Title: Rid of Me
Word Count: 2,190
Spoilers: through 1x09 - "A Spy in the House of Love"
Summary: The bullet wound will scar. Adelle, and the aftermath.
Yeah, you're not rid of me, yeah, you're not rid of me
I'll make you lick my injuries, I'm gonna twist your head off, see
(I beg you my darling don't leave me, I'm hurting
Been lonely above everything above everyday, I'm hurting)
-PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
The bullet wound will scar.
Never mind, she thinks. Never mind it.
She does not grow used to Mr. Langton's presence as quickly as she would like to. His footfalls are heavier. His presence is more solid. There is none of that brisk unintended harmony, not with him. He has the good sense to stay a few steps behind her.
She walks a bit quicker now, having no reason to linger.
"I know you were close to Mr. Dominic," Dr. Saunders said.
"He was an employee with whom I worked closely," Adelle said. "There's a difference."
It is simply a matter of adjusting to a new routine, growing used to a few minor differences. All of it will seem perfectly normal in no time at all. She has no doubt about that. She's lost nothing that she can't live without.
("Good morning, Mr. Dominic."
"Good morning, ma'am."
"And what have we on the agenda for today?")
She sleeps poorly. She drinks strong black tea to compensate. She's never had a taste for coffee.
(He did. Two cups every morning, to be precise, though she cannot puzzle out how she'd come to know that. A natural progression, maybe, once you've spent three years by someone's side. He would smell of it a little in the mornings next to her, coffee and toothpaste and soap, a dash of cologne. She misses it. She thinks about him often. Always. She remembers things she'd never been aware of knowing. She, of course, is free to remember his every detail, while he is driven mad trying to catch hold of something, anything that might give him a second's understanding of who and of what and of why. She remembers in perfect time, maybe, to his forgetting. They have always been a bit like that – working so very well together. A good match, professionally speaking.)
She dreams more than she would like to. But then, she has been prepared for this. False loyalties. Considerable losses. It's always been part of the job description. She has never doubted herself to be cut out for it.
Sometimes she would like nothing more than to have him killed. She thinks of issuing the order. It would be very simple. One sentence – one sentence and they could dispose of his body right along with his mind. Her voice wouldn't as much as waver. She's always found it very easy to sound as though she is certain and in control, and people have never questioned it. It is the accent, she supposes; that hint of the frigid, the foreign.
("I went to England for a couple weeks after I got out of college," Mr. Dominic told her – lied, in all likelihood – years ago, near the very beginning of their partnership; an idle moment, a lull in the day, a rare chance for unimportant small talk. The sort of exchange one might forget the very same day it occurred. "It rained."
"It does tend to do that," she'd agreed, smiling just slightly. She'd liked him very much right away. Found him capable, competent, the sort of man you'd do well to rely on.)
Sometimes, she imagines doing it herself. Going up to the Attic with a gun in her hand, and her palms would be cool and dry and her shoes would make hard sure noises against the hard sure floor. She would feel almost empty with calm. She would stop right in front of him, crumpled in his cell, pathetic and lurching and lost. Laughable, grotesque (and it would not matter if once he liked fine suits and had a mouth inclined towards smirking and gave her tasteful impersonal gifts twice a year like clockwork, birthdays and Christmas). She would come very close, kiss his forehead with the barrel and put a bullet in his skull, watch him jerk back and spatter into nothing, blood and flecks of brain on a wall. Of course, it would not change much; he is nothing already. But it would feel good to do it. Sometimes she thinks of aiming lower, at his heart. She imagines the uncomprehending child's cry, for his stoicism would have been wiped away with the rest of him, and oh, the shame he would have felt to know he would be on his knees, yelling out so feebly in fear of her, of what she could, would do to him. She imagines the blooming of his blood very red and his eyes very blue as he dies looking at her, trying to place her face.
But it would be messy and weak, this impulse, and she's done with weakness.
(He is erased, he is done, and still she feels him every second like he's underneath her skin, screaming against her bones, locked inside her nerves and her hair and her fingernails.)
The breeze is salty and cool. It blows her hair into her face. Behind the salt, the air smells like Sunday and half-faded conversations between soft white bedsheets. The sky is a sickly blue-purple, the shade of an obstinate bruise. There's music playing far away, the sort that ought to be danced to cheek-to-cheek. A three-legged dog sniffs curiously at the shoreline, casts one doleful glance at her before moving along. It has a peculiar limping gait, pathetic and lurching and lost. She feels a surge of pity, having always liked dogs. The ocean is still as glass, glinting with an oily sheen.
Her shoes pinch her toes. She takes one graceless step forward and then gives up. High heels and sand weren't made to mix. She'd meant to wear pink. These days it seems she never has the chance to change after work.
A hand flutters, gentle, over her eyes.
"Remember me?" he whispers. She does not open her eyes right away when he brings his hand back down. He loops his arms around her from behind, and there is a spot of bright pain as his hand bumps her abdomen. It vanishes fast. His lips drift to her neck. She sighs, she breathes out. He is here after all, in spite of all her cold noble intentions to see him lost. She cannot remember if it was selfless or selfish of her to do that.
"You're not nearly as charming as you think you are," she says, loving his mouth on her pulse, enamored for some reason with the notion of his tongue and her heartbeat. She wants him in all of her. Bones, nerves, hair, fingernails.
