DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my own name.
SPOILERS: Spoilers for Season One, then we go off script and into a possible future. Love, angst, introspection, and spy stuff.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To spheeris1[at]yahoo.com

The Two of Us In the Unknown
By spheeris1


Chapter One - Just Like Always

She's late.

But she usually is, you're not sure why it still manages to annoy you. It does, though. She's annoying – always has been, always will be. Almost like a child, grinning to get away with things, that's the kind of irritating that she is.

Even now, beyond the age when such actions are considered cute.

She's not cute. Not even close. Cute implies something tame, something soft and cuddly. And you know that's not what she is – never has been, never will be. She's good at playing the part, true, but she's anything but soft. Underneath all that gloss is granite and you pity anyone who doesn't see past the facade.

And yet, when she finally comes around the corner and smirks at you, eyes landing on you like a lightning bolt – still shocking you after all this time – you can't help but find her endearing.

Endearing and dangerous.
Just like always.

"You ordered without me?"
"Yes. I ordered for you, though."
"Think you know me so well, hmm?"

Steam rises off the little cup, strong and bitter to the taste, and a small plate of cookies between the two of you – half dipped in chocolate, one with pistachios, all of them buttery and crumbling.

"It troubles me that I cannot surprise you like I used to."
"Doesn't trouble me. It helps me sleep well at night."
"Are you having trouble sleeping, milaya? I could help with that..."

Hearing her speak in Russian is lovely. You never tell her that. Chances are she knows it already, she's a master of paying attention. So are you, of course. That's why you work well together. Both of you, studying while speaking, watching and waiting.

"Let's stick to business."
"You sure?"

And so you are – sure, that is. You trade information within the guise of casual conversation, two ladies in nice clothes, chatting away. Maybe one of you is more fashionable than the other, maybe it isn't you. But you both blend into the general cafe crowd, just average enough to catch a glance or two but nothing more.

"Let's go see a movie."
"A movie?"
"Yes. I want to spend time with you."
"Spend time with me...?"
"What are you, a parrot? Stop repeating me."

She's giving you that look, the one that tells you that you should have caught on by now, and it's not that you are dense. You want to stick to the business at hand, that's all. That's what you want to do. It is totally what you want to do. All business and nothing else – that's what you want, right?

"Okay. You choose the film."

She smiles at you, delighted, and proceeds to scoop all the cookies into her eager hands.

Somewhere along the way, after alliances fell apart and more people died and lives were threatened and relationships ended and tears were shed... Somewhere along the way, you and she were no longer just orbiting each other; you were colliding, crashing, and out of the rubble you both emerged.

You, formally separated from your husband and drinking a touch too much, still a woman stumbling in a world of spies – smart enough to make it this far, too smart for her own good as well.
Her, set adrift and still absolutely wicked, but desperate for some kind of structure, some kind of order to balance out the madness – talented beyond belief, too good at murder to be free, though.

So, somewhere along the way and days and months after, here you both are: working for some government entity, all shadows and secrets, meeting every so often to talk in code, your gazes as sharp as ever – especially upon one another – and always with peril hovering over your respective shoulders.

Somewhere along the way, even with all you've lost and all you've done...

...you have gotten the life you always craved.

You listen to her chuckle at whatever the man says on screen. You watch her "accidentally" knock over a boy's popcorn and catch her grin. You don't move your hand away when she makes to hold it.

Her fingers are smooth and slightly cool. It must be the night air. Or maybe you are quite warm, you tend to run hot.

Her touch feels good. It always does. You don't tell her so, but she probably knows. She knows you pretty well by now.

"Let's go back to your room."
"What about the movie?"
"What about it?"

This could go on forever. God, she loves to answer questions with questions. And you hate giving in, you always have – to anyone, not just her. You like getting your way. So does she, though, and it can make for a damn long night. But it's been five months – not that you've been counting or anything, you've been busy as well – and you believe her when she says that she wants to spend time with you.

You believe her because you want to spend time with her, too.

