Title: Walls Have Eyes
Author: Ellen Milholland [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Rating: NC-17 [for sexual situations]
Codes: Miss Parker/Mr. Lyle
Disclaimers: Frankly, I have no idea who they belong to, but I'm pretty positive it's not me.
Note: Yes, I know they're twins. But they didn't know it for a long while, did they?
Summary: The gun wasn't loaded.
He left the accusation for her where there was no way she could miss it.
Parker wouldn't notice the fact that her lock had been broken if it wasn't for the little stress fractures in the door around the knob. They had replaced the locks, and her key still works. But she has been working for the Centre too long, and so she notices these things, like the fact that the door is a little cracked and there's no soft burnishing from a thousand turns of the knob. She is just back from the west and a fruitless cat-and-mouse around the Grand Canyon and through a dozen other natural wonders, and she's still cold down to her bones. She doesn't have the patience for this.
Her gun is warm even through her gloves as she unlocks the door and bumps it open with her hip. The silencer is on. The house is dark. She holds her breath, and there's no movement anywhere that she can sense. She can hear her heart beating. She waits, one-two-three-four, and then proceeds from room to room, searching the house with cool efficiency. She would've made an excellent Sweeper.
By the time she reaches her bedroom, she knows she can put away her gun. She can see why he was here, and she knows that he hadn't planned on staying when he'd come.
The folder is open on her bed, spilling dozens and dozens of photographs and photocopies. She looks closer: Cleaner field reports, cell phone bills, expense reports, restaurant receipts, transcripts of conversations she thought were private. It is almost artwork, a painting of her life for the past six months, of manicures and doctor's appointments, airplane flights, bottles of Pinot Grigio, pairs of shoes, requests for backup, plots to kill her enemies or aid her friends. Her father's birthday gift. Books for Debbie. A shopping spree at Victoria's Secret. A subscription to In Style magazine.
She says aloud, "Lyle," finds the note written in his clipped, stilted handwriting on heavy stationary resting on her pillow: "Ain't love grand?" Paper-clipped to the note, a picture of her and Jarod, her gun holstered. She was smiling. The picture is a fake, and the note isn't signed. She feels naked, even under her heavy coat, her leather gloves, her wool scarf.
She grabs for her cellphone, to call Sydney, but before she can dial, she drops the phone to the bed. All of the papers scream Jarod's name. They all say that she is a traitor, that she's helping him, that there are thawed places inside of her. All of them say that she remembers what the word love means, and at the Centre, they don't tolerate that kind of weakness.
She clenches her hands into leather-tight fists. If this is how Lyle wants it, she thinks, then this is how he'll get it.
Nobody warned him, it's clear, that she never, ever loses.
She collects all the papers, closes the folder with a binder clip, leaves it on her dresser as a reminder of all the things she will do to him when she gets the chance. She thinks of how she would like to use the gun she keeps under her pillow, how she would like to make him pay for the pains and the explanations and the humiliations.
She sleeps naked, and she sleeps soundly. She isn't worried enough to let it bother her, because she knows that she will exact her revenge, and that it will cost him maybe everything he has. If he thinks she's soft, he'll soon discover that he's wrong. She sleeps on her stomach.
She wakes up smiling vaguely, and spends long enough getting ready that when she slips into her office just after sunrise, Broots' stumbles over his own feet when he sees her. She uses him as a gauge, and she likes what she sees. His eyes linger a second too long at the slope of her long thighs, and at the long swath of exposed skin across her shoulders. She's wearing diamonds, and in the mirror her eyes had been pale against the milk-white of her cheeks. Her eyelashes were spider-silk, and she painted her mouth the color of frosted blood.
Broots mumbles a good morning, and she nods, dropping the folder, manila and innocuous enough, on her desk. It makes a soft noise as it hits, and she turns to him, crossing her arms across her chest. She smiles so that he knows what to expect. She almost sees him flinch, but he catches himself.
"How are you on this beautiful winter morning, Broots?" she asks. Her voice is all false humor and mild sarcasm.