"And that's my fault? Mind, I'm tailored to your specifications, darling."
"Yes, well, obviously I made a mistake."
--she made a mistake; now she's sad--
He nips playfully at her earlobe, pauses to whisper. His voice is warm and kind. She thinks she would bathe in it if she could. "It's been awhile. Have you missed me?"
"Don't flatter yourself," she replies, leaning back into him. She twines her hands with his. "I'm a very professional businesswoman. Highly important. Quite beyond petty things like human emotion."
"You need to get out of that place."
"That place is everything I am. It has been for so long I wouldn't know where to begin."
"It's a gift. I told you."
"It's a breeding ground for pathetic, self-deluding souls." He buries his face in the curve of her shoulder, affectionate. His breath is hot and a little wet against her skin. "You're my very own pathetic, self-deluding soul."
She scoffs. "Small wonder Miss Lonelyhearts lost her taste for you."
"Nonsense. I'm terribly chivalrous. For example, I intended to save you. From them, from all of it. Show you that you were better than that. It was my plan all along, in fact."
"A likely story."
"You say that now." She feels a pang she cannot place. Perhaps she's hungry. Perhaps she's quite beyond petty things like hunger. "Of course you say that now."
"You really think I didn't start to love you? Being there for you the way I was?"
"You had to be there for me. It was part of the job description," she says, meaning to say 'imprint' instead. "Love had nothing to do with it. Love requires choice."
"Maybe I said to hell with it. Maybe I chose to love you."
"Hardened professional that you were. Liar that you were."
"Not the smartest move, maybe, but what can you do? All that proximity." He rocks a little against her. "All that repression. Sure, I was surrounded by pretty young things, all willowy and malleable, but they weren't quite my type. Really, I always found the whole thing just a little bit twisted. Me, I'd prefer something real. Older, sure, maybe a few wrinkles around the eyes, but sophisticated. Smart. Admit it, sometimes you'd catch me checking out your legs."
"I'm sure your eyes were just wandering absently because you were lost in thought," she counters. She is excellent at countering, even when it's a fight she does not want to have. (Funny, coming from the man who tried to kill her. Twice.) "What a thinker of deep thoughts you must have been, with all your secret admirable goals. Your hidden agenda." She doesn't mean to say any of these things, and thinks she must be drunk. Drugged. She could eat these words, swallow them all back in. (Please, take care of him.) "Sometimes I think you're still down there, underneath what you're supposed to be. Caroline is. Echo. It's quite fitting. She echoes."
"Don't change the subject."
"I am the head of this organization. I can change whatever I like."
"You know what I wouldn't change?"
"I don't care. I'm quite certain I retired you." (Signed your death warrant like a business transaction.)
"You. If I could make a woman, I'd make you, Ms. DeWitt."
The ocean is no longer still. It rolls insidiously in and out, knits the whisper of its waves into his voice. Obscures it. She is quite sure he doesn't sound like he's supposed to.
"Katherine," she says.
"You don't know who I am."
"Of course I do. You showed me, remember? A thousand and ninety-five days. You and me, side by side. Sometimes our arms would brush. You'd pretend not to pay attention. Maybe get a couple butterflies. An itch you'd like to scratch."
"You certainly think highly of yourself."
"But of course that wouldn't be professional. You, ma'am, are very, very professional. And that's where I come in, isn't that right? Witty, debonair, just like the gentlemen you left behind in the mother country, challenging but always so overtly affectionate. Supportive, but every bit your equal. Never even dream of calling you ma'am."
"Let's go back," she suggests, feeling a little sick but sounding just sure and as dry as she always does. "Go to bed. I suspect there must be something I can do to shut you up."
He doesn't listen. "I know you like the back of my hand. I could forget everything I've ever learned and I'd still know you."
"Oh, will you quit babbling?" she snaps. "There's no point, remember. The game's up now. I know better than to believe in you. I'm not in the habit of making the same mistake twice."
--now she's sad--
"That's what love is, right? Showing? Trusting? It's not about the pain. It's about trust. Handing yourself over fully and completely to another human being—"
"You didn't know me," she reminds him, with a feeling like burning. "I never even told you my name."
"Just because I didn't call you your name doesn't mean I didn't know it. I know the real you. I saw her. You showed me. Didn't even think twice."
"I was foolish, and blind."
"I never lied to you, about my methods or my priorities."
"You told me this already. Do you really think you're capable of changing my mind? Reversing my decision?"
"I want the real you."
"You're being obnoxious."
"You're a piece of work."
She can't take it any longer; she disentangles herself from him and turns around, and does not know if she means to slap him or kiss him. She feels silenced by the ocean, miniscule beneath the bruise-bright sky. He's meant to save her from all this, if only for a little while. "Roger—"
"You always get my name wrong," Mr. Dominic says, his eyes very blue, and it is her blood that blooms red against the white silk of her blouse.
(It's a graze. Get on with it.)
And still she kisses him.
"It's okay to feel something," Dr. Saunders said.
"That would imply I'd lost something," Adelle said.
"Didn't you?" Ever the expert on scars.
"Good morning, Mr. Langton."
"Good morning, Ms. DeWitt."
"And what have we on the agenda for today?"