Michael put the schematics down on the bed and looked at Fi, as if seeing her for the first time, realizing how much she was willing to do, how much she was willing to sacrifice in order to be seen as a success. He leaned in and kissed her again, and as she began responding to his kiss he turned her over onto her back, pulling him to her again. Then he felt her stop. She just stopped as if a switch had been flicked somehow and he didn't really understand what had happened.
Fiona was suddenly all business.
"If you help me with this there will be time for that later. Now we have to get up, get dressed and go rob a bank."
She got up from the bed and began gathering some clothes from the dresser before disappearing into the bathroom without looking back. Michael got up from the bed, gathered his clothing from the floor and began dressing, totally confused by how cold and distant she now seemed. Granted he didn't really know her or her moods, for they had just met a few hours ago -- but it had been his experience that most of the time his partner was a little more warm, a little more emotional post sex and not so distant and aloof. He continued dressing, tying his shoes as he waited for her to come out of the bathroom.
He heard the door open, looked up and saw her standing there, all business, completely ready to go. Hair pulled back in a ponytail, wearing a tight black turtleneck and black pants. She picked up the backpack he had seen her carrying earlier and he knew that this must be her "tool box" --that is to say, the materials she needed in order to break into the bank. He was very curious as to what was in her "tool box" and he wondered how closely it mirrored his own. She started walking towards the door. "Ready?" she asked him since he was still sitting on the bed.
He got up off of the bed and started walking towards the door, still a bit thrown over what was going on. He walked next to her to the elevator, pushed the call button and leaned against the wall, trying to look relaxed, but inside he was in complete confusion over the change in her. He knew he had to let it go, he knew he had to have his mind in the game for the mission they were about to undergo but somehow he just couldn't. He heard the elevator "ding" and waited for her to enter the car first. He followed behind her and stood next to her. Fi waited a few seconds and when she noticed that Michael had not pushed the button for the elevator to take them to the lobby she reached across him and pushed the button herself. "Michael, if you're having any doubts or if you don't want to do this tell me now so you can go back to your hotel and I can cut my losses now before we get there and too much is at stake."
"No. I'm fine Fi, I'm with you on this." And just like that Michael had his professional face on. He started running the job in his head, deciding how they would go about the specifics of robbing the bank. Fi watched Michael and knew he was back in the game, which was exactly where she needed him to be if this was to be successful. Then Michael started listening to the Muzak playing in the elevator and realized it was an instrumental version of "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash which made him start to laugh and his professional façade cracked as he bent over laughing harder than he had in months. When he was finally able to open his eyes again he noticed that Fiona was looking at him like he was completely insane. "Don't you know what's playing?" Michael asked between fits of laughter.
"No." Fiona said, looking miffed because she didn't get the joke.
"It's 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash. You know, 'the taste of love is sweet, when hearts like ours meet. I fell for you like a child, oh but the fire went wild'." Michael looked at Fiona and noticed that she didn't seem at all pleased by him sharing this bit of music history with her. "OK I guess you're not familiar with the works of Johnny Cash." Michael tried to maintain a straight face.
"Michael if you don't want to do this job, or if you're not into it, it's OK I understand but don't start pleading insanity just to get out of it." Fi said to Michael in a totally deadpan voice, but a second later a smile crossed her face and he knew she was joking.
They avoided looking at each other because they both knew that if they did it was all over; their professional veneers would crack in a second. Fi needed Michael totally on his game in this. She wasn't exactly new to all this, but this was the first time she had done a robbery at night and she had never worked with a partner before. She was sure that a lot of this jitteriness was due to these two factors and the fact that they had just had sex a few hours ago.
The elevator reached the lobby and Fi stepped off followed by Michael. They began walking down the street towards the bank, Fi on the lookout for any associates that might be hanging around, Michael on the lookout for any handlers. They were both now at the top of their game, totally in their respective elements, but Fi still sensed that something was off for Michael. "Michael, do you want to leave now, and go back to your hotel? I'm sensing that something about this isn't working for you."
