The morning was much calmer than she was. It was the waiting that was digging at Anna Kayell this time; and the fact that she was down to only three cigarettes. She could see a store only a block away, but no time for a quick exit.
With the mill of the morning commuters gathered around her at the bus stop she hated live-drops. Dead drops were so much more user-friendly.
She checked her watch, squinting in the early morning sun and exhaled a lungful of smoke toward the direction she had assumed the packet and the contact would come from.
But still no one. This hand-off was late.
It could have been nothing but traffic, or someone's slow watch, she imagined a faceless nobody standing in the sun-streamed kitchen with a wife and two fighting kids.
"I need the car today, dear. Jimmy needs tennis shoes."
"Well I have an early meeting I'm already late for."
Impatient tap of house shoe on vinyl and 15 years of marriage staring him in the face cold cream streaks of "Don't make me mention last weekend, or the affair." A lazy fumble in wool suit pants and a set of keys handed over.
Important matters of state held neatly in leather briefcase on the counter and Jimmy props his Pop Tart on top. "Maaaaa, this one's not cooked."
We rarely know just what lies underneath.
So Kayell waited and watched, the anger rising that she couldn't be the wife or the husband, for that matter. She couldn't hold anything over his head or make the kids leave before the real fight began. Or wait impatiently at the door, dinner cooling, listening for the car on the drive and hoping no bicycles were in the sidewalk.
Anna Kayell was nothing. She was nobody. Just another stranger that waited for the Downtown Express in the crunch of rush hour wait and loathing for another workday.
She would never be able to explain away the long hours or sudden business trips or the phone calls late at night. Unlisted numbers and security risks tactical statistics of living arrangement and location. Plus the ever-present .45 SIG Sauer at her side might reduce anyone to contempt.
Women weren't supposed to be like this. They weren't supposed to wait at bus stops for contact. They weren't supposed to know exactly how many of these bystanders would fall should a sniper take aim, and she definitely wasn't supposed to know how close she was to falling off the edge of the earth forever.
She made one last look up the street and her heart tried it's best to beat a path straight through her ribs to the nearest spot on the pavement-
//Oh Christ, Jesus, fuck//
It was her contact.
But then, perhaps she'd been wrong. It wasn't unusual when one's been living on bad take-out and 4 hours of sleep to see the face of someone in a stranger.
"Being ghosted?" someone might ask. She hoped it was only a trick one's mind plays when examining your future, and trying to explain to yourself just why you're standing at a Bus Stop on the wrong side of town. Waiting to pick up information that was quite more than just the latest hockey wagers.
She took another careful look and her heart didn't try to jump through the ribcage this time, more through the throat type of maneuver.
The contact was indeed just that ghost she'd been losing sleep over.
A simple hand-off in the commotion, she'd done this a thousand times. She had the frequent flyer miles to prove it, although the air transport she used didn't offer any benefits except generic plausible denial, and complete manufactured anonymity.
And it was him. Requisite in that damn leather coat, looking quite the target she knew he was. Clean and rested, expression dim, except for those eyes that kept searching for someone staring too long.
When he saw her, that set of eyes he'd felt pressing, he stopped dead in his tracks and winced in that way someone realizes it's going to be one of those times. It was Kayell. It was Anna Kayell. It was black hair and pale skin, someone he knew was too young to look so ready for a bullet.
Kayell took one last drag on her cigarette, holding it in as she tossed the butte on the pavement. That gravitational tug near her side telling her that her contact was here...
The slim graze of cold leather against her shoulder bringing back more than memories- of Quantico Libraries and Smoke-heavy meetings. The sharp kick of a .45 in your hand as it's pointed at someone's father.
His desperate terror-shaped eyes as you swing open a missile-silo door.
Sharp Russian promises from the stranger she thought she knew. Sweet words that were nothing false smiles that weren't real... There was nothing that might get in the way. Except maybe a deal that's just too damn good to turn down. And the faint timbre of humanity in the Russian explanation of just why from a phone somewhere far "I'm not coming back..." and almost a laugh, to keep the tears from showing through "...not all of me, at least."
Another graze of leather on the hand that hung in defeat at her side. The crisp coldness of a manila envelope at her palm and he was staring at her //more like through her// with dark green suspicion and a surprise that she expected.
"Shto no' vava?" He asked quietly, the low growl less of a greeting and more of an accusation He looked so out of place in the sunshine of the morning.
"Vsof paryah'tke." She replied and finally looked at him wondering just why she even bothered with his language she knew he reverted to when there was nothing but business. And it was a lie, that everything was fine.
But this business was over. She had what she came for, and there were always other agendas.
Other than the hollow emptiness in her stomach and her sudden wish to be rid of this morning; this wasn't an accident and Krycek wasn't just a courier.
"I thought you were above this." He said, watching the street. She pretended she hadn't heard him.. waiting for the bus that she hoped would show itself soon.
"This is small work, for you." He continued and she didn't look at him, trying to focus on the traffic hoping that damn bus wasn't late. "But this isn't really trade, now is it, Anna."
She glanced at him, the envelope heavy in her coat pocket and his presence dragging her down.
"You tell me." She said quietly and he seemed to straighten a bit.
"You know what to do with this, right? You were given instructions..."
"Give it to Mulder, misinformation. Tell him something, give him nothing. It's all the same..."
