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WATCH YOUR BACK

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Natasha Zapata approaches the building where she and Edgar Reade make their home,
reaching for her keys before she abruptly recognizes a tall, olive-skinned behemoth of a
man she's not seen or thought of in years: LEXOR ROY. A rush of memories, not all
positive, flood back into her mind. After departing for the CIA, she'd met and had a fling
with (if 18 months can be defined as 'fling') with the good-looking, highly-skilled MMA
(Mixed Martial Arts) combatant, which ended in a jail term for Roy.

She continues on cautiously, sliding her hand closer to the holstered SIG SAUER 40 cal pistol
at her side. She stops a few feet away from him before speaking. "Lexor. When were you released?"

'Week ago. Looking good, CIA. Speaking of RELEASE..." he cups his groin suggestively.

Zapata ignores the crude gesture, refusing to allow herself to be baited.

"I'm glad that you're OK. I need to go." She doesn't move though, waiting for him to take the hint and depart.

“So…I’m ‘ghosted’, that’s it?”

“Lex…we’re not doing this again; PLEASE. I’m worn out, and I need to get upstairs.”

“When then? Meet me an hour-wherever you say.”

“No, I can’t. I’ll call you in a few days...actually-I WON'T, now that I think about it.”

“You’re not in your old place-I went by there. You moved out six months ago. My P.I. tracked you here.”

(Shakira’s “Estoy Aqui”, Zapata ‘s ringtone, sounds in her jacket pocket, and she refuses the call by
touch-it’s probably Reade, and she ‘ll be home in a few more minutes, anyway)…
“YOUR P.I.?L -you HAVE TO stop this. It was a good 18 months-a GREAT 18 months
actually, in many ways-in many ways NOT-we left it how we left it, and now we’re HERE. I have to
tell you, though: I can’t be your friend if you insist on putting surveillance on me. Real talk.”

“What’s your hurry? You’re awful anxious to get upstairs.”

“Ask your P.I. Now you’ll have to excuse me-I need to get home.”

"Estoy Aqui" sounds again, and this time she answers: it’s Reade…

“Hey…si…uh-huh…I’ll be up in ten. No-un conocido que me encontro en la calle…Si…diez. Bye.”

Lex bristles. The tone in her voice when she said “hey” and “bye” is unmistakably that tone that
lovers use when speaking to each other…the same tone the two of THEM had used during their
nearly two year involvement

“Who's that!?”, he barks, QUIEN ES!?", and Tasha braces herself for a possible verbal tirade (and
perhaps a PHYSICAL attack). “You see?! Do you SEE why we ended? THAT kind of shit, right
there!", she retorts. "Now...you're out, you're free...move on, Lex. I have."

"Yeah, how about NO," he replies, clenching his big fist and taking a half-step toward her.
Fluidly, and instinctively, Tasha flips back the long over-coat she wears and places a hand on her side-arm.
"DON'T". As baldly as that. DON'T.

"YEAH...well...it's in your 'best interest' to call me at this number (he's cupped a laminated business card in his
other hand, which he casually flips at the CIA Agent's feet.) I'd do it by NOON, or a certain video will be
released-I'll bet it goes viral by the evening. Remember HAMMERLOCK? He remembers YOU."

Lex Roy turns on his heel and saunters away, his derisive laughter roiling through the semi-empty streets.

Zapata's blood turns to ice, and she's nearly sick, right there on the sidewalk. That Mother-Sucker
recorded me is her singular, heart-rending thought. Clutching her stomach, she bends
and shakily retrieves the business card, and hurries into the building, as quickly as her queasy stomach
will allow.