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Like a Foreign Flame in the Dark (Showing You the Way)

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For as long as Becca Winstone lives, there will always be part of her that is still rooted in 1991, hurtling through a Czechoslovakian blizzard in the passenger seat of a beaten-up Volkswagen.

The day had begun with careful, detailed plans, moved swiftly through their adrenaline-charged execution, and culminated in a rapid escape, as they deposited a turncoat ex-Soviet bureaucrat in a safehouse before setting off for a distant town. The blizzard, though dangerous, had provided excellent cover, as well as a convenient excuse for their underpaid, underfed Czech counterparts to stay home.

In the backseat, wedged between the door and their packs, Paul is barely awake and admirably unconcerned by either the weather or Martin’s driving. Martin, naturally, has somehow tuned the car’s rickety radio into a pirate station broadcasting from Luxembourg, and is navigating mostly on instinct while singing along enthusiastically to Madonna’s Material Girl.

Becca is 26, and has been a CIA agent for all of two years. Even though none of this was ever quite what she expected when she signed up for a life of intrigue, suspicion, and near-constant danger, this just might be the happiest night of her life so far.

She reaches out to playfully stroke the feathery hair at the nape of Martin’s neck as he smiles and mouths more lyrics. She’d met him first in an old-style West Berlin café, where he’d set up a meet that was almost laughable in its clichés: wear blue, carry yesterday's copy of Der Spiegel… Martin, too, had been the very picture of a spy with his trenchcoat and Gauloises, and the rainstorm outside had conveniently lent the scene a little atmosphere.

But as they both dried off and Martin’s hair changed, drip by drip, from a rain-soaked brown to its natural blond, the mood had become lighter too. Martin had stubbed out his cigarette, ordered an orange juice, and broken the awful news to her that the glory days of the Cold War were long over and he spent most of his days reading novels and perfecting his backgammon game.

Becca had mock-frowned. “We’ll just have to spark an international incident then. Maybe kidnap a diplomat? Steal some uranium?”

“I like the way you think, kiddo.” Martin had leaned back in his chair and grinned. “You know… I’m running this other agent in Prague. Spent the whole of July trying to persuade me to raid an arms cache in Croatia. I think you two would really hit it off.”

She hadn’t met Paul till almost a year later, although they’d both read each other’s reports more than once (and matched each other's critical comments almost word for word). Martin, once again, had set up the meet – this time on a bridge in Vienna. With his flair for the dramatic, she should’ve known that he had at least half an idea they might become more to each other than just colleagues.

And now… The CIA has other agents, of course, and other offices. But more often than not it’s just been the three of them, holding down the fort through not much more than Martin’s inspired ideas, Paul’s daring, and her own never-say-die tenacity. Put that way, it’s amazing any of them are still alive.

“So are you a material boy, Martin?” She needs some laughter, with their destination still miles away and visibility shrinking by the minute. Even the radio is crackling into static.

He has a smile that could win the hearts of half the women in Europe. It probably already has. “Maybe I’m an immaterial boy. There are those who say I walk through walls.”

“You’re hilarious,” Paul mumbles from the back seat, eyes closed. “And I bet you have no idea where you’re going.”

“Ye of little faith… Of course I have an idea.” Martin jerks the wheel round, making a hard left as the rear wheels skate over ice, failing to find traction.

Paul just folds his arms and hunkers down lower in the seat. “You’re going to kill us all.”

“Don’t worry your pretty little head, sweetheart. I’m reasonably confident Becca will make it.”

She lightly smacks the back of his head before pulling her hand away. Her boys. Where would they be without her?

Two years ago she’d had no one in her life at all barring college friends she barely kept in touch with and an old social worker whose very name in her address book still brings back nothing but bad memories. Somehow, though, after a lifetime of keeping everyone at arm’s length, of building up trust and intimacy issues that could fill an entire psychiatry manual, she’d found that the two of them could break down her barriers as though they were wisps of cotton candy. And, even more shockingly, she didn’t mind at all.

“If you die, can I have your place in Berlin?”

One of Paul’s eyes flicks open. “He has a place in Berlin?”

Aha. Paul and Martin have known each other so long it’s always nice to find something about either one of them that’s actually new information. “Oh yeah. It’s huge. Practically a mansion.”

Predictably, Paul is having none of it. “Bullshit. It’s just another crappy one-room apartment. They all are. You think they pay us enough to have actual houses?”

“Unlike you two, I invest my money rather than spending it on… Whatever you spend it on. Ladies of the night? Cinema tickets? Ian Fleming novels?”

