saga/title/fandom: Adagio chapter 8 (A Man Apart)

author: Rae/Celtia/Celtiareborn

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.

CHAPTER EIGHT

"Good morning, Ginger."

Monaghan threw a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times on the conference table before Kate. To her horror she saw a picture of her slow dancing with Vetter. The caption on the small article accompanying the photo read "Partnership Tango" and explained that they were "not only partners on the street but partners on the dance floor".

"Oh, fuck," she said, dropping her forehead to the table.

She could hear the grin in Monaghanís voice. "Looks like beautyís tamed the beast," he remarked. "Tell me, is he up to eating something beside raw meat now?"

"They take a hundred damn pictures of us ass-kissing the Mayor and this is the one they run. Goddamned morons. Well, at least they didnít say what unit weíre with. Maybe people will think weíre departmental dance instructors."

"Cheer up, Shea. Think about how this is going to bolster your image in the department. One week and youíve taken the terror of the CSTU and turned him into Prince Charming. Youíll probably get all the misfits now," he said.

She turned to look at him, her cheek pressed on the table. "Stop enjoying this," she ordered.

"Hey, Iím all for what youíre doing with Vetter. He could be a good cop if he wasnít so determined to hate the world. Nice bust yesterday, by the way. Maybe you two can get your own TV show next. "Vetter and Shea: Chicago Tango." I like it," he said.

She kicked him; he only chuckled. "At least the bastards didnít say weíre with the CSTU," she said. "Thatís my only saving grace as far as my cover is concerned. Anybody reading this will think Iím just a generic detective."

All hope she had that no one else in the unit knew about the photo vanished as the officers entered one by one for the assignment meeting. Hyenas wouldnít be laughing this much. She suddenly wished sheíd become a chemist.

Vetter came in just before eight oíclock. The smiles on the officersí faces vanished as they saw the expression on his. He hid behind his dark glasses, and though he sat next to Kate he merely said a quiet "good morning" to her before looking at the door. She hid the paper under her chair.

Porterís main announcement surprised everyone in the room. Barely believing the words himself, he informed his unit that Grigori Kafelnikov had called that morning asking to speak to Officer Kathleen Shea. All eyes turned toward her. Suddenly she rolled the newspaper into a club and whacked Monaghan on the back of the head with it.

"What the hell was that for?" he asked.

"For getting Cap to go along with your stupid practical joke," she answered angrily.

"Itís no joke, Kate," Porter said, and from the grimness of his expression she knew his words were honest. "Dispatch took the call. Kafelnikovís name and address came up on the screen. It really was him."

"What does he want?" she asked.

"To meet you."

"Holy shit," Edwards whispered as a round of shrill whistles sounded throughout the room.

"Did he say why?" Kateís voice was much less sure than she wanted it to be.

"Not in so many words, but dispatch played the call back for me and from the tone in his voice I have to say I think he has a thing for you," Porter announced.

"Must be the dancing," Monaghan whispered. Kate hit him again.

"Mr. Kafelnikov would like you to call him as soon as itís convenient for you," Porter continued. "We need you to make that call."

"Why donít we save Kafelnikov the trouble and just shoot her ourselves?" Vetter demanded.

"You have some input on this, Vetter?"

"You bet your ass I do. Shea and I have been sitting outside Kafelnikovís office for the past week. He obviously made us, saw the picture in the paper and wants to send a warning not to fuck with him by killing her. You canít let her respond to this guy," Vetter said.

"Why would he go to all the trouble of making his name known to us if thatís what he wants to do?" Sellers asked. "Heíd be the first person weíd come to if anything happened to her."

"Paulís right. If heís planning to off her heíd arrange a hit when no one could tie it to him," Quick contended.

"Since when do cokeheads make rational decisions? So far Kafelnikov has proved untouchable. Dealers like that think they can get away with anything. You let Shea set something up with this guy youíll sign her death warrant," Vetter said.

"Itís up to you, Kate," Porter said. "If you want to blow Kafelnikov off you can do that. But if you think you want to look into this break, weíd appreciate it."

"Thanks for the detached appraisal," she muttered. She took a deep breath, let it out, and looked at Porter. "Iíll call him."

Vetter shot up from the table. "I want to talk to you," he announced, heading for the door.

Kate stared after him along with everyone else in the room, then silently arose and followed him.

"Are you fucking crazy?" he demanded as soon as she came into the hall.

"This is a chance to get on the inside of Kafelnikovís operation," she said. "Itís the plan you wanted come to life."

"I wanted it when you could still hide your true identity from him. Maybe you missed the lesson on inside work when you were at the academy, but the idea is to be undercover. If you go in with the bad guys knowing youíre a cop it switches from undercover work to target practice," he said.

"Kafelnikov called here and asked to speak with me. We donít have any idea why, despite Porterís read on it. He could want a contribution to the Russian Orphans Fund for all we know. Thereís no harm in returning his call," she said.

"What about Katie?"

"What about her?"

"If she was in your position would you let her call Kafelnikov back?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Answer the question."

"So far this is a completely theoretical discussion. After I talk to Kafelnikov and find out what he wants weíll worry about what else I should do."

He paced in frustration. "All right, call him," he suddenly said, stopping in front of her, "but I want to listen in."

"Thereís no need for that -"

"Iím your partner. Would you have let Byron listen?"

"Okay, Vetter, you can set yourself up with the headphones when I talk to Kafelnikov. Then weíll break down what we both heard," she said.

