Episode Thirty-Three: The Trying Affair
Nikolai woke Guy up when the train stopped at their destination, but Solo struggled to get out of his seat. Nikolai wrapped his arm around Guy’s back to help the assassin to his feet, and Guy gritted his teeth as he put weight on his ankle. “Jesus Christ,” Guy cursed.
“No,” the blond replied. “My name is Nikolai.”
Guy laughed and leaned on Nikolai as he slid his satchel over his shoulder. He frowned as he said, “How’ll we get home like this?”
“I can carry you,” Nikolai said. “We’ll just stop and get some dry clothes.”
Helping Guy through the aisles and down the steps, the pair stood on the platform together. A blanket of stars above them watched Guy pant and clutch Nikolai. “This isn’t going to work,” he said. “I don’t want you carrying me through the mall.”
Nikolai clicked his tongue against his teeth. “Because it is a public display of affection.”
“Because I’m almost fifty and I think it will draw attention to us,” Guy said, his voice firm. “If they have descriptions of me out, which they might, we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. Were you too busy thinking about taking care of me to think of that?”
Nikolai scowled at Guy. “Forgive me for caring about you,” he spat.
Guy sighed and rubbed his face. “Niko, I’m sorry. I’m tired and sore. Just leave me somewhere.”
“I will drop you off at a coffee shop and buy us new clothes,” Nikolai said. “Then I can carry you to the house.”
“How humiliating,” Guy sighed as the pair started to walk.
“Would you prefer I left you out on the street?” Nikolai asked.
“Maybe,” Guy mumbled.
Nikolai kissed Guy’s neck. “You would prefer to hurt alone in the cold rather than stay in my warm bed with me?”
Guy smiled and wrapped his arm around Nikolai’s back. “All right, you win. I’m yours to lug about like a ragdoll.”
“I never owned a doll before,” Nikolai replied, a smirk sitting in the corner of his lips.
The pair walked down the town’s main drag, but they found most stores to be on the brink of closing or already closed. Nikolai hung onto Guy in the hopes of keeping his companion steady. He was relieved Guy didn’t fuss about them looking like partners, mainly because he couldn’t decide how else to transport Guy without things looking suspicious. “The little dessert shop is still open,” Nikolai said. “The one I wanted to go to before.”
“Well, let’s go now then,” Guy said. “I’d love to sit down.”
Nikolai helped Guy into the store and the smell of fresh baked cookies bombarded his nostrils. He breathed in before he helped Guy into a booth. The shop, Cake Break, was small and furnished with mainly booths, but had a bar with stools and a few assorted tables and chairs – all mismatched – that Nikolai suspected were for overpopulation in the shop. “Pastel green and white?” Guy mumbled. “Those are the colours they picked?”
“It is 50s-style,” Nikolai said.
“It’s tacky,” Guy replied, under his breath.
Nikolai decided to blame Guy’s grumpiness on his injury, and he looked around the shop around. It was largely empty aside from a booth being taken up by a group of people with unkempt appearances, worn-in clothes, and ratty backpacks. Nikolai assumed they were homeless. He turned back to Guy and asked, “Would you like a coffee?” as he pulled out his wallet.
Guy nodded. “And if there’s anything to read, pick that up too.”
“My money is soggy,” Nikolai said. “And I do not dare use any form of credit.”
Guy opened his satchel. “I have some money wrapped up, it should be fine to use. I wish I wrapped up Quint’s book.”
Guy handed Nikolai a packet of money and Nikolai, after raising a brow, took out a few bills before handing the packet back to Guy. “I will pay you back,” Nikolai said.
“I accept other currencies, you know,” Guy said, offering a wink.
Nikolai rolled his eyes and walked up to the counter where a woman with dark skin and tight, black curls falling out of a bun stood. She leaned over the counter reading a magazine, giving Nikolai an eyeful of cleavage. Nikolai hoped Guy wouldn’t notice the display. Nikolai cleared his throat, and the woman raised her brown eyes to him. “Sorry,” she said, offering a sheepish smile. “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“How late are you open?” Nikolai asked, raising his eyes to the menu displayed on a chalkboard on the wall behind her.