"No it isn't." He spat, realizing his response was too quick and too loud for a stranger. Clean bone recovery as his face hardened and almond-shaped eyes narrowed. "You know what it is, where it comes from. You know who sends it...and who sends me."
"And I thought you were above this." She mocked. "This is small work for you."
"Just one link in the chain..."he muttered and she was giving up on this bus. From the scowls on nearby faces it was late and she had what she came for.
He wasn't expecting her departure, watching as she weeded her way through the masses and disappeared into the crowd.And he was fast to follow keeping enough distance to see her but not enough to catch the attention of anyone that knew what he was and why she was here.
The blocks passed as she wandered, and finally came to a stop at a corner. Waiting for the footsteps behind her to finally slow to a stop.
"So that's all? Just a hand-off?" She wasn't looking at him, merely watching the signallights with a detachment he knew was more defensive than it seemed. "What do you want, Alex, a lift? Breakfast?" She glanced over to him and looked back to the lights. "Go away, and leave me alone. This is done and I'm gone."
"Now that I know you're still in this, and you know that I am..."
"That's why I'm walking away." Kayell breathed, pulling her coat tight around her. "Business is business and I have other matters..."
A shadow of something crossed gray-green eyes in the sunlight and he was shaking his head. "These aren't ordinary secrets, Anna, this is more than just trade..."
"This is digging a grave..." she glared at him and he knew what she meant. "But is it Mulder's, or mine?"
She left him there at the corner. Walking away with the shovel tucked inside her pocket. Neat manila package and he knew it could very well have been his grave, too.
She was packing again. Just the essentials this time and the envelope would be dropped off on her way to the airport.
Her badge and ID got her into the Hoover building and Mulder's In-box was full. Bullpen business with desks in tight rows. So she left it with the papers and forms that were his work. Nobody at the other desks noticing the envelope that was laid with plain importance by the Special Agent without an office or a reason to stay long in the room. Someone on her way to another assignment that wasn't on the record with any superior except the one clouded in smoke from a Morley.
And as she waited an hour later with plane ticket in hand she assumed the ring of her cellphone was just a check to see if she was on schedule and on target.
"I thought this was below you." The voice toned and she pressed the phone hard to her ear just to make sure it was him.
"Where are you in this?" Kayell asked and glanced around the terminal, seeing no one in leather or menace this time.
"I'm behind you." He said, and she turned. He was there, standing at a payphone. "And I'm above you in this."
"Then take me out."
She saw a small smile, and heard his low laugh in her ear. The danger and mock sincerity sending a chill through her. "I can't do that. We need you..."
"Take me out, Krycek."
"I need you..."
But he wasn't smiling this time, looking at her across the distance across the strangers on their way to business and home.
"And what does that mean?" She asked and he shifted away from her gaze, turning his back and the fabric of his gray pullover looked too worn and the jacket was gone. For a moment she wondered if he had been sleeping, if he'd been eating, if he ever wondered where she was.
"It means I'm watching you. I have business at hand, too, Anna. And you're right in the middle of it."
"At least I'm in the middle this time. What are you going to do, crash my plane? Bomb my car? Kill my cat?"
"You don't have a cat. And I couldn't use what you can do for me, with you dead."
He was leaning on the phone bank, looking as if he was talking to no one important just passing the time until more pressing matters called him in.
"They called your flight." He said and she saw her plane taxi by the wide window just past him, as he hung up and walked toward her.
"What are you pulling me into?" She asked as he neared and he cut his eyes toward her, a grim smile on his face. Quiet power in his movements and a promise of something in his gravel-cold voice.
"I'm getting back what's mine." He said and slowed, turning as he passed. "Know who your friends are, Anna."
She watched him sort his way past the gate and through the crowd making their way to business and home.
(warning: NC-17 parts, questionable use of fabric and sex ahead. Bad references to commercial clothing firms included, free of charge.)
2 Days later
The shadow slinked through the rooms with careful footsteps, making sure he gave plenty of berth for the furniture so as not to tip anything over in the silence. The rooms were impossibly dark and even with the moonlight from the windows his vision failed him. But he knew she was here. If not from the telltale gun he could already see on the coffee table at his vantage, but with the gravity that seemed to pull him along the hallway and closer to where she was.
This hotel suite was nice, quite delicate for placement and he envied that luxury and nice mint on the pillow. The bed was empty, a bit tousled with use but still made; and for a moment he caught himself wondering hoping even that she had mussed it alone.
There were more nights than he could remember spent thinking
how she was doing. But he had given up that right to call, or even ask and now everything was as if they were actually strangers again. There were always agendas and business and he needed her, now...for what she could so for him. With him. For him, as always; but they were strangers now...It had been her choice this time. And he hadn't pleaded
//But it might have worked//
And he could still hear the tears in her voice in the harbor that cold night
"This has to be the end of it." She had said, and without even looking at him.
Cruel. He had pressed his forehead to her cheek and it was a cold as the wave that passed over him. Something like fear.
He had been sure she would leave then, without ever facing him She couldn't when she was getting too close, never would let him see her cry. But she had gripped his face in her cold hands and kissed him suddenly. And the sensation of her frozen fingers at his temples mixed with the warm comfort of her mouth made him more numb than the cold. He could smell her
and taste her
<haunts me still...>
and she had pressed herself to him, the hidden strength in her long form evident. He thought he'd heard himself inhale sharply. With her lips still on his and her hands snaking up his back underneath the leather coat
<such wickedness in those fingertips>
The brush of her legs against his...she had pulled away, still pressed against him and so close he could feel her breath on his lips and he wanted her tongue again with the maddening heat throbbing through him. He had realized his eyes were still shut and wanted to see her and the tears he knew that were there. But she wouldn't come with him. And he had known what that meant.
