Episode Eleven: The Down the Bullet Hole Affair
Guy felt the crisp sheets turn into thick, translucent water as he sank deeper into them. He felt the weight against his back, as if the water sucked him deeper into its folds. Guy’s eyes whirled around for Nikolai, but he couldn’t see him in the water with him. Guy felt his heart pounding in his ears, the sheets weighing down on his arms, and yet he still felt determined to save himself without Nikolai.
Guy grasped the edges of the wooden frame, trying to pull himself up. He felt the watery sheets tighten around him, swallowing him deeper into the bed. His leg throbbed and he imagined small, toothy fish suckling at his wound.
He felt a wave wrap around his waist, the sea slick against his ear. There was a whisper, “You are okay. You are safe.”
The sea disguised itself as Nikolai, dragging him into the depths. He dug his nails into the wooden frame as the fish began biting his wound. And still the voice continued, “I will keep you safe. Everything will be fine.”
Guy wondered if Nikolai had always been the sea, dragging him deeper into him. Maybe this was his final transformation. Maybe he’d always been trying to consume him.
But Guy suddenly heard the sharp ring of a phone.
The sea asked, “Hello?”
And he woke up, drenched in sweat, with Nikolai’s strong arm firm around his waist. “Yes, I stayed the night.”
He felt Nikolai slide away from him, and a cold shot through his body. Guy decided it was probably because the bastard took the sheets with him. He tried to pull some away from Nikolai, but Nikolai only tightened his grip on them.
“Okay, I will leave now. Thank you.”
Nikolai hung up. “If you’re leaving,” Guy said, “can I please have the sheets?”
“Perhaps you should consider leaving too,” Nikolai replied.
Guy tried wrapping up the sheets around him, and Nikolai freed them. Guy cocooned himself, and suddenly felt very uncomfortable wrapped tightly in the sheets. His leg throbbed. “Why should I leave?” Guy asked.
“Do you have a doctor you usually see for wounds like this?”
“Well perhaps you should go to him,” Nikolai responded. “I am not positive my treatment is the best possible. Another eye would certainly help your situation.”
“It doesn’t hurt.”
“I can see you wincing.”
“Should we have sex in the shower first?”
“I really must go,” Nikolai said, standing up.
Guy watched him pull up a pair of pants. Guy unwrapped himself slowly, crawling his way over to Nikolai. He kissed up Nikolai’s spine, wrapping his arms around his waist.
“Please refrain from doing that,” Nikolai said.
“You’re stiff today,” Guy observed.
“Maybe because someone is determined to fondle my spine.”
“No,” Guy said. “I mean, you’re not succumbing to my charm today.”
“I rarely succumb to your so-called charm.”
“You always succumb to my very real charm,” Guy said, sneaking his hand down the front of Nikolai’s trousers.
Nikolai sounded slightly pathetic when he said, “Please, stop. I really need to go.”
Guy stopped. Nikolai turned to face Guy. He nuzzled against him, simply breathing against him instead of letting their lips touch. “Please see a doctor,” Nikolai said.
Guy tried to kiss him, but Nikolai pulled away to button up his shirt. “I trust you to take good care of me,” Guy said. “I don’t need a doctor.”
“You should refuse to be the typical American macho man,” Nikolai responded, firmly, “and go see a doctor.”
“Say, ‘I, Guy Solo, will go see a doctor.’”
“Not until you screw me.”
“I am going now,” Nikolai said, grabbing his fanny pack. “Did you want to arrange another time to meet?”
“Yes,” Guy replied, though almost took it back after he realized his eagerness.
They discussed another time to meet. It was a restaurant, a public place, and Guy would book a hotel for them. “So I shall say goodbye?” Nikolai said.
“Yes, goodbye,” Guy said, turning away from him.
“You cannot be serious.”
“I can play that card too.”
Nikolai stared hard at Guy. Guy only smiled, keeping his back to Nikolai. Sighing, Nikolai stepped towards Guy, crawling onto the bed to kiss the side of his cheek. Guy grabbed onto him tightly, wrapping his arms around Nikolai’s back. Nikolai struggled, but Guy flipped him over, landing on top of him. Before Nikolai got up, Guy repositioned himself on top of Nikolai.
“You should have walked away, Mr. Wetsuit,” Guy said, “Or else you wouldn’t have gotten pinned by me.”
“I am hardly pinned, Mr. Solo.”
