1. Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush (4:57)
Jim wasn't sure how he ended up in situations like this. Almost every mission went to plan, moving like clockwork. This one had ended up like a distorted Hitchcock film, clinging by his fingertips to the black rock of an Eastern European mountain, waiting for the final slip and plunge to his death. Cinnamon was up there, her face a mask of determination, her hair and makeup still perfect despite the situation. Her hand was outstretched, but she wasn't strong enough, surely she wasn't?
'Take it,' she urged him. Her nail polish was pale pink, he noticed, and perfect.
'I can't,' he half-grunted. 'I'll pull you down with me. Go.'
'Jim – '
'Go,' he said savagely. 'Go. Leave me.'
She didn't give him the choice. Her delicate fingers closed around his wrist, and she pulled. Pulled six foot three of well built man inch by inch back up the slick rock as if she were pulling a child. His chest and stomach slithered over the edge, his legs kicking for grip, his fingers tearing on jagged edges.
'I couldn't leave you,' was all she said. 'What would Rollin say?'
2. Life's Full O' Consequences – Lena Horne (1:51)
People died on his missions. He knew that. Usually it was the bad guys, the corrupt state leaders, the bent politicians and mob leaders. Usually he walked away to the sound of a gunshot ringing in a small room, and he knew that his manipulation had been successful. He never felt regret at that – only a brief flicker of satisfaction at a job well done. There was a sliver of compulsion in it, perhaps, ridding the world of filth one by one. But then, sometimes, it was one of his own people. He couldn't let that go.
3. It's Getting Better – Leonard Nimoy (2:52)
It really was. It itched like hell, but then it always did itch under a cast like that. It wasn't the broken bones that drove him crazy – it was the being stuck in bed, his leg hitched up in a sling to keep it elevated. No matter how often the nurses told him he had to patient, that it was healing day by day, it drove him mad being inactive.
He tried playing a part. He tried playing the chess player, the book reader. He did those things at home all the time, between missions, between tennis matches and jogs in the park. But still, it drove him crazy.
In the end he rested his head back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling, determined to count each dimple in the polystyrene tiles up there. He wouldn't listen to the suspicious conversation behind the next curtain. He just wouldn't. He wasn't supposed to be working.
4. Be My Enemy – The Waterboys (4:17)
He wished she would. He really wished she would. It was too dangerous, this. Too dangerous to get close to someone, to start to look into her eyes and think that a whole world was in there. To have possibilities, futures, spark into his mind without even trying. To imagine their children, the long evenings together, their fingers entwined, the wine glasses half empty and his cigarette forgotten in the ashtray.
He was going to have to kill her. He was going to have to take this precious, perfect, evil being, and kill her. It killed him a little inside. He couldn't tell what was real and what was not when he looked into her eyes – he just knew that he loved her, and she was clouding his judgement, and it was entirely possible at any moment that she would sink a knife into his back and feel no regret. The aim of the mission was to remove Agent X, and she was Agent X.
'What's the matter, darling?' she asked. Her voice had tones of honey and smoke in it. It made his insides lurch.
'Oh, it's nothing,' he said. He took a swallow of scotch so large that his throat burned.
5. I See A Darkness – Johnny Cash (3:40)
Night dropping down over New York City. He leant against the side of the window, smoke curling up from his cigarette, hazing the air about him. The taste was deep in his lungs, deep in his stomach, mingling with the fierce warmth of the scotch that Rollin had given him a week ago for his birthday. The fire was lit, pushing out the chill, giving more an illusion of warmth in the ripples and crackles of the flame than it gave any real heat to the high-ceilinged apartment.
He watched the darkness creeping down over the skyscrapers and high rises. Watched the lights sparking on, one by one, and the lights of cars pooling along the streets. He leant his head on the glass and savoured this quiet, solitary time. The chess set sat on his table, a game half finished. He was either winning or losing, depending on which colour he settled his eyes upon.
