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 Nine: Connecticut

You've not been back here in a long, long while. And some things have changed – obviously – but there are corners you recognize, streets that have aged but somehow remain stuck in time; there are in-between spaces that you remember, where you'd wait for the bus or where you would shop, a bar or two still alive, weathered wood pockmarked with ancient bottle edges.

You used to drink there. You flirted there. You got rid of a few sorrows there.

You lived here. Once. It feels like a million years ago now, but you used to live here. Live here, study here, work here, grow up here. You used to dream here, too. You dreamed of adventure, of excitement, of how to shake loose the trappings of normalcy, of how to be amazing.

Are you amazing today? Oh, you're not sure, not really.
But you do feel larger than this town, sharper than the curves you once drove along and somehow taller than the trees, your world-weary eyes blinking slowly within this verdant American summer.

Are you amazing today, Eve?

Maybe, you think. Maybe so.

It's not often that you are asked to help out from across the ocean, but the timing was fortuitous – you had just wrapped a few cases, tied up a few pesky details, and you had finally put the finishing touches to the guest bedroom after weeks and weeks of putting it off.

There was nothing holding you back and you are told that it is always good to keep up polite relations, shake a hand or two, lend your brain for common goals, and so on and so on. You like being counted on, too, it feels nice to be appreciated, it feels satisfyingly warm in your gut. They selected you and you alone, you're smart and damn good at what you do – their words, not yours – and you packed up a bag just like that.

And though it's been over two months and you haven't heard a thing from her – which is how it goes, you know this and no, you aren't worried, what's the point in worrying – you leave a note on the kitchen counter, just in case:

"Working. There's food in the freezer. If you leave a mess, I will kick your ass. E."

Admittedly, they are in a shambles when you get there. You have so much to sort out – the kills are made to look sporadic, bordering on random – and the details have been lost along the way. You have to retrace steps, pour over photos and badger people. You earn an angry glare or two, but you don't really give a fuck, do you? Because if they were doing their jobs well, they would need you here to fix things.

You don't get to your hotel room until after midnight. You fall asleep after taking off your shoes, still dressed and drooling on less-than-nice cotton pillowcases. When you jolt awake, neck hurting and confused, the clock tells you that it is four in the morning. You are starving and cranky and you wander downstairs, too early for the buffet, but never too early for caffeine and something from the vending machine. Breakfast of champions, coffee drowning in fake sugar and a somewhat stale honey-bun.

You check your emails. You scan the news from overnight. You glance at the blank text icon, not a message to be found. You sigh and toss your phone onto the table.

And you yawn as the rest of Connecticut wakes up.

It's been a full week and you take a day for yourself. You eat too much and you drink cold beer, you drive down to New Haven, go to Long Wharf and watch children run around without a care, gaze at birdwatchers with sunglasses pushed up into their hair, and you feel the sun on your skin as you walk closer to the water.

You don't know why it took this job to get you back here. Or perhaps you do know, but you can't think about it now. You were looking to cut your own path, to make your father proud, and you stumbled to a strange kind-of standstill once he passed away. You put your ambitions on hold, leaving whatever you would have done here to find and figure out your grief in England.

And then you met Niko.
Then you got married.
So the story goes, the one that everyone knows.

You stop where the rocks tumble into the Long Island Sound and remember so many things conveniently forgotten, so many moments buried... everything you ever wanted and craved, all the ways in which you have succeeded and failed in getting to where you are right this very second...

...and would your father be proud of you? Or would he look at you like you are a stranger?

You're such a fan of questions that beg for answers, but you're not sure if you'll ever know the truth behind these inquiries. He can't see all that you've lost, all that you've sacrificed, and he won't be able to talk you out of whatever insanity you dive into, won't be around to judge you from afar as your stubbornness drives you towards danger.

He wouldn't have cared for Niko. This is something you know.
But he wouldn't have cared for Oksana either.

Standing here, tuning out the sound of families and focusing on the water as it laps against the shore, you wish – for a brief, aching moment – you wish she was here. You could hold her hand and ignore the roll of her eyes and you could tell her all about your life before she was in it, before you tracked and traced her.

She wouldn't care, since it wouldn't be about her, but you'd tell her anyway.

"Hey, I don't normally say this, but well done. Really. We were up shit creek without a paddle before you got here."

You smile and shrug your shoulders, tossing away a collection of take-away boxes and styrofoam cups.

"Yeah, you were."

He laughs a little bit, murmuring "I know, I know..." as you shut off your laptop and shove it into your bag. He waves at some people past you, others taking off for the night. You've gotten them leads – real ones, not the bullshit ones they were desperate to make real – and you might have annoyed the hell out of them, since you are not known for mincing your words or suffering fools these days, but they have a killer to catch and, in the end, it's all good.

"We're, uh, going for a drink and to pretend we don't do this for a living. You want to tag along?"

Honestly, most of you doesn't want to 'tag along', you'd rather take the world's longest bath and sleep for ten years. But you are also weirdly restless, maybe you are riding a bit of a high – hours of searching and combing through crime scenes, chasing shadows... It's an addiction. You've come to realize that that is a part of your nature. And when you finish a job, you are left a lot like a boat tethered to a port – bobbing but going nowhere, pulling at the rope with every ripple.

"Okay, sure."
"Yeah? Great."