“You’re pinned,” Guy replied, kissing Nikolai deeply, his legs wrapping around Nikolai’s. “Admit it.”
His pants tightened as he felt Nikolai’s leg press against him, his bullet wound throbbing alongside his stiffening cock. Nikolai twisted his fingers into Guy’s hair, pulling him closer and sliding his tongue between Guy’s lips. He felt Guy’s excitement against him and felt his own rise alongside the heat in his cheeks.
He lightly pulled Guy’s face away from his. “I really have to leave,” Nikolai said, sliding out of Guy’s grasp. “You should practice your pinning skill. Goodbye, Mr. Solo.”
“You’re supposed to say, ‘See you soon.’”
Nikolai opened the door, “No, in our line of work, it will always be a goodbye.”
Guy felt the sinking feeling in his chest as Nikolai closed the door behind him. He was pissed off, more than anything. He didn’t need to see a doctor, and he definitely didn’t need Nikolai babying him. He huffed and tried to pull the sheets tighter around himself, smelling Nikolai on them. When he closed his eyes, he felt Nikolai wrapping around him again. The frustration started washing away until he felt a smile on his face, a smile which only made the frustration build again.
With that anger boiling inside of him, Guy washed up and looked at the clothes Nikolai and the friend at the front desk grabbed for him. A suit jacket with shoulder pads. A cane. Spectacles. He was not a chameleon. He very much liked being himself.
Nonetheless he suited up, though he tossed away the cane. He didn’t like the idea of being dragged away and questioned. What frustrated him the most about the situation was Nikolai. He knew if he was dragged in, he was going to be asked about Nikolai. And he wouldn’t know what to respond. But he should just turn him in.
He walked for a while outside of the hotel, but he didn’t see anyone around looking for him. He took the subway deeper into the city, deciding to blend into crowds. He knew a doctor that spent whatever Guy paid him at a casino nearby, so he figured that he might as well blend in with the salt and peppers at the casino.
Guy stepped off the subway and walked to the casino, keeping a watchful eye out. He felt goose bumps spread across his arm, but he couldn’t spot anyone watching him. So he slid into the casino and browsed the slot machines for his doctor. His leg ached, and he worried the stitches were loosening in his leg. Upon not finding his doctor, he stopped in the casino’s bar to grab breakfast. He checked his watch and decided to grab lunch instead.
He sat down on a bar stool and ordered a beer and a BLT. Guy looked around at all the TV screens and artificial light, the loud sounds soothing Guy. He smiled and sipped his bear as he waited for his sandwich. He spun around on the stool to scope out the bar, but he only saw a handful of couples older than him and one young couple at a booth in the corner.
When Guy turned around he found a youngish woman next to him. She wore a short, black, straight bob and a long black dress that shimmered in the light. Guy appreciated the high slit up the side of the dress, and the low-yet-tasteful scoop out of the front of the dress. “A little early to be working, isn’t it?” Guy asked, taking another drink of his beer.
The woman spun her stool to face Guy, gracefully crossing her legs. “A little early to be drinking, isn’t it?”
“Not when you have a hole in your leg,” Guy said, smirking. “Do you know a doctor that spends his salary here?”
“I know a vet that spends his salary here,” she replied. “He refers to himself as a doctor though. Do vets get a doctor title?”
“I don’t know,” Guy said, “but that’s him. Is he here today?”
“He’s not here yet. Are you up for a distraction?” she asked, pressing her hand up against Guy’s thigh. “Maybe I can help make that pain go away.”
Guy smiled and said, “Maybe. I could use this sandwich, though.”
The bartender slid a plate with his sandwich in front of Guy, giving the woman a hard look. The woman said, “It’s not like I have a line-up.”
“Are you usually busier in the evening?” Guy asked.
“Yeah,” she replied, “but sometimes I check in the afternoon. I like the afternoon crowd. They’re not so rushed.” She smiled at Guy.
Guy grinned. “Oh, I’m a fast-paced kind of Guy.”
She snorted, which made Guy laugh. He took a bite of his sandwich. She said, “So do you have someone? I mean, what brings you to a casino in the middle of the afternoon?”
“I don’t have someone,” Guy replied, chewing. “You could say I’m married to my work.”
“And what do you do?”
“I give people what they want,” Guy said. He held his sandwich for a moment before adding, “Well most people.”
“Sounds like we’re in the same line of work,” she replied, watching Guy pile more of the sandwich into his mouth. “You’re not going to charge me at the end, are you?”
