Where Plot Bunnies Come to Die (Or, The Sum of Fifty Parts)
Christ I tried to avoid this but it seems I have come to this. This is a writing exercise where you write 1 sentence each for 50 random prompts. I used & finished it ages ago as a dumping ground for loose plot scenes, and cleaned it up some time ago to make it readable.
If there are still readers out there, I know you're probably impatient (optimistically speaking) for the final chapt on Courtship; unfortunately, I am incredibly busy right now and things don't look to be dying down. Seriously. You have no idea. So here's something to assure you I'm not completely dead yet, though maybe a bit of a douche for resorting to this.
Based off the 1sentence 'Alpha' theme set. Most sentences could probably fit as 'missing moments' in the Courtship universe, though bear in mind these are just random ideas and quite a few are NOT meant to happen and never will. Thanks for any feedback or cries of outrage, whatever says someone's still out there :)
#01 – Comfort
He comes back after a particularly tiring couple of days and finds the door unlatched, nothing secured and for Christ's sake, how many times must he tell her to at least take some precautions – "Oh hey," Nika's face lights up when she sees him, her pleasure as startling as a camera-flash: "welcome back," she smiles, already moving towards him, and 47's impatience falls away.
#02 – Kiss
Even after all this time, 47 rarely kisses her of his own initiative: her hitman prefers to show affection in other ways, presumably when she is not looking.
#03 – Soft
Sometimes 47 forgets to ignore her and touches her absently, gently on her cheek; Nika shivers and holds her breath, and then generally ruins it all by doing something stupid, like leaning in.
#04 – Pain
To hear Nika talk about her life, you would think that she had never known real pain, at most just a string of badly-chosen boyfriends – despite the pale lines across her back, despite the faint scars ghost-binding the weak underside of her wrists, cutting round the arch of her ankles: 47 notices everything.
#05 – Potatoes
Not that he'd ever admit it, but there is this old Russian dish that Nika makes sometimes consisting of onions, mushrooms, diced potatoes and absolutely no protein that is oddly comforting to have -- or perhaps he is just tired of solitary meal bars.
#06 – Rain
They do it in the rain once, with the car parked on the side of a remote country trail and Nika storming out, still swearing – 47 follows her into the tall grass immediately and is angry enough to pull her wrists roughly behind her back, hostage-style; but not enough to resist when she counters with a deliberate grind, her skin slick and hot beneath the rain.
#07 – Chocolate
Summer in Italy and the heat shimmers up from the cobblestones, melts the ice-cream in Nika's hand faster than she can catch the drips with her tongue -- 47 does not watch her lick the thick cream from her hand like the rest of the hot-eyed men in the courtyard, of course, but he certainly watches those men.
#08 – Happiness
Nika has seen enough of life and other disasters to know that she never wants to be in love (and then she went ahead and fell for a killer anyway).
#09 – Telephone
He gets Nika to help him in a different way once by reducing her to a steady voice in his earpiece, listens to her reciting the randomized guard cycles in real-time while he cuts his way into a fortified building – she does her job very well, in fact, is clear and curt and coolly clinical as instructed, and 47 never asks again.
#10 – Ears
She can't tell if 47 likes or hates it when she calls him by his nam- by his number: he always stills briefly, like a flinch suppressed or a relief savoured, she can't tell which, and sometimes Nika wonders if it is a little of both.
#11 – Name
"You know, I don't really have a name either," Nika says one day, sleepy and oblivious– "they changed it when I was first sold, I can't remember what it used to be anymore – isn't that strange?"
#12 – Sensual
The worst times are when Nika isn't trying to deliberately seduce him: it leaves him with no excuses when he sees her frowning over a book in sunlight, a golden glow stroking her throat and bare shoulders; when she steps out of the bathroom with her thin cotton top sticking damply to her skin, hugging the soft curves of her waist and breasts and – no, stop it, stop.
