Annie was thrown back into the cell with surprisingly minimal injuries. Her left eye was swollen shut, her face almost unrecognizable from that side of view, and she was fairly certain that her collarbone was fractured. Her ribs were twinging something fierce, but she doesn't think they're broken. Sapphira stayed pressed against the back wall of their cell until the guards twisted the metal key into the bars again, but she rushed to Annie's side in seconds.

"The least they could do is give you an ice pack," Sapphira grumbled and dabbed the blood from Annie's temple. Razak's ring must have caught on her skin. She can't feel anything but pain on that side of her face; minute injuries aren't her major concern.

"He walked out before he could actually torture me," Annie murmured. "He got a phone call and stormed out. Any idea what that is about?"

Sapphira shakes her head, but instantly thinks of Bakker. The woman would soon lose her value, considering Razak's main target was already in captivity. Unless Bakker continued to supply them with cheap weapons, but Sapphira couldn't help but feel like Bakker had gotten too close to Razak's business to still be considered a fair and objective supplier.

"Can I ask you something?" Annie implores as she lifts her shirt to show Sapphira the major bruising already forming along her ribcage. But if that is the worst injury she should suffer today, she's in good shape. Sapphira guides Annie to lie back on the mattress and skims her fingers along each of the bones. They're more prominent now than they were when Sapphira took Annie shopping when she first arrived. It would worry her more if she weren't so confident in their ability to get out of this hellhole and soon.

"Shoot," she answers absentmindedly, concentrating on her search for anything extremely out of the ordinary on Annie's ribs.

"What was it like? Working with Auggie," Annie grunted as Sapphira pressed down on a particularly rough spot on her ribs. She was trying to make small talk, enough to keep her mind off the blinding pain in her side and her eye, both from the butt of one of the guard's rifles as he manhandled her back to the cell after Razak made his hasty exit. It was one hell of a miracle, the kind that she definitely needed, but it couldn't have been a pleasant phone call for him to leave his prisoner to take it. Things were going to get far worse before they get better, that much Annie is certain of.

"They're not broken, just bruised badly," Sapphira affirmed Annie's suspicions and took a deep breath before continuing to answer her question. "He was a legend. Easily the best the Agency had seen in years. Resourceful. Dedicated. Loyal."

"Why did you split up?" Annie knows she probably shouldn't be prying, but she can't help but wonder their entire history. "You said you called it off, the partnership and the romantic relationship. You got tortured, but that was after you stopped being partners, right?"

"Yeah. Irreconcilable differences," Sapphira muttered and took a sip of her lukewarm water bottle before offering it to Annie. She swallowed a mouthful, but it hurt to move her jaw.

"He chose another woman over you?" Annie knew the implication of that phrase. Sapphira snorted out a cynical laugh at her mistake. Her words didn't have that meaning.

"That would have made things simpler, huh? He chose me over a mission. He chose me over all else in the world."

"So you walked?"

"So I walked," Sapphira affirmed, but didn't elaborate aloud. Her mind was too far away.


"Don't take the shot. I repeat— do not take that shot! Anderson, dammit, do you hear me? DO. NOT. TAKE. THE. SHOT." Auggie removed his Bluetooth; it's not like he was paying attention to whatever superior agent was screaming into his ear. It could have been God Himself speaking to him, and he still would have crushed the damn thing under his boot.

He lined up the sight of the sniper rifle. He had long since calculated wind and external factors that could move his bullet even a millimeter, but he did it again anyway. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Sapphira, kneeling in the wet sand, strategically placed directly beneath the pier where thousands of unsuspecting, innocent civilians meandered. He knew if he had his scope on Fira, he would see the fire blazing through her eyes, far from tears, glancing between their terrorist and the crowds, wishing for an evacuation before the bomb strapped to her chest exploded.

Auggie already knew no one else was around. He was unwisely the only sniper they had on the ground, or up on a rooftop to be more precise. The FBI were 10 minutes out, at best. The only way to get a shot at their guy was through their asset, who the Armenian terrorist kept closely pressed against his chest.

Sapphira could disarm a bomb faster than he could, assuming she still had the tiny knife she kept hidden in the slight heel of her boot, which he knew she did. He wasn't worried about her. Except that he was. Which is why he was in this position, sweating his ass off under a tarp covering everything except his eyes and the long barrel of his sniper rifle.

He took a deep breath and hoped that it was just a timer bomb strapped to his partner. As he pulled the trigger and sent a bullet into their asset's young body and through their terrorist's heart, he couldn't bring his mind to anything but Sapphira.

She was going to be furious.