“No,” Guy said. “But you should say something like – you’re attractive, what do you want a girl like me for?”
The woman snorted again and smiled. “You’re attractive,” the woman said, leaning forward towards Guy. “What do you want a girl like me for?”
Guy started, “Well…” and then hesitated. He thought of Nikolai’s lips tracing the back of his neck. He took another bite of his sandwich.
He felt the prostitute’s nails run through his hair. “You are cute, you know. I like your hair.”
“I have charm,” Guy said.
“You do,” she said, “and I think you’re going to show me a good time.”
Guy laughed, “Oh I am.” He glanced at her. “You’re welcome to some of my French fries.”
She reached onto his plate to pick some off and said, “So tell me, what made that shadow cross your face?”
“When you said ‘Well’ and didn’t continue, a shadow crossed your face.”
“There was no shadow.”
“There was no shadow?”
“There was no shadow,” Guy said.
She smiled. “Are you sure you don’t have a sweetie on the side?”
Guy sighed and stuffed the rest of his sandwich into his mouth. Crumbs fell out of the corner of his mouth has he said, “I like someone but I think that someone wants more than I’m willing to give but I like that someone too much to just cut someone out of my life even though it would be better for me.”
“Well if you like that someone so much,” she said, “why won’t you give it all?”
Guy grinned and said, “Because then I wouldn’t get to see pretty ladies like you.” He swallowed and winked before saying, “Come on, let’s go screw in the bathroom.”
“All right,” she said.
Guy stood up and tossed some money on the counter, and he watched the woman peek into his wallet to check if he had enough to pay her. He kept it open, and she offered him a smile before saying, “So you’ve done this before?”
Guy took his luggage, and they walked in the direction of the bathroom as Guy replied, “From time to time. I like to help a lady out, and at least with me I know they’re okay. It’s a scary business you’re in.”
“You’re telling me,” she replied. “Let’s go into the ladies’ room. It’ll be cleaner and we’ll probably get less traffic – unless you’re into more traffic.”
“I don’t feel like it today,” Guy said, “Ladies’ it is.”
“So how come I’ve never seen you around before?” she asked, holding the door open for Guy.
“Usually I don’t hang around,” Guy said, “but I needed to lay low for a while, if you know what I mean, so I thought I’d get a bite where I blended in.”
“Oh please,” she said, “you don’t blend in here at all.”
“Not with the salt and pepper hair?” Guy asked.
“You don’t have enough wrinkles,” she replied, “and you look too lucky.”
Guy smiled and they squeezed into the bathroom stall together. He dropped the luggage by the toilet. “If I was lucky I would have found someone that worked for free,” he said.
She snorted again, and she said, “Well, what can I do you for?”
“Oral,” Guy said. “I haven’t gotten a decent blowjob in a while.”
“Just a blowjob then?”
“Maybe a bit more. Is it harder on you to do the whole thing?”
“I’ll probably go home and nap after this. It’s not a big deal either way.”
“Well, how about you start sucking, and then if I want more, I’ll let you know.”
“You mean, if you managed to keep yourself from blowing your load long enough.”
“Whatever makes you feel better,” Guy said, smirking. “Blowjob money up front?”
Guy took out his wallet, they dickered briefly on price, and then she put her pay into her bra. She stepped closer to him, and Guy suddenly noticed how ice blue her eyes were in the yellow lights. It reminded him of Nikolai, and his mouth went dry. A quiet voice in the back of his head asked, “What are you doing?” A louder one said, “He’ll never know.”
“That shadow just crossed your face again,” she murmured as she kissed his neck.
“It’s okay,” he said, carefully running his hands along the back of her dress.
He felt her long fingers unbutton his pants. Her soft lips traced down his neck and onto his collarbone. He shivered, feeling himself stiffening in her light fingers. He squirmed and watched her tease the edge of his foreskin as he hardened in her hand. She squatted in front of him, smiling at him as she kissed the head of his erection. He held his breath and she took the head of his erection into her mouth.
Guy leaned against the bathroom stall, sighing softly. One of her hands kept his hip steady, and the other gently squeezed his testicles. He felt her tongue flick against him, and he bucked his hips gently forward into her mouth. She sucked harder, her tongue teasing the underside of his shaft. He closed his eyes, feeling himself throbbing in her mouth, but also the throbbing in his leg. He grabbed the back of her head, trying to edge more of him into her. He wanted to fuck her, but his leg ached, and he wasn’t sure Nikolai’s thread held him together enough to lift her the way he wanted.