He smiles nervously. "Well, I'm, I'm doing fine, thanks for asking. Um, is there something--"
"I need you do to do me a favor," she says. It is not a request. He knows it, and he nods a little. He gets distracted easily by her shoulders, where the black silk of her shirt leaves them bare.
"What, what is it?"
"You can access the surveillance cameras, the sound feeds, in Lyle's office, can't you?"
"Well, I mean, Miss Parker, I mean--"
"I asked a simple yes or no question. Which is it?" She taps her nails against the glass top of her desk, and the sound is like talons, high and sharp.
"Yes," he says finally.
"I want you to make a recording, for the next 24 hours. For me."
"If Mr. Lyle finds out," Broots starts, but Parker's laugh, cold and bright, cuts him off.
"Grow a pair, wouldn't you?"
His face hardens, just around the edges of his mouth, and she is reminded again of why she keeps him so close when so many others would consider him a liability. "I'm on it."
"What would I ever do without you?" she asks, no warmer than stone. "And as much fun as this little early morning dalliance has been, I'm positive I have more important things to do."
"Don't let me stop you," he says, under his breath, but she hears him and rolls her eyes. She pushes the folder Lyle left for her under a stack of papers, sets a quartz paperweight atop the pile, and nods to herself. She's halfway to the door when she turns back to Broots.
She says, "The video feeds that you're recording? Don't-- don't watch them, okay?" Her eyes and voice are soft.
"Of course not, Miss Parker," he says, shrugging casually. "Bad enough I have to know Lyle's on the tape at all. Guy gives me the creeps." His eyes say that he understands there are things she isn't saying.
He is sensitive and in love in the places he doesn't always look. He sees her not as she is but warmer and more beautiful. She does not want him to see how she will make Lyle suffer. She doesn't want Broots to see.
She says nothing as she leaves.
Hours later, the sun is high in the sky, but inside the Centre, you would never know it. There are no windows, and everything is the perpetual cold of stone and profit, everything is the strung-tight winter of muffled screaming and pulled triggers. Assistants find themselves whispering. Sounds don't travel.
She brings the folder with her and lights a cigarette. She pushes the door to Lyle's office open, lazes near the threshold, waiting for him to look up.
"What?" he asks, but when he realizes it's her, his mouth hardens into a half-moon of derision. "Oh, Parker, it's you. What a delightful surprise."
"I'm sure you're just stunned that I'm here, Lyle."
He looks at her knees, her breasts, her mouth. "Astonished," he says. "But it's always such a pleasure. I don't suppose I could ask you not to smoke in my office."
"You could," she says, taking a long drag and blowing it out between pursed lips. "Not that it would matter to me, but you could."
"Fair enough. So, what brings you here?" he asks, settling back into his chair. She approaches his desk slowly but not cautiously, notices that he was signing off on payroll sheets when she interrupted. She almost laughs at the contradictions, the mundane paperwork against the biochemical research reports stacked to the edge of the desk, his power tie against the slick-rot gleam in his eyes when he looks at her.
She knows the cameras are rolling. She drops the folder in front of him, rustling his papers. His signature, sloping and short, flutters at the edges of pages. He smiles through his pores.
"Ah, my little gift. What did you think?"
"I think you've got a future in fiction," she says coldly. "The altered photograph, that was a great touch."
"I thought so." He pushes back from the desk and stands, almost giddily. He makes her stomach turn.
"You're planning on giving it to my father," she says.
"I am. I figure, even dear old dad won't be able to avoid your misguided affection for Jarod after the treasure trove of information I dug up. You should really be more careful, Parker. Your paper trail screams, 'kill me, please!'" He runs the tips of his fingers across the top of the folder, a caress.
"I don't have anything to hide, Lyle. Just because I bought my father a signed first edition of Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man for his birthday doesn't mean I'm conspiring with the enemy. We can't all be as talented as you at murdering our way to the top, you know." She's walking forward slowly, and her skin shimmers in the cold light. He is watching her.
