Spies are trained to walk away in less than half an hour. Leave everything behind and get away clean and cold. Shed your past life like a snakeskin and move onto the next one.
Granted, they're trained to do this with a cover ID, with a version of themselves that isn't actually the real man.
Still, Michael lived by that for so long, he's kept a part of it in place.
Or so he thought.
He's doing a better job of going through the motions than Fi is. She's got a whole bag that she's filling with things. He's got one pocket.
Six pictures. Two are of Fi, from Ireland, the only thing he took with him, and though it was horrendously bad tradecraft, he did it anyway. He had them sewn into the lining of his coat.
One is of him and Fi from last year. Mr. and Mrs. Jensen. There was a photographer working the ballroom as they danced. It's a shot from later in the night, after the tango, before they hit the wine to compare notes. It was just a basic, slow box step. He's holding Fi close, her fingers twined with his, pressed against his chest, her head is on his shoulder, his chin is against her forehead. Both of them have their eyes closed.
One is of him and Nate. It's the only picture he has of the two of them. It's two weeks before he joined the army. He's seventeen. Nate is thirteen. They both look impossibly young and cocky.
One is him and Sam, from 1988. They were in West Berlin, celebrating the end of a mission. Both of them look silly, and a little drunk. Okay, a lot drunk. Sam's sitting, legs wide, a blonde on each knee, and a beer in each hand. Mike's standing behind him, grinning at the camera, beer in hand, too. If that shot had been taken a few seconds later, there would have been a blonde in his arms, as well. He's a little fuzzy on how the rest of that night went, but he remembered enjoying it, and thought the hang over the next morning was more than worth it.
The last one is the five of them at Carlito's. His birthday. The waitress took it. Everyone is sitting around a table, looking relaxed and happy. There's a cupcake in front of him with a candle on it, and Fi's encouraging him to blow it out. It's a good picture. It'd be a better one if it wasn't from when they were still lying to Jesse, but still...
Six pictures. He slips them into the pocket of Fi's bag, and helps Tyler get the files ready.
"It's not the last one." And it hits him, this was home. The first real home he's ever had. He wraps his hands around Fi's, remembering another moment, similar, though tonight is calmer, sadder, less scared or jagged, where she wrapped her hands around his and said, "When the time comes, we'll do it together."
They press the button on the detonator together. And with a whoosh and the sound of shattering glass home begins to burn.
The counter. Hundreds of planning meetings. Hours of talking. Meals, fights, bugs, explosives, DIY projects that would make Martha Stewart blush. The image of her sitting in front of it as he walked into the loft, sure she was dead. That was the moment he knew he still loved her, would always love her, and maybe there was a shot of making this work, if he did it right. He'd kissed her in front of it, pushing every ounce of relief into his touch, and as the kiss intensified, as they both melted into each other, he picked her up, put her on the counter, wrapped her legs around him, and used touch, smell, taste, and sound to convince himself she was really alive, not just a vision.
The bed. Her hair spread out on the bedspread like the flames. She'd been right there when he told her he loved her. Right there the first time they made love in Miami. Ultra-erotic images tumbled through his mind, accompanied by planning there together, sharing yogurt, one cup, one spoon, both of them eating together, and the feel of her skin on his as they slept.
They begin to leave, his hand on her waist, and, at the door, before stepping out of the loft for the last time, he leans in to kiss her cheek. "We'll build a new home."
She half-smiles, and he knows that look, a shield in place because a smile is easier than crying. "I wouldn't have bought the shredder if I had known we were going to burn it all. At least this way I don't have to worry about you checking those files over and over again, now." The smile breaks and tears follow.
He holds her close, smiles back, laughs a little, and feels the tears sliding down his face. "Never again."