“This’ll be just fine,” he said through clenched teeth.
She took less of him, and he watched the way her thick lips circled his cock. She sucked on the head of his cock slowly again, teasing him. She released his testicles to jerk him off gently at the base of his erection, increasing her pace as she slowly took him back into her mouth. Guy found himself raising onto the tips of his toes, and he tightened his grip on her hair. He groaned as she sucked harder, and she released him briefly as he felt his cock slide into her throat before sliding back out again. She repeated the process and he gasped, squeezing his eyes shut to feel her tongue sliding swiftly against him as she sucked harder. He groaned against, feeling his legs tighten and weaken. The pain shot through his legs as his muscles clenched.
She drew back on him again to jerk him off as she sucked, and he clenched his teeth as he felt himself peaking. He wondered why Nikolai didn’t want to suck him, and he groaned again, finishing into her mouth. He panted and put himself away as she spit into the toilet. “No offense,” she said, “but you didn’t specify.”
“It’s fine,” Guy said, “I get it.”
She offered Guy a weak smile, and Guy noticed a change in her confident posture, with her shoulders slouching. “I’ll see you around then?” she said.
“Oh probably,” Guy replied. “Good luck working tonight.”
“Thanks,” she said with a stronger smile and a snort.
Guy heard her clean up in the bathroom sink, but she eventually left Guy alone in the ladies’ room. He hovered in front of the bathroom mirror and threw water on his face. He saw the blood seeping through the side of his pant leg, feeling the fabric cling to the wound. When he looked up, he saw other faces staring at him in the mirror.
“Mr. Solo,” one head said, “we’re going to have to ask you to hand over any weapons that you have on you.”
Sighing, Guy handed over the suitcase. “I’m just reaching into my jacket to hand you my gun,” he said.
He handed over the gun as well. The four men stared at him, their guns aimed at him. “Did you catch my show earlier, at least?”
As soon as Nikolai stepped into his house, his cell phone rang. It served as a hearty reminder that he had to go to work. So he quickly changed into a suit and rushed over to work, speeding through traffic in an attempt to make up for lost time. Grier was already there when he got there. “Time to put on your grumpy face,” Grier said cheerfully. “Oh wait, I see you wore it here.”
“Debrief me,” Nikolai said.
Grier lowered her voice, “I thought that already happened last night.”
Nikolai simply rolled his eyes.
Grier continued, “They managed to catch Guy Solo in a casino. They’ve brought him in for interrogation and guess who they want to ask the big questions.”
“Me,” Nikolai said.
“Who else, Niko?” Grier said. She put a hand on his shoulder, her sharp face softening. “You might want to brace yourself.”
Nikolai scoffed. “I do not see why I would need to.”
They felt the explosion before they heard it – the shocks along the building’s concrete floor and then the loud rumble of an explosion. Nikolai and Grier ran without words towards the sound. Nikolai tried to think who would have been in charge of searching booby-trapped belongings – maybe Mags had decided to oversee things.
They stopped at the disposal unit, Grier elbowing her way through the crowd with Nikolai close behind her. The lid that was used to suppress the explosion was embedded into the ceiling and there was shattered glass and pieces of metal everywhere. Nikolai saw an agent help Mags up.
“We’re fine everyone,” she shouted. Nikolai noticed a scrape under her eye, and several of the others seemed to have shards of glass embedded into them. But no one screamed or yelled. Mags continued, “It’ll be an excuse to upgrade this piece of shit.”
Nikolai tried to suppress the rage boiling in his stomach. He looked at Grier, her eyes narrowed. She was pissed too. “Let’s go,” she said, roughly pushing Nikolai forward by his back. “Let’s interrogate this piece of shit.”
They stepped into the other side of the interrogation room, the one that couldn’t be seen from the other side of the two-way mirror. Nikolai didn’t hesitate when he saw Guy Solo at the table, but he tried to suppress the anger, he tried to remind himself that Mags was fine.
“He was working with someone,” Cox explained as Grier began looking at pictures. “We don’t know who he is, but he killed one of our agents.”
“Solo claims he was working alone and that our agent didn’t see this correctly,” Steele explained. “But our agent is positive there was another man with Solo. It would explain why he was so quick to escape the scene.”
“Solo isn’t one to work with anyone,” Grier said, handing Nikolai the photographs. “And he’s not the one to keep a secret.”