"It's a real shame," Lyle says. "I would've loved to have seen your face right before you tried to kill me. Though it's hard to imagine you any more beautiful than you already are." The compliment is razor sharp and makes her bleed. She has to destroy him, she thinks, but that doesn't mean she can't enjoy it. She stands with her legs apart, back arched slightly, nipples defined against dark silk.
"You won't give it to him," she says, her voice low. She licks her lips. "You wouldn't do it. You know he'd figure out it was a fake."
"What makes you so sure?" Lyle asks.
"I know my father relatively well, Mr. Lyle. I've had a few years to study up on the subject, as it were."
He smiles slightly. "Of course. Doesn't mean I won't give it to him, though. Anything to get ahead, I've always said."
"Anything?" she asks, and is a purr and a promise. Her nipples are hard, and it's an invitation. She's behind his desk now, her back towards the wall. She touches her hand to his forearm.
His eyes say he doesn't believe her, but his voice is thick when he says, "I'm accepting offers." He taps against the folder. "Everything comes at a price."
She touches his chest. He touches her hip. She smiles, and if she nods, it's imperceptible. She trembles, inside her stomach. He can tell. She drops the cigarette butt to the floor, crushes it under the toe of her shoe without looking down. She blows a last mouthful of smoke in his face.
He practically growls as he kisses her, but she's still Parker and he's still Lyle, and it's no less rage than want. He sucks on her tongue, and she thinks of the cameras. She hopes Broots isn't watching, or Sydney. She thinks of how her father will see this tape when she sends it to him, how he will see Lyle taking advantage of his little girl.
How he will see Lyle admit, with his words and with his cock, that it's all a lie.
Lyle touches her thigh, nylon-slick. He pinches the inside of her leg, and she bites down on his lip hard enough to break it. She tastes blood, licks at it, promises more broken skin if he isn't careful. His hips jerk. She thinks he likes it, and for the barest moment, she's not sure that she doesn't. His mouth tastes like copper, salt, bitter tea.
He twists her arm behind her back, but not hard enough to hold her if she wanted to get away. It's a power play, a show. She smiles. He holds her hand with his thumb and the pressure of his wrist, strokes the gun holstered against the base of her spine with his fingers. She feels the warm outline press against her skin.
She says, "Watch out. It's loaded."
He twists her arm harder. "I know," he says, and he flicks his tongue out against her lower lip. Their tongues brush, their mouths open. It's snake-kissing, and she wonders if he likes the taste of tobacco.
She leaves blood-dark lipstick marks down his neck, buries her teeth in the soft flesh there with enough force that he yelps. He's hard against her. She sweeps her tongue against the spot, tracing the teeth marks. She doesn't mean it to be soothing.
"You wouldn't do this, Parker. Not even to save your own skin," he says. His voice is normal, only a pitch lower, and he releases a breath through his teeth when she fingers his length through his now-tight slacks. She presses a hip against him.
"I wouldn't?" She wonders if the folder wasn't just a convenient excuse for both of them as she digs her nails into his wrist, guiding his hand up her leg. He risked hardly anything by doing it, because she wouldn't kill him, wouldn't be able to, and if it worked, he could assume her position at the Centre.
But if this was just revenge, she wouldn't get so wet. Her skirt is short, flared, pewter-colored and shimmering. He pushes it higher as he touches her, and it pools at his wrist, catches on his watch.
She should tell him to stop, should take the recording, should watch her father cut off Lyle's balls when he sees Lyle touching his daughter, even consensually. She should tell him to stop.
She hisses when he digs his fingers into her ass, arches against his hip. "Watch those teeth," he says under his breath. "You could hurt somebody."
"Not as stupid as you look, are you?" she says, acid sweet.
He nudges a knee between her thighs. She can feel the long bone in his thigh, and she moans aloud, hating herself for it. "I wonder why you feel this constant need to insult my intelligence," he says, breath hot against her cheek.
"Superiority complex," she says, voice thick. "It's a bitch."
He laughs, short and cool, dips his tongue into her ear. She arches against his leg. "Dangerous," he says, twisting her arm to remind her of her position. She doesn't feel the pain as much as the shock where their fingers touch. She hates him. "I mean, fucking me when you're carrying a loaded 9mm. You never know what I'm apt to do."
