Rating: R for violence and language, no sex
Notes: Dolimir was kind enough to allow me to play in her Resurrection universe, which I adore. She also did me the courtesy of reading over the story first and offering her opinion on some of the wording, and I want to publicly say "Thank you" for everything. If you haven't read her 'Resurrection' stories, this won't make much sense. You can find them here: The Resurrection Series by Dolimir. I should add for the sake of clear mental images, that I had Illya Kuryakin on the brain at one point...
Marcus Sandburg actually snickered - drawing a shocked look from everyone in the bullpen who overheard the rusty sound - before turning to look at the man who'd just walked in the door.
Tall, lean and beautiful as ever, Collin Stravinsky waited for Marcus to nod before approaching. Viking-pale blond hair flopped carelessly over a broad forehead, a striking contrast to a pair of sharp brown eyes. His high cheekbones and stern jaw were softened by a startlingly lush mouth, which was currently curved in a trademark, irreverent smirk, making him look like a reckless teenager.
Marcus rose and returned the grin. The muscles of his face twitched with the unaccustomed expression - he would never again be a man who smiled easily, and would have been shocked to learn how greatly his friends missed that - but Collin's nickname for him had always amused him.
"Igor," he rasped, returning the informality, lips twitching as their eyes shared the old joke. "What brings you to Cascade?"
"Came by to see you." Collin looked around, intently surveying. "You made it home," he added so softly that no one but Marcus could hear him... well, Marcus and Jim, who'd stepped out of Simon's office to stand with his arms across his chest; glaring at Collin with his best 'give me a reason to hurt you' look. Collin ignored him, gaze back on Marcus, who merely lifted one shoulder.
"Trying to. Got a minute? Something you need to know."
Marcus pointed toward the break room door and started to follow Collin in, aware that Collin was doing him the courtesy of allowing him the rear. Jim started forward, face like thunder, and Marcus started to wave him off.
Collin looked back and shook his head.
"Let him come," he said, still using that near-soundless tone. "It concerns him, too."
The three of them walked into the break room, Jim closing the door and standing beside it at parade rest. Collin, on the other hand, made for the coffee pot, poured himself a cup of the black sludge, and then sat with the fluid grace that marked all his movements. He watched Marcus with the patience of a hunting cat, self-contained and alert.
Marcus rolled his eyes and bought a bottle of juice from the vending machine.
"What's up, Igor?" He asked with equal patience, knowing Collin wouldn't have looked him up if it weren't important. Collin Stravinsky was one of the few who hadn't sought him out for help after he'd taken Shafer down. In his own way, Collin was as strong as Marcus had learned to be. Raised from childhood to accept his senses, Collin had a degree of natural control that had often made him hard to teach.
Marcus Mallory had occasionally found his attitude grating, but Blair Sandburg had appreciated Collin's rather cynical independence.
And Collin had been Jason's friend, too.
He sat across from Collin and popped the top off his drink.
"A mutual acquaintance recently informed me that a certain rogue agent has been pimping intel-" Collin held up one hand, fingers spread wide. The gesture had become symbolic of hyperactive senses "-to a few foreign markets. With the end of this country's active involvement in the organization - and thank you for that, by the way - this man is determined to see it resumed outside government control. Rumor has it he sees himself running it as a merc program. I don't have to tell you-"
"Fuck," Marcus swore roughly, interrupting Collin's recitation. "No, man, you don't have to tell me." Not good. The idea of Lee Brackett setting himself up in Shafer's position, using enhanced agents as his own private little mercenary army...
"Once he secures funding he'll move to acquire," Collin added to Marcus' nod.
Marcus looked over at Jim, knowing Jim understood from the fury in those expressive eyes. Brackett's first targets for acquisition were right here in this room, and he wouldn't hesitate to use them as hostages against each other's compliance.
"You know where he is?" He asked, turning back toward Collin.
"Yeah, you're going to love this, Maawstuh. Asshole's calling himself Sundance. He's in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. There aren't many investors outside the cartels with enough long green to make it worth his while. The Chinese and the Libyans weren't interested."
"Small favors, Igor," Marcus muttered to Collin's wry snort. "You clear?"
"I am now," Collin replied, making it clear that warning Marcus was the last thing he had to do before going underground. Both men stood, and Marcus extended his hand across the table to shake Collin's hand.
"You saved my life, tovarisch. I owe you," Collin said seriously.
"Keep it saved, and we'll be even."
"Count on it." With a solemn nod in Jim's direction, the younger man ghosted out of the door. Marcus doubted anyone would even notice him leaving - Collin was gifted that way.
