An Alex Krycek backstory for the Sanctuary universe
Scene: Deep Water
I guess the moral of this story is 'watch where you walk'.
L.A. was a trip: urban sprawl, the beach, gridlock. That Hollywood aura. You knew they were around--rich celebrities, movie and TV stars, and there were wannabes everywhere you looked, most of them waiting for the lucky break that was never going to come. But the energy--the anticipation--of the place was real. And there I was, finally on my own in America: traffic tickets, overloaded grocery stores, girls who were everywhere on their own and obviously not going home to apartments full of wary relatives. I had an apartment in Santa Monica, a motorcycle, and a job playing lab gofer while I spied on a research exec the old men were worried about. A hit to pull off if they decided Ross Harrison was the kind of threat they figured him for.
It didn't look that way after a while, though, and keeping tabs on Harrison had started to get to me. I wanted to move on to an assignment that actually had some significance. I'd been waiting a long time for a chance to stop being a peasant--to wedge my way into the inner circle--and my patience was wearing thin. But the old man said to keep working. Keep watching.
And there was a certain pull to this capitalist craziness I was living, in the freedom you had to go out and do, and in the lack of restrictive traditions. The girls here were unpolished in comparison to Europeans but they had a kind of frontier resolve. Whatever it was they were aspiring to be--actresses or artists or businesswomen or some rich guy's wife--they figured they were going to get there. Which kind of left me as a Volkswagen among Mercedes. Sure, there were ordinary women, too, common girls working cash registers and answering phones. But I had no need for the baggage of a relationship and one-night stands get stale pretty fast. They can be a lot more effort than they're worth.
Then one day I walked into the grocery store and literally into this girl. Knocked a can of green beans right out of her hand. I'd had my head full trying to figure out how I could convince the old man to move me up out of the basement on the next assignment and I plowed right into Patty without even seeing her. Okay, it was worse than that; I stepped on her foot. Caught me so completely off-guard I picked up the can of green beans and apologized all over the place.
I was kind of marooned after that and she smiled and we traded a little small talk. Then we went our separate ways, except that we'd parked next to each other and she made some comment, passing by on her way out, about my bike and we started talking again. She told me about riding on the back of her brother's motorcycle through cornfields and I don't know why it caught me; I was thinking I don't need anything here, and then I was thinking she might be easy. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was Friday afternoon and the work week had been a bitch and when Patty smiled, the lab and everything that had gone on there faded into the background. And she was still limping a little from where I'd stepped on her foot.
Anyway, the upshot was that we ended up on the patio of the little Mexican restaurant next door, drinking margaritas and trading small talk, and when we finally got up again, both of us loosened a little by the drinks, I gave her a hand up out of the chair--those awkward plastic ones with the arms that hook under the edge of the table if you're not careful--and neither of us was quite ready to let go.
We were supposed to be heading back to the parking lot but that was going to end things pretty fast so I said something about a park down the block and she was perfectly willing to head that way with me. Patty wasn't exactly what you'd describe as a centerfold. She had her own look and was a little overweight but she was pretty in her own way and she wasn't one of those Barbie-wannabes who can't think any farther than hair and makeup. And she had this smile that was totally genuine. It was a relief after the little cloud I'd been living under.
Not that I was thinking any of this stuff consciously. Biology kind of took over and by the time we got back to the parking lot, it was pretty obvious that she wasn't any more eager to break this up than I was. Another dozen steps to the car and it'd be curtains, though, so I was trying to think up something to say to string things out when she turns to me and asks do I like hot fudge sundaes? Okay, so it's not exactly 'come up and see my fish tank,' and she seems sincere enough about the hot fudge sauce she says she makes, but it's a foot in the door, too; nobody's really being fooled here. There's the little problem of having come here separately, but she says her place is only three blocks away and I say no problem, I can walk back for my bike later, and she looks kind of relieved and we both get into her car.
It's one of those five-minute rides that seems to take half a lifetime, but finally we get there and park and take the groceries from the trunk. She works her key in the lock and leads the way inside, but the entry bulb is burned out and we go into the darkened kitchen and set the bags on the counter.
No time like the present. Before she can reach all the way to the light switch I take her hand and bring her closer, and I kiss her. Carefully. She seems like the type who wants reassurance--you know, that I'm not just some crazed stranger out to take what I can get and then steal her TV and stereo on the way out. I have no interest in her stereo and TV. And I have no interest in being reported as a rapist, either. I hear women here do that sometimes.
