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He’s face down on the bed, resting his face on his folded arms, legs spread as wide as possible, muscles flexing under the tattooed monochrome of his back.

He jumps slightly at the cool, soft touch on the back of his thigh and the gentle scratch of fingernails, tracing lightly between his legs and teasingly over his balls.

“Relax, Lucas. You’re gonna like this, honey.”

The snap of the cap of the tube of lube, then coldness between his buttocks, and those fingernails again, touching him, touching him intimately, stroking his anus, encouraging it to relax. He breathes deeply, steadily.

This has been difficult for him, not simply because of the memories of what he endured in Lushanka, but because he’s been emotionally numb, dead, since his return home.

Even with the nightmares, the flashbacks, the horror of reliving those years of solitude and pain and betrayal, Lucas's physical response to the touch of his fellow humans has remained - miraculously - apparently unimpaired. He imagines it must be because he returned to his work at MI5 so quickly after his return. If he had gone to a safe-house and caught up on eight years of TV, as was suggested, he would have done nothing but thought about what had happened. Not-thinking is easier, and running from one threat to the next at work is the perfect way to not-think about the past.

But his emotional response is another thing entirely. Sarah, in the normal course of things - the normal course of things as they were when things were still relatively normal, eight years ago - would not have been the sort of woman with whom Lucas would have had a relationship. She’s too controlled, too detached, her glossy adamantine shell at the same time too matte, too airbrushed. Too new world, when Lucas's consciousness is buried so deep in the past.

Nothing like the deep, passionate, Elizabeta, in whose impossibly dark, soulful, eyes Lucas could see and almost taste the brilliant, crisp, unending vastness of the steppe. Elizabeta.

But Sarah’s perfect, for this; for a relationship which, whilst it does not engage him emotionally, offers physical satisfaction and a degree of comfort and companionship and, Christ knows, Lucas needs something of that. And he is certain that Sarah feels exactly the same; he knows how to satisfy a woman and he is increasingly enjoying, in a most probably fucked up, but cathartic, way the predatory, sadistic, side that Sarah has introduced to their fucking.

So when she presses one of those long, beautifully manicured nails hard into his anus, whilst Lucas’ll hiss quietly in discomfort, he’ll embrace the pain, because in the end even pain is so very much better than being dead.