r | sexual content

They've evolved past the point where they need to reassure each other, with I had to and it meant nothing and it was just for the mission and so on. He knows that when she's kissing some Russian, it's only so she can slip the detonator in his pocket; she knows that when he's holding an enemy agent, it's only so she can't see Jim get the microdot out of the safe.

That doesn't make it any easier to watch.

Willy's playing her husband/soon-to-be murderer tonight. It's hard enough when they only have to play at being strangers, indifferent acquaintances, enemies. On the last mission, they were brother and sister, and when they were sitting on the train, telling stories about the Old Country, he was having some decidedly un-sisterly thoughts about the woman next to him.

Now, he has to sit in position, watching as Willy kisses her, perfectly on cue. His biceps are bulging as he grabs her arm in a possessive manner, and Rollin finds himself gripping the steering wheel, thinking about how Willy could just lift her up and take her without even using a wall for leverage. Willy would be the complete opposite of the character he's playing - kind, gentle, slow, considerate, exactly the kind of lover that she prefers.

It's time, and he turns on the car as Willy steps back. She's crying, screaming, and there's Jim, there's Harrington, and it's so quick that Rollin wouldn't have picked up on it if he didn't know what was going on. The flash of the gun, Jim grabbing his arm, Harrington tripping over Cinnamon's leg, and like that - it's over. Jim has the package while Willy picks up Cinnamon, like King Kong with Fay Wray, shouting, "No police!" in a Spanish accent - could be more convincing, Rollin thinks - and that's his cue. He makes an effort to look casual, although he's sure no one is paying attention.

A planned hijacking of his car, and they're off. Cinnamon waits until they're several blocks away before she lifts her head, examines her shirt.

"Why does fake blood always have to smell so bad?"

Willy grins and Rollin finds him smiling as well. This is his friend, his co-worker, who has his own girlfriend back in the States, and he'd never put his hands on Cinnamon unless it was required for the job. He'd kill for her and fight for her, but he's a smart man, and he wouldn't dare.

They meet Jim three miles away and then it's off to the hotel, where they disappear into their respective rooms. Jim's flight leaves first, then Barney & Willy's. Harrington is driving back to the capitol. They have three hours together before the flight back to LA, two seats five rows apart.

She knocks twice, then once. She's changed. It's like a play, tradition, how he cups her face and starts to wipe her lips with his thumb. She stops him, right on cue, kisses his palm.

There are bruises on her torso. "The harness," she says by way of explanation. "I'm going to have to talk to Barney about that if we ever use it again."

"Watching you dangle from the fourth story of the hotel wasn't my favorite part of the mission."

She touches the side of his face, where there's still a faint bruise. "Well, I didn't exactly enjoy seeing Davidson use your face as a punching bag."

"It wasn't that bad."

He winces, she gasps, and these are the perils of this work. Invariably, someone is beating the living snot out of one of them on at least half of these missions. Invariably, they end up making love in a cheap hotel with bandages and scabs, every move being equal parts pleasure and pain.

Invariably, he ends up muttering her real name into the pillow, because even though he swept the room for bugs, he can't be entirely sure that they're not listening.