Author's Note: I do not own Mission Impossible or any of the characters.

Warning: Potential spoilers for Rogue Nation and Fallout

Additional Author's Note: Apologies for waiting a while for this. This first chapter has been written for a while now but I thought I'd postpone the posting till today. And for a good reason.

Today is October 19th. Since the two share the same birthday (same year, even - what were the odds?), let's celebrate both the spy and the awesome actress behind her. I know the character is fictional but I don't care.

Happy birthday, Ilsa Faust! And … Happy birthday, Rebecca Ferguson!

Now on with the show …

Chapter 1

Norfolk, Virginia

A month had passed since Kashmir. After Ethan and Sloane had managed to get Lane shipped off to MI6, Ilsa had promptly gone to London and closed up shop. She had had enough of MI6, after the way she had been treated for quite a long time. She wasn't sure where she would be doing next. Hence why, when Ethan had made the same offer that Ilsa had made all those years earlier, 'Come away with me', she had hesitated. Because she had known that offer had meant her joining IMF. Did she want to continue this life? Or did she want to find a new path?

It hadn't taken Ilsa long to realize that … spying was what she was good at. Pretty much the only thing she was good at. In any other field of work, she would probably have to start from scratch. And it was rather late to try and find a new career for herself. So, in the end, Ilsa decided to contact the IMF. Soon enough, she was taking the required tests. She hadn't told anyone from her old team (Ethan and the others) that she was planning to join them. Wanted to be a surprise.

That day, she had the final step before actually joining the IMF. A face-to-face interview with the Secretary. Ilsa didn't know who the new Secretary was. Was it Sloane? Was it someone else? Probably not all that important. Anyway … in order to get to this interview, someone needed to bring her in. When asking for how would she know who that was … the answer had been 'you will know'.

Please don't be Ethan. Any of the others. Just not Ethan.

So that was why Ilsa sat inside a local office of Virginia Department of Transportation. Patiently waiting. She had arrived early, wanting to scout the place a bit. Just in case. She had been waiting there for about five minutes, when a familiar voice asked her: "Madame, I understand you had some questions about our brochure. Would you follow me, please, so we can discuss your concerns?"

Luther. If they wouldn't have been in public, she would've probably hugged the big man. Instead, Ilsa just acted all professional. She nodded, before stating: "Finally, I've been waiting here for 5 minutes. I do have some important things to discuss with you." She kept on blabbering away about some made-up concerns, until they were out of view. That was when she dropped the act and smiled relieved. "I was hoping it would be you … "

"I was kind of hoping you would come, Ilsa. Just expecting it to be a little sooner. Come here." And a big bear hug enveloped her the next second. "It's good to see you."

"Good to see you too, Luther. How are the others? How is … um … How is he?" He would know whom she was referring to. Especially after that talk they had had in London.

"Oh, you know … Same old Ethan," he replied with a small grin.

She nodded and smiled knowingly. "Hm … Let me guess. Off doing crazy stunts somewhere?"

"Pretty much. Actually, he and Benjy just returned from a mission this morning. Probably just finished debriefing. We, Brandt included, will all be going out for some drinks later … If you want to join us."

"Well … Don't know how long the interview will take but … Sure. Address?"

"One more thing to cover. I am aware of the relationship that you have with Agent Hunt. Both professional and … personal."

Ilsa said nothing. It was pointless to play dumb. She was more interested to see where this was going.

"I don't need to tell you how personal interactions can affect our work. It could have … disastrous consequences. If you intend to pursue the personal aspect of your relationship with Agent Hunt, know that there is no room for error."

"I understand, Mr. Secretary." And nothing else needed to be said. Any other details were between herself and Ethan. Nobody else. Not even the Secretary.

"Good. Dismissed. You can pick up your credentials tomorrow at the front desk. Agent Stickell will be your guide until you get settled in."

"You still didn't tell me where you went off to, Luther. You've been gone for over an hour."

"Benji … I promise I'll tell you. Later. Scout's honor … "

The Brit looked at him rather suspiciously, then shook his head. "You Americans and your scout's promises. Were you even a scout?"

"Come on, Benji. He said he would tell us … It's not like he met with a foreign agent and got convinced to sell us out, right?" Brandt stared at Luther with some amusement in his eyes, but also some seriousness. Of course he was kidding. Just not really picked the right topic to ease off Benji's worries.

"You're not helping, Brandt. You're not helping. For that, you're buying the next round. As soon as Ethan returns from the restroom."

"Which is … now." Ethan's voice sounded from right behind them. "So … we're waiting, Brandt."

William Brandt was just about to make the order to the bartender, when an unexpected yet very familiar voice interrupted his movement towards the bartender. "Can I have one of the same too, please?"

Everybody looked in shock towards the end of the counter. And there she was, staring at them with that unmistakable smile of hers. And the first to react was her fellow Brit, who jumped promptly off the stool and almost tackled her.

"Ilsa! Oh my God … You're here. Uh … Why are you here?"

"Well, first of all … as of right now, you can call me 'colleague'."

"Huh? OH … Oh wow. Congratulations."

"Knew you could do it, kid," Luther grinned wholeheartedly.

"Uh … Kid? Really?" She looked amused at the big man. No real problem. It was all in good fun.

"Wait a minute." Benji got the lightbulb moment. "Now I know where you were, Luther. You brought her in. Why didn't you tell us?"

"Wanted it to be a surprise … ", she said calmly, finally escaping from Benji's hug.

Brandt saluted her rather discretely, before turning towards the bartender and giving off the order. And that was when HE made his entrance, stepping out from behind Brandt. Ethan looked at her with that warm smile of his. She looked back at him. They were doing that thing of theirs. Didn't need to say anything, just knew what the other was thinking. In the end, Ethan did break the silence.

"You came."

"You did ask me nicely."

"You did take your time though."

"Well, you know me … playing hard to get."

A few more moments of silent conversation, before Brandt broke the silence. "Time for drinks. And, if I may suggest … let's drink to the newest but not so new member of our team. To Ilsa."

"To Ilsa", the rest exclaimed in chorus. All except Ethan. He just simply raised the glass in her direction. And she imitated him. Her eyes were glittering. She felt happy. Now she needed to properly manage that happiness.

And that happiness would include him. Of course.