Cox added, “The hotel suffered an electrical surge which destroyed the recording systems on the cameras in the elevators and in the hallways. It went the same day Solo stepped in, and they still hadn’t fixed it when we wanted to see tapes. It’s very convenient that the tape went out, but Solo’s not the type to cover his tracks.”
But of course, Nikolai was going to cover his tracks. He almost smiled at his efficiency, and he wondered how this situation would have differed if he hadn’t destroyed the camera system. “It could have been the other man,” Grier said.
Nikolai bit his bottom lip as he looked at the photos. They were of Guy and the prostitute in the bathroom. His eyes lingered on Guy’s closed eyes and his slightly opened mouth, watching the expressions that were meant only for him. He saw the blood on Guy’s pant leg, so he knew it was a recent act – a recent act Guy promised not to have while with Nikolai. Nikolai felt his vision narrowing as he looked at Guy through the mirror.
Guy was smiling, explaining his story to Rennison who nodded blankly.
Nikolai felt the hate tightening inside of him, just waiting for it to rupture. Mags could have been hurt, and Nikolai was hurt and jealous and everything that was unprofessional. He tossed the photographs on the table, his knuckles white from clenching his fists. Grier raised a brow at him, but he turned away. He was just waiting for Cox to let him off his leash.
“We know Solo is quick to talk when money’s in the equation or when he’s physically threatened,” Cox explained, looking directly at Nikolai. “Threat’s cheaper and easier. You know what to do, Mr. Kuryakin.”
“Are there any limits?” Nikolai asked. He had asked the question a million times before, but it had never really meant anything until now.
“I will tell you when to stop,” Cox said.
Nikolai nodded and stepped out of the room. Grier saw Nikolai walk into Guy’s interrogation room. Rennison, seeing Nikolai, left.
Nikolai heard Steele on the intercom. “Mr. Solo, Mr. Kuryakin here doesn’t ask questions, but whenever you feel like talking, let us know.”
Guy turned and offered Nikolai a smile to make him melt. Guy always found Nikolai hard to read, but this time the expression on his face was simple. Nikolai was pissed. His eyes were narrowed, with his eyebrows were knitted in disgust. His arms were folded tightly across his chest, just waiting to spring off of his chest and onto him.
“I’ve been talking,” Guy said, turning back to the mirror. “You guys just aren’t listening. I wasn’t working with anyone. Someone stepped into the hallway and your agent must have gotten confused-”
“Yes, but it seems as if this stranger came out of your room,” Steele said.
“Your agent seems to think so,” Guy said. “I’ve got no clue where the guy came from.”
“Mr. Kuryakin, anytime you would like to begin please do so.”
Nikolai released his arms and stepped closer to Guy. Guy felt the fear shoot through him. He knew all the reasons why Nikolai would be mad. Nikolai had told him to leave, to escape, and he had been stupid. Nikolai had probably seen the pictures of him having sex with the prostitute – and Guy knew by now that Nikolai was a jealous person. He remembered Nikolai’s hand around his neck, but he stripped the erotic tension from the memory.
Maybe Nikolai would go easy on him. Nikolai was the one Guy was protecting anyway.
Nikolai approached Guy slowly, Guy staying firmly in his seat. He felt the familiar hand on the back of his head and relaxed. Maybe Nikolai would take a stand. Maybe Nikolai would grab him and leave with him. They could be hitmen together, Nikolai cleaning up all the messes he made. It surprised Guy that the thought of forever being bound to Nikolai scared him less than being in this room with him.
Then he felt the steel table break his nose. Nikolai had slammed his face into the desk in front of him. Guy felt the grip tighten on the back of his head. Nikolai slammed it down again, and Guy felt his teeth throb. He ran his tongue along them, tasting the tinny blood between them. His fake tooth was chipped and loose.
He tilted his head on the table and spit out his fake tooth. He felt the blood from his nose crawl along towards his mouth. He blinked quickly, trying to forget about the pain. Nikolai kept his face against the table. “Jesus God,” Guy said.
Steele’s voice on the intercom asked, “Do you have anything else to remark, Mr. Solo.”
“You aren’t listening to my remarks,” Guy said. “Do you want me to lie?”
“Continue, Mr. Kuryakin.”
Nikolai lifted Guy to his feet, and Guy felt light headed as the blood rushed away from his head. His face throbbed and when he breathed in, he felt the blood creep back into his nose. He coughed, covering his mouth. Nikolai grabbed both of Guy’s arms, Guy coughing weakly. He lifted Guy up and slammed his body against the table. Guy didn’t get the chance to brace his face, and the pain from his face reverberated throughout his body. He felt the table cut into his legs just below the knees.
