Disclaimer: I don't own anything.



'Romance between agents, it never works.'

He focuses on keeping his voice steady, and succeeds despite the way her eyes are studying him.

'And what number is that rule?'

He answers automatically because, as she suspects, he has a neat numbered rule for everything, even rather unexpected situations like this.

He has rules for every aspect of his life, drawn from past experience and mistakes he will not let himself repeat. Usually his rules protect him but this time they do not seem an adequate way of dealing with the situation. Part of him wants to throw away everything he has learned, even though he is old enough to know better.

'And you never bend the rules?' Her tone is casual but he cannot pretend she it is merely curiosity making her ask. She is nibbling on the corner of her lip the way he has noticed she does when she is nervous. He is used to making people feel uncomfortable but normally she refuses to be scared of him the way the others are. Still, there is nothing normal about this moment because it is taking an effort to keep his voice so steady and he is normally very good at staying in control. He is suddenly conscious of how close they are standing. It would only take one step…

'Sometimes I do.' He moves away, signalling that their conversation is over for the present. She smiles, content with his answer for the moment. It is one step forward.



He is usually good at forgetting people, particularly women. It is a useful ability and he is afraid of losing it. This morning the attractive new secretary could not hold his attention beyond the moment it took him to collect his mail. Surely he should be finding excuses to visit her desk and flirt? It just seems like too much effort. Instead he is at his own desk, toying with a piece of paper he has been carrying with him for the last two weeks.

The ship sailed two weeks ago. They both knew the e-mail address, scribbled on the back of an old receipt, was just a harmless, meaningless gesture. She never expected him to use it and he did not intend to. He took it to be polite and just never got around to throwing it away. Then when he took his jacket to the dry cleaners he slipped the paper into his wallet instead, and tried to pretend he had done it without thinking.

Perhaps it would be nice to prove her wrong. He thinks of the smug little smile that flashes across her face whenever she thinks she has scored a point over him. He has lost track of who is winning their game now but he suspects it may be her. She does not expect him to keep in touch and the idea of proving her wrong is very tempting. He will just tell himself that one little message does not have to mean anything.