The Soldier & The Spy: The Wounds We Share

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"I'm sorry, were you talking to me?" she asked, tilting her head to one side. Theo knew she was analysing him, trying to catch up.

"Yes, I was. Elena Lukin, my name is Theodore Wright." He stuck a hand out and caught himself. It wasn't the right way to introduce himself but as he was about to pull back his hand, Elena reached out and grabbed it, shaking it politely.

"I'm sorry, Sergeant, I think you have the wrong girl. My name's..."

"Elsie Page, yes I know. Born in Watford, raised by an aunt after the death of your parents, your brother is Alarik... oh no, sorry, that's Elena's brother, but I suppose there's no difference really." Finally, the mask cracked and Elena's smile dropped. Theo almost felt cheated, it had been too easy. The girl stopped, one hand against the bar.

"Seven years of espionage and some American comes along and ruins it?" Gone was the eloquent Queen's English she'd spoken only a few breaths earlier. In its place was a heavy German accent. "What do you want, Sergeant?" Elena turned away, flicking her hair over her shoulder as she reached for her drink. Her eyes came back to look at Theo and she held his gaze unwaveringly as she waited for him to answer. The familiar darkness curled in his veins, sending shivers down his spine. Under her stare he felt smaller than the dust on the bar.

"I think I'll have a whiskey to start," he said, gesturing to the bartender, "would you like one, Elena?" Elena's lips quirked up in a smile and she took a sip of her drink.

"I prefer vodka myself, but thanks for the offer and please would you call me Elsie? As far as I'm concerned Elena died in the war." She turned away again as Theo nodded. He picked up the glass of whiskey as the bartender passed it to him and took a swig of the dark liquid. The alcohol burnt his throat but it blurred the darkness so he took another sip. A German spy and an American soldier sat side by side sipping drinks in silence. Theo set the empty glass down and glanced back at Elena.

"And as far as I'm concerned, Elsie Page doesn't even exist... you created her so that you could escape, so you could hide." Theo downed the last of his whiskey and slammed the glass on the bar. Elena's eyes narrowed at him.

"You're right," she replied, her bravado wilting, "I did hide but I never escaped. The war wounded me too." Theo's heart leapt. She was wounded too... but how did she know Theo was wounded? And did she know that 'wounded' didn't even begin to cover what the war had done to him. It had crushed him, reduced him to a skeleton of the man he'd been years earlier, before he knew what it felt like to watch his friends die, to hear them scream in his ears when he tried to go to bed at night. Even there, sat at a bar in the middle of London, he could hear them. Survivor, survivor, survivor. He released a shuddering breath. Elena tilted her head. Around them the bar continued to buzz with life and a group of rowdy drinkers began to sing God Save the Queen. Her eyes scanned him up and down. Theo squirmed under her scrutiny. He again felt strangled by his shirt collar and had to force himself not to unbutton it to release the stifling pressure. "Well Sergeant, you know what I did in the war, but what about you? No wait! Don't tell me, let me guess!" The mischief returned to her azure blue eyes. "Steady hands, cold eyes, I'd say you were a sniper."

Theo swallowed and gestured to the bartender for another drink. He glanced at his hands, almost annoyed at their stillness. Inside he was a boat of rough seas, tossing and turning, trying to stay above the dark waves. His hands did not reflect the inner turmoil. Years of training had taught him to keep himself steady, to slow his breathing, to take the shot...

"You'd be correct, Elena," Theo said nodding at her as he accepted his refilled drink. "I suppose there are some things that won't change." She nodded and smiled, staring wistfully passed him. After a moment she spoke.

"The war's been won, Sergeant." The two locked eyes. "Everyone else is out there celebrating but you're in here with me... in your military uniform no less," she raised an eyebrow.

"What's there to celebrate? It will never really be over." Theo dragged his eyes away from hers and stared at the amber liquid, his heart heavy. "I'm here on official business to recruit you for a mission... the war hasn't stopped for me," and he wasn't certain it ever would. She didn't drop Theo's gaze. Instead, she moved one hand to grab his.

"I'll never regret abandoning my mission. I'll never regret leaving Elena Lukin behind... She couldn't live in this world but I can, I deserve to and so do you." Elena twisted in her seat, moving closer to Theo until their thighs brushed together. The heat of her body against his grounded him. "You can leave the war behind, Sergeant. It may never end but you don't have to be involved in it anymore, you've played your part." Theo breathed out and in, out and in. He lifted his drink and took a long sip. She was right, undoubtedly, but the dark tendrils slithered deeper in him, whispering the truth to his heart. He could never leave the war, not because he didn't want to but because he wasn't sure what his life would be without it. Theo squeezed Elena's hand and then let it go, his nerves getting the best of him.

"I didn't expect a German operative to have a heart for sentimentality," was the only thing he had to say. Elena smiled and moved in even closer.

"And I didn't expect an American to have a heart at all but one should never assume." Theo had nothing more to say. He knew nothing would get her to join the mission, she'd slipped into domesticity and even though he knew they needed her, he couldn't bring himself to take her from it. Theo stood, brushing off his jacket and replacing his hat on to his head.

"Thank you for your time... it was a pleasure meeting you Ele..." he stopped, "Elsie. I wish you the best of luck." She smiled up at him, her golden hair glowing under the bar's fluorescent lighting.

"Thank you Sergeant, you too." The British accent had returned, almost like it had never left. Theo stared at her absently before nodding. Elsie Page smiled up at him, a surprisingly genuine smile. The darkness lessened.  

A.N: Sorry if the formatting is weird, I have it correctly formatted in my Word DOC but Wattpad obviously isn't a fan of indenting... don't know why but hopefully it's all clear for you guys to read! Make sure to check out my new website, and follow me on Tumblr, AmyWritesXO! :)

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