"Who says I'm planning on fucking you, Lyle?"
He palms one of her breasts, flattening the nipple against his hand. Her back arches, and there's the sound of footsteps from the other side of the door. She ignores them. "You do," he says, pinches the nipple.
"Who says I'm not going to shoot you when your pants are around your ankles and your dick is hard?" she asks, laughing somewhere behind her throat at the fact that she can wrest control away so smoothly. Profanity does wonders. She isn't impressed.
"No one would believe masturbatory suicide," he says, cupping her ass and rocking against her. For all her fast breathing and flushed shoulders, she knows she can maintain control longer than he can. It's all just a matter of time.
She isn't sure what she's waiting for.
"I could convince them somebody else had murdered you," she says.
"You'd be implicated in the whole thing. Reputation would be shot to hell, and let's not even discuss how your father would take the news. Even worse, people would begin to suspect there's more than just ice in that pussy of yours." He says it like violence. He wants to make it hurt, wants to take her when she's angry, fighting back. He wants to say he was the one who melted her.
She isn't impressed.
She laughs, cream-smooth. "Don't think I won't burn you," she says. He thinks she's laughing because it's a joke. He smiles. She imagines him facing a T-Board.
She smiles back.
He says, "I'm more worried about frostbite."
"There's only one way to find out," she says, guiding his hand up her leg. Her stockings end at satin garters, flush against her thighs, and her panties are almost useless. "I don't have time to play games."
She spreads her legs, lets him feel how wet she is, purrs practically like a kitten. She unbuttons his pants, pushes them down his slim hips. He is hot and hard in her hand, thick and long, a pornography cliché. He hisses as she drags her nails down his length, and she says, "Are you sure you really want to fuck a traitor?"
"You're not a traitor," he says breathlessly.
She clicks her tongue. "But I read the folder, Lyle," she says sweetly. "It's there, clear as day."
"Shut up, Parker," he says, and he stops breathing almost entirely when she lifts a leg, lets him slide into her, all the way in. He says, "Christ, you're tight."
"Would it make you harder to think I was a virgin, Lyle?" Their rhythm is slow, measured. Cautious. She rests her back against the wall, wraps a leg around him, pulling him in deeper. "I'll match you, perversion for perversion."
He groans, and it's not coherent. Triumph is bright in her mouth like cane sugar.
She says, "Just do it already. Don't make me wait." It's not part of the game when she grinds down onto him, and has little, if anything, to do with the manila folder. He understands what she means, and the pace quickens. He sucks on her tongue, and then she breaks the skin of his palm with her teeth when he tries to quiet her.
Sound doesn't travel here.
She groans, "Don't bore me." He thrusts into her, over and over, comes inside her, and she warns, "Spare the skirt. It's expensive." She reaches down to touch herself, but he surprises her by getting there first. His fingers on her clit are like paper.
He says, "Don't worry. I won't kill you. Today."
She comes thinking of the cameras, but then she pushes him away, and he doesn't resist. "Remember, Lyle, even the walls have eyes."
He smiles because he doesn't understand. She readjusts her skirt, her stockings. "Now, about the folder, and my father. You do realize what a bad decision it would be to give it to him. He's not always the biggest family man, but he would go for your throat before he ever suspected you were telling the truth."
"He always did like you best." Lyle smiles icily. "Still, no need to compromise my own position by getting his little girl in trouble. I wouldn't have given it to him."
She smiles back, each of her teeth an ice shard. She shakes her hair back over her shoulders. "I know you wouldn't've."
"But you--" He seems almost confused, touching the bite marks on his neck absentmindedly.
"I what?" she asks, sweet like steel, wiping lipstick from the corners of her mouth.
It doesn't take more than a moment before he shakes his head. "Nothing. Never mind."
"I have work to do. And you, all that paperwork. Better get back to it, don't you think?" She starts off for the door, turns at the threshold and says over her shoulder, "The gun wasn't loaded."
"I know." She can hear that he's smiling.
She thinks of how her father will make him pay for his arrogance. "Of course you did," she says, and then she's gone.
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