A/N: Wow, I thought I was done with this story. It's been a year or two since I last updated. But here I am, struck once again with inspiration. Partly because of my love of Russia and where I now am in life. And I hit writer's block with my other story. Anyways hopefully I can recapture that Winter magic.


Anticipation tingled upon his skin. His heart pounded hard and fast no matter his efforts to suppress it. Winter wanted to remain calm and cool, but he was burning up in spite of himself. The moment had finally arrived. As his hand reached for the buzzer calm did, finally, overcome him. The calm before the storm. The kind of calm one experienced prior to a battle. When Salt's voice came over the intercom, saying she'd be down momentarily, panic and anxiety set in yet again.

He was a mess. And Winter knew it. Sometime within the last couple of days he had suddenly fallen in love with Salt. Or had he been in love with Salt all along and had only recently realized it? It was hard for him to say. Winter did not believe in love at first sight and yet….the first moment he had met Salt the world had shifted beneath him. Maybe that's what love was?

Winter tried to banish these thoughts from his mind. He was not a man to get upset or emotional about anything. These feelings were all new to him. He felt that he was quickly losing control and knew that he had to regain it before Salt came out the door. He clenched his fists until his short fingernails dug into the flesh of his palms. The pain forced Winter back to earth. He turned his away from the apartment building. He looked at the busy Washington street. People went by, too busy in their own lives to notice the anxiety riddled man who appeared calm on the outside, but was a nervous wreck on the inside.

"Hey, Ted."

Winter turned around. Whoa… his mind went completely blank for a heart-pounding moment. This was a side of Salt he had never seen before. At work she always wore a simple grey skirt and blazer. And she pulled it off with ease. Instead of looking drab or old, Salt's natural beauty shined through. Now she looked…stunning. Winter was speechless.

"Aren't you gonna say 'hello'?" Salt questioned him as she stood with one hand on her hip. She was wearing a long strapless fuchsia gown. It was made of satin material that clung to Ev's curves and a slight swelling of cleavage was visible. Her golden hair was slightly waved and hung freely down her back, reminding Winter of that first day he had met her.

"Huh…who would've known that you could clean up so well?"

Evelyn playfully slapped him on the arm, "Shut up." She put some real force into the blow and Winter was sure there would be a bruise there in the morning.

Winter met Salt's eyes, eyes that glittered like the depths of the ocean in the twilight, and said, "You look incredible, Ev. I mean it." He reached his hand out to her. Salt grasped it. The sensation of her soft skin upon his hand was a revelation. The two had shook hands before, but now the touch felt surprisingly intimate. It was such a simple gesture, but also a powerful one. After the two had overcome the shock of this new intimacy, Salt allowed Winter to escort her to his car, a sleek black Mercedes.

Half an hour later, after a pleasant enough drive, Ted and Evelyn were seated in a cozy, dimly lit, restaurant. They were secluded in a corner, lost in their own world. Candle lights gave off a soft, warm glow. Salt looked beautiful and ethereal as she sat across from Winter. He loved her face. He loved sitting across from her because it gave him a chance to stare at her as long as he wanted. No more sneaking glances out of the corner of his eye.

"What are you thinking?" Salt asked while holding her wine glass. They were casually dining on their main course. The two bantered more than they ate.

"Oh, I don't think you really want to know the answer to that," Winter replied with a smirk.

"Pervert," Salt smiled as she said it.

"Get your mind out of the gutter, Ev. I was actually thinking about the first day we worked together. You remember?"

Salt blushed deep red, "Nope, I have no idea what you are talking about." As she said this the waiter quietly brought over their dinners. Evelyn picked up her fork and quickly tried to change the subject, "Wow, this looks great. Is that spinach in there?"

"Yes, I believe it is," Winter said as he surveyed his own dinner. He allowed Salt to be lulled into a false sense of security for a moment. Then he dived right back in, "You were pulling at the door for a solid five minutes wondering why it wouldn't open. When I told you that you had to push I think you almost died of embarrassment. Imagine, a CIA agent who can't even open a door."

"Funny, Winter, I recall a day about two weeks after that incident when you tripped and fell face first into the snow. And who was there to lift you up?"