“We’re open twenty-four hours in the winter,” she said. Nikolai’s eyes met hers, and she glanced over at the occupied booth Nikolai observed earlier. He glanced too, and then made the assumption that she either partly or wholly kept the store open for them. She continued, “My business partner will be taking over in about an hour or so to work the graveyard shift, but we stay open all night.”
Nikolai nodded. “So you own this place?”
She nodded with a smile. “Me and my business partner, of course,” she said.
“I saw it before,” Nikolai admitted. “I wanted to come in, but my friend had other plans. I am glad we could come in now, though I am sorry about the hour.”
“The food is still fresh,” she said. “I can toss in whatever you would like.”
“Just a cup of coffee for my friend,” Nikolai said. “And do you have any newspapers?”
She shook her head. “No, are you looking for anything specific?”
“I am leaving my friend here for a few moments, and he gets bored easily,” Nikolai explained.
She winked at Nikolai. “I’ll lend him something from my personal collection.” She turned her back on Nikolai to make a fresh pot of coffee. Nikolai hoped it wasn’t a come on, and she continued, “Are you sure you don’t want any dessert?”
“Maybe a few cookies,” Nikolai said. “Do you have any already made?”
“Just the classics,” she replied. “Peanut butter, chocolate chip, you know, the basics.”
“Two of each then,” he said.
She laid out several cookies on a plate and handed them to Nikolai. She said, “I can bring him over his coffee when it’s ready. Is there anything else?”
“No,” Nikolai said. “I might get something when I come back, we’ll just see how pressed for time I am.”
She simply offered Nikolai a smile, and he paid for Guy’s snack. “Oh, there is one other thing,” Nikolai said, putting his change in his pocket. “Do you know of any clothing stores that are open this late? I suppose the mall is not still open.”
“There’s a thrift store one block over,” she replied, motioning a direction with her hands. “It’ll be open for another hour or so. You can also try a convenience store. There’s a few bigger ones around her that are twenty-four hours, but the clothes will be tacky, and they’ll be expensive to take advantage of wayward travellers.”
Nikolai sighed. “I suppose it will have to do. Thank you.”
She handed Nikolai a book, and the Russian thanked her again before taking the cookies and book to Guy. Setting them on the table, Nikolai slid into the seat across from the assassin. “She lent you a book,” Nikolai said. “And she said she’d bring over the coffee.”
“She’s cute,” Guy replied. “Nice and curvy.”
Nikolai sighed. “Please do not discuss this with me.”
“So you never find women attractive?”
“It is uncommon,” Nikolai replied, standing back up. “I will take my leave before you start an inane conversation with me.”
Guy flipped over the book to read the back of it. “I hope it’s pornography.”
Nikolai leaned on the booth’s table to hold his face close to Guy’s. He said, “Thank you Nikolai for buying me treats and fetching me clothes. I will not be able to read because I will be busy thinking about all the ways to make it up to you.”
Guy grinned and said, “I sure do hope this book is pornography, Nikolai.”
Nikolai huffed, but before he could turn away from Guy, Guy grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him down so their faces almost touched. Guy murmured, “Because I need to find astounding new ways to pleasure this Russian I owe my life to.”
Heat began to build in Nikolai’s cheeks, and he thought the world would hear his heartbeat as Guy kissed him. He cupped Guy’s cheeks and stroked his beard as Guy twisted his fingers through Nikolai’s hair. Nikolai wondered if he was a fool for doing all of this for Guy. Somewhere in the back of his mind, his father’s words echoed that he was throwing his life away. He nuzzled Guy before leaving Cake Break without a word.
