Jai Wilcox knew what people said about him and, as it was all of it was true, he didn't let it bother him. He had better things to do than impress people whose goodwill could get him exactly nothing. In the end, he was his father's son. Hadn't he spent the last two years at Langley proving that? He prided himself on being able to see the big picture, at playing the long game. He was cool, collected, and always two steps ahead of everyone else. It was what he excelled at, and it was going to get him everything he ever wanted. In the office, he was always in control. There were always strings he could pull, events he could manipulate. It was only in the field where things were sometimes… less than perfect.
It was always the near misses that got Jai's heart going, a steady rhythm of "alive, alive, alive," impossible to ignore. It was like this every time, the rush, the kick of it all, and the deep burning need to prove, down to every last cell in his body, that he was still alive. For all he fought against it, his instinctual response to adrenaline had a tendency to tear down all he carefully created control.
Right now, for instance, the endorphin rush was making it hard to focus on what Annie was actually saying. Annie had always been kryptonite to his control, the one person wholly capable of getting under his skin. It was always the worst when he was sent out to retrieve her from whatever mission of hers that had gone pear shaped. In the past, he had always managed to bury his response to her, and the situation, but tonight looked to be the biggest test of his control yet. Usually, his job was simple; go out, retrieve Annie, and reel her in from whatever mess had exploded all around her this time. Time with Annie was limited or crowded with other people and it was easy to pretend that everything was all part of a day's work. This time, though, it was just the two of them and there was no way they were getting extradited until the next day, leaving him alone in small safe house with only Annie and his adrenaline for company. His experience at hiding it didn't change the fact that it felt like every inch of his skin was on fire. He was hyper-aware of Annie's presence. He could already tell that tonight was going to be pretty much endless.
"Thanks for riding to my rescue. Again." Annie's voice was rueful as she collapsed onto the couch in the safe house. Jai had been at this long enough that he could tell that Annie was coming down off her own adrenaline high; she was going to start shaking any minute now, and he would feel obliged to comfort her. He wanted to think that was a bad idea; the relationship between them had never been physical. Changing that would benefit no one, not in the long run. His body, however, wasn't buying the rationalization. His body wanted instant gratification. Hiding that from Annie was getting more difficult by the minute.
"My pleasure," said Jai, taking the chair. And it was, truly. He told himself it was because he felt responsible for her. He was the one who brought her in, after all, in his quest to bring Mercer in from the cold. Every time one of her missions went haywire, and sometimes it seemed like all of them went belly up in some way or another, some part of him blamed himself for not just leaving her alone and finding some other key to Mercer. It didn't seem to matter how high up the food chain he went; he couldn't seem to shake himself of his commitment to Annie.
It made a good story, but it wasn't true. The reality was, she was his friend. If he was going to be honest with himself, she was maybe the only friend he had left at Langley, the one bridge he hadn't been willing to burn in his quest for the top. When Annie looked at him, she just saw Jai. Not Henry Wilcox's son, not a rung on the ladder to success, not a pawn to manipulate, not everything that was wrong with the CIA, as Auggie had put in their last disagreement. Just Jai. She trusted him. There weren't a lot of people in this world that Jai cared about disappointing, but Annie was one of them. Despite his best efforts, she had wormed her way under his skin. Sitting with her in that helicopter after that hell of a day in Sri Lanka, watching her hold onto Mercer, seeing what she was willing to do for even worthless vigilante, he had promised himself that he would always try to deserve her faith in him. It was a stupid promise to make, even silently, and he had known it at the time, but Annie was that kind of person, the kind who made men do stupid things. He figured she was going to go far with that talent, even as he fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.
"So, why is it you? I'm not complaining, but you have your fancy new job. Aren't you a little high up in the ranks for this now?" She flashed him the same smile that had brought Ben Mercer to his knees, and drawn him away from everything he had ever valued. Since Jai met her, he had been resisting that smile, determined to prove his superiority to Mercer and all the other men Annie charmed instantly, with just the honest brightness of her smile.
He shrugged, aiming for nonchalance. It had been a close call, this time, and he thought the sight of Annie, gun in hand, standing her ground, was burned into his mind forever. It would never do to show that, though, so he kept his voice airy and unconcerned as he responded with, "What can I say? It's reflex by now. I hear your name come up and I get my gear on. Not that you ever seem to need it," he added. "You've usually saved yourself by the time I show up."
"Well, thank you anyway," she said, and pushed herself off the sofa. Too revved up to sit still, he guessed. It hit some people that way. She was loose with the sudden loss of tension, and her hips swung some as she made her way towards him, body swaying to its own internal music. Tonight's op had required fancy dress, and the bright red wrap dress she had chosen had been rucked up some in their run across the city. Combined with her heels, it made her legs look about a million miles long. He let himself stare as she made her way across the room. She was limping some on the ankle and it took some of the fun away from the scene, but only some.
