Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Bourne Supremacy belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Paul Greengrass/Universal Studios.
The second Buffy saw him, she knew he didn't want to be there.
He was so obviously a hit man. How did this guy make it through airports? Everything about him, from his sharp, economically cut hair on down, screamed contract killer. Five-year-olds could have picked him out of a crowd. "Mommy, that man gets paid to off people."
Except then he nodded, gripped her eyes with his, and, in a low, gravel tone like the slow burn of vodka, said, "Zd'ravstvuyte,"
and it was like, Oh.
"How was your flight?" was on the tip of her tongue, but then he glanced down, an expression on his face as if he would have been fidgeting if his body knew how to fidget, and she realized that he was actually more uncomfortable than she was. All the small talk she had prepared evaporated.
Buffy recognized his type. Ex-government, so fresh he was still bleeding, and wanting nothing more than to forget whatever it was that had driven him into so desperate a corner as to try for an instructing job in the private sector. Add that he was ex-Russian government looking in the American-British private sector, and all signs pointed to what the Army liked to call a "clusterfuck." Buffy briefly wondered if hiring him meant that they were going to be constantly looking over their shoulders for Rossiyane
Giles had seen this guy's file, and his suggestion had been to offer him the job. "An assassin, yes," Giles had said, frowning as he cleaned his glasses, "but with the sort of position we are trying to fill, I'm afraid our options don't extend too far beyond assassins and murderers."
Buffy didn't quite agree, but if they turned away murderers, well, that was like half of their senior ranks right there.
Theirs was a Council that believed in second chances.
He was looking at the door now, and she could almost hear him thinking that this had been a bad idea and he was sorry he'd ever come. Buffy decided to lay down her cards.
"The salary blows," she said, lounging back in her chair. "You heard about the London bombing two years ago? Yeah, that pretty much knocked out about ninety percent of our operation, personnel and all. We're rebuilding, or at least in the process of, so it's less oodles and oodles of money and more ramen for dinner five nights a week. On the plus side, we've got benefits, unbelievable dental, great travel packages, and our mortality rate's dropped fifteen percent since June! You tell me that's not meeting company goals."
Now he was eyeing her like she was crazy, but Buffy was used to that. At least he wasn't looking as if he was about to step onto the beach at Normandy anymore. She tried a cautious, unexpectedly shy smile, trying to both reassure him Hey, I'm not a lunatic and this is an awesome job that you're going to love
and also not give away My God, are people actually
allowed to be as hot as you?
"I have never been a teacher," he said, and the growling quality of his voice, the way he leaned forward, looking at no one and nothing but her and yet remaining tense and completely aware of everything within a mile radius, made her knees go weak and a faint pink to flush her cheeks. She desperately hoped he wasn't noticing.
"It's not that hard," she said honestly. "Most of the girls involved in our program are fast learners, and the academics will be handled by another branch entirely. To tell you the truth, it's mostly going to be a lot of show and tell."
He frowned, and she wondered if there was an equivalent term in Russian. Just as she was opening her mouth to elaborate, he said, "You know why I am here."
That was blunt. Buffy raised an eyebrow.
"I know you screwed up your last job," she said, "enough so that unless you find someone else willing to protect you from your previous employers, you're liable to turn up facedown in a river somewhere, or maybe as part of the cement casing of the next building to go up in Moscow."
He didn't deny it. "This…Council. They can do this?"
"Believe it," said Buffy. She leaned forward, matching his posture. "Work for us. It's good work, stuff you can be proud of yourself for doing, and no one, not from Russia or anywhere, will be able to touch you."
They were face-to-face now, their heads together like they were whispering, their coffees going cold and ignored. She could see the color of his eyes, the faint scars where his flesh had been lacerated and then not doctored as well as they could have been. She could smell the cologne he wasn't wearing, the hint of winter and snow he had brought into the café with him.
His eyes lowered. He was looking at her exposed knee, the bit of bare flesh between skirt and hem and boot top, and the heat that suddenly, without warning came to life between them was like a fever.
"I think, yes," he said slowly, meeting her eyes again, and his were dark and inscrutable, nearly black. "You are my," he groped for the correct English, "handler?"
Horrified at the thought, Buffy shook her head.
Buffy smiled. "Not quite," she said, "but I think we're going to be working together a lot."
Then, shockingly, like seeing a crack form in the sheer face of a granite cliff, a corner of his mouth turned up in a half-smile. "Da,"
he said. "You have me."
They stood, then, and he left enough money on the table to cover both coffees and a generous tip. The café was crowded, and he seemed not to give it a second thought before he placed a hand at the small of her back, not really touching her, fingertips just brushing her coat, taking the front and pushing through the press with his own mass and weight. At the door, he held it for her, and even took her hand as she went down the step.
Buffy realized that she probably shouldn't be letting herself be charmed and seduced by a former Russian hit man. She also realized that that was exactly what she was letting happen.
At the street, he hailed her a cab, then opened the door for her. "London?"
"Next flight out," she said. "Think you can make it?"
That smile again, that corner of his mouth that made her want to pull him into the cab with her. "Da."
Then, when he had closed the door and was leaning into the half-open window, he said to her, voice so low and quiet that she almost missed it, "Kirill."
"Buffy," she said, and gave him her hand when he held his out again.
His fingers were wiry and callused. "In London, you teach me more about 'show and tell,' da
Buffy's jaw dropped. He slipped his hand from hers, the cab was pulling away, and she told
herself she wouldn't look back but then couldn't help it, and he was a tall, dark shape against the concrete and the snow, already walking away, but then the cab went under a bridge and she was looking into her own reflection.