"I need you. No zip-ties this time. Thursday 1800." That was all the message said. This couldn't be good. She was supposed to have gone dark. She wasn't supposed to contact anyone. But since the text came from an unrecognizable number he assumed she had tossed the phone.
It was Tuesday. He could wait two more days. Two more days in agony. Why now? What could she need? Why did she need him? What had happened?
He loved her, yes, no matter what he told himself he did. But she was in love with Auggie. She was dating Auggie. So she was off limits, but that didn't mean that he wasn't her friend. He trusted her with his life, and he was sure after their most recent encounter that she trusted him with hers as well.
They lied to each other but they were thinly-veiled and the other knew that it was for the sake of God and Country. They were just doing their duty. But they knew deep down that when it came down to the wire that they each came through for each other, no matter what. They often risked God and Country to save the other. Time and time again, they disobeyed orders, but all that mattered was that they survived. That she survived.
So here he was contemplating what he could offer her. What did she want? What did she need? He knew he was the closest friend she had outside the agency, and of course one of only a handful of people who knew she was actually alive. But why "need", she never admitted to needing anyone. What had happened to change all that?
He knew that when she had gone dark that it would change her. But more importantly to her, it would change the lives of so many others. But had she lost that which made her Annie? That part of her where she saw the good in others? The part he loved best about her. The part that made him a better man.
He hoped Henry hadn't stolen that too. That man had destroyed so much, he hoped to whatever deity was listening that he hadn't taken the essence of the woman he loved (off-limits or not). He hoped Annie was successful in her mission but that she didn't lose herself along the way.
The biggest problem in their line of work was that sometimes in order to beat the person you are chasing you have to become them. He had. He didn't want her to have the same fate. She was so pure, so good. Or at least she used to be. She had brought him back from the edge, from the point of no return. He had flirted with the line many times over the years but she pulled him back right before he crossed it. Would she be so fortunate? If she had crossed it he vowed to pull her back. She would never be the same but he could try. Was there someone for Annie the way she was for him? There needed to be. She deserved as much.
Over the next two days, he drowned in his thoughts, in his worry, and his misery. He had helped her to this fate. Could he help her back from it?
He walked to the room in their hotel. He slipped the master key card out of his pocket, the one he had swiped from the maid two floors down. He was 15 minutes early, but as he heard the beep that allowed him entry to the room he also heard the unmistakable cock of a revolver. He slowly opened the door. The room was dark.
"I am not armed" was all he spoke. If the opponent was Annie his voice should be enough to lower the gun. If it was anyone else, well he didn't need to be armed to be deadly.
The light flicked on from across the room as soon as he closed the door behind him. He saw her, just standing in the doorway, the revolver pointed at his chest.
Then as if she was finally recognizing that he was the safe zone. She dropped the revolver to her side and crumpled to the floor along the wall crying.
He walked across the room and silently pulled her into his arms. He eased the gun out of her hand and slid it across the floor.
He rubbed soothing circles on her back and just let her cry into his shirt. He didn't say anything; she would talk when she wanted to.
"He cheated on me Eyal. He cheated on me" Annie sobbed into his shirt. His arms tightened around her in response.