"You should sit down," he advised. "That fall you took looked pretty bad." It was getting harder to keep his voice in check. His body was long gone. She was too close and too far and if he couldn't keep himself restrained, he was going to do something stupid any minute now, like forget all the reasons he had for never making a move on her in the past. Best to get her as far away from him as possible or he wasn't going to be responsible for his actions.
"Damn heels," she agreed, "but they make my legs look phenomenal." That was an adrenaline rush for you, almost as good as being drunk for speaking your mind. She wasn't wrong, though. Her legs did look amazing. Always had, really, even when she had just been a job to him. Coming closer to him, she leaned over and kissed his cheek and he took the opportunity to glance down her dress. Practical and pretty; simple black with just a hint of lace. He loved lace. She filled it out well, too. He really loved that dress. He especially loved the way it looked after she ran several city blocks in it. He tried to hide a grin, in case she had missed him checking her out. "My hero." She was close enough that he could smell her perfume, the one that always tipped Auggie to her presence, and it was too close, he knew, but he wasn't going to be the one who moved away.
His blood beat through his body, hard and fast, and impossible to ignore and he had never been a hero, which was why he was kissing her back. It wasn't on the cheek. He wasn't an idiot, and he wasn't Auggie, waiting for God knows what before making his move. Annie was here, now, and he was done with being the good guy.
His first kiss fell on her closed mouth, and maybe, if it had stopped there, he might have been able to convince her that it was an innocent mistake, but she kissed him back and things took a sharp turn from innocent pretty quickly. He reached behind her neck to pull her in closer, and she fell into the chair, her knees on either side of his, and that still wasn't close enough, so he pulled her into his lap, breaking the kiss and leaving her staring.
She breathed out his name, low and hushed, and there was a world of questions in her voice, but she didn't move from where he had pulled her. He was hard pretty much instantly, and he couldn't stop himself from bucking up against her, pushing against all that heat and warmth. Alive, alive, alive was being beaten down by thoughts of more, harder, hotter, and he was holding on to his self-control by a thread. One move on her part, and he was going to be pretty much unstoppable. She knew it, too; wrapped around his lap this way, there was no way she could miss his response. Her breath caught in her throat and she went perfectly still. He wasn't playing her; this wasn't part of some greater agenda and it didn't fit with any plan. He just wanted her, right here and right now, regardless of the consequences. He imagined this was maybe how other people hooked up.
"Mistake?" he asked, and she nodded, but her legs were still wrapped around him and it was pretty much just a few layers of clothing between them and a fast end to the evening. His mind was crowding with images of where this could go next but he never took anything that wasn't offered. "Mistake we're going to make anyway?" he finally suggested, and Annie nodded again and that was really it for self-control.
Annie's arms went around his shoulders, and he would be lying if he said he had never wanted this, never thought about this. He thought about it every time he pulled her out of one mess or another, and plenty of times when there had been no excuse at all. Pulling her close, he threaded a hand through her hair, the warm weight of it heavy on his hand as he kissed her, mouths open, harder, deeper. His other hand went to her thigh, hitting bare skin over thigh high stockings; the dress had finished its climb up her waist when he had pulled her down. Her hands were on his chest and then sliding around to his back, pulling his shirt out of his slacks, and she held him like she wanted this just as much as he did. He could feel every inch of her pressed against him and he groaned, lost in the moment and the heat.
Annie kissed like she did everything else, with a passion and intensity of focus that left him breathing hard when she pulled away. "Bed," she suggested even as her fingers began working on his shirt. "I'm not doing this in a chair."
"Talk about conflicting messages," he said, but she pushed herself off of his lap before he could catch her. She was small and nimble, and close combat training with Auggie had left her fast on her feet. He had a half second to notice that her panties matched the bra before she tugged the dress back down where it belonged and danced out of his reach, darting out of the room.
"Catch me if you can," she called back, and he was up and after her. She was fast, but he had the advantage of longer legs and a lot of motivation. He caught her in the hall, and yanked her back hard against him.
"Gotcha," he said, and they were kissing again, making out like teenagers, hands everywhere.
It wasn't like the safe house was large, but the trip to the bedroom felt pretty much endless, so endless that he had to stop them and pin Annie against the wall so he could slide a leg between hers and she pressed hard against it, her body moving in tandem with his, a pale imitation of things to come. He couldn't stop himself from matching her rhythm as she rode his leg, pushing against her in an attempt for more friction. He groaned as she pulled him closer to her, wrapping a leg against his waist and pressing his body as close as she could into her own. His fingers gripped her hips and he had no idea how long he was going to last against his body's clamor of more, more, more if they kept going this way.
