"Kate.. are you really okay? Has something happ-" Kate was walking down the halls of CIA headquarters after having just turned in details of her latest mission when she heard Niko's voice. "Niko," she gasped. "It couldn't be." Kate spun around, trying to find which direction the voice came from. It seemed to have come from nearby, and she arrived at the door of.. Richard's office? Kate slowly opened the door as Richard pushed the delete button on his answering machine. "Kate," exclaimed Richard, startled.
"Why did you just delete a message, from Niko, that was meant for me," Kate demanded, starting to feel angry. "Has he called so many times and you just deleted them like it was nothing?! YOU TOLD ME HE WENT MISSING, AND WAS MOST LIKELY DEAD!"
Richard swallowed in his throat. "I just, just wanted to-" He stopped himself, rethinking what he was going to say. "No. You should know." He sat down at his desk, and invited Kate to sit down in one of his chairs. Kate sat down, not quite trusting Richard- not anymore. "Recently after Niko left to go back to Yugoslavia, he was presented an opportunity to marry someone that would give him a political advantage. After a few months, he accepted. That's when he started calling. You still seemed fragile, so I thought it best to tell you he was gone, instead of married. To try to keep him from calling, I told him that you were undercover for a high-profile mission, and it would be much safer if he stopped calling you. It worked- for a while. He started calling again, this time, more concerned. I just kept deleting them out of habit, and now you're with Anderson.." Kate's eyes looked murderous. "Okay, maybe it wasn't the best idea, but-"
"Not the best idea," snarled Kate, standing up, "HE USED TO BE MY WORLD, and you told me he went MISSING! You decided to make choices for me. I don't get to decide if I want to talk to Niko? I think knowing that he's alive and married is better than believing he's most likely dead, don't you, Richard?" Kate's voice begun to drip with sarcasm. "Little, unimportant me. My boyfriend gets married, and they tell me he's dead. Doesn't matter. I don't matter." Richard tried to get a word in when Kate said that, but she just stared dangerously at him, as if by speaking, he'd die a painful death. "You did the same thing to him too, telling him I was doing something important, but never telling him the truth, never letting me answer, letting him believe that I was probably dead. I guess no one matters in the CIA, huh? Don't get attached." By then, she'd leaned in closer, making Richard feel almost claustrophobic. And fearing for his life. Kate had started carrying a gun in her purse, which was laying on the desk. He'd eyed it nervously. Kate leaned in closer, until their heads almost touched, and she whispered- "Give. Me. The number."
"I don't think-"
"GIVE ME THE NUMBER, RICHARD," said Kate, not quite yelling, but her voice echoed throughout the room. It had a creepy tone to it, like those seemingly innocent girls in horror movies who turned out to be serial killers. Richard quickly blurted out the number and scrambled away from her. Kate burned the number into her memory, and left the room calmly.. until she started running, crying, until she reached the forth room to her right on the third floor. She twisted the doorknob and sat down in her favorite chair, wiping mascara from her face, tears still flowing, but now silently. She took shuddered breaths, trying to calm herself. She looked up, and took a deep breath, inhaling the air around her. She calmed down, not because she had let out all of her emotions, but because of the familiar scent in the air.. Roger's cologne. Her fiancée's office. Clean and orderly, with no personal belongings, except for a shelf of worn books. And if you looked closely enough, snooped around a little, in the most worn book was a photo of Kate. Kate sat there for a while, twisting her engagement ring, as she waited.
About half an hour later, Roger walked into his office to encounter his fiancée, lost in her own thoughts, smiling sadly as she continued to twist her ring. "Kate?" Roger immediately noticed that something was not okay, and sat by her, wrapping his arms around her. He gave her a soothing kiss on the head. "Shh.. you can tell me.."
Kate was flooded with emotion once more, and chocked out: "Richard said Niko was dead, THAT LYING BASTARD… I loved Niko! I cried for months and it's all because of Richard," Kate fought against the onslaught of tears. "I was so distraught, stuck in my grieving, that I didn't even notice you, Roger. I didn't even remember all of the times we'd been together, how we'd helped one another.. I forgot it all. It was as if you and I never met, I was so distant back then.." Roger hugged Kate tighter, and Kate told the whole story..