They made it back to his apartment nearly a full 24 hours later, after debriefing on what happened. Joan got them both out of the line of fire, for the most part, but they were both benched for 3 weeks.

Sapphira started pacing the length of his living room, shaking with anger. She couldn't see straight. Her mind swam with profanities in every language she knew. She forced English out of her mouth.

"What the FUCK were you thinking, Anderson? There's a terrorist on American soil, where we aren't even supposed to be operating, holding a 15-year-old girl hostage and your first thought was to shoot her?"

"My first thought was that you shouldn't have been there in the first place! I was covering your ass and both of us know that. You were the one that decided to go gallivanting around the Santa Monica pier with a crazed terrorist!"

"He held our asset hostage!"

"Thanks for the reminder of how bad Hourglass got. And in case you don't remember, he held you hostage too! He strapped a bomb to your chest and with all of your training, you couldn't take him down while he was that close?"

"Not without getting Lucia killed! God, you fucking shot her!" Sapphira's voice bordered hysterical.

Auggie tried to make up for it by remaining deathly calm, "I shot a terrorist. She got caught in the crossfire."

"There was no crossfire! You shot through her!"

"I eliminated a threat to the United States of America, which, if you don't remember, is our fucking job!" Auggie lost it. How could Sapphira not see that everything he did was for her?

"What if there had been a deadman's switch? Everyone on that fucking pier would be dead and in pieces!"

"There wasn't," Auggie muttered with his forced calm. He took a deep breath and tried to think of zen Buddhist thoughts. He couldn't remember anything but the terror of imagining Fira dead and in pieces.

"And if there was, the blast radius would have wiped out the entire West Coast!"

"There wasn't," Auggie repeated firmly. Sapphira paced across the room and slammed her fist through the wall. He winced. He would have to get that fixed.

"You didn't know that when you took the shot," Sapphira's voice held more resentment than anger, and that scared him.

"Calculated guess."

"Like the calculated guess that put your bullet through my asset?" She laughed bitterly and brushed a tear from her eye.

"I killed a terrorist. That is my job. I did my job today."

"At what cost? You should have let the fucking FBI do their damn jobs and negotiate!"

"Yeah, when would they have gotten there? After he disposed of the girl? After he detonated his bomb? After he killed you?"

"You were trying to..." A look of realization dawned across Fira's face. "We took this job— We vowed to sacrifice our lives to protect our country. You don't get to sacrifice innocent lives for my protection!" Sapphira cried with an acrid edge to her normally beautiful voice.

"She's still alive," Auggie defended.

"You shot her through the chest! My god, she was just a kid!"

"She was a kid who was mixed up in a shit ton of gang activity. She should have known the possible repercussions of her involvement."

"I don't care if she was in a polyamorous working relationship with the UniBomber, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Hitler! She didn't deserve this," Sapphira stabbed her finger into Auggie's chest at the same place the bullet tore through their asset's body. She turned away and stormed across the room.

"What do you want, Fira? Do you want to quit? Do you want to walk away?" Auggie realized his voice took on a pleading tone. He didn't try to fight it.

Sapphira leaned her forehead against the wall and audibly wept. She drove her fist through the wall again. Two fist-sized holes decorated his wall and there was no doubt that wall-sized bruises would mar Fira's knuckles for weeks. Fuck. He couldn't move from his spot across the room.

"We can't do this, Auggie. We can't do this anymore," Sapphira sobbed.

"Can't do what?" Auggie's palms started to sweat and his heart started to pound against his chest. He knew what she was thinking; he always did. "No. Fira. Fira, no."

"You can't choose the tiny possibility of saving my life over the definite option to keep thousands of innocent people alive. But you did."

"Fira..." Auggie had no words. That was exactly what he did. There was no denying it. He'd do it again too. He'd do it a thousand times over. He'd do anything if there was just an inkling of a chance to keep her safe.

"After our probation is over, I'm putting in a request. Don't look into where I'm stationed. Don't come after me. This isn't something we can fix." Sapphira finally looked up to the new holes punched into Auggie's wall. "I'll pay for the wall."

She flexed her fingers and gingerly stepped toward Auggie. She put her hands on his tear-stained cheeks and pressed her forehead against his. Fira closed her eyes and heard him breathe, "This is my fault. Anything that happens to you after this is my fault, because I couldn't protect you."

"I'm an operative, same as you are. I don't need you to protect me."

"What do you need from me then, Fira?" With everything in his heart and soul, Auggie prayed that Fira would say she just needed him, in her life, forever.

"Nothing. I don't need you. I never need anyone," Sapphira lied, voice thick with tears and regret. She kissed his cheek chastely and walked to the door, only hesitating for a second before she reached for the handle.

She didn't turn back.