind as she listed to her. She thought hard, "I don't know, after the shooting, I wasn't given much information. My agency wanted to put it all to bed and I guess I didn't want to revisit Simon's murder and my shooting and everything that happened afterwards. . . I am going to look into it, I promise," said Annie who wanted answers now too.
"I've had so many questions and I wish I could have made it to you sooner. Annie, I want to ask you to do something for me, but I understand if it is too hard or if you don't want to revisit that part of your past."
"Zarya, I'm so glad you came to me, I'll always help you," said Annie.
"I hate to ask this of you. You've already done so much and. . ."
Annie interrupted, "Ask me anything! Always, you can always come to me."
"We had a caretaker at the family estate, my parents hired him when we defected. He was fond of us kids. He was widowed young and lost his wife and son. He never remarried, instead he worked on our estate. He was especially fond of Simon and Simon him, I tried to look for information on him, but there's nothing online. He's old now, maybe in his late 70s, but Simon kept him on even when he was too old to work the grounds. I didn't find any death certificates, so I know he must still be alive. He may have answers and he may remember the late night visits from this gentleman."
Annie nodded. "What's his name?"
"His name is Duncan Lewis. He was like father figure to us. I followed him around the garden and grounds, but he was always patient. Duncan is a good man. My brother trusted him. I know you can trust him. I last spoke to him after news of Simon's death. He pleaded with me to return to England, said my brother asked him to make sure I was okay if anything happened to him. But I said, I had a café to run and my brother would want me to go on. I promised him I would make it for Christmas that year, but I never did…"
"I'll find him," said Annie.
Zarya breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thank you, thank you so much Annie," said Zarya as she hugged Annie tightly. .
Suddenly Simone woke and began to fuss. Zarya stood and leaned over the stroller .
"May I hold her?" asked Annie.
"Of course," said Zarya.
Annie enjoyed the smiley and drooling baby who shoved her fists into her mouth.
"So tell me about you and your husband Annie, are you planning on having any babies?"
Annie smiled despite her recent disappointment. "We've been trying," said Annie as she continued to coo and sweet talk Simone.
"For me, I wasn't trying and it happened. It will happen for you Annie and you'll be a wonderful mother," said Zarya.
"Thanks Zarya," smiled Annie.
"Tell me about your husband, is he also in the same type of work," asked Zarya.
"Similar, but not the same," said Annie.
"Are you happy?"
"Very," said Annie smiling and thinking of Ryan.
"Zarya, I better go make arrangements to travel to London. I'll try to get back before you leave D.C., but if I don't, I'll come to you in Zurich," said Annie as she kissed Simone on the head and handed her back to her mother.
"I can't thank you enough Annie. It was so good to see you, I wish we could spend more time together," said Zarya.
"Me too," said Annie.
The two women hugged and said good-bye.
As Annie walked back to her car her mind went into overdrive, did her agency know this information or were they entirely in the dark? Did Joan know any of this? Who could she trust? Should she call Ryan and tell him everything, he didn't know about Zarya and she never named Simon's name, only that she fell in love with someone once from a rival agency and that it didn't end well. In the end, Annie decided to see what she could find out on her own and then reassess from there. She drove home and packed a carry on bag before driving herself to the Dulles. She booked herself on the next flight into Heathrow. Then she called an old friend who worked for MI-6. He owed her a favor.