This woman's mouth is all satin heat and curves, and her hands reach for my waist, but I can tell she's not in this for a quick session of hot-and-heavy. Though she's definitely open... opening... mmm... to being made love to. Somehow it doesn't bother me, taking my time, and I leave her mouth and drift a line of kisses to her jaw and down the side of her neck--she shivers--and end at her collarbone, which is as far I can get with this blouse buttoned. Her hands come up and cup my face; she wants my mouth again and I give it to her, our kisses deeper and hungrier this time. She tastes like the tang of margaritas and when I trail a finger down the front of her blouse she leans into me and I smile and slip open the top button and then another and another. She's not clawing at my clothes but she's not backing off, either, and there's no mistaking what her mouth is telling me.
I ease back a moment. We look at each other and I can read it in her eyes--heat mixed with a flash of hurt, as if she thinks I might turn and walk out. But I'm not going anywhere. I come closer again and let her know. A minute later the blouse is gone, and then her bra, and her fingers have finally found their way up under my shirt hem and we're still standing beside the kitchen counter.
"Somebody may get an eyeful if they're enterprising enough," I murmur, nodding toward the mostly-closed blinds in the window above the sink.
She takes half a step back. Her head dips down. All of a sudden I'm sure I've blown it, broken the moment, and by now I'm starving for this. Finally she looks up, barely focused on me, her teeth pressing against her lower lip. Her cheeks are flushed. Her mouth opens a little and she shakes her head. I swallow.
"I don't--" She shakes her head again. "I don't do this--meet men in the grocery store and..."
I try to keep my breathing even. "I usually watch where I'm going. You're the first girl I've ever plowed into like that. Honest."
That much is true. She flashes just a hint of one of those smiles and looks down again. Maybe she needs a little space. I start to move back but she catches my hand.
"Don't go," she says.
I let out more of a smile than I'd intended and we come back together again. One last kiss and she's got my hand, leading me upstairs to the bedroom. Outside, the wind's picked up and it's blowing the curtain in. She goes to shut the window, then the curtain, and I come up behind her in the dark. I smooth my hands over her shoulders and down her sides.
"You're cold, you know," I say. It's October, after all, and the evenings are finally beginning to cool.
She turns, catches my belt loops with two fingers. Looks up. She has beautiful breasts.
"Alex, do you have--" She looks down a moment. "You know, some--"
Protection? I reach into my back pocket, slip out my wallet and fish out a dog-eared foil packet. She seems relieved.
"I'm clean," I say. "Don't worry." And it's true. I'm not stupid.
A moment later her hands are up under my shirt, smooth and light, spreading current that makes my breath hitch, and my shirt's going up, farther up and then over my head and off. Her arms go around me and she rests her forehead against my shoulder, her hair soft like a cloud between us.
She nods, but it takes a second before she looks up. "I'll be back in a minute," she says, and glances toward the bed. "It's warmer in there. Go ahead."
I watch as she goes into the bathroom and shuts the door. I don't know what the expression on her face meant. What if she changes her mind? I believe her when she says she's never picked up a stranger in the grocery story before... or probably anywhere else, for that matter; she doesn't seem like the type. So how did I luck out?
I just hope she doesn't spend too much time thinking about it.
A moment later I realize I'm still standing in the middle of the room. I make myself move, reach for the bedspread and pull it back. A worn teddy bear falls off the pillow. I set it on the nightstand, slip out of my pants and get inside the covers. The sheets are smooth and printed with little bouquets of flowers. I stare over at the strip of light under the bathroom door, then look away and close my eyes. The longer that light stays on, the slimmer my chances get. I'm aching for this but I try to talk myself into a holding pattern in case things go bad.
Just when I've convinced myself she's come to her senses, the strip of light disappears and the door opens. She hesitates for a second just outside the door, letting her eyes adjust, and then goes around to the far side of the bed without once looking up, as if she's in the room alone. She's wearing something dark green, a slip or chemise. At the side of the bed she stops and looks up at me, flushed.
"Hey," I say quietly, and when I hold back the covers she slips inside and I pull her up against me. She holds on for dear life and for a minute we just lay there, not moving, not saying anything. Then her chin comes up. I look down and our mouths meet and it all surges in; we're right back where we were before.
The green thing is amazing, smooth and silky. I run my hands all over it and she's obviously enjoying what it does to her because before I know what's happening she's coaxing me on top of her and I'm starting to push inside. And still there's that little bit of reticence; I can see it in her face, feel it in the way her fingers press against my biceps. Down south, a last set of muscles is holding out. I think of something, just a little detail: she'd introduced herself as Pat. Could be boom or bust but I feel like a re-entry satellite going through atmospheric burn-up; I have to try something.
"Patty," I say, and there's something in her eyes, something vulnerable that shows for just a second, and I say it again, softly. "Patty."