The Russian tensed his shoulders and stuffed his hands in his pockets, hoping to keep out the cold wind. He shivered as he walked to try to find the thrift store the woman referred to, but he was thankful that the cold kept his mind numb. He told himself not to think about what just happened. He couldn’t have let Guy die in the pool. And if he saved Guy, but left him for A.B.E.L. to find, he knew Guy’s fate would have been the same, it just would have been a much longer and a much more painful end.
He shook his head as he walked into the store, trying to clear his thoughts again. The store smelt like incense, and it was arranged in aisles with clothes lining every free space. He went for cheap and warm selections, and he willingly tossed aside his dignity as he picked up an old knitted Christmas sweater for himself. The sweater pictured a house on Christmas night, complete with snow in the air and Santa on the roof with a reindeer – or something brown and bulky, anyway. He felt the rough wool between two fingers and wondered if someone made it with love for someone else. He brought the sweater to his nose and breathed it in. He expected to smell fresh baked cookies, like Cake Break smelt, but it just smelt musty and old. The sweater had no tag. He wondered if the person who made it was dead. He wondered if the recipient of the sweater was in the same place.
“Can I help you?”
The blond raised his head to see a skinny man in skinny jeans, his arms folded across his chest with a look of apathy on his face. “If these fit, may I wear them out?” Nikolai asked.
The man shrugged. “Sure thing,” he said.
“And would it be possible for me to have an extra bag for the clothes I am wearing now?”
“Yeah, fine,” the man said.
Nikolai stepped into the change room and tried on a t-shirt, the Christmas sweater, and a pair of brown corduroy pants. He wished the store sold socks and underwear, and he sacrificed his underwear in exchange for a pair of men’s cycling tights – after the man insisted that their clothes had been thoroughly cleaned. On impulse, he bought another bulky winter jacket since he wore a lighter one on his trip with Guy.
It took him longer to decide on Guy’s clothes, and he ended up asking the man for assistance. He described Guy’s appearance and his trendy tastes, while still insisting on warm clothes. “We’re going ice fishing,” Nikolai said.
“Uh huh,” the man said, smirking. “Whatever you say.”
Nikolai scowled, but he purchased his clothes as well as a pair of grey cords, a worn-in black leather jacket, a plain dark blue sweater, and a long-sleeved shirt with horizontal stripes, interchanging between navy blue and light pink. Nikolai assumed he would never get Guy in cycling tights, and he suspected Guy had abandoned his underwear long before anyway. He just hoped the assassin would be warm enough for the thirty-minute walk back to the house, though he supposed the walk would be longer with Guy’s injured ankle.
He sighed as he walked back to Cake Break, but he felt warmer as he braced himself against the wind. Nikolai walked back into the dessert shop, dropped into the booth, and tossed the bag on the table. “Do you need help changing?” Nikolai asked as he took off his jacket.
“Nikolai, what are you wearing?”
“Do not fear,” Nikolai said. “The clerk helped me pick out your clothes. They are much nicer. I picked you up another jacket, in case yours was soaked through.”
Guy exhaled and held his head in his hands. Nikolai watched the assassin’s brown eyes scan the table and tried to decipher what his thoughts were. Did he loathe that this now bound them together? Did he regret not staying in bed with him? Did Guy really hate his sweater? Nikolai reached across the table and squeezed Guy’s hand.
Guy squeezed back, and relief washed through Nikolai. Guy’s eyes rose to meet his. “I’ll be fine changing on my own,” Guy said. “The woman’s name is Georgia. Ask her for a cup of coffee.”
Sliding his hand out of Nikolai’s, Guy limped to the men’s washroom to change. Nikolai stood up to talk to Georgia, but he saw the woman wave him back into his seat. She walked to their booth and said, “You boys must have had quite the night.”
Nikolai nodded. “I was hoping I could get a cup of coffee for myself.”
“Sure thing,” she said as Nikolai handed her some change. “I’ll just be a sec.”
