He was just laying there, and yet her heart continued to beat. It was irritating, the way it persisted, the way she persisted and used to irritate him. The man at her feet would have told her not to cry, maybe because it was noisy or irrational, but maybe because he didn’t want to watch. She bit her lip hard and pulled back the tremoring hand that was reaching out see if his skin was cold. Of course it’s not, in a second he’s going to sit up and call you dumb for being fooled. Because it’s a joke. But she knew it wasn’t, she’d seen dozens of corpses, knew the complexion, the ever so slight blue in dry cracked lips, these things couldn’t be faked, not like a clean forehead wound or a sticky pool of blood could. She didn’t notice she was on her knees until she was closer to him, and then sat on her heels, staring.
“You’re leaving evidence everywhere, dumbass.” He scolded.
“Then come with me, this is stupid. Just get up and leave with me.” She touched his cold hand.
“What’s stupid? You can’t make me do anything now, I’m dead! Dead is dead and you know that, Sam.”
“Why didn’t you take me with?! You always take me with, why was this day so different, what was so important that I couldn’t back you up?”
“Because I knew this would happen.” Of course it wasn’t him saying it, not really, but she knew it was the truth. He’d spared her from this mission to spare her this moment.
“Good job asshole! Look what good it did us both!” Selfish, greedy, stupid son of a bitch had planned this day out exactly, like everything else, and in his perfect picture, he wasn’t the one kneeling over a lifeless partner. Of course he wasn’t, why should he take the hard part? Why should he be the one to do the cleanup and later, march into Jack’s office through the thick cloud of cigarette smoke, look into those watery beached fish-blue eyes and try to tearlessly report the demise of your closest ally and confidant? No, she got to carry that cross.
“Where are you going?” She asked too many god damn questions. Bounding up in those pigtails she could easily have been as young and stupid as the day he met her. It’s the way she liked to look, a pedophile’s fucking wet dream, almost eighteen with the occasional spunk of a six year old and big, sweet eyes. He looked away before she got the truth out of him, because she had a knack for doing that. To kill your brother because he’s gone too far.
But all he said was, “to work.” He saw the corners of her face pull back and anticipated the question before it had a chance to burst past her pliant lips. “you can’t come this time.” Wrong words. He should have thought that through, but he knows it’s too late to backpedal by the look in her eyes.
“What? You’re going to stop me? You can’t just tell me I can’t come along.” This moment would have been like any other, typical even, whatever was typical for them, if things hadn’t shifted the night before.
He stared her down, knowing he could eventually deflect her with cruelty. “You’re staying here.”
“The hell I am!” He could almost laugh at how easy it was to move her to anger. But he could deal with her tantrum later on. She wedged herself in the doorway and he pushed her back, catching a small fist before it had a chance to glance off his jaw. He reproached himself for wanting to kiss her, not buckling to the impulse because that’s what she wanted. That’s how she won. And he couldn’t give her this victory, as much as he wanted to. He remembered too well what happened when he gave in to want.
Her head was reeling, still. They’d simply been out on assignment, doing what they do, protecting secrets by silencing those who would tell them. Just your average, everyday murder. There’d been nothing really special about it. But he’d crossed a carefully constructed line, a line she was sure they’d both agreed on. She distracted the target in that special way she did, playing the sweet little coy girl and sitting in Santa’s lap. She was glad to see the wine stain on the cream wallpaper, blood looked so stunningly beautiful against the elegant swirling pattern, and vaguely wondered if it hurt. Only if Alex wants it to, she reasoned. He probably did. Samantha watched the old man slump beneath her and nudged him with a shoe just to be sure. If paramedics liked to bring anyone back to life, it was rich old geezers.
She pranced to the window as delicately as if it had been a glass of wine spilt on the carpet and splashed on the wall, and slipped right out. She landed, perched on a dumpster and doing a little half twirl before gliding to the pavement. A smile split her face as he thumped down next to her, scuffling to catch his footing. He was hulking, several times her size, and lost his right arm in the line of duty which left him constantly ever so slightly off balance. By any comparison, she was tiny. “Mission Accomplised.” She gloated, to no one in particular, and that’s when her feet left the ground.
