It’s easy to run Alex ragged. She’s fast and strong, but she doesn’t have Nikita’s endurance, so they stay together, for most of the run, but, when the finish line’s in sight, Nikita outpaces her without too much effort. “When are you gonna give me a real race, Udinov?”
Alex bends over, hands resting on her thighs, to catch her breath. “I swear to god you’re not human,” she says.
Nikita waits until Alex’s standing upright again and then she lunges forward, slapping her on the shoulder. “Tag, you’re it!” She takes off, towards their house, away from the ocean, the sound of its waves receding behind her, replaced by the roar of blood rushing through her veins. She slows down a little, halfway there, and isn’t at all surprised when Alex jumps her, takes her down, lays her out on the sand. Nikita pushes up on her elbows, Alex has her legs pinned, and laughs.
“I win this round,” Alex says.
“I let you.”
Alex swats her on the ass, a little too hard to be counted friendly, and says, “Shut up.”
Nikita turns her head around. “You pissed at me?”
Alex rolls off of Nikita, gets back on her feet, brushing sand from her shirt. “No. Why would I be?”
Nikita sits back on her heels, closes her eyes, just takes a moment, cataloging every feeling here, the sea salt smell, the sun on her skin, the assurance that Alex is within arm’s reach and safe. She breathes it in, and then she opens her eyes again, faces the rest of the world. They’re close enough to the house that she can see Birkoff standing in front of the windows. She raises a hand, but he doesn’t wave back, probably doesn’t even see her, all that time spent in front of a screen doesn’t exactly make him far-sighted. It’s not comforting to realize that, if she were armed, had a harmful intent, he wouldn’t even know. Alex is standing right beside her, now, so that, when Nikita rises, her hand trails up the side of her body. Alex doesn’t even try to hide her shiver at the touch. Nikita waits without reward for the smile she expects to follow. “You are pissed at me,” she says. Alex steps forward, away, and Nikita reaches out, grabs at her right wrist from behind. “What? Come on, tell me.” Alex takes another step, making Nikita take her left wrist, too. “Wait,” she says, and doesn’t even pretend it’s not an order.
“Do you really want to find out?” She can smell Alex’s sweat, feel her pulse underneath her thumbs. She leans in, close enough to rest her cheek against the damp flesh of Alex’s shoulder.
“You shouldn’t,” Alex pants.
“Ask me about Sean, or get Michael to do it for you. It’s just not fair.”
Nikita tightens her grip on Alex’s wrists. She’s only trying to make sure that Alex is happy, that she’s where she wants to be. What’s wrong with that? “Why not?”
“Because-” Alex’s voice cracks and she pauses before continuing. “It reminds me that, even though I’m yours, your not mine.” Nikita has to let go, put necessary space back between them. She watches mutely as Alex bends and flexes her hands, circles them, like she’s testing whether or not the pressure of Nikita’s hold did any damage. “I have to share you with Michael,” she murmurs. “I don’t care about that. I mean- I know that’s just the way this is. But don’t make me feel guilty for wanting more from someone else, not when I don’t ask for more from you.”
“I didn’t think- I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. Just don’t, ok?”
“I think Birkoff’s making French toast for breakfast.”
Alex is a good actor. They both are, which only means that sometimes it gets tricky to keep track of all the roles. “Too sweet, I want tofu scramble,” Nikita says, wondering where Owen is this minute, if he’s alright, if he’s even alive.
“I want both,” Alex says, looking over her shoulder to flash a grin at Nikita, a smile that could almost pass as genuine, if it weren’t quite so bright. “Last one to the house has to cook,” she says, and sprints forward without waiting for Nikita to agree.
“You had a head start!” Nikita chases after her.
They reach home at the same time.