"Let's go to your room. It's probably nicer anyway."

The first time was strange. Still overwhelming and still sensual, but completely and utterly strange.

You couldn't turn your head off, not really, not even with her breath coasting over your lips and her fingertips dipping past the waist of your pants. You were flush with desire and shame, to the point that your stomach felt like it was pitching – you on the ship of these long-standing urges, about to capsize – and you didn't trust her to save you.

You still don't. Not really.

But that first time was forever ago and you are better with being present, with living in the moment. And you watch her pour a drink – for you, not for herself – as you toe off your shoes, as you cross the room and toss your jacket onto the chair. The glass feels good, feels solid in your grasp and she leans in as you sip, pressing her mouth to where your pulse jumps.

She feels good. Feels solid. Feels real.

"Mmmm... are you wearing it?"

You can hear the amusement in her voice and you can't help but laugh in return, rolling your eyes even as you tilt your neck so she can have more access to you.

"Fuck off."

She takes the drink away, sits it somewhere, and she guides you back, back until your body lands on her bed, and it still causes you to freeze – just a little bit – to see her looming over you. She's so powerful, so determined, so deadly. She's just so much, so much of everything, and you are still just a little bit unnerved by her.

Unnerved and turned on.
Just like always.

You've cataloged a million facts, compared them to a million more fictions, and maybe you've figured her out. At least partially. At least once in a while.

You carry snapshots of her in your mind, moments embossed against your memory that you can pull up at will – blood and sweat on her face, her stern grip upon your neck, that thigh between your legs.

You take her in, right this second, still fascinated as she finally unfurls beneath you. The way she only gives in after she's had you, the manner in which she tenses and releases, the wild and nervous look she gets in her eyes when you make her come, like she still cannot wrap her head around the reality of you... like you take her breath away, like you absolutely terrify her...

You think that maybe this is her true face.

At least some of the time.

"We should add a night or two next time."

She says this, often. You think that it is possible that she misses you. You don't want to think about that possibility too much, though.

"Maybe. If neither one of us has to cut and run."

She nods her head, lets the vagueness hang there between you both. She is staring past you, into a dawn that has already broken. You think that it is possible that you miss her, too.

And you check that all your papers are in order – passport, directions, verification. And she puts her lipstick on, replacing what you smeared off the evening before. And the coffee grows cold and the sheets lose their heat and she locks the door behind you.

"Have, uh, a good time in Italy."

She smiles as she loosely holds the postcard, using it to fan herself as the temperature slowly rises. And you can't stop your eyelids from fluttering shut when she kisses your cheek.

"Of course. You should come with me, it's beautiful in Vernazza this time of year."

You should. You want to. You kind-of want to go with her everywhere. Kind-of, sometimes. The rest of the time, though, you want just this – the two of you saying less, doing more, an arm's length away from something bigger, but, perhaps, contentedly so.

"Oh, I bet it is."

You grin at her, knowingly, and she winks at you as she slips into the taxi. You watch her go, standing there far longer than you need to. You watch those tail-lights fade from view and you feel your muscles relax – in relief, in boredom – and you glance at your ticket, taking you back to England, cold and rainy and ready for your arrival.

You've got a job to do. You are saving the world. This is all very important stuff, this work that you do that no one can know about.

The phone buzzes in your pocket and you shuffle things around to grab it. You don't know the number, but you know that it is her. She's a fan of burner phones, even if she is near to impossible to track these days.

'Well, have you changed your mind yet?'

She's a lot like you. She loves to get her way, thinks she deserves to forever get the outcome she wants. It's annoying. She's annoying. Some things never change, after all.

And yet... Vernazza probably is quite lovely this time of year... and goodness knows that breaking the rules is how you got here in the first place...

She's so damn good at getting you to break rules. That's annoying, too. Then again, maybe you're the annoying one for always wanting what she wants as well. Maybe you are just annoyed with yourself.

'See you soon.'

But you both get what you want, in the end.
Just like always.

Part 2

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