The first thing she’d felt was her back hitting the brick wall behind her and she tucked her head forward to avoid rattling her skull. Next his heavy grip, which seemed like it was everywhere even though he only had the one hand to work with. But hot, insistent lips over hers soothed every bump and bruise as he sucked the breath from her mouth, a sort of clumsy backward CPR. Their teeth collided more than once, but neither stopped or even flinched. She didn’t have to open her mouth to him because too soon his tongue forced it’s way past the barrier of her teeth, he had to be sure she didn’t taste like cigarettes. When he let go she almost fell down, looking up at him with stormy eyes. You broke the rules.
She’d known somehow, on instinct, how to get under his skin. No one in that half darkened sitting room that smelt of leather, old men, and cigarette smoke knew it, but Alex was rippling under the surface. Every new antic had him almost smiling, or suppressing the impulse to be amused. He knew every eye twitch delighted her, so he’d do everything in his power to resist indulging. She didn’t need encouragement. He loved the way she looked in that big overstuffed monstrosity of a chair, the way her feet dangled just inches from the ground as she made ridiculous faces and rude gestures at him from across the room, so far removed from the grave matter of conversation.
She was less than concerned with matters of international import, of the so called unrest in the middle east, with every twist and turn of the elaborate conspiracy they were both a part of. She just wanted to live, she just wanted to be seventeen. Some days he couldn’t believe her father had dragged her into this mess. He wondered how far they’d have to go to steal her ever-reigning innocence. The corner of his mouth turned ever so slightly, and she laughed, an inappropriate sound of joy that pierced the air, cutting the topic at hand with hot precision. The old man’s head swiveled and lifeless blue eyes fixed her with a look. She’d be sent back to the children’s table if she couldn’t behave.
The night had been nothing but a series of quarrels, one after another. It was truly only a matter of time before he cut to deep and her fist flew free, the solid sound of knuckle hitting flesh. She hoped it hurt, it seemed to be the only way she could ever cut him back. He didn’t even falter, grabbing her slight forearms in his thick hands and thrusting her back against her bedroom door. He paused for a moment when she whimpered, but he was like a boulder rolling down a steep hill, nothing to stop him but eventuality. They grappled, and she flooded over with panic and excitement all at once. His touch was bruising at times, the intensity pouring out his fingertips. He bit her skin and she prayed he would do it again, raking her nails over his smooth and freckled shoulder blades.
Their clothes were torn away, like animals, with no regard for ritual or ceremony. They needed heat, they needed release. Where better to find it than in each other? Despite all this she felt herself tremble, gripping his shoulders and all the while trying to push him over. There was no time to caution him to be delicate as he blundered forward, acting on thoughts he’d been letting play for months on end, and if he was truly honest, long before that. She screamed in joy of agony as he encroached upon her and rent the innocence he’d so often admired. He’d bear down on her and she’d shove him over, bobbing and weaving like they’d both fooled themselves into thinking they never would. Her chest heaved and he owned her with his hands, fingers groping every inch of exposed skin because he could go where no man dared.
His gun hand was nearly shaking, but the man he faced couldn’t see that. He saw the cold façade, the icy exterior he’d built on the foundation of ‘have to’ and ‘for a better world’ and ‘she’ll never know anyway.’ And still, it tore at him. Not even because of what the man he had come to murder symbolized, but who he was. His allegiances had never been so split before. He knew it was her fault, her and her secret smiles, her keening and moaning, her doe eyes. She’d crawled inside him and now he couldn’t get her out, all at once an anchor and a stone. I’m on the ground like the other mortals now, he thought, as the first two bullets pierced his remaining arm. Not careful enough. He’d charged in like fucking John Wayne and now he was reaping his just deserts. He’d had a hundred chances to end this man, and for some reason he thought he’d finally do it at chance number one hundred and one. Too bad he was wrong.