Michael sobered up at the last bit. The fact that he was being so obvious to her made him take notice. Somewhere along the line he felt comfortable enough with this woman to let his guard down. He didn't do that, ever. It wasn't just the sex; there was something else to all of this, something that he couldn't quite put his finger on and didn't know how to explain to himself or anyone else. "No Fi, I said I'll help you and I will. I'm just thinking about what the money will be used for."
"Surely you've engaged in more nefarious behavior before, Michael. You can't tell me that while doing what you do that you haven't done a few things that you find morally objectionable?" Fi challenged.
Michael paused, trying to decide how to respond to this. "Yes, I have done things that I wouldn't do otherwise but they were always part of the job, part of the assignment. This, this has a different quality to it."
"How so?" Fi asked.
Michael was trying to figure out how to put into words how he was feeling about the situation, about how he had been thrown for a proverbial loop by this woman and how he wasn't quite sure what he was doing and how much was really part of the job and how much he was doing because he wanted to help her, to insure that she came out of it OK. He looked her right in the eye and said "It just does, that's all."
Fi took in what he said, "Wow! You really are a spy, you must have scored really, really high on the inveigle section in spy school." She said in a teasing tone as she turned towards the panel, took out a specially designed flashlight one that had a black, metal plate focusing the beam so that the beam didn't spread out but was focused on what she was working on and it also hid the beam of light from being seen from far away. She held the flashlight in one hand and then took out a screwdriver, and began opening the panel. Michael took up a position behind her to operate as her look out because he had the distinct feeling that she knew exactly what she was doing with the wiring inside the panel.
"Damn! He did rewire it to go off!" Michael heard Fi exclaim as she began rewiring the bank's alarm to keep it from going off once she was inside. "OK, done!" She said to him, as she began putting the panel back in place, she put the screwdriver back in her bag, turned off the flashlight and started walking towards the bank's doors.
Fi walked towards the bank's doors with Michael following close behind. When she got to the doors she took another tool out of her backpack. It took Michael a second to realize that it was a very sophisticated lock picking set. It didn't just include the standard ones that he had in his; no, this looked like it could open any locked door at anytime, anywhere. "Who was this woman?" He found himself thinking.
She took a second to look at the lock then took out what seemed to be the very tool she would need without any hesitation or internal debate. She made quick work of the lock on the door and pulled it open, gently. Michael thought she was doing so due to the alarm going off earlier in the day. Perhaps she was a bit fearful that the same thing would happen again. If that was the case it didn't show in the confident manner in which she picked the lock or in the way she went into the bank and was all business and ready to go.
They surveyed the bank's lobby. Fi seemed to know exactly where she was going, but Michael still felt off even after studying the schematics, even after knowing exactly what the bank's layout was like. He was so off his game and he didn't understand why. This, this was not a difficult job by any stretch of the imagination. He had undergone far more dangerous missions and had been in more serious situations than this one, yet not one of those experiences had thrown him for a loop as much as this one. This wasn't even as difficult as the time he had to stay in a cave in the middle of the Gobi Desert for three days after escaping yet another operation gone wrong. Here he was in a rather stable political climate, in a major city, robbing a bank with an IRA terrorist. What could be easier? This should be a proverbial cake walk for him, especially since she was the one doing most of the work, and he was there, for what exactly? Backup? It didn't seem like she needed any of that, and she seemed to be doing just fine. It was in the middle of these musings that he realized Fi was calling him in that tone that women had when they knew you were ignoring them.
"Michael!" Fi said as she looked at him not only waiting for, but expecting a response from him.
"Yes, Fi?" Michael asked in as innocent of a tone that he could muster.
"Ah, there you are, where did you go? I've been calling your for at least a minute now. I need your help with this; I can't quite get it by myself." And with that Fi started walking towards the object that she needed Michael's assistance with.
