Disarming bombs went against everything Fiona believed in. Michael McBride was a true artist, and it pained her to take a pair of wire cutters to such a beautiful piece.
She toyed with the idea of letting it go off. There was still time to get out if she didn't disarm it, and she could defect from the Provisional IRA to be with Michael.
"You idiot," She said to herself. "As if he would have you." Surely, he had someone at home waiting for him. She calmly raised her tool to the first wire, and began to strip away its red coating to reveal a copper interior. She made little effort to hurry. Oblivious to Michael's modifications to the timer, she worked with the relaxed, steady hand of a person who had plenty of time.
As a spy, you learn to compartmentalize. You separate the emotions of your personal life from your occupational obligations, because intermingling the two can result in poor decisions. Poor decisions like running toward a ticking bomb instead of away from it.
Michael's strong strides carried him as fast as he was capable of running, but the sense of urgency and the fact that the long corridor strangely had no doors, prevented him from gauging the distance he had gone or still had yet to go to reach Fiona. It made the sprint seem endless. His arms swung efficiently at his sides, and the pounding of his desperate footsteps amplified off of the walls. His quick, short breaths delivered much-needed oxygen to his laboring muscles, but he could feel his body fatiguing and knew it would soon reach a limit that no amount of mental strength could overcome. Drawing on a final source of energy, the origin of which he had no explanation for, he reached the doorway at the end, and rather than take the time to decelerate and turn the knob, he thrust the mass of his body into the steel door of the chamber where an unwitting Fiona stood.
The silence, as well as Fiona's concentration, was broken by a massive door crashing open, Michael's hurling mass making itself known as the force behind it.
"Fiona, we have to get out now! The explosives were constructed to go off five minutes early!" he confessed to her frantically. He maintained the Irish accent he had worn for the past several weeks, although at this point it was futile; he had just blown his own cover. The look of shock in Fiona's face was combined with a look of guilt. The wire cutters in her hand told him a more complete story; Fiona was tampering with the bombs. The wild look in his eyes changed to bewilderment.
"Are you trying to disarm my bomb?" he accused her, forgetting momentarily that they were both in grave danger.
"What do you mean you constructed it to go off five minutes ahead of the timer?" she yelled.
"No time to explain. The way I built those things, cutting a couple of exposed wires won't help. We have to run."
Fiona looked at the timer, which now read five minutes and thirty seven seconds, and realized the gravity of the situation. Michael grabbed her hand and with less than a minute left until the end of their lives, they broke out into a run down the corridor.
Neither looked back as the flash and thunder behind them claimed the warehouse and all of the lives within. The inferno threatened them still, launching out a wave of heat and pitching flaming debris into their path. Michael shielded Fiona from the worst of it, and paid dearly for his chivalry as he felt a hot piece of metal brand the back of his neck. The sirens in the distance grew louder, but a short gravel road led them quickly back onto the streets of Belfast. They stopped suddenly, realizing neither had planned for these circumstances.
"What now?" asked Fiona.
"We're dressed all in black, and walking away from an explosion in the middle of the night," Said Michael. "We need to get off the street."
A dark gap between two buildings awaited just feet away, and suggested to them that travelling on foot by way of alley would provide them with the most clandestine escape. They entered the narrow confines of the alley with Michael in the lead, and he reached behind to gently take Fiona's hand. Fiona recognized that this gesture was not necessary for strategic purposes. There was no need to take her hand to guide her; The alley decided where to take them. There was no need to grab hold of her to hurry her along; The protection the walls of the buildings gave them allowed them to walk at an unhurried pace. Michael had taken her hand merely for the sake of holding it. His grasp was firm, his skin rough and weathered by years of enduring sandstorms and causing firestorms. Fiona contemplated the implications of everything that had happened tonight. The risk that Michael took in coming back for her gave her hope that he might actually want her. His deviation from Donovan's plan gave her a glimmer of hope that he might be a good person after all.
'It doesn't matter,' she thought to herself in a moment of realization. 'Whatever he turns out to be, I want him.'
Fiona continued to follow, enjoying the view before her of Michael's sleek form confidently forging through the shadows and rubble of unwanted items that had been carelessly discarded from the windows overhead. She envisioned that sleek form holding her when they arrived home, and lowering her into bed. She wanted him, and she did not want to endure another night of wanting without having. She wondered If he would accept her invitation inside when they reached the apartment she had shared with Donovan.
'But, I could never make love to him in that cold harsh, environment,' she thought.
Michael turned to her, as if in answer, and said "We'll go to my apartment. It's closer."
Fiona had longed to go back to his run-down apartment since the night she left it so abruptly. Despite its modest size and meager furnishings, it was the one place where she had felt warm and safe since coming to Belfast. It was the one place where she felt impassioned, and though she did not act on it, she often fantasized that she had. She worried now that she missed her opportunity to be with him.
"Choose yar steps wisely, unless ya want to get hurt!" shrieked a voice from the shadows ahead. The threat of the homeless woman, who made her home beneath a refrigerator box and protected it with the watchful eye of a guard dog, pulled Fiona from her musings.
Michael carefully guided Fiona to pass behind him, as if the woman might also pounce like a guard dog, then swiftly stepped around her cherished home. He chastised himself silently for not being more vigilant, as he too, had been consumed in his own thoughts. This marked the first time Michael had ever defied orders….with regards to his career, anyway. Who was this woman he risked his life and career for? The series of failed detonations that plagued them before this night, along with the image of Fiona attempting to disarm his bomb tonight, suddenly made sense. Perhaps, she was not the murderer he had come to believe she was. 'Still, a little bit too adept with explosives to be completely innocent, though,' he thought.
Despite his uncertainty of Fiona's identity and character, Michael was certain that he wanted to spend the rest of the night with her. He hoped it would not be too presumptuous for him to ask her to stay tonight. The wine glass she sipped from the first night she visited still lay on his coffee table. Maybe she would be open to the warming effects of another glass, this time augmented by the heat from his body. A dumpster up ahead announced itself, then, with the smell of rotten food emanating from within, and as they passed it the dim light of a street lamp became evident just outside the ally. They emerged nonchalantly back onto the public streets, but with no cover from passing police, they quickened there pace to a brisk walk. Though they both knew what they were hurrying from, neither had any idea of what they were hurrying to.
They reached Michaels building, and slowed to a stop, each unsure of the other's intentions. Fiona stood with her back pressed against the eroded brick exterior. Michael leaned toward her, bracing his body against the wall with his arms extended on either side of her. In the first opportunity for honesty the two had ever shared, they said nothing. With Donovan gone the only things standing between them were the lies each had told about their identities.
"Who are you?" Fiona demanded through heavy breaths.
When you work in covert ops, you know that the art of maintaining your cover id means selling it even harder when you've been compromised. If you're experienced, you know that this is an especially important skill for someone in US intelligence, because nothing pisses off foreigners more than being deceived by an American spy. Michael knew that this simple truth was more relevant to his present situation than ever before. He could not afford the risk of telling the truth to someone as volatile as Fiona Glenanne. He looked Fiona in the eye, and with a clear American accent, he said "My name is Michael Westen and I am an American Spy."