Word count: 1,476
Even as he stood at the corner, watching the taxi drive off into the settling night, he knew what would come of the developing situations around him. So many things coalescing, coming into contact when they should be kept far, far apart.
Some things just didn't mix, and the strange uncertainty in his gut told him he'd put together a lethal cocktail of life choices. But he couldn't see an alternate path; he had always been meant to stand at this corner, to watch that woman disappear into the distance, to feel the heavy ache in his chest that reminded him he wasn't dead yet.
Yet, he thought with a sardonic smirk. The moment felt unavoidable. He could feel the tingle of destiny as it traveled down his spine. Could taste the inevitable in the air. He straightened his posture, and took a cab back to the parking garage to pick up his Jeep and go home.
The condo was empty and untouched when he unlocked the front door, but he did a routine search anyway. Caution never hurt. He peeked into Jon's room, his hand lingering on his Glock, but found no one. As he turned to leave, something, or rather the lack thereof, caught his eye.
The closet door was left open a mere inch and a half, just a quirk of the house he'd learned - things never quite shut all the way, but something was different.
Something was missing.
Glancing over his shoulder at the front door, then out of the window in the bedroom, he slid the door open another three inches.
The simplest explanation was that Jon had it, of course, since there were no signs of a break in and only one missing piece of weaponry was hardly worth assuming burglary, but what on Earth had he needed it for?
They hadn't begun the up-close and personal part of the job, and as far as Christian knew, no orders had been given to begin that part of the mission.
To him, anyway. He slid the door closed, leaving it exactly as he'd found it, and left the room.
He frowned. It would be entirely too like HQ to only communicate with one of them, regardless of the risk of not having all participants on the up-and-up.
He grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down at the kitchen table, getting out his Glocks and cleaning them. He always found the silent repetition to be relaxing, it allowed his mind to wander freely and seek out solutions he would have otherwise overlooked.
Two beers later, the door opened and Jon walked in. The large man had his rifle strapped to his shoulder, barely visible behind his mass. Christian studied him for a brief moment, absorbing all of the information he could from the stoic, contemplative expression and the slightly slumped shoulders.
Christian knew the look of a burdened man better than most others.
"What did you need your rifle for today?" He didn't try to change his tone, to perhaps inflect some of his understanding, and as always it came out empty. Just a question.
"I was contacted by HQ," Jon answered. Christian kept to himself that he'd expected as much. Ignorant pricks at HQ, he thought to himself; what was so hard about relaying the necessary communications through two channels instead of just one? Jon continued, "They told me we have to take out a Mrs Allison Bishop-Petrov."
He set down the rag he was using. Everything made sense, suddenly, and he realized the information had been there all along. In some way or another. He crossed his arms over his chest and asked, "And? You took care of it, right?" He knew the answer.
"No," said Jon, the conflict clear in his voice.
"No?" He was playing stupid, sure, he thought, but he wasn't about to go waving around his flag of knowledge. Jon would come to him with the information in his own time, and until then, he could feign ignorance. Patience.
"Christian," Jon said, his voice straining as those unsettling orange eyes stared at him from across the room, "She's my ex-wife."
"I know," Christian said. "And she works for Jiyu. I have to ask, Jon," he paused, hesitating - lingering on the question in his mind. Was it the right time?
Would there be a right time?
It had taken him all of ten minutes after reading the report to assess the targets and those involved that could potentially be targets. Mrs Allison Petrov had been number seven on his list of possibilities; she was fourth in command in Research and Development and those long, pretty fingers of hers had been all over that lab. Whether she was deluded or actually involved, Christian didn't bother to guess. It only mattered that she was there; that if she were to ever stumble upon something she hadn't been meant to see, that would be all that mattered to those with power.
Her mistake, or otherwise.
It seemed she'd done the stumbling, and now someone had to clean up the mess. He sighed, and finished the question with the same tonality he always used, though the words left a bad taste in his mouth, "Shouldn't you have expected this?"
"Excuse me?" Jonathan asked, offense clear by his tone, "What are you saying? That I should have decided to kill my ex-wife from the beginning? That I should just do my job?" He stopped almost-hollering for a split second, long enough for Christian to open his mouth, assuming him finished, only to discover that Jonathan was far from finished. His tone inching upward, growing angrier, he spat, "Are you that inhuman, that you can just tell someone - deadpan - that they should have expected to have to murder their loved ones?"
Christian furrowed his brow in almost-confusion. He had known the question was of a sensitive nature, but Jon's outburst struck him just a little strangely. With his clean hand, he rubbed at his eyes with his thumb and index finger. The pad of his thumb grazed the scars over his eye and his motions lagged. Without warning, he felt guilty.
Jonathan was absolutely right.
It wasn't exactly an infrequent experience for Christian to be wrong, but the situation somehow seemed heavier than most other instances. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat before opting to just stand up. Jon's eyes shot fire at him from a few feet away and he wondered if he should be concerned for his well being.
"You're right about me, Jon," he started, his words thick with awkward guilt, and cleared his throat. "I am that inhuman, and I am saying that you." Even standing at his full height, Jon was still a full three inches taller than Christian. Part of him knew he should be terrified, that to have Jon pissed off at him - holding a rifle or not - was an awful situation to be in; but he just couldn't find the fear. He wasn't sure what was wrong with him, but he reached out and let one large hand smack his commander on the shoulder. Almost sympathetically, he added, "The truth is, Sir, you should have. But I'll see if I can figure something out."
He abandoned his Glocks on the table and left the room. He changed clothes, washed his hands, and grabbed his jacket. Jon was already in his own room when Christian returned to the kitchen, which was a relief, and he left without a goodbye.
He hadn't had anywhere in mind to go, so he just drove around. He didn't like to be idle when he called HQ, he didn't like to be easy to pinpoint. Ever, really, but especially with HQ. He slid the bluetooth earpiece into his ear and dialed the number for Headquarters from memory.
It rang once.
"Aden, what is it?"
"There have been complications, sir," he said. "Bishop-Petrov will have to wait."
"Complications for whom?" The question was dangerous, the tone of it rang clear, so disconnected, so cold, and Christian wondered if that was how he had sounded to Jon. Jonathan's words echoed in his head. Are you that inhuman?
"I stopped the mission, sir, Petrov is waiting on your word."
"What kind of complications?"
"I don't think they're wise to discuss on the phone, sir." He kept the lies to himself, knowing that any show of hesitation would give him away. "Perhaps, if you would like to meet me out here, we could discuss it in person."
The line was silent for a long moment, and then, "No, Aden, that won't be necessary. Keep me posted."
Just as he had suspected, the actual task of coming to discuss anything would be avoided like the plague. He rolled his eyes. Lazy pricks, he thought.
"Yessir," he said, and ended the call.