Guy tried to catch his breath, his arms hanging weakly off the table. He felt the strength leave his body. His eyelids felt heavy. He wondered how long he had been in this room. Nikolai eyed the bloodstain on his trousers. He looked at the mirror, but Steele didn’t cut in on the intercom on behalf of Cox. Nikolai felt a hint of rage at the idea that Steele spoke for Cox now – a position that Nikolai always was supposed to have. Nikolai pressed his finger into the bullet wound. Guy screamed. He didn’t think. It was as if the bullet went back through him, slowly.
Nikolai took away his finger, wiping the blood from the finger off on Guy’s pants.
“Jesus, I’ve told you everything,” Guy screamed. “I can tell you who the job was for. Don’t you care who asked me to blow out the entire floor? I didn’t ask whose fucking floor it was, how was I supposed to know it was yours? I shot your previous agent, but he shot me first. It was dumb luck that I killed him, you guys know better than anyone that I’m a shit shot!”
Nikolai looked at the mirror again, waiting for instructions, but none came. Nikolai grabbed onto Guy’s leg. Guy grasped the edges of the table. He told himself he had to tell them it was Nikolai. He could tell them Nikolai was the one who told him when to kill Abraham.
Nikolai dug his finger back into the wound, sliding another one into the one on the other side. Tears streamed down Guy’s face as he screamed again.
He had no thoughts. Nothing but the pain and how to make it stop.
Nikolai removed his fingers, wiping them again on his pants. Guy breathed heavily, trying to catch his breath. He saw stars in front of his eyes. His entire body felt like a sack of sand. He couldn’t keep his head up anymore. He felt sleep wash over him.
A gunshot made him open his eyes again. Nikolai had taken his gun out of his shoulder holster and shot it into the ground. Guy felt Nikolai untuck his shirt. Guy imagined Nikolai kissing him along his spine. He felt the heat of the barrel burn into his back. Guy gritted his teeth to keep from yelling.
Was Nikolai testing his loyalty to him? Guy knew they made no arrangements together, and even if they had, Guy had broken whatever trust they had between them. Nikolai’s name was on the tip of his tongue if he could just make the pain stop.
Another gunshot broke his thoughts. Nikolai had shot into the table this time, right next to Guy’s stomach. He felt Nikolai unbuckle his pants, pulling them and his boxers down. He remembered the feeling of Nikolai’s erection penetrating him. He felt the heat of the gun between his legs. Nikolai pressed the gun against one cheek of his ass. Guy grit his teeth again, his knuckles white from clutching the table.
“If you don’t talk, it goes in, Mr. Solo,” Nikolai said.
“I’m telling the truth!” Guy shouted. “Jesus God! I swear I’m telling the truth!”
Guy hadn’t thought. Maybe he had gotten so used to saying that it was the truth that it just instinctively came out. Or maybe he felt some sort of crippling loyalty to Nikolai that he couldn’t explain. He didn’t know what it was.
Nikolai waited and he heard nothing from Steele. Nikolai shot the gun again, this time next to Guy’s face. Guy avoided Nikolai’s gaze. Was he still mad? Would he really do it? Guy felt the instinct to pull away as he felt the heat from the gun get closer to his asshole. He clenched his ass cheeks, hoping to keep everything out, but he didn’t want to pull away. What sort of innocent man fought against his questioner?
“Please stop, Mr. Kuryakin.”
Guy relaxed. Nikolai holstered his gun again.
“Do up your pants Mr. Solo.”
Staying on the table, Guy pulled up his pants. He didn’t feel like he could sit up. He felt like crawling into Nikolai’s arms, but he couldn’t explain that urge. He wanted Nikolai to nuzzle into his neck or pat his back or give him a handshake, but Nikolai just stood there, staring at the mirror. His eyes didn’t even acknowledge that Guy was in the room.
“Please leave Mr. Solo, Mr. Kuryakin.”
Nikolai left the room, finding Rennison taking his place. Grier waved him back into the room with the two-way mirror. Nikolai felt dizzy as his rage left him. Guy hadn’t talked. He didn’t understand it. He expected it. He expected his name to be said. He expected his life to be over. But it wasn’t.
“We think we may have made a mistake,” Cox replied. “We’re going to re-question the agent and leave Solo in our custody for now.”
