"Hey, Salt. Slacking off again, are we?"
"No, Ted, for your information I am very hard at work, thank you very much," she turned to him, looking like the human embodiment of sunshine. Her blonde hair, French-braided to the side, seemed to glow like a halo. And her big smile was an invitation to the banter the two engaged in on a daily basis. "It's something I think you should try more often."
Salt. Evelyn Salt. No matter how hard he tried he could not get her off his mind. Ted Winter was not a man who had close relationships with women, heck with anyone! He always kept his distance from others; he always kept his focus on his goals. He prided himself on his determination, which had secured him his job in the CIA among other things. But then one day suddenly, BAM! Everything changed. The direction of his life veered off course the moment he met Salt. And now, she haunted him in much the same way his past did every day of his life. He had a new goal: to obtain her.
"Remember, who's the boss around here, Salt?" Winter smugly looked at her, "You are supposed to bow down to me. Now, slave, get me a sandwich."
"Only in your dreams, overlord, only in your dreams…" Salt turned back to her computer and began rapidly typing on her keyboard.
Winter continued to look at her for a moment. He hated having to share a cubicle with her. It was the sweetest torture to have her so close, to have her scent linger in the air, to know that all he had to do was reach out his hand to break the gap between them. And as their camaraderie grew, it was even more difficult for him to keep his secret from her. How he longed to end his self-enforced loneliness by divulging his greatest secret and, though she did not know it, their greatest bond.
He turned to his own computer, but found he could not concentrate on the task at hand. Memories of when he first met Evelyn Salt flooded him. He was drowning all over again in the sensations of that first meeting, the first moment they looked each other straight in the eye. She was as stunning then, just a few years earlier, as she was now. Her golden hair had tumbled freely down her back and her laugh was jubilant. The interview itself had been awkward, as all interviews are, the conversation not an easy one. Winter had been thrown off by Salt's attractiveness and the confidence in which she carried herself. Her resume was impressive and her Russian excellent. Salt was assertive, intelligent, and charismatic. There was no competition. She was immediately hired to work in the Russian branch of the CIA where Winter was to be her boss. It was a pleasure to work with Salt. Not because she was beautiful. No, it was because in Salt, Winter had found his equal. Someone who could intellectually challenge him, who was not afraid of pushing the limits, who was capable of breaking rules in order to achieve a goal. And Salt's quick witted sense of humour never failed to amuse Winter even in the most inappropriate situations.
"Winter! Winter! What the hell are you doing? You haven't heard a word I've said!"
Winter, now broken out of his reverie, turned to face his other colleague, Peabody. Winter hated Peabody. If Salt made working a joy then Peabody made it a hell. It seemed most everything Peabody said and did irked him. Peabody had to do everything by the book; he crossed every 'T' and dotted every 'I'. The rules were the rules and Peabody refused to break them for any reason. What Winter hated most of all was that there was no air around the guy, he was constantly suffocating himself. And this inevitably ruined it for everyone around him. While Winter and Salt were making jokes and teasing one another, Peabody was the one scowling in the corner telling them to get to work.
"C'mon man, get up! You and Salt are needed on the fifth floor," Peabody said and then he promptly marched off to the elevator.
Winter turned to Salt, "What crawled up his ass?" He gulped down the last of his disgusting coffee (you'd think the CIA could afford something that tasted decent?) and followed Peabody alongside Salt.
"Well, whatever it is, it's been there for years," Salt murmured to him as they walked.
"Every time Peabody walks into a room I block out the sound of his nagging voice, it makes life easier," Winter said as they made their way through the maze of cubicles, "So, uh, what'd I miss? Anything important? Or is he just throwing a temper tantrum for no reason?"
Salt briefly filled Winter in as they neared the open elevator where Peabody was waiting, "Peabody said that there is a Russian Mafioso who's been handed over to us for questioning."