6. Something – The Beatles (3:01)
Something in the way she moved gave it away. Some stiffness there, some tension in her fingers. He didn't trust her. He had never entirely trusted her, even when they were pressed together and lost in a kiss, even when they were sliding beneath the clean sheets and her body was fresh and smooth against his. He lay on his side on the bed, nude, sheened with sweat, and he watched her moving, a silk robe loosely belted around her and her legs long and naked. It was something in the way she stood at the dressing table, opening the drawer with a moment of hesitation.
He moved on instinct, forgetting his nudity, forgetting the sexual flush that was heating his skin. As the shot fired he was pushing through the door, the cold night air a shock only a degree less than the bullet would have been.
7. Fine Line – Paul McCartney (3:05)
It was always hard not to run at these times. Hard, when it was all over, to keep his pace calm and steady as they walked to the escape vehicle – car or truck or whatever it may be. The sense of it prickled at his back, the knowledge that behind him were people who would kill him in an instant if they caught on to what he had just done. Time after time he walked out like this in apparently perfect calm, like a man walking out of a bank after cashing a cheque or out of a restaurant after eating a fine evening meal. Time after time he felt that surge of adrenaline, the knowledge that it had all come together, and all they had to do was escape the area and all would be well. What he wanted to do was run, to burn off that adrenaline.
8. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me – U2 (4:44)
He stood momentarily with his back pressed against the wall, the breath catching in his chest. It was cold out here. There wasn't much to compare to the cold of an Eastern European winter, except perhaps a New York winter – but he had to admit he had never found himself outside and naked in a New York winter.
His eyes raked across the surroundings, absorbing and planning in an instant. If she was about to shoot him as he lay in bed she would not stop now he was outside. He had roughly the time it would take her to pull on shoes and a coat, he reckoned.
He ran down the alley, letting the running bring a marginal warmth into his skin. There was nowhere to go. And then a car pulled alongside and the door banged open.
'In,' Rollin said, and Jim didn't argue. Naked as he was, he slipped into the passenger seat and hunkered down as Rollin stepped on the gas. Shivers were running through his entire body.
'A good night out, then?' Rollin asked acerbically, then said with more sympathy, 'Jim, she could have killed you.'
'She almost did,' Jim said tartly. 'Why do you think I was running down the alleyway naked as the day I was born?'
9. Smile – Madeleine Peyroux (3:58)
'One day, Jim, you'll laugh about it,' Rollin said, pushing a half-filled tumbler into his hand.
Jim snorted. He still felt cold. He still felt as if there was winter air against his skin despite the clothes and the two bar electric fire in the small room.
'Next time I'm going to rent a better apartment,' he said, looking around the tatty place.
'There's never a next time,' Rollin told him, sinking into the chair beside him, raising his own glass in a mute salute before taking a mouthful. 'There's only this time. No past, no future. You've told me that often enough.'
'Yeah,' Jim said, taking a swallow of his own drink. It burned down his throat and pushed a little warmth back into his body. 'No past, no future. It's best that way. No regrets.'
'Except it doesn't work,' Rollin said quietly, looking across at Jim.
Jim closed his eyes. He wished Rollin wouldn't look at him. It was hard to be anything but open with Rollin, and he didn't want to be open right now.
10. Highway Patrolman – Johnny Cash (5:21)
'Sir, did you know you were speeding?'
Jim looked steadily ahead for a moment, watching the lights of the other cars as they passed. This one time. Just this one time he had lost it and let his foot press down a little harder on the accelerator. Just this one time he had let the adrenaline get the better of him, had let the sharp spike of pain and betrayal drive his actions.
He set his face into a neutral expression, looked up, and said, 'No, I didn't realise. I'm sorry.'
'May I see your papers?'
He tried not to let the set of his jaw become too visible. He reached into the glove compartment and drew out his papers. Barney had made them up, and Barney had never failed him yet. It was only two miles to the border, dammit. He only had to make two miles before he could stop and lay his head down against the steering while and let all of the anger rack through him.
'It all appears to be in order,' the officer said.
Jim's shoulders relaxed a little. He could hear the slight note of suspicion in the man's voice, but then they were always suspicious. He thought of excuses to give – It's my last day in the country, I have to get back to my wife… He voiced none of them. He sensed that this man would not appreciate excuses.
'Well, I'll let you get on,' the officer said eventually. 'Just try to relax a little, sir, that's all.'