saga/title/fandom: Adagio chapter 6 (A Man Apart)
rating/genre: (NC-17) - Romance/Crime Drama
warnings: het, language, violence, and graphic sexual content
summary: Officer Sean Vetter, formerly of the DEA, tries to rebuild his life in Chicago after losing his wife in a botched assassination attempt on his own life. Joining the Chicago Special Tactics Unit, Vetterís bitterness toward life and sullen determination not to care for anyone makes him a nightmare of potential partners, until a stubborn Irish woman named Kate Shea decides she isnít going to let Vetter chase her away Ė from his career or his life. (Sean/OFC)
comments/disclaimers: My summary and first chapter pretty well give away the plot of the movie, so if you haven't seen it yet you might want to wait to read this until you have. FEEDBACK: Two conditions: Please talk to me, not at me; Please do not rewrite my stuff and send it to me the way you would do it. Otherwise have at it. Thanks. ARCHIVE: A qualified yes Ė I would not like the story to appear anywhere else without the person discussing it with me first. NOTES: The story does involve a stalker. Also, there is some violence stemming from Vetter and Kateís jobs as undercover officers. NOTE II: There is some Russian used in the story but I try to explain it unless it explains itself.
Porter not only didnít agree to Vetter and Kateís idea of sending them in undercover, he made it quite clear that he considered them borderline insane for even having suggested such a plan. They were CSTU agents, he said, not Starsky and Hutch. CSTU agents formed SWAT teams, surveillance teams, even tailing teams, but they absolutely did not go in undercover.
Vetter sat glumly over his breakfast. Kate shook her head.
"So he didnít go for it," she told him. "Blow it off, Vetter."
"Sitting around while Kafelnikov makes arms deals is bullshit," he replied.
"Of course it is. But itís the kind of bullshit we do."
"Is there anybody higher up in the food chain we can go to?"
"I wonít go over Porterís head. Heís a good captain and I wonít have him look timid with his superiors. Besides, everybody above him is even more conservative than he is," she explained.
"Donít people in this goddamned unit want to accomplish anything?" he demanded, so loudly that she raised her finger to her lips to quiet him.
"Weíre not sit-on-our-hands all the time. Weíll get a hostage situation someday and youíll have all the action you can handle. Maybe if youíre lucky youíll get to kill something," she said.
He muttered something that she couldnít make out and took a huge gulp of coffee. "Three more nights and Porter takes us off for three days, right?" he asked.
"Unless something big happens. Which we, of course, wonít know about because we never actually see Kafelnikov do anything."
"We have to keep working on Porter to change his mind. We can do it in three days."
"He wonít give in, and I personally would not look forward to bringing the subject up again. Iím still a little itchy from where he chewed me a new one," she said. "Eat before I go into mom mode and tell you you wonít get any dessert until your plate is clean."
He stared at the plate of eggs and ham as if it were taunting him before taking a bite of his omelet. Kate watched him eat. She was reminded of a lion tearing into a gazelle carcass in the middle of the African plain. She determined to keep her hands safely on her own side of the table.
She managed to get him off the subject of the undercover operation after a few minutes. They talked about Friday night and where Katie might like to go for dinner. She saw Vetterís manner soften as she expected the more he spoke about the evening and noted the fact in approval. By the time they finished the meal and paid the check he seemed to have forgotten his disgust at the enforced inactivity of the job.
After leaving the restaurant they began the block-long walk back toward their vehicles. Vetter told her not to ruin his reputation by telling anyone he was a nice guy and Kate promised she wouldnít. As they passed a liquor store something stopped both of them. They turned as one and crept back to the window of the store. They observed a man in his early twenties holding a gun on the terrified clerk, who seemed to be having trouble determining what the robber wanted from him. The robberís hand shook as he held the gun poised on the clerkís chest. High as a kite.
"We canít wait for him to come out," Vetter said. "That guyís gonna blow any second."
"What do you think?" Kate asked. "I go in and you come in behind me?"
"I think thatís the only way to do it."
He drew his pistol, cradled it in the side of his fatigue jacket and went to his haunches. Kate drew her weapon out of her purse and shoved it into the pocket of her jacket. She mussed her hair and wiped any traces of makeup from her face. As a final concession to the character she was about to play she unbuttoned the collar of her shirt so the top of her breasts would show. Taking a deep breath, she nodded to Vetter and threw open the door of the liquor store. Vetter crawled in behind her, fanning out behind the cover of a shelf of liquor store bottles that blocked the lower part of the door from the counter.
She stumbled up next to the robber, smiling as if in a drugged stupor. "Give me some whiskey," she demanded, clumsily slapping some money onto the counter.
The clerk looked at her with eyes wide in warning. "We donít have any," he replied.
"Shit!" Kate seemed to notice the robber for the first time, smiled and leaned against him. "Get me some stuff, baby. Get me some stuff and letís party."