"You didn't lift me up, I lifted myself up," Winter said as the pair challenged one another with their glares, "I concede your point, truce?"

"Not unless you promise to never embarrass me again," Salt said as she speared a carrot with her fork.

"Now, where would be the fun in that? You steal all the joy from life, Salt."

Salt looked at Winter, stabbing her fork at him to emphasize her point, "If it wasn't for me, you and Peabody would have killed each other a long time ago."

Winter looked at her with indignation, "What do you mean? I would totally kick his ass…I can't believe you said that," Winter looked down at his food with disgust, "I am deeply offended, Salt."

"I apologize for wounding your pride," she said with a sarcastic sneer.

"You should really stop with the sarcasm, Salt, before you get hurt…truce?"

"For now, Winter…but the war is most definitely not over," this she said with a flirtatious tilt of her head and raised eyebrows.

"Of course not…it'll never end between you and me," silence then descended over the table. Winter began contemplating unburdening his secret to Salt. It was an irresistible urge that tingled at the fore front of his mind. It would be so easy to just say it right now, he thought. It would be so easy to say, "Evelyn…Natasha I also am one of Orlov's children…" What would she do? Would a smile slowly creep onto her face? Or would fear darken her eyes and take her away from him forever?

Winter's mouth went dry. He cleared his throat. The blood pounding in his temples was nearly deafening. He paused, looking around the restaurant. There was a couple with their young son who was demonstrating to the mortification of his mother how to stick breadsticks up his nose. An elderly couple slowly making their way through dinner as they questioned the waitress over and over again. And finally a young couple, younger than Winter and Salt, huddled together on the same side of the table whispering intimately and barely touching their food. Frankly, it was nauseating, two people so dependent on one another and content in their mediocrity. Winter didn't want that. Did he? His eyes slid back to Evelyn. She was just finishing up her dinner. Winter prayed that she didn't notice his barely touched plate. He gestured to the waiter, suddenly wanting to escape this confining atmosphere filled with normal people living normal lives. He and Salt didn't belong there.

"You wanna get out of here?" Winter asked Salt.

She nodded, "We better otherwise we could be here all night waiting for you to finish that steak." Dammit, she had noticed.

Winter shrugged it off, "They put too much salt on it." He gave a short laugh, "And too much salt isn't always a good thing."

"Very clever," Evelyn said, rolling her eyes but with a smirk on her face.

"I've got this, by the way," Winter said as he jokingly gestured to the bill and made a show of slowly laying down the cash.

"Thank you, overlord," Salt said, bowing her head over her praying hands.

They left the restaurant smiling. Winter wanted to lead her out with his hand on the small of her back, but didn't. The gesture seemed too familiar and Winter still wasn't sure how the night would end. To Winter's eyes, Salt had enjoyed the night as much as he had. But when it came to Salt, Winter wore rose-tinted glasses, so who was he to know.

The pair stepped out into the cold night air. Well, maybe the night was cold to some people, but not to Winter who had grown up in harsher climes. And certainly not to Evelyn, who looked serene in the night air especially compared to American women whose teeth chattered at the merest hint of a wind.

"So, uh, you want to go for a walk or-" Salt cut him off, "Home. I have a report I need to finish up by the morning."

Winter raised his eyebrows, "That could be easily taken care of. It could be relegated to the garbage bin or," Winter couldn't suppress a chuckle, "sent to Peabody."

Evelyn grinned, but walked over to Winter's car, "Nice try." With a few strides Winter caught up to her and opened the car door. She paused before getting in, "So you have fair warning," she said, her face temptingly close to Winter's. He couldn't stop himself from drawing a little closer, almost like he was caught in her gravitational pull. "You're not getting past my front door tonight," the twinkle in her eye suggested Salt took great pleasure in teasing Winter.

Winter took a step back, grasping his heart, playing the role of Romeo to Salt's Juliet. "Smote, by a lover's cruel, cruel words." But he was grinning as he shut the car door.


A/N: I am in uni so updates for both my stories (this and The Cat and the Beast) will be slow. But I feel re-energized creatively, so stayed tuned.