The reality is more banal than she’d like. “Mountain of student loans. Didn’t you go to college?”

“Course he went. It was just so long ago it only cost him ten bucks and a blow job.”

Martin's fiddling with the windscreen wipers. “Fortunately the GI Bill meant it was even less than that.”

“Just the blow job, then?” Paul shifts in his seat. “You were in Vietnam, right?”

“No, Crimea. Just how old do you kids think I am?”

“Old enough to call us ‘kids’.”

"Doesn't mean I'm old. Just means you two could be in 21 Jump Street and no one would blink an eye."

The darkness, combined with mounting snow on the windshield and the slippery road surface, would normally make Becca hold on for dear life and start praying to whichever deity might have provenance over Eastern Europe. But she glances over her shoulder at the scowl creasing Paul's usually flawless features, and barely stifles a laugh.

"Think the 7th Floor has word of it yet?" she asks, casting her mind back over their operation. The bureaucrats at Langley have been urging caution lately in an unstable region, but she's not sure that anyone has ever officially signed off on any of Martin's operations, just in case they all turn up dead.

"I'm willing to bet they shred everything that comes over the wire about us. Plausible deniability." Martin lifts his hand off the gearstick just to wave it carelessly in the air, and gives Becca's knee a pat. "Don't worry. The paper pusher will give us good intel, and we're all much too pretty to be fired."

Paul snorts.

"I'm serious. God, I thought I was gorgeous, but they must've hired you two lovebirds from a modeling agency. What was the ad? Wanted: beautiful people. Must be willing to strip naked and shoot people. Bring own silencer and condoms?"

"Fucking. Hilarious." Paul says dryly, and the car finally skids, with a resounding metallic shriek, to a halt.

Martin turns off the engine, touches a hand to his gun, and opens the door. "All out." In the past two years, Becca's seen him shift from reckless carefree humor to icy sincerity in a split-second so many times. She's never figured out which is the real personality, and which an automatic response to danger. Once, under rumpled sheets in an anonymous hotel, she'd asked Paul. He had no idea either.

The snow is still drifting down, but it's less heavy and the wind is momentarily less ferocious. They're in the small parking lot of an old-style hotel, absent any garish neon signs in the windows. When Becca investigates, knocking snow off the plaque by the door, it's in Czech and German, declaring weekend and midweek rates.

The hotel seems to have become a refuge for others too, with cars parked haphazardly among banks of snow. "One of ours?" she asks while Paul grabs the bags from the back.

"Mm. A friend." Martin has made 'evasive' into an art form.

She'd once deduced from his perfectly casual language skills that he had some family ties to the area, but none of the three of them has any family they'd care to speak of, and Martin doubly so.

"Russian Jews?" she'd asked Paul. "Newman. Neumann. Maybe?"

Paul had groaned, muttered, "yeah maybe", and trapped her under the covers until she stopped talking about Martin.

It's late, and the dimly-lit reception is manned by a barely-awake girl who lets Martin sign in with a scribble and shows them to a second-floor room that Becca would probably be more impressed with on a less dangerous evening. There's tasteful decor, a genuine fireplace, and a separate bedroom. She looks, while Martin charms the girl and determines that they don't have any cops for company.

One bed. Well, they've slept on the floor or in the car on enough nights, and there's a couch…

Paul dumps the bags and drops off his raincoat, laying his gun on the coffee table. "How're we doing?"

"Facing a country lane. Fire escape more or less accessible. I wouldn't like to have to run far in this snow though." She likes it even less the more she thinks about it. "We should've ditched the car."

Martin has secured the door, and is busy checking out the room's kettle with its selection of cheap coffee. "It'll be covered with snow anyway. And jacking another one tomorrow would attract even more attention."

"Could park it a couple of streets away at least…" Paul ventures.

The keys are tossed into his hands. "If you want. But I'm not helping you dig it out of a snowbank."

She might volunteer instead, but it seems that the long, long day full of bruises and narrow escapes, combined with the cold and wet, has finally caught up with Paul too. He drops the keys next to his gun. "Three watches?" he suggests dully. "Three hours each? I'll take first."

Martin really is only a few years older than him, but he has moments when his seniority shines through more than his boyish smile or impish good humor. "One watch," he says. "Eight hours. Me. You two take the bed. Try not to let me hear you fucking."

Becca looks at the couch. Looks at Martin. But Paul has picked up one bag and is tugging her by the elbow, and her concern for her boss at the moment isn't quite outweighed by the appeal of a soft bed.