The robber was so stoned on crack that he almost took her up on her offer but then he pushed her away. She came right back to him, wrapping her arms around him.
"Donít you like me?" she asked, running her hand over his crotch. "I like you."
Her gesture produced more of an effect on him than merely her words. Still holding the gun on the clerk he said, "I got a little bit of business to take care of, baby, then weíll party."
"What kind of businessÖ"
Her voice trailed off as she pretended to see the gun for the first time. She raised her hand to caress the barrel. She looked out of the corner of her eye. Vetter crouched a few feet away at the side of the shelf, gun at the ready. He nodded.
Kate slammed the robberís pistol onto the counter. She held his hand down as he reached for the gun with his other. Before he could knock her aside Vetter clicked his weapon into the back of the manís head and said, "Give me one reason, you son-of-a-bitch."
The robber instantly froze. Vetter ordered him down to the ground, the gun still poised against his flesh. At the same time Kate withdrew a pair of cuffs from her pocket and clicked the manís wrists into them. She told the clerk to call 911.
"You guys are cops," he said incredulously.
Vetter nodded. "Partners," he corrected.
Alexei Dmitrivich Kolkov found the commotion at the liquor store vaguely interesting. He paused outside Vadim Ovsyannikovís office while the two police officers, a man and a woman, brought the arrested man out to a patrol car. Once the man was locked inside Alexei entered Ovsyannikovís building.
He found the respected middle-aged businessman sitting alone in the reception room of his office. Alexei entered, smiling warmly at Ovsyannikov. The older man continued to sit stiffly on the comfortable blue sofa, his refined face as pale as a snow- covered field in the Russian countryside.
"Why so despairing, Gaspadin Ovsyannikov?" Alexei asked in Russian as the door gently closed behind him. "Gaspadin Kafelnikov is quite pleased that you have decided to join us."
"Take the money and go," Ovsyannikov ordered in English, tossing an envelope to the other manís feet.
"Donít be so anxious to send me away. My boss has another matter he wishes me to discuss with you."
"Iím paying your protection. Thatís enough."
"Iím afraid it isnít. Gaspadin Kafelnikov has need of another tribute from you, for which he is willing to remit your payments for over a year."
Ovsyannikov stared warily at him. "What sort of tribute?" he asked.
"In a few weeks we will have use for a boat to make a small trip into the middle of the lake. Gaspadin Kafelnikov would like to borrow your yacht for this purpose," Alexei explained.
"Mr. Kafelnikov cannot use my boat," Ovsyannikov told him. "I will not connect my family any closer to what it is you people do."
"We people? You are becoming too Americanized. You seem to think that you live in a democracy."
"He has a yacht thatís better than mine. Let him take care of his own business."
"For the very reason you are reluctant to permit him to borrow your boat he is reluctant to permit his own yacht to be part of this trip," Alexei said. "Surely someone as wise as you in the ways of business can understand that."
"Heís already bleeding me. I wonít let him make me a criminal too," Ovsyannikov said. "Tell him he can have his money but nothing else."
Alexei shrugged. "As you wish, Gaspadin Ovsyannikov. Are you still living over on the Gold Coast in that lovely apartment with your wife and daughters?"
"Donít try and strong arm me, you stinking crook. I was handling pups like you on the streets of Moscow when I was fifteen. Iíll tear your goddamned head off."
Alexei smiled. "If my proposal alarms you so much why donít you go to the American police about it? Two of them are right outside. I could call them over for you," he said.
Ovsyannikovís growing anger suddenly left him. "You know I canít do that," he said, voice barely above a whisper.
"Yes I do. So donít you think we should end this charade of defying my employerís request and make arrangements for him to access your yacht?" Alexei asked.
Ovsyannikov closed his eyes. He swayed a moment in his seat, then nodded slowly.
"Ocheen korasho," Alexei said approvingly. "Very good."
Once Vetter and Kate finished with their report to the uniforms on the robberís arrest Kate checked in with Porter. When she informed him of their teamwork he made no attempt to hide his approval. He told her that as soon as he could manage it he would let her and Vetter get back on days. She flipped her cell closed as he hung up.
"Apparently all we have to do to get a decent shift is subdue a stoned felon with a large gun," she remarked. "Weíll have to remember that."
"You did good work in there," he told her.
"We did good work in there. You might be able to handle this partner thing after all."
"Did you ever have to pull anything like that off before?"
"Not the same situation but yeah, Byron and I stumbled across a few things when we were paired. Funny how fast you can go into power mode."
"Youíd make a good DEA agent," he said.
"Not me. Iíd want to kill the dealers too much to keep my finger off the trigger," she admitted.
"Because when I was seventeen my best friend got a hot dose and died in about as much time as it took to shoot it in. Her dealer thought she was ratting on him so he waited until she came to make a buy and killed her," she explained. "Since then Iíve refused to work narcotics because I know I couldnít handle my anger."
"You were never a junkie," he guessed.
