Sarah looked out the window of the jet and down at the water below. She hadn't been able to sleep at all on the way back from Russia. The extraction had been uneventful. Apparently Yuri had fallen farther down Putin's ranks then he had lead them to believe. She looked over at the old, balding man sitting across from her. He was looking out his window as well. He looked so much older than she had remembered him. His hair was almost completely white now and there were dark circles under his eyes. He had also lost a considerable amount of weight.
"Are you going to tell me what happened to you Yuri?" she asked. The old man looked towards her and gave a small, feeble smile.
"Ah Sarah. So long I've lived in Russia. My whole life. And in that life I have seen much. But lately, what I have seen has been so very bad."
"Worse than communism?" Yuri gave a small, dry laugh.
"Communism was predictable for me. You say this and this will happen. You do that and that will happen. Now though, the predictability has disappeared. The players have changed and the game is no longer a game but something closer to a fight with no rules. What is coming will be...uncontrollable." Sarah sat forward and looked closer at Yuri. It was only then that she saw the almost healed bruises on his face and a tremor in his hand as he took a sip of water.
"What happened Yuri?" she demanded. Again he gave her a feeble smile.
"And so, I wasn't able to hide it from you after all. Well, I was surprised I hid it this long. Your mind must be elsewhere." Sarah swallowed and silently yelled at herself for not being focused.
"Why have you lost your position Yuri? It wasn't because Putin came back to power. You worked for him before. He trusted you." Yuri laughed but then fell into a coughing fit. After Sarah helped him take a few sips of water he reached over and took her hand.
"My dear Sarah. Putin is not the problem. Yes, he is back in power. But he didn't do that on his own. He has become a puppet and someone else is pulling the strings. They wanted me out and so, I was removed. I'm lucky they didn't kill me. But they didn't take it easy on me either." Sarah gripped his hand over hers.
"Who?" The old man shrugged and patted her hand.
"I wish I knew. I do wish I could give one last piece of information to help you my friend. Tell your people over there to stay awake. Whoever is in charge over there will be taking the gloves off, as you American's say." Sarah squeezed his hand and sat back as she felt the plain dip down to land.
"I'll get you to The General to be debriefed and then we'll set you up in a nice home Yuri. Anywhere you want to go." Yuri smiled and leaned back, closing his eyes.
"Someplace warm please? I have heard good things about Texas." Sarah smiled and watched the old man look out the window. This was not good timing for her. A new player was coming on the scene but all she could think about was Sharon. She had to find Sharon so she could focus again. As the plane landed at Dulles she wondered just how close she was to her cousin.
*** *** ***
The Watcher followed Sarah and Yuri as they made their way through Dulles and considered for a moment moving forward the plan now rather then later. Things were speeding up faster than anticipated but that could be adjusted for. Pausing for a moment, The Watcher studied Sarah. She was protective of the old man. Sarah King had a problem with not being able to button up her emotions and separate herself from the people she was in charge of. Yuri was the perfect example. She hadn't seen him in probably two years, but she had brought him in as an informant in the beginning. Sarah always got too close to her assets but The Watcher could see that she was closer to this one than others. He would do well when the time came. Soon, but not yet.
*** *** ***
It was late when Sarah finally left Yuri in the care the agents in charge of relocation. The debrief with the General had been long and ultimately fruitless if not a little frightening. Yuri had been imprisoned and questioned for a month before being released without a job and the inability to ever get one. He had stayed with a niece, hoping things would change, until she started to hint that perhaps he should try looking for work somewhere outside of Moscow.
"My disgrace and fall from trust was starting to impact my niece. So I contacted my handler to defect. I don't believe I will be missed."
His face had been sad and his entire demeanor one of defeat. Sarah had never seen him like that. When she had met Yuri three years ago he had been active, determined and a major player in Russian politics. A disillusioned one, but trying to do what was best for his country. Sarah had been able to convince him that the best thing for his country was to help keep corrupt officials in check and to stop a slide back into open communism. That was The Company's only interest in Russia these days. To keep everything calm and away from the days of the Cold War. For two years Yuri had been a wealth of information. It was only in the past year that things had started to trickle down to nothing. He wasn't sure if someone had found out about him or only suspected. Chances were it was only suspicion. If someone had actually known, given the state of the Russian government now, he would have been quietly killed. A car accident, a robbery gone bad, something that wouldn't attract attention.
Shaking her head to clear it of all things Russian for the time being, she pulled into her drive and yawned. Right now she needed sleep. Rest would give her a clear head, which she desperately needed. She had gotten a text from Sam saying the campaign would be back in town for three days before the final two weeks of the race. Two weeks that Sam will be too busy to do much more than relay messages. She had received an email from Jack tonight. He had finally gotten his hands on a secure computer and let her have it! Swinging from her old, gruff, no nonsense trainer to the concerned friend all the way through the email. It had made her laugh. He knew he couldn't help and if he won this race, there was no way he would ever be able to help her again with anything.
She let herself dwell on that idea. Jack had been her trainer and mentor. When he had gotten wounded and his hip put him out of commission as a field agent, he had started to become distant from her. Dating agents was frowned upon inside The Company. But their relationship had never been that defined. She was drawn towards Jack and she knew he felt the same way towards her. But nothing had ever been said. If nothing was said then nothing had to be taken back. When Jack had started riding a desk, she found herself being neatly cut off from him. But when Sharon had disappeared, he had been the first to be there for her, helping in any way he could. But he was in Congress then. He could do very little. She smiled at how irritated he would be as President if he won! She knew he wasn't doing it for himself. She also knew better than to ask why.
Pulling around the last bend in the drive she drove into the darkened courtyard. Her headlights lit up the front door and she hit the breaks hard! Someone was huddled in the doorway, their hand's up to block the light and their body curled into a small ball. Jumping out of the car Sarah ran towards the door until she saw the person pull away, trying to force them self further into the corner. They were whimpering and had their head turned away from her still.
"It's ok. I won't hurt you. I live here. Who are you?" Sarah crouched down a few feet away from the person, just out of reach. The whimpering turned to full crying. The person's hands started coming down from covering their face. From the long hair half falling out of the hood pulled up Sarah could see it was a girl. "It's ok, I won't come any closer. Are you ok? Can I help you? My name is Sarah." The girl on the step turned her head slightly towards her and slowly brought her hands all the way down.
"S-Sarah?" The voice was quavering between sobs but Sarah gasped in shock. She knew that voice! As the hands came completely away from the face, Sarah felt tears come to her own eyes! Bruises covered her face and there were restraint marks on her wrists but she knew that face, that voice! Reaching out tentatively, not quite touching her, Sharon edged forward a little. Disbelief filled her as the girl shrank away from her outstretched hand.
"Sharon, it's me! Sarah." The tears were streaming down her face freely now. Sharon looked at her for a moment and then slowly reached out to her cousin's waiting hand. She was gulping air in between sobs but they were starting to slow down.
"Sarah? Is that really you?" Sharon whispered. She tentatively touched Sarah's hand. The two sat there staring at one another for a minute, as if neither could believe the other was there. Then Sharon took Sarah's hand and gripped it tightly. Her face became one of total fear and she started crying again. "Sarah, help me! Please!"