Beep_Beep_Beep. The harsh, short sounds of the monitor scream in her ears. The smell of chemicals overwhelms her senses. The whiteness of the walls, the floors and the bed sheets covering the helpless operative, all make her eyes raw with their lifeless color. Her gaze can't linger on the woman desperately clinging to life… again.
She knew she had it coming. Nothing ever goes right for her and this time is no different. Annie ducks as a bullet flies by, nearly missing her shoulder. Her feet are running as fast as they can take her, her fear fueling the adrenaline rushing through her veins. The man sprinting with a gun in his hand feels like he is close behind but when she looks back, the man is at least thirty feet behind her.
She should have realized it was trap. It was set up all too perfectly: The drop off was too simple. Her instincts told her to get the hell out of there but she ignored it. Her desperateness made her ignore it. She was so close, more than she had ever been before and her heart wouldn't let her wait longer.
Beep_Beep_Beep. She just wants to have more time- more time to talk and to sort out everything. Joan didn't realize how much Annie mattered to her until it was too late. She was blinded by hurt and rage when she caught Annie looking at her files so she fired her on the spot. She said the cruelest things to Annie, who didn't deserve any of it. Her heart aches when she thinks about the words she said in the heat of the moment. She hates herself for how she saw Annie's pain at her words yet she continued anyway. It was like all her pent up anger at the CIA, with jobs that turns such great people into liars, and anger at everything else was unleashed all on Annie.
She had taken precautions, as any good CIA agent does. She put all the information that was on the flash drives and names that Henry had given her and copied it all onto a flash drive that she bought it from a former contact who encrypted it so that only Auggie could open it. She thought about destroying the rest of it but the physical papers had Henry's signature on it, which is undeniable proof. So she put the papers and all the stuff Henry gave her and buried it somewhere only she would know. Call it paranoia, but dealing with Henry Wilcox and knowing his reaction from a double cross made her do it.
The sounds of gunshots make Annie swerve and duck behind a tree. The third and final source Henry wanted her to meet thought it was best to meet at a park. She suggested a park about ten miles from a top secret CIA base. It isn't the one broadcasted on highway signs and it isn't anywhere on public or private records. Only high ranked CIA officers know about it- she knew about it from overhearing someone in the coffee line talk about it. She knew she was taking a huge risk… massive because Henry no doubt knows its location and if the source had the insight to double check with Henry, he probably warned them.
Everything feels numb. Staring at Annie and knowing that she is fighting death again because of her makes her become filled with more guilt. Her insides twist and turn as she stares at the monitor. Beep_Beep_Beep. The rhythmic sounds both soothe and frighten her; the harsh echoes reminding her that the operative, she now realizes she cares so much about, is still alive. She had pushed away Annie at the first sign of distrust between them, too scared and tired to try to work it out. She guesses that there was always something special about Annie that made her stand out; she never would have thought that it was maternal. It manifested itself as usual protectiveness and respect.
But that isn't what went wrong. What happened is that when she switched out the real flash drive that Henry gave her for a fake one, she didn't predict that the source would expect an encryption and want it decoded before he left. So that is why she is running… or hiding. The guy was pissed when he realized the carrier was stealing his info.
"You can't hide forever, little girl!" The man's accent is thick, most likely Ukrainian. Annie struggles to keep her breathing calm and noiseless as she hides behind the tree. She can hear the man's steps coming closer and closer. Glancing left and right, searching through the forest, she spots fences and armed men patrolling it. Her heart races as she thinks about a plan to run the mile to the gate. It's her only chance to reach safety…
Her attention is caught by the sound of a twig breaking slightly behind the tree where she is hiding- he's here.
Joan lets out a shuttering sigh as she reaches out a shaky hand and grasps Annie's lifeless hand with her own. Her eyes sting with unshed tears. It's taking everything she has to not burst out in quiet sobs. Her usual stoic features remain intact for now.
"You can't will her back to life." Her husband's voice snaps her out of her self-hating thoughts. She knows he is trying to be funny to lighten the mood but it just makes her feel worse, the guilt of her words returning to her.
"We did this to her, Arthur. She made a deal with Henry to protect us!" Her emotions get the best of her as she yells at Arthur. Her heart pounds in her chest as she struggles to keep her calm. Joan keeps her gaze on Annie's seemingly lifeless body even as Arthur tries his best to get her undivided attention.
"We didn't know what she was doing until it was too late." She waits to hear what he really came to her for. He takes a deep breath. "The flash drive has everything on it: names, dates, plans and more! With it we can put away Henry for good."
She hates how excited her husband sounds. She knows that her attachment to her operative is far greater than his but she never expected him to be so unkind. To her, Annie is her protégé, her coworker… her family. For her to label anyone outside of her literal family as family is a big step, especially when that person was first just a coworker for the CIA to manipulate. Thinking about how cruel she was to Annie makes her stomach lurch.
She takes a step from behind the tree and catches the man off guard. She roughly hits the arm holding the gun, which causes the man to drop the gun. Arms meet ribs, legs meet shins and fists meet jaws as she becomes entangled in a fight for her life. After minutes of fighting, Annie finally manages to knock the guy unconscious. She immediately sprints her fastest for the fences, ignoring the burning of her lungs and the searing pain of ribs broken.
Looking back for only a second, she sees the man is quickly waking up from inflicted sleep. She continues to run and actually smiles when she can see the security guard's face: that means she is only fifty feet or so from safety and success. The smile rapidly fades from her features when she sees the guard raise his gun and point it at her. She immediately waves her hand in an attempt to stop his hostile actions.
'BANG!' The loud noise of a gun shot seems to echo all around her. Annie suddenly feels her legs stumble and she lands on her knees, already numb from shock. She tries to take a breath but it is excruciatingly hard to do. Looking down, she can see blood oozing out of her chest, right below her heart. Her vision starts to blur and her head harshly meets the ground. She vaguely hears more gunshots and for a moment, she is scared that the man chasing her has killed the guard and is coming to finish her off.
The emptiness is startling. Annie's face void of emotion, passion, or any of the woman she knew. The sight makes her chest feel hollow, void of any strength she had to hope. She ignores the question raised in her own mind about what she was hoping for. Her eyes search Annie's calm features for any sign of change.
"Please wake up Annie. The CIA needs you…" Her voice is barely above a whisper as she sits next to Annie's hospital bed. A part of her wants to add something else, but that would be admitting too much, too soon. She isn't used to feeling so vulnerable.
After sitting in silence for minutes, the mind numbing beeping of the monitors chipping away at her heart, Joan finally gives in to her maternal instincts (it scares her to place that word on her emotions) she's fought to contain. Her hand slowly and gently brushes a couple of stray blond hairs from Annie's forehead.
But she hears sirens in a far off distance and then she knows- she knows she has succeeded even though she can feel blood pouring out of her body. So this is how she dies… not during fieldwork for the CIA, but indirectly from Henry Wilcox. God, how she wishes she could tell Joan, face to face, that she did everything just to protect her. It wasn't supposed to end like this.
"Ma'am, you need to hold on. The ambulance will be here soon. Is there anyone we can call?" Annie can see the guard's face hovering over her and grimly smiles. Coughing out blood, she takes her last breaths to reach into her coat pocket and hand the now bloody flash drive to the guard.
"Joan and Arthur Campbell. It will explain everything. Tell them I'm sorry." It's an odd experience to feel the last breaths leave the body... Annie stares up at the perfect blue sky until the world goes black