saga/title/fandom: Adagio chapter 11 (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 ELEVEN

Katie Rose Quinn possessed amazing powers of concentration. She had been staring at her mother and Vetter asleep on the sofa for an hour, idly munching on Captain Crunch and watching the two adults as if they were a living Saturday morning cartoon. By the time Kate awoke the child appeared disappointed that her one-sided vigil was over.

Kate opened her eyes, stretched. She felt something heavy leaning against her. When she realized it was Vetter Ė and that Katie was watching both of them Ė she flew off the sofa and Vetter fell over, banging his head on the edge of the couch.

"What the hell -"

"Vetter, itís KATIE," Kate interrupted. "Say good morning."

He caught his oncoming profanity and quickly sat up. "Good morning," he said, all too aware of what the scene in the living room looked like.

"Did you and Mommy sleep together?" Katie asked.

"No, Sweetheart, not at all. Mr. Vetter and I were talking last night and we just happened to fall asleep on the sofa."

"But thatís sleeping together."

"Not in the way most people use that term. Letís just forget about this, okay? How about one of Mommyís Irish breakfasts? Would you like that?"

Kate was near blithering so Vetter said, "Hey, Miss Katie, letís go for a walk while your mommy cooks. You run in and get dressed and weíll go exploring."

The child immediately vanished into her bedroom. Kate banged her palm into her forehead.

"Son-of-a-bitch!" she muttered hotly.

"Itís no big deal," he insisted.

"Vetter, my child saw me asleep with you! How can I explain that to her?"

"You did that really well. She understands that what happened was perfectly innocent, Shea. Relax."

"Sometimes Byron and I shared a bed but never when she was here."

"You slept with your partner?"

"Not that way. We just needed company sometimes on the other side of the bed. What if she mentions this to Brie?"

"What if she does? You have the right to do what you want. As long as youíre not corrupting her he has no beef," Vetter said. "How much time do you need to cook?"

"About an hour."

"I guarantee you, by the time Katie and I get back she will have forgotten all about this. Iíll simply take her out and blind her with my charm. She wonít remember anything but me," he said, grinning.

She managed to calm a little. "Thank God she didnít meet you when she was seventeen instead of seven," she remarked.

He laughed. A moment later Katie raced out to him, dressed in blue jeans, a startlingly pink shirt, orange socks, and purple unlaced sneakers with flashing lights on them. Kate sighed.

"At least tie your shoes, honey," she said. "I donít want people to think I donít dress you properly."

The little girl complied, then took Vetterís hand. "Where are we going?" she asked.

"Thatís the cool thing about exploring," he answered, starting toward the door with her. "You never know where youíre going until you get there."

Katie needed to hear nothing else. She went out with Vetter, only remembering to run back and kiss Kate goodbye when her mother asked her to.

As Kate began preparing breakfast Kafelnikov flashed into her mind. She still felt a keen sense of unease about him. She had no idea if her message got through to him and he would actually leave her alone or show up on her doorstep at any second, and she hated the helplessness the situation engendered in her. On the street she knew where her enemy was. The only thing she knew about Kafelnikov at the moment was that he had a weird obsession for her that gave her chills.

Well, thatís to be expected, she thought, not without an appreciation of the irony in her words. The first time I have a date since the divorce and it ends up being with a coked out Russian stalker. Great.

She suddenly thought of the moment when she and Vetter finished their pillow fight and ended up together on the sofa. How much had she let slip with him about how hot he made her? He stared at her in a very odd way, but if he realized what he did to her heíd been enough of a gentleman to keep it to himself. This morning he showed no signs of feeling awkward around her. Maybe he really didnít know that she wanted him more than air or water or a ticket to the World Series. Men could be astoundingly blind sometimes, but for once she was glad for the fact.

She walked to the window. Vetter and Katie headed east toward the park. Vetter walked with Katie hanging on his arm like a monkey while the little girl laughed in utter delight. Kate smiled.

"You make my daughter happy," she said quietly. "Come to think of it, you make me pretty happy too. Thanks, Vetter."

Three blocks away to the west Kafelnikov rode in his limousine. Alexei drove slowly through the tree-lined streets, making no attempt to hide the fact that he thought this trip a waste of time. He glowered behind the wheel, occasionally muttering in Russian.

"Honestly, Alexei, if you canít control your emotions you shouldnít have volunteered to drive me to Katyaís," Kafelnikov said.

"My hope was to talk you out of this ridiculous visit," Alexei replied.

"It isnít ridiculous."

"The woman made it clear sheís done with you, Grigori. Why in the hell do you want to see her after that?"

"Because she doesnít mean it. Once she understands why I tracked down her address and phone number sheíll be flattered that I went to so much trouble."

"Why did you?"

"You know nothing about women. Alexei, when a woman wonít say where she lives yet comes to your house for dinner, sheís telling you something extremely important: that she wants you to pursue her. She needs to know how strong your feelings are for her and if she can trust you to be with her the rest of your life. Itís a classic romantic scenario," Kafelnikov explained.

"I think itís a case of a woman wanting you to leave her alone," Alexei replied.