It was still enough to bring back the disappointment as he stood now, after so much time watching her sleeping, curled into a ball in the armchair, legs tucked neatly to her chest and one hand touching the pale skin of her face. <How could she sleep like that?> He knew he has scared her, that morning and at the airport but he was in control this time and he needed her for what she could do.
He kneeled on one knee beside her and let her dark form fill his mind. Khaki cargo pants, so unlike her. Soft gray sweater...he wanted to touch it and caught himself teaching for her as her eyes flew open.
One still-shoed foot kicked him squarely in the chest and he tried to yell to her in the blackness of the room but his breath had been stolen as he fell back onto the floor, cringing.
Kayell leapt from the chair and unfolded herself on top of him, one tight hand around his throat and the other grabbing madly inside his jacket for the gun she knew was there.
"Shto ve khate'tee?!"
Her command was practiced and executed with flawless accent, the ease of the Russian kind to his ears. But her knees dug into his chest and with the kick, he could say nothing.
Her response was surprised. "Krycek!"
Her realization, however, was a slow one; still on the edge of violence and adrenaline with waking to find a shadow hanging over her. She held the gun to his face, moving slightly to straddle his torso instead of pinning him down and his breath finally returned coming in a heavy exclamation of pain and surprise. "I should have called first."
"Yes, you should have."
Heavy snapping of the hammer being un-cocked and tiny click as the safety replaced. Metal hit the wooden floor as Kayell set the weapon down.
"Have something against beds?"
"Have something against doorbells?"
He smiled, though he wasn't sure she could see it in the darkness. But she hadn't moved off him yet, hanging over like a slim cloud. He still dug for long breaths, his chest aching from her assault and each gulp sent pains radiating up through his neck, spiking down each shoulder.
He could see only her outline, the slim shoulders and hair awry from sleeping in the chair... One hand found her thigh almost in reflexive memory, resting lightly on the empty pocket near her knee. And still she hadn't moved, but leaned down closer to hover above his face.
"Are you here to trade? Or is this a social call?"
"Business as usual Anna."
But she could have known from his uttering of her first name it wasn't truly the business that brought him here...not at 4 in the morning.
"Can I get up now?"
"Not until you tell me why you're sneaking around me."
"I wasn't sneaking."
Quick flash of teeth behind curled lips and she knew he was smiling.
"Are you going to let me up?"
"You still haven't told me why you're here."
"At 4 in the morning?"
Another quick flash.
She was growling. "I smell a lie."
Krycek pushed at her and she resisted, pinning his one arm down with a hand.
"I really get tired of stumbling into you, Krycek. I positively hate your entrances."
"I kind of like them."
"They're stale...try something new for once."
"What, like your new fashion sense?"
He saw her eyes narrow and she poked one finger into the center of his chest with three sharp taps, the pain doubling on top of the bruise he knew would mark his chest by noon.
"So you came here to poke fun?"
"You're so easy, Anna."
She finally moved off him and pulled herself to her feet with one hand on the nearby couch, ignoring her visitor as he sat up with a groan.
"I think you broke ribs."
She heard him snort and turned halfway to face him, leaning down to the coffee table for a pack of cigs.
"I'm here on official business, Krycek. I didn't come here for trade."
"Which official business?" He asked with mock sincerity.
She eyed him as lighter clicked open and flame lit her face, white cylinder stuck between teeth as she spoke.
Lighter slammed shut with satisfying grace and the glow was gone, nothing but shadows again.
"Is this about the envelope? Are you going to let me in on your little secret yet?"
"Maybe...Mulder or Scully around?"
"Nope. Official with a capital O. Nothing with FBI written on it."
She turned away from his dark figure and breathed a lung-full of smoke, hoping it might calm her strangled nerves from the sudden awakening.
"You're not getting any, Krycek. Don't embarrass yourself and don't piss me off."
A small turn of one side of his slim mouth.
"Intelligence, I'm meaning."
"Thought it was worth a try...."
"Always the opportunist."
"...and voyeur, don't forget voyeur."
A rustle of movement and a light switched on, both squinting with the assault of the sudden brightness.
"Into buttons now?" Her question was mocking, tone somewhere between statement and seriousness.
He looked down at himself and then back to her.
"You're into cashmere?"
Her eyes stayed on the row of small white buttons that dotted the center of his dark blue shirt, wondering how long it had taken him with only one hand. Then the thought came to her that she might be able to undress him faster than it had taken him to secure only one.
"I don't need suits for this assignment." She said mildly, distracted by the train of thought that had found her blushing. "You really are becoming a cliché, Alex."
His brow creased in silent question and she thought it quite funny he didn't realize.
"Black jeans, T-shirt, leather jacket. I assume at this point they stop describing you to shooters as 6'1'', brown hair and say 'he's the one in the jacket and jeans...no buttons, though, he's down to one hand."
His mouth curled in a snarl and she laughed. Small giggles of self-amusement at Krycek's sake. His hand worked two buttons free and he revealed a dark T-shirt underneath, and she laughed again.
"Krycek's guide to packing...nothing but the clothes on your back."
"Makes for easy escape."
