Title: On the Bridge At Midnight
Characters: Phillip Broyles and Nina Sharp
Spoilers: Through 4x19 Letters of Transit
Summary: Two old soldiers in a brave new world.
A/N: Commentfic written for ziparumpazoo, who apparently knows my brain better than I do. Title from The Bridge by Longfellow.
Amberverse, Year 2017
He's long past beers and into whiskey by the time her knock comes at his door. It's sharp and direct, full of purpose and making no apologies for the fact that it's 3:13 a.m. and she might very well be waking him up.
Her knock is, in fact, a lot like her.
"Nina," he says as crisply as he can under the circumstances. He crosses his arms and leans mock-casually against the doorframe, hoping to hide the alcohol-induced waver he knows she'd spot in a second if he moved.
But Nina just furrows her brow, shouldering her way past him, and he knows she's seen it anyway.
Broyles pushes the door shut behind him and follows her across the sparse living room of his apartment – littered with the detritus of tonight's booze-assisted descent into self-loathing – and into the military-clean kitchen. She drops neatly into a chair at the table in the corner; he stands for a minute, considering, then drags out the chair beside hers and folds himself into it.
"It's done," she says without preamble. "They'll never find her."
He leans forward, elbows on the table, and turns his head to look at her. "Never is a long time," he says, his voice low and level, "and they have some fairly extraordinary means."
She folds her own hands on the table. "I'm not without means myself, Phillip," she says curtly.
"You want to do a side-by-side comparison of that?" he asks. "Your money, and their totalitarian control. Your international business network, and their ability to see straight into our minds and know our every thought. Your –"
"My head," she interrupts, pointing at her temple. "And my heart," and she gestures at her own chest. She pauses for a long time, then turns the finger on him. "And yours."
"I never thought it would come to this," he says. "A conspiracy of two against an enemy of millions."
Nina shrugs. "And isn't that how we started?"
Broyles snorts a surprised half-laugh. "Near enough."
They're silent for a while after that, and Broyles feels the fatigue of beer and whiskey and the last two years settling heavy on his shoulders and around his eyes. Or maybe that isn't fatigue, he thinks. Maybe it's the grief he's never let himself feel.
He pinches the bridge of his nose, hard, then pushes off the table to sit up straight again. "All right. Where is she?" he asks, the question direct at last.
"She's with a family in Iowa," Nina replies in kind. "The only thing they know about her is that she's a charming and clever four-year-old girl named Henrietta. I made all the arrangements myself, and there's no way to connect them back to me or to Massive Dynamic."
"Please tell me you didn't have to kill anyone to make that true."
She smiles enigmatically. Broyles resists the urge to roll his eyes.
"Someday she'll want to know who she is," he points out. "Where she came from."
"And I've made arrangements for that, too," Nina answers without missing a beat.
Broyles takes a breath, in and out; then he nods, slowly, and that's that. Deal done. Goodbye to the last piece of the haphazard little family that had been at the heart of the Fringe Division.
He stands up from the table before the grief can sneak up on him again. Nina follows suit.
"We'll meet again in two weeks," he says, looking down at her. "But not here. And definitely not at your office."
"I know a place."
He raises an eyebrow.
"A house I don't own out in the suburbs," she half-explains.
"Except that you really do," Broyles guesses.
"Yes. I'll get you the information in the usual way."
"Nina Sharp, millionaire, CEO, and owner of her own network of front companies, dead drops, safe houses. Who needs the FBI?"
"I've been asking that for years," she says with a demure shrug and a hint of that enigmatic smile flitting by once again.
For the bare space of a second, he thinks that maybe a million to two odds aren't that insurmountable after all. And for a second after that, he thinks that if he were less drunk, less tired, he'd lean over and kiss her just for being Nina Sharp. Indomitable even in humanity's darkest hour, spitting back into the face of complete defeat.
Her half-smile transforms slowly into a grin. "Why, Phillip," she says. "And here I thought you were over me."
He snorts and shakes his head, then turns away to move for the door.
But Nina stops him with a hand on his arm.
"She'll be safe," she says again, her fingers closing around his wrist and squeezing tight. "She'll be safe, Phillip. And we can get back to work."
Back to work. Back to work with his oldest co-conspirator, from long before he'd ever met Olivia Dunham and her merry band of geniuses. His oldest, and his last.
She releases him, and walks ahead of him, back across the living room.
"In two weeks," Broyles says as he puts his hand on the doorknob.
"Good night, Phillip," Nina replies.
And then she's gone.