So people, I won't drag this out. Adieu, Kwa Herini, I'm out folks. Life has its chapters and I've got to get lost and found in the new one. Happy Birthday (soon) to my mother in all her royalty and thanks to the readers, writers, reviewers, PMers and Missing fans worldwide. Asante.

- Me.


They stopped sedating her a few days later and she woke up to a cosy room in an out-of-town military hospital. Her period of solitude, filled with watching after-school specials and soap operas, ended when a familiar face invaded her space. The flowers he wielded were locked in a tight nervous grip. It took her a while to pay him any attention as she assumed he was a doctor at first, but the guilt on his face said he couldn't have been. When their eyes met she uncharacteristically had nothing to say. He cleared his throat and she offered him a seat at the edge of the bed. She hummed a melody to fill the silence.

"Any lyrics?"

She cracked a smile. "Broken body, broken heart…it's a song. A country song. Broken body, broken heart, whatever's broke you tore apart…"

"You really do believe your own lies, don't you?"

"Only the ones that help me live. So you're a fed?"

"I prefer the term, 'undercover agent'."

"Instead of insider, rat, snitch…"

"Thanks."

"I'm not judging. What you did…it was…weird."

"You almost blew my cover."

"You almost blew your cover. If it were me I'd make sure I was out of there before anyone connected the dots. If I can then a professional criminal definitely can; not that I' one of those of course."

"Of course. That's what I came to talk to you about."

She swatted his hint away as it wasn't of interest to her. "So what do they call you at the office?"

"Special Agent Moses Tyrell."

"I guess the 'let my people go' jokes are tired."

"As tired as whoever tells them. You concealed the weapon like a…"

"Pro?"

"Something like that."

"I learnt that…from watching the guys down the block."

"That makes me wonder what else you've seen."

She got that feeling in her stomach that always led to trouble. "So, what's next?"

"You can go back to your life or you can be a rat like me and train at Quantico."

"I meant for you."

"That would be telling."

"No thanks; I'm no good at following orders."

"It's not boot camp."

"I don't follow, I don't listen and I'm determined to contradict figures of authority."

"Franklin High 1986."

"So you read high school transcripts too?"

"That's beside the point. You knew what he was doing. You knew what I was doing. That's what I'm paid to do."

"How much?"

"Does that mean you're interested?"

"That means I'm taking in applications. I don't need this Riv…Moses. I have a life."

"It'll take a lot to rebuild what you had."

"I won't try. I'll do something new. Go to another city, another state and start over. Seeing as the Bureau's had such a great time fucking up my life, you can see why I'm reluctant to give up my freedom papers."

"Between you and me, they can't teach what you've got."

"And what's that?" She asked, suddenly more interested.

"Moxie."

"How long is it before I can shoot to kill?" He laughed at how serious and how beautiful she was at the same time. His taste for wounded birds was a known fact but he knew that this situation was drawing him to her in a way that was detrimental to both of them.

"Long enough."

"Too long if you ask me; besides I don't need to shoot; blunt force trauma is the reason why I'm still breathing."

"Do you want to know how he's doing?"

"Not really."

"Q-school." He said, remembering his purpose. "Think about it."

"I might. I'm a hard sell, right?" She asked, putting up a challenge.

"If this is anything to go by."

He was about to leave when she asked, "Do they teach to how to come on to the mark there too?"

"Only when it's appropriate." She gave him a mock salute as he left and occasionally glanced at the pamphlets he'd left behind.

July 1994

"I thought you had money put away for a rainy day." Kelly said, sitting on the edge of her bed and watching her pack. They had done this enough times before but this time, Kelly wasn't coming along.

"I do and that's how I intend to keep it. You know me; I never tap into my reserve."

"Stingy heifer." She murmured under her breath. Nicole threw a Bears sweater in her direction.

"Have it, for the draught in your apartment."

"About that…" Kelly started to confess.

"I already know Kelly."

"Nikki,"

"Don't explain. I'm not your mother so don't answer to me or explain the lies, just take care of yourself. No-one else will."

"If you're lonely I can stay, seeing as you don't have a man and all."

"I need a clean break. This has nothing to do with Darnell or any other three-legged creature."

"I thought you said Virginia was only temporary, that you were trying it out."

"It was. I was."

"So why did you come back early?"

"I can't explain." Nicole didn't ant to admit she had 'graduated' from Quantico in record time not because of her tactical shooting record or her quick wit but because of her sandpaper relationship with her supervisor. He was so tired of failing at disciplining or changing her that he shipped her out of the state like a problem child sent back to the orphanage. She was unofficially a member of the Special Operations division, where most rookies lost their lives by taking chances and making decisions fast tracking them their coffins.

