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Ravens in England

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Alexander Molokov is recruited into the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti very young. He's very smart and very cruel and very, very good at everything he does. For a while, they give him fairly minor missions, testing him out. He isn't sent outside the country until he is twenty years old. That's still young for a first international mission, and he recognizes this.

They weigh him down with national secrets (only the lightest at first) and code words for what he is (raven) and instructions for infiltration. He is to be sent undercover in England, working on an older English agent who, the brief tells him, is a homosexual. Molokov is familiar with the word.

All they need for the moment is some blackmail material—easy, they say, even standard. Young men like Molokov are given jobs like this all the time, apparently. Molokov decides to treat it like any other job, doing his goddamn professional best to be far too good at it.

They are in a hotel room. The blinds are drawn. Molokov is speaking in his best English accent that he hates and going by his first name—Alexander. For all the agent knows, he's some cute English kid who gets all wide-eyed about men in suits with barely-concealed weapons.

Molokov himself is unarmed today.

He reminds himself that all he needs is some footage, and his people will take care of that. His job is to put on a show.

The agent has a scratchy laugh and is not bad-looking. He offers Molokov a drink, calling him Alex and smiling when he refuses.

When the agent sits on the bed next to him, Molokov's stomach flips, and he's instantly furious with himself. This is just another job, and it's not as though he's never had sex before. Mixing business and pleasure, though, is entirely new, and it's surprisingly thrilling and worrying at the same time.

The agent spends close to thirty minutes getting quite drunk on Scotch and leaving Molokov wishing he'd accepted a drink just so he could have something to do with his hands. Finally, the agent puts his hand on Molokov's leg, trying to make it look casual or accidental, as if there is any mistaking this situation for something else. Molokov thinks about this. Then he smiles and lays his hand on his companion's.

The man is a better kisser than Molokov expected. That's good. That'll make this easier.

It's all pretty standard, clothes being discarded in a drunken rush, fingers brushing overs exposed skin as though the conclusion of this liaison is still in doubt. Then finally they are naked and the agent is touching Molokov everywhere. Molokov makes an inadvertent noise in the back of his throat and is instantly pleased with himself. This is something to add to his skill set.

When he agent shoves him down on the bed, hands surprisingly strong as they close over Molokov's wrists, holding them above his head, Molokov forces himself to go very still, although every nerve in his body is telling him to fight. He's been trained too well to put up with this. Then again, he's not sure he could actually get out of the hold if he tried. The other man is older and stronger and after all, a government agent.

Molokov notices tiny details, like the way the edge of the striped pillowcase feels against the backs of his hands as the agent rolls his hips against Molokov's. Then he releases one of Molokov's hands to reach down and touch him.

Later, with his legs hooked over the agent's shoulders at an uncomfortable angle and his hands are still pinned over his head and his breath is coming in ragged gasps, Molokov considers panicking. Then he doesn't. He realizes very suddenly that he could be more than good at this.

Later still, he walks away from the hotel, shrugging off Alex and the English accent and the inconvenient tie. He'll retrieve the film when the sun is up and the agent has moved on. In the barely-there light of dawn, he can sees finger-shaped bruises on his wrists, and he feels oddly proud. He's never been hurt on a mission before.

When he makes contact with his people, they congratulate him on a wonderful performance. It doesn't matter whether or not they know how little of it was an act. He is still good at what he does, and he's professional and not stupid enough to get caught doing anything he's not authorized to do. He swears he'll keep it that way, because this job could end up being exactly what he wants.