And what a bed it is. Her perceptions might be skewed a little by far too many nights spent in car seats or on fold-out beds stuck in a warehouse somewhere, or nodding off with her cheek against a windowframe on a stakeout. But this is actually a bed. A bed that bounces when she flings herself on it.

She has to resist the temptation to yell “whee!” and instigate a pillow fight.

Their guns go on opposite bedside tables, their clothes in heaps on the floor over their shoes, ready to be flung on at a moment’s notice. The rooms are cold, but the blankets are thick and fluffy, probably packed full with feathers, and even naked under them they warm up quickly.

Then silence.

“You think we should…?” She finally ventures.

Paul rubs a hand over her back, down to her hip. “Mm… We could. But you know Martin’s never going to let up about it.”

“He’s never going to either way.” Becca snuggles up against him. “Haven’t you ever seen him with someone? We have to have something on him.”

She can feel Paul shrug. “Only ever contacts.”

“No ex-wife? Girlfriend? Boyfriend?”

“Becca, honestly… I have no idea. Why do we keep talking about Martin when we’re in bed?”

She shrugs too. “He’s our friend. We all risk our lives for each other daily… Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to anyone than I am to you two. I don’t think I’ve ever trusted anyone the way I can trust you.”

“So why’d you wind up in bed with me and not him?” Paul experimentally tweaks a nipple, already hard in the cold air.

“Maybe the same reason why we have no dirt on him at all. Whatever that is.” She frowns against the pillow. “Maybe he just doesn’t…”

“Oh, he does,” Paul interrupts, kissing her hair. “Might only be Soviet contacts, but he definitely fucks them. I’ve heard enough.”

She should leave it alone, but… “Women?”


Perhaps she should’ve asked if they were only women, but that might be intruding on Paul’s friendship with Martin a step too far. She is still the rookie in the group, after all, the one who’s been here the shortest amount of time, been in the least danger. She’d thought, once, that spying would mean a great deal of wearing skimpy lingerie and seducing Soviet generals. But the boys have shielded her from that: given her roles that usually involve a great deal more fighting than fucking… Not many people would call that “protection”, but she appreciates it.

Martin, though…

She'd expected an old bureaucrat on her first meeting with him. A worn-out man in a trenchcoat. The trenchcoat had been there, all right, but there had been jeans and a band t-shirt under it, and Martin was all cheekbones and dirty blond hair and eyes that were perpetually smiling behind a facade of cool reserve.

She'd wanted him and been wary of him from the very start.

"How tall d'you think Martin is?"

It takes her a moment to realize that the question isn't purely in her own head.

"Uh… What, six-one, six-two? Why?"

"And how long d'you think that couch is?"

Becca raises her eyebrows, then remembers Paul can't actually see them, and rolls over onto an elbow. "Paul Winstone. Are you seriously suggesting what I think you're suggesting?"

The covers shrug with him. "That you should take the couch, shortstuff, and Marty and I can cuddle?"

She pokes him in what might be his ribs. "Fuck you." Takes a breath. "He's our boss."

"He's not our boss."

"Fine, he's our case officer. He could be our dad.”

“He could be your dad. He’s not mine unless he was having a lot of sex in elementary school.”

Knowing Martin, she wouldn’t entirely rule it out. But a decision is beginning to form. Or, rather, a decision she made several minutes ago is finally fighting its way through all the objections and concerns she’d felt obligated to voice.

“Great,” she says, and sits up. “You’d better come with, or he’ll think you’re about to beat him bloody for fucking your girlfriend.”

Paul might snort and sigh and roll his eyes, but he comes.

In the other room, Martin's laid out on the couch, head against one cushioned arm, feet dangling off the other end. Becca goes to the head end, stroking his hair as he looks up at her in faint amusement. "I didn't realize this was a nudist hotel... bit cold for that, isn't it?"

Paul taps his knee. "You're not sleeping like this."

"You're right, I'm not. As I said, I'm on watch."

"There's a snowstorm outside. We're miles from anywhere. No one even cares." Becca crouches down. "Come to bed."

His gaze flickers from her to Paul, and back. "That might not be such a smart idea."

"We'll shift the couch, block the door with it," Paul suggests.

"Excellent work, Winstone, but that wasn't exactly what I-"

Becca kisses him. She's not one to force intimacy, but for the three of them there's been more intimacy on a daily basis than she's had with most lovers. He sighs his surprise into her mouth and then reaches up to tangle his fingers in her hair, keeping her there.