"You never can. What's so good about the FBI anyway?"

"The way I see it; my life's been on a downward slope since New Years' so it's about time I opted for the safety net, before I crash and burn. Enough about me. Any plans?"

"To make it to tomorrow I guess."

"You have to think beyond then, I mean what if…" Nicole answered the phone. "Yes I'm packing right now…no I won't miss the plane sorry jet…yes I remember where the office is…fine…bye." Kelly rolled her eyes. "It's not easy for me."

"Of course it is. This is what you do; you just get up and go with no thought for me. I can't do that. I can't just leave."

"You can leave him."

"It's always about Benny."

"No. It's about you and the way you use him to dodge responsibility. You love the junk and you love feeling sorry for yourself. God knows you don't love him."

"So this is you loving me?"

"This is me saying I can't do this anymore. I can't pretend it's not affecting me, that I don't care because I do…but you don't. Look I paid your rent for the rest of the year, do what you want."

"Why do you talk to me like I'm nothing?"

"I'm sad. I'm sad Kelly. You're my rainy day and you could end up just like Tiffany. I'll call you."

"Don't bother."

Pollock called yesterday to ask what I was waiting for; I still can't answer him or myself.

"No wonder you're so good at hurting each other. It's all you knew."

"I've always loved Kelly but love isn't enough. I wanted to make it better for her but when the time came that was her call, not mine, and I was frustrated that I couldn't change it. I couldn't make her either."

"It's funny how it turns out. All those fights because you couldn't make her who you wanted her to be, and now, you can't do the opposite to me."

"It's not funny when I've given you my best and still…"

We're consumed by that tension once more. It's seeping in through the walls like a damp smell, so pungent we can't escape it.

"So what happened to Moses?"

"We're still friends." She's blushing and I refuse to believe that's all there is to tell. "Anyway, my first post was in Los Angeles with that bastard Fontaine. They thought an old-school, ex-military type could handle me. If being with the King of the Boys Club couldn't do it nothing else could but he got shot eight months in. Don't get me wrong; it's been a good life, sometimes it didn't feel like life at all, as great as it is, the Bureau consumes you. You can never get those years back. You piece together the remnant of your soul that haven't been jaded or buried with your partners and you try your hardest to have enough love in you to give to someone else. What's lost you can never get back but the parts I saved and hid deepest inside myself, I gave to you. So you wouldn't choose death and flirt with it until you get burned. So you might have a chance at not passing on this self-destructive legacy. So you could live."

"What if I never find my place out there? What if I never find something to live for, purpose, passion?"

"It's just a job."

She drops her shoulders as she diminishes what she dedicated her life to; I've never heard her speak like this in all my life. I suppose she'd say anything to stop me but her eyes tell me it's not anything; it's the truth. He called me last night before I made my way out and told me what to pack but I know if I leave she won't be there to send me off with love or prayers or hope. I know she won't stand to see me get hurt, fail, fall or die. She will never give me her blessing, she can't, because she can't lose her mother then allow her daughter to die. I am her Achilles heel, that one day she will lose me to something she couldn't shield me from; that I will know pain she can't feel in my place, that in all her efforts to steer me away I have grown to be just like her; the reflections cares her to death. She loves me today with the utmost respect for the value of my life, with an oath to keep me whole and near and with the greatest desire to thwart my dream in the name of unconditional, unfathomable and sacrificial love. She tells me I am somebody, like the Glenn Jones song, and there is no greater achievement than being my mother and her daughter. That the world got it all wrong, that the FBI is a religion with no saviour, no promise and no everlasting life.

"It's not enough just to be your daughter."

"In the Bureau that's all you'll ever be. To top me, you'll have to die first. I can't let that happen."

"It's not your decision to make."

"Neither is it yours. What I feel is so beyond us I'll dedicate my life to stopping you; so really, the challenge you're looking for is right here. I'll fight to the death to protect you and if you wind and I go first, fair dues. But is it really worth it? Is it worth the loss of you, of me, of us?"

"Why did you give up the field?"

"So you would know how it felt to be free of the fears that kept me there for so long. I needed to be somebody so bad that I didn't have anybody. The people we love root us Maya, they give us a reason to stay and live. You anchored me in a way no-one ever has. That kind of power is a dangerous thing."

"I have to leave to tomorrow."

"If you can't leave today you never will but like the song says, you can leave but your heart will stay."