Kayell ground out the cigarette in an ashtray and turned back to him.
"Are we going to stand around talking about fashion or should we talk about deals? Is what you want information or do you need something done."
He blinked once, too slow for such an involuntary gesture, and then again just to put the point across clearly. She watched with mild fascination the sweep of too-long lashes and glimpse of green-green eyes.
"Deals?" He purred in veiled agreement. "You said I wasn't getting any."
The voice was low, almost a growl... She didn't want the words uttered so far away but close to her ear, the soft flow of his breath hot and she thought a flush might have flooded in her face //No, somewhere else//
A cold chill settled into her stomach that made her shiver and he noticed it. Though it was almost indiscernible on her. Anna was practically unreadable sometimes.
"Intelligence, I said..." Kayell reaffirmed.
A small nod.
Another nod, blank stare with long sweeps of those inhuman lashes.
"You're not getting any...."
A small smile.
"...secrets." she repeated.
But his grin was widening, a stubborn refusal to her monologue of steadfast denials.
It was maddening, his smile, and she felt the sudden urge to take it off his face with a blow that would send him to the floor bleeding, shocked... and wondering why he'd come here knowing it was what he expected of her anyway.
"Believing a word of it." He finished. "*Cashmere* Anna? How do I take you seriously when you look like the Gap?"
"I see you've found a sense of humor."
"A very small one, someone upgraded."
She couldn't help the laugh that she heard come from herself and shook her head at him.
He was standing finally, one hand on his side and staring at her // weighing the enemy-// weighing the prey//
almost waiting for the right moment kinetic energy ready his gun still on the floor and too far to reach her gun on the table... The standoff was easy. They were in the perpetual waiting game
//just this last time, Alex//
one more trade
//if the price is right//
and the tension was as welcome as the familiarity.
"So, what?" She had meant it as the nudge to send this emptiness on to something, tired of the waiting and readiness.
//he could kill you, you know//
"What." He replied. Voice flat, giving nothing away.
//just one pull on the trigger//
"So why are you in Chicago? You need my access?" She asked.
//but he won't do it now, not until he gets what he wants//
"Why did you speak Russian, if this is...official?" Neat eyebrows raised, head cocked to one side. He was asking more than one question at once, doubling the meaning.
Answered with silence.
"Chicago." He added, head still tilted.
Still she said nothing.
His liquid eyes turned to the gun on the table, slide open and clip nearby. He thought he smelled machine oil and preparation for something. //oh, *that* official business//
"You're not here for secrets." Eyes still on the gun. "When did they make you a killer?"
"I've been a killer."
"Not like me."
"Very much like you, only less accurate."
He caught the joke and smiled a bit, just the slightest show of politeness at her concession.
"I hope your aim has improved."
His smile was larger this time, a genuine humor she thought he had forgotten.
"Who?" His question was simple enough, just one word, but for three letters it was momentous.
"Aww, come on. They must be second-rate to have signed you on as the shooter."
//Smug bastard, I should have kicked you harder//
"Did you come here to insult me, Krycek? That's all you've done so far."
"I meant it as a joke."
"Funny doesn't fit you very well."
"Fits me about as well as those pants you're wearing...they do come in small and medium, Anna."
//I should have kicked you in the face, actually. Smashed that pixie nose into your scull and collected the bounty//
"And it was what that I ever saw in you?"
It was Krycek's turn to glower. "Inevitable ruin."
"You're not very good company these days, are you?"
"And you have a bevy of friends? "
She was growing weary of the same old diatribe, the same insults, the same showing up unannounced and wanting something but never saying what...
//he hasn't said anything about my shoes yet//
"And you're here for...the restaurants, Alex? Hunt me down and insult me for what? Or is this about what you're above me in..." She was mocking him, her tone turning sarcastic. "What I can do for you, what you need me for."
He moved forward, leather complaining with strange squeals and the standoff was over, the taunting finished and everyone put in their place. Even this close they wore armor and all colors faded to the grayness that hung over them like mist.
//We don't talk about the things in the gray areas//
"Know who your friends are." He replied and seemed to hover, almost asking permission to be this close and she still thought she might hit him, watch him bleed for a while before the anger would fade.
//But he would hit me back--and hard--I'm no frailty to him//
"I'm wondering why they would make you an assassin suddenly...get demoted?"
"And I'm still wondering why you're here, if it's not really to trade. That's what I do, what else would they need me for?"
"You said it yourself, Kayell, I'm an opportunist."
"There's no opportunity here, Krycek. This is an easy one. With one hand tied behind my back."
Downturn of one brow, bared teeth through a sneer. "That supposed to be funny?"
A low wail cursed through the room, sirens from passing authority far below on quiet streets and both heads turned in instinct. She felt the hand on her chest, hard and foreign, and she was falling backward with the shove hitting the floor with a sudden anger more for herself than for him.
//Never turn your back, stupid//
"Was that a joke?"
He wasn't usually this touchy. Kayell said nothing, looking up at the menace as he readied for her response, legs planted firmly apart and eyes wide.
"You take everything so seriously, Alex. Lighten up for chrissakes."
He only stared down at Anna as she gathered herself from the tripping and thought maybe it hadn't been meant for him. Not everything was.