You aren't stupid. You see his little grin – Mark, that's his name – and perhaps he thinks you'll be looser once you've been drinking or maybe he even picks up on the fact that you are still wired, still caught up in the sensation of the hunt. You get it, it's a rush and it is overwhelming and when it's done, you need something to take the edge off, to bring you back down to earth.

You sigh softly and start walking out of the office, with Mark trailing behind. He talks about a few things, random and small-talk-ish things, but you interrupt him as you both reach the doors.

"I know a place I used to go to when I was in college. You know the Griswold?"
"Yeah, definitely."
"I'll meet you all there."
"Oh, uh, I can give you a ride if you want?"
"That's okay. I'd rather drive myself."

He nods, some of the vague heat in his eyes dimming at an avenue calmly closed, and you nod in return before you make your way to your car. You sink into your seat, closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. You think of tomorrow, of flying home – to your home, the one you've put back together, piece by piece, the home that is yours and yours alone – and that thought makes you feel centered, removes some of your own lingering tension.

You weren't sure what home would look like after Paris. After you almost killed a person. After you lost your job and your husband. You hadn't been on your own in a while and what if you didn't like it, what if you ended up regretting all your actions, what if the silence drove you nuts, what if you killed yourself with your own shitty cooking – so many what ifs.

But instead of floundering, you flourished.

You are a hothouse flower, finally allowed to bloom and go wild.

It's after your second drink that your phone buzzes in your pocket and once you dig it out, squinting in the bad lighting to see the number, you excuse yourself from this group of men who are trading war-stories and bragging rights – excuse yourself from Mark, who sits a little too close to you at the table – and step outside and into the slightly muggy night.

"When will you be back?"

Cutting right to the chase, even sounding anxious, and you lean against the bricks that make up this building, the Griswold Inn, one of the oldest buildings in all of Connecticut. This place has seen battles and revolutions, has carried the passage of time on its back and is still upright, steeped in history, some of it your own.

"Ah, okay. Good. It's boring without you here."
"Boring, hmm?"

You love the sound of her voice, how it can be so cold one minute and so full of longing the next. You've missed her, but then you always do. You'd never ask her to stay, you know she cannot, and maybe neither one of you would like it much if you were always around one another. But what you have with her, it just might be the realest thing you've ever had with anyone.

"Have dinner waiting for me."
"You think you can tell me what to do so easily?"

A group of young women move past you, laughing and talking loudly, smelling of perfume and a little bit of pot. Their smiles shine out bright in the evening, arms linked in camaraderie, and you were never like them. Not back then, not now either. You remember late nights, though – books closed, notes put away, joking with people you've not seen since you left for England, pressing your lips to some boy's mouth like it might be something, like he might become someone to you – oh, it all feels like forever when you are that young.

"Okay. I can do that. But only for you."
"Good. I want you to do it only for me."

She breathes out, soft and warm in your ear, and you can almost feel it brush against your skin. And god, you want to be kissing her, you want to curl your fingers into her hair and keep her close, you want to find her waiting for you – in your bed, in your home – and oh, it feels like forever, doesn't it?

She feels like forever. This feels like forever.

"Forget whatever you are doing and come home now."

You laugh happily and you can hear the grin in her voice and you think that, maybe, it feels like forever to her as well.

You dream about your father. You haven't done that in so very long. But everything is familiar – the look in his eyes, the line of his jaw, his voice echoing in your head – and you want to tell him about who you have become. You want to show him your scars, within and without. You want him to hug you, just once before he goes away again. You want him to say he loves you, to stick around and say the words, to smile at you and let you know that you haven't fucked it all up.

Would he be proud of you? Would he care?
Would he pick apart the fibers of your life and find it lacking? Or would he see it as it truly is – a tapestry of triumphs and mistakes, well-worn and still growing?

You dream about your father and he stands by the water.
You dream about your father and he is fading, shimmering like a mirage as you run to his side.
You dream about your father and about the life you used to have – the plans you made and then left behind, the promises you whispered to yourself and then broke, the autumn-lined streets of your youth and phones always ringing in the distance...

...you dream of the past, present for a moment, and then laid to rest as you board the plane.

You stumble in, dropping your suitcase at the doorway, and it is silent. It is blissfully quiet and you sag against the wall, the one you stripped of old wallpaper and soon painted white. You smell strong spices and you smell onions, it's a warm and full scent and your stomach growls in response.

There is wine on the table. One of the windows is open and a nice gentle breeze flutters in, catching wisps of honeysuckle upon its trail. She isn't facing you, spoon stirring in a pot, but you know that she knows you are here. It's something in her shoulders, the faint way they settle – just a bit – once you are watching her.

You want to eat.
You want to sleep.
You want to tell her every single thing.
You want to not talk at all.

But you opt for the unspoken want, the one that propels you forward and the one that moves your hand to her waist, sliding around to her front, your palm against her belly, and you kiss the edge of her neck.

"Don't distract me. This is a critical cooking moment."

And you laugh into her back. And you scratch your nails lightly over her clothed body. And you kiss her neck one more time, for good measure.

"I'll leave it to the master then... I'm off to shower."

You peel your clothes away as you go, leaving them in a haphazard path up the stairs, and you glance at your own face in the mirror as the water goes from cool to hot and you sigh into the growing steam.

Are you amazing today, Eve?

"Yes. Yes, I am."

And so you are home again.

Part 10

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