xxxxv. husband and wife

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Before every fallout from the mistakes you made, there's a span of time: one second, one day, or even one year, in which you can see the collapse before anyone else can. The reality to come seconds, days, or years later feels tangible in that moment, forcing you to live with irreconcilable guilt.

This moment, for me, was undoubtedly the millisecond those dangerous forest eyes first made contact with mine. They were breathtakingly beautiful. Not in the way of mundane perfection, but in the sort of way a hurricane could be beautiful—powerful.

Ace and the Director were arguing with one another. They were speaking, but I didn't hear anything. The last couple of days have been like this. Numb.

An entire SWAT team surrounded me with military grade weapons. I was handcuffed to the chair. Imagine me, a perpetually hungry teenage girl, having the balls to fight an entire SWAT team. I needed to take a nap after doing ten push ups.

Ace's suit jacket was wrapped around me. Right beside the chair was a small coffee table where a cup of warm camomile waited for me. Every time I wanted a sip, I'd have to ask one of the guards to bring it up to my face like a goddamn child.

All this, of course, was just a precaution. I rode back from the ferry last night and dragged myself back to the penthouse. I told the team everything—even the fact that my father was Agent 009. Now that I was a danger to the CIA, I had to be handcuffed.

"She had no choice!" Banana Bread yells. "Tell me you would have not done the same thing."

"We value the life of many above the life of one," the Director gritted. "You knew this when you joined."

There was a cold feeling inside me. Not just the fact that another human being had been slaughtered before my eyes, but because of what Thirteen had said about Ace and this Agency. Who determined who was good and evil? More concerningly, if someone was evil, did they deserve to die for their sins? Ethan surely didn't; at least, not in that way.

"Agent 009, who was he?" Ace states. "What exactly did he do for the CIA? At the academy, we were told he was a myth."

The Director sighs, shooing the SWAT agents out of the room. "Agent 009 was an anonymous programmer and hacker—the best. He had helped us in encrypting data for Project Philomena."

I raise an eyebrow. "Philomena. What was that? Don't tell me my father did some MK Ultra mind control bullshit."

The Director folds his arms across his chest. "What happened in 1953 stays in 1953. Philomena was research into advancement itself. It was a database of technological advancement, and which inventions and world events could one day be plausible."

Ace gives a poignant look. "Including weapons?"

"Weapons, international economies, diplomatic ties—everything."

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