About 18 million years ago now, I promised msec-in-aeternum over on Tumblr some CIA-lingo texting fic. I then spent far too long reading about spy lingo and somehow, the initial prompt has morphed into this weird thing. I hope it's okay! Any thoughts/comments welcome, even if it is just 'literally what is this' lol...
Swallow: a female agent employed to seduce people for intelligence purposes.
Raven: the male equivalent.
Swallow and Raven
The man sat secluded at the end of the bar nursing a glass of whisky, looking down into the glass as he rolled it in his hand to watch the slide of ice cubes through dark liquid amber. The ice chinked against the side of the glass, audible to him even above the babble of strangers' conversations going on all around.
He was aware of every noise, every movement in the place. He was trained for it, and tonight his senses were particularly on edge as he waited for the arrival of his expected company.
So it wasn't a surprise when a minute later he felt the shift. He looked up from his glass at the change in the air and watched in the mirror behind the bar as the front door of the restaurant opened, letting in a slight draught of chilled night air before the space was filled by a couple of burly guys in suits. He recognised them right away.
The advance guard had arrived.
The man turned back to his drink, taking a long sip and enjoying the feel of the cool liquid as it slid down his throat, the chill contrasting with the warm burn of the flavour of the whisky. Too much ice in the glass. The drink tasted a little weak but he figured that was a good thing; there was no doubt he needed his wits about him tonight.
He was aware of more movement behind him, of a minor commotion near the door as the maître d' hurried to greet the guest who had just walked inside. He heard high heels striking the marble floor, the sound coming towards him.
A final mouthful of whisky, the experience overwhelmed by the perfume that now filled his nostrils, colouring the taste as he swallowed.
He looked up to find a beautiful woman standing at his side. He took a second just to drink her in. Tall and slender. Blonde hair that waved softly around her face. Blue eyes that cut like crystal but yet drew him in with the temptation to drown in their depths. A face that was easy to stare at. She wore a black dress that managed to be both demure and an invitation to sin, and heels so high they could be classed as a weapon. Two more suits – one man and one woman – took up residence a little way back, watching both the woman and the room; the advance guard were stationed at various doors throughout the establishment.
So ostentatious, yet in this restaurant they were paid little attention. Hiding in plain sight.
"You're late," he said in lieu of a proper greeting.
The woman lifted one shoulder in a shrug that may have been an apology. "Business ran long."
He reached out one hand to brush her hair back over her shoulder. "You weren't getting ready to meet me?" He liked knowing that she had dressed up to meet him. It warmed him better than the whisky and made his ego purr.
She shivered as his ice-chilled fingers brushed her skin. "That, too." She gave him a smile that told him she could reduce him to a puddle in a matter of seconds if she so chose, and then she turned a brighter, flashier version of that smile on the bartender, gesturing to his empty glass in a silent request for fresh drinks.
Then she leaned forwards against the bar, giving him a wonderful view of her profile, and they said nothing else until the whisky dutifully appeared in front of them thirty seconds later.
She caught his eye in the mirror. "So, what do you have for me?"
He was so caught up in the beautiful lines of her face that it took him a moment to respond. "Hmm?"
"You invited me here tonight. I assume it's because you have something for me." She turned her face away from the mirror and leaned forward a little so no one would be able to read her lips or hear her when she said, "Some intelligence?"
Oh, so that was how she wanted to play it, was it? Skirting the line of danger in a public place. Sure, he could go along with that. He liked a little thrill from time to time, too. Especially when the thrill had just hopped up onto a barstool to face him and crossed legs so long they pressed against his thigh as he sat still facing the bar. He placed his hand on her knee over her dress and stroked his thumb against the silky fabric. "I have… a dossier."
There was a pause while she picked up her drink and took a sip. "A dossier, hmm?"
"Yeah." His thumb was still making little circles against her knee.
She stilled his hand with her fingers around his wrist. "And what's in this dossier?"
He smiled enigmatically. "Information."
He considered his response. "More like… confirmation."
The woman pouted, over-dramatic disappointment on her face. "You invite me down here… I come all the way here after work because you asked me to… I dress up for you… and you have nothing new for me?" She shook her head. "I can't take that back me with me. Not for this effort. You know the cost for me to be here. I need something new."
She pushed her glass towards him and made as though she was going to stand to leave.
He caught her wrist before she could, feeling the gentle beat of her pulse against his palm. Her skin was smooth and soft and he thought that he wanted to lose himself in her tonight. Damn, she was such an enigma, such a contradiction. The certainty and confidence in her voice was in direct contrast to the softness of her skin, her eyes at once ice and fire, her body leaning towards him even as her words drew her away. He was smitten. But there was still a game to be played. "It's confirmation of things that I think you'll like."
"Things of value?"
"Of the highest value."
Features softening, she looked like she was considering his words. Finally she nodded and reached over to pull her glass back towards her, long fingers wrapping around the crystal, cold condensation sliding over her skin.
He wanted her skin sliding over his. He drank some whisky to provide a cover for the flush he could feel building on his face.
Settling back into her seat, she regarded him closely like she knew exactly how he was feeling – and she liked it. "Was it difficult for you to come here tonight? Were you spotted?"
"I was careful," he answered. He glanced behind her at her security personnel. "I think it's safe to say you have been slightly less clandestine than me."
"You know the situation I'm dealing with."
He nodded. "I do." He trailed his hand down her arm. "I trust there have been no incidents of concern recently?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary." She leaned towards him until she was close enough that her face filled his vision and her scent was all he could smell. "Now, about this dossier."
Ah, yes, the dossier. "What is it worth to you?"
A frown appeared between her eyes. "What is it worth?"
"Yes. Intelligence like this doesn't come free."