Michael found himself standing in front of the biggest, heaviest looking vault door he had ever seen. Somehow she had managed to crack the vault's security and she had propped it open a bit, and he noticed she was holding it open with something he had never seen before, but she couldn't move the door any further than she already had. Michael looked for a release handle, one that he could hit and make the door open automatically, as he was doing so, Fi said. "Don't bother; I already looked, there isn't one."
"OK," Michael said and then thought to himself, "of course she had already looked. " He stepped forward and put his hands on the inside of the vault door, and began pulling it open inch by inch until he had it to a place where she could fit between the door and the wall to gain access to the vault. Once she was inside he heard her say "Found it! Let go of the door, Michael and step back--I found the release handle." Michael heard a "whoosh" of air as the door began opening. As Fi pushed the button that would open the door automatically, he stepped into the vault and looked around. The riches of the vault would float most third world countries for years, and yet he was here to help her rob a bank to fund the IRA.
Fi began walking towards the stacks of money, looking for the area that held the higher denominations and then began placing them inside a bag that she removed from her backpack. When she was sure she had all that she wanted or needed to take with her, she walked away from the shelf towards the front of the vault. When she got there she noticed that Michael was not following behind her, nor did he seem all that anxious to leave the vault.
"Michael, you coming?" Fi asked, right eyebrow slightly raised as she looked at him.
"Yeah, Fi, I'll be right there." And with that Michael shrugged off whatever was bothering him and made his way out of the vault with Fi, her tool box, and the money. Once they were both outside the vault, Fi picked up the tool she had used to prop the vault doors open, then they both began pushing the vault closed. Then they made their way out of the bank, Fi resetting the lock once they exited. While she did so, through some unspoken agreement, Michael walked over to the alarm panel and began opening it. Once he noticed that Fi was done with the lock he rearmed the alarm. As he was replacing the panel, Fi walked over to him and handed him the duffle bag of money. He took it in his right hand as they walked back towards the hotel, not speaking, just enjoying each other's company. Somewhere along the way, Fi began to lean in towards him slightly Michael put his left arm around her shoulders as she placed her right arm around his waist as they walked back to her hotel.
"So this is what's it's like having a partner," they both thought to themselves as they made their way down the street. They both smiled at the knowledge that they both understood where the other one was coming from without the usual artifice that normally accompanies relationships. They knew who the other person was in terms of what they did and how they choose to conduct their lives. There would be no pretending that they were just regular people, people that didn't engage in some of the seedier aspects of life because they both knew how blatant of a lie that was.
They entered the hotel lobby and made their way towards the elevators.. Once inside Michael pushed Fi up against the elevator wall and began kissing her passionately. Fi responded by pulling him as close to her as she could, her hands on his back, his hands making their way up her body and into her hair, pulling the rubber band out of her hair and letting it fall down, his hands now tangling themselves in it. The elevator dinged and they broke apart, breathing heavily, suddenly feeling the need to be discrete in case someone else entered the elevator. They waited for whomever might be entering the elevator, and it took a second for them to realize that the elevator had stopped on Fi's floor. Michael leaned forward to press the "door open" button on the panel, and Fi walked out of the elevator with Michael trailing behind.
Once they got to her room it seemed like Fi couldn't open the door fast enough,. Michael had his hands on Fi's hips, holding on to her from behind as she opened the door. They barely made it inside before they were on each other again. This time Fi's hands made their way up to Michael's head, tugging at his hair as she pulled him even closer to her. His hands made their way up and underneath her shirt, coming forward and cupping her breasts, teasing her nipples with his thumbs. Fi broke off their kiss and moaned, her forehead on his jaw as he continued teasing her, arousing her with his thumbs. As it almost became too much for Fi to bear, Michael finally removed her shirt and began tracing the patterns his thumbs had made with his tongue. Fi arched her back as she bought her hands up to his head, her hands in his hair keeping his mouth right where she wanted it to be. Fi then bought her hands down, finding the bottom of his shirt, as she removed it, his mouth breaking contact for a second as she did. Once his shirt was off he continued his oral explorations. Fi bought her hands up to his torso and began teasing his nipples, pinching them slightly between her thumb and index finger. Finally they found each other's mouths again and began kissing hungrily, tongues exploring, probing, as their hands pulled each other closer to the other, both enjoying the skin to skin contact that their upper bodies provided.
