It was 4 am in Berlint, and residents across the city were fast asleep, resting up for the day to come.
Except for the residents of one apartment.
Anya was yawning, rubbing her eyes, as Yor nervously checked Loid’s briefcase one last time before shutting it.
“Are you sure you have everything?” she asked for the ten millionth time.
With an almost unending amount of patience, Loid smiled down at her, “Yes, we’ve gone through everything.”
“I just don’t want you to forget anything!”
“It’s fine, I can always buy whatever I left behind.” He looked down at his watch, “I should go downstairs. The taxi will be here soon.”
“Bye, Papa,” Anya mumbled sleepily, facing his suitcase.
He stifled a laugh, as he fixed her little nightcap, “Be good for Yor, okay?” Loid turned to Yor, “I’m sorry again, for leaving on such short notice, but if you need anything, you have the number for the conference’s hotel.”
She nodded, “We’ll be fine!” She gave him a confident smile, “You’ll be back before we know it.”
“Right.” There was an unreadable expression on his face, as he patted the top of Anya’s head before reaching over to take the briefcase from her hands. His hands lingered just one second longer than she expected. “Thank you, Yor.”
He was gone, with another gentle smile and an undeniably fond look in his eyes.
She and Anya would be fine, Yor thought, after all, she had spent twenty-seven years without him- what was two weeks?
Or so she had mistakenly thought. When she woke up a few short hours later, it felt like she hadn’t gotten an ounce of rest. She felt like a zombie, forcing herself out of bed and then going to Anya’s room to wake her up.
Breakfast was a slightly somber affair- firstly, she had to prepare it on her own, without Loid’s patient guidance or help, and then Anya was already missing him. The normally energetic girl was uncharacteristically quiet, even when Yor tried to entice her with promises of Spy Wars and cake after school.
She still took Yor’s hand, as she walked her to the bus stop, but was quick to let go.
“Have a good day at school today!” Yor said with a forced cheery smile on her face.
“Bye, Mama,” she replied without looking up, climbing up the steps to the bus without her usual fanfare. She took her usual seat next to the window and waved weakly as the bus drove away.
Her coworkers were quick to offer their thoughts- like maybe Loid would find another woman while away, and despite vehemently denying the possibility of that, the idea took root in her head.
The thought of that left her so distracted that it wasn’t until Camilla shook her that she realized the workday had flown by. She made her way home, failing to take note of the world around her. Anya was already waiting for her by the bus stop and started waving as soon as she saw her.
She ran up to her, excitedly, while Yor smiled weakly. She took Anya’s smaller hand, and the two of them walked back to the apartment. Anya chattered on about school, and it brought Yor some comfort to see her so lively again. It seemed that school and seeing her friends had done wonders for her mood.
Anya helped her with dinner, or rather with warming up the dinner Loid had prepared and frozen for them.
“Becky told me that whenever her papa goes away, he brings her lots of presents. How many do you think Papa will bring me?”
Yor cracked her first genuine smile of the day, “I’m sure he’ll bring you at least one.” As Anya started brainstorming aloud the presents she wanted, Yor thought wistfully she’d rather have Loid back.
As Yor took the plates out of the cabinet, the phone started ringing. Anya abandoned the utensils in her hands and ran over to answer it. She stood up on her tiptoes as she lifted the phone out of its cradle. “Hello? Papa? Hi, Papa! Mama and I are gonna eat dinner now. Yes, the hamburg steak, I’m so excited, and then we’re gonna watch the new Spy Wars episode-”
Yor looked over at her, laughing as she listened to Anya ramble on and on about her day and what Becky had told her. She turned back to the stove, checking if the steaks were warmed through when she felt Anya pull at her sweater.
“Papa wants to talk to you now!”
“Did you say good night to him?” Yor asked.
She walked over to the phone, picking it up off the ground, where Anya had left it dangling by its cord. “Hello, Loid?”
“Ah, Yor, how are you?” He sounded faintly out of breath, and she wondered just how strenuous the concussive therapy demonstrations were.
“I’m fine. How was the flight?” she asked, twirling the phone cord around her finger.
“It was short. I slept most of the time.” Loid paused.
“I’m glad, um-”
“I wanted to ask-”
They both started speaking and then stopped quickly.
“You first,” Yor said.
“I wanted to check that this was a good time to call.”
She nodded, “Uh-huh, we’re just having dinner now.”
“Okay. Good. I hope-” There was a loud bang in the background, and Loid let out a frustrated noise. “I have to go, I’m sorry.”
“No worries! Good night, Loid.”
“Good night, Yor.’
There was a click, signaling he hung up. With a sigh, Yor held the phone against her chest. It was starting to sink in that he really was away, just as she started to get used to having him as part of her family. She felt silly, overdramatic almost-
“Mama, the steaks!” Anya called.
Yor gasped, putting the phone down and then rushing over the smoking stovetop. She shut it off, then moved the pan over to an unused burner.
They hadn’t ended up that burnt. Anya consoled her as best as she could, while Yor mentally decided that maybe take out was the best plan moving forward. It would be a secret she and Anya could keep.