Nikolai watched as she walked away, and he flipped through Guy’s book – something about a lullaby that killed people – as he waited for her to return. She set down a cup in front of Nikolai before pouring coffee into it. “There’s milk and sugar on the table,” she said. As she started to walk away, she continued, “Just holler if you need more.”
Nikolai said, “Thank you,” and he poured two packets of cream and two packets of sugar into the coffee and stirred it.
He watched the dark coffee lighten to a creamy colour, but it wasn’t until Guy came back from the bathroom that it was cool enough for Nikolai to sip on. “You look good,” Nikolai said with a soft smile.
In a matter-of-fact tone, Guy replied, “I look good in everything.” He smiled to try to cover up a wince as he sat back across from Nikolai. The Russian frowned as Guy continued, “Are we going to hold up here for a few minutes?”
“I think so,” Nikolai said. “At least until I finish my coffee and warm up. Here, put your wet clothes in my bag.”
Nikolai opened the bag and Guy tossed his clothes in. Nikolai took another sip and watched Guy over the top of his coffee cup. He had never seen Guy look so tired and haggard. The assassin wore dark bags under his eyes, he seemed to force his smiles to cover pain, and his eyes glazed over consistently. He wanted to tuck Guy into his bed and hold him. He wanted to keep the assassin hidden and safe. He wanted to go to work and find Guy at home, safe and waiting for his return. But he knew Guy wouldn’t allow it.
“Are we going to talk about what happened?” Nikolai asked.
“Later,” Guy said.
Nikolai paused to listen to the silence of the shop. He could hear the people murmuring softly in the other booth. If he concentrated he could make out their words. Where they would stay during the day. The bathrooms they would wash up in. And he saw Georgia reading a magazine behind the counter. He could hear her turn the pages.
So the two sat in an uncomfortable silence, catching each other’s eyes before avoiding them. Nikolai wondered if this was the future of their relationship, or if Guy was just too tired to really contribute. And where was his own contribution? “Are you enjoying the book?” Nikolai asked.
“It seems interesting,” Guy said, shrugging. “I might pick it up for myself later. I don’t know. I like the writing style.”
Nikolai smiled and sipped his coffee.
Guy offered a weak smile in return.
They sat in silence again, and Nikolai absently stirred his coffee, desperately trying to think up topics of conversation. Frustration began to build inside of him. Did they really have nothing in common? What did they talk when they were together?
“What is it about the writing style you like?” Nikolai asked.
“Oh fuck, Nikolai,” Guy said. “You don’t give a shit. Let’s just go home.”
Nikolai frowned. “Why can’t I give a shit?”
“It’s not that you can’t,” Guy said. “It’s that you don’t. I want to go home.”
Nikolai’s frown turned into a scowl. “Fine,” he said. “I understand. I am too much of a- a-“ Nikolai narrowed his eyes at Guy as he searched for the word.
“I’m not telling you the word you’re looking for.”
“That is because I am too much of one to remember it, right?”
“Nikolai, relax. I just want to curl up with you.”
“Because I am not worth talking to – or I am not worth listening to you. You know, if you listened to me, we would not be here.”
“I’m not doing this here with you right now,” Guy said, firmly.
Nikolai could feel the anger knotting throughout him. His brain heated and throbbed as his thoughts struggled to piece themselves together. He wasn’t smart enough for Guy. He was never good enough for the people he loved. He wasn’t gentle enough for Lars, he wasn’t strong enough for A.B.E.L., and he wasn’t man enough for his family. Frustration built as he struggled to think of a retort. “Philistine,” Nikolai spat. “That is the word.”
“Yes, it is,” Guy said, standing up with a wince. “Congratulations, I’m proud of you.”
“Fuck you,” Nikolai snarled.
“You’re behaving like a child,” Guy said. “You want to have a temper tantrum until you get what you want. But have you figured out what it is you want?”