"My my," he says when she pulls back, girlishly licking her lips, his dark eyes wide. "Didn't know you had it in you, kiddo."

Her eyes narrow. "What happened to the Gauloises?"


"You don't taste like someone set manure on fire."

Martin grins, sitting up. "Jerkass Polish agent ran me round half the city couple of weeks ago. I was puking black shit all night. No more. And, yes, I still feel like crap, thank you for asking." He pushes hair out of his eyes and looks over at Paul. "And you…"

Even naked and cold, Paul still manages to look utterly casual, walking round the couch to press his thumb up under Martin's chin, leaning in to kiss him as well. "I dunno," he says, frowning slightly. "He still needs to brush his teeth."

While Becca stifles a laugh, Martin is still looking up into Paul's eyes. "Why did you never say anything?" he asks in almost a whisper. "If you wanted…"

"Because you're my boss and we have a job to do." There's something of a military bearing in Paul's posture even now, as Martin's hands settle on his hips. "But maybe we can forget that tonight."

"Maybe," Martin agrees, pressing his lips to Paul's bare chest. "You beautiful boy… if I'd thought for a second…"

Ordinarily Becca would be quite happy to watch, but the temperature in the room has now dropped beyond just making nipples hard, and she's fairly sure her toes are turning to ice. She clears her throat. "Um, boys? I don't care if you two want to keep making out, but there's a bed in the other room, and it might be a lot warmer than here."

The both stare at her for a second, and then Martin springs to his feet, giving Paul a hearty smack on the ass. "Come on, let's move the couch if you're going to force me into gross dereliction of duty."

Becca waits for them under the covers, still shivering as she waits for her body heat to triumph over the cold. They only take a couple of minutes, and then Paul is roughly pulling off Martin's sweater, kissing him when he comes up for air before going to work on his shirt.

"Don't mind me," Becca says. "I could just go to sleep if you guys want to…"

"Now where would the fun in that be?" Martin turns to her, letting Paul do all the work of undressing him. "I've been sending all these great reports home about how I'm your mentor and father figure. It's practically code for debauchery."

She's seen him mostly naked before – in their line of work, there are a heckuva lot of semi-public changes of clothes – and the thick white lines of scar tissue over his torso aren't unfamiliar... But she's never touched him before, run her hands over his back while he plants a knee on the bed and kisses her.

"If you want us to stop, we'll stop," Martin says quietly, and she believes him without really understanding why he would say it.

Paul comes up behind him, his erection obvious as he tugs down Martin's boxers. "If she wants us to stop, she'll knock our heads together and we'll wind up in the ER tomorrow morning with multiple fractures. Now get in bed. It's fucking freezing."

It's nice just having them with her – heat and skin and breathing, hands and feet touching her, cupping her breasts, trailing down her thigh… She reaches out and finds Martin's cock just as Paul's hand meets hers. Martin moans, stretches, and nudges his hips up, pressing into all those fingers. As he gets harder, she can feel an answering need between her legs, longing to be filled.

Oh god, how do people even do this? Her boys, gorgeous and hard and full of want... It's an absolutely exquisite ache to have them both so close. Can she only have one of them?

Martin, ever the leader, turns over and gets to his knees with a groan, moving over Paul's body. "I've wanted to do this ever since I first saw you."

Becca moves closer to Paul, trailing a hand down to feel Martin's hair as he takes Paul into his mouth and Paul first tenses with surprise before relaxing, easing into the movement. If she'd felt any disappointment that Martin had chosen Paul, it's quickly dissipated by just how turned on she is by her boyfriend gasping and murmuring with pleasure beside her with his cock deep in Martin's mouth.

She's rocking her hips against Paul's side in time with his thrusts, and would reach down to touch herself if Martin's hand didn't beat her to it. She's already wet enough for him to slide two fingers straight in, fucking her with the same urgency he's using to suck off Paul. And then Paul's hand reaches out, thumb rolling over her clit…

Becca closes her eyes tight, feeling Martin inside her, feeling the snap of Paul's hips beside her and the movement of Martin's head... Pictures Martin sucking on that big cock, letting Paul fuck his mouth, imagines how hard he must be...

As her pleasure builds, finally spilling over into orgasm, she almost mistakes it for Paul's, thinking of come spurting against Martin's tongue, of Paul crying out... But that comes just a moment later, Paul's hand going rigid as Martin keeps moving, staying with him, taking it all in.

She cuddles up to Paul as he comes down, just getting his breath back.

