YOU WORRY ABOUT ROLLIN.

By AFL

(Follow up from the first season Mission: Impossible episode: "Old Man Out")

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"I worry about earthquakes." she had quipped.

It was not Cinnamon's finest moment. Nor was it her cleverest reply but Crystal had caught her off guard.

Miss Carter thought she hid it well but even the aerialist, who was mooning over Dan Briggs, could see a certain amount of affection between she and Rollin Hand. Considering she made a living out of hiding her true feelings this discovery, on Crystal's part, worried Cinnamon a great deal. Who else had seen beyond the façade?

Sometimes when Dan Brigg's looked at she and Rollin standing together, conversing or comparing notes, she wondered if he saw something they did not. His expression often denoted concern as if he did not want to see what might be developing. Other times he seemed to appreciate their familiarity and he exploited it for the sake of a mission.

It was a long plane flight home.

Cinnamon sat close to the window, looking out whilst deep in thought. She felt but did not see Rollin slipped into the seat beside her. It seemed natural. Whenever she worked with this team and their missions took them outside of Los Angeles their flights to and from had a certain rhythm. Barney and Willy would sit together, talking about God knows what, Dan would sit by himself, deep in concentration, and she and Rollin sat together, talking about everything from the latest play on Broadway to hand-made antique furniture.

They gravitated toward each other, having much in common. Initially Cinnamon thought it was because he was an actor and she was, with all do respect, a fem fatale. Her job, as a distraction, required a certain amount of acting skill. He was interested in her from a dramatic point of view, she thought. And her good looks did not hurt at all, he once told her.

Rollin was a natural flirt and Cinnamon doubted she was his only pursuit. Yet, something more seemed to be happening than neither had given voice to. After two years of working side by side, after playing friends, siblings, lovers and spouses, during so many missions, they were becoming attracted to one another in a deeper more meaningful way.

It was wrong. So wrong.

"Here." Rollin passed her a small bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and a plastic cup. "I think we both deserve a drink after this last one. It was tough." he said.

Cinnamon gave Rollin a small smile. She did like him. He was a strong professional, always on his game, but also reckless and quick to improvise when needed. He was also tall, lean, handsome and instilled with a goodness that often times made him think twice about the sometimes amoral direction of his job.

Perhaps that was the part of him that fascinated Cinnamon most. He was dedicated and loyal but not a robot and Rollin had even been known not to join in on a mission if he sincerely thought it was a detriment to his country or free men and women everywhere. He was a decent, kind man.

"Cheers." He tapped her empty cup with his own and took a swallow. He then looked at Cinnamon, taking in her quiet and somewhat solemn expression. "Okay?" he asked her.

She nodded and smiled again. "Just tired, I guess." She then reached for the small bottle on her tray, opened it, and poured a small amount into her own cup. She sensed Rollin's eyes on her as she lifted the cup to drink.

Rollin saw the bruise on the lower part of her inside arm. "Hey, what's this?" he asked, gently taking the arm and examining the injury closely.

"It's nothing." she said, very aware of the warmth of his hand on her flesh, "Crystal and I staged a cat-fight and we got a little carried away."

He chuckled mildly and released her.

Cinnamon was surprised by how disappointed she felt when their contact was broken. Attempting a diversion, trying to get her mind off of it, she asked, "How is your friend, the Cardinal, doing?"

"Anton is well. An Amazing man. He's frail but being treated for dehydration and should be back pontificating very soon."

"Good."

They both sipped again from their cups.

Rollin said, "I am going on a two week vacation when we get back to the States. There is this little island called San La Paz just off the coast of Venezuela. Have you heard of it?"

"Vaguely."

"It's beautiful and incredibly relaxing. A place to get away from it all."

"Sounds romantic. Are you planning to take anyone with you?"

"No." Then he asked, with a devilish smile - "Want to come?" It was a joke because he knew her reply. Yet, Rollin was surprised when Cinnamon, for the briefest moment, appeared to genuinely be thinking about his invitation.

However, she soon came back to herself and brushed the question off with, "Very funny, Rollin." in a sarcastic manner.

He looked a little away from her and, lifting his cup, he murmured over the brim: "I wasn't necessarily being funny."

Cinnamon heard him but stayed silent.

Agents becoming involved was an ultimate negative. The Secretary made that very clear. They should not even consider an amorous liaison let alone speaking of such things aloud.

Still, playing devil's advocate, Cinnamon considered further; she and Rollin had always had a special relationship. There was a connection between them unlike the others. Perhaps they were doing a disservice if they did not pursue something further. If they had the opening to get it out of their system then maybe … just maybe … they could work together again without visible yearning. For that reason alone, a vacation together might be worth the risk.

Rollin's thoughts were similarly occupied. He downed the rest of his drink. He was not a lonely man. He could take any lovely young lady who showed an interest with him. But, to be honest, this time he had sincerely planned to go it alone. The agent simply wanted to unwind, get in some fishing, and maybe visit a night club or two. The whole idea was to recharge … But now, with Cinnamon showing interest, he found himself wondering if his desire to be alone wasn't just selfish.

No, he thought, they should not consider any form of intimate involvement … but since when did secret agents do anything without compromise? He had long thought there was a significant connection between he and the beautiful blond. But, more than that, he found himself feeling more protective of she than any other on the IMF team. Initially he thought it was because she was a woman and it was natural for him, as a man, to want to defend her. But he soon learned that Cinnamon Carter could take care of herself. She didn't need him or any man.

But that look she just gave him, the hint that she too was having feelings more substantial, made his heart skip a beat and, Rollin was sure, his pulse was racing. Honestly, what man in his right mind would not spend two weeks in heaven with Cinnamon Carter if he had the opportunity?

Casually, Rollin looked over his shoulder at Barney and Willy, who were talking quietly, and then at Dan and Crystal. Both were napping, Crystal's head resting on his shoulder. Now, there was a man who understood compromise.

The coast was clear.

He turned back and looked at the woman beside him. Carefully, Rollin reached over and took her hand in his as it lay on the arm rest.

Cinnamon looked down, curious and a little alarmed. She intended to pull away (this is crazy!) yet a very human side of her wanted his touch. It told her she was a fool if she continued to deny what was in her heart.

Their eyes met.

"Okay." she whispered.

Rollin smiled, "Okay."

His hand gently squeezed her own.

San La Paz would be lovely this time of year.

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THE END

June 2012