Once they had filed into the elevator all conversation ceased. Winter had no intention of wasting breath trying to speak to Peabody, so he chose not to speak at all. The enmity between Winter and Peabody was palpable. There was no cheesy music playing in the elevator (could the CIA not afford anything?) to distract themselves from each other. Everyone simply looked down at their feet, lost in their own thoughts, until the doors opened again on the fifth floor.
Peabody then proceeded to lead his colleagues to the interrogation room. Before entering they all removed their cellphones and confirmed their identities. When the mundane rituals were over Peabody, Salt, and Winter joined a few more colleagues in the soundproof room. This was where the agents could converse with one another during the interrogation. Winter looked through the two-way mirror into the Spartan interview room. The room was furnished by a table, which was nailed down to the floor, and two metal folding chairs. In one of the chairs there sat a man whose head was engulfed in a black hood. This was done to ensure that the criminal would not know his location. An agent stood in the corner watching the man.
"OK, boys, curtains up," Winter directed as the agent took the hood off the man then left the room. "So, what are we dealing with?"
Jones, a new young guy still naïve to the realities of the job, answered, "He was caught by the local police smuggling cocaine into the country. More importantly though they found that he's also been bringing in laundered money and smuggling in weapons from Russia. When we're done with him the FBI takes him"
"Sounds like a small fry, but who knows? Ev, you wanna go in together? We could be done by the time the next pot of coffee has brewed…" as Winter said this he turned to Jones, raising his eyebrows. Jones immediately scuttled away. No one liked to piss Winter off.
"Sure thing, Ted," Salt was a pro and Winter hadn't been joking about getting this done quickly. Men caved to Evelyn so easily it would have been pathetic if Winter had not been one of them.
Before going into the room Salt and Winter inserted earphones into their ears and exchanged a glance, speaking without saying a word. They would employ their usual strategy which worked often on these middle men they occasionally had to deal with.
Salt took the seat opposite the man. Winter stood right beside him, crowding him. As he did so Winter sized up the Mafioso. Of course, the most shocking aspect of his appearance was his numerous tattoos. They rose up his neck, his forearms and, from what Winter could see of his ankles, up his legs. Tattoos were important to the Russian mafia in much the same way the Hells Angels insignia was to that gang. Other than the tattoos the man was fairly average. He was older, in his fifties, with a full-head of slightly graying black hair. He angrily looked up at Winter and spat on his shoes. "Who the fuck are you? And why are you standin' so close? Fucking asshole."
"Sir, would you please not speak to my colleague that way? He's only doing his job. Now…" Salt spoke in a calm, firm voice.
Winter interjected, "You better watch it you fucking prick or you'll be on the next boat back to fucking Lithuania where you'll have to paint motherfucking babushka dolls to make a living."
Salt furrowed her brows at Winter and shook her head at him. She began again, "Now Mr. Vronsky, tell us how you came to be in possession of all those weapons. Who gave them to you?"
Vronsky slid down a little in his seat as he hung his head, "I don't have to say shit, especially with this cocksucker standing over me."
"If you don't give the pretty lady here what she's looking for within the next thirty seconds my fist and your face are going to get acquainted."
"Watch it, Winter," Peabody chided in his ear.
"Go fuck your mother, you American piece of shit," before the words were barely even out of the Russian's mouth, Winter's fist connected with his nose. Vronsky was knocked out of his chair and to the floor where he lay grabbing his face and writhing in pain. While Vronsky was still in shock from the blow, Winter hauled him back into his seat and handcuffed him to it.
"Winter! What the fuck! You can't just…get your ass in here!" Peabody was screaming directly into both Winter's and Salt's ears.
Salt covered her mouth with her hand. While she may have looked as though she were in shock to the others, only Winter knew that she was actually hiding a grin. That was his reward for playing the bad cop to Evelyn's good cop. And shocking Peabody was a game as amusing as his and Ev's daily banter.
"He's right, you'd better go," Salt said as she pulled herself together again. Winter quietly left so Salt could finish the job. The Russian moaned as Evelyn began the questioning in earnest.
