AN: The last part of my most difficult and time-taking story so far! This was a hard part, but finally I just decided to finish it… Still, I think I managed quite well.


The woman entered the room with the others feeling very confused and uncertain. She took her place around the long, polished wooden table and looked through the thick pile of paper in front of her. All the others did the same, though it wasn't necessary for any of them – like the woman, they had all read it through more than once. They all knew everything about the incident that had brought them all there today.

When they had found their seats, there was still one empty chair little apart from the others. It was, like everything in the room, made from polished, dark wood that reflected the light of the beautiful Mediterranean winterday in Venice. The woman shivered when she looked the chair – it was a relatively cold day, and she had always hated that room where air-conditioning worked even too well and tens of eyes of dead people watched her from the portraits hanging on the walls. But mostly it was because the person she knew would soon be seated there.

The soundproof door opened and every face in the room turned to it – the woman was sure that even the paintings were watching. When two guards escorted Yassen in and closed the door after him, she felt that the migraine that had given some signs from the morning had suddenly decided to strike her down at once. By the time she had found her pills from her pocket and swallowed two to be sure they would work, Yassen had already been seated and the guards had taken their places by his chair. The woman – who had made a conscious decision not to visit her "fallen boy" before the trial – took a quick, shocked breath when she saw his face. The week hadn't been long enough to cover the black eye and other bruises on Yassen's narrow, pale face, not to speak about his rope-burned wrists and four broken, splinted fingers he had laid on the table. KGB had their own way to treat SCORPIA's men carrying out CIA-paid assassinations of their undercover agents in South-America. Yassen had killed three of them.

Actually this was the first time since last year the woman got to see Yassen this close, and as she was so concentrated to him, she missed almost the whole opening speech. Yassen hadn't changed much – only the hair was a little longer and he seemed little more serious and withdrawn than before. He didn't seem to listen the speaker either, judging by his emotionless face and empty gaze of his beautiful eyes. Was he scared or just indifferent, it was impossible for even the woman to tell. Though this was her little, now grown-up boy, the only thing that she knew for sure was that there was something new in him, in the way he looked his hands stony-faced even when the speaker begin to talk about his punishment. For some reason it was breaking woman's heart.

Suddenly the woman noticed it was her turn. It took a few second for her to collect her thoughts, but her well-prepared defence-speech sounded still better than ever. It was fully based on the fact she knew was the most difficult in Yassen's case – that they had only two possible ways to handle it, either forget it or give him a death-penalty. She read some carefully-chosen parts from Yassen's psychological profile, those where he was said to be extremely careful and considerate in missions without any threatening or aggressive behaviour, ignoring the ones with not so flattering words. She pointed out that though having been working only a year, Yassen was already better than many others – not only hadn't he ever missed any of his targets, but he was also very careful with them and resorted never to more violence than was necessary or asked. This was all due to his past, or, as the woman expressed it, the part of his past he had never had – the part SCORPIA had taken over. So why would they want to let a man like Yassen be wasted? But, if SCORPIA wanted to get rid of Yassen… Basically, the only way was to kill him. A desperate man with no bonds, no past or no future, armed with his lethal skills would always find a way to cause troubles to them.

The woman had finished her statement and sat down. As the conversation continued, she noticed there was a little grin on Yassen's face, almost as a sign of agreement with her words.

-"But we can let him just get away with this!" shouted a man suddenly, ceasing the conversation and waved his hand to Yassen who now raised his head.

-"Considerate… careful… doesn't ever resort to unecessary violence… Tell it to that man! You all knew what happened – he practically castrated him and blowed up his chin before giving a bullet to his head! He has admitted it both to us and to KGB when questioned. He hasn't shown any signs of regretting it, as you can very well see.

They all turned to Yassen, who, as an answer, gave them almost arrogant smile. Suddenly everybody began to talk at the same time. They all knew this was the heart of the problem. Though they could only imagine what that man had done to Yassen and to so many others, how could they really trust Yassen ever again, especially when they all had witnessed how he could not only be completely emotionless and cold, but also lack all the respect and obedience towards them. Almost like there had been two sides in Yassen's personality.

Suddenly the woman heard a silent, tapping sound. It was Yassen, tapping his broken fingers of his right hand agains the table, following the movement with his eyes. Why was he doing it? If she hadn't known better, she would have said Yassen seemed almost… nervous. He tapped his fingers like a child craving for at least some kind of control over his life, believing all the bad things would go away if he just concentrated hard enough. It had to be painful. But of course, as trained by SCORPIA, Yassen had learned to control the pain years ago – maybe even before, as the woman added in her mind when she remembered the morning she first saw him. Yassen had never had any use to tears - it was impossible to try to picture him having cried or shouted when interrogators had broked the ring and little finger from both hands "by accident", or even if they had cut them of.

But it didn't mean that Yassen didn't feel the pain at all. The woman could almost feel how it pierced the mind behind Yassen's unbreakable mask every time his fingers hit the table, and how the pain after a moment began to cease, tap after tap…

As if he would have been able to read her thoughts, Yassen raised his eyes to meet her gaze. The tapping had ended, and so had the conversation around them. Afterwards it was impossible for the woman recall how the meeting had ended – the only thing she was sure of was the cold smile on Yassen's face when he had been released, and how he had bowed to them all waiting for somebody to open the door for him.


The last time the woman ever saw Yassen was a day after that. Yassen was in his room, packing his belongings for the next mission – because of his fingers he had been assigned to assist two SCORPIA's employees to set a bomb to USA's embassy at the capital of one South-American country during some local event and make it look like rebellions' work. It would take almost a month, and after that Yassen would surely be able to handle guns as well as he was before "the accident with KGB", as it was now called.

-"Trying again to understand?" Yassen asked without raising his head from his baggage.

The woman didn't answer, but walked to the nearest chair and sat down.

-"You are so sure about yourself", the woman said bitterly after a moment of silence.

-"Believing nobody can get you, nothing hurt you… We have truly trained you well."

Yassen turned to her and smiled. The woman was almost scared of the quickness and easiness of his movements, as he suddenly was standing straight in front of her.

-"Why do you do this?" he asked silently, leaning toward her.

-"What do you see in me worth caring for? I have nothing to give you."

It was impossible to know what was going on behind Yassen's steely gaze. It was almost like one of her nightmares materialized – the badly treated, little blue-eyed boy trapped in the body of a soulless monster, the boy that should have died a long time ago…

All of a sudden Yassen backed, turning his head away. He doesn't know what to do, something in the women's mind shouted, as she was trying to understand what had happened.

-"I don't know what has happened to you", she said, her voice trembling.

-"You aren't insane, you can't be. I have seen many assassins, and you know yourself how good you are. You couldn't be that good if you enjoyed killing people. I think you simply don't care about anything anymore, not even about your own life."

-"I'm actually quite fond of living", Yassen interrupted her with forced smile. The moment was over, the women could see it from his face.

-"Think what you want", the woman answered little more confident, rose up and took a step towards the door.

-"As long as you don't do anything like that murder again. If I'm correct, you shouldn't have any reason for it."

After this final statement, woman walked away. Somehow, she felt great – though she hadn't told it to Yassen, and why would she had, she had already resigned herself from SCORPIA's actions. The talk with Yassen had proved her decision right. It was finally time to let Yassen go, try to forget him and the crimes they all had committed against him.

Maybe, if she had had a chance to find out who was the assassin SCORPIA had assigned to kill her, she would have found it only justifyed. She might even have thanked Yassen.