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Penrose Steps (The End is the Beginning is the End is the Beginning Again)

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#01: Controlling

The first time they slept together, Jason learned quickly to never grab Kirill's wrists in bed- in a playful fight for the top, Jason had pinned him, the Russian at first going unbelievably tense before seeming to melt into the mattress, going submissive, but his eyes...

#02: Mend

Jason gave a quick, absent minded smile as he watched the needle flash in Kirill's hand, stitching the torn shirt back together- just like he had fixed Jason's heart.

#03: Counter

Eyes narrowed, he circled his opponent, who matched him step for step- finally he lashed out with a lightning quick kick, countered by an equally fast arm.

#04: Faint

All that was left of their final encounter as enemies was the faint tracery of scars that spanned most of Kirill's body- Jason loved to trace every one.

#05: Sabotage

For so long he had guarded his heart, but Jason had sabotaged all his efforts to block the American out- all without said American ever even realizing what he was doing.

#06: Waiting

Jason had a sniper's patience- the ability to wait for hours, days for his target- but Kirill had never liked waiting; especially when he knew Jason was waiting for him.

#07: Chase

Kirill felt a rough laugh bubbling up in his chest as he put on an extra burst of speed, trying to escape from his pursuer- though unlike all the other chases he'd been in, this one would not end in spilled blood; this one was just for play.

#08: Surrounding

Jason screamed as another too vivid memory, half recalled as a horrific nightmare jolted him awake; he shuddered, but became aware of the arms surrounding him, Kirill's voice murmuring soothingly in his ear- easing him awake and out of the twisting pathways of his mind.

#09: Defensive

Eyes narrowed, they faced off- each too stubborn to back down, too defensive to admit the other had a point- they didn't argue often, but when they did, it was vicious.

#10: Hiding

They always had to hide from everyone- two assassins hunted by the agencies they once served were never truly safe- but never from each other.

#11: Squeeze

All it would take was one squeeze of the trigger- but Jason couldn't make his hand tighten.

#12: Insight

They had always had a great insight into each others' minds- it seems that Russia and America weren't so different, at least when it came to making their weapons.

#13: Over

Jason swore briefly under his breath as he ran over a small foot bridge- he didn't know how they'd found him, and it didn't matter now; right now, he just had to get away.

#14: Forever

Forever was a word he had been taught to avoid- nothing would last even a fraction as long- but as he looked down at the man sleeping next to him, he felt it slip past his lips; a solemn promise to the other, to himself, to the very world- he would make this last forever; because anything else was unacceptable.

#15:Dream

Jason had been dealing with nightmares, awake and asleep for so long, that he'd forgotten what it meant to dream- and how could Kirill be anything else?

#16: Leading (Companion to #13)

Kirill watched with narrowed eyes as Jason led the several operatives chasing him away from the town, absently wondering if they had any common sense; but he shrugged, knowing it didn't matter, as he raised a silenced rifle.

#17: Sighting

Ari stared at the unnaturally pale skinned man as he emerged from the shadowed alley- for a moment it looked as if he was alone, but then another man appeared, much darker and slightly taller, trailing behind the first, but obviously connected, and just as easily as they'd appeared, they vanished, melting away as if they'd never been there at all; Ari couldn't believe what he'd seen- a spirit and his shadow.

#18: Anomaly

They were the outliers, the anomalies- most assassins didn't survive as long as they had, never mind finding love- and with another assassin.

#19: Merit

He had earned Jason's respect, but it had been a slow process- the American had always been conscious of his skill, but it wasn't until Kirill had proved his merit that the other assassin had begun to relax.

#20: Killing

It got easier with time- each bullet stripping away any regret, any shred of conscience that might prevent him from completing his mission, until he had no other choice; until it was his memory ripped out, and his conscience returned- then, he could choose another way.

#21: Portraying

It was so easy to lie to the world- a few shifts of expression, just the right movements, and they soon believed everything he portrayed, without ever even opening his mouth.

#22: Conception (Companion to #20)

Kirill was the product of the communist regime- someone who was, from conception, designated to be a killer, and a very good one at that; until someone like him chose not to pull the trigger- until someone showed him there was another way.

