7.

He loves to fly.  To transcend the human condition, be moving forward and faster than anyone on the ground could hope to approach.  He finds landing strange.  The sensations of a fall from grace, ripping the gut down and outward, clenching the fingers no matter how composed one may try to appear.  He's amused at how the most natural part of such an unnatural experience should feel the most unpleasant. 

He does appreciate the perks of the job.  The car that will always be waiting, the phone that will never be tapped.  Checking in consists of one call, commendations received and an errand dolled out.  It's on his way. 

The streets are narrow, winding, familiar in a way that no amount of time spent in a certain place while on assignment could accomplish.  This place has history for him that no foreign land could ever achieve.  A young boy, blond and lanky, shoelaces untied, runs by dribbling a football.  Smiling as he drives past, he exercises a different kind of stealth, letting the boy remember that he was here.    

He stops briefly at the city center, parking a block away, entering a used book store, asking for the Yeats collection, and climbing the stairs that bend beneath him, compliant.  Through the window and across the square, his errand is walking a jack russell terrier, pausing next to a tree, waiting for the animal to move on.  The window opens easily, he knows, and a copy of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha  is all the cover required.  The trigger bounces back to his finger, eager, but he only allows it one releasing.  It is a quiet day, after all.

He leaves with eyes on a Complete Works of William Butler Yeats, mouthing words.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

He is glad to be home.

8.

He will arrive after sunset to quiet rooms and drawn curtains.  Pulling the cord on a standing lamp he'll find the colors of clean white and fresh green walls, muted ivory armchairs, and russet woodwork.  The Yeats will be tossed onto a shelf littered with the same edition, kept company by Machiavelli, Voltaire, and Plato, all dog-eared, some crumbling.

The shoes will come off first, left at the bottom of stairs and beneath a photograph of crashing waves reaching for equally turbulent skies.  Suit jacket will go next, draped over the stair rail, and he'll turn to the living room.

He will build a fire, will begin with the details.  Kindling from a box on the stone ledge of the fireplace will be arranged, the I-Ching for mindfulness and caution, stacked around a crumpled page of personal advertisements.  Three logs, two of medium size supporting the larger one above them, will go on top.  He won't need more than one match. 

He will sit back onto an old and coarse rug to watch the chain reaction—following, predicting, always learning.  He has never been afraid of fire.

Rising and moving to the tiled floors of the kitchen he will spot a figure seated by the window that looks out on the driveway, head slumped to their own shoulder, probably fallen asleep watching for his arrival.  Mildly curling dark hair will hang low over small shoulders, hands that speak of experience will sit idly on knees that barely brush the windowsill. 

He will walk to her heels-first, in total silence, all other objectives negated.  An arm around both shoulders will pull her firmly to his chest as she quickly blinks awake, registering her forced change of posture  He'll have her standing, tight up against him and the window.  Her neck will twist, crackling from its uncomfortable sleeping position to let her see his face.

"Christ, do that while I'm awake at least and give me a fighting chance!"

"Never. I know I couldn't take you."

"Damn straight,"  she will give him an appraising look as he loosens his arms, allowing her to turn around  "Why weren't you back yesterday?  I called the museum and they hadn't heard from you either." 

She won't say that she was worried, she never will.

"A long story involving the gross inefficiency of Americans and the multi-layered Hell that is their television programming." 

She'll smile, sardonic, accepting. 

"Just call me next time, alright?"  Switching to a pout and gripping his biceps,  "And please tell me next time won't be for a while.  I mean, I suppose the salary was a clue that they'd work you to the bone, but this is getting ridiculous."

He'll take his wife's hand and lead her to the fire he's built.

"All for you, love.  You know I'm doing it all for you."  

Fin.

A/N:  This was my first Sark fic, and it's gotten me hooked on writing the genre, but what got me started was a lovely lady called Rach and her incredible works like "Sakura" and "Fourteen Days."  This wouldn't have happened at all without you, and I'm so glad it did.  All the thanks in the world, and this one's for you.