Just a writing exercise, to get back in the mood.

Sorry for the delay on Courtship - I've been away on holiday, as my profile said (but I know, who checks out those things), but am back and will soon get started on it. Because who cares about summer semester, right? Right.

Warnings of sap, obligatory angst, and then more of both. Better out than in, right? Cheers for any & all feedback, remaining readers :)



She wakes up when he comes back one time.

It doesn't happen very often – Nika is a heavy sleeper, to the point where one of his plans for alerting Nika to danger from a distance involves waking her with an explosion – but this time, she wakes up.

He ignores her while he sets his suitcase on the table, loosens his tie. It's been a long day, and 47 is tired. He just wants a shower, a quick wipe-down of his equipment, and to sleep. What he does not want is a conversation. What he does not want is Nika asking him where he was, how he is, if he's hurt – all these tiresome civil exchanges that even Nika can't redeem at four in the morning. He has just shot two men, garrotted one, and arranged for the death of their employer, which will occur just after the woman inevitably decides to transfer her shares to his client on the laptop 47 had set up in front of her before he left, and to return to the point: 47 is tired. His wrist hurts. And no, he does not want to talk about it.

So he ignores Nika as she sits up abruptly, rubs her face. He ignores her while she looks around the room as if disorientated by where she is, while she stares at him and stumbles out of bed. He makes a point not to glance at her when she curls up in the chair opposite him, even though it seems she's finally taken his advice to start wearing some clothes to sleep. 47 is aware that Nika thinks some of his instructions verge on obsessive paranoia; he is also aware that the easiest time to capture a target is when they are unconscious and alone. Of course, a part of him adds distantly, dryly, it's always easier to deal with Nika when she is unconscious. For one, she tends to argue less.

Despite his irritable expectations, Nika stays silent while he sets out his equipment on the table. 47 takes advantage of this miracle to clean and refill the syringes. He wipes down the fibre wires; he checks and cleans and reloads the .45s. Then he repacks the suitcase neatly and sets up the laptop. It's all routine work, reassuringly mindless from years of repetition, and his weariness blurs the actions into the hundreds of times he's done it in the past, alone and bone-tired in a hotel room after another completed assignment. Except -- this time there is another presence in the room with him, breathing and quiet and sleepy-eyed. Not that it makes a difference. He is sure that somewhere out there, there is someone else similarly awake at this godforsaken hour.

His target, for instance. The laptop beeps once, flashes up a box. The shares have been transferred. A few seconds later, the red line at the bottom of the screen goes flat. And now the target is dead.

47 sighs, pulls off his tie completely. There are times when he misses having a handler, he reflects – usually this would be the time that his job ends and Diana takes over. Having to directly handle his clients is slowing him down. Then 47 makes the mistake of glancing over at the cause of the problem, and forgets what he is regretting.

Nika is already half-dozing, her head dipping in slow drowsy blinks. Her short hair is a mess of flattened spikes, and there is make-up smudged in unflattering patches from her eyes, and for some reason – probably to annoy him – she is wearing one of his shirts, the collar crushed upwards against her neck from being slept on. She is also breathtakingly beautiful. 47 forgets, sometimes. It's probably because he spends so much of the other times trying not to notice.

47 looks away, stands up, moves off. Because he has to shower. And he is tired, remember – he has no time for internal battles or lapses in judgment. In the bathroom, he turns the hot water as far up as he can stand, soaks in the heat and steam. He thinks very specifically of nothing. Unfortunately, when he steps out, Nika is still curled in the chair. Asleep.

It occurs to 47 that no one has ever waited up for him before. Not anyone who wasn't paid to, anyway.

It occurs to him that he doesn't get to see Nika very often. If not for her mystifying ability to talk almost constantly, he would barely know her at all.

She barely knows him at all.

...He really should have just slept with her that night in Istanbul, before it could matter. Then it'd just be about sex, which he understands.

Nika makes a small noise then, and turns her head awkwardly. The chair backing is low, and creates an odd angle for her neck. 47 hesitates, then dismisses the idea of carrying her to bed. It takes three tries to wake her up, and when she does she frowns and blinks up at him, as if already forgetting how she got there.

"The bed," he reminds her. Nika nods groggily and he helps her out of the chair, towards the bed. She's asleep again almost as soon as she falls on it. A good thing, because it saves them both from the inanity of conversations that may or may not start with any weight on my right wrist will aggravate it right now, or I killed four people tonight: that's how you know me. Sometimes 47 wonders if Nika really understands what he does. She seems to assume that everyone that he eliminates deserves it in some way, the ostensible bad guys, which would make him –

Sometimes Nika depresses him, in ways he would probably not be able to explain if she asked.

He really needs to sleep.

47 moves to turn off the lights around the room. Dawn is starting to seep around the edges of the curtains, sketching everything in charcoal-grey. He finds the lounge chair without difficult and settles in it, closes his eyes. Just before he drifts off he thinks he hears Nika sigh, turn over – but it is too late to wonder, a heavy weight pulling him under: the agent 47 is asleep.

But not for long.