I did quit the CIA eventually.
Well, to be exact, I stayed on for about a year once we're back in Langley. I literally just stayed to clean up after the messes the CIA had made after the fall of Enoch. Who'd have thought there's so much paperwork and fieldwork involved in taking down an international criminal organization?
So I quit, with Operation Eagle Scout being my last mission. I've never looked back since. Well, maybe to talk to my old team from time to time. After all, they sometimes need my help for whatever case they've got going on. Who am I to begrudge them of my expertise?
It took the whole flight from London to DC and hell, maybe even a few hours after the plane has actually touched down on the runway for me to realize that the life of a, basically, mercenary isn't exactly the one I wanted. Now that Enoch is gone, my desire to fight has been tamped down. I realized I want another life, another thing. Just because this is the life I've always lived doesn't mean this is the life I would die in as well. I'm through. I'm done. I don't want to die someday for some stupid cause I probably wouldn't even believe in.
I don't have a death wish anymore.
So I've been a real civilian since then. Three years at most. Okay maybe two years and a half since the first six months after I quit was spent tying up loose ends, which meant travelling around for a bit and making sure my CIA files had been redacted properly. Also, briefing the people who are going to replace me and my team because James, Collins and Smith flat-out refused to work with anyone who weren't me. Last I heard, Collins and Smith are married now and have stuck with simple analyst jobs for the agency.
James, on the other hand, well, that dude's a free spirit. Always has been. I don't know where he is now. He never bothers to say. Although, sometimes he sends postcards from whichever part of the world he is at the moment. He didn't exactly quit the CIA but I think he's on a hiatus or extended leave of some sort, doing jobs for himself, helping people on the road or something. Yeah. He's the exact picture of a lonely, selfless hero, travelling the world and saving one average Joe at a time.
I really hope he comes home soon.
As for me, I've been tending bar for a while now. For real this time. I live in an apartment with two other people. One's an NYU student who I'm tempted to kill more often than not. I hold myself back most of the time but I swear to god, if I hear one more mention of her boyfriend Rick—
Let's just leave it at that.
My other roommate's more tolerable. Just this girl who works at a diner 'til late at night. Okay, so maybe the reason why I find her more tolerable is because we never really cross paths in the apartment that often, since she'd either be asleep or heading to bed whenever I get home.
Whatever works, I guess.
And of course there's him. It's not like I'll ever forget to mention him. Everybody knows him now. Even more popular than his father too. He became CEO of Carlson Hotels about a year ago. I didn't really expect anything less. He's safe now. Free to do whatever it is he needs to do, whatever it is he was set on doing before we met three years ago. Hey, that's just the way life is. Everybody moves on. No exceptions.
I'm wiping glasses by the bar when I hear his name on TV. It's a sports bar. Of course there'd be a TV. What's weird is that it's tuned in to the business channel at the moment. Anyway, there's CEO Eddie Carlson. His face has been plastered all over the news ever since last week. Essentially, everyone's just been reviewing his first year on the job and all they've been saying is that he's making one of the most reckless and ballsiest moves in business history, with his expansion policies offending a lot of powerful people in the underground.
But as I watch it, watch him become the man he's supposed to be, all I can think about is, "that's my boy". I'm so fucking proud of him for being brave, for not backing down in the face of his adversaries, in the face of threats to his life—'cause let's face it, there'd be many—that it makes my heart swell with, well, pride.
It's not like we've lost contact over the past two years. It's just that we've both been so busy that everything has just kind of fallen apart between us. It's a mutual thing and I guess the saying that distance makes you forget is really true but I'd like to think that if we ever see each other again one day, we can still consider each other friends.
I'm too busy looking up at the TV that I don't notice the customer who's probably been calling out for me to serve him. I snap out of my trance when he says, "Hello? Can I have a beer please?"
I'm guessing it's an annoying college boy because for the love of whatever, real life is not the movies, okay? Tell me what kind of beer you want so I can get it for you. It's not like I can just guess.
So I turn around to say exactly that and give him a piece of my—undoubtedly frustrated—mind but the words never come. Instead, I open and close my mouth like a fool.
Because he's right there. Just standing in front of me like nothing's changed, like two years hasn't come and gone... And he's smiling like he knows all the answers to the questions I want to ask.
He's still smiling when he says, "I changed my mind. I think I want bourbon instead."
"W-What are you doing here?" I ask, almost trembling as I fix his drink.
Eddie gulps down his drink first before ignoring my question completely. "So you work here now? Tending bar?"
I can't help but laugh at what he's not saying. "Yeah. I'm an honest-to-god bartender now. No secret base of operations in the backroom. I promise."
He gives me a small, shy smile and that just about melts my fucking heart. He still got it even after three years, I suppose, and that makes me simultaneously annoyed and excited. He's quiet for a moment as he appears to assess me, then he says rather conspiratorially, "Well, since you quit your awesome job, I have a business proposition for you."
I quirk my eyebrow questioningly at him and he leans closer so that I wouldn't miss a single word. He continues with, "There's this guy I know. He wants to hire you as a personal bodyguard. He's made some enemies, you know? A lot of people in the underground not too happy about his expansion policies. He personally requested you. Says you've saved his life millions of times before. Says you can do it a million times more."
I take a deep breath because that is some high expectation I have to live up to. "A million is maybe pushing it. As for him making some enemies, I advise him to be very careful."
To my surprise, he actually agrees. "Yeah, you're right. He should. But, what do you think? You up for the job?" And I get the distinct feeling that somehow, we're not just talking about the job here anymore.
I want to. God, I want to, really. But I can't just rush into things like these. Not again. "Can I think about it first?" I ask hesitantly.
Eddie seems surprised by that but he quickly recovers. "Well, maybe we can talk about it over dinner? How's that sound?"
A genuinely happy smile slowly spreads across my face. "I think that sounds great."
So maybe you really can't expect someone to wait for you for god-knows how long. But you can certainly expect that, if they're determined and stubborn enough, maybe they'd come to you to say they're too fucking tired of waiting. And maybe that was all you really needed. You didn't really need "time to heal" or any of that psychobabble crap. Maybe you just needed "time".
And what can I say, really? The decision's been made a long time ago.
"So I'll pick you up tomorrow, say around seven?" He asks, and it's just adorable how he can be confident CEO one moment then suddenly shy, hesitant dude asking for a date the next.
"Wait. Actually you had me at 'can I have a beer please'. Say I accept the job. Can we still have dinner?" I say lightheartedly. I really, really hope he doesn't call me out on my poor attempts at flirting. It's not like I've had much practice over the past three years.
But then Eddie gives me the brightest smile I'd ever seen on a human being before, and I just know that this time around, we're doing it right.
"Absolutely." He says.
A/N: End of the line!
I can't believe I managed to finish this story. Thank you very much to all those who read and reviewed. Words are not enough to express my gratitude to all the positive and beautiful reactions I received for this story. Thank you so much! You know who you all are. By the way, I also made a PDF version of this story so if anyone wants a copy of that, just send me a message here: amorverdangmailcom and I'll send it as soon as I can. Take care and Big Thanks!
EDIT: To AxioteA. Seems like fictionpress doesn't display email addresses so I sent you a personal message regarding the PDF version. Thanks!