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Last Train Home

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Leo has been here before.

The carriage has come to a stop in the station—the Moscow metro, still as familiar as ever despite his years of absence—though he neither remembers boarding it nor the point at which it stopped. The train is deserted. Leo has never seen it this empty—even in the early years of his work with the MGB, catching the last train back to his apartment in the dead of night, there'd been one or two lingering passengers sharing his commute. Now there's only him.

The doors slide open and Leo steps out onto the platform.

At first, he thinks that's deserted too, eerily silent as he gazes around at the posters and advertisements seeming as if they've been left behind from a different era—Stalinist propaganda he hasn't seen since the 50s, invoking a strange sense of both nostalgia and unease—and Leo wonders what it is he's doing here. Then he sees her.

She's stood alone on the platform, wearing a grey dress and a plain cream shawl that for all its drabness can't disguise her beauty, captivating him just as she had the day they'd first met. Rooted in place, all Leo can do is stare.

As if waiting for a train, she stands patiently with her hands clasped in front of her, looking as young as he’d last seen her despite the years that have passed. Turned towards him, her brown eyes are bright and playful and full of life, just how Leo remembers. The last time he'd seen them, they'd gazed sightlessly up at him from a mortuary slab. Now they sparkle with amusement.

"You're staring at me," she says.

The surprise holds Leo's tongue still for a moment longer, and then pure happiness overcomes all else. "Do you still think I'm rude?"

Raisa smiles back.

He runs to her, cradling her face in his hands and kissing her with all the passion to make up for fifteen missed years. When they part—barely inches, unable to stand being separated again so soon—there are tears shining on both their cheeks.

"I missed you," Raisa whispers.

"I missed you. So badly I can't tell you."

"The girls?"

"They're okay. I made sure they're okay, the State won't hurt them now. I wish you could see them, Raisa. Zoya became a doctor—one of the most respected surgeons in Moscow. Elena was happy again. She…" A lump forms in Leo's throat. "She's going to have a baby."

Raisa's brown eyes light up. "A baby?"

"Yes. Little Leo Semyonovich, if it's a boy. She says she hopes he takes after me."

A familiar crease of affection and amusement that Leo adores forms between Raisa's eyebrows. "That's...not actually possible."

"I know. She said it anyway."

They kiss again. Less urgently this time, slow and deep and loving as they drink in the feeling of each other, reunited again after so long.

Raisa raises a hand to tenderly caress her husband's cheek. It's more lined and weathered than she remembers, grey stubble peppering his jaw. "I waited such a long time for you, Leo. You got old."

"I'm sorry." He wants to say more: apologise for not solving her murder sooner, for not making it to New York eight years ago. He knows he doesn't need to. "The train was late."

Raisa smiles tenderly, and Leo knows he's forgiven. "Come on. It's time for us to go."

Raisa slips her hand into his and they walk towards the exit. A flight of stairs leads away from the platform towards the station above ground, and they pause for a moment at the foot of it as they gaze towards the landing at the top. In the distance, a bright light shines down, waiting.

Leo isn't afraid. He squeezes his wife's hand tighter. "Where are we going?"

"This is our stop, Leo. We're going home."