You want to know something they don't tell you about being a spy? Alright, let's be fair. There are a lot of things they don't tell you about being a spy, from the terrible hours to how incredibly boring it is most of the time, but the big one is relationships. Years of training, over a decade of covert ops, intimate knowledge of how to bug a room or take out an enemy, but it comes down to personal relationships and you're on your own. Approaching another operative who might decide to shoot you? No problem. Approaching someone you're genuinely interested in? Now there's a challenge.
This is further complicated when the person you're interested in happens to be working at cross purposes to your assignment.
Her name's Fiona Glenanne. IRA agent, trained in explosives. Trouble with a capital T. And currently looking at me like she wants to set me on fire. Actually, all things considered, she probably does.
"Look, it's nothing personal, alright? I just couldn't let you blow up that bank." I keep holding up my hands, palms out, to placate her, like she's going to do something. She's tied up, for God's sake. But she's got this glare that could punch through steel, and she keeps smiling every now and then, like she knows something I don't.
I think we've been over this about seventeen times. This makes eighteen.
"I can't tell you that." It's like she's never heard of privileged information, or maybe just doesn't care.
"Oh, so I'm just supposed to tell people I didn't carry through because some mysterious American knocked me out and tied me up?"
I frown, and look around the room like I'm going to find logic hiding in a corner. It has good reason to hide from this woman. Former KGB agents would want to hide from her. And somehow that's attractive.
"That... seems like a pretty good reason, yeah. Look, if you want, you can even say I threatened you. Waved around a gun or something." I didn't, but it's pretty much expected in Northern Ireland. If the gun isn't visible, it's more or less assumed.
"Oh, thanks, that's sweet." There's that cyanide smile again, sardonic and sweet all at once, and I can't help but sigh. Anyone who smiles like that is someone to look out for.
"Look - Fiona, right?" I know her name's Fiona, but it ever hurts to pretend you know less than you really do. People tend to underestimate you that way. I wait for her to nod before I say anything else. "I'm going to untie you, and then you can leave, no problem. Alright?"
The smile doesn't go away. "Sure."
I walk around behind her, lean down to untie her hands - and get kicked in the head for my trouble, as Fiona pulls my gun out of its holster, flicks the safety off, and aims it at me. You see, here is the fundamental error in judgment. Professional spooks, the ones trained by a government, can and often do have gaps in their knowledge. Members of terrorist organizations, organized crime, and the IRA usually can't afford that, since they don't have as much to back them up. An IRA agent is likely to be able to untie herself, and not give the slightest indication that she's doing so.
Neither of us move. I'm kneeling on the floor, ignoring the beginning of a major headache to focus on the gun pointed at me, and she's standing over me. It's hard to get a gun away from someone in this position. Sure, it's possible, but chances are they're going to see you move first, and have time to pull that trigger.
Fiona moves the gun away, holding it at her shoulder, pointed at the ceiling. "That was for knocking me out."
"I said I was sorry." I take a chance and get to my feet. Thankfully, she doesn't shoot me. And now I can pay attention to the headache. On reflection, knocking her out and tying her up, not the best way to get a woman's attention. Even if you do apologize
"And that's why I didn't shoot you." She smiles again, with a quick flash of teeth, playful and dangerous in a way that makes your stomach clench and what's more, I can tell she knows it. "You can call me Fi, by the way."
She turns and walks out, perfectly confident, not even bothering to keep an eye to her back, and there's not really anything I can do but watch her go.
It takes me a minute to realize she took my gun.