Nikolai tried to think. His thoughts stumbled over each other and he hated how calm Guy was. What happened to the mess he saved from the pool? What happened to the scared, apologetic Guy that clung to him? People never stayed together after an event like this, did they? He would always remind Guy of drowning. Guy would relive the event whenever he saw him.
And Guy would leave him. And he would continue to fail at A.B.E.L. because he wasn’t good enough for his job. And he’d drag Jackie down with him.
And he’d be all alone, again.
“Nikolai?” Guy asked.
Nikolai looked around. The little shop was silent. Georgia stared hard at her magazine to look uninterested, and the occupied booth seemed to hunker down as if preparing for a bomb.
Nikolai realized they shouldn’t be using their names. How long had he been speaking with his Russian accent? He was getting sloppy.
“We should go,” Nikolai said.
“Thank you,” Guy said. “Give Georgia her book back.”
Nikolai took Georgia’s book off the table, and then, after a moment’s hesitation, stacked the cups, saucers and the plate on top of each other. He carried them over to her counter and set them down. “Thank you,” he said, softly.
She smiled. “You’re welcome.”
He lowered his voice and said, “I am sorry.”
She gently touched Nikolai’s arm and said, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it. We get a lot of stoners late at night, and they can be loud.”
Nikolai nodded and walked away. It didn’t make him feel better that he reacted like someone on drugs. As he approached Guy, the assassin said, “Get your arm around me.”
Nikolai put on his coat and then slid his arm around Guy, and Guy wrapped his arm around Nikolai’s back. Guy shouted, “Thanks Georgia,” and waved as they left Cake Break.
Nikolai felt better with Guy in his grasp, even with the snow biting at his face. “I’m going to walk for as long as I can,” Guy said. “I can’t believe you had me running before on this.”
“It was probably the adrenaline,” Nikolai said, “though it probably also made the injury worse. Do you know a doctor we could call in? Or will our next trip be to a hospital?”
“I’ll call in one,” Guy said. “It’ll be safer than us going to a hospital anyway.”
The two plodded along in silence again, both focussing on the sound of the other’s breath and watching the smoke curl out from their mouth. But Nikolai’s cheeks felt hot, and his sweat crawled beneath his layers.
And one question still nipped at the back of his mind.
“Why did you go after those men?” Nikolai asked. “You know what is going to happen to you if they catch you.”
“Money,” Guy said, panting. “A lot of money.”
“Guy, do you know what they will do to me if they find out I was with you?”
“I didn’t know when I took you along, okay?” Guy said. “I didn’t mean to get you involved.”
“But I am involved.”
“We’ll figure this out, okay? I killed at least one of them, right? And that’s enough money for us to run-“
“They will suspect me if I run,” Nikolai said. “They already associate me with you.”
“Well, wait for the time to expire and just quit. Say you’ve thought about it, and you’re not going back. And then you can come meet me somewhere and-“
“I am flattered that you want to run away with me,” Nikolai said, “but I do not believe you are thinking this through.”
“Of course I’m not thinking this through,” Guy said.
Nikolai didn’t reply. He wondered how long Guy would need to formulate a decent plan for them. He had no ideas. He thought of running, too, but he was scared that Guy would leave him. He kept thinking about Benedict and Murdock. Sometimes he doubted they were even still alive.
“I promise I’ll figure something out for you,” Guy said. “We’re going to be okay.”
“Please, I am not in the mood for empty promises.”
“It’s not empty.”
“Perhaps we should be silent and concentrate on walking.”
They continued trudging through snow and listening to it crunch beneath their feet. Nikolai hated feeling cold and hot at the same time. He looked forward to having a nice soak in the tub with the space heater in the bathroom. He was busy fantasizing when Guy fell beside him.
Nikolai helped pull him back up. “Sorry,” he murmured. “Am I going too fast?”
“It’s just this god damn snow,” Guy said. “It keeps pulling me down.”
“Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Guy said with a scowl. “I’m just tired of being helpless.”