She could have been considered plain, not quite pretty enough to turn heads but that was how she wanted to seem. He knew she was beautiful. He had seen it before. //The best spies are anonymous// There was no outward gesture of flamboyance or vanity and she wore the barest of accoutrements of femininity but that was only more alluring to him. She was the anti-girl. Anna could melt into scenery or cast illumination at will, her blank stare saying nothing if only how dangerous she knew life was. And there was a new anger in her amber-gold eyes.
Kayell stood and smoothed her black hair with a small sigh of embarrassment for being one-upped by Krycek again.
"You wanna fight, Krycek?" She was smiling.
So was he. "I think I could take you."
That was the game...defend, retreat...provocation.
"I wouldn't want to hurt you." She had walked closer, the slim inches in height difference making the statement dangerous.
"I don't know, I might like that."
He leaned in for a kiss and she backed away, crossing her long arms.
And still he advanced against the retreat, her hand moving up to hold him back at arm's length
cool leather meeting her palm
//So cliché, Alex and leather//
"...you're not getting any."
A flash of anger on his face, the predatory glare was back and she knew he would just take what he wanted. Even with one hand.
That one hand knocked her defense away and the sting of his slap on her wrist stung, only a hint of what he could do. His lips were pulled back and clenched teeth shone just how serious he was that she shouldn't try anything.
But when those lips brushed hers, only softly and almost...tenderly she was surprised. Her back was turned again. The whisper of his breath on her face and slowness of his tongue on hers was intoxicating. And so unlike him. His hand on her neck, sliding around to tangle in soft hair and she knew the standoff was finally over...his lips left hers and traveled up the side of her neck, not kissing but simply...teasing.
//So that's the game this time//
"Tell me who." In her ear, warm breath making her skin prickle. She could hear how his breath had quickened and it drove her further to press herself against him, one strong arm around her back to hold her there.
"It won't work, Krycek."
She was spinning, her eyes still closed from the excitement of the sound of him so close and she was horizontal on the nearby couch pinned beneath him. His mouth was on hers again, more impatient and deeper and she couldn't breathe under his weight. One hand rubbing the sweater over her breast, more for the softness than for what was underneath.
She was pulling at the lapel of his jacket, sliding it down and he shook one arm out, leaving her to guide it over the odd arm and throw it to the floor.
//All those buttons, how long did that take you?// She was finding out, quite quickly, with no way to use both hands to undo them and it was maddening to take so long. But he wouldn't help her, couldn't help her with one elbow propped under her shoulder so he wasn't crushing her. And his kiss was assaulting, the familiar taste and effectiveness reminding her of the Academy days and of the desperate times locked doors and 'nobody followed me'.
The full weight of him again as a hand followed the line of her side to grip clumsily around pelvic bone and grind denimed harness against her. Her sharp cry of surprise and pain muffled by his mouth was all the urging he needed to jerk at the strings of her pants and lift himself off just long enough to push them downward knuckles grazing soft pale thigh as he watched her gauging him. He knew she was wondering just how she could ever deny him of anything. And he smiled slightly, the panties soft on a rough hand and he heard a shoe hit the floor. //she won't deny me of anything...//only the past// A hand tugged at his shirt, now unbuttoned and he shook his head slightly, the slim smile gone from wet lips and she wasn't sure if it was modesty or simple impatience. A flick of the wrist, quick sound of metal and his belt was loosened, tugging at the buttons //*really* into buttons, now, Alex? // and shoving the denim over warm skin. His odd hand brushed her bare navel only slightly, the cold texture making her breath catch and it was a mixture of horror and excitement that flooded across her. And he was crushing her again, her hand caught between them as she found him and squeezed his cock tight, his sharp gasp close to her ear erasing all he had done. And could do.
But she wasn't sure if it was the feel of him in her and, warm and smooth or the fact that he was close to squashing her completely that had her head pulsing and Technicolor flicks closing in her field of vision. She tried to form the words right, loading them like blocks in her mind so the sound could be uttered and his mouth was on hers again before the structure was decided, sharp flick of his tongue whisking it out of her mind. His hips bucked against her hand and she knew from the erratic heaves of his chest it was moving too quickly, his hand gripping the feather-light texture of her sweater and assaulting her mouth in the way he could always forget she was still sometimes fragile.
He groaned when her hand left him, the deprivation pulling his senses back from the edge of composure and he nudged her legs with his knees, moving to her neck for a nip under the jawline where he knew she liked his teeth. "This won't work..." She whispered into his ear, the ripple of pleasure that raced through him and the press of his hardness on her thigh making the sigh that escaped her sound ineffective.
"I'm not in the mood for foreplay." He rasped in her ear, voice heavy and his hand finally snaking underneath the cashmere for a tug at her bra.
"No, not...this won't... I can't breathe!" She gasped as he nipped at her neck and pushed at him in futile desperation with the pain in her chest. But the shock of his teeth and sound of his breath in her ear made her think she could manage.
Her words hit him finally, through the fog of his own pleasure, and he recoiled with a hiss that sounded like something halfway between anger and disappointment.
She rose with him as he lifted her, one incredibly strong arm curled around her waist and somehow, his mouth never left hers as he settled back onto the couch. The denim scraping against soft skin as she lowered herself onto him, callused fingers racing her spine under the sweater. He left the kiss to press his face into her cheek and the low moan that came from him was so familiar and she had missed it.
She thought the mere sound of him could finish her and the taste of the salt on his neck. His lips found the curve of her ear and he left the cashmere to press his palm to her face and hold her steady against his breathing as she rode him slowly at first...