#13 – Death
Despite what 47 does for a living, his anger has never translated into thoughtless violence – which is why when he slaughters her two remaining guards even after they had surrendered and then levels the gun at her forehead, his voice hard and unforgiving, Diana realizes the project of capturing the witness Boronina is going to end far worse than she had warned.
#14 – Sex
Nika is so used to thinking of sex in terms of security and survival that it never occurs to her that the man she is chasing might be thinking of it in the exact opposite way.
#15 – Touch
Her hitman can go for long weeks without touching her, to the point where the closest thing to voluntary contact from him would be a gloved grip bruising her arm as he drags her from yet another goddamned crime scene – it's enough to make any woman feel unwanted, and more than enough to remind Nika that she is.
#16 – Weakness
Nika is a mess of bad habits, impractical planning and naive recklessness – basically, the biggest weak flank he has, which is how 47 justifies spending so much time defending her.
#17 – Tears
He can reassemble a blazer sniper rifle in less than forty seconds, breach a high security wall in less than thirty, kill a man in less than five – and yet he still never knows what to say when Nika grows withdrawn and subdued.
#18 – Speed
She watches him go through a whole table of firearms once, cleaning and disassembling with swift, methodical movements and an expressionlessly focused look: it made her wonder how her hitman got to be as good at his job as he is now, and how he can stand it.
#19 – Wind
47 has given up on trying to make sense of things around Nika: it is easier to just accept her as she is, as some form of private and very feminine natural disaster, rather than try to control her.
#20 – Freedom
Nika has a natural gift for freedom, for plunging headlong into life each day and coming back with stories like gathered leaves in her hands, green sunlight still warm in her eyes: 47 listens and watches each time, and tries not to wonder.
#21 – Life
It's hard to believe that a fucking tattoo was all it took to change her life.
#22 – Jealousy
The witness is just a slave, just created property, abandoned and useless now and he should end her terrified misery even if she has managed to mark herself as her own, even if her mark is her own – and how can someone so weak have done this, how can she have done what he has never --
(the start of his downfall: he lets her live).
#23 – Hands
It surprises him at first how fiercely Nika loves that patch of land, how uncharacteristically willing she is to hold moist dirt in her clean hands and stay in a place so far from city life or even decent shops – you must understand, this was before 47 understood the full meaning of the word home.
#24 – Taste
Nika has given up trying to discern the difference between good wine and fine wine by her untrained tongue alone; instead, she persuades 47 to try small samples and marks the bouquets he prefers as the preliminary premium batches.
#25 – Devotion
The thing is, if Nika ever finds out what he has done (is doing, will always be doing) to keep her safe, 47 doesn't think he would be able to see her again – some things are just better left unsaid, between shadow and soul.
#26 – Forever
After six long months, Nika calls herself a fool and waits no longer – she harvests her second crop in fourteen months, marries a decent honest labourer in forty-three months, and stops thinking about what could have been in seventy-nine months; 47 never stops.
#27 – Blood
Nika knows that 47 is ruthless and detached and a very, very good killer; she also knows that 47 has a habit of watching her sleep when he comes back from particularly late missions, staring tiredly at her as if trying to memorize the rhythm of her breathing – it would be a little creepy if it wasn't so damn heartbreaking.
#28 – Sickness
She ignores the weariness and breast tenderness and nagging nausea at first, but when she realizes that she's missed her period twice in a row – well, Nika can't decide whether run to the nearest abortion clinic, cry and celebrate, or just run run run away.
#29 – Melody
A night to remember: in the back-alley outside a club, the taste of nicotine and vodka in her mouth still throbbing in time to the heavy beats, her body still shaking and half-possessed with the memories of her old life and 47 telling her flatly to go wait in the car – he will define the limits of the instruction distract him later.
#30 – Star
He is just one second too late, one second, one second, but it makes all the difference – I'm sorry, Nika looks dazed, shaking under his hands, and how strange that for all that she means to him, she looks exactly like others do when they get shot, bleeds exactly like they do when they're dying – I'm sorry I couldn't, Nika tries again, and 47 will wonder for the rest of his life how that sentence ends.