In the tangle of hands, limbs and mouths, someone finally found the button on the other's pants and let it loose. The other one quickly followed suit and both kicked off the last of their garments. Michael picked Fi up slightly, pressing her against the wall behind her; she brought her legs up and wrapped them around his waist as he readied to enter her. He thrust inside her and as he did so she gasped. Michael looked at her, to make sure she wasn't hurt and noticed that Fi had a strange, very satisfied look on her face. Fi pulled him closer to her, making him thrust even more deeply inside of her, she found her rhythm with him and began moving with him. After a few minutes, Michael placed his hands underneath her bottom and carried her to the bed so that he was sitting on the edge of it, with her on top of him. Once they were a more solid surface they were able to move more than they had been earlier. Their pace quickened, and for a heartbeat Michael thought Fi was going to fall off of him and to the floor, at that moment they caught each other's eyes, which only excited them more. They looked at each other as they continued not speaking, and this-- this being very different from their first time not as tender and certainly not as delicate-- had a feeling of urgency that neither one of them could really understand or explain. It was almost as if this was to be their last time together in this way.
They continued moving together, their eyes locked until they both knew they were done, for as urgent and as desperate as this time together seemed to be it was also rather silent. There was no loud voice calling the other's name or any grunt or moan of satisfaction. Fi simply climbed off of Michael when they were done and made her way into the bathroom not looking back. Michael was at a loss for what to do. He wasn't sure if he should get dressed and leave her hotel room before she got back or if he should stay and wait so they could "talk" about what just happened.
Fiona leaned against the bathroom door, closing her eyes trying to make sense out of what just occurred. It wasn't just the sex; the whole encounter had this strange feeling of finality. This sense that something had just ended and she had no idea why. She gave herself a moment to regain her composure and to make sure he had enough time to clean himself up, get dressed and leave the hotel room with no regrets on either of their parts. She went to the sink and washed her hands, and as she did so she made sure not to make eye contact with her reflection in the mirror because she was sure if she did, that's what would make the tears come and the realization with them of what had just happened. As she was drying her hands, she heard the click of the door to the room and knew that he had left. She opened the door to the bathroom, slightly, just to make sure he had left the room and once that was confirmed, she went back into the bathroom and stepped into the shower. The tears took a few minutes to start. It wasn't until she was under the spray that she began letting herself feel for the first time in days. She began processing everything that had happened since yesterday afternoon and she found herself strangely overwhelmed. She could hardly believe that everything that had happened only been in the past twenty four hours. Sometime during all this, she had lost herself to another person and she wasn't sure when she would get all of herself back. She let everything she was feeling come out and she began to sob, finally dropping to the tub and letting it all out.
Michael stood outside the bathroom door and listened as Fi was crying under the shower, knowing that she only did so because she believed him to be gone. He knew that he had to leave the room to afford her the luxury of being able to express her emotions freely, and yet something was tugging at him, telling him to stay. It wasn't because she was crying; he had dealt with plenty of women crying for or in front of him, and it never bothered him. No, this was something else, something different. He felt drawn to her, connected somehow. As much as he wanted to open the bathroom door and go to her he knew he couldn't, he couldn't betray her that way. He slipped out as quietly as he could, forming a plan of action as he went. He began working on a cover ID in his head, one that would help him infiltrate her organization in Ireland. He thought it might be time for Fiona's associates to meet Michael McBride.