"No, but Samantha was, for all the usual reasons: crappy home life, never felt like she belonged, didnít like herself. I fought like hell to get her to kick but I couldnít do it. The worst part was, at the time she was killed she was finally considering trying to get some help. Fucking bastard dealer didnít give her the chance," she said.
"Iím sorry. I had a few friends go like that. Of course, I was a junkie at the time," he admitted.
"You were hooked?"
"On just about anything. Stacey got me out of it. I backslid more times than I could count but she never gave up on me. Finally, after three years, I made it. After that everything opened up: the police academy, my detectiveís badge, then the DEA. Demetrius came right along with me, so you could say Stacey saved us both," he said.
"Thatís quite a confession. I appreciate you trusting me enough to make it to me," she told him.
"I did what I did. The only good thing to come out of that life Ė besides Stacey Ė was my becoming a cop and trying to stop the guys who ruin kids like me. I owe the world that," he said. He paused, as if surprised at his own words. "Yeah, I owe the world that."
They reached her car. Vetter saw her fighting to keep yawns back, to keep her eyes open.
"Youíre coming down," he said.
"Thatís how it happens with me. An hour after the excitement Iím a zombie. Iíll see you tonight," she said, starting to unlock the driverís door.
"You wonít make it home in under forty minutes at this time of the morning. Look, I live two blocks from here. Why donít you come and crash at my place? The sofaís not bad and Iíll wake you up in time that you can home and change before tonight," he said.
"Iím fine. Iíll justÖ" She yawned "Öroll the window down and crank the radio up."
He took the keys from her hand. "I wouldnít let you drive if you were drunk and Iím not going to let you drive when youíre asleep, either. Címon."
Kate knew she should argue with him but she had to admit she was too tired to work up the energy. He led to his apartment and in a few minutes she stood looking up at the top floor of the building where Vetter lived.
Four flights of stairs and they were before his non-descript apartment door. She heard an argument in Polish directly below. Sirens whirred by outside and drunken voices came in their wake. He sensed her concern about the noise and explained that it was easier to get used to than one might expect. He opened the door and she followed him inside.
"Itís not great but itís not terrible," he said.
She examined the stark surroundings, the utter desolation of the apartment. "Itís okay. In a "La Boheme" kind of way," she allowed.
He fished a blanket and a couple of pillows from a small closet and carried them to the sofa. As he began to make up the couch he announced that he would sleep in the living room and she could have the bed.
"Iím not going to run you out of your bed, Vetter," she told him.
"I sleep out here a lot. Give me a minute and Iíll change the bed."
"Vetter, itís fine. One advantage of being short is that you can sleep almost anywhere. Iím portable, Iíll adapt."
He conceded the point reluctantly. After telling her she could help herself to whatever he wanted in the refrigerator he promised to wake her up by 7:30 so she could have ample time to get home after the bulk of the evening rush hour ended. Her last picture of him was when he took his fatigue jacket off and threw it over a chair before retiring to the bedroom. She noticed the way the massive muscles of his back flexed as he worked off the coat.
She heard the bedroom door close and fell onto the sofa. She spent the two years since her divorce telling herself that men did not exist outside the world of the CSTU. They were cops, street partners. Not men in the sense that Brie was when she was his wife, with sexual prowess and strong arms to hold her and a mouth as demanding as that of a greedy child. Not potential lovers, and certainly not men with incredible bodies and nearly black eyes and voices as deep as a crypt.
She tossed her jacket on the floor next to her purse. The softness of the sofa felt good against her tired body. Her exhaustion gave way to restlessness as she lay listening to the neighborhood sounds. Was Vetter already asleep? Unless she was coming down off a buzz from an arrest or a raid she did not sleep easily and she expected he didnít either. She thought of him lying awake in the other room. Maybe he slept with his shirt off. Maybe he slept naked.
Maybe I wonít sleep at all, she thought nervously.
Vetter lay on the stark mattress in his bedroom staring at the ceiling. Fully clothed, he told himself he was behaving like a complete idiot not being able to make himself undress. A door and an entire apartment separated him from Kate. She was hardly going to come bounding in and catch him lying nude on the bed.
He sat up, pulled his T-shirt over his head, cast it into the corner. When he rose he pulled down the zipper of his jeans carefully, then cursed himself for worrying about the noise and took off his pants. They soon joined his shirt on the floor.
Naked, he lay down again on the bed. He felt surprisingly relaxed. It usually took him hours to come down off an arrest but for some reason this morning he thought he would be able to fall asleep very soon. Maybe the knowledge that somebody else was in the apartment worked to calm him. The nights he ended up sleeping at Demetriusí house after Stacey died were easy for him, too.
He closed his eyes. The traffic sounds and constant shouting outside his windows began to fade. He fell asleep three minutes after his head touched the pillow.
Out on the sofa, as she imagined what Vetter might look like naked, Kate gave in and decided sleep was unnecessary for a human being to function at a normal level.
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