His eventual rising to meet her with thrusts guiding her closer his head lolling back, lips parted with the words that were too hard to form with the hold she had on him.
She gripped his shoulders under the motion of him bucking against her feeling the hard foreign choices forced on him and straining muscle as he lunged for her mouth taking it as he took her spiraling toward somewhere she'd been to before. But only with him. For him. His thrusts harder, her cries in his ear urging him over the edge and he crushed his face to her cheek. The strangled scream in his mind was a shuddering whimper from his lips as one last stroke sent him reeling, torn apart the clutch of cashmere in his hand more than he could hold back anymore.
When Kayell came to her senses her back pressed against the couch and Alex draped over her,
//how did we...when did he//
she could feel him still trembling.
His feathery lips on her neck could feel her still racing pulse just as she felt his heart pounding against her chest.
"Johnny Candeloni." She said finally, voice too far away to be her own. His head lifted to look at her eyes heavy with satisfaction and sleep.
She chuckled softly at his confusion and wondered how this time, he wasn't crushing her.
"Can-de-lon-i." Spelling it out for him, making it clearer for his swimming mind.
The small sigh she heard from him made her think he'd perhaps forgotten his intention and her hand found it's way into the softness of his hair caressing the admission away with what she knew was a mistake to utter.
She felt the vibration through her chest and it resounded through every nerve, every cell the strength of his voice slinking through her like he had slipped into the hotel room with more than information on his agenda.
"Does it matter?"
His reply was dark, almost defeating. "Never does."
She removed her hand from the warmth of his hair and he resisted with a nuzzle of his chin on her collarbone, the scratch of his stubble from weary travel harsh against the contrast of the cashmere. "Don't..." he muttered and she replaced it, fingers moving mindlessly through the dark strands.
"I have to get up soon." She murmured and he heaved a deep sigh. "You can stay, if you'd like."
//Did I say that? Is that wise? Know who your friends are...//
But he said nothing, his breathing leveling off into something like sleep.
And it reminded her of other times crashed on the couch, battered bag under his head lashes lacing eyes that were shut tight against a world that hated them both.
He always returned eventually.
Sometimes dirty, tired and just sad from whatever //where ever//
Or clean and full of hope //I have a plan, but do this small favor//
A folder or location, a mere phone call and that voice on the other end familiar.
Academy library, books piled in false importance suspicious eyes that were much older than seemed. Chair kicked in passive invitation "I won't bother you." And that slick smile of warning...//I see we have something in common//
A frenzied rush into her apartment, surprising her at her work...satellite codes, all the secrets tucked neatly in the desk before he knew exactly what her true station might be. "I'm out...bastard rigged the car." Anger, disbelief, ragged plea in wide eyes. Soft dark hair falling over one eye before being swept away with a trembling hand.
But he'd known this was dangerous, too far off center to care anymore and it was trades, all damn trades from one document right down to your very own soul. Just to keep breathing. Quiet hallways and knowing you were hiding more than just allegiance. Marble meeting rooms and wondering //just how does this happen?// And then the smoke told you, before the words could hit just between what you'd planned and what the eventuality became. Smoke and Morleys and "...give them nothing. Tell them something." Lies and lies and all lies. Down to the very signature on your paycheck.
You knew it was coming. You can never share anything with one you know so little about. Anger and tears as the shooters close in, knowing it wasn't your mistake //I'm too careful for this// and whose bullet you were taking. And he won't be there tonight.
//I'm just a thief//
Truth had no bearing on a life lived in secret. And he was gone, sulking off to whatever //where ever// and taking the money, the trust, all that you had known you shouldn't give to someone you know so little about. A slow unraveling of something tightly wound in yourself. Naked, searing, screaming at yourself for seeing nothing past angelic smiles and whispered
Time should have healed that. The work should have set the priorities straight. Trades replaced the money and his own words should have fought the self-doubt. //the only true allegiance is with yourself//
But the dank streets of Russia were too real, and the long time spent in meetings too fresh. Cold winter air on hot tears, knowing there was still something about that small glimpse of him. Something different, a limpness to one sleeve. //He could blow your cover//
And that was why you were there. The secret alliance was back, creeping in while he watched quietly, taking it in as personal punishment. A slow form moving to meet old partner affected by the tears on your face and "I won't bother you." was all he said.
And the lies were like they never left.
And they never had.
She brushed wet hair from her eyes as she leaned quietly down to pick up the gun that lay waiting. The first streaks of gray dawn lit the room in soft hues of misty shadows that were too much like those parts of him she could never reach. //We don't talk about the gray things //We don't talk much at all//
He felt the gravity of closeness that odd tug of presence and was awake too quickly, snapping from a sleep that had found him easily and unprepared.
Anna had the gun in her hand, hanging loosely at the wrist and for the barest of moments he thought the aim was for him. //Usually is...just bad habit//
But she held out her other hand in mock apology, the sweet concession in her eyes as she waited for him to come closer to reality.
He took a quick glance around the room and rose to slump against the armrest of the couch, jeans still unbuttoned and looking almost...
"I've got to go." She whispered, stepping around the table to smile down as he looked up at her, eyes still heavy from sleep.
"I'm going with you."
"I don't think so." She toned, shaking her still-wet head from the shower and backing around the table to grab her coat. "You look like you could use some sleep."
He rose to his feet anyway, re-buttoning his fly with one-handed skill that amazed her in it's efficiency.