"Oh god…" he's whispering. "God Becca..."

They both reach down and grab onto Martin, pulling him up from under the covers. "Hey," he says, looking at the two of them in their post-orgasmic bliss with a hint of uncertainty.

Paul kisses him, deep and hard. "You really do have a smart mouth, Newman."

"So I've been told…" He glances at her, and all that aching need comes back with the thought of his cock tight between her legs. "Becca? I think we'd better let your man here get some oxygen…"

She smiles and pushes herself up. "How about I do the work this time?"

Martin looks like he's in love, easing down onto the mattress. "Fine with me. Someone's got a condom?"

Becca almost tells him there's no need – but while she's on birth control and she knows Paul's clean, she can't be so sure where Martin's concerned, not with half the world in hysterics over AIDS.

She manages to extract one from her jeans (you just never know) without leaving the bed, and moves over him, kissing the taste of Paul from his lips as she fondles his balls, rolling on the condom. The room air should be cold on her bare shoulders, but she's burning up.

"Just so you know," she says, getting a fistful of his hair as she slowly slides down onto him, feeling the huff of his breath on her cheeks, "you're nothing like my father."

Martin's hands are light on her hips. "Mm, sweetheart, I think that's the idea."

He feels so good, pressing inside her just perfectly as she moves over him, and she feels so incredibly safe in the moment, with Paul lazily stroking down her thigh, along Martin's ribs. She’d thought Paul would be possessive. Maybe he is. Maybe he’s just possessive of both of them.

She smiles at him and he smiles back, dazed with the blissful afterglow of orgasm. “You look so hot with him inside you,” he says, and she can see him almost blush at the words, but she’s glad he said them.

“Bet you I feel hotter.”

Paul gives Martin’s shoulder a nudge. “Suck on her nipples. She likes that.”

Becca’s about to demand to know just when Paul became so comfortable with the idea of watching another man fuck his girlfriend that he actually started giving the guy tips. But Martin’s shifted position, his cock pushing into her from a slightly different angle as he kisses her breasts.

“I thought you might not even like girls,” she muses, stroking his hair as he takes a nipple between his lips, hot tongue flicking over it and provoking an equal heat at her clit.

She can feel his laughter on her skin. This close, she can see the fine lines around his eyes, the threads of gray in blond hair... But his smile could belong to a teenager. “I like girls just fine,” he says, pushing a hand back against the mattress so he can sit up properly, her thighs over his, his lips at her throat. “All right?”

“Mm hm.” The sensation of him inside her, kissing her, while Paul watches every motion is almost too much to bear, and when she closes her eyes there it is again, that thought of Martin swallowing Paul down… She finds Martin’s hand at her breast and pushes it down between them, rubbing herself with his fingertips. Eyes open or closed, her release was always going to be quick and sharp, muscles tensing around Martin’s cock.

Paul eases himself up, pressing a kiss to Martin’s neck and wrapping his arms around him. “You two are taking way too long. Need some help, old man?”

“Sorry if we’re interrupting your early bedtime…” One look at Martin could tell he’s not far from the edge, breathing rapid and pale skin flushed even before Paul pinches his nipples.

Becca looks into his eyes with an impish grin. “Going to come for us, Martin?"

“Come for us, Martin,” Paul echoes.

One, two more thrusts up into her, and she knows he’s gone, eyes open as he cries out, hips jerking hard, and it is so damn good to feel his arms around her, holding on as he loses control, and Paul holding them both.

She would stay this way forever if it wasn’t for all the sensations of cramped limbs and sweaty skin and the weight of Martin’s body against hers that all too quickly come back once the first wave of endorphins has worn off. But she kisses Paul over Martin’s shoulder, and he kindly manhandles Martin away from her, the two of them crashing back down into pillows.

“God, what time is it?” She shouldn’t be asking, but someone should, while Martin tosses the condom in the trash and Paul plays mother, fussily rearranging sheets and pillows.

“Not too late,” Martin says, and Paul has him by the wrist before he can say another word.

“No you are not sleeping on the couch. Get in the fucking bed.”

She finds herself in the middle, one arm thrown over Martin who naturally has to sleep facing the door, with Paul holding her close. It’s never happened before, but it seems like the most familiar thing in the world.

When she wakes up, she's alone in the bed, curled up in the center in the hollow made by the weight of three bodies. The sun is high, the air filled with the scents of two colognes and more sweat than any of them might like to admit.

Becca pulls the blankets off and sits up, leaning forward so she can see into the bathroom. Paul's shaving.