"Bed," she breathed out between kisses even as her hands were pulling his shirt up to scratch against the bare skin of his back. "I'm definitely not doing this in the hall."
"I want you," he ground out. The heat of her was killing him. "Want you now. I don't know if I can wait. We can get to the bed for round two."
"Optimistic, aren't you? A few more feet," she replied and then, "You feeling strong?" and suddenly, both her legs were around his hips, and he was close, so close, and they were still fully dressed and standing in a hall, and he could have taken her there, but she was laughing now between kisses and he hadn't been working out all these years for nothing, and Annie weighed maybe a hundred ten soaking weight, so he could do this. Even if there were her lips, and teeth, oh god, teeth, her teeth at his throat now, kissing and biting her way up his throat, distracting him, he could do this.
"For you? Always," he promised, and he hoped she couldn't hear the deeper truth of it.
She laughed and kissed him deep, doing everything in her clearly very creative imagination to distract him, and he staggered some. But they made it to the bedroom, and the bed, and when he tumbled her to the bed and asked if she was sure, she turned trusting, lust dilated eyes up to him and whispered "Absolutely," before pulling him down to her. He would probably hate himself for this in the morning, but it was barely nightfall now, and if he going to make a mistake with her, it might as well be spectacular, because this was probably the last chance he would have to make it.
The life of a spy didn't exactly lend itself it long, lazy, lie-ins. Jai woke completely with the first sun, and wasn't at all surprised to see Annie do the same. She was warm and languid in his hold right up until she realized where she was. He could feel the jolt of surprise run through her body before she stiffened.
"Oh my god," Annie said, taking in their position and, for a second, he could feel his conscience stir before he managed to settle himself, calm and controlled, as if he woke up next to Annie Walker every morning.
"Regrets?" he asked. He was surprised to see he couldn't read anything on her face. He hadn't realized that her spy craft had gotten so good. This couldn't be anything, he knew that; it was never meant to be anything but a way to reassure each other that they were both still alive. As long as she wasn't spitting mad at him, he figured he could handle the fallout, whatever it was. It had been, god knew, totally worth it. He figured he could understand Ben Mercer's fall from grace a hell of a lot easier now, for one thing. He could pass the night off as intelligence gathering.
She shook her head some, her blond hair falling in her face. "What? No. It's just… you're not my boss now, are you?"
It was the last thing he expected her to say, and the surprise of it forced him into an honest burst of laughter, maybe one the few unguarded moments he had had this week. "No," he replied between chuckles, "lateral promotion. You're not in my chain of command."
She sat up, pulling the sheet to her chest, and he thought about dragging her back deeper into bed, pulling her under him. She was so warm. Right then, there was nothing he wanted more than to just bury himself in her warmth and forget that the rest of the world existed. He couldn't blame this on adrenaline, couldn't blame it on anything but proximity and desire. He was so hot for her that he could barely focus on what she was saying when she asked, "When's our meet with the extradition team?"
Jai had Rolex Submariner white gold watch with a blue dial. State of the art manufacturing meant that it was always reliable. His father had given to him upon his graduation from Yale, but that didn't keep him from wearing it. Jai was nothing if not a practical man. So it was easy for him to bring his left wrist up to check the time and determine that there were still hours until the rescue that Auggie had probably spent the night organizing. He tried not to smirk at the thought of Auggie on the other side of the world, as far away as he could get from Annie Walker's bed and sleepless for way worse reasons.
"Four hours," he told her, showing her the watch, and she grinned, bright and wicked and he knew he was going to have her again, no matter what trouble it might bring. Ben Mercer had thrown away his whole life for that smile and the chance to wake up next to this woman. Right now, he didn't blame the man one damn bit.
Her grin turned a little sly, and she looked down even as she reached out and ran slender fingers over his chest, her fingers a pale contrast against his darker skin. "That's enough time to do something else we might regret."
He had nothing to gain from a liaison with Annie and she had everything to lose from one with him. When they got home, they would both need to pretend this had never happened. Jai had plans for himself, big plans, and he had the tenacity, skill, and connections to make all of them happen. This, with Annie, he knew, would never be anything but a night and day the two of them never spoke of. They both had places to go in the CIA, but they weren't places that they would go together. Annie was going to live up to her potential as a great field op. Jai was going to get all the power he could get his hands on, and rise as high as he could. And someday, Auggie was going to wake up and make his move on Annie, and she would say yes, like she had been saying yes to Auggie since they met. Today, though, they had four more hours here and nothing on their agenda. Four hours was just enough to time to do… well, anything the two of them could possibly think of doing.
He smiled and rolled Annie underneath him. "I think you're right," he said.