Nikolai brushed some snow out of Guy’s beard as they walked. The assassin kept a scowl on his face. Nikolai tried to keep his own frustration away. He understood why Guy was frustrated. He would be furious in his shoes. Nikolai told himself he needed to be the happy one now. He could be angry later, when Guy was well enough to reason or yell back, or when Guy was well enough that he could punch him without guilt.
“Are you angry I tried to hold you back?” Nikolai asked.
“No,” Guy said. “I understand. I’d protect Cain if you were set off to kill him. And I protected you, remember?”
Nikolai nodded. He smiled and rubbed Guy’s back.
“I’m a little mad you saved one of my hits,” Guy said. “I get it, but he was worth a lot of money to me.”
“He is worth a lot to A.B.E.L. as well.”
“And…” Guy’s voice trailed off.
Nikolai tilted his head to watch Guy. Guy’s face softened, and his pace slowed. “Do you want me to carry you?” Nikolai said. “We are close.”
“No,” Guy said.
“You are slowing down.”
His pace increased, and Nikolai followed suit. He hoped he wasn’t pushing Guy too hard.
“I’m mad you didn’t go back and save that boy,” Guy said.
Nikolai flipped through his memories. “What boy?”
“The boy in the pool with me.”
Nikolai shrugged. “I am certain he was dead,” Nikolai said. “He wore swim trunks, which meant he was in the pool during the explosion. He could not have held his breath longer than you, and when I saw you, I thought you might be dead .”
“You could have pulled him out anyway, just to check.”
“If we did not run when we did-“
“You went back for your boss,” Guy snapped.
“Since when do you care about your casualties?” Nikolai snapped back. “I have read your file, Guy Solo. I know the people you have killed with a poorly planned blast. You may not have seen their faces, but I have. And let me tell you, you have killed a lot of little boys.”
Guy went stiff under Nikolai’s grip and he stopped walking. When Nikolai tried to pick him up, Guy pushed the Russian off of him and ended up toppling into the snow. Nikolai offered him a hand, but the assassin slapped it away.
“Are you just feeling guilt now, Mr. Solo?” Nikolai asked.
Guy replied nothing.
“How does it feel?” Nikolai asked.
Guy sighed. He looked up at Nikolai, but quickly dropped his eyes back to the snow on the ground. “What if someone finds out about Steffie?” Guy asked. “What if she gets killed because I fucked up on this job? I wanted to use that money to retire so I could watch Steffie grow up. If I can’t get A.B.E.L. off my back-“
Guy watched as Nikolai sat down in the snow next to him. Guy softened as Nikolai put his arm around his back. “It sucks to care about people,” Guy said.
“I know,” Nikolai said. “Believe me, I know.”
Guy let out a laugh that cracked. “How mad at me are you for tying you up?”
“Furious,” Nikolai said. “I had to break the headboard to get out of it.”
“I could have killed you too,” Guy said. “What if I used handcuffs? What if you couldn’t have gotten out?”
Nikolai didn’t feel his anger build. The frustration in the back of his mind faded. He just wanted to reassure Guy, and he could see why Guy made empty promises before. “I am fine,” Nikolai said. “We should stop thinking about ‘What if’s and concentrate on the problem at hand.”
“Like how we’re going to get away with this,” Guy said.
“No,” Nikolai said. “Like how to get you home so I am not sitting in the cold snow.”
Guy gave Nikolai a smile that lit up his face, a smile that Nikolai couldn’t help but return. Nikolai tilted Guy’s chin upwards and pressed his lips against the assassin’s. He felt the heat between them and the cold surrounding them. The wind whipped around them as Guy twisted his fingers into Nikolai’s hair and kissed him deeper.
Guy straddled Nikolai, pressing his weight against Nikolai’s chest to force the blond against the ground as he kissed him. Nikolai let his hands drift across the assassin’s body, relishing in his heat. He flicked his tongue against Guy’s as Guy ground up against him. As he realized Guy’s intention, he murmured, “We cannot do anything here.”