"Who the hell do you think you are Winter, huh? You can't just go slug a man like that!" Winter quickly ripped the earphone out before Peabody rendered him permanently deaf, "He's not gonna want to give us any information now!"
"Have you never seen a woman in action?" Winter questioned him. Winter nursed his knuckles as he watched Evelyn talk with Vronsky. She wiped the blood off Vronsky's face with a tissue and while she did so she pulled all of the information they needed out of him. Men were just grown children, Winter supposed. They all just wanted to be mothered in times of pain and Vronsky was no different.
Winter watched Salt finish the job while he sipped at a tepid mug of, supposedly, fresh coffee. He admired her skills. She was acting all sweet and innocent now, but Winter knew that in a flash she could kick anyone's ass, verbally and physically. Peabody and everyone else around Winter were chattering away; he was secluded within his thoughts. Suddenly a new idea formulated in his head that once thought of would not go away again. Winter was finally determined to take action. He would not let this day end as every other one had since the day he had met Salt. But just what he would do he was still not quite sure. And he was okay with that, preferring not to have a plan.
Salt waltzed into the room and grabbed a cup of coffee (Winter wondered if it was as cold as his had now become). The interrogation was a success. Winter watched Vronsky be led away, glad that this would be the last he would ever see of the mobster. Salt was engaged in conversation with Peabody and Jones. She giggled at something one of the men had said. Winter turned away in order to hide his disgust. He was torn between grabbing Salt and running off with her caveman style or kicking Jones in the gut and stabbing his eye out with his pen.
Then Salt called to him and all thoughts of violence fled Winter's mind, "Ted, Would you walk me out?" And when she glanced at him with her big blues and open grin it was impossible for him to say no. He was glad to have an excuse to leave the room. He also relished the opportunity to get Salt alone, even if it was just for the walk to her car.
The pair grabbed their cellphones and Winter escorted Salt into the hallway. They traversed the length of it in silence. Even when they reached the elevator and waited a moment for it to open neither of them spoke a word. It was strange this silence between them. It didn't feel uncomfortable, just different. Usually the two chattered together non-stop, but now: nothing. Winter didn't know why Salt wasn't speaking, but he himself was suddenly too nervous to speak. He was rarely speechless, but suddenly being alone with Salt overwhelmed him. It was as if he was paralyzed. His heart pounded so hard in his chest he was sure Salt could hear it in the silent tomb of the elevator. For this reason the ride in the elevator seemed unbearably long, but at the same time Winter never wanted it to end. When it ended that would mean his time with Salt would be nearing an end too.
Just when he was thinking he couldn't stand another second of being within this confined space, so close yet so far from Salt, the elevator doors opened on the ground floor. As they stepped out Salt turned to Winter with a questioning gaze, her brows slightly furrowed, "I'm amazed. This is the longest period of time I've seen you not say a word. What's gotten into you, Winter?"
Winter cleared his throat as he tried to formulate an explanation, "I could say the same of you, Salt."
Salt looked at him a moment longer then nodded and reluctantly began walking again. Great, now he had to start talking in order to cover his ass and not look like a complete moron. "Do you ever wonder why the coffee around here tastes so horrible? Cause I've thought about it every day since I started this job." Yep, in Winter's opinion, that was definitely lame.
Salt roared with laughter. She was laughing so hard tears were rolling down her cheeks. She even bent over, grasping her stomach, still laughing. Wow, this was the most embarrassing moment of Winter's life. They were in the busy crowded entrance room and all the people were staring at them, at him in particular, wondering what it was he could have said or done to get such a reaction out of Salt.
"You can stop anytime, Salt, anytime…" despite hating being the center of attention Winter felt a little proud of himself. Yes, Salt may have been laughing at him, but at least he had gotten her laughing.
"Oh, Winter," Salt giggled a little more despite her attempts to restrain herself, "I'll never understand you. Is that what you've been thinking about the whole time? Coffee?" She giggled again and they resumed walking.
