The summer sun was setting over D.C. Annie had packed and sorted her belongings all day, but she was frantically picking up the pace. It made the last few boxes packed messier and less organized than the first ones. She wanted to be out of there before he got home from work. Annie cursed how much she accumulated since she moved in about a year ago. Packing it all up would sever ties for good. With her last bag packed she took one last look around the house she called home while recounting memories. She remembered the first time she was inside the home, and how she spent the entire night with him talking and laughing despite the fact that she had just been suspended. Many of the moments they shared flooded her memory, but not one trace of her remained inside the home, she was good at disappearing she supposed. She headed to the door when in walked her former fiancé, Ryan McQuaid.
They were face to face for the first time since their colossal blow up a couple of days ago. Ryan looked tired to Annie. He had aged in the last week. She felt horrible for contributing to his stress.
"I saw the boxes. So that's it? Your mind's made up?" he asked curtly.
Annie shook her head as she felt heat in her cheeks and pounding of her heart intensify. He did that to her still. She did what she usually did and diverted attention.
"Any developments today?"
He shook his head, "Fucking State Department is useless, dead ends from every contact at DOD and the Pentagon. Everyone's washed their hands of it. I've got contracts on the line and the threat of being cut off completely if I don't stay out of it, my hands are tied and it makes me feel like shit," he said. She never knew him to concede to anything.
"I'm so sorry," responded Annie.
McQuaid walked over to the elegant bar cabinet in his living room. He took out two lowball glasses and motioned to her with them. She shook her head.
"I should go."
"One parting drink Walker," he said authoritatively as he looked up from pouring. Sometimes she really liked that side of him. He was a strong man, used to commanding and achieving outcomes.
She relented and took the glass he poured.
McQuaid didn't want to talk about his captured operatives. He spent every minute of the last couple of days dedicated to finding a way to get them out, but right now all he wanted was to know where she was going.
"Where are you heading?"
"Come on Walker, what do you want me to do with your mail?" he asked with exasperation as he took off his jacket and unbuttoned a few buttons on his shirt.
Annie saw through him. She had no personal mail to forward. He wanted to hold on to her despite everything. On his part, if they weren't going to have a future, he at least needed to know she was safe and healthy.
"What are you going to do? I mean for a living?" he asked, unable to hide his concern.
Annie, never having sipped her whiskey, put the glass down. Meanwhile, Ryan had already emptied his. He noticed she looked worn down too. Annie turned towards the door thinking she had to give him something.
"Teach maybe, that's where I was headed before the CIA. Seems like a lifetime ago."
He chuckled remembering something he said to her over a year ago while they were both handcuffed to a curb. He said, soldiers, spies, poets and teachers were the most underappreciated professions and here she was about to choose another profession from his list of unappreciated jobs.
"You can't do anything about the teachers and poets remember," she said with a slight smile before she looked down. They still had a connection, they both remembered moment they shared.
"No, but I can put you on my payroll until you get your bearings."
"You're not responsible for me Ryan," she said as she shook her head and walked towards the door. She put her coat on and took the house keys out from her coat pocket.
"I still care about you, I can't just turn it off," he said quickly.
"Oh like I can?" retorted Annie. She tossed the keys on the hall table and opened the door.
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't need to, you forget that I know you," said Annie.
She walked towards the door.
"I let you know me, but you? You didn't open yourself up to me, to us. . .you keep your emotions and your past bottled up," said Ryan as he blocked the door.
Annie looked away. He took her hand, come back, let's have another drink. He was hoping he could convince her to stay as he held her hand and led her back into the living room.
"What you said, is not true," said Annie as she followed and tried to mask the hurt she felt. She didn't know he felt that way while they were together, she was trying. He made her want to try. She showed more of herself to him than she ever did in any of her relationships. Up to now, theirs was the longest she remained in a committed relationship.
Annie hadn't expected him to come home before she left and this was becoming harder than she imagined. How could he not know how much she loved him and how much she tried.
"Then talk to me, really talk to me," he said as he poured himself another drink while watching Annie raise an eyebrow at him.
"What do you want from me? You took Joan's side, you tanked my career and . . ." shouted Annie.
"Joan made the right call, you can't be in the field anymore and that doesn't mean your career is over, if you want to do the country good, you need to be healthy to do it Walker!" interrupted Ryan. He began talking fast and loud as he was apt to do when feeling self-righteous. It was the same ongoing lecture on the situations that would prevent her from getting her medication and endangering others.
"It wasn't your call to make," she yelled. Everything that transpired still made her angry.
"It's my life. My life. Not yours, not Joan's, not the CIA's. You used to support me, give me unconditional trust in the field. And I have never jeopardized an operation. What happened wasn't my fault."
"I never said it was, I thank God every day that you weren't captured with them. Your episode was a blessing."
"I could still be doing something to help if you hadn't gone behind my back. . ." said Annie heading back to the door. Ryan was on his third drink by then.
"So is that why you went to him?" shouted Ryan. He was feeling anger and jealousy again. He didn't mean for their parting to deteriorate, but he was hurt despite his own denials.
The two of them were so busy the last couple of weeks leading up to the fiasco in the field that caused Annie her job and Ryan's operatives. They saw little of each other outside of mission prep. When they were together he had been pressuring her to get a move on with their wedding and she found herself pulling away. She began to feel unwell a day before the mission, but brushed it aside.
This was good, thought Annie, leaving him angry was a good thing. She needed him to get angry to stay angry so she could walk away.
"Eyal and I are just friends, good friends. I've known him my entire career as an operative and we've always looked out for each other. But that's all. We're friends." It was a dig that she knew would hurt Ryan.
"Oh, do friends sleep in each other's arms?"
"I can't do this again. Good bye Ryan," said Annie as she made her second attempt to walk out the door.
"Wait, wait, just wait. Come back in and I'll fix us some dinner." It was his demanding tone that irritated her. He was telling and not asking. He figured if he could get her to stay, they could reconnect on some level.
"We've done this already, we've gone over it and over it and it just makes us say things we can't take back," said Annie picking up the last bag.
She looked at him. He was hurt. So hurt. She was too, but hers was as artificial self-inflicted pain. She knew what she was doing, she was in control she kept telling herself. It was the only way.
She put down her bag and she walked back towards him. She lifted her head up to reach his lips while holding his face gently.
"It was great when it was great. I gave as much as I know how to give," whispered Annie.
He took her hands from his face and squeezed them. "I believe we can be great again," he said softly while stroking her hands with his thumbs. It was the softest tone he had taken with her in days. They hadn't been physically close to each other in more than two weeks, he felt his desire for her magnify in him, he wanted her still. He wanted her to stay, he imagined taking her to their bedroom as he pulled her to him and kissed her intensely. Annie returned his kiss and both began to breath heavily. Ryan began to lift her t-shirt and his hand started to make its way up her sides before Annie stopped him. She took his hand off her body and said, "Too much has happened," as tears fell down her cheeks. She turned away and walked to her car.
"I don't want this to be our good-bye. I need to know you are okay," said Ryan with sadness. "You never told me what the doctor said."
"I'm okay," she said as she opened her car door and shoved her bag into the passenger seat. He remained unconvinced.
Annie drove off while watching him through the rearview mirror. She wiped away her tears and regained her composure before she dialed a number on a burner phone.
"A package is waiting for you at the drop site."
Annie hung up and drove to Eyal's apartment with a pit in her stomach. It was once her temporary home and would become so again.