#31 – Home
He reaches the vineyard just an hour after dawn and finds Nika already up by the old shed, sleepy in mismatched boots as she drags out pots of soil – for one mad, exhausted moment, all 47 wants to do is draw her close and breathe in the scent of something ordinary, something real.
#32 – Confusion
I don't know what you want, she told him in the beginning; if you tell me it would help, if you tell me I could give it to you – but he just looked at her for one long heartbeat, looked away.
#33 – Fear
For some reason, the witness loses her fear of him during their time in Istanbul, and it changes the way she looks at him, speaks to him; the way she teases and sulks and laughs and argues and follows him – it changes everything.
#34 - Lightning/Thunder
"Do you remember that time in the rain--" she starts wickedly, and never gets to finish.
#35 – Bonds
Nika has spent so much of her time waiting for a man that never stays more than a handful of hours that she has started to miss 47 even when he is finally near, as if pleasure too great can morph into heartache.
#36 – Market
It's one of those trips where he largely leaves Nika to her own devices, but he pauses when he chances across her in the city's east street market, Nika's head bowed over some trinket as he watches her on the opposite roofs overhead – it's an odd, disquieting feeling, to think that in another life, he would not have noticed her at all.
#37 – Technology
Sometime during their third week in France, Nika gets addicted to a certain television series with absurd plots, trigger-tempting characters, and very importantly, no subtitles – he loses the argument, of course, and so 47 spends the next couple of weeks discreetly (rebelliously) reworking the inane dialogue with his liberally altered translations.
#38 – Gift
47 can be one cold bastard at times, but he can also be kind, and Nika – Nika will always forgive him worlds of hurt just for that.
#39 – Smile
Nika doesn't realize this, but she's the only person who's ever seen 47 genuinely smile.
#40 – Innocence
"Because there is nothing to say," he replies evenly; "With the exception of you, I am everything I am made to be: there is nothing else to tell" – but Nika never understands.
#41 – Completion
Her secret fear is this: that 47 would never find his own way, would never even realize that he needs to, and she would always be left waiting, wishing --
#42 – Clouds
47 tracks Nika's mercury moods the same way a meteorologist forecasts the weather: diligently, but without much hope in accuracy.
#43 – Sky
The explosion lights up the night, blood-black and magnificent, a sea on fire – and yet after a breath, Nika takes his hand silently, carefully, and does not judge.
#44 – Heaven
Why Nika likes to argue with 47: he never hits her; he never seriously threatens her; he always looks slightly amazed when she doesn't give up after his first curt refusal; he listens; he tends to lose his impassivity the longer the argument goes; he may even forget to keep his distance; he usually does; he usually loses.
#45 – Hell
Why 47 doesn't like to argue with Nika: see above.
#46 – Sun
In Egypt, Nika dutifully covers herself up in public but reverts to her old ways when they are alone in their rooms, the heat driving her to strip to a pair of red-lace panties as if she was the old Nika in Istanbul again, bold and careless and infinitely more knowing – it definitely makes life difficult for 47.
#47 – Moon
After years of perfect isolation and tightly-wound instincts, sometimes even the sheer silent presence of another person sharing the same room is enough to rub his nerves raw, and then she starts talking.
#48 – Waves
There are at least five times in the last two years that 47 has seriously, flatly considered leaving Nika – just spikes of pure rationality, nothing more.
#49 – Hair
Three years on, 47 abruptly stops shaving his head and doesn't explain why – the closest that they come to talking about it is when Nika sits him down one evening, runs her fingers through his dark hair, and asks how he wants her to trim it.
#50 – Supernova
There was this one bad time when they both thought the damage was worse than it looked, that he was too late for once – I'm sorry I couldn't change anything, Nika had told him dazedly, her blood pumping between his desperate fingers; and 47 thinks that one day he will tell her what he tried to say that endless afternoon, the truth finally so bright and blinding that it burned his words away: you did, you do, just stay with me, just stay.