"Katya is very high-strung: I can tell this already. She needs to be with a man but at the same time she fears being betrayed again as she was by her husband. I must make her understand that Iím not going anywhere, that weíre meant to be together," Kafelnikov said.

"Youíre so damn Russian," Alexei said in disgust. "Quit reading so much Tolstoy, for Godís sake."

Kafelnikov laughed. The ruby earrings he tried to give to Kate on Thursday evening glimmered in their ornate box as it sat on his lap. He did not bring the earrings along as a peace offering because he knew she would not take them. They were for one purpose only: to confirm his view of her as a vibrant, independent woman who needed someone to take care of her in spite of herself. By rejecting the earrings a second time she would prove her character and strength. Strong women delighted him, but a strong woman he alone could control made him as hungry as a wolf caught in a Siberian winter.

He adjusted his tie and ran his long, slim fingers through his hair. He thought he looked particularly handsome today in this new Armani. Women could not easily resist him when he looked this good.

Once the car rested against the curb in front of Kateís house he told Alexei to come around and open the door for him. Grumbling, Alexei got out of the driverís side and came over to the back passenger door. He opened it and stood aside, fully convinced that Kafelnikov deserved the ass chewing he was about to get.

Vetter and Katie were almost to the park when she remembered that she had not brought her soccer ball. They started back for it. As they reached the corner of the block on which Kate lived Vetter saw Kafelnikov stepping onto the sidewalk. He froze. He could not go to help Kate without revealing the fact that she had a daughter. He quickly turned back toward the park.

"But we didnít get my ball," Katie protested.

"I have a better idea for us than the park. How about if we walk down to that flower shop next door to the school and get some flowers for your mommy? Wouldnít that be a nice surprise?" he asked.

Katie nodded enthusiastically. Vetter started walking with her back toward the park, glancing over his shoulder helplessly at the house.

When Kate heard the knock she felt surprise that Vetter and Katie would be back so early. She hurried toward the front of the house. When she saw Kafelnikov standing in front of one of the two slender glass panels at the side of the door she immediately became furious.

"Get the hell away from my house!" she ordered.

"Katya, listen to me, please," Kafelnikov replied. "I want to explain to you why I found your address."

"Because youíre a fucking lunatic, thatís why! Get out of here!"

Alexei sniggered behind his hand.

"I understand why you feel as if I violated your privacy but my intention was purely innocent, I assure you. I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed our dinner together. I thought it would be more romantic to send the roses to your home instead of the precinct where everyone would want to know why you got them," Kafelnikov explained.

"Well you thought wrong. By the way, if youíd like to get your roses theyíre out back in the dumpster with the rest of the garbage."

"Katya -"

"My name is Kate. Katya is some perverse fantasy woman who exists only in your mind. Now get the fuck out of here before I call some of my buddies from the department to take you out," she said.

Kafelnikov held the open box with the earrings toward the glass panel. "Please accept these as a token of my deep regret for my actions," he said.

Kate rushed to the closet. She removed a locked box from the top shelf and quickly opened it with a small key from the wall. She withdrew her service revolver and returned to aim it at Kafelnikov.

"You can keep your earrings and your balls if you leave now," she announced.

The Russian closed the box and put it in his pocket. "Katya, I will go now. But when you admit your true feelings for me to yourself all you have to do is let me know. I wonít hold this morning against you," he said.

"Iím never going to call you!" she shouted through the door.

He bowed slightly, smiling calmly, then turned and walked down the porch steps to the car. Alexei closed the door behind him and walked around to the driverís side. After a cynical grin at her he drove Kafelnikov away.

Inside the limousine Kafelnikov smiled.

"What are you so happy about?" Alexei demanded.

"Only the fact that I have at last found the woman destined to be my wife," he answered.

"Are you completely crazy? She threatened to shoot your balls off! Thatís not standard romantic behavior, even for Russians."

"Katya will call me in a few days, Alexei, I promise you that. And when she does that will seal our fate," Kafelnikov announced.

Alexei shook his head. "Tolstoy," he muttered.

Kate put her gun back in the box and locked it in. She replaced the box on the top closet shelf. She noticed her hands shaking and forced them to still as she returned to the kitchen to continue cooking, but even as she managed to control her tremors she knew that she had not heard the last of Grigori Kafelnikov.

When Vetter and Katie returned a short while later Kate could tell from his expression that he knew Kafelnikov had been to the house. She let them inside, her eyes locked on his.

"We got you these, Mommy," Katie said, handing forth a bouquet of brightly colored mixed flowers.

"Theyíre beautiful, honey." Kate put the flowers in a vase. "Go and wash your hands so you can eat."

Katie went off to the bathroom.

"Oh, god, Vetter, Grigori could have seen Katie," Kate said, voice trembling.

"I saw he was here and took her to get the flowers," he replied. "What the hell did that nut want?"

"To apologize for tracking me down."

"What did you do?"

"Threatened to shoot him in the balls. It worked. At least for now."

"Jesus, Shea, we have to stop this guy from harassing you any longer. Weíll get that restraining order Monday first thing. Iíll go with you."

He saw that she still felt threatened by Kafelnikov. He put his hands firmly on her shoulders.

"Weíll take care of this," he promised. "Weíre partners."


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