"You just told me it contains nothing new. I'm not paying for information I already possess. And I certainly can't put a price on something I haven't even seen." She kept her voice quiet but her tone spoke volumes. She sounded adamant, like she was standing her ground. Like she thought he was a fool for even suggesting that she wouldn't.
He smiled. He loved that fire. "I already told you. It contains significant value. And I guarantee it will be of personal interest to you."
She shook her head. Not good enough, said the look in her eyes.
Okay. He was a man of compromise. "It's cheap. A token sum. A gesture of goodwill, if you like."
She sighed and played along. "How cheap is cheap?"
His smile grew a little. "One kiss."
Her eyes widened at his answer, her cool composure faltering slightly for the first time since she had entered the restaurant. "Uh… one –"
"One kiss." He nodded to punctuate the point and reached into one of his pockets to slide out the corner of the envelope he had brought for her so she could see that the dossier was real. "No money changes hands. No record or knowledge except for between the two of us."
And the people in the restaurant, but they hardly mattered. This was a discreet place.
"You're playing with the rules tonight."
"And you aren't?" he challenged, raising an eyebrow to punctuate his point. He let that one sit for a few seconds and then he tried again, relaxing his face into the crooked smile that he knew would get to her and letting a little of his lust enter his voice. "And you want this dossier. So. Do you accept the price?"
She kept her face turned towards him but her eyes looked away for a minute as she thought, scanning her gaze over the people in the restaurant to check that they weren't being observed. Satisfied, she turned back to him. "I accept."
"One kiss. You give me the dossier."
"That's the deal," he agreed.
And he wasn't about to waste any time in getting to the payment. Turning on his barstool, he slid one hand into thick blonde hair and leaned forward to press his lips against hers. Her mouth was cool from the ice in the whisky, the contrast with his hot skin setting his nerve endings tingling. She took control of the kiss then before he could do it himself, her hand cupping his face and her thumb at his jaw to encourage him to angle his head towards her. He opened his mouth at the gentle pressure and her tongue slipped past his lips to brush against his own.
Warmth flooded through him and he was aware that his breathing was not entirely steady.
Funny how he was the one who had put a price on their exchange and yet he also seemed to be the one who was paying it. He wished they were somewhere more private so they could get further into a discussion about properly fulfilling payments in return for goods and services. Then again, he was used to this woman getting the upper hand in so many of his interactions with her and he'd be lying if he said he didn't find it a turn on. Besides, she was so damn riveting he didn't care that she held his heart in her hand.
She pulled away after a long minute, keeping her face close to his so he could feel her hot breath against his cheek and see the dilation of her pupils along with the dare in her eyes. "So..?" she said.
He swallowed. "So?"
"You said one kiss."
"I want my dossier."
He smiled and reached into his jacket pocket. "Account paid in full. Here you go."
She took the slim envelope from him and started to immediately open it.
"You don't want to take that elsewhere?" He was aware of the nerves that had suddenly entered his voice at the thought of her reading the information in the envelope in full view of everyone else in the room.
She shook her head. "If the intelligence is as valuable as you say, I want to read it now."
Knowing he couldn't stop her, he instead busied his hands with his glass, drinking the last of his whisky and reassuring himself with the thought that even if someone was watching her open the envelope, they would have no idea of what was inside.
She pulled out a slim card from the envelope and opened it up to read.
He watched her face as she read the lines he had written inside the card; what he had promised would be confirmation of valuable things. He hoped that they were confirmation. He hoped that she found them valuable. From the look on her face, he thought that she agreed.
She blinked rapidly, eyes lingering on the handwritten lines for a few moments after she had finished reading. Then she closed the slim card and ran her hand over the front, tracing the smooth finish. "This is…" she started, pausing to swallow heavily. She lifted her head to look at him again and her blue eyes were shimmering in the light of the bar. "How set are you on eating at this restaurant tonight?"
The abrupt change of topic following their playfully cryptic exchange threw him and it took him a second to answer her. "Not set at all."
"Good." She held up the card to him, abandoning her cool, cryptic persona in favour of smiling at him softly, almost a little shyly – even as her intent was written clear across her face. "This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you. Now take me home, Henry."
A smile blooming over his face, he slid off the barstool and closed the small gap between them, his hands finding his wife's hips to pull her forwards off her own stool and into his chest. "Gladly, babe." He paused for a brief kiss before turning to whisper in her ear. "Happy Birthday, Elizabeth. You ready to go?"
She shivered at the loaded question, her hand smoothing over the lapel of his jacket as she took a half-step back towards the door, the birthday card that told her of his love still clutched protectively in her other hand. "Absolutely. I think we need to continue this exchange of intelligence somewhere a little more private, don't you?"
It seemed she wanted to continue their little faux clandestine meeting once they were back home. That was more than okay with him; he had been enjoying the pretend scenario, too, in fact had been the one to jokingly initiate it with the text he had sent her earlier that day. Vital intelligence meet tonight, 7pm. Eyes only, birthday girl. She had responded simply: Meet agreed, see you later.
He smiled his agreement. "Strictly off books?" he said, continuing the game.
Elizabeth glanced down at the card in her hand, smile still tugging at her lips. "Oh, I don't know. I've always been a fan of the written record." She tilted into him, hugging him in the middle of the restaurant to provide cover as she stretched up on her heels to whisper in his ear, "But I agree. I think this thing might be too hot for paper."
"Mm, strictly confidential."
"A matter of trust."
"Away from prying eyes."
Leaving a couple of notes on the bar to cover the bill for their drinks, they left the restaurant hand in hand, flanked by Elizabeth's security.
It might only have been a light-hearted game they were playing on her birthday, but Henry for one couldn't wait to continue their rendezvous.
Poss TBC with smut in chapter 2 if people are interested..?