"I could be back-up."
"You could be fuck-up too. It's nothing major, Alex."
He leaned to gather his coat and gun from the floor tucking the weapon in his jeans and walking toward her.
"Humor me, Anna." And he smiled that way that he knew would twist her just the right way. And when she said nothing, only fixed on his face he knew it was working.
"How do you do that?" She asked finally and he shrugged, a lopsided movement that was endearing as the rare warmth in his smile.
"Talk me into things."
"Like what, Anna?"
She moved past him, his head turning as she walked to the door and faced him again, gun in her slim hand.
"You want me to start at the beginning?"
She cranked the slide on the gun, heavy mechanic music as a bullet launched into the chamber. "The Academy for starters." //but that was...mutual//
"The X-Files assignment fiasco." //Syndicate told me to//
"Taking you in after the DAT tape thing." //but I had missed you//
"And then there's Russia..." She dipped her head a bit, tucking the gun away. "*Walking* to Finland in winter..." //but we had no choice, did we? // "And whatever you're dreaming up now."
He stood smiling, coat in hand and the one-sided shrug returned. "An unconditional love thing?"
"Mention that phrase again, and I'll kill you too."
He laughed and followed her out the door, knowing that was exactly
//we don't talk about the things in the gray areas//
what it was.
"Are you sure this is the right place?"
Kayell looked over at Krycek in the passenger seat and frowned. "Who's job is this anyway?"
A glance of warning, even irritation. "Just trying to help."
"Yeah, like I need your help."
Irritation most definitely. "I think I have more experience."
Kayell's eyes swept up, then down his long frame at rest in the leather seat. "And so much to show for it."
She could tell from his sharp snort he agreed.
A quick reach under the seat and the gun was in hand, another tucked neatly at her side already
//just in case//
you could never be too careful.
And he was watching her, watching Anna... this was her life, and he had to remind himself of this. The hand that reached inside the jacket pocket, so slim almost too delicate for such workings. She checked the barrel once, then twice...making sure
//always careful, Anna always sure//
that it was the right silencer for the model.
"Alright." Whispered, more for herself than for him. A slow glance toward him, a last gathering of herself.
He thought she was shaking, but only slightly. Jaw clenched, but the amber eyes were sure.
"I'll be right back."
He could only nod, watching as she unfolded from the driver's seat and slammed the door.
//almost too hard, must be nervous//
And she was walking surely into the morning fog, pale hand tucking the gun into a coat pocket, silver menace waving at him from the parka she wore.
//she's no shooter//
Krycek settled into the creaking warmth of the car and dipped his head to his chest, eyes closing.
//this is her life... //as much as it is mine//
The back doors were always unlocked. She decided if she ever ran a business, there wouldn't even be a back door. Not one that could be left open out of carelessness, or even apathy.
Restaurant hallway quiet, dark.
//take deep breaths, this is easy//
Parka hood pulled up over the head, no one will see just who waits from nearby.
It was a wait, but she wasn't keen on making angles from this side of the room, across the distance to the man at the table with others. If she was better, maybe. Make a scene, leave running. If she was Krycek, most definitely.
<I'm no shooter>
So she waited, but not patiently. Trying to will the man's bladder to urge him to get up, finally... and she was on the payphone when he passed.
"Yes, I'm fine."
Not even a look from him.
"I'll be home soon."
And the door shut after him, nothing but silence.
She was through the door soon behind and leaning back, just in case other natures called.
//no witnesses, not just yet//
The mark's back to her, not even guessing it was no man behind him. And he was whistling.
She eased the gun free, waiting for a moment. //Just breathe, Anna. This is easy //not in the back, that's not protocol...not polite//
There was the obligatory 'shake and replace' and the song ended. Started up again as he turned...
Gun leveled neatly, he wasn't alone.
"I have a message for you."
Slack-jawed response, disbelief. "M-message?"
One swift thunck, and the mark fell. Kayell breathed in rank stench of gunpowder and sweat. The shaking had stopped.
She stepped over the redness on the floor and checked his pulse...nothing. Limp legs and arms moved, careful planning and she was out of the building, but not running
//he better be there//
walking back to the car two blocks down.
Engine cranked as she reached for the passenger door handle, lowering into the leather. No words as they pulled into morning traffic and she peeled off gloves, gun in her lap.
His question made her chuckle, even smile.
"Are you buying?"
"Did you hit him with one shot?"
He wasn't looking at her, eyes on the road. But he was smiling.
"Arrangement?" He asked softer. Even serious.
"Was there a message? Body positioning?"
"It wasn't that kind of official business."
Krycek's head whipped around immediate surprise on his face, the slightest show of teeth behind lips. "*That* official?"
He was looking at her more than the road and she wondered how safe that was. "What, you thought this was for the FBI?" She chuckled to herself. "Right. This doesn't fit into your plan?"
He was watching the road again, thinking. "I wasn't talking about that, Anna, I just...I assumed this was for..."
"For the Consortium?" She finished and shook her head, looking out at the traffic that sped past. "They're not the only ones I'm under."
"Then if it's not..." his voice faded and he seemed to think for a moment. Weighing the options. "But you're not CIA." Quick glance of uncertainty. "Well, not really."
"And you base that assumption on what?"
He glanced at her a second time and his manner was crestfallen. Almost saddened. "You wouldn't mix with that crowd."