"Hey," she says.

"Hi." He puts down his razor and splashes his cheeks with water.

"Where's Martin?"

"Went out." Paul pulls down a towel and, drying his face, wanders out to rummage through their bag on the floor for a clean shirt. "Said something about coffee. The packets here aren't up to much."

"Oh." She bunches the blankets around her knees, hugs them to her. "Um. So. Are we talking about last night?"

Paul's face never does reveal much. "Dunno. Martin didn't say anything. But he did French kiss me before he left, so I'd guess we're good."

Becca giggles into her hand before deciding just to get up and kiss Paul herself. By now he tastes more of toothpaste and shaving foam than Martin, but it's good all the same. "And us? We're okay?"

"We're great." Paul pulls a polo shirt over his head and roughly smooths down his hair. "If you're okay?"

"Absolutely." She should probably have a shower, if the boys haven't used up most of the hot water in the village already. "Couldn't be better."

They find Martin outside in the crisply cool sunshine of the morning, knocking snow off the wing mirrors with three polystyrene coffee cups steaming on the hood. The world still seems white and clean and new, but there are already tire tracks in the road, and residents nearby are inspecting their own vehicles.

"Well finally." Martin gives the car a hefty thump for good measure. "Sleep well?"

Paul inspects the coffees, trying to discern any difference between them. But however good Martin is, it's doubtful he's managed to find a Starbucks anywhere nearby. "Dunno. Some fucker kept snoring."

“Well, if you do insist on blocking my airways with your body parts… Left is yours, right’s Becca’s. The difference may be marginal.”

Martin’s never been shy to broach subjects, but he watches them sip their coffee for a good twenty seconds before opening his mouth. “Listen. Last night was fun, but I have to make it clear. You’re my kids. I love you. And I have absolutely no intention of ever coming between you. So if you’d prefer to leave last night and forget it ever happened…”

“What if we wouldn’t prefer?” She’s been standing up to Martin since the day she met him. It’s almost an instinctive response now.

“If you wouldn’t?” He looks at Paul, and back to her. “Then we’ll have some more fun. But if you two ever decide you want to get married and make babies… I’ll find my fun elsewhere.”

She's just about to open her mouth and loudly deny even the hint of a thought that there might be kids in her future... But Paul's got a hand on each of their shoulders: firm, steady, comforting. "I'm not sure the world would survive your idea of fun, Martin. So. Where are we headed?"

"We're not fired, if you were wondering. But they do find it advisable that we stay out of Eastern Europe for a while. So we're off to Paris… Sadly not just to see the sights. We're to trail a French operative who's been raising a few red flags. Antoine Lussier. Fortunately M. Lussier happens to enjoy expensive restaurants, fine wines, and the opera, so I'm sure we'll get along famously."

Paul's enthusiasm might have waned just a little. "The opera?"

"I'll take Becca, even though I'm sure you'd look great in a tux. You can follow him in the unlikely event he takes in a soccer match or starts a pub brawl."

"Fuck you," Paul says brightly.

"Boys, boys…" Becca tugs the keys from Martin's pocket. "I'm driving. You two can make out in the back if you want. Martin, open the window if you're going to smoke. And if you're going to sing along to Madonna you might as well sit on the roof."

Martin holds his hands up, empty. “No cigarettes, I told you. No singing either. I’m going to get some sleep. Wake me when we get to the border, okay? Want to check out this great schnitzel place… just like mom used to make.”

She shouldn't ask, but… "Your mother?"

He looks away, opening the door to the back seat and getting in. Paul simply shrugs, stashing his pack in the other side. But once Becca's in the car, fiddling with the seat settings, Martin leans forward between them.

"My parents were from here. Things were bad after the war. We escaped to the US when I was four. Then the Company sent me back. Had to sign saying that if I met any of my extended family over here I'd be quite happy to kill them. Doesn't matter. They're all dead anyway."

"So your name…?"

"Novotny didn't sound appropriately American. So Newman it is." Martin sits back, stretching out. "Suits me, don't you think?"

She shares a glance with Paul and finally gives Martin an appreciative nod. Whether it’s the truth, or just a version of the truth, in Martin’s case it’s still a huge step. "Thanks for telling us."

He cocks his head to one side and gives her seat a kick. "Není zač. Now come on, kids. Let's get this show on the road."

Becca turns on the protesting engine, puts it in gear, and gingerly pulls out onto streets of glittering ice. It is 1991 and she is with her boys, tearing across Europe, fighting the good fight.

Some part of her always will be.