“Solo would have talked under that pressure,” Steele said. “Hell, he would have talked after you slammed his head into the table.”
Nikolai said nothing and watch the agent handcuff Guy’s hands in front of him. “We’ll move him to a holding cell,” Cox said. “You two are dismissed for now.”
As Nikolai headed out the door, Steele said with a smirk, “It was nice seeing you actually working again, Kuryakin.”
Nikolai felt the rage clenching his jaw. “Well, hopefully one day I’ll get the same pleasure from you,” Nikolai spat.
Nikolai and Grier left the room. “I’ve never seen your interrogation first-hand before,” Grier said. “Remind me not to piss you off.”
“You should not need to be reminded.”
“I want to talk to him,” Grier said, lowering her voice. “I know the agent that listens to everything. He’ll cover for me. Do you want to come with me?”
“Yes,” Nikolai said. “But just so you refrain from doing something moronic.”
Grier laughed. “You don’t have anything to say to Guy?”
“If your friend feels like giving me time, I will make use of the time.”
Grier opened the door to the room where the listener sat. He was a portly man of average height, but a large white and blonde beard sat on his face to match his bushy hair suppressed by large headphones. His small brown eyes brightened as he saw Nikolai. “Hey, Kuryakin,” he said, taking off his headphones, “I thought you’d never come in and say hello to me.”
Nikolai froze. He ran his tongue along his dry mouth as he eyed the bullet wound on Hoffman’s neck. He said, “Hoffman. I thought – I thought you left after I…” he didn’t finish his thought.
Hoffman gave Nikolai a weak smile. “Oh come on,” Hoffman said, “you know I’m tougher than all that.”
Nikolai’s brain just stopped moving. He simply stared at Hoffman, knowing his face displayed only defeat. He didn’t have the energy to change his face anymore. Hoffman said to Grier, “Nikolai and I used to be partners. You should have told me your partner was Kuryakin.”
“I guess it just slipped my mind. I thought Steele used to be your partner?” Grier asked Nikolai.
Hoffman stepped in and said, “Steele and Kuryakin were partners for maybe three years? Then they filed complaints against each other, and Cox broke apart me and Mags. Mags went with Steele and I went with Kuryakin. After Mags’ accident, Steele went with Westermark, though in about a year Cox pretty much had to promote both of them so they could work alone. There weren’t any agents left for them to work with.”
Grier nodded. “I suppose neither wanted to work with any new recruits.”
“Something like that,” Hoffman replied, “besides, Westermark could dismantle bombs all alone, so Cox gave him his own title to get him out of his hair. And now Steele focuses mainly on big jobs or getting the new recruits wet behind the ears. He likes being in charge.”
Hoffman stared at the two, Nikolai numbly filling in the blanks in his past. Hoffman said, “I suppose you’re not just hear to reminisce though. What’s up?”
“We need a favour,” Jackie said.
“Oh,” Hoffman said. “If Kuryakin’s worried about his sleep talking, don’t worry, I’ve got that covered. I just record over your Russian with the sounds from when you’re not there. They don’t notice, you’re a quiet guy.”
“What?” Jackie said. “Kuryakin, I walk into this room and we’re in an entirely different world. We’ve gotta talk more.”
“I know,” Nikolai weakly replied. “Thank you.”
Hoffman said, “It’s nothing. But if it’s not that, what else are you here for?”
“We want to talk to Guy Solo without anyone hearing,” Jackie said.
“Oh,” Hoffman laughed. “Will do. No one’s with him, so you don’t have to worry about that. He’s stopped breathing so heavily too so when I switch it to an empty room, they won’t be able to tell the difference.”
“How long can you give us?”
“Ten minutes,” Jason said. “They’ll be checking in on him in about half an hour, but that was probably fifteen minutes ago. Ten minutes would be the safest.”
“All right,” Grier said. “I’m going in first, so you can keep Hoffman company, Niko.”
Nikolai nodded as Grier, and he watched Hoffman switch the channels. “So how did you and Grier become friends?” Nikolai asked, letting curiosity get the better of him.
He leaned against the wall, watching Hoffman. He noticed Hoffman avoid his eyes. “Jackie sort of made the effort to befriend me because of my position, but she covered my back when I fucked up one time.”
Nikolai didn’t ask about the one time. He knew some agents were closer to each other, and he knew some did favours inside the system. He was impressed at how Jackie had managed to befriend someone important. Nikolai tended not to be so aggressive in terms of friendships. He rarely needed favours.
