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The Night of the Tender Cipher

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What did Emmett Stark say back in Paradox?

“I forgot how full of subtleties you two were.”

I don’t think I knew what I was doing or why I was doing it the first time I made you coffee in the morning. We didn’t have Tennyson around anymore, and we both needed it first thing, so I guess I thought I was just doing us both a favor. But I really liked doing that for you. I still do it every chance I get, if you don’t beat me to it.

It was the same thing when I would find you slumped over your work or on the couch with at least three books for whatever research you would be neck deep in. I didn’t have to, but I put your books away with the pages still marked, so you wouldn’t lose your place, and to make sure you had a blanket on you while you were finally getting sleep.

As time went by it was maybe a little less subtle. Your birthday was a few months away and I was already planning on what to get you. I played it off that buying you that revolver with your monogram on the handle was purely a whim. I kept that thing under my bed for three months waiting for your birthday. You didn’t think I remembered you saying you wished you had your initials on something, and I figured what better than the thing you carry with you all the time?

When I heard that the opera house in St. Louis was showing Verdi’s La Traviata, one of your favorites, I had to utilize my best sneaking tactics to buy those tickets without you catching on. You were surprised, and I think I watched you more than I watched the performance. You know all the words, and I always love to hear your remarks on the props and production afterward, what you would have done differently had you been starring or directing or both.

You’ve never been good at the whole modesty thing, but there’s no denying the way you light up whenever someone compliments you, so that’s what I’ve been doing more often lately. Did you notice? I tried to be subtle. Sometimes I’d hide it in a joke.

Do you remember last May when you happened to be in Kansas at the same time I was? You’d been in Washington for so long, I didn’t know when I’d have the chance to see you again. I canceled a date with a girl named Georgina, whom I’d met at the post office. I told her duty called. She wasn’t too thrilled about it, doubt I’ll see her again anyway. I never told you about that.

For all the chances we had to get away from each other, we almost never did. There’s no one else I want to spend my off-duty hours with. We always have fun, don’t we? It hasn’t been the same without you, and I don’t blame Jeremy or Frank for that, they’re good agents and good friends. But they’re not you.

All these things I’m talking about, have been leading up to the thing I realized recently when I thought you were dead, after I felt you die in my arms. After I had chased a man across the border to shoot him dead regardless of the war it could have started. I didn’t care about that. I never knew what it felt like having my world pulled away from me. I thought my only purpose was in service of the President and the United States. I know I don’t have a purpose if you’re not by my side. 

We’re full of subtleties, Artie, you and me. When you’re home on the Wanderer again, I’ll keep making coffee for you, let you make coffee for me. I’ll stay in with you on the nights you’re too tired to go out for a night on the town. I’ll follow your lead on a mission and know you’ll follow mine. I’ll kill for you and I know if ever the need arises, I’ll die for you too.

Maybe that’s not so subtle, but do I need to say anything else?