#23: Laugh

The first time Jason heard Kirill laugh, truly laugh, it was hoarse and rusty from long disuse, but every day, it became a little smoother, a little more comfortable- until the Russian could laugh freely, if sparsely (he was still Russian).

#24: Military

Jason sometimes wondered if he should have stayed in the Army- what path his life would have taken then- but it always circled back to one thing; if he'd gone any other route, he never would have met Kirill, and that was a sacrifice he wasn't sure he'd be willing to make.

#25: Prescription

Kirill hated the painkiller the doctor had prescribed after the crash- it made his senses dull and his alertness drop, which was a death sentence in this life; but when the pain became too much, and he had to succumb to the numbness, he could always be sure that Jason would keep him safe.

#26: Beam

The first time he saw it, Kirill was stunned by the sheer brightness- like a beam of sunlight, packed into Jason's smile.

#27: Promise

To most, it would be a suicide mission- to two assassins, it was a promise to set things right, and to keep each other safe.

#28: Trend

Neither man ever bothered with fashion or style- they just needed clothes; that, and the shirt the salesman was trying to convince Jason was the 'hottest thing' was ugly.

#29: Content

Kirill had never expected to be happy, but as he curled around Jason, feeling his lover's heartbeat, he knew he was content.

#30: Lay

It had been a long time since either of them had felt safe enough to lay their weapons down.

#31: Closer

For a long time, they had kept each other at arms-length- trust was foolish in this world- but eventually, almost against their will, they began to draw closer.

#32: Column

Jason leaned against one of the columns that decorated the airport, unobtrusively scanning the flood of new arrivals in search of just one.

#33: Natural (Companion to #32)

Kirill- usually so good at remaining calm- struggled to look natural as he searched for Jason; it might have been necessary for them to split, but he was impatient for their reunion.

#34: Scroll

He scrolled through page after page of websites- they needed another destination, somewhere easy to hide- it was time to move on.

#35: Being (Companion to #29)

Three years ago, everything he was had been wiped out- he didn't know who he was, or who he would become; he still didn't, but right now, wrapped in Kirill's embrace, he was content to simply be.

#36: Precaution

They took a long and circuitous route through the city, before Kirill finally led them to one of his safehouses- it was only a precaution, but still necessary.

#37: Tacking

Jason shifted the sails, angling them until they could sail against the wind, heading away from everything they knew- there was a metaphor for their life somewhere in there.

#38: Functional (Companion to #28)

They didn't have time to care about clothes- as long as they were functional, they were fine- the same could not be said for their weapons.

#39: Steal

They were assassins, not thieves- but Kirill had long ago stolen Jason's heart, something he had thought lost.

#40: Abolition

They had long sought abolition of the system that created them- they didn't know if they would succeed, but they had to try, even if it was just providing Landy with the information she needed.

#41: Alliance

They had started out as an alliance of convenience- someone in the same circumstances, with the same instincts- but it would become so much more.

#42: Entertainment

For so long, he hadn't been allowed any luxuries, certainly no hobbies- so when he finally didn't have to do anything, he had no idea what he wanted to do (unless one had a perverted enough mind to catch the innuendo).

#43: Liberty

It had been a long time since he was allowed to do what he wanted- so long Kirill had forgotten what it was like.

#44: Collection

Coming back from shopping, Jason found the table full of weapons- Kirill had finally gotten to one of his caches, and he'd brought the whole collection with.

#45: Ribbon

The little girl laughed and twirled, the ribbons in her hair bright in the sun as she ran to her parents- Jason found his eyes following her, and for a split second, he wondered- if Marie had lived, was that what their future would hold?

#46: Storing

Both of them could be bona fide pack rats- one never knew when that old (broom, ID, sword) would come in handy.

#47: Pretending

For a long time, Kirill had wondered how much of what Jason showed him, emotions and otherwise, was just pretense- the American was one of the best (he wasn't just an assassin) for a reason.

#48: Arrest

Kirill caught Jason's eye as the Russian let the police cuff him- his face wasn't in all the U.S. databases, and so he didn't mind taking the fall this time; it wasn't like they had any evidence against him.