"Where was I before I entered the Academy, Krycek? Old Smokey must have a file on me somewhere. Suppose you tell me just what you think I was doing."
One more glance in her direction, one hand gripping the wheel with new force. "IRA, Gulf War, Tel Aviv..." his voice trailed off and he seemed to come to a realization with his own words. "Jesus, Anna, how long have we known each other?"
"Oh six, seven years Alex. Do you think someone my age would have this much access this early in their career?"
He had pulled the rental into a Diner parking lot and stared out at the restaurant eyes dimmed with fresh thought. She didn't wait for him to cut the engine, opening her door and slamming it shut behind her, Krycek watching as she walked to the front doors without even a glance back to see if he was following.
"You can't possibly be surprised." She said softly, almost distracted by the plastic-lined menu spread on the table before her. "With all your plans and actions of the past...I thought you knew just who all I worked for."
He slid into the opposite side of the booth and took a quick glance around. "It's not like I thought enough to look closely, but I had my conclusions."
"Based on what, Krycek? Based on the fact I'm nothing but a translator and a simple thief? You don't think the Syndicate sponsored me into the Academy did you?"
He let out a slow breath and drug another menu across the table, mouth twisted in answer.
//He actually did, he thought he knew me//
"Was that the reason you initiated contact?"
His eyes flicked to her over the menus and he looked back to the table, a waitress sliding up, order pad in hand.
"Coffee, we'll need a minute." Kayell told her, mostly commanded, and the woman gave a curt nod moving off.
"I made contact because..." he tapped the plastic with a finger and she recognized his stalling technique too well to believe he was having trouble making up his mind for breakfast.
"What, 'cause you thought I could help you? I'm not that stupid Krycek. You knew something. Just like from the beginning, you knew then..."
"I knew you didn't look like just another candidate, not with the way you...assessed me. I saw those wheels turning, just like you saw mine."
"I saw a really good-looking guy that was writing notes in Cyrillic on the margins of his notebook."
"You saw that?"
"Split-second decisions, Krycek. Sometimes that's what it comes down to."
He closed the menu and looked around for the waitress. "So that hit wasn't a cover-up for them."
"What hit, Krycek?" She was grinning. "The Central Intelligence Agency has no charter to operate on American soil."
He wasn't amused. "You could have told me."
"You never asked. And what would it have changed? The Syndicate uses me just like the CIA does. Anna Kayell the thief, Anna Kayell the disposable liar. My only saving grace was that I'm not what most people see when they think spy."
"When were you recruited?"
The waitress was pouring the coffee and Kayell waited for her to finish, the both of them giving her their order and watching until she was well out of earshot before Kayell looked at him again.
"We don't talk about those things."
//we don't talk much at all//
His eyes were were soft."Then maybe we should."
"And have you sell my name on some list? Oh, come on. I'm not that ready for you to know so much about me."
"I know everything else, why not this?"
"Because it's easier to hate you when you stab me in the back without hating myself too because you know all about me."
"It was in college, wasn't it? You were recruited in college."
She leveled a suspicious gaze at him and took a long sip of her coffee. "You still haven't told me why you're back in this...and what I'm supposed to do for you."
"Tell me when, and I'll tell you why."
Kayell took a long breath and glanced out at the sunshine that was already eating away the fog. "My only talent is that I can learn language and I haven't the patience for much else. The tactical stuff was easy enough, I thought about trying for a job with the State Department and they caught wind of it."
"How do you always find me?"
"You're not the only one with access, Anna."
"Exactly. I put in a request for application at the beginning of my Junior year. Two weeks later I was sitting in a coffee shop and these ghosts sit down and tell me they have an offer I might be interested in."
"And you took them up on their offer?"
"Not at first, I mean, the CIA? How cliché is that?"
"About as cliché as a double spy working for the Russians."
Anna shot him a quick smile and he returned the gesture i n spades. "I guess so, comrade."
And then silence, that heavy blanket of grayness, and it was familiar just as familiar as that odd vacuum of nothing where her guilt should have been for just killing a man.
And after the quiet, he steadied a gaze at her and licked his lips trying quite hard to bite back the things he wanted to ask.
//But we don't talk about the gray things...//
"So I guess six more years, and we'll know all there is to know, huh?"
"Christ, Krycek, I'm amazed it's lasted this long."
He nodded slowly, taking in a long breath. "You're right. But no matter how bad things are, you're the only one I can come to."
"Yeah, I'm beginning to see the pattern."
She watched him as he looked out the window, sun playing tricks with the soft form of his face. And for an instant she could see the bare beauty in him. Quiet stillness of weathered lines beginning at the creases of his eyes and slow curve of lashes. No one could have built a lovelier form for persuasion.
"I'm taking the reins, Anna." He murmured finally, eyes still turned away. "Everything we found in Russia, all that Mulder can't do now...the timing's perfect and I can do this." He returned his gaze and the burn of intensity was staring back at her. "And you can be on the winning side for once."
"What do you need?"
He glanced down at the table and smiled slowly, the crease of intention between his brows deepening. "I need a friend."
"A friend with access."
"An ally." He replied, and locked eyes with her. "I know who my friends are."
Anna nodded, and reached across the table, squeezing his hand.
"Then deal me in."
Well, ok, so that's all I have so far. Please, please tell me if it's bad... I'm trying a new style and it's quite different that what I usually do (more of a poetry thing) and if I should just stick with the old style <G>. I feel like I'm among friends here, so flame away.