And she smiles and pulls me closer and I push in--god, heaven--and start to build a rhythm. I try to keep my head but it's been so long and it feels so damn good that my mind shorts like a live wire falling into water and before I know it I'm past the point of holding back. I come, panting, and ease myself down against her, waiting to catch my breath.
But when the endorphin rush clears I realize I'm right back where I was in the grocery store, stepping on her foot. This was supposed to be a party for two. She's going to expect something. Want something.
"Sorry about--" I look up, feeling the red in my face.
She gives me a half-smile and a shrug and another look I can't read. After a minute I slip off to the side and we disconnect.
"Just give me a minute," I say. "Be right back." And I get up to go clean off.
The bathroom light's too bright and the water in the sink is too loud. I keep my eyes on what I'm doing and not on the mirror. She has pink towels and green, the color of ferns, and I take a green one to dry off with and remind myself to hang it again when I'm done. I have no idea what the look on her face meant. Not mad. Maybe a little disappointed or sad or... It's hard to tell, but then most of the time it is. Cultures are different but it's beyond that. Women always seem like they've come from some hidden place, as if they're a secret tribe.
I remind myself she's waiting out there, and I flip off the light and open the door. Back in bed, I slip under the covers and reach across. Her hand catches mine. Something hitches inside me but I roll toward her.
"Didn't mean to get ahead of things there."
After a beat she shakes her head. "It's okay."
"Just... you know, tell me what--"
"It's okay." She shakes her head again.
"No, really, just--"
Her lips press together. She looks at me as if she's trying to figure out how far she trusts me. After a while I realize I'm holding my breath.
"Can you--" Her teeth press against her lower lip. "Can you just hold me? For a while?"
I push up on one elbow. "You sure? That's all you--?"
She pauses and then nods. She can be incredibly serious and I can see that she'd be wondering how this ever happened.
Small payment. I pull her into my arms. Her hand slips around my waist and she curls down against my chest. We just lay there, not talking, and finally I feel her sigh.
"Your work week as bad as mine?" I say, and I run two fingers through the hair beside her temple.
"Yours was bad?"
"Boring. Frustrating sometimes. You know--office politics. The usual."
She doesn't say anything. I stare at a streak of light on the ceiling and finally look down at her again.
"Just... my family, I guess," she says now. "I've been out here about eight months, on my own, and it gets--" She cuts off abruptly and eventually I feel a little wet spot on my skin next to her eye. I close my own. Lucky enough to score, but now I end the night playing therapist.
I don't say anything, I just hold her.
It's what she asked for.
Eventually I wake up and it surprises me: I hadn't figured I'd fall asleep at all. Patty's sound asleep but I'm alert now and this is as good a time as any to make my exit. Anyway, I'm not much at morning conversation. I slip out of bed, get dressed and, against my better judgment, nudge Patty's shoulder.
"I've got to go," I say. "I left my bike in the parking lot and I don't want to wait too long--you know, go back and find it stripped."
She nods but she's obviously only barely awake.
I bite the inside of my lip. "Maybe we can go riding sometime." Just something to make it seem open-ended.
But I don't give her my number and she doesn't ask. Maybe she's too far gone to think straight. Or maybe she recognizes it for the line it is.
I lean over, kiss her cheek quickly and stand up. I'm to the doorway when I hear her voice, quiet.
"Yeah," I say. "I will."
Back at the market, my bike's fine. I take it home, shower, get in bed but I can't fall asleep. I lie there trying to think strategy and when I wake up again, it's because the sun's shining in my face; it's after eleven. I get up and wash my bike and polish all the chrome like the crazy capitalist I'm supposed to be playing, but the fact is I like it. I love this bike and I want it to look good. I'd like to go riding, too. It's a beautiful, clear day but the road that winds along the coast going north, the PCH, is going to be crowded with half of L.A. out for a taste of something that doesn't smack of a desk and a cubicle, so I figure I'll wait until later, just before sunset.
I spend nearly two hours working on the bike, and then I do my laundry and start organizing my space before I finally admit to myself that all the busywork is just an attempt to keep from thinking about Patty and it's not working. I want to go back. Maybe it's the sex and maybe it's the thought of getting a clear night's sleep. Who knows whether that was just a quirk, but I could use another night like that. I glance at the clock--3:17.
By four I'm back on Patty's doorstep.
Eight weekends we played our little game, until the day I took out Harrison in the dry winter hills off Mulholland. We ate and rode my bike, hiked and watched old movies and made crazy love. She gave me the first birthday present anyone had ever given me. Sometimes we stepped on each other's toes...
No, I guess that would be me. I'm not cut out for that kind of thing.
After all these years, sometimes I still think about that.
© bardsmaid 2005 |