Title: Liberty and Necessity
Tom/Zoe, post 3x02, pg
Summary: 'This whole mission made me realise who I am, what I believe in. Me, Tom… I've taken myself out of the box.' Zoe/Tom
She was standing on his doorstep, silent, lips quivering, teeth chattering.
'I wasn't sure that you'd even be here.'
'Where else would I be?' he asked, simply.
A pause. A glance down at her feet. 'Anywhere,' she replied in kind.
'Do you want to come in?' he asked.
'I shouldn't,' she replied, looking briefly over her shoulder, sniffling slightly, looking back at him.
'That's not what I asked.'
'I'm sorry,' she blurted out. 'I'm sorry, about all of it, about… about all of it.'
'Come in,' he answered softly, pulling her gently by the arm.
'Okay,' she whispered, no fight left in her.
She broke down once the door was closed. It was all he could do to catch her, rub her back soothingly, trying to calm her down as she clung to him. It was the second time in so short a time they had found themselves in this position.
'Zoe,' he tried. 'Zoe, Zoe talk to me.'
'I just…' she lifted her head from his shoulder, wiping her eyes angrily, eyes ablaze, 'I feel so guilty. I betrayed you, I did nothing to help you when you needed me the most. You pleaded with me, Tom! You pleaded, and I didn't listen. All I did was protect myself, protect my stupid career.'
He hadn't been as shocked as he should have been when she simply answered 'I'm sorry, Tom' and turned her back on him, walking back towards the helicopter. He knew her; he knew she loved her job, would never do anything to compromise it. It had still hurt. But she was hurting, too.
'Don't feel guilty.'
'Because there's no point.'
'Zoe, you were serving your country. You did what you thought was right, you didn't just follow me. I admire that.'
'But I didn't! I agreed with you, Tom! I was the one who was trying to push having the family placed in a safe house when we started this mission. No one would listen to me. And when you finally argued for it, argued for this man to be returned to his family, to be kept safe, I did as I was ordered, I took him back.'
'Am I meant to take it that it ended badly?'
'Oh, Tom, you know I can't tell you that.'
'I know, I know. I'm sorry.'
'But whether or not it did, I contradicted myself. And I didn't help you when I had the chance.'
'You're here now.'
'Yes,' was all she could say. She couldn't quite explain what she was doing there, why she'd defied protocol and gone to see him. She couldn't explain that the grid had seem empty after he'd left, that she'd wanted so badly to run after him and never let go. Instead she'd straightened her back, walked steadily to the toilets, locked herself in a stall and had silently broken down.
'Zoe, I'm okay,' he tried to reassure her.
'You're not though, are you Tom?'
She was one of the few people who could leave him with nothing to say. So he stayed silent. Was he okay? He hadn't been, but was he now?
'No. I am okay. Or at least I'm getting there. This whole mission made me realise who I am, what I believe in. Me, Tom. Not Matthew, not any other alias I've had to live under. Me.' He paused, his eyes alive. 'I've taken myself out of the box.'
'Yeah. I was talking to Fred about it,' he replied, a far-away look in his eyes. 'He asked me how we manage with our jobs. I replied that we put the real us in to a box and lock it away, only taking it out when we're allowed to be us. He asked what happened if you lost the box? All I could say was that you had to recreate yourself. I don't think I lost the box. I think it got battered and dented and definitely misplaced for a while, but I think I've found it again.'
He paused to look at her, a small smile gracing her features. She touched his cheek gently with her hand, before withdrawing and composing herself. 'Tom, do you realise that you've spent the last minute or so speaking about boxes? Maybe it's not quite found yet,' she joked.
She nodded mischieviously. 'I thought so.'
'I'm glad you found your box,' she finally said, looking up to meet his eyes sincerely.
'Thank you,' he replied softly. 'You're okay. I don't think you've ever lost yours.'
She smiled, but it faded. 'It's going to be weird without you.'
'It's going to be weird without you.'
'Yes, I'm sure shopping for fruit and vegetables without me will be strange.'
'You know what I mean.'
She bit her lip, rocking forwards and backwards slightly on her heels. Finally, she met his gaze, her eyes ever so slightly betraying the existence of tears. 'I don't know how to say goodbye.'
'Then don't,' he replied quickly.
Her eyes shimmered; her lip being unconsciously mauled by her teeth. 'Tom…' she whispered, her words hitching slightly.
He cleared his throat, unable to deal with the situation they had got themselves into. 'It's not a goodbye… It's a 'see you around'.'
She smiled at him sadly, both knowing the unlikely possibility of his words ever ringing true. She'd broken down in front of him once already tonight, she wasn't afraid to do it again. But looking at the expression on his face something told her that he was in just as much pain as she; breaking down in tears would only make it harder on him.
So, with a couple of lone tears having broken the barriers and rolled down her cold cheeks, she leaned up to him on tiptoe to kiss him gently on the cheek. 'See you around, Tom.'
She replaced her lips with her hand on his cheek briefly, before once again withdrawing. She couldn't stand to look at his unwavering expression knowing the torment that was brewing underneath. She knew him well enough to know that when he showed he was feeling nothing, he was in fact feeling everything.
'See you around,' he whispered to her back as she retreated from the room towards the door.
She was down the steps outside and almost at the curb when he called out to her.
'Zoe?' She turned around.
'If you…' he looked around, then cleared his throat. 'If you ever get out… come find me?'
She suddenly found herself wishing it were raining; it would help to disguise the tears falling faster down her cheeks. Silently she nodded, before turning away once more and walking away into the night. She hadn't heard the front door close; she knew he was watching her go.