#49: Perspective (Companion to #45)

But time had given him perspective- and he loved Kirill; there was no sense, and he had no true desire to waste time, in dwelling on what-ifs.

#50: Inner

Marie would forever be the voice of his conscience, but Kirill had gone much deeper.

#51: Trial

There would be no fair trial for either of them if they were caught- just a swift bullet and another body that would never be identified.

#52: Impression

His first impression of his target was one of danger- it was accurate, but Bourne- Jason- was so much more.

#53: Urging

He could hear it, almost like a small voice in the back of his head, urging him to take revenge on Marie's killer- years later, he could only be grateful that Marie's voice was stronger.

#54: Stone

He had been told more than once that he had no more emotion than a rock- he wondered what those who'd said it would have to say now?

#55: Comprising

For all that their hunters thought they knew their prey, they always missed one crucial fact; they were not lone wolves, but a pack of two- and that was all they needed.

#56: Test

Jason wonders, sometimes, if that moment at the car had been his test- the universe's way of determining if he was worthy of gaining someone's love; for a long time, he wasn't sure he'd passed.

#57: Criticism

"You're still too weak with the left jab," Jason commented as they circled each other; the car crash had left its mark.

#58: Cramp (Companion to #57)

Kirill hissed, rubbing his cramping shoulder- he should have stopped at least an hour ago, but he needed to be in fighting condition- and groaned abruptly as Jason's hands landed on the knotted muscles, gently rubbing the aches away.

#59: Doom

Love was always thought to be an assassin's downfall; neither of them knew if it was true, but in any case, it was too late to back out- and neither of them wanted to.

#60: Accent

Kirill's English was always tinged with a faint Russian accent- the stronger his emotions, the stronger it became.

#61: Stranger

Two assassins in love- stranger things have happened; but not by much.

#62: Firm

One look at his face told the Russian that Jason was going to be stubborn- they were going to split up; even if he didn't like it, Kirill knew it was the only way.

#63: Steam

Jason grimaced at the flood of steam rising from the pot as the soup he'd been making for Kirill boiled over; the Russian just laughed at the sight he'd walked in on.

#64: Vanish

Kirill watched Jason vanish into the crowd- to most, he would be untraceable, but the Russian knew that as long as he was alert, there would be a trail for him to follow; after all, Jason only wanted to lose his persistent- if incompetent- tail.

#65: Delirious

Strings of garbled Russian spewed from the feverish man- snarled curses at an unknown tormentor, snatches of conversations and names that Jason didn't recognize- as the American tried desperately to calm his thrashing lover.

#66: Pin

For a long moment, Kirill held Jason down, pinned to the mat as they sparred- but his victory was short lived, as the other assassin twisted and pushed, forcing him to loosen his hold and allowing Jason to break free.

#67: Momentum (Companion to #66)

Jason's momentum carried him away from Kirill as he rolled to his feet, immediately rushing back in, but as they pressed chest to chest, struggling for dominance, all their aggression bled away, momentum transforming into an entirely different fight.

#68: Lover

Kirill had never thought he'd have a male lover- he'd never even looked at men before- but something about Jason drew him in; he was just glad it went both ways.

#69: Judgement

If Hell existed, Jason mused, he was surely going there, but right now, entwined with the man he loved, he couldn't bring himself to care.

#70: Slip:

All it would take was one slip, and they'd both be dead- and so Jason resolved that he would not.

#71: Century

In a hundred years, no one would even remember their names- but for now, they were on every screen, the words MISSING: PRESUMED DEAD beneath.

#72: Innovation

Inventing something new, whether it was a grappling technique, sequence of moves, or even a better garrote, was often the only way for them to keep ahead of the men targeting them.

#73: Nuisance (Companion to #51)

Once, perhaps, they would have grown tired of the life they had to live- alone, they would have eventually given in, and allowed their nuisances (as they called their incompetent pursuers) to catch up; but together, they would never let each other go.

#74: Stroke

Half-asleep, Jason sighed and turned his head, nuzzling into the calloused hand that gently stroked his hair.

#75: Pet (Companion to #74)

His hand moved in soft, soothing strokes, petting his lover's short, dark hair as he calmed Jason after a nightmare.