The fandom: La Femme Nikita
The pairing: Madeline/Operations, with f/f implications
A/N: This is not one of your usual pairings, Shrift, we met through LFN, and its your fault I started writing fic in the first place. I figured this piece was a good tribute, and hopefully it is. Thanks shrift, for everything you do.
Summary: It wasn't sensual. It wasn't sexy. Instead, it made him feel unmanned
Logic told him that after all this time, he should be used to it; twenty-odd years, thousands of missions, and almost a decade of power games should have quenched the jealousy and anger that welled up inside him.
Unfortunately, logic had never been his forte where Madeline was concerned.
Standing before the monitor, Paul unclenched his fist, willing his blood to stop boiling, the pounding in his temples to abate. It was a mission, a demonstration, and his weren't the only eyes watching. And many of those eyes, he knew, were on him.
George's hand touched his arm, and Paul resisted the urge to flinch away. Instead, he turned to his superior, cool distance all he showed. "George. I trust you're enjoying the show?"
"Madeline's abilities, as always, are impressive." George said amiably, his eyes fixed on the display. His smirk sent another wave of anger through Paul, who clenched his fist involuntarily.
"That they are," Paul said casually. He kept his eyes on George, avoiding the view on the monitor. He knew what he'd see, knew what to expect. It haunted him. "She continues to astound me, even after all these years."
That, at least was the truth. No matter how many missions he witnessed, how many marks she seduced, this always shocked him, left him ragged and drained, wishing things were different – wondering if it would matter.
A cry brought a smattering of whispers from the gentlemen who'd arrived with George. Swallowing back the bile rising in his throat, Paul gave George a pleasant smile before forcing his attention to the monitor.
It was as he'd expected.
The woman lay, legs wide, knees bent, on a cheap hotel bed. Her hands gripped the headboard, knuckles white, the muscles in her arms tense as she flung her head back. Toes curled into the sheets, she lifted her hips, her breasts quivering as she gasped back another cry.
And Madeline's soft laughter filled the room.
With a final nip between her thighs, Madeline dragged herself up the other woman's body, leaving a trail of kisses along abdomen and ribs. When she reached her chest, she suckled at a breast, hands joining the woman's on the headboard. The woman moaned again, and her eyes fluttered open, tongue tracing her lips.
It was a hungry invitation, and when Madeline rolled onto her back, Paul turned away, hiding his discomfort behind the casual observations of his colleagues.
"She's a passionate woman, our Madeline," George said, his voice slightly husky.
Paul suppressed a shudder of disgust, instead nodding in agreement. "Yes," he replied, teeth clenched. "And she takes her work very seriously."
Work. That's all it was. At least, that's what he told himself at times like this: when Madeline's moans echoed through the Perch and he was hundreds of miles away; when those same moans took on a timbre that was never reached when he – when any man – was with her; and when Madeline's head between another woman's legs was all he could see in his dreams.
It wasn't sensual. It wasn't sexy. Instead, it made him feel unmanned.
Paul cleared his throat, hoping his colleagues couldn't see his increasing discomfort as Madeline's pleasure became obvious. Moans became soft whimpers, then finally an anguished sigh escaped her: a gasp that told him she'd reached her peak, and a shuddering release of air.
He lowered his eyes, knowing if he turned to the screen, he'd see her sated against the sheets, the glint of sweat between her breasts; and knowing the image would haunt him like the others - the other lovers, the other marks, the other women.
Sometimes, it was more than he could take.
"I think we've seen enough," he said, hoping his voice was steadier than he felt. He turned purposefully away from the monitor, pulling his colleagues' attention away as well. "This is merely the beginning of course," he continued evenly. "Infiltrating an organisation this large will take much more than a – fling, even one with a woman of Madeline's skill."
The men chuckled, eyes flitting for a moment back to the screen. Paul could read their thoughts as if they were his own, and it turned his stomach. "We'll keep you informed of our progress on this mission, knowing how important it is. But, right now, I have some other things I must attend to."
They nodded, chatting amongst themselves as they headed for the door of the Perch. Only George remained behind, placing a casual hand on Paul's shoulder once more. "You've done well," he said cordially. "If things go as planned – "
"Thank you." Perhaps too quickly, Paul nodded, smiling his acceptance of the compliment. "If you'll excuse me?"
George grinned, and once again his thoughts were all too clear. "Of course."
With the other men gone, Paul allowed himself an audible sigh, leaning against his now closed door. The monitor remained lit, the sound of Madeline's laboured breathing filling the Perch. Swallowing painfully, he let the sound draw him in and approached the screen with tentative steps.
His eyes were immediately drawn to her.
She lay as he'd expected; head back against the pillows, eyes closed, a small smile creeping across her lips. It was a sight he was intimately familiar with, a vision that had accompanied him to sleep more often than he could count, but it had been years since Madeline had looked that relaxed in his bed.
Cursing under his breath, Paul flicked a switch on the monitor, turning away as the image faded to black. She was no longer his and no matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't change that.
A decade of mind games, played for and against their superiors, had achieved much, but it had destroyed far more. Any intimacy, any trust they'd had in their youth was long dead, buried under confusion, under distrust, and under a desire to succeed, to survive. A desire that had once been theirs was now solitary. A need they'd once shared, a goal they'd sought together, had grown independent of their unity.
And in their desperation, they'd given up the one thing they probably truly needed to survive. Each other.
Against his better judgement, Paul flipped on the monitor once more, seeing the image of the two women together fade in before him. The mark was curled up against Madeline's body, her head lying on Madeline's chest, her breathing that of deep sleep.
And Madeline – Madeline seemed to be watching him, her eyes focused on where she knew the camera would be, her expression, ostensibly, one of satisfaction, even elation. But something in her eyes made his heart flutter, and instead of cursing himself for his naïveté, he let himself be drawn in.
He let himself believe that she was as lost as he was.