Bill Haydon is waiting for the phone to ring. He's in Smiley's house, making love to Smiley's wife.
She prefers the cruder terms, says that "making love" is prissy. But that's exactly how Bill sees it: an act of creation, of artistry. It takes dedication, focus, and some degree of sheer inspiration. Bill is quite good at it, so he likes to call it that.
Jim never calls it anything at all.
At the thought, he loses the rhythm for a moment and sees her orgasm recede from him, her face losing its inward-looking intensity. Annoyed, he settles back to work, murmuring endearments into her long hair. The phone stays silent on the nightstand. He tries not to look at it.
Her breathing is sharp and ragged; she tosses her head back and forth as if in some kind of negation, transported. Right now there is a meeting in the woods of Czechoslovakia. Will Jim sense the trap he's been sent into? Will he abort the mission? Bill believes he won't, has assured Karla he won't. To abort the mission would be to admit to himself--
Bill curses and her eyes fly open in delight. He grabs her by the shoulder before her complicit smile can widen, flips her over onto her stomach. It's easier this way. Close your eyes and think of the proletariat he thinks, and has to clamp down on an entirely inappropriate giggle.
There are beads of sweat at her temples. Jim had been sweating too, that day in his office last week. He had looked at Bill and said "It's madness." He had said, "He gave you all code names."
Bill smiled one of his genuine smiles, the one he saved only for Jim. He made some joke--he can't remember what it was, probably a pun on "tailor"--and Jim laughed, but Bill could still see doubt in his eyes. A little more. He assembled a more serious look, grabbing the hidden bottle of gin and two shot glasses out of his desk drawer. "I get it, Jim," he said, pouring them each a shot. Their little ritual. "I'll keep an eye on him." He handed Jim his glass, raised his own in a tiny toast. They drank the gin together, and Bill watched Jim's face relax, his pale eyes losing some of the lines of strain around them. Now to seal the deal.
He leaned back, the gin still harsh and cool on his tongue, on his lips, and smiled. It wasn't precisely a come-hither smile, but he knew that the mix of vulnerability and appeal in it always did the trick for Jim.
"Jesus, Jim, not here," he was whispering a moment later, his voice hot at Jim's ear, papers and files scattered to the floor (he'd have to put them back in correct order later). Jim just kissed him again, his hands sure and demanding. He liked to feel he was in control, and Bill liked to let him feel that way, so he gazed into Jim's eyes as if he were lost to everything but him. There was no hint in Jim's expression of resentment about Smiley's woman; he had grown used to Bill's small betrayals and infidelities, they were part of what made Bill what he was, after all. And so Bill had relaxed against him, had let him--had let himself--
He's almost there now, the woman forgotten as he closes his eyes and pounds forward toward that moment, that one moment in which he exists alone and unobserved, so close now, so close--
And of course that's when the damn phone rings.
She answers it, her voice hesitant at first: "I'm sorry, he's in Berlin." A pause, and her face closes up. "No," she says shortly, and hangs up.
It's worked, then. All of it, it's finally come through, Testify is going to be a success and Control is doomed. So it's the final annoyance when he finds he's gone utterly flaccid, unable to continue. The irony of it all, impotent at the moment of his greatest triumph! He would laugh if he didn't still have to deal with the woman. She's telling him something is wrong, that he has to go, but he smothers her voice with a kiss, cupping her face in his hands.
Jim held his face in his hands too, that day before he left. His hands are bigger than Bill's, strong and wide, and they cradled his head so gently as Jim looked into his eyes for a long time, then leaned in for a last kiss.
(Someday, far from now, he will remember that moment, the taste of gin on Jim's lips, the strangely delicate touch, the fingers slipping through the graying curls at his temple. The way his thumbs come to rest on the line of his jaw. Trembling.)
He uses his mouth and hands to get the woman off before he goes, leaving her sleepy and satiated in Smiley's bed.
Let no one say Bill Haydon doesn't finish what he's started.