Nadia didn't like surprises. She didn't like mysteries. She worked every day to make the unknown known, to gather facts, to remain in control of a chaos that had become her comfort zone when she first stepped inside of that world. She was a natural, still authoritative when she held secondary or even lower positions. She commanded others' respect because she had earned it, and valued it more than the majority of her peers. She had learned more about who she was and what she was made of in the last few years than she had in her entire life, leaving her on the firmest of ground and the surest of mind to date. Until, that is, a surprise wrapped inside of a mystery walked into her life and set his sights on that control that she valued so highly and wanted it for himself...wanted her for himself.

He had been on his way out of CTU, she remembered, when she had looked up from the conference table in the emptied situation room to see him standing just outside of it, the two agents escorting him out of the building flanking him and signing several documents as they prepared to leave, both oblivious as gazes locked between the clear wall separating the two. The files she was sorting into a pile was forgotten as her hands stilled, her heart unexpectedly skipping a beat and speeding up as she found herself incapable of looking away from the dark eyes and what was burning inside of them. She tried to swallow but found her mouth suddenly dry, a few moments passing before she recognized the feeling that was slowly overtaking her, the desire-tipped response to the sheer hunger she saw in his eyes, something that she had never felt before.

Terror.

When the agents had finished and motioned for him to follow them, he still didn't take his eyes off of her, looking away only when she had fallen out of sight. She closed her slightly open mouth, staring down at the table as her nerves tingled and her mind slowly returned to its alert state, disappointment replacing the surge of electricity that had engulfed her only a moment earlier. She wanted to feel it again, wanted to hold on to it somehow, wanted...what?

She was shocked at how much one look could hold, how much one look could reveal. In it she learned what it felt like to be something he wanted, to be something he had his sights on, to feel helpless to deny him, to not want to deny him. She almost shuddered to think about all of the things he had wanted and set out to get in his lifetime, everything that had happened by his hand, all of the pain, all of the things that made her response as terrifying as it was. And yet, the fear had been exhilarating somehow, the idea of losing control to him utterly intoxicating.

When the news had come from the White House only a few hours later, she hadn't known how to feel. She hadn't felt so alive as she had in that short stolen moment since longer than she cared to remember. To think that the person she had shared it with was gone in one swift blink of an eye didn't just hurt more than it should have - it didn't feel right. Something about it, some part of her, something told her a different story from what her mind accepted as true.

Maybe it explained why her surprise could have been a bit stronger only days later when a note found its way to her front door. She'd peeled the small piece of paper from the door and looked over it to find an address. Just an address, nothing else. A familiar fear-tipped excitement took root in her gut before her mind had time to react, giving her pause when she realized that her instincts had never failed her before. Taking a breath, she had shoved the paper into a pocket and walked back inside of her house to grab her keys.

She drove through the middle of nowhere and eventually found herself driving through the mountains, the rational, suffocatingly dominant side of her wanting to stop herself before she went too far and stepped into a situation that might be nothing like the one she anticipated. But she was resolute, determined to see it through - whatever it might turn out to be.

What she found was an abandoned house even further out into the middle of nowhere, with no signs of life anywhere to be found. She had taken to cursing her stupidity and turning to walk back to her car before a voice came from behind and stopped her dead in her tracks.

"You came."

Gut feelings aside, seeing him alive was still a shock, something displayed freely by the look on her face. He laughed and said something about how disappointed he was that so many thought he could be killed that easily, but she'd barely heard him, by then suddenly uncomfortable and unsure of why she was there. She half-registered a moment later that he was leading her inside of the house, which as it turned out wasn't abandoned at all, only made to look that way on the outside. Inside it was almost cozy, a fireplace providing welcomed warmth from the bitter outside air.

Somewhere in her head she knew how big this was, that he was still the prime suspect in the president's attempted assassination - maybe even more so alive than dead - and that this was not something she should be keeping to herself. But he'd reached out to her, led her here, seemingly unconcerned about her role at CTU and how she might compromise his cover.

She'd listened as he explained his situation, half-hearing the details of how he'd survived, who he suspected the actual culprits were, how he had to leave the country soon if he were to maintain his status, all of it rendered secondary as she took him in. She couldn't anticipate a single word that came out of his mouth, couldn't separate the shadows from the sparkles in his eyes, couldn't see anything he didn't want her to see. She could understand why he'd been a leader throughout his life, how he carried himself and spoke in a way that expressed nothing but sheer confidence and certainty. Again she trembled slightly inside, her mind wandering back to his file and what it contained as she considered the ways in which he had used that ability. He was everything she didn't like, everything she wasn't supposed to like, everything wrong - mysterious, prideful, confusing, dangerous - and yet when he spoke, she feared he could convince her of anything.

Snow had begun to pile up outside before she had time to realize that it was falling at all, and rhe day had halfway given to night when she found herself staring at her suddenly snowy car through a foggy window, weighing her options...as if she really had any. She almost jumped when she felt a light blanket being draped over her shoulders and hands brushing her long hair back, both of them slowly resting carefully on her shoulders as her own reached to clutch the blanket closer. There was something about this fear that was invigorating, something about it that made her pray for it to leave and yet be awash in disappointment when it did. But this time it wasn't gong anywhere - he wasn't going anywhere - and she closed her eyes as she felt him lean in just close enough to whisper in her ear.