"So? Do you?"
"Do I what, Ted?"
"Think that the coffee is horrible?"
She laughed again, "Yes, Ted. Yes, I do." They had reached the check-out station at this point. They confirmed their identities and then moved into the entrance area. "You are an interesting man, Winter. I've never met a man quite like you."
"Thanks Salt. I'm choosing to see that as a compliment." They were now in the parking lot outside the front of the building. The building had the title "Rink Petroleum" sprawled upon it. It was a disguise for the CIA's operations in Washington, DC. Winter lead the way through the maze of parked cars to Salt's silver Acura.
"It was a compliment, Winter," Salt brushed her hair out of her face and glanced up at Winter. The wind was blowing and the sun was still shining. "I really enjoy working with you."
It was now or never Winter supposed, "Well then, what would you say to going on a date with me?" he leaned against the car as he said it, trying to appear casual, but he couldn't disguise the slight blush that rose up his neck to his cheeks.
"The surprises never end with you, do they?" Salt said as she looked at him. Was that good or not? She hadn't exactly jumped at the chance. Great, now he'd have to live with this humiliation every day at work. He'd have to get transferred to….he didn't know. Somewhere far away…Thailand.
Salt continued on, not knowing the suffering she had unintentionally inflicted upon Winter, "Well… I would love to Ted, but…we work together. You're my boss. I…"
"Salt, don't give me that bullshit. There are no rules about this kind of thing. Everyone knows Aaron and Cindy bang in the bathroom every day during their 'coffee-break'," he protectively crossed his arms in front of his chest, "If it's me, just say it. You at least owe me that."
"Yes, I do." Evelyn bit her lip then looked down at her hands. And he waited. And waited. Fuck, this was almost worse than when they were in the elevator. Except now he could run away if he wanted to. Which was a very tempting thought, actually. It took all Winter's willpower to force himself to stand there for the few minutes Salt took to think.
When Salt looked up at him, with a slight smile on her face and shining in her eyes, Winter knew he had won, "Yes, Ted, I will go out on a date with you."
Winter was elated, but he resisted the urge to do a victory dance, "Good. What would you like to do? Dinner, Saturday night?"
"That sounds like a good place to start," Salt giggled. Winter wondered if she was as happy as he was? He supposed he would find out Saturday night. Winter held out his hand to her, "What does that mean?" she said.
"I'm not letting you out of my sight until we shake on it," Winter said as he continued to hold out his hand.
"Alright, alright! You think I'd stand you up?" Salt chuckled as she grasped his hand in hers. Winter noticed for the first time how small and delicate her hands were. The physical contact delighted him. "Can I have my hand back yet, Winter?" she said after holding hands a moment too long.
"While I would like to keep it, I like it much better attached to your body," he said as he relinquished his hold on her. Once he let go of her though, Winter felt awkward. He slipped his hands into his pockets. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
Salt finally said, "Ted, would you mind moving out of the way so I could get into my car?" Winter immediately jumped out of the way, embarrassed. Salt slid into her car. Before shutting the door though she said, "Try not to make things too awkward tomorrow, we don't need to be giving Peabody any ammunition."
"Do I look that stupid right now, Ev?"
"No, that's just how you look all the time," Evelyn then slammed the door and drove away. Winter stood there a moment, dumbfounded. Did that actually just happen? He looked at his sweaty palms, felt the blush that still burned his cheeks. There was no one around to witness what had conspired between himself and Salt. He gazed at the setting sun and asked, "Am I that lucky?" Winter supposed he would find out soon enough.
So that's it so far. To be honest I don`t really care if anyone else likes it or not (though I hope you do!), I wrote it mainly for my benefit. I was very intrigued by Winter (especially because of Live Schreiber). I`ll try to update it soon, I know where I want this to go, but it may take up to a week because I am pretty busy and have so much more to say. Reviews are welcome, but please don`t be too mean! Winter is very close to my heart.