by Melanie-Anne

They stare at each other from opposite sides of the hotel room. She's absently rubbing her neck, red marks already forming to show where he had grabbed her. He's holding a towel to his nose to stem the bleeding that resulted from her right hook. The bedside lamp is on the floor next to him, shards of glass littering the area around his feet. The vase he'd thrown at her had narrowly missed her head, and the wall behind her is stained with water. She holds a knife in her free hand, and the look in his eyes dares her to throw it. She smirks, and with a flick of her wrist it goes flying.

He follows the arc. When the knife embeds itself three feet to his left, he looks back at her and raises an eyebrow. She shrugs; she'd never meant to hit him. Lampshades and vases are one thing, knives are another. She doesn't want him dead. Yet.

She's so tired of fighting. She looks away, then back at him, and that instant is all it took for him to draw his gun.

"I'm not going to miss," he says.

She opens her arms, tilts her head, and lets all her exhaustion show when she speaks. "Then shoot me, Jack. Go on. No one will question you."

He flicks the safety off. She's tempted to close her eyes, but she wants to watch him kill her. She's that masochistic; nothing can ever undo what she has done to this man, and she deserves whatever punishment he wants to mete out. A year ago she would have fought him. A year ago she would have cared. Now, there is nothing left of her good intentions. Everything she's ever worked for has gone to waste - and she didn't realize until she'd lost everything that it had never been worth the price.

"Sydney would." He doesn't lower the gun.

"Sydney's dead." She says the words without flinching. It's taken a lot of practice to be able to do that.

He fires. The bullet passes so close to her head that she can feel its heat.

"You missed."

"No, I didn't." He puts the gun on the bedside table and sits on the bed, his back to her. If she were any of his other enemies, this would be a fatal mistake. Instead of attacking him, she climbs onto the bed and kneels behind him. She takes the bloodied towel from his hands and gently dabs his nose.

He turns, and pulls her onto his lap. His fingers trace the marks on her neck. Where his touch was angry and painful earlier, it is now completely tender. His lips take the place of his hands.

"We'll find them," Irina says. "We'll kill them."

"And then what?" He sounds broken, and Irina pulls him closer to her. The towel, forgotten already, falls from her hands. She does not answer. Cannot answer. Sydney was their compass, their reason for doing what they did. Without her . . .

Very little in the world makes sense anymore.

There are other secrets to share. One other, specifically, that may be able to give them a reason to continue. She wants to tell him, but she's afraid of his reaction. Just for a moment, she wants to pretend he doesn't hate her.

His kisses are rougher, his teeth nipping at her skin. She tilts her neck, arching into his touch, one hand at the back of his head to keep him close. His hands slip under her shirt, one fidgeting with the clasp of her bra, the other cupping her breast. When his thumb brushes over her nipple, she pulls back. She doesn't give him enough time to question her before she takes off the shirt and tosses it to the side. Her bra follows a moment later.

Jack pushes her onto her back, his kisses traveling from her neck, to her collarbone, down to her navel, his hands lightly brushing her ribcage, her breasts.

His touch is torture. She knows he's doing this on purpose. She rolls them over so he is on his back and she's straddling him. Slowly - slower than necessary - she unbuttons his shirt. When he reaches for her, she grabs his wrists and shakes her head. She guides his hands to where she wants them; cupping each over a breast. His smile is so smug that she can't help but pull her tongue at him. He laughs, and she's surprised to realize how much she's missed that sound.

She doesn't want to think now. She slides down his body, then grinds her hips against his. He squeezes her breasts and she keeps moving, slowly rubbing against him.

"I'm not as young as I used to be," he says, and now it's her turn to laugh. She leans forward and kisses him. He tastes of Scotch, but there's something else, something more familiar and she thinks, I know this man.

She wonders why they waited so long to do this again. Wonders how she managed to convince herself she never wanted him.

They flip again, still kissing. His hand slips down the front of her pants and she moans into his mouth as he slides a finger inside her. She fumbles with her zipper, wondering why the hell it's taking so long to get her pants off. Once hers are taken care of, she unzips his, then tugs them down over his hips.

In the next breath, he's inside her. Neither of them moves for a moment. He cups her face in his hands and kisses her as if she's the most precious thing he's ever held.

Then he starts to move. She hooks her legs around his waist. It's been far too long since he's been inside her. He grabs her hands, their fingers twining together and for the moment, at least, the rest of the world ceases to matter.

Words have always failed them. This - his skin on hers, the feel of his breath against her cheek, the taste of his kiss - this is real. This is one place they have never lied to each other. If they can find more moments like this, she thinks, moments where they can reconnect without all the baggage of lies and betrayals and lives lost, then maybe they have a chance at surviving.

She can't hope for anything more than that.


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