“So she calls you Niko?” Hoffman asked, smirking. “Is there something there?”
“Just friendship,” Nikolai said.
“Well, I know what’s that worth to you,” Hoffman said, frowning.
Nikolai frowned in response.
“I’ve got some work to do, if you don’t mind,” Hoffman said, turning back to his equipment. “Maybe we can catch up another time?”
“Yeah,” Nikolai said. “Sure.”
Hoffman busied himself by switching channels and listening in to different conversations. Nikolai tried to press all of the thoughts out of his head. He needed to focus on the main issue, which was what to say to Guy. He figured he sacrificed his relationship with Guy to stay married to his job. He supposed that was okay, and he thought maybe he just felt so empty because of his encounter with Hoffman.
When Jackie stepped back in, Nikolai stepped out. He felt his stomach tighten as he walked down the hallway. He opened the door and closed it behind him, avoiding Guy’s eyes. Guy laughed, but it was a harsh, fake laugh. “Jackie said an old friend would be visiting me.”
And seeing Guy defeated in his chair and still trying to seem tough shot all of Nikolai’s plans out of his mind. He just wanted one thing. Nikolai simply said, “Stand up.”
“I don’t take orders from you.”
Nikolai stepped closer, his cold eyes on him. “I said stand up.”
Guy crossed one leg over the other, getting comfortable in his chair. “So, Mr. Kuryakin, you’re partners with Jackie Grier, are you?”
“Yes,” Nikolai replied. “Please, stand up.”
“Well, since you asked so nicely,” Guy said, standing up.
Guy watched as Nikolai approached him. Nikolai lifted Guy’s handcuffed hands and stepped under them, Guy’s arms encircling him. Guy winced as he felt Nikolai’s arms around his waist, Nikolai pulling Guy tightly against his chest.
“Let me the fuck go,” Guy said.
“No,” Nikolai replied.
“You expect what you did to me to go away with one hug?” Guy asked into Nikolai’s chest. “It has occurred to you that I’m not a romantic, right? I don’t need the hugs and the cuddling and the forehead kisses. In fact, I don’t even want them.”
Nikolai just held him tighter. Guy could hear Nikolai’s steady heartbeat. He felt tears begin to burn his eyes and he hated that he couldn’t explain them. He felt like Nikolai was swallowing him into a warm place, suffocating him with his muscle mass.
“This is my job,” Nikolai said, softly.
“You can’t expect me to throw it away.”
Guy felt the drowsiness kick in. His knees wanted to give out. He nuzzled into Nikolai’s chest. He could feel Nikolai’s hands on his back, grasping his shirt.
“I am truly sorry about what I had to do to you.”
Guy wanted him to stop talking. He wanted him to take him to a hotel and curl up beside him. He wanted to be out of this place and he wanted Nikolai to go back to being the mysterious Mr. Wetsuit instead of the terrifying Mr. Kuryakin. He wanted him to be a good fuck and someone who just happened to like cuddling instead of being both his saviour and destroyer.
“I cannot comprehend why you did not say my name,” Nikolai replied, “but I do not need an explanation. I just wanted to thank you. I do not know what I would be without this job. I like this job.”
“What’s your name?” Guy asked.
“Nikolai,” Guy repeated.
“Do you want to see me again?”
“I don’t know.”
Nikolai released Guy, bowing out of his handcuffed hands. Guy felt less pressure on his body as he dropped down into the chair. He imagined Nikolai leaning over and kissing him, but he wasn’t sure he really wanted things that way.
“I will wait at the address you gave me at the time you said,” Nikolai replied. “I will understand if you decide not to meet me.”
Guy simply nodded, feeling defeated.
Nikolai stepped out, unsure of what else to say. He knew all his anger about Guy left him as soon as he saw Hoffman. He had no words left except for apologies and gratitude. Nikolai accepted that he wanted to be with Guy, especially after displaying that kind of loyalty. He figured after someone took that much abuse to protect you, that person was worth staying with, at least for as long as he’d have him.
Grier saw Nikolai in the hallway. “Hey, you’ve got blood on your shirt,” she said. Nikolai looked down at the blood from Guy’s nose on his shirt. “It must be from when you were interrogating Solo, right?”
Nikolai replied a quick, “Right.”
“Well let’s get out of here,” she said. “I feel like we have a lot to talk about. Do you feel like cooking up some lunch for me?”