September 1963 (a few months after Niko left for Yugoslavia)
Kate had just gotten a phone call from Richard saying that Niko had disappeared, and was therefore most likely dead. She had drawn the blinds, brewed a hot cup of coffee, wrapped herself in a blanket, and cried. Cried until her tears ran out. Then cried more. She stayed in the whole day, like a zombie, remembering their goodbye.. A few days went like this, until they had a flight to Hawaii, and she realized she needed to pull herself together. She had to keep going. For Niko, for Laura, for herself. So with a heavy heart, she went on, and after a while, she started mending. Then on that fateful day in the train station where she and Roger confessed their feelings, Niko became a happy memory from the past, something she'd lost while growing up, like a favorite teddy bear. And then Richard ruined it all again.
*A few days later (back to 1964)*
"I called Niko, and told him you'd be coming," said Richard, tactfully leaving out the exact details of what he told Niko.
"Did you tell him the truth?" asked Kate, not so easily fooled.
"I thought I'd leave that up to you."
Kate was about to protest, but she supposed that Richard had done enough damage already, so it would probably be better if Niko had heard the truth from her lips. So instead, she sighed. "I hope you bought two tickets."
Richard looked confused. Then it dawned on him. "You honestly think that's a good move, bringing Anderson?" he asked incredulously.
"I can do what I like," retorted Kate. "Niko is married now, and I'm engaged. There's no reason why I shouldn't bring him."
That sliced through Richard. Kate unknowingly opened a raw wound- Richard knew he'd never be with Kate. And Kate just said it out loud. Engaged. So he just shut his mouth and ordered an extra plane ticket.
Kate packed her bags for a three day stay, and so did Roger. He was a bit surprised when she asked him to go to Yugoslavia with her, but complied because that's what fiancées did. (Normally, a stay in a communist country probably wouldn't be that long, heck, they may not have even allowed them to go, but because they would be guests of Niko, they got special privileges.)
The flight had gone smoothly, and now they were touching down in Yugoslavia, around 5pm. Niko was waiting in the airport, and greeted Kate with open arms.
"Kate!" He hugged her, even though he felt like kissing her. It was mainly because he had to keep up the image of being married to Nataša Ljubojovic, a well-respected woman in the Yugoslavian government. He noticed Roger hanging back, and looked at him quizzically. Roger noticed, and introduced himself.
"Roger Anderson, MI6." He shook hands with Niko. Niko was still confused. Why did someone from MI6 need to come? Perhaps Richard, but no one from the MI6.. And then he looked at the small details. Roger was squeezing Kate's hand, and on both of their hands were silver rings. "Oh." He said softly. "Oh." He tried to not show any emotion, because it could be deadly for all of them. He led them to the car waiting for them, and they drove to Niko and Nataša's house. It was large, but not quite a mansion. They settled down in the living room, Nataša glaring at Kate. Nataša knew why Kate had come, but that didn't make her happy. What they wanted to say was private though, so Niko signaled Nataša to leave. She left, glancing back at Niko and Kate. Niko shut the door.
"This room is secure," said Niko, to assure Kate.
"Richard lied," started Kate emotionally. "He, he, lied. I wasn't on a mission. In fact, he told me you were dead."
Niko looked furious.
"He said it was to protect me, that bastard. And I'm sorry, but I did move on," finished Kate, holding out the hand with her engagement ring on it. "I'm engaged to Roger." She looked at Niko, heartbroken Niko. "Are you happy?" asked Kate tentatively.
"Relatively," he replied softly. "I don't have to worry about being seized in the night anymore, and that's a good thing."
"Do you love her?" Kate knew the answer, but she hoped that he was happy.
"The marriage was political," he said with a hardened voice. Kate looked down at her lap. Not everyone had a happy ending.. Niko looked at Roger. He wanted to say something, but he couldn't. Kate saw Niko looking at Roger, and told him that they needed to be alone for a moment. So Roger left, hesitantly, and Niko breathed a sigh of relief. "Are you happy?" he asked Kate.