“No one will see us,” Guy said as he kissed down Nikolai’s neck. “And I won’t hurt so much if someone is distracting me.”
“It is too cold,” Nikolai said, feeling himself rub up against Guy.
“I can keep you warm,” Guy purred.
The assassin’s cool hand drifted down Nikolai’s pants, rubbing the blond’s erection through his tights. Guy kissed Nikolai’s ear, biting down gently on his earlobe. “We do not have anything with us,” Nikolai gasped.
“In my satchel,” Guy replied.
“We are close to the house,” Nikolai said.
“But you’re hard now,” Guy said. “Come on, it’ll be fun. I’m wounded. You’re cold. We could both use a little cheering up.”
Nikolai squirmed beneath Guy. He wanted to feel Guy’s hand around his cock. He wanted to press into his ass. Wrapping his arms around Guy’s waist, Nikolai tried to sit them both up, but Guy gritted his teeth and cursed, “Jesus Christ.”
Nikolai tried to hide his disappointment as he said, “You are really not well enough for this. I do not wish to make your injury worse.”
“Fuck, Nikolai,” Guy said.
“I’m not going to screw you.”
“No, I mean it really hurts,” he said. “Help me up.”
Nikolai tried to lift Guy as he stood, and a string of curses fell out of the assassin’s mouth. He lifted all the weight off of his ankle as he leaned on Nikolai, and Nikolai buttoned up his pants. Nikolai said, “Let me carry you the rest of the way.”
“You like to be a hero, don’t you?”
Nikolai smiled and said, “I like to be your hero.”
Guy rolled his eyes as Nikolai lifted Guy into his arms. Guy wrapped his arms around Nikolai’s neck and snuggled against him. “I hope no one sees us,” Guy said.
“I hope no one sees us for a lot of reasons,” Nikolai muttered as he started to trudge through the snow. “Hold the bag with our wet clothes, at least.”
They moved again in silence, Nikolai panting as the weight of the assassin wore down on him. He could see the house growing in the distance. Guy said, “Talk to me. I don’t want to think about my leg.”
“You almost got me to screw you in the snow,” Nikolai said. “You were very close.”
“Well, you owe me a screw in the snow then,” Guy said. “I love snow sex. The mixture of hot and cold, it’s just perfect.”
“I am not certain you would be able to convince me again,” Nikolai said, trying to catch his breath. “I loathe the cold.”
“Do you want me to tell you what I’d do to you in the snow?” Guy asked.
“No,” Nikolai said. “It is difficult enough walking in the snow with you in my arms; I do not want to walk with an erection as well.”
Guy laughed and kissed Nikolai’s cheek. Nikolai smiled and nuzzled him. He turned back to walking, squinting at the house in the distance. Something seemed off about it, but he couldn’t pinpoint what.
“I meant it when I said we could run away together,” Guy said. “I wouldn’t leave you. That’s why I wanted the money-”
Nikolai said, “The lights are on.”
“The lights are on in the house,” Nikolai said.
“Someone shovelled out the driveway,” Guy said.
“I should have left you in the coffee shop overnight,” Nikolai said. “What do you want me to do? Should I leave you here?”
“I’ll freeze overnight,” Guy said.
“Should we walk back?” Nikolai asked. “Tell me what to do, and I will do it.”
“I don’t know,” Guy said. “Do you think it’s A.B.E.L.?”
The men froze as the doorway to the house opened, a line of light illuminating the snow. Nikolai’s body told him to drop, to hide, but he stayed standing with Guy in his arms. A body blocked the doorway’s light. “You little shits!” a voice screamed from the door. “I can fucking see you!”
Nikolai relaxed. “It’s Jackie.”
“It better just be Jackie,” Guy said.
Jackie stomped out into the snow. As she walked, she screamed, “I swear to god if you’re coming back from blowing up that fucking hotel I am going to shoot you both dead and bury you under the floorboards.”
