A/N: Thank to A'serene, who is still my faithful beta (even when I freak out)
We begin with a prologue. The pace of this installment kicks off fast, and winds down. Technically (and literaturely) speaking, it is the "Falling Action" of the pyramid, Probie Days being the "Rising Action" and Paris Nights, the "Climax".
We start Russian Twilight as I start back to school. I pledge to keep up on updates as much as possibly--with encouagement from you;) Enjoy the story!
In the late night, amidst the relentless snow, wind, and bone-chilling cold of Russia, a lone figure made her way down the ice-stricken street of St. Petersburg, for once oblivious to the beauty and sheer elegance of the old city.
She was consumed by the chill in her blood, the fear that seemed to chase her wherever she went, and the lurking feeling in her stomach that made her sick. She felt like she was drowning in this, unable to tell who she was anymore, so caught up.
She was consumed.
Alone in the sleeping city, at this time of night, she found herself thinking for once not of the job, not of guns and big arms deals, or the next move, but instead of warm arms and comforting lips. For the first time in a while all she cared about was slipping into bed and forgetting this operation and the stress and heartache it wrought, even if he knew nothing of what plagued her.
Her jaw set firmly, and her well-loved, soft as butter leather coat buttoned tight against the biting wind and snow, Tatiana Ivanovich traipsed gracefully through treacherous terrain to the gleaming hotel that was her destination, her eyes sharp on her surroundings, sure she wasn't being followed.
She was tuned to every sound, keenly aware of the weapon at her lower back and the knife tucked into her sleek, tightly fit boot, so thin not even the man she'd been stalking, the one she'd been precariously close to just moments ago, didn't even suspect.
She was almost on the brink of insanity. She was pushing the edges of her limits, desperate to breathe and so determined to pull this off, the one thing that would catapult her right to where she needed to be to execute her revenge.
Her hand shaking, just barely noticeable, she reached up to tuck a strand of short, styled black hair behind her ear as she stepped up the fancy hotel walkway, the heels of her killer boots clicking dangerously.
A finely dressed concierge opened the door for her, and in clipped, cool Russian she thanked him, careful not to meet his eyes, treating him as if he were no better than the ground she walked on.
The lobby was blissfully empty, apart from a few watchful and lingering employees, and as she stepped into the gold-plated elevator, she almost lost her resolve and gave in to the tears that clogged her head, almost collapsed into the corner and fell apart.
But that wouldn't be prudent. God knows who could be watching at any moment. There was no safety until—
Her footsteps quickened as the elevator reached her floor, the very top, secluded room and she went straight to her door, looking only in front of her.
Her fingers shook as she held the key in her hand, lingering, hesitating outside the door. She had done what she had been ordered to do—anything for the job, anything. She had made a decision and it still stung to the core now, it hurt almost like nothing else ever would.
She had barely thought twice at the time, so wrapped up in Tatiana Ivanovich, so muddled in whom she was and whom she was supposed to be. It had been necessary. She had gotten the Intel at all costs.
Her jaw tightened as she unlocked the door, whispering a few words in French as she entered, a beacon that it was her to her partner. She was back late, she knew, and he would be worried. He was so worried about her now.
She heard him ask her name, and as she shut the door, leaned back heavily against it, reached up, and ripped the black wig from her hair, almost crying in relief as her long, red curls spilled down her shoulders.
"Jen," he breathed, and he was in front of her in a second, touching her face and her shoulder.
"I can't do this anymore, Jethro," she said hoarsely, tears falling from her eyes. It didn't matter how much she hated crying and how long it had been since she had allowed herself to.
"What is it? What happened?" he asked, crouching down as she slid to the floor, concern etched in the lines of his face and in his skin. "Jenny?" he questioned gently.
She just shook her head, throwing the wig as far away as possible.
"I don't know who I am anymore."
"Did he hurt you?" Jethro asked, his voice low and deadly.
She raised her eyes to him expressionlessly. She had done this to herself. She had done this to Jethro. It was a numb, black memory that she filed away. Silently, she shook her head 'no', willing him to just accept it for what it was.
He studied her and nodded briefly; she saw in his eyes that he knew there was something more.
He eased onto his knees and reached out to her, pulling her close and holding her head against his shoulder. He put a hand in her hair, comforting her, always there with such a soothing touch. She relaxed into him, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
"I hate it here," she said vehemently. "I hate this goddamn cold and this evil city," her voice shook, and he knew how much this was getting to her. Eating at her.
There was pleasure, too much vindictive, misplaced pleasure, in what he eased her pain with, in what he was able to tell her.
"We're done, Jen," he said a little gruffly.
She stilled in his arms, hardly breathing, her skin still so cold.
"Tonight?" she whispered, barely audible, her voice so full of emotion.
He placed his warm lips next to her ear and kissed her gently.
"Decker is already on the move," he murmured.
She drew back some, her always beautiful, always sharp emerald eyes meeting his crystal-like blue ones, her lips parted.
"Svetlana's guards are dead," he said blandly, and she didn't have to ask how he knew. He would have killed them after leaving her, after their meeting, after drugging whatever she'd been drinking.
"Anatoly is alone," Jenny said, and added in a sickened whisper, "asleep."
There was no need to tell him how she had managed to leave him asleep. She hardly expected him to ask.
Jethro nodded to her, reaching out again to touch his face, caress the arch of her neck.
"When it's done," he began, but she cut him off, well-versed in the protocol, her words almost mechanic as she repeated back the orders:
"Call it in, do not wait for Decker or you; get the hell out of Russia."
He looked into her eyes, smiling a little. She was so good at what they did.
"Paris," he murmured, and she nodded, her agreement firm.
"I'll meet you in Paris," she repeated.
She was standing, and he was following to, taking his coat from a chair near them, and the old fedora she'd bought so long ago in London, before their relationship had been a flicker in their eyes.
"Get out clean, Jen," he warned, "Clean as a whistle, or we're all fucked."
She just glared, on the edge of her breaking point.
She drew her to him and kissed him hard, unbridled, her hand holding him to her at the back of his neck, feeling his life and his pulse through his carotid artery. God, she loved how he tasted, how he smelled. How warm he was.
The kiss was broken, and he touched her lips, reaching for the door behind her.
"You know the word," he stated, and in her impressive heels, she leaned up just enough to be able to whisper in his ear:
And they were gone.
Tell me what you think.