Kate didn't know what to say, but she was, so she just said a simple, "Yes."
"Are you safe?"
Niko swallowed in his throat.
Kate smiled wistfully. "I've been held hostage, I've had a close run-in with a Soviet spy.. it's actually more dangerous than ever. I'm going to quit Pan Am soon.. they don't allow married stewardesses anyway. I'm going to Langley to train as a spy soon after the wedding. Such is the life of a spy." The corner of her lip turned up.
Niko just looked at Kate. All of the memories they could've had together.. and yet it was not meant to be. He cleared his throat. "I'm in good standing with Tito, and I've learned some important information," he said, trying to make light of the situation. He half smiled. "I hope you live a good life Kate."
"Me too, Niko, me too," replied Kate quietly.
There was a silence.
Kate tried to make small talk, talk about all sorts of trivial things, just to pass the time. Or to prevent each of them from thinking too much about the situation each was in. "So," she faltered, "Maggie, that stewardess who you talked to a lot in New York, she's doing well. Always single, always causing some sort of mischief, but she's good. Um- she and Laura, my sister- she's the blonde stewardess you may have met –have this game they do once in a while, where they spike some of the passengers food and drinks to see who becomes drunk or passed out first. Usually Dean or Ted fly the plane to a high altitude by then, making the drunken passengers fall asleep so there's no trouble." She looked at Niko.
Niko realized what she was trying to do, and felt a bit grateful, but he was a bit annoyed at himself for not having anything interesting enough to reply with. "I haven't done much except hung on the arm of Nataša, which is a bit ironic, since it is the women who usually hang on the arms of men," he said, trying to lighten the atmosphere a bit. "And I have been spying a bit, since I am still working for your government. Tito has arranged some deaths lately, like that of Aleksandar Ranković. It shows how dangerous it is to be a spy in Yugoslavia now. Once Tito hears that you have spoken out, or if you disagree with him, you will be shamed, and then killed." Noticing Kate's expression, he realized he just made a mistake. That was not small talk. "But everything's okay! I'm not suspected, I live in a good house, Nataša is civil, I have everything I could want! Tell me more about your stewardess friends," he exclaimed hastily (in an unnecessarily loud voice).
With a worried sigh, Kate continued talking. "Colette- she's the French stewardess –is kind of with Dean, the pilot. Laura is with Ted, the co-pilot. I think Maggie will be the only one left someday.. I've had successful missions, such as one where we accompanied a Soviet spy in a tour around London while trying to whittle information from her, and- and one that was so ridiculous.. I won't even mention it."
Eager for an opportunity to keep Kate talking (and also for some comic relief), he convinced her to tell the story.
"Well, in March, we- as in Jasper, Richard, a woman by the name of Sydney, and I -were assigned to attend a gala for a cause I can't remember, to monitor the crowd since we knew there would be a traitor planning to trade information, and it all went a bit wrong. It started off fine, we split up and went to different spots. Jasper had to be pulled away from Sydney, but he eventually took a spot near the refreshments. I stood near a window making small talk, and Richard ended up near the ice sculpture. We didn't see anything for about twenty minutes, but then Sydney saw a suspicious character handing someone a package, and she confiscated it from him- pretended she was the FBI so as not to blow her cover –and it turned out to be a bomb. The suspicious character was not the man, rather a doppelganger, and he wanted to kill the other man, who wasn't even a spy. It was ticking with six seconds left on the clock, and she dropped it and screamed for everyone to evacuate. It blew up before anyone could get out, but it was poorly made and it only caught both men on fire. The sprinklers turned on, but instead of just.. sprinkling, it poured. We later found out they tried to turn off the sprinklers but turned it the wrong way. When the 6 inches of water on the floor drained out- the then melted sculpture helped out the water level –the men were rushed into the local hospital. They happened to be members of enemy criminal groups. Needless to say, it was a complete flop."
Niko was laughing. When he finished, he smiled at her. She smiled back. He was genuinely happy for the first time in a long while.