“It’s a good thing your safe house is isolated,” Guy muttered.
“I think she may hit us,” Nikolai said.
“What are you two idiots muttering about?” Jackie hissed as she finally reached them. “And why is Guy in your arms, Kuryakin? Are you two posing for a shitty romance novel?”
“I hurt my ankle in an event unrelated to whatever nonsense it was that you were talking about,” Guy said.
“Which ankle did you hurt?” Jackie asked.
Guy pointed to the ankle. Jackie grabbed and twisted it, and Nikolai winced as Guy screamed in his ear.
“You’re a fucking asshole, Grier, did you know that?” Guy yelled.
Nikolai’s ears began to ring.
“You fucking shits,” Jackie hissed. “I don’t know how the fuck I’m going to fix this.”
Nikolai took a deep breath. He told himself to be calm. Everyone else was freaking out, so he had to be the calm one. He sighed as he realized the last time he told himself that, he intentionally pushed Guy’s buttons.
“Guy is really heavy,” Nikolai said. “We will tell you everything as we walk back to the house.”
“I’ve already heard everything,” Jackie said, but she followed Nikolai as he started to trudge towards the house. Guy rubbed his watering eyes and nuzzled into Nikolai’s hair as she continued, “Did you think about why I’m here? Cox wants me and you to go to the American branch of A.B.E.L. to help with the investigation. Everyone suspects Guy Solo, and Cox knows you two have screwed around. I don’t know if it’s a test or if he thinks you’ll be able to sniff him out better than anyone else.”
“Jesus,” Guy said. “Grier, I didn’t know they were A.B.E.L. men.”
“Well, I’m sure Cox will be thrilled that Kuryakin followed Solo on just a regular assassin job,” Grier said. “He will probably give him an award.”
“We could spin it that Nikolai followed me to try to stop me,” Guy said. “He did try to stop me, by the way. I just got the upper hand.”
Grier rolled her eyes. “Sure, that’s a great idea. Because you followed Nikolai to his safe house, Nikolai let you stay, and then Nikolai followed you on a job to try to stop you and, what else? Oh, right, get laid.”
“This isn’t helping,” Nikolai said as he stepped into the house.
“No, no it’s not,” Jackie said. “Because we’re already supposed to be on our way to HQ, and you’ve arrived two hours late. Why would you be late, Kuryakin?”
He took off Guy’s jacket and helped him out of his shoes. “I don’t know,” Nikolai said. He narrowed his eyes at Grier as he continued, “But talking to me like this is not making me think of any ideas either. We are supposed to be partners.”
Jackie let out a sharp laugh. “Shouldn’t I be saying that to you? Nikolai, you’ve fucked up big time with this one.”
Guy clutched Nikolai for balance. “I know that,” Nikolai said. “And I am trying to fix it.”
Jackie gave Nikolai a hard stare. Guy said, “I’ll never say that I was with him.”
“They saw us together,” Nikolai said, helping Guy onto the sofa.
“That doesn’t matter,” Guy said. He tightly held Nikolai’s hand. “I’ll deny it all. I’ll say it was someone else.”
Nikolai started, “Guy-“
“Guy, you stay right here, in this house,” Jackie interrupted, pointing her finger at Guy. “If you are not in this house when I get back, I will personally hunt you down.”
“He needs a doctor,” Nikolai mumbled.
“Then call a doctor,” Jackie said to Guy. “Hell, you can throw a party, I don’t care. But do not leave this house.”
Guy nodded. “I won’t leave it.” He released Nikolai’s hand.
Jackie pointed to Nikolai. “You’re coming with me. We’re going to go to HQ and on the way you’re going to explain every fucking detail to me and we’re going to figure out how to get you out of this mess.”
“I would like Guy to be all right too,” Nikolai said.
“I can’t make any promises,” she said. “But I am going to do my best, okay? We’re going to do our best. He saved your life, after all. The least we can do is try to save his.”