"Captain says wheels up in five minutes" Tony sighed as he dropped his tired body into the seat. He looked about the small plane cabin, empty save for his partner. She sat across the aisle from him, upright and staring blankly at the back of the row in front of her.
"Vance must really want us home to get us a private ride." He tried to make conversation.
"Hmm." She barely responded, lost in her thoughts. This was not right, what they were doing. This was not how she had been trained. To follow orders, yes. To leave a man behind when he was not injured and a risk to the unit, no. Besides that, this was not a unit, it was a team. A family. Her family.
"Tony," she turned to face him and was met with his intense gaze.
"I know." He reached across the aisle and gently squeezed her arm. "Orders, Agent David." He tried to sound professional but could not stop the break in his voice as he said her name. He loved calling her 'agent'.
She placed her free hand over his and held tightly to her partner's as they waited for the steward to close the door. They could still see the airfield, and beyond that, the countryside which hid a secret. Somewhere out there, in that darkness, was a man they loved. He was alone. Because they were leaving.
"Tony, we can not." She must not cry. Not now, she had to be strong.
Tony held her arm tighter. He nodded. "If it was one of us he would say screw the Director and…"
"It was one of us!" she said softly. She met his eyes, tears now freely escaping, silently pleading with him in their practised way. Years as partners had left them able to communicate with a mere glance or the slightest touch.
"I know." he said again. Without another word, the two agents stood and moved towards the door. They ran down the steps and started across the tarmac to their hire car.
Halfway there, Tony stopped. He turned to his partner and took her firmly by the shoulders.
"No? her eyes asked.
"Citizenship. Agent. Home." Tony seemed to have lost the ability to form sentences. His mind was racing and his heart was in his throat.
She whispered, "I will not let you." She knew what he was trying to say. And she knew he was right.
Suddenly feeling very brave, Tony's mind allowed his heart to make itself heard.
"He would not want you to throw everything away. He would want you to make a life for yourself. He knew. I am pretty sure he knew you were alive and he saved you so you could live."
"You are right." her eyes said.
"I wish you could come with me." his answered.
She stepped towards him, her eyes filled with tears and held him tightly. Behind them, the engines of the plane began hum. They were running out of time.
"I trust you." she said simply. She stood on her toes and placed a salty kiss on the lips of her partner. There were no more words needed to say what she felt. What he felt. They both knew.
The plane's engines grew louder. She had to go. Stepping back she held his hands and squeezed them tightly.
"Bring him home." She ordered. "And you must come back because without you, I can not live."
And with that she turned away. He held her hand as long as he could, stretching after her as she began walking. Then she ran towards the plane.
"Ma'am? One short?" the steward asked her as she ran up the steps.
Her voice would not work. She nodded and sat in the seat where minutes before her partner had sat. She could not look out the window.
He stood by the car, watching the plane taxi away from him then turn around for take off. He did not cover his ears as the engines screamed past him. They were no match for the screaming of his own heart.
She was gone.
He climbed into the car and drove off into the darkness.