"Nadia..."

Her name sounded different on his lips, just like everything. Her control, so valued and crucial to who she was, was slowly being sucked out of her with each breath she felt being exhaled on her skin, and yet, he wasn't pushing her. He was asking her. Asking her, it seemed, for something that he considered a privilege and wouldn't take if she had the slightest hesitation, the slightest doubt as to what she wanted. But she knew what she wanted. She always knew what she wanted, and she never stopped until she had it...like him. The similarities were almost as frightening as the differences, mirroring the mixture of hot and cold running through her veins as the coolness drifting inside through the window crossed with the heat of their proximity.

Finally she turned, daring to look into the eyes that had shook her so deeply, their memory alone enough to have brought her here. She had only one question, one she asked in a deceptively firm voice. "Why?"

"Let me show you," he said as he outstretched a hand, "and you won't regret it."

She drew a shaky breath before attempting to move her hand away from its grip on the blanket, but it was frozen in the face of his offer. She raised her eyes from his hand to his eyes, searching for just a little bit of the certainty and doubtlessness that she could claim for herself before slowly unfreezing her hand, reaching out tentatively until she had finally placed it in his. His hand was warm against her chilled one as he gripped softly, rubbing his thumb lightly over her knuckles before he raised her hand to his lips and laid a kiss on it.

The first pressure of his lips on hers shocked her in its tenderness, contradicted by the rough scrape of his beard against her chin and his hands, somewhere between hard and soft, twining in her hair and drifting elsewhere, all of it everything and yet nothing that she had expected. The blanket around her shoulders fell to the floor when she raised her arms to wrap them around his neck, only a few seconds passing before he had broken away and dipped down briefly to scoop her up off of her feet and into his arms. She clung to him tightly as he carried her away from the window and away from the cold to a place she never thought she would want to be and yet, for that moment, wanted more than anything else.

His room was warm, the bed even more so as they found their way into it. Comforting warmth shifted to dangerous heat as his body covered hers, sliding over it and sending bursts of heat through her veins where his skin met hers, his lips on her neck as she curled her fingers tightly in his hair and fought to breathe, fought to understand how she had gotten here. She was answered when he kissed his way from her neck to her cheek, pulling away only to look into her eyes and hold them inside of a burning gaze before closing them and leaning in, capturing her lips with his and claiming them, tasting them and finally parting them with the tip of his tongue. She opened her mouth almost instantly, hungrily receiving him and eagerly returning his kiss, using the hand tangled in his hair to push gently and deepen it. She moaned softly when he drew back only enough to bite her lower lip, her eyes opening and locking with his as he released her lip and hovered over her, tracing her features with fingers that traveled slowly from her face down to her trembling body with utmost care and still a hint of caution.

He whispered words into her ear as his hand slid over her stomach, some of the words in English, others in their shared native tongue, feeling her tense underneath him in anticipation. She gasped when his fingers slid inside of her, whimpered when they left, and moaned when they returned, holding on to him tight and not letting go. Her mind went blank as his pace quickened, grasping only faintly that his hands could bring the sweetest of pleasure just as easily as they could kill.

She was fighting desperately to hold on and keep from tumbling over the edge when another low whisper came to her ear. "Come for me," he ordered gently, repeating himself in Arabic before she did as she was told, clenching around him and filling the room with her voice, finally losing every last trace of her control in one devastating split second. Finally she had let go. Finally, if just for a moment, she was free, and nothing else mattered.

She woke up the next morning rested for the first time in weeks, her mind foggy as it flashed back to what the rest of what the night had held for them, only now with the burden of figuring out what it meant and what to do next. But it only took a few moments after awaking before she realized that she was alone. She dressed quickly and looked through the house, finding everything of his gone, the only sign of life to be found belonging to her.

She stood silently in the front doorway and leaned against the doorframe, gazing out aimlessly into the world as it sat underneath the rising sun and warmed under her feet. The snow was slowly melting and the air was cool rather than bitter, everything looking differently to her eyes than it had the night before. She wondered idly if anything would ever look quite the same, if she'd crossed a line last night that there was little turning back from.

She half-expected to find a note, a message of some kind, something that he would have left behind, but she knew better than to be disappointed when she didn't. He had to disappear and not be found, and she was still head of CTU. Maybe it was for her own protection that he left without a goodbye or any hint of where he was going, she told herself. Either way it wouldn't have made a difference. They were who they were. There was no changing that.

She took one last look around the house before she closed the door behind her and headed for her car. Remnants of snow crunched under her shoes as she took in the peace of her surroundings, pausing when she'd reached her car to breathe in deeply and soak in as much of it as she could before she was back home, back to the chaos that she lived so comfortably amid. She had come here terrified and yet was leaving in a state of pure calm, a calm she couldn't understand or figure out anymore than she could the man who was to blame for it. It might make sense someday, and it might not - for now, it didn't matter. For now it couldn't matter.

For now, she was on her way back home.