"Been a long time since you've called me that," Marcus prevaricated. He was going to have to take care of Brackett once and for all. That much was clear. Whether Jim was going to give him an argument-
"When do we leave?"
Marcus managed to keep his face straight, but knew his sentinel wouldn't miss the startled leap his heart had just taken.
Jim gave him a level glare, plainly awaiting a reply.
"You didn't think you were going without me, did you?"
"Nah, I just didn't think," Marcus said, and allowed a rare, real smile.
Jim returned it in full.
Jim occasionally wondered if Blair- Marcus -was suffering from some kind of dissociative identity disorder created by the trauma he'd been through. Marcus was not Blair. Not really. Although there were instants when Blair might peek out, Marcus remained a fundamentally different personality. Marcus himself often referred to Blair in the third person, as a separate individual, and Jim suspected that Marcus frequently wasn't sure who the hell he was.
What surprised Jim was discovering he didn't care.
He loved them both - would still love his guide if there were sixteen personalities sharing space in that body. The spirit inside was the same, even though Jim was sure that neither Blair nor Marcus would ever accept that. Each was convinced he was too damaged.
The dichotomy between Blair and Marcus was never more apparent than during the trip to Bolivia. Marcus made the arrangements, having them flown (using fake ID) into Brasilia (because Brackett might anticipate Lima) and from there on to Sucre. In Sucre, they picked up a truck and endured the seven hour drive to Santa Cruz, which turned out to be much larger than Jim had expected - almost a million people inhabited what he had imagined was a small town.
Still, it didn't take long, hanging about in the right 'wrong' parts of town, to acquire weapons and intel on the area players, including the mysterious Sundance and his ties to the cartels.
Marcus, Jim noted with amused admiration, spoke Spanish with a heavy Russian accent and referred to himself as Pyotr when they mingled with the locals. As yet another way to throw Brackett off, it was inspired. Jim, for the most part, kept his mouth shut and concentrated on looking big, mean, and dumb; something Marcus- no, Blair -teased him about, saying it seemed to come naturally.
That was the last little moment of levity. Jim stood by and watched with helpless understanding as Marcus became colder, harder, and increasingly focused on the mission.
That attitude had cracked only once, when Jim had called him on it. Marcus had asked Jim just who the hell did he think had tipped the Agency on Blair's abilities.
Jim didn't have a lot of trouble putting on his own game face after that.
It took them three days to learn where Brackett was hiding out.
"Mister Sandburg. What a pleasant surprise."
"Mister Brackett. Unfortunately, I can't say the same, and the name is Mallory. Marcus Mallory." There was a continent of polar ice in that gravelly tone, and Lee Brackett was smart enough to pale a bit under his tan.
"Care for a swim? I was hoping you'd join me," Brackett said with a remarkable degree of bravado, considering he'd been confronted by an armed man while climbing from his pool.
Brackett shot a glance at a nearby deck chair, where his automatic was uselessly soaking up the sun, then looked toward his house; silent as the tomb it had become for half a dozen late associates and bodyguards.
Both Jim and Marcus were frighteningly efficient at the job their government had taught them.
"Lee, Lee, Lee. You say that now... don't you know what happened to Shafer?" Marcus raked his eyes up and down Brackett's almost naked body just to watch the former agent squirm.
Brackett closed his eyes briefly. "That was you?" He asked to the subtle tilt of Marcus' head.
"Did you really believe you could enlist me into your little sentinel/guide army? Whacking judges, policemen, and rival narcotrafficantes?"
"I had hopes," Brackett answered with a shrug, calculating the distance between him and his weapon and him and Mallory. He was a dead man, and he knew it. "It could be a very lucrative proposition."
"I think you knew Blair Sandburg better than that."
Brackett made the move Marcus had been expecting, leaping for his pistol headfirst, rolling, trying to minimize himself as a target. Marcus waited until his hand closed on the automatic - just to be shitty about it and give Brackett hope - then fired, the silencer spitting twice.
Brackett's body tumbled into an uncontrolled fall, sprawling face down in a spreading pool of blood.
Marcus walked up, kicked Brackett's automatic away from his twitching hand, and took the insurance shot to the back of the head.
"Apparently you didn't know him well enough, you son of a bitch."
Much later, as they drove toward Peru, Marcus turned in the passenger seat and looked at Jim.
"Thank you for letting me handle Brackett myself."
"Sure," Jim said, giving Marcus a sideways glance.
He was pleased when Marcus laughed.
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