They returned to the conference room. Kate announced in a quiet, calm voice that she would call the Russian back as soon as the meeting ended. Porter said it was over.

Ten minutes later Vetter sat across from Kate as she dialed the phone. He wore a pair of headphones and was so keyed up about the situation that he made her too nervous to look at him. She dialed the number Kafelnikov provided dispatch. On the second ring someone picked up and a pleasant sounding Russian male voice said hello.

"Is this Grigori Kafelnikov?"

"It is."

"This is Kathleen Shea returning your call. How can I assist you, Mr. Kafelnikov?"

"Forgive me for being so bold, but having seen your photograph in the newspaper this morning I felt compelled to call you," he said. "You donít know it, but we have a connection to each other."

"We do?"

"Yes. Your husband designed my residence. Had I taken him up on his invitation to attend your Christmas party you and I would have already met. How is Mr. Quinn?"

"Very well. And married to someone else."

"Iím sorry. Wait, I have a confession to make. Iím not sorry at all that youíre a single woman," he said.

At last Kate raised her eyes toward Vetter.

"Have I shocked you?" Kafelnikov asked.

"A little," she admitted. "I thought you were probably calling for a donation or something, or maybe to have me speak to a group. I get a lot of calls like that."

"You must not know Russian men. When we call a beautiful woman we donít know it can only be because we feel we must meet her," he said. "Are you a detective? It didnít say in the paper."

"Just a generic gold shield. You sound disappointed."

"Not at all. Would you consent to have dinner with me some evening?"

Vetter shook his head violently.

"Certainly," Kate said.

"Marvelous. What is your schedule like this week?"

She was distracted by Vetterís frantic gesturing. He scratched "NO!" in huge letters on a pad and shoved it toward her.

"Tomorrow would work," she said.

"Delightful!" Kafelnikovís enthusiasm could have powered the whole city for a week. "Iíll send my car for you at 7:00. Let me get your address so Vladimir will know where to go."

"It would be easier for me to meet you somewhere," she told him. "Besides, I have an almost pathological need to drive my own car when I go out. Just a quirk."

"All right. Drive out to my house. Iíll provide you with the best Russian dinner this side of St. Petersburg."

By this point Vetter was one blood pressure point away from a seizure. Kate bit her lip.

"Seven oíclock," she finally said. "Just tell me how to get to your place."

Kafelnikov gave her directions. She scratched them down, trying to pretend that Vetter was nothing more than an animated action figure as he boiled across the desk.

"Got it. Iíll see you tomorrow," she said.

"I look forward to it."

Kate thought if he could have pulled it off Kafelnikov would have kissed her hand through the phone wires. She hung up the receiver and braced herself for the blast she knew was coming. Vetter slammed the headphones down on the desk and announced, "You canít go."

"I have to go," she replied. "This is too good an opportunity to get into Kafelnikovís house."

"If he doesnít in fact shoot you, he isnít going to show you anything about his operation. If you have to go through with this meet him at a restaurant. Donít be stupid."

"Vetter, he isnít going to kill me when everybody in the police department knows Iím with him. Relax."

"Have you ever dealt with a big time dealer?"

"He isnít one of your DEA drug targets."

"A dealerís a dealer. They believe they own the world and everybody it was created for their pleasure. Theyíre dangerous guys, Shea. I donít want you to get hurt for the sake of this operation."

The concern in his voice touched and surprised her. He spoke the same way Byron would have had he been the one cautioning her not to trust Kafelnikov.

"Yesterday you wanted to beat Porterís head into the wall because he wouldnít let us try and get inside Kafelnikovís operation," she said quietly. "This is just the opportunity we need. If I make it clear that Iím on duty and the department knows where I am nothing will happen to me at his house. The worst thing Iíll have to endure is that heís a boring date. Look, we have his house under surveillance. A team will be right outside. Iíll be fine."

"Are you going to wear a wire?" he asked.

"I canít do that. Kafelnikovís a security freak. Heíll sweep me when I come in."

"Then how is our being outside going to help you if we canít hear him cock the hammer?"

"Iím not talking to you about this anymore," she said, getting up from the desk. "Iím having dinner with Kafelnikov tomorrow night and thatís it."

She started toward Porterís office. Vetter followed.

"Did you think to ask him how he knew who you were since you donít use your married name anymore?" he demanded.

"You heard the conversation. Iíll ask tomorrow night," she answered.

"He knows you because heís made us." When his words had no effect on her he said, "Suppose Kafelnikovís coked up."

"Suppose he is."

"You know what guys on that shit are like. They have no self-control. They see something they want, they take it."

"You seem to have an idea that I canít take care of myself. Iím not quite sure where it came from but itís wrong," she insisted.

"Listen to me! I know how cokeheads behave, and you do not want to be alone with one if the main point on his agenda is to get laid."

"Iíll wear my shoulder holster. If he gets out of line heíll either let me go or take a bullet in the head," she said.

He grabbed her arm and brought her around to face him. "Donít joke about this," he said gravely.

Her first reaction was to tell him to take his hand off but she suddenly realized where his fear was coming from. She clutched his hand.

"Iíll be all right," she said quietly. "C,mon, Vetter, I have to talk to Cap. Go see what the other shifts found out yesterday."

He slowly turned away from her. She watched him walk off as if he bore a weight in his soul he did not expect ever to carry again.


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