Anya was surprisingly cooperative when it came to her bedtime routine, and Yor suspected Loid had said something to her. But, she wasn’t going to question it, not when it gave her a few quiet hours to herself. She had the television on, with the volume low, and a cup of tea. Bond was settled next to her on the couch, with his head in her lap.
Just as she started to contemplate going to bed, the phone rang again. She jumped in her seat, before getting up quickly to pick it up before it woke up Anya.
“Yor, you’re still awake.”
“Um, yes, isn’t it late for you?”
“I could say the same to you.” Loid chuckled, “We were interrupted, so I wanted to catch up with you properly.”
“Oh, I mean, Anya just went to bed, and I was about to do the same.”
“I’m sorry-” He sounded disappointed, something she was unfamiliar with.
She glanced over at the clock, “It’s okay, I can talk for a little longer.” She paused. “Did Fiona go with you?”
“No, she was needed at the hospital. It’s just me and Dr. Crow...” he carried on, and Yor found herself nodding along.
Somehow a little longer turned in an hour, and Yor yawned for the umpteenth time into the phone.
“It’s late, I didn’t mean to keep you up,” Loid finally said. “I apologize.”
“It’s not the end of the world. But I should be getting to bed,” she replied. A small part of her wished she could spend another hour on the phone, but the reasonable side of her was none too happy.
“Right. Good night, Yor.”
“Good night, Loid.”
That night she slept surprisingly well.
It became a routine, one that they all adapted to easily. Loid called around dinner time, mostly to speak to Anya, who, as the days went on, became less and less interested in talking over the phone. For Yor, his calls become like a lifeline.
It was easier to be vulnerable over the phone. To admit she missed him and relish in the fact he felt the same. Her face burned when he admitted it as well, and she was so very grateful he wasn’t in the room to see her face.
She felt like a high school girl, talking to her crush- except she was a grown woman and this was her husband. She found herself counting down the days and marking them off on her calendar. Her coworkers at work teased her, and surprisingly it was Camilla who came to her defense.
“It’s their first time apart, of course, she’s going to miss him!”
Did that mean she had taken all their time together for granted?
No, of course not, Yor told herself. She always cherished every minute they spent together, whether in their cozy apartment or out and about with Anya. As she counted down to their reunion, she couldn’t help but glance into the taxi cabs passing her on the street, hoping he was in one of them.
Loid would be back in two days, and Anya was working on a welcome back banner (which she spelled ‘welkom bak’). Yor was washing dishes from their eleventh consecutive takeout dinner. He hadn’t called before dinner and her mind was in overdrive.
Had something happened? Was he okay? She had left a message with the hotel front desk, but still no word from him.
Anya was engrossed in the banner, carefully drawing a picture of the three of them and Bond underneath the words.
“Mama, will you hang it up?” she asked afterward.
“Can you hang it up today?”
Confused, Yor nodded. Maybe she was just excited. “Is the entrance okay?”
“Yes! Do you think Papa will like it?”
She smiled, “I’m sure he will.”
After hanging up the banner to Anya’s specifications, the two of them got ready for bed. Yor gave the phone one last wistful glance before shutting the door to her room. Anya seemed surprisingly content, despite not hearing from Loid all day. She wished she could say the same for herself.
It was starting to sink in that perhaps she was a little more attached than she ever realized.
She somehow fell asleep, only to be awoken a few hours later by a sound at the door. She immediately sat up and practically leaped out of bed.
Yor opened her door, peering outside before walking out, readying herself in a defensive stance.
She heard a soft curse and a thud and rounded the corner, ready to kick the intruder into the next apartment. Yor stopped herself when she realized who it was.
He looked up. There were bags under his eyes and the barest hint of a smile across his face. “Did I wake you up?”
She shook her head, “Oh, no, um, welcome home!” She blushed, feeling slightly if not completely exposed in her modest nightgown. “I thought you were coming back later?”
“The conference finished up earlier than expected. I decided to come home early.”
“Oh, I’m glad to hear that!” Yor paused, glancing towards the pristine kitchen. “Are you hungry? I could warm something up for you. Or make tea-”
“That’s all right, I think I’ll just head straight to bed.”
“Sorry, of course, you must be tired.”
She waited as he hung up his coat and removed his gloves. The two made their way into the apartment, in a comfortable 3 am silence, with the only sound being their footsteps.
They stopped in front of her room, and Yor turned around, “Good night, Loid.”
“Good night.” With an unexpected quickness, Loid gently brushed aside her hair and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. “Thank you again for everything.”
“It’s nothing,” she stammered, “Good night!” She quickly went into her room and shut the door behind her. She leaned against the door, her hands resting on top of her rapidly beating heart.
After several deep breaths, Yor went back to bed. She knew Anya would still be sleeping peacefully and she wondered if Loid had already fallen asleep after that . Maybe he had, maybe his gesture wasn’t meant to be read that closely.
But, there was no denying his hand had been shaking ever so slightly as he reached for her hair.
Either way, he was home.