Disclaimer: Not my characters.
A/N: This takes place after my fic "All Fall Down", though it's not necessary to read that in order for this to make sense. C.A.T. Central African Time. And Kivu is a fictional country, as are the people in it.
4 A.M. C.A.T.
Kivu, situated between Uganda and Rwanda, was a tiny country that neither Frankie nor Kilmer had heard of until the previous day. Barely a month had passed since Tim Vargas' death – and the night they'd spent together – so neither of them was all too excited about flying halfway across the world together. They had tiptoed around each other with more caution than usual, and it was obvious to everyone on the team that something had happened. But they refused to discuss it, despite the increasing buildup of tension between them. Atkins, fearing an eruption, had sent a prayer of thanks heavenward when the CIA had received reports of suspected terror activity in the Republic of Kivu.
If Frankie or Kilmer guessed at his motives for sending the two of them, they didn't comment, but accepted their orders and got back to work.
Now, thousands of miles from home, away from the curious eyes of their colleagues, neither was sure how to treat the other.
Frankie had fallen asleep on the flight, and Kilmer took the opportunity to watch her sleep. He had always enjoyed just looking at her. In his eyes, she would always be the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. It wasn't just her looks; it was her spirit too. She had survived so much in her life, and he recalled that it was her strength that had first drawn him to her.
She'd been studying at Quantico at the time, and Kilmer had been asked to run a few sparring workshops. Frankie had volunteered to go up against him, a defiant spark in her eye. He'd gone easy on her, afraid of hurting her, and she'd kicked his legs out from under him, throwing him onto his back. As she helped him sit up, he asked her to lunch. He still thought that was the best decision he'd ever made.
He reached out and touched her knee. "Hey, wake up. We're here."
Frankie blinked a few times, then smiled. "Thanks."
As they exited the plane, a tall, black man dressed in a brightly colored dashiki, walked up to them. "Good morning," he said in heavily accented English. "I am Benjamin Okapi. CIA."
Kilmer shook his hand. "John Kilmer."
Frankie held out her hand. "Frankie Elroy."
Kilmer glanced at her but said nothing. It wasn't his business that she'd dropped his surname. Even if it hurt.
"Welcome to Kivu," Okapi said. "Thank you for coming on such short notice."
Kilmer looked at Frankie again, this time to see what she thought of Okapi. She was usually right in her assessment of people, and Kilmer wanted to know if Okapi was trustworthy. When she smiled, he turned his attention back to their contact.
"Well, the CIA seems pretty worried about this place," Kilmer said.
Okapi nodded gravely. "And with good reason. But I'll tell you everything at the briefing. First, let me take you to your hotel."
Kilmer was about to protest when Frankie put her hand on his arm and shook her head. Okapi led the way to his jeep. Frankie hung back, then spoke quietly.
"These people are very traditional. Things have to be done properly."
"How do you know that?"
Her smile widened. "I did some reading."
"Teacher's pet," he said, but his tone was light.
Frankie laughed and handed him her bag as she climbed into the jeep.
The hotel was not a five-star by any means. In fact, Kilmer thought as he stared at the dilapidated façade of the building, it probably wasn't even a one-star. He lifted his bag from the jeep, taking Frankie's before she could protest, and preceded her into the lobby.
A young man sat behind the desk, his chin propped in his hand, his eyes closed. Kilmer cleared his throat. The man opened one eye, looked at Kilmer, then Frankie, then Okapi. He straightened, stifling a yawn.
"We'd like two rooms," Kilmer said.
"Only one available."
"I told you to have two ready," Okapi said.
The man shrugged. "Sorry. Just got the one."
Frankie surprised them all by stepping up to the counter and saying, "Fine. We'll take it."
Bemused, Kilmer followed the man up the stairs and down the hall to their room. He had shared a room with Frankie countless times before, he thought. How would this be any different?
When he saw the double bed, he felt a vague sense of panic.
Okapi bowed his head and moved towards the door. "I'll be waiting downstairs."
The man handed Kilmer the key to the room and left. Kilmer looked at Frankie.
"You're okay with this?"
She smiled but didn't meet his gaze. "Just be glad it's me and not Mo you have to share a bed with."
Kilmer gestured towards the bathroom. "You can go first."
Frankie took her bag and went into the bathroom, closing the door behind her. Kilmer sat on the bed. When he heard the shower go on, he lay down. Maybe it would have been easier if Mo had come in Frankie's place, he thought. Mo, after all, was not the person Kilmer fantasized about.
Before he knew it, he'd dozed off, picturing himself in the shower with Frankie. He woke up when she shook his shoulder. He sat up quickly.
"What the hell? Frankie, you're in a towel."
"I thought it'd save time if I got dressed while you were in the bathroom."
Kilmer sighed, and couldn't help looking at Frankie's body. She gave the side of his head a light tap. "Behave."
"You can't walk around like that and expect me to behave."
She frowned, and he jumped up. "I'm going."
As he shut the bathroom door behind him, he realized they